“What would I have done? Would I have had the courage to hold out as long as they have?” Regina Lynch often asks herself these questions after meeting persecuted Christians from around the world, The Catholic Weekly reports.
As someone who has worked for Aid to the Church in Need for 36 years, and as Director of Projects for the past five, Ms Lynch has travelled to many of the hotspot regions where Christians have suffered the most.
Speaking specifically about the situation in China, where the Communist government has long persecuted Christians, she says, “I’m very impressed by the faith of the Chinese Catholics. They are very devout. When you think of the many years of the Cultural Revolution, how many came through that, and most of those bishops have been in detention camps.”
“When I go on these trips and meet these people it’s almost a test of my faith, a challenge to my faith to think what would I have done? Would I have had the courage to hold out as long as they have?”
She tells the story of a Catholic man in Pakistan named Yousef who was accused of burning pages from the Koran after a game of cards with some of his Muslims neighbours had turned sour.
Yousef was illiterate and a daily wage earner with a wife and children. He was held prisoner by the police for three months under the country’s harsh anti-blasphemy law.
Ms Lynch met Yousef on the day of his release. “He had been tortured and had been told they would stop torturing him if he converted (to Islam). He refused and in the end it was the Justice and Peace Commission of the Pakistani Bishops Conference that managed to get him released. We were amazed by his story.”
When Ms Lynch asked him how he had the strength to hold-up under torture, Yousef pointed to a crucifix hanging on the wall behind her and said, “But look, Christ suffered so much more than I did.”
Standing with the suffering Church: An interview with Regina Lynch (The Catholic Weekly)