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HOPE AND AID FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH www.barnabasfund.org

September/October 2010

Be on your guard: Preparing for Persecution Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11


Welcome from the Director

Contents

3 6

Project News Relief for hungry Christians in Africa

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

6 Poster 7 Introduction 8 Persecution in the New Testament

11 Sermon outline 12 Bible study 13 Testimony 14 Timeline 16 What is persecution?

21 Resources

23 26

Newsroom Converts to Christ in danger in Afghanistan

In Touch Send us your comments on Barnabas Aid

To guard the safety of Christians in hostile environments, names may have been changed or omitted. Thank you for your understanding. Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version®. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and obtain permission for stories and images used in this publication. Barnabas Fund apologises for any errors or omissions and will be grateful for any further information regarding copyright. © Barnabas Fund 2010

What price religious freedom? According to The Times, in April this year there was a riot in the Afghan town of Sistani, triggered by rumours that American marines had burnt a copy of the Qur’an. Peace was restored by the marines’ presenting a gift of ten Qur’ans and by their showing to the crowd a marine who had converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdullah. The riot turned to celebration. The following month a surge of public outrage against converts from Islam to Christianity convulsed Afghanistan. There were calls in parliament for all such apostates to be killed, in line with sharia (Islamic law). President Karzai expressed great concern about the existence of converts from Islam within his country. Neither Western governments nor their allies in Afghanistan have publicly condemned these threats against people who have chosen to leave the faith they were born in and to follow Christ. There are no calls to spare the lives of converts, even though they are threatened not only in Afghanistan but also in Iran, Saudi Arabia and increasingly in other countries. The call of the prophet Amos to “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24) goes largely unheeded. President Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have recently



BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

changed their vocabulary about religious liberty. No longer do they call for freedom of religion but merely speak about “freedom of worship”. Under Islamic law and in most Muslim-majority countries, non-Muslims, such as Christians, may meet and worship according to their own beliefs, but sharing of their faith and conversion from Islam are outlawed. Is this limited freedom all that the US government is now prepared to promote? This disgraceful retreat from the defence of human rights seems to have been prompted by a desire to appease Muslim feelings for the sake of political and military expediency. But Western democracies cannot oppose the regimes in Iran or North Korea if we ourselves think freedom of conscience not worth defending. It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.” We are already seeing freedom of speech gradually sinking under the rising tide of self-censorship, caused mainly, I believe, by fear of Islam. What would Franklin have said about this or about sacrificing religious liberty in the hope of avoiding Islamic hostility?

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo International Director


Project News These are the pages where we report how your gifts are transforming the lives of Christians who suffer discrimination or persecution because of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Gifts channelled through Barnabas bring aid to individuals, families, churches and ministries, changing lives and situations, giving hope for the future. We have space to mention only a small selection of many projects we have been able to support because of your gifts. Thank you for enabling these projects to get the help they need. Please pray as you read.

Famine Relief in Niger and Burundi The continent of Africa is afflicted by many famines that are barely reported in Western news media. This year has seen a particularly severe drought in Niger, a West African state that is largely Sahara desert. Niger has a Muslim population of at least 97%. In Central Africa, Burundi is also struggling with an ongoing famine in certain parts, including some Muslim-majority areas where Christians are particularly vulnerable. Barnabas has been helping with food aid for Christians in Niger since 2005. Recent grants for Niger total £64,860 (US$98,960; €77,860) which provided 1,161 families with 100kg of maize or millet and 50kg of rice, which should last each family two to three months. The cost per family was £55 (US$84; €66).

In Burundi we have been assisting hungry Christians in Muslim-majority areas since 2007. Our most recent grant of £13,090 (US$20,110; €15,640) provided 400 families with beans, maize, cassava flour and powdered milk. The benefits were more than just filling empty stomachs. The project leader wrote to Barnabas Fund that 324 children who had given up going to school are now back at their lessons. What is more, “The number of people who used to go to Tanzania and Rwanda looking for food has decreased. They are now settled and working in their fields.”

Project reference 38-568 Famine relief in Niger Project reference 67-681 Famine relief in Burundi

Food aid arrives by truck for Christians in

Burundi...

... and Niger

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Project News

Cuba: Bringing the Gospel to Old and Young, Urban and Rural The Church in Cuba is growing rapidly despite severe poverty and increasing persecution from the communist government. Barnabas is supporting 40 Cuban evangelists who are working to plant new churches. We provide £62 (US$95; €74) per person per month, which covers family living costs and ministry costs. Some of the evangelists are in urban situations, but many are serving in the little villages in the centre of the island that up until now have lacked churches or sound Christian teaching. One evangelist has a ministry aimed particularly at the elderly; he is discipling a group of 26 older people who have recently become Christians, and hopes to baptise a number of them soon. “I appreciate the Lord’s

calling on my life,” he writes, “and that, despite my age, He has allowed me to serve Him in ministry for the elderly, where 167 people attend: 63 men and 104 women.” By contrast, another evangelist writes, “In these past three months I have been working with a great number of youth in sports through the Third Christian Evangelistic Football Cup ‘Emmanuel’... I New believers in Cuba also work in evangelising sports players through the Sports Ministry.” Through this ministry the Lord has brought 40 people to faith, and four cell-groups have been Project reference planted “including a special one for the sports 93-824 players that have been saved”.

Kyrgyzstan: In Times of Conflict and in Times of Peace This Central Asian country hit the international headlines in June when largescale ethnic riots broke out in the south of the country and hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks fled from violence at the hands of Kyrgyz people. Christian pastors sprang into action, ignoring threats and hostility, trying to help the needy, especially their fellowbelievers. As the crisis developed, Christians began to be targeted for their faith, as well as for trying to help across the ethnic divide. Barnabas Fund sent an emergency first grant of £2,140 (US$3,000; €2,360) and stands ready to channel more as required.

themselves. It is an area of high unemployment, and it is extra difficult for those who have left Islam to find jobs. The first loan made was used for a cattle project employing three people. The business is thriving and has already begun to return money to the church, which has thus been able to give a second loan to another convert to start a small business with chickens and turkeys. Project reference 00-356 Small Business Start-up Fund

Project reference 00-345 Victims of Violence Fund Kyrgyzstan is a country where Barnabas has already been involved for many years, assisting the Christians in a variety of ways. For example, a grant of £3,264 (US$; €4,060) was used by a church as a revolving loan fund to help Christian converts from a Muslim background set up small businesses to support



Kazakhstan: Bringing Peace with God to Leprosy Patients Last year Barnabas gave £8,120 (US$12,390; €9,750) to print 5,000 copies each of three Christian books in the Kazakh language. Now we are receiving reports of how these titles are being effective for the Kingdom. A Christian nurse is using Billy Graham’s Peace with God to share the Gospel at the leprosy hospital where she works, and encourages other Christians nearby to do the same. There is no church for 100km in any direction. The same title was used Kazakh Christian by a young Christian literature strengthens family, all converts from Christians and Islam, who were visiting spreads the Gospel their Muslim relatives. The Muslims said the Christians had betrayed Islam and brought shame on the whole family by deciding to follow Christ. But the Christians testified about the Lord Jesus and their Muslim relatives accepted a copy of Peace with God. Another Christian writes, “We distribute the book How to Know God in our little book store, in personal discussions and during Christian conferences. It is a great help to Bible study groups at home who are preparing their sessions on the basis of this book.”

This cattle project provides a livelihood for three Christians in Kyrgyzstan

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

Project reference 00-360 Christian Literature Fund


Project News

Burma (Myanmar): Grateful to You and to Our Living God

A fishing boat costs £62 (US$95; €75) and a net costs £16 (US$25; €19). Our most recent grant provided 20 boats with nets.

Thank you so much for all your heart and help for our family. Words cannot express how grateful we are to you and to our living God. Even though we have nothing and hopeless situation but through you God has provided our daily bread and the house where we stay.

Barnabas continues to assist with relief and development projects for Christians in the wake of the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis. Here we share some thank you letters from some of those who have been helped in the Irrawaddy delta area.

A gift of 100 ducks for one family costs £62 (US$95; €75), and we have helped 70 families in this way. Each 2-month-old duck costs 62 pence (95 US cents; 75 Euro cents).

Duck-rearing enables this family to support themselves, and a new house keeps them dry

Project reference 75-745

By the grace of God, He has provided us a boat and fishing net by using you. Thank you so much. May the good Lord bless you more and more.

