Recent reports have shown a significant increase in Christian persecution all around the world in countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran.
Persecution in China:
One report came out a few days ago from China Aid, a Texas-based human rights group, claiming persecution of Christians has risen 42% in China as the communist government launches a three-phase, aggressive campaign against private house churches.
According to Bob Fu, China Aid founder and president, “There have been new tactics of persecution as well, especially with the government using secret directives and memos with long-term, step-by-step strategies to eradicate house churches.”
Persecution in Iran:
American pastor Saeed Abedini, jailed in a notoriously brutal Iranian prison for his Christian faith, is facing physical and psychological torture at the hands of captors demanding he renounce his beliefs, according to supporters.
Saeed Abedini, a 34 year-old married father of two from Boise, Idaho, left his home city to start an orphanage. In a letter home he detailed “horrific pressures,” and “death threats” in Iran’s attempt to force him to deny Christ.
Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison for “threatening the national security of Iran” through his leadership in Christian house churches. The American Center for Law and Justice has provided legal support for Abedini’s family in the U.S. and is working through various government means to help win the pastor’s release. ACLU Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said that the fact that the torture is happening after Abedini’s trial, a sham in which he and his attorney were not even allowed to attend, is particularly chilling.
Persecution in Egypt:
A group of Christian priests from a local Coptic church in Egypt were told to convert to Islam or face death, according to an Arabic news site.
The incident, which comes in the midst of continued persecution and pressure on Egypt’s Christian community, took place recently in the town of Safaga, near the Red Sea, the El Balad site reported.
According to El Balad, the threats are from a new group in Egypt, Jihad al-Kufr, whose name translates to Jihad against non-believers or non-Muslims. The group targets non-Muslims and reportedly pressures them to convert to Islam.
Christians have felt increasingly at risk since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, which resulted in the rise of President Mohammed Morsi and the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood as the main power in Egypt.
Persecution in Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Arabia’s notorious religious police, known as the mutawa, raided a private gathering of at least 53 Ethiopian Christians this month, shutting down their private prayer, and arresting the peaceful group of foreign workers for merely practicing Christianity.
The mixed group of men and women were seized in a private residence in the city of Dammam, the capital of the wealthy oil province in Eastern Arabia, and Saudi authorities charged three Christian leaders with seeking to convert Muslims to Christianity. The latest crackdown on Christianity in the ultra-fundamental Islamic country comes on the heels of a brutal 2011/2012 incarceration and torture of 36 Ethiopian Christians, and drew a sharp rebuke from a U.S. lawmaker.
During Advent in 2011, Saudi authorities stormed a prayer meeting at the private home of one of the Ethiopian workers in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The Saudi mutawa imprisoned 29 women and six men for more than seven months in barbaric prison conditions, where the men faced severe beatings and the women were subjected to sexually intrusive torture methods. After Christian organizations and human rights groups, as well as the United States government, complained, the Saudis deported the 35 Christian Ethiopian workers in August 2012.
Last March, Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, the grand mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, declared, “it is necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.”
This is a disturbing trend
All of these reports were taken directly out of the headlines. While religious persecution is nothing new in any of these countries, the frequency and voracity of these events are extremely disturbing.
Christianity as a whole seems to be under attack just about everywhere you look today. While these countries listed above are persecuting Christians, the Vatican is trying to make Catholicism “friendly and more attractive,” in the so-called Vatican 2.0 movement, and christian churches of all beliefs are “sanitizing” the bible to better suit their followers.
The end days are said to be a godless time with rampant persecution, and while we can’t know for sure if we are in those times foretold in prophecy, the church is, without a doubt, under attack.