Tag Archives: Persecution

Living for a Cause, Dying for God: What Makes a Martyr? 

A presentation on Christian martyrdom given at the Gulf Cultural Club, London. Watch the video here

“The early church’s theology of martyrdom was born not in synods or councils, but in sunlit, blood—drenched coliseums and catacombs, dark and still as death. The word martyr means “witness” and is used as such throughout the New Testament. However, as the Roman Empire became increasingly hostile toward Christianity, the distinctions between witnessing and suffering became blurred and finally nonexistent.” (William Bixler)[2]

Continue reading

Standing Strong in the Storms of Life

[vimeo 6474276]

A Firm Foundation in the Storms of Life from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

It is 2:00am and you are deep in sleep, warm and at peace in your bed. Suddenly you wake up to the sound of hammering on your front door, the sound of shouting. You jump out of bed and race for the door, your heart pounding, your eyes still bleary. Before you reach the door, it is torn off its hinges and flattened before you. You are face to face with men in black uniforms carrying guns. There are bright lights in your eyes. You begin to speak and then you feel the searing pain at the aside of your head then … nothing! When you regain consciousness you are lying on the ground, you can feel the grass. It was not a dream – hours have passed. Your family are with you. They are distressed. They are bandaging up the wound on your head with strips of cloth from your son’s T-shirt. It feels cold and damp. As your eyes begin to focus you see stars above. “Why are we outside? What’s happening?” you whisper. With tears your wife says, “The government – they took everything! Our house, cars, clothes, food, money … every­thing! Because we are Christians.” In one day, your whole life has changed, radically, permanently. You are now criminalised, you are poor, unemployable, persecuted, an exile. You won’t gather with your friends for church this Sunday. As a matter of fact, you don’t even know where they are.

You sit there with a numb mind and bruised body trying to grasp what has just happened to you and your family.

Just a week ago, on Saturday 29th August, Joseph Garang, Archdeacon of Wernyol in Southern Sudan, near the border with Uganda and Kenya, was shot dead at the communion table during a service of Morning Prayer. He was one of forty Christians – men, women and children – killed that day in Jonglei State. In Ezo, near the border with the Congo, earlier in August, there was another devastating attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in which three people, including a Church lay reader were murdered. The attack included the abduction of children from the Anglican church in Ezo.
The Hospital was also attacked, medicine stolen and equipment destroyed. Several thousand more people have been displaced – people that the local churches are struggling to care for. Over the years, many have crossed into Northern Uganda as refugees and we hope to work with some of them in January when we launch the Christianity Explored Course in Swahili. Open Doors advocates on behalf of persecuted Christian minorities. They rank countries by the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith.

Of the fifty countries where persecution is considered most severe, six countries have Communist or former Communist governments (such as North Korea 1st , China 12th & Vietnam 23rd). Three are non-alligned (India 22nd , Burma 24th & Kenya 49th ). The other 41 countries are ruled by Islamic law.

Continue reading