Emergency Aid for Afghan Christian Refugees At the end of May, Afghan TV showed footage of Afghan Christians, including baptisms. The country was rocked by calls for the death of converts from Islam, some coming from student protestors, some even from legislators within parliament. Door-to-door searches began, and a number of Christians were arrested. Dozens of Afghan Christians fled their homeland. Barnabas has sent a grant of £5,780 (US$8,820; €6,920) to help some of these Afghan refugees, who have had to seek safety in other countries. It will pay for rent, food, clothes, medical and other needs. All Afghan Christians are converts from Islam. Project reference 01-901

“Light of the world” says the blue and white sign on this fishing boat, provided to a Christian fisherman who lost his boat in Cyclone Nargis

Pakistan: Medical Help and Literacy for Needy Christian Women A grant of £5,000 (US$7,630; €6,000) will help support a church-run medical project for Christian women in Pakistan for one year. A further grant of £1,300 (US$2,380; €1,560) has also been sent to purchase an ultra-sound machine.

works as a tailor, said that now she could write down all the measurements she made during her work, instead of having to remember them in her head. Project reference 41-697

The main focus of the project is health awareness. Two female doctors visit each Christian community weekly to discuss women’s health issues, give check-ups and prescribe medication. The women who benefit are mostly too poor to get healthcare from any other source. A literacy programme has recently been added to the project. One woman said she had never been to school, but after learning to read through the literacy classes she has started to read her Bible. Another, who

Health education class BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010




BE ON YOUR GUARD

SUFFERING CHURCH SUNDAY 2010 – 2011

Preparing for Persecution DATE VENUE

TIME


Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11 In many parts of the non-Western world, Christians find that persecution is part of their regular experience. Whether this takes the form of pressure or discrimination, harassment or violence, they must always be prepared for it. But Christians in the West often suppose that they do not – and will never – suffer persecution for their faith, and so they do not need to be ready.

Preparing for Persecution But now the Western churches are facing several serious challenges: from a belligerent and shrill secularism, from the growth of Islamism (political Islam), and from legislation that threatens our basic freedoms. It is more and more evident that, like our brothers and sisters elsewhere, we must be ready to suffer for our faith.

This year’s Suffering Church Sunday resources focus in various ways on the need to prepare for persecution. You may like to choose a Sunday in November (or another month in the next year if this is better for your church calendar) and use the material in the following pages for a special service or meeting on this theme. As you read, pray that the Lord will help you and your church to be on your guard against the perils that confront us.

Contents

8 11 12 13

Persecution in the New Testament What do the Lord and His apostles say about the sufferings of His followers?

Sermon outline on John 15:18 – 16:4 “If the world hates you...”

Bible study on John 15:18 – 16:4 For use in home groups or personal Bible study

Testimony “We rejoiced in the Lord”: faith strengthened in Orissa in the face of hatred

14 16 21

Persecution timeline Key moments in the history of anti-Christian persecution

What is persecution? How and where do Christians suffer for their faith, and who is responsible?

Resources for your service Tithing your tithe for the persecuted churches

To order The resources listed on pages 21 and 22 are available free of charge from your national Barnabas Fund office (addresses on back cover) or from our website, www.barnabasfund.org/scs. BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010




Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Persecution in the New Testament

Persecution in the New Testament “‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”(Matthew 5:10-12) “The Gospel cannot be published without instantly driving the world to rage.” (John Calvin, commenting on John 15:18) “As the love of God is inseparable from faith, so is the hatred of God from unbelief.” (John Wesley, commenting on John 15:23) Christians have suffered for their faith from the first days of the Church. The New Testament describes the varied and distressing persecutions endured by many of Jesus’ early disciples. But it does much more than tell their story. It also shows how the churches’ afflictions are a means of God’s blessing, and calls its readers to respond rightly to their own suffering. In this way it provides encouragement and guidance for God’s persecuted people in every generation.

The range of persecution

Stephen, one of the leaders of the first church in Jerusalem, was stoned to death 

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The early Christians’ experience of persecution is described in many parts of the New Testament. Jesus Himself is persecuted: He is unjustly accused and convicted, suffers mockery and violence, and is executed by the agonising method of crucifixion (Mark 14:43 – 15:37). The first church, in Jerusalem, is scattered by a


Persecution in the New Testament

In Paul’s list of his painful sufferings for Christ, he includes imprisonment, flogging, beating and stoning (2 Corinthians 11:2325). Hebrews is written to Christians whose property has been seized (Hebrews 10:34), and the readers of 1 Peter have to bear slander and insults (1 Peter 2:12; 4:3-4). The churches of Revelation are enduring hardships that include being put in prison and even killed. (Revelation 2:9-10, 13; cf. 6:9-11) The persecutions are inflicted by Jews and Gentiles (Acts 14:1-5), by angry mobs and hostile rulers (Acts 16:19-24), by former friends (Acts 9:20-30) and new enemies (Acts 19:23-27). Jesus predicts that even family members will deliver each other to death (Matthew 10:21). Persecution can take the form of unofficial social pressure, as in 1 Peter, or legal censure and punishment, as in Revelation.

The reasons for persecution The reasons for anti-Christian persecution are set out only briefly in the New Testament, and vary according to the victims and the agents. In the Gospels the Jewish leaders see Jesus as a threat to their nation (John 12:48), condemn Him for alleged blasphemy (Matthew 26:65-66), and accuse Him before Pilate of political subversion (Luke 23:1-2). In Acts, the successful mission of the Jerusalem church arouses the jealousy of the chief priests (Acts 5:12-18), and Stephen provokes the council to fury by accusing them of disobedience to God. (Acts 7:51-54) Paul is persecuted by other Jews because he does not require his Gentile converts to be circumcised (Galatians 5:11). In Acts, they accuse him of teaching against their people, law and temple (Acts 21:28), and the civil authorities in some of the cities where he preaches regard him and his friends as agents of disorder and perhaps rebellion, and treat them accordingly (Acts 17:6-9). In Revelation the Roman state demands the worship and service that is due only to God, and ruthlessly attacks Christians for their refusal to give it. (Revelation 13)

The meaning of persecution Several of the New Testament writers look behind the human causes of persecution to draw out its significance for believers. The book of Revelation attributes the churches’ afflictions to the devil (Revelation 2:10). But they happen only because God allows them to happen; He also sets a limit on them and uses them to work out His plans. (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4; 1 Peter 5:10; Acts 11:19-21) In the Gospels Jesus predicts persecution for His followers (Mark 13:9), and James seems to take for granted that his readers will encounter various trials (James 1:2). Second Timothy makes the bold claim that everyone who wants to live a godly Christian life will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12), and 1 Peter tells its readers not to be surprised at their fiery ordeal as though it were something strange (1 Peter 4:12). Paul sees suffering for Christ as part of the calling of believers. (Philippians 1:28-30) But although persecution is inevitable for Christians, it is also a means of blessing for those who suffer it. The persecution of Jesus’ disciples is linked in the Gospels with the labour pains of the age to come (Matthew 24:4-12), and those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are promised the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10). Paul affirms that those who suffer with Christ will also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:17) Nor is such blessing only for the future: suffering produces perseverance, character and hope in the present, so that believers can even rejoice in it (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-3). And the blessing may pass from those who are persecuted to their brothers and sisters in Christ: it enables Christians to comfort other believers with the comfort they have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), and Paul’s afflictions are presented as his sharing in Christ’s sufferings for the sake of the Church. (Colossians 1:24)

The responses to persecution Various responses to persecution are found in the New Testament, including flight, appealing to the authorities for protection,

The Roman state attacked the early Church for refusing to give it the worship and service due to God

and faithful endurance. Different circumstances may call for different reactions, even from the same person. Thus in Acts Paul escapes from Damascus when his life is endangered (Acts 9:23-25; cp. 2 Corinthians 11:32-33), reflecting the Gospel instruction to Jesus’ disciples to flee when they encounter persecution (Matthew 10:23). But on another occasion he makes use of his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to the emperor to avoid being handed over to his enemies (Acts 25:11). And he also bears witness to his endurance of persecution for the sake of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:8-12; 6:4-10; 11:23-25), a response required elsewhere from all God’s people. (Revelation 13:10)

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

great persecution (Acts 8:1b-3), and two of its leaders are killed. (Acts 7:54 – 8:1; 12:1-2)

However, disciples are not left alone to face their enemies; Jesus will provide them with words and wisdom to defend themselves (Luke 21:12-15). No-one can snatch them out of His or His Father’s hand (John 10:28-29), and provided they stand firm to the end they will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) Some would argue that in the Old Testament the physical defence of the community by military means was permitted; they would go on to suggest that it could therefore be permitted in certain circumstances today. BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010




Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Persecution in the New Testament

Conclusion The range of anti-Christian persecution, and the reasons for it, are as varied today as in New Testament times, and many of the sufferings experienced by the first Christians find echoes in those of the 21st century Church. But the significance of persecution, and the response that is required from God’s people, are just the same. Human and demonic forces continue to wage war against the saints, and suffering is the unavoidable result. But for those who remain faithful to Christ, persecution becomes a channel of God’s rich blessing, both now and in eternity.

