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British official cites prayers, dignity characteristic of persecuted blvrs

AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–The primary request of Christians who are suffering and dying for their faith in various parts of the world is that the church remember them in prayer, a well-known advocate for persecuted believers said at the annual conference of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Baroness Caroline Cox, deputy speaker of the British House of Lords, told of the evidence of atrocities committed against Christians she has observed in trips to the Sudan, Burma and Nagorno Karabakh. She cited 1 Corinthians 12:26, which says “whether one member [of the body] suffer, all the members suffer with it.”
“How much do we in the West suffer with our persecuted brothers and sisters?” she asked. “How often do we even think of them?
“I can’t speak for certain about the United States, but I know when I’m back in Britain I very rarely hear our churches pray for the persecuted church,” said Cox, who also is president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. CSW works on behalf of persecuted Christians and others who are repressed, as well as needy children and disaster victims.
“And many of our persecuted brothers and sisters are cut off from everybody else,” Cox said. They are suffering and dying unknown, and their stories are untold.”
Persecuted Christians are suffering “with dignity,” she said. “They are asking for your prayers.”
Cox used slides of photos taken on her trips to the three countries to demonstrate the repression. Of a photo of a plane on a landing strip in the Sudan, she recalled the response of the persecuted: “As we land on our little airstrip, the local people come running up to us with tears in their eyes, saying, ‘Thank God you’ve come. We thought the world had forgotten us.’”
Sudan “must rank as one of the greatest tragedies in the world today,” Cox noted. The Islamic regime in the capital of Khartoum has been conducting a holy war against all who oppose it since 1989, Cox said. Its troops carry out raids normally against Christian villages, but also some Muslim and animist ones, in the southern part of the country. The soldiers frequently kill men and kidnap women and children to take them back as slaves to the northern Sudan or another country. Their new owners often beat and seek to force their captives to convert to Islam. The troops also practice a “scorched-earth policy,” burning crops and slaughtering livestock along with civilians, she said.
“Tens of thousands of African women and children are enslaved” today, Cox said. Several thousand have been bought out of slavery, many using contributions from the West, but she also “would like to see a protest movement developing similar to the protest movement against apartheid [in South Africa],” Cox said. “Slavery is at least as evil as apartheid.”
She told about her conversation with a boy who had been a slave for three years before being redeemed. He was beaten by his master but continued to resist the attempted conversion to Islam.
Cox also showed the photo of a small boy suffering from malnutrition with not much longer to live. “Think of being a parent and making the sacrifice of your children because you won’t give up your faith,” she said. “It’s one thing to die yourself. It’s another to allow your [own] family to pay the price.”
In Burma, the government regime conducts military offensives against the Karen and other ethnic minorities. Many of the oppressed are Christians, while others are Buddhists and animists.
She and her team found a small Baptist church in eastern Burma where a bombshell was being used as a church bell, Cox said. Instead of “swords into plowshares, … you have bombs into bells,” she said.
In Nagorno Karabakh, which is near Iran, Azerbaijan is practicing ethnic cleansing against about 150,000 Armenians with a Christian heritage. Among the atrocities in what Cox described as “hell on earth” were sawing people’s heads off and the burning of others alive.