The forgotten women of the persecuted church
Vietnam: Hanh Ly was allowed to see her husband for 15 minutes a month, that is – if she was lucky. The prison authorities did their best to make anyone visiting their family unlikely. His crime was that he was a Christian and had refused to give up his faith.
Philippines: Esther Biral’s family saw their 2 storey house go up in flames along with all their belongings, because the family had converted to Christianity from Islam.
Middle East: Sara, Hassan and their 2 children have been on the run against Hassan’s own family, who are trying to remove the shame from their family once and for all. They are robbed, poisoned and persecuted. Now they live separated to protect their children.
Kurdistan: Ruth’s husband Mansour was murdered. A bible was found near his body. She now brings up her two small children alone.
China: Alice Juan, whose husband Alan Juan spent 22 years in prison for preaching about his faith says she underwent 4 tests:
- Physical endurance- The test of trusting God to provide food, shelter and clothing for herself and her children. To be provided with the strength to work beyond what was humanly possible.
- Political tests- Facing discrimination and humiliation from co workers and members of the community. Inability of the children to procure work because of the father’s imprisonment. Being interrogated by authorities, asked to denounce her faith and divorce her husband.
- Strength to meet the test- Though she was qualified to work as a secretary, she was transferred to a brick factory as a punishment for disobeying government orders. She could complete her required quota in adverse weather conditions only with God’s strength.
- Staying faithful to marriage vows- She was pressured from every side to remarry. Divorcing Alan would remove from her family the stigma of being from the “anti- revolutionary” side. Interested suitors offered her money of gifts, clothes and of a better life with no worries about food or housing.
Alan Juan returned home after 21 years and 8 months to his loving wife. At their 60th wedding anniversary 6 children and 10 grandchildren honoured them.
But not all stories have happy endings. In fact many Christians in the persecuted churches have denounced their faith in the face of oppression with the desire to survive. Some have lost spouses or been forced to remarry. Many of the children succumb to lack of food and medical treatment.
They need our prayers.
Prayers against discouragement
Prayers that more people come to the Lord
Paul and Silas were travelling from town to town preaching about Jesus. One such journey led them to Mecadonia. They met Lydia, who was a rich dealer, who opened her heart to the good news of Jesus. She invited them to reside in her house. The next day while they were preaching, they got on the bad side of the government and were thrown into prison. They spent the night in chains- singing and praising God. A miracle happens. The next day, it was acknowledged that imprisoning and beating them had been a mistake especially since they had rights as citizens. The government tried to cover up the mistake by attempting to release them secretly. They are then released publically and asked to leave the city.
In their suffering, a slave girl was freed, a jailor prevented from committing adultery and the gospel shared many many times. (Act:16)
This isn’t just a story.
New stories are written every day.
Let’s pray for the characters in each of them.
Open Door International Ministries (http://www.opendoors.org/) is an organisation that serves persecuted Christians worldwide, provide bible training and deliver bibles in areas where it is forbidden. The details can be found on their website.
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