INDIA – No. 10 on Open Doors’ World’s Watch List

10.Unprecedented Christian Persecution in India

In the world’s second most populous country, Christians saw unprecedented persecution on numerous fronts from both the State and general Hindu society. For the first time, India enters the top 10 on the World Watch List, jumping one spot from No. 11 in 2017. Home to more than a billion people, even an incremental rise in persecution yields an exponential impact. Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, Hindu extremists have fueled a crackdown on Christian house churches and have attacked believers with impunity—believing that to be Indian is to be Hindu. So any other faith is viewed as non-Indian. In rural areas, Christians were told that one church would be closed down every week because they have been “destroying” local tradition and culture by “luring” others to convert to Christianity. And it is common for Christians to be cut off from local water supplies and be denied access to government-subsidized groceries. In India, saying “yes” to Jesus has become a risky decision that costs you and your family greatly.

To read more about these countries and the remaining 40 countries on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List, click here to see the list and download the full report. To help you pray with these believers, Open Doors has a mobile prayer app that alerts you to prayer requests from believers. Learn more about it and sign up to get regular updates delivered to your phone.  Share Your Comment

Dear Reader: thank you for your time reading these important posts concerning persecution of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Let us remember them in prayer and support them financially and physically were we can. God bless your obedience to Him. Carl

Sudan and Eritrea: 6 & 7 In The Top 10 Persecutors of Christians

6.Christian Converts in Sudan Targeted for Persecution

Sudan has been ruled as an Islamic state by the authoritarian government of President al-Bashir since 1989. Under his charge, the country offers limited rights for religious minorities and places heavy restrictions on freedom of speech or press. The last year has been difficult for Christians in many ways. There have been arrests; many churches have been demolished and others are on an official list awaiting demolition. And many Christians are attacked indiscriminately in areas like the Nuba Mountains where there is an ongoing conflict between government forces and rebel groups. Christian converts from Islam are especially targeted for persecution. So to keep from being discovered, converts will often refrain from raising their children as Christians because this might attract the attention of the government and community leaders (since children might inadvertently reveal their parents’ faith).

7.Christians Imprisoned in Shipping Containers in Eritrea

Since 1993, President Afwerki has overseen an authoritarian brutal regime that rests on massive human rights violations. During the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, government security forces conducted many house-to-house raids and imprisoned hundreds of Christians in inhumane conditions, including small shipping containers in scorching heat. Protestants, in particular, face serious problems in accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the State. Christians from non-traditional church groups, such as evangelicals, face the harshest persecution. In 2018, Eritrea embraced an end to hostility with both Ethiopia and Somalia. How that agreement will play out for the situation of Christians remains to be seen. This extreme pressure and state-sanctioned violence are forcing some Christians to flee Eritrea–often called “Africa’s North Korea”–and seek asylum.

Dear Reader: please pray for these precious people who are suffering for believing in and following Jesus Christ. That is their only “crime”! May grace upon grace be upon them.

Carl

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.”

The Making Of A “Footstool”

The Lord says to my Lord

“Sit at My right hand,

Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet”

The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion

saying,

“Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.”

Psalm 110: 1-2

Let us begin 2019 by remembering that our Heavenly Father is in control of the future. “As consistently explained in the New Testament, this opening verse describes the determination of God the Father (the Lord) regarding the ultimate victory and dominion of God the Son (my (David’s) Lord) …” (Moody Bible Commentary).

As we read about Christians being persecuted and killed in Laos, Nigeria, North Korea, China, India, Egypt and other Muslim countries, let us remember that the Messiah is coming to Jerusalem (Zion) again. Coming to judge the nations and establish His Kingdom on the earth.

Not as a suffering Messiah but as a Warrior King.

This is no New Age Christ-consciousness, cosmic panentheistic Christ, some spark of divinity in everything, Higher Self, Avatar, or just one of the faces of divinity that flow to the All encompassing One. This is the One who died on the Roman cross for the sins of the world returning as the powerful Holy Son of God, in the splendors of holiness, to judge the wicked who have rejected Him.

All of these people who take pleasure in destroying and persecuting His children will themselves be suddenly destroyed by the Warrior King, King Jesus. The terrible day of the Lord will come. His patience will be exhausted. The iniquities of the rebellious will be ripe and full measure.

Listen:

“The Lord is at Thy right hand;

He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.

He will judge among the nations,

He will fill them with corpses,

He will shatter the chief men over a broad country…

Psalm 110: 5-6

Isaiah 63:1-6 gives us a vivid description of what Psalm 110 tells us:

Who is this who comes from Edom,

With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,

This One who is majestic in His apparel,

Marching in the greatness of His strength?

“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”

Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?

“I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment.

“For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come.

“I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me.

“I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” …

Though Revelation tells us the rebellious and idol worshippers will cast their idols away and try to hide from “terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty” (Isaiah 2:21), NONE will escape.

Psalm 110 is cited directly by the writers of the New Testament nine times with exclusive reference to Messiah. In Hebrews it quotes the following verse in a discussion on how “the atonement afforded by the priestly work of Messiah is not only perfectly efficacious but is also eternal”. (Moody Bible Commentary)

“THE LORD HAS SWORN

AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND

‘THOU ART A PRIEST FOREVER’ ”

Hebrew 7:21 (Psalm 110: 4)

God gave visions to Daniel in Babylon that revealed Gentile world dominance would end in the future and the Messiah would come to Israel. This gave the stunned captives HOPE as they reflected on how God had severely disciplined them (Israel) for forsaking Him.

