For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…
~ Philippians 1:29 (NIV)
When the process gets to persecution (mistreatment following disinformation and discrimination), no one will do anything because, ‘You know they are bad people anyway,’” says Rev. Dr. Johan Candelin referring to his three-step process of persecution model.
Once the first steps in the process occur, mistreatment can be practiced without normal protective measures taking place. Persecution can arise from the state, the police or military, extremist organizations, paramilitary groups, anti-Christian sub-cultures and even representatives of other religious groups. The irony is that in many parts of the world, the accusations of the attackers turn the victims into the villains.
This stage is the end result and includes the “big three”: torture, imprisonment and martyrdom which are most often the examples used for persecution. A specific example would be the imprisonment of hundreds of evangelical Christians in Eritrea without formal charges—many kept in metal shipping containers.
In Iran, a Christian couple were detained and physically and psychologically tortured for four days. The authorities even threatened to lock up their four-year-old daughter in an “institution.” Twenty-eight-year-old Tina Rad from Teheran was accused of “activities against the holy religion of Islam,” because she was reading the Bible with Muslims. Her thirty-one-year-old husband, Makan Arya, was accused of having endangered national security. Both of them had only been Christians for three months. Muslim converts meet together in small groups to talk about the gospel, to grow in the Christian faith and to encourage one another. They have made a vast transition from Islam to Christianity and they have a great need of training, security and a sense of belonging. The Church tries to provide for this need and becomes the new “family.”
When they were released, the threats started. “If you don’t stop with your Jesus, next time we will charge you with apostasy,” Tina was told. In Iran, this can mean the death penalty.
Jamaa Ait Bakrim in Morocco is also serving time for his faith. Moroccan Christians and advocates question the harsh measures of the Muslim state toward a man who dared speak openly about Jesus. An outspoken Christian convert, Bakrim was sentenced to fifteen years prison for “proselytizing” and destroying “the goods of others” in 2005 after burning two defunct utility poles located in front of his private business in a small town in south Morocco.
Advocates and Moroccan Christians said, however, that the severity of his sentence in relation to his misdemeanor shows that authorities were determined to put him behind bars because he persistently spoke about his faith. “He became a Christian and didn’t keep it to himself,” said a Moroccan Christian and host for Al Hayat Television who goes only by his first name, Rachid, for security reasons. “He shared it with people around him. They will just leave him in the prison so he dies spiritually and psychologically,” said Rachid.
RESPONSE: Today I will do everything possible to represent my persecuted brothers and sisters.
PRAYER: Pray for Christians experiencing mistreatment and persecution around the world today.