Here we will list news and events regarding the persecuted church worldwide with suggestions, assistance requests and links to help those in need. However, we humbly ask that you keep all persecuted Christians in your prayers. Prayer can be the most powerful weapon is God’s arsenal. Please consider visiting and donating to two outstanding organizations working on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world:
- Voice of Martyrs – http://www.persecution.com/
- Persecution – International Christian Concern – http://www.persecution.org/
- Nov. 1, 2015, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. VOM would like to offer you our IDOP video, Suta, as a free download (coming soon). More IDOP resources available here http://www.persecution.com/idop:
As many as 200 Assyrian Christians, mostly women and children, were kidnapped in Syria on Feb. 24 in an overnight raid by Islamic State. Reports indicate that IS may have executed some Christians and destroyed several churches during an attack on villages near the town of Tel Tmar, close to the Kurdish held city of Hassaka.
It is feared that the men will be executed and the women and children abused, sold or used as human shields. Voice Of Martyrs contacts in Syria ask that we pray for the encouragement and protection of Christians in Syria so that they can be a living testimony in the midst of war.
Sri Lanka: You Don’t Belong Here
A pastor and his family were attacked in their home by a village mob while they waited for police to show up for a prearranged meeting. The family had filed a complaint with police after four Christians who attended a prayer meeting in their house were harassed.
The four Christians were leaving the evening of prayer on May 11, when they were confronted by about 30 people. The mob told them, “This is our village — you don’t belong here!” They also strictly warned the Christians never to come back to the village for prayer meetings, and told them if they did, they’d be assaulted.
The next morning, the pastor who hosted the meeting went to the police station file a complaint. Police asked the pastor to meet them at his home at 4 p.m. They also asked the four Christians who were accosted to attend the meeting.
The police were late. As the Christians waited, they heard a public announcement calling the villagers to a public meeting. Shortly afterward, 150 people surrounded the pastor’s home and began shouting, calling out slurs against the Christians. The family immediately called the police, who told them they were on their way.
Around 5:30, about 40 people from the mob broke through the security fence surrounding the house. Taking poles from the fence, they smashed the pastor’s van. Others poured into the home and attacked those inside, including the pastor’s wife.
The pastor was knocked unconscious with a blow to the back of his neck with a pole. Suddenly afraid that they’d killed him, the crowd immediately fled. The police arrived 10 minutes after the crowd was gone. They took the Christians to the police station, where they were held for questioning for seven hours. Their attackers were neither questioned nor arrested.
The pastor spent four days in the hospital recovering, and three others were hospitalized for two days.
The Christians filed a case against their attackers two weeks later. When the case was heard on May 29, a magistrate reprimanded the police and instructed that all the attackers be arrested immediately.
Sri Lanka, a small country located to the south of India, is largely Buddhist, with just 1 percent evangelical Christians throughout the country. The country’s constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, but Christians face persecution at the hands of militant Buddhists who do not want them in their villages and think all Sri Lankans should be Buddhist.
Iraq: Hard Choices in Mosul
The eyes of the world turned last month to the northern plains of Iraq, to a city where Jonah first delivered Jehovah’s message thousands of years ago. Today the story of Nineveh (now called Mosul) isn’t of a messenger of Jehovah going into Nineveh, but of thousands of Jehovah’s followers being forced out of the city. The IS (Islamic State) told Christians if they don’t leave Mosul their alternatives are subjugation to Islam or being forced to follow a different god—Allah. Or they will be killed.
The Christians that fled the city—it is reported that the remaining 200 Christian families left prior to an IS-imposed deadline of July 19—left behind all of their possessions, as demanded by the radical Muslims. Those who tried to carry more than the clothes on their backs were robbed at IS checkpoints on their way out of the city.
The cross on the Cathedral of Mar Afram in Mosul—the Archbisopric of the Syriac Orthodox Church—was pulled down and replaced by loudspeakers to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer. Middle East Concern, a VOM partner ministry, reports: “A few Christians remain in Mosul, including some elderly or infirm who were not able to leave. In some cases, Christians are being shielded by Muslim neighbors. There are [also] credible reports that some have been compelled by the IS to convert to Islam by reciting the Islamic declaration of faith before a Sharia court.”Most of the Christians described in these sad news reports are part of the historical Christian community in northern Iraq, primarily Syriac Orthodox or Catholics who are considered by Muslims to be “Christian” because they were born in Christian families.
There is another group of Christians in northern Iraq too: those that were born into Muslim families but have consciously made the choice to reject Islam and follow Jesus. It is important to understand that these believers do NOT have a choice to pay a tax and save their lives. These converts are, in the eyes of IS, apostates. If IS fighters learned of their faith, they would give these believers two choices: return to Islam or be killed.
VOM is ministering to both groups of believers. Already VOM is caring for 2,000 displaced Christians who have fled Mosul; it is likely that number will increase. We are also working with Christian converts in the region who risk their very lives to witness of the love of Jesus to Muslims—even radical and violent ones.
As we look through the eyes of TV cameras into this volatile region, may we be reminded daily to pray for our brothers and sisters suffering such hardship and violence. And as we pray for them, let us also pray for their persecutors, that some of those hunting believers today will become believers themselves in the days and months to come.
Pakistan: A Routine Faith
In July 2012, “Edward John” was teaching classes at a sewing center located in Karachi, Pakistan. Open to both Muslim and Christian students, Edward took the time to begin classes with a Bible reading and prayer. It was this routine that interested Abia Ismail, a Muslim student who had registered to attend the sewing classes.
