Every time I turn around these days there are reports of increasing persecution of believers and churches in various countries. It seems that persecution is on the rise as nationalism becomes the political whim of the moment.
10 of the 16 countries Asian Access serves have seen persecution expand. Here are a few glimpses from just this past week:
“One of our Bible college alumni is beaten by people, accusing of converting people while he was returning with friends helping people with relief material.” – shared by our national director from a South Asian country
In another Asian nation, our national director shared this:
“I thought I would discuss with you some challenges we are facing. We thought registering as a company would make things easier for us to run A2. But this current government has made things so difficult for small entities to do business. Complains have increased tremendously many small entities have wound up the past couple of years. Due to the government policies, the new rules have made our life very difficult. Right now we have been struggling with that. Added to all that the government has been working overtime to clamp down on companies, so in the process they have come up with another requirement which we are in no position to fulfill. Since we have used my residence address for registration. We are in no position to comply to their requirement. since they want us to send photos of our office building plus my office location ( longitude and latitude) etc. As per the government norms residential property can’t be used for commercial purposes. So either way we are going to be in a jam. If we don’t submit the required documents they will remove our name from the list of companies plus I have to pay penalties. Keep us in your prayers. As we discuss with auditor as to how to take it forward.”
Finally, in another country, several churches have been closed, burnt to the ground or put under house arrest. I was just with a handful of leaders from this country who have shared similar reports as the one above:
“We have to re-think how we do church… We no longer see ourselves as senior pastors of large churches. Rather, we are mission pastors catalyzing house church movements.”
As these problems rise, what can you do?
- First, as we note in that article above: Voting Matters! – In particular, as I’ve noted above Nationalistic Politics are particularly problematic. They inflame religious intolerance so whether it’s voting or advocating for religious freedom, don’t be afraid to step up for what is right.
- Second, please pray. This problem is not going to go away anytime soon. We need the Lord of the Harvest to blanket these leaders and churches in His Spirit’s protection. As one of our leaders who was quoted above told me,
“Please tell people not to worry. We’ve been through this before! Do pray and do advocate but please don’t over-react.”
- Finally, you can make a difference by both serving and giving. How, you might ask?
The same leader quoted above told me the most important thing we can do is keep empowering leaders. By developing leaders, we are building their capacity to withstand the challenges they are facing. By coming alongside to equip them, we can best help buttress the pressures.
Asian Access is presently working on a comprehensive new initiative to help embolden these leaders. It’ll be something we incorporate into our first class leader development process to strengthen the persecuted church. Given that 10 of our 16 countries are facing these pressures, this effort is paramount. It will include the best-in-class capacity building in areas of spiritual development, legal counsel, and a holistic approach to dealing with pressure and persecution.
Perhaps you are qualified to help us in teaching these new segments or even helping design them. OR, perhaps you could give toward this comprehensive new initiative. Ideally, we could fund our entire programs in these countries as to most effectively come alongside.
So please PRAY, please ADVOCATE, please COME and SERVE, and please GIVE. We could use your help and more importantly, the persecuted church could use your help!
Thanks for praying and serving,
Joe Handley, President
- Map courtesy of Open Doors
- One in three Christians face persecution in Asia, report finds
- Asia is 'new hotbed of Christian persecution'
- World Watch List: Countries Where Christianity is Illegal | Open Doors
- Stories on persecution