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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,957
February 21, 2019
Many Christians Persecuted Abroad
By Mike McManus

Thousands of Christians are being persecuted in Nigeria, Malaysia and North Korea. Their situations are often horrific. American Christians must pray for them, and urge President Trump to advocate on their behalf.

In Nigeria armed Islamic militants, Boko Haram and Fulani militants, have killed tens of thousands of Christians and millions have been driven off their land. At one level, it is a conflict between farmers who are Christian and herders, Fulani Militant Muslims.

Last week TIME reported that "Nigeria is a risky place to give birth. About 58,000 mothers die in childbirth in Nigeria annually and 240,000 newborns within 28 days of birth." Although Nigeria is the wealthiest country in Africa, it ranks 4th in maternal mortality globally.

The situation is acute in the Borno state of Nigeria where Boko Haram has led a decade-long insurgency. Half of the region's 200 doctors fled. One result: there were 1,544 deaths per 100,000 live births - nearly double the national average of 814.

Of the 250,000 women who give birth annually, 50,000 will face life-threatening complications during delivery. In the majority of cases, "death is entirely preventable."

Boko Haram and Fulani herdsman are driving Christian farmers out of their homelands, creating a refugee crisis. Many are fleeing to the nearby countries of Niger and Cameroon. Niger is one of the world's poorest countries and cannot financially support them.

Five years ago, the world was shocked by the news of the kidnapping of 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram. Eventually, all of the girls were released, except five who died in transit.

In Malaysia, Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight two years ago and has disappeared. Recently, Pastor David Low from Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church in Kuala Lumpur led an ecumenical prayer service with pastors from across the denomination to pray for Koh's release, and for his suffering family members.

Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) joined with Koh's family in asking Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to personally order a police probe into the disappearance of Pastor Koh and three other Malaysians by a new team of investigators.

North Korea has been the No. 1 persecutor of Christians in the world. Open Doors estimates there are 250,000 imprisoned North Koreans - 50,000 of which are political prisoners jailed for their Christian faith. North Korea arrested South Korean and American missionaries for allegedly attempting to create underground churches.

In his State of the Union Address President Trump announced that he will hold a second nuclear summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un later this month. Many human rights groups and faith leaders have urged the President to confront Kim face-to-face about his country's severe human rights violations.

David Curry, CEO of Open Doors, told the Christian Post that within 60-90 days of the meeting, Trump and the U.S. can "determine whether North Korea is serious about opening up to the international community by including monitoring of human rights considerations as part of denuclearization talks.

"The human rights violations against Christians in North Korea are unacceptable. Christians are considered the No. 1 enemy of the state of North Korea," Curry charged. He hopes Trump will "not shy away from our moral mandate to call Kim Jong-Un to task for his imprisonment, torture and execution of Christians whose only crime is to dare to express any beliefs other than those approved by the Communist regime," Curry asserted.

I called the White House Press Office to ask whether President Trump would raise the issue of Christian persecution with North Korea President Kim Jong-Un when they meet later this month. I was asked to put my request in writing, which I did.

No one at the White House has returned my call or responded to my written inquiry.

What can be done about Christian persecution in such countries as North Korea, Malaysia and Nigeria?

First, American Christians need to pray for the release of Christians who have been arrested and jailed because of their Christian beliefs. In our daily prayers it is natural to pray for people we know - family members or friends who may be suffering from illness.

The desperate needs of Christians who are being persecuted in such countries as Nigeria, Malaysia and North Korea - are easily overlooked. Therefore, my first request is to add these people to your daily prayer list.

Second, I urge you to pray for President Trump's upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-Un.

Finally, I suggest you write to the White House, asking Trump to raise the issue of 50,000 North Korean Christians who are imprisoned for their Christian faith.

Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.

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