martyrs

A Study in Christian Persecution, Part 1

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It is time to prepare for persecution.

Reading those words, you have surely just experienced a range of emotion from fear to denial. If you have settled on denial, you are in for a rude awakening.

 

American Christians have been extremely fortunate, living in a Christian-friendly society that is far removed from the normative Christian experience. Many of us take this for granted, living out a lukewarm faith, almost as if thinking to ourselves, in perpetuity, “I will get right with God tomorrow.” We forget that for the average Christian – yes, even in 2017 – to believe in and to follow Christ means risking one’s life, literally.

 

“The persecutor’s sword dangles by a hair over Christians in the still-communist countries and in lands where the rising tide of Islamism overwhelms political efforts at fairness, tolerance, and due process.”

  • “Our Extended Persecuted Family,” April 29, 1996

 

It is time to get real. It is my hope that a brief survey of recent history will serve as an adequate “red pill” awakening.

 

The Deadliest Century

 

We’ve all heard of the cruel persecution of the early church in Ancient Rome and beyond. However, what most Christians do not know is that the 20th Century was the deadliest century on record for Christians. At the height of the Cold War, roughly 330,000 Christians were killed due to their faith, on average, every single year. To put the 20th Century’s brutality toward Christians into perspective, let’s look at the numbers. From AD 33 to 1900, 14 million martyrs are documented. Yet, from 1900 to 2000, 26 million martyrs were recorded. That means that more Christians were martyred in the 20th Century (100 years) than in the 1,900 years before it combined. Most of this was due to the rise of communism (and its various offshoots), however, the worst single genocide of Christians occurred in Turkey and has come to be known as the Armenian Genocide.

 

The 21st Century

 

North Korea:

In North Korea, anyone labeled a believer is hauled away to a prison camp. “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 inhumane acts,” states a recent report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “Documented incidents against Christians include being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot,” the report continues. Death by steamroller seems to be a favorite, as an eyewitness once accounted, “five men accused of running a non-sanctioned church were crushed to death by a steamroller in 1996” (The Christian Post).

 

Mexico:

Most people don’t associate Mexico with Christian persecution. However, the “Southern Mexico State of Chiapas has seen an incredible situation for the Indians there who have accepted Christ. During the past 30 years, 30,000 have been driven from their homes and hundreds have been murdered,” (Christianity.com). According to David Tamez, Executive Director of Latin American Indian Ministries, “Around 5,000 Indians have run away from their own communities to save their lives and in search for a better and safe refuge for their families. In 1997 we have seen one of the most difficult years for the Chiapas people, where over 60% are evangelicals, because at least 500 people were killed in different villages for the ‘crime’ of embracing the Christian faith.” In addition, the natural desire that Christians have, a desire to help villages escape poverty has put them in the direct sight of the drug cartels. Killing pastors, for example, is often a way in which the cartels assert their authority and attempt to frighten away believers.

 

Columbia:

Drug cartels and Indigenous authorities routinely persecute Indigenous Christians in Columbia. As a result, some Indigenous families send their children to a school/shelter run by Open Doors USA where they are protected from persecution and receive a Christian education. That changed recently. As Open Doors states, “the authorities have now requested that the children present themselves before the local governing bodies so that they may be returned to their communities and removed from Christian schools. This type of situation causes much instability and uncertainty for our persecuted brothers.”

 

Vietnam:

In the country that American traitors like Jane Fonda fought so hard to “liberate” from Capitalism, employing propaganda in hopes of a communist victory (which I wrote briefly about here), the Communist government has recently increased religious restrictions on its already weary population. This has resulted in increased beatings by government enforcers. In one example, a “cop came with about 20 young men with clubs and big knives. They pointed at him [Donh] and came at him, shouted that he follows Jesus, and beat him [until they thought he was dead]. Now Donh has run away and is experiencing frequent headaches [from the beating],” (Open Doors USA).

 

India:

A radical Hinduism has taken over India. This has led to an increasing number of attacks against Christians. In the first six months of 2017, there were already 410 attacks on Christians. Beyond the beatings (and sometimes deaths), Christians are increasingly being boycotted and forced to leave their homes or even their cities entirely.

 

Laos:

“To whatever god you are worshiping, pray that you will see your husband again,’ the policemen told me.” Those words are the recollection of one woman in Communist, Buddhist Laos whose husband was imprisoned for 13 years for sharing the Gospel. Any deviation from Buddhism or animism in Laos is viewed as a dilution of its culture and, hence, a threat. This puts Christians in a particularly risky situation.

 

And if the world hates you, know that it hated me before you

-John 15:18

 

Notice that I did not list a single Islamic country above. While Islamic regimes and movements remain the largest perpetrators of Christian persecution in the 21st Century, this persecution is literally worldwide and occurs in both secular and religious countries alike. Here, in the United States, we (Christians) have been extremely fortunate to live our lives peacefully, without having to risk our lives for our faith. We, however, are the exception. The rest of the world is the rule. We were warned that the world would hate us. We are to expect it.

 

This is an extremely important topic for modern Christians, as we are living in a century of continued hostility toward our very existence. I will continue with this topic of study in my next article.

 

For now, may God bless you and keep you well.

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