Churches worldwide under attack, says Open Doors

WHILE people across America were horrified by the recent shooting death of a pastor in the US, many Christians in the West don’t realize that deadly violence against believers  in many countries around the world occurs on a daily basis, according to Open Doors USA.

For instance, on the same day Rev. Fred Winters, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Maryville, was killed, a man exploded a crude bomb in a church and shot the pastor in a village in Bihar, India. Inspector of police Hari Krishna Mandal told Compass Direct News that the attacker, Rajesh Singh, had come fully prepared to kill the pastor, Vinod Kumar, and then take his own life. Church members caught Singh before he could kill himself or others. The 35-year-old pastor is recovering. The attacker wanted to kill the pastor to stop the conversions of Hindus to Christianity.

A week ago Compass Direct News reported a gun and club attack on a Presbyterian church and neighboring homes in the predominantly Christian area of a village in Pakistan. One woman was killed and 16 people wounded.

“Most Christians in the United States don’t know this kind of violence happens every day in some restrictive countries around the world…places like Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan. And the attacks are directed against Christians. They are caught in the crossfire,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. “People don’t think that kind of persecution could happen in the U.S., but it is starting to happen. That’s why we must unite in prayer with our brothers and sisters around the world.”

On a larger scale, rioting sparked by Muslim attacks on Christians and their property in Jos, Nigeria on Nov. 28-29, 2009 left six pastors dead, at least 500 other people killed and 40 churches destroyed, according to church leaders. More than 25,000 persons were displaced in the two days of violence. What began as outrage over suspected vote fraud in local elections quickly hit the religious fault line as angry Muslims took aim at Christian sites rather than at political targets. Police and troops reportedly killed about 400 rampaging Muslims in an effort to quell the unrest, and Islamists shot, slashed or stabbed to death more than 100 Christians.

Torture, imprisonment, harassment and murder are all directed towards Christians. Open Doors estimates 100 million Christians are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.

“Last month Open Doors released its annual World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution,” says Moeller. “It was headed by North Korea again, followed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Those countries are always among the top persecutors.

“Could the United States be listed there some day? Perhaps. A study revealed  the number of people calling themselves Christians in the US has significantly dropped over the last two decades. We need to be on our guard to protect our precious freedom of religion in the US and advocate for those who don’t share our freedom. We also need to be ready to share our faith, no matter what the cost.”

An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers.

The Christian Messenger