Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What In the World Is Going On? Did You Know . . . . .?

Throughout the world, our brothers and sisters in Christ are being severely persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They are not just being made fun of or taken to court. They are being beaten, raped, tortured and crucified.

As you read the information below, understand that this is real; it’s not some Hollywood movie with actors and actresses; it’s not some staged scene with just the right camera angle. These are real people suffering real pain, sorrow and anguish and NOT giving up their faith in Christ.

North Korea, Somalia and Syria
For the 13th consecutive year, North Korea is ranked No. 1 on the World Watch List of the 50 countries where persecution is most extreme. The god-like worship of the leader, Kim Jong-Un, and his predecessors leaves little room for any other religions and Christians face unimaginable pressure in every sphere of life. Meeting with other Christians is virtually impossible. Anyone discovered engaging in unauthorized religious activity is subject to arrest, arbitrary detention, disappearance, torture and/or execution. Those Christians who attempt to return to North Korea from China are sentenced to life in prison or executed.

With no functioning government in Somalia, Christians are targeted by Islamic terrorists and other clan authorities. As the government gains more control, state actors are joining the vicious two to persecute Christians. The only type of Christianity in Somalia is Christian converts from a Muslim background. Persecution in the country is very severe. Islamic religious leaders maintain publicly that there is no room for Christianity, Christians and churches in Somalia. Islamic terrorists, in the form of al-Shabaab, as well as other radical Islamic groups, have intensified the persecution of Christians.

The Islamic State introduced the caliphate (strict Islamic leadership) in large parts of Syria and Iraq at the end of June 2014 and a strict version of Sharia law was implemented. Since then, most Christians have fled areas controlled by the Islamic State. Christians are kidnapped out of financial, political and ideological motives. Many Christians have been abducted, physically harmed and killed. Amidst all violence and persecution, there are also sparks of hope, however. Though many Christians have left the country, a growing number of people are converting to Christ in the deplorable situation of civil war.

Vietnam: Hired Thugs Raid College
A Ho Chi Minh City Bible school that has often been the target of police activity in recent years was attacked and destroyed for the seventh time on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, by hired thugs accompanied by the police. The thugs used hammers and metal cutters to destroy doors, walls, and furniture. Police then raided the college and arrested nine Christians who did not have proper paperwork — documents that had been confiscated by police in earlier raids. The Bible school leader, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, said this was the seventh attack on the college since June 2014.

On the November 12 attack, hired men along with scantily-clad prostitutes gathered outside the school and begin shouting and screaming in the streets. Witnesses saw police filming the events just as the mob began damaging the school property. The thugs broke doors and gates that were broken three days earlier and had just been repaired that day. Police then arrested nine people inside, including Pastor Quang’s son and two Mennonite pastors.

The nine Christians were taken to the local police station. After being interrogated for two hours, all nine were released but were charged for not having ID cards or temporary residence papers. These documents were confiscated in earlier raids and never returned, according to church leaders. Without these documents, all nine will face further police harassment and complications with employment and school registration.

The Ho Chi Minh Bible College trains young Christians, mostly from minority tribal groups and has been the subject of frequent attacks. After large scale attacks in June, the water and electricity for the school were cut off, and in October, all roads to the school were barricaded.

Rocks and rotten eggs have been thrown into the college on more than one occasion. Those who attend worship services or classes at the school have faced bomb threats and harassing phone calls, and some members have been followed home and beaten up or had damage done to personal property.

Pastor Quang filed a complaint with district police in June and Mennonite church leaders formally requested lawyers after an attack in June; however, attacks on the school property have not stopped. But even with the heavy intimidation, school leaders have continued to operate the school, and students continue to study faithfully, intent on their mission to share Christ throughout Vietnam.

How Is Persecution Defined?
Christian persecution, as defined by Open Doors, "is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one's identification as a Christian. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis." Yes, it’s happening on a daily basis.

Iraq: Islamic State turn Christian Churches Into Torture Chambers
“Islamic State militants have turned Christian churches into torture chambers. According to the Jerusalem Post, Isis have been forcing church-goers to convert to Islam, in a bid to 'wipe out Christianity.'”

Christians were reportedly being held captive in makeshift torture chambers set up in raided churches in Qaraqosh, Iraq.

The Jihadists have stripped the churches of their ancient relics and artifacts, to be smuggled to Western collectors to help fund their terrorist activity.

The extremist organizations have made $35.5 million from the sale of stolen artifacts in Nabaq, Syria, according to the Christian Post.

A source said, "This is why they are crucifying Christians — which includes children — destroying churches and selling artifacts.”