Background to New Testament teaching on persecution During the mid-2nd century BC, the nation of Israel was part of the Seleucid Empire. In the 160s BC the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to unite his kingdom, including his Jewish subjects, by imposing Greek culture on them all. He forbade Jewish practices such as circumcision and demanded that everyone offer sacrifices to pagan gods, on pain of death for disobedience. Some Jews chose to suffer and die rather than break God’s law. They believed that the shedding of their blood would bring blessing to Israel, and that they would be rewarded by God in the age to come. Others submitted to the king’s edicts, but some of these were put to death by zealous Jews for their disobedience to God. The king’s actions eventually led to a successful revolt against his authority. The Roman rulers of Israel (from 63 BC) were more tolerant of Jewish religious practices. But many of them despised the Jews for their strange customs, separation from others and contempt for Roman gods, and they feared the possibility of Jewish rebellion against Rome. Again, some Jews were willing to co-operate with their pagan masters, and their leaders had sacrifices made to God on the emperor’s behalf.

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An ancient gate in the old city of Damascus. Paul fled from persecution through a window in the city wall

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Others, however, preferred to die rather than to call the emperor “Lord”, and they attempted to establish the nation’s independence under the rule of God alone, sometimes by violence. Some of them murdered collaborators or others whom they considered were compromising Israel’s distinctiveness as God’s people. This background helps to illuminate the early Christians’ view of their own persecutions. Jewish believers in Jesus were also accused by other Jews of disloyalty to God and to His people, and as a result many of them had to endure pressure or even violence. The Roman authorities suspected that Christians were disruptive and rebellious because their common life was so different and they proclaimed “another king, one called Jesus”. (Acts 17:7) Many Christians faced the same threefold choice as their Jewish forebears and contemporaries: first, to submit to their pagan rulers at the cost of disobeying God; secondly, to rise up against them in violent resistance; or thirdly, to accept persecution and (if necessary) even death at their hands. The New Testament forbids the first two options and commends the third, encouraging God’s people to endure persecution in the knowledge that they will receive God’s blessing in return, in the present and the future.


Sermon outline

John 15:18 – 16:4

The following sermon outline can be used at a Suffering Church Sunday service or meeting. We suggest that you follow the basic structure, and brief notes are included to aid your study and preparation. Various stories of persecution may be found on pages 16-20, and some helpful commentaries are recommended on the next page. INTRODUCTION In today’s world hatred of Christ’s disciples is widespread and severe. Discrimination, harassment and persecution blight the lives of our brothers and sisters in many parts of the world. Even in some Western countries, such as the UK, Christians face increasing hostility to their faith and find themselves under pressure.

sometimes refers to the whole created order, or to the human world in a neutral sense. Here, however, it means humanity in its fallenness and darkness, which are expressed in an ideology and practice that

THE RESPONSE TO HATRED (15:26-27) When Jesus sends the Spirit of truth to His disciples from the Father, His role will be to bear witness to Jesus. And the disciples are to respond to the world’s hatred in the same way, by bearing witness to what they know about Jesus.

The readiness for hatred (16:1-4)

The hatred that Christians experience raises many issues, both for those who suffer it directly and for those who support and pray for them. Why does it happen? How should we respond to it? And does it call our faith into question?

Jesus is giving this teaching to the disciples so that they will not abandon their faith. The severe persecution that they suffer, at the hands of a world that knows neither Jesus nor the Father, may tempt them to do so. But when it happens, they can now remember that Jesus warned them in advance, and their faith in Him will be strengthened and not weakened.

But anti-Christian hatred is Anti-Christian hatred is a painful reality for many of nothing new. These same our brothers and sisters today issues have confronted believers since New Testament times, and some sections of the exclude the true God. This world hates Bible are specifically addressed to Jesus’ disciples because it has first hated Christians facing persecution. Him, and because they do not belong to it but to Him. The world will respond to them This passage from John’s Gospel is part of Jesus’ farewell address to His first disciples, as it responded to Him, because they bear His Name, and because it does not know which is intended to prepare them for the challenges they will face after His departure. His Father.

CONCLUSION

The purpose of these verses is to explain why the world hates them, to show them how to respond, and to protect them against falling away when persecution comes.

THE REASONS FOR HATRED (15:18-25) 1. The world hates Jesus (15:18-21). In the New Testament the word “world”

2. The world hates the Father (15:22-25). Whoever hates Jesus also hates His Father. If Jesus had not spoken His word to the world or performed mighty works among them, their rejection of God would not put them in the wrong. But now their hostility to Jesus and the Father are inexcusable; they have hated Them without reason, so fulfilling an Old Testament scripture. (Psalm 69:4)

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

If the World Hates You...

This passage assumes that Christians should not expect the world always to regard them kindly – indeed, that they are to expect the world to be their enemy. But for those Christians who do face hatred, this passage makes sense of their sufferings, in terms of the hostility of the world towards Jesus and His Father. It outlines the response required of them, to bear witness to Jesus with the help of the Spirit. And it provides a necessary preparation for them, by giving notice of what Jesus’ disciples can expect to undergo because of His Name. In all these ways it helps them not only to prepare for persecution, but also to endure it. Turn to page 13 to read the story of a young Christian woman from India, Swaroopa, and her family, whose faith in the Lord was strengthened and not weakened by her experience of anti-Christian hatred. BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

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Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Bible study

Facing Hostility for Christ John 15:18 – 16:4

This study looks at the same passage as the sermon outline (p11). It can be used before or after hearing the sermon, or separately. If it is used without the sermon, it may be helpful for the group leader to read through the sermon outline beforehand. The section at the end entitled “Digging deeper” is intended for those who would like to explore the passage in more depth and in its wider context. INTRODUCTION

READ JOHN 15:26-27

1. Have you ever experienced hatred or discrimination because of your faith in Christ, and if so, how did it feel? How do you react to stories of anti-Christian hostility?

7. How are Jesus’ disciples to respond to the world’s hatred? What help will they have from Him in doing this?

2. When Christians suffer persecution, what questions does this raise for us? How might we want to respond to such hostility?

READ JOHN 15:18-21 3. What do you think “the world” means in verse 18? What reasons are given in these verses for its hatred of Jesus’ disciples? 4. How should we live as those who do not belong to the world? What twofold response should we expect?

READ JOHN 15:22-25 5. How do these verses further explain the hostility experienced by Christians? Why is the world to blame for its attitude to Jesus and the Father? 6. Can you think of reasons why some people hate Jesus and the Father? (For ideas, look up Luke 6:22-23; 14:11-14; 16:13; John 3:20; 7:7; 12:25.) How does it help us to know that the world hates us because it hates Them?

8. When might we have to testify about Jesus because of the world’s hostility? And in what ways could we do this?

Read John 16:1-4 9. According to these verses, why might the disciples “go astray”, and what do you think it might mean to do this? How will Jesus’ teaching help them not to do so? 10. Can you think of any kinds of persecution today that resemble those described in verse 2? Who might be responsible for them? What might be their motives?

CONCLUSION 11. What forms of hostility do Christians suffer in your country? Do you think that you need to be “preparing for persecution”, and if so why? 12. Share one new perspective that this passage has given you on facing hostility for Christ, or one action that you will now take in response.

DIGGING DEEPER 13. Look up some other references to “the world” in John’s Gospel (e.g. 1:910; 3:16-17; 12:25, 31; 17:6-19; 18:36). How might these relate to the teaching of this passage about the world’s hatred for Jesus’ disciples? 14. Consider how Jesus’ words and works in this Gospel cause others to be hostile (see e.g. 5:1-18; 6:35-71; 9:1334; 10:22-39). How do these passages illuminate verses 22-25 of chapter 15? 15. What do you think are some of the key truths about Jesus to which His disciples are called to testify? See (e.g.) John 1:6-8, 34; 8:12-14; 18:37. 16. Look at some of the ways in which Christians suffer persecution in the New Testament. (See above, pp8-10.) What parallels to these are there in the contemporary world?

FURTHER READING For further explanation of this passage, please see the following: C. K. Barrett, The Gospel according to St John, 2nd edition. London: SPCK, 1978, pp478-485 George R. Beasley-Murray, John (Word Biblical Commentary), 2nd edition. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999, pp275-278

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Testimony

Consoled in Suffering for Christ At Christmas 2007 Hindu extremists launched a series of violent and premeditated attacks on Christians in Orissa State, India. Some 730 homes were destroyed, and 95 churches were razed to the ground. Eight months later the violence was renewed, leading to the deaths of at least 20 Christians. Thousands were injured, and tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes. The Christians were told, “Come back as Hindu or don’t come back at all!” One of the families caught up in the second outbreak of violence was that of Swaroopa Naik, whose story is told below.