In like manner, as we see the world and parts of Christendom fleeing from a loving God into the arms of the great Seducer, as we are confronted with our own shortcomings and failures, may we be STRENGTHENED knowing that our Savior Jesus is coming as a Warrior King. He will rescue His Bride, the Church, and Israel and bring justice. His numerous enemies will become His “footstool”; they will be put under His feet once for all. God the Father is even preparing it now and will bring it to pass in His own time.

“…then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. I Corinthians 15:24-25

This “PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET” is the “footstool” that God is preparing for His Son.

Are you already in subjection to Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you fear or reverence His name? The following reveals the difference in the lost and the saved on that terrible day of God’s wrath:

… For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” [2] “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. [3] You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts. …. Malachi 4:1-3

If you are not born again according to John 3, please call upon the Lord now while He is still seated on His throne of grace. Repent of your sins and ask Him to save your soul from destruction.

… THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”— that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says,“ WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED …. Romans 10:8-11

Heavenly Father, the One who holds the future in His hand, thank you for your purposes and ways that you have revealed to the Church. Thank you for protecting your children and keeping them from the evil one as Jesus prayed in John 17:15. Be with our brothers and sisters who are suffering and dying in other countries for the sake of Jesus. Help them to remain faithful until the end. Give them the grace and love of Jesus to endure their sufferings. Do not let us forget these people but to pray daily for them and help physically where we can. Save those who torment them for they know not what they do. In Jesus’ precious name we ask these things. Amen

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20) God’s mercy and grace be upon you.

Carl

Prospects Appear Dim For Religious Freedom in Cuba

The Rev. Carlos Lamelas knows first-hand the diabolical nature of attempts by Cuban authorities to cripple Christianity on the Communist isle.

Refusing to allow government interference in the internal affairs of his congregation, Lamelas was charged with “human trafficking” (allegedly helping Christians to flee the island). He spent four months in jail and endured years of unjust treatment before leaving Cuba as a political refugee in 2011.

Like many pastors, Lamelas initially ran afoul of the government simply for effectively proclaiming Christ.

“When a religious leader attracts a popular following, the G-2 [State Security] mobilizes a team of psychologists to do a psychiatric evaluation and determine if he can be coerced,” Lamelas said. “They will launch a campaign to gather incriminating evidence against him, dispatch young women who try to seduce him or peddlers to offer him black market goods In other words, they are going to entice him to commit some legal or moral offense.”

If a leader is impervious to such duplicity, he said, then arrest on false charges awaits him.

“The only step a church leader can take is simply to be faultless,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are very few who have managed to stand firm and maintain purity against so much pressure.”

Pressure from the international Christian community persuaded Cuban authorities to release Lamelas and eventually drop the false charges against him, but many Christians have not fared so well. One Christian aid and advocacy group found a sharp increase in violations of religious freedom by the administration of Raul Castro in 2012.

U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) counted 120 religious rights violations on the island last year, compared with 30 in 2011. Hundreds of people were affected, with some cases involving entire churches and denominations.

https://morningstarnews.org/2013/01/prospects-appear-dim-for-religious-freedom-in-cuba/

Berean Call

Insight Into Christian Persecution

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Not many years ago our knowledge of Christian persecution was based on what the Roman Empire did to Christians and random acts of violence that happened in some far off land. ISIS changed all of that. Their videos showed the killing of Christians in the Middle East.  With that in mind, I wanted to share the findings of Nik Ripken who has researched persecution in over 60 countries by talking to those who have survived persecution.  Following are his thoughts.

“Persecution is a negative reaction to the incarnate presence of Jesus among His people. The negative reaction can take many forms and it can come from many different sources. Persecution can come from society as a whole, from the government, from an ideological entity, or from families and individuals. Persecution may be overt (open) or covert (hidden). It can be physical or psychological. Persecution can be actual or merely threatened. Regardless of its form, however, THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF PERSECUTION IS TO SILENCE WITNESS. AT ITS WORST, PERSECUTION DENIES PEOPLE ACCESS TO JESUS.”

“As strange (and as horrifying) as it sounds, we came to realize that believers could be unwittingly complicity with the persecutors by simply refusing to share their faith.  Just like persecution, the refusal to share the faith denies people access to Jesus. It was a startling thought to realize that the persecutor’s use of violence to inhibit the faith and the believer’s refusal to speak openly of Jesus yield the same result. In both cases, people are denied access to Jesus. How tragic that the silence of believers could yield the same result as the violence of persecutors! On the other hand, when we share our faith boldly and refuse to silence our witness, we are powerfully identifying with believers in persecution.”

When we witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we identify with those in chains. When we refuse to witness, we identify with those who place the chains on followers of Jesus.”

–Nik Ripken – The Insanity of Obedience (Emphasis mine)

These quotes are some of Mr. Ripken’s insights from his extensive research on the persecuted church. It is startling to realize that when we don’t share our faith, we are having the effect Satan desires, by persecuting the believers in Jesus Christ. We are preventing access to Jesus.  

Reflect on that today.

May you walk in Holy Spirit power today to be a living witness for Jesus Christ.

Carl