WASHINGTON — Christians were among those who were recently represented before President Trump in the Oval Office as he heard stories from those around the world who have experienced persecution personally or in their family life due to their faith.
“As Christians in Myanmar, we are being oppressed and tortured by the Myanmar military government,” one man stated. “We don’t have a chance for religious freedom as ethnic armed groups fight against the central military government. Please, American government, focus on ethnic people and ethnic leaders to get democracy and federalism.”
“My parents are pastors; they’re Christian pastors,” also shared a woman from Iran. “They’ve been arrested – all my family – my father, my mother, my brother. They are free on bail, awaiting the trial and long sentences.”
According to reports, 27 people from 16 countries visited the White House on July 17 to speak about religious persecution in their countries. Ambassador-at-Large for International and Religious Freedom Sam Brownback was also present, as was Trump’s spiritual advisor, Paula White.
“I would be very grateful if you could raise … the issue of persecuted Christians in Pakistan,” one man said.
“I am Pastor Mario from Cuba,” another introduced himself, outlining that the government in his homeland would not give Christians permission to attend the gathering in Washington. “I am here because I am a refugee in the United States.”
One man from North Korea shared that his cousin’s family had all been killed in the nation for preaching the gospel.
“[M]y aunt’s father-in-law was a Christian, and my cousin’s — her family, was executed because they were sharing [the] gospel,” he stated.
“Even [despite] the persecution of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean citizens, they want the gospel and they want to worship Him now,” he told the president. “They are worshiping in underground churches right now.”
One woman advised that she had escaped from Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Trump told many of those present that he would either look into the situation or would address the matter with the leader of their country.
“In America, we’ve always understood that our rights come from God, not from government,” he also said in reading from prepared remarks. “In our Bill of Rights, the first liberty is religious liberty. Each of us has the right to follow the dictates of our conscience and the demands of our religious conviction.”
“We know that if people are not free to practice their faith, then all freedoms are at risk, and frankly, freedoms don’t mean very much.”
View the Oval Office meeting in full below. A Ministerial on International Religious Freedom was also presented by the Department of State last week.