Escape in the jungle Swaroopa was brought up in a Christian home with her brother and two sisters. Her father, Sunil, is a farmer. On Monday 25 August 2008 the family was busy with the housework as usual while Swaroopa was having a bath. Suddenly she heard terrible noises outside, and running out of the house she saw her family rushing into the forest. Swaroopa ran too and was chased by the attackers, but she was quick enough to escape them. Swaroopa eventually found her parents in the jungle. Taking shelter under a tree, they heard the dreadful sound of homes being

destroyed and saw a plume of smoke rising into the sky. But Swaroopa says, “Both of my parents were consoled by the very thought that this tragic attack has been due to the fact that we believe in Jesus Christ and are Christians. ‘“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”’ (Matthew 5:10)” After a while the family heard the attackers coming along the path they themselves had taken, so they ran and hid themselves in the bush. The sunny weather changed to cloudy skies, and they prayed that the Lord would send rain. And then – a heavy downpour! The pursuers called off the chase and went back the way they came. Swaroopa and her parents praised God.

The Lord who provides When the rain stopped the family went back to their village. There they found that their house had been reduced to a pile of ashes and debris. No-one in the village would take them in for the night, so they returned to the jungle to shelter under the trees. Early next day they set off to escape the pursuing assailants. In the evening Swaroopa and her family reached Phulbani, a large township, where they felt safe enough to stay for two weeks. After this they moved on to Cuttack, the

largest city in Orissa, where they stayed with a family member. After the anti-Christian violence had subsided, Swaroopa’s parents were able to return to their village to visit what was left of their house. They learned from their pastor about a ministry (supported by Barnabas Fund) that offers vocational training to young people displaced from Orissa by the violence. This is designed to equip them to return to the region later, not only to live there, but also to make a positive contribution to the community and to witness for Christ.

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Swaroopa (second left) and other girls displaced from Orissa by anti-Christian violence but now training to be nurses and midwives

Swaroopa obtained a college place to study nursing and midwifery and is about to complete her first year of training. She writes, “We thanked and rejoiced in the Lord for having miraculously saved our lives and now for providing me with an opportunity to become a nurse. The Lord is really ‘Jehovah Jirah’ [the LORD who provides].”

This year Barnabas Fund has been supporting 27 girls on three different vocational courses. Swaroopa and the others training to be nurses and midwives will be continuing their studies for another three years, with continuing help from Barnabas. Project reference 21-723 BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

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Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Timeline

Timeline of Anti-Ch 35

Stephen stoned to death after being tried by Jewish court. (Acts 7:54-60)

248

The Decian Persecution – beginning of mass persecution of Christians initiated by Emperor Decius throughout the Roman Empire. All citizens had to prove that they had performed pagan sacrifices and faced punishment of imprisonment or Early Christian symbols execution if they carved on a stone refused.

64

570

Birth of Muhammad, who by 631 rules most of the Arabian Peninsula.

600s

500

AD Nero launches persecution of Christians after blaming them for the Great Fire of Rome.

31 3 303 14

Rise of Islam

Early Christian History

341

Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius issue the Edict of Milan that legalises Christianity across the whole Empire.

Zoroastrian Shapur II orders the massacre of all Christians in Persia.

391

1370

Christianity becomes the state religion of Rome under Theodosius I

23 February – The “Great Persecution” begins. Edicts call for church buildings to be destroyed, sacred writings burned, Christians to lose civil rights, clergy to be imprisoned and forced to sacrifice and (in 304) all to perform pagan sacrifices on pain of death.

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

10 Rise to power of Timur (Timurlane) in Central Asia. Christianity in the region is wiped out and millions of ruler of Central Christians killed. Timur, Asia in the 14th century

1453

1715

Fall of Constantinople and subjugation of Christians as dhimmis in the Ottoman Empire.

China: The Kangxi Emperor forbids missionaries from entering China.

1898


Timeline

Spread of Christianity new challenges

1614

Japan: Emperor Tokugawa Ieyasu expels all Christian missionaries and orders the execution of converts.

The Moder Era rise of state persecution

1828

Rapid Arab conquests: Damascus (634), Jerusalem (638), Carthage (697). These lead to the decline of Christianity in the Middle East and its complete extinction in North Africa, through soft and hard coercion.

00

Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar

1500

1800s 1917

Queen Ranavalona I (reigned 1828–1861) issued a royal edict prohibiting the practice of Christianity in Madagascar. Anyone found possessing a Bible was executed, often using particularly brutal and cruel methods. Some estimates say that up to 150,000 Madagascan Christians were murdered.

Indian subcontinent: Huge growth in Christianity causes angry backlash from Muslims and Hindus.

1915

Armenian Genocide: Massacre of up to 1,500,000 Armenian and Assyrian Christians by Ottoman Turks. This was the single worst year in some decades of antiChristian violence in the Ottoman Empire.

Russian Revolution: Oppressive anti-Christian policies in the 1920s and 30s, as the militantly atheist Soviet Union aims to wipe out any Christian presence within its borders. Tens of thousands of churches destroyed, millions of Christians imprisoned and killed, thousands of clergy executed. Restrictions on worship and aggressive church closures continue into the later 20th century, particularly under Khrushchev (1955-1964).

China: Start of the Boxer rebellion, a nationalistic uprising against the perceived influence of foreigners, leading to the murder of thousands of Chinese converts to Christianity and the targeting of missionaries.

2000

19832005

1979

Iranian revolution: Establishes strict Islamic state under sharia, oppressing Christians through closure of churches and arrest, torture and sometimes murder of converts from Islam.

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

hristian Persecution

A forced labour camp in the Soviet Union

War in Southern Sudan: Attempts by Islamic Arab government in the North of Sudan to enforce sharia law on the South starts a war that leads to two million deaths in the mainly Christian and animist South of the country. BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

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Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

What is persecution?

What is Persecution? Persecution. It’s a word most Christians know. We read it in the Bible, and in Christian books and magazines. We hear it from preachers, and from Christian leaders in the media. We know it has to do with people being made to suffer by others, and that many Christians experience it. But what exactly is this “persecution” that we hear about? What forms does it take, who is responsible for it, and in what contexts does it take place? It is difficult to classify the many kinds of persecution. Whatever categories we use, many incidents will fit in more than one box. But three helpful ways of dividing them up are by form, context and source.

Forms of persecution Anti-Christian persecution takes many forms, and it is practically impossible to produce an exhaustive list. But the following are seven of the most common and serious. Violence. Physical attacks on Christians and Christian property are all too common in many countries. Homes and churches may be destroyed by angry mobs, and whole Christian communities driven by force from their villages. Individuals are raped or kidnapped, beaten up or thrown into prison, and some are murdered or even officially executed because of their faith. This violence is not only distressing and destructive at the time for those who suffer it; it also leaves a legacy of fear and insecurity that can undermine the assurance and threaten the ministry of local Christians. Inadequate education. Where Christians are very poor, parents may be unable to afford fees for their children’s schooling. 16

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Two women survey the damage in the Christian village of Dogo Nahawa in March 2010 In Nigeria, horrific violence and massacres struck the town of Jos in January and March 2010. Only the Lord knows how many of His people were killed. In the early hours of Sunday 7 March, men from the Muslim Fulani tribe, armed with swords and machetes, arrived in three mainly Christian villages south of Jos. The villagers were woken by the terrifying sound of gunshots; the noise was so loud that frightened residents ran out of their houses on to the streets, where the attackers were waiting for them. All the churches in Dogo Nahawa were burned and many homes were torched. The day after the attacks, dozens of bodies were buried in a mass grave as Christians looked on, singing hymns to Jesus.

Without an education the children, when they grow up, can get only very low-paid jobs, and so a vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy continues through the generations. In Muslim-majority contexts Christian children may be able to attend government-run schools, but Islam is often strongly promoted in such schools and they are likely to face hostility from the teachers and other pupils. They may even be marked down in their exams or denied university places simply because they are Christians.

In the very poor Chin region of Burma are (Myanmar), Christians as young as 11 offer lured away from their parents by the of a good education. Instead, they find their themselves in a Buddhist monastery, heads shaved, forced to train as novice again. monks. Some never see their parents

Christian children are extremely vulnerable in Burma


What is persecution?

Deprivation of basic needs. Christians suffer the same as anyone else when food and water are in short supply, or when disease ravages their communities. But they can suffer more in a context of anti-Christian discrimination. This can plunge them in to acute poverty or deny them access to the essentials of life. They may be deprived of their provisions or displaced from their homes and homelands, forced to flee with little or nothing. And when disaster strikes an area where they are a despised minority, they may find themselves left out in the distribution of aid.

“We left everything behind us. We took only our souls,” said Ni’ma Noail (50), a civil servant in Iraq who had to abandon his home when Sunni Muslim extremists turned to threats and violence in order to purge Mosul of Christians. Taking only what they could carry and leaving most of their possessions behind, Christians fled from their communities, their jobs, friends and church. Leaving jobs means they can no longer work and earn money, at least not in the short term. Without money, they cannot buy food or other basic needs.

