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Facing the Rising Tide: Anti-Christian P...

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Facing the Rising Tide: Anti-Christian Persecution across the World

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Facing the Rising Tide: Anti-Christian Persecution across the World

Project(s): 00-000

Country/Region: Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia

On Easter Monday the Archbishop of Canterbury appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Start the Week and was asked to comment on the troubles currently being experienced by non-Western Christians. In his reply he said, “We lose sight in this country very often of just how vulnerable some of the Christian communities around the world are... Christian minorities that have in Muslim environments been part of the furniture for many, many centuries are suddenly seen, suddenly cast as Western outposts, and that makes them particularly vulnerable.” As examples he mentioned the Christians of Iraq (specifically Mosul) and Nigeria.

In recent weeks Barnabas Fund has reported on the acute sufferings of both these Christian communities. In Mosul at least fifteen Christians have been murdered since Christmas, including eight killed in the space of ten grim February days, and seven bomb attacks on Christian targets left many injured and property damaged. Over 300 Christian families fled in fear from the city. Jos, the capital of Plateau State in Nigeria, has seen three horrific incidents of large-scale anti-Christian violence in January and March, in which hundreds of people have died. Inaccurate international reporting of the first outbreak unfairly cast Christians as the aggressors, and they suffered savage “retaliation” at the hands of armed Muslim mobs.

The Archbishop’s comments are to be warmly welcomed for raising awareness of the painful difficulties faced by Christians in these three countries. But they represent only a small fraction of the places in which Christians suffer grievously for their faith. These include large parts of Africa, almost the whole of the Middle East, most of Asia and even some places in Europe. The body of Christ is stricken and bleeding across a vast area of the globe.

Moreover, the problem of persecution has worsened significantly in the last 20 years, fuelled in many parts of the world by a growing and increasingly militant Islamist movement. In the interests of international security Western governments are keen to present Islam as a moderate and peaceful religion. But this is largely wishful thinking. Injustice, oppression and violence towards non-Muslims are sanctioned, even encouraged, by the Islamic source texts, and these cruelties have dominated Muslim relations with Christians throughout history. Where Islam holds sway politically and culturally, Christian minorities often experience it as both intolerant and aggressive.

So in many Muslim-majority countries, very different in culture and separated by thousands of miles, Christians are even now facing repeated incidents of discrimination, harassment and violence. For example:

  • In Egypt, Muslim mobs have been targeting Christians in various locations, destroying their property and livelihoods, burning their churches, and forcibly converting Christian women to Islam. Many Christians have been injured, and some killed.

  • In Iran, a number of church leaders who are active in sharing their faith with Muslims and winning them for Christ have been arrested and imprisoned. Muslims who convert suffer harassment and discrimination, and live in fear of even worse reprisals.

  • In Pakistan, the “blasphemy law” prescribes the death sentence for “defiling the name of Muhammad” and a life sentence for desecrating the Qur’an. Christians are very vulnerable to false and malicious accusations, and in some places they are being pressured to observe Islamic customs.

  • In Indonesia, Islamist groups persuade local authorities and Muslim communities to help them force the closure of Christian churches, whether by legal means, intimidation or violence. Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed by angry crowds.

But it is not only in Muslim-majority contexts that Christians are enduring persecution. They may be endangered by any dominant religion or ideology. For instance, Hindu-majority India has witnessed brutal and extensive instances of anti-Christian violence in recent years. Christians in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka have seen their leaders and buildings attacked, and many barely survive in desperate poverty and need. And in Communist China, churches that refuse to register with the authorities are continually harassed: their buildings are closed and their pastors imprisoned.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, says,

As the persecution of Christians has increased in recent years, the national and international media have too often ignored or even misrepresented it. But since 1993 Barnabas Fund has sought to make known the trials and needs of our suffering brothers and sisters, and to relieve their distress in whatever ways we can. Will you help us to do this, with your gifts and above all with your prayers?

Donate Today

If you would like to make a gift to strengthen persecuted Christians in the face of their hardship and grief, please click to donate online using our secure server for 00-000 (General Fund).

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference 00-000 (General Fund).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference 00-000 (General Fund).

Please Pray:
  • Give thanks for those Christian leaders who are prepared to speak out on behalf of the persecuted Church. Pray that many more Christians in the West will be made aware of the problem and moved to help.

  • Pray for Christians who are currently suffering for their faith, that the Lord will give them patience and peace in their trials. Pray that they may have the grace to remain faithful to Him and forgive their persecutors.

  • Pray for the media, that they may report anti-Christian persecution accurately and fairly. Pray that their reporting may help the victims rather than exposing them to the risk of further attacks.

  • Pray for Western governments, that they will have a clear understanding of the causes of persecution and the will to act against it.
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Daily prayer

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  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 6 hours ago

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

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