Thursday, December 29, 2005

News Items

(Source: Compass Direct)

Israel - Orthodox Jews disrupt a Messianic baptismal service in Beersheba (read more)

China - Pastor Cai Zhuohua and his relatives have been granted a second trial (read more)

Indonesia - Three Christian schoolteachers convicted under Indonesia's Child Protection law were denied an appeal. The three had been teaching a Christian education program, with permission from the parents of their students. When accused, the parents, in fear of Muslim radicals, refused to testify on behalf of the women. (read more)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

News from Pakistan

(Source: Open Doors)

The father of a Pakistani Christian tortured to death by Muslim seminary students in 2004 requested police protection last week after receiving death threats for refusing to drop charges against his son’s attackers. Pervez Masih appealed for protection from radical Muslim clerics at a December 15 hearing. According to Compass Direct, Islamists have stepped up pressure against Masih since the re-arrest last month of Maulvi Ghulam Rasool who was charged with torturing Javed Anjum until he converted to Islam. Members of a radical Islamic group have targeted Masih and his lawyer three times over the past three weeks. On each occasion small crowds of 50 clerics armed with pistols gathered outside the courtroom, yelling that they would not “spare the lives of liars,” and jostling the plaintiff as he exited trial hearings. The court has not yet taken action to ensure the safety of Masih and his lawyer. Read more>>

Please join us in prayer for:

-Masih, for God to provide protection from the Islamic extremists and for justice in his son’s death.

-For the Gospel to reach the Muslim community and for them to fully receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

-For the future of Pakistan’s government, that they can peacefully enact laws that protect Christians and that Godly people are put in positions of authority.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Getting Permission to Build a Church

(Source: Open Doors)


Following the closure of scores of churches in the past two years, the Indonesian government is revising a controversial law that regulates places of worship. But Christian leaders fear the changes would do little to keep Muslim communities from blocking or shutting down churches. The original 1969 decree requires all religious groups to apply for permits before setting up a place of worship. Neighbors in the immediate vicinity of a proposed church, mosque or Hindu temple must give their consent before a permit is granted. Under proposed revisions, community members would be given even greater power to determine whether a church could be established. Read More>>

Please join us in prayer:

-That the Muslim majority will not be allowed to decide whether a church will be built. That the government will allow permits to be issued to Christian groups so that they can build new churches.

-The Christian leaders who continue to be faithful and continue to build churches and hold meetings...Pray for a peaceful resolution to this situation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Baptists in Turkmenistan Raided

(Source: Forum18)

Raids are continuing against Baptists in Turkmenistan. On Saturday 17 December, a prayer meeting of the Turkmen-speaking registered Baptistchurch in the town of Deynau, in the north-eastern Lebap region, was raided, Protestant sources have told Forum 18.

Seven church members were holding a house group meeting when a Ministry of State Security (MSS) secret police officer who refused to give his name, a police officer called Sultanov, a Public Prosecutor called Isaev, and a local Imam called Murtazaev raided the house of a new convert to Protestant Christianity, Oguldurdy (full name unknown). During the raid, the MSS secret policeofficer and Prosecutor started shouting and threatening all the Christians who were present, and the officials then searched the house without a search warrant - which is illegal in Turkmenistan - for religious literature. Two Christians had their personal Bibles confiscated.

Later, the seven Baptists were taken to the Public Prosecutor's Office where they were again threatened and insulted. Officials told the Baptists that local authorities should hold public meetings in villages, where Christians should be personally named and denounced as traitors. The officials also threatened one woman with expulsion from her rented flat. The MSS secret police agent "became very angry" when asked for his name, Forum 18 was told, the MSS agent responding to this request with more threats and insults. The detained Baptists were forced to justify their actions in writing to the authorities, before being released.

The leaders of the Baptist Church in Deynau, Narmurat Mominov and Murat (last name unknown) are currently being put "under strong pressure," Forum18 has learnt. Pastor Mominov gave Lebap regional authorities a copy of the registration certificate of Turkmenistan's Baptist Union, which was registered centrally in Ashgabad in 2004 (see F18News 9 August 2004<>).

However, the regional authorities refused to accept the registration certificate,instead threatening Baptists with further attacks. Officials in Turkmenistan frequently deny that the registration of nationally registered religious organisations applies throughout the country (see eg.F18News 31 March <> and 2August 2005 <>).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stop and Think, Mr. President

The one certainty in the world of persecuted Christians is that something is always happening, even if it takes awhile for us to hear about it. At the moment, though, there is an absence of "big stories" and I'm glad. The really big story is coming out of Washington, D.C. right now.

It is dismaying to me to hear these stories of "rendering", secret jails and torture. This is not only because I find such behavior morally repugnant, or that I would like to think better of my country, even though both are true.

