Crux magazine published 13 well-researched stories about Christians who were persecuted or martyred recently. Author and researcher, John L. Allen, presented the shocking update that one Christian is killed for their faith every hour, every day.
The violence seems to be saturated in Latin America, especially Colombia and El Salvador, but Asia, Africa and the Middle East are greatly affected as well.
One of the stories is set in El Salvador, the country with the highest amount of homicides per capita in the world.
“When two Colombian women, a mother and a grandmother, were shot to death within a month of one another in early 2013, there was tragically little on the surface to make their deaths remarkable. They became merely the latest casualties of a decades-long civil war that’s left 220,000 people dead.
Yet on closer examination, the lives and deaths of Alba Mery Chilito Peñafiel and Alicia Castilla not only illustrate the carnage their country has endured, but also one of its least-understood aspects: Despite belonging to an overwhelming statistical majority, Christians in Colombia who stand up to the violence are remarkably at risk. They face danger not for their religious beliefs, but for preaching against the drug trade and the killing in ways that infuriate both gangs and paramilitaries of left and right.”
The story ends with this chilling statement, “Globally, the two women are chapters in one of the most widespread human rights scourges of the early 21st century, which is lethal anti-Christian persecution. Though estimates vary widely, even low-end counts suggest that one Christian is killed for motives related to the faith somewhere in the world every hour of every day.”
Central African Republic
Allen shared about our faith’s “new martyrs.” It’s difficult to read about their violent deaths, and sadly, it’s so common in these countries journalists rarely report the stories. One piece highlights the impossible situation in the Central African Republic where 80 percent of the 4.6 million people are Christian and the rest are Muslim.
In 2013, a Muslim insurgents formed a militia, took over the capital and began sectarian killings burning Christians alive. In response, Christians created their own militia and began aggressively killing Muslims and destroyed almost all of their 436 mosques. The violence is unbelievable and seemingly unstoppable. Key religious leaders are trying to band together in a genuine show of friendship and unity, but there is a long, long way to go still.
Another story reveals why Somalia is the world’s second most dangerous place for Christians. The first most dangerous is North Korea where an estimated 50,000-100,000 Christians are imprisoned in labor camps.
Somalia is a “fragile state” that has lost 500,000 people in their 30 year civil war with even more lives being taken by famine and extreme poverty.
Allen wrote, “Somalia is also the setting for the dramatic story of a Catholic nun named Sister Leonella Sgorbati and her Muslim driver and close friend, Mahamud Mohammed Osman, who died together in September 2006.”
He continued, “She was gunned down at the age of 65 on Sept. 17, 2006… Osman, a father of four and a devout Muslim, was standing next to Sgorbati when militants believed to be linked to Al-Shabaab staged their ambush. The two were both shot as they walked 30 feet from the Mogadishu hospital to the sister’s home, where three other nuns were waiting to have lunch with them.
Osman tried to shield Sgorbati’s body with his own, and took the first bullet himself.
They died together, with other Consolata sisters later reporting that their blood had mingled on the hospital floor. Sgorbati’s dying words reportedly were ‘perdono, perdono, perdono,’ meaning’I forgive.'”
India is known as a diverse and colorful culture, but there is heartbreaking persecution in the country. Allen told the story of vicious Hindu militants who torture, imprison and kill Christians at their will while local police do nothing to step in and help.
One Indian Christian woman, Kanaka Nayak, was forced to watch an angry crowd of attackers viciously murder her husband.
“In the central square, they demanded that he renounce his Christian faith and embrace Hinduism. The self-declared Baptist preacher refused, whereupon he was beaten, disfigured, gutted, and burned. To grasp the depths of the savagery, it’s unfortunately necessary to be concrete: Nayak’s genitals were sliced off and his intestines ripped out by his frenzied attackers, some of whom draped the intestines around their necks as a macabre war trophy.”
Nayak shared with Crux through tears, “They cut my husband into pieces in front of me, covered him in kerosene and set him on fire.”
The crowd turned on her intending to rape her, but she escaped into the forest and found safety in a relief camp.
Can you imagine going to church and wondering if you’ll make it back home? This is the reality for both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria where a radical Islamist movement specializes in terrorizing Christians.The story in Nigeria is one of both potential and poverty.
“Musa Auda Badung is among those Nigerian Christians convinced that God hasn’t been listening terribly closely.” Badung has lost over 20 family members to violence and watched in horror as 60 Christians were “burned alive in their pastor’s home.”
His story continued, “Badung said assaults are so common in his area that Christians have had to learn to judge by ear how far away gunfire sounds so they can decide whether to continue a service or shout a quick ‘Amen’ and disperse. In January, he said, he was forced to hide on the floor of his church during one such attack and to watch a friend bleed to death in church from a gunshot.”
Through war-torn towns and war zones, in the midst of violence and twisted governments, Christians around the world have stood their ground. Unfortunately, they’re now suffering greatly for it.
One bishop said to his priests, “You have to be the last to leave. You have to be here until the very end with the community.”
Pray for our brothers and sisters around the world. Commit to praying for a country, a region, a missionary, or a pastor with your family, small group, and congregation. Don’t just read these stories and then forget. Go to Crux or The Voice of the Martyrs and read the full stories. Share this with your sphere of influence. It’s too important to miss.