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‘Release International has stood by us’, Rev Mark Mukan at the livestreamed Day of the Christian Martyr event in Eastbourne.

Release International has commemorated the Day of the Christian Martyr with a major event in Eastbourne, featuring speakers from Nigeria, China and Korea.

The event was livestreamed and has been posted on YouTube, and can be watched here.

Nigeria flag scaled

Our Nigerian partner Mark Mukan described the growing persecution in his country: ‘In the middle belt of Nigeria, we are contending with cattle herdsmen who have no fear of God.

‘The Boko Haram terrorist group have also killed many men, women and children. And they have forcefully abducted and married Christian girls and women.

‘They also abduct young men and indoctrinate them to walk alongside them. Any who refuse, they kill,’ he said.

Burned churches

Ven Mark Mukan

‘These terrorists have burned houses, destroyed churches, schools, hospitals, shops and farmland. They have wiped whole villages away, leaving many traumatised.’

The most heavily persecuted and attacked denomination in Nigeria, he said, was the EYN Brethren church. More than 8,350 members of EYN churches have been killed and 700,000 displaced. Three hundred of their churches have been burned and destroyed.

More than 200 of the 276 Chibok girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram were members of the EYN church.

Mark Mukan thanked Release International for supporting the work among the traumatised and persecuted in Nigeria. ‘You have stood by us, and you have provided training for us. You have come to us to be with us in times of trauma.

‘And now God is going to pick us out of these ashes and he will give us a new song – a song for the healing of families, for the healing of nations and for the healing of the children of God who are persecuted.

‘As my Bishop, Benjamin Kwashi, would say, “This gospel is worth living for – and it is worth dying for.”‘


China flagBob Fu, the founder and President of Release International partner ChinaAid described the persecution in China as ‘a war against the cross.’

‘The wooden cross on church roofs has been declared the enemy of the state. The government has ordered them to be torn down or destroyed.’

He said the Communist Party had ordered churches to voluntarily tear down their crosses outside their buildings, ‘or the Communist Party would send in bulldozers.’

He said thousands of crosses had been demolished in this way – and these are all on government-sanctioned churches. The underground churches have no buildings on which to display a cross.

In effect, official churches are being permitted to display crosses on the inside of buildings only, where they are hidden from Chinese passers-by.

Bob Fu added: ‘Brothers and sisters who dare to resist even by organising prayer are being sentenced for between eight and 12 years imprisonment. This is spiritual warfare.’

He said religious inspectors insist that churches display portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping on either side of the cross in their buildings.

Rallying cry

Bob Fu 2022

And he asked: ‘When was the last time two men were hanged on either side of the cross? This has become a national rally for prayer for the persecuted and persecutor alike. The Communist Party are very much threatened by that cross; by the God that we worship.’

In a church that was displaying the Ten Commandments, Communist officials insisted that the first commandment be removed: ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ The Communist party and its leaders want the worship.

And yet the church in China now outnumbers members of the Communist Party.

Bob Fu described how, during the Cultural Revolution, the Communist Party declared that religion would no longer be allowed to exist. They burned truckloads of Bibles in the central square of Shanghai and declared Christianity would belong forever to the History Museum of China.

Yet today, he said, the number of Chinese Christians has grown from barely one million when the Communists took power to at least 100 million, according to Purdue University.

‘Some say there are 130 million Christians in China – almost ten per cent of the population,’ added Bob Fu. ‘So don’t be discouraged! May the Lord continue to bless his persecuted church.’

North Korea

North Korea flag

Eric Foley of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, said that in his 20-years’ service, many in his organisation had been called to give their lives for the gospel. ‘The Lord has seen fit to call 38 martyrs during that time period, 38 men and women from our team who laid down their lives in service to the Lord.’

‘We must remember that persecution is not an attack against the church, but self-defence on the part of the world. The more you continue in faithful witness in the face of persecution, the more persecution accelerates.

Persecution will only stop when persecution has accomplished its purpose, which is to silence the faithful testimony of the word.

‘It is the church that is on the offensive, not the world. The Bible teaches us that on the cross, Jesus Christ broke the power of sin and death and put to shame all principalities and powers. And when he was raised from the dead, all power and authority were vested in His hands. And so he commissioned the Church to go forward to share his word.


Eric Foley

‘We don’t measure the effectiveness of the church on the basis of how many people we’ve converted; we measure the effectiveness of the church on the basis of our faithfulness to press through all the self-defence that the world can launch against us.’

Dr Foley said the church was growing faster in North Korea than even in South Korea, which has eleven of the largest churches in the world.

‘The North Korean underground church is growing today. And any time the church grows, it experiences opposition. The only thing that can cause the church to grow is the proclamation of the word of God.

‘So be faithful in your testimony of the word. It is the message that for 2,000 years the Church has been given to proclaim that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised from the dead, all power has been placed in His hands and He will return. And every time that message is proclaimed we go on the advance, we are on the attack.’

Dr Foley’s message to the church in the UK was that the UK church must return fully to that proclamation, ‘to make the same witness that your brothers and sisters are making around the world.’