Open Doors, an organization that advocates for persecuted Christians around the world, reports about these nations we love in Southeast Asia:
Converts to Christianity face the most severe forms of Christian persecution. Abandoning Buddhism or tribal animist beliefs is seen as a betrayal to family members and the community, which fuels the perception that Christians essentially excommunicate themselves.
Consequently, believers are persecuted by their immediate and/or extended family (usually one household is composed of three generations under one roof) and by local authorities who often stir up the community…
On the state level, villagers collude with local government authorities, beating believers, kicking them out of their villages and stoning places of worship during meetings. Local and national government authorities persecute the Christian minority through their laws, and Christian bloggers and political activists have been arrested and sentenced.
For some of our Sports Friends family in Southeast Asia, there is tremendous pressure from their communities to resist any outside religious activity. The national leadership desires the entire population to follow the state religion. Even if it is not technically illegal to be a Christian, the reality of persecution proves followers of Christ are unwelcome. One of our coaches was called early this spring about three families he had recently ministered to. They had put their hope in Christ, and had been confronted by their own community: recant, or be expelled. They held to their faith and were quickly driven away from their homes, jobs, and schools.
Our country leaders report that if a believer is plainly asked why they love Jesus, law enforcement responds as if they are trying to convert people instead of simply answer the question. It is illegal for them to share the good news outside of the church, and sometimes there are even spies within the church. “We know who they are.” Reports our staff. “But we cannot do anything about it, so we just let them be there and observe. We are just preaching the Word of God. We actually teach our members to pray for the government in every single service, and ask God to bless the government and give them wisdom. We always teach against revenge, but that we should bless and pray for those who persecute us. The spies listen to this and cannot find anything against us.”
Join us in loving and lifting up our Asian brothers and sisters who serve Jesus in the face of heavy resistance. Pray for courage, strength and wisdom as they boldly live out their faith before earthly authorities who could bring them harm. Pray for their encouragement, for comfort from the Holy Spirit, and for love toward those who act as their enemies. Come quickly, Lord.