February 2024 Persecution Magazine

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FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong><br />




A Lost<br />

Enclave<br />

and a New<br />

Home<br />









Contents<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong><br />


A woman stands in a beam of morning sunlight<br />

streaming into the church at Tatev Monastery in<br />

Armenia.<br />

Photo: Joel Carillet/iStock<br />


10<br />

16<br />

18 22<br />





Life for thousands<br />

of ethnic Armenian<br />

Christians after they<br />

were forced to leave.<br />

Afghan refugees find Christ<br />

amid uncertainty.<br />

Stories of survival and<br />

struggle for Christians in<br />

Southeast Asia.<br />

The unyielding faith<br />

amid darkness.<br />


04<br />

06<br />

08<br />

ICC NEWSROOM Your Source for <strong>Persecution</strong> News<br />

WEST WATCH Issues Involving Christianity in the West<br />

YOUR HANDS AND FEET ICC Projects Made Possible by Our Supporters<br />

@persecuted @persecutionnews @internationalchristianconcern International Christian Concern<br />

OUR MISSION: Since 1996, ICC has served the global<br />

persecuted church through a three-pronged approach of<br />

advocacy, awareness, and assistance. ICC exists to bandage<br />

the wounds of persecuted Christians and to build the church<br />

in the toughest parts of the world.<br />

DONATIONS: International Christian Concern (ICC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) (all<br />

donations tax-deductible). ICC makes every effort to honor donor wishes in regards to<br />

their gifts. Occasionally, a situation will arise where a project is no longer viable. ICC<br />

will redirect those donated funds to one of our other funds that is most similar to the<br />

donor’s original wishes.<br />

2<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong><br />

© Copyright <strong>2024</strong> ICC, Washington, D.C., USA. All rights reserved.<br />

Permission to reproduce all or part of this publication is granted<br />

provided attribution is given to ICC as the source.<br />

2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #941 | Washington, DC 20006-5441<br />

STAFF<br />

Publisher Jeff King<br />

Managing Editor Alex Finch<br />

Editor and Designer Hannah Campbell

Rescuing the Refugee<br />

Across the pages of Scripture, the Lord reveals His heart for the<br />

brokenhearted. In the same breath, He makes it clear that it is<br />

our duty to be just with refugees as well. In Exodus 22:21, He<br />

tells the Israelites, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you<br />

were foreigners in Egypt.”<br />

Here at International Christian Concern (ICC), we take this seriously<br />

when it comes to victims of persecution. When a family is driven from<br />

their home because of their faith, we will be there for them if we can.<br />

Those forced to flee face many obstacles. Cast aside as unwelcome<br />

foreigners, many are unable to secure jobs or even legal refugee status,<br />

leaving them to rely on the goodwill of others for their most basic<br />

needs.<br />

In the pages ahead, I invite you to feel the journey of the refugee as we<br />

meet with displaced believers around the world.<br />

While the road they are on is fraught with peril, their resilience is unmatched,<br />

and it’s my hope that you are spurred to prayer and to care<br />

for these precious brothers and sisters.<br />

As always, thank you for your faithful care for our persecuted family.<br />

God bless you.<br />

JEFF<br />

Coming<br />

FEB. 4<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

Author: The Last Words of the Martyrs and<br />

Islam Uncensored<br />

Discover the Life-Changing Lessons<br />

of the Persecuted<br />

ICC President and author Jeff King will release his third book,<br />

The Whisper, this month. In this 30-day devotional, King presents<br />

stories of persecuted believers and unpacks their spiritual wisdom<br />

as they walk with the Lord through trials and triumphs. How are<br />

they able to endure such suffering and remain joyful in the Lord?<br />

What lessons can we learn from them?<br />


ICC Newsroom<br />


Nigeria Once Again<br />

Left off CPC List<br />

Christian Leaders Arrested in Mauritania<br />

in Large-Scale Crackdown<br />

A<br />

prominent Christian leader, along<br />

with 14 other Christian leaders<br />

and their families, was arrested<br />

in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in<br />

December. These leaders represent a<br />

significant portion of the nation’s small<br />

Christian community, estimated to be<br />

around 1,000 individuals.<br />

Mauritania’s current penal code,<br />

specifically Article 306, imposes the<br />

death penalty for apostasy, with the<br />

provision for a lesser penalty if the<br />

accused repents. The arrests were<br />

reportedly triggered by a posted video<br />

of a baptism ceremony in Mauritania.<br />

The video, believed to be leaked by an<br />

insider seeking monetary gain, quickly<br />

went viral.<br />

The aftermath of the video’s<br />

dissemination led to disturbing<br />

incitements, with some calling for<br />

violence against Christians. Reports<br />

include statements like, “We have<br />

to kill those who preach Christianity,<br />

and these Christians have no place in<br />

Mauritania.”<br />

The widespread attention drawn by the<br />

arrests and the viral video has sparked<br />

awareness across Mauritania about<br />

the presence of Christianity within<br />

its borders. Consequently, a growing<br />

number of voices are advocating<br />

for tolerance and understanding,<br />

emphasizing that Christians are integral<br />

members of Mauritanian society,<br />

contributing positively to their local<br />

communities.<br />

The U.S. Department of State released in<br />

early January its annual list of countries<br />

and entities that are hindering the<br />

religious freedom rights of citizens. The<br />

State Department’s annual list includes<br />

countries (CPC) with the most severe<br />

religious freedom violations, while less<br />

egregious offenders are put on a Special<br />

Watch List (SWL). Terrorist groups are also<br />

included as Entities of Particular Concern<br />

(EPC).”<br />

Nigeria, shockingly, was once again left off<br />

the list as a Country of Particular Concern.<br />

Other notable highlights include:<br />

Azerbaijan, for the first time in history,<br />

has been added to the Special Watch List<br />

(SWL), indicating progress in the nation’s<br />

commitment to religious freedom.<br />

India, despite the United States Commission<br />

on International Religious Freedom’s<br />

(USCIRF) consistent recommendations<br />

since 2020, remains excluded from the<br />

CPC list, raising questions and prompting<br />

USCIRF to call for a congressional hearing<br />

into the State Department’s decision.<br />

Nigeria, despite a history of violence<br />

and slaughter against Christians, was<br />

also excluded from the CPC list this<br />

year, sparking controversy and debate<br />

around the decision, with some alleging<br />

bureaucratic reasons. Tens of thousands<br />

of Christians have been killed at the hands<br />

of radical Islamic terrorist groups in nearly<br />

20 years.<br />

USCIRF has made a significant call for<br />

a congressional hearing into the State<br />

Department’s decisions regarding India<br />

and Nigeria’s exclusion from the list,<br />

signaling the commission’s commitment to<br />

examining and ensuring religious freedom<br />

concerns are properly addressed.<br />

4<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>



Survivors of<br />

Fulani Militant<br />

Attack Gather for<br />

Christmas Service<br />

Under New Roof<br />

Nearly 200 Nigerians Killed in<br />

Christmas Eve Massacre<br />

Suspected Nigerian Fulani militias attacked<br />

21 Christian villages in the Bokkos, Barkin<br />

Ladi, and Mangu counties of Plateau<br />

State on Christmas Eve, killing nearly 200<br />

villagers according to government officials<br />

and humanitarian groups. The number<br />

of dead was expected to rise as families<br />

continued to search for missing loved ones.<br />

Plateau State Commissioner of Information<br />

and Communication Hon. Musa Ashoms<br />

reported 195 people killed during the<br />

Christmas Eve attacks, and villagers were<br />

still missing. He told communities to<br />

defend themselves and take up arms as<br />

needed.<br />

Amnesty International Nigeria reported<br />

194 people killed in Plateau State including<br />

148 in Bokkos, 27 in Barkin Ladi, and 19 in<br />

Mangu. The Nigerian Red Cross reported<br />

161 deaths and 32,604 people affected.<br />

The attack touched 84 communities in<br />

Bokkos and Barkin Ladi and left 29,350<br />

people displaced. In addition, 301 people<br />

were injured and 27 houses burned.<br />

Witnesses said that scant security was<br />

present to repel the attacks that lasted<br />

more than seven hours. Nigeria is one of<br />

the most dangerous places for Christians,<br />

particularly in the Middle Belt region.<br />

International Christian Concern (ICC) listed<br />

Nigeria in its annual Persecutors of the<br />

Year report the last three years.<br />

Early Rain Covenant Church in China Continues to Face Harassment<br />

After multiple attacks on a village<br />

in northcentral Nigeria’s Plateau<br />

state from Fulani militants, a<br />

sense of hope emerged as the<br />

community reunited for a special<br />

Christmas service.<br />

Fulani militants set the church<br />

ablaze in 2021 during an attack<br />

that lasted three days during the<br />

Easter season. During the attack,<br />

the villagers lost loved ones and<br />

all their belongings. The church<br />

was left without a roof. The<br />

entire community was displaced.<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

(ICC) funded a roofing project for<br />

one of the damaged churches in<br />

the community.<br />

To read the full feature article, and<br />

see before and after photos, visit<br />

our website at www.persecution.<br />

org/survivors-of-fulani-militantattack-gather-for-christmasservice-under-new-roof/,<br />

or scan<br />

the QR code with your mobile<br />

device.<br />

Members of the Early Rain Covenant<br />

Church (ERCC) in Chengdu continues to<br />

face harassment from local authorities,<br />

according to a report from Christian<br />

Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).<br />

On Dec. 9, ERCC members planned an<br />

online prayer meeting to commemorate<br />

the 2018 crackdown on ERCC and other<br />

unregistered churches (house churches).<br />

However, reports have emerged that ERCC<br />

members were subjected to stalking,<br />

police pressure, personal threats, and<br />

other harassment to prevent them from<br />

joining the prayer meeting. Some church<br />

leaders were detained the next day and<br />

are still in jail.<br />


West Watch<br />


Christian Professor Fired in UK for<br />

Beliefs on Biblical Marriage<br />

A<br />

theology professor in Derbyshire, England, has been<br />

fired from a Methodist Bible university after sharing his<br />

religious beliefs on social media. Dr. Aaron Edwards, an<br />

employee at Cliff College for seven years, was dismissed<br />

for publicly criticizing the Methodist Church and its complacent<br />

views on biblical marriage. Edward’s employer had accused him<br />

of “bringing the college into disrepute.”<br />

Earlier this year, Edwards shared on X (formerly Twitter) that<br />

“Homosexuality is invading the Church. Evangelicals no longer<br />

see the severity of this because they’re busy apologizing for their<br />

apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it’s true. This is<br />

a ‘Gospel issue,’ by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer<br />

need a Saviour.”<br />

Edward’s tweet drew push back from several human rights activist<br />

groups, prompting university officials to become involved. Cliff<br />

College released a statement, calling the post “unacceptable”<br />

and “inappropriate,” and demanded the professor remove the<br />

tweet.<br />

Edwards refused to take down the post, arguing it would violate<br />

his conscience. He further pointed out that the post was not<br />

defamatory to any individual in particular and was, therefore,<br />

not in violation of the school’s social media policy.<br />

Despite his sincere efforts, the school opened an investigation,<br />

leading to the professor’s suspension and subsequent dismissal.<br />

At one point during the investigation, Edwards claimed that<br />

school officials threatened to refer him to the U.K. government’s<br />

counter terrorism and hate speech unit. Edwards is suing Cliff<br />

College for unfair firing and compensation under England’s<br />

Equality Act.<br />

International Christian Concern (ICC) has invited Edwards<br />

to speak at the International Religious Freedom Summit in<br />

Washington, D.C. on Jan 30-31.<br />


If you’d like to stay informed about ICC’s advocacy work and policy<br />

recommendations, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, The Capitol<br />

