Libya and Pakistan: No. 4 & 5 Persecutors of Christians

4.Believers in Libya Face Deadly Violence

After the ouster of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya plunged into chaos and anarchy, which has enabled various Islamic militant groups to control parts of the country. Libyan converts to Christianity face abuse and violence for their decision to follow Christ. The country is also home to many migrant workers who have been attacked, sexually assaulted and detained, which can be even worse if your Christian faith is discovered. Libyan Christians with a Muslim background face extremely violent and intense pressure from their family and the wider community to renounce their faith. Believers from other parts of the continent are also targeted by various Islamic militant groups and organized criminal groups. Few will forget the horrifying video of Egyptian workers martyred by ISIS militants on the coast of Libya. The level of violence against Christians in Libya is very high, and Christians in Libya are subjected to violent, inhumane and degrading treatment.

5.Christians in Pakistan Live With Open Discrimination and Constant Threat of Mob Attacks

Under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians continue to live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy—which can carry a death sentence. The most well-known example of these laws is the case of Asia Bibi. After sitting on death row for more than 10 years, the Christian wife and mother was acquitted of blasphemy charges in October however her life is still in grave danger from radical Islamists that have gained increasing political power in the world’s sixth-largest country. For that reason, the new ruling government must maintain good diplomatic relationships with some radical groups. Christians are largely regarded as second-class citizens, and conversion to Christianity from Islam carries a great deal of risk. An estimated 700 girls and women abducted each year are often raped and then forcefully married to Muslim men in the community, usually resulting in forced conversions. While traditional, historical churches have relative freedom for worship, they are heavily monitored and have regularly been targeted for bomb attacks (for example, the Quetta attack in December 2017 on Bethel Memorial Methodist Church). In Pakistan, all Christians suffer from institutionalized discrimination. Occupations seen as low, dirty and derogatory are officially reserved for Christians. Many Christians are very poor, and some are victims of bonded labor. On the other hand, many Christians belong to Pakistan’s middle class; however, this does not save them from being marginalized or persecuted.

First Contact

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said…”

Genesis 3:1

In this Scripture from Genesis, the first book of the Holy Bible, we have an account of Satan’s first contact with the human race.

What does this fallen angelic being say?

“… has God said…”

From his first interaction with our race of beings, his goal has been to cast doubt on what God has already said.  Today, he is still using this tactic and, as a result, many people see no need to read the greatest book ever written, the Holy Bible.

Christian, be sure to reject this lie because

[19] “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Num. 23:19

Carl

Somalia: No. 3 On The Top 10 Nations Persecuting Christians

Source: Open Doors

Estimates suggest that 99 percent of Somalis are Muslims, and any minority religions are heavily persecuted. The Christian community is small and under constant threat of attack. In fact, persecution of Christians almost always involves violence. Additionally, in many rural areas, Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab are de facto rulers who regard Christians with a Muslim background as high-value targets—often killed on the spot when discovered. In recent years, the situation appears to have worsened. Islamic militants have intensified their hunt for people who are Christian and in a position of leadership. An attempt to reopen a church in Hargeisa, Somaliland, failed; the government was forced to shut it down due to pressure from the local Islamic population. In the World Watch List 2019 reporting period, Christians in Somalia remained so vulnerable to attacks by Islamic militants that in the interests of security, Open Doors could publish no specific examples of persecution.

Dear Reader: Please pray for these brave brothers and sisters.

Carl

No. 2 Nation in Persecution of Christians: Afghanistan

Photo credit: IMB.ORG

Afghanistan is once again a close second behind North Korea on the 2019 World Watch List. An Islamic state by constitution, the country does not permit any faith other than Islam to exist. To convert to a faith outside Islam is tantamount to treason because it’s seen as a betrayal of family, tribe and country. Very often, there is only one possible outcome for exposed and caught Christians: death. In Afghanistan converts are considered literally insane to leave Islam. As a result, some may end up in a psychiatric hospital and have their homes destroyed. In addition to communal pressure, the security situation continues to deteriorate due to the influx of foreign militants who have pledged allegiance to ISIS. And the radical Islamic Taliban have also increased in strength; at least half of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces are either ruled or contested by the Taliban. Afghan Christians (mostly those with a Muslim background) are in hiding as much as possible.

Opens Doors Video on World Watch List

10 Most Dangerous Places To Be A Christian

Source: Open Doors

Dear Reader: Would you stop what you are doing right now and say a prayer for our brother and sisters in Afghanistan who are facing almost certain death if discovered. Pray also that the Lord Jesus would reveal Himself to the Muslim in dreams and visions, like He has done across the Middle East, and lead them to one of these “hidden” Christians and the Word of God, so that they may be saved.  We should also pray for their persecutors for they are blinded by the powers of darkness and know not what they do. 

