Make this your prayer for the Christians as you read about persecution in China and Ethiopia: ‘Keep them as the apple of your eye; hide them in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do them violence, their deadly enemies who surround them’ (Psalm chapter 17 verses 8-9 ESV).
Repression in China
On 6 June China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP) issued a directive encouraging and incentivising citizens to inform on one another. The Ministry of State Security has set up a public hot-line through which citizens can provide either real-name reports or anonymous tip-offs, by phone or over the internet, regarding citizens they suspect may be a threat to ‘national security’.
As Radio Free Asia reports (9 June), ‘“national security” [is] a broadly defined concept that criminalises overseas contacts and fund-raising, criticism of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and peaceful political opposition.’
Depending on the value of the information, informants may receive a ‘spiritual reward’ (a certificate of appreciation) or varying degrees of financial reward.
In early June, Mrs Hao Ying, wife of Pastor Geng Zejun, published on social media that a trial will be held against her imprisoned husband at the end of June. Pastor Geng leads the Church of the Rock in Shizuishan city’s Huinong district in China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a remote far north region on the border of Inner Mongolia.
Authorities raided the church on 5 December 2021 and sentenced Geng to 15 days administrative detention, and his wife and four others to 10 days. After their release, church gatherings resumed. On 4 January police summoned Pastor Geng for questioning; he never returned home.
Pastor Geng and two other members – Luo Shiping and Wang Sufang – were charged with ‘organising illegal religious gatherings’. Bitter Winter reports (27 June) that Pastor Geng has been committed to trial and his sentencing has been scheduled for 13 July.
Pray for China and Hong Kong
- That Christians may withstand - with courage, grace and steadfast faith - “the increasingly ominous signs” that religious freedom in China and Hong Kong is “next on the hit list by the destructive forces” of Xi's regime.
- For protection from the National Security Law, criminalising: ‘succession; subversion of state power; local terrorist activities; collaborating with foreign or external foreign forces to endanger national security’.
- For strength and protection for 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, arrested for helping participants in the 2019 pro-democracy protests.
- For the freedom of Christian schools from threatened take-over by the CCP which blames Christian education for pro-democracy activism.
Massacres in Ethiopia
On Monday 5 July Oromo ethno-nationalist militants slaughtered at least 150 predominantly Christian ethnic Amhara in Hawa Gelan Woreda (district) in Kellem/Qellem Wollega Zone, Oromia Region. Minority ethnic Amharas were specifically targeted.
Lamenting the prevalence of ‘ethnically targeted killing’, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has called for an ‘urgent reinforcement’ of government security forces to prevent further civilian deaths. While the official toll is at least 150, one survivor told the Amhara Media Corporation, ‘They [the attackers] have left, and bodies are now being picked up; so far 300 [bodies] have been collected. But it’s still early, there are many others whose whereabouts we don’t know.’
These massacres come in the wake of the Abiy government’s May crackdown on dissent in Amhara Region and the disarming of FANO, an ethnic Amhara volunteer militia established in late 2021 to defend Amhara Region and Addis Ababa from advancing TPLF forces [see RLPB 622, Christian Crisis Looms as Rebels Advance, 3 Nov 2021].
More than 30 protesters died in the May crackdown which resulted in more than 12,000 arrests: including 20 journalists and 62 political opposition, as well as activists, lawyers, professors, military personnel and thousands of FANO.
In its condemnation of the 18 June massacre, the Amhara Association of America (AAA) noted that ‘at least 1,688 Amharas were killed and 62 abducted in 2021 by the OLA alone’. Consequently, Amharas fear that the crackdown on dissent and disarming of FANO will work to facilitate an Amhara genocide.
As noted in last week’s RLPB, PM Abiy is under intense pressure to do whatever it takes to broker peace with the Egypt-Sudan-US-backed Marxist-Leninist and separatist TPLF. Fears abound that this may involve sacrificing the Amhara. The pro-TPLF US Biden-Blinken administration is ready to enact crippling sanctions if the TPLF and US don’t get what they want: a US-allied Greater Tigray on the Red Sea.
The threat of civil war, national disintegration, ethnic cleansing and Amhara genocide – i.e. a Christian crisis of monumental proportions – continues to linger over Ethiopia.
Please pray that our sovereign God will
- Comfort and sustain all who have been impacted by the recent massacres of ethnic Amhara in Oromia Region; may the Lord comfort those who grieve – especially those who have lost their entire family - and sustain those who are displaced by providing them with secure shelter and all the humanitarian assistance they require. Lord have mercy.
- Protect and sustain his precious Church in Ethiopia, a missional Church which includes the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church, as well as Catholics and Protestants, and an ever increasing number of converts from Islam; Lord have mercy.
- Grant Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (a convert to Christianity) wisdom and strength as he seeks to lead the nation into a new era of unity, peace and prosperity; may he not be lured or forced from that path and may he look to the Lord for direction and strength.
- Intervene to thwart all evil plots designed to break-up Ethiopia; may God’s good plans for Ethiopia prevail.
Aira Chilcott is a retired secondary school teacher with lots of science andtheology under her belt. Aira is a panellist and editor for PSI and indulges inreading, bushwalking and volunteering at a nature reserve. Aira is married to Billand they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html