Of course, killing Christians just because they are Christians is the exception in America. However, in about sixty countries on earth, for millions of professing Christians, it is dangerous to be a practicing believer in Jesus, yet God is using Christian martyrdom to grow the church.
"We are witnessing an astonishing escalation in Christian persecution, like we have rarely seen since the first century," writes Johnnie Moore in his new book called The Martyr’s Oath: Living for the Jesus They’re Willing to Die For. Johnnie wrote a book a few years ago that was a bestseller, called Defying ISIS. After writing that first book, he was able to raise $25 million on behalf of the persecuted church.
In a radio interview with him about his new book, Moore told me he got involved in this because, as a college student at Liberty University, he witnessed an unusual (to him) graduation ceremony in India.
Moore said, "There were 2000 graduates to this Bible school…and yet, before they got their diploma and a bicycle and a one-way train ticket to an unreached place of their choice, they had an extra step. They had to actually stand up and take a ‘martyr's oath.’ They had to pledge that if they had to die for their faith, they would be willing to die for their faith."
“I AM A FOLLOWER OF JESUS. I believe He lived and walked among us, was crucified for our sins, and was raised from the dead, according to the Scriptures,” begins the “Martyr’s Oath,” which Moore includes in the appendix of his book. This is the same type of pledge that the Indian bishop administered.
The oath continues, “I believe He is the King of the earth, who will come back for His church….As He has given His life for me, so I am willing to give my life for Him. I will use every breath I possess to boldly proclaim His gospel.”
Moore reflected on how this struck him at the time: "Here I was, a sheltered American, never having been exposed to such a thing; and all of a sudden, I was in the heart of the persecuted church. And I felt like I was standing in the book of Acts." He notes that persecution of Christians has often been the norm in history, not the exception.
Moore told of a Muslim couple that converted to Jesus and left Syria for a neighboring country. One of their relatives wrote, saying he knew what they had done (leaving Islam), and he knew where they lived. When he caught up with them, he would crucify them, unless they changed back.
Moore said the couple wrote back to the relative, answering that they were glad to know Jesus and were willing to die for Him—but that they were not worthy to die in the same manner as He did.
“There’s always been crucifixions of Christians because it’s the obvious thing to do if you hate them and you want to get rid of them.” So said the late Dr. David Barrett, a leading church statistician and researcher, who was the founding editor of the massive World Christian Encyclopedia (1982) in a Christian-TV interview I did years ago.
Barrett said, “Martyrdom is a continuing phenomenon, affecting roughly one in every two hundred Christians. Some time or other in their lives, that number of people will be murdered for their faith or they will lose their lives. And it’s been the same, right from the beginning. People tend to think that martyrdom belongs to the early church, the first three centuries; but it went on after that, and it is going on exactly the same rate today---0.5% per annum.”
Barrett even told a humorous story, where he was once addressing a large group of Southern Baptists. During an open mic session, a very wealthy industrialist asked: “What is the single most significant way I can help promote world evangelization?” Barrett answered, “Well, the main factor, as I see it, is martyrdom.” This elicited laughs from the audience, but the industrialist didn’t laugh. After a few moments, he asked what the second most important way is.
It is good to pray for the persecuted church and do what we can to help them. Not just one day of the year, but throughout as well.
YEAR OF THE SWORD: A CENTURY OF CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE
How the grandparents of today’s Christian victims of ISIS were also butchered by Muslims.
Editor’s Note: The following review was written by Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The book reviewed is Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, a History(published by the Oxford University Press, 2016), by Joseph Yacoub, an Honorary Professor of Political Science at Catholic University of Lyon. A significantly shorter version of this review first appeared in the Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2017.
This important contribution to genocide studies documents how the world’s oldest Christian communities—variously referred to as Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Arameans, but best known as Assyrians—were, along with the Armenians, “victims of the [Ottoman] plan for exterminating Christianity, root and branch,” to quote Lord Bryce, circa. 1920. In fact, as half of the Assyrian population was massacred—going from 600,000 to 300,000 in 1915-18—relative to their numbers, no other Christian group, including the Armenians, suffered as much under the Ottomans.
Yacoub, emeritus professor at the Catholic University of Lyon, offers copious documentation and reports from reliable eyewitnesses, state actors, and relief agencies that recount countless atrocities against the Assyrians—massacres, rapes, death marches, and the destruction of some 250 churches. Most disturbing are the detailed eyewitness accounts that go above facts and figures (such as the sadistic eye-gouging of Assyrians or the gang rape of their young children on the altars of their churches).
While acknowledging that the Assyrians were “annihilated by the murderous madness of Ottoman power, driven by a hideous form of unbridled nationalism,” for Yacoub, the “policy of ethnic cleansing was stirred up by pan-Islamism and religious fanaticism. Christians were considered infidels (kafir). The call to Jihad, decreed on 29 November 1914 and instigated and orchestrated for political ends, was part of the plan” to “combine and sweep over the lands of Christians and to exterminate them.” Several key documents, including one from 1920 document, confirm that there was “an Ottoman plan to exterminate Turkey’s Christians.” Accordingly, unexpected actors such as the Kurds, who had their own reasons to oppose anything decreed by Turks, “were accomplices in the massacres, and participated in looting for ideological reasons (the Christians were infidels),” explains Yacoub.
