The persecution and genocide of Christians is “worse than at any time in history” according to several studies on the oppression and murder of Christians worldwide. Although it has not dominated the headlines in mass media, for tens of millions of Christians across the globe, each day they live professing their faith in Christ is one that can end up in violent attack, kidnapping, imprisonment or death.
“More Persecuted Than Any Other Faith Group”
“Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10.
“More than 200 million Christians in the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian experience persecution because of their faith.” (source).
So concluded the report from Open Doors USA, an aid organization that raises awareness about persecution of the Christian faith while at the same time supplying Bible, training church leaders and providing aid to those believers suffering for their faith.
A 2-year study by Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic persecution watchdog group, arrived at the same conclusion – the atrocities committed against Christians is by far at its worst:
“In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history. Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution. It is in this context that this report concludes that in 12 of the 13 countries reviewed, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms in the period 2015–17 than within the preceding two years. An especially notable example of this was China where intolerance was on the rise, as evidenced by a renewed clampdown on dissident clergy and destruction of churches as well as crosses and other Christian symbols.” (source).
Saints Are Suffering in Many Nations
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.” – Luke 21:12.
According to Open Doors’ annual World Watch List, where they track and rank the “restricted nations”, countries where persecution takes place on a regular basis, there are 30 countries where believers experience high, very high or extreme persecution, here are some of the stories from the many who have suffered:
Nigeria – Rise of Islam Leads To Attacks on Christians
Nigeria ranks 12 on the World Watch List and has seen a dramatic increase in the oppression of Christianity all due to the rise of Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic terror group ISIS. Among the atrocities:
- In December 2017, Islamic herdsmen slaughtered 100 Christians in the northeastern state of Adamawa. The herdsmen, who are aligned with Boko Haram, razed villages – destroying homes and stores during their rampage. Additionally, the group may have had assistance from the government as a military jet bombed and destroyed a Lutheran church during the attack. The government claimed the bombing was accidental. (source). This massacre comes on the heels of an October terror attack in which 48 Christians were killed when Muslim gunmen attacked predominately Christian villages for nine days straight. (source).
- In Jos Nigeria, where Beginning and End previously reported of mass graves of murdered Christians, a mother and her two children were kidnapped and executed by Muslim herdsmen. The Islamic attackers ambushed and shot to death Rebecca Daniel Choji, her 16-year-old daughter Suzanna Daniel Choji, and her 29-year-old son Joel Choji, in Jos village, Riyom Local Government Area (LGA) in Plateau state, as the family members were on their way to a health facility in Vwak village.“We have been under attack constantly from these Fulani herdsmen because we are Christians,” Gyang Dahoro, 55, an area COCIN congregation elder, told Morning Star News by text message. “Our villages have been ravaged, and our houses and churches destroyed, and in most cases these herdsmen have taken over the villages where Christians have been displaced.” (source).
Egypt – A Wife Loses Her Husband At Church
On Palm Sunday, April 9, 49 people were killed in two ISIS attacks on churches in Egypt. Michael Nabil Ragheb, the father of a 3-year-old and deacon in Saint George Church in Tanta, was one of them. His widow, Sara, shared her story of loss:
When Sara heard a loud blast and everything in the church went dark, she thought the end of the world had come.
“Michael, my husband, had sensed something like this was going to happen. The day before, on our daughter’s third birthday, he told us he thought he would soon be among the martyrs in heaven.”
That morning, the dreary premonition led Michael to ask his wife and daughter to sit in the last bench, in the back of the church—instead of close to him, in the front row.
“I was a bit surprised about that,” Sara says, “But looking back, I know that it was God’s will.” After leaving his family on the last bench of the church, Michael put on his deacon rope and went to the front of the church, where he was in charge of the singing that day.
“He asked me to wait for him after the service. But he never came back.” Sara will never be able to wipe the horrible images of what happened next from her memory. It was about ten minutes past nine. All of the sudden, I heard the sound of a big explosion, the church shook like there was an earthquake. The smoke filled the church, and it became dark. I heard people screaming. I was screaming, too. I was screaming the name of my husband and rushed to the place of the deacon choir, where I hoped to find him alive.”
It’s difficult for Sara to continue her story. “What I saw on my way to him was horrible, like a massacre had just taken place. The bodies of dead church members and pools of blood. Then I saw my husband. I was in shock. He was just lying there, like the others. Gone to heaven like he had sensed would happen.”
Sara and Michael had been married for four years. Sara and daughter Priscilla will have to continue their lives without their beloved husband and father. “I loved him so much,” Sara says. She sees it as a sacrifice for Christ, but not one she has to deal with alone. “Despite everything, God has put comfort, peace and great grace in my heart.” (source).
Pakistan – Armed Guards at Church Services
Pakistan, which ranks #4 on the World Watch List, is so prone to violence against the Christian faith that many churches keep armed guards on patrol during Sunday services. Christmas season is a time of extreme danger as Muslim terrorists increase their violent attacks.
