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WORLD WATCH~SPRING OF 2013~
2 years ago
| Blue Label
WORLD WATCH/
YEAR OF 2013~
~CHRISTIANS WHO ARE VICTIMS OF HATE CRIMES & EXTREMISM; RESTRICTIVE GOVERNMENTS, AND PERSECUTION~
    


 


This post was modified from its original form on 13 Feb, 4:58
2 years ago
 

Saudi Arabia - #2

Extreme Persecution   Leader: King Abdullah
Government: Monarchy
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 28 million (1.25 million Christians)

 

 

Dear Donna,

Rashid* is a Saudi Arabian student who attended a Western university and surrendered his life to Christ after his roommate shared the gospel with him.

Excited about his newfound faith, Rashid returned home and shared the good news of Jesus with his loved ones. But he chose a public venue to tell one relative about his decision. A bystander reported Rashid to Saudi religious police, who threw him into jail.

Rashid's cell mate, Tareq*, kept staring at him. At last Tareq spoke: "You're the man I'm supposed to talk to."

But Rashid shook his head. "I don't think so. I've been just thrown in jail for my belief in Jesus."

Tareq, however, pleaded with Rashid: "In my dreams a man was shown to me. It was your face. You have something to tell me."

So Rashid shared the gospel with Tareq, who eagerly received Jesus into his heart.

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2 years ago
 

Maldives - #6

Extreme Persecution   Leader: President Mohammed Waheed Hassan
Government: Republic
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 320,000 (few Christians)

 

Dear Donna,

The Maldives are well-known as a dream destination for holidays. The islands are located in the midst of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by blue water and white beaches stretched out under the blazing sun. This is the picture authorities want to give to the outside world. The harsh attitude the government takes towards all Christian believers is less known, darkening the lovely picture of the country considerably. Nothing substantial has changed during the last reporting period, resulting in no changes in ranking or points for the Maldives on the 2012 World Watch List.

As every Maldivian citizen has to be Muslim, all deviant religious convictions are strictly forbidden. The government does not distinguish between national and expat believers. The tiny number of indigenous believers is not able to meet publicly, let alone worship together. On the contrary, they have to practice their faith in utmost secrecy, always in fear of being discovered. While the authorities closely monitor all religious activities that they perceive to be suspicious, social control also remains extremely high. Maldivian citizens agree with the heavy handed authorities because they see freedom of religion as freedom to discuss religious issues related to Islam. This freedom was non-existent under the former regime governing the country. Maldivian society demonstrates this attitude towards all kinds of beliefs or convictions, be it Christianity or Atheism. Additionally, the government has increased control of all media.

According to an amendment made to the “Protection of Religious Unity Act” in September 2011, every person must avoid creating hatred towards people of other religions. While this may initially sound good, it effectively reinforces the existing government policy that Islam is an inseparable part of a Maldivian’s cultural identity. The legislation, forbidding the practice of any religion except Islam, is thus confirmed once again. Commentators therefore stated that the official direction religion is taking in the country will be toward Deoband Islam, the same ideology which informs the Taliban’s convictions.

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1 year ago
 

Mali - #7

Extreme Persecution   Leader: Interim president Dioncounda Traore
Government: Republic
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 15.5 million (351,000 Christians)

 

Dear Donna,

Before last year, Mali was a country with minimal Christian persecution. However, the situation changed with the capture of the Northern part of the country by Tuareg separatist rebels and Islamists fighters, and the proclamation of the creation of the independent state of Azawad in Northern Mali (April 2012).The Islamists soon established an Islamic state with a stern Sharia regime in the North.

Most Christians fled before the Islamists took over. In the meantime, they destroyed churches and other Christian buildings in Timbuktu, Gao and other areas, wanting to eradicate all traces of Christianity.

They also were very hard on traditional Muslims, killing people, amputating limbs and destroying Sufi sanctuaries. Since the fighting started in March 2012, tens if not hundreds of thousands of Malians have fled the North to the South or neighbouring countries.

The future of the Church in Northern Mali is very much unknown. The presence and infrastructure of Christianity has been largely destroyed. It will take a long time to build it up again, even if the Islamist fighters were successfully driven out of the North.

Secondly, it is unknown if the international forces will succeed in driving away the occupants from Northern Mali. If not, it will be very difficult to build up a Christian presence in the North again. The future of the Church in Southern Mali may be negatively affected by the rising influence in Malian politics of religious leaders from the High Islamic Council.

