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September/October 2010

Be on your guard: Preparing for Persecution

Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11
Welcome from the Director

3 Project News
Relief for hungry

What price
Christians in Africa

6 Be on your guard

religious freedom?
Suffering Church
Sunday 2010 – 11

6 Poster
7 Introduction
8 Persecution in the
New Testament
According to The Times, in April this changed their vocabulary about religious
11 Sermon outline year there was a riot in the Afghan liberty. No longer do they call for freedom
12 Bible study town of Sistani, triggered by rumours of religion but merely speak about
13 Testimony that American marines had burnt a “freedom of worship”. Under Islamic law
copy of the Qur’an. Peace was restored and in most Muslim-majority countries,
14 Timeline by the marines’ presenting a gift of ten non-Muslims, such as Christians, may
16 What is Qur’ans and by their showing to the meet and worship according to their own
persecution? crowd a marine who had converted to beliefs, but sharing of their faith and
21 Resources Islam and changed his name to conversion from Islam are outlawed. Is this
Abdullah. The riot turned to celebration. limited freedom all that the US government
is now prepared to promote?

The following month a surge of public
outrage against converts from Islam to This disgraceful retreat from the defence of
Converts to Christ in human rights seems to have been
Christianity convulsed Afghanistan. There
danger in Afghanistan
were calls in parliament for all such prompted by a desire to appease Muslim
apostates to be killed, in line with sharia feelings for the sake of political and military
(Islamic law). President Karzai expressed expediency. But Western democracies

great concern about the existence of cannot oppose the regimes in Iran or North
In Touch converts from Islam within his country. Korea if we ourselves think freedom of
Send us your conscience not worth defending.
comments on Neither Western governments nor their
Barnabas Aid
allies in Afghanistan have publicly It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “They
condemned these threats against people that can give up essential liberty to obtain
who have chosen to leave the faith they a little temporary safety deserve neither
To guard the safety of Christians in hostile
environments, names may have been changed or were born in and to follow Christ. There safety nor liberty.” We are already seeing
omitted. Thank you for your understanding.
are no calls to spare the lives of converts, freedom of speech gradually sinking under
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are
taken from the New International Version®. even though they are threatened not only the rising tide of self-censorship, caused
Every effort has been made to trace copyright
in Afghanistan but also in Iran, Saudi mainly, I believe, by fear of Islam. What
holders and obtain permission for stories and Arabia and increasingly in other countries. would Franklin have said about this or
images used in this publication. Barnabas Fund
apologises for any errors or omissions and will be The call of the prophet Amos to “let justice about sacrificing religious liberty in the
grateful for any further information regarding
roll on like a river, righteousness like a hope of avoiding Islamic hostility?
© Barnabas Fund 2010
never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24) goes
largely unheeded.

President Obama and his Secretary of Dr Patrick Sookhdeo

State, Hillary Clinton, have recently 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 In Burundi we have been assisting hungry Project reference 38-568
famines that are barely reported in Western Christians in Muslim-majority areas since Famine relief in Niger
news media. This year has seen a particularly 2007. Our most recent grant of £13,090
severe drought in Niger, a West African state (US$20,110; €15,640) provided 400 Project reference 67-681
that is largely Sahara desert. Niger has a families with beans, maize, cassava flour Famine relief in Burundi
Muslim population of at least 97%. In Central and powdered milk. The benefits were more
Africa, Burundi is also struggling with an than just filling empty stomachs. The project
ongoing famine in certain parts, including leader wrote to Barnabas Fund that 324
some Muslim-majority areas where children who had given up going to school
Christians are particularly vulnerable. are now back at their lessons. What is
more, “The number of people who used to
Barnabas has been helping with food aid for go to Tanzania and Rwanda looking for food
Christians in Niger since 2005. Recent grants has decreased. They are now settled and
for Niger total £64,860 (US$98,960; €77,860) working in their fields.”
which provided 1,161 families with 100kg of
maize or millet and 50kg of rice, which Food aid arrives by truck for Christians in
should last each family two to three months. Burundi...
The cost per family was £55 (US$84; €66).
... and Niger


Project News
Cuba: Bringing the Gospel to Old
and Young, Urban and Rural
The Church in Cuba is growing rapidly despite calling on my life,” he writes, “and that,
severe poverty and increasing persecution despite my age, He has allowed me to
from the communist government. Barnabas is serve Him in ministry for the elderly,
supporting 40 Cuban evangelists who are where 167 people attend: 63 men and
working to plant new churches. We provide 104 women.”
£62 (US$95; €74) per person per month, which
covers family living costs and ministry costs. By contrast, another evangelist writes,
“In these past three months I have been
Some of the evangelists are in urban working with a great number of youth in
situations, but many are serving in the little sports through the Third Christian
villages in the centre of the island that up until Evangelistic Football Cup ‘Emmanuel’... I
now have lacked churches or sound Christian also work in evangelising sports players New believers in Cuba
teaching. One evangelist has a ministry aimed through the Sports Ministry.” Through
particularly at the elderly; he is discipling a this ministry the Lord has brought 40 people
group of 26 older people who have recently to faith, and four cell-groups have been
become Christians, and hopes to baptise a planted “including a special one for the sports Project reference
number of them soon. “I appreciate the Lord’s players that have been saved”. 93-824

Kyrgyzstan: In Times of Conflict Kazakhstan: Bringing

Peace with God to
and in Times of Peace Leprosy Patients
This Central Asian country hit the themselves. It is an area of high Last year Barnabas gave £8,120 (US$12,390;
international headlines in June when large- unemployment, and it is extra difficult for €9,750) to print 5,000 copies each of three
scale ethnic riots broke out in the south of those who have left Islam to find jobs. The Christian books in the Kazakh language. Now
the country and hundreds of thousands of first loan made was used for a cattle we are receiving reports of how these titles are
Uzbeks fled from violence at the hands of project employing three people. The being effective for the Kingdom. A Christian
Kyrgyz people. Christian pastors sprang into business is thriving and has already begun nurse is using Billy Graham’s Peace with God to
action, ignoring threats and hostility, trying to return money to the church, which has share the Gospel at the
to help the needy, especially their fellow- thus been able to give a second loan to leprosy hospital where she
works, and encourages
believers. As the crisis developed, Christians another convert to start a small business
other Christians nearby to
began to be targeted for their faith, as well with chickens and turkeys.
do the same. There is no
as for trying to help across the ethnic divide. church for 100km in any
Barnabas Fund sent an emergency first Project reference 00-356 direction.
grant of £2,140 (US$3,000; €2,360) and Small Business Start-up Fund
stands ready to channel more The same title was used Kazakh Christian
as required. by a young Christian literature strengthens
family, all converts from Christians and
Project reference Islam, who were visiting spreads the Gospel
00-345 Victims of their Muslim relatives.
The Muslims said the Christians had betrayed
Violence Fund
Islam and brought shame on the whole family
Kyrgyzstan is a country where by deciding to follow Christ. But the Christians
Barnabas has already been testified about the Lord Jesus and their Muslim
relatives accepted a copy of Peace with God.
involved for many years,
assisting the Christians in a Another Christian writes, “We distribute the
variety of ways. For example, a book How to Know God in our little book store,
grant of £3,264 (US$; €4,060) in personal discussions and during Christian
was used by a church as a conferences. It is a great help to Bible study
revolving loan fund to help groups at home who are preparing their
Christian converts from a sessions on the basis of this book.”
Muslim background set up
small businesses to support This cattle project provides a livelihood for Project reference 00-360
three Christians in Kyrgyzstan Christian Literature Fund


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

Thank you so much for all your heart
and help for our family. Words cannot
express how grateful we are to you and to
the Irrawaddy delta area. our living God. Even though we have
nothing and hopeless situation but through
A fishing boat costs £62 (US$95; €75) and a “
you God has provided our daily bread and
net costs £16 (US$25; €19). Our most recent the house where we stay.
grant provided 20 boats with nets.
Duck-rearing enables this family to support
A gift of 100 ducks for one family costs £62 themselves, and a new house keeps them dry
(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).

