November 3, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, November 3, 2023
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
PWF International Office
Pentecostal Commission on Religious Liberty
During 2023, tensions between the Western world, Russia, North Korea, and China have escalated. The political relations with the Islamic world have not become better. This is causing increasing discrimination and persecution against Evangelicals in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, China, and Russia, even though a clear majority of Christians desire to become bridge builders between different political and religious blocks and alliances.
According to the Pentecostal Commission on Religious Liberty (PCRL), at least 140 countries are not filling the conditions of the Human Rights Declaration of the UN, even though they have undersigned it. PCRL has recognized an increasing number of cases in India, where the Hindu party has passed strong laws against proselytism. The situation for Christians in North Korea may also have worsened due to the increasing amounts of refugees to neighboring countries.
The danger of working against undemocratic authorities is decreasing the willingness of volunteers to help the persecuted. Fewer are ready to risk their security by supporting believers, who pay a price for their faith because it has become a dangerous business. This emphasizes the importance of intersession and support more than ever before. The situation for Pentecostal believers in many countries is extremely challenging. Therefore, we need to act – now.
Many Islamist organizations like Isis and Al-Qaida are increasingly interested in the African continent. The war against Christians is escalating in areas where the Gospel has reached new believers. Submission, discrimination, and violence have become a daily part of Christian life on the continent.
The war of conquest from the North African side against Christians in the south is painting a zone of tensions and conflicts, crossing the whole continent from west to east as a front line. The followers of Jesus living in this area suffer the most from jihad – the Islamic holy war. Only last year, over 7500 Christians were killed in Nigeria, according to Voice of Martyrs. In the city of Butembo in Kongo-Kinshasa, tens of Christians were killed in attacks by Islamic terrorists during this year. Tens of churches were closed and destroyed. The situation is also very challenging for Pentecostals in Burkina Faso, Sudan, Eritrea, and Mozambique.
Pray for the suffering Christians in the war zones between the Islamic and nominal Christian countries so that they can stay strong and become peacemakers and bridge builders between different tribes, especially in the countries mentioned above.
Pray for Communio Messianica, the network for Muslim Background Believers (MBBs). It has become a platform for Christians in the Middle East, North Africa, and several other places, defending the rights of MBBs.
Pray for Christians in Eritrea and some areas in Ethiopia, where many Pentecostals are suffering. Pray for the releasement of Pentecostal leaders in Eritrea so that they could serve the Lord in freedom.
Pray for Christian children in Egypt who experience challenges in schools because of their faith.
Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan are the countries in Asia where the suffering Church has received the most attention. In China, the focus has been on churches, which are not ready to register their work under the Tre-self movement and accept state control. Since 2021, religious leaders need to have authorization from the government for financial and religious activities.
Trials against pastors for criminal financial activities have increased. The accusations have usually been linked up with offerings of money in underground house churches. Cases are known from Chengdu and Shangxi, where pastors have received imprisonments from 3 up to 9 years. Through the punishments, authorities tried to press the house churches to register their churches and open them for control of members, the content of sermons, etc.
However, the authorities do not always control The persecutions in Asia. On the 16th of August, an attack against Christians was organized in Jaranwala in Pakistan by local people. They caused panic among the believers when 25 church buildings were destroyed. Bibles were burned down, as well as 91 homes of Christian members.
In Islamic states, political and religious leaders work together to persecute and reduce the possibilities for churches, as has happened in Afghanistan. PCRL reports that all the official Christian organizations and churches have been closed down in the country.
Pray for the Christians in Pakistan who have lost their homes and churches so that they can get the needed help and not lose their hope for the future
Pray for the pastors in China and Vietnam who have been put in prison
Pray that the authorities in North Korea and Afghanistan may open up the country for the Gospel
The Russian aggression in East Ukraine has caused many problems for Evangelical Christians. Local sources estimate that 70 Pentecostal churches have been destroyed, closed, or confiscated during wartime. This has forced the believers to gather outside, in homes or basements. Many pastors of Evangelical churches have been killed and tortured if they have not been ready to cooperate with the new authorities. There are also many cases of emigration from Ukraine and deportations to Russia.
In Russia, the threats to Evangelicals have increased. Some are assumed to cooperate with the West even though they desire to be neutral in the conflict. In the capital of Belarus, one of the Pentecostal churches has been closed. It is obvious the “cancel culture” is becoming more robust in the European part of Eurasia because it is punishable by law to talk against war or demonstrate opinions for peace.
Kazakstan, Kirgizstan, and Uzbekistan have not made statements about the Russian aggression in Ukraine. At the same time, a slow development of democratization has become visible, especially in Uzbekistan, where Pentecostal churches have been able to register their work for the first time after 20 years of active prayers.
Pray that the Evangelical Christians may continue their work in occupied regions of Ukraine
Pray for the Christians under threat in Russia and Belarus and for the men who are sent against their own will to the front lines.
Thank the Lord for the positive development in Uzbekistan and parts of Kirgizstan. Pray that the freedom for Christians can increase in the future and spread out to the neighboring countries.
Pentecostal Commission on Religious Liberty