Sunday, July 19, 2009

This week in persecuted church history (July 19-25)

Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7b (ESV)

ethiopia_estifanos July 19, 2005: Estifanos Abate (34) is traveling from Degahabour to Jijiga in eastern Ethiopia, when the bus is stopped by Islamic militants.  The militants board the bus and demand to know the religion of each traveler.  Of the 45 passengers, five are Orthodox and four are evangelical Christians.  The gunmen order these nine to be separated from the Muslim passengers.  The Christians are then ordered to repeat the Islamic creed and to bow three times toward Mecca.  Everyone but Estifanos comply with the order and are allowed back on the bus.  The gunmen threaten Estifanos, who calmly begins to tell his attackers about Jesus, while his fellow travelers beg him to save his life by obeying their demands. The Muslim leader then orders the bus to continue on its way, without Estifanos.  As the bus pulls away, Estifanos is executed.  His body is left on the side of the road for most of the day, as a warning to others.

afghanistan_skorea_missionsJuly 19, 2007: Twenty-three Korean Christians who are part of a mission outreach of the Community Church, a Presbyterian church in Bundang, South Korea, are taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

July 20, 1054: Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius, having been excommunicated from the Roman church four days earlier, excommunicates Pope Leo IX and his followers. This precipitates the Great Schism.

July 20, 2008: Christians meeting at the Gypsy Prayer Hall are attacked by a group of Hindu militants. At approximately 12:30 p.m., the militants storm into the church during a worship service and shout insults and threats at believers present. Bibles and song books are burned. They drag Pastor Naik (48) and two other believers outside and beat them. The three are then taken to the local police station where they are accused of forcibly converting Hindus.

July 21, 2008: Residents of Katin village in Saravan province, Laos kill a Christian man by forcibly pouring rice wine down his throat. Eighty local Christians are then arrested by authorities. Four days later, officials round up 17 Christian families in the village and detain them in a local school compound, denying them food for three days in an attempt to force the adults to sign documents renouncing their faith. Ten families eventually sign the documents and are allowed to return home.

July 22, 1620: Led by John Robinson, a group of English Separatists who had fled to Holland in 1607, sail for England, where they would board the Mayflower.

July 23, 1583: Protestant printer John Day, who was responsible for publishing Hugh Latimer's sermons, Nicholas Ridley's "Friendly Farewell," and John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, dies.

July 23, 2005: Police burst into the home of Asiya Zasedatelevaya in Turkmenabad, Turkmenistan where ten to fifteen Baptists meet regularly for Bible study.  They begin to interrogate Asiya, even though she is disabled and unable to hear or speak.  They confiscate all her literature and demand to know where she got it from.  When she does not reveal her source, one of the officers hits her across the head with her Bible while another strikes her in the face.  They then threaten to hang her.

afghanistan_korean_death1July 24, 2007: One of the 23 hostages taken by the Taliban in Afghanistan on July 19 (see above), Bae Hyung-kyu, a youth pastor from Saemmul Community Church, a Presbyterian church in Bundang, South Korea is killed . A week later, the body of another murdered hostage, Shim Sung-min, is found.

July 24, 2007: Three Catholic priests who had been in hiding in Inner Mongolia are located by Chinese security police and arrested for refusing to join the government-approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. The three, Liang Aijun (35), Wang Zhong (41) and Gao Jinbao (34) are initially locked in an iron cage and were not allowed to speak or given water before being transferred to another detention centre.

July 25, 325: The Council of Nicea closes. The first ecumenical council, convened by Constantine, it rejected the Arians (who denied the full divinity of Christ) as heretics.

July 25, 1593: King Henry IV of France, raised a Protestant, converts to Catholicism. Long considered a political move, the conversion is now thought to have been sincere, partially because of the king's statement that "religion is not changed as easily as a shirt." His conversion did not end his sympathy for Protestants, however, and in 1598 he promulgated the Edict of Nantes, giving Protestants freedom of worship and permitting them to garrison certain towns for security.

(sources: Christianity Today, The Voice of the Martyrs)

Prayer: “Grant that we, who now remember these before thee, may likewise so bear witness unto thee in this world, that we may receive with them the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” – taken from The Book of Common Prayer, Canada (1962)

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