Why do Christians
Suffer for Their Faith?
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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.”
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:
200 million Christians today face persecution (physical abuse,
family separation, incarceration, and martyrdom).
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.
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.
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.
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
“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).
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:
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).
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).
passages related to persecution:
Hot Spots for Prayer
Christians Under Communism
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.”
secret Christians in North Korea. For Christians in prison and suffering
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.
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.
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.
For Christians imprisoned for their faith.
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
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.
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.
Muslims have also been killed in the conflicts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the Lord will strengthen Christians to remain steadfast in faith,
showing love to their neighbours and their enemies.
Worst Persecution’ Countries
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.
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
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.
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
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
‘Worst Persecution’ Countries
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