Even if the occupation of the North comes to a halt, the tendency for religious radicalization in Malian society may continue, negatively affecting the lives of Christians and their churches.

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1 year ago

 

Iran - #8

Extreme Persecution   Leader: IAyatollah Ali Khamenei
Government: Islamic Republic
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 78.9 million (450,000 Christians)

 

Dear Donna,

Authorities in Iran ordered the closure of a church in the capital, Tehran, amid a government campaign to crack down on the few recognized churches offering Farsi-speaking services.

The order came from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence branch. The Revolutionary Guard, also known as Sepah, is known for its military aggression. Authorities ordered it to shut down some years ago according to Monsour Borji, an Iranian Christian.

“Unfortunately, it is now official the church in Janat-Abad [district] was ordered to shut down,” said Borji. “If no reverse decision is made, no meetings will be held. Due to an increasing number of Farsi-speaking believers mostly MBBs [Muslim Background Believers] it has become a cause of concern for the authorities and they now ordered it to shut down.”

Earlier the leadership of the AOG Central Church of Tehran, after 20 years of pressure from authorities to provide a list of church members, asked its members to volunteer their names and national ID numbers. The government move was aimed at limiting attendance by converts from Islam to Christianity, as well as to better monitor its members. Almost all members of the church’s two Sunday services come from Muslim families. Both services are held in Farsi.

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1 year ago


  

 

Eritrea - #10

Extreme Persecution   Leader: President Isaias Afewerki
Government: One-party state
Main Religion: Islam/Christianity
Population: 6.1 million (2.5 million Christians mostly Orthodox)

 

Dear Donna,

The following letter was written by a pastor in prison:

My dearest wife,

God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence.

My dear, listen to me—not only as a wife, but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are… [In here] God has made me not only a sufferer for His Name's sake… but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace.

…When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts which were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the Church and over me. I thought the work of the Gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God…

The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, 'Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell are [unsaved]. You are much needed here.'...

My dear, the longer I stay in here, the more I love my Saviour… His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, 'Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool?' Well, isn't that what the apostle had said, 'Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, I am Christ's!'

My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the Gospel.

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1 year ago

Sudan - #12

Extreme Persecution   Leader: President Omar al-Bashir
Government: Republic
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 34.2 million (number of Christians unknown)

 

Dear Donna,

It all started with a phone call late in the day. An unfamiliar voice on the other side instructed him to report to the office of the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) first thing in the morning. The next thing he knew, he was sharing a prison cell, unsanitary restrooms and a few pest-infested blankets with several other men. Philip's crime: he is a Christian from a Southern Sudanese origin, working hard to bring hope to countless Sudanese through a ministry providing health services. Khartoum is the only home he has ever known, but the government deemed him a foreigner and thus unwelcome.

Circumstances for Christians in Sudan are deteriorating fast. In 2011 the country was listed 35th on the Open Doors World Watch List. In 2012 it moved up to number 16. In January 2013 Sudan moved up even further on this list, now filling the 12th position.

Since the secession of Southern Sudan in 2011, Sudan has made clear their intention to turn the country into a sharia state, in the process rooting out anyone who may delay them in reaching their goal.

On December 24, 2012, the pro-government newspaper, Akhir Lahza, announced a crackdown on non-governmental organizations following the listing of all who allegedly received funds from the USA.

These events highlighting the government's political paranoia, received much publicity from the media. However, suffering almost silently at the same time is the Church. Open Doors is aware of several churches that have been demolished and ministries that were closed down as part of the government's paranoia. Among those affected are two Presbyterian churches, an Episcopal Church, a Catholic Church and a ministry providing health services.

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1 year ago

 

Nigeria - #13

Extreme Persecution   Leader: President Goodluck Jonathan
Government: Federal Republic
Main Religion: Islam/Christianity
Population: 170.1 million (88 million Christians)

 

Dear Donna,

Hannatu is 13 years old and wants to become a banker. Her favorite sport is basketball and she loves mathematics. She really likes the Book of Psalms because it tells her so much about who God is. One Sunday morning in June, Hannatu went to her Sunday school. She did that every Sunday. But this Sunday would be different. That day, a suicide bomber crashed his car into a barricade at her church, setting of explosives that killed at least 24 people and wounded 125 others.

