Posts belonging to Category Persecution

First International Day of Prayer for Turkey

Today is the first annual International Day of Prayer for Turkey. Andrew Jackson, who is attending a service in Instanbul today, shares the following letter from Christian leaders in Turkey:

We would like to invite you to join us in a commitment that we as the current churches of Turkey have made: as from this year, 2009, to set aside every year, the day of April 18 as the “International Day of Prayer for Turkey”.

Why April 18? We had been thinking of such a day of prayer for many years as we knew we needed more prayer from around the world. Various dates were being proposed, when, as you will sadly recall, three of our brothers were brutally murdered, martyred, in the city of Malatya in 2007. On 18 April 2007, Necati Aydin, Tillman Geske and Ugur Yüksel were murdered for no other reason than actively living and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We know that their deaths, that saddened God’s heart and our hearts, were not in vain. We feel that more than any other event, mingling their memory in deep prayer for the country they and we all love, will honour their sacrifice.

We therefore call upon the body of Christ worldwide to join us each year on April 18, to pray for the church and the land/people of Turkey. To pray that the church in Turkey is anointed and strengthened in the Holy Spirit to live for the glory of God; and to pray that the outcome of this will bring hope and blessing to the land and people of Turkey as hearts and eyes are opened to the Kingdom of God.

Will you please pray for the church and the people of Turkey today? I just did.

World Watch List 2009

Open Doors has released its World Watch List for 2009 of the countries where Christians suffer the greatest persecution.

Open Doors World Watch List 2009

The WWL Top Ten Ranking

This year’s number one on the World Watch List is no stranger: North Korea has topped the list for seven years in a row. There is no other country in the world where Christians are being persecuted in such a horrible and relentless way. The Wahhabi kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds a solid second place, sharing the same amount of points with a country that’s also ruled by Sharia law: Iran.

Islam also is the official religion in Afghanistan, Somalia and the Maldives; the countries in the fourth, fifth and sixth position. Afghanistan rose from seventh to fourth place. The country moved up on the list as a result of increased pressure from the Taliban movement during 2008; the situation in the country is tense. On seventh place we come across Yemen, whose position changed from six to seven, but there was no major change in the lack of religious freedom for Christians in Yemen in 2008. There was no big change to the status of religious freedom in Laos; the country is still number eight on the list.

Two new countries have entered the top ten: Somalia and Eritrea. For Eritrea the total number of points did not change compared to last year, but other countries dropping off the ten made it go up. Nevertheless, the deplorable situation of Christians in this country very much justifies a position in the top ten. In Somalia the number of incidents against Christians increased dramatically in 2008, explaining its rise from twelve to five. For China and Bhutan, countries that dropped out of the top ten, an explanation is given in the section “Changes for the Better.’’ (Click here for a free copy of the complete and comprehensive World Watch List. )

Click here for more posts about persecution.

Top Ten Religion Stories of 2008

Here are Christianity Today’s top ten religious stories of 2008:

  1. Election 2008: Democrats woo evangelical vote, making only slight gains from Bush era.
  2. Voters turn back California Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision.
  3. Christians in Orissa, India, again become scapegoats for Hindu extremists.
  4. Anglican Communion continues to implode in slow motion.
  5. Christians flee Iraq and Gaza.
  6. Candidates’ religious associations come under scrutiny.
  7. Ministries hold their breath as financial crisis threatens the global economy.
  8. Muslim and Christian interfaith dialogues get serious.
  9. Todd Bentley’s Florida Outpouring divides charismatic movement.
  10. Texas authorities raid FLDS ranch.

I liked CT’s list better than TIME’s list, which for some reason included Extraterrestrials May Already be Saved as part of its top ten. You can click here to vote on CT’s top story of the year.

Son of Top Hamas Leader Comes to Christ

From the Christian Post: Top Hamas Leader’s Son Converts to Christianity

The son of a top Hamas leader has converted to Christianity and prays someday his family will also accept Jesus Christ as their savior, an Israeli newspaper reported. Masab Yousef, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, revealed for the first time in an exclusive interview with Haaretz newspaper that he has left Islam and is now a Christian. Prior to the interview’s publication last Thursday, Yousef’s family did not know of his faith conversion even though he is in regular contact with them …

Yousef, who is now 30-years-old, was first exposed to Christianity eight years ago while in Jerusalem where out of curiosity he accepted an invitation to hear about Christianity. Afterwards, he became “enthusiastic” about what he heard and would secretly read the Bible every day.

“A verse like ‘Love thine enemy’ had a great influence on me,” Yousef recalled. “At this stage I was still a Muslim and I thought that I would remain one. But every day I saw the terrible things done in the name of religion by those who considered themselves ‘great believers.’ “I studied Islam more thoroughly and found no answers there. I re-examined the Koran and the principals of the faith and found how it is mistaken and misleading … There is only one way to Paradise – the way of Jesus who sacrificed himself on the cross for all of us.”

Yousef, who has taken the biblical name of Joseph, said he dreams of one day becoming a writer to tell his personal story and about the Middle East conflicts … He also dreams that someday he can return to his homeland and his family will accept Jesus Christ. “I know that I’m endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he’ll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity,” Yousef said.

World’s First Church?

Updates from Todd Bolen:
    ● Earliest Church in Jordan
    ● Just Another Byzantine Church

From the Christian Post:

Archaeologists unearthed in Jordan what they believe to be the world’s first church, according to a report Monday.

“We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD,” said Abdul Qader al-Hussan, the head of Jordan’s Rihab Center for Archaeological Studies, to The Jordan Times …

Hussan said his team has evidence to believe “this church sheltered the early Christians – the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ.” These 70 early Christians are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem, particularly to Rihab, and founded churches in northern Jordan …

The underground church has been described as a cave with several stone seats believed to have been for the clergy and a circular shaped area, thought to be the apse – an area which usually contains the altar.

Letter from a Martyr – The Missionary Heart

John Piper shares the following letter from Karen Watson, a Southern Baptist missionary to Iraq who was killed on March 15, 2004. The letter was found after she was slain and was in an envelope marked: “Open in case of death.”

Dear Pastor Phil and Pastor Roger,

You should only be opening this in the event of death.

When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasn’t called to a place; I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory my reward, His glory my reward . . .

The missionary heart:

  • Cares more than some think is wise
  • Risks more than some think is safe
  • Dreams more than some think is practical
  • Expects more than some think is possible.

I was called not to comfort or to success but to obedience. . . .

There is no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him. I love you two and my church family.

In His care,

Salaam, Karen

May Karen’s life, death and testimony inspire each of us to greater levels of prayer, sacrifice and service for our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. You can read Karen’s story along with others in the book Lives Given, Not Taken: 21st Century Southern Baptist Martyrs, by Erich Bridges and Jerry Rankin.