Displaying items by tag: Christian persecution
Sri Lanka: assault on pastor leads to charges against him
Pastor Tony investigated a noise outside his gate and was assaulted by two men with a shovel, demanding he stop his religious activities. He crawled back into the house, then the men began breaking windows and causing other damage. When his son heard the commotion and responded, he too was beaten and then hospitalised for three days. Police promised to arrest the attackers, but six days later they filed charges against the pastor for inciting the attack. Although the false charges were dropped, local officials sealed the family’s home and confiscated church property. The family and church members ask for prayers that they would be strengthened in their faith and be bold witnesses for Christ amid persecution from Buddhists and Hindus.
Nigeria: ‘out of these ashes’
Violence against Christians returned in January, with more believers killed or kidnapped almost every day. Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians on 22 January, in northeast Nigeria, following the slaughter of twelve believers the previous Friday. In a predominantly Christian area of Bauchi state, residents said militant herdsmen attacked one community, killing five Christians and kidnapping another. The area has been attacked by Islamist terrorists and Fulani herdsmen for several years and many villages have been destroyed, driving Christian survivors to other parts of Nigeria. On 20 January Fulani invaded another predominantly Christian community and killed twelve believers. On the 17th five Christians were killed, and Christians are under siege following kidnappings and attacks. Release International is raising awareness about this ongoing persecution. ‘Out of these ashes’ will be launched in April to inform UK Christians and encourage them to pray for those suffering for Christ in Nigeria.
India: Christian persecution increases
India’s government, under prime minister Narendra Modi, is increasingly adopting pro-Hindu nationalist ideologies fuelled by radical groups such as the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Modi and the RSS are in the Persecutor of the Year annual report for their Christian oppression. 2,500 Christians in Chhattisgarh were made homeless at Christmas when radical Hindus decimated their communities. Chhattisgarh is one of eleven states with anti-conversion laws, and an escalation of violent attacks against Christians has devastated the communities with little or no government protection or recourse. On 1 January nearly 700 radicals attacked the Christian-populated Gadhbengal village, destroying homes and properties. 200 Christians escaped the mob after being alerted that rioters were heading their way. Some are gradually returning to resume their lives. Others fear more deadly attacks. An overarching concern for them all is when and where they will find their next meal.
Christians attacked for declaring truth
There are currently three European cases where Christians are under attack for speaking out biblical truth concerning gender and same-sex marriage issues. Pastor Akil Pano is accused of hate speech in Albania after defending the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ and rejecting ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’. In Malta, Matthew Grech has been accused of promoting ‘gay conversion therapy’, and in Ireland teacher Enoch Burke has been removed from his job after refusing to call a transitioning pupil by a new name and ‘gender neutral’ pronouns. Also, in Finland the case of Päivi Räsänen continues; after being acquitted for expressing her views based on the Bible about sexuality and marriage, she is again having to defend her views at the Court of Appeal.
Asia: Christian persecution
Persecution remains present in all South Asian countries, although location, social context and time frame all affect the intensity. In India and Nepal Christians are persecuted mostly by Hindus; in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Maldives by Muslims; and in Sri Lanka by Buddhists. Some of this is a response of resentment and fear of church growth. But some persecution results from lack of sensitivity and wisdom by Christians ministering into these situations. Pray that evangelists, church planters and missionaries might share the gospel with love and boldness, but also with humility and wisdom. The Church in South Korea is a large and influential minority, an integral part of society. North Korea has an underground movement hunted down and reviled by the autocratic regime. But we can praise God for the recent growth of the Church in Asia through national workers, local evangelists and ordinary believers. These churches are Asian in structure, style and leadership. See also
DRC: Conflict and Christians
On 25th January, Rwanda's military fired at a Congolese fighter jet that had violated their airspace for the third time recently. The DRC called the shooting ‘an act of war.’ This incident comes a week before Pope Francis is to make the first papal visit to Kinshasa since 1985. The Pope plans to shine a spotlight on the bloodshed of the conflict in eastern DRC, one of the world's most resource-rich yet conflict-ridden regions. On 15th January an improvised explosive device ripped through the congregation at a baptismal service conducted by a blind pastor. It severed limbs and killed at least 17 people. This attack in North Kivu province is just the latest terrorist outrage in the DRC by the Allied Democratic Forces, one of the most dangerous of dozens of armed groups in eastern DRC. As well as physical injuries, terrorist violence has left DRC Christians suffering serious emotional trauma.
India: Violent attack on church
A disturbing new video by Global Christian Relief shows a violent attack on Sacred Heart Church in Edka village, Narayanpur on January 2nd. The mob of purportedly 1,000 extremists used rocks, iron rods, and wooden sticks. The mob was protesting against 'illegal' conversions and construction of churches,’ Global Christian Relief stated in an explainer. One witness said the situation is dire, with Christians being targeted and attacked. The latest incident is part of ongoing tensions between indigenous animist followers and Christians. The witness added that the church was destroyed, ‘They are going to attack our other institutions,’ the individual warned. Father Devasia, priest of Sacred Heart Church confirmed the damage to the church was profound and, ‘A tense situation prevails here. Police attempting to stop the violence were injured.’ Christians have also been driven out of their homes by extremists.
Iraq: Christians still largely displaced
On 12th January the Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report, detailing key findings for religious persecution issues in Iraq. Iraqi religious minorities have been fighting for normalcy since the ISIS invasion a decade ago. Despite their efforts, tens of thousands of Christians are still displaced and unable to return to their homes as ISIS is still carrying out attacks periodically, causing fear among citizens about returning to their hometowns formally controlled by ISIS. Also, the Popular Mobilization Forces often block roadways making it increasingly difficult and dangerous to return to the Nineveh plains. Also continued airstrikes in northern Iraq by the Turkish military are disproportionately affecting religious minorities, making it unsafe to return to their communities. Turkey has made little effort to protect civilians during these airstrikes, despite calls from the communities for such consideration. Pray for provision for all the families that have been displaced.
Armenia: Christians face dire circumstances
‘There is no time to wait, this is genocide’, said Dr Sukhudyan, describing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked enclave between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Deadly battles between Armenians and Azerbaijanis have previously raged there. Armenia is the world's first official Christian country, and 120,000 Christians live in the enclave. The road to it was protected by Russian peacekeepers, but on 12 December Azerbaijani protesters blocked it, preventing food, medicine, and other basic transport in or out. Now this ongoing dispute - in light of the past genocidal horrors - has human rights groups deeply concerned about what is to come. The minister of state for Nagorno-Karabakh said this is probably the prelude to an Azerbaijani armed attack, and if Russia does not step in, Armenia is not strong enough to stop them conquering the region. There will be massacres, with the oldest churches in the world possibly destroyed.
Asia: hotspots on the horizon
The war in Ukraine and the poor global economy have enabled dictators, regimes, and terrorists to take advantage of the situation while the world’s attention was distracted. This will worsen in 2023, to the detriment of Christians. Ask God to protect China’s Christians as the crackdown on house churches accelerates. Pray for all the minorities in Myanmar, where the 2021 political coup has led to many attacks and bombings of churches. The internally displaced use churches as shelters. Iran has also taken the opportunity to crack down on churches, Christians, and Muslim-background believers this year. Pray for Christian arrests and torture to diminish in 2023. Indian Christians need our prayers for an end to the anti-conversion laws being enforced in Hindu communities. Afghanistan has no national income and no natural resources, and all assets are frozen worldwide. Christianity is illegal. Those forced to stay or needing support to find safe havens need God's protection.