“We were in the church. The church was full that morning. I was at the Sunday school. I went outside with my uncle and we were preparing for the meal. Then, we wanted to go inside. We heard a car coming. The next thing I saw was people crying, running outside. There were people lying on the ground.” Hannatu’s voice is so soft that you can barely hear it. It is difficult for her to talk about what happened. She is together with a friend who was also injured. When they chat together, Hannatu laughs. She is a tough girl with a mischievous smile.

Hannatu asks all the people to pray for her church and also for herself. “I feel sad because I lost people I loved. Especially my uncle. Sometimes, I am happy because God made me see this day and saved my life. I would like people to pray for me because I have hurt my eyes. I cannot see many objects from afar. I don’t want to wear glasses, I just want to see well. Thank you for praying.”

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1 year ago

 

Pakistan - #14

Severe Persecution   Leader: President Asif Ali Zardari
Government: Republic
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 190 million (5.3 million Christians)

 

Dear Donna,

One year later, Selina* still wonders if her father will come home. He disappeared while on a ministry trip and there has been no news since. Some local Christians claim to have had dreams that he will come home, others that he was killed and yet others say that those who took her father away will come back for other members of their secret churches.

Selina’s father, Brother Quornelius,* was delivering materials and care packages to his secret believer brothers and sisters when he was kidnapped in a remote area of Pakistan. That was the second time within a month, but this time he did not return. Nor was any information received as to his whereabouts, except for threats that he would not be the last. Working as a pastor for the Secret Church carried with it certain risks and danger. In her 20 years of life, Selina always knew that when her father left, it could be the last time she saw him, or that he might be badly injured the next time she laid eyes on him.

Every so often she gazes out of the window. “Abu Ji does not even know where we are,” she thinks to herself. She and her family have been relocated several times to protect them and keep them safe. But she fears that if they hide too well, then her father, if ever released, will be unable to find them. ‘But this puts you at risk’, a church elder had explained to her.

Please pray for Christians like Selina in Pakistan who have lost their loved ones in the face of persecution.

*Name changed for security reasons

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1 year ago

Damascus Church Reaching Out to Refugees
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that over 1.3 million refugees have now fled war-torn Syria, and the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Syria exceeds 2 million. In spite of the worsening situation for Christians, the church in Damascus is reaching out to refugees with supplies, medicine and the love of Jesus.
Read More

1 year ago

 

Laos - #18

Severe Persecution   Leader: President Choummaly Sayasone
Government: Communist state
Main Religion: Buddhism
Population: 6.6 million (170,000 Christians)

 

Dear Donna,

Former Buddhists Kapono* and his family fled their house on Jan. 9, 2013 due to persecution they were facing at the hands of relatives and villagers. The believers were barely two weeks in their faith in Christ when they left their village in Southern Laos.

"When the family returned home (from a church in another village), their cousins and neighbors persecuted them,” according to a local source. “Last Jan. 6, they took Kapono's cow...and then pushed him and his family out of the village. The believers lost their land, which was about four acres."

Kapono and his family are now staying at the house of a Christian friend in a nearby village.

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1 year ago

Qatar Man

What Life Is Really Like For Christians In Qatar

This tiny country along the Arabian Peninsula is home to the Al Jazeera news agency, well developed with the lowest illiteracy rate in the Arab world and in 2022 is planned to be home to the World Cup. Qatar has a small indigenous population and there are actually more foreign workers than native Qataris. In the mix of all of this are Christians, who face a great deal of persecution. The following is an exclusive interview with a Christian who is able to tell us what life is really like for Christians in Qatar.

What is daily life like for a Christian in Qatar?

The largest part of the body of Christ in Qatar are actually Christian migrant workers from countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. 

Many of them live in labor camps (yes they are really called labor camps). They work from the early morning to late at night, sometimes seven days in a week. After work, they return to their labor camp where they eat and sleep. 

The working conditions are very harsh; the construction sites, where many of them work, are unbearably hot in summer where temperatures can easily exceed 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50° C).  It is not uncommon that people die from heat stroke or exhaustion.

Christian fellowship inside labor camps is prohibited and needs to be done in secret.

Female migrant workers who work in Qatari homes are vulnerable to sexual abuse and other forms of physical abuse. Just like most places on the Arabian Peninsula, the position of women is weak and they’re at the mercy of caprice protectors, who are mostly Muslim men. 

As for the daily life of local Qatari Christians; there are a few and they tend to keep their faith a secret (while trying to live according to Biblical guidelines).

Read the full interview on our blog →

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