"The reality is, this group will stop at practically nothing to raise funds for its terrorist mission."

Canon Andrew White, the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, has warned Christians that the end of the religion in the country appears "very near".

Data gathered since January 1, 2015*

Date            Country     City/State      Killed   Injured      Description
2/14/2015    Libya          Sirte                21         0                 Twenty-one Christians are abducted by   
                                                                                                Islamists, forced to their knees and then  

2/5/2015      Syria           Damascus       10         50               The Army of Islam sends rockets into 
                                                                                                mainly Christian neighborhoods, killing 
                                                                                                ten residents.

2/4/2015      Iraq             Mosul             1           0                 A priest is beheaded by the Islamic State.

1/31/2015    Syria           Raqqa             1           0                 A Japanese journalist who converted to 
                                                                                               Christianity is beheaded by caliphate 
                                                                                               members in the name of Allah.

1/23/2015    Nigeria       Bantaje            1           0                 Muslim extremists butcher a pastor and 
                                                                                                father of two.

1/21/2015    Syria          New Sabri        2          35               A Fedayeen suicide bombing takes out 
                                                                                               two Christians.

1/17/2015    Indonesia   Tamadue          5          0                Muslim terrorists murder five Christians  
                                                                                               in two attacks.

1/17/2015    Niger         Zinder              1           0                An angry Muslim mob burns a church 
                                                                                              with one person inside.

1/13/2015    Egypt        Luxor               1            0                A Muslim radical shoots a 38-year-old 
                                                                                               Copt to death.

1/11/2015    Kenya      Mombasa          1            0                Terrorists kill a priest during a church 

1/6/2015      Egypt       Cairo                 2            0                Two men guarding a church are shot to 
                                                                                               death by extremists.

1/4/2015      Nigeria    Kantoma           2             10              Two people preparing for church are  
                                                                                               shot to death by Fulani terrorists.

1/2/2015      Nigeria   Ambe-Madaki    15          40               Fifteen villagers are massacred when 
                                                                                                Muslim terrorists attack a Christian 

1/1/2015      Nigeria    Gombe               0            8                 A suicide bomber detonates at the 
                                                                                                entrance of a church service.

* Data taken from:  http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Pages/ChristianAttacks.htm

Our Lord Understands
Our Lord endured the most grievous of all persecution and torture. And though it was planned from eternity past, that didn’t make it any less real or any less painful. In His humanity, He felt the agony of the Roman whip upon His back. He knows the excruciating pain of crucifixion first hand.

He told His disciples that they, too, would experience the same hatred, persecution and death on account of their loyalty to Him. God’s Word doesn’t “exempt” twenty-first century believers from the enemy’s attack.

The Enemy Is Real
If you are a believer living in the United States, we have no idea what real persecution looks like. We can still talk openly about Jesus; we can still attend church whenever we want without little fear of armed gunmen opening fire on us; we can still carry our Bibles wherever we choose; there’s no fear of our wives or children being kidnapped because they attended an Awana Club or youth group meeting.

But remember, all believers have an enemy, the devil, and he hates us with an insatiable and deadly hatred. The apostle Peter tells us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen,” (1 Peter 5:8-12).

The word translated as “devour” is the Greek word: καταπίeiν (root = katapino), a compound word from kata (down), and pinō (to drink). In 1 Pet. 5:8 it’s translated “devour,” speaking of Satan’s activities against believers. The literal meaning would be to swallow. Additionally, it has the meaning: to cause the complete and sudden destruction of someone or something; to destroy, to ruin completely. That’s exactly what our enemy is striving to do through radical jihadist terrorists.

What Now?
It’s so simple to read the above information and move on to the next thing on your calendar. Please don’t do that. Remember to pray, daily, for our brothers and sisters in these Muslim countries. If you can, financially support those organizations that are actively trying to help persecuted Christians around the world.

Food for Thought:
One day, in God’s time, we will meet the ones who are truly suffering for Christ. We will stand side-by-side worshipping and praising God for His wonderful gift of forgiveness and salvation. I hope we, in America, will be able to look them in the eye and not feel ashamed because we ignored their needs.

May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek and serve Him and His people.

By His Grace,
Dr. Gary T. Dromi

NOTE: As I finished writing this article, a news report has just been released stating that 21 Coptic Christians have been beheaded in Libya by ISIS terrorists (Feb. 15, 2015).

1 https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Voice of the Martyrs: http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?story_ID==373238
5 http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/iraq-islamic-state-turn-christian-churches-into-torture-chambers-1480935