- On December 17, 2017, 2 Muslim militants with ties to ISIS attempted to enter Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, but guards stopped the men at the door. One of the attackers set off his explosives, killing nine people. The other assailant fled.“It’s very hard. This is my mother’s childhood home,” a Pakistani Christian who works with the Alive aid network said. “The members of the church are people whom we know and love. Our phones are ringing endlessly. Some of our Bible College students have lost family members too. Just now, a woman wept on my shoulder. She just kept repeating ‘Lord, have mercy, have mercy, have mercy’, and then, ‘Lord enable us to lift our voices and cry out ‘Jesus is Lord!’ so that we may stand and not be stopped from being in church. They cannot stop us!’” (source).
- Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are used disproportionately to punish Christian believers for not following Islam. “There are hundreds of Pakistanis imprisoned falsely under blasphemy laws. In even more recent days, there was a Pakistani Christian who at the end of December, right before New Year’s, was arrested because people said they found ripped up pages of the Quran in front of his home, and his name was on those pages,” said Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International. (source).
Somalia – “This is the Somali 9/11”
- In October 2017, al Shabab, a Somali Islamic terror group known for hunting and murdering Christians, launched the worst terror attack in the country’s history. Militants set of several thousand ponds of military grade explosives in the capital city of Mogadishu, killing 300 and wounding 500. The attack was in direct response to President Trump’s increased military attacks on the terror group. In response, the President doubled the U.S. military presence in the nation.
- Al Shabab oppresses local Christians in Somalia on a regular basis, including a Christian who was kidnapped and beheaded for his faith. A woman who was discovered to be Christian was publicly whipped and jailed for her faith.
North Korea – “Hell on Earth”
North Korea is the perennial No. 1 offender in terms of extreme Christian persecution. Officially an atheist state (although its leader Kim Jung Un is viewed as a god), Christians are “hostiles” and are subject to all manner of atrocities by the government:
“Most Christians worship secretly. If discovered, they are “taken to political camps (kwanliso); crimes against them in these camps include extra-judicial killing, extermination, enslavement/forced labor, forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, rape and sexual violence and other inhuman acts.” CSW reports documented cases of believers being “hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot.”” (source).
- Choi Hangkyuk, a Christian who escaped a prison camp and defected from North Korea gave insight into the life of a Christian:“We couldn’t raise our voice during a service, we couldn’t sing out loud during a worship … that was hard,” Choi told Fox News through a translator. “Also, we had to hide so that other people could not see us. There were about nine people,” he said. “I couldn’t do mission work because we had to keep it secret that we had a church. If that information had leaked, we could have faced the death penalty.” (source).Arrested for his faith, Choi found himself sentenced to Camp 22, a notorious concentration camp that is part of an 87-mile prison colony. Inmates there are often tortured as beatings, gouged eyes and scarred faces are a regular occurrence:
- “Prisoners are forced to stand on their toes in tanks filled with water up to their noses for 24 hours, stripped and hanged upside-down while being beaten or given the infamous “pigeon torture” — where both hands are chained to a wall at a height of 2 feet, forcing them to crouch for hours at a time.Tiny rations of watery corn porridge leave inmates on the brink of starvation, and many hunt rats, snakes and frogs for protein. Some even take the drastic measure of searching through animal dung for undigested seeds to eat. Beatings are handed out daily for offenses as simple as not bowing down in respect to the guards fast enough. Prisoners are used as practice targets during martial arts training. Guards routinely rape female inmates.” (source).
Hope in The Midst of Tribulation
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12.
The Lord Jesus Christ prophesied that the church would face persecution that would only increase with time. By God’s grace, rather than shrink in the face of violence and oppression, the Christian faith is flourishing in many restricted nations:
- The Church in Iran is one of the fastest growing in the world. More Iranians have come to Christ in the last 20 years than in centuries prior. In 1979 there were an estimated 500 Christians from Muslim backgrounds. Today there are hundreds of thousands. (source).“Despite severe persecution by the Iranian government against underground churches, God’s Word is spreading like a wildfire all over Iran.” To the extant that Iranian evangelical Pastor Reza Safa “believes that Iran will be the first Islamic nation to convert to Christianity.” (source).
- For the first time in its nation’s history, the Somali evangelical Christian population has reached 200,000.
- China, which ranks 39 on the World Watch List of worst persecutors, has seen an absolute explosion in the underground church movement. Although Christianity is permitted in the country, churches are required to register with the state who can dictate how sermons are done, install 24-hour video monitoring in church buildings and in one case even ordered a church to replace an image of Jesus with a communist leader. Violators can be arrested, beaten and have their church buildings razed. Despite political pressure the protestant community has swelled from 1 million to an estimated 60 million believers today. And it is predicted that in the coming decades china will have the largest Christian population on Earth. (source).
Pray For Persecuted Brothers And Sisters Across The Globe
The Bible says: “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26). If you are living in a nation where you have full freedom to worship, thank God for your liberty and pray for your brothers and sisters suffering all over the world. Continue to pray for their safety, strength and faith despite the evil the world inflicts on them. And pray for the thousands of underground churches all over the world that are literally risking life and limb to share the light of the Gospel in the darkest corners of the earth.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-12.