Tag Archives: Christian persecution

The Witness of Our Lives

The image of the ISIS’ beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians has provoked various reactions: sympathy, outrage, exhortations to prayer, demands for action, and symbolic displays of solidarity. I think the most important reaction it is self-examination.

Pope Francis said of the slain Egyptian Coptic Christians that they were killed for being Christians, and that their blood bears witness to Christ. Their example should prod us to ask ourselves if we are willing to pay the price of discipleship — if we are willing to witness to Christ with our lives.

I’ve read somewhere that the word “martyr” comes from a word that means “witness”, and indeed, the martyrs who die for Christ give the ultimate witness to Christ.

However, all Christians, and not just those who face the prospect of literal martyrdom, are called to witness to Christ. Not all Christians are called to witness to Christ with their deaths, but all Christians are called to witness to Christ with our lives.

To witness to Christ with our lives may be less gruesome, less painful than what the martyrs had to face, but it too requires fortitude. Christ warned us that discipleship will not always be easy. But while we proudly call ourselves Christians, we often run away from the difficult but doable ways to live our faith.

Those Egyptian Coptic Christians were beheaded for being Christians. Many of us face more benign fates as a consequence of living consistently with our faith – losing friends; missing out on jobs or business opportunities; being labelled “self-righteous”, “old-fashioned”, “uncool”, “bigoted”, “close-minded”, or “outdated”; the inconveniences we have to put up with because we want to insert Sunday Mass in our week-end getaway plans. While our Christian brothers and sisters are being slaughtered for their faith, we let peer pressure or the allure of the easy way keep us from acting like a Christian when to do so requires, for example, saying “no” to an invitation to watch a certain popular movie, or explaining to a colleague why we are passing up the meat course during lunch on a Lenten Friday.

This is not to say that as Christians, we should deliberately stick out like sore thumbs. Nor does it mean that we should not defend our rights and well-being. Fortitude and prudence come hand in hand.

It does mean that we should follow Christ’s exhortation to be the salt of the earth, even when it is not easy. As the salt of the earth, we must blend in the world without losing our saltiness. Salt hurts when rubbed in wounds, and we live in a wounded world. Our example will inevitably make people uncomfortable. But just as salt heals, the public coherence between our behavior and our beliefs will help heal the wounded world in which we live.

Our decision to be more courageous in living the demands of the faith is the best way we can show solidarity with our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters. They strengthen us with their example and their prayers, but they are also relying on our help. Let us support them in their struggles by not shirking from the sacrifices that our discipleship will demand of us in our everyday lives.

7 Reasons Christianity is the Most Persecuted Religion in the World

Last night, I asked my family what percentage of religious persecution in the world they thought was directed at Christians.

They guessed about 30%. After all, they said, Christians are about one-third of the global population so that would make sense, right?

When I told them it was closer to 80%, they initially refused to believe me. Safe in our prosperous, post-Christian Australian culture, it seemed almost absurd. Yet, we have daily, horrifying proof of this reality.

From Northern Iraq to Nigeria, from China to India, the cries of Christian suffering pierces the heavens: A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” (Mt 2:18)

In all this, our own hearts cry out asking why. Why is this happening? Why do Christians suffer so much persecution today? Why have there been more martyrs to the faith in the 20th Century than the preceding 19 put together?

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In his book The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution John Allen cites the work of German scholar Thomas Schirrmacher, an Evangelical Christian human rights activist. Although Schirrmacher acknowledges the deep complexity of this global tragedy, he shows that there are some significant socio-political reasons Christians are so disproportionately persecuted.

He gives 10 points but I think we can summarise them in six — with one more reason which is by far the most important.

1. Christianity — Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal — is growing dramatically in the what is often called the Global South. Such growth is only possible because Christians actively evangelize, sharing the gospel of salvation with others. This missionary zeal is seen as a threat and directs attention towards Christians.

2. Christianity is growing rapidly in some of the most dangerous areas of the world, particularly in parts of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and even in the Middle East. In these volatile areas, any disruption of the fragile status quo is potentially disastrous and Christians are suffering because of it.

3. Christianity is often seen as a form of Western imperialism and identified with “the West.” This makes Christians a natural target for many nationalist movements. Nationalism invariably seeks to unify the nation by excluding minorities. They create unity through hate and Christians, who live for another kingdom, are often the target of this nationalist hatred. An example of this is extreme Hindu nationalism which targets Christians as anti-Indian.

4. Christians are often at the forefront of promoting human rights and democracy as well as opposing violence, corruption, and exploitation of the poor. As such, they are often targeted by the powerful, whether governments or mob groups, who don’t hesitate to use violence or other forces of coercion to get what they want. For example, the Latin American drug lords who murder Catholic priests and other Christian leaders because they are the only ones defending the rights of the poor.

5. Christians have their ultimate allegiance to the Kingdom of God which is not of this world. As such, they are viewed with suspicion by totalitarian governments who, as their name suggests, want total control over the bodies and souls of the people. This is the reason behind much of the persecution in places like China and even more so in North Korea.

6. Christians, on the whole, reject violence and retribution. Persecution is invariably the strong oppressing the weak — or in the case of Christianity, the meek — simply because they can.

7. Christians are persecuted because Christ is persecuted. Satan “knows that his time is short” and so, unable to get to Christ or His Mother (Revelation 12:12), he makes war “on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17) This is the hidden reality behind all persecution. The world and the devil continue to persecute Christ through His people (cf. Acts 9:4-5) just as Christ said they would: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:20)

It’s important to understand the social, historical and political reasons why Christians are being persecuted. Understanding them more fully might be able to help us reduce persecution. We must do whatever we can to protect our Christian brothers and sisters, not just in providing short-term relief but helping to build a global culture of religious freedom.

