Suffering Church Sunday - November 2009
The Barnabas Fund which works to highlight the suffering of Christians around the world is encouraging church congregations to set aside a Sunday in November to remember those who are being violently persecuted for their faith.
Most will be aware of the continuing – even escalating – violence against Christians in countries around the world. And this is most prevalent in those places which have a large Muslim population.
For Christian converts, baptism often becomes a death certificate.
Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, himself an Asian convert and founder of the Barnabas Fund says:
For Christian converts from Islam, baptism is that pivotal moment in their faith when they express publicly their new allegiance to Jesus, their total loyalty to Him, and their willingness to follow Him even unto death. Baptism is regarded as the point of no return, the decisive break, and is therefore often the moment at which real persecution of the convert begins.
Across the world today, there are many converts who are choosing to take this step of baptism. Indeed, there are more Muslims coming to Christ than at any other time in history. For some this step will end in almost certain death. I was in East Africa recently, and a church leader told me of two young ladies who had left Islam for Christ and then returned to their communities only to be slaughtered by their fathers.
Christians Together has links with believers in Pakistan, and one of the recent stories coming out of that country gives an example of what is going on there:
Despite eyewitness accounts and medical evidence indicating guilt, police have declared three Pakistani men innocent of raping a 13-year-old Christian girl in the Sangla Hill area of Pakistan. In February, Ambreen was abducted and gang-raped at gun-point and was found by her family in a critical condition several hours later. When she was kidnapped, she was told by her captors, "We will kill your parents if you tell them this." Christians in Pakistan are often extremely poor and are employed by the local Muslims. The teenage girl comes from a poor background, while the Muslim men accused of her rape are part of a wealthy family of local landowners. In such circumstances it is exceptionally hard for Christians to get a fair investigation or trial.
In terms of supporting those who are being persecuted and killed for their profession of faith in Jesus Christ the Barnabas Fund are, again this year, making resources and information available to churches and individuals to encourage prayer and meaningful expressions of empathy with those brothers and sisters around the world. The suggestion made each year is that local congregations set aside one Sunday in November which will focus around the persecuted church.
Visit the Barnabas Fund website to access materials in including a Powerpoint Presentation.
Ed. footnote: The Kingsview Christian Centre have some special meetings planned for the end of November (27/28) with an invited guest speaker. Further details later.