While Christians in the Western world attend Palm Sunday services and look forward to Easter next Sunday, let’s remember fellow Christians who live in countries where simply being a Christian, let alone witnessing to one’s faith, brings hardship and even danger.
Many of these Christians live in places where they don’t dare gather; others gather quietly in “house churches.” Many of them liven in places where Christianity, though persecuted, is growing by leaps and bounds; others live in places where Christians are so brutally persecuted that it’s impossible to get a true idea of how many Christians there are.
In the Internet age it takes only a little effort and time to support Christians imprisoned for their faith. A number of websites are dedicated to spreading the word about persecution and helping those who wish to support their brothers and sisters in need:
HelpLinfen.com focuses on the persecuted Christians in Linfen, China. Last fall the Chinese government, unnerved by the explosive growth of Christianity, sent 400 police officers and other officials to physically destroy Linfen’s church, one of the largest in China. Many of those attending the church were beaten and imprisoned, including Yang Caizhen (pictured above), the wife of pastor Yang Xuan.
According to HelpLinfen, the fifty-five-year-old Caizhen “supported her husband’s ministry by giving up a successful medical career to help in the Linfen House Church and care for her family.” She was arrested on November 30, 2009, and sentenced to two years of “re-education through labor.”
When you go to HelpLinfen’s website, click on “Click here to Send a Letter of Encouragement.” You can then print out a letter, in both English and Chinese, to send to Caizhen and others in the reeducation camp. (Note: You must enable East Asian languages on your PC. For Windows XP: Start > Control Panel > Date, Time, Language, and Region Options > Regional and Language Options > click on Languages tab > check Install files for East Asian languages box > click OK.)
ChinaAid provides help for persecuted Christians throughout China. At its website you can read the story of Jiang Zongxiu, age thirty-four, who was arrested on June 18, 2004, for handing out gospel tracts in the local market. While in police custody, she was beaten to death. ChinaAid “paid the maintenance fee for her remains, sent two teams to her hometown to visit her family and provided funding to help cover the living and education expenses for her four-year-old son.”
On Voice of the Martyrs' website, you can find a wealth of information about the persecution of Christians around the world. One of VOM’s ministries, PrisonerAlert, offers opportunities to email officials and write to prisoners in some of today’s most dangerous countries for Christians, including North Korea, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Nigeria, Myanmar, and Eritrea.
PrisonerAlert highlights the stories of Christians suffering for their faith, among them:
- Girmay Ambaye, who was arrested by security police in Eritrea for witnessing about Christ to people on a city bus (the third time he’s been imprisoned for his faith).
- Maryam Jalili, who was one of fifteen Christians arrested on December 24, 2009, in Pakdasht, Iran, while at a house church celebrating Christmas.
- Asia Bibi from Ittanwali, Pakistan, who was arrested by police last June and faces blasphemy charges for witnessing to Muslim women about her faith.
- Son Jong Nam, who has spent more than a year in a North Korean prison awaiting public execution. He risked his life returning to North Korea to preach the gospel.
PrisonerAlert’s website makes it easy to email officials and write letters to prisoners. Click on “Write an encouraging letter” on the home page. Such emails and letters throw an unwanted spotlight on the prisoners’ situations and have been known to shorten the prison sentences of Christians and even save their lives.
Bibles Unbound donates Bibles to countries where Bibles are scarce and Christians are treated with hostility. In some cases, Bibles are delivered by hand in covert operations, and those delivering them are at great risk. Thirty dollars supports the delivery of six Bibles. Except in the case of covert operations, you receive the names of those to whom your Bibles are sent.
Take a moment between now and Resurrection Day to offer comfort and support to persecuted Christians around the world.