While focusing on the mass murders that began in 1915—“the year of the sword” to the Assyrians—Yacoub makes clear that such events were not aberrant. Instead, they are part of a continuum that stretches back to the seventh-century Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia and that continues to this day under the guise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other Middle East actors.
Indeed, many of the Assyrian Christians who have been and continue to be persecuted by ISIS are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those massacred by the Ottomans and their minions. Thus, “[a]n irony of fate has it that these pacific yet persecuted Assyrian communities in Syria are the descendants of those who escaped the 1933 massacres in Iraq, themselves children of the Ottoman Empire’s victims in 1915.” As Yacoub—whose own family suffered massacres and deportations—puts it, perhaps the greatest lesson is that “there is no shortage of similarities between 1915 and 2015."
2:191 "slay the unbelievers wherever you find them"
Koran 3:21 "Muslims must not take the infidels as friends"
Koran 5:33 "Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam"
Koran 8:12 "Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other
than the Koran"
Koran 8:60 " Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the
Koran 8:65 "The unbelievers are stupid, urge all Muslims to fight
Koran 9:5 "When the opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you
Koran 9:123 "Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood"
Koran 22:19 "Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron
rods, boiling water, melt their skin and bellies"
Koran 47:4 "Do not hanker for peace with the infidels, behead them when
you catch them".
Europe falls to the Muslims as
America did to the invading Mexicans!
Chinese officials and residents in a rural area of Jiangxi province have revealed a government plan to “melt the hard ice” in the hearts of Christians towards communism by denying them pivotal poverty relief packages if they do not replace images of Jesus in their households with photos of President Xi Jinping.
One official stated that the move was necessary because Christians are “ignorant” and need to be taught to worship the state, not God.
The move is the latest in a string of crackdowns against Christianity in the Xi era. Xi’s regime views Christianity, which has experienced a popularity boom in the past decade, as a challenge to the supremacy of the Communist Party’s growing cult of personality around Xi himself.
The South China Morning Post first picked up on the social media posting that revealed the program, noting that the post showed someone replacing their Christian images with Xi Jinping’s official headshot and praised local Communist Party officials for having transformed locals “from believing in religion to believing in the party.”
The social media post tracked efforts in the town of Huangjinbu, in southeastern Jiangxi province. It claimed that up to 600 residents had “voluntarily” replaced their images of Jesus, resulting in 453 new photos of Xi hanging on living room walls.
The Washington Post, which also reported on the post, noted that Communist Party officials in Yugan county in Jiangxi, where Huangjinbu is located, had noted with panic the rapid growth of the region’s Christian population an expressed “a sense of crisis” about it in a regional meeting in October. This new effort may have been a result of brainstorming to solve the problem of more people believing in Jesus than communism.
The South China Morning Post confirmed the efforts with Qi Yan, identified as “chairman of the Huangjinbu people’s congress.”
“Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior. … After our cadres’ work, they’ll realise their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help,” Qi told the newspaper. Some, he added, became Christians due to “illness in the family,” which the communists argue can only be cured through “the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.”
Qi claimed that the government has only forced individuals to place photos of Xi over their Christian images in “the center of their home,” not their bedrooms or other private areas.
A local resident, which the South China Morning Post identified as “Liu,” stated that many families were forced to remove their images because they would otherwise not receive their poverty relief packages, putting their lives in jeopardy.
Christian persecution has become a hallmark of Xi-era Chinese Communist Party (CPC) rule, both due to Xi’s efforts to amass power and Christian groups’ efforts to spread the word of the Gospels. The former have been more successful than those of Xi’s recent predecessors, and Xi himself became the most powerful (CPC) chairman in modern memory at the party’s congress in October, where the party enshrined his name in the constitution, alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The Washington Post, in their piece on Huangjinbu, notes that some Chinese media have begun referring to Xi as “Great Leader,” a title previously reserved for Mao.
Xi prepared for his elevation at the party congress by severely limiting the mobility of Christian leaders, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). At the time, RFA reported that the party had “slapped a travel ban on a number of Christian believers” in southern China, preventing them from traveling to conferences in Hong Kong where they may speak openly about their persecution. Some, friends and family say, were arrested or simply went missing.
China only formally allows two Christian churches to practice: the Catholic Church and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a state-controlled Protestant entity. All open Christian worship is heavily regulated and officials control who delivers sermons and what they say during services. Even in more autonomous regions like Hong Kong, the Communist government has exerted its control over Christian events. Hong Kong Christian activist Derek Lam, for example, noted in an August New York Times column that Beijing had begun hijacking Christian youth events to promote “One Belt, One Road,” a communist infrastructure project intended to grant China complete dominance of the Asian economy.
Most Christians in China are estimated not to belong to either of the legal churches, but to worship in underground “house” churches, which are illegal. Researchers have estimatedthe total Christian population in China to be around 100 million, compared to 85 million members of the CPC.