April 2017 Persecution Magazine (1 of 4)

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APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />


China’s<br />

Christians<br />

In the midst <strong>of</strong> a<br />

crackdown on China’s<br />

Christians, ICC<br />

examines the lives <strong>of</strong><br />

Christians in China<br />

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<strong>2017</strong>: NORTH KOREA: THE RELEASE OF THE BRIDE<br />
















POLICY DAY: MAY 24<br />





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President’s Letter<br />

Finding<br />

The Treasure<br />

Years ago I was in China and I asked my handlers to arrange a<br />

meeting with pastors that had been imprisoned for ten or more<br />

years. These were giants <strong>of</strong> the faith but little known. I sat and<br />

discussed persecution with these leaders and one <strong>of</strong> my first<br />

questions was, “What would the Chinese Church would be like<br />

if there was no persecution?”<br />

They said it would be a mile wide but an inch deep (my paraphrase).<br />

Famous speakers would gather large crowds, but they<br />

would have no anointing and little knowledge <strong>of</strong> the Spirit. I<br />

asked them if they knew anything about the Western Church<br />

and they had no idea as they were simple pastors without international<br />

experience.<br />

The Church in the West is largely adrift. There are many reasons<br />

for this, but, from my vantage point, a core problem is that we<br />

live out Christianity without real cost. Witness Lee, the great<br />

Chinese pastor <strong>of</strong> the early twentieth century and devotee <strong>of</strong> the<br />

great Watchman Nee, eloquently described this problem:<br />

The biggest problem today is that it is hard to find<br />

any wounds or scars in most Christians. Most <strong>of</strong><br />

us do not have any wounds, scars, marks <strong>of</strong> death,<br />

or experiences <strong>of</strong> the cross. Even though we have<br />

been saved and truly have Christ’s life in us, this<br />

life has no way to come out. The reason is not that<br />

our behavior is too poor or too good but that we are<br />

too whole and too impregnable. Because we have<br />

no wounds, Christ has no way to be released from<br />

within us.<br />

-Witness Lee, The Crucified Christ, Chapter 1<br />

While we may not have any wounds or scars, our persecuted<br />

brothers and sisters have them in abundance. These believers<br />

and especially the faces <strong>of</strong> the martyrs are always in front <strong>of</strong><br />

me, Christians like Pastor Ohii, Tilman, Necati, Pastor Kevin<br />

and so many more.<br />

The Choice<br />

These martyrs, like so many others, were almost always given a<br />

Above: Witness Lee<br />

chance to live if they utteedr three little words, “I deny Jesus.”<br />

Do you ever wonder why they don’t do it?<br />

Locked away in secret prisons, in the midst <strong>of</strong> beatings, torture,<br />

or under unrelenting pressure, certain Christians are transformed.<br />

When stripped <strong>of</strong> all that the world values, including<br />

dignity, strength, relationship, power, and standing, they<br />

let go <strong>of</strong> the world and any hope in its false answers to life.<br />

Somewhere deep within themselves, they place all <strong>of</strong> their<br />

physical and psychic treasure on the sacrificial altar. They put<br />

all <strong>of</strong> their proverbial chips into the middle <strong>of</strong> the table and they<br />

wager everything on God. In losing “everything,” though, they<br />

become immensely wealthy and concurrently truly dangerous in<br />

the spiritual world.<br />

In Kenya, Pastor Kevin was on his way to church on Sunday<br />

morning when he got calls from his sheep that were being<br />

slaughtered. “They were under attack. I heard gunshots, people<br />

screaming, crying. It was like a horror movie. It was just like<br />

hell,” he said. His assistant pastor standing in his place was<br />

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APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />


President’s Letter<br />

killed at the lectern along with six others. Twelve others were<br />

wounded. Everyone else was, <strong>of</strong> course, traumatized. Pastor Kevin<br />

died and came to life that day. Listen to what he says. . .<br />

“After the attack, God inserted into me a spirit <strong>of</strong> courage. After<br />

your church gets shot up, you don’t fear anymore and you stop<br />

caring [about the danger]. We have been through a lot [but] we<br />

don’t fear anymore… There is nothing human beings can do to<br />

you.”<br />

Amazing right?<br />

Now here’s a little secret . . .In one way or another, this is what the<br />

Lord is doing in your life and mine!<br />

This process may be cathartic or it may be slow and gradual.<br />

Regardless <strong>of</strong> pace or tool, God is always working in gain and loss<br />

to get you to give up on this world and desire Him above all other<br />

treasures and relationships.<br />

All <strong>of</strong> our idols (that which we live for or through) and all <strong>of</strong> our<br />

crutches must fail. We must continue to toss them overboard one<br />

after the other, until we each find ourselves left with the one TRUE<br />

thing that we can live THROUGH, and live FOR.<br />

You can see the Lord’s heart on this in many passages such as<br />

Luke 14:26-27, Luke 14:33, Matthew 13:44-46, Luke 14:33, and<br />

Mark 10:17.<br />

You can see the Lord’s heart on this in many passages: If you don’t<br />

give up EVERYTHING you cannot be my disciples (Luke 14:26)!<br />

When a man discovered the treasure that is God, he went and sold<br />

everything he had to buy it (Matthew 13:44). What must I do to<br />

live forever? Go and give away everything that is most precious<br />

to you and follow me (Mark 10:17).<br />

Watchman Nee, the great Chinese Church leader <strong>of</strong> the early twentieth<br />

century, spoke about this process in one <strong>of</strong> my favorite books,<br />

“The Release <strong>of</strong> the Spirit.”<br />

Anyone who serves God will discover sooner or later<br />

that the great hindrance to his work is not others but<br />

himself. He will quickly detect that the greatest difficulty<br />

lies in his outward man, for it hinders him from<br />

using his spirit. The Lord employs two different ways<br />

to destroy our outward man; one is gradual, the other<br />

sudden. To some, the Lord gives a sudden destruction<br />

followed by a gradual one. It would seem the Lord<br />

usually spends several years upon us before He can<br />

accomplish this work <strong>of</strong> destruction.<br />

-Watchman Nee, Release <strong>of</strong> the Spirit<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

We Must Give Up On The World<br />

The believer has to let go <strong>of</strong> the world and brokenness is a great<br />

catalyst in that process. Whoever has wagered all they have on<br />

God returns to the world as an alien and they stand out as such.<br />

They have been set ablaze by God and become a light in the darkness.<br />

This is the secret to why the persecuted Church is pure and<br />

grows.<br />

My core problem is that I don’t have enough <strong>of</strong> Him inside me and<br />

what I do have is restrained from being released into the world due<br />

to my being impregnable.<br />

Our trials, though wholly unwelcomed, are used to work on both<br />

<strong>of</strong> these issues. I want to invite you to embrace your trials. Evil<br />

does not come from the Lord but He will use trials and evil to try<br />

and make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.<br />

So many <strong>of</strong> the persecuted have discovered this truth and are<br />

worthy <strong>of</strong> your time treasure and talent. Please serve them with us!<br />

Jeff King<br />

President, International Christian Concern<br />

www.persecution.org<br />

Adapted from a chapter <strong>of</strong> a soon-to–be-released book from ICC’s<br />

president, Jeff King: “Last Words <strong>of</strong> the Martyrs.”<br />

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News<br />

3<br />

6<br />

4<br />

5<br />

1<br />

2<br />

“Local leaders<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten turn a<br />

blind eye to<br />

discrimination<br />

and harassment.”<br />

ICC Documents 361 Attacks on<br />

Christians in India in 2016<br />

1 | INDIA In 2016, ICC documented a total <strong>of</strong> 361 attacks<br />

against Christians in India, making 2016 one <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

trying years for India’s Christian community in recent<br />

years. In 2015, the Evangelical Fellowship <strong>of</strong> India<br />

recorded 177 incidents. This upsurge in attacks is both<br />

noteworthy and a cause for concern for local Christians<br />

and the international human rights community. The<br />

recorded attacks ranged from vandalism to social boycotts<br />

to violent physical assaults.<br />

Due to several factors, these attacks <strong>of</strong>ten go unreported<br />

by victims or witnesses; therefore, we can estimate that the<br />

actual number <strong>of</strong> incidents that took place last year is much<br />

higher. According to Dr. John Dayal, a human rights activist<br />

in India, it is possible that the number <strong>of</strong> attacks could be<br />

up to 10 times higher than what was recorded.<br />

The perpetrators in many <strong>of</strong> these attacks were radical<br />

Hindu nationalists who have enjoyed total impunity for their<br />

actions, encouraging further violence against the Christian<br />

minority. Each attack which goes unpunished emboldens<br />

new criminals to carry out more daring and audacious<br />

crimes. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister<br />

Narendra Modi rose to power in 2014, Christians have experienced<br />

a notable rise in attacks.<br />

Despite the fact that the Indian constitution protects the<br />

religious rights <strong>of</strong> all citizens, it is evident that this right is<br />

being selectively enforced by Indian authorities.<br />

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi<br />

Muslim Converts<br />

to Christianity,<br />

Martyred<br />


According to reports<br />

from Christian Aid<br />

Mission, a Muslim man<br />

in the Philippines converted<br />

to Christianity<br />

after hearing a presentation<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Gospel at<br />

his daughter’s wedding.<br />

The <strong>of</strong>ficiant at the<br />

wedding was a Gospelpreaching<br />

pastor and<br />

the groom’s father. It was<br />

by God’s grace that the<br />

father <strong>of</strong> the bride came<br />

to Christ during this<br />

message because he had<br />

previously engaged in<br />

attacking this very same<br />

pastor by tossing rocks<br />

at him and his church.<br />

Upon the man’s<br />

conversion, he began<br />

experiencing similar<br />

harassment at the<br />

hands <strong>of</strong> his Muslim<br />

relatives. As a final<br />

testament to his faith,<br />

the man was stabbed<br />

to death by local<br />

Muslims after refusing<br />

to stop sharing the<br />

Gospel. Once a persecutor,<br />

then a believer<br />

and now a martyr, his<br />

testimony is sure to<br />

survive him.<br />

Mexican Churches and Communities<br />

Deprived <strong>of</strong> Electricity<br />

3 | MEXICO Although widely unreported by the<br />

mainstream media, Christians in Mexico continue to<br />

face persecution for their faith, particularly in rural<br />

areas. While the Mexican constitution protects religious<br />

freedom, local leaders <strong>of</strong>ten turn a blind eye to<br />

discrimination and harassment.<br />

On January 22, local town leaders in Comitan de<br />

Dominguez, Chiapas, Mexico, cut <strong>of</strong>f the power to<br />

a house church called “Templo Solo Cristo Salva.”<br />

According to the Coordinacion de Organizaciones<br />

Cristianas (COOC), the town leaders decided on this<br />

electrical cut a week prior during a town assembly<br />

meeting. However, the COOC also noted that the<br />

evangelical church members are not permitted to<br />

attend such meetings.<br />

Local residents have made <strong>of</strong>ficial requests to<br />

the state government in an attempt to rectify the<br />

situation but, to date, there has been no definitive<br />

action. Thankfully, the federal government has taken<br />

measures to relieve such injustice by paying individual<br />

fines to help those affected by such incidents.<br />

Hopefully, this federal action will curb some <strong>of</strong> the<br />

deliberate targeting <strong>of</strong> religious minorities. While this<br />

is absolutely a step in the right direction, local leaders<br />

must also be willing to protect vulnerable minority<br />

groups in order to effect long-lasting change.<br />

Comitan de Dominguez, Chiapas, Mexico<br />

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The Reina nightclub in Istanbul where a gunman with ISIS connections killed 39 people on New Year’s Eve.<br />

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Turkey Nightclub<br />

Massacre<br />

4 | TURKEY On New Year’s Eve, a shooter stormed into a Turkish<br />

nightclub in Istanbul, killing at least 39 people and wounding many<br />

more. Shortly after, an ISIS-linked news group released a video claiming<br />

responsibility for the attack. Furthermore, they reported that the<br />

gunman specifically targeted Christians who were ‘celebrating their<br />

pagan feast.’ A suspect was taken into police custody shortly after the<br />

attack and has since confessed to the crime and made clear his original<br />

intent <strong>of</strong> killings Christians in the violent attack.<br />

Christian Converts Banned from Iranian Churches<br />

on Christmas<br />

5 | IRAN In Iran, both government <strong>of</strong>ficials and business owners are<br />

ever attempting to drive Christianity out <strong>of</strong> the country by enforcing<br />

restrictions on religious activities. This past year, many Muslim<br />

Iranians and Farsi-speaking Christians were prohibited from attending<br />

Christmas services because the regime feared further spread <strong>of</strong><br />

Christianity. Despite these crackdowns and the general persecutionesque<br />

disposition <strong>of</strong> the Iranian government, the Word <strong>of</strong> God continues<br />

to rapidly spread throughout Iran.<br />

Nearly 900 Churches Destroyed by Boko Haram<br />

6 | NIGERIA Toward the end <strong>of</strong> January, the Christian Association <strong>of</strong> Nigeria<br />

(CAN) reported that Boko Haram has destroyed more than 900 churches in<br />

northeastern Nigeria to date. In their report, CAN urged the Nigerian government<br />

to assist these churches in the rebuilding process and take stronger action<br />

to prevent violence against religious minorities. Boko Haram has become notorious<br />

for suicide bombings, attacks on Christian homes and churches, and the<br />

infamous kidnapping <strong>of</strong> the 276 primarily Christian schoolgirls from Chibok.<br />

All <strong>of</strong> this violence falls under the umbrella effort to wipe out the influence <strong>of</strong><br />

Christianity in the region.<br />

CAN’s report is a grim reminder that Boko Haram is holding fast to their<br />

promise made last year to specifically target Christians in their campaigns <strong>of</strong><br />

violence. Until more action is taken, both moderate Muslims and Christians in<br />

Nigeria will remain vulnerable at the hands <strong>of</strong> Boko Haram.<br />

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The aftermath <strong>of</strong> a Boko Haram bombing.<br />


News<br />

5<br />

2<br />

3<br />

1<br />

6<br />

4<br />

An entrance to the Christian neighborhood <strong>of</strong> Joseph<br />

Colony in Lahore, Pakistan.<br />

Court Acquits Suspects <strong>of</strong> Joseph Colony<br />

Attack<br />

1 | PAKISTAN On March 8, 2013, a mob <strong>of</strong> Muslim radicals<br />

attacked the primarily Christian neighborhood <strong>of</strong> Joseph<br />

Colony in Lahore, Pakistan. Reports estimate that as many<br />

as 3,000 Muslims participated in the violence. When the<br />

dust had settled, at least 150 Christian homes were burned<br />

to the ground, along with several businesses and a church.<br />

The backing for this onslaught followed a trail back to<br />

a blasphemy accusation against a local Christian named<br />

Sawan Masih. During an argument, a Muslim friend accused<br />

Masih <strong>of</strong> making derogatory comments about the prophet<br />

Muhammad. Shortly afterwards, the aforementioned violence<br />

broke out. Masih was then taken into custody, charged<br />

with blasphemy, and sentenced to death in 2014.<br />

Despite the swift legal action taken to condemn Masih,<br />

in January <strong>2017</strong>, nearly four years after the initial riots,<br />

a Pakistani court acquitted all 115 suspects accused <strong>of</strong><br />

participating in the violent attacks. While widely available<br />

photo and video evidence proved their guilt, the<br />

court cited a lack <strong>of</strong><br />

evidence as the reason<br />

for their acquittal.<br />

All charges, ranging<br />

from attempted murder<br />

to terrorism, were<br />

cleared, denying justice<br />

to the hundreds <strong>of</strong><br />

families whose lives<br />

were upturned by this<br />

violence.<br />

The response to<br />

this mob violence has<br />

drawn criticism, even<br />

from within Pakistan’s<br />

own government. In<br />

one instance, a Supreme<br />

Court bench criticized<br />

Punjab <strong>of</strong>ficials for their<br />

apathy and inaction<br />

toward the Christian<br />

minorities in this case,<br />

though this produced<br />

few results in terms <strong>of</strong><br />

proper due justice.<br />

This case is indicative<br />

<strong>of</strong> two major issues<br />

affecting Pakistan’s<br />

Christian community:<br />

the misuse <strong>of</strong> blasphemy<br />

accusations<br />

and the lack <strong>of</strong> government<br />

response to<br />

crimes directed at religious<br />

minorities. Unless<br />

the government takes<br />

more decisive action<br />

in defending its vulnerable<br />

Christian community,<br />

it seems unlikely<br />

that these families will<br />

receive justice.<br />

Soad Thabet, an elderly Coptic woman assaulted by three<br />

men who broke into her house.<br />

“The men stormed<br />

into her home,<br />

dragged her into<br />

the street, stripped<br />

her...and beat her.”<br />

Case Reopened Against Men Who<br />

Abused Elderly Coptic Woman<br />

2 | EGYPT Last June, Soad Thabet, an elderly Coptic<br />

woman, was assaulted by a group <strong>of</strong> three men who<br />

accused her son <strong>of</strong> having an extramarital affair with a<br />

Muslim woman. As the unconfirmed rumors about her<br />

son spread, the men stormed into her home, dragged her<br />

into the street, stripped her <strong>of</strong> her clothing within view<br />

<strong>of</strong> the public, and beat her. She and her husband had no<br />

option but to flee their village.<br />

In January, Egyptian authorities cleared the three<br />

accused men <strong>of</strong> their charges on account <strong>of</strong> a “lack <strong>of</strong><br />

