Act 18: Brothers and Sisters

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If the church is a family, we have a lot of brothers and sisters living in desperate need of our help. Persecution is real, and the stories are alarming. It can feel like there’s no way to help, or that these are people beyond hope. But with a God who is powerful, we have access to the most effective, destiny-making help we could bring: contending in prayer. – His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London

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“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:8–10 NKJV)

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So, what can we do in witnessing the persecution and suffering of others? Firstly, we do all we can to alleviate their immediate suffering and need, and become their advocates.- His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London

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Today’s choices

GREEN OPTION:

Read some stories from the persecuted church. Look up Open Doors or Release International – their websites are full of stories that will motivate you to pray.

YELLOW OPTION:

Come up with a plan for how you’ll pray for the persecuted, daily, for the next few months.

RED OPTION:

Look into taking a mission trip with a persecuted church charity.

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Christianity in India – a minority religion under attack

At the risk of boring everyone with stories of when I was in India, here are some more. Christians in the U.K. have generally no idea how difficult it is for some Christians around the globe to meet and pray. We are very fortunate and something we take for granted in the U.K. It took 3 years living in India to fully understand that.

Having lived in India for three years, I can see how Hindu nationalism is gradually creeping into every aspect of life. Tolerance for other religions was minimal when we arrived in 2015 but even that low level of tolerance had diminished over the three years to 2018. It is an extremely worrying trend.

Here are some of the stories that hit the headlines.

On 16th September 2016 Prashant Bhatnagar, a 45 year old christian, was abducted at gunpoint, severely beaten, urinated on and threatened with immolation for distributing christian literature in Kharghar and Taloja, near Mumbai.

On 24th September 2016 volunteers at the Gideon International stall at the annual agricultural festival in Dharwood, Karnataka were assaulted by 200 Hindu extremists who also destroyed the Bibles in various Indian languages.

On Sunday 2nd October 2016 Mr G Dhanasekharan, a christian municipal councillor, was hacked to death with sickles and other sharp implements by 5 people in Padappai, Tamil Nadu. The attack took place inside a church in front of the congregation.

Mangaluru 31st Jan 2017 the local village (gram panchayat) president opening a new dining hall at a temple was subject to a 20 people strong protest because he is a Christian. They said his presence was a violation of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997. He said: “it hurts to see such conduct. but I leave it to the Lord”- V.J. Sebastian,  Kokkada GP president.

Sunday 12th February 2017, Dehli – two 17 year old juveniles were held by police for burgling a church in Rosina, North West Dehli on Saturday 11th February. The youths had fled with ₽5,000 from the donation box as well as vandalising the church, including the Holy Cross. It was the first incident the church had suffered in 25 years.

Sunday 26th February 2017, Nonspung village – 16 churchgoers were killed when their truck rammed into a concrete railing. The churchgoers came from Nginiong, Nongbudon and Mawbyrkong villages and were on their way to the Nonglang Synod of Presbyterian church.

Thursday 9th March Compassion International (an American Christian NGO) announces it is winding up operations in India. The Hindu newspaper reported:

According to the allegation carried in the NYT, the proposal forwarded was that the [Indian] government “might view Compassion International more favourably if the charity routed a portion of its $45 million in annual charitable donations away from churches and through non-Christian aid groups, including Hindu ones.”

The key figure at the centre of the decision is reported as being Mr Tiwari who works for a powerful Indian American lobby group. It is reported that he gave informal advice as follows:

“I told them I am against the conversion of children, and that if they wanted to prove that they were not into conversion, they should choose partners other than Christian Pentecostal outfits. I told them India is a secular country, but illegal conversions are not tolerated, ” Mr Tiwari said.

(I don’t think India is a secular country at all, it is very Hindu.)

Pray for the Christians in India. They need our support.

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How can you help?

The Barnabus Fund is a registered charity who help and aid persecuted Christians across the globe.

Barnabas Fund provides aid for Christian minorities where they live with discrimination, injustice, violence or persecution because of their faith, encourages prayer on their behalf, and raises awareness of their plight and the causes of their suffering. Working in over 80 countries through churches and Christian organisations on the ground, Barnabas Fund helps to support hundreds of projects every year, which provide practical help for oppressed Christian minorities. These include feeding programmes, medical assistance, Christian schools, income-generation projects, leadership training, literature and resources, help for prisoners and victims of violence, support for full-time Christian workers, disaster relief and many other areas of need.

You can find out more about their work here: https://barnabasfund.org/en/about/who-we-are and donate here: https://www.give.net/Barnabasfund. (Give.net is powered by Stewardship who also do @40acts).

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40