Project reference

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.
“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

Emergency Aid for Pakistan: Medical Help and Literacy

Afghan Christian
for Needy Christian Women
A grant of £5,000 (US$7,630; €6,000) will works as a tailor, said that now she could
At the end of May, Afghan TV showed footage help support a church-run medical project write down all the measurements she made
of Afghan Christians, including baptisms. The for Christian women in Pakistan for one during her work, instead of having to
country was rocked by calls for the death of year. A further grant of £1,300 (US$2,380; remember them in her head.
converts from Islam, some coming from €1,560) has also been sent to purchase an
student protestors, some even from ultra-sound machine. Project reference
legislators within parliament. Door-to-door 41-697
searches began, and a number of Christians The main focus of the project is health
were arrested. Dozens of Afghan Christians awareness. Two female doctors visit each
fled their homeland. Christian community weekly to discuss
women’s health issues, give check-ups
Barnabas has sent a grant of £5,780 and prescribe medication. The women who
(US$8,820; €6,920) to help some of these benefit are mostly too poor to get
Afghan refugees, who have had to seek healthcare from any other source.
safety in other countries. It will pay for rent,
food, clothes, medical and other needs. All A literacy programme has recently been
Afghan Christians are converts from Islam. added to the project. One woman said she
had never been to school, but after learning
to read through the literacy classes she has
Project reference
started to read her Bible. Another, who Health education class



SUNDAY 2010 – 2011
Preparing for Persecution


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
But now the Western churches are facing This year’s Suffering Church Sunday resources focus in
several serious challenges: from a belligerent various ways on the need to prepare for persecution. You
and shrill secularism, from the growth of may like to choose a Sunday in November (or another
Islamism (political Islam), and from legislation month in the next year if this is better for your church
that threatens our basic freedoms. It is more calendar) and use the material in the following pages for a
and more evident that, like our brothers and special service or meeting on this theme. As you read,
sisters elsewhere, we must be ready to suffer pray that the Lord will help you and your church to be on
for our faith. your guard against the perils that confront us.

8 Persecution in the New Testament
What do the Lord and His apostles say
about the sufferings of His followers?
14 Persecution timeline
Key moments in the history of anti-Christian

11 Sermon outline on John

15:18 – 16:4
“If the world hates you...”
16 What is persecution?
How and where do Christians suffer for their
faith, and who is responsible?

12 Bible study on John 15:18 – 16:4

For use in home groups or personal
Bible study
21 Resources for your service
Tithing your tithe for the persecuted
To order
13 Testimony
“We rejoiced in the Lord”: faith
strengthened in Orissa in the face of hatred
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,


Persecution in the New Testament
Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Persecution in the New Testament

“‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of
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

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
Stephen, one of the leaders of the first church in Jerusalem, was stoned to death crucifixion (Mark 14:43 – 15:37). The first
church, in Jerusalem, is scattered by a


Persecution in the New Testament
great persecution (Acts 8:1b-3), and two of The meaning of

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

its leaders are killed. (Acts 7:54 – 8:1;
12:1-2) persecution
Several of the New Testament writers look
In Paul’s list of his painful sufferings for
behind the human causes of persecution to
Christ, he includes imprisonment, flogging,
draw out its significance for believers. The
beating and stoning (2 Corinthians 11:23-
book of Revelation attributes the churches’
25). Hebrews is written to Christians whose
afflictions to the devil (Revelation 2:10). But
property has been seized (Hebrews 10:34),
they happen only because God allows them
and the readers of 1 Peter have to bear
to happen; He also sets a limit on them and
slander and insults (1 Peter 2:12; 4:3-4).
uses them to work out His plans. (1
The churches of Revelation are enduring
Thessalonians 3:2-4; 1 Peter 5:10; Acts
hardships that include being put in prison
and even killed. (Revelation 2:9-10, 13; cf.
In the Gospels Jesus predicts persecution
for His followers (Mark 13:9), and James
The persecutions are inflicted by Jews and seems to take for granted that his readers
Gentiles (Acts 14:1-5), by angry mobs and will encounter various trials (James 1:2).
hostile rulers (Acts 16:19-24), by former Second Timothy makes the bold claim that
friends (Acts 9:20-30) and new enemies everyone who wants to live a godly
(Acts 19:23-27). Jesus predicts that even Christian life will be persecuted (2 Timothy
family members will deliver each other to 3:12), and 1 Peter tells its readers not to be The Roman state attacked the early
death (Matthew 10:21). Persecution can surprised at their fiery ordeal as though it Church for refusing to give it the
take the form of unofficial social pressure, were something strange (1 Peter 4:12). worship and service due to God
as in 1 Peter, or legal censure and Paul sees suffering for Christ as part of the
punishment, as in Revelation. calling of believers. (Philippians 1:28-30)
and faithful endurance. Different
But although persecution is inevitable for circumstances may call for different
The reasons for Christians, it is also a means of blessing for reactions, even from the same person.
persecution those who suffer it. The persecution of
Jesus’ disciples is linked in the Gospels
Thus in Acts Paul escapes from Damascus
with the labour pains of the age to come
The reasons for anti-Christian persecution when his life is endangered (Acts 9:23-25;
(Matthew 24:4-12), and those who are
are set out only briefly in the New cp. 2 Corinthians 11:32-33), reflecting the
persecuted for the sake of righteousness
Testament, and vary according to the Gospel instruction to Jesus’ disciples to
are promised the Kingdom of heaven
victims and the agents. In the Gospels the flee when they encounter persecution
(Matthew 5:10). Paul affirms that those
Jewish leaders see Jesus as a threat to (Matthew 10:23). But on another occasion
who suffer with Christ will also be glorified
their nation (John 12:48), condemn Him for he makes use of his right as a Roman
with Him. (Romans 8:17)
alleged blasphemy (Matthew 26:65-66), citizen to appeal to the emperor to avoid
and accuse Him before Pilate of political being handed over to his enemies (Acts
Nor is such blessing only for the future:
subversion (Luke 23:1-2). In Acts, the 25:11). And he also bears witness to his
suffering produces perseverance, character
successful mission of the Jerusalem church endurance of persecution for the sake of
and hope in the present, so that believers
arouses the jealousy of the chief priests Christ (2 Corinthians 4:8-12; 6:4-10;
can even rejoice in it (Romans 5:3-4;
(Acts 5:12-18), and Stephen provokes the 11:23-25), a response required elsewhere
James 1:2-3). And the blessing may pass
council to fury by accusing them of from all God’s people. (Revelation 13:10)
from those who are persecuted to their
disobedience to God. (Acts 7:51-54)
brothers and sisters in Christ: it enables
However, disciples are not left alone to
Christians to comfort other believers with
Paul is persecuted by other Jews because face their enemies; Jesus will provide
the comfort they have received from God (2
he does not require his Gentile converts to them with words and wisdom to defend
Corinthians 1:3-7), and Paul’s afflictions
be circumcised (Galatians 5:11). In Acts, themselves (Luke 21:12-15). No-one can
are presented as his sharing in Christ’s
they accuse him of teaching against their snatch them out of His or His Father’s hand
sufferings for the sake of the Church.
people, law and temple (Acts 21:28), and (John 10:28-29), and provided they stand
(Colossians 1:24)
the civil authorities in some of the cities firm to the end they will be saved.
where he preaches regard him and his (Matthew 24:13)
friends as agents of disorder and perhaps
rebellion, and treat them accordingly (Acts The responses to Some would argue that in the Old
17:6-9). In Revelation the Roman state persecution Testament the physical defence of the
demands the worship and service that is community by military means was
due only to God, and ruthlessly attacks Various responses to persecution are found permitted; they would go on to suggest
Christians for their refusal to give it. in the New Testament, including flight, that it could therefore be permitted in
(Revelation 13) appealing to the authorities for protection, certain circumstances today.


Persecution in the New Testament
Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

An ancient gate in the old city of Damascus. Paul fled

from persecution through a window in the city wall
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 Others, however, preferred to die rather than to
Israel was part of the Seleucid Empire. In the 160s call the emperor “Lord”, and they attempted to
BC the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes establish the nation’s independence under the
attempted to unite his kingdom, including his rule of God alone, sometimes by violence. Some of
Jewish subjects, by imposing Greek culture on them murdered collaborators or others whom they
them all. He forbade Jewish practices such as considered were compromising Israel’s
circumcision and demanded that everyone offer distinctiveness as God’s people.
sacrifices to pagan gods, on pain of death for
disobedience. This background helps to illuminate the early
Christians’ view of their own persecutions. Jewish
Some Jews chose to suffer and die rather than believers in Jesus were also accused by other
break God’s law. They believed that the shedding Jews of disloyalty to God and to His people, and
of their blood would bring blessing to Israel, and as a result many of them had to endure pressure
that they would be rewarded by God in the age to or even violence. The Roman authorities
come. Others submitted to the king’s edicts, but suspected that Christians were disruptive and
some of these were put to death by zealous Jews rebellious because their common life was so
for their disobedience to God. The king’s actions different and they proclaimed “another king, one
eventually led to a successful revolt against his called Jesus”. (Acts 17:7)
Many Christians faced the same threefold choice
The Roman rulers of Israel (from 63 BC) were as their Jewish forebears and contemporaries:
more tolerant of Jewish religious practices. But first, to submit to their pagan rulers at the cost of
many of them despised the Jews for their strange disobeying God; secondly, to rise up against them
customs, separation from others and contempt for in violent resistance; or thirdly, to accept
Roman gods, and they feared the possibility of persecution and (if necessary) even death at their
Jewish rebellion against Rome. hands. The New Testament forbids the first two
options and commends the third, encouraging
Again, some Jews were willing to co-operate with God’s people to endure persecution in the
their pagan masters, and their leaders had knowledge that they will receive God’s blessing in
sacrifices made to God on the emperor’s behalf. return, in the present and the future.


Sermon outline

If the World Hates You...

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

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 sometimes refers to the whole created THE RESPONSE TO HATRED

order, or to the human world in a neutral (15:26-27)
In today’s world hatred of Christ’s disciples sense. Here, however, it means humanity in
its fallenness and darkness, which are When Jesus sends the Spirit of truth to His
is widespread and severe. Discrimination,
expressed in an ideology and practice that disciples from the Father, His role will be to
harassment and persecution blight the lives
bear witness to Jesus. And the disciples are
of our brothers and sisters in many parts of
to respond to the world’s hatred in the same
the world. Even in some
way, by bearing witness to what they know
Western countries, such as the
about Jesus.
UK, Christians face increasing
hostility to their faith and find
themselves under pressure. The readiness for hatred
The hatred that Christians Jesus is giving this teaching to the disciples
experience raises many issues, so that they will not abandon their faith. The
both for those who suffer it severe persecution that they suffer, at the
directly and for those who hands of a world that knows neither Jesus
support and pray for them. nor the Father, may tempt them to do so.
Why does it happen? How But when it happens, they can now
should we respond to it? And remember that Jesus warned them in
does it call our faith into advance, and their faith in Him will be
strengthened and not weakened.
But anti-Christian hatred is Anti-Christian hatred is a painful reality CONCLUSION
for many of
nothing new. These same our brothers and sisters today
issues have confronted This passage assumes that Christians should
believers since New not expect the world always to regard them
Testament times, and some sections of the kindly – indeed, that they are to expect the
Bible are specifically addressed to exclude the true God. This world hates world to be their enemy. But for those
Christians facing persecution. Jesus’ disciples because it has first hated Christians who do face hatred, this passage
Him, and because they do not belong to it makes sense of their sufferings, in terms of
This passage from John’s Gospel is part of but to Him. The world will respond to them the hostility of the world towards Jesus and
Jesus’ farewell address to His first disciples, as it responded to Him, because they bear His Father. It outlines the response required
which is intended to prepare them for the His Name, and because it does not know of them, to bear witness to Jesus with the
challenges they will face after His departure. His Father. help of the Spirit. And it provides a
The purpose of these verses is to explain necessary preparation for them, by giving
why the world hates them, to show them 2. The world hates the Father (15:22-25). notice of what Jesus’ disciples can expect to
how to respond, and to protect them against Whoever hates Jesus also hates His Father. undergo because of His Name. In all these
falling away when persecution comes. If Jesus had not spoken His word to the ways it helps them not only to prepare for
world or performed mighty works among persecution, but also to endure it.
them, their rejection of God would not put
THE REASONS FOR HATRED them in the wrong. But now their hostility to Turn to page 13 to read the story of a young
(15:18-25) Jesus and the Father are inexcusable; they Christian woman from India, Swaroopa, and
have hated Them without reason, so her family, whose faith in the Lord was
1. The world hates Jesus (15:18-21). fulfilling an Old Testament scripture. (Psalm strengthened and not weakened by her
In the New Testament the word “world” 69:4) experience of anti-Christian hatred.


Bible study

Facing Hostility for Christ

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

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.


1. Have you ever experienced hatred or 7. How are Jesus’ disciples to respond to the
discrimination because of your faith in world’s hatred? What help will they have
Christ, and if so, how did it feel? How do you from Him in doing this? DIGGING DEEPER
react to stories of anti-Christian hostility?
8. When might we have to testify about
2. When Christians suffer persecution, what Jesus because of the world’s hostility? And 13. Look up some other references to
questions does this raise for us? How might in what ways could we do this? “the world” in John’s Gospel (e.g. 1:9-
we want to respond to such hostility? 10; 3:16-17; 12:25, 31; 17:6-19;
Read John 16:1-4 18:36). How might these relate to the
READ JOHN 15:18-21 teaching of this passage about the
9. According to these verses, why might the world’s hatred for Jesus’ disciples?
3. What do you think “the world” means in disciples “go astray”, and what do you think
verse 18? What reasons are given in these it might mean to do this? How will Jesus’ 14. Consider how Jesus’ words and
verses for its hatred of Jesus’ disciples? teaching help them not to do so? works in this Gospel cause others to be
hostile (see e.g. 5:1-18; 6:35-71; 9:13-
4. How should we live as those who do not 10. Can you think of any kinds of
34; 10:22-39). How do these passages
belong to the world? What twofold response persecution today that resemble those
illuminate verses 22-25 of chapter 15?
should we expect? described in verse 2? Who might be
responsible for them? What might be their
15. What do you think are some of the
READ JOHN 15:22-25 motives?
key truths about Jesus to which His
5. How do these verses further explain the CONCLUSION disciples are called to testify? See (e.g.)
hostility experienced by Christians? Why is John 1:6-8, 34; 8:12-14; 18:37.
the world to blame for its attitude to Jesus 11. What forms of hostility do Christians
and the Father? suffer in your country? Do you think that you 16. Look at some of the ways in which
need to be “preparing for persecution”, and Christians suffer persecution in the
6. Can you think of reasons why some if so why? New Testament. (See above, pp8-10.)
people hate Jesus and the Father? (For What parallels to these are there in the
ideas, look up Luke 6:22-23; 14:11-14; 12. Share one new perspective that this contemporary world?
16:13; John 3:20; 7:7; 12:25.) How does it passage has given you on facing hostility for
help us to know that the world hates us Christ, or one action that you will now take
because it hates Them? in response.


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



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

Consoled in Suffering
for Christ
At Christmas 2007 Hindu extremists destroyed and saw a plume of smoke rising largest city in Orissa, where they stayed
launched a series of violent and into the sky. But Swaroopa says, “Both of with a family member.
premeditated attacks on Christians in my parents were consoled by the very
Orissa State, India. Some 730 homes thought that this tragic attack has been After the anti-Christian violence had
were destroyed, and 95 churches were due to the fact that we believe in Jesus subsided, Swaroopa’s parents were able to
razed to the ground. Eight months later Christ and are Christians. ‘“Blessed are return to their village to visit what was left of
the violence was renewed, leading to the those who are persecuted for righteousness their house. They learned from their pastor
deaths of at least 20 Christians. sake for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”’ about a ministry (supported by Barnabas
Thousands were injured, and tens of (Matthew 5:10)” Fund) that offers vocational training to young
thousands were forced to flee their people displaced from Orissa by the violence.
homes. The Christians were told, “Come After a while the family heard the attackers This is designed to equip them to return to
back as Hindu or don’t come back at all!” coming along the path they themselves had the region later, not only to live there, but
taken, so they ran and hid themselves in the also to make a positive contribution to the
One of the families caught up in the second bush. The sunny weather changed to cloudy community and to witness for Christ.
outbreak of violence was that of Swaroopa skies, and they prayed that the Lord would
Naik, whose story is told below. send rain. And then – a heavy downpour! Swaroopa obtained a college place to study
The pursuers called off the chase and went nursing and midwifery and is about to
Escape in the jungle back the way they came. Swaroopa and her complete her first year of training. She
parents praised God. writes, “We thanked and rejoiced in the
Swaroopa was brought up in a Christian Lord for having miraculously saved our lives
home with her brother and two sisters. Her The Lord who provides and now for providing me with an
father, Sunil, is a farmer. On Monday 25 opportunity to become a nurse. The Lord is
August 2008 the family was busy with the When the rain stopped the family went back to really ‘Jehovah Jirah’ [the LORD who
housework as usual while Swaroopa was their village. There they found that their house provides].”
having a bath. Suddenly she heard terrible had been reduced to a pile of ashes and debris.
noises outside, and running out of the house No-one in the village would take them in for This year Barnabas Fund has been
she saw her family rushing into the forest. the night, so they returned to the jungle to supporting 27 girls on three different
Swaroopa ran too and was chased by the shelter under the trees. Early next day they vocational courses. Swaroopa and the others
attackers, but she was quick enough to set off to escape the pursuing assailants. training to be nurses and midwives will be
escape them. continuing their studies for another three
In the evening Swaroopa and her family years, with continuing help from Barnabas.
Swaroopa eventually found her parents in reached Phulbani, a large township, where
the jungle. Taking shelter under a tree, they they felt safe enough to stay for two weeks. Project reference
heard the dreadful sound of homes being After this they moved on to Cuttack, the 21-723



Timeline of Anti-Ch
Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Early Christian History Rise of Islam

35 Stephen
stoned to
death after
248 The Decian Persecution – beginning of
mass persecution of Christians initiated
by Emperor Decius
570 Birth of
Muhammad, who
by 631 rules most
being tried throughout the Roman of the Arabian
by Jewish Empire. All citizens had Peninsula.
court. (Acts to prove that they had

7:54-60) performed pagan
sacrifices and faced
punishment of
imprisonment or
execution if they Early Christian symbols
carved on a stone

AD 500 10

64 Nero launches
persecution of
Christians after
341 Zoroastrian
Shapur II
orders the
1370 Rise to power of
Timur (Timurlane)
in Central Asia.
blaming them for massacre of Christianity in the
the Great Fire of all Christians region is wiped
Rome. in Persia. out and millions of
Christians killed. Timur, ruler of Central
Asia in the 14th century

31 3 Roman Emperors
Constantine I and Licinius
issue the Edict of Milan that
391 Christianity
becomes the
state religion of
1453 Fall of
and subjugation
legalises Christianity across Rome under of Christians as
the whole Empire. Theodosius I dhimmis in the
Ottoman Empire.

303 23 February – The “Great Persecution” begins.

Edicts call for church buildings to be destroyed,
sacred writings burned, Christians to lose civil
1715 China: The
Kangxi Emperor
rights, clergy to be imprisoned and forced to missionaries
sacrifice and (in 304) all to perform pagan from entering
sacrifices on pain of death. China.



hristian Persecution

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Spread of Christianity - The Moder Era -
new challenges rise of state persecution

1614 Japan: Emperor

Tokugawa Ieyasu expels
all Christian missionaries
1828 Queen Ranavalona I (reigned
1828–1861) issued a royal edict
prohibiting the practice of
and orders the execution Christianity in Madagascar.
of converts. Anyone found possessing a Bible
was executed, often using
particularly brutal and cruel
Rapid Arab conquests: Damascus methods. Some estimates say
(634), Jerusalem (638), Carthage that up to 150,000 Madagascan
Queen Ranavalona I
(697). These lead to the decline of of Madagascar
Christians were murdered.
Christianity in the Middle East and
its complete extinction in North
Africa, through soft and hard

00 1500 2000

1800s Indian
Huge growth in
1915 Armenian Genocide:
Massacre of up to
1,500,000 Armenian
1979 Iranian revolution:
Establishes strict
Islamic state under
Christianity and Assyrian sharia, oppressing
causes angry Christians by Ottoman Christians through
backlash from Turks. This was the closure of churches
Muslims and single worst year in and arrest, torture
Hindus. some decades of anti- and sometimes
Christian violence in murder of converts
the Ottoman Empire. from Islam.

1917 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). A forced labour camp in the Soviet Union

China: Start of the Boxer rebellion, a

nationalistic uprising against the perceived
influence of foreigners, leading to the murder
1983- War in Southern Sudan: Attempts by
Islamic Arab government in the North of
Sudan to enforce sharia law on the
of thousands of Chinese converts to
Christianity and the targeting of missionaries. 2005 South starts a war that leads to two
million deaths in the mainly Christian
and animist South of the country.


What is persecution?

What is Persecution?
Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

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 Two women survey the damage in the Christian
village of Dogo Nahawa in March 2010
form, context and source.
In Nigeria, horrific violence and massacres struck the town of Jos in January
Forms of persecution March 2010. Only the Lord knows how many of His people were killed. In
early hours of Sunday 7 March, men from the Muslim Fulani tribe, armed
Anti-Christian persecution takes many swords and machetes, arrived in three mainly Christian villages south of
Jos. The
forms, and it is practically impossible to villagers were woken by the terrifying sound of gunshots; the noise was
so loud
produce an exhaustive list. But the that frightened residents ran out of their houses on to the streets, where
following are seven of the most common attackers were waiting for them. All the churches in Dogo Nahawa were
and serious. and many homes were torched. The day after the attacks, dozens of bodies
buried in a mass grave as Christians looked on, singing hymns to Jesus.
Violence. Physical attacks on
Christians and Christian property
are all too common in many
countries. Homes and churches In the very poor Chin region of Burma
may be destroyed by angry mobs, (Myanmar), Christians as young as 11
and whole Christian communities lured away from their parents by the
driven by force from their villages. Without an education the children, when of a good education. Instead, they find
Individuals are raped or kidnapped, beaten they grow up, can get only very low-paid themselves in a Buddhist monastery,
up or thrown into prison, and some are jobs, and so a vicious cycle of poverty heads shaved, forced to train as novice
murdered or even officially executed and illiteracy continues through the monks. Some never see their parents
because of their faith. This violence is not generations. In Muslim-majority contexts
only distressing and destructive at the time Christian children may be able to attend
for those who suffer it; it also leaves a government-run schools, but Islam is
legacy of fear and insecurity that can often strongly promoted in such schools
undermine the assurance and threaten the and they are likely to face hostility from
ministry of local Christians. the teachers and other pupils. They
may even be marked down in
Inadequate education. Where Christians their exams or denied
Christian children are
are very poor, parents may be unable to university places simply because
extremely vulnerable
afford fees for their children’s schooling. they are Christians. in Burma
What is persecution?
Poor employment. Christians

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

can suffer serious discrimination
in the jobs market and have very In Pakistan, as many as 40% of
restricted career choices. Many find it Pakistani Christians work as
hard to get work at all, or have to take the “sweepers”, cleaning the streets and
lowliest and worst-paid employment. Even sewers. Arshad Wicky and his three
well-educated Christians may find certain children live in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
careers closed to them, or cannot advance His parents could not afford to send
to the more senior positions. This treatment him to school and because of this he
attaches a social stigma to many Christian found it difficult to get a decently
communities, reducing their self-respect and paid job. If work was available, it
dignity and putting pressure on their faith. was often the lowest paid and most
Since the death of his wife, Arshad Wicky
dangerous. Some days he could not is the sole breadwinner for his family
Deprivation of basic needs. Christians get work at all.
suffer the same as anyone else when food
and water are in short supply, or when in a private home. In some countries it is also They may be thrown into jail for sharing their
disease ravages their communities. But they forbidden to own a Bible or to read or hand faith, and even where this is not illegal, they
can suffer more in a context of anti-Christian out Christian literature, and sometimes cannot rely on the authorities to protect
discrimination. This can plunge them in to Christians have no means of accessing them or their freedom of speech.
acute poverty or deny them access to the suitable materials anyway. The growth of
essentials of life. They may be deprived of believers in the knowledge and Converts to Christianity
their provisions or displaced from their understanding of their Christian faith can be in Iran are regularly harassed by
homes and homelands, forced to flee with seriously hindered. the authorities; very often, they are
little or nothing. And when disaster strikes imprisoned for extended periods of
an area where they are a despised Attacks on leaders. In many places time. Sometime they are
minority, they may find Christian pastors, evangelists and church mysteriously murdered. In 2009,
themselves left out in the planters face acute challenges in their two young Christian women were
distribution of aid. discipleship and ministry. Their churches arrested and detained for 259
may be too poor to support them at more days. They suffered ill health in
“We left everything behind than a basic level, and they can lack even prison, but held firm to their
us. We took only our souls,” the most basic training and resources, faith in the Lord Jesus and were
said Ni’ma Noail (50), a civil leaving those they lead vulnerable to falling released in November 2009. All
servant in Iraq who had to away. They are often targets of violence charges against them were
abandon his home when from those who resent their preaching of the dropped by May 2010.
Sunni Muslim extremists Gospel and gaining of converts, or
turned to threats and violence simply because, as leaders, they
in order to purge Mosul of represent the Body of Christ. Persecution of converts.
Christians. Taking only what Those who turn to Christ from other
they could carry and leaving Ravi Murmu, a Christian religions, especially from Islam, can be the
most of their possessions evangelist in India, was most vulnerable of all Christians to
behind, Christians fled from their murdered on 2 May 2010. When persecution. Their decision often arouses
communities, their jobs, friends asked how the family was coping strong opposition and hostility, which can
and church. Leaving jobs means with the murder, Ravi’s brother rapidly lead to ill-treatment of many kinds.
they can no longer work and earn (also an evangelist) replied, “The Islamic sharia law requires the death penalty
money, at least not in the short peace of God still reigns in this for men who choose to leave Islam (and for
term. Without money, they cannot house and in this family.” women too according to some versions of
buy food or other basic needs. 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
Lack of resources. Legal restrictions are e that have been smuggled into the
country. But the authorities often raid
often imposed on the building, extension and worship services and private
gatherings, carrying out searches and
repair of Christian meeting-places. Where seizing any Christian literature they
can find, leaving the Christians without
Christians are despised and discriminated their Bibles. In May 2010, Tashkent
City Church of Christ, one of the larg
against, it can be impossible to find anyone est and most active churches in the
Uzbek capital, was raided by several
to rent them a place to meet. This forces government agencies during morning
worship. Christian literature was con
congregations to squeeze into private fiscated, and the church was officially
sealed by the police. A Christian from
homes, which may be very small if the an unregistered church in Tashkent
asked, “If they do that to the Church
Christian community is poor. This makes of Christ [a legally registered church]
what will become of the rest of us?” ,
ministry activities difficult. Furthermore,
in some parts of the world it is
effectively illegal to meet for worship


What is persecution?
out this sentence, it is normal for apostates activities of those that do register, and
Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

from Islam to face serious harassment and harass those that refuse. Some secular In the UK, Immanuel House of
aggression, sometimes ending in death. states, such as North Korea and Eritrea, are Worship Church in Walthamstow,
They are also cut off from their former notorious for the brutal treatment meted near London, received a noise
friends and networks, leaving them isolated out to Christians imprisoned for their faith. abatement notice following a
and without support. complaint from just one Muslim
Western contexts. Although the intensity of neighbour, living next door to the
persecution suffered by Christians in the church. An environmental health
Contexts of persecution West is generally much less than in other enforcement officer told the pastor
parts of the world, the pressure on them has that the church had to keep the
Although persecution can occur in any grown significantly in recent years. noise down so as not to offend
setting, some forms are particularly likely Aggressive secularism and radical Islam are Muslims living in the area. He said,
in certain kinds of society. Muslim- both seeking to weaken the influence of “This is a Muslim borough; you have
majority countries, and those with Christianity, while a number of well to tread carefully.” In May 2009, the
aggressively secular regimes, are intentioned but deeply flawed new laws are church won an appeal to have the
especially hard places for Christians to driving it out of public life into a purely notice amended.
live, worship and witness, but Western personal sphere. (Please see the
and other contexts may provide fertile booklet enclosed with this edition
soil for persecution of other sorts. of Barnabas Aid for further
information on the marginalising of
Muslim-majority contexts. In traditional Christians in the UK in particular.)
Islamic teaching Christians (and Jews) are
known as dhimmi, a word that suggests In July 2010, there were calls from
inferiority and submission. In most Muslim Afghan media and politicians for
countries today Christians are given a lower the execution of converts from
status than Muslims, either officially or Islam, in line with Islamic sharia
unofficially. This is worked out in various law, leaving Afghan believers – all
ways according to the degree of control converts from Islam – living in fear.
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 Other contexts. In some Hindu- and
resurgence of Islam and its increased Buddhist-majority countries, such as India
political power is intensifying the pressure and Sri Lanka, Christians suffer similar
on the churches in many places, notably the discrimination and harassment as in Muslim
Middle East and Africa. nations, as well as violent attacks. Secular
regimes such as the military junta in Burma,
Secular contexts. Governments that may use the majority faith as an ally in the
regard any religion as a threat to their oppression of their Christian community.
authority seek to regulate it strictly, or even Other countries, for example Sudan
to ban it altogether. Meeting for worship, and Nigeria, are divided between
constructing or repairing church buildings, Christian- and Muslim-majority
and printing or distributing Christian areas, leading to tensions and
literature may all be severely restricted. violence, and sometimes civil war.
Many regimes require churches to And Christians are likely to be
register with them, control the affected with everyone else by the

If arrested, Christians in Eritrea are

often held in metal shipping containers,
which can become baking hot during
Christians in Laos face harassment and per
the day and freezing cold at night. On
23 April 2010, a young Christian woman
who had been imprisoned for two years In January 2010, 48 Christians,
tragically succumbed to malaria and including women and children,
severe anaemia – it is reported that were forced out of their homes
“she was offered freedom and medical Christians are often imprisoned in Katin village in the Saravan
care in exchange for abandoning her in Eritrea in metal shipping province of Laos when a group
containers similar to these of 100 officials raided a
Christian faith”.


What is persecution?
destructive policies of corrupt governments, where such ties are much stronger, and

Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

as in Zimbabwe, especially Christians who loyalty to one’s family is a major part of life,
speak out for justice. those who leave the family’s religion
to follow Christ will experience
much more intense pressure.
Sources of persecution They are perceived to have
In September 2009, Bangladeshi
shamed the family, and they may
In most countries anti-Christian persecution be exposed to emotional blackmail, mother, Khainur told her husband
does not arise from only one source. It is threats and ostracism to persuade them to that she had converted to
usually the result of a whole society’s basic abandon their Christian faith. They may Christianity. Enraged, he tied up his
suspicion or hostility towards the Christian even be killed as a way of restoring the wife and his daughter Arifa, who
faith and those who practise it, and so it family’s honour. had also become a Christian, and
finds expression through all the fundamental brutally beat them in front of the
structures of that society: family, Community. A society that is hostile to younger daughters. He also burned a
community, religion and government. Christianity will regard Christians as a copy of the Bible, threatening to give
harmful influence and will try to limit their them “similar treatment”. Arifa
Family. In cultures where family ties are participation in community life. For this says, “We pray regularly that one
fairly loose, persecution from relatives may reason Christians are treated as inferior day my father might find the love of
amount “only” to criticism and mockery. But and unfit for certain privileges and Christ. I forgive him even if he beat
responsibilities, and are unjustly accused me like a dog.”
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.

Christian businesses were looted and burned in Farshoot in November

2009 (Source: AINA, www.aina.org)

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
rsecution from the authorities seven Christians were injured in the violence, including one Christian
leader who went to hospital with a fractured skull. On 6 January 2010,
Sunday morning worship service. With the hostility became even more violent, spreading to the neighbouring
guns drawn, the officials seized all the town of Nag Hammadi. Six Christian worshippers and a security guard
Christians’ personal belongings and told were killed when three gunmen stormed a worship service on the eve
them that they would be allowed to return of the Eastern Christmas Day, on 7 January.
to their village only if they abandoned their
Christian beliefs.


What is persecution?
Religion. Where a non-Christian religion is
Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

dominant and largely defines the identity of The Public Security Bureau (PSB)
a particular society, Christians are often routinely harass and raid churches in
perceived as divisive, anti-social and China. For example, Liangren Church
disloyal. In these contexts public expressions in
Guangzhou City has been repeatedly
of the Christian faith, such as corporate targeted by the PSB, as reported by
worship or evangelistic outreach, may be ChinaAid. On many occasions the chu
restricted or completely forbidden. Christians rch
has been suppressed and even illegally
may be offered material or banned by the authorities and, since the
financial inducements to beginning of 2010, the congregation
convert to the majority faith, have had to move location over 10 time
or be forced to do so by s.
On 4 March the senior pastor, Wang Dao
threats of violence. ,
was violently arrested as he ate with
other Christians in a restaurant. He had
already been interrogated many times
A prominent Russian church Pastor Wang Dao and his wife PSB officers, who were apparently
minister was murdered in his Haiping Sun (Source: Voice of the seeking to discredit him and the
church in Moscow in November Martyrs) Christian faith.
2009. Danil, 34, was approached
on the night of 19 November by a
masked gunman who checked
his name and then shot him in State. Institutional injustice
the head and chest. Danil had against Christians is endemic where there are no such laws, police may
been active in evangelistic in many societies. When Christians find pretexts to punish Christians anyway.
outreach to Muslims and many suffer at others’ hands the police and courts Converts are especially vulnerable. In some
people think that he may have will often not take action against their countries there are laws or a constitution
been killed because of this persecutors or will even arrest the victims. that seem to guarantee equality and freedom
ministry to Muslims. Some countries have laws that specifically for all faiths. But these may be ignored by
discriminate against Christians, but even local officials on the ground.

What does “persecution” mean?

In the Greek New Testament the word especially associated with the hounding violence or legal punishment. But the
used most often for “persecution” is of people on the grounds of their religion,trouble with this is that when the
dioko. This can be a neutral term, beliefs etc. Western Church experiences various
referring simply to running or seeking forms of discrimination and
after someone or something. Mostly, These broad definitions are accurate and marginalisation, we may fail to
however, it denotes the ill-treatment of helpful, but they can also be misleading. recognise these as persecution, and
Christians by others. In many verses the When the term “persecution” is used in a even deny that we are persecuted for
exact nature of the harm is not very general way, it can blur the major our faith at all. And if we do not
specified, and the Greek term could be distinctions between the different kinds understand what is happening to us,
used for various English words and of mistreatment endured by Christians. we will struggle to respond to it as we
phrases, such as “hostile pursuit” and As a result it can trivialise the acute should. Narrowing the meaning of
“harassment”, as well as “persecution”. 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.
English dictionaries also give wide sisters across the world, by seeming to
definitions to the word “persecution”. put this on the same level as the very We do need a general term to cover all
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary mild pressure experienced by Christians kinds of hurt that are inflicted on
defines “to persecute” as “to subject to in the West. Christians because of their loyalty to
prolonged hostility and ill-treatment, to Christ, and “persecution” is the most
persistently harass or annoy”. The Free So some Christians prefer to work with a suitable word that we have. But we
Dictionary says, “To oppress or harass much narrower definition, using the word need also to distinguish between the
with ill-treatment… To annoy “persecution” to refer to only the more different types of persecution as clearly
persistently; bother.” The term is severe forms of ill-treatment, such as as we can.



Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Suggested hymns and songs for your
A prayer for Suffering Church Sunday service
Suffering n Stand up! Stand up for Jesus (George Duffield, Songs of
Fellowship 513)
Church Sunday n Soldiers of Christ, arise (Charles Wesley,
Our Father in heaven, Songs of Fellowship 506)
n It is well with my soul (Horatio Spafford,
We give you thanks and praise that You Sacred Songs and Solos 210)
revealed Yourself to us in Your Son and n Who can sound the depths of sorrow? (Graham Kendrick,
drew us to Yourself. We pray for those who Songs of Fellowship 604)
endure discrimination and persecution,
n I will say (Lou Fellingham, Treasure)
violence and injustice for the sake of Your
n Beneath the cross (Keith & Kristyn Getty,
Holy Name. We pray that you will grant
In Christ Alone)
them daily strength to persevere in the
hardships they may face.
We pray for those who seek to persecute

“Whatever you did for one

■ considering any request,

■ using the money to fund

■ channelling money through

■ channelling money from

■ aiming the majority of

however small

■ directing our aid only

countries or regions
Christians in their own communities,

What helps make Barnabas

that have been developed


The Barnabas Fund

are sent (e.g. local churches
structures in the countries

through Christians to Christians

Christians living in Muslim

emphasis added)
familyofbelievers.” Galatians
Your children, that they will turn their

exclusive to them (“As we
although its benefits may

The “Barna

let us
eyes to You and come to know Christ as

our aid at


to Christians,

by local

where funds


not be
or Christian

to all people,
of the least of these brothers

bas Fund Distinctive”

their Lord and Saviour.

Fund distinctive from other

■ tackle persecution at

■ encourage, strengthen
■ meet both practical and

■ acting on behalf of the

injustice and oppression
and other ideologies that
known the aspects of the

■ acting as equal partners

up our own structures or
presence and witness rather
communities – so they can
existing local Church and

international bodies
persecution known to governments
world and the injustice of
needs known to Christians
Church, to be their voice

help shape our overall direction

persecuted Church, whose
We pray too for ourselves. Lord, we know

its root by making

of mine, you did for me.”
of non-believers

and enable the

result in
Islamic faith

sending out

spiritual needs


Christian organisations that


– making their

with the
maintain their
than setting

around the

leaders often
that we are not immune to mockery, This card, which includes the prayer

■ in the power of prayer

■ in the clear Biblical

■ we are called to address

opposite and a response form, is

■ facilitate global intercession

deliverance from suffering
through grace to endure
people’s lives and situations,

■ inform and enable Christians

to persecute them
even those who seek
of all faiths with love and
harassment and even persecution for

Christians should treat all

all people
– while continuing to show
religious liberty to Christian
and secular ideologies that

comprehensive prayer materials

persecuted Church by providing

their own countries

Islam to Church, society
to respond to the growing
(Matthew 25:40)
Prayer for the Suffering Church Your Response

deal with persecution?


Christ. Should we find ourselves suffering available to order free of charge from CH

teaching that
SUND AY 2010

to change
– 2011

or through
Our Father in heaven, I/We would like to receive regular news and prayer information about the


both religious

and mission in
Prepari ngChurch
for Persecution

God’s love to

challenge of
deny full


for the

in the West
We give you thanks and praise that You revealed Yourself to us in Your

your national Barnabas Fund office. The

Please find enclosed our/my gift of for the

because of our faith in You, we ask that

Son and drew us to Yourself. We pray for those who endure suffering church to be used:
discrimination and persecution, violence and injustice for the sake of
Where it is most needed
Your Holy Name. We pray that you will grant them daily strength to
persevere in the hardships they may face. To support Christians suffering through violence

You will enable us to stand firm in all our cards are a great resource for 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.
To help Christians support themselves by starting up a small business

To support Christian pastors and evangelists

distribution to your congregation on

We pray too for ourselves. Lord, we know that we are not immune to To help feed our persecuted brothers and sisters

trials. May we know that You are with us

mockery, harassment and even persecution for Christ. Should we find To help Christian children to get a Christian education
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 Name:
us and that You are always faithful to your people.

and that You are always faithful to your Suffering Church Sunday – please order
In Jesus’ Name


people. as many FREE copies as you need, one


UK Australia New Zealand Telephone:

9 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX Postal Suite 107 PO Box 27 6018, Manukau City,
Telephone 024 7623 1923 236 Hyperdome, Loganholme QLD 4129 Manukau, 2241 Email:

for every member of your congregation!

Fax 024 7683 4718 Telephone (07) 3806 1076 or 1300 365799 Telephone (09) 280 4385 or 0800 008 805
From outside the UK Fax (07) 3806 4076 Email office@barnabasfund.org.nz
Telephone +44 24 7623 1923 Email bfaustralia@barnabasfund.org
Name of church:
Fax +44 24 7683 4718 USA

In Jesus’ Name
Email info@barnabasfund.org Jersey 6731 Curran St, McLean, VA 22101
Registered Charity Number 1092935 Le Jardin, La Rue A Don, Grouville, Telephone (703) 288-1681 or
Company Registered in England
Number 4029536
Jersey, Channel Islands JE3 9GB
Telephone 700600 Fax 700601
toll-free 1-866-936-2525
Fax (703) 288-1682 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
Email bfjersey@barnabasfund.org Email usa@barnabasaid.org
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

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. We smart as we see others treated badly, We praise our God whose kingdom knows no limits,
They take the pain that others won’t endure. Indignant that they should be treated so; Who binds the wounds and sets the captive free.
Yet in their hearts they sing of His salvation; Yet righteous anger turns away from vengeance He raises those who suffer for His kingdom
They know His love For goodness sake And they’ll be found,
They live His way God’s spirit makes On higher ground,
Their faith in Him is sure. Forgiving others grow. His glorious face to see.

The chains of bondage imposed by human hatred, In this sad world we pray O Lord for justice; May I be found
Give cries of hurt healed only through His blood. Your Holy Spirit working for the right, On higher ground
They live so poor and yet they know His bounty As Your protection covers those who love You; Through Him
When strivings cease, That all may know, Who died for me.
They find His peace Who vengeance grow -
And turn to Him in love. They’ve no place in Your sight ©asfleet 2009

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


Be on your guard Suffering Church Sunday 2010 – 11

Suffering Church
Sunday offering
Our Christian brothers and sisters are our tithe” or taking up a Suffering Church a number of different countries. Many of
family. Did you know that 1 in 10 Christians Sunday offering for one of the following them face hostility and violence because
live with persecution? We are the other funds: of the nature of their work.
nine, living with the right to own a Bible
00-636 Feeding Fund: providing
and to worship our Lord Jesus freely. 00-345 Victims of Violence Fund:
food for Christian families in the
helping individuals, families or
The Bible calls us to give generously (2 Middle East, Asia and Africa who live in
communities who have been singled out and
Chronicles 31:5 and 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8). desperate poverty, struggling even to have
victimised because of their Christian faith.
Many churches today give a tenth of their enough to eat.
income to support mission and relief of 00-356 Small Business Start-Up
00-794 Christian Schooling for
poverty around the world. If your church Fund: helping poor Christian families
Christian Children: enabling
does this, why not ask them to consider to support themselves by setting up their
children of the poorest Christian families
giving a tenth of that tenth to the own small businesses.
to get an education in a Christian
persecuted Church?
00-477 Pastor Support Fund and environment.
Barnabas Fund supports a range of 00-478 Evangelist Support Fund:
projects around the world to help our supporting pastors ministering in Christian- Please turn to pages 3-5 to see recent
persecuted brothers and sisters. Please minority contexts and evangelists and examples of projects supported by
consider giving “a tithe of your church’s church-planters ministering to other faiths in Barnabas Fund.

Feedback Order your free suffering

from Church Sunday resources
The following resources are available free of charge from your national
We very much appreciate the Barnabas Fund office (addresses on back cover) or from our website
comments and suggestions that our (www.barnabasfund.org/scs), or please use the form below to order.
supporters give in relation to the
material we produce. We have
responded to your comments on last
n A3 version (approx. 300x420 mm) of the poster (see page BE ON YOUR GUARD
6), to advertise your Suffering Church Sunday service.
year’s Suffering Church Sunday
literature by making some changes in n P rayer-and-response cards (see page 21), including the
the resources this year. “Prayer for Suffering Church Sunday” and a response
We would be grateful for your
comments about the 2010-2011 n S CS 2010-2011 CD containing music for Andrew Fleet’s SUFFERING CHURCH
SUNDAY 2010 – 2011

material and have prepared a feedback song, “Broken Bones for Jesus”, and recorded versions Preparing for Persecution

of the song, with and without accompanying vocals.

form that can be found on our website


(www.barnabasfund.org/scs), or n P owerPoint presentation to accompany the sermon

alternatively you can email or write to outline on John 15:18 – 16:4 (see page 11). This is also
us (address details on the back cover). 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)
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.




On 3 July, in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, The Foundation stated that they had no day of the Bekasi Islamic Congress, is
a banner showing a Christian man with a intention of carrying out baptisms. But recommending that each mosque should
noose around his neck was hung outside a according to Murhali Barda, the local have its own armed militia and that the
mosque with the following words: “This leader of the FPI (a radical Islamic group Bekasi municipality should introduce
man deserves the death penalty!” known for violence against religious some sharia-compliant policies.
minorities, especially Christians), “Sutanto
Andreas Sanau, 29 (the man on the must be killed; he wants a mass baptism.” The Regional Leader of the Indonesian
banner), and Henry Sutanto have been Muslim Forum, Bernard Abdul Jabbar,
accused by the Islamic Defender Front Nine members of different Islamic said, “They will guard the Islamic faith
(FPI) of organising mass baptisms. The organisations in Bekasi, including Barda, and preach the right path to the people.”
accusations came after 14 buses full of have joined together to plan a roadshow According to Barda, “We are doing this
people arrived on 30 June at the home of that aims to persuade mosques in the city because we want to strike fear in the
Sutanto, the President of the Mahanaim to prepare for the possibility of “war” hearts of Christians who behave in such a
Foundation, a Christian organisation that against “Christianisation”. The group, way. If they refuse to stop what they’re
helps the poor. which was formed on 27 June, the last doing, we’re ready to fight.”


Christian convert Maher el-Gohary has
survived an attempted murder after two
On 13 June 2009, an Egyptian court ruled
against el-Gohary’s request to have his
unknown men on a motorbike attacked
him outside his home on Sunday 5 July.
religious status changed on his ID card.
After losing the court case, the father and
El-Gohary says that during the attack one
of the men shouted the Islamic cry of
daughter tried to leave Egypt, but they
were stopped at the airport by the
“Allah is Great” while stabbing him with a authorities, who also took their passports,
dagger. The attackers called him an without any legal reasons. In April 2010, Christian teenager Zeenahom Nady
infidel, and cursed his Christian faith. He Dina, who had appealed to President Adly, 19, was stopped by two Muslim
says, “They were aiming at my neck to Obama by letter in December 2009 about men as she walked to the shops in her
behead me.” El-Gohary fell to the ground their plight, was subject to an acid attack; small village near Samalut on 12 June.
covered in blood, and he maintains that, fortunately she escaped unharmed. The men sprayed a substance in her
had it not been for the action of passers- face to make her lose consciousness.
by, he would probably have succumbed to When she awoke two hours later she
his injuries. found herself at the Islamic Sharia
Association, facing a Muslim leader
El-Gohary had been a Christian for 36 who tried to intimidate her and force
years but his conversion was first her to convert to Islam.
brought to public attention in May 2009
when he tried to have the religion on his Zeenahom’s father sent telegrams to the
ID card changed to reflect his faith. authorities, and her family demonstrated
Shortly after his conversion from Islam outside the police headquarters
became public, El-Gohary and his 15- demanding her return, compelling the
year-old daughter Dina, who is also a security forces to intervene and return
Christian, were forced into hiding, the girl to her family. The girl’s father
moving home as often as once or twice a requested protection for his family,
month to avoid being discovered. This is after he was told by the man in charge
Maher and Dina have been living in
not the first attempt on his life, since his hiding because of their faith of the abduction that they will be
conversion became public. pursued “until we all convert to Islam”.




A new constitution that was overwhelmingly democracy, paves the way for greater register, making it virtually impossible for
approved by the people of Kyrgyzstan offers freedom of religion in Kyrgyzstan under most churches to gain the protection of a
hope for greater religious freedom following interim president Roza Otunbayeva. She legal status. The restrictive law also
the repressive Religion Law passed last year. established a provisional government after banned the distribution of religious
an uprising in April that led to the literature in public places and activities
The document gained the backing of more overthrow of President Kurmanbek directed at the conversion of others.
than 90 per cent of the vote in a referendum Bakiyev. Article 32 of the new constitution
held on 27 June, where the turnout was guarantees freedom of conscience and There have been encouraging signals from
nearly 70 per cent. It was held just two religion, including the right freely to the interim government that the Religion
weeks after violent ethnic clashes between choose and profess any religion or none; Law will be reformed. On 15 April this year
Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan Article 16 states that no one shall be government spokesman Kanybek
that left hundreds dead. Kyrgyz Christians discriminated against on the grounds of Imanaliyev told Forum 18 News Service:
became targets in the conflict as they religion; and Article 7 underlines the “We want to establish freedom of speech
sought to help their Uzbek brothers and separation of religion and state. and freedom of religion. We will reform the
sisters flee the violence. The referendum Constitution, the laws as necessary and
went ahead even though many of the Though it remains to be seen if the the Religion Law.”
400,000 people, mainly ethnic Uzbeks, who government will uphold these rights in
had been forced to leave, had not returned. practice, the new constitution offers hope Before the 2009 Religion Law was passed,
There were no major reports of violence or for Kyrgyz Christians after the previous Kyrgyzstan was one of the least restrictive
voter fraud. parliament unanimously approved a of the Central Asian countries for Christians
restrictive Religion Law in January 2009. and there is now reason to hope that they
The Constitution, which creates a mandate This required any religious organisation to may enjoy greater freedom again.
for Central Asia’s first parliamentary have at least 200 members in order to

