Home > Radical Islam, Wars and Rumors of War > Iran, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan … Sharp Increase In Violence Against Christians Worldwide Brings Renewed Urgency For The Persecuted Church

Iran, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan … Sharp Increase In Violence Against Christians Worldwide Brings Renewed Urgency For The Persecuted Church

By Jamie Dean – “When Iranian authorities released condemned pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from prison on Sept. 8, Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) compared the moment to an account in Acts 12: As church members prayed for Peter’s release from jail, the apostle (delivered by an angel) suddenly knocked on the door. The Christians were so surprised they nearly didn’t answer.

‘I believe it’s no coincidence that Pastor Nadarkhani was released as people around the world were praying for him,’ Thomas told supporters. ‘What a result … and such an unexpected one at that!’ …

For every Nadarkhani released, many more remain imprisoned or persecuted for their Christian faith. That reality offers particular potency to the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church—slated this year for Nov. 4.

On the eve of the annual event, it’s challenging to grasp the persecution hounding many Christians worldwide. Indeed, Open Doors USA—a California-based advocacy group—publishes an annual list of 50 countries with the worst records on persecution.

But in a brief look at a handful of countries, a common theme emerges: In a year of answered prayers, the suffering remains steep, the need for prayer remains sharp, and the faith of many persecuted Christians remains strong.

In Iran, advocacy groups aren’t the only ones reporting Christians’ suffering. In late September, two human-rights experts from the United Nations reported that Iranian authorities were intensifying their clampdown on evangelical churches.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, estimated that Iranian authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained more than 300 Christians since June 2010. Shaheed said ‘scores of Christians’ remained in jail ‘for freely practicing their religion.’

Advocacy groups believe that number is far higher. CSW reported a ‘steep rise’ in persecution against religious minorities in Iran during 2011 and 2012. The list of developments include: ‘waves of arrests and detentions; regular raids on church gatherings; harsh interrogations; physical and psychological torture (including demands for recantations of faith and for information on the identities of fellow Christians); extended detentions without charge; violations of due process; convictions for ill-defined crimes or on falsified political charges; and economic targeting through exorbitant bail demands.’

The group also noted ‘a proliferation of anti-Christian rhetoric from senior official figures’ and ‘a systematic infiltration of church networks’ by Iranian authorities.” Read more.

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