Persecution is alive and well in Asia.
This fact sometimes escapes me as I travel in the region. Our A2 national leaders are so gracious that I am often lulled into complacency as I visit with our A2 participants and hear about what God is doing in their area.
I’ve been jarred out of that complacency by some recent flareups of what is in fact simmering at all times…fear and resentment of the growth of the Church in what have historically been Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and/or animistic cultures—or countries where one-party dictatorship has replaced any semblance of representative government. What I’m realizing is that this fear and resentment, and the persecution that can accompany it, never really goes away. Rather, it ebbs and flows, depending on events, political climate, and other factors.
At least two of our A2 countries are currently facing significant harassment and persecution. I'm getting paranoid enough that I’d rather not identify names, locations, or anything else that could compromise our brothers and sisters in these countries. God will of course know how and where to direct our prayers on their behalf.
First, you can pray for one country where recent political events are emboldening extremists from the historically-dominant religion of that country. After years of peace, two weeks ago a number of pastors were arrested and jailed without cause or notice. Our A2 leaders (along with other courageous Christian leaders in the area) went to the authorities on behalf of these pastors and were able to secure their release. But the situation remains tentative and very tense. Pray for peace and courage for these leaders and their families as they navigate an unknown and threatening future.
In a second situation, government officials, without warning, descended upon leaders of a well-regarded Christian educational institution—rousting faculty and students in the middle of the night, beating and arresting many. Some students have quit the school and returned to their homes (likely the intent of the authorities), but the majority have chosen to stay and persevere in spite of the oppression.
I was asked to contact our national director to get his thoughts on the situation. Our conversation was short. “Noel, these things you mention—I cannot talk about them. Do you understand?” I did, as he immediately cut off the connection. Pray for a special hedge of protection upon the students, faculty, and administrators of this school as they stand firm in the face of direct physical persecution. And pray for our A2 and other national leaders as they seek God’s wisdom for how to proceed in the face of this unexpected threat.
The irony in all this is that, while I’m sitting here panicked, our in-country leaders are taking this largely in stride. A Westerner with firsthand involvement in one of these situations put it to me this way:
“When my friends are persecuted, they never want me to go to bat for them with the U.S. government or other humanitarian agencies. They feel it is part of their calling to suffer. And they keep telling me that being persecuted gives them opportunities to witness to the police which would otherwise not take place.”
Enough said. Thank you for your prayers.
- Photo credits: 1) Image courtesy of worldprayr.org 2) Image courtesy of godcall.net