Persecution has diminished for some Christians in 2008, but it has increased for others. Overall, Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs believes it is worse than it used to be and will continue to worsen in 2009, reports MNN.
“I think there are situations where it’s worse. I think there are probably some isolated situations where things are improving a little bit, but I think on the whole, it’s at least as bad and probably worse than 2007, or worse than five or ten years ago,” said Nettleton.
Persecution has worsened drastically in Orissa, a state in India. Hindu radicals in that region have been rampaging against Christians since August.
“Orissa is probably the location of the worst persecution that’s going on right now in the world,” Nettleton said, “a place where they’re trying to wipe out the Christian church; a place where tens of thousands of Christians have had to flee their homes. Many of them fled literally into the jungle to escape the attacks of radical Hindus.”
In the months leading up to the Olympic games in Beijing, many hoped that the publicity surrounding that event would bring more liberty for the people of China. Unfortunately, such has not been the case.
“The concern that we had when the Olympics ended was that although the world has been watching, the Chinese continued persecuting Christians. What will they do now that the world’s not watching anymore?” Nettleton said. “Even in the months since the Olympic games, we have seen Christians arrested. We’ve seen house church services raided. So I don’t think it’s markedly better. I think it’s really about the same.”
Nettleton is not discouraged by the fact that persecution has not decreased and probably will not. He has observed that, ironically, persecution actually increases the strength of God’s church.
“One of the amazing things is that as persecution increases, the church tends to grow. As the church tends to grow, the persecution increases,” he said. “Christ promised that His followers would be persecuted, and that is coming true around the world. But that also means the church is growing. More people are coming to know Christ in a personal way.”
VOM’s biggest challenge nowadays “is to know how best to respond in a given situation of persecution,” Nettleton said.
“The challenge for us is to know the best way to support the church in restricted nations, the best way to come alongside them and lift them up, support them, and encourage them.”
Nettleton is excited about VOM’s “vital role” in connecting believers with their Christian brothers and sisters all over the world.
“When we go into a restricted nation and we’re able to deliver help, we say, ‘This is from Christians in America who love you and are praying for you during this time of suffering.’ Then when we come home and talk to the church in America we say, ‘Our brothers and sisters in restricted nations are praying for you here in America.’ We get to be a bridge between the two churches, and it’s really an exciting role that God has called Voice of the Martyrs to play.”
Report from the Christian Telegraph