For those of us living in Western nations with democratic governments, there is no fear in posting our thoughts online. However, for those living in restricted nations where the internet is censored, it can be risky business.
If you were living in a place where proselytizing was illegal, would you casually publish your beliefs on the internet? I think not. Yet, when you know how thirsty people are for the truth, how could you resist using such a powerful platform for the gospel message.
In this article I ask the question, “does the internet help or hinder persecuted christians?”
“The internet is often the only source of information about the Christian faith, encouragement, fellowship and resources to isolated believers.”
Gabi Heiber, SAT-7
Paulus Hieber has worked for ten years for the Christian television network SAT-7 which transmits on four channels around the clock to the Middle East and North Africa. Each year they reach 25 million people using television programs that explain the word of God in a clear, culturally appropriate way. His wife Gabi has a big heart for persecuted believers and has worked for the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Germany for five years. Together they now travel to nations where persecution exists and run ‘CreateMedia.School’. During the one to three month long courses they train local believers in the basics of TV and media production so they can reach their own people group with the gospel.
I could think of no-one better than them to comment on this subject. “The internet (and satellite programmes) is often the only source of information about the Christian faith, source of encouragement, fellowship and resources to isolated believers.” Gabi writes from Pakistan.
She tells the story of her Jordanian friend Sultan, whom she met through VOM Germany. “He was a devout Muslim. While in the office he heard an employee (a Christian lady) talk with his uncle about the differences between God and Allah. He got curious and spent seven nights searching the internet about who Jesus was. On the morning of the 7th night researching, he was ready to pray and put his faith in Jesus.”
The article I read from Christianity today echoes Gabi’s thoughts. “For isolated and secret Christians, the internet allows them to connect with believers around the world, to have fellowship, listen to sermons and read the Bible, all of which may be illegal or hard to access in their country.” Naomi Allen, CT, August 2, 2019
Paulus and Gabi Hieber, CreateMedia.School
There are no roses without thorns, however. The internet presents some shark-infested waters for those who use the internet because of how public it is! In some cases a church website would be like painting a target on your back.
Christians in many nations can only use the internet safely by using aliases and different vpns. Even the most tricky white hat hacker can get caught and then face serious consequences. People have lost rights, freedoms and even their lives because of internet evangelism. Thus, they must be very careful.
Christianity Today reveals the other side of the coin. “In other countries, such as Egypt, posts by Christians have sparked accusations of blasphemy, leading to arrests, riots and violence against Christian communities. For others, the internet is restricted and activity is tracked, so Christians are cautious about what they read, view and share.” Naomi Allen, CT, August 2, 2019
Gabi goes on to share how the internet hinders the persecuted church. “Governments censor it heavily in countries like Iran and China and can use it to track down believers to arrest them. Because of the censorship it is more difficult for the believers to get around it using different VPNs and having to be more careful and more clever to come up with ideas so they can use the internet freely.
Her friend Sultan risked everything to find out about Christianity. After giving his life to Christ “he lost his wife because of it (his father-in-law killed her) and his two daughters are kept away from him in Jordan still while he lives in Switzerland.”
Walking the edge of a knife
So, are we expecting many believers from Jordan, Iran or China to sign up for a free church website? Not really. But if they do, we will support them in any way we can to boldly proclaim the gospel message where they are.
We in the west have very little understanding of the cost of discipleship. Persecution changes things and we stand with those who are in chains for the gospel right now all across the globe. May they receive justice and ever increase in their boldness to preach the message of hope.
There are some great organizations that raise awareness and advocate for the persecuted church. Here are their details:
Open Doors – www.opendoorsusa.org
Voice of the Martyrs – www.persecution.com
Paulus and Gabi Hieber are on the front lines of ministry to nations where persecution is very real:
You can support their work here:
Please visit the donate page of DMG
and use as bank reference: P31031 Hieber, Create Media School.