Can You Feel It?
Christian persecution is all around us. You can experience it at home within the family, from unsaved relatives and friends, in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in the store, on the streets and just about anywhere you go. Even here on hubpages, you only need to step inside the Religious forum and place a comment on your faith in order for Satan’s fiery darts to start flying! This hub is not about the verbal abuse we as Christians receive through rude comments or obscenities. It is about the real Christian persecution that is going on this very moment around the world. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering more than you could possibly imagine just for loving the Lord and not being willing to deny Him. Before I share some of these true stories of Christian persecution, let me first share with you from God’s Holy Word.
Matthew 5:11,12 "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they prophets which were before you." (Jesus speaking)
Persecution has been taking place since Christ walked this earth some 2000 years ago. He knew his disciples and those to follow the faith would go through some terrible things. Yet He tells us to rejoice! Why? Because we will be greatly rewarded in Heaven for what we go through in sharing our faith and in defending our faith in Him. Our heavenly Father knows all, hears all and sees all that takes place in our lives.
2 Timothy 3:12 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (Paul speaking)
When we take up our cross and follow Jesus, we will suffer persecution. When we share our faith and defend our faith, the light that is within us shines. Unbelievers are compelled to strike out even to the point of death!
Matthew 5:44 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (Jesus speaking)
We are told to pray for them, love them and do good to those who persecute us. Jesus died on the cross for them...for all of us. He desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance. We need to pray for hearts to be changed!
1 Timothy 1:13 "Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (Paul speaking of himself)
Reread this verse. Paul was once the enemy. He was a blasphemer and a persecutor of Christians! He goes on to say that he received mercy because what he did was done in ignorance because he did not believe. So it is with all who persecute Christians.
John 15:20 "Remember the word that I said unto you, ‘The servant is not greater than his Lord.’ If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;" (Jesus speaking)
We are certainly not greater than our Lord. Jesus was mocked, beaten and spat upon. He suffered terrible physical and emotional abuse. The Father turned from Him. He could not look upon His Son because His Son carried the sins of the whole world...my sins...your sins...all sins, on His beaten and bruised body. Jesus’ heart must have broke when the Father forsook Him. Are we, as His followers, to expect anything less? Aren’t we even afraid to share our faith because what we say might be rejected?
2 Corinthians 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; (Paul speaking)
Like Paul, we too should expect to be persecuted. But Jesus said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Some of us may be cast down, but we cannot be destroyed for we are promised eternal life with the Lord.
Let me share with you a sampling of true stories of real Christian persecution that is going on today.
Somalia: Christian's Sons Beheaded
Islamic extremists have beheaded two boys in Somalia because their Christian father, 55 year-old Musa Mohammed Yusuf, refused to give them information about an underground church leader, according to Compass Direct News.
The extremists from the group al shabaab killed 11 year-old Abdi Rahaman Musa Yusuf and 12 year-old Hussein Musa Yusuf, after abducting them in front of their mother. The terrorists are currently looking for Yusuf in Kenyan refugee camps.
Yusuf was a leader of an underground church in Yonday village, 19 miles from Kismayo, Somalia. On February 20, the extremists interrogated Yusuf about his relationship with Salat Mberwa, the Christian leader who discipled him in the faith and led an underground fellowship with 66 believers. When Yusuf told them he did not have any connection to him and knew nothing about him, they left and vowed to return the next day. Yusuf fled immediately and the next day the extremists killed his sons.
Yusuf’s wife and 7-year-old son have joined him in the refugee camp in Kenya where Mberwa and other believers are helping them. VOM encourages you to pray for Yusuf and his family as they have lost their sons. Pray God comforts them during this difficult time, and provides the family with other believers who can encourage them with scriptures and songs.
Defending Her Faith!
Pakistan: Christian woman arrested
Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old Pakistani woman from the village of Ittanwali, was arrested by police on Friday, June 19, and faces possible blasphemy charges. Asia is the wife of 50-year-old Ashiq Masih, and their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of more than 1,500 families.
Many of the local women work on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees, including Asia. During their work many of the Muslim women have pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. Over the past week the pressure has been especially strong.
On Friday, June 19, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith, with the Muslim women telling Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ.
Asia told the Muslim women that Christ had died on the cross for our sins, then asked them what Mohammed had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them Jesus is alive, but Mohammed is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”
Upon hearing this response the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia Bibi. Then some men came and took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.
Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She is currently being held at the police station in Nankana city. Christians there urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed that they must go forward due to pressure from local Muslim leaders.
The Voice of the Martyrs urges Christians around the world to pray for Asia Bibi and her family. Further, we call on the Pakistani government to insure that the rights of Christians like Asia are protected.
The Voice of the Martyrs’ sources are actively investigating the case, as well as providing support to local Christians. More information will be posted at www.persecution.com as it becomes available.
Friday, June 5, 2009 (11:28 am) By Worthy News Asia Service with Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
RANGOON, BURMA (Worthy News) -- A Christian-run orphanage in Burma near the border with Thailand has been attacked by the Burmese army, amid a fresh crackdown on the predominantly Christian Karen people in the area, officials and children told BosNewsLife Friday, June 5.
At least 90 children, including 30 orphans and kids “ persecuted and traumatized by war” were trapped late Thursday, June 4, and were “forced to flee in the middle of the night,” said Jeff King, the president of International Christian Concern (ICC) which supervises the project.