“And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained:  And they cried out with a  loud voice, saying “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.”  Revelation: 6:10-11

Our God is in control of the present and the future; therefore, we should be patient like the farmer who waits for the early and latter rain. The Lord Jesus will come in terrible wrath one day to bring justice and deliver Israel and His people. Until that time let us remain faithful to Him and gather the souls that we can. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21) 

Carl

Ranked No. 1 in Persecution of Christians

1. North Korea Ranks No. 1 for 18th Consecutive Year on World Watch List

The Christian persecution we read about in Scripture and history books is not a thing of the past. It still exists. Today, in the 21st century, we are living in a time when persecution against Christian believers is the highest in modern history. According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List—an in-depth investigative report focusing on global Christian persecution—persecution is increasing at an alarming rate. Below, we look at the world’s 10 most dangerous places to be a Christian—countries where saying “yes” to following Jesus is truly a life-or-death decision.

For three generations, everything in this isolated country has focused on idolizing the leading Kim family. Christians are seen as hostile elements in society that must be eradicated. There was hope that new diplomatic efforts in 2018—including the 2018 Winter Olympics—would mean a lessening of pressure and violence against Christians. But so far that has not been the case. In fact, reports indicate that local authorities are increasing incentives for anyone who exposes a Christian in their community. If Christians are discovered, not only are they deported to labor camps or even killed on the spot, their families to the fourth generation share their fate as well. Communal worship is non-existent. Daring to meet other Christians for worship is a risky feat that must be done in utmost secrecy. Yet Open Doors estimates the number of Christians in North Korea to be 300,000 strong—believers who are defying the unjust regime and following Jesus.

Dear Reader: we will share the other nine nations one at a time to give you time to reflect on each nation’s actions against your brother and sisters.

Let us remember the writer of Hebrews instructions to “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3) Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering greatly and dying for the testimony of Jesus. Pray that they would remaining faithful even unto the point of death if need be.

Carl

“I Know Every Bird of The Mountains”

Cedar Waxwings

“I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is mine.”

The Lord – Psalms 50:11

Every winter we look forward to the arrival of the goldfinches and cedar waxwings. The flock of goldfinches arrived this morning and swarmed the sunflower seed and thistle feeders. The ground seems alive with all the birds moving around, feeding on the spillage.

The cedar waxwing flock will appear later in February or early March. They come for the red berries on the Holly tree. They do not come to the feeders. Sometimes the only way we know they are in the area, is we awake to find all of the berries gone. Occasionally you will see the flock in the trees but you have to wait for the Japanese plums to ripen to see the flock in action, diving, flying and fighting one another for the juicy plums.

I believe Jesus rejoiced greatly when He created the birds. Someone has said that butterflies are “flying flowers”. I think the same is true of most songbirds, the painted bunting, cardinals, cedar wax wings, indigo bunting, and such.

As I watch the birds feeding in the yard, I am always reminded of what the Lord told the disciples about the sparrows:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food and the body than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

Jesus – Matthew 6:25-26

May you remember His words the next time you see a sparrow or some other type of bird. Our Heavenly Father is just that, a Father, and He will take care of His children. And that is what biblically born again Christians are, His children.

He meets our every need. From the air that we breathe to the bed we lie down in at night, to the food that we partake of and the clothes that we wear. He even gives us the faith to believe the gospel and the grace to walk it out. He protects us from unseen evil and opens our eyes to understand that their are just some things we need to flee from. He has even prepared a place in His heaven for us and will take us there one day.

He truly is a father to us, His children.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…

John 1:12

May each earthly need be met and rich, spiritual blessings be in your life!

Carl

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”

Vietnamese Christians Persecuted

The Christian Post (CP) reported last week that Christians in Vietnam are suffering persecution for the testimony of Jesus. I encourage you to keep the global Christian community in your prayers, as Christians in many nations continue to suffer, even to the point of death, for the cause of Christ. Persecution is projected to increase in 2019. Excerpts from the CP article follow. Carl

Several Hmong Christians were beaten and arrested by Vietnamese government officials after they refused to renounce their faith and worship a Buddha statue, a pastor has revealed.

Pastor Hoang Van Pa told persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern that government officials threatened 33 Hmong Protestants in Phá Lóm village in November if they refused to renounce their Christian faith.

Police reportedly gathered personal information about the 33 believers and carried out an open trial before the community. The officers presented an image of the Buddha and tried to force the Christians to abandon their faith and worship the Buddha statue instead. Four of the Christians were arrested and beaten, and government officials continued to harass Protestants in several other raids throughout November and December.

As Dzung, the representative of the Interdisciplinary Inspection Team, explained that Vietnam has banned the Protestant Christian faith and seeks to expel those who refuse to renounce their faith in Jesus. In 2018, more than 100 believers were expelled from Yen Bai province and Lao Cai province.

Due to its ethnic background and high percentage of practicing Christians, Vietnam’s Hmong community is often targeted and harassed by both the government and neighboring communities,” wrote ICC’s Regional Manager Gina Goh.

In a Communist country where Christianity is often seen as unpatriotic or a threat to the regime, Hmong Christians constantly face discrimination, harassment, land grabs, torture, and imprisonment.”