Papyrus – This is a time to be thankful, now more than ever. This is a nation that is deeply intertwined with freedom of all shapes and forms. There are some places, however, that don’t have the freedoms we do and I’d like to mention what is going on to the Christians who call those places home:
Orissa State, India – An estimated 500 Christians have been killed by Hindu mobs since late August, although the official numbers are said to be only 40. Recently, a bounty was placed on the pastors, the reward for their deaths are $250. People are also encougared to destroy churches and Christian properties, and are given the gas and kerosene to do it. They are rewarded with liquor, chicken, mutton, and weapons. Twenty-five pastors have managed to leave, but as many as 250 Christian leaders are still at risk. The Christians were blamed for the death of a Hindi leader, although another group admitted to the act, the Christians are still lashed out against. Fifty thousand Christians have been forced to flee the violence. Worst of all, the Hindu extremists have set a deadline for the capture of their leader’s killers. If they aren’t caught by December 15th, they will begin a massacre on December 25th.
Bagdad, Iraq – Christians have not known violence to be any worse before than it is now. In the neighborhood of Dora, many Christians awoke to find this note on their doorsteps, “To the Christian, we would like to inform you of the decision of the legal court of the S.I.A. to notify you that this is the last and final threat. If you do not leave your home, your blood will be spilled. You and your family will be killed.” All of the thirteen churches in Dora remain empty and the citizens fled in droves over two years ago. Did you see the 60 Minutes report on the underground church? We learned that the reason why the majority of attendees are women and children is because most men are killed, and some are kidnapped. In that particular church, save for the pastor, every leader was killed. An estimated 550,000 Christians have fled Iraq in the past five years.
China – While Christianity is allowed among the official churches, Christians who choose to worship in house churches face persecution. While they are portrayed as cultish, they can freely worship Jesus – until they are caught, that is. A pastor leading the house movement has been stalked, arrested, beaten, and imprisoned twelve times. Last Christmas season, officials interrupted house church services, brought all the Bibles and Hymnals outside and burnt them. Arrested the leaders and took the property away from Christians all in an effort to crack down on Christianity. In the past, church leaders have been sent to labor camps for re-education and have served their sentences of as many as three years.
There’s no denying that things are tough this year. Gas prices may finally be down, but food prices have greatly increased. Unfortunately, there is no Salvation Army for these Christians. This is only the persecution that we know about. We don’t know about the persecution we don’t know about. So what can be done for them? We can send spare blankets, cans of food, clothing, and we can see to any needs that our brothers and sisters in Christ have. Hundreds of thousands of our brethren are living in a world very hostile to them. The basics, food, shelter, and clothing are not being met. For if things are tough this year for us, they are all the more difficult for the poorer Christians worldwide.