Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. – Revelation 1:19
Clockwise from upper left: Church burning in Peshawar, Pakistan; feminists attack a cathedral in San Juan, Argentina; cross burning in Pakistan – courtesy Abiz Nawaz; massacre of Christian students at Garissa University College in Kenya; army tank sale to Nicaragua; young Christians pray in a burned-out church in Egypt; RSS Hindu paramilitary rally in India.
Weekly Commentary August 6-12, 2017
More good news this week (click here to read our full report)! Two more captives have been freed, Rev Jen Tivkaa Moses in Nigeria and Pastor Lim Hyeon-Soo in North Korea. Also, criminal prosecution of a Spanish archbishop for speaking against gender theory has been stopped. A Chinese pastor has posted an eloquent note of thanks to social media following his release after a day-long detention. We have positive stories of the rebuilding of Iraq and Syria.
From the dark side we have the murder of at least 12 Christians in a church in Nigeria, and a massacre in the Central African Republic that killed among others a seminarian, his father, and an entire Red Cross team in a hospital. The backstory here is that two militias were fighting each other, one Muslim and one anti-Muslim (animist and syncretic Christian). The local UN peacekeepers were from Morocco, and instead of equally enforcing the peace they aided their fellow Muslims in perpetrating these atrocities. However, the Muslim leader in the capital took a different stance: Imam Oumar Kobine Layama took the side of the local archbishop and demanded that the UN remove the Moroccans.
St Philip Church, Ozubulu, Nigeria – courtesy Reuters
This week’s report also lists more civil rights violations and the destruction of a 4th century monastery in Egypt, the beating of an elderly woman in Iraq, the televised trial of Christians in Uzbekistan, the illegal sale of a church in Turkey, the burning of an historic church in Vietnam (not an arson attack, apparently, but firefighters took hours to respond), and a foiled assassination attempt on the Pope in Portugal.
Mary Mother of God church, Trung Dong, Nam Dinh province, Vietnam
Two stories this week reflect a new trend. Evil has always existed within the Church in some form (recall the words of Jesus “One of you will betray me” – Matthew 26:21), but in its beginnings it is usually hidden and covert. Three weeks ago we had a story concerning a very public attempt to bring unchristian beliefs into the Anglican Church. Now we have two similar stories:
In Italy an anti-Christian politician and former abortionist was invited to speak in a Catholic church on immigration issues. Catholics who objected were booed and forcibly ejected from the church – one of them had a very pointed comment regarding the hypocrisy of the politician’s attendance, saying she welcomed immigrants but not children.
In India over a hundred Christians from various churches signed a letter calling on their leaders and all Christians to surrender their differences and to work in unity against the totalitarian movement that is slowly engulfing the country. The full letter has been added to our documents page, thanks to one of our Indian correspondents, Dr. John Dayal. You may click here to read it.
In all of these cases we are witnessing the intrusion of evil forces – there is no other way to state it – into our Christian churches, with the result that we and our leaders become conflicted, cowed, compromised, or even corrupted. In the face of such events and powers we must unite our prayers and actions, as never before.
Weekly Commentary July 30 – August 5, 2017
Great news this week! Two Christians who have long suffered in prison have been released! Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh was released from prison in Vietnam on July 28, 2017, after serving about half of his 11 year sentence for ‘undermining unity’. He was then exiled to the United States along with his wife and five children. Four days later Maryam Naghash-Zargaran aka Nasim was released from prison in Iran, after completing her 4 year sentence for ‘damaging national security’. Unlike Pastor Nguyen she is not safe: like him she needs prayers to recover her health, but she is also apparently at risk of new prosecutions.
In this week’s report (click here to read) we have included the full history of the events in prison, as well as that of Tran Thi Hong [Pastor Nguyen’s wife] who also repeatedly suffered at the hands of police.
Other stories include:
- The priest who was stabbed during Mass in Mexico City’s cathedral in May 2017 has died.
- Two pastors in India were beaten; at least one attacker was arrested, but police also arrested the Muslim teen who attempted to rescue them from the attack and who took them to the hospital, in an attempt to deflect responsibility from Hindu radicals.
- Russian conflict over the memory of Tsar Nicholas II and his family: it might be hard for Westerners to understand, but the Romanovs have been declared in Russia to be Christian martyrs. Their icons and statues are now found in churches, and the depiction of their lives in the media can rouse great passions.
- An almost comical account of a newly ordained priest and seminarians almost bounced from a pub in Wales for wearing clerical garb. Apparently young happy men could not really be Christians, especially if they wore such clothes! Certainly any suffering in this story was not more than a moment, but it has been included because it illustrates again how far the West has moved from its Christian heritage.
Please look over this week’s report and pray for those who remain in prison, those who have been threatened, and those who have been beaten. Pray that more will be free of fear and captivity in the very near future.
