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Southeast Asian Christians persecuted under Sharia

March 25, 2024 by Josh Depenbrok in Persecuted Christians in Southeast Asia

“Wait for my signal. Move only when I tell you to!”

“Go, now,” Hannah, a local guide, urged. As if we were in a spy film, we jumped out of Hannah’s car and sprinted toward an apartment building. We hurried through the building before arriving in a bare room filled with more than a dozen nervous Christians.

Their unease was understandable, as we were in an undisclosed region of Southeast Asia that is committed to fully implementing all aspects of Islamic law. Here, 95% of the local population practices Islam, and life as a Christian is difficult. Believers are constantly aware of their surroundings and practice their faith quietly—if not secretly. The location had even been raided in the past by a truckload of extremists who violently attacked and traumatized the persecuted believers.

One by one, each person in attendance shared with me what it is like to be Christians persecuted under Sharia, as Muslim prayers penetrated the room through blaring speakers from a nearby mosque. 

Several pastors recounted their struggles to obtain the permits required to purchase land to build a church; the government makes this process nearly impossible to suppress the growth of Christianity. One pastor attempted to sign a rental agreement, only to be told by police that his church could not use it for worship without the proper permit. All permit requests were then denied.

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For lay Christians, discrimination is just as common. “If the government knows that I am Christian, they don’t care about me,” a businessman shared. “My paperwork goes from the top of the pile to the bottom.”

But evangelists in Southeast Asia suffer the worst of all Christians persecuted under Sharia. One couple was tricked into sharing the gospel in front of government officials. They were taken away and beaten. Though they eventually escaped to a nearby city, both spouses suffered long-term effects from the beating.

A month later, the wife returned to a ransacked house. She soon found herself surrounded by nearly 100 agitated people outside her home. She was forced to pack and leave her home, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the encounter with the large mob.

Out of the 17 persecuted Christians I met that day, eight had experienced difficulties with renting homes, businesses or churches; four had experienced obstacles purchasing land; eight had been bullied at school; every woman had been stared at with hostility for not covering their heads; and every single believer had been called a kafir,”  the term meaning infidel.” 

After hearing all these challenging stories and experiences, I couldn’t help but ask, Why do you stay?” 

Everyone smiled at my question.

“The answer is simple,” someone said. “Problems will always follow. If we don’t want to face problems, the only possible place to go would be heaven.”

Nodding in agreement, some of these believers said that living missionally there is their calling. Others said they stayed because they loved their country, and it was home to them.

Although I had hoped to be an encouragement to this body of believers, I was instead encouraged by their unwavering faith and determination. They completely embody the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

Let’s say a prayer for Christians persecuted under Sharia believers in Southeast Asia who discriminated against for their faith. 

Lord, we pray for Southeast Asian Christians living in such difficult conditions to find ways to witness to their neighbors. Let sustainable outreach platforms be established in this difficult environment.

We also pray for the safety of mission workers in Muslim regions where their presence is unwelcome. Give them courage and help them to persevere as they follow You despite the threats they face. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

*Photo caption: Southeast Asian Christians persecuted under Sharia take a moment to pray. Their faces have been hidden to protect their safety and anonymity.

About the author
Josh Depenbrok serves as a Public Relations Manager at Global Christian Relief. He is passionate about supporting persecuted Christians who endure threats and violence because of their faith in some of the most difficult countries in the world. Read the latest Christian persecution stories on our website and learn more at

Around the world, persecuted Christians face threats, violence and discrimination because of their faith in Jesus. Your monthly, recurring gift today could provide Bibles, emergency food relief, safe shelter, medical care, trauma counseling and more to those who are suffering.

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