Down below, there is a list of various stories circulating around the internet regarding Christianity and some of the trials they face and some of the successes. As I present these stories I will try and report based off what I saw through different sources and give a quick snippet of the story as unbiased as I can and then I would like to give a few things that I noticed while researching these stories. These are the stories that I have chosen to cover this week.
- This past week starting May 1, 2021, the People’s Republic of China has made aggressive moves nationwide to shut down Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts. Father Franic Liu of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness shared a tweet showing the removal of numerous Christian accounts. The message that replaced these accounts states, “[We] received report that [this account] violates the ‘Internet User Public Account Information Services Management Provisions’ and its account has been blocked and suspended”. Bible apps have also been removed from app stores in China and hard copy Bibles are beginning to be barred from sale online. Three-self Patriotic Movement Christian bookstores (A state sanctioned Protestant church within China), has also been reported to increasingly supply books and material supporting Chinese Communist party ideology.
- On May 6, 2021, Morning Star News reported on the ongoing persecution of Christians in Nigeria. As of last year, Nigeria has become the country with the highest number of Christians killed per year. Christianity Today has recently reported that 3 in 4 martyrs today are in Nigeria and that the country has broken into the list of top 10 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian. Since last weeks reporting, there have been 12 more Christians killed by Muslim Fulani herdsman. Within the past week, alongside the murders, 13 villages were burnt to ground. This action has displaced tens of thousands of people.
- An estimated 200 church members were expelled from First Baptist Fort Lauderdale church in Fort Lauderdale on April 30, 2021. This action was directed by pastor James Welch and carried out through the Board of Trustees. Leadership terminated the membership of nearly 200 church members labeled as “discontented members”. The controversy was addressed by the board and deemed adequately addressed. Various sources depict the issue as being particularly related to financial and management disagreements.
- On May 5, 2021, Chicago pastor Timothy Johnson and his wife Renee Johnson were brutally assaulted on the south side Chicago while doing chores for Renee’s 95 year old grandmother. While doing yard work, Elijah Prince, 28, approached Timothy and asked if they were interested in buying something from him. When declining, Elijah attacked Timothy with the shovel that he was working with. When seeing this, Timothy’s wife rushed to help Timothy and was likewise attacked. Timothy was choked, punched, had his eyes gouged with a sharp wooden object, and ears and head bitten. Renee had her eyes gouged and parts of her ears ripped off. After removing the wood from his eye, Timothy called the police. Prince has been arrested with a 5 million dollar bail, with a court case set to May 10. The couple is now recovering from their injuries.
- At 2 p.m. on May 1, 2021, Indiana-based Bible distribution ministry Seedline International, kicked off a 90-hour Bible Reading Marathon. In this event, members of Congress and various church congregations took turns reading Genesis to Revelation. This event took place from Saturday to Wednesday, ending at 10 a.m. Although traditionally taking place at the Capitol Building, the event took place within the headquarters of organization Faith and Liberty (near the Supreme Court). The event was carried out predominantly through virtual means due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although still had a significant turnout.
Today’s news report is slightly smaller than the past two news updates. This does not signify any smaller contribution from the Christian’s involved.
Internationally as I read the news, I find it heart wrenching to see governments such as China take such drastic steps to restrict people’s access to the Gospel of Truth and God’s Word. I pray for a resolve when people are seeking the Word of God. I say this, even if this resolve comes by avoiding internet restrictions by using a VPN to be able to see the Bible digitally. In my research of this weeks news, I have read that this has had some success for people.
As the American church, I want to give a warning and state that this is not too far fetched of a concept to occur in the United States. Internet restrictions are just one mandate away from making a cold reality. Treasure your Bible, read it, be enriched, and hide it in your heart so that you might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11).
The Nigerian Church has been suffering immense persecution at the hand of Islamic herdsman. I have read report after report about the government turning a blind eye to the violence.
Readers, I plead that this is not the case for us. Incorporate Nigerian Christians into your prayer time and pray to Jesus who intercedes on our behalf and whose Spirit guides our prayers to the throne room of God. In Romans 8:26-28 Paul states,
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.
The Nigerian church needs a greater prayer covering. All Christians need a greater prayer covering. Join me in this effort.
In the U.S. there are some positive news stories circulating such as the one regarding 90-hour Bible marathon. Positive Biblical exposure is something to be proud of. Positive Biblical exposure within such a broken, conflicted place such as the nation’s capital is truly a testament of God’s providence and desire for His word to be heard.
There have been some unfortunate stories as well. An example of this is the story of the pastor and his wife who were brutally attacked while serving family. This is a true tragedy that should never have happened.
God’s nature opposed wickedness and violence towards the righteous (Psalm 11:5). Avoid wickedness and rather indulge in the wonderful fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Be a person who exemplifies the following attributes: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I hope that you have enjoyed the stories selected for this news update. I hope this time has been enriching.
morningstarnews.org, christianpost.com, newsweek.com, christianitytoday.com, thegospelcoalition.org, faithfullymagazine.com, persecution.org, christianheadlines.com.