What's really sad is that for possibly the first time ever in American history, an American President is condoning these practices publicly. I'm not naive -- there have always been 'dark ops' and I'm sure that there have been acts around the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam that would appall me just as much. But not only does such open acknowledgement tarnish America and Americans just in general terms, the President is busy sawing off the branch behind those of us American citizens who protest these acts in other countries. Part of our ammunition has always been the moral weight of American behavior -- whatever hidden things went on, we could still stand and say with a reasonably straight face: "That's not the way we do things, not the way civilized countries behave. So stop it!"

Now, it has taken Senator McCain to restrain the President to a certain extent, and he (the President) still seems relatively unapologetic. In addition, his open (if debatable) claim to the title of "Christian" means that these acts are vicariously ascribed to those of us who are Christians -- hardly the best foundation for protest.

Mr. President, stop and think about how you're running this war. No one wants to be blown up; no one wants another Oklahoma City or 9/11 or 3/11 or London underground attack. And I support the troops. My 21-year-old nephew is in the Marines and may well be in Iraq next year. But please don't sacrifice everything America is or ought to be for the sake of the victory you think you'll win. Please go back and read what Jesus said in Mark 8:36:

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christian persecution growing -- well, at least someone notices

Today's Washington Times carried an article on a panel at the Capitol where FINALLY some folks took the time to expose the problems Christians face worldwide. The only problem is, these were the people who were already aware.

Maybe someone else will notice too? Like the press, generally, or the President and his advisors?

Don't hold your breath ...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"If you were my daughter, I would have slaughtered you"

Imagine hearing those words from your guardian at the age of 15 because you had accepted Christ and turned your back on your parents' faith.

Salamatu Hassan of Nigeria became a Christian at the age of 8. Raised Muslim and surrounded by Muslims, she met a Christian woman when she was sent to her uncle's house at 5. This woman taught her to read the Bible and pray. Her example led Salamatu to give her life to Jesus. Read more here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Registration is no protection

The Turkmenbashi has struck again.

Despite being registered, Greater Grace Protestant Church in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, has lost its meeting place. Officials have suddenly decided that members can neither meet in privately-owned halls or public, rented halls. Which basically leaves them nowhere to meet. Read more here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Helping out the Persecuted Church

The Bible League, which works to place native language Bibles in countries where they are otherwise forbidden or too expensive, has linked up with a charity organization to contribute shopping dollars to their work. Check them out and see if you can't do your shopping through their stores and benefit a good cause at the same time.

They also support Christians in various countries in other ways. Prayerfully consider supporting them;
this mini-report on their work in Russia is heart-breaking.

Christians in Pakistan are being displaced second-hand by the earthquake there. According to the WEA RLP:


In mid-November at Sangla Hill (outside Lahore) a Muslim, during a financial dispute with a Christian, falsely accused the Christian of desecrating Korans. Exploiting this, Islamic clerics called Muslims to the mosques, inciting them to 'defend Islam' and attack the Christians. Over 2000 Muslims rampaged, burning churches and driving some 450 Christian families from their homes. The pogrom went unchecked with tacit support from local police and officials. The earthquake has left Pakistan in great need of aid which is coming primarily from Western nations and Christian NGOs. The anti-Christian violence at Sangla Hill is therefore embarrassing to Pakistan, with several groups calling for a High Court inquiry. Also reported are hundreds of Christians in Sind Province being evicted and their homes given to Muslims displaced from Kashmir.


* the government of Pakistan will have the sense, courage and strength to cut off radicalisation and incitement to violence at its source – in the Wahhabi-led, pro-jihad madrassas and mosques.

* the blasphemy law will be repealed.

* holding a High Court inquiry into the violence in Sangla Hill will expose evil and injustice, and lay the foundations for social and legal reform, as well as for religious liberty.

* evicting Christian families from their homes in Sind Province will end and justice will be done.

* the powerful hold the Islamic clerics have over the poor masses will be broken.

May God in his mercy, through the ministry and witness of his Church, by the power of his Holy Spirit, draw multitudes of Pakistanis to Christ the one and only Saviour, so corrupted consciences can be restored, and violence and hatred be put to death. (Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Titus 2:11-14)

'You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power amongst the peoples.' Psalm 77:14"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

From Open Doors - India, Turkey, Egypt

December 7, 2005

Luke 2:8-10 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

Today we had a guest in our office who is a Christian leader working in the Middle East. He read this passage during devotions and reminded us that we are all shepherds. The shepherds in this scripture sat that night, just like every other night, and watched over their sheep. A shepherd’s vocation was considered insignificant, but on that night God used ordinary men in an extraordinary way. He used humble shepherds to spread the good news about the baby, the Prince of Peace, and all who heard were amazed! Our ministry of praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters may not be Headline News on the Front Pages of newspapers, but never-the-less, we are on the Frontlines. We are like the shepherds keeping watch with hope and anticipation, waiting for God to use us, and our prayers, in extraordinary ways.

