barnabasaid The magazine of Barnabas Fund HOPE AND AID FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
• Suffering Church Sunday 2007: In His Name • Free resources for your church inside this magazine • Persecution Map, Original Drama, Small Group Bible Study and much more
From the director
Running head Obeying the commandment to love one another
barnabasaid SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2007
To guard the safety of Christians in hostile environments names have often been changed or omitted. Thank you for your understanding.
3 Project News
“Might have perished without this aid”
6 The Other Nine
Your family in Iraq
i) Suffering Church Sunday
ii. Sermon Outline iv. Small Group Bible Study v. Suggested songs vi. In His Name: Suffering for Christ in 2007 ix. Persecution Map x. Drama xii. Prayer
Prisoners freed, cases closed
8 Global Jihad
A new book by Patrick Sookhdeo
9 In Touch
Christmas Card Competition results
12 Harvest Supper
A meal with a message
Cover: The main picture shows an Iraqi Christian boy called Akkad. Akkad and his family used to live in Baghdad, but he and his mother, Nour, have fled to Syria. The small picture shows Nour and Akkad together. They are some of the many thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees whom Barnabas Fund is helping to feed (see page 4.) Akkad’s father and sister are now in northern Iraq. The family got separated in the upheaval of the conflict in their country. Barnabas Fund is also helping to feed Iraqi Christians in Iraq. Turn to pages 4, 6, viii and 7 to read more about the plight of Iraqi Christians and what Barnabas Fund is doing to help.
A Muslim became a Christian because of the love of a Christian community. Although he was an immigrant, although he despised Christianity, he was struck by the immensity of the love that the Christians had for him. When he asked, “Why do you care for me when I do not accept your Jesus?” they would always answer, “We love you because Jesus loves you.” So he became a Christian. As a result he lost family and home. But he also lost something else. He lost his trust in the unfailing love of Christians. For in all the period that he was homeless and alone, the Christians who had so loved him when he was a Muslim offered him no meal and no bed; they had no contact with him. Their love seemed to have stopped the day he became a Christian. Although they later confessed to him they had kept praying for him during his period of persecution, there had been no tangible manifestation of practical love. According to John the test of true love is the willingness to lay down one’s life for a brother or sister, to share one’s material possessions, and not to shut one’s heart to him or her. “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18). Why was it that those Christians did not obey the command which Jesus gave His disciples to love one another (John 13:34)? Why is it that as Christians we find it so much easier to love those who are not Christians than to love our own brothers and sisters? Could it be that we are consumed with a passion to see souls saved, but have little realisation of the full humanity of which the souls form a part? Barnabas Fund is often criticised for focusing on helping Christians only. “Surely you should help everyone?” Sometimes we are even accused of being unChristian. This shows a sad lack of teaching in the Church about the many Biblical commands to love our fellow Christians. Many sermons are preached on the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) but how often is attention drawn to
the significance of words of the Lord Jesus in verse 40? “Just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” The parable is about helping other members of the Lord’s family, that is, our Christian brothers and sisters, our fellow believers. So why do we Christians find it so hard to love one another? Why do we find it easier to understand this parable as teaching “Love your neighbour” instead of the real meaning: “Love your brothers and sisters”? But for John it is top of the list of evidences for being a Christian. He says that we know we have passed from death to life because we love one another (1 John 3:14). To love other Christians (in a practical way, 1 John 3:17-18) is evidence of spiritual rebirth. But even when Christians agree that they must help their fellow believers, the question is sometimes asked: how do we know who are true Christians so that we can help them? John says that those who obey God’s command “to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another” are those who live in Him (1 John 3:23-24). It is as simple as that. I thank God for the increasing awareness of many Christians of this truth, and for their compassionate and generous support for their suffering brothers and sisters, as well as, importantly, their prayers and labour. They have not closed their hearts to their brothers and sisters in need. In this magazine you will find resources for Suffering Church Sunday 2007. Please urge your church leaders to take one Sunday this November (or any other time) to focus worship on the persecuted Church. The resources are based on the theme “in His Name”, the Name of Christ which unites us. As John says, we must believe in His name, and we must love our fellow-believers.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo International Director
Project news NORTHERN NIGERIA: NEW CHURCHES, NEW CHAIRS FOR CHRISTIAN VICTIMS
Building work progresses on the new churches in Challawa
In Northern Nigeria, Christians are a minority, and in many states they suffer from the imposition of full shari‘a (Islamic law) which has happened in recent years. Despite promises that Christians would not be affected by shari‘a, many have found that they are. Furthermore, the general attitude towards Christians has become more hostile in the shari‘a states, and they are victimised in various ways. In Kano State last year 13 congregations in Challawa were given notice to quit the public buildings in which they had been worshipping. No Muslim will rent property to them and there are not enough church buildings. The
Christians therefore had no choice but to worship under trees or in the open.
Anti-Christian rioting is a sadly common occurrence in parts of Nigeria. In September 2006 there was rioting in Dutse, the capital of Jigawa State, in which 14 church buildings were damaged or destroyed. Eventually the Christians will have to rebuild elsewhere as they are only being permitted to build temporary structures on the sites where the old churches were. In the meantime they are in need of Bibles, hymnbooks and chairs to replace the ones which were burnt.
Barnabas Fund is assisting them with a series of grants. The total sent so far is £30,000 (US$60,000; NZ$78,000; A$72,000; €45,000). It is expected that the final cost per church will average £6,700 (US$13,400; NZ$17,420; A$16,080; €10,050).
Nigerian Christians across the country donated over 2,000 Bibles which were distributed to all 14 churches. The six largest churches have also received assistance from their mother-churches, but the other eight could find no one within the country to help them with new chairs. So Barnabas Fund stepped in with a grant of £2,100 (US$4,200; NZ$5,460; A$5,040; €3,150) to provide 400 plastic chairs for the eight churches. The cost per chair is £5.25 (US$10.50; NZ$13.65; A$12.60; €7.88).
Six of the congregations managed to raise funds to buy a plot of land on which to build, but the actual construction costs were beyond their means.
UGANDA: TRAINING FOR RURAL CHURCH LEADERSHIP It is estimated that 80% of the population of Uganda lives in rural areas and small towns. Islam and various cults are spreading fast, and Christians need to be strongly rooted in their faith so that they can stand against these advances. A good way to help Christians be strong in their faith is to make sure their church leaders are well trained. A Ugandan ministry runs a variety of part-time training programmes. Many students are farmers and have little Bible training, yet hold responsible positions in churches which are often large. Barnabas Fund is assisting with the costs of running these leadership training programmes. Our most recent grant was £2,625 (US$5,250; NZ$6,825; A$6,300; €3,938).
Training church leaders helps to strengthen the Church in Uganda
Reference 56-526 MarCH sept/ / AprIL oct2007 2007 Barnabas BarnabasAID AID 55
In Iraq being a Christian means…
…you live in daily fear of violence, kidnap, rape or even death because of your faith. What does ‘being a Christian’ mean to you? For the people of Iraq it means a constant fear of threats and violent abuse. Around the world 200 million of our brothers and sisters live in areas where there is frequent discrimination, oppression or persecution because of their love for Jesus. Most people in Iraq are living with the destruction and conflict which has engulfed their country. But Christians in Iraq, who make up a small minority of the population, are singled out for targeted abuse. There are many in the country who are taking advantage of the current lawlessness to try to “cleanse” Iraq of all Christians. It is estimated that 75% of the Iraqi Christian population have fled their homes since 1990. Many of them are now refugees in neighbouring countries.
To help the Christians of Iraq Barnabas Fund has been providing monthly food parcels to the neediest of families in Iraq and Iraqi refugees in other countries. Barnabas Fund has also helped in setting up new businesses, such as restocking orchards and supplying set up costs for bee farms, so these impoverished Christians can begin to support themselves once again. You can read more about how Barnabas Fund is helping the Christians in Iraq by visiting www.barnabasfund.org/projects or by contacting your national Barnabas Fund office. Through your gifts and prayers you can be there for the Christians of Iraq as they battle to remain true to Christ in a country where the Church is facing extermination.
Pay, convert, leave – or die Christians in the Dora area of Baghdad have been given an ultimatum – pay the humiliating jizya (an Islamic poll tax on non-Muslims), or convert to Islam or leave their homes, abandoning all their possessions and memories. Or be killed. There is still a small remnant of the Christian community in Iraq. Many remain only because they cannot afford to leave. And many of the Christians who have fled their homes to find refuge are living in desperate poverty with barely any possessions and little hope for their futures.
1in10 Christians live with discrimination and persecution www.theothernine.org
Barnabas Fund exists to support our brothers and sisters who live in places like Iraq - to make sure they get the care and support they need.
A new Christian is baptised in West Africa. Growing up in areas of persecution can mean that new believers who come from other faith backgrounds are particularly targeted in an attempt to make them renounce Christianity
6 Barnabas AID sept/ oct 2007
Resources for Suffering Church Sunday 2007
In His Name In His Name we are saved. In His Name we suffer. And in His Name we are to love one another. That’s why this year the theme for Barnabas Fund’s Suffering Church Sunday is In His Name. And to help you and your church to remember persecuted Christians we have produced all the resources you will need to hold a Suffering Church Sunday service. Choose any Sunday in November that suits your church (or another month if your calendar is already fully booked) and use the In His Name resources to explore the topic of the family united by the Name of Christ.
Page ii): Sermon outline Page iv): Bible study notes – for use in small groups, homegroups or individual Bible study Page v): Suggested songs Page vi): Information file – focusing on converts, church leaders and Iraq Page ix): World map of persecution in the Muslim world Page x): Drama sketch “A terrible day for the Smiths” Page xii): Prayer and response form
Further resources To help you advertise your Suffering Church Sunday service, we have produced the A3-size poster shown below right. Also available are Suffering Church Sunday prayer cards (A5-size) designed to give to everyone attending your service to take home with them. See page xii for a copy of the prayer and response form on the card. Please order as many posters and prayer cards as you need. They are available free of charge from your national Barnabas Fund office or the UK office. Barnabas Fund has other resources which you may find useful, such as the free resource pack for our ‘The Other Nine’ campaign shown below left. To order this or to find out about other literature available, contact your national office or visit our website www.barnabasfund.org/ resources
Suffering Church Sunday Resources sept/ oct 2007 Barnabas AID (ⅰ)
Loving our brethren: the command and the context
(1 John 3:10-24)
John’s message is that Christians must love one another. He repeats and re-emphasises his message over and over again. He shows that obeying this command to love our Christian sisters and brothers is central to our Christian walk; indeed it is prime evidence of our salvation. There can be few passages in the Bible more serious than this. Yet most contemporary commentators ignore the clear focus on the crucial importance of loving one’s fellow believers or choose to reinterpret “brethren” to mean everyone in the world. In 362 AD the Roman Emperor Julian complained: “The Christians feed not only their own poor, but ours as well, while no one in need looks to the temples.” It is clear that the fourth century Christians were obeying the command of 1 John 3:11 (and Galatians 6:10), caring firstly for each other and then for non-Christians around them.
people through Moses (Exodus 20). These “old” or “original” commandments were summarised by the Lord in two commands to love: love God and love your neighbour (Luke 10:27). He also commanded His followers to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44). Then, the last time He was with the disciples before His crucifixion, He added the new command to love one another.
and he now develops this basic thought. Although he speaks of “one another,” it is primarily love of one’s Christian brothers which he has in mind; this is where Christian love must start. ⅱ
Now that we know whom to love, we need to know what love itself is (αγάπή). John explains this in In 2007 many Christians have verses 16-17. Firstly, we know reversed this, caring first for what love is by looking at Jesus those around them and then, if who laid down His life for us. So there is anything left, for their Who is it that John says we must we know that love is sacrificial and Christian brothers and sisters. love? Our brethren (άδελφοί), or costly, perhaps even to the point of in newer translations “brothers”, laying down our own lives. But for which of course includes sisters. most Christians it is unlikely that they will ever have an opportunity Westcott points out that there are The command to love fellow to make the supreme sacrifice of four main terms used in the new believers (v.11) is an absolute. dying for a fellow Christian. So Testament to mean “Christians”. It cannot be relativised or in the next verse John gives us a These are “disciples”, “brothers”, argued away. Nor can the further aspect of love, something “saints” and “believers”. The responsibility be passed on to which everyone will have the earliest title used is “disciples”, other Christians. opportunity to do, that is, to share which was used during Christ’s their material possessions with lifetime for those who followed Background Christians in need. This should Him as master or teacher. The include not only those known John’s insistence on Christians first title given to his followers loving one another is based after the Ascension was “brothers” personally to us but also those who are strangers to us (3 John 5). on the words he heard Jesus (Acts 1:15, though translated ⅰ say at the Last Supper; “A new “believers” in some versions). It In 2007 a letter to Barnabas command I give you: Love one is interesting that many churches Fund from a church leader in Gaza another. As I have loved you, in contexts of persecution today speaks graphically of how practical so you must love one another.” follow the New Testament model help from fellow Christians means (John 13:34). Of all the and habitually refer to each other so much: teaching John heard from Jesus’ as “brothers” and “sisters”. lips in three years of ministry “Your continuous assistance on earth, he selects this as one Even when the phrase “one to the Christian community for a main focus of his letter. It another” is used, it is clear that in Gaza … reminds us that, seems that it was a basic part this refers to fellow Christians. despite all the suffering our of the teaching given to first First used in verse 11 of our community is undergoing century Christians, as John says passage, Howard Marshall (the news only give a pale to his readers that they have explains that “the phrase means and incomplete picture of all heard it “from the beginning” exactly the same to love one’s the daily horrors our people i.e. from the beginning of their brother” (2:10; 3:10,14; 4:20-21). come face to face with), Christian experience. John has already made it clear God is with us. When we that only those who love their The background to Jesus’ are almost at our last breath brothers live in the light of God’s new command was the ten and desperate for help, when presence and revelation (2:10), commandments given to God’s it seems that everyone has
Suffering Church Sunday Resources (ⅱ) Barnabas AID SEPT/ OCT 2007
forgotten us and we can do nothing to save our brothers from doom, from perishing in misery, our good Lord inspires you, our brother, and you stretch out your hand and relieve our people’s agony.”
John’s letter was written at a time when the Christian community was already facing marginalisation and persecution, the persecution that Christians must expect, which comes because of the world’s hatred of the righteous (v.13). Just as Cain hated Abel because Abel was righteous, so Christians will be hated. In such a situation, mutual care and support was a question of survival, as well as a witness to the love of God revealed in Christ.
But there is more to love than just giving. “Christian love is love which gives to those in need, and so long as we have, while our brothers have little or nothing, and we do nothing to help them, we are lacking in the love which is the essential evidence that we are truly children of God. Nor is it simply a case of making a payment out of our bank balance and thinking no more about it: John is talking about a feeling of pity which expresses itself in action.” ⅲ
Tertullian of Carthage wrote in about 197AD of how the Christians of his day cared for each other, both the needy and the persecuted.
The NIV’s use of the words “has no pity on him” (v.17) is weak compared to both the Authorised Version and the Revised Standard Version. AV renders the phrase “shuts up his heart from him” and RSV “closes his heart against him”. According to Westcott, the phrase appears to be unique. “It expresses the interposition of a barrier between the sufferer and the tender feelings of his brother.” It describes how “the destitute brother can find no access” to sympathy from his brother Christian. ⅳ
Loving other Christians is one type of evidence for salvation. “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers” (v.14). Someone who does not love their brother or sister in Christ cannot be a child of God (v.10). “It should be emphasised that spiritual life does not come from loving our brothers. Love for our brothers is the evidence, not the basis, for the spiritual life.” ⅴ
“We do have our moneybox, contributed to by those who wish, and who are able, once a month. The money is used, not for feasting and drinking, but to help the poor, orphaned children, the old, the shipwrecked, Christians sent to forcedlabour mines, or exiled in the islands, or shut up in prison. This is why people say of us, ‘See, how these Christians love one another!’”
Conclusion (1 John 3:21-24) In verse 23 John summarises what God commands: “To believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” Obedience to these two things, says John, will please God, set our hearts at rest, and give us confidence as we approach Him, in prayer. When we obey these two commands - to believe in the Name of Christ and to love our Christian brothers and sisters - then we know what it is to live in Him, and for Him - through His Spirit - to live in us.
accept Jesus (Muslim Isa) as a prophet and whilst they use the term “Christ” to describe Him, they utterly reject His deity. For Christians in the Muslim world, their suffering is borne out of the fact that they trust in Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, which Islam regards as blasphemous. They are indeed hated (v.13) as Jesus was hated. Just as Jesus was condemned for blasphemy (Mark 14:61-64), so Christians today experience the pain of alienation and rejection, even unto death. The second command, to love each other, is manifested in a suffering community caring for its own in their agony and anguish. For Christians in non-Muslim countries equally, the call comes to believe in His Name and to love our brothers and sisters as Christ has loved us. Thus we join with our brothers and sisters in affirming what Westcott has described as a “compressed creed” and to unite our hearts in unending loyalty to Jesus, faith in His Name, the conviction that He is the Son of God, our Messiah, King, Lord and God. And so, with His suffering people, we share their pain as members of one body, one family, one community. ⅰ B.F. Westcott, The Epistles of St John, 3rd edition, Cambridge and London, Macmillan, 1892, pp.128-9 ⅱ I.H. Marshall, The Epistles of John, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1978, p.189 ⅲ I.H. Marshall, The Epistles of John, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1978, p.195 ⅳ B.F. Westcott, The Epistles of St John, 3rd edition, Cambridge and London, Macmillan, 1892, p.115 ⅴ I.H. Marshall, The Epistles of John, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1978, p.191
It is noteworthy how apt these two commands are for our brothers and sisters in the Muslim world. Islam rejects Jesus as the Son of God. Whilst they may
Suffering Church Sunday Resources SEPT/ OCT 2007 Barnabas AID (ⅲ)
Small Group Bible Study Love One Another
(1 John 3:10-24)
This study looks at the same passage as the sermon outline (pages ⅱ-ⅲ). It can be used either before or after hearing the sermon to reinforce its message. But it also stands alone and can be used quite separately, without the sermon. However, if the study is being used without the sermon, it may be helpful for the group leader to read through the sermon outline beforehand. The passage is very rich in meaning, and it might be necessary to divide the study over two sessions. If you will not have time to tackle all the questions, you may like to omit those marked with an asterisk; this leaves ten questions to answer. The study refers to other parts of these Suffering Church Sunday resources and Barnabas Aid magazine, so it would be helpful if every member of the group had a copy. You may make photocopies of the relevant pages (3-5, ⅲ, ⅵ-ⅸ) or order free copies of the whole magazine from your national office. Begin the study by reading the whole passage. It may be helpful for the leader to point out that the Greek word often translated “brothers” or “brethren” also includes sisters, as is made clear in some modern translations. The letter was written by the Apostle John and many references in the letter are reminiscent of words of Jesus which he recorded in his gospel.
1 John is writing about the importance of Christians loving other Christians. How many times in this passage does he refer to loving one another or to loving our brothers and sisters? If you have time you can read the rest of John’s letter, looking for further references to loving one another. (One way would be to divide up the rest of the letter amongst the members of the group, and let each one read a different section, then share with the group any references they have found to loving other Christians.) If you have even more time, read John’s other two letters to see what they say on the subject.
beginning” (v.11). This must mean the beginning of their Christian experience. What does this say about 2 There is a variety of words in the New the importance which the early Christians attached Testament used to mean “Christians”. Name as many as you can. Why do you think John chooses to this command? How much importance is given to to keep using the term “brothers and sisters” in this this command in your church’s teaching e.g. Sunday School, sermons, baptism or confirmation classes, passage? discipleship courses? 3* The English word “love” can be confusing, because it covers a vast array of meanings. In Greek (the language which John wrote in) there are at least four different words, meaning four different kinds of love. What kind of love would John have meant in this passage? (If you want to do some research on this, the Greek word he used here was “agape”.) 4* John writes that “love one another” is a message which his readers had heard “from the
5 What is the origin of this command? Turn to John 13:34. Some denominations remember this day as “Maundy Thursday”, meaning “Mandate Thursday” i.e. “Commandment Thursday”. Many other very important things were said and done by the Lord Jesus that day, but evidently this command was one that stood out in the minds of the first Christians. What were the circumstances in which Jesus was speaking, which may have made the early Church place so much emphasis on this command?
Suffering Church Sunday Resources (ⅳ) Barnabas AID SEPT/ OCT 2007
6 Read on to John 13:35. This verse is used by the eastern churches as their missionary mandate, in the same way that western churches look to the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. How is this verse related to Christian witness? Turn to page ⅲ to read what non-Christians were saying about Christians in 197 AD. Do you think non-Christians would ever be surprised or attracted by observing the love of Christians for each other in your church? 7* Jesus called the command to love one another a “new” command or commandment. What were the “old” or “original” commandments? What other instructions did He give about whom to love? (Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 5:44).
compare with Jesus’ words in John 15:7,10-12?
9 John writes very clearly of this in 1 John 3:16 but goes straight on in verse 17 to give a contrasting example of what love involves. Which do you find easier? To be willing to make the extreme but unlikely sacrifice of verse 16, or actually to live out daily the behaviour of verse 17?
17* In 1 John 3:15 who is hating whom? Perhaps we may be tempted to disagree when John says that such hatred is equivalent to fratricide (murdering your brother), but what do you think Jesus would have said? (See what he said on a similar subject in Matthew 5:21-22.)
10* John writes about love as feelings, words and actions (v.17-18). What does he say about each one? How are they related to each other?
18 Our love for fellow Christians should not be limited to those members of the Christian family whom we happen to know, or to members of our own local church, or our own denomination. In his third letter, John commends a Christian for showing love to Christians who were previously strangers to him (3 John 5). We can go even further by showing love to Christians whom we shall not meet until we are in heaven. (Turn to pages 3-5 to read about some examples of this, channelled through Barnabas Fund.) What can you personally and your local church do to show love to other Christians in a practical way – Christians whom you know and also Christians whom you do not know?
14* What does it mean to “remain” or “abide” or “live” in the Lord Jesus? How is that linked with having all our prayers answered? Who teaches us what the Lord wants and makes our desires conform to His (1 John 3:24 and John 14:26)?
15* So far we have been considering the subject of love. But the passage also talks about hatred and even murder. In 1 John 3:12 who is hating whom? Had Abel done anything to make Cain hate him? In verse 13 who is hating whom? Read what Jesus said in John 15:18-25. Had Jesus done anything to make them hate Him? How does this apply to us as 8 Whom did Jesus mention as an example of someone Christians? showing the kind of love which He meant His followers 16* Have you experienced hatred or persecution to have for one another? At the time the disciples heard Him say this, what would they have understood because of your Christian faith? What do you know that kind of love to involve? Later they gained a fuller of the persecution experienced by Christians in some other countries? What would you find the hardest and deeper understanding of what He had meant. to bear? (Some information is given on pages ⅵ-ⅸ.) What else was involved in this kind of love?
11 The Greek phrase at the end of verse 17 is apparently unique and therefore very difficult to translate into English. If members of the group are using different Bible translations, let each read out the wording used in their translation. Some of the older translations are more powerful than some of the modern ones. It seems that John was referring to actively putting a barrier between the needy person and the one who could have helped them. Discuss what this means. Is it something that you ever do? 12 John says that loving one another is evidence of what? (Verses 10,14,18-19). How does this compare with what Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9? (Think about the difference between cause and proof. The cause of the car skidding was the driver braking too sharply. The proof of the car skidding is the black tyre marks on the road. The tyre marks did not make the car skid, but they are evidence that it really did do so. ) See also 1 John 2:2. 13 We may feel that John’s words about what loving one another proves are a challenge to us. But he expected his first readers to find them an assurance. He wanted them to feel confident in coming before God (1 John 3:21). What two things did John say were essential for such confidence? (v.23) What two things did he say would result? (v.22,24) How does this
Suggested songs A new commandment I give unto you Blest be the tie that binds Brother, let me be your servant Christ is made the sure foundation Jesus taught us how to be a family There is power in the name of Jesus
Suffering Church Sunday Resources SEPT/ OCT 2007 Barnabas AID (ⅴ)
In His Name As Christians we believe in and set our hope in the Name of Christ Jesus. As the popular praise song goes, there is power in the Name of Jesus. But while we rejoice at each new believer coming to faith in the Name which is above all other names, we should remember that the decision can also bring struggles and sacrifices. Jesus taught His disciples that He came to bring division, to set father against son and mother against daughter. In His Name we are saved. In His Name we are to love others. And in His Name, many suffer for Him.
In His Name we are saved We have been given the glorious promise that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32). Whether your conversion was a sudden “Damascus road experience” or a gradual coming to faith, when we are saved in the Name of Jesus our lives are transformed. However, for Christians from another faith background, conversion to Christianity can mean accepting a life of persecution and discrimination, and sometimes even physical danger. Under Islam, traditional shari´a (Islamic law) teaches that apostasy (leaving Islam) is punishable by death. Many converts from Islam are in very serious danger of their lives once their conversion becomes known. The apostasy law is only officially written into the law of a handful of countries, for example Yemen. However shari´a is either the main or partial source for the legal system in many Muslim countries, and this effectively makes it illegal to convert to another faith. Even where the death penalty is not carried out, converts often face other serious legal consequences – for example, their marriage may be dissolved and they may lose all their property and inheritance rights.
A group of ten Christian converts were savagely beaten with bricks and wooden clubs by their Muslim neighbours in June 2007. The angry mob continued to threaten the Christians, giving the converts 24 hours to leave the village or they would return to beat them again and burn down their homes. While official state executions are rare, converts from Islam still face violence and attacks on their lives. There are many devout Muslims who feel it is their duty to carry out Allah’s will if the State will not, and so numerous converts have mysteriously disappeared, their bodies discovered
later. Sometimes it may be a convert’s own family who will betray or kill them, in order to “restore” the family honour. Or Islamic extremist groups may be prepared to take matters into their own hands if the government is not seen to be enforcing shari´a. In April 2007 a statement appeared on the Internet signed by Al Qaeda in Iraq threatening to kill Muslim youths who convert to another faith in the northern town of Sulaimaniyah. “We are hunting those who have converted to Christianity or Zoroastrianism as we consider them renegades and God’s punishment must be implemented by killing them.”
In May 2007 16-year-old Shamimu Muteteri was led to faith in Christ through the son of a church leader, and they made plans to marry. At a service in her fiancé’s church she gave her testimony of her conversion to Christianity. A month later her father, a well-known radical Muslim, discovered she had not been attending the mosque. When he questioned her about it, she was unable to hide her new faith from him. The father, furious at her conversion, ordered her to renounce her Christian faith and return to Islam, or he would kill her. Shamimu made plans to escape her father with the help of the church. However, on July 1st 2007 her father attacked and killed her with a hammer. He burnt her body with paraffin, then buried her. Her fiancé was arrested, and released a few days later. Shamimu’s father was also arrested, but wealthy local Muslims paid for him to be released, believing that he had acted according to Allah’s will. In many Muslim countries it is difficult or even impossible for a convert to change their official religious identity. A convert who cannot register as a Christian will experience problems if trying to marry a Christian, to register their children as Christians, or even to be buried as a Christian. Even going to church services could be prohibited.
Suffering Church Sunday Resources (VI)
(ⅵ) Barnabas AID SEPT/ OCT 2007
Local government officials also put pressure on church leaders. They may use red tape and legislation to try to stop Christian work; police Lina Joy is a Malaysian convert from Islam to may arrest Christian workers, sometimes on the Christianity who has been battling for six years to slightest pretext, in an attempt to weaken the have the word “Islam” removed from her identity Church. Many Christian leaders are imprisoned card. Until her conversion is officially recognised across the world, often enduring harsh her marriage to a Christian background believer is treatment and torture. In China, church leaders illegal. are frequently arrested and detained on charges Dmitri (David) Shestakov, such as “illegal business practices”. While in On 30th May 2007 Lina’s case came before detention they are often mistreated, perhaps Malaysia’s Federal Court, the highest court in the beaten or tortured, and consequently many country. The court decided that only a Syariah suffer from ill health. (shari´a) court could make the decision, which effectively means Lina will never be allowed to officially register as a Christian. The decision is a blow both to Lina and many other Malaysian In February 2007 a Christian pastor, Dmitri Christians from a Muslim background who would (David) Shestakov, was arrested and in March also want to officially register their new faith. he was found guilty of “incitement to religious hatred”. He was sentenced to four years in a harsh labour camp. David had been very active in outreach to Muslims in his community. Christians in the area believe it was this that As Christians we show our love by serving each made him a target for the authorities. They say other, and one of the most important ways to that state officials are trying to “stop Christian serve is as a leader - strengthening, teaching and preaching and, if that doesn’t work, drive out encouraging the Christian community in your care. those who continue to preach”. During his trial Gifted and spiritually equipped Christian leaders the government appeared to be conducting a are essential for the Church family for, without smear campaign, posting false information them, any Christian community would struggle to about him on the Internet. thrive. Already while he was held in prison during his trial David was twice punished with stays in Within the persecuted Church the ministry of isolation cells, causing fear for what treatment church leaders is not only especially vital, but is he may be given when transferred to the labour often an act of sacrificial love. In 1 John 3:16 we are camp. told that “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay The persecution which church leaders face down our lives for our brothers.” Christian leaders might not be in the form of violence. In 2006 the within the persecuted church know that they may village elders of a Hindu-majority village in Sri be targeted for extra harassment and oppression; Lanka refused to allow the 5-year-old daughter they also know that they may be called to make the of the local church leader to go to the only ultimate sacrifice of laying down their own life for school in the village. Now she must board at a the sake of their brothers and sisters. school that is two hours away by bus, in an area controlled by the Sri Lankan government. The church leader’s village is an area controlled by the rebel fighting group, the Tamil Tigers. When On 3rd June 2006 Ragheed Ganni left his church fighting breaks out the border between the two in Mosul after leading the Sunday evening service. is closed and this Christian is cut off from his With him were three deacons, Basman Joseph, young daughter. Bassam and Ghassan. As they drove away, their car was intercepted by another vehicle. Four men On top of this targeted persecution, there are got out of the second car and began firing on the other challenges. One of the greatest of these is Christians. All four church leaders were killed. the overwhelming poverty which engulfs many sections of the persecuted Church. From such One Iraqi church leader commented that those poverty, where Christians struggle to feed and who want to destroy the Christian presence in his look after themselves, they certainly are not country are targeting its leaders, saying, “Kill the able to afford the cost of supporting a full-time priest, and it will kill the community.” church leader. A Christian who obeys God’s call to serve his fellow Christians by becoming a fulltime church leader is often accepting a life of low income and poor living standards.
Church leader in Uzbekistan given four-year sentence
In His Name we love one another
Suffering Church Sunday Resources SEPT/ OCT 2007 Barnabas AID (ⅶ)
For His Name we suffer Up to 200 million Christians today are living in situations where they face discrimination, persecution or oppression because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. That’s ten percent of the worldwide Christian population. These brothers and sisters are suffering for His Name. The suffering they endure can take many forms, and the intensity varies greatly. Their lives may be lived in daily fear of violence, kidnap, or rape. They may live in utter poverty, trapped by a system which limits their opportunities to break free. Many live under a social stigma which affects how their community treats them, what jobs they can get or even how their children are treated in school.
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:16
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 life for Iraqi citizens has been characterised by turmoil and insecurity, leaving in its wake a daily fear of violence, bombings, kidnappings and killings. But Iraqi Christians, living as a small minority in Iraq, have become a major target in the violence. Iraqi militants are using the instability of Iraq as an opportunity to try to drive Christians out of the country in a form of religious “cleansing”. While the number of Christians in Iraq has dwindled – it is now estimated that 75% of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes, living as refugees in neighbouring Syria or in northern Iraq – anti-Christian hostility and violence continue unabated. Anti-Christian threats are made, perhaps by circulated pamphlets or letters, by text messages on mobile phones, phone calls, door-to-door visits or statements posted on websites. In recent years 30 churches have been bombed, as well as Christian homes and businesses; it is impossible to estimate the number of Christians who have been kidnapped, raped, tortured, beaten or killed.
Recent incidents of anti-Christian violence in Iraq THREATS IN MOSUL
Christians in Mosul were given three days to leave the city or they would be beheaded. The threat was made in a public statement on the internet on 5th July 2007.
DEMANDS FOR JIZYA
Islamic militants in the Dora region of Baghdad have demanded that Christians pay the traditional Islamic tax, jizya, a humiliating tax levied on non-Muslims in return for protection, i.e. for being allowed to live and continue in their non-Islamic faith. Militants are claiming that, because Christians are not fighting in the insurgency, they should pay jizya. Christians in Dora have been told to pay the tax, otherwise face the choice of converting to Islam or leaving.
Six Christian university students and two of their teachers were kidnapped on 20th June 2007. The Christians were on board a church-run bus which was taking them from Mosul University to their homes in Qaraqosh. The bus was stopped by armed men who boarded the bus and took the hostages. The abduction took place near a police station, but police did not intervene. The Christians were held for two days, during which time they were subjected to torture. They were only released after the families of the hostages paid a ransom of US$250,000. A Christian leader in Qaraqosh said “First of all they were kidnapped for money and secondly they were kidnapped because they are Christians.” He said that Christians were vulnerable because they will not arm themselves.
On 11th June 2007 two Christian men were kidnapped in Iraq. The abductors demanded US$20,000 for the return of Ramzi Yakou Shamasha (50) and Ismael Azria Shamashal (48). However, even though the families managed to raise funds for the ransom, both men were killed on 13th June.
MURDERS IN BAGHDAD - The week previous to the shooting in Mosul (see page 7) a Christian husband and wife had been beheaded in Baghdad. A 19-year-old Christian man was also shot dead, because he refused to convert to Islam.
CHRISTIANS ORDERED TO WEAR VEIL Iraqi Christians
report that an undated letter addressed to Christians in Baghdad from Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army has ordered that Christian women must wear the Islamic headscarf just like Muslim women. The letter goes on to say that special committees have been set up in order to monitor Christians to see if they comply. The letter threatens grave consequences for any woman who refuses to wear the veil.
These Christians, who are suffering daily from
hardships that we can only imagine, are our family. We are united with them as one family who share the Name of Christ Jesus. Barnabas Fund exists to support Christians such as these. But we can only do so with the help of the wider Church, being willing to reach out in love to their suffering brothers and sisters. Supporting Barnabas Fund is one way in which you can “love one another”.
Suffering Church Sunday Resources (ⅷ) Barnabas AID SEPT/ OCT 2007
Persecution in the Muslim World This map is designed to give a general indication of the level of pressure facing Christians in Muslim-majority contexts. It cannot be used as a definitive categorisation, as conditions of persecution can vary greatly from place to place within some individual countries.
1- Has most of, or all of the following conditions • Shari‘a main source of law or significant legal restrictions on Christians enshrined in law • Church leaders, evangelists and converts very likely to be imprisoned for their faith* • Christians, particularly converts, have been killed for their faith* • Widespread restrictions on worship – both legal and social • If Christian minorities are present they suffer extreme difficulties and persecution
• Some restriction on mission to Muslims
• Restrictions on worship – either legal or social
(Morocco, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Niger, Palestinian Territories, Chad, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tanzania, Algeria, Western Sahara, Djibouti)
• If Christian minorities are present they suffer difficulties and persecution • Very strong restrictions on mission to Muslims (Egypt, Pakistan (particularly North West Frontier Province and other parts), Turkmenistan, Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria (north), Indonesia (some parts), Malaysia, Qatar, Libya, Maldives, Kuwait, UEA, Comoros, Mauritania)
4 - Has either relatively tolerant legal structure, but still significant social persecution or is socially tolerant, but still has some “top down” pressure on Christians (Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Jordan, Oman)
3 - Has most of, or all of the following conditions
• Total restriction on mission to Muslims (Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Sudan (North))
2 - Has most of, or all of the following conditions
• Christians, particularly converts, have been killed for their faith*
5 - Relatively tolerant “top down” and socially
• Shari‘a or legal restrictions on (Gambia, Tunisia, Senegal, Mali, faith are present, but also some protection Syria, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, of religious liberty enshrined in law Burkina Faso, Guinea) • Church leaders, evangelists and converts have been imprisoned*
• Shari‘a a source of law or restrictions on religious liberty enshrined in law
• Christians, particularly converts, may have been killed for their faith (but isolated cases)*
• Church leaders, evangelists and converts likely to be imprisoned*
• If Christian minorities are present they suffer some difficulties and persecution
*This might be less important depending on size of Christian population, and in particular, number of converts from Islam.
Suffering Church Sunday Resources sept/ oct 2007 Barnabas AID (ⅸ)
Drama sketch “A terrible day for the Smiths” will prevail through all nonsense – you just carry on with the hard work, stick with it - I’ll be thinking of you.
Is that the best you can do?
David, at last, tea’s nearly ready. Did you call Michelle? She asked if you could pop round and fix her iPod again – something about it playing Kylie when it should be playing Kasabian…
Mum (continues cooking)
Aren’t you even going to ask me how my day was?
I got the sack today, Mum.
…Oh and pass the peas will you? They’re in the bottom drawer of the freezer…
Narrator Dad – 50, works in the city Mum – 48, teacher Son – David, 22, works in the local shop Daughter – Tina, 18, at university
When’s tea ready? – I’m starving. Did you check the emails today? I’m expecting one from the vicar about Friday’s PCC… (wanders off)
Narrator Welcome to the Smiths’ family tea time. They’re a family not like any other in their town. Their name is something they’re proud of and have been for generations. It’s where they derive their strength and where their values come from. But as we’re about to see, they’ve each been having a terrible day, some worse than others. How do they react to each other? Let’s find out. Dad Phew – glad that day’s over with! Mum (wistfully) Tough day in the office, dear? Dad
Mum (talking to empty room) Well, my morning was lovely – thank you, dear, for caring – I had that nice boy Sammy in my class. He’s so well behaved. A real example to the rest of the kids. Then this afternoon I had a nightmare with Candice again – that girl just won’t stop talking and she chews gum in my face and then when it came to washing her hands after painting – well, let’s just say I’m glad we use water soluble paints, otherwise my skirt might never look the same again. And then she turns around and scratches me on the arm – all because I tried to get her to sit down for a quiet story. And the mum just shrugged her shoulders when I told her, muttered something like ‘well you are a Smith – what do you expect?’ The cheek of it!
The office and the motorway, both were clogged up – one with bureaucratic red tape which said Dad (wanders back in) ‘because there’s something wrong What’s that, dear? with my username I can’t place an order’ or something, and the other Mum (exasperated) – more bloomin’ cones! They’ve been I’ve had a terrible day! digging up that road every day for a decade! Dad Mum (distracted by cooking) What’s that, dear? Dad I’ve had a terrible day! Mum
Mum (to Son)
Ah well, the Smith family name will prevail! You just carry on the hard work. Stick with it. It’ll all be all right in the end. What’s for tea and where are my slippers? (wanders off, presumably looking for slippers)
David enters (grumbles) Ah well, remember what your dad All right Mum? All right Dad? always says: the Smith family name
David (passes peas, a bit louder) I got the sack today. Mum. Mum The sack – what did you do? David Nuffink. The boss just came in and said something about new working directives from his boss and that for him to get his bonus we had to make more money – and the best way to do it was for him to sack someone. He said he picked me ‘cause he didn’t like my surname. Mum Oooh, I nearly forgot the gravy – pop the kettle on will you? So you got the sack did you? I told you to polish your shoes. But you wouldn’t listen. Dad What’s this about getting the sack? Mum It’s David, I told him to polish his shoes. Now he’s got the sack. David It wasn’t like that Mum – I was trying to say… Dad Now David, it’s nearly tea time – and you’ve got to remember the Smith family name will prevail. You just polish your shoes and get down the job centre tomorrow. We’ll be thinking of you.
Suffering Church Sunday Resources (ⅹ) Barnabas AID sept/ oct 2007
Tina (really quietly)
upset. And just because Grandpa said …and…he took my bag. He’d said on the name Smith will prevail – haven’t we got a role to play in that? the bus he liked my bag…
But Dad – how am I supposed to get there? Can’t you give me a lift? Dad
Mum (still not listening)
Son, I said I’d be thinking of you. What more do you want? (David stalks off, exasperated. Dad wanders out the room again. Tina, enters saying nothing, her coat is torn and she looks upset) Mum (notices Tina after a couple of moments) Tina, there you are, come and sit up at the table, will you? Dinner’s nearly burned – and your brother’s got the sack because of his shoes. And your father – well I don’t know what planet your father’s on. Really, this family! It’s a good thing the Smith family name will prevail… Tina I’ve had a terrible day today… Mum (interrupting) Tell me about it – have you seen my skirt? It’s like a post-modern Van Gogh, only he was on a bad day. Tina …Someone followed me from the bus stop….
Who else will care for us if our own family doesn’t? And future generations of Smiths won’t thank us if we don’t stand together now. Imagine how much worse it could be for them if we don’t care more for each other today.
….He said it was because my name’s Today, as many as one in ten people Smith - he must have seen it on my in the global Church live with bag - he said that was reason enough. persecution. Persecution like the sort encountered by the younger (Dad wanders back in) members of the Smith family, and much more besides. Tina He said Smiths are liars and cheats. Because they are called by the Name of Christ, they are targeted for He said we’re scum. unjust treatment, oppression and even physical violence, torture and Dad execution. What does he know? The Smith family name has stood for generations. We’ll prevail – you’ll see. Besides we’re all thinking of each other all the time, aren’t we? We all stand for the same things, don’t we? We wouldn’t be a family if we didn’t. Tina …Then can I have some money for the bus tomorrow? I think my pass was in my bag, and my purse. I’ve nothing left. He really frightened me, Mum.
Mum (distracted) You what? – David! Come back here, your dinner’s nearly ready. Tina ….He followed me and I didn’t know what to do….
Mum (beginning to get emotional)
Mum Don’t be so silly - Smiths always know what to do in any situation… Frank turn that bloomin’ computer off – it’s tea time.
Please, Tina, stop going on about it. It really upsets me to hear of all the horrible things happening in the world, it’s just too painful. I don’t like feeling sad. I’d just rather not know, thank you very much.
Of course, the global Church of Christ will never be overcome; but unless we care more for our brothers and sisters in Christ now, in areas where they are being oppressed, we could witness the Church being wiped out from entire regions. By standing together, caring for each other and providing for each other’s needs, we can make sure that the Church maintains a presence even in the darkest valley of persecution. And when we reach out to our hurting brothers and sisters, we are carrying out our God-given responsibility to care for everyone, especially those in the family of believers.
Tina (quietly) …have you seen my coat? Mum (fully distracted by loading up plates) I bet it isn’t as bad as my skirt. It might well have been ruined by that bloomin’ Candice child.
Come on now love – you’re all right. True your coat’s torn and goodness knows where you’ve left your bag – but you’ve still got your name. Everyone round here knows the Smith family name stands tall – always has, always will. And besides, I’ve been thinking about you all day.
Yeah, come on Tina, we’ve said we’ll be thinking about you, what more do you want? Just drop it now, love. David (coming back into the room) But Mum, Dad don’t we need to be doing more than just thinking of each other? We can’t just ignore each other’s problems because it makes us
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10
Suffering Church Sunday Resources sept/ oct 2007 Barnabas AID (ⅺ)
This prayer with the accompanying response form is available as an A5 size card for distribution to your congregation on Suffering Church Sunday. Please order as many free copies as you need from your national Barnabas Fund office or from the UK office (addresses below).
Prayer for the Suffering Church Heavenly Father, We thank You that by the sacrificial gift of Jesus we have been adopted as Your children, brothers and sisters in one family. We lift to You those in our family who today are suffering because they bear the Name of Your Son. Please protect them and keep them. Father, please pour out Your peace upon them, that they may be overwhelmed with the knowledge of Your love. May they remember that the sufferings in life are but temporary, and that glorious life with You awaits them in eternity. Lord God, help us to show our love and care for the hurting members of our Christian family. Let us never forget them. Help us to use the freedom and resources we have to encourage and aid those who are living with persecution today. In the name of your Son we pray, Amen
Your Response We/I would like to receive regular news and prayer information about the persecuted Church
Please find enclosed our/my gift of ________ for the persecuted Church to be used: where it is most needed
for Christians in Iraq
Name___________________________________________________________________________ (Rev/Mr/Mrs/Miss/Dr) Address: _________________________________________________________________________ Post code: _________________________________ Email: ________________________________ Tel: ______________________ Name of church/fellowship: _______________________________
UK: The Old Rectory, River Street, Pewsey, Wilts, SN9 5DB. T:08700 603900. E: email@example.com Australia: Postal Suite 107, 236 Hyperdome, Loganholme QLD 4129. T: (07) 3806 1076 E: firstname.lastname@example.org New Zealand: PO Box 17404, Karori, Wellington 6147. T: 04-476-2517. E: email@example.com
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” 1 John 3.23 (NIV)
USA: 6731 Curran St, McLean, VA 22101. T: (703) 288-1681. E: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.barnabasfund.org Suffering Church Sunday Resources (ⅻ) Barnabas AID sept/ oct 2007
Newsroom Mosul Christians killed A Islamic group calling itself the Islamic Emirate of Mosul (IEM) has launched an attack against Christians in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul. In a public statement on 5th July 2007 the IEM threatened they would kidnap or kill all Christians at Mosul University, whether students or staff, if they did not leave the campus within three days. The statement, posted on the streets of Mosul, also threatened to behead any Christians remaining in the city after the three days were up. Iraqi Christians know that this is no idle threat from the IEM. Already the Islamic group has killed seven Christians
in the city, from the al-Sa‘a, al-Yarmook and Hamdaniya districts. The threats could trigger a large wave of refugees fleeing the city, which has the highest proportion of Christians amongst Iraqi cities. With many thousands of Iraqi Christians already living as refugees in Syria and Jordan, as well as in other parts of northern Iraq, this would be a situation of grave concern. A sudden increase in numbers could be disastrous, putting grave pressure on the already stretched resources. Barnabas Fund is helping to feed Christian refugees in Syria and Jordan.
Iraqi Christian refugees
Indonesian Christians released early On 8th June Dr Rebekka Zakaria, Mrs Ratna Bangun and Mrs Eti Pangesti were given early release from their 3-year prison sentences, having served two years. The three women had been jailed for allowing Muslim children to attend their Christian children’s club.
Their early release is an answer to much prayer, and Rebekka, Ratna and Eti are now reunited with their families. During their time in prison, they openly witnessed to the other prisoners and the prison staff. It is reported that they “transformed” the prison, cleaning and scrubbing
the cells, working in the garden and painting a room for use as a church. Because of her criminal record Rebekka has lost her licence to practise as a doctor.
Case against pastors in Australia settled by mediation The religious “vilification” case against Pastors Daniel Scot and Danny Nalliah was settled on 22nd June after mediation. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal met with the two pastors and representatives of the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV), the organisation which accused Daniel and Danny, and Catch the Fire Ministries, following comments which were made by the pastors in a Christian meeting teaching on Islam. They had previously been found guilty and ordered to make public apologies and also promise never again to repeat similar
statements anywhere in Australia. The Supreme Court, which heard Daniel and Danny’s appeal against this decision, found that while the pastors had criticised some verses in the Qur’an they had also urged love for Muslims, not hate. Following the meeting a media release was issued which, among other things, stated that both parties affirmed and recognised the rights of each other, their communities and all persons “to adhere to and express their own religious beliefs” and “within the limits provided for by the law, to robustly debate religion, including the right to criticise the religious
belief of another, in a free, open and democratic society”. The long legal battle has cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars, and has caused a great deal of stress to both the men and their families. Death threats have been made against the pastors and their families. Furthermore, to add to Daniel Scot’s stress, in May the 19year-old nephew of his wife was abducted in Peshawar, Pakistan and held for nine days before being released.
sept/ oct 2007 Barnabas AID 7