Changes for the Church in 2017

By December 29, 2016

International (MNN) — As the year comes to an end, it’s easy to look ahead to the new year as a chance for resets and new beginnings. However, Noel Becchetti of Asian Access says for the Church in Asia, what might come is more intimidating than rejuvenating.

He say there “is a rising intolerance and direct pressure against Christians and then sometimes others [who] may not be Christian but [are] people who are not part of the ruling group.”

(Photo courtesy SAT-7 via Facebook)

(Photo courtesy of SAT-7 via Facebook)

Take Bangladesh. “Up until a few years ago, Bangladesh, while a Muslim majority country, has really been known for its tolerance,” explains Becchetti.

However, “About three years ago, kind of out of nowhere, some attacks began.” He says these attacks targeted “pastors, other Christian leaders, other religious leaders, and even secular NGO leaders.

“Pastors were getting SMS messages saying, ‘Make sure you eat your favorite foods cause you’re going to die next week.’”

This sudden spike in persecution went hand-in-hand with a rise in new believers, but that caused another problem. “There was an authentic rise in interest in Jesus among university students, but it was also sprinkled with infiltrators pretending to be seekers so they could get in,” remembers Becchetti

During a recent conversation with a local church leader, Becchetti discovered, “Things are better, it has calmed down, but [believers have] got to be vigilant in a way [they] never were before.”

Photo Courtesy Asian Access

(Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

And Bangladesh isn’t the only country to undergo critical leadership changes. In the Philippines, a new president was recently elected “who has vowed to go after the drug dealers and the drug addicts in the Philippines.”

The problem is, the methods this president is using to fight the drug empire are violent and unpredictable. Becchetti says about 3,000 people have been killed in this crusade, and “the newspapers were saying that about 2,000 of those cannot be traced to anything related to drugs. They’re just vigilantes going after people they don’t like or people who they disagree with.”

One of the other primary countries struggling with persecution is India. Since a new prime minister was elected, the government has taken steps to “Hinduize India” and implement Hindu beliefs and policies into the political sphere. Christians and Muslims have been particularly targeted, and although “there was some pushback by responsible leaders in India and others elsewhere… the party has replaced people in key positions,” says Becchetti.

And the effect is spreading even beyond the borders of India. For example, “In Nepal they’re still recovering from the embargo India imposed on them.”

Photo Courtesy Asian Access

(Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

When Nepal passed their first constitution, India’s government was dismayed. The constitution was secular in nature and allowed some religious freedom instead of declaring the nation to be a Hindu state.

In response, Becchetti says India “shut the border down for about a year,” and although it has been reopened, “for a while the only way you could get things like gasoline, cooking oil, [and] most of their supplies was through a black market.”

With so many countries starting to participate in persecution, Becchetti explains some local pastors believe, “Our main church won’t even be there anymore, they won’t be allowed to, and so we need to start working now for that.”

Becchetti says of a pastor friend, “His personal church network has already started and implemented a whole new system of house churches… They’re going from a formal church model to an intentionally informal [model], led by couples who have been trained and equipped to do this kind of work,” preparing the Church for whatever may come.

If you want to see how you can help, we can connect you at Asian Access’s website here.

In the meantime, be sure to remember believers around the world as they head into a new year and prepare for the coming challenges. Pray that they would anticipate what is to come and continue to spread the love of Christ to their friends and enemies alike.

2 Comments

  • Herrnhut says:

    He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
    A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

  • Our precious brothers & sisters we are holding you up in prayers. Stay the course & continue to stand for the Lord Jesus Christ!
    Bro Larry, Act 20:24

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