Dispatch at www.persecution.org/icc-advocacy<br />

6<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

Canadian Parliament Condemns<br />

Government Paper Calling<br />

Christmas & Easter Systemic<br />

Discrimination<br />

The Canadian House of Commons has unanimously condemned a<br />

government report that calls the Christian holidays of Christmas<br />

and Easter as examples of “systemic religious discrimination.” The<br />

report, published by the Canadian Human Rights Commission<br />

(CHRC), described the traditional Christian holy days as<br />

discriminatory, being that they are the only religious holidays<br />

recognized as government holidays in Canada.<br />

The House of Commons passed a unanimous motion in response<br />

to the report, denouncing “all attempts to polarize events that<br />

have been part of Quebec and Canadian heritage for generations…<br />

[inviting] all Quebecers and Canadians to unite as we approach<br />

the Christmas season.”<br />

When questioned by members of the House on the government’s<br />

opinion on Christmas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded<br />

with, “I’m very pleased to stand up and try to answer a totally<br />

ridiculous question. Obviously, Christmas is not racist. This<br />

is a country of diversity. A country that celebrates not just our<br />

personal individual beliefs, but we share and celebrate the events<br />

of our neighbors, too.”<br />

Young Adults in the UK Open to<br />

Bible Ban<br />

A recent study in the United Kingdom found that nearly a quarter<br />

of young Brits are open to banning the Bible, agreeing with a ban<br />

on books containing perceived hate speech.<br />

A polling group called Whitestone Insights recently surveyed<br />

2,000+ adults, asking if they agreed with the following statement:<br />

“Unless the offending parts can be edited out, books containing<br />

what some perceive as hate speech should be banned from general<br />

sale, including if necessary religious texts such as the Bible.”<br />

Whitestone found that young Brits, ages 18 to 34, were most likely<br />

to agree with this statement, amounting to 23% of participants.<br />

Middle-aged Brits, ages 35 to 54, were the second highest group<br />

at 17%, followed by Brits over age 55, who made up 13% of survey<br />

participants.<br />

The results tell of a deeper social belief in the U.K. that Christian<br />

views should be censored – and it is a belief that has plagued all<br />

of Europe.<br />

Last year, an American street preacher was arrested in England<br />

for preaching the Bible. A woman was also arrested for silently<br />

praying outside of an abortion clinic – and in neighboring Finland,<br />

Paivi Räsänen, a member of the Finish parliament, faced charges<br />

of hate speech after sharing her religious beliefs on social media.<br />



Action on Religious<br />

Freedom in India<br />

House Resolution 542 proposes a condemnation<br />

of human rights violations and violations<br />

of international religious freedom in India,<br />

including those targeting Muslims, Christians,<br />

Sikhs, Dalits, Adivasis, and other religious and<br />

cultural minorities.<br />

Additionally, this resolution expresses concern for<br />

the worsening treatment of religious minorities<br />

in India and calls for the secretary of State to<br />

re-designate India as a Country of Particular<br />

Concern (CPC). India has been recommended by<br />

the United States Commission on International<br />

Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as a CPC for the past<br />

four years with no corresponding action from<br />

the Secretary of State.<br />

Prime Minister Modi outraged the international<br />

religious freedom community during his visit<br />

to the United States in June 2023 and did not<br />

discuss religious freedom. Worse, when asked<br />

about the conditions of religious freedom by<br />

a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, Modi<br />

responded, “In India’s democratic values there<br />

is absolutely no discrimination on the basis of<br />

caste or creed,” despite the over 600 incidents<br />

of persecution in 2022 alone. This visit closely<br />

followed the tragedies in the northeastern<br />

state of Manipur which left 98 people dead,<br />

35,000 displaced, and more than 100 churches<br />

destroyed, devastating the Christian community<br />

around the world.<br />

If H.Res.542 were to pass, it would send a clear<br />

message to the Secretary of State, the people of<br />

the United States, the people of India, and the<br />

world, that the United States does not tolerate<br />

violations of religious freedom which, according<br />

to both the Universal Declaration of Human<br />

Rights and the United States Constitution, is a<br />

basic human right.<br />

These cases, along with the recent poll, are a concerning reminder<br />

of the declining state of religious freedom occurring in Western<br />

democracies around the world.<br />


Your Hands and Feet<br />


ICC Aid for Attacked Christian Farmers<br />


Christian minorities in Chhattisgarh, India, face increasingly<br />

severe religious persecution at the hands of radical Hindu<br />

nationalists. Recent incidents have highlighted the targeted<br />

attacks on these communities, leading to heightened concern<br />

for their safety and well-being.<br />

A group of Christian farmers was attacked by radical Hindu<br />

nationalists.<br />

“We had grown good crops last year and all of a sudden, one<br />

day, violence took place against us and all the crops were left<br />

for animals to eat, and all the animals ate up my hard-earned<br />

crops,” said one farmer. “We do not have any food to eat. It<br />

