Relaymedia

Christians Around the World Suffer from Persecution During Holy Week

( [email protected] ) Apr 09, 2004 07:51 AM EDT

Iraq is not the only country where Christians are being threatened during the time of Easter. According to Agape Press, persecution continues among many Christians around the world on top of political tensions, economic change, and interfaith conflict.

For example in Europe, Muslims are still taking action against Christians in Kosovo, killing 500 Christians and burning 117 Christian churches recently. Dr. Richard Land, a Southern Baptist leader who represents the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission commented, "The only reason that it's not a lot worse than it is, is because of the attention focused on it by the United States government. Our government needs to do more, but if our government were not involved, nobody would be doing anything."

Persecution persists in Asia also. In India for example, the government is threatened because of the growing number of Christian churches, and is putting more restriction on Christians to prevent any challenge to India’s traditional social structure. Voice of the Martyrs is one of the main Christians organizations that fight against the secular world of India, monitoring Christian persecution in that country.

VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton said, "We are seeing economic growth, but it is a time where there is an anti-Christian spirit there, and the root of it is the fact that the church there is growing dramatically.” However he sees hope in India that the church will continue to grow, eventually changing the nation’s political structure.

According to Nettleton, the Hindu leaders are quite threatened by how Indians quickly become Christians as they accept Jesus Christ. "The message of the gospel, especially to low-caste Hindus, is such a message of hope and redemption that they are eagerly waiting to hear the good news. That will change individual lives," he said, "and as it changes more and more individuals, it will eventually change the country."

"The Hindu culture, with the caste system, is sort of bent on keeping certain people down and keeping certain people up. So when someone comes along and says, 'Wait a minute -- you don't have to be held down; Jesus died for you,' that is great news, especially if you're in one of those lower castes that really has no hope," Nettleton added.

Although Christians never initiate violence, they have been always the target of persecution from Muslims in Africa. In Nigeria, a mass number of Christians were killed – total 1,500, including eight pastors, along with 173 churches that were destroyed. Several weeks ago Muslims began attacking Christians in the Nigerian state of Plateau, resulting not only in the numerous deaths, but also in the displacement of more than 25,000 people.

According to Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors, another Christian ministry that serves the persecuted Church, some states in northern Nigeria have implemented very strict fundamentalist law and have also brought in other extremist groups from outside of the country.

Referring to an incident where several men, women and children were killed by machetes and axes while they were worshipping, Dykstra said, "Things like that -- we just can't let that lie, and so we need to pray that there would be peace in that nation.”

Source: The Agape Press