|But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me.
- Jesus, Luke 21:12;16;17
I know this is truly an utmost difficult subject. Pobably the most difficult one at all. Maybe we should keep our fingers off Jesus in view of such difficulties? Is He like a “hot potato”? This could be the anxious questions of people who don't know the Truth of God yet. But what would be the ultimate price of that? I can hardly think of anybody knowingly forsaking Jesus.
In the same chapter Jesus promises to help us whenever necessary (verses 14-15): "But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict."
I think this is the reason why so many Christians in times of Nero were able to look into the hungry lions’ faces, even with singing. And also nowadays we so often hear of persecuted Christians taking the worst tortures upon them. Yet nobody suffers voluntarily such unhuman manners. I'm pretty sure, nobody could even endure this under 'normal' circumstances. But these people endure because Jesus gives them supernatural strengths in those extraordinarily extreme situations. The following is such an example:
May 2007 - India
Pictures Of A Persecuted Pastor On TV
(Open Doors) "We became aware of a group of armed Hindus, walking unerringly down a road. We simply walked behind following them", explained the team of Jaipur TV Station of the R. State last Sunday, April 29. With their camera they filmed how at least 20 Hindu extremists entered the house of Pastor Walter Massey by force and attacked him brutally.
A few hours later, this report was aired by several Indian broadcasting stations. The viewers were shocked when watching Pastor Massey being beaten until bleeding before the very eyes of his wife and his little daughter. He was hit with iron sticks, bats and metal chairs and it was clearly heard on TV how he was pleading toward Jesus Christ. The viewers also heard him speak of Jesus' love, trying to sit up while being taken to hospital.
What a testimony! Nobody would endure tortures like these unless Jesus Himself would intervene alleviatingly. And even though Christians come to death, which is always shocking for us to hear, they endure, because Jesus is exceptionally close to them in such moments, carrying them on His arms through the valley of death into His Kingdom. This can be very clearly seen in Acts 7:54-58, where we read about Stephen being stoned to death, saying only moments before he died that he saw Heaven open and Jesus sitting on His Throne. Even today, there are many reports testifying similar situations from all over this earth where Christians are being persecuted.
To some ears it might really sound unbelievable, but for quite some time already, Christians are the most persecuted people in the world. Jesus has foreseen this coming, "... and you will be hated by all nations because of me." And it started indeed shortly after His resurrection. Since then, persecution is sometimes worse, sometimes less, but can be seen increasingly in almost every part of this world (it begins already on a small scale by being laughed at because of one's faith or by being reproached for talking "politically incorrect" about Jesus).
With the fall of communism and the consequent opening of the Iron Curtain in the beginning of the 90s last century, it became a bit better at first, but then rapidly changed to worse, especially in Muslim ruled countries. The former political concepts of the enemy had disappeared and now things shifted. Also in other countries, people are being hindered increasingly to speak about the God of the Bible, and even to worship Him. In many cases, they are being imprisoned, tortured, killed. Right now, North Korea has the sad lead in it, followed by Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Maledives, China and Pakistan. Next to Cuba, there are also some South American countries, where Christians are being persecuted. In the main subject area "Ministries" (to your left), I talk about this in the Colombia area.
Open Doors is an internationally respected Aid Organizsation for persecuted Christians worldwide. Here you also find the World Watch List.
Since Islam is interwoven with politics (not to be equated with the term "government"), the Sharia (Islamic law system) is being applied in many countries. Yet it is up to the particular country itself as to what extent it is being applied there. Thus, you see countries like Saudi Arabia where it is applied everywhere, whereas in Pakistan or Nigeria for example, it is applied only in some provinces. Yet, unfortunately it is being thought about there, to extend Sharia to all states... even to Nigerian states that are mainly populated by Christians.
Islam striktly forbids Muslims to apostatize. While Non-Muslims are most welcome to change to Islam. Capital punishment goes for insulting Muhammad the same as for other delicts (take for example § 295 C of the Pakistani Blasphemic law, in the meantime even known abroad). One careless word and your neighbor can make you go to jail for 'offending Islam'. Quite some fights between house neigbors for example have 'come to an end' this way... You cannot react quickly enough before you find yourself in prison because of incidents like this, usually with justifications that lack all reasonable grounds. It can take months before a court hearing takes place, as many lawyers turn the defense down.
Death penalty officially does not apply to people born into Christian society. Yet as to the law, in several Islamic countries, they often have to have a particular entry in their passports to disclose them as Christians. This is giving them quite some problems in education and choice of job, for example. In Pakistan, a comparibly high number of Christians is still poorly educated as many of them are descendants of former "untouchables", thus often being illiterate and without professional skills. In India, they are called Dalits. Only in the nearer past, some Christian organizations could counteract illiteracy to such an extent that lately, one can observe a growing number of well educated Christians. Yet many of them are not allowed to work in their jobs.
In countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, more and more often Muslim fanatics foray into churches, shooting defencelessly praying people. Even kids are no exception in this. Indeed, they are facing particularly high dangers: how often do we hear of cases where they are being abducted on their way to school, for example, to be 're-educated', meaning forced to turn to Islam. Depending their age, many of them are kept in camps, far away from their home places, being trained in weapons for the jihad (the so-called holy war), while girls are being forcibly married to young Muslim men. Christian women are often abducted and raped, which is very often heard about in Egypt. Pastors are jailed for false reasons, often dying mysteriously there. It is said then that they were psychologically ill and have committed suicide...
Converted Muslims are even much worse off. They are being looked at as traitors after having accepted Jesus into their lives as their personal Savior. As to Sharia, this means death penalty. In addition, their families feel dishonored because of the new faith of the convert, which often drives them to those so-called honor killings. This even happens in politically more liberal countries such as Turkey. Only like this, as to their conviction, can the family honor be re-established again, the shame be taken off of them. Usually those perpetrators get away with it. Or they prefer prison, the main thing is for honor to be re-established... A converted Muslim can never feel save in his life again. Yet so many come to faith after all...!
Therefore, it is utmost important for us to pray for our brothers and sisters in such countries, and also, in particular, for those governing. Above, in NEWS, you'll find a lot of reports on such situations, so that you can know what to pray for exactly.