Why do Christians
Suffer for Their Faith?

The articles in this forum are provided by authors of known credentials and standing in this field. These articles have not been produced by Airborne but stand on their own merit.

On Monday, October 21 2002, President George W. Bush, in the company of former Sudanese slaves and religious freedom and human rights activists, signed the Sudan Peace Act. According to the White House, “the Act is designed to help address the evils inflicted on the people of Sudan by their government - including senseless suffering, use of emergency food relief as a weapon of war, and the practice of slavery - and to press the parties, and in particular the Sudanese Government, to complete in good faith the negotiations to end the war.”

Throughout the Sudanese war, millions of people have died. One minority in particular has long been faced with the dark reality of persecution and suffering as a consequence of the war-Christians. In fact, millions of Christians, not only in Sudan but also many countries around the world, face severe consequences for their faith. Noted scholar and human rights monitor, Paul Marshall, estimates that:

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Roughly 200 million Christians today face persecution (physical abuse, family separation, incarceration, and martyrdom).

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Nearly 400 million more face discrimination and restriction as a result of their Christian faith. For Christians in countries such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, and Pakistan, followers of Jesus Christ face torture, imprisonment, and even death.

Throughout the world Christians are persecuted in over 50 nations. Many governments have laws which discriminated against people for reasons of their faith. The two main ideologies which produce religious persecution are Communism and Islam. There are also Buddhist and Hindu countries which discriminate against or persecute people of other faiths.

The Bible teaches us that those who believe and follow Christ will experience suffering. In Mark’s gospel, after Jesus says that he must ‘undergo great suffering’, he goes on to state that ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

When Christians suffer for their faith, they are share in the sufferings of Christ. This suffering is a sign of future glory, of being with Christ forever:

“The saying is sure.” if we have died with him, we will also live with him - if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2Tim 2:11).

“When we cry 'Abba Father' it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ-it in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:l5-17).

The Bible teaches us that the devil seeks to destroy people’s lives, and he can put Christians through great trials, but that no trial is to great for us to endure with God’s help. The book of Revelation says that all who trust in Jesus will overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ, and by our spoken witness:

“But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony for they did not cling to life even in the face of death” (Rev 12:11).

The greatest emphasis in discussing persecution is that those who love and follow Jesus should persevere in witnessing to the truth. The word martyr comes from a Greek term meaning ‘witness’. A Christian martyr is someone who loses their life for speaking up about Jesus Christ. (This the opposite of the Islamic understanding of a martyr as someone who dies fighting for Islam).

Bible passages related to persecution:

Matthew 8:31-38

Matthew 24:9-13

Romans 8:31-39

Philippians 1:19-30

1 Timothy 2:1-2

2 Timothy 2:8-13

James 1:1-16

Hebrews 10:32-39

1 Peter 1:3-9

Hot Spots for Prayer

Christians Under Communism

North Korea is ruled by a Marxist dictator, Kim Jong II, who is revered as a god. It is estimated that since 1953 at least 300,000 Christians have disappeared with about 100,000 of these still alive in concentrations camps. 2,300 church congregations have disappeared. North Korean woman Soon-ok Lee has told of how she came to believe in Jesus Christ. She was imprisoned for seven years for a crime she did not commit. Tortured for 14 months, she witnessed the brutal treatment of Christians in prison and was impressed by their grace, love, self-sacrifice, prayer and faith: “I experienced the love of God through Christians.. then I began to pray to the god those Christians were believing in.”

Please pray:

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For secret Christians in North Korea. For Christians in prison and suffering terrible deprivation.

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For Christians who have fled to China for safety-that they will be kept safe. For South Korean and Chinese Christians who have been arrested for helping North Korean religious refugees in China. For the dark powers of oppression and spiritual blindness in North Korea to be rolled back and overthrown, to allow the light of the Truth to be freely preached. Pray also for all people in North Korea, who suffer greatly from many abuses.

Communist ‘Worst Persecution’ Countries
in 2002
North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, China, Cuba.  

 

China is experiencing much greater openness for Christianity. However certain denominations, in some parts of China, are still violently persecuted. Families of jailed South China Church (SCC) leaders have complained about mistreatment and injustice in an open letter to United Nations officials. 27 year old Zhongyu Yu was arrested and jailed in May 2001 for attending an illegal house church meeting. She was tortured to death in jail because she refused to give false testimony against pastor Gong, who has falsely been accused of rape. Four women were tortured until they signed false confessions that Pastor Gong had raped them. They were released on October 9, 2002, but were rearrested only four hours later and sent away for three years of re-education through labour.

Please pray:

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For the South China Church, and other house churches in China. They do not ask us to pray that persecution will cease, but that they will be granted the strength to remain steadfast in the face of persecution.  

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For Christians imprisoned for their faith.

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For the four women who were sent to Sha Yang Lao Gai labour camp in Hubei province. They were severely traumatised after their torture.

