Sunday, December 13, 2009

This week in persecuted church history (December 13-19)

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

December 13

  • 37: Nero, the Roman emperor who was the scourge of early Christians, is born. After his suicide in 68, many believed he would return, and "false Neros" appeared throughout the eastern provinces.
  • Saint_Lucy2 304: Lucy, one of the earliest Christian saints to achieve popularity, dies. According to legend, she renounced marriage out of devotion to Christ, but a spurned suitor convinced Roman authorities to force her into a life of prostitution. When this was unsuccessful, they tried to burn her to death, but she wouldn't catch fire. Finally, she was killed by the sword. More realistically, she was probably one of several Christians killed in the Diocletian persecution. But within a century of her death, she had a remarkable following.
  • 1545: The first session of the Counter- Reformation Council of Trent opens. Responding to the spread of Protestantism and the drastic need for moral and administrative reforms within the Roman Catholic church, it met on and off for 18 years. Ultimately the reforms were not comprehensive enough to satisfy the Protestants or even many Catholics, but it created a basis for a renewal of discipline and spiritual life within the church.
  • A_42003, 06-10-2004, 14:41,  8C, 6000x6174 (0+1057), 100%, AHM_prenten, 1/120 s, R27.8, G3.2, B2.2 1571: Hans Misel is martyred for his faith after refusing to recant his Anabaptist beliefs.  According to Martyr’s Mirror, when the executioner brought him to the place where he was to be executed, he said to him, that if he would recant, he still had authority to let him go. But he refused, and would there seal his faith with his blood, and so far as he was concerned, he said, he might proceed. Thus he was beheaded and then burnt, and as they could not burn him quickly enough, they cut him into pieces and burned the pieces. When the executioner had struck off his head, so that the same lay on the ground, his body still remained erect, with the hands uplifted, as though he were praying, till the executioner pushed him over with his foot. It was also said that his head and hair could not~be burned, but that it was found entire and undisfigured in the ashes, and was thus buried.

December 14

  • 1591: Spanish poet John of the Cross, one of the greatest Christian mystics, dies. His "Dark Night of the Soul" is one of the era's best known religious poems, and his treatises have profoundly influenced both Catholic and Protestant thought.
  • 2003: Nigerian federal police officers kill four Catholics and injure eight others for refusing to pay a bribe. A group was returning from a crusade and prayer vigil when police stopped their bus. According to one of the passengers who escaped, the bus driver refused to pay a bribe because of his faith and was then shot point-blank. When others in the group intervened, they were also shot while the rest fled on foot.
  • 2006: The church building of the Pentecostal Church of Alamar, a suburb of Havana, Cuba is destroyed by government officials.  The official reason for the destruction is that the building was an "illegal construction."

December 15oldcastle

  • 1418: English pre-Reformer John Oldcastle is burned alive for his efforts to preserve and promote the cause of the Lollards (preachers who spread John Wycliffe's views). Shakespeare reportedly based his character Falstaff on Oldcastle.
  • 1564: Anabaptist believer Jan Gerrits is burned at the stake in the Hague in Holland, for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
  • 1900: Count Leo Tolstoy writes to the tsar asking him to end religious persecution in Russia.

December 16

  • 345: Eusebius (not to be confused with historian Eusebius of Caesarea) becomes bishop of Vercelli, Italy. After refusing to sign the condemnation of Athanasius at the Council of Milan, he was exiled. But he was pardoned by Julian the Apostate and led the movement to restore the Nicene Creed—and thus orthodoxy—to the empire.
  • 2007: An Italian priest, Father Adriano Franchini (65), is stabbed in the stomach by a 19-year-old Muslim man outside St. Anthony Church in the city of Izmir, Turkey. Father Franchini and the assailant, Ramazan Bay, had a brief conversation after mass in which Bay expressed his interest in becoming a Christian. During the discussion, Bay suddenly became angry and stabbed Father Franchini. In his statement to the police, Bay reportedly said that his actions were influenced by an episode of a television program that depicts Christian missionaries as political "infiltrators" who pay poor families to convert to Christianity.

December 17

  • 1912: Yale-educated Chicago native Bill Borden, heir to a fortune in real estate and milk production, boards a ship to China via Egypt. Converted to Christ as a young man, Borden had given his inheritance and his life to the cause of world evangelism. Only a month after arriving in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died. However, publication of his story prompted many young157 people to enter the mission field.
  • 1917: Bolsheviks confiscate all property of the Russian Orthodox Church and abolish religious instruction in the schools. Within two decades, at least 45,000 priests were reportedly martyred in the country.
  • 2006: An evangelical church building in the Serbian town of Kraljevo, south of Belgrade is fire-bombed. The bomb caused damage to the furniture, carpets and the air conditioning system of the rented facility.  Thankfully, no one was injured.
  • 2008: At 7:00 a.m., a large contingent of government officials, police and demolition workers destroy the Cu Hat Church building in Cu Hat, Dak Lak province, Vietnam. Wielding electric cattle prods, police beat back hundreds of distraught Christians who rush to the site to protect the building. Five people were injured, including a child who suffered a broken arm and a pregnant woman who was prodded in the stomach. After the workers had loaded the lumber onto their trucks, they emptied sacks of the Christians' rice on the ground, put the roof tile into the sacks and sped away. In 90 minutes, the destruction was complete. To watch a video of the demolition, click here.

December 18

  • 1555: John Philpot, Archdeacon Of Winchester, is burned at the stake for refusing to recant his Protestant faith in Smithfield, England.
  • 1568: Jan Thielemans and Job Jans are burnt to death for the testimony of Jesus Christ in The Hague In Holland, condemned by church leaders as heretics for their Anabaptist beliefs.

December 19

  • 1734: Count Nicholaus von Zinzendorf, founder of the modern Moravian church and a pioneer in ecumenism and missions, is recognized as a minister by the theology faculty of Tubigen, Germany.
  • srilanka_homagama_pews 2004: St. Michael's Church in Homagama, Sri Lanka is virtually destroyed when it is set on fire.  Using two gas cylinders, petrol and two tires, the arsonists burned the roof, pews, statues, organ and other furniture, completely blackening the interior of the building.  Dad de Silva, a church official, said, "Our church is gone this time, nothing is left which is usable."

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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