evidence.” Even though Thabet was able to identify her<br />

attackers and the president issued a public apology, the<br />

case was still dropped. Thabet and her family expressed<br />

their disappointment in this decision, as they felt let down<br />

by the Egyptian authorities and fearful that this case<br />

would set a precedent <strong>of</strong> impunity for future attacks.<br />

After Thabet’s legal team filed an appeal stating that<br />

witnesses involved with the incident changed their testimonies<br />

upon receiving threats, the case was recently<br />

reopened. At the time <strong>of</strong> writing, the case is still ongoing.<br />

Although there is a difficult road ahead to achieve<br />

justice for Thabet and her family, human rights activists<br />

view the reopening <strong>of</strong> this case as a significant step in<br />

the right direction.<br />

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Pastor Expelled from Sudan for Planting Churches<br />

3 | SUDAN On December 6, 2016, Sudanese authorities gave Christian pastor Koat Akot 72 hours to vacate the North African country. Akot was<br />

expelled from Sudan due to his involvement with evangelism and for planting three churches in the country. One <strong>of</strong> those churches has amassed<br />

approximately 500 members since its foundation. The government <strong>of</strong>ficials responsible for Akot’s expulsion reportedly confiscated several<br />

church-owned items from the congregation’s property during his interrogation. Akot was previously detained last November for leading worship.<br />

He was held for only one day, but had to report to authorities on a daily basis following his release. Pastor Akot is just one <strong>of</strong> the many Christian<br />

pastors facing persecution at the hand <strong>of</strong> the Sudanese government.<br />

A Chinese Bible.<br />

Six Women Detained for Holding Bible Study<br />

4 | CHINA In China’s Hubei province, six Christian women were<br />

recently taken into custody for hosting a Bible study in a house<br />

church. According to reports, <strong>of</strong>ficials accused the women <strong>of</strong> holding<br />

illegal religious gatherings, beating the six women and confiscating<br />

their property. The <strong>of</strong>ficers began to shove and beat the Christian<br />

men who tried to stop them. To date, family members <strong>of</strong> the detained<br />

have yet to receive <strong>of</strong>ficial detention notices for their loved ones.<br />

This incident is unfortunately just one in a long string <strong>of</strong> targeted<br />

discrimination against religious groups at the hands <strong>of</strong> the Chinese<br />

government led by President Xi Jinping.<br />

Don and Ruth Ossewaarde.<br />

American Missionary’s Case to Russian Supreme Court<br />

5 | RUSSIA As previously reported, American missionary Don<br />

Ossewaarde was convicted last year under Russia’s newly implemented<br />

“Yarovaya” laws. These laws impose harsh restrictions on missionaries<br />

and their ability to evangelize in Russia. According to Christianity Today,<br />

32 have already been convicted under this law since its implementation.<br />

Ossewaarde was issued a fine <strong>of</strong> approximately $600 USD and has<br />

appealed his conviction all the way up to the Russian Supreme Court. The<br />

Supreme Court’s ruling will set an important precedent for Christian missionaries<br />

and ministries operating in Russia. This ruling is anticipated to<br />

make clear the Russian government’s attitude toward religious freedom.<br />

Compassion International Forced to Close in India<br />

6 | INDIA In 2016, the Indian government made revisions to its Foreign Contribution<br />

Regulation Act affecting international organizations that provide aid to the country.<br />

One major group that was affected by this change was a Christian child sponsorship<br />

organization, Compassion International. Although the organization has made multiple<br />

negotiation attempts with Indian <strong>of</strong>ficials and implored the US government to<br />

intervene, their attempts have been unsuccessful thus far.<br />

The CEO <strong>of</strong> Compassion International reported that this regulation will affect<br />

147,000 children in India who receive aid through the organization. Some experts<br />

speculate that Hindu nationalism is the reason why Christian groups are being<br />

forced out <strong>of</strong> the country, despite the numerous societal benefits that their work<br />

provides. It is unsettling to witness the Indian government let its religious ideology<br />

overshadow the needs <strong>of</strong> thousands upon thousands <strong>of</strong> children.<br />

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