Lack of resources. Legal restrictions are often imposed on the building, extension and repair of Christian meeting-places. Where Christians are despised and discriminated against, it can be impossible to find anyone to rent them a place to meet. This forces congregations to squeeze into private homes, which may be very small if the Christian community is poor. This makes ministry activities difficult. Furthermore, in some parts of the world it is effectively illegal to meet for worship

In Pakistan, as many as 40% of Pakistani Christians work as “sweepers”, cleaning the streets and sewers. Arshad Wicky and his three children live in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. His parents could not afford to send him to school and because of this he found it difficult to get a decently paid job. If work was available, it was often the lowest paid and most dangerous. Some days he could not get work at all. in a private home. In some countries it is also forbidden to own a Bible or to read or hand out Christian literature, and sometimes Christians have no means of accessing suitable materials anyway. The growth of believers in the knowledge and understanding of their Christian faith can be seriously hindered. Attacks on leaders. In many places Christian pastors, evangelists and church planters face acute challenges in their discipleship and ministry. Their churches may be too poor to support them at more than a basic level, and they can lack even the most basic training and resources, leaving those they lead vulnerable to falling away. They are often targets of violence from those who resent their preaching of the Gospel and gaining of converts, or simply because, as leaders, they represent the Body of Christ.

Ravi Murmu, a Christian evangelist in India, was murdered on 2 May 2010. When asked how the family was coping with the murder, Ravi’s brother (also an evangelist) replied, “The peace of God still reigns in this house and in this family.”

Since the death of his wife, Arshad Wicky is the sole breadwinner for his family They may be thrown into jail for sharing their faith, and even where this is not illegal, they cannot rely on the authorities to protect them or their freedom of speech. Converts to Christianity in Iran are regularly harassed by the authorities; very often, they are imprisoned for extended periods of time. Sometime they are mysteriously murdered. In 2009, two young Christian women were arrested and detained for 259 days. They suffered ill health in prison, but held firm to their faith in the Lord Jesus and were released in November 2009. All charges against them were dropped by May 2010.

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Poor employment. Christians can suffer serious discrimination in the jobs market and have very restricted career choices. Many find it hard to get work at all, or have to take the lowliest and worst-paid employment. Even well-educated Christians may find certain careers closed to them, or cannot advance to the more senior positions. This treatment attaches a social stigma to many Christian communities, reducing their self-respect and dignity and putting pressure on their faith.

Persecution of converts. Those who turn to Christ from other religions, especially from Islam, can be the most vulnerable of all Christians to persecution. Their decision often arouses strong opposition and hostility, which can rapidly lead to ill-treatment of many kinds. Islamic sharia law requires the death penalty for men who choose to leave Islam (and for women too according to some versions of sharia). Although governments rarely carry

In parts of Uzbekistan, the Bible is ban ned, and so believers often have to use Bibles and other Christian literatur e that have been smuggled into the country. But the authorities often raid worship services and private gatherings, carrying out searches and seizing any Christian literature they can find, leaving the Christians without their Bibles. In May 2010, Tashkent City Church of Christ, one of the larg est and most active churches in the Uzbek capital, was raided by several government agencies during morning worship. Christian literature was con fiscated, and the church was officially sealed by the police. A Christian from an unregistered church in Tashkent asked, “If they do that to the Church of Christ [a legally registered church] , what will become of the rest of us?”

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Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

What is persecution? out this sentence, it is normal for apostates from Islam to face serious harassment and aggression, sometimes ending in death. They are also cut off from their former friends and networks, leaving them isolated and without support.

Contexts of persecution Although persecution can occur in any setting, some forms are particularly likely in certain kinds of society. Muslimmajority countries, and those with aggressively secular regimes, are especially hard places for Christians to live, worship and witness, but Western and other contexts may provide fertile soil for persecution of other sorts. Muslim-majority contexts. In traditional Islamic teaching Christians (and Jews) are known as dhimmi, a word that suggests inferiority and submission. In most Muslim countries today Christians are given a lower status than Muslims, either officially or unofficially. This is worked out in various ways according to the degree of control exercised by the Muslim majority. It ranges from discrimination in education, jobs and business, through restrictions on religious and other freedoms, to prohibition of any kind of Christian practice. The worldwide resurgence of Islam and its increased political power is intensifying the pressure on the churches in many places, notably the Middle East and Africa. Secular contexts. Governments that regard any religion as a threat to their authority seek to regulate it strictly, or even to ban it altogether. Meeting for worship, constructing or repairing church buildings, and printing or distributing Christian literature may all be severely restricted. Many regimes require churches to register with them, control the

activities of those that do register, and harass those that refuse. Some secular states, such as North Korea and Eritrea, are notorious for the brutal treatment meted out to Christians imprisoned for their faith. Western contexts. Although the intensity of persecution suffered by Christians in the West is generally much less than in other parts of the world, the pressure on them has grown significantly in recent years. Aggressive secularism and radical Islam are both seeking to weaken the influence of Christianity, while a number of well intentioned but deeply flawed new laws are driving it out of public life into a purely personal sphere. (Please see the booklet enclosed with this edition of Barnabas Aid for further information on the marginalising of Christians in the UK in particular.) In July 2010, there were calls from Afghan media and politicians for the execution of converts from Islam, in line with Islamic sharia law, leaving Afghan believers – all converts from Islam – living in fear.

Other contexts. In some Hindu- and Buddhist-majority countries, such as India and Sri Lanka, Christians suffer similar discrimination and harassment as in Muslim nations, as well as violent attacks. Secular regimes such as the military junta in Burma, may use the majority faith as an ally in the oppression of their Christian community. Other countries, for example Sudan and Nigeria, are divided between Christian- and Muslim-majority areas, leading to tensions and violence, and sometimes civil war. And Christians are likely to be affected with everyone else by the

If arrested, Christians in Eritrea are often held in metal shipping containers, which can become baking hot during the day and freezing cold at night. On 23 April 2010, a young Christian woman who had been imprisoned for two years tragically succumbed to malaria and severe anaemia – it is reported that “she was offered freedom and medical care in exchange for abandoning her Christian faith”. 18

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

In the UK, Immanuel House of Worship Church in Walthamstow, near London, received a noise abatement notice following a complaint from just one Muslim neighbour, living next door to the church. An environmental health enforcement officer told the pastor that the church had to keep the noise down so as not to offend Muslims living in the area. He said, “This is a Muslim borough; you have to tread carefully.” In May 2009, the church won an appeal to have the notice amended.

Christians in Laos face harassment and per

Christians are often imprisoned in Eritrea in metal shipping containers similar to these

In January 2010, 48 Christians, including women and children, were forced out of their homes in Katin village in the Saravan province of Laos when a group of 100 officials raided a


What is persecution?

Sources of persecution In most countries anti-Christian persecution does not arise from only one source. It is usually the result of a whole society’s basic suspicion or hostility towards the Christian faith and those who practise it, and so it finds expression through all the fundamental structures of that society: family, community, religion and government. Family. In cultures where family ties are fairly loose, persecution from relatives may amount “only” to criticism and mockery. But

where such ties are much stronger, and loyalty to one’s family is a major part of life, those who leave the family’s religion to follow Christ will experience much more intense pressure. They are perceived to have shamed the family, and they may be exposed to emotional blackmail, threats and ostracism to persuade them to abandon their Christian faith. They may even be killed as a way of restoring the family’s honour. Community. A society that is hostile to Christianity will regard Christians as a harmful influence and will try to limit their participation in community life. For this reason Christians are treated as inferior and unfit for certain privileges and responsibilities, and are unjustly accused by individuals or the media of crimes against society. Communities may take the law into their own hands, and punish Christian individuals or whole Christian communities, sometimes with extreme violence.

In September 2009, Bangladeshi mother, Khainur told her husband that she had converted to Christianity. Enraged, he tied up his wife and his daughter Arifa, who had also become a Christian, and brutally beat them in front of the younger daughters. He also burned a copy of the Bible, threatening to give them “similar treatment”. Arifa says, “We pray regularly that one day my father might find the love of Christ. I forgive him even if he beat me like a dog.”

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

destructive policies of corrupt governments, as in Zimbabwe, especially Christians who speak out for justice.

Christian businesses were looted and burned in Farshoot in November 2009 (Source: AINA, www.aina.org)

rsecution from the authorities Sunday morning worship service. With guns drawn, the officials seized all the Christians’ personal belongings and told them that they would be allowed to return to their village only if they abandoned their Christian beliefs.

In November 2009, a Muslim mob in Egypt attacked Christians and Christian property in Farshoot and neighbouring villages, forcing Christians to seek refuge indoors. Christian-owned shops and businesses were looted, vandalised and burnt, cars were attacked and some Christian families were thrown out of their homes. At least seven Christians were injured in the violence, including one Christian leader who went to hospital with a fractured skull. On 6 January 2010, the hostility became even more violent, spreading to the neighbouring town of Nag Hammadi. Six Christian worshippers and a security guard were killed when three gunmen stormed a worship service on the eve of the Eastern Christmas Day, on 7 January.

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

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Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

What is persecution? Religion. Where a non-Christian religion is dominant and largely defines the identity of a particular society, Christians are often perceived as divisive, anti-social and disloyal. In these contexts public expressions of the Christian faith, such as corporate worship or evangelistic outreach, may be restricted or completely forbidden. Christians may be offered material or financial inducements to convert to the majority faith, or be forced to do so by threats of violence.

A prominent Russian church minister was murdered in his church in Moscow in November 2009. Danil, 34, was approached on the night of 19 November by a masked gunman who checked his name and then shot him in the head and chest. Danil had been active in evangelistic outreach to Muslims and many people think that he may have been killed because of this ministry to Muslims.

State. Institutional injustice against Christians is endemic in many societies. When Christians suffer at others’ hands the police and courts will often not take action against their persecutors or will even arrest the victims. Some countries have laws that specifically discriminate against Christians, but even

where there are no such laws, police may find pretexts to punish Christians anyway. Converts are especially vulnerable. In some countries there are laws or a constitution that seem to guarantee equality and freedom for all faiths. But these may be ignored by local officials on the ground.

What does “persecution” mean? In the Greek New Testament the word used most often for “persecution” is dioko. This can be a neutral term, referring simply to running or seeking after someone or something. Mostly, however, it denotes the ill-treatment of Christians by others. In many verses the exact nature of the harm is not specified, and the Greek term could be used for various English words and phrases, such as “hostile pursuit” and “harassment”, as well as “persecution”. English dictionaries also give wide definitions to the word “persecution”. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines “to persecute” as “to subject to prolonged hostility and ill-treatment, to persistently harass or annoy”. The Free Dictionary says, “To oppress or harass with ill-treatment… To annoy persistently; bother.” The term is

20

Pastor Wang Dao and his wife Haiping Sun (Source: Voice of the Martyrs)

The Public Security Bureau (PSB) routinely harass and raid churches in China. For example, Liangren Church in Guangzhou City has been repeatedly targeted by the PSB, as reported by ChinaAid. On many occasions the chu rch has been suppressed and even illegally banned by the authorities and, since the beginning of 2010, the congregation have had to move location over 10 time s. On 4 March the senior pastor, Wang Dao , was violently arrested as he ate with other Christians in a restaurant. He had already been interrogated many times by PSB officers, who were apparently seeking to discredit him and the Christian faith.

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

especially associated with the hounding of people on the grounds of their religion, beliefs etc.

violence or legal punishment. But the trouble with this is that when the Western Church experiences various forms of discrimination and These broad definitions are accurate and marginalisation, we may fail to helpful, but they can also be misleading. recognise these as persecution, and When the term “persecution” is used in a even deny that we are persecuted for very general way, it can blur the major our faith at all. And if we do not distinctions between the different kinds understand what is happening to us, of mistreatment endured by Christians. we will struggle to respond to it as we As a result it can trivialise the acute should. Narrowing the meaning of suffering endured at the hands of others “persecution” thus creates as many by at least one in ten of our brothers and problems as it resolves. sisters across the world, by seeming to put this on the same level as the very We do need a general term to cover all mild pressure experienced by Christians kinds of hurt that are inflicted on in the West. Christians because of their loyalty to Christ, and “persecution” is the most So some Christians prefer to work with a suitable word that we have. But we much narrower definition, using the word need also to distinguish between the “persecution” to refer to only the more different types of persecution as clearly severe forms of ill-treatment, such as as we can.


Resources

Our Father in heaven, We give you thanks and praise that You revealed Yourself to us in Your Son and drew us to Yourself. We pray for those who endure discrimination and persecution, violence and injustice for the sake of Your Holy Name. We pray that you will grant them daily strength to persevere in the hardships they may face.

n n n n

deal with persecution?

■ inform and enable Christians in the West to respond to the growing challenge of Islam to Church, society and mission in their own countries ■ facilitate global intercession for the persecuted Church by providing comprehensive prayer materials

WEBELIEVE:

Our Father in heaven,

The Barnabas Fund Distinctive The “Barna

■ acting as equal partners with the persecuted Church, whose leaders often help shape our overall direction ■ acting on behalf of the persecuted Church, to be their voice – making their needs known to Christians around the world and the injustice of their persecution known to governments and international bodies

WESEEKTO:

Prayer for the Suffering Church

bas Fund Distinctive” What helps make Barnabas Fund distinctive from other Christian organisations that

WEWORKBY: ■ directing our aid only to Christians, although its benefits may not be exclusive to them (“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especiallytothosewhob elongtothe familyofbelievers.” Galatians 6:10, emphasis added) ■ aiming the majority of our aid at Christians living in Muslim environments ■ channelling money from Christians through Christians to Christians

(Matthew 25:40)

■ we are called to address both religious and secular ideologies that deny full religious liberty to Christian minorities – while continuing to show God’s love to all people ■ in the clear Biblical teaching that Christians should treat all people of all faiths with love and compassion, even those who seek to persecute them ■ in the power of prayer to change people’s lives and situations, either through grace to endure or through deliverance from suffering

of mine, you did for me.”

■ tackle persecution at its root by making known the aspects of the Islamic faith and other ideologies that result in injustice and oppression of non-believers

This card, which includes the prayer opposite and a response form, is available to order free of charge from your national Barnabas Fund office. The cards are a great resource for distribution to your congregation on Suffering Church Sunday – please order as many FREE copies as you need, one for every member of your congregation!

■ meet both practical and spiritual needs ■ encourage, strengthen and enable the existing local Church and Christian communities – so they can maintain their presence and witness rather than setting up our own structures or sending out missionaries

Prayer-andresponse card

of the least of these brothers

In Jesus’ Name Amen

n

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus (George Duffield, Songs of Fellowship 513) Soldiers of Christ, arise (Charles Wesley, Songs of Fellowship 506) It is well with my soul (Horatio Spafford, Sacred Songs and Solos 210) Who can sound the depths of sorrow? (Graham Kendrick, Songs of Fellowship 604) I will say (Lou Fellingham, Treasure) Beneath the cross (Keith & Kristyn Getty, In Christ Alone)

■ channelling money through existing structures in the countries where funds are sent (e.g. local churches or Christian organisations) ■ using the money to fund projects that have been developed by local Christians in their own communities, countries or regions ■ considering any request, however small

We pray too for ourselves. Lord, we know that we are not immune to mockery, harassment and even persecution for Christ. Should we find ourselves suffering because of our faith in You, we ask that You will enable us to stand firm in all our trials. May we know that You are with us and that You are always faithful to your people.

n

“Whatever you did for one

We pray for those who seek to persecute Your children, that they will turn their eyes to You and come to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

Suggested hymns and songs for your Suffering Church Sunday service

We give you thanks and praise that You revealed Yourself to us in Your Son and drew us to Yourself. We pray for those who endure discrimination and persecution, violence and injustice for the sake of Your Holy Name. We pray that you will grant them daily strength to persevere in the hardships they may face.

BE ON YOUR GUARD

Your Response

SUFFERING CHUR CH SUND AY 2010 I/We would like to receive regular news and prayer information about the – 2011

persecuted Prepari ngChurch for Persecution

Where it is most needed To support Christians suffering through violence To help Christians support themselves by starting up a small business

We pray for those who seek to persecute Your children, that they will turn their eyes to You and come to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour. We pray too for ourselves. Lord, we know that we are not immune to mockery, harassment and even persecution for Christ. Should we find ourselves suffering because of our faith in You, we ask that You will enable us to stand firm in all our trials. May we know that You are with us and that You are always faithful to your people.

for the

Please find enclosed our/my gift of suffering church to be used:

To support Christian pastors and evangelists To help feed our persecuted brothers and sisters To help Christian children to get a Christian education Name: Address:

In Jesus’ Name Amen Postcode: UK

Australia

New Zealand

9 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX Telephone 024 7623 1923 Fax 024 7683 4718 From outside the UK Telephone +44 24 7623 1923 Fax +44 24 7683 4718 Email info@barnabasfund.org Registered Charity Number 1092935 Company Registered in England Number 4029536

Postal Suite 107 236 Hyperdome, Loganholme QLD 4129 Telephone (07) 3806 1076 or 1300 365799 Fax (07) 3806 4076 Email bfaustralia@barnabasfund.org

PO Box 27 6018, Manukau City, Manukau, 2241 Telephone (09) 280 4385 or 0800 008 805 Email office@barnabasfund.org.nz

Jersey Le Jardin, La Rue A Don, Grouville, Jersey, Channel Islands JE3 9GB Telephone 700600 Fax 700601 Email bfjersey@barnabasfund.org

Telephone: Email: Name of church:

USA 6731 Curran St, McLean, VA 22101 Telephone (703) 288-1681 or toll-free 1-866-936-2525 Fax (703) 288-1682 Email usa@barnabasaid.org

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

International Headquarters The Old Rectory, River Street, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5DB, UK Telephone 01672 564938 Fax 01672 565030 From outside UK Telephone +44 1672 564938 Fax +44 1672 565030 Email info@barnabasfund.org

Please tear off and send to your nearest Barnabas office with you gift

SCS 08/10

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

A prayer for Suffering Church Sunday

Original song: “Broken bones for Jesus” We are grateful to Andrew Fleet for permission to publish his song “Broken bones for Jesus”. Andrew is a Barnabas Fund staff member who also writes music and lyrics for Christian worship. The song below is based on 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, which says that although we may face struggles in our walk with the Lord, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”(v.10) Andrew has written music to accompany the words; this can be downloaded from our website (www.barnabasfund.org/scs). In addition, he has recorded versions of the song, with and without accompanying vocals, which are also available from the website or on CD. They face the trials of broken bones for Jesus. They take the pain that others won’t endure. Yet in their hearts they sing of His salvation; They know His love They live His way Their faith in Him is sure.

We smart as we see others treated badly, Indignant that they should be treated so; Yet righteous anger turns away from vengeance For goodness sake God’s spirit makes Forgiving others grow.

We praise our God whose kingdom knows no limits, Who binds the wounds and sets the captive free. He raises those who suffer for His kingdom And they’ll be found, On higher ground, His glorious face to see.

The chains of bondage imposed by human hatred, Give cries of hurt healed only through His blood. They live so poor and yet they know His bounty When strivings cease, They find His peace And turn to Him in love.

In this sad world we pray O Lord for justice; Your Holy Spirit working for the right, As Your protection covers those who love You; That all may know, Who vengeance grow They’ve no place in Your sight

May I be found On higher ground Through Him Who died for me.

There is a crown that martyrs wear, Seated with God on high. The cross of Christ their bodies bear To live and never die!

There is a crown that martyrs wear, Seated with God on high. The cross of Christ their bodies bear To live and never die!

©asfleet 2009

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Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Resources

Suffering Church Sunday offering Our Christian brothers and sisters are our family. Did you know that 1 in 10 Christians live with persecution? We are the other nine, living with the right to own a Bible and to worship our Lord Jesus freely. The Bible calls us to give generously (2 Chronicles 31:5 and 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8). Many churches today give a tenth of their income to support mission and relief of poverty around the world. If your church does this, why not ask them to consider giving a tenth of that tenth to the persecuted Church? Barnabas Fund supports a range of projects around the world to help our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please consider giving “a tithe of your church’s

Feedback from supporters We very much appreciate the comments and suggestions that our supporters give in relation to the material we produce. We have responded to your comments on last year’s Suffering Church Sunday literature by making some changes in the resources this year. We would be grateful for your comments about the 2010-2011 material and have prepared a feedback form that can be found on our website (www.barnabasfund.org/scs), or alternatively you can email or write to us (address details on the back cover).

tithe” or taking up a Suffering Church Sunday offering for one of the following funds:

a number of different countries. Many of them face hostility and violence because of the nature of their work.

00-345 Victims of Violence Fund: helping individuals, families or communities who have been singled out and victimised because of their Christian faith.

00-636 Feeding Fund: providing food for Christian families in the Middle East, Asia and Africa who live in desperate poverty, struggling even to have enough to eat.

00-356 Small Business Start-Up Fund: helping poor Christian families to support themselves by setting up their own small businesses. 00-477 Pastor Support Fund and 00-478 Evangelist Support Fund: supporting pastors ministering in Christianminority contexts and evangelists and church-planters ministering to other faiths in

00-794 Christian Schooling for Christian Children: enabling children of the poorest Christian families to get an education in a Christian environment. Please turn to pages 3-5 to see recent examples of projects supported by Barnabas Fund.

Order your free suffering Church Sunday resources The following resources are available free of charge from your national Barnabas Fund office (addresses on back cover) or from our website (www.barnabasfund.org/scs), or please use the form below to order. n A3 version (approx. 300x420 mm) of the poster (see page 6), to advertise your Suffering Church Sunday service.

BE ON YOUR GUARD

n P rayer-and-response cards (see page 21), including the “Prayer for Suffering Church Sunday” and a response form. n S CS 2010-2011 CD containing music for Andrew Fleet’s song, “Broken Bones for Jesus”, and recorded versions of the song, with and without accompanying vocals.

SUFFERING CHURCH SUNDAY 2010 – 2011

Preparing for Persecution DATE

TIME

VENUE

n P owerPoint presentation to accompany the sermon outline on John 15:18 – 16:4 (see page 11). This is also available on the CD (listed above) and to download from our website.

I would like to order the following free resources: (please indicate quantities in boxes)

A3 poster “Be on your Guard”

CD and PowerPoint presentation

Prayer-and-response cards

Copies of the Suffering Church Sunday issue of Barnabas Aid (Sept/Oct 2010)

Name:

(Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Rev, Dr)

Address:

Postcode:

Email: Name of church: Send this form to your nearest Barnabas Fund office. Addresses on back cover. Resources can also be ordered or downloaded from www.barnabasfund.org/scs.

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BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010


Newsroom

INDONESIA: CHRISTIAN MAN THREATENED WITH DEATH On 3 July, in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, a banner showing a Christian man with a noose around his neck was hung outside a mosque with the following words: “This man deserves the death penalty!” Andreas Sanau, 29 (the man on the banner), and Henry Sutanto have been accused by the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) of organising mass baptisms. The accusations came after 14 buses full of people arrived on 30 June at the home of Sutanto, the President of the Mahanaim Foundation, a Christian organisation that helps the poor.

The Foundation stated that they had no intention of carrying out baptisms. But according to Murhali Barda, the local leader of the FPI (a radical Islamic group known for violence against religious minorities, especially Christians), “Sutanto must be killed; he wants a mass baptism.” Nine members of different Islamic organisations in Bekasi, including Barda, have joined together to plan a roadshow that aims to persuade mosques in the city to prepare for the possibility of “war” against “Christianisation”. The group, which was formed on 27 June, the last

EGYPT: MUSLIMS ATTEMPT TO BEHEAD CHRISTIAN CONVERT Christian convert Maher el-Gohary has survived an attempted murder after two unknown men on a motorbike attacked him outside his home on Sunday 5 July. El-Gohary says that during the attack one of the men shouted the Islamic cry of “Allah is Great” while stabbing him with a dagger. The attackers called him an infidel, and cursed his Christian faith. He says, “They were aiming at my neck to behead me.” El-Gohary fell to the ground covered in blood, and he maintains that, had it not been for the action of passersby, he would probably have succumbed to his injuries. El-Gohary had been a Christian for 36 years but his conversion was first brought to public attention in May 2009 when he tried to have the religion on his ID card changed to reflect his faith. Shortly after his conversion from Islam became public, El-Gohary and his 15year-old daughter Dina, who is also a Christian, were forced into hiding, moving home as often as once or twice a month to avoid being discovered. This is not the first attempt on his life, since his conversion became public.

On 13 June 2009, an Egyptian court ruled against el-Gohary’s request to have his religious status changed on his ID card. After losing the court case, the father and daughter tried to leave Egypt, but they were stopped at the airport by the authorities, who also took their passports, without any legal reasons. In April 2010, Dina, who had appealed to President Obama by letter in December 2009 about their plight, was subject to an acid attack; fortunately she escaped unharmed.

Maher and Dina have been living in hiding because of their faith

day of the Bekasi Islamic Congress, is recommending that each mosque should have its own armed militia and that the Bekasi municipality should introduce some sharia-compliant policies. The Regional Leader of the Indonesian Muslim Forum, Bernard Abdul Jabbar, said, “They will guard the Islamic faith and preach the right path to the people.” According to Barda, “We are doing this because we want to strike fear in the hearts of Christians who behave in such a way. If they refuse to stop what they’re doing, we’re ready to fight.”

EGYPT: YOUNG CHRISTIAN WOMAN OVERCOMES ABDUCTION AND ATTEMPTED FORCED CONVERSION Christian teenager Zeenahom Nady Adly, 19, was stopped by two Muslim men as she walked to the shops in her small village near Samalut on 12 June. The men sprayed a substance in her face to make her lose consciousness. When she awoke two hours later she found herself at the Islamic Sharia Association, facing a Muslim leader who tried to intimidate her and force her to convert to Islam. Zeenahom’s father sent telegrams to the authorities, and her family demonstrated outside the police headquarters demanding her return, compelling the security forces to intervene and return the girl to her family. The girl’s father requested protection for his family, after he was told by the man in charge of the abduction that they will be pursued “until we all convert to Islam”.