was such a tough time for us. We had no seeds and fertilizer<br />

to cultivate the land. We were honestly seeking the Lord and<br />

waiting on God for his help.”<br />

International Christian Concern (ICC) aided 50 farmers (and<br />

their families) in the community by purchasing seeds and<br />

fertilizers for their farms, aiming to help them rebuild their<br />

livelihoods in the aftermath of the attack.<br />

Another farmer said, “We as a family suffered so much loss<br />

due to no seeds and fertilizers for planting crops. God provided<br />

the needed products through ICC. It’s been such a big help to<br />

us and all our farmers. We thank ICC so much for providing us<br />

seeds and fertilizers.”<br />

The escalating religious persecution faced by Christians in<br />

Chhattisgarh has become a growing concern, highlighting<br />

the urgent need for safeguarding the rights and safety of<br />

these minority groups. This distressing scenario underscores<br />

the pressing need for concerted efforts to address religious<br />

intolerance and safeguard the fundamental rights of all<br />

individuals, irrespective of their religious beliefs.<br />

8<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

Hunted by Belief<br />

AFRICA<br />

Eve, a mother of two children, was a staunch<br />

Muslim who accepted Jesus Christ. Her<br />

husband had more than three wives because<br />

of his faith. One day, evangelists showed up<br />

at Eve’s doorstep. At first, her husband didn’t<br />

notice her conversion because he had many<br />

wives and didn’t notice her different behavior.<br />

A Journey from Christianity to<br />

Islam and Back<br />

AFRICA<br />

Elijah was originally a Christian man who married a Muslim woman in Uganda.<br />

They coexisted for years until he decided to convert to Islam.<br />

As time passed, a group of church congregants visited him and expressed<br />

their love to him. They told him about the love that Christ has for his people<br />

and how Jesus is a peaceful Messiah. He then decided to come back to Christ<br />

and testified in church.<br />

Elijah was left defenseless, his small business confiscated, and his children<br />

kept from him. He was traumatized by the radical Muslim members of his<br />

community. They attacked him and left him helpless. He doesn’t go in public<br />

for fear of being attacked, and he is under the care of his church at the<br />

moment.<br />

In his time of need, ICC helped him with the funds to start his own small<br />

business, paid for his children’s education, and gave him other necessities<br />

like food and home supplies.<br />

“Glory be to the Almighty God for the support I have received from International<br />

Christian Concern. I take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in<br />

this project, as far as the prosperity of this project is concerned...I am out of<br />

words because this is not only a blessing, but a surprise,” said Elijah. “Since I<br />

was persecuted, I was hopeless, and I never through that I would see success.<br />

I could not understand who I was because I had been living a miserable life<br />

with no food, clothing, and school fees for children.”<br />

“I thank ICC for paying for my tuition. I appreciate so much and may the<br />

Almighty God bless you. I am going to study without any challenges or stress<br />

because I know that everything is covered. I promise to yield good results by<br />

working hard,” said Elijah’s daughter.<br />

But once he started to notice, he started to<br />

deny her food and other basic needs. He<br />

stopped giving school fees to her children and<br />

claimed that their mother should care for them<br />

because she had told them to be Christians.<br />

“As time went by, my husband started attacking<br />

me at night and started beating me severely<br />

and told me to go away and that if I am not<br />

willing, he shall use the Islamic laws,” said Eve.<br />

“I could report to church and whenever he<br />

knew that I had gone to church, it would be an<br />

attack until the church rescued me through the<br />

efforts of the reverend.”<br />

At the time ICC met her, she was staying with a<br />

Christian who is caring for her and her children.<br />

Her husband is looking for her, but her church<br />

is now protecting her. ICC helped pay for basic<br />

needs like food and shelter as well as set up a<br />

small business to generate income to support<br />

herself and kids.<br />

“Who would wipe away my tears?” she<br />

said. “The Lord is so faithful. I thought that<br />

converting from Islam was the end of my<br />

success and prosperity but now I have seen<br />

God working. I give him glory forever and ever<br />

and may his name be glorified. I have received<br />

enough; a bed, mattress, blanket, and chairs,<br />

which not everyone can afford. I had not<br />

thought of having a personal business, but<br />

today, I am having one. I really thank ICC so<br />

much.”<br />

She continued, “I really believe that Jesus is<br />

the father to the fatherless, and a husband to<br />

the widow. The food we received is going to<br />

sustain our lives. We shall not die of hunger.”<br />


HOMELA<br />

LOST<br />

10<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

ND<br />

WHAT<br />

LIFE<br />







By ICC’s MENA Regional Team<br />

Until October 2023, more than 100,000 ethnic Armenian<br />

Christians lived in Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-<br />

Karabakh, a breakaway enclave internationally<br />

recognized as a part of Azerbaijan but populated by<br />

ethnic Armenians.<br />

Artsakh can be found in the southern Caucasus region and<br />

lies between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the two nations<br />

