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 November 12-18, 2017
Two items of good news this week (please click here to read the full report): a Coptic Christian priest was acquitted of blasphemy charges in Egypt, and a mentally ill Pakistani who was arrested last week on blasphemy charges has been released on bail.
Christians were reported to have died or been killed in China (an elderly bishop persecuted in prior decades) and in Nigeria. They were reported to have been beaten in India – including an update to an October story in which children were pulled from a train by Hindu radicals and abused while in custody – and in Uganda. A Chinese pastor saw his home raided by police and was threatened with arrest. Christian leaders reported on threats of war in Lebanon, and on actual violence in India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. A Philippine chapel suffered an arson attack and a Russian ‘prayer house’ was closed by local authorities, as were churches in India.
Chapel, Labo-Labo village, Shariff Aguak town, Mindanao, Philippines
Prayer House, Tula, Russia
Australian voters approved a non-binding mail survey in favor of same sex marriage; Christians there have expressed hope that Parliament will pass approving legislation that will offer better protection of the rights of conscience than have been made available in other countries.
In the United Kingdom we have five stories listed, three of which involve gender fluidity. A teacher who had been careful to avoid offence to a transgendered student made one verbal slip, with the result that he has been suspended. Bishop Gavin Ashenden wrote a letter to the Times of London in which he noted that the last six years have seen a 1,000% increase of referrals of children with transgender issues to a mental health clinic, and raised the issue that the cause is really societal pressures.
We would agree. There is huge evidence that the rational, intellectual basis of Western civilization is eroding, the pace of erosion is accelerating, and these accounts are just more signposts along the way to a future that will be much different than most Westerners realize. Of course, the West has been there before: nationalism and totalitarianism were once our Golden Calves, and that led to scores of millions of deaths in Europe and Asia. Now new idols have taken their place. To be sane we must return to the certainty that reason and intellect are gifts from God. Please pray that our return to the Truth will not be long delayed.
Weekly Commentary November 5-11, 2017
In this week’s report (please click here to read) a Christian church in Egypt was allowed to re-open after 22 years of government stonewalling. Two Kenyan survivors of the 2015 Garissa University College massacre have resumed college, although with great difficulty due to their disabilities. A U.S. campus group successfully defended itself against a hate speech charge. A large extended Pakistani family was almost burned to death by a mob of 300 radicals for blasphemy but were saved by their Muslim neighbors. Aside from the arrest of a member of that Pakistani family and their continued fear, those are all good outcomes.
Still Christians were killed or met untimely deaths in China (a pier side accident), Egypt, Nigeria (in once case a mass shooting), Pakistan, and the United States. Besides a deacon who was stabbed to death in New York, twenty-six Texan Christians were shot dead in their church by a gunman who hated both them – some as former in-laws, though most of the attacker’s ex-family were not present – and their religion; thirty more were wounded. The viciousness of the Texas attack shook the Christians and most others of the country to their core in a manner not seen since the June 2015 Charleston church shooting. One survivor later said “He shot the babies when they cried”.
A Lutheran minister, the Rev. Hans Fiene, wrote about the massacre on the following day – click here to read in full. He began with Twitter quotes of people mocking the prayers of those killed in the Texas church (“If prayers did anything they’d still be alive”; “They had the prayers shot right out of them. Maybe try something else”), calling each such tweet “an act of profound ugliness”, and compared them with the mockery of Christ from the crucifiers at the foot of the Cross:
It’s also an act of profound ignorance. For those with little understanding of and less regard for the Christian faith, there may be no greater image of prayer’s futility than Christians being gunned down mid-supplication. But for those familiar with the Bible’s promises concerning prayer and violence, nothing could be further from the truth. When those saints of First Baptist Church were murdered yesterday, God wasn’t ignoring their prayers. He was answering them…“Deliver us from evil”…When we pray these words, we are certainly praying that God would deliver us from evil temporally – that is, in this earthly life. Through these words, we are asking God to send his holy angels to guard us from those who would seek to destroy us with knives and bombs and bullets. It may seem, on the surface, that God was refusing to give such protection to his Texan children. But we are also praying that God would deliver us from evil eternally. Through these same words, we are asking God to deliver us out of this evil world and into his heavenly glory, where no violence, persecution, cruelty, or hatred will ever afflict us again.
Pastor Fiene went on to quote Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s prophetic words on persecution that were uttered three years before his fellow parishioners, and his daughter, were killed:
“We do not need to fear the day of persecution that’s coming to the church, because God said it’s going to come. He warned us over 2,000 years ago the day was coming. And rather than fear it, He said just endure it. Now ‘endure it’ is a hard word. ‘Endure it’ doesn’t mean that they might take your ice cream away today. ‘Endure it’ means it may be a rough day. It may be a rough few years. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.”
Pastor Fiene concluded thusly:
I pray they [Pastor Pomeroy, his family, and his congregation] will still trust in these words. Despite the horror that madman made the saints of First Baptist endure, those who endured it with faith in Christ have received his victory. Although the murderer filled their eyes with terror, God has now filled them with his glory. Although he persecuted them with violence, God seized that violence and has now used it to deliver his faithful into a kingdom of peace. Although this madman brought death to so many, God has used that death to give them the eternal life won for them in the blood of Jesus. Those who persecute the church and those who mock Christians for trusting in Almighty God rather than Almighty Government may believe that the bloodshed in Texas proves the futility of prayer. But we believers see the shooting in Texas as proof of something far different – proof that Christ has counted us worthy to suffer dishonor for his name and proof that no amount of dishonor, persecution, or violence can stop him from answering our prayer to deliver us from evil.
First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas, United States – courtesy First Baptist Church
Weekly Commentary October 29 – November 4, 2017
Here are some notable points from this week’s report – please click here to read the report in full:
- Christians were killed in Cameroon and Nigeria, and a Christian released from jail in Pakistan died of natural causes before he could clear his name of blasphemy charges, which has left his family fearful of retribution
- One quarter of this report lists responses from various Christian leaders in the Middle East to the decision of the United States government to bypass the United Nations and to give aid directly to Christian refugees in that part of the world. These responses make for a very telling picture of the situation there
- One sixth of the report is concerned with India. One state has stripped people of the right to vote in local elections if they have more than two children: this is a direct attack on the so-called tribals, the descendants of the aboriginal people who lived in India before the Indo-European-Vedic invasion almost four millennia ago, many of whom have become Christian.
- Nigeria and Pakistan together make up another sixth. The Pakistani stories all demonstrate official corruption and bigotry.
- Vietnam has apparently begun to create ‘private’ groups that will perpetrate persecution at the government’s bidding in ways that will allow the government to deny direct involvement
There are several other stories on this week’s report. Please peruse them and pray over them. Thank you.
Weekly Commentary October 22-28, 2017
Listed in this week’s report (please click here to read) are the deaths of Christians in Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe. We also report on abductions, arrests, assaults, detentions, imprisonments, and prosecutions in China, India, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom. A new anti-conversion law has been enacted in Nepal. Christian worship has been suppressed in locations in Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, and Ukraine, the last country having two stories of Christian versus Christian conflict.
Annunciation Church, Kolomyia, Trans-Carpathia, Ukraine
We have three accounts of persecution from the United Kingdom, aside from the aforementioned assault case. One involved a Christian education charity names CrossTeach, which has conducted religious presentations in Church of England schools. One church school has partially dismissed CrossTeach (they will still be involved in after school activities) after some parents labeled the charity ‘extremist’ for discussing subjects such as the crucifixion of Jesus.
The other two stories from the UK both involved court cases in which the non-profit Christian Concern defended persecuted Christians. Both cases were lost, and Christian Concern is planning appeals.
Christian Concern is led by Andrea Minichiello Williams. A quick survey of the Today’s Martyrs archives shows that Ms. Williams now has the third largest entry on our internet site, after those of the Indian Christian activists Sajan K. George and John Dayal (please see page 3 of this document). Moreover, the entire United Kingdom archive is the largest of any Western democracy save the United States, and unlike the U.S. the UK archive contains far more government actions. It is now quite apparent that the United Kingdom, and in particular London, has become the epicenter of Western-style secularist persecution of the Christian Church. The facts supporting this statement go beyond those normally reported by us: for example, the current Speaker of the House of Commons has said that homosexuals will never be equal until the government compels all churches to perform same sex weddings. Western Christians who wish to monitor – and pray for – their future would do no better than to keep their eyes and prayers directed to the conversion of the British people.
Weekly Commentary October 15-21, 2017
Twenty three stories from thirteen lands are covered by this week’s report (please click here to read). Christians were killed in Nigeria and South Africa, and another young refugee died in Thailand. Christians were attacked in India and many other places. Repression is building in the Philippines, where the licenses of church owned radio stations are not being renewed and where rumors that hint of an upcoming declaration of martial law are flying.
In Uzbekistan Christian homes were raided by police and Christian books and music seized, including the book ‘Love and Marriage’.
Love and marriage is also the topic of our Western stories. Same sex marriage proponents vandalized churches in Australia, regardless of their position on the upcoming referendum. A bishop in Greece ordered his churches to ring their bells at noon each day for a week after a law allowing legal minors to change their official gender without any medical evaluation was passed. In the U.S. the student government of a nominally Christian university, Georgetown, has attempted to shut down the pro-traditional marriage campus group Love Saxa, and are calling it a hate group; the defense of Love Saxa’s members is that its beliefs are identical to that of the church under which the university operates.
Georgetown University, Washington D.C. – courtesy Patrickneil and Wikipedia
We have another such marriage story from Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Colonel Leland B. H. Bohannon was stripped of his command and saw his promotion to Brigadier General revoked after a retiring Master Sergeant brought discrimination charges against him. Col. Bohannon believed that he could not sign the sergeant’s certificate of thanks because it mentioned his husband. He sought and was granted a religious exemption by his superior officer, and a higher ranking officer signed the certificate. Note that the sergeant was not harmed in any way whatsoever: in fact, his certificate under military custom was more valuable than if the colonel had signed it. Unlike many such cases involving Christian reluctance in same sex marriage ceremonies, this was not a case where a legal right was pitted against a legal right, since the sergeant was denied nothing. Colonel Bohannon has been reprimanded merely for seeking a religious accommodation (interestingly, the officers who granted the accommodation have not reportedly been reprimanded, so the accommodation itself is not the issue). It is now the legal opinion of the U.S. Air Force that Christian conscience and belief have no weight in the face of our ever evolving sexual revolution. In practical terms, the official persecution has finally and unambiguously arrived in the United States.
Some could argue that such persecution arrived four years ago. This case is reminiscent of the 2013 case of Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, who was fired for refusing to obey an order by his homosexual commanding officer to divulge his personal opinions on same sex marriage – in effect, to incriminate himself in her eyes. However, the case of Colonel Bohannon is not legally contaminated by the refusal of an order, however illegal that order was. He did nothing wrong, he said nothing wrong. This case is therefore a pure violation of Col. Bohannon’s religious and civil rights, rights which still exist despite his commission in U.S. service. It can truthfully be said that there are eerie echoes here of the 1535 trial of Thomas More over the marriage of Henry Tudor to Anne Boleyn. To rephrase the climax in Robert Bolt’s telling: “I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. Nevertheless, it is not for any wrong that you have brought these charges, but because I would not bend to the marriage.”
Weekly Commentary October 8-14, 2017
The news this week (please click here to read our full report) is rather straightforward. A couple of Christians in China were released from jail. An Egyptian teen girl abductee was recovered by police from her abductors. Two Christians in Pakistan had their blasphemy charges dropped.
Christians were reported to have been killed in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria – the last were two captive Russian soldiers who were executed by the Islamic State after they refused the invitation to Islam.
Christians continued to be prosecuted, incarcerated, abducted, or assaulted in Algeria, China, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, and Vietnam. Christian refugee stories have come to us from Afghanistan and the United States.
Three stories concerning bishops in India and Nigeria are notable:
In India one bishop spoke against a handful of Christian youth who desecrated Hindu idols. Hindu radical leaders are now using this episode to tar all Christians as extremists.
Another Indian bishop responded to a Hindu radical leader who alleged on television that Mother Teresa trafficked 50,000 young girls.
Nigerian bishops met at a conference in Liverpool in the UK. One bishop made a pointed comment:
From my own experience, I find that the British high commissioner [ambassador], the ambassadors from European countries, the American ambassador — they are pandering more to Islam than to Christianity, because most of them have turned their backs on Christianity…We can’t go to the Irish ambassador or the Spanish ambassador and say, ‘This is for the Catholic Church’. People are not interested…In Ramadan, the ambassadors of Islamic countries are very keen to come to the Muslim celebrations in a way and manner that the Irish or any of these ambassadors are not likely to do for [Christmas] midnight Mass or the Easter celebrations.
That quote speaks volumes about the abandonment of the Faith, not just by individual Western diplomats, but also by we who elect their superiors. All faiths should be of equal importance to a diplomat. If Christianity is of lesser importance in diplomacy it is ultimately because it is of lesser importance to us. Our Nigerian brothers and sisters in Christ are materially harmed by this abandonment, and we can be sure this is true in other countries. Please pray that we will find ways to change this unfair and unequal situation for the better.
Weekly Commentary October 1-7, 2017
This week’s report (click here to read in full) covers 25 stories from 18 countries.
Christians were killed in Colombia, Egypt, and Nigeria.
Arrests, abductions, and continued imprisonment of Christians occurred in China, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. The Iranian story is of a married couple who were arrested for praying at the funeral of another Christian; the husband has been charged with a crime that is punishable by death.
Christian churches and schools were attacked in India, Mali, and Nigeria.
Western style acts of discrimination were reported from Australia, Turkey, and the United States, the last involving the government giving support to the Christian.
There are a comparatively large number of stories which describe the situations under which Christians now live in Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Malaysia, Mali, the Philippines, and Venezuela. A bishop in Greece said of another proposed inhuman law “All that is game playing. The Church has its own views. Our homeland has its own traditions, it has the family, everything else is just contrivances so that we waste our time”. Indeed. The Malaysian story includes a Muslim leader who was thanked for opposing a Muslim-only laundromat (Christians are dirty, you know). In the Philippines churches have begun to hide police officers who have refused to participate in the extrajudicial murders of drug addicts; a bishop there said “Let us be guardian angels for one another”.
Let us be guardian angels for one another. This would be a wonderful prayer for the coming weeks: Let us be guardian angels for one another.
A church in Mali