At the same time, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the real enemy here ultimately isn’t the terrorist with the gun or the bureaucrat with the agenda. They need our prayers and yes, our love.

The real enemy is Satan.

If we forget that and believe that people are our true enemies, then we will hate our neighbor and imperil our souls. We will forget the heart of the Christian faith, the merciful Heart of Jesus who willingly bore the persecution of the world for our sake.

Then, we will truly be lost.

Walls, Pain, Filth

Asia Bibi’s cell is like a tomb, deprived of sunlight. She can see ‘no more than the prison bars, the wet ground and the walls blackened by filth. An odour of grease, sweat and urine pervades everything…It is the smell of death or of despair.’[1]

When it rains outside, it also rains in her cell. Her soiled flimsy blanket, like her clothes, become wet and the ground in her cell turns to mud. She sleeps on ‘a single mattress of braided rope, without sheets or a pillow.’[2]

To preserve the little heat that comes from her tired and sore body she curls up, adopting a fetus position, knees pressed to her chin. She excretes on the floor. ‘No human being can live like this,’ she says, ‘Each day I look deep inside myself for the strength to hold on. I am fighting to keep a bit of dignity.’

A new music video “Free Asia Bibi”, inspired by Asia Bibi’s autobiography, reveals the full horror of Christian persecution in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Arrested for resisting violent pressures to convert to Islam she now languishes in an isolated cell awaiting her appeal against a sentence, condemning her to death by hanging under Section 295c of Pakistan’s penal code.

Hal, from the electro-pop band ooberfuse, who co-wrote the band’s hard-hitting song and music video Free Asia Bibi, said “Asia’s autobiography vividly describes the hellish conditions she has been living in since her arrest on 14th June 2009.

To compound the injustice of an unwarranted death sentence, meted out to appease the angry mob whose rage was fuelled by local mullahs preaching hatred, Asia has spent close to 3 years living in the most undignified prison conditions. Whereas Muslim clerics, like Abu Hamza, responsible for some of the worst terrorist atrocities in the West, enjoy the relative comfort of prison cells with televisions and 50 channels, she is fighting for survival in conditions unfit for an animal.

Cherrie says : “The authorities are caught between a rock and a hard place : if they release Asia there will be riots on the streets. If they hang her there will be condemnation from the international community. By making prison life so unbearable, it seems they are hoping she dies in gaol. She is currently awaiting either death or freedom. It is not too late to save her, either by getting the original verdict overturned or by obtaining a presidential pardon. We can help free her by expressing global public support for Asia Bibi and campaigning for her release.”

Visit www.freeasiabibi.co.uk for more details.

Join the Campaign to Free Asia Bibi – Spread the word & Pray.

LINKS:

Free Asia Bibi – Song

Free Asia Bibi – Youtube

Free Asia Bibi – Website

Related stories:

– http://marianews.com/wordpress/6272/uk-electro-pop-band-launches-campaign-to-support-christian-mother-sentenced-to-death-for-defending-her-faith/

– http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=3560

Free Asia Bibi

Christian Mother of five sentenced to death in Pakistan for defending her faith.

UK based Christian electo-pop band, Ooberfuse announced details today for an all out media blitz to raise awareness for Asia Bibi. Asia is a Pakistani Christian mother with five children who has been sentenced to death by hanging for defending her Christian beliefs.

The Free Asia Bibi media-awareness campaign includes the release of a song titled Free Asia Bibi, a music video and an informational website, www.FreeAsiaBibi.co.uk.   The music video features a disturbing visual portrayal of the squalid prison conditions where Asia Bibi is being held.   She is the first woman in Pakistan’s modern history to be sentenced to death by hanging.

Hal, member of the band Ooberfuse said “when we were invited to be involved in this project we knew very little about the life and significance of Asia Bibi.  We started reading all of the press accounts of her trial and condemnation to death.”    Ooberfuse stumbled across Asia Bibi’s autobiography, which had been written in French with the help of a journalist.    They set out to translate it to English and were horrified by the profound injustice of her situation.  In the last paragraph of the autobiography Asia says, “now that you know me, tell those around you what is happening; let them know about it. This is the only chance I have of being freed from this dungeon.”

Cherrie, the front-woman of Ooberfuse stated “we want the world to not just hear her story, but to do something about it!  – If you’re based in the UK, please join us outside the Pakistan embassy on Thursday, the 14th of June.”   –

To learn more about Asia Bibi please visit www.FreeAsiaBibi.co.uk

The song can be downloaded at http://ooberfuse.bandcamp.com/track/free-asia-bibi?permalink – All Proceeds to be donated for the benefit of Asia Bibi’s family via the British Pakistani Christian Association.

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Ooberfuse is an award winning Christian eletro-pop band based out of the UK.  They have been featured on EWTN, at the World Youth Day and have recently been commissioned by the UK Catholic Church to compose a soundtrack to promote religious vocations.  Learn more at http://www.ooberfuse.com/home.cfm

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Pic.headshot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Royce Hood currently lives in Naples, Florida where he is a third year student at Ave Maria School of Law. He is the founder of Maria News Magazine, a quarterly publication dedicated to truth, culture and life and the Screening Director for “If Only We Had Listened,” a new film produced by Sean Bloomfield and Immaculée Iligabiza. Royce believes deeply that through the promotion of virtue over vice we can foster a more moral society. Negatively influenced for many years by pop culture, it was the grace and guidance of Our Lady that led him to Medjugorje and later to Ave Maria School of Law. His career will focus on representing catholic talent and media, all by the grace of God. “As a sinner I struggle with temptation, but everyday I try to offer myself to the service of God as an instrument of his will.”[/author_info] [/author]