Sunday, August 09, 2009

This week in persecuted church history (August 9-15)

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

August 9, 2002: Three nurses are killed and twenty-three injured when grenades are thrown into a chapel at a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila, Pakistan, as staff were meeting for a morning prayer service.

August 9, 2004: An Assyrian Orthodox Church comes under a mortar attack in Baghdad, Iraq.

August 10, 258: Laurentius, the leading deacon under the bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, is arrested, scourged, beaten with irons, and has his joints dislocated.  He is then placed on a large gridiron over a slow fire and slowly roasted to death.  Having lain there for some time, he is reported to have called out to the emperor a Latin couplet, “Assum est, inquit, versa et manduca"  (This side is done, turn me over and have a bite). His executioner obliged and after he had been tormented for a considerable time, he finally lifted his eyes to heaven and with calmness yielded his spirit to God.

His sense of humour explains why Laurentius (also known as Saint Lawrence) is considered the patron saint of comedians.  His courage and serenity in the face of such torture has a far more significant impact, however.  Witnessing the reality and truth of the Christian faith in his martyrdom, many are said to have been followers of Jesus as a result.

August 11, 1519: Johann Tetzel, the German Dominican priest whose peddling of indulgences inspired Martin Luther to write his 95 Theses, dies. Throughout Germany he had infamously preached, "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs." Even the papal envoy eventually criticized him. As for Luther, though he once called Tetzel "the primary author of this tragedy," when he heard Tetzel lay dying, he wrote the friar a letter of comfort: "Don't take it too hard. You didn't start this racket."

August 11, 1988: Al-Qaeda is formed at a meeting attended by Osama Bin Laden and several senior leaders of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

sabina_w August 11, 2000: Sabina Wurmbrand, wife of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand (founder of The Voice of the Martyrs), passes away. Sabina was was born Sabina Oster on July 10, 1913 in Czernowitz, a city in the Bucovine region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which became part of Romania after WWI, and since WWII has been part of Ukraine.

August 11, 2006: Two Laotian evangelists are arrested in southern Laos. A-Kouam (60) and A-Vieng (35) are taken into custody on orders to stop the spreading of the Christian religion, especially among religious minorities.

August 11, 2008: Approximately twenty members of the Shivasainya Youth Association Hindu militant group attack a prayer meeting in the village of Emmanabettur and beat the believers present. Pastor Rajendra Gowda and Pastor euplusKumara are stripped, placed in a van and taken to a local police station. On route, they are also assaulted by the militants. They were then charged with deliberately and maliciously intending to outrage the religious feelings of others.

August 12, 304: Euplius, a Christian deacon from Sicily, is martyred for owning the Scriptures and proclaiming himself a Christian (loudly and repeatedly). Martyrdom was so common under Emperor Diocletian that many Christians expected it and some, like Euplius, actively sought it out.

August 12, 1553: Pope Julius III tragically orders all copies of the Talmud to be confiscated and burned.

August 13, 523: John I is consecrated pope. Shortly after his appointment, John became the first pope to leave Italy—with unfortunate results. He traveled to Constantinople, the center of Eastern Christianity, but on his return was imprisoned by the Arian king of Italy, Theodoric, who suspected John of conspiring with the king's 83px-Maximus_ConfessorByzantine antagonists.

August 13, 662: Maximus Confessor, the Eastern leader in the fight against Monothelitism (the heresy that Christ had divine, but no human, will), dies after being tortured for his beliefs.

August 14, 2005: The first 70 of 300 Christians from Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist and Apostolic churches are forced to flee their homes in the village of Agua Fria, near Mezquitic in the Mexican state of Jalisco, after refusing to take part in some of the activities being labelled "traditional rites," including drinking liquor and using the hallucinogenic peyote. The first seventy refugees leave on August 14, walking twenty hours across the state border into Tepic, Nayarit.  They leave with only a single change of clothing and are forced to abandon land, crops, homes and personal possessions.

August 15, 1846: Addressing rumours that he mocked Christianity, Abraham Lincoln publishes a broadside on his religion: "That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular . . . "

August 15, 2005: Five American church leaders and twenty-eight Chinese pastors are arrested in Henan province, China.  Four of the Americans and 27 pastors were meeting for fellowship in Luoyang City when they were arrested.  Later that same day, another American and another Chinese Pastor, Wan Dagan, were arrested by plain-clothed agents while walking on the street in Yichuan City.

August 15, 2007: A church building is set on fire and bombed by local Muslims during a worship service at the Mserete Keristos church in the district of Yayu, in southwest Ethiopia. At approximately 1:30 p.m., the roof of the church is set on fire and a large explosion interrupts the prayer service being conducted in the compound. The church building and the houses of three evangelists are destroyed in the explosion.

(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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