Broken Hallelujah

The phrase “broken hallelujah” has its history dating back several decades.

The Scripture that comes to my mind is Hebrews 11:35-38: “Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mocking and scourging, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two; they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

This extraordinary courage, faithfulness and suffering is seen throughout today’s world, just as it was in the days of the early Church. As both a call to prayer and an opportunity to give thanks for the testimony of such staggering courage and conviction, links that lead you to recent events of this nature are offered here.  Please remember to pray on behalf of those under threatened or actual persecution.

 

October 21/22, 2019:  The Chinese Goal That Succeeds–“I Am Physically and Mentally Exhausted” States Former Tiananmen Square Protester

The rest of the subtitle should read the rest of his sentiment, “I no longer want to be an activist.”  And that is an example of how the Chinese government has succeeded in breaking the will and perceived “destiny” of many of its people, just as it is attempting to break the bonds of faith from the hearts of the Chinese.

Two headlines in two days regarding Chinese governmental oppression caught my attention — one, the old story  above, the other continuing to unfold right before our eyes as the country of China continues its campaign to erase all visible signs of  “Christianity” from the Chinese public domain.  We need to cry out and batter the heavenlies daily with the earnest petition, Lord, set the Chinese people free!  

christianheadlines.com reported on 10-21 that “Communist authorities destroyed a 3,000-seat megachurch over the weekend…the congregation was part of China’s officially recognized network of churches.”  Without legal paperwork or pretense of justification, a large excavator simply pulled up and began to destroy the building.   Pastors Geng Yimin and Sun Yonghao were “detained,” allegedly under the charge of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order,” according to a report issued by China Aid.

On March 13, 2019, christiandaily.com published an online article quoting Xu Xiaohong, overseer of one of the two “approved” churches in China, as saying, “Western influence…made the churches in China to want to stay independent and focus on themselves.   Therefore, people often say, ‘One more Christian, one less Chinese.’  For individual black sheep who, under the banner of Christianity, participate in subverting national security, we firmly support the country to bring them to justice.”

“Subverting national security” is an interesting phrase, as is the misuse of the concept of “justice” as Xiaohong uses it.  The tactics used in the 1989 shutdown of students’ protesting in favor of democracy in Tiananmen Square are the same as those being used to “shut down” Christianity, and for the same purpose:  to create never ending physical and emotional exhaustion, to break and strip away the will and determination to accomplish any level of meaningful change.

 

October 18, 2019:  Horrors of Chinese Torture and Dehumanization Inside Its “Re-education”/Concentration Camps

A friend of mine posted this link from Tony Perkin’s Washington Update.  In the Update, Perkins shares, “The most excruciating forms of torture are happening behind barbed wire walls that Beijing has tried hiding.”  Perkins quotes German scholar Dr. Adrian Zenz, an  independent researcher and supervisor at the European School of Culture and Theology.  Zenz has made it his mission to “prove that this was happening,” and his audio interview with Perkins points out he was “led by God” to persist in research and publish results.  His reports include estimates of Muslims swept into the concentration camps, Christians, and ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs.  Zenz’ research draws correlations and “systematically presents and analyzes ‘all available evidence regarding state-initiated intergenerational separation in the context of Xinjiang’s political re-education and internment campaign.'”

September 19, 2019:  Eritrean Christians Experience Government Crackdown Over Summer

Eritrea is located in northeast Africa and is bordered by Ethiopia on the south, Sudan on the west, and Djibouti on the southeast.  Its East and Northeast border follows the Red Sea coastline.  Listed on Open Doors USA as the “seventh-most hostile country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution,”  its government recognizes only four denominations as “acceptable.”  Over the summer, President Isaias Afwerki has been exerting increasing control over those four.  According to christianpost.com, “The government shut down all Catholic-run health care facilities leaving thousands without access to adequate medical care.”  Moreover, this article discusses the testimony of a formerly-imprisoned Eritrean pastor and his many years of imprisonment and torture.  Christians are “regularly arrested” for their religious beliefs and practices.  One survivor of imprisonment, Eritrean Gospel singer Helen Berhane, joined other persecuted believers to recently visit with President Donald Trump in the White House as they shared their concerns and experiences.

 

July 15, 2019:  Persecution Continues to Increase in Nigeria

christianheadlines.com reports that in Nigeria, “an average of ten Christians are dying for their faith every day.”  Attacks come from Islamic terror groups, Fulani herders and Boko Haram.  According to David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, is quoted as saying Nigerian Christians remain “firm in their faith” despite consistent and “overwhelming obstacles.”

 

June 12, 2019:  Pastor Imprisoned in Turkey Warns of Unprepared Generation

As reported by foxnews.com, formerly imprisoned Pastor Andrew Brunson warned thousands of pastors attending the Southern Baptist Convention, “I don’t think that we’re prepared for what is coming, especially the next generation…”  Declaring himself to have been “suicidal” during his two years in prison, Brunson also stated, “I decided that I am going to fight fort my relationship with God.  If I lose my intimacy, my closeness to Him, then I’ve lost everything.”

June 11, 2019:  On the Eve of World Day Against Child Labor

According to prunderground.com, Gospel for Asia founder Dr. K. P. Yohannan reported, “Around the world, over 200 million children as young as five years old are employed in often dangerous conditions, and a majority of those children are in forced labor or enslaved.”  According to the report, Bangladesh is number one in child labor, followed by three African nations.  This is unbelievable to me.  More unbelievable — to say nothing of being deeply ironic — is the inclusion of two American tech giants  (Microsoft and Apple) and two American chocolate giants (Nestle and Hershey’s) on the careeraddict.com list of “10 Companies that Still Use Child Labor.”

 

March 21, 2019:  VP Mike Pence Addresses “Help the Persecuted” Summit in DC

According to faithwire.com, in Mike Pence’s recent address to Help the Persecuted, he summarized the worldwide persecution of Christians by stating, “In more than 100 countries, from Iran to Eritrea, over 245 million Christians confront intimidation, imprisonment, forced conversion, abuse, assault or worse simply for holding onto the truths of the gospel….”

February 26, 2019:  North Korea’s Underground Christians Pray for Freedom to Worship Openly…and Bibles

Faithwire.com shares Kelsey Campbell’s article in which she writes, “In the midst of persecution, North Korea believers are desperate to read the comforting promises and words of Scripture…most North Koreans have never seen one…much less owned one for themselves.”  Campbell works for World Help, a  Christian humanitarian aid organization.

February 11, 2019:  Disturbing Look at Chinese Efforts to Hide Their Suppression of Religion

I have posted numerous links regarding the increasing persecution of religion — virtually all religion — in China over the last several months.  This article from bitterwinter.org releases devastating information on just how tightly the Communist hand is squeezing its people.  “The crackdown on journalists is only one facet of the increased effort to control information about abuses in China.  In particular, authorities are trying to stop evidence of their campaign against religion from reaching the outside world.”  Let the Spirit and angelic armies of God march through the halls of President Xi Jinping’s palaces and bring transformation!

 

January 7, 2019:  UK-Based Release International Warns of Increased Persecution in 2019

According to a report from foxnews.com, Andrew Boyd of the the organization is quoted as stating, “You have militant Islam in Nigeria; China which is communism; India, which is militant Hinduism; North Korea, which is a weird blend of communism and emperor worship.  There is an increasing intolerance and it’s being played out in violence…” Boyd also said, “we’re seeing an…alarming rise in persecution.”

 

December 26, 2018:  Christians in Syria Plead for No Immediate Withdrawal of U.S. Troops Due to Safety Concerns

This article really touched my heart, as I responded to President Trump’s statement regarding removing military troops from Syria with this very same question — what of the Christians in Syria who are just starting to rebuild crushed and trampled lives?  Please be in prayer for our president as he continues to discuss and work out his plan.  According to breakingchristiannews.com, Sanharib Barsoum of the Syriac Union Party has sent an open letter that states, “Turkey wants to destroy all of us.  100,000 Syriac and other Christians will be killed or driven away if Turkey invades” after an American Troop removal.

December 25, 2018:  Chinese Government Raids Churches on Christmas Eve to Disrupt Celebration

From rfa.org (Radio free Asia):  “We have no programs of activities for Christmas, so they haven’t bothered us,” stated one church attendee.  “If we did, then they would send people around to interfere.”

December 20, 2018:  Pre-Christmas Increased Persecution of Christians in China; Pastor Wang Yi Writes Powerful Summary of “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience”

Throughout this year, China has certainly flexed and enlarged its anti-Christian/religion muscles.  As what we loosely call “the Christmas season” continues for a couple more weeks, it is heartbreaking to realize how relentlessly the Chinese Christians are being persecuted.  Secular forbes.com shares that “high-profile arrests of lawyers and religious leaders” have become a “signature attribute of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s reign.”  Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu anticipated his arrest, which indeed came about on Sunday, Dec. 9, according to chinapartnership.org.  He wrote a letter of encouragement and steadfastness designed to be widely circulated, if he were detained beyond 48 hours by the authorities.  Pastor Yi had previously circulated a piece entitled “Meditations on the Religious War,”  on social media, according to CBN news online.  His house was ransacked, and no word of Pastor Yi’s fate or those detained with him has been shared as of 12/18/18.

 

November 2, 2018:  Asia Bibi’s Release Triggers Rioting

Imprisoned for allegedly “blaspheming Muhammed,” Asia Bibi’s 8-year imprisonment was recently reversed by three Pakistani judges, who found insufficient evidence to convict her of the crime and sentence her to death by hanging.  According to christianheadlines.com, radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik supporters “staged street protests and blocked off several major roads…by mid-afternoon the protests had grown so large that they immobilized parts of major cities including Islamabad and Lahore.”   Remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan!

 

October 19, 2018:  Sri Lanka Sees Significant Increase in Persecution of Christians

I am certainly no follower of Sri Lanka news, but I did think that the country’s variety of religious beliefs were relatively harmonious in their relationships.  Apparently this is changing. christianheadlines.com has reported that “Attacks and other actions against Christians in Sri Lanka have escalated this year, with Hindu extremism beginning to take root along with long-time Buddhist aggression.”  The population is gauged as around 70% Buddhist and 13% Hindu, and Sri Lanka has been rated by Open Doors’ World Watch List as 44th out of 50 countries for being “the most difficult” to be a Christian.

October 10, 2018:  South Korean President announces Meeting Between Pope and N. Korean Dictator Kim Jon Un

I read this with some surprise.  South Korean President Moon has served as an efficient intermediary among many political figures for over a year, but it never occurred to me that he might be used by God to address Christian persecution in North Korea.  According to christianheadlines.com, President Moon, himself a Catholic, will be visiting the Vatican on Oct. 17 and 18 (next week!) and will extend an invitation from Kim Jong Un to Pope Francis for the Pope to visit North Korea.  I think this is worth watching, and praying into!  Open Doors USA has consistently rated North Korea as the “worst country” for political persecution.

October 9, 2018:  300,000 Prisoner Transfers in China?  That’s Staggering!

As I read the statistics in this article, it is almost mind-numbing.  I used to think that President Trump’s good business-relationship with the Chinese was a good thing.  Now I wonder if it is preventing him from speaking out on issues of human rights.  This info from christiannewswire.com should make anyone stop and ask….why is China focusing on the imprisonment of so many more people?  Also of interest is the statement “transferred Muslim detainees on a large scale.”

October 4, 2018:  Three Churches Locked by Government in Indonesia

According to christianheadlines.com, authorities in Jambi, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, “last week escorted members of a Methodist church congregation out of their building and sealed the door shut.”  Indonesia’s constitution does guarantee freedom of worship, but officials currently delay or reject church permits without legal precedent.  Last July, “Muslim groups” apparently complained to city officials that churches were “a nuisance.”  Please pray for these people who are suffering religious oppression on top of the natural disasters that have hit in the last few weeks.

 

September 10, 2018:  Escalating Crackdown on Christians in China

A report at foxnews.com states that “Experts and activists say the Chinese government is now waging the most severe suppression in the country since religious freedoms were granted by the Chinese constitution in 1982.”  These governmental actions include “Destroying crosses, burning Bibles, closing churches and forcing Christian believers to sign papers renouncing their faith…”

September 5, 2018:  Australians Experience “Increased Religious Bullying,” Choose Homeschooling

OK, I would never have thought that religious bullying was a significant problem in AustraliaChristianheadlines.com shares that “Deeply religious families in Australia are more frequently choosing to homeschool their children as a result of increased Christian bullying…the number of students being homeschooled has nearly doubled since 2014.”  The trigger?  Australia’s 2017 legalization of same-sex marriage, opposing a Christian, traditional family model.

September 4, 2018:  Increased Indians Now Worshiping Christ in Secret Due to Persecution

Christianpost.com reports that after repeated death threats and incidents of increased physical aggression, numbers of Indian Christians are now worshiping in secret, forgoing their church gatherings.  Pastor Singh, leading a congregation in India’s Madhya Pradesh State, was quoted as saying, “Prior to May this year, around 200 people used to worship regularly in my church…but now only 50 to 60 people attend my church on Sunday.”  Hindu radicals are accelerating their anti-Christian activities in numerous locations.  Please be in prayer for our Indian brothers and sisters.

 

August 31, 2018:  Pakistan Governments Offers Less Protection to Multiple Minority Groups, Including Christians

According to cbn.com, predominantly-Muslim Pakistan has grown increasingly intolerant of its non-Muslim population groups.  Specific incidents of neighborhood harassment and increased violence towards Christians within the last several weeks have heightened concerns.  In May, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom “cited Pakistan for its deteriorating human rights record.”

 

July 20, 2018:  China Rezones the Land, Then Destroys the Churches

For the second time this year, a well-known Chinese church has had its land re-zoned by the government, with a subsequent destruction of its building.  According to christianpost.com, “70 police officers, this time under orders of the Communist Party” demolished the Liangwang Catholic Church, registered with the government as a church since 2006.  Golden Lampstand Church, in Linfen, was destroyed in similar fashion in January, 2018, as well as a church near Xi’an in the Shaanxi province in December of 2017.  International Christian Concern Regional Manager Gina Goh is quoted as stating, “The government cannot destroy the faith and resilience of Chinese Christians.”  Please be in prayer for our Chinese brothers and sisters.

 

June 29, 2018:  A Kansas Woman is Told She Cannot Pray Inside Her Own House?  

In our country, founded on freedom of speech and religion, this is one of the oddest citizen-police encounters I have read about recently.  Apparently a neighbor complained of a “noise disturbance” when Kansas resident Mary Ann Sause played her radio too loudly and Catholic programming was overheard, outside.  The police threatened to take her to jail and demanded that she not even pray silently in her house.  Sause thus sued the officers for their conduct and threats towards her, and according to breakingchristiannews.com, “their command was upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.”  Next stop:  Supreme Court.

June 19, 2018:  Imprisoned Pastor Released After Decade,  No Charges Ever Filed

According to christianheadlines.com, International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported that Pastor Oqbamichel Haiminot of Eritrea (East Africa) was recently released from prison after over a decade of imprisonment for his faith.  Eritrea’s allows only four religions as acceptable choices in its country:  Eritrean Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, and Sunni Islam.  To engage in the practice of any of these religions, four “pledges must be given to the government, including a pledge “to never be ‘born again'”….

