By Carl Stagner
Celebration of the risen Christ ended early and abruptly on Sunday, April 21, in Sri Lanka, as the deadliest violence in a decade devastated the island country south of India. More than 300 people were killed and another 500 injured in a series of bombings that struck churches and hotels in the cities of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa. As investigations continue, the Church of God fervently prays for the injured, families of victims, first-responders, and churches affected both directly and indirectly. Steven and Peggy Beverly, missionaries for Global Strategy to Sri Lanka, were just beginning their home assignment at the time of the incident. Their updates on the situation reveal their broken hearts. They would prefer to be with the suffering people they’ve come to love than safe in the U.S. right now. Continue reading
Posted in All Church of God, Global Strategy
Tagged Andrew Gale, Asia and the Pacific, Asia-Pacific, Beverlys, church, crisis, disaster, Easter, evil, global, Global Strategy, grief, home assignment, hotel, hurt, loss, missions, pain, peace, Peggy Beverly, persecution, prayer, prayer matters, prayer request, sadness, sorrow, Sri Lanka, Steven and Peggy Beverly, Steven Beverly, terrorism, tragedy, turmoil, victims, violence
By Carl Stagner
More than 100 million Christians around the world face persecution on a daily basis.* Facing the possibility of intimidation, torture, or death at church each week isn’t something many in the West experience, but it’s reality for far too many believers across the globe. Church of God congregations are encouraged to focus their prayers on Sunday, November 1 or Sunday, November 8 in observance of the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Continue reading
By Carl Stagner
June 17, 2015, was yet another dark day for all of us in the United States of America. Searing pain was felt across the land, especially for those who lost loved ones in one of the largest mass shootings ever to take place inside the doors of a church. In the days that followed, the Church of God encouraged believers to spend focused times in prayer for families of the victims, for the safety of our churches, for reconciliation, and for the future of our country. As heinous acts of racism and persecution against Christians continue to rise in our world, the Church of God stands on its founding principles of holiness and unity with the Prince of Peace as our common subject. Two examples of a holy, loving response to the June 17 tragedy come from Brownsville Community Church of God in Charleston’s neighbor-to-the-north, Summerville; and the Church of God in Varnville, South Carolina. Continue reading
Posted in All Church of God, Southeast
Tagged Brownsville Community, Charleston, hate, persecution, race, racism, Reconciliation, Robert Toliver, Ruthie Williams, shooting, South Carolina, Summerville, tragedy, Varnville, violence
Photo: Newly constructed church in South India.
By Johnson George
Though Hindu fundamentalism and religious persecution are on the rise over much of India, the Church of God in India rejoices over spiritual and numerical growth. Even while one Church of God leader works on constitutional adjustments to guarantee certain religious freedoms, the persecution persists. But the kingdom of God cannot be shaken, and its advancement has not waned, especially in South India. We praise the Lord for the following report from Johnson George.
There is a new government agenda is to reconvert the converted Christians to Hinduism. Their slogan is, “Come back home.” The government is giving financial support to those who go back to the Hindu religion, some of whom are threatened and forced to go back to Hinduism. In South India, most of the believers are converted from the Hindu religion. Pastors have very limited freedom to propagate the gospel, and many pastors and believers were severely attacked by the Hindu people. Please continue to pray for South India. In spite of the persecution, the Church of God is growing stronger. Continue reading
Photo: Inside one of the Christian “colonies” of Pakistan.
By Carl Stagner
Taliban forces sent shockwaves of terror throughout Pakistan on Monday, December 15, as more than one hundred forty lives—mostly children—were abruptly cut short. Once again, the world watches as brutal violence erupts in a volatile part of the world. Christians are called to stand against such ugly displays of evil, and the Church of God has once again rallied together in prayer for peace and consolation. While tragedy has struck again in the Middle East, Pakistani Christians are standing firm. Though Pakistan has long been a hotbed for persecution of Christians, the Church of God is taking a stand for Christ there. Continue reading
By David Reames
It’s been several years ago now, but I remember it like it was this morning. Travels on behalf of the Church of God took me to a country where being a follower of Christ comes at great risk and cost. My assignment was to speak from the Word, bringing a word of encouragement to about fifty people, all of whom were persecuted for their trust in Jesus. Under the cover of darkness I was led into an area populated by persons radically opposed to Christianity. I was humbled. What could I say in a situation like this? And honestly, I was more than a bit frightened. Continue reading
Photo: David Miller prays with Los Pinos exiles.
By Carl Stagner
Twenty-five months. That’s how long Saeed Abedini has been behind bars in Iran for his faith in Jesus Christ. Torture, unspeakable living conditions, and an inhumane lack of medical treatment have marked the drawn-out experience of the thirty-four-year-old pastor who, as of late, has exemplified the horror of modern Christian persecution. On Sunday, November 9, Church of God congregations around the world will unite with other believers to pray for the global persecuted church. In advance of this vital initiative, Church of God missionaries have weighed in on the extent and gravity of persecution in the world today. Continue reading
By Church of God Missions
Recently the world has been reminded of the Pakistan Blasphemy Law 295 under which a Christian mother, Asia Bibi, has been sentenced to death. This case was appealed and upheld largely because each Christian witness who testified in her defense only counted as half a witness, while the Muslim witnesses for the prosecution counted fully.
In a country where a Christian can be accused of blasphemy against Islam, and the courts cannot be counted on to judge fairly, fear reigns. Christians are a minority group and are regarded as having low intelligence, and habits which make them unclean, and as people undeserving of respect or decent treatment. To attempt to rise above this image can bring immediate trouble. For this reason, many Christians now live in colonies which are the neighborhoods they form as they cluster in less desirable parts of town to get away from the watchful eyes of people who wish them harm. In the colonies, Christians find safety and relief from religious pressures. Continue reading