For many Christians around the world, Good Friday is always present. But even those who live with oppression, hunger, imprisonment, torture, and death know in their hearts the reality that they are Easter People, and “Alleluia” is their song.
An explosion devastated a busy bus station on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Monday, April 14, 2014. It was the latest in a series of terrorist attacks on Africa’s most populous nation. No group had claimed credit for the attack as of Monday, but Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan laid the blame at the feet of Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group seeking the eradication of Christians and the Islamization of Nigeria.
The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan has just elected the Rt. Rev. Ezekiel Kondo as the new Archbishop for Sudan (the north). Kondo, who has been the Bishop of Khartoum since 2003 will now oversee all the Internal Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
Open Doors estimates Iran has 370,000 “new Christians from a Muslim background.” The organization says many Iranians have become Christians because of Christian television programming from other nations.
Refugees from Iran say that Christians have boldly begun discussing their faith with Muslim neighbors.
Last week I traveled to Ottawa for a consultation of religious liberty organizations working in partnership. Being with others who have a passion for the persecuted was very encouraging. So were messages from Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom and from a member of the Canadian Parliament.
Officials ranging from U.S. Catholic leaders to a former president of Lebanon are expressing concern about the increasing persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East.
Seven years have passed since the horrific deaths of Turkish Christians Necati Aydin, 35, and Ugur Yuksel, 32, and German Christian Tilmann Geske 46. There is still no justice for the families of the three men who were tortured and killed at the Malatya, Turkey offices of Zirve Christian Publishing. And now, thanks to changes in the judicial system passed by the Turkish Parliament, justice may never be meted out on the Islamist murderers.
The jihad against Christians in Tanzania has been increasing in recent years, with radical Islamists intent on eradicating the Christian presence. This Christmas, Christians at the Gilgal Christian Worship Center mourned the loss of their church’s youth leader, Elias Lunyamila Meshack, who was killed on October 22 in what Christians called “a brutal machete attack.”
The war on Christmas (and on Christianity by extension) here at home is less than a shadow of what our Christians brothers and sisters around the world are facing. And at Christmas, it is good for us to remember in addition to all of their other suffering, many are forbidden from celebrating publicly the birth of Jesus.