Egypt:* Under threat from Egypt’s security police for holding services at his house church, a Protestant pastor has been run down by a taxi in Cairo and died of internal bleeding and a broken skull. According to Compass Direct Pastor Ezzat Habib, his son Ibram Habib and a friend were crossing the street in Cairo’s Matereya district on the evening of October 23 when a parked taxi pulled into the street and hit them from behind. The pastor, 58, was immediately taken to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery the following morning but died later that day. The incident culminates two years of harassment in which Pastor Habib was jailed and tortured.
>>Read More

Turkey:* Turkey’s Protestant Christian minorities experienced fresh harassment this past week from both security police and the judiciary, along with an attempt by vandals to set a church on fire. In Samsun, a minivan registered with the security police appeared to be filming members of the Agape House congregation as they entered and left. In Selcuk, the local prosecutor’s office summoned two members of the Ephesus Protestant Church to answer bizarre accusations concocted by remote agitators. And in Antalya, vandals tried to set afire three windows of the St. Paul Cultural Center. The first new Christian congregation in Turkey to gain government recognition as an official “association” meets there. >>Read More

India:* Two militant Hindu groups struck churches in Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh states on Sunday (December 4). At least 25 members of the Hindu extremist group Dharma Sena attacked a church in Raipur, Chattisgarh state, severely beating five Christians. After beating four Christians in the church, the attackers took them and a pastor from another area church into a Hindu temple, where they tried to force them to bow down to idols. Also on Sunday, a group of 15 extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh attacked a pastor in Jhabua district of the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh. Police declined to arrest any of the militant Hindus but rather detained the pastor, Anil Mehra of Indian Evangelical Team, for more than 10 hours for “disrupting public peace.” >>Read More

Dear Heavenly Father,

We come before you today to seek your face, your mercy and your grace. Thank you for calling us from all parts of the world to make us your disciples and to serve in your kingdom. We ask that the boundaries of intolerance be broken and that instead you build bridges of peace especially in Egypt, India and Turkey. We ask for comfort at this time for the family of the pastor killed in Egypt, and for healing for the Christians who were beaten in India. Also, help us to pray for those who are serving in difficult places and for the many forgotten Christians, our brothers and sisters who stand strong in your truth. You are the Prince of Peace. We ask that you bear our concerns on your mighty shoulders and erase the many hurts and the scars, that you bring compassion and change, healing and hope, to our troubled world.


Monday, December 05, 2005

In India, Muslim Convert Pastor On Death Lists

December 1 (Compass) – The Rev. K.K. Alavi, called “one of the bravest Christians in India,” is the son of a staunch Islamic cleric.

Since receiving Christ at age 21, Rev. Alavi has endured at least four attempts on his life. Because of his ministry among Muslims, he receives numerous death threats by phone or by letter. Nearly every day he is assailed in Muslim speeches, newsletters and newspapers. Islamic groups have slapped 11 court cases on him, and last August a gunman shot at his house. He has also noticed two men stalking him lately.

Short with a thickly bearded face, the 53-year-old Alavi disarms others with a serene smile and a high singing voice.

“Last month, a few reporters came to me warning that killers were out to take me down,” Alavi said. “All my life I have had threats from fundamentalists. So I wasn’t surprised to hear this from reporters who were tipped off by a source with a radical, Indian Islamic group.”

Though Muslim extremist organizations deny having any part in the attempts on his life, police officials and intelligence agencies have confirmed their role.

Machetes and Reproach

Higher-ranking police officials have asked Alavi to be cautious as extremist groups have issued warnings about attacks planned against him.

In Manjeri, a predominantly Muslim town in south India, Rev. Alavi pastors an independent Lutheran church, New Hope India Mission. He also oversees a literature program of tracts, booklets and study aides examining Islamic viewpoints on Christianity.

Many such works analyze Quranic arguments in favor of violence, contrasting them with Christianity’s peaceful approaches. Rev. Alavi, a graduate from Concordia Seminary in Nagercoil, has written more than 20 books and tracts calling upon Muslims to understand the true essence of the teachings of Jesus.

In an Islamic area where Christianity is considered blasphemy, Rev. Alavi has led at least 50 Muslims – estimates range as high as 200 – to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Each year thousands of inquiries pour in. Working out of his home in Calicut, he meets curious and questioning Muslims asking about Jesus.

