By Jenifer Jones
It is estimated that more than 360 million Christians around the world live in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination. TMS Global cross-cultural witnesses (CCWs) serve in some of these places. Two CCWs who live in South Asia share what it’s like to follow Christ where they live.
Our country is 99 percent unreached and unengaged. Most people here are Buddhist. It is very difficult to get a work visa. Because of this the Good News is very new to the people here. The oldest first generation of believers in the country are in their 60s and 70s.
It is not illegal here to be a follower of Jesus. Believers are allowed to follow Jesus if they want to. But proselytizing is illegal and punishable by jail for locals and blacklisting for cross-cultural workers. Fellowships cannot own buildings, so all fellowships are rented out of apartments in the capital, and in people’s homes in villages. Often landlords will kick people out once they realize a fellowship is meeting in their building. The government sends spies into the fellowships to make sure they are not converting people. Some local leaders have gone to prison for sharing the Good News in monasteries or even for taking funds and using it to advance the kingdom.
In the capital city there are three fellowships in the national language. Each fellowship meets in an apartment and has no more than 30 people on a given Sunday. There are many fellowships that are the language of a large minority group that lives in this country. Those fellowships can be larger, up to 60 people. These fellowships are made up of people coming out of Hinduism and are home to most of the reached people in this country.
Those who are known to be Christ followers are often kicked out of apartments, denied jobs, and find it difficult to get things accomplished in government offices. If a person becomes a believer, family and friends often disown them.
One girl and her mother are the only believers in their family. When they decided to follow Jesus, the family wrote them out of their will. Now the mother does not own any land and finds it hard to provide for her daughter. Her daughter wants to go to college and to provide for their family. But since they have no land, they cannot apply for a loan from the bank. The uncle told his niece that if she stops being a Christian and becomes Buddhist again that he will give them back the land and help send her to college. Praise be to God that they continue to refuse to renounce their belief in Jesus.
Please pray for this woman and her family, that God would provide for all their needs, including food, shelter, and education. Pray that God would give them, and all persecuted Christians, courage, comfort, the right words to say, access to a Bible, and access to community. Please pray that they would experience God’s peace, hope, protection, and provision.
Jenifer Jones is a communicator for TMS Global (tms-global.com). Photo by Riken Patel (Unsplash).