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Discussion Forum : News and Current Events : WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

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 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Syria

Syria became one of the leading nations of refuge for fleeing Iraqi Christians in 2004. (Thousands left Iraq following the bombing of five churches in Baghdad, in August 2004.) Many have immigrated to Damascus, seeking security and economic opportunities.

Religion: Muslim 90.32%, Christian 5.12%, non-Religious 2.90%, Other (Druze, etc.) 1.55%, Baha’i 0.10%, and Jewish 0.01%. In 1973, Syria was declared a secular state with Islam recognized as the religion of the majority, and all other minorities accorded definite rights and privileges with a measure of religious freedom.

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Bashar al-Asad

Persecution: Christian minorities are tolerated and have freedom to worship and witness within their own community, but all activities that could threaten the government or communal harmony are watched. Evangelicals currently enjoy good standing, so they are hesitant to jeopardize this by witnessing too openly.

Missionary Opportunity: Syrian Christians are a respected minority. Christians are influential in the cities, professions, politics and the armed forces, but their percentage of the population is shrinking due to a high rate of emigration. Conversions out of Islam are few but increasing. Most churches in Syria are not yet ready to evangelize Muslims. Missionaries are not allowed.

 2008/5/23 1:57









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Tajikistan

Tajikistan gained independence from the Soviet Empire in 1992, and since then has suffered from corruption, civil war and poverty. Life in this Muslim country is very harsh, and the influence of Islam is increasing.

Religion: Muslim 89.50%, non-Religious 9.09%, Christian 1.38%, and Other 0.03%. Although 90 percent of its citizens profess to be Muslim, only a fraction regularly practices Islamic ritual. Most are more influenced by superstition and Zoroastrian beliefs. The number of functioning mosques grew in a decade from 18 to 4,000. Muslims have significantly increased their strength in society since the 1997 peace accord granted them participation in the government.

Ideological Influence: Islam and communism

Head of State: President Emomali Rahmonov

Persecution: Religious freedom is guaranteed, but fear of radical Islam provides the government with an excuse to watch all religious activity closely. Proselytism is not forbidden, but any activity causing religious tension is quashed. In January 2004, Pastor Sergei Bessarab was killed by a radical Muslim. He was planting a church in the city of Isfara.

Missionary Opportunity: In 1992, there were only two or three Tajik believers. In 2000, there were several hundred worldwide. The Christian church is mostly ethnic Europeans but has been drastically reduced by emigration.

 2008/5/23 1:58









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)

A British-controlled state until 1960, the country was split into Greek (south) and Turkish (north) communities after the Turkish invasion of 1974. In the Turkish North, where almost everyone is Muslim, there is freedom of religion, but evangelization by minority groups is watched. Less than 1 percent of TRNC is Christian. According to Operation World, the Muslim population is very secularized, with about 10 percent regularly attending the mosque.

 2008/5/23 1:59









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Tibet (China)

Tibet was invaded by Chinese communists in 1950. Tibet’s political and religious leader, the Dalai Lama, was forced to flee to India. The communists soon stripped Tibet of its cultural and religious heritage.

Religion: Lama Buddhist 80%, Muslim 0.2%, Christian 0.2%. Tibetan Buddhism has a strong hold on the people. There is much demonic bondage: The pre-Buddhist Bon religion with its spirit appeasement and occultism permeates society. There are officially 1,780 monasteries and 46,000 Buddhist monks.

Ideological Influence: Communism (China)

Head of State: President Hu Jintao (China)

Persecution: Christians are trapped between the oppression of Buddhism and the oppression of communism. Buddhists who convert to Christianity are forced to overcome many obstacles to grow in Christ.

Missionary Opportunity: There may be about 1,000 evangelical and 2,000 Catholic Christians among the 5 million Tibetans in the world. There are at least two secret groups of Tibetan believers in Tibet.


 2008/5/23 2:00









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Tunisia

Tunisia is one of the most progressive and open societies in the Arab world. Most people have secular dreams of wealth.

Religion: Muslim 99.66%, Christian 0.22%, non-Religious/other 0.10%, and Jewish 0.02%.

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Persecution: Christian literature is not openly distributed; and with so few believers, dissemination is difficult. The government is not favorable to any Christian proselytism, but tolerance is shown to foreign minorities.

Missionary Opportunity: There are about 200 committed, indigenous believers today, but about half that number meets together regularly for worship. A concerted prayer movement for Tunisia in 1999 coincided with significant numbers of people turning to Christ.

 2008/5/23 2:01









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Turkey

Turkey, when under the Ottoman Empire, was for centuries the guardian of the holy places of Islam. In the 20th century, the number of Christians in Turkey dropped significantly, and the influence of the Muslim faith is rising.

Religion: Muslim 99.64%, Christian 0.32%, and Jewish 0.04%

Ideological Influence: Secular state with Islamic influence

Head of State: President Ahmet Necdet Sezer

Persecution: The constitutional guarantee of religious freedom has not been fully upheld. Instances of discrimination and harassment of religious minorities are many, but there has been a distinct improvement since 2000. Many politicians, the police and the growing Islamist movement are hostile to anything Christian. The ancient churches survived until the beginning of the 20th century, but since then have been decimated by massacres (Armenians), severe persecution (Assyrians), and emigration (Greeks, etc.).

Missionary Opportunity: Turkey’s Christian population has declined from 22 percent to 0.32 percent since 1900. Few of the 66 million Muslims have heard the gospel. A Turkish Protestant Church was legally recognized recently, and as Turkey continues to pursue European Union (EU) membership, there appears to be an increasing openness on the part of the authorities to recognize Turkey as a multicultural, multireligious country.


 2008/5/23 2:01









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan was one of the republics in the former Soviet Union. It had relative freedom in 1991, after the USSR’s collapse, but many remnants of the old communist system remain.

Religion:Muslim 91.84%, non- Religious/other 5.47%, Christian 2.66%, and Jewish 0.03%. Islam was severely repressed under communism, but now it is gaining influence and strength.

Ideological Influence: Dictatorship under communist and Islamic influence

Head of State: President Saparmurad Niyazov has built palaces and memorials to himself all over the country, while his citizens suffer in poverty. He calls himself the “King of kings.”

Persecution: Constitutionally there is freedom of religion, but in practice this is limited to Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodox. All other forms of Islam or minority religions are subject to severe repression and harassment. Christian students attending universities have been threatened with expulsion. Nearly every foreign Christian has been expelled. Several national pastors have been exiled, beaten up, heavily fined and imprisoned. Congregations have been intimidated and forbidden to meet. A new decree in March 2005 sought government control of churches by requiring them “to gain official registration.” Evangelical Christians have suffered the most persecution under the government’s religious legislation. Participation in unregistered Baptist house churches has resulted in fines, the seizure of family possessions, and deductions from their salary. Several raids against religious communities were launched by the government in August 2004.

Missionary Opportunity: Ethnic Turkmen Christians are few but have increased in 10 years from one or two to possibly 500 to 600. Most Christians are Russians, Ukrainians and Armenians. Among them are a few hundred evangelical believers. However, Christians are still influencing their society.

 2008/5/23 2:02









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates came into being in 1971, when the Trucial States became a loose confederation of sheikdoms.

Religion: Muslim 65.45%, Hindu 17.00%, Christian 9.25%, Buddhist 4.00%, Other 2.50%, non-Religious 1.30%, and Baha’i 0.50% (Religious figures are estimates.) Islam is the state religion.

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Persecution: Only foreign Christians have freedom to worship and witness. Christian education and witnessing to nationals are severely restricted. Few believers have opportunities to openly share their faith.

Missionary Opportunity: Several Christian medical agencies are allowed to operate and show Christ’s love to the people of the U.A.E. through selfless service. Signs indicate there are many who are eager to learn about the gospel in private and who enthusiastically receive Christian materials.

 2008/5/23 2:03









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, once a republic of the Soviet Union, had a period of relative freedom following the fall of the Soviet Empire. The growing Islamist movement has been vigorously suppressed, with Christians also affected by government legislation and actions.

Religion: Muslim 83.50%, non-Religious 14.52%, Christian 1.28%, Buddhist 0.30%, Traditional ethnic 0.20%, and Jewish 0.20%. The country is a secular state that promotes a moderate form of Islam. Almost all the Christians are ethnic minorities.

Ideological Influence: Islam and communism

Head of State: President Islom Karimov

Persecution: Each church must have an official government registration in order to hold services. Police have made unannounced visits to churches demanding to see their registration papers. Churches unable to produce their registration are immediately closed and their doors sealed by the police. Pastors have been arrested and detained and members threatened. Evangelism or missionary activity can earn three years in prison and organizing an unregistered group, five years. Ethnic minorities (Koreans and Russians) have considerable freedom to reach their own people and are doing so. National Security Police raided several churches in 2004, threatening heavy fines if the churches did not register. House-church meetings in Uzbekistan are illegal. In one raid police reportedly said there was no need for Christians or faiths other than Islam in Uzbekistan.

Missionary Opportunity: There are now approximately 1,000 believers in the country affiliated with about 65 unregistered fellowships. A few thousand more are unaffiliated. Most believers are in the city of Tashkent, despite 61 percent of Uzbeks living in rural areas. Expatriate Christians serving the Lord in the country have increased. Bible translation and distribution are an ongoing task.

 2008/5/23 2:04









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Vietnam

Vietnam has historically been a hotbed of struggle. The communists had a foothold in North Vietnam and took over all of Vietnam in 1975.

Religion: Buddhist 54.14%, non-Religious 21.80%, Christian 8.16%, Traditional ethnic 8.10%, Cao Dai/Hoa Hoa 5.60%, Chinese 1.10%, Muslim 0.70%, and Baha’i 0.40%. Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom are meaningless, as government policy controls all religious movements, including Buddhism.

Ideological Influence: Communism

Head of State: President Tran Duc Luong

Persecution: Believers are harassed, beaten and imprisoned for illegally preaching or organizing evangelistic activities. Persecution is especially harsh for unregistered and ethnic minority churches. Seeing the role of Christianity in the demise of communism elsewhere, the regime has attempted to either control or wipe out believers. Government efforts have intensified as churches respond to persecution with growth and outreach. Believers see church registration as compromise. Failing to register churches is seen as illegal in the eyes of the government, forcing the church underground. In May 2005, the Vietnamese government promised the U.S. it would begin to allow greater religious freedom. But little has changed since the agreement. Only a handful of Christians have been released from prison, and many have been forced to renounce their faith.

Missionary Opportunity: Instead of being weakened by persecution, the faith of Vietnamese Christians is growing, and the Body of Christ is becoming stronger. A large-scale and sustained turning to Christ is taking place in both the registered and unregistered (underground) church, especially among the mountain tribes of Central and Southern Vietnam. Bible translation is an ongoing task, especially for the ethnic minorities. Christian literature is in great demand but is strictly monitored.


 2008/5/23 2:05





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