The threats on his life began in 1981. “A mob of Sunni Muslims stormed into my property looking for me with machetes,” he said. “I ran all the way to the police station. Later I took refuge at the home of a Hindu attorney.” The lawyer’s family fed him and eventually provided an escort back to his home.

Rev. Alavi is not attacked merely for being a Christian, he said.

“I happened to be the first Muslim in a Muslim town who still converts Muslims in modern times,” he said. “They saw clearly that I’m a sort of a bridge for many to walk to Jesus. They could never stand the idea. Hence I happen to be their foremost enemy.”

The National Development Front (NDF), a major Indian Islamic group emerging in 1993 following the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque, has launched several public campaigns against Rev. Alavi.

During prayers, Muslim clerics are known to hold up Alavi as a prime example of an enemy of Islam. Rev. Alavi has copies of a collection of audio cassettes – circulated in India and the Middle East – that revile him and his Christian mission.

In 1998, an Islamic group prompted various activists to file 11 charges against Alavi, including rape and fraud.

“All were well-planned and backed by renowned lawyers supported by Islamic groups,” he said.
“They also produced a woman who claimed I raped her.”

Muslim groups announced these crimes throughout the towns of Manjeri, Calicut, Tirur, and others, he said. Posters appeared on walls saying he smuggled arms. These attacks were hard on his family, including his wife Yasmin Alavi, the daughter of Muslim converts, who is very active in extending hospitality to the hundreds of people who come to the Alavi home. The Alavis have three grown children.

“My family was shaken, but I knew the Lord would protect me,” he said.

One by one, courts dismissed all charges against Rev. Alavi. Moreover, the Kerala High Court ordered protection for him.

Death Threats

Rev. Alavi still receives many threatening letters from organizations such as Tiger Force and the Islamic Front. His church has been attacked and the cross destroyed.

Police have informed Rev. Alavi of two attempts on his life. No one was aware of the attempts until suspects revealed them while questioned on other charges. Rev. Alavi’s outpost among Muslims was once forcefully shut down; the Lutheran church sponsoring his work temporarily moved him to Bangalore to save his life.

A decade ago, a group of Islamic extremists came looking for him while another team was dispatched to murder Chekannur Maulvi, a liberal Muslim teacher who broke with convention and decried Islamic fundamentalism. Maulvi was murdered that day, but Alavi was away from home and thus spared.

“Now, sources have alerted me that I’m second on the hit list prepared by the Muslim fundamentalist NDF,” he says.

Last August, while he was still in Manjeri, someone shot at his house in Calicut at around 10 p.m. “The stone wall still carries the mark,” he said.

On another occasion, as he was speaking in church, there was a man in the church holding a gun. “But he had to flee when a Lutheran sister tried to talk to him,” he said.

Such are the ordeals of a pastor whose widely-published testimony has inspired many Indian Muslims to turn to the path of Jesus. His life story, published in a booklet titled An End of a Search, is translated into 32 languages and circulated in many cities in southern India.
In spite of the dangers, Rev. Avali said he has declined the court-approved security offered to him.

“I can claim security from police wherever I go, but I believe if I do that I’ll lose the protection of my guardian angels,” said Rev. Alavi, who has been diagnosed with a weak heart. “So I’ve declined man’s support and have turned to God’s care and protection. Who can kill me if God’s with me?”

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"The government knows what you are doing, and we are coming for you soon"

Imagine if an American leader stood up in front of an organization and declared publicly that he knew what Christians are doing and that the government was coming to stop them -- especially if all they were doing was preaching the Gospel and reaching out to their neighbors. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said just that to an open meeting of Iran's 30 provincial governors. He was also quoted as saying: "I will stop Christianity in this country."

This pronouncement was followed by the murder of yet another Christian pastor in Iran - the fifth in 11 years. 50-year-old Ghorban Tori was kidnapped and stabbed to death. His body was dumped in front of his house. Shortly afterwards, the Iranian secret police showed up at his house, searching it for Bibles and other banned Christian reading materials. In addition, in the week or so since the murder, several other Christians were detained, questioned and tortured. They have since been released.

Christians still detained for their faith have been moved into the general population and at least one has been killed, raising fears for those still in prison. Please pray for their safety, that they can be witnesses for their faith and that they will stand firm in their faith despite the circumstances.

If you wish to write a letter protesting the treatment of Christians in Iran, here is an address:

Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Embassy of Pakistan
2209 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 965-4990
Fax: (202) 965-1073

As always, BE COURTEOUS. Address your concerns reasonably, and express your belief that you are dealing with reasonable people. Don't threaten or try to intimidate. Voice of the Martyrs has a sample letter on their Prisoner List page which would be helpful as a general guideline. And always pray!

Credit: Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs