By Brother B

The account in Acts of the birth of the church helps us to see important dynamics of church growth. Among many themes, two things which stand out are: people being added to the church, and persecutions. It appears that opposition was never distant from the young church experiencing explosive growth.

Among our indigenous mission partners, persecution is on the increase. We are receiving reports of more backlash against Christian presence and activities than formerly.

Open Doors, in their list of countries with the most persecution, has recently moved India up to 15th. Incidents of violence are double last year’s rate, to over 400 in the first six months of 2017 (Open Doors). Our partners have emailed us pictures of signs which have been publically posted to warn Christians that they will be eliminated by 2021 as part of a move to make India a completely Hindu nation.

The church in Bangladesh, though continuously facing the steady prospect of violent persecution, is facing opposition through legislation. Since June, bank accounts of a number of churches and Christian NGOs have been frozen, and they have not been able to withdraw funding from outside the country to carry out their ministries. One of our partners is facing this struggle.

Last month in Burma, 13 new believers were targeted. Over 400 people from their three villages assembled to deliver a message to these families. They had listened to Pastor H, an evangelist going from town to town sharing the gospel and leading people to Jesus. Because the new Christians were seen as a threat to their villages, the local leaders decided to “take them out”. A couple of truckloads of stones were procured; and from 8pm-12am one evening, they were launched at the new believers and their possessions. The few pictures available show a house in shambles, three motorcycles destroyed, bandages on the heads of two of the men, and blood dripping down the cheek of a teenage girl. Stones up to a half brick in size littering the yard.

Somehow Pastor H heard about the situation and brought police from his own town at midnight. The police dispersed the crowd with some gunshots into the air, thereby allowing the rescue of the believers, who are currently living with Pastor H. Now a month later, there is a growing curiosity in the original three villages as to why these people who had changed their beliefs were willing to be stoned for it. A fourteenth person has come to Christ. Also, a rumor is being circulated that some among the villagers are willing to shoot them to be rid of the threat.

AIM writes about these persecutions because it is the reality of following Jesus for many of our brothers and sisters around the world. By being connected to the persecuted church and hearing of their challenges, we can bear their burden, especially in prayer.

Like the example in the book of Acts, these persecutions are not the only story. Most of our publications indicate how the church in Asia is growing.

Hearing reports of the oppositions should not hinder us from continuing in faithful Gospel ministry. It often is the evidence of where faithful work is taking place. Persecution is not necessarily the door of opportunity closing, but of God mysteriously working out good for His glory which is not according to the wisdom of man. God is sovereign and often uses ways to build His kingdom that are not our ways.

In addition to prayer, we can continue to be involved in giving to the Lord’s work. Our partners are committed to the singular focus of obedience to the Great Commission regardless the cost. Your partnership in giving to AIM particularly focuses on helping the work of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ among the unreached peoples and discipling new believers faithfully according to everything Jesus commanded.

This day of increasing persecution can be our cue to make the most of the opportunity before us. Our indigenous partners have regularly been urging us that "now is the time".

posted on Sept 14, 2017
Advancing Indigenous Missions 2017