A government building burnt out in the riots in Kyrgyzstan

in June (Source Brokev03 (Wikimedia Commons))




In June, threatening leaflets were were distributed to incite friction and
distributed around Christian villages near create more tension in an already volatile
the southern port city of Sidon. The area. The deadline for Christians to leave
leaflets stated, “Lebanese Christians, you the area has now passed, and it seems
have one week to leave the areas of there have been no repercussions. On 30
Sharq-Sidon and the Sidon suburbs. June, it was reported that a man had
Everyone must tell his brothers in order for been arrested in connection with the case.
them to preserve their lives ... There is no
God but Allah and Muhammad is His In a separate incident, on 19 June, a
Prophet.” bomb exploded in the predominantly Pastor Suleimanov was gunned
Christian city of Zahle; it is believed that down outside his church on 15 July
Christians and Muslims, including Grand the bomb was intended to coincide with
Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, the visit of a Christian denominational
condemned the leaflets. Qabbani said they head the next day.
A TV report on 27 May apparently showing
Afghan converts from Islam to Christianity
other groups were put on a list for further
engaged in various Christian activities
sparked a frenzied anti-Christian response
On 1 June, President Hamid Karzai’s ASSASSINATED
spokesman said the president was taking a
with public demonstrations and threats personal interest in the situation and had Christian leader Artur Suleimanov (49)
from within parliament. ordered immediate and serious action to has died after being shot in the head as
The two-year-old footage, which included prevent any more conversions. It was later he was leaving his church in Dagestan,
scenes of baptisms, triggered a protest by announced in Parliament by Interior Minister a strongly Islamic republic of Russia.
a group of Kabul University students, who Hanif Atmar that the Government had a list
shouted death threats against the converts of 23 people, Afghans and foreigners, whom A gunman approached and opened fire
(in line with sharia law) and demanded the they were seeking to arrest. Subsequent as Mr Suleimanov, a convert from
expulsion of foreigners accused of trying to reports indicate that more Afghan Christians Islam, got into a car outside Hosanna
convert Afghans from Islam. have been arrested. Many homes in Kabul House of Prayer in Makhachkala on
have been searched, prompting dozens of 15 July. He was taken to hospital but
Two of the Afghan Christians who Afghan Christians to flee their towns and
appeared in the broadcast were arrested died from his wounds an hour later.
even leave the country. He leaves behind a wife, Zina, and
and shown on national TV again three days
later. One was pressurised to return to On 9 June Afghan Christians in exile in New five children, the youngest of whom
Islam, while the other was shown Delhi, India, responded to the unfolding is twelve.
repeating the Islamic creed and asking crisis with an urgent appeal to believers
forgiveness for having converted. The TV worldwide to help stop the Afghan Mr Suleimanov’s church is one of the
presenters urged viewers to find more Government from arresting and seeking to largest Protestant churches in
Afghans who had left Islam and report execute Afghan Christians. Execution is Dagestan. Barnabas Fund’s co-ordinator
them to the police. The following day a call possible under Afghan law, though no for the Former Soviet Union met Pastor
was made in Parliament by the Deputy Christians are yet known to have suffered Suleimanov a number of times and says
Secretary of the Afghan Lower House for that fate. he was “a wonderful Christian brother
the public execution of the Afghan The letter said: “We do not know how the and his shocking death is a devastating
Christians shown in the TV programme. whole world and especially the Global loss for the Dagestan church ... We see
Church is silent and closing their eyes while his murder as an attempt to put further
The activities of foreign organisations
thousands of their brothers and sisters are in pressure on Christian converts in
allegedly involved in preaching Christianity
pain, facing life danger and death penalty Dagestan.”
in Afghanistan were strongly condemned,
with members of parliament calling for and are tortured, persecuted and called
criminals... The population of Dagestan is 98%
groups seeking the conversion of Muslims
Muslim, and the Church faces
to be expelled from the country. That same “Let’s tell the Afghan Government that we
day two Western NGOs with the word are not pagans and infidels; we are not harassment and intimidation from
“church” in their name were suspended, criminal because of our Christian faith, and various groups in a very lawless and
accused of promoting Christianity, while let’s tell them not to sentence us to death.” violent context.


In Touch

Christmas Already?
The summer may only just be over, but if you are already starting to think
Apostasy Campaign
about Christmas, please keep an eye out for boxes of Christmas cards that
support Barnabas Fund. Boxes contain 20 We would like to thank those of you who
assorted cards, with a Bible verse in each responded to our suggestion of writing to
card, and are sold through selected Christian your local paper about the Islamic law of
bookshops. The scheme is run at no cost to apostasy, which specifies a range of
us, and a percentage of the price of each punishments including the death penalty for
purchase goes directly to support our work. Muslims who leave their faith.
In the November/December edition of the Several letters from supporters relating to
magazine we will also be including a form for our campaign have appeared in local papers
packs of cards that you can order by mail. in recent months; we have reproduced one
example from the Western Morning News,
Plymouth, UK.

Coming for Christmas:Year Journal Western Morning News

The Barnabas Fund year journal is This valuable devotional resource is
Tuesday 2 March 2010
an inspiring collection of short available to order now at the special
offer price of £5 (plus £2 Persecuted Christians
testimonies, prayers and
poems from Christians P&P), for delivery from Many of us would be very grateful to you
around the world as well November onwards. It if you allowed the plight of Christians
will both encourage you abroad to be highlighted in your paper.
as uplifting Bible verses
and lined pages for in your spiritual journey We are so ignorant about the beatings,
you to record your and be an ideal burning of church buildings, rape,
own thoughts and Christmas present for imprisonment of pastors and appalling ill
your Christian friends. treatment of any Muslim who becomes a
reflections throughout Christian elsewhere.
the months.
Barnabas Fund is collecting as many
signatures as it can to send to the
Government to bring their plight to notice

Free Alimujiang Yimiti before we in this country, start to suffer the

persecution happening in many eastern
Please join with us in support of bring his story to light. Every night, A single signature has little impact, but
Alimujiang Yimiti, a Christian convert from Alim’s wife, mother, and two sons pray 1,000 would. So may many fair and just
readers add their own protest - or better
Islam in China, who was sentenced to for his freedom. Will you?” (Source:
still, phone the Barnabas Fund on 024
15 years in prison on 27 October 2009. ChinaAid) 7623 1923 to help the petition.
“Born an ethnic Uyghur, Alimujiang Barnabas Fund is sending practical Miss A Hartford-Burch, Plymouth
Yimiti faced extreme persecution when help for Alim’s family (project reference
he ... [became] a Christian. A beloved 09-879).
father, husband and house church
leader, Alim is known for his kindness
Visit www.freealim.com to sign the
petition against Alim’s detention.
Reader Response
to Barnabas Aid
and love for the Uyghur people.
“On 12 January 2008, Alim was
arrested and detained on charges of
conducting ‘illegal religious activities’. We would like to know what you like
Later, the charges were changed to about Barnabas Aid and what would
‘divulging state secrets’. After two prompt you to give your copy to a friend
secret trials, Alim was given the who doesn’t know about Barnabas Fund.
extreme sentence of 15 years in Please write and tell us or send us an
prison, simply for being a Uyghur email (contact details on the back cover).
You may also have noticed some design
“Alim has been held unjustly behind changes in recent editions of Barnabas
Alimujiang Yimiti’s 15-year prison sentence
bars for more than two years. is Aid. Our design evaluation is ongoing, so
reported to be the longest sentence agai
ChinaAid has now joined forces with nst a there may be further changes to come,
house church believer in nearly a decade
other concerned organisations to but we hope you are pleased with the
fresher look so far.