Sunday, December 06, 2009

This week in persecuted church history (December 6-12)

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

December 6

  •  345: Nicholas, bishop of Myra, one of the most popular saints in the Greek and Latin churches—and Santa Claus's namesake—dies.  [click here for a VOMC children’s book on the life of Nicolaus]

December 7

  • 303: Sabinius, bishop of Assisium, is brutally scourged to death.  He hwas initially arrested after refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter, and pushing the idol from him.  By the order of the governor of Tuscany, his hand was cut off. While in prison, he converted the governor and his family, all of whom suffered martyrdom for the faith. Soon after their execution, Sabinus himself was killed.

  • st-nicholas-of-myra430: December 7, 430: Cyril of Alexandria condemns the Antiochene monk Nestorius, who claimed Christ was two persons (divine and human) rather than one person with two natures.

  • 1965: Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lift mutual excommunications in place since the Great Schism of 1054charles

  • 1649: Jesuit missionary Charles Garnier is killed with a blow of an Iroquois tomahawk at the age of 43 about thirty miles from Ste. Marie, in what is now the province of Ontario.

  • 2003: Three churches in Bulathkohupitiya in the Kegalle District of Sri Lanka  is attacked by religiously motivated militants. Belongings are stolen, one church is burned, and church members are beaten. On the same day, the Assembly of God Church in Deraniyagala (Kegalle District) is also besieged as a mob smashes the church building's windows and doors, burns the belongings and threatens the lives of some church workers who lived in the building.

December 8noel

  • 1649: Jesuit missionary Noël Chabanel is secretly killed by Iroquois warriors on the Nottawasaga, twenty-five miles from Ste. Marie in what is now the province of Ontario

  • 1691: English Puritan minister Richard Baxter dies in London. One of England's most renowned preachers and author of nearly 200 works (including several hymns), he was known as a peacemaker who sought unity among Protestants.

  • 1934: American missionaries John and Betty Stam are beheaded by Chinese communists. The couple had met while attending Moody Bible Institute and married just the year before their death. Publication of their biography prompted hundreds to volunteer for missionary service. [click here for a book offered by VOMC on martyrs from Moody Bible Institute including the Stames]

  • 2003: Sri Lankan Buddhist groups hold a rally in Embilipitiya (Ratnapura District). The speakers say that Christian churches are functioning illegally and should be attacked and smashed. The police were threatened not to intervene. That evening, several Christian organizations discovered just how serious these groups were. Police prevented an attack on a local Assembly of God Church, but the World Vision office and Catholic church were not spared. Soldiers from a nearby army camp attempted to prevent the Catholic church building from being burned, but were told by the mob to not intervene, claiming they had orders from "higher authorities." When the mob left, the military personnel extinguished the fire. In nearby Udawalawe, police warned the Assembly of God church of a potential attack, due to the spreading violence. After they left, the church was besieged by about thirty people, who smashed windows and doors and burned furnishings. The pastor managed to escape unharmed, but the home of another pastor was damaged by stones.

  • farc1 2005: Father Javier Francisco Montoya is traveling to a religious celebration in a jungle area in northwest Colombia when he disappears. A humanitarian commission sent by church authorities managed to meet with leaders of the Marxist rebel group FARC. They report on December 24 that Father Montoya was shot by the rebels and his body was buried.

December 9

  • 1843: The first Christmas cards—actually more like postcards—are created and sold for a shilling.

  • nigeria_atbu 2004: In the early morning, Sunday Nache Achi is taken from his dormitory room at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in the northern city of Bauchi, Nigeria by men dressed in jihad style clothing.  When Achi's roommate attempted to intervene, he was threatened at gunpoint and then locked in his room.  The next morning, Achi was found strangled to death next to a mosque, near the home of the university's vice-chancellor.  The office of the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Bauchi was also set on fire.

  • 2007: Four Christians are killed when Matthew Murray (24), who was described by one policeman as a man who "hated Christians," goes on shooting sprees at two locations in Colorado. At approximately midnight Murray walks into the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) training centre on the grounds of Faith Bible Chapel in the Denver suburb of Arvada. After a staff member refuses to let him spend the night, he pulls out a gun and began shooting. Tiffany Johnson (26) and Philip Crouse (24) are shot dead. Two others are wounded.

    In 2002, Murray had attended the YWAM training school but had to leave without completing his term because of health concerns, according to a December 10 press release from YWAM. Recently he had been reportedly sending hate mail to the school.

    Twelve hours later, Murray opens fire at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, killing sisters Stephanie (18) and Rachael Works (16). After being shot by a security guard at the church, Murray then shots and kills himself.

    Between the two attacks, Murray posted anti-Christian messages on an internet forum including a statement saying that he wanted to kill and injure as many Christians as he could and that Christians "[were] to blame for most of the problems in the world."

  • 2008: Approximately 20 Hindus stop Yuvraj Digal (40), a respected Christian leader, and his 20-year-old son as they are heading home on motorbike from the village of Tikabali, Kandhamal district, Orissa. The Hindus accuse Digal of being involved in the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati (click here for more details) and began beating him. His son was able to escape the attackers and seek help from the police. Digal, however, disappeared and his body was found on December 18.

December 10luther and leo

  • 1520: German reformer Martin Luther publicly burns Pope Leo X's bull "Exsurge Domine," which had demanded that Luther recant his heresies—including justification by faith alone.

December 11

  • 1518: Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli becomes "people's priest" at the Old Minster Church in Zurich, a position he held for the remaining 13 years of his life. After nearly dying from the plague, he began his reforming program almost immediately, persuading the city council to judge religious issues by Scripture alone.

  • 1640: English Puritans introduced a petition with 15,000 signatures to Parliament, seeking to abolish the church episcopacy, "with all its dependencies, roots and branches." The House of Commons accepted what has become known as the "Roots and Branch Petition," but the House of Lords (many of whom were bishops) rejected it, and the episcopal organization of the Church of England remained.

  • 1918: Russian author Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, an Orthodox believer whose works include One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, is born. His books are credited by many scholars with "helping to bring down the last empire on earth."

  • 1984: The White House displays a nativity scene for the first time since courts ordered its removal in 1973.nigeria_elimchurch_compass

  • 2007: Ten people are killed, several Christians seriously injured, and Christian churches, businesses and homes burned when Muslims went on a rampage in the Yelwa Tudu area in Bauchi state, Nigeria.

December 12

  • 1189: King Richard I "the Lion Hearted" leaves England on the Third Crusade to retake Jerusalem, which had fallen to Muslim general Saladin in 1187.

  • 1582: Spanish General Fernando Alvarez de Toledo (also known as the Duke of Alva) dies. The duke had been sent, along with 10,000 troops, by King Philip II of Spain to quell the Reformation in Holland. The duke's "Council of Blood" was responsible for some 18,000 deaths.

  • 1667: The Council of Moscow deposes Russian Orthodox Patriarch Nikon. A "man of great ability and sincerity but of autocratic temper," according to one historian, his calls for liturgical reform grew into a fight over the relationship between church and state. Though deposed at the council, banished, and imprisoned for 14 years, his liturgical reforms were sanctioned. In 1681, he was recalled to Moscow by the new tsar, but he died on the way. He was buried with patriarchal honors and all decrees against him were revoked.

  • 1712: The colony of South Carolina requires "all persons whatsoever" to attend church each Sunday and refrain from skilled labor and travel. Violators of the "Sunday Law" could be fined 10 shillings or locked in the stocks for two hours.

  • ve-jean-carlos-pd 2008: Pastor Jean Carlos Salazar (30), his wife, Ingrid Higuera (33), and their young daughter are brutally murdered in the town of El Trigrito, Anzoategui state, Venezuela by suspected satanic cult members. At approximately 3:30 a.m., neighbours of the Salazars notice that the family's home is in flames and phone the fire department. When the fire officials arrive, they find the decapitated bodies of the Christians. The assailants reportedly also painted satanic slogans on the walls. Pastor Salazar was a preacher at the World Centre of Peace church and was well-known in the area.

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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