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Novosibirsk, Russia
Weekly Commentary July 23-29, 2017
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. – Matthew 7:7-11
This week we report on a pastor in India who was detained for conducting a worship service. The arresting officer asked the pastor which Bible passage was his favorite, and he replied Matthew 7:7-11. The pastor offered to read it aloud, and when he finished he was slapped for his effort. Let us be gracious and assume the officer did not understand that ‘wicked’ as spoken here applies to all children of Adam, Christians included.
Our report this week (click here to read) is rather large. It contains a number of very powerful quotes from Christians around the world. Here is a sample:
- From the Central African Republic: “Half of the population of Bangassou has fled, taking refuge in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. The clashes have been going on for days…Two thousand Muslims have been welcomed in the fenced area of the Cathedral defended by the Moroccan military…”
- From China: “More than 100,000 votes have been invalidated…The election is being trampled on”
- From Colombia, on the murder of a priest: “this son and brother…sacrificed in the exercise of his mission…at the service of evangelization”
- From Greece: “While we are silent as fish, everything is vanishing and dying. We are persecuting Christ! The Greeks are being de-Christianized!… The voice of the Church is not heard today; the walls are falling one by one without resistance”
- Also From India: “There is a display of a majoritarian hegemony with a totalitarian outlook upheld by the RSS [paramilitary] agenda of ending diversity and establishing a Hindu Rashtra, a state with a monolithic culture…”
- Also from India, regarding current persecution: “They want to create a kind of fear into the life of Christians that they should not follow the Christ…Surely this has not weakened us but it is strengthening us…”
- From Kenya: “The attackers have been targeting Christians living in Lamu County, especially farmers in the interior areas…”
- From Mexico: “The headquarters of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference has been attacked with a three cylinder explosive device. I believe this reflects the situation in Mexico”
- From Pakistan: “I was eating at home when the explosion occurred. I immediately realized my brother would have been in the impact zone. I rushed with other family members to be with Ilyas but on arrival all I could see was the lifeless body of my brother…”
It is hard to read these things. It is even harder to know that it will always be this way, until the last day when the grains and the weeds are pulled up together to be separated. So let us pray, let us ask, let us seek, and let us knock, so that God may grant us good things to soften the hardness of life on this earth.
Weekly Commentary July 16-22, 2017
Our report this week (click here to read) tells of the deaths of Christians in Egypt, India, Nigeria, and the United States. Once again, the death of a Nigerian Christian college student shows how the most gifted and promising among us are lost to us due to hatred, though of course they are not lost to God. Once again, the murder of an elderly reclusive nominal Christian in the United States shows the reach of internet enabled terror. Once again, the death of an Egyptian Christian shows the extent of police brutality. Once again, an Indian Christian has died at the altar of Hindu nationalism. Our report this week once again has shown a great many other things.
The irony prize this week goes to the Russian government, for both threatening to prosecute a conscientious objector from an “extremist” church and for telling him that he will be posted to the country’s nuclear forces.
In Great Britain two events occurred that should greatly concern Christians. The first was the release of a report from the Foreign Office which argued that the government should ‘persuade’ Christians in the Global South to ‘reinterpret’ the Bible to be ‘inclusive’ to LGBTI people. The second was similar: at the July 11-14 General Synod of the Church of England in York, the church leaders effectively voted to remove LGBT activity from the realm of Christian forgiveness. One Christian who is regularly reported on this site, Andrea Minichiello Williams, rose and asked the synod to consider the Bible. The Rev. Gavin Ashenden, who is becoming another regular here, told on an Anglican Unscripted webcast what happened:
“One of the saddest moments was when our doughtiest public campaigner, Andrea Minichiello Williams, who is the director of Christian Concern, she stood up and invited people to consider the demands of Scripture. She wasn’t listened to in respectful silence. She was booed. Well, when you have the Synod of the Church of England booing somebody who has an extraordinary reputation for standing up for the Gospel in the public space, who was inviting the Synod to consider the claims of Scripture, when someone like that was booed, you know that things have gone too far, there’s been a sea change”
She was booed. A Christian who has probably done more than any other in today’s Britain to defend the rights of persecuted Christians in courts and in the media was publicly shunned and silenced by the leaders of the established church, and over an appeal to consider, not follow, but just consider the Bible. This is an atrocity. The Church of England has only about 800,000 members, and so Gavin Ashenden recently wrote a call for restoration:
Anglicanism is an episcopal Church, and the betrayal [seen at the synod] is one that lies at the feet of the bishops of the Church of England, who have preferred social and secular kudos to the sacrifice and integrity of the Gospel, and gone along with the replacement of Christ the Savior with Jesus-the-fake-therapist…There must come a new episcopal jurisdiction to whom the faithful can look for comfort, fidelity and leadership – a new Anglicanism that is in fact the old Anglicanism recaptured from the secular civil servants who serve this new religion…Leave the civil servants in their legal offices with responsibility for the upkeep of so many churches that have become museums, and let the faithful look to new bishops who will guard the orthodox faith, offer spiritual nourishment, lead the Christian community in its struggle against the growing anger of the secularists who seek to silence them.
Please read our report, please pray very much, and please do not be silent.
York Minster, Yorkshire, England
Weekly Commentary July 9-15, 2017
The human rights world, especially in China, was shaken this week by the death of 61 year old dissident Liu Xiabob on July 13th. Liu Xiabob is the first Nobel Peace Prize laurate to die in captivity since Carl von Ossietzky died in 1938 Nazi Germany. Liu was not a Christian, but his humanist writings have had a noticeable effect on the Christians of China, especially his book No Enemies, No Hatred. As he lay dying from the liver cancer that the Chinese government had failed to treat, prayers for him and his wife Liu Xia were offered together at St. Vincent’s Chapel in Hong Kong by a congregation led by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and the Reverend Wu Chi-wai, and certainly by millions of Christians and people of other faiths throughout the country.
The death of Liu Xiabob has frightened many Christians who have loved ones in prison. They already have seen the death of U.S. resident and humanitarian Peng Ming in prison on November 29, 2016. So it should be no surprise that we have seen in recent weeks stories of the failing health of captive Christians. In our report this week (click here to read) we have synopses and links to stories on Tang Jingling, who has had chest pains since he was deprived of sleep for 10 days, and Zhang Shaojie, who has been starved, beaten, and deprived of sleep – to read our biography of Zhang Shaojie click here.
St. Vincent Chapel, Hong Kong
As our archives show, the human rights world should be shaken by a great many things.
Elsewhere in the world, we have the murder of an Egyptian Christian woman in her home, the murder of a rural preacher in Pakistan, and the death of three Christian sanitation workers who were disposable in the eyes of Pakistani society. Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, India, Iran, and the United Kingdom all were reported as having false prosecutions. The United Kingdom also was the scene of a typically Western style persecution, where a terminally ill 11 month old child was denied access to clergy by his hospital.
We ask that you again pray for these and all the nations, and for all their peoples.
Weekly Commentary July 2-8, 2017
Sadly, while this week’s report (click here to read) is short, it does record the deaths of five Christians in Egypt and Mexico. One of the deaths in Egypt was the beheading of a ‘canonical painter’, an icon artist. Each case appears to be one of blind mindless violence.
Three identified Christians have been confirmed to be together in captivity in Mali, along with other persons.
After months of silence the Iranian government has handed out 10 year sentences of imprisonment to several Christians, although three have escaped the country for their native Azerbaijan – pray that they will remain safe at home from extradition! It appears that the government is stepping up its prosecutions, more are about to happen (also see last week’s report)
Christians in Nigeria continue to protest changes to public school curricula that they fear are hidden attempts to convert students to Islam.
This week’s report also contains more details on the police attack on the monastery at Thien An, in Vietnam.
Please continue your prayers in response to these events and in anticipation of the others that are about to happen.
Thien An Monastery, Thua Thien Hue province, Vietnam – courtesy AsiaNews.it
Weekly Commentary June 25 – July 1, 2017
Young people around the world share many concerns, which are easily remembered by those who are older. One compelling story in this week’s report (click here to read in full) concerns young Christians in Iran. Imagine that you are a teen or young adult, you have secretly been introduced to the Gospel – secretly because a public introduction would have resulted in the arrest of both you and your evangelist. After reflection and prayer you decided to follow Jesus Christ, and you now call yourself a Christian. You live with the knowledge that every meeting with your fellow believers, every admission of your faith to a longtime friend, could result in your arrest and imprisonment, and possibly your death. Your current circle of real friends is small.
So one story this week concerned a wonderful attempt to expand that circle. A conference was organized in “the local region” so that young Iranian Christians could meet and share their experiences. It sounded like fun. It also sounded very risky. Please read at least that part of this week’s report and pray for their fellowship and safety.
Other stories this week include:
- The death of two missionary nuns in an automobile accident in Brazil
- A lawsuit against church leaders in Cyprus for having allowed two adult men to join a monastery
- Another ‘Jesus should have been aborted’ story, this time from Italy
- A follow up to the story of the Pakistani Christian sanitation worker who died because doctors did not want to risk ruining their Ramadan fast by touching his sewage covered body: after his friends and family filed a criminally negligent homicide police report against the doctors, the doctors responded with criminal interference charges against the Christians and have attempted to coerce the police to arrest them. Fortunately the police have resisted this pressure to perpetrate another injustice.
- Many, many other stories from across the globe
Please read this week’s report and please pray.