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 July 8-14, 2018
As is our usual preference, we will begin our commentary on this week’s report with the good news:
- An abducted Egyptian college student was returned to her family.
- Six Christians were acquitted in Nepal of illegally handing out religious literature.
- In Sudan a church which had been seized by the government four years ago for office space was returned to its congregation.
- A professor of political science at a nominally Christian university in the United States who had been suspended for defending a Christian student’s defense of traditional marriage prevailed in his state supreme court for reinstatement.
Sudan Pentecostal Church, Khartoum – courtesy Morningstar News
In Nigeria the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria issued a statement concerning the continuing mass murder of Christians: entitled Shameful Inversion of Values: The Plateau Massacre, it documents the horrible devaluation of human life that is underway. The statement can be read in full by clicking here. Members of other churches gave additional witness to these events.
A priest was shot in an apparent robbery in Venezuela and he later died in the hospital.
An armed man with possible lethal intent invaded the residence of a bishop in the Philippines but was killed by police.
The usual tabulation of beatings and false arrests in India covers one-fifth of this week’s report. In one case Hindu radicals dragged their Christian victims from an ambulance for another beating, and then showed up at the hospital to demand they be treated instead of the Christians.
Nicaraguan pro-government paramilitaries were allowed by police to assault a cathedral to beat its occupants – included among the bishops who were attacked were the nation’s cardinal and the Vatican ambassador.
Another girl was reported to have been abducted in Egypt and has not been found.
Our report lists one serious case of persecution in China and in Sudan, two in Uganda, and three in the United Kingdom.
How should we respond to these events? Most of us are mere witnesses to the news, so we can do little better than to take our inspiration from others. The Nigerians this week responded to the martyrdom of their people with strong statements from the educated mind. The Nicaraguans responded with the interposition of their own bodies to minimize violence. The Sudanese pastor, a man who has suffered multiple arrests in the past in the service of his people, led them in prayer to thank God for the good they had received with great warmth and gladness. Perhaps this last story is the most telling, for in the end after we have been delivered from these trials we will be left with thanksgiving. With confidence we pray…
Weekly Commentary July 1-7, 2018
Last week we reported on the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusals to validate the Western world’s continuing endeavors to suppress Christianity in the name of secularism, and we asked if they were outliers running against the general trend. This week’s report (click here to read in full) has stories from Canada, the UK, and the U.S. that return to the general trend. The worst stories are from Canada, and include a Canadian Supreme Court ruling that basically allows law societies [bar associations] to refuse to recognize the accreditations of Christian law schools, just because they identify as Christian. Since Western nations have largely come to rely on their legal systems to direct and mediate political power, this decision points to the further marginalization and disempowerment of Christians in the coming years, if it is not reversed.
Last week we had an event that highlights one of our reasons for publication, and this week we have had another. As we state on the FAQ page of our web site, a primary goal of our writing is to identify people who are at some risk of martyrdom and so give the reader cause to pray for them before that cup comes to them. Last week we reported on the murder of Mexican Pastor Eduardo ‘Lalo’ Garcia; now this week we report on the murder of Father Firmin Gbagoua in the Central African Republic. Both men have been reported on our pages as faithful servants in dangerous situations for years. Please read our reports and keep all of these witnesses in our global Gethsemane in your prayers, since no one knows when their turn on the Cross may come.
We do have some good news. A priest in Egypt thanked his Muslim neighbors for their help in the reconstruction of his church building, a Christian was released from captivity in Iran, and the U.S. government appeared to be getting serious about pressuring Turkey into releasing Pastor Andrew Brunson.
But most of the news is, of course, negative, with the continuing mass murder in Nigeria at the top of the list.
The government of Belarus – the most repressive in Europe – received the irony prize this week: it has continued to deny the entry of foreign clergy with the excuse that the country’s churches have failed to open enough seminaries, and then it attempted to conscript dozens of seminarians into military service! China attempted to fine another church into bankruptcy. Thailand has not persecuted Christians as such, but its policies have only continued the suffering of Pakistani Christian (and Ahmadiyya Muslim) refugees who have tried to escape persecution. More Muslim persecution of Christians has been reported from Greece and Kyrgyzstan, Hindu-directed persecution in India, and Christian persecution of a Christian in Ethiopia. There are so many to pray for, please keep these people in your prayers this week. Please pray especially for the persecutors.
Hanzhuang Village house church, Zongdian, Qi county, Henan province, China – courtesy China Aid