A Battle for Faith: The Plight of Persecuted Christians
When you think about people who are persecuted for their faith, chances are you only think of those in a specific set of countries. In reality, however, there’s a growing anti-Christian movement worldwide that’s making it increasingly difficult for the faithful to practice their religion. Nevertheless, this crackdown on the teachings of Jesus Christ is only helping to further cement the strong faith seen in these communities.
How Nations Restrict Christian Teaching
It’s tempting to think of restrictions on Christianity as being part of a greater ideological divide between disparate groups. However, in many situations, it’s actually a case of stark utilitarianism. Governments have often tried to subvert various religious and philosophical groups in order to bend them to their own needs. The strong witness offered by many individual Christians has made it difficult for them to do so. That’s why the persecution of Christians continues to occur in countries like the Republic of India.
In spite of the fact that India is at least nominally secular and promises to allow all individuals the right to practice their own religion, Hindu nationalist groups have carried out violent attacks in recent years. Similar bouts of violence happen on a regular basis in Islamic nations that operate under Sharia law. All of these cases have one thing in common. Namely, their wish to restrict Christian practice is part of a need to maintain the current power structures in order to prevent any sort of civil shakeup.
Any knowledge and understanding of the teachings of Christ are likely to encourage individuals to seek out freedom in much the same way that Moses lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. Some governments have attempted to create official state-managed church organizations, which are designed to corrupt Christian teaching into a tool of the state. Ironically, this has backfired time and time again because these organizations contain many people who seek to set things right from within.
The Growth of Internal Churches
Back in 1944, the central committee of the Soviet Union created the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians and Baptists, which was intended to make people subservient to the will of the Communist Party. While it might have served to heavily restrict some congregations, it also incidentally encouraged a major Biblical revival that helped to push for increased religious freedom. Today, there are fairly large Baptist congregations in Russia and Ukraine descended from this organization, and they continue to push to end the suffering experienced by so many in their countries.
Representatives from the People’s Republic of China continue to persecute any Christian that isn’t a member of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or one of the other state-sanctioned religious communities. It’s pushed for severe restrictions on the way pastors conduct themselves within church buildings based on the idea that physical churches managed by the organization are technically public property. However, the head of the movement in 2004 was actually so bold as to mention how much debt he had to early Christian missionaries in China. Individual members, since that time, have sought to witness from within the organization and that’s slowly eroding any control the Communist Party might have over it.
Christian Witnessing in a Restrictive Environment
Regardless of what kind of oppression individual Christians may experience, the one constant is their wish to better themselves on a case-by-case basis. Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelite tribes were constantly controlled by foreign powers because of their sinful nature. Whenever they could turn against sin and conduct themselves according to Universal Law, God eventually withdrew his judgement and allowed them once more to flourish. Many Christians in the darkest of situations have bravely taken their lot as penance and sought to use it as an opportunity to better themselves and shed any vestiges of sin.
Individuals who are living in developed nations are called to help their brothers and sisters in oppressed situations, though they may also want to look to them as an inspiration. Christians who show such courage in the face of overwhelming odds are truly walking the path set forth by Jesus Christ during his ministry on this planet.