Recently sixty Christian pastors were imprisoned in Vietnam. They join forty others who are held by the communist controlled government, some since 2001. Because of the rapid growth of Christianity in the region the government has tried to get a hold on the situation by cracking down on the number of churches in the country and limit the size of churches.
To be sent to prison in Vietnam is a terrifying experience with dismal conditions and treatment of prisoners. It is rumored that some inmates have been poisoned before they even come to trial.
With the failed attempt to overthrow the Islamic leaning government of Turkey by moderate military leaders, the nation has stepped up its move towards an Islamic nation. This has spelled hard times for Christians who are facing persecution by radicals who feel Christians are a treat to their emerging Islamic republic. At one time there were over two million Christians in Turkey but now there are only around one hundred and fifty thousand.
Russia has gotten in on the act by passing a new law that forbids sharing ones faith outside their house of worship. This law was enacted as a means of trying to curb radical Islam leaders from trying to convert Russians to their radical teachings. However, this recent law also affects Christian preaching and outreach. (July 2016)
What is so draconian about this new law is that it forbids even sending emails to friends that could be interpreted as evangelizing them. Only the Russian Orthodox Church will be allowed to evangelize freely while all other churches will have to receive permission to hold any form of evangelism outside the church. Even home churches are subject to the laws and may well not be designated as official places of worship.
In Egypt there is a renewal of harassment against Coptic Christians and of course the on going attacks in Iraq, Syria and Iran continue unabated or commented upon by western nations.
I can’t think of a country in the world where Christians are persecuting Muslims but it seems everywhere in the world Muslims are attacking and persecuting Christians. But, it is not only Muslims; Hindu’s are attacking Christians and burning churches in India as well as Buddhists in other countries.
We here in the west are under constant attack by the secular press, atheists, a secularized school system, and a permissive culture. To speak out for faith in Jesus is looked upon, in western nations, with suspicion and intellectual distain. Their arguments that, with our claim of Jesus as the only way to salvation, we are being narrow minded and exclusive.
What does this all mean? It means that we live in perilous times; there is no getting around that. It means that for some reason Christianity is the religion of choice to be ridiculed and attacked by the entire world. But, what it really means is that we are closer to the second coming of Christ than ever before. When I was a young man I never dreamed that I would see such hatred and destruction pointed towards Christians. The idea that people would behead a priest harkens back to the age of Viking raiders along the coast of Scotland and Ireland.
We live in a world where society and science tell us we are improving and our civilization is filled with possibilities and adventure. However, the truth is that we are not becoming some great Utopia where everyone is one big happy family.
Christianity is in crisis from a persecution standpoint as well as from our own indifference and secularization of our faith. A quick look through the New Testament underscores the reality of there being persecution as we move into the end of time. As followers of Jesus we need to be aware of what is happening to our brothers and sisters around the world. It is time to stand up and take a stand for Jesus. It is not easy to take on the governments, principalities and powers of this world, but that is what we are called to do.
We are to be courageous, strong, and faithful.