The Suffering Church
From Gospel Translations
The 13 million Hmong Christians living mainly in China, Vietnam, and Laos are beaten, their houses are burned down, and they are placed in prisons and slave-labor, brick-making camps. Police north of Hanoi regularly stop them when they get off buses or trains, confiscate their Bibles, and beat them. But the Hmong do not hit back. They return to the jungle and bring thousands more spiritually hungry people to Christ. The communists are so afraid of the spread of Christianity in these three nations that they encourage the Hmong to return to their religions of spiritism, with altars of incense and gifts to the spirits — anything but Jesus.
Hmong Christian leader Sung Seo Pao, still in prison after seven years, is paying a heavy price for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1989, Seo Pao became one of the first Hmong of Vietnam to find faith in Christ. It wasn’t long before the storms of persecution caught up with this prayerful servant of the Lord. In 1990, his evangelistic work earned him his first jail sentence. He was released after eight months on the condition that he would no longer preach the Gospel. But he was unable to keep to himself what God had done for him.
On the evening of May 22, 1995, soldiers and police went to his home, handcuffed him, and dragged him away to the district police station. For three days he was beaten many times, then was transferred to a provincial police station. He was then incarcerated in Hong Ca Prison in Yen Bai province. He had five children when he was dragged away to prison, but he did not know his wife was pregnant. Four years later, he learned through a friend that his wife had given birth to a girl.
A Christian visiting Seo Pao wanted to know whether seven years of prison had destroyed his faith. He replied, “Our Lord Jesus said, ‘You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.’” Clearly he has accepted the cost of discipleship.
“If I reject Jesus Christ,” Seo Pao added, “they will release me right away.” But rather than reject Christ, he has rejected conditional freedom, even though it would mean returning immediately to his family.
In Beijing, China, Brother Hua Huiqi and members of his family — including his 84-year-old father — were beaten when unidentified men broke into his home. All of the portable heaters in the home were confiscated and the family was left to suffer in below-freezing temperatures. Why did this happen? Prior to the attack, the family and several neighbors had conducted a peaceful protest objecting to the electricity and water to their homes being cut off. Chinese authorities had shut down water and power in the neighborhood after Brother Hua refused to give up the names of various house-church members and after the authorities learned that he had collected approximately ten thousand pieces of used clothing for distribution among poor Christians in rural areas outside Beijing.
During the 16th Party Congress, two officials escorted Hua and his wife, Ju Mei, on a forced 10-day vacation to Shaxi province. The government intent was to prevent them from “trouble-making” during the time of the party meetings in Beijing. Hua is now being held in a temporary detention room at a jail compound in Beijing. He says his family members must get permission to leave the facility, and police accompany them wherever they go.
Nepal is the world’s only Hindu kingdom. Hinduism is recognized as the national religion, but the constitution guarantees some religious freedom for other faiths. However, proselytizing is banned and carries a three-year jail penalty. And aggression against Christians has been on the rise. Militant Hindus are targeting Christians with hostile propaganda and violence with the aim of driving them out of the country.
Chatra is a Nepali Christian evangelist who is on the run, constantly moving from place to place to prevent discovery of his evangelistic efforts. Chatra insists he will not be deterred from doing God’s work. “I will not stop, because this is my joy, and I now have satisfaction in my heart,” he said. “They can put me in prison, and I know God will be there with me. He is with me, always. They can even kill me, but I am not afraid. I know God will take me into heaven.”
Muslim men in Pakistan regularly take advantage of Christian women with little or no response from the authorities. For this reason, Pakistani Christian Gulnaz Bibi had acid thrown on her face, arms, and legs by a Muslim man when she refused his sexual advances. However, while receiving medical care in the hospital, she stated: “I can only read a little, because I have a fifth-grade education, but these days I remember Psalm 92. Also I will behave like Job, and I will pray for my parents who are suffering with me in this situation. My mother and I thank the Christians around the world who are praying for us.”
Bhutan, the only Buddhist kingdom in the world, prohibits the open practice of Christianity. Two Bhutanese Christian evangelists (we will call them Jonathan and Peter) were arrested for their efforts to spread the Gospel. Both were interrogated and beaten by government officials demanding they leave their religion. But Jonathan and Peter will accept whatever punishment awaits them. They pray for their king and believe Jesus can change his heart. “If he does not pass justice in our favor, we are prepared to undergo any type of punishment that he decides,” said Peter. “If we are sent to jail, we will be happy to serve Jesus there, because we know God is with us and ultimately His kingdom will prevail.”