Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Eritrean Christians freed on bail – September 15th 2020

World Watch Monitor, September 10, 2020

The Eritrean government has released on bail more than 20 prisoners who’d been in detention for years because of their faith, possibly because of the Covid 19 pandemic, the BBC reports.  The prisoners are from Christian evangelical and Pentecostal denominations, some held in a prison outside the capital Asmara.

In 2002 Eritrea introduced a new law that forbids all Churches except for the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran ones. Sunni Islam is also officially recognised.  The Eritrean government has not responded to BBC requests for confirmation or denial. Previously, it’s dismissed accusations of intolerance to religious freedom.

In June 2019, the government seized all Catholic-run health clinics in the country and arrested five Orthodox priests.

In August 2019, Eritrea’s Orthodox patriarch, Abune Antonios, was expelled by pro-government bishops of his Church, accused of heresy; he had been under house arrest since 2007, when he refused to comply with the regime’s attempts to interfere with church affairs.

The US says “In 2019, religious freedom conditions in Eritrea worsened, with increasing interference in and restrictions on religious groups. Eritrea continues to have one of the worst religious freedom records in the world”.  Some prisoners, such as the leader of the Full Gospel Church, have been in prison for more than 15 years.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World, Whats On

Burma’s military and the Christian minority – September 15th 2020

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, September 15, 2020

For decades, the Burmese government has prioritised military spending over health spending, leaving Burma in a very weak position to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

The Burmese military (the Tatmadaw) has a long history of violent attacks on religious and ethnic minorities.  Victims of Burmese military attacks – many of whom are Kachin or Chin Christians, and Rohingya Muslims – have been forced to flee their homes and have lost everything.

Adding to their sufferings, Burma’s government places restrictions on the aid they receive, and assistance from international donors is insufficient.

Local NGOs are working hard to support internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living camps and poor conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A temporary ceasefire is now in place across Burma but we need to pray that it would be extended to cover Rakhine and Chin states and lead to genuine peace throughout the country.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Qatari Curriculum Promotes Religious Persecution – September 15th 2020

International Christian Concern, September 14, 2020

A new report produced by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education studied 238 Qatari textbooks over the last four academic years. The report looks at two separate parts of the curriculum as it relates to Christians. The overall conclusion was that the curriculum does not promote religious tolerance.

It noted some improvements with the Qatari curriculum in that it gives much information about Christian-Muslim interactions during the Middle Ages. There are more exercises related to cultural sharing. However, it does speak suspiciously of missionary activities, generally defined within the spheres of education, deceptive charities, and medical treatments. It warns that such activities are meant to “destroy Islam.”

The report noted almost no improvement with the curriculum of Islamic religious studies. The curriculum heavily emphasizes that Christians want to destroy Islam and blames local non-Muslim minorities with collaborating with the enemy. The report calls this an “indoctrination toward resentment.” The report also notes that the curriculum does not include material relating to the persecution of Christians. Instead, Christians are viewed as infidels.

What does exist relating to references of tolerance does not meet international standards. It warns that pan-Islamic, pan-Arab nationalism, Salafism, and the Muslim Brotherhood “dominate the religious tenor of the curriculum.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Nepali Officials Halt Construction of Church – September 1st 2020

Morning Star News, August 20, 2020

Municipal officials in Nepal ordered a church to stop construction of a worship hall after about 40 local Hindus objected to it.

Hindus had threatened relatives who became Christians after pastor Manish Bohra began proclaiming Christ in January. When the church began to outgrow its rented room, he obtained an eight-year lease on land from an area resident on which to build a temporary worship structure.

“On July 26, I received a phone call from officials warning us not to construct a church, and that they had received a petition from the local residents opposing Christian activities in the area,” Pastor Bohra told Morning Star News.

Nepalese law does not provide for registration of religious organizations with the exception of Buddhist monasteries.

The church in Galkot began with just two families in January and within a few weeks grew to 45 members.

“Many from Hindu families had come to Christ from poverty-stricken and emotionally drained families.  As a church, we had encouraged them to put belief in Christ, and soon we saw the Lord working in their lives.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

“Why don’t these black lives matter?” – September 1st 2020

World Watch Monitor, August 21, 2020

Lord Alton’s question recognised the new UN International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief on 22 August.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram alone has killed 27,000 people over the past 10 years, based on its extreme radical Islamist beliefs and agenda.

Latest research by the Pew Center shows India, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, CAR, Pakistan, Israel, Bangladesh and Yemen have ‘very high’ social hostility involving religion.

The focus is limited to violence based on religion or belief.

“Poland and other states have to be commended for recognizing the issue of violence based on religion or belief as a contemporary issue that can no longer be neglected”.

Pew has shown that, of all global religions, it is Christians who experience the most hostility.

Nationalistic governments such as India and Myanmar continue to deny freedom of religion for their sizeable Christian minorities. Mobs often attack and kill with impunity.

Extreme persecution also comes at the hands of radical Islamic militias, such as in in Mali, Chad, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Libya and Somalia.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Algerian church closure remains in effect – September 1st 2020

Middle East Concern, 17 August 2020

Christians in Algeria ask for prayer for the Spring of Life church in Makouda, second largest Protestant church in Algeria with about 700 members, as a court  rejected their request to cancel the governor’s order to close it under Ordinance 06-03, which stipulates that permission must be obtained before using a building for non-Muslim worship.

Under Ordinance 06-03, Algerian authorities started a campaign in November 2017 to close churches.

In June 2020, the Makouda pastor was fined by another court for unpermitted modifications to the (church) building.

Christians in Algeria are concerned this verdict might be a precedent for similar action by municipal authorities against other churches.

Algerian Christians ask us to pray that regulations governing non-Muslim worship will be amended and justly implemented, so that Christians will be able to worship freely.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

More than in Iraq and Syria combined – August 19th 2020

World Watch Monitor, July 29, 2020

21 pages of incidents of violent attacks took place across the north and Middle Belt of Nigeria between 1 December 2019 and 11 April 2020.

180,000 people are currently Internally Displaced living in 8 camps across Benue State.  Another half a million are living with relatives, driven out of their homes or fearing attack.

The extreme Islamist militants Boko Haram have killed more people than Islamic State killed in Iraq and Syria combined.

This number of 27,000 dead at the hands of Boko Haram over the past ten years is in the latest new report tracking the violence occurring across Nigeria.

Meantime over the past 20 years, nearly 19,000 people have been killed by extremist militant Fulanis, with over 43,000 Nigerians killed by Boko Haram over the same period.

The 311-page report, ‘Nigeria’s Silent Slaughter’, is a collaboration between networks in Nigeria and its diasporas in the UK and the US.

The researchers conclude: “Overall, Boko Haram and Fulani militants are conducting a genocidal slaughter in Nigeria. We are not condemning the entire Fulani population.”

A local journalist, Reuben Buhari, reported that last week, 11-20 July, 64 had been killed in Kaduna in a way that he saw as ‘systematic’ across a traditionally Christian area.

Locals say that there is a clear disparity between the number of Christian villages and communities attacked and the number of Muslims killed.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Turkey Deporting Foreign Christians – August 19th 2020

Morning Star News, August 2, 2020

Dozens of foreign Christians in Turkey have been forced to leave the country or been banned from returning in what appears to be government targeting of the Protestant Christian community.  Many such foreigners have lived in the country for decades.

The Istanbul Protestant Church Foundation (IPCF) stated, “We must inform you that since 2019, it has been made increasingly difficult for foreign Protestant clergy serving in Turkey to be resident in our country.”

It is estimated that 35 Christian workers received similar bans in 2019 and 16 more since the end of June.  Those fighting the ban find that administrative courts are not giving lawyers access to reports from Turkish intelligence.

There are about 10,000 Turkish Protestants who attend about 170 churches, many of them house churches, in the overwhelmingly Muslim country of more than 84.3 million people, said an MEC researcher.

“It’s notable that none of these people have been charged with any breaking of the law,” he said.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Inspiring leadership in Myanmar – August 19th 2020

Open Doors, 14 August 2020

Lydia faces persecution for her faith, a lot of people believe that being a woman makes her weak. She learned how untrue this was at a seminar run by Open Doors partners.

She is a pastor’s wife from northern Myanmar where Christians are a minority, just 8 per cent of the population.

Despite being from a Christian family, Lydia’s walk with the Lord hasn’t always been easy.  People can become angry when she tries to tell them about Jesus, and she has seen families disown believers for choosing to follow Christ.

“Nevertheless,” she says, “we continue sharing the gospel slowly and carefully. We are always vigilant and we use more creative ways to talk about the love of Christ.”  

“Through the seminar, God changed my whole perspective on life,” says Lydia. “God has not just saved me but also lifted me up. I am precious, unique and have potential.  I can make God known to others and have talents I to use and multiply.”

This training helps the church become more resilient in places where it is persecuted and helps equip it to meet the diverse needs of all its members, male or female.  

Lydia was so excited that she decided to share her learning with other women: “I was inspired to be an empowered woman, doing everything that I can do with all my strength for what God had prepared for me in advance to do.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Iran: Coordinated arrests of Christians – August 1st 2020

MEC, Jul 6, 2020

Iranian Christians request prayer after Revolutionary Guard agents arrested at least twelve Christians in three different cities.  It is believed an informant gained Christians’ trust, infiltrated their network, and helped Iranian security identify particular individuals and raid a meeting in a private home.

On 30 June, in Tehran, security agents raided the home of a Christian convert, where about 30 Christians had gathered. The security agents, who filmed the raid, were initially respectful, but once the cameras were switched off, the mood abruptly changed and they reportedly became abusive.  The Christians were taken to the parking area where a list of names was read out. Those present from that list were handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken away.

They then went to the houses of those on the list from Tehran and Karaj, searching for Bibles, other Christian literature, and electronic communication devices.  Three more converts  also on the list, but not present at the gathering, were arrested at their homes, which were searched.

In a related security action, also on 30 June, agents called three Christian converts in Malayer, and summoned them to the Revolutionary Guard intelligence office for questioning the next day. However, all three were arrested before they could turn themselves in. They were released on bail of 30 million tomans (around $1,500) each on 2 July.