fighting three wars over the past three decades over the<br />

enclave. The end of the Republic of Artsakh this year started<br />

with a nine-month blockade by Azerbaijan on the enclave,<br />

followed by an overwhelming lightning military operation<br />

by Azerbaijan. In the days following Azerbaijan’s takeover of<br />

the enclave, more than 100,000 Armenians, including over<br />

40,000 children, fled Artsakh into Armenia. By October 1,<br />

Artsakh was emptied of Armenians.<br />

In the months following the war, the thousands of Armenian<br />

refugees have been trying to set up new lives in Armenia.<br />

Families have been settling in all parts of the country, living<br />

wherever they can find affordable housing. The refugees<br />

have to navigate a new system of schools for their children<br />

and develop trust with their new neighbors.<br />

Despite the coldness of winter fast approaching, many<br />

were in such a hurry as they fled that they brought meager<br />

belongings. Refugees struggled to stay warm and feed their<br />

families. And work proved difficult to find in Armenia.<br />


The families are struggling with the trauma of such rapid displacement<br />

and the loss of their nation, their land, homes, farms and everything<br />

they left behind. Most of the men served in the armed forces in<br />

defense of their land in the last war and are experiencing a deep<br />

sense of defeat from losing their homeland. The women and children<br />

are in trauma from the rapid displacement and in losing everything,<br />

and in some cases, family members who died or who are missing<br />

since the conflict and displacement.<br />

All the Artsakh refugees ICC has spoken with shared that the reason<br />

they left was because they feared being massacred by the Azerbaijani<br />

military if they stayed under their control.<br />

In addition to the complex history of conflict between both sides<br />

over the territory, there is a deep sense of the history of the<br />

Armenian genocide repeating itself, which happened more than a<br />

century ago and killed and displaced millions of Armenians. At that<br />

time, the Ottoman Empire declared a holy war against the empire’s<br />

Christians and sought to kill, or displace from their lands, its Christian<br />

populations and perhaps most significantly, Armenian Christians.<br />

Rhetoric leading up to the conflict from Azerbaijani officials and<br />

media outlets enhanced that fear of a similar intent in Artsakh, with<br />

12<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>


[ A R T S A K H<br />










statements such as the need of “purging<br />

Nagorno-Karabakh of the ‘Armenian<br />

virus.’” In both past wars as well as the<br />

2023 conflict, there is documentation<br />

of Azerbaijani forces destroying and<br />

desecrating Armenian churches in<br />

territories seized, and efforts to change<br />

the historical narrative of the millennia<br />

of Christian heritage in Artsakh.<br />

When ICC has asked the Armenian<br />

Christians refugees how the outside<br />

world can both help and pray for them,<br />

they shared that they want prayer to<br />

continue defending their faith, their<br />

land, and their Christian Armenian<br />

heritage. Many Armenian Christians hold<br />

with deep sense of pride and honor with<br />

their identity as the world’s first Christian<br />

nation.<br />

It is indeed inspiring to see their zeal to<br />

defend, cling to, and persevere their faith<br />

and pass it on to the next generation<br />

even amid massive oppression to their<br />

faith.<br />

For many of the refugees during this<br />

time of seeming defeat and suffering,<br />

however, there are those that are<br />

considering what that Christian identity<br />

really means. In their trauma and<br />

suffering, it is paramount that these<br />

refugees be reminded and encouraged<br />

in the Christian’s true identity in Jesus<br />

Christ, even in the loss of their Christian<br />

homeland.<br />

ICC is coming alongside these refugees<br />

to help them through their trauma, meet<br />

their daily needs, and to build sustainable<br />

income generating opportunities for<br />

families to begin a new life in Armenia.<br />

For some of the families, we have served<br />

and encouraged, it was the first time<br />

they had prayed in months since the<br />

tragedy. For others, it gave a renewed<br />

sense of light in their darkness of missing<br />

loved ones.<br />

And for all, they were blessed in their<br />

deep faith of God’s presence with<br />

them through the care and kindness of<br />

global Christians sharing some of their<br />

resources to assist them in this time of<br />

crisis.<br />

14<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

“THEY WANT<br />









HERITAGE.”<br />

Left: Children, along with their families, sleep<br />

and live in bunkers during the war in 2023.<br />

Top Right: Armenian flags fly in a cemetery<br />

dedicated to all those who have died in the<br />

Artsakh wars, including the last one in 2023.<br />

Bottom Right: Those leaving Artsakh make<br />

food on the road as they head toward<br />

Armenia.<br />


We are raising<br />

$50,000 to support<br />

these Armenian<br />

believers. Join us.<br />

Scan the QR code<br />

with your mobile<br />

device or visit us at<br />

persecution.org/give<br />


Seeking<br />

Salvation<br />

Afghan Refugees Find Christ Amid Uncertainty<br />

By ICC’s South Asia Regional Team<br />

In the aftermath of the Taliban’s resurgence in<br />

Afghanistan, Afghan Christians seeking refuge in<br />

neighboring Pakistan have few choices.<br />

Pakistan was not equipped to manage a refugee crisis, but<br />

thousands crossed the border after the takeover. Many<br />

Afghans fled to Pakistan without visas, passports, and<br />

other identification. Once Afghan Christians step foot in<br />

Pakistan, however, their journeys are far from over.<br />

Sardar and his Christian family initially had difficulty getting<br />

into Pakistan after the Taliban takeover. He was abducted<br />

by the Taliban en route to the border and held until his<br />

family could pay a ransom. They managed to scrape the<br />

money together, devastating them financially.<br />

Once in Pakistan, Sardar and his family were not well<br />

received. Like nearly all refugees, they faced hunger and<br />

poor living conditions. With no means of work, they were<br />

at the mercy of Pakistan’s refugee system.<br />

Please pray for Afghan Christians:<br />

1.<br />

For all Afghans to put their trust in Jesus.<br />

2. That new believers cultivate a lifelong relationship with Christ.<br />

3. For the security of our staff and those we serve.<br />

16<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

While Pakistan received refugees previously, the number of<br />

families that arrived following the collapse of Afghanistan was<br />