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

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Newsroom

KYRGYZSTAN: VOTE BRINGS HOPE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM A new constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by the people of Kyrgyzstan offers hope for greater religious freedom following the repressive Religion Law passed last year. The document gained the backing of more than 90 per cent of the vote in a referendum held on 27 June, where the turnout was nearly 70 per cent. It was held just two weeks after violent ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan that left hundreds dead. Kyrgyz Christians became targets in the conflict as they sought to help their Uzbek brothers and sisters flee the violence. The referendum went ahead even though many of the 400,000 people, mainly ethnic Uzbeks, who had been forced to leave, had not returned. There were no major reports of violence or voter fraud. The Constitution, which creates a mandate for Central Asia’s first parliamentary

democracy, paves the way for greater freedom of religion in Kyrgyzstan under interim president Roza Otunbayeva. She established a provisional government after an uprising in April that led to the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Article 32 of the new constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, including the right freely to choose and profess any religion or none; Article 16 states that no one shall be discriminated against on the grounds of religion; and Article 7 underlines the separation of religion and state. Though it remains to be seen if the government will uphold these rights in practice, the new constitution offers hope for Kyrgyz Christians after the previous parliament unanimously approved a restrictive Religion Law in January 2009. This required any religious organisation to have at least 200 members in order to

register, making it virtually impossible for most churches to gain the protection of a legal status. The restrictive law also banned the distribution of religious literature in public places and activities directed at the conversion of others. There have been encouraging signals from the interim government that the Religion Law will be reformed. On 15 April this year government spokesman Kanybek Imanaliyev told Forum 18 News Service: “We want to establish freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We will reform the Constitution, the laws as necessary and the Religion Law.” Before the 2009 Religion Law was passed, Kyrgyzstan was one of the least restrictive of the Central Asian countries for Christians and there is now reason to hope that they may enjoy greater freedom again.

A government building burnt out in the riots in Kyrgyzstan in June (Source Brokev03 (Wikimedia Commons)) 24

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010


Newsroom

LEBANON: THREATENING LEAFLETS AIM TO FORCE CHRISTIANS OUT In June, threatening leaflets were distributed around Christian villages near the southern port city of Sidon. The leaflets stated, “Lebanese Christians, you have one week to leave the areas of Sharq-Sidon and the Sidon suburbs. Everyone must tell his brothers in order for them to preserve their lives ... There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.” Christians and Muslims, including Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, condemned the leaflets. Qabbani said they

were distributed to incite friction and create more tension in an already volatile area. The deadline for Christians to leave the area has now passed, and it seems there have been no repercussions. On 30 June, it was reported that a man had been arrested in connection with the case. In a separate incident, on 19 June, a bomb exploded in the predominantly Christian city of Zahle; it is believed that the bomb was intended to coincide with the visit of a Christian denominational head the next day.

AFGHANISTAN: CONVERSION FOOTAGE PROVOKES ANTI-CHRISTIAN FURORE A TV report on 27 May apparently showing Afghan converts from Islam to Christianity engaged in various Christian activities sparked a frenzied anti-Christian response with public demonstrations and threats from within parliament. The two-year-old footage, which included scenes of baptisms, triggered a protest by a group of Kabul University students, who shouted death threats against the converts (in line with sharia law) and demanded the expulsion of foreigners accused of trying to convert Afghans from Islam. Two of the Afghan Christians who appeared in the broadcast were arrested and shown on national TV again three days later. One was pressurised to return to Islam, while the other was shown repeating the Islamic creed and asking forgiveness for having converted. The TV presenters urged viewers to find more Afghans who had left Islam and report them to the police. The following day a call was made in Parliament by the Deputy Secretary of the Afghan Lower House for the public execution of the Afghan Christians shown in the TV programme. The activities of foreign organisations allegedly involved in preaching Christianity in Afghanistan were strongly condemned, with members of parliament calling for groups seeking the conversion of Muslims to be expelled from the country. That same day two Western NGOs with the word “church” in their name were suspended, accused of promoting Christianity, while

other groups were put on a list for further investigation. On 1 June, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman said the president was taking a personal interest in the situation and had ordered immediate and serious action to prevent any more conversions. It was later announced in Parliament by Interior Minister Hanif Atmar that the Government had a list of 23 people, Afghans and foreigners, whom they were seeking to arrest. Subsequent reports indicate that more Afghan Christians have been arrested. Many homes in Kabul have been searched, prompting dozens of Afghan Christians to flee their towns and even leave the country. On 9 June Afghan Christians in exile in New Delhi, India, responded to the unfolding crisis with an urgent appeal to believers worldwide to help stop the Afghan Government from arresting and seeking to execute Afghan Christians. Execution is possible under Afghan law, though no Christians are yet known to have suffered that fate. The letter said: “We do not know how the whole world and especially the Global Church is silent and closing their eyes while thousands of their brothers and sisters are in pain, facing life danger and death penalty and are tortured, persecuted and called criminals... “Let’s tell the Afghan Government that we are not pagans and infidels; we are not criminal because of our Christian faith, and let’s tell them not to sentence us to death.”

Pastor Suleimanov was gunned down outside his church on 15 July

CAUCASUS, RUSSIA: CHRISTIAN PASTOR ASSASSINATED Christian leader Artur Suleimanov (49) has died after being shot in the head as he was leaving his church in Dagestan, a strongly Islamic republic of Russia. A gunman approached and opened fire as Mr Suleimanov, a convert from Islam, got into a car outside Hosanna House of Prayer in Makhachkala on 15 July. He was taken to hospital but died from his wounds an hour later. He leaves behind a wife, Zina, and five children, the youngest of whom is twelve. Mr Suleimanov’s church is one of the largest Protestant churches in Dagestan. Barnabas Fund’s co-ordinator for the Former Soviet Union met Pastor Suleimanov a number of times and says he was “a wonderful Christian brother and his shocking death is a devastating loss for the Dagestan church ... We see his murder as an attempt to put further pressure on Christian converts in Dagestan.” The population of Dagestan is 98% Muslim, and the Church faces harassment and intimidation from various groups in a very lawless and violent context.

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

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In Touch

Christmas Already?

The summer may only just be over, but if you are already starting to think about Christmas, please keep an eye out for boxes of Christmas cards that support Barnabas Fund. Boxes contain 20 assorted cards, with a Bible verse in each card, and are sold through selected Christian bookshops. The scheme is run at no cost to us, and a percentage of the price of each purchase goes directly to support our work. In the November/December edition of the magazine we will also be including a form for packs of cards that you can order by mail.

Coming for Christmas:Year Journal This valuable devotional resource is available to order now at the special offer price of £5 (plus £2 P&P), for delivery from November onwards. It will both encourage you in your spiritual journey and be an ideal Christmas present for your Christian friends.

The Barnabas Fund year journal is an inspiring collection of short testimonies, prayers and poems from Christians around the world as well as uplifting Bible verses and lined pages for you to record your own thoughts and reflections throughout the months.

Free Alimujiang Yimiti Please join with us in support of Alimujiang Yimiti, a Christian convert from Islam in China, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on 27 October 2009.

bring his story to light. Every night, Alim’s wife, mother, and two sons pray for his freedom. Will you?” (Source: ChinaAid)

“Born an ethnic Uyghur, Alimujiang Yimiti faced extreme persecution when he ... [became] a Christian. A beloved father, husband and house church leader, Alim is known for his kindness and love for the Uyghur people.

Barnabas Fund is sending practical help for Alim’s family (project reference 09-879). Visit www.freealim.com to sign the petition against Alim’s detention.

“On 12 January 2008, Alim was arrested and detained on charges of conducting ‘illegal religious activities’. Later, the charges were changed to ‘divulging state secrets’. After two secret trials, Alim was given the extreme sentence of 15 years in prison, simply for being a Uyghur Christian. “Alim has been held unjustly behind bars for more than two years. ChinaAid has now joined forces with other concerned organisations to

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Alimujiang Yimiti’s 15-year prison sentence is reported to be the longest sentence agai nst a house church believer in nearly a decade

BARNABAS AID SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

Apostasy Campaign Update We would like to thank those of you who responded to our suggestion of writing to your local paper about the Islamic law of apostasy, which specifies a range of punishments including the death penalty for Muslims who leave their faith. Several letters from supporters relating to our campaign have appeared in local papers in recent months; we have reproduced one example from the Western Morning News, Plymouth, UK.

Western Morning News Tuesday 2 March 2010 Persecuted Christians Many of us would be very grateful to you if you allowed the plight of Christians abroad to be highlighted in your paper. We are so ignorant about the beatings, burning of church buildings, rape, imprisonment of pastors and appalling ill treatment of any Muslim who becomes a Christian elsewhere. Barnabas Fund is collecting as many signatures as it can to send to the Government to bring their plight to notice before we in this country, start to suffer the persecution happening in many eastern countries. A single signature has little impact, but 1,000 would. So may many fair and just readers add their own protest - or better still, phone the Barnabas Fund on 024 7623 1923 to help the petition. Miss A Hartford-Burch, Plymouth

Reader Response to Barnabas Aid We would like to know what you like about Barnabas Aid and what would prompt you to give your copy to a friend who doesn’t know about Barnabas Fund. Please write and tell us or send us an email (contact details on the back cover). You may also have noticed some design changes in recent editions of Barnabas Aid. Our design evaluation is ongoing, so there may be further changes to come, but we hope you are pleased with the fresher look so far.


Barnabas Aid September/October 2010