Thursday, November 12, 2009

Persecution of Christians

Tribulation Times


November 12, 2009  

(Rev 6:9-11) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.

NEWSLINK: Victim of Stalinist Church Persecutions Beatified

VATICAN: Pope Pays Tribute to Persecuted Priests

INDIAN CATHOLIC: Church not afraid to preach Gospel, declares mission congress

Persecution of the Christians

Image via Wikipedia

EDITORIAL: Prayer over persecution of Christians 

On this past Sunday, Nov. 8, Christians around the world participated in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Some half million Christians in 150 countries remembered the plight of believers who are suffering persecution because of their faith. Some may be astonished to hear that such a day was set aside for this purpose for they have the notion that persecution of Christians ended with the passing of the ancient Roman era. Alas, that is not the case.

In a recent situation in Pakistan 37-year old Asia Bibi was accused of blaspheming Mohammed for allegedly saying, "Jesus is alive. Mohammed is dead." She was imprisoned for four months before her first meeting with a judge in Sheikhupura. She has been charged under section 295-C of the Pakistani Criminal code that says in part, "Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet . . . shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine." According to International Christian Concern's Pakistan analyst, Jonathan Racho, the penal code is extreme. It in fact penalizes Christians from holding to their most basic beliefs as Christians and threatens them with death if they express those beliefs.

Though not often reported in the media, persecution is a daily fact of life for many Christians around the world. Italian journalist, Antonio Socci, in his book, The New Persecuted: Inquiries into Anti-Christian Intolerance in the New Century of Martyrs, estimates that more Christians (about 45 million) were killed in the 20th century than in all previous centuries combined. The estimates are taken from sources such as Oxford's World Christian Encyclopedia. Many of those murdered died in places like the former Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany. But the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenian Christians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 must never be forgotten as well.

A Christian girl who was bruised and burnt dur...

Christian girl bruised and burnt by Hindu fanatics. Image via Wikipedia

Persecution does not always involve martyrdom. Christians in different parts of the world are denied justice, discriminated against in their work, are in danger of losing their lives because they have converted, are captured and sold as slaves, and are forbidden to preach the truths of the Bible on penalty of fines or imprisonment. Indeed discrimination and maltreatment have a thousand and one different faces for those believers who find themselves out of favour with certain governments, and local citizens as well.

Though persecution takes place every day in countries far away it is also beginning to happen in Canada. Many are ignorant of this fact for news media, apart from a few exceptions, simply has not covered the stories. Who knows for example that a diminutive, 60-year-old grandmother, Linda Gibbons, has been imprisoned in a Canadian penitentiary for seven out of the last fourteen years for the crime of quietly praying in front of an abortion facility? Who has heard about Father Alfphonse de Valk, the Catholic priest, who was subjected to a human rights investigation that cost his monthly magazine expenses to the tune of some $20,000? His crime — defending traditional marriage and the biblical view of sexuality. Who has heard of Chris Kempling, of Quesnel, B.C., and the persecution he has experienced at the hands of his own school district and teachers union? Kempling's crime was to write a few letters to his local newspaper on the subject of homosexuality. For this he has been suspended from his work without pay for several months, and has been forced to pay out thousands and thousands of dollars to defend himself before the courts.

Some may question whether the above examples qualify as religious persecution. Are they not simply examples of persons who find themselves politically out of sync with present cultural values? I would disagree with that assessment for I maintain that the church defines morality, not the state. And when the state upends Christian values and teaching and says that wrong is right and right is wrong, and then punishes the believer when they continue to speak and pra

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, Oil on canvas

Image via Wikipedia

ctice their faith—that appears like religious persecution to me.

On the recent International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Christians did well to pray for suffering believers in far off countries. After all Jesus warned that persecution was to be expected. I suspect however that most of us thought that Jesus was referring to Christians in far off places. Who knew? Who could possibly have known that one day we would be praying for persecuted believers in our own country of Canada?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

6. Meekness is the fellow-worker of obedience, the guide of the brotherhood, a bridle for the enraged, a check to the irritable, a minister of joy, the imitation of Christ, something proper to angels, shackles for demons, a shield against bitterness.   

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