Christ-followers are persecuted all over the world simply for what they believe. According to the United States State Department, Christians in over 60 countries face the realities of massacre, rape, torture, mutilation, family division, harassment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death.
When we use the term “persecuted Church,” “Church” refers to the worldwide body of people who have chosen Jesus Christ as Lord and leader of their lives. “Persecuted” refers to suffering similar to the situations listed above. As Paul Marshall describes persecution in his book, Their Blood Cries Out: “This plague affects two hundred million people, with an additional four hundred million suffering from discrimination and legal impediments.”
Is persecution of Christians new? Is it real? Christian persecution can be traced to Christianity’s beginnings. Jesus Christ himself was martyred on the cross, and the early church faced widespread persecution. While Jesus was on earth, he bore witness to the battle between God’s Kingdom and the temporal kingdoms of earth. He said this tension would sometimes result in physical harm, discrimination, and death for believers. Jesus said: “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).
Persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith can be traced both historically and in the current era. Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose, and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land early Christianity was distributed across. This continued from the 1st century until the early 4th, when the religion was legalized by Constantine I. Michael Gaddis wrote:
The Christian experience of violence during the pagan persecutions shaped the ideologies and practices that drove further religious conflicts over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries... The formative experience of martyrdom and persecution determined the ways in which later Christians would both use and experience violence under the Christian empire. Discourses of martyrdom and persecution formed the symbolic language through which Christians represented, justified, or denounced the use of violence."
Christian missionaries as well as the neophytes that they converted to Christianity have been the target of persecution, many times to the point of being martyred for their faith. There is also a history of individual Christian denominations suffering persecution at the hands of other Christians under the charge of heresy, particularly during the 16th century Protestant Reformation.
In the 20th century, Christians have been persecuted by Muslim and Hindu groups inter alia, and by atheistic states such as the USSR and North Korea.
Currently (as of 2010), as estimated by the Christian missionary organization Open Doors UK, an estimated 1 million Christians face persecution, particularly in North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia. A recent study, cited by the Vatican, reported that 75 out of every 100 people killed due to religious hatred are Christian
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Here is a quick account of the early Christian persecution, as compiled from numerous sources outside the Bible, the most-famous of which is Foxes’ Christian Martyrs of the World:
Around 34 A.D., one year after the crucifixion of Jesus, Stephen was thrown out of Jerusalem and stoned to death. Approximately 2,000 Christians suffered martyrdom in Jerusalem during this period. About 10 years later, James, the son of Zebedee and the elder brother of John, was killed when Herod Agrippa arrived as governor of Judea. Agrippa detested the Christian sect of Jews, and many early disciples were martyred under his rule, including Timon and Parmenas. Around 54 A.D., Philip, a disciple from Bethsaida, in Galilee, suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified. About six years later, Matthew, the tax-collector from Nazareth who wrote his gospel in Hebrew, was preaching in Ethiopia when he suffered martyrdom by the sword. James, the brother of Jesus, administered the early church in Jerusalem and was the author of an Epistle by his name. At age 94, he was beat and stoned, and finally had his brains bashed out with a fuller's club. Matthias was the apostle who filled the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded. Andrew was the brother of Peter who preached the gospel throughout Asia. On his arrival at Edessa, he was arrested and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground (this is where we get the term, St. Andrew's Cross). Mark was converted to Christianity by Peter, and then transcribed Peter’s account of Jesus in his Gospel. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria in front of Serapis, their pagan idol. It appears Peter was condemned to death and crucified at Rome. Jerome holds that Peter was crucified upside down, at his own request, because he said he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. Paul suffered in the first persecution under Nero. Paul’s faith was so dramatic in the face of martyrdom, that the authorities removed him to a private place for execution by the sword.
In about 72 A.D., Jude, the brother of James who was commonly called Thaddeus, was crucified at Edessa. Bartholomew preached in several countries and translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India. He was cruelly beaten and then crucified by idolaters there. Thomas, called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear. Luke was the author of the Gospel under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree by idolatrous priests in Greece. Barnabas, of Cyprus, was killed without many known facts in about 73 A.D. Simon, surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, where he was crucified in about 74 A.D. John, the "beloved disciple," was the brother of James. From Ephesus he was ordered to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.
Modern-day persecution is well documented, despite some reports to the contrary. In fact, it is estimated that more Christians were martyred in the 20th Century than in the prior 1,900 years combined.
· Attacks on Christians have continued near the Somalia-Kenya border since Kenya began air strikes and deployed troops last month to deter al-Shabab militants, an extremist Muslim group associated with al-Qaida.
· Burmese soldiers targeted Christian civilians and church buildings in a recent attack against insurgents from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). The military, which accused church leaders of being part of the KIO, reportedly burned church property and several homes.
