According to Open Doors International, there are 245 million Christian believers worldwide who are persecuted for their faith in Christ. In the past year alone, more than 4,000 Christians have been murdered and 3,150 believers were detained (without trial), arrested, sentenced or imprisoned simply for professing their belief.
This reality must lead us to ask, “Why should we care and what can we do?” We sought to answer these questions and more during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
November 3, 2019 was designated a special day by a host of Christian Ministries. Through the partnership of Every Nation Church NYC and Jordan Lewis Missions, we hosted several extraordinary leaders who shared their experience with religious persecution.
Click here to see the presentation from the following leaders:
- Wendy Wright: President of Christian Freedom International
- Bob Fu: Imprisoned Christian, human rights activist, awarded many awards, including the prestigious NED by Congresswomen Pelosi.
- Simon and Lydia Suh: Rescuer of hundreds of North Koreans.
- Yesupadam Paidipamula: “Untouchable” from India, Christian apostle to India and 40 nations.
- Bill Clark: Expert and Advocate for the Uyghur people of China.
Here’s the brief on what these distinguished guests had to say about the persecuted Christians worldwide.
Bob Fu, founder of China Aid, shared how things in China have become more dangerous for believers. Bob described it as, “… a war against the faith, especially Christians, a war against children’s Sunday school and religious education, and a war against the rule of law.” He and others call it, “the worst persecution since the end of the cultural revolution 40 years ago.” But Bob’s faith, as always, is unwavering. “On the other hand, there is hope… knowing that according to God’s plan, even the persecutors would serve as the servants of the Lord.”
Wendy Wright, formerly the president of Christian Freedom International, an organization that works in 10 nations, provides encouragement and tangible support to Christians suffering persecution. She encouraged all to pray for persecuted Christians, that they be strengthened in their faith in Jesus Christ. She also urged us to advocate for their welfare through our government leaders.
Bill Clark challenged us to pray for and support the Uyghurs, a beautiful people group of mostly Sunni Muslims. Bill was accompanied by new friends to our services; Uyghurs academics, researchers and PhD scientists, who are passionately informing the world about the plight of their people back in China.
To our shock, millions of Uyghurs are being watched closely by a police state in China’s Xinjiang Province. They are stripped of their rights to live out their culture, faith and any other practices that make them a unique and distinctive people group. Bill brought to light this issue that’s not getting much media attention until recently — forced incarceration of 1-3 million Uyghurs living in reeducation-concentration camps where they are brainwashed and tortured, simply for being Uyghurs and Muslims. Bill challenged our congregations to stand up for our fellow Uyghurs. He mentioned the Good Samaritan, and how we are to reply to Jesus’ provoking question, “Who is our neighbor?” Bill also asked, “how can we show compassion?”
Christians must speak against injustice committed to anyone. The detailed story of the Uyghurs will be on my next blog post. This is an issue for everyone everywhere.
Yesupadam committed his life to Christ at the age of 23. When he was a young untouchable, 11 years old, the lowest of the Indian caste system, he fainted on the roadside due to starvation. Because of his social class, he was ignored and left as dead. Remarkably, a Christian missionary from Canada who was driving his family in a jeep, saw him on the roadside, picked him up and drove him to the nearest hospital. The humble Canadian missionaries cared for him, and paid his bills for the next two weeks. Thanks to them, Yesupadam was not only saved physically, but heard the gospel and was saved eternally. The name, Yesupadam, which means “Jesus’ foot,” has manifested through his life for decades.
“It’s been difficult being untouchable,” Yesupadam shared. “But I had an amazing encounter with Jesus.” Now, Yesupadam is facing a different persecution as he’s ministering in a nation that has become increasingly hostile toward Christianity and other religions. Nevertheless, nothing stops him from loving and caring for so many in a nation of more than 1 billion.
Yesupadam, has advanced God’s kingdom of love all over his nation through planting thousands of congregations, building orphanages, hospitals and a plethora of Love-n-Care Ministry Centers across his nation. Love-n-Care, his ministry, has planted hundreds of churches in southeastern India, trained more than 2,000 ministers and blessed countless impoverished children, disabled young adults, the elderly and more around the world. The genesis of his powerful story could be traced to an act of a Good Samaritan. His life story has been captured in his biography by Terri Whitaker: Yesupadam, Reaching India’s Untouched.
Working in the darkest, most dangerous nation in the world, Simon Suh’s ministry has rescued hundreds of North Koreans out of the hermit kingdom. Along with starting churches, the rescue operations were extremely dangerous. In North Korea, persecution is severe, most likely the worst in the world. Sharing the gospel or even owning Bibles are capital offenses.
Remarkably, the woman Simon would eventually marry, was one of the relatively few who found a way out. “By God’s miracle, she escaped,” Simon said. With the help of Simon’s ministry, she was able to rescue her brother and her mother out of the peril of North Korea. Though they have painful stories, they are safe and working for the glory of God. Lydia now owns a design shop where she makes extraordinary clothing for people from all walks of life, including celebrities and professional athletic teams.
In our journey of faith, the Word of God assures us of a finish line filled with celebration, one where the Gospel wins, the nation’s become God’s and Christ alone is exalted. Until then, many of our fellow believers live in perilous times as they are tested, tried and refined by fire.
As Rev. 12:11 proclaims, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Our hopes and prayers are that the faith of the persecuted faithful continue to inspire us to be fearless, steadfast and more devoted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. May we always remember to pray for and stand with them until that glorious finish.