Darcie Gill Speaks
At Tusculum Baptist
By NELSON MORAIS
A representative of an organization that aids persecuted Christians around the world said here this week that the group's most frequently-received request was for prayer, including a desire by persecuted believers "to remain faithful -- and for boldness."
Darcie Gill, of the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) organization, addressed about 75 people gathered to hear her Wednesday evening at Tusculum Baptist Church.
When she is not speaking to Christian groups in this country, Gill often travels to areas of the world that are usually very dangerous, and strongly anti-Christian.
That, she said, includes places in Pakistan, Sudan, Colombia, Indonesia, China, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, India, Cuba, Vietnam, and Kashmir, where she collects information about the persecution of Christians.
She explained that she then returns to the United States to share the personal stories of persecution and committed faith by extraordinarily brave native Christians in the countries she has visited.
Despite the stories of severe discrimination, intimidation, torture and martyrdom that Gill has heard personally in the past 13 years (10 spent with VOM), Gill said she remains optimistic.
"In countries of persecution, the Gospel (of Jesus Christ) is exploding," she said.
"The largest group of people under persecution in the world are Christians," she said. She added, "Do you ever hear that on the (secular) news programs?"
Gill then said that the fact that the persecution of Christians abroad was largely overlooked in the mainstream, secular media did not surprise her.
She cited Hebrews 13:3, which states, "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them -- those who are mistreated -- since you yourselves are in the body (of Christ) also."
On Wednesday, Gill shared several stories of persecution and how VOM was helping the victims and their families.
She said more than 50 nations are considered by VOM to be "hostile or restrictive nations" for Christians.
Her PowerPoint presentation began with a montage of pictures of Christian believers of different races from all over the world with the words, "Behold Your Family."
The presentation included photos of almost all the people whose stories she told, though some had their faces whited out (obscured) to protect their identities.
Persecution Under Islam
Gill said that in all Muslim countries, the persecution of committed Christians is rampant.
"The goal of Islam is to rule -- for everyone to submit to it. There's just little freedom for other religions," she said.
She stated that it is not uncommon for Christians in Muslim countries and Christians in some other non-Muslim nations to be severely ostracized -- to lose their homes, jobs and access even to basic health care, and to be run out of their hometowns and be separated from their families.
Still, these Christians are compelled to share their faith and reach out to as many people as possible -- even to their ardent adversaries -- with the Gospel of salvation through Jesus.
Brick Kiln Villages
As an example of the international persecution situations with which she has become familiar, Gill cited Pakistan, where, she said, there are many brick-kiln villages where laborers are forced to work long hours of hard labor to pay off debts related to their homes in the villages.
"People are forced to borrow against their wages. It's very hard for anyone to get out of debt," she said. "They must all meet the daily quota of making 1,000 bricks a day."
She said one day in 2006, VOM learned of a teenage girl, Azra, who had been forced to have sexual relations with a 70-year-old man who intended to marry her in two days.
Azra had been born and raised in a brick-kiln village because her family could not get out of debt and leave the area.
"At the age of seven, after her dad died, Azra and her mother, who were Christians, were forced to do a man's work and work full-time making bricks," Gill related.
"The mother stood up for the Lord, which is why they were persecuted," Gill said.
Azra and her mother used to take bread dough they made to a woman in town who for a "teeny bit of money" would bake it in her oven for them.
Woman Turned On Them
One day, however, the woman who had previously baked the dough turned on the two, saying, "Your Jesus is nothing but a Jew-dog!" Other women in the village beat the mother unconscious, and she was taken to the home of the kiln owner.
Gill said she learned that the owner and several other men raped the mother, then killed her, dissected her body, and threw the pieces into the kiln.
Azra, who was perhaps 18 or 19 years old at the time, "didn't know for 10 days what had happened to her mother," Gill said.
Gill said VOM paid off Azra's debt to the kiln owner and relocated the young woman to a safe place where she was taught to read, write, and learn a trade as a seamstress.
Azra was "given a hope and a future," Gill said, adding that the woman is now doing well.
Gill noted that, unfortunately, even other Christian boys who live in the same safe place won't have anything to do with Azra and other women who have been raped. "They think they're defiled," Gill said.
Said Gill of the horrific story, "This is not an unusual thing that takes place."
On another trip, Gill recalled, she visited an impoverished slum built on the side of a mountain outside Medellin, Colombia.
She was shown a makeshift orphanage where little boys and girls get one meal daily comprised of two pieces of bread and a bowl of high-protein gruel.
She said the person who runs the orphanage, called Ramon, is a man who became a Christian while in prison and decided his calling once he was released was to feed children in a slum area.
The director of the tiny orphanage holds a job and collects whatever donations he can to keep the orphanage going, she said.
"That's one man that is allowing his life to be used by the Lord," Gill said. "Ramon is reaching kids through the feeding program, loving them, and sharing Christ through the orphanage."
She said the area she briefly visited that included the orphanage was so dangerous that policemen and military personnel dared not enter it.
The Goal of VOM
Gill said VOM's goal is to bring help and support to Christians in their countries so they can evangelize and keep doing other work God has called them to do.
That support can be the distribution of Bibles and other Christian literature, radio broadcasts, medical care, and so on.
She also related the story of another Christian man, also in Colombia, who was being held for ransom by Communist guerrillas.
The man, said Gill, praised God at every turn, including thanking Him for "the beautiful tree" he was chained to.
When the guerrillas served him soup with worms in it, he thanked God for the protein, she said.
Eventually, curious, young guerrillas gathered to listen to the man who constantly praised Christ.
Finally, said Gill, the guerrilla leaders "demanded he leave. He had become too dangerous to them.
"He was so full of the love of God ... full of this peace and joy in the midst of suffering. They just told him, 'You must leave.' "
Widows 'Stand In The Gap'
"In country after country, I've seen widows stand in the gap where their husbands had been martyred," Gill said.
For example, she related, in Pakistan, the wife of a martyred man and his son continued to do what the husband/father had done: go from village to village with a bullhorn and proclaim the Gospel.
"They told her she had to stop or they'd kill her, and she replied, 'When you stop with your (Muslim) prayers over the loudspeakers, I'll stop.' "
Two other women in Colombia, widows of men killed by guerrillas, told Gill their deepest desire was to return to the guerrillas who killed their husbands, tell them they forgave them, and share Christ with them.
"I get to be with remarkable Christians," said Gill. However, she added that she's fortunate that her home is in Keystone Heights, Fla.. "I get to come home," she said.
Gill said she marveled at the deep faith of those with whom she came into contact. She noted that in her 13 years of ministry to persecuted Christians, none has ever begged to be taken out of his or her native country.
VOM, which is based in Bartlesville, Okla., is a nondenominational, nonprofit organization, Gill said.
A subscription to the monthly magazine published by VOM is available for free, she said, explaining that it can be ordered by calling 1-800-75VOICE. She added that, to book her as a speaker, anyone interested should call her home number, (386) 661-2705.