· After teaching at a school in Maldives for two years, 30-year-old Indian Christian Shijo Kakkattu was deported on Oct. 14, 2011, after police found a Bible in his house, according to Compass Direct News. A co-worker reported Kakkattu to the National Administrative Center after finding Christian materials on a school computer.
· A 17-year-old Christian was beheaded by al-Shabab extremists on Sept. 25 as he prepared for school. Al-Shabab, determined to rid Somalia of Christianity and Western influence, had carefully monitored Guled Jama Muktar and his family since their arrival from Kenya in 2008, a source told Compass Direct News. “I personally know this family as Christians who used to have secret Bible meetings in their house,” the source said.
· The government of Kazakhstan enacted two new laws on Oct. 24, 2011, further restricting freedom of religion. All registered churches must now re-register with the government, and only churches meeting new criteria will be registered.
· After closing the Indonesia Pentecost Church (Gpdi) in Sumedang, Indonesia, for using an illegal building permit, authorities arrested the church’s pastor for forcing others to attend church. The church was built more than 24 years ago, and it has experienced threats only within the last few months.
· A young Christian in Myanmar was forced to choose between faith and family recently when her relatives demanded that she recant her faith. On Sept. 19, 2011, 21-year-old Ying was preparing to leave for classes at an underground seminary when her relatives locked her in the house. They threatened to disown her, beat her and withdraw support — including food —if she continued to attend seminary or church. In addition, they threatened to send her to a remote village with no known Christians if she did not recant her faith. Instead of giving in to their demands, Ying ran away from home and left her family behind.
· Muslim extremists carried out new attacks on villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state in September, killing more than 100 Christians, including entire families, according to Compass Direct News.
· Agents of Iran’s intelligence ministry recently took a Christian couple’s adopted child, demanding that the couple file a complaint against other Christians being held in prison, according to Mohabat News. The couple was taken to the hospital because of emotional stress caused by the loss of their child. “This is the first time I have ever seen this tactic — taking a child hostage,” said a VOM contact. “In the past, it is always the parents.”
· After an extensive search, Christians in the Bakool region of southwestern Somalia discovered the decapitated body of kidnapped Christian Juma Naradin Kamil on Sept. 2, 2011. Kamil’s body reportedly bore the marks of an execution by the Muslim terrorist group al-Shabab.
Hundreds of news clips can be viewed at http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx
John 15:20 Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
Acts 14:22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said.
1 Corinthians 15:19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
2 Corinthians 4:9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Christian persecution didn’t slow the growth of the Christian faith during the first few centuries after Christ. Even as its early leaders died horrible deaths, Christianity flourished throughout the Roman Empire. How can this historical record of martyrdom be viewed as anything but dramatic evidence for the absolute truth of the Christian faith – a faith, unlike any other, founded on historical events and eye-witness testimony. Can we today as Christian’s expect anything less than what are first Christian brethren bore? As the Christian era began, so it will also end - just before Christ returns.
Psalm 119:89-176…Tuesday November 29th, 2011
THE WORD OF THE LORD IS ESTABLISHED and HIS FAITHFULNESS REACHES OUT TO ALL WHO SO ABIDE THEREIN
Your word O Lord is eternal…Your faithfulness continues
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path
Preserve my life O Lord according to your word
Accept O Lord the willing praise of my mouth and teach me your laws
You are my refuge and my shield
I have put my hope in your word
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding
Turn to me and have mercy on me O Lord
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me
God’s Word makes us wise
True wisdom goes beyond mere knowledge but it is in applying knowledge in a life changing way
Wisdom comes from allowing what God teaches to guide us
The Bible can be our light to show us the way ahead so we won’t stumble as we walk. It reveals the entangling roots of false values and philosophies.
Study the Bible so you will be able to see your way clear enough to stay on the right path
Double minded people cannot make up their minds but we are to take a stand to do that which is in accordance to God’s will and purpose
Ask God for discernment. Faith comes alive when we apply Scripture to our daily tasks and concerns. We need discernment so we can understand and we need the desire to apply scripture where we need help. The bible like medicine goes to work only when we apply it to the affected areas. As you read the Bible be alert for lessons and examples that you can put into practice
One of God’s characteristics is truthfulness.
His Word is true and dependable for guidance and help
The Bible is completely true and trustworthy
Modern society longs for peace of mind.
If we love God and so respond we will have His peace and an awareness of His abiding presence.
Trust in God who alone stands above the pressures of daily life and gives us full assurance
HOLD FAST TO THE WORD OF GOD
Meditate and so digest the truths thereof that is may preserve thee in all aspects of life
WHAT IS OUR FOCUS ON?
WALK IN THE LIGHT AS HE IS IN THE LIGHT
HIS WORD IS LIGHT REVEALING THE TRUTHS THEREOF
ABIDE and so CONTINUE RELATING TO THE LOVE CHRIST HAS MADE EVIDENT
Study by Charlotte…November 2011