June 16, 2018:  VP Pence Pursues His Promise to Help Christians and Yazidis in Iraq

According to westernjournal.com, Vice President Pence has continued to vow, “We will not rest until we give our fellow Christians and persecuted communities across the Middle East the resources and support they need to recover, rebuild, and flourish in their ancient homeland once again.”  The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has responded to Pence’s ongoing commitment by utilizing a rarely used provision and allocating additional funds to assist “persecuted communities,” specifically described as “Christians living in the Nineveh Plains and the Yadzidis located in Sinjar.”

 

May 25, 2018:  India’s Anti-Conversion Laws Impact Those Who Respond to the Gospel

This article shares one Indian Christian’s perspective on who is actually potentially penalized for converting, and is quite interesting.  Abhijit Nayak, described as “a ministry partner with Voice of the Martyrs Canada, is quoted by Mission Network News online as stating, “‘Let’s say I want to share my faith with my Hindu neighbor next door, it’s not a problem.  But…it comes to my Hindu neighbor when he or she decides to become a Christian, go to church, and take baptism.'”  Uttarakhand has become the seventh state in India to pass anti-conversion laws.  For an article on diminishing religious liberty in India since the 2014 election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, click here.  The Evangelical Fellowship of India reports incidents of persecution against Christians in 2017 to demonstrate a 232% increase.

May 10, 2018:  Iran’s Evin Prison, “Preferred Prison” for Christians

International Christian Concern shares testimonies from people who have been released from Evin Prison:  “The human toll on the imprisoned cannot be ignored as many of them will suffer irreversible psychological and and emotional trauma for the rest of their lives,” persecution.org quotes Dr. Mike Ansari of Heart4Iran.  As we celebrate the return of our three American Christians imprisoned by North  Korea, remember to lift up those brothers and sisters persecuted in Iran.  Want a quick North Korea fact roundup? Check out this article.

May 8, 2018:  North Korean Christians Warn Peace Talks May not Improve Condition of Citizenry

This is a very interesting perspective, as shared with christianpost.com by Pastor Eric Foley with Voice of the Martyrs.  The main concern?  Multiple promises over the decades of a “nuclear-free North Korea” and no improvement of living conditions for either the Christians or average citizen in North Korea.  Foley quoted a number of 30,000 people currently imprisoned in North Korea, for their Christian faith; and an additional 70,000 keeping their faith a secret.  What an opportunity to pray into the future of North Korea!

May 1, 2018:  Ancient Christian Caves of Refuge Found, Date Back to Roman Persecution

As many of you know, I am a huge Biblical archaeology buff!  This unearthing is really interesting.  Overlooked by the ISIS troops as either “Christian” or valuable, the caves remain intact, though filled with garbage and debris from the occupation.  Carly Hoilman, for faithwire.com, explains that Manbij, Syria, was overtaken by ISIS in 2014 and remained in its hands until 2016.  Abdulwahab Sheko, head of the Exploration Committee at the Ruins Council in Manbij, knew of the ruins but remained silent until the area’s liberation.  The article quotes American archaeologist John Wineman as saying that the excavation “could be crucial to understanding the lives of Christians under Roman rule.”

 

April 16, 2018:  Chinese Government Cuts Off Water and Power from Home Church

Xi’an (Zion) Church in Beijing refused to have government surveillance cameras installed in the sanctuary and overflow room.  Despite their dissent, cameras were forcibly installed — and then the water was turned off and as the elevator ceased functioning, the warning went out “power may go out anytime as well.”   Pastor Guo Xijun, pastor of Beijing Endao Church, hypothesized, “Cameras will record everything that happens in the church.  That said the personnel, finance and administration of the church will be intervened to some extent since government is able to collect more ‘evidence.'”

 

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