Christian Evangelist Murdered in Southeast Turkey
On November 19, 2019, a 41-year-old Korean evangelist Jinwook Kim was stabbed on the streets in a city in southeastern Turkey (Diyarbakir). He later died in the hospital from his injuries. A 16-year-old suspect was arrested. Kim had arrived in Turkey with his family earlier this year and was pastoring a small community of Christians. He was stabbed three times: twice in the heart and once in the back. Local believers are urging the authorities to investigate the attack as an assassination. Kim was married and he has one child, but his second child is expected to be born in just a few days. He had lived in Turkey for five years.
Kim is the first Christian murdered in Turkey since the 2007 Zirve Publishing House murders, where three Christians were martyred in Malatya. Over the past three years, Christians living in Turkey have reported an increase in harassment, threats, and other non-violent incidents. Turkey is considered a Tier 2 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
A church leader in Turkey said, “This is the first martyrdom since Malatya because The Turkish government started a massive deportation of Protestant leaders who served in Turkey for many years."
A Turkish evangelist, who received a death threat the day after this incident said “This
wasn’t just a robbery; they came to kill him,” “We always get threats. A brother prophesied a few days ago that they (the government) are going to kick out these foreigners, and probably kill a few Turkish brothers. They are going to cause chaos. They know that I am trying to spread the Gospel, so they may target me too. This may be a sign.”
A Regional Manager for International Christian Concern in the Middle East said, “The grief among Turkey’s Christian community is strongly felt, along with great shock and fear. Martyrdom is not normal in Turkey, and this incident sadly shows just how much the country has changed. Just this year, we have seen a significant increase in incidents proving how the environment has grown more hostile toward Christianity.”
Ethiopian Pastors Beheaded by Radicals
Recent social upheavals in Ethiopia have resulted in the beheading of two local pastors.
Just over 20 miles Southwest of the capital, (Addis Ababa), lies the small town of Sebeta. The settlement is predominantly Islamic with just a handful of Christian institutions active in the area. A local Muslim leader recently lost his personal security protection granted to him by the state and responded by stirring up social anger among his local followers.
The town’s population erupted with riots and mobs protesting the actions of Prime Minister. Locals made their ways en masse to the homes of two Pastors (Isaias and Assefa Tesfaye) of Full Gospel Church and (Mekane Yesus) the Pastor of a Lutheran Church. Both men were seized and beheaded following the attack on their residence.
In the unrest of these protests, 67 people were killed and 213 wounded. Locals were beaten and stoned. Town infrastructure and private residences were destroyed. The government called in the Ethiopian military to restore order. This type of chaos has caused the displacement of over two million Ethiopians.
Pakistani Christian Murdered for Protecting Woman from Forced Conversion
International Christian Concern reported that a 24-year-old man was found dead, hanging from a tree (October 21, Naveed Masih). According to the man’s family, he was murdered because he was protecting a Christian woman from being harassed by local Muslim extremists.
His father said, “Carrying your son’s dead body in your arms is heartbreaking and unbearable, It almost ended my life when I had to shoulder my son’s funeral.”
According to the man’s father his son was protecting a Christian woman, who is married and the mother of two, from being harassed and forcefully converted to Islam by Sajid Ali. The father explained, “On the incident day, my son received a call on his phone. He followed the instructions and reached the decided meeting point. There, he was brutally tortured and he was hanged from a tree as a result of protecting a Christian woman’s faith.”
About two months before the murder, a mob of 20 attacked the family's house. They beat the men and damaged many of the family’s belongings. The mob then threatened anyone who interfered with their efforts to convert Christian woman. In response to this attack, the son was sent to another city for protection. The father said his son had returned for just two weeks before he was murdered.
“My family is still under threats. However, I have nothing to lose now. Therefore, I will never quit and will make sure the culprits are brought to justice and punished.”
Persecuted Pastor Counts the Cost of Ministry Among India’s Unreached
A 32-year-old pastor in India said, “All of the sudden, my life, family, and church were broken into pieces,” (Pastor Tukaram Chavan) “It was hard to take. I was not expecting that something of this sort would take place. However, I remember the commitment I made to God when I came to full-time ministry. I counted the costs of serving the Lord and know that He will lead me through these challenges.”
On November 3, a mob of more than 200 radical Hindu nationalists attacked the Pastor’s independent church in the district of Bagalkot, located in India’s Karnataka State. As a result, the Pastor was hospitalized with serious injuries to his eyes. Now that he is out of the hospital, he is still trying to put together the pieces of his life and ministry.
Recalling the November attack, he said, “An aggressive crowd of nearly 15 radicals climbed up the stairs to the second floor where more than 100 Christians were worshipping. They broke into the worship hall and without a word they started to beat everyone in the congregation. The radicals then dragged me down the stairs where a large crowd of over 200
were waiting for me. Again, I was beaten brutally.” Police soon arrived on the scene and took the Pastor and several other Christians into custody. The Christians were taken to the police station and denied medical treatment.
Pastor Tukaram is one of four church planters actively ministering to one of India’s most unreached people groups called the Lambadi. The Lambadi people live in 25 remote villages located in the district of Bagalkot.
Reflecting on his ministry, Pastor Tukaram said, “One of the reasons for me to commit to full-time ministry was the Lambadi people were among the most unreached. When I began my ministry, God started giving fruits to the ministry. Today, more than 25 families are part of the church I planted 10 years ago. First, they banned me from entering the villages,” Pastor Tukaram explained. “But the Christians of those villages did not lose heart. Instead, they started to come out of the villages to attend Sunday worship in a different town. When
banning me did not work, the radicals forcibly conducted ‘reconversion’ programs in the villages. They threatened faithful Christians with severe consequences if they did not convert back to the Hindu faith. I’ve had to shift my house, close down the church, and shift the school for my children. However, I know that His grace is sufficient for me,”. “I have endured persecution ever since I came to ministry 10 years ago. The persecution has intensified, but I am doing my best with God’s grace to pull everything together.”
The church has been shut down since November 3rd when it was attacked.
Chinese Church Choosing Cross Over National Flag Despite Persecution
A house church in China refuses to install the national flag in replacement of the cross, even after facing pressure from the local authorities.
According to China Aid, on December 2, Pastor Ma Chao of the Guangfu house church was summoned by the local police and requested to fly the national flag and hang up slogans taken from national religious policy. The Pastor firmly rejected their request.
With over 1000 members, Guangfu Church has been repeatedly asked by the District of Religious Affairs Bureau to join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church. After their refusal, the government sealed the church claiming that the church “has conducted illegal religious activities” and confiscated the church’s property.
The church’s other gathering places also have been raided by the authorities. Last September, one of their meeting places was raided by government officials who took pictures of all the members and registered their information, then demanded them to worship at state-sanctioned church. The leader of the meeting place was threatened with arrest and a fine of 50,000 yuan (approximately 7,100 dollars). Their landlord was warned not to rent the place to this church anymore.
On November 26, three police officers came to visit Pastor Chao. “They called me and asked me to hang the flag, slogans from the national religious policy and core values of socialism.
He added that the state security also handed him a brochure on religious regulations, highlighting the “Four Elements Entering Religious Venues” namely the flag, the Constitution, core values of socialism, and Chinese prominent traditional culture.
First Archaeological Evidence of Christianity in Bahrain
On December 5, 2019 the first piece of archaeological evidence of Christianity existing in
Bahrain has been discovered. This supports ancient manuscripts suggesting Christians lived there before Islam. The archaeological evidence is thought to be the remains of an ancient monastery.
One of the tactics Gulf countries have historically used to justify their oppression of religious minorities is the narrative that Islam has always existed in this locale. Christianity is thus viewed as a type of foreign invader and not tolerated. This thinking has been challenged in recent years.
The first significant challenge happened in Saudi Arabia last year. The government announced that any pre-Islamic sites would be preserved, but independent studies later showed that while the government was “preserving” a known historic Christian site that pre-dated Islam, the authorities preferred to keep it a secret from the population for decades.
In places like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. the message persists that Christians are always foreigners. The recent discovery shows that this was not the case. The site was first investigated three years ago, although the result is just now being known.
OPEN DOOR MINISTRY
A Pastor from Iran – proclaimed “I Can’t Live without Jesus”
In today’s 21st century Iran, the church is increasingly under intensifying persecution from both society and the state.
Christianity—and anyone involved in spreading it—is seen as a threat to the Republic’s Islamic identity. But like the early church of Acts that grew in the face of persecution, the persecuted church of Iran is also multiplying and experiencing explosive growth.
The church this pastor had in Iran was about the size of a living room. The “worship band” was a simple cassette player.
It wasn’t his own choice to leave his country. He led a good life, ran a drycleaning business. But because of his decision to follow Jesus, increasing pressure forced him to flee. Now he lives in another country in the region with thousands of other refugees.
“On Sundays we have about 200 people in attendance here,” Growing up, his parents divorced, When his mother died. He had to live with his father who he said gave him little love. He was raised as a Muslim, but the circumstances in his life made him despise Islam. As a teenager, he hated his life. He said, "I needed Jesus."
He shares how meeting Jesus changed his life. One of his friends had become a Christian and told him about his new faith. “It’s hard to explain what happened with me,” he says. “I could say that something changed in my heart. I felt a warmth deep inside of me.”
“I had always thought my circumstances had to change for me to lose my depression,” he says. “But when I found Jesus, I realized that I needed someone to change me from the inside to feel at peace; I needed Jesus.”
Persecuted for Following Jesus
While the other believers accepted him and loved him unconditionally, the outside world was harsh towards his new faith. “My father rejected me, and I was also denied a job because I didn’t want to sign a form stating I was a Muslim.”
Persecution grew worse when he started attending an underground church and later even became a leader in it. “One day when I went to church, I got a threatening call from the government. After that, I always had a sense of being followed, and my phone tapped. Not
an unusual thing in Iran.”
Tensions rose, and for a whole year the house church even decided to split up into small groups of two or three people to avoid government attention. But it didn’t help. On a day when 25 believers had gathered, the security forces entered the house, shouting, cursing and filming everything. “I will never forget that night. I still remember the children crying with fear. It was so difficult to watch.”
This pastor and many other church members ended up in prison. First in isolated cells, then in the overcrowded general wards. At night, they slept pressed together, like books in a library. But by day, they struggled with the overcrowded sanitary facilities. He developed serious lung issues because of the bad conditions in prison.
“I often dreamed of getting out of prison,” he says. “But when I woke up, I realized again that I was still inside.” But wherever they were and how bad the conditions and circumstances were, one thing remained constant: these believers still had the Lord inside them. “We all prayed for one another. And we would evangelize a lot, even though we were not allowed to.”
The church did not die in prison. Many came to faith. Even though his imprisonment, and the subsequent pressure, forced him out of Iran, the church in Iran continues to grow.
In 2016, the mission organization Operation World named Iran as having the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world.
Compared to roughly 500 known Christians in 1979, there are now approximately 500,000 (some sources say up to 1 million secret believers). According to Elam Ministries, an organization founded in 1990 by Iranian church leaders, more Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. That growth continues to create tension between the government and the church.
(Dr. Hormoz Shariat) The president and founder of Iran Alive Ministries.said “As Christianity grows rapidly in Iran, the Islamic government and the clergy in power are alarmed. Their only strategy to slow down this growth is through a campaign of fear, violence and intimidation. We expect the persecution in Iran will increase as the Islamic government feels threatened by the spread of Christianity among Muslimsin Iran."