unprecedented. Thousands of Afghans flooded into Pakistan, so<br />

Sardar’s family was insignificant and their struggles commonplace.<br />

As with all the Christian refugee families, these struggles would<br />

undoubtedly have been worse had they been discovered as<br />

Christians.<br />

More than two years later, ICC has been caring for more 30<br />

Christian families that fled Afghanistan for Pakistan. We’ve also<br />

been sharing the gospel to those we call seekers, those who do<br />

not know Christ but are open to hearing the gospel.<br />

Through evangelism and discipleship initiatives, we saw a<br />

remarkable transformation within the Afghan refugee community.<br />

A local pastor shared his journey of connecting with these<br />

individuals and families. His discussions about God’s generosity<br />

and sacrificial love resonated deeply, leading to profound curiosity<br />

about Christianity for these seekers. This year, we witnessed the<br />

baptism of 22 Afghan Christians.<br />

“In the beginning, when I met with the Afghan refugee families in<br />

Pakistan, they were spiritually and mentally isolated from home. I<br />

made them feel comfortable as my family members.<br />

Later, during my visits, I started talking about the community<br />

in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Slowly, I started talking about the<br />

generosity of God and His sacrifice for all of humanity. These<br />

families were surprised that even God sacrificed His son for us.<br />

Then, with prayer and His grace, I started sharing the good news.<br />

I taught them about the unconditional love of Lord Jesus. They<br />

were all fascinated by this idea and His story. I preached to them,<br />

and more than that, I prayed very hard for these people.<br />

They felt it in their bones and started asking questions, even<br />

texting me questions when I wasn’t visiting with them. I started<br />

a Bible study with them, and they were all keen to hear. I taught<br />

them the real meaning of baptism and their life after that. Then,<br />

they all decided that they were ready to fulfill the richness of<br />

baptism. Praise the Lord!”<br />

ICC met with believers and seekers at their doorstep. Through<br />

your generous support, we provided them help spiritually,<br />

morally, physiologically, and physically.<br />

“We aimed at providing them the Lord’s peace,” said our Pakistan<br />

staff member. “We helped Afghan believers with support to live<br />

in Pakistan and bear the expenses of their families as they lived<br />

as refugees.”<br />

“Through you, we managed to recognize Him and embrace Him<br />

as our personal savior,” said one believer we recently baptized.<br />

“Thank you for your vital support; it kept us alive for many months.<br />

We are so grateful for the generous donors.”<br />


Réfugié from<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong><br />

Stories of Survival, Faith, and Struggle for Christians in Southeast Asia<br />

By ICC’s Southeast Asia Regional Team<br />

Did you know the word refugee has its roots in religious persecution? Refugee is derived<br />

from the French word réfugié which described the time more than 400,000 French<br />

Protestants fled France after 1685 to escape persecution from French Catholics. Central<br />

to the concept of a refugee is someone who must leave their home because of the<br />

persecution they endure from another dominant group, religion, or government. Christian<br />

refugees are growing quickly in Southeast Asia.<br />


More than 300 years after the Protestant Huguenots fled France, hundreds of thousands of<br />

réfugié today continue to flee their homelands across Southeast Asia because of persecution for<br />

their Christian faith. The basic drivers of Christian persecution in Southeast Asia are oppressive<br />

governments driven by Communism and Marxist ideologies, radical Islam, military dictatorships,<br />

and other socio-political pressures. Through restrictive laws and policies, or through savage war,<br />

or through blunt and violent force, Christians refugees voluntarily or are forced to leave their<br />

homes to seek refuge and safety somewhere else. Consequently, Christian refugees become<br />

categorized as internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are often boxed into IDP or refugee<br />

camps in their home country or abroad. Christian refugees are sometimes classed as political<br />

prisoners, activists, dissidents, or numerous other names. But if you dig deeper, their refugee<br />

status or story is ultimately because they are followers of Jesus Christ. This is usually ignored or<br />

missed by media agencies and political bodies involved in refugee work.<br />


In Vietnam, thousands of Christians are escaping their homes and traveling to Thailand because<br />

of regular persecution and oppression from the Communist government. The UNHCR (UN’s<br />

refugee agency) has an office in Thailand, so refugees flood the country seeking refugee status.<br />

But this creates more pressure on Thai society, services, and infrastructure. In late 2023, ICC<br />

highlighted increased harassment and persecution of Vietnamese Hmong and Montagnard<br />

Christians from Thai government officials. For example, Hmong preacher and missionary Lu A<br />

Da fled to Thailand to seek official refugee status. He was arrested in Bangkok in early December<br />

2023 and faces extradition back to Vietnam where he faces up to 20 years imprisonment for<br />

18<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

Do not be conformed to this world,<br />

but be transformed by the renewal of<br />

your mind, that by testing you may<br />

discern what is the will of God, what<br />

is good and acceptable and perfect.<br />

- ROMANS 12:2 (ESV)<br />


20<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

eaking the Vietnamese Penal Code by fleeing the country or remaining abroad to<br />

oppose the people’s government.” ICC is currently working with other agencies and<br />

ministries to support Vietnamese Christian refugees like Lu A Da, providing basic<br />

necessities like food, money for rental accommodation in Thailand, and advocacy<br />

support. One current project involves a Vietnamese mother who became a Christian<br />

and immediately faced beatings from her husband and local police. This mother<br />

and her baby fled to Thailand where we helped through local ministry partners to<br />

support them with food and money for a phone and rent. However, these ministry<br />

partners have informed us that Vietnamese government agents are actively working<br />

in Thailand harassing Christian refugees and seeking to inflict harm or extradition<br />

back to Vietnam. Local ministry partners are extremely worried about this recent<br />

development. Praise God for generous ICC supporters who partner with us to support<br />

the tragic yet resilient stories of Vietnamese Christian refugees in Thailand.<br />


