THE STATE OF THE PERSECUTED CHURCH Tim Keesee: ABSTRACT: At the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he writes, “Remember my chains.” Thousands of Christians around the world today could write the same words. Some are locked behind bars; others are threatened with intimidation, discrimination, and violence. Yet as persecution grows in many parts of the world, so too does the gospel. From North Africa to North Korea, from Central Asia to Central Africa, Christ is building his church — and very often, he is doing so not despite persecution, but precisely by means of it. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. (Colossians 4:18) Did Paul’s shackles clank as he penned this postscript? His letter to the Colossians lifts us to the heavens with soaring sentences portraying the beauty and power of Jesus and his magnificent gospel: “He is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15)“By him all things were created.” (Colossians 1:16)“He
By Tim Keesee, author of Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places. 1. Persecution is bound up with Christ’s persecution. Jesus made that clear on His way to Jerusalem when he told his disciples that there he would “suffer many things . . . and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matt. 16:21). And then he told his followers that they were, in fact, to follow him by taking up their cross—that is, by fully identifying with him, whatever that would cost them and wherever that would take them. Suffering for the sake of the gospel is a way in which we identify with Christ’s sufferings—and he, in turn, identifies with the sufferings of His people. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you
From Mark Rogers: Adoniram Judson and Ko Tha Byu (“The Karen Apostle”) brought the gospel to the Karen people of Burma in 1828. Revival came and thousands from this animistic people were saved and baptized. Now 40% Christian, the Karen people are suffering and they need our prayers. Christians receive harsh treatment in Burma (also known as Myanmar), where they make up only 4% of the population (89% are Buddhist). According to a thorough report from Compass Direct, “Printing of Bibles is restricted, and churches are destroyed on a regular basis.” Last January, 100 churches in Rangoon were forced to close. If a Chin or Karen (two states with high Christian populations) Christian wants a job or promotion, they are often told to convert to Buddhism first. The persecution goes far beyond closing churches and discriminatory hiring practices, however. Over 150,000 Karen and Karenni people have fled to refugee camps in Thailand—over half are Christians. They were forced to flee their
(HT: Timmy Brister)
My thanks to James Grant for this: Where Christians Are Persecuted. The new Open Doors’ World Watch List has been updated and some countries who violate the rights of Christians have changed, but at the top of the list we still see North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. .
This new video – made by my daughter Grace – is to help inform people about my bible teaching ministry. Click on the ‘Parakletos Ministries’ page tab (above) for more details. Or here!
A convicting plea from Eric Ortlund, via Justin Taylor: Dear Friends – I find I far too often tell people I’ll pray for them and then forget about it. I’m asking you not to be like me after reading this post. I’m sure some of you have heard about the persecution in India, in the northern province of Orissa – about 50,000 Christians have had to flee their homes under persecution by extreme Hindus. Churches have been burned and Christians have been tortured and martyred for their faith in Jesus. I’m asking everyone who reads this to pray frequently for these Christians, with whom we’ll be spending the rest of eternity – and to pray for their persecutors, that, like Paul, they’d see the light. No corner of the Internet is really private, and one has to be careful about what one says; but the situation in India is no secret, so I think it’s OK to talk about it
John Piper writes: Recently I wrote that we seldom know the micro reasons for our sufferings, but the Bible does give us faith-sustaining macro reasons. It is good to have a way to remember some of these so that when we are suddenly afflicted, or have a chance to help others in their affliction, we can recall some of the truths God has given us to help us not lose hope. Here is one way to remember. Five R’s (or if it helps, just pick three and try to remember them). The macro purposes of God in our sufferings include: Repentance Suffering is a call for us and others to turn from treasuring anything on earth above God. Luke 13:4-5 – Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will
My Thanks to Phil Johnson for this post: eports out of India over the past week or so describe a dramatic increase in violence against Christians, mainly at the hands of radical Hindus in the state of Orissa. The conflicts are to a large degree rooted in Hinduism’s caste system and Hindu resentment over lower-caste people who have converted from Hinduism to Christianity. But the incident that sparked the current violence was the August 23 murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, Orissa’s top leader of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a hard-line Hindu nationalist organization. Saraswati was well-known for his militant opposition to Christianity. He is alleged to have directed the burning of hundreds of churches. Maoists (communists) have taken responsibility for Swami Saraswati’s murder, but Christians have been the main targets of the radical Hindiu backlash. VHP leaders insist Christian missionaries plotted the murder. More than 50,000 Christians are said to have fled the region, hiding in jungles and forests to
From the New York Times: Aides organizing President Bush’s trip to China for the Olympics considered having him worship at a house church, one of the underground religious institutions that routinely face official harassment, but the Chinese authorities ruled it out. Pastors, lawyers and other political activists whom Mr. Bush considered meeting in Beijing as a signal of support have instead been ordered by the Chinese authorities to leave the city during the president’s visit. Scores of others have been arrested. (HT: James Grant)
Anthony Sacramone reminds us: On this day sixty-three years ago, Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged (actually slowly asphyxiated to death) at Flossenburg Prison, a mere three weeks before it was liberated by Allied forces. Bonhoeffer had been imprisoned for his role in the July 20 Plot, the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer was caught only when money used to help Jews escape to Switzerland was traced back to the pastor. Today is a day to remember the cost of discipleship: Suffering then is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. . . . That is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true Church. . . . If we refuse to take up our cross and submit to suffering and rejection at the hands of men, we forfeit our fellowship with Christ and have ceased to follow Him. But if we lose our lives in His service and carry out
Yes, this is quite shocking. It is estimated that nearly 250 Million Christians were persecuted throughout the world in 2007. Many were martyred, imprisoned, beat, and ridiculed for their faith in Jesus Christ. This startling statement comes from an article by the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission [HT: Kevin Stilley]. Their article goes on to detail a year’s summary of the worst persecution in various locations around the world. One incident stood out as I read through this list: Eritrean authorities tortured a woman to death on September 5 for refusing to recant her Christian faith, the fourth such killing in less than a year. Nigisti Haile, 33, died at the Wi’a Military Training Center; she was one of 10 single Christian women arrested at a church gathering in Keren. On February 15, Magos Solomon Semere also died under torture, at the Adi-Nefase Military Confinement facility outside Assab. Eritrea has officially recognized only Islam and the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Christian churches….According
In America, the worst you can expect for trying to share the gospel or defend biblical truth is an insulting email in your inbox. At worst, you can expect hostile weblogs to pop up and call you names. In many parts of the world, the persecution means potentially losing your life, your property, your education or your children. The persecution of Christians by Hindu extremists is worsening as this WorldnetDaily story reports. (HT: sliceoflaodicea)