SBC Life Articles

Prayer for the Persecuted Church

In over sixty countries Christians face the reality of massacre, rape, torture, mutilation, family division, harassment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death according to a 1997 United States State Department report. Paul Marshall states in his book Their Blood Cries Out, "This plague affects over 200 million people, with an additional 400 million suffering from discrimination and legal impediments." Followers of Jesus Christ all over the world are persecuted simply for what they believe.

The following examples provide a mere glimpse of the problem.

Recent Communist Party directives that have been smuggled to the West announce that a special class struggle is being waged against China's unregistered Catholic and Protestant churches. Hundreds of Chinese Christians, from evangelical house church members and teachers to Roman Catholic priests and bishops, are currently in "re-education through labor" camps. Many more have been arrested and have not been heard from since. Through these human rights violations, Chinese Communist government leaders have declared their intent to eradicate Christianity in China, saying they will "strangle the baby in the manger."

Pakistani Christians live in a climate of injustice and fear. They are victims of "religious apartheid" – of discrimination in the areas of property rights, employment, and education. Christian girls have been abducted from their families and suffer conversion-by-rape to Islam. Militant Islamic forces are waging a war of hatred and violence against them.

In recent years, Christians have been specially targeted by Pakistan's blasphemy law, falsely accused, with no need for evidence, of blaspheming the prophet Mohammed or of desecrating the Koran. If convicted, the blasphemy law calls for the death sentence. In some cases, crowds have beaten and killed, even those who have not been formally accused and tried.

"What we saw and heard and touched is the material for nightmares, a human hell," reported an American Episcopal priest returning from a January 1998 trip to Sudan.

The country of Sudan, already enduring seemingly endless civil war, is being devastated by a jihad led by the militant Islamic regime in Khartoum. Their tactics include aerial bombardment of citizens, scorched earth and destruction of livestock, forced displacement of over three million people, abduction, imprisonment, torture, execution of men, abduction and enslavement of women and children, and forced Islamization and conscription. The government justifies its reign of terror by claiming that it is a "divine mission" in the name of Allah.

The Islamic nation of Saudi Arabia forbids any expression of Christian worship in its own country while demanding the right to expand Islam in countries around the world, including the United States, where it finances the building of Islamic academies.

Despite signing international human rights conventions agreeing to freedom of religion, no church buildings, crosses, or any religion besides Islam are tolerated. Christians cannot even worship privately in their own homes. Islamic police seek out secret worship services by raiding private homes, especially those of foreign workers from less influential countries such as India, Egypt, Korea, and the Philippines. The penalty for this "crime" may include lengthy imprisonment without trial, torture, and in some cases, death.

Saudi nationals who convert to Christianity are automatically subject to death. Yet thriving underground churches in Saudi Arabia testify to valiant Christians willing to forsake all, even life, for Jesus.

Day of Prayer Set for November 15

This year's International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) has been set for November 15. Christians in over 115 countries are expected to participate, including 60,000 churches in the U.S. alone. An IDOP Resource Kit is available from Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The kit contains a powerful video, a 20-page booklet, a global persecution prayer map, and information that can be reproduced for church use. The price is $15 and can be ordered by calling 1-888-538-7772 (1-888-LETS PRA). Visit the IDOP Web site at www.persecutedchurch.org.



Missionaries Held Hostage

On January 31, 1993 armed guerrillas entered a small village in Panama, capturing three American missionaries. Almost six years later, Mark Rich, Rick Tenenoff, and Dave Mankins continue to be held hostage.

The three men, missionaries with New Tribes Mission, were working with the Kuna people, translating the Bible into their language and leading Bible studies. The armed guerillas, believed to be from Colombia, initially demanded a $5 million ransom for the return of the missionaries. Their demand was never met, however, reliable sources indicate that the men are still alive.

Each of the men are married and have children, some of whom were toddlers and infants when their fathers were kidnapped. Please pray that the Lord will continue to protect these men, and that He will soon bring about their safe release.

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  • SBC Staff