He told Worthy News that the only way to safety was across the river into Thailand, however “Not all of the kids knew how to swim so we are on pins and needles waiting to hear what happened.” King added that initial reports suggested that “most survived”, but there was no immediate confirmation.
The ICC official said the attack came as a major setback as the “orphanage was a new project for us” in Burma, also known as Myanmar. The buildings, including the dorms, church, and a school, had just been finished in April, King explained.
“The project was such a success that another 60 kids, persecuted and traumatized by war but not orphans, had come to the orphanage for an education and relative safety, compared to living without defense in the jungle on the constant run from the army,” he added.
King said an ICC representative warned earlier that the Burmese army “might attack” as the fighting was getting increasingly close. “The Burmese army was going to make a final push this year to defeat the Karen people,” King added, citing local sources.
The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), an outgunned group which includes 'born-again' Karen Christians, has been fighting for autonomy and protection since British colonial rule ended after World War Two. Burma's unelected junta, a group of generals known as the State Peace and Development Council, views especially Christian Karens as a threat to its power base, rights investigators say.
Witnesses said the Burmese army attacked a camp for internally displaced people in Burma first this week, then went and crossed the river entering Thailand. “They then crossed the river again from the Thai side into the other camp, our kids were trapped and could not run deeper into Burma because there were landmines placed around the camp,” a witness said in a statement distributed by ICC.
Hundreds of children and adults were apparently hiding on the Thai side of the border Friday, June 5. Another rights group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told BosNewsLife that at least 1,000 people have fled the latest Burmese offensive.
“This is an urgent situation which requires immediate international attention. Karen civilians have been suffering such attacks, as well as other gross violations of human rights amounting to crimes against humanity,” stressed CSW Advocacy Director Alexa Papadouris.
Among the children seeking shelter from the latest clashes were orphans who already experienced suffering, according to letters distributed by ICC. “My name is Kham Loo, I am 13 years old. I have been [at the ICC orphanage in Burma] for eleven months,” one letter said.
“My parents were killed in Burma. I am an only child. It was very dangerous for me to get here. I had to avoid the many landmines. I saw the Burmese soldiers come into my village and have witnessed many of my friends being murdered.” She said, “Many girls have been raped and then killed by Burmese soldiers. Other girls who were gang raped became crazy. The Burmese soldiers also took our harvest.”
Another child, Seng Mon, 11, wrote: “I have been here four months...It took me one day to travel here. My father died and my mother was taken away by the Burmese soldiers. I came here, because in Burma it is very dangerous [as] I have seen the Burmese soldiers raping girls. There are many landmines around our village in Burma [but] I feel safe here and I want to learn to speak English.”
It was not immediately clear where the orphans would be staying Friday, June 5, but Thailand has set up refugee camps and Christian groups also support Burmese orphans there. CSW said the latest tensions come as the trial continues of Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for allegedly violating terms of her house arrest.
Suu Kyi, her two companions under house arrest, and an American, John W. Yettaw, are being tried together on charges of violating the conditions of her restriction order, which bans visitors without official permission. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Yettaw prompted the charges by swimming to Suu Kyi's property and sneaking into her home for reasons that remain unclear.
CSW said it has urged the United Nations Security Council to impose a universal arms embargo on Burma’s “military regime, and to establish a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity.”
Papadouris said the group has also asked authorities in Thailand to provide shelter and protection to the Karen from Ler Per Her region, “and we urge members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), China and India to use their collective influence with the regime to call a halt to such offensives against civilians”.
Burma, is majority Buddhist, a close ally of China, and mainland Southeast Asia's biggest country. The Burmese military government has denied wrongdoing. It has said it remains concerned over "the loss of all human rights of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan," while claiming that the Burmese military was enforcing law and order so human rights and democracy could flourish at home.
Churches and Homes Burned!
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (Worthy News) -- At least 13 people, including women and children, were injured Wednesday, July 1, when local Muslims set on fire some 100 Christian homes and churches east of the Pakistani city of Lahore, Christian rights investigators said.
International Christian Concern (ICC) told Worthy News that its partners rushed to the scene in the city of Kasur South to help injured Christians trapped in the riots. ICC said the violence was sparked by "broadcasts from local mosques", although it was not immediately clear what was allegedly said.
The incident is similar to a February 1997 attack when thousands of Christian houses and churches were burned and hundreds of Christians were injured, ICC added.
"ICC partners received the news this morning and went immediately to the scene to help injured Christians transferred to Lahore, renting two mini vans for this purpose. So far 9 burned women and 4 children have been transferred to Lahore for further medical treatment," the group said in a statement.
ICC investigators said all of them were injured when Muslim mobs apparently threw acid on them. Local police reportedly arrived on the scene, but ICC said "the situation is out of control as thousands of Muslims have gathered for this purpose."
The group said it has urged its supporters around the world to contact their Pakistani embassies to ask them to protect the Christians in Kasur South.
Wednesday's reported violence came amid several reported anti-Christian incidents in Punjab province, to which the city belongs.
What can you do to help?
I've shared four news stories with you of recent Christian persecution. They were taken from Worthy News and Voice of the Martyrs websites. As Christians we need to begin by remembering our brothers and sisters in Christ in fervent daily prayer. Go to the VOM website and keep informed. They have a free monthly newsletter that you can sign up for. You can also get a free copy of the book entitled "Tortured For Christ". They have a kids site, a prison/prayer alert and a host of other things for you to participate in. You'll never look at your faith the same way again. Those of us who live here in the USA have been blessed thus far with our religious freedom. That freedom is slowly being eroded away.
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