On Sunday, March 30, thousands of churches throughout the free world openly celebrated Christ's resurrection. How many of these churches took a moment to remember those who have given their lives for their testimony of Jesus Christ, or prayed for our brothers and sisters who, like the apostle Peter, are imprisoned for their faith and even awaiting execution!
In Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace on earth but rather a sword, and that a man's enemies shall be members of his own household.
In the Islamic nation of Iran, "Dabra" announced her conversion to Christianity only to be imprisoned within her own house and repeatedly beaten by family members. The torment continued for over a year until she was finally taken to police headquarters.
While awaiting interrogation, she heard the screams of other women behind closed doors. When the officers searched Dabra, they discovered the New Testament that she had kept with her. They locked the frightened Christian in a small room where she escaped a guard's rape attempt by screaming at the top of her lungs. Dabra was finally released and returned to her family the following morning.
Indifferent to her tragic situation at police headquarters, Dabra's brother beat her until she lost consciousness. The trauma of the attempted rape by those who are sworn to protect and of the bearing inflicted by her brother was so great that Dabra was unable to speak for over two months. She has learned the meaning of Matthew 10:36.
Unfortunately Dabra's testimony is not unique. Thousands of Christians in Iran continue to face similar situations. Some have reportedly been put to death by members of their own family. Iran's evangelical Christian leaders are at continued risk, even after fleeing the country. Over 60 "dissidents" have been executed outside Iran in the last two decades.
If these persecutions do not deter their faith but cause them to look to the cross, to a higher resurrection, what is our excuse for continuing in our passivity toward our brothers and sisters in Muslim nations?
The treatment that Iranian Christians can expect to receive while imprisoned is clearly stated by Special Representative Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl in his report to the United Nations: "Torture of prisoners was reported to remain common throughout the country... the most frequently used methods were beatings with cables and rifle butts on the back and soles of the feet, suspension for long periods in contorted positions and burning with cigarettes.
The report went on to note the "continued high number of executions, cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment ...[and] the absence of guarantees of due process of law."
Not surprisingly, these testimonies of Iranian believers under Islamic law reads much like that of Christians under Herod's rule in the Book of Acts.
Members of the Islamic group stormed two churches on February 12 and 14 of this year. For the first time the terrorists boldly entered the congregations, firing at will. Many of the victims were youth who had gathered for the regular meetings.
One of the survivors recalled: "We were attacked from behind as we were listening to the sermon. We tried to hide behind the benches, but they followed us even up to the altar of the church."
With 15 killed and numerous others hospitalized, these attacks have resulted in the largest number of Christians martyred in the country's recent history.
Please remember to pray for the families of these young believers. The names of those killed at St. George Coptic Church in Abu Qurqas are: Aiman Reda Girgis; Samuel Kanan; Magoly Basali; Joseph Nagiub; Milad Shaker; Edward Wasfi; Mina Nabil; Gamil Mousa; and Miss Olfat. The names of the other six martyrs have not been released.
Although the Egyptian government has condemned the attacks, Christians in Egypt face continued persecution at the hands of the government, especiaily those who convert from Islam. Educators are enforcing an unofficial policy of segregation according to religious beliefs, and reports of Christian students being beaten and labelled "devils" are not uncommon.
To further segregate believers - and encourage increased terrorist arracks - the Egyptian government has instructed government agencies and businesses not to hire Christians. They hope this will force believers to convert to Islam in order to avoid unemployment and hunger.
The government has also refused permits to repair churches burned by Muslims. Land owned by the Coptic church has been confiscated and given to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, depriving many of the income the property once provided.
It is no surprise that Islamic terrorists would demonstrate such bold acts against the church when the government itself supports much persecution. Even the state-controlled media has labelled Christians as "infidels." Muslim sheiks exhort their followers to carry out jihad, a holy war, against Christians everywhere.
The support for such actions reflects the widespread acceptance of the anti-Christian propaganda and agitation coming from Tehran and Khartoum. Over the entire Arab world, and especially in Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan and Indonesia, attacks by Islamic mobs have been increasing.
On 5 February 1997 a rumour surfaced alleging Christians had destroyed a Qur'an and thrown its loose pages into a mosque shortly after evening prayers. Within 24 hours the Muslims had joined forces in the surrounding villages and gathered an army of 30,000 to deliver its revenge.
The inflamed Muslims went on a rampage in Pakistan's Punjab Province, burning down churches and destroying the homes and shops of their Christian neighbours.
A Christian leader visiting Shanti Nagar the following morning reported, "Every house is burned out, the town is looted, all the vehicles are burnt, and they have destroyed the water tanks, the electricity system, everything.
Twenty Christians were hospitalized and one brother, "Feroz Masih," has since died. Two young girls are missing and believed to be held by Muslim terrorists. One thousand Christian men, women, and children were also taken out into a field to be executed. Fortunately, the Pakistani army arrived before the massacre took place.
Nearly 15,000 Christians are now homeless and have lost most of their personal property. They have no food or water, no place to sleep, and nothing to wear except the clothes they wore while watching their village burn.
It was later discovered that members of the Pakistani police were responsible for the destroying the Qur'an and had falsely accused the Christians in the name of Islam. The Muslims in Pakistan "succeeded" in this battle against their Christian neighbours. They fight their holy war with diligence and speed.
While the Muslim nations unite in a common mission to enforce Islamic rule, Christians in the western world remain relatively ignorant. However, Ephesians 6:12 clearly states that we are also in a "holy" war - a battle not "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
But God says, "... there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none besides Me. Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other" (lsaiah 45:21-22).
And Jesus said, "l'm the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by Me" (John 14:6).
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs
Serving the persecuted Church, the Mission works in over 50 countries. To help support the Australian mission, you may contact them by email on:
or write to them:
The Voice of the Martyrs
PO Box 598
Penrith NSW 2751
For more information on Bible studies available, visit the Churchlink site on the World Wide Web at http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink. Enquiries to: [email protected]