Persecution Update, March 2017: Egypt

Hana Adly Girgis (Photo used with permission of World Watch Monitor)

Hana Adly Girgis (Photo used with permission of World Watch Monitor)

Egypt is a deeply divided nation—even within the 95% Muslim population. While some Muslims there desire a secular state, many want Egypt to be an Islamic nation strictly ruled by sharia. The minority Christian population, caught in the middle of this national controversy, are being targeted; and currently Egypt ranks #21 among nations that persecute Christians.

In January, 18-year-old Hanan Adly Girgis, a Christian young woman who was planning her wedding, was kidnapped from her home at night. Her family is heartbroken because the police have done little to solve her abduction. It’s not uncommon for Christian young women in Egypt to be pressured—and even kidnapped—to become brides for Muslim men.

Also in the last few months, shootings of Christians by radical Islamists have increased in the Sinai Peninsula area of Egypt, and hundreds of Christians are fleeing the area. Please pray for God’s special grace for Hanan, as well as for her family, and for all the others who stand for Christ in Egypt, as their nation becomes increasingly hostile to the Cross.

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Persecution Update, February 2017: Syria

Syria is currently ranked as the sixth worst nation in persecution of Christians. The situation there is very complex because of warring Islamic factions, and those who have left Islam to follow Christ face extreme persecution, including murder, kidnappings by ISIS, and forced slavery. Because of this, approximately 50% of the Christian population has fled the country, leaving behind their homes and businesses. The remaining Christians are conflicted about whether to stay or to leave. In Aleppo, the Christians who stayed are seeing extraordinary opportunities to reach Muslims with the Gospel. Bombs are exploding around their church, but one pastor said in spite of that, they are conducting mercy ministries to 2,000 families—half of whom are Muslims. Muslims are shocked to see Christians caring for them, which often causes them to abandon their prejudice against Christians. A pastor said, “I think God is giving us double grace.” Another believer said, “For the first time in history, Muslims are coming to us. The only thing we have to do is tell them the Good News.” Please intercede for special grace for our suffering brothers and sisters in Syria who are courageously following Jesus.

Persecution Update, January 2017: Turkey

Since last July, Turkey’s President Erdogan has intensified his crackdown against tens of thousands of Turkish citizens—mostly educators, journalists, judges, military personnel, and especially Christians. Caught up in the crackdown is Pastor Andrew Brunson (pictured), a 48-year-old American from Black Mountain, North Carolina, who has been a pastor in Turkey for the past 23 years and is currently the pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church. On October 7, 2016, he and his wife were arrested on vague “national security” grounds. They were held in isolation without formal charges and were not allowed to see a lawyer. Andrew’s wife, Norine, was released two weeks later, but Andrew continues to be detained. On December 9, Andrew was formally brought to court and charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” No evidence was presented except the word of a secret informant, and Andrew was sent to a maximum security prison. Please intercede earnestly for God to give grace and a special sense of His presence to Pastor Andrew in prison and to his family who is working for his release.         

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Persecution Update, December 2016: Cuba

Cuba, one of five Communist nations left in the world, has persecuted Christians for more than fifty years under the dictatorship of the late Fidel Castro. Thousands of Christians were imprisoned and martyred during Castro’s reign of terror, when simply being a Christian was considered a “disease.” Reports during that time tell of Christians shouting out “Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!)” before being silenced by government firing squads. Though persecution in Cuba today is not as brutal as in years past, government threats, intimidation, and surveillance are still the norm for Protestant churches and believers. Church services are infiltrated by government informers to monitor sermons, and Christian literature and Bibles are still restricted. In October of this year, Pastor Juan Carlos Nunez was sentenced to one year of house arrest after his church was charged with “disturbing the peace.” Yet, Cubans are being converted to Christ as the Cross continues to triumph over Marxism. The estimate of house churches today is as high as 10,000. Please pray for brothers and sisters in Cuba who joyfully stand for Christ under persecution.       

Persecution Update, November 2016: The Maldives

The Maldives is a tiny and beautiful South Asian island republic located in the Indian Ocean southwest of India. It has a population of approximately 400,000 people, and the official religion is Sunni Islam. Surprisingly, the Maldives ranks #13 on the list of countries that persecute Christians. According to the government, there are no Christians in the country, and reports indicate that Maldivians are among the least evangelized people in the world. In fact, all Christian materials, including Bibles, are illegal. However, there are estimated to be about 300 evangelical believers who meet in underground house churches. Foreign workers and tourists are subject to deportation if they attempt to connect with or worship with these Christians. In two separate incidents, an American and a Bangladeshi believer were arrested, jailed for nearly a month, and then deported for bringing Christian literature into the country. Please pray for the Gospel’s advance in the Maldives, for Spirit-given boldness to proclaim Christ, and for special grace for persecuted believers in this hostile country.

Persecution Update, October 2016: Burma

Burma (also called Myanmar) has historically been a majority Buddhist nation with nearly 90% of its population claiming to be Buddhist. The military government is clearly pro-Buddhist and actively seeks to restrict Christians, who number only about 6% of the population. Government laws restrict Christian proselytizing. Not only do local governments refuse to grant permission to build churches, but last year in the states of Shan, Chin, and Kachin, church buildings and crosses were destroyed by the Burmese Army. In the last 10 years, more than 3,000 Christian villages have been destroyed by government troops; and at least 100,000 Christians of the Kachin people group are living in refugee camps as a result of being displaced by government forces. In 2014 two Kachin Christian school teachers were murdered—and the murderers went free. In spite of all this hostility to the Cross, the Gospel that was first brought here by Adoniram and Ann Judson is still at work as Jesus continues to build His Church in Burma! Please pray for God’s grace for these persecuted brothers and sisters.

Persecution Update, September 2016: Turkey

Turkey ranks among the top 50 nations that persecutes Christians. Although Turkey has long been committed to being a secular nation, this is rapidly changing as fanatical Islamic factions pursue efforts to drive out the Christian minority population. In a country of 85,000 Muslim mosques, Protestant Christians are forbidden to build church buildings. Those believers who meet in storefronts must by law call their assemblies “associations,” not churches. At one time there were 2 million Christians in Turkey, but that number has declined dramatically to only about 5,000 evangelical believers today. There are almost as many Sunni Muslim imams on the government payroll as there are Christians. In the attempted coup against President Erdogan in July, imams stirred up Muslims to target Christians. The only storefront that was attacked in the city of Malatya was a Protestant church, which was not surprising in that Malatya was the scene of the torture and massacre of three Christians by Muslim attackers in 2007. All three worked in a Bible publishing house, and their attackers are still at large. Please intercede for God to give grace to these believers to persevere in such a hostile environment.

Discounted FX: Minneapolis ticket prices available through midnight, August 8th!

Our next Frontline Experience Conference is October 13-15 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. Discounted prices are available through August 8th and space is limited. Ticket sales will continue, but if you want to take advantage of the best pricing available, register today.

Conference sessions are taught by experienced pioneer missionaries, authors, and advocates with specialties in areas such as culture, linguistics, and cross-cultural engagement. You can find more information and register here.

Know someone who might be interested? Spread the word via email and social media.

We hope to see you there!

Persecution Update, August 2016: Russia

When the Soviet Union collapsed 25 years ago, Russian leaders passed a law giving wide freedom of religion and conscience. However, in 1997, an updated law was passed which greatly restricted those freedoms and made it difficult for Protestant groups to obtain proper registration with the government unless they met rigid standards. As a result, a number of missionaries had to leave the country. Then on July 7, 2016, Vladimir Putin’s government passed an even more oppressive measure regarding religious freedom and so-called “missionary activity.” Preaching, praying, and proselytizing outside of state sanctioned churches are now banned. Personal evangelism is forbidden in private homes, which affects literally hundreds of house churches across the country since unbelievers can no longer legally be invited to house church services. There are even concerns that religious expressions on social media will be banned. Many Baptist congregations, which have historically chosen not to be registered based on their convictions, are now at risk. Please pray for special wisdom and courage for Russian believers to be faithful to the Gospel no matter what the cost.