Snapshot of Christian Persecution 2021

A SNAPSHOT OF CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IN 2021 

From Voice of the Martyrs

For many of us, 2021 was a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many believers around the world, however, it was yet another year of trials amidst persecution. The severity of Christian persecution can vary from one country to another. Persecution can come from the government or even from members of one’s family. Below is a snapshot of Christian persecution which occurred in 2021.

AFGHANISTAN

In 2021, the Taliban captured Kabul and former prime minister Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan.

This is the first Taliban government in 20 years. Members of the Taliban are now in search of people who have worked with the previous government, as well as those who profess the Christian faith. Apostasy is a crime punishable by death under shariah law. Christians are at extreme risk of being targeted with deadly violence.

In addition to all of this, according to the UN, more than half of Afghanistan’s population of 39 million faced a severe food shortage in 2021. Christians desperately need our prayers.

There is a reason for hope: as the new Taliban government tightens its grip on Afghanistan, and the difficulties increase, people are beginning to recognise the darkness of Islam and they are open to the good news of the Gospel.

Voice of the Martyrs is committed to assisting Christians who have remained in Afghanistan. We will continue to provide them with practical and spiritual aid.

NIGERIA

Boko Haram and Fulani Islamic militants continue to work together to attack Christians throughout northern Nigeria.

In April 2021, Boko Haram took control of 42 communities in eastern Niger State, putting its flag approximately a two-hour drive from Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital. As it stands today, Boko Haram controls approximately 500 communities in eastern Niger.

Nearly all Christians in north-eastern Nigeria have lost family members in attacks by Boko Haram or Fulani militants. Entire congregations have been displaced, and many pastors have been forced to leave the region.

Voice of the Martyrs continues to support children who have lost parents in Islamist attacks, as well as train and equip pastors in the north. We also provide study Bibles, New Testaments and Christian discipleship literature for believers.

PAKISTAN

Christians in Pakistan are considered to be second-class citizens and their experience of poverty and sickness has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The blasphemy laws, which prohibit the insulting of Islam, continue to be an opportunity for Christians to be falsely accused by Muslims which can result in imprisonment or even death.

The People’s Commission for Minorities’ Rights (PCMR) and The Centre for
Social Justice (CSJ), two Pakistan-based organizations, have reported a record rise in forced conversion cases of minority girls in Pakistan since 2020. According
to their report, 36 underage non-Muslim girls in Pakistan have been kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam since the beginning of 2021. This is a 177% increase from the thirteen cases reported in 2020.

VOM continues to provide medical treatment for impoverished believers, vocational training for vulnerable Christian women, education for children, pastor support, and legal and political advocacy for Christians susceptible to injustice.

INDIA

Hindu extremists continue to believe that India should rid itself of Christianity. The growing intolerance towards Christianity has been marked since the coming to power of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in 2014.

Hindu extremists continued to attack churches and individuals in 2021.

Christians have suffered particularly in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have been overlooked for food aid. They believe religious nationalism is behind the discrimination which maintains that Christians and Muslims are not true Indians.

Voice of the Martyrs continues to respond to persecution incidents and supports persecuted pastors and their families as well as frontline workers. We provide Bibles and other practical help for Christians living in India’s most hostile areas.

Reposted from Deep Calls to Deep

Dirk Willems

Dirk Willems

Dirk Willems Testimony

What I remember most
is the joy of God’s words on our lips
and in our hearts.
That good news bubbling out,
freely shared with any person we met,
old categories of friend and foe forgotten.
I remember the power of God changing us,
from empty Christians
to disciples full of fire.
I confessed my faith
and chose baptism, freely, consciously,
my prayer as the water trickled over me,
“O my Lord, my God!”
My family and friends,
my neighbors near and far,
they flocked to my house to hear that story.
We read from the Bible,
we prayed together.
And always every meeting,
their words echoing in my ears,
“Can I too be baptized?”

Yes, there was danger.
It was a crime for us to baptize
since we weren’t priests,
and the authorities were out to find us.
But we Brethren were quick,
our feet given godspeed.
So often we escaped
even when escape seemed impossible:
ducking out windows,
fleeing to the fields in the dark,
our pursuers’ lanterns bobbing behind us.
So often God protected us from evil.

The persecution became more severe.
First one brother, and then a sister,
another and another,
arrested, tortured, brought to trial,
made an example.
They were an example to us,
so many, so faithful,
freely bearing their cross, like Jesus.
A witness to God’s glory even in death.

And then it was my turn to be arrested.
They were there waiting for us
hidden in the darkness as we gathered,
no time to run, just a quick whispered prayer,
“O my Lord, my God!”

Into the prison, and there I had time
to sit and think and pray,
to prepare myself for the ordeal to come.
I was more surprised than anyone
when the opportunity arose
for me to escape.
God works in mysterious ways,
and like Paul before me,
the way was open and I took it.
I ran like the wind;
I could hear shouts behind me
and I knew I was being pursued.
Over that wintry river I fled,
the ice creaking ominously below me.
Even as I ran I prayed,
“O my Lord, my God,
let me run on water this day,”
Cracks formed with every step I took,
and like Peter I doubted.
I pictured them fishing
my frozen body with a hook
out of the cold river.

But God be praised,
my feet reached solid land
and running still, I spared a glance behind me.
I saw my pursuer stepping on the ice,
one of the guards sent to catch me.
I doubled my pace along the river
but my eyes were drawn to him
lumbering, lumbering along.
Suddenly there was no figure at all.
My legs kept running
but my whole attention shifted.
I saw the arms and head appear in the watery pit
bobbing and grasping, ice breaking, splashing.
I could hear his frantic call for help.
I stopped and looked to his friends.
They all hugged the shore,
afraid to venture to him on the ice.
They were not going to help him.

Having just crossed that wide white river,
having feared that icy grave,
my heart went to him.
I turned around.
It was I who would be a fisher of men this day.
Running toward my pursuer this time,
I reached that treacherous surface,
and when the cracks seemed louder than my heartbeats,
I dropped gently down on my stomach, sliding sideways,
arms spread wide, reaching for him.
Him reaching for me with freezing fingers,
and then our hands locked,
and the slow, slow, pull to safety.
We did it. I saved him.

We both lay on the ice for a long moment.
Me totally spent from the chase and the rescue,
he totally spent from being immersed in fear,
dazed at returning to the land of the living.

The voice of the burgomeister shattered the silence,
calling from the safety of the shore:
“Arrest that man.
Arrest that man right now!
Do your duty.”
I looked at him,
my companion on the ice.
Our eyes held each other,
frozen there on that hard river.
We both watched transfixed
as his hand slowly reached out
and grasped my elbow.
I closed my eyes,
“Oh my Lord, my God.”

And so I am here in the prison again.
They have convicted me,
and today I am to be burned.
In the icy river or in flames of fire,
I am not alone.
Jesus is with me as I take up my cross.
Be with me now,
Oh my Lord, my God.

Reposted from Deep calls to Deep Blog

A true story that I personally have read from Foxes Book of Martrys.