Syndicated with permission of Micha El Sawdy
Modern Christian persecution has reached another all-time high worldwide, according to new reports and studies. An International Catholic Charity, Aid to the Church in Need, found that Christians comprised 75% of those persecuted for their “Religion” globally over the past 3 years. The Charity found that Christians are not only more persecuted than any other faith group, but they are also experiencing the very worst forms of religious persecution.
The report also ranked the “most extreme” countries, concerning hostility toward Holy Bible believers, and China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria topped the list. All of these countries appear on the World Watch List of Christian persecution watchdog group, Open Doors. In 25 years of “chronicling and ranking” the political and societal restrictions on religious freedom experienced by Christians worldwide, Open Doors’ researchers identified 2016 as the “WORST YEAR YET.”
According to the new studies, over 200 million Christians experience high, very high, or extreme persecution. Islamism remains the most dominant driver of persecution globally, and is responsible for initiating oppression and hostility toward Christians in 35 out of the 50 countries on the 2017 World Watch List. In Iraq, the exodus of Christians has been so severe that one of the world’s oldest Churches could literally disappear within 3 years unless there is dramatic change for the better.
Right now, that change does not appear to be coming, even as ISIS is being pushed out. At least 120,000 Christians were displaced in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains. In Egypt, it is ILLEGAL to convert from Islam to Christianity. In Iran, Priests are required to ask Muslims attending the Mass to leave, or else the muslim and the Priest could face arrest for “proselytism”. In Nigeria, Islamic terror group Boko Haram has displaced 1.8 million Christians, and left 5,000 widows and 15,000 orphans, after their terror spree across the African nation.
Christians have suffered increased violence and oppression as a result of a rise in “religious nationalism”. This has always been the case in Islamic countries, but over the course of the past year Hindu-nationalism in India has targeted Christians for persecution. In the first six months of 2017 alone, Indian Christians were harassed, threatened, or attacked for their faith in 410 reported incidents. This is just about as many as the total for the whole previous YEAR (441).
In China, the President there has described Christianity as “a foreign infiltration”, and a “national security threat”. Church communities have been accused of resisting government control, leading to the widespread removal of Crosses, and the destruction of Church buildings. Even Christmas has been banned across parts of the communist country. One of the most disturbing headlines I’ve read this month is “CHRISTIANS IN CHINA MUST REPLACE JESUS WITH PICTURES OF XI JINPING OR LOSE SOCIAL SERVICES”.
Chinese believers have been ordered to remove images of Jesus Christ, and to replace them with pictures of the Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping, or else they will not receive government assistance. This is just another example of the government effort to “transform believers in God into believers in the Communist Party.” Thousands of Christians in one impoverished region of southeast China have already removed crosses and images of Jesus from their homes, and replaced them with pictures of China’s leader.
President Xi recently cemented his position as head of the Communist Party, by far the most powerful role in China. Communist Party officials said that this recent campaign to replace Jesus with Xi was meant to show villagers that “only the party can help them”. Qi Yan, chairman of the Huangjinbu People’s Congress, said “Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses. But we try to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.”
He went on to say, “Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their Savior. After our cadres’ work, they’ll realize their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help”. Qi claims that the government has only “forced” individuals to place photos of Xi over their Christian images in “the center of their home,” not in their bedrooms or other private areas.
Another official stated that the move was “necessary because Christians are ignorant, and need to be taught to worship the state, NOT God.” It is being reported that around 600 residents have already “voluntarily” removed their images of Jesus, and that over 450 new photos of President Xi are hanging on living room walls. As horrendous as it may be to live as a Christian under China’s communist rule, another Eastern nation actually makes life far worse for believers.
North Korea is actually the worst offender globally, committing “unspeakable atrocities” against Christians. For 14 straight years, NK remains the most dangerous place to be a Christian. Believers, who have been fortunate enough to escape the hell of living under Kim Jong Un’s dictatorial regime, give horrific accounts of “forced starvation, forced abortion, crucifixion of believers over fires, and Christians being crushed under steamrollers”.
While we Christians in the U.S. and other Western nations experience a different kind of persecution, I don’t think many believers here understand what the word “persecution” truly means. Our North Korean brothers and sisters are being martyred for the Faith every single day. According to the Open Doors’ World Watch List for 2017, the top 10 nations where it is most dangerous and difficult to practice Christianity are North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Eritrea. You can read the the full list of the 50 nations below –
Over the past 25 years, only 3 countries have ever topped the list: North Korea (2002 – 2017), Saudi Arabia (1993 – 1995, 1998 – 2001), and Somalia (1996 – 1997). The top 10 nations over the 25-year span are North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan, Maldives, Yemen, Sudan, Vietnam, and of course China. While the pressure and hostility in the USA and Western nations has not reached the violent persecution levels of the Middle East and Asia, you can see us leaning more in that dangerous direction year after year.
Under the Obama Administration, especially following the Supreme Court decision to legalize Gay Marriage, Christians who held Biblical worldviews have been taken before courts, lost jobs, had businesses closed, and have even been imprisoned. Over the course of the past month, as Australia has been weighing whether or not to legalize Same-Sex Marriage, believers in the country who rightfully oppose the measure have been verbally or physically attacked, and Churches have been vandalized.
Finally, just last week, Americans mourned the tragedy of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which killed 26 and wounded 20 on November 5th. The murderer was described as one who “preached atheism” and “hated Christians”. Jesus said that one of the signs, signalling His imminent return to earth, would be widespread persecution of His Church. As Christian persecution continues to get worse globally, year after year, can we not recognize the most clear-cut SIGN OF THE TIMES?
“For MANY walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the ENEMIES of the Cross of CHRIST.” ~ Philippians 3:18
“JESUS said, Blessed are they which are PERSECUTED for Righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Blessed are you, 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 they persecuted the prophets which were before you.” ~ Matthew 5:10-12
“(They are) HATERS OF GOD….” ~ Romans 1:30
“If the WORLD hate you, you know that it HATED ME before it hated you. If you were OF the world, the world would love his own: but because you are NOT OF the world, but I have chosen you OUT OF the world, therefore the world HATES you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The SERVANT is not greater than his LORD. If they have PERSECUTED ME, they will also persecute YOU..” ~ John 15:18-20
“JESUS said, Then shall they deliver you (Christians) up to be AFFLICTED, and shall kill you: and you shall be HATED of all nations for MY Name’s Sake.” – Matthew 24:9
“And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the Altar the souls of them that were SLAIN for the WORD OF GOD (Holy Bible)..” – Revelation 6:9
“JESUS said… The time comes, that whosoever KILLS YOU will think that he doeth ‘God’ SERVICE. And these things will they (Muslims) do unto you, because they have NOT KNOWN the Father in Heaven, NOR ME.” – John 16:2-3
“JESUS said.. Take HEED to yourselves: for they shall deliver you into.. PRISONS; for you shall be brought before RULERS and kings for MY sake, for a testimony AGAINST THEM.” ~ Mark 13:9/Luke 21:12
“… And THE BEAST MADE WAR with the saints (Christians), to overcome them: and power was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and NATIONS.” ~ Revelation 13:7
“JESUS said… Can you not discern the SIGNS OF THE TIMES?” ~ Matthew 16:3
Micha EL Sawdy is a Holy Bible-believing Conservative Christian, and the Founder and Author of BiblicalSignsInTheHeadlines.com
All views expressed by the author belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Little Bytes News.