Christians Under Islam

The teachings of Islam are by far and away the most significant factor for persecution of Christians all around the world today: 34 of the 50 worst countries for persecuting Christians are Islamic. The Qur’an prescribes that Christians who live under Islam should be ‘humiliated’, and teaches that Muslims are superior: You (Muslims) are the best community in the world.. If the people of the Book (Christians and Jews) believed it would be better for them.’ (Sura 3:110). Many laws exist which discriminate against non-Muslims in Islamic nations, and make their lives precarious and dangerous.

Indonesia During the past decade many atrocities have been committed against Christians in Poso (Central Sulawesi) and in the Maluku Islands. It is believed that jihad conflict in Eastern Indonesia has killed around 10,000, most of whom are Christians, with 600,000 displaced from their homes. Thousands of non-Muslims have been captured and forcibly converted to Islam. Others have preferred death.

Some Muslims have also been killed in the conflicts.

Sarah is a Christian woman who was kidnapped by the jihad militia. Joe, ‘Sarah’s husband, managed to escape from the island. Their son, was killed, so too Joe and Sarah’s mothers. Later Joe returned with several soldiers to try to secure the release of Sarah and their ten-year-old daughter ‘Deborah’. During the visit Islamic extremist leaders told Joe that Sarah and Deborah were there of their own free will, that they had converted to Islam, that Sarah had divorced him and was now married to a Muslim man and in fact was pregnant with his child. Under threat of death for herself, her daughter, and her father, and in front of the militants who had inflicted such pain on her family, Sarah was forced to hold back her tears and tell her husband that all of this was true. Sarah later wrote a letter to him and managed to get it smuggled off the island. She tells how she was abducted, abused, and finally married one of them to save herself and her daughter. Sarah’s story could be repeated many, many times.

The jihad against Indonesian Christians is widely denied in Indonesia, and dismissed as ‘sectarian’ or ‘separatist’ violence. Collections have been openly held for the jihad by children on the streets of Jakarta, as for a charity. Now many regions in eastern Indonesia which formerly had Christian majorities have been cleansed of Christians. Hundreds of thousands of people are still in refugee camps, unable to return to their former homes.

Indonesia has now reduced aid to the displaced people struggling to survive. Australian Christians in Sulawesi are doing what they can to help. The Laskar Jihad reportedly disbanded 10,000 troops and 7 million followers earlier in the day just before the Bail bombing of October 12. They state they will regroup under the name ‘lhya’us Sunna’ meaning ‘revive the way of the Prophet’, focusing on ‘social activities’ rather than military action. Christians remain afraid to return to their former villages. There are still large numbers of militia troops left in Central Sulawesi, Ambon, and West Papua.

Please pray:

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For Christian’s physical needs-food, medical supplies, shelter. That militant groups, as well as the Indonesian army, will cease their persecution of Christians. That the truth about the agenda of the militias will become widely known and acknowledged.

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That the Lord will strengthen Christians to remain steadfast in faith, showing love to their neighbours and their enemies.

Islamic Worst Persecution’ Countries in 2002
Saudi Arabia,  Turkmenistan,  Maldives,  Pakistan, Afghanistan (now safer since the war),  Somalia,  Iran, Sudan,  Egypt,  Azerbaijan,  North Nigeria,  Yemen, Comorros,  Uzbekistan,  Qatar,  Brunei,  Morocco, Tunisia,  Iraq,  Libya,  Russian Federation (in Chechenya etc),  Tajikistan,  Indonesia,  Djibouti, Turkey,  United Arab Emirates,  Oman, Mauritania, Algeria,  Malaysia,  Syria,  Bahrain,  Eritrea,  Kuwait.  

Pakistan is becoming an increasingly difficult and dangerous place for Christians to live. In the past twelve months scores of Christians have been killed in six major attacks on Christian institutions.

On October 22, a trained Taliban militant was arrested and revealed that he and others were assigned the mission of targeting the Christian schools and churches of Lahore. There are still Christians unjustly imprisoned under the Islamic blasphemy laws who need prayer for freedom and protection.

The daily life of Pakistani Christians is extremely difficult. Their situation has been deteriorating steadily for the past 50 years. Overt prejudice makes it impossible for them to run many kinds of small businesses. They are denied access to education and are increasingly physically at risk for their safety. Recent wins by Islamist parties on October 10, 2002 are a matter of deep concern.

 

Moslem Response

Click here for a letter published in the Guardian purporting to be from bin Laden to America to explain the reasons for their actions.

 

Burma actively persecutes Christian believers. About 300,000 internally displaced people, mostly Christians, are trapped in Burmese jungles, their villages, crops and livestock destroyed.

All Christian orphanages now have to register with the Burmese government, and remove any Christian content. It is not uncommon for young Christian Chin children to be forcibly abducted and taken to Buddhist monasteries where they are forced to train as young monks.

 

Laos is ruled by a Communist government which has a very poor record in its treatment of Christians. It is commonly believed in Laos that everyone born in Laos is a Buddhist.

 

Buddhist ‘Worst Persecution’ Countries in 2002  
Bhutan,  Burma,   

For more info on this subject go to:
Watchman

 

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  Page update: 30 August 2008 ~ Contact us at Feedback