Sunday, July 26, 2009

Persecution of Christians by Muslims, communists: good topic for congregational and personal prayer

I have heard this as a background buzz of varying modulations. But when the liberal Huffington Post runs a piece titled Saving the Islamic World's Christians, it catches my eye. Particularly with this as an opener:
Here's a good question. Why do the majority of American Christians remain so oblivious to the increasingly bitter fate of their fellow Christians in the Islamic world?
Painfully good question.

Chesnoff details some of the barbaric brutalities to which Christians have been and are subjected in Islamic countries. The only bright spot is that Christian communities grow in Israel — which makes sense, since Jews are the other major target of Islamic extremists.

Another eye-opener is this article by Muslim journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, shamefacedly admitting that Christians are under particular Muslim persecution in the city of our Lord's birth, Bethlehem.

Now turning our eyes to North Korea, sadly, the name Ri Hyon Ok must be added to the roll of martyrs for their faith. This 33 year old woman was publicly executed under a number of probably false accusations, which masked the real reason: she distributed Bibles in this Communist society. "North Korea appears to have judged that Christian forces could pose a threat to its regime."

Totalitarian governments, as a rule, have seen Christians as a threat.
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:36-38)

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews 13:3)


CR said...

The Barnabas Fund is a goog publiclation to keep in touch with the church around the rest of the world.

American Christianity is an unusual blip in Christian history. It's not normal. I suspect the Lord tolerates it because, well, He is long suffering, but also because Americans give so much money to missions.

Aaron said...

To be fair, we sometimes forget about Christians in the middle east because for so long our attention has been focused on communist countries. I remember as a kid sending handwritten bible portions to Russia and hearing about the terrible persecution there. As an adult I was fortunate to visit Russia for work. I was amazed by what they had done to the churches there, although orthodox in nature, were by far the most beautiful structures in the country.

Now there is a lot of attention on China. I would also submit that Christians as a whole have ardently supported liberation in the middle east as well as support of Israel.

But this is a good reminder that while we live in luxury, our brothers and sisters in the middle east are suffering for their faith.

GrammaMack said...

The Voice of the Martyrs sends out weekly e-mail bulletins with information on persecuted Christians around the world and how to pray for them, an excellent way to remember and be involved in the lives of our suffering brothers and sisters.

Solameanie said...

Just as an aside, I think we should point out persecution of Christians in India. During the 60s, we had this idea that Hindus were just happy wappy flower children. Until the past couple of years, when we find out that radical Hindus burned a Christian missionary family to death in their car.

The long and short of it is, the world hates the Gospel. No matter what religious label they wear.

Mark said...

Thanks for the reminder.
Speaking of India, we had a missionary to India recently visit our church. He discussed the persecution and said that while it wasn't in his region yet, he fully expected it soon. He stood before us and said that if that was what God had called him to, then he felt privileged to fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. Powerful message.

CR said...

I thought that some readers would be interested (since this topic is on praying for persecuted brothers)on how to pray for our persecuted brethren.

CGrim said...

In discussing persecution, Tertullian famously said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, but the context is so excellent it's worth reading in full:

"Crucify, torture, condemn, grind us all to powder if you can; your injustice is an illustrious proof of our innocence, and for the proof of this it is that God permits us to suffer; and by your late condemnation of a Christian woman to the lust of a pander, rather than the rage of a lion, you notoriously confess that such a pollution is more abhorred by a Christian than all the torments and deaths you can heap upon her. But do your worst, and rack your inventions for tortures for Christians - it is all to no purpose; you do but attract the world, and make it fall the more in love with our religion; the more you mow us down, the thicker we rise; the
Christian blood you spill is like the seed you sow, it springs from
the earth again, and fructifies the more.
Many of your philosophers have set themselves to write the world into patience and a contempt of death, as Cicero in his Tusculan questions, Seneca in his remedies against accidents, Diogenes, Pyrrhon, and Callinicus; but their pompous glitter of words has not made the tithe of disciples that our lives have done. That which you reproach in us as stubbornness has been the most instructing mistress in proselyting the world; for who has not been struck at the sight of that you call stubbornness, and from thence pushed on to look into the reality and reason of it? And who ever looked well into our religion but came over to it? And who ever came over, but was ready to suffer for it, to purchase the favor of God, and obtain the pardon of all his sins, though at the price of his blood? For martyrdom is sure of mercy. For this reason it is that we thank you for condemning us, because there is such a blessed emulation and discord between the divine and human judgment, that when you condemn us upon earth, God absolves us in heaven."

chopstickschan said...

I think that part of the reason Christians in the west know so little is because we don't want to know. We are lulled to sleep in our comfortable beds, with our full stomachs and a full day of activities planned for tomorrow. Maybe even church activities. We have been given so much--and we spend it on ourselves. Sure we give a lot--but we still have a good deal left for luxuries. Sure we pray--but are our eyes dry? Do we read about them till it hurts--and keep reading? Do we really love our brothers and sisters who suffer for His Name's sake? Not by our standards, but by Jesus'? Does it affect our daily lives, daily?

Open Doors offers a free prayer handbook and a map highlighting and ranking countries where Christians are persecuted: I recommend putting the map up where you can see it--a lot.

AsiaLink works closely with indigenous Christians in difficult places, and has news and some great projects:

The book "The Heavenly Man" is the marvelous story of God's work in one Christian's life in the underground church in China, and some of the persecution there.

So now you're reading about persecuted Christians--now what are you going to do about them?

journeyman said...

It is amazing to think that this is occurring.

As noted in your post, most people (including me) are oblivious about the persecution of Christians outside of the US.

Thanks for sharing!