Persecution of Christians and other religious groups is world wide. Much of the persecution that is ‘news-worthy’ is that perpetrated by Islamic State in countries of Africa and the Middle East. But there are other parts of the world not often brought to our attention, where Christians are targeted and need our prayers.
The term ‘Failed State’ can be applied to Haiti: it is used to describe a place where a political body has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer function properly and authorities lose the ability to exercise legitimate power for the good of the society. Haiti is mired in poverty, crippled by corruption, thoroughly infested with voodoo, hopelessly dysfunctional and increasingly lawless.
This country has been plagued by crises since the earthquake in 2010 killed 200 000 people, with one million people still homeless and thousands living in tent camps. Then Hurricane Matthew ravaged the country in 2016, with more than 1.4 million people needing emergency aid. The COVID-19 pandemic simply contributed to the chaos, due to lack of health care infrastructure.
In this, the poorest nation in the Americas, kidnapping for ransom has become a major industry!
Under these conditions, the Catholic Church is displaying leadership and is a source of hope for the country. But where in the past kidnap victims were wealthy people, now Christians are being kidnapped. This trend has intensified over the past three years and Christian clergy are increasingly targeted as well as women and children.
“Where the Haitian authorities are absent, the Catholic Church is present to help people,” said Father Almonor, chaplain of the Philadelphia Haitian Catholic Community. He says the Catholic Church has a vital role to play in reforming Haiti.
The nation’s 11 bishops led an April 15 “Mass for the freedom of Haiti” in Pétion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, as part of a national strike in response to the April 11 kidnappings and the spiraling lawlessness.
The long-persecuted, mostly Christian, indigenous Papuans of Papua's Central Highlands are now bracing themselves for yet another massive military crackdown. Papuan militants have escalated their attacks on Indonesian interests.
On Sunday 25 April a small detachment of Indonesian security personnel was patrolling a crime scene in the Central Highlands Puncak Regency when it was ambushed by Papuan rebels. A firefight ensued and Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) provincial intelligence chief Brig. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha was shot dead in what appears to have been a planned assassination.
'The situation in Indonesia's Papuan Provinces is coming to a head; tensions are soaring; a clash is looming; a Christian crisis may be imminent.'
Morning Star News reports a huge number of incidents where Christians in India are targeted.
For example, a pastor and his wife were detained by police originally to safeguard them against attacks by Hindu extremists. But the police were pressured into jailing them under a baseless charge of forcible conversion. Pastor Manu Damor and his wife Asha remain in jail after the Easter Sunday (April 4) attack on the worship service of five families at a Christian’s home in Rangwasa village, Indore District in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
In another incident elsewhere, Pastor Sanjay Bhandari had taken his wife for a medical check-up earlier this month when they decided to visit her sister in the same area in Karnataka state, southwest India – only to be attacked as they were drinking tea. The attackers pulled him outside where a mob paraded him a mile to the rented worship hall where he has led Sunday services for five years, hitting and kicking him along the way.
He was hospitalized at the Belgaum Institute of Medical Sciences (BIMS) for treatment of his ear, private parts and injuries to his left shoulder and chest. Discharged on April 10, he continues to have treatment and medical examinations.
Hindu extremists have been emboldened in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014.
For Haiti: that our gracious God would empower the Catholic Church to continue to be a shining light in the broken community; that the good works done in Jesus’ name would draw hurting people to Him so He can sustain them and give them courage through troubled times. 'But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head' (Psalm Chapter 3, verse 3).
For Papua: that God’s peace replace the turbulence in the Highlands; that the energy used in attacking helpless people might be used rather to build up, not tear down, the communities. 'But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream' (Amos Chapter 5, verse 24).
For India: for police and other law-keepers to have the courage to do what’s constitutionally and morally right; for extremists not to be fueled by anger and fear but to turn their hearts to generosity and allow people who are not Hindu to live side by side with them. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews Chapter 4, verses 12 -13).
For Christians in our global village to lean into the God who loves them and understands their pain.
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