The immediate issues of the day can often obscure other long-standing and important problems in the modern world. That is especially true when many of the immediate issues are also critically important, as is the case today.
For buried beneath the news of dangerous threats from Iran, the overwhelming numbers of illegal aliens creating an emergency at America’s southern border, the advance of Jihadist Islam, the squawking of the increasingly insane Left against anything associated with President Trump is an ancient struggle for the ultimate well-being of every person on earth.
It is a war carried on through more than two millennia between Christianity and the rest of the world. The lone exception to this is traditional Judaism in modern times because the world also aligns generally against Israel today, but that is another article.
Christianity Is Besieged by Persecution
The very existence of the Christian population is under a greater peril from persecution today than at any time in history. This begins with the hundreds of millions of Christians in nations where the faith is illegal and the suffering is palpable.
For example, according to Voice of the Martyrs, in most of the Muslim-majority nations in Asia and Africa,
Bibles are considered propaganda and are not allowed to be imported or printed. VOM supports covert Bible operations in this region so Christians have access to God’s Word.
This means that VOM workers and associates must get Bibles, or portions of Bibles, to Christian by smuggling the Scriptures into those countries. The same situation exists in Communist regimes such as North Korea.
If caught with a Bible, Ri Gun would be sent to a labor camp … or worse. So she tucked her small Bible into the fronds of a special mop intended for cleaning the portraits she was required to display of former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. VOM workers smuggle both print and digital Bibles into the country.
There are those in the Christian community who object to illegally smuggling Bibles and even object to the “house” church movement in China. The Christian church in China is under the control of the Communist government.
Christianity is not technically illegal in China, however, the churches must be approved by the Party and incorporated under the “Three-Self Patriotic Movement.” “House” churches are those which do not register with the TSPM and are thus illegal.
Yes, Christianity in China is legal, and yes, churches can meet publicly under the TSPM banner. But this comes with consequences. The TSPM reserves the right to censor and control their churches to the extent they deem necessary and appropriate.
Under the TSP, churches must register and are not allowed to form anything other than local congregations under the authority of the community-level Party loyalists. These churches are also monitored overtly and covertly.
The Communist Party is fixated on the absolute control of Christianity. So much so that there are reports they are working on their own translation of a Chinese-Communist-friendly Bible.
The underground “house church” movement, therefore, operates in a very risky and dangerous territory should they be caught defying the government. The main reason such Christians take these risks is simple.
This is the house-church stance. Extend all the apparent olive branches you want, but Jesus Christ is still the head of the church, not the TSPM and not the CCC.
The stance that Jesus Christ is the LORD and only head of the church is common to all Christians under active persecution from atheistic Communist regimes as well as Islamic theocracies around the globe. The numbers of those who take this stance and suffer for it are mind-boggling.
According to the “Open Doors” organization which, along with VOM, are the largest and longest-operating bodies that aid persecuted Christians worldwide, in 2018 an estimated 215 million Christians lived “under high levels of persecution.” This number has increased in 2019 to 245 million people.
Christians living “under high levels of persecution” face threats against their lives, against the destruction of their church buildings and homes, and threats of arrest and imprisonment for practicing their faith. A personal story of brave believers from North Korea and Iran will shed some light upon the dangers awaiting those who risk all to follow Christ.
Faithful Sufferers for Christ
In February of 2006, a reluctant but faithful recipient of 10 Korean Bibles secretly smuggled into North Korea took a prayerful chance by leaving eight of them hidden in a package of pants at the front door of another man whom he heard humming a Christian tune. A few months later, due to a secret informant, the man, “Min-jae,” was arrested and sent to prison.
In prison, he met a former friend who had been arrested because of his Christian faith. And as they talked, Min-jae came to realize that the man he gave the Bibles to was his friend’s uncle. That man had also been arrested and was being held in a different cell in the same prison.
Moreover, that had given the Bibles to his relatives and the whole family of 27 people began to secretly meet to pray and study the Bible as a group. They were also arrested and thrown into prison after a suspicious neighbor turned them into the police.
After seven months in prison, Min-jae was released. However, his friend, his friend’s uncle and the 27 family members were all sent to a concentration camp (a REAL one for AOC’s information where they do hideous things to prisoners including torturing and killing them) and Min-jae has never seen them again.
As for Min-jae, in 2014 he managed to escape and defected to South Korea. He still feels pangs of guilt about his friend and the family because he supplied the Bibles which resulted in their being imprisoned.
Yet he also knows that God ultimately gave those Scriptures and God is with those who are suffering even now. Moreover, he has faith that the LORD will deliver them as well.
I believe that these 27 people are children of God and that God will somehow release them miraculously.
Min-jae now lives in South Korea and operates a small coffee shop there. He still carries the Bible that was given to him when he was visiting China and accepted the LORD Jesus as his Savior.
His sincere wish is that others in North Korea hear the gospel. He is getting some support from organizations like VOM, and he has a request for fellow believers.
[Min-jae] asks Christians in the United States to pray that more North Koreans will learn of God’s love for them.
Stories of such incredible faith and action for Christ can be found in every place where the gospel is being restricted by direct government force. A second example comes from a pastor of an underground ‘church’ who was imprisoned, along with his family, for over three years in horrific conditions.
In order to be released, this pastor had to sign a letter,
acknowledging that if they were caught joining an underground church or participating in any Christian activity, they would be imprisoned for life. [Pastor] Houmayoun signed the letter.
However, Houmayoun had no intention of not continuing his Christian efforts and did so in secret for a while. Eventually, after he and his family realized they were being watched and after several threats, they and several other Christians moved to a nearby country with fewer restrictions on the faith.
Houmayoun and his family hope to return to Iran one day. He often thinks about all the inmates the Christians shared the gospel with, especially those who accepted Jesus. “Some of them are out of jail, and we are still in touch with them,” he said. “Some have life sentences, and some are getting ready to be executed.”
However, one of the inmates the pastor shared the gospel with is now with them and attends their house church in their new country. While he was in prison, Houmayoun was sent for a time to be disciplined in a part of the prison named “Hell,” for its terrible conditions.
Now the pastor rejoices that even the gates of a place called Hell couldn’t stop the spread and power of the gospel. In part two of this series, we will examine some other ways in which Christianity is under siege in today’s world.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:15-18 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
The Voice of the Martyrs magazine, April 2019
Featured and Top Image courtesy of Yi Lin’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Steve Moses’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Joe Wolf’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Angela Xu’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Sally Vine’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published in TIL Journal