Abia asked many questions about the Bible, and her curiosity only grew more intense. She wanted to have her own Bible and read it for herself. Hesitant to give a student from a Muslim family a Bible, Edward refused her requests for weeks. In September, he relented and she took home a Bible. That would be the last time he would see her.
Pastor Edward, not shown, continues to evangelize and share God’s Word in Pakistan, like these two pastors are doing
On Oct. 9, class began as normal with a Bible reading and prayers. The students had begun their lessons when Abia’s brother and another man stormed into the room. Abia’s brother threatened to shut down the sewing center, furious that Edward had given his sister a Bible. He accused the pastor of converting Muslims to Christianity.
Two days later, the men made good on their threats. Abia’s brother and five other men came into the classroom with weapons. Firing into the air, the men shouted that the sewing center was now closed. As nearly 60 students fled for their homes, the men turned on Edward, using the back end of a gun to strike him in the head. As he fell to the floor from the pain, the men began punching and kicking him, and used sticks to beat him. The men dragged him from the center and threw him into the streets of Karachi.
The following week, Pastor Edward had tried to return to the sewing center to retrieve some of his belongings. Under pressure, his landlord had evicted the pastor and the sewing school. When Pastor Edward arrived at a bus stop near the sewing center, Abia’s brother spotted him. The pastor was beaten for a second time, dragged into an empty house where Abia’s brother enlisted the help of other men who pummeled him with their fists, kicked him, and savagely beat him for more than six hours. As the blows rained down, he prayed, “Forgive them, Lord, because they don’t know what they are doing.” He escaped alive, but he and his family were forced to move to a new location.
In spite of everything, he continues praying for those who wanted to kill him and to stop his ministry. Though his sewing center has been closed, Pastor Edward continues to minister with another pastor. He told VOM workers, “Although I was in trouble, I haven’t stopped my evangelism work. As I get the chance, I serve the kingdom. I always ready for friendship evangelism.”
With all that he’s lost, Pastor Edward cannot stop sharing the Gospel or reading the Word with those around him. It’s his routine.
Iran: Execution Delayed
A judge rescheduled the Aug. 12 sentencing date for a Christian man imprisoned outside Tehran, Iran. “Amir” was set to be executed after being imprisoned two years ago after being caught transporting a truckload of Bibles. Publishing, importing or reprinting Bibles or Christian literature is illegal in Iran. Though the sentencing trial has been delayed, his family remains very concerned for him.
Posted on www.icommittopray.com on Aug. 8, more than 250 people from 18 nations have committed to praying for Amir.These are just a few of the prayers that have been offered on behalf of Amir and his family:
“Lord Jesus my heart breaks for Amir and his family. Please move the judicial system in Iran to free him. I pray for a great awakening in Iran.”
— Debbie S. (USA)
“Dear Father in heaven, I sincerely thank you for the life of Amir. Gracious Father, I pray that his faith will not fail in these trying times of his life. The scriptures say, “Indeed, all who desire to live a holy life in Christ will be persecuted.” I pray that you reverse the execution and through that even the executioners will come to the knowledge of Christ”
— Christina Afua N. (Ghana)
“Thank you Lord, for this young man. Oh Lord, your works and your people are powerful. Oh God, let your will be done –but we ask that if your will be to release this man … that many more may come to Christ through him. Release him like you did Peter. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
— Charles A. (India)
Like Charles, many others prayed in the spirit of Acts 12, in which “constant prayer was offered to God for [Peter] by the church,” and Peter escaped from prison. We praise God that Amir’s execution date was postponed and we pray that God’s perfect will would be done. Continue to offer constant prayers for Amir and his family. Please pray with us on www.icommittopray.com.
- NIGERIA: TARGETING PERSECUTORS – While the violence directed against Christians in northern Nigeria lately has been at the hands of the Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram, previous attacks against Christian villages were perpetrated by members of the nomadic Fulani herdsmen. The Fulani, who are traditionally Muslim, resent the encroachment of Christian settlements on land they wanted to use for grazing their cattle and consider Christians as infidels that should be exterminated. Fulani raiders carried out an attack on the Christian village of Dogo Nahawa in 2010 in which 500 believers were killed, mostly women and children, and hundreds more injured. Many Fulani young men have also joined the ranks of Boko Haram. To read more please click here.
- PAKISTAN: YOUNG BELIEVERS KILLED – “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:14b–15, NKJV). Sometimes children are able to see truth in unencumbered, refreshing ways. Jesus loved children, and even challenged his followers to “receive the kingdom of God as a little child.” At VOM, we acknowledge the mandate of James 1:27 and have a unique interest in serving the underserved, especially children and widows living in areas that experience intense persecution. Pakistan is one of those places. For several years, VOM has been in active partnership with David C. Cook, a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing discipleship resources to help Christians all over the world grow in their faith. Together, we have been able to distribute hundreds of thousands of “Story of Jesus” books in some of the world’s most difficult places. These colorful books, which are similar to “comic books,” introduce Jesus to children in a way that is very compelling. In fact, when I took a copy home to my own children, they were immediately drawn to it.
In July of 2013, two young girls in Pakistan received a copy of “the Story of Jesus” in their native language of Urdu. The Christians who distributed the booklets happily reported that these girls trusted Christ after reading these engaging booklets. Two more sisters were added to our family!
FOR MORE NEWS ON PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS PLEASE CLICK HERE: