I just got back from Washington D.C. where I attended the largest conference in the world for human rights.
Last year, I attended the State Department’s first ministerial on religious freedom. I was excited to be invited back to the second conference with over 1,000 leaders from over 100 countries.
Shelly and I sat through one of the most important conferences of the year filled with people from all over the world, probably less than 10 percent from the U.S.
The conference had many insights, which I will share with you next week. However, I wanted to highlight 11 persecuted Christians chosen to share their stories before everyone. All of them were from different nations.
The persecution against Christians is historic and horrific. It is found in 143 countries worldwide. What was clear was the staggering amount of persecution and genocide against Christians worldwide.
Here are the 11 Christians who spoke about their persecution:
- Pastor Brunson / Turkey
One of the most famous of the speakers talking about their persecution was Pastor Andrew Brunson. He was falsely charged and held in prison in Turkey. Last year, at the first ministerial conference, his name was specifically mentioned by Vice President Pence and Turkey specifically called out to release him from prison…and he was.
- Meriam Ibrahim / Sudan
You may recall the petition we had and the work we did in getting Meriam Yahia Ibrahim out of prison. She was the mom who was accused of apostasy in 2014 for marrying a Christian man. As a Christian, she refused to renounce her faith and she was sentenced to death. She was in jail to be hung. During that time President Obama and John Kerry of the State Department did very little to try to help free her. Because of our petition, actions with key members of Congress and prayers, she was freed and is now living in the U.S.
- Reverend Mario Felix Barroso / Cuba
He told about his persecution for his faith in Cuba, including his jail time just because he is a Christian.
- Hanna / Egypt
Egypt has seen violence against Christians, businesses, churches, and much more. Demiana Hanna survived the 2018 attack on a bus filled with Christians that killed 7 and wounded 19. He told his story and there were tears in the room.
- Helen / Eritrea
Because she was a Christian, Helen Berhane found herself imprisoned in a container for 3 years. She is now a gospel singer and has written about her experience.
- Hosseini / Iraq
We have talked about the spiritual explosion of Christians in Iran. This historic growth of the church in Iran has also seen historic persecution. Pastor Mojtaba Hosseini was in a house church movement in Iran, but he was imprisoned for three years.
- Esther / Nigeria
In Nigeria, massive genocide against Christians is taking place. One of the best known was the Boko Haram attack that took place kidnapping young girls. Esther was held captive by Boko Haram for three years. She saw people dying from sexual abuse. She escaped, but then was held in horrific conditions until a Christian doctor was able to reconnect her to her family. Her horrific story stunned the entire audience.
- Joo / North Korea
North Korea is the number one country in the world to persecute Christians. Ill Yong Joo is a student who defected from North Korea in 2008 at the age of 12. He is now 23. For 10 years, his family listened to South Korean radio, including Christian broadcasting, which was one of the motivating factors for their release.
- Koh / Malaysia
In Malaysia, Pastor Raymond Koh was kidnapped in 2017 and has not been heard from since. This was at a time when Malaysia was moving toward stricter Islamic law, and he was accused of proselytizing Muslims. His wife shared her story at the conference.
- Linsey / Sri Lanka
I wrote about the horrific, purposeful Islamic terrorist attack on Christian churches on Easter. Matt Linsey talked about the attack in which he lost 2 children.
- Ga / Vietnam
Pastor A Ga was a pastor over house churches since regular churches are not allowed in Vietnam. He found himself under arrest until the U.S. intervened and helped him resettle in the U.S.
A major part of the conference focused on the horrific action against Uighur Muslims in China. Also, people from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Tibet, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries talked about being persecuted.
The whole purpose of the conference was to protect religious freedom and to have countries agree that the persecution of religious minorities would stop.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained the U.S. position about religious freedom this way: “This is America’s first freedom, and we want to work to make sure other countries understand how central it is to the individuals that are in their country to have the opportunity to worship as one chooses or chooses not to worship, and to know that their government is not going to restrict, impose, impede, or punish those activities is central to human dignity. And so we believe that here at the State Department, we can lead this conversation. We can encourage other countries to recognize this most fundamental human right. And when we do so, we will make life better for millions and millions of people around the world.”
Powerful. Insightful. Disturbing.
Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
Please pray for religious freedom in all countries.
Please pray for Ambassador Sam Brownback, Mike Pompeo and others standing firm for human rights.
Here are the rest of this week’s articles:
- Shocking and Disturbing: Unbelievably Brutal Human Organ Harvesting in China
- What Congressman Rand Paul (R-KY) Said to Me about the Deep State
- What You Won’t See in the Media about How God is Moving in the Lives of Youth Today [Video]
- Standing Firm for What’s Right: Every Christian Should Sign the Manhattan Declaration