About 2,000 kilometers to the east of Vietnam, Myanmar is experiencing a savage<br />

and brutal war. After two years of tyrannical control from the Tatmadaw, who<br />

forcefully took control of the country in 2021, ethnic and pro-democracy forces have<br />

joined together and are inflicting huge losses on the military dictatorship. Fighting is<br />

fierce, particularly as soldiers from predominantly Christian regions like Chin State,<br />

Kayah State, and Kachin State advance throughout the country, combining with other<br />

militias against Tatmadaw. But, as with every war, there are huge impacts for civilians.<br />

The UN reported in late December that more than 6 million Burmese children were<br />

facing severe food shortages, and one-third of the country’s population were facing<br />

immediate humanitarian crises. As of Christmas 2023, nearly 700,000 Burmese are<br />

deemed IDPs. Huge numbers of these are Christian refugees who have fled their<br />

homes. Additionally, IDPs or refugees have also fled to Manipur State in India because<br />

of the fighting. This has created new problems with reports emerging of growing<br />

tensions in Manipur between Hindu nationalists and pro-democracy fighters from<br />

Myanmar who have crossed the border amid all the fighting. The predominantly<br />

Christian Chin and Meitei forces from Myanmar are closely and ethnically related<br />

to the mostly Christian Kuki people in Manipur. Consequently, the war in Myanmar<br />

is leading to other religious challenges and confrontations in neighboring India.<br />

These Christian refugees are literally living between the proverbial rock and hard<br />

place! Again, ICC is trying to work with local partners to help in some way to support<br />

suffering and displaced Christians in this ongoing civil war.<br />



Finally, 2,000 kms southwest from Myanmar is Mindanao, the southernmost island<br />

group of the Philippines. We have previously highlighted Mindanao and the rise of<br />

radical and violent Islam, with ISIS-affiliated terror groups like Abu Sayyaf and Dawlah<br />

Islamiya-Maute fighting to establish the island region as a ‘wilayat,’ functioning under<br />

Sharia law and ISIS control. Over the last six years, more than 400,000 people have<br />

been displaced in Mindanao alone because of the ongoing battles between these<br />

terror groups and Filipino military and police. In early December 2023, ISIS bombed<br />

a Catholic mass in Marawi, Mindanao, killing more than 50 church goers and leading<br />

to more displacement of locals. With every new conflict and battle comes a new<br />

wave of displaced refugees. And the majority of IDPs in Mindanao are Christians as<br />

well, navigating this aggressive form of Islam. ICC has recently re-started our work<br />

in Mindanao, and we are building a new network of local partners to help Christian<br />

refugees suffering from these scary battles and ideological Islamic control.<br />

“He defends the cause of<br />

the fatherless and the<br />

widow, and loves the<br />

foreigner residing among<br />

you, giving them food and<br />

clothing.”<br />

- DEUTERONOMY 10:18<br />


REGION?<br />

Refugee issues abound across Southeast<br />

Asia. Christian refugees again feature<br />

prominently in these stories too. For<br />

instance, Burmese Rohingya Christians<br />

face severe persecution in Myanmar<br />

and now in Malaysia where hundreds<br />

are fleeing to. Then there are those<br />

North Korean defectors (including many<br />

Christians) who have escaped into South<br />

Korea and northern China, but who<br />

are now being wickedly returned and<br />

extradited back to North Korea to face<br />

certain death there. And ongoing wars,<br />

conflicts and persecution in China, West<br />

Papua, Brunei, and Cambodia lead to<br />

more Christian refugees in the region.<br />


The state for refugees in this region,<br />

especially Christian refugees, is<br />

deteriorating at a fast rate. ICC’s specific<br />

mission to serve and strengthen suffering<br />

Christians in Southeast Asia is lived out<br />

strongly as we support Christian refugees<br />

amidst all the wars, political instability,<br />

Communist control, and radical Islamic<br />

forces. Praise God for the privilege to live<br />

out this mission in this region and across<br />

the globe.<br />


Saendo’s Story<br />

Unyielding<br />

Faith Amid<br />

Darkness<br />

By ICC’s Africa Regional Team<br />

Saendo’s heart condition cast a relentless shadow over his life. The<br />

16-year old’s days were a silent battle against the restless grip of his<br />

ailment.<br />

“I used to think I would hide and die in one corner of my house,” Saendo<br />

confesses softly. “I was relegated to a dark corner, laying there and waiting<br />

for death to come snatch me with its cold arms, and that would be the<br />

death of me.”<br />

He lies on the barely padded mattress on the floor, surrounded by a few<br />

household essentials, piling up in the corner. Drapes hung around the<br />

makeshift sleeping space, illuminated by a small burlap curtain covering<br />

the window and filtering out most of the light. A small line of clothes<br />

hugged the wall, just enough for the eyes to entertain.<br />

22<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>


“I used to think I would<br />

hide and die in one corner<br />

of my house. I was relegated<br />

to a dark corner, laying<br />

there and waiting for death<br />

to come snatch me with its<br />

cold arms, and that would be<br />

the death of me.” - Saendo<br />


Over the past five years, Nigeria’s Benue state has<br />

suffered gruesome attacks by Fulani militants, forcing<br />

approximately 1.5 million people from their ancestral<br />

lands into IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camps.<br />

Saendo is one of 2,000 children residing at the Abagena<br />

IDP Camp in Benue State, which population exceeds<br />

10,000 IDPs. His family was forced to flee their home<br />

after Fulani militants invaded his home.<br />

Nigeria, a nation torn by decades of violence, faces the<br />

harrowing reality of constant turmoil. The central Middle<br />

Belt region, where these clashes over resources, ethnic<br />

differences, and religious disparities prevail, embodies<br />

the epicenter of this unending turmoil. For Christians,<br />

it’s a daily struggle for survival amid disproportionate<br />

killings and kidnappings, transforming their homeland<br />

into a perilous landscape – and often leaving survivors<br />

with no place to call home.<br />

The ones spearheading these attacks, the Fulani<br />

militants, have become radicalized by extreme Islam, to<br />

wipe out Christianity from the region and establish an<br />

Islamic caliphate. Members of the group are ruthless<br />

and uncompromising, killing tens of thousands of<br />

Christians and leaving more than three million homeless<br />

over the last 20 years.<br />


Many of the displaced were previously farmers. But<br />

years in the camp with no land or opportunities have<br />

forced these people into lives of obscurity. It’s common<br />

for women to go into town to trade sex for a meal to<br />

bring home. Crime runs rampant, especially in the camp<br />

where Saendo lives. School-aged children wander the<br />

streets begging for food.<br />

“Currently, the rate of education is very low, considering<br />

that when the children wake up in the morning, they<br />

are looking for work, food to eat, water to drink, and to<br />

find firewood,” said Daniel*, an ICC staff member.<br />

Two years ago, ICC equipped volunteers to travel to<br />

these camps, which led to ICC opening a Hope House<br />

for kids who called the IDP camp home. For the first<br />

time in many of these children’s lives, they had the<br />

opportunity for something more. ICC provided basic<br />

school supplies, such as whiteboards, markers, books,<br />

and lesson materials, as well as food and water.<br />

“Hungry children whose parents can’t afford proper<br />

meals can now eat good food every week,” said one<br />

of the volunteers. “Children who have never been to<br />

school have been given the chance to be educated,<br />

which has given them a sense of belonging. Older<br />

women who were not opportune to be educated have<br />

been given a second chance as four have become<br />

dedicated pupils.”<br />

24<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>


“I have never felt love<br />

and care like this in<br />

my whole life...I am so<br />

grateful because I now<br />

feel better in my body.”<br />

- Saendo<br />

26<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2024</strong>

ICC’s Hope House offers more than an education lesson and a<br />

meal. It offers children the chance to learn about the Bible and<br />

grow their relationship with God.<br />

“Our intention is to get these children educated and to bring<br />

them to the knowledge of Christi Jesus because our country and<br />

continent depends on what we can do with and for these children<br />

today,” said Daniel. “We conduct our Bible study every Friday and<br />

one of our central goals is to lead them to know Christ despite the<br />

place where the situations of life have put them.”<br />


One of the situations Daniel found himself in was during the<br />

beginning stages of Hope House when he met Saendo and another<br />

classmate.<br />

“We were moved by the pains and sufferings that two of our<br />

students were going through life-threatening health challenges:<br />

one with heart disease and another with a cancerous wound on<br />

his leg,” said Daniel. “We took them to the hospital. The one with<br />

the wound had a series of surgeries before being discharged.”<br />

Saendo was told that his condition had progressed too much to<br />

undergo surgery. He was treated for other health complications to<br />

make him comfortable.<br />

“He was discharged and regularly goes to get check-ups,” said<br />

Daniel.<br />

Both boys had lost their fathers and were being taken care of<br />

by their mothers who were facing their own challenges, making<br />

it impossible for the boys to receive the medical care they so<br />

desperately needed. Saendo was born with a heart condition which<br />

has deteriorated due to his family’s inability to afford medical care.<br />

“I personally could not hold back the pain when I came across<br />

the kids in these conditions, and therefore arranged for these<br />

interventions. I am still monitoring them and giving necessary<br />

support,” said Daniel.<br />

ICC has helped Saendo with monthly medical and basic care. Since<br />

then, he has begun to feel better. Our volunteers describe him as<br />

nearly a new person.<br />

“I lack the words to properly express my joy and gratitude to God<br />

and ICC for giving me life,” said Saendo. “Right now, I feel a great<br />

deal of hope. I have never felt love and care like this in my whole<br />

life. I am really surprised that people I have never seen took up my<br />

treatment and footing every single bill for me and are providing<br />

food support for me and my family. I am so grateful because I now<br />

really feel better in my body.”<br />


This is the boy who originally described his life as being “relegated<br />

to a dark corner, laying there and waiting for death to come snatch<br />

me up with its cold arms.”<br />

Instead, Saendo, along with many of the other children at Hope<br />

House, was snatched up with the love and mercy that only comes<br />

from the Lord.<br />

“Our prayers to God are to give these children and their parents a<br />

Christ-like heart through this school. In the face of the persecution<br />

that they are going through, we hope to make them leaders after<br />

God’s heart as shining testimonies of the love and forgiveness that<br />

Christ has shown to the world by dying on the cross. We pray that<br />

God would help us make a community school after Christ’s heart,”<br />

said Daniel.<br />

*Name changed for security purposes<br />


We’d love to hear from you!<br />

ICC<br />

PO BOX 8056<br />

SILVER SPRING, MD 20907<br />




800-ICC-5441<br />

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Provide now for a future gift to ICC by including<br />

a bequest provision in your will or revocable<br />

trust. If you would like more information on<br />

giving to ICC in this way, please give us a call at<br />

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