World Watch List Challenge – #37 China

September 22, 2014 by Open Doors in , ,

Persecuted Christian in China Twice The Persecution: Life As An Ethnic And Religious Minority In China Pastor Askar* is a husband and father of two. He is a burly, jovial man with a deep voice and a seemingly Russian or Central Asian accent… Yet, he is from China. This pastor is from the Xinjiang province of China, and belongs to the Uyghur people group. The Xinjiang province is located in the northwestern part of China, bordering countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. As a result, the Uyghurs are a fusion of all of these different cultures. The Uyghurs predate the Silk Road era, and have been a large ethnic minority in China for years. Today, there are more than 10 million Uyghurs living in China. In recent years, Islamic extremism has taken root in this area. There have been violent attacks, including slaying of innocent people by sword at subways stations. The rest of the nation has become fearful of the Uyghurs because of these attacks, and have ostracized them from the rest of the country. People from the Uyghur people group often have difficulty flying because many Han Chinese (the majority ethnic group) are distrusting of them. In fact, the day we met with Pastor Askar in a city in eastern China, he was turned down by three hotels before he finally found one, all because his national ID card stated that he was a Uyghur. As a result, Pastor Askar does not often leave his region. He is isolated from other Christians, Christian leadership groups or even Christian training. Since he does not have access to a larger Christian network, he has relied on growing deeper in his faith by dissecting the Bible on his own and reading any Christian books he can come across. “John 17 is my favorite passage of the Bible,” Pastor Askar shared. “Verses 1-5 focus on God and Jesus, 6-19 focus on the disciples of Jesus, and 10-20 focus on the rest of the world.What a wonderful passage to share with those who are seeking Christ!” Since there have been so many Islamic extremist attacks in his region, all religious activity is monitored, and Pastor Askar must meet with his congregation in secret. “It can be difficult to do everything that we Christians are called to do when we are forced to meet in secret, but we have found ways to follow God’s commands,” he said. “In the summer, we will wait until midnight, and then go to the lake to baptize a new believer, so nobody will see us. But in the winter, it is too cold to do that, so I baptize new believers with a water bottle inside.” Pastor Askar has a heart for the Muslims in his area, and has seen God work in miraculous ways while he and his church members are reaching out to them. “I pray for Muslims because I have seen prayer do powerful things in many of their lives,” he shares. “I pray for God to give them visions of Jesus in their dreams, because many have come to faith that way. I have my congregation do a prayer walk around the local mosque every Friday when they meet, praying that they will have a true encounter with Jesus. And I pray for healing opportunities, as God has done amazing miracles and many have come to him as a result.” Pastor Askar shared about one time in particular, when God had healed a woman who was possessed: “The local Imams had tried to heal her, but could not,” he shared. “Some fake healers had come to heal her, but had not. And then she was brought to me. I had never exercised a demon before, and did not know what to do, so I turned to the Bible and looked up all of the information I could find. I prayed for God to grant me wisdom and guidance, and some fellow Christians and I had her come to a house where we prayed, read the Bible and asked God to remove this demon from her. After almost 2 hours, God healed her! This woman had been plagued by this demon for 8 years, and God had healed her. Many non-Christians in our village were amazed- it was a wonderful testimony of God’s healing.” Though he has faced persecution from the local government and his fellow Uyghurs, Pastor Askar has a deep love for his culture. “I love the food, dancing and songs of my culture,” he says. “There is so much about my culture and people that I love. Despite the hardships, God has given me a heart to minister to the Uyghur people, and that passion is constantly being renewed.” When asked how other Christians could pray for him, he said, “I need a helper- like how God brought Timothy to Paul. I have a lot to do on my own, and need God to bring someone to help me with all of the things that come with ministering in this area.” *Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes Share This Story

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