Monday, October 16, 2006

Petition for Chinese House Church - from International Christian Concern

From ICC:

"Dear friends,

ICC received news in early August 2006 that Chinese authorities had demolished a large house church in the province of Zhejiang. This church was under construction and was almost done when a mob of government-hired agitators came to watch as bulldozers and wrecking balls tore it to the ground.

As Christians, we need to stand with our brothers and sisters who were building this church by letting the Chinese government know that this warrant-less destruction of private property is unacceptable. ICC has written a petition to the Chinese ambassador to ask him to rectify what has happened. Would you take just a few minutes to read through this petition and sign on to it on
our website (click here)?

You can also print out several of the sign-up sheets included as the second page of the attachment from
the website and encourage other Christians you know to stand with these persecuted believers in China by signing in one of the spaces provided. Then fax or mail us those signatures by October 30. Our fax number is 301-989-1709, and our address is:

International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave NW #941
Washington, DC 20006

We will circulate this petition for just 2 – 4 weeks, and then we will present it to the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC.

Thank you so much for your concern for the persecuted church.

Sincerely in Christ,


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Open Doors: Egypt

Egypt:* An Egyptian Christian teenager escaped from her Muslim kidnappers last week, hours after they had drugged her on a public bus. Compass Direct reported that they threatened to rape her and convert her to Islam if her family did not leave their Nile Delta city of El-Mahala el-Kobra. Held in Cairo’s southern Helwan suburb, Laurence Wagih Emil, 15, escaped the ground-floor room at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3rd while her captors were away, breaking their Ramadan fast. Before family members recovered her, State Security Investigation officials interviewing Laurence Emil told her she would never see her parents again unless she reported a false story, denying the kidnapping. Read More

Please Pray:

- Thanksgiving to God for delivering Laurence from her captors; and for her courage and determined resistance during this terrible ordeal.

- That Laurence’s attackers will be brought to justice.

- That the Lord will provide honest and unprejudiced law enforcement officials for this investigation.

- For God’s mighty hand of protection, and the peace of Jesus for this family.

- For all believers living in Egypt; for their deliverance from their enemies.

- For the salvation of all the unbelievers in Egypt.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From WEA RLC: Eritrea - SItuation Deteriorating

"Eritrea: Appalling religious situation continues to deteriorate.
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.

Recent reports from Compass Direct (CD) indicate that the appalling religious situation in Eritrea continues to deteriorate.

CD reports: 'Newly compiled statistics smuggled out of Eritrea indicate that at least 1,918 Eritrean citizens are imprisoned and being subjected to torture and forced labor because of their religious beliefs. According to a detailed list obtained by Compass last month, 95 percent of these known religious prisoners of conscience are Christians.

'A total of 35 pastors, priests and church elders are confirmed under arrest in Asmara's Wongel Mermera investigation center. An additional 1,758 Christians of both evangelical Protestant and Orthodox confessions are jailed in 14 other cities and towns.

'According to reports compiled by Compass, 163 of these Christian prisoners have been put under arrest since the beginning of 2006. As many as a fourth of all those jailed are believed to have been incarcerated for two years or more.'

[. . .]

CD reports: 'None of those imprisoned for their religious beliefs in the government crackdown begun more than four years ago have been brought before a court of law to be charged or tried."

The CD report gives a breakdown of the numbers of Christians in various prison facilities. It also details the tragic fate of those who attempt to escape from these facilities into the surrounding desert.

As noted by CD, the persecution has spread way beyond those Protestant churches initially targeted in May 2002. The Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Abune Antonios, who was deposed and replaced by the government in January, remains under house arrest. Subsequently, "Since March, 65 leaders of the Medhane Alem renewal movement within the Eritrean Orthodox Church have been openly threatened with excommunication if they refuse to confess following 'heretical' teachings."

Asmara's Anglican Church is also facing repression. CD reports, "The Department of Religious Affairs has refused to allow the Anglican Church in Asmara to supply its own pulpit since October 2005, when the Rev. Nelson Fernandez was summarily ordered out of the country. To the 'expressed dismay' of the Anglican congregation, one source said, control of the worship and activities of the church has been handed over to the government-registered Lutheran Church."

Reports are circulating in Asmara that the government plans to shut down the Anglican Elementary School in the near future."

According to another CD report: "The Eritrean government demanded this month that the Kale Hiwot Church surrender all its property and physical assets to the government."The written confiscation order targets possessions of the Protestant church's relief department, which has for more than 20 years functioned as a legally recognized non-governmental organization (NGO) under the Eritrean Relief and Rehabilitation Commission."

CD adds that the sweeping property confiscation would include all church buildings, schools, vehicles and other assets. The church's computers, office equipment, files and keys to the property were confiscated in raids last October. The government action not only affects the church, but the orphanage and kindergartens run by the Kale Hiwot Church.

Eritrean Christians have told CD that they believe that a strategic persecution is being executed in three stages:

1) the arrest of pastors and leaders (leaving the congregations leaderless),

2) the raiding and sealing of church places of worship (leaving leaderless congregations destitute and without facilities),

3) the permanent confiscation of church properties and assets (supposedly bringing an end to the church's existence).

CD reports: "'All the closed churches here are undergoing a great deal of hardship and challenge to exist,' one source stated. But despite ongoing arrests and surveillance, local evangelicals told Compass they were 'continuing to meet for worship, prayer and Bible studies' in their homes. 'Please pray for God's protection, especially when we meet for prayer,' one said. 'All the churches are in a desperate need of Bibles for their ministries.'"

Eritrea has no independent media. Free Christians and human rights monitors leak this information at great personal risk. The government of Isaias Afewerki continues to deny that any religious persecution exists. Doubtless exacerbating the situation are the escalating tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia (Coptic Orthodox Christian), over their border dispute and over Somalia."

Forum 18: Kyrgyzstan - Mob Goes Unpunished


Intolerance of religious freedom - notably that of Christians - is growing among people in south Kyrgyzstan, Forum 18 News Service has found. Two months after a July mob attack on his home in a southern village, in which religious literature including Bibles were burnt, Protestant pastor Zulumbek Sarygulov has told Forum 18 he still fears for the lives of himself and his family. The police chief - three of whose officers witnessed the attack and took no action - denies a hospital report that Sarygulov suffered two broken fingers and was beaten up, as does Shamsybek Zakirov of the state Religious Affairs Committee. Zakirov and the local imam state that Pastor Sarygulov should leave his home and close the church 'so as not to provoke the situation'. Religion Law amendments are being drafted by a parliamentary deputy, Kamchybek Tashiev, who is hostile to religious freedom. Among proposed new restrictions will be an article punishing those who
'offend the feelings of citizens who belong to another religion'."

Forum 18: Belarus - Massive Fine for 'Illegal' Baptisms


Baptising 70 people in a lake has led to the pastor of one of Belarus' largest Pentecostal churches being fined over 150 times the minimum wage, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. This is, to Forum 18's knowledge, the first time that a congregation of a mainstream Protestant Union has had such a huge fine imposed for religious activity without state permission. Judge Oksana Kusheva of Baranovichi Municipal Court imposed the fine on Pastor Sergei Poznyakovich and fined the Pