Blog – 2019 3rd Quarter
Weekly Commentary September 22-28, 2019
Christians were killed, according to accounts listed on this week’s report, in Brazil, India (by the Gau Rakshaks, the cow vigilantes), and the United States. Sexual slavery of girls by Pakistani Muslims continued with police complicity. Many Christians were released from jail on bail, but aside from a nun in India who had been held over a year without an official charge all had been recently arrested. Persecution continued unabated in China and India. About the only good news besides the release of prisoners was the continuing protest of Russian clergy against their country’s authoritarianism.
Please read over our report for this week. Please pray.
Announcement – September 27, 2019
We have added a few movies to our movie page. One, A Hidden Life, looks particularly good. It is scheduled for release in theaters in December 2019. It is based on the true story of Franz Jagerstatter. We will refrain from giving any more details about him, since the most important are all visible in the trailer that can be seen by clicking the link below. The trailer quotes a reviewer who certainly misses the point: Christianity is not about saving civilizations, but rather souls. It appears that the film itself might have a couple of flaws: a possible exaggeration of the differences between ritual and authentic Christianity, and perhaps an overemphasis of one form of evil against others, but it is certain that the facts of Jagerstatter’s life will outweigh such mistakes. Please watch the trailer and consider your support for the film.
Weekly Commentary September 15-21, 2019
Besides a positive religious liberty court decision in Arizona, we have a very interesting story from Russia in this week’s report. Eighty Russian Orthodox clerics have signed a petition to the government calling on it to stop its heavy-handed police tactics and court sentences against demonstrators. The signatories are all younger men who escaped compromise with the Soviet KGB, unlike their elders who did not sign. This is a very welcome development. Once incident that particularly angered them was the sentencing of a young man to four years’ imprisonment in a labor camp for holding a sign quoting Fr. Alexander Men. Fr. Men is a hallowed figure in Russia, a product of the underground church and an intellectual equal of Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger who died a martyr’s death in September 1990 at the hands of a man with an axe, as he left his home.
Other stories found on this week’s report (please click here to read in full) include a belated report of the assassination in China of a minister of Korean ethnicity by North Korean agents, continued captivity of Christians in Cuba, India, and Niger, and another forced Islamic marriage of a Pakistani Christian girl who thankfully escaped her captivity.
A pastor in Nepal was forced into hiding after receiving death threats for a video that was posted to YouTube without his authorization. In this video he recounted how his conversion to Christianity began when as a teen he questioned the immoral acts that Hindu tradition said were done by the three main deities.
Christian churches, shrines, and cemeteries were desecrated in China, Pakistan, and the United States.
Christians responded to a California state legislature resolution that called on Christians to not convert homosexuals. Forget past errors by some psychologists regarding so-called ‘conversion therapy’: when was the last time an American government demanded that Christians not act as Christians, aside from military conscientious objection cases? Perhaps the abolitionist movement and the underground railroad?
In the same spirit, allow us to conclude with news of an essay by Fr. Cedric Prakash, entitled Christians, wake up now. Fr. Prakash stated that the situation for Christians in India is now worse than that in El Salvador in the time of Bishop Oscar Romero, and concluded “Christians, Wake Up NOW! Tomorrow will be too late! We are called to play a prophetic role in India today! We need to become Romeros for our country!“. What an ominous thought, considering that Bishop Romero paid with his life for his witness to the Gospel. Our biography on Fr. Cedric Prakash was the very first to be published on the Today’s Martyrs web site, and we now see that he has continued to earn our respect. Please pray for him, for those who heed his words, and for everyone else listed on this week’s report.
Shengdiliang Shrine, Hebei province, China – courtesy UCAN News
Weekly Commentary September 8-14, 2019
A Chinese Christian attorney has been released after a 10 day detention. A convert and refugee in Sweden finally has been granted residency after a three year legal battle that saw repeated threats to deport her to possible imprisonment and death in Iran. Two Christian converts and their supportive Muslim husband and father escaped from the United Arab Emirates and have been seeking asylum in Canada. Please click here to read our report in full.
At the other end of the spectrum three Christians identified by name were reported as having been killed. A church employee who taught gardening was shot dead in Guatemala. A gardener in Pakistan was arrested after his employer reported a theft to police, just four days after his second child was born; four days later he was dead from extensive torture. A young mother [and gardener] in India was killed with an axe by her husband’s brother in retribution for her husband’s conversion to Christianity; the brother then attempted to kill her 3 year old daughter (who had witnessed the murder of her mother) but stopped apparently when he realized he had accidentally killed his own father, who had been an accomplice. Unnamed Christians were killed in Ethiopia.
Christians were arrested or continued in captivity in China, Eritrea, Iran, and Papua New Guinea.
Two stories involve apparent retribution against persecuted Christians who met with U.S. President Donald Trump in July 2019. A Burmese minister was charged with criminal defamation for what he said in the Oval Office, but this was later retracted. An Eritrean Gospel singer’s comments that day may have influenced the ‘excommunication’ of the long-imprisoned Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church by government compliant bishops.
The variety of the remaining stories are simply too numerous to mention, but not too many for prayer. Please read this week’s report and see for yourself.
Debre Bizen Monastery, Eritrea – Grullab and Wikipedia
All Saints Church, Keighley, Bradford, Yorkshire, England – courtesy The Telegraph and Argus
St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Lynn, Massachusetts, USA – courtesy Lynn Journal
Weekly Commentary September 1-7, 2019
Here is a short synopsis of this week’s report (please click here to read in full):
- Christians have been killed in Nigeria, in the usual Muslim attacks on their homes.
- Christians have been killed in Pakistan, after one tried to stop a Muslim child from scratching stickers off his automobile!
- A pastor has been killed in Mexico for no known reason.
- A pastor in Nigeria has been released after a ransom was paid; a sixteen year old girl still remains in captivity there.
- Indian Christians suffered assaults, vigilante and police harassment, and worries over a new law that is likely to be used to suppress interreligious marriages.
By comparison, the Algerian police who have tried to shut down a church have been models of restraint.
Also, Pope Francis has elevated a number of bishops to the College of Cardinals. The last time this happened in 2016 three men were elevated who have appeared on the Today’s Martyrs web site for their work countering persecution. This time only two men with such experience have been elevated, and one of the two is too old to become involved in a papal election.
Please look over this week’s report and pray for all involved.
Weekly Commentary August 25-31, 2019
Another two Christians were released from captivity in Cameroon, according to an article cited on this week’s report (click here to read). However, two others were reported to have been killed, one by the military and the other by anti-government insurgents. Christians were also killed in the Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, and possibly Puerto Rico – the last appeared to be a vehicular accident but the priest’s body had ‘suspicious’ wounds.
From India we have three stories: the assault of 40 pilgrims by Hindu radicals, a charge of a forced conversion brought by a prominent Hindu radical against the operator of a retreat center, and the expulsion of an 11 year old girl from her immediate family after her Christian aunt brought her to a prayer meeting at which her hearing deficit was cured.
A Christian was shot in a church in the U.S. while praying.
In a move that shocked even many secularists in Finland, police opened an investigation into a Member of Parliament who criticized her church for supporting Pride events.
Basilica of Our Lady of Velankanni, Tamil Nadu, India – courtesy AsiaNews
Divine Call Retreat Center, Mulki, Karnataka, India – courtesy AsiaNews
Finally, we have a story that is not about martyrdom, but rather one that is about moral failing and sin. It is a story we would rather not publish, but honesty requires we do so.
For years Today’s Martyrs has relied upon the reporting of the British Pakistani Christian Association [BPCA] for events in Pakistan and involving Pakistani refugees elsewhere in the world. About half of our Pakistani stories and most of our Thai stories were originally reported by the BPCA. Moreover, the BPCA has been in the forefront of charitable work for these afflicted Christians, funding artificial limbs for the Christian victims of terror bombings, support for rape victims, safe houses for people fleeing persecution or slavery, and basic necessities for refugees. The director of the BPCA, Wilson Chowdhry, has been extensively quoted on Today’s Martyrs publications.
So, the reader can imagine our distress and disappointment to read that Wilson Chowdhry has resigned from the BPCA, reportedly due to an alleged extramarital sex scandal involving an Australian BPCA volunteer. Worse, a police investigation has been opened in Australia regarding alleged force, although most interactions reportedly did not involve force, according to the complainant.
At this point it is not known if the BPCA will continue to serve these persecuted Christians. The organization’s networks in South and Southeast Asia presumably remains intact. A couple of British citizens have stepped in to run the London office. The British government agency that regulates charities has started an investigation; this does not bode well, given that the same agency took almost two years to clear Canon Andrew White of charges he had used his charity donations to ransom Islamic State sex slaves,
It would appear that Wilson Chowdhry has joined the Rev Martin Luther King and the Rev Laszlo Tokes (the minister at the center of the 1989 Romanian revolution) in a list of Christian men who did good and great things only to suffer damage to their personal reputations. Please pray for the redemption of Wilson Chowdhry, healing for his family, and the continued success of the BPCA. Again we are reminded of a basic truth of Christianity: no matter how good we try to be, we can do nothing unless we remain always in God’s grace.
Weekly Commentary August 18-24, 2019
Every story on this week’s report (click here to read) involves a detained Christian.
One of the Chinese stories happily reports on the release of a Christian from jail, but three others were not.
Several Pakistani refugees were reported as still detained in Thailand, along with unnamed hundreds more. Some require medical attention.
A Christian school teacher has been detained in India. The Christian media did not report that the charges against him were false – though of course they may be – but it did report that a judge used the case to mount an anti-Christian diatribe in a written opinion.
The final story is the court rejection of Australian Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of his conviction on child sexual abuse charges. The vote was 2-1. Excerpts from the opinions show legal sophistry by the majority that upheld the conviction, and clear reasoning in the dissent that demonstrated the lack of evidence to support the conviction. Pell announced that he will continue his appeals, but commentators have stated his chances do not look good. Friends have stated that Cardinal Pell has said that he fears only One Judge. He is 78 and his health is declining. Unless he cracks it is unlikely he will deny his innocence to gain parole, and so he will either serve a full sentence until he is 83 or he will die in prison as a true martyr, a sacrifice unto the modern secular state.
Weekly Commentary August 11-17, 2019
Our report this week (please click here to read) lists twenty-seven stories from seventeen countries on a dozen pages. The one ‘good’ report is of the marriage of a Pakistani gang rape victim to an accepting and loving Christian man after years of therapy. Please pray for them! In the other Pakistani story a teen imprisoned on false blasphemy charges has found solace in learning to read the Bible.
Christians were reported as having been killed in Colombia and the Philippines.
In one story, Christians in India were attacked over a two-day period by mobs in an unusual Sikh-Hindu alliance.
There is also an unusual conjunction of four stories which share a common underlying theme. All three accounts from China and the single story from Vietnam all concern Christians who are in custody or recently have been in custody and who have been denied medical care. Such a decision by authorities is torture, pure and simple.
Please read this report and remember all who suffer in your prayers.
Weekly Commentary August 4-10, 2019
The murder of Nigerian Christians continued this week (please click here to read in full); in response a bishop called for the government to support armed vigilante groups.
There is a story that follows up on the abduction and gang rape of a 15 year old Pakistani woman, which depicted her brave appearances in court against her attackers, but also sadly her mistreatment at the hands of her family upon her return.
The Western-style accounts include a story of a British convicted criminal’s attempt to secure access to Christian clergy: it contains a series of darkly humorous episodes where he was given a defrocked Catholic priest who ministered with a syncretic blend of Christian and neo-pagan beliefs, and prison officials insisted for months they had given the convict what he wanted! Who could possibly make this up?
Not a long report, but it does prompt many prayers. Please pray for them all. Thank you.
Weekly Commentary July 28 – August 3, 2019
The good news in this week’s report (please click here to read in full) is the release of numerous Christians from captivity. Authorities or abductors released Christians in Cameroon, China, Iran, and Vietnam, although the last would still be under house arrest. An abducted Nigerian priest was rescued by police. A Nicaraguan bishop escaped from armed attackers. Another good story concerns a Russian priest who sheltered young demonstrators who were trying to flee from riot police, without any consequences. All are reasons for thanks.
In the other column are the deaths of Christians in Argentina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Nigeria, and Uganda. They continued to be held captive or are missing in China, the DR Congo, Pakistan (in a forced marriage), and Syria. They were charged with false crimes in the Philippines. They were assaulted, prevented from travelling, or forced to flee their homes in Cuba, India, Nigeria, Poland, and Uganda. A church was vandalized in the United States.
Western readers should take particular note of a story from Great Britain in which two elementary school children were interrogated by school authorities after they showed signs of resistance to LGBTQ indoctrination sessions. There were falsely accused of wanting to kill homosexuals. The principal told other students to shun them during school activities. One student’s church was reported to the anti-terrorism police. It should be noted that these are precisely the tactics that were used against Christians in the later years of the Soviet empire. In the past we have used adjectives such as ‘disquieting’ for such events in our democracies, but the growth of such events in both number and severity should force a reconsideration. Let us be honest: something very sinister is growing right under our noses. Let us contemplate the full meaning of what the Christian reporter John Allen wrote on the back of his 2013 book The Global War on Christians: It’s time to wake up.
Napier Pentecostal Church, Hohenwald, Tennessee, USA – courtesy Rev. James Mitchell
Pornographic imagery has been defocused
Weekly Commentary July 21-27, 2019
Our apologies, but we have no report for this week. We had a few days of ‘at home’ vacation followed by a couple of days of internet connectivity problems. Of course, we had no vacation from prayer, that would be like a vacation from any other good thing! God bless you!
Until next week…
Weekly Commentary July 14-20, 2019
This week we report that a Christian nurse in Pakistan was shot dead in her hospital after she told her Muslim love interest that she would not convert to Islam. A church volunteer and retired teacher in Syria was abducted by jihadists, gang raped, and stoned to death. A pastor in the official church in China killed himself and left a letter stating he did it to publicize the current government crackdown against Christianity; this last story is perhaps the most painful, as it is a clear violation of the Christian view of life. It also reminds us that some of our brothers and sisters in the Faith live with incredible pressures.
Other events in this week’s report (click here to read in full) include:
- Church opposition to the proposed Hong Kong extradition law
- Indian discrimination against a Christian school and against Christian Dalits [untouchables]
- Seizure of an Iranian church, demolition of its cross, and repair of the cross after a complaint from a Christian member of parliament. The building still was not returned
- Partial return of an Iraqi cathedral to the church. The building had been seized in 1981 during the war with Iran
- A 3 year old Pakistani church bombing victim received a new artificial leg
- Secular oppression continued to develop in Great Britain
Please pray for everyone who experiences great mental or physical suffering, that they be protected from further harm and temptation.
Assyrian Evangelical Church, Tabriz, Iran – courtesy BarnabasFund
Church of the Virgin Mary, Basra, Iraq – courtesy AsiaNews
Weekly Commentary July 7-13, 2019
A horrible story from Pakistan this week: an 11 year old Christian boy was beaten to death by his employer after he tried to leave his employment. He had been working to pay off a debt, he had been mistreated by his Muslim employer, so he borrowed the unpaid balance from another source and paid the debt off. The employer became incensed, apparently at the loss of a potential slave. The boy’s mother saw the beating from a distance but was unable to stop it.
Other stories on this week’s report (please click here to read) include another Pakistani teen arrested on blasphemy charges after he argued with a Muslim friend over a cricket match, the detention of 84 Pakistani refugees in Thailand over expired visas (including 14 with UN refugee status), a report of ‘cow vigilante’ lynchings in India, the arrest of 8 Christians in Iran, and multiple stories from China including one of a man who has spent his months in detention singing hymns.
Please pray for all the people involved in these stories. Thank you.
Weekly Commentary June 30 – July 6, 2019
This week saw a Christian victory in Great Britain. Felix Ngole, the aspiring social worker who was expelled from his university for having defended traditional Christian morality on social media, won his case before the Court of Appeals. We will now have to see if he will be reinstated so that he can pursue his wish to help people in need.
The rest of the news in this week’s report (click here to read) is much different.
From India we have a two year old story of a Christian who died in police custody after he had been beaten for slaughtering a bull, and a recent story in which Hindu radicals desecrated an outdoor religious shrine.
Pakistani stories include the continuing appeals of a Christian arrested for blasphemy in 2012, and a retired brigadier general under threat of death along with his family for resisting the provincial takeover of the Christian college he now leads.
A Chinese bishop has been ordered by police to not attend the consecration ceremony of new religious sisters.
A Sudanese college student has been arrested for leading a Bible study.
An American tourist in France attempted to cross a Parisian Pride Parade to get her 10 year old daughter to a rest room, only to be spit upon when a parade participant saw the crucifix she was wearing around her neck. Her husband wrote a moving tribute to her and to all who suffer indignities (and by implication worse) for Christ.
Please continue your prayers.
Edwardes College, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Pakistan – courtesy British Pakistani Christian Association
Blog – 2019 3rd Quarter