Cry for justice

The appalling abuse and persecution of Christians in many countries is rarely reported in the Western media. Below are some current and recent examples that you probably knew nothiing about:

NAGORNO-KARABAKH: This Armenian (mainly Christian) territory within Azerbaijan is under attack by Azeri forces, backed by Turkey (which has a long history of massacring Armenians) using Israeli “kamikaze drones” particularly targeting Christians at worship in churches, which they call “toilets”.

CHINA: The “re-education” centres in Xinjiang province contain not only Muslims, but Christians and other non-atheist people. Conditions are cramped and insanitary, food disgusting and harsh indoctrination unremitting. We hear little in the media about the Christian victims partly due to political correctness, no doubt, but mainly due to the fact that no Christians have yet managed to escape.

SRI LANKA: A Sri Lankan pastor has been forced to stop his ministry in Bakamuna, Polonnaruwa District after being threatened and intimidated by police and Buddhist monks. Police visited the pastor on the morning of 18 October and ordered him to report immediately to the local police station where he was intimidated by a large group of Buddhist monks. Poverty-stricken Christian labourers have lost their jobs on tea plantations, and pastors have no income now church services and collections have stopped.

MALI: Swiss missionary Beatrice Stöckli, kidnapped by Islamic militants four years ago in Mali, has been murdered by her captors, according to the Swiss foreign ministry. She was killed about in September by members of the Islamist terrorist organisation Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslim (JNIM). An affiliate of al-Qaeda in Mali and West Africa, JNIM has been responsible for numerous attacks on Christians and Westerners since its formation in March 2017.

SYRIA: Pastor George's church in Qamishli, northern Syria, was badly hit by the crisis last autumn when Turkish forces invaded. The economy is still devastated - and coronavirus lockdown has hit them with another crisis. The church lost many members during the civil war and extremist insurgence, but many are turning to Christ through the church’s compassionate, practical Christian outreach with food and hygiene supplies. God is at work in churches which have become “Centres of Hope” supported by "Open Doors" (see below). But it’s exhausting and dangerous ministry.

ALGERIA: Christians in Algeria are calling for prayer, a year after the forced closure of the country’s largest Evangelical churches among the indigenous Kabyle (Berber) people. Over the last two years authorities shut down some 19 worship places belonging to the 45-member Association of Protestant Churches.

PAKISTAN: Jamila is a Christian widow with four children. She is a housemaid and earned about £28 per month, but lost her job during the lockdown. She and her children live in a single room. She says: I am sick, I have kidney wounds and stones and high blood pressure I cannot work very well. I do not have money for medicine. What do I buy, food or medicine? I haven’t paid school fee and bought books. I don’t know what will happen with my children.” Many other widows face similar problems. Christians don’t get access to government support.

ZIMBABWE: How much worse can it get in Zimbabwe? The country has stumbled from one crisis to another for many years. Hyperinflation, currency shortages, fuel shortages, power outages – all these are familiar troubles for today’s Zimbabweans. But then came new experiences of suffering. In 2019 there was the worst drought for decades, and in 2020 coronavirus. A brutally enforced lockdown and night curfew are still in place, causing extreme hardship. When jobs ceased, wages disappeared overnight. Subsistence farmers were cut off from their fields. Starvation looms for two thirds of the population.

AFRICA: Another 58 people were murdered and 17 kidnapped by militants in September in a mainly-Christian area of North Eastern DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO “People were killed with every sort of weapon,” said a villager. Attacks continue in BUKINA FASO, NORTHERN NIGERIA, CAMEROON, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC and militant activity is increasing in MOZAMBIQUE. These are just some examples. The pattern is often that the men are killed, leaving widows and children defenceless and often turned off their land. They become perpetual nomads, poverty stricken and vulnerable.

These are just a few of the many pressing needs as Christians around the world suffer the medical and economic effects of Covid 19, locust infestation, persecution, the impact of climate change and government corruption.

"Open Doors" is one of several organisations which work with local partners to get aid to the suffering. This short video tells you more.