Abuse of power

This is not my normal post and not something I want to watch, but if you do not know, please watch this video and pray for our brothers and sisters in Shanghai, all over China and in all parts of the world where power is abused.

Please pray for God’s Kingdom to come and for all men and women to know the love and laws of God and thus to know peace and joy.

Lord have mercy.

World Watchlist 2022

This morning, I wrote a post about the danger in the Western World to the right to free-speech.

I wrote it acutely aware of the a very real and actual present danger of severe persecution, discrimination and threat to human-life for some 360 million Christians throughout the world. Add to that the number of severely persecuted Muslims in China and other places and, in other countries, countless minority religions deemed unacceptable to the state.

I also wrote it reflecting on the path that authoritarian governments tend to slide along. Firstly, restrictions are made on those issues about which a majority of people perhaps even agree and about which people are offended, or about which they have no opinion – perhaps the freedom to express certain opinions, or to live a certain way of life, perhaps being politically correct, or the removal of privacy laws? But little by little, power is taken and freedoms are eroded in a way which we no longer support, but about which we perhaps no longer have control.

This authoritarian power has caused great persecution and suffering to enormous amounts of minority religious and cultural groups throughout the world. This has been made much easier by the technology now available.

Last Thursday, 19th January 2022, in the UK Parliament, 96 MPs gathered for the launch of Open Doors’ World Watchlist 2022, where those places are highlighted, in which freedom of religion is most dangerously threatened and forbidden.

I had been awaiting this launch and had joined the campaign to encourage local MPs to attend the launch. Where there is awareness, there will be compassion and a possibility for positive action and sensitive intervention.

That evening after the launch, there was an online gathering – a prayer webinar – for anyone to attend to pray through all the issues involved. I include a link to the webinar and encourage you to check out the many great resources and information produced by Open Doors.

https://opendoorsuk.org/

For a great many years, North Korea was at the top of that World Watchlist, but although the situation in North Korea has continued to worsen, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has made Afghanistan now the most difficult place to be a Christian. Indeed it is reported that the Taliban have a list of names of all Christians in the country and are systematically seeking them out and executing or imprisoning them. Many who can, have fled, but some brave souls have decided to stay and encourage the church, in face of their persecutors. I cannot imagine how terrifying this must be.

I also read a story of a lady in North Korea who was sent into exile – into a life-time of forced labour – for owning a Bible. This lady successfully attempted the dangerous crossing into China, where she was encouraged and built up by secret believers in China. She then chose to return to her exile in North Korea in order to strengthen her secret church. Such courage makes me weep with joy at such faith and with repentance for my own weak resolve facing my relatively petty concerns and injustices!

These are our fellow brothers and sisters, our family in the church.

As Christians, we follow our Lord, whose path took Him to the cross. We know that being willing to suffer for our faith is part of the job description! He did it ‘for the joy set before Him’ and we know that the Peace, Love, Joy and Hope He gives is more than enough. But we live in a ‘civilised’ age, an age of ‘human rights’ and protection laws, so I ask you to help wherever you can to stand up and be counted against the erosion of these rights and fight for freedom in the way you respect the rights of those who differ from you.

I ask you to pray for the whole church and to support in any way those who are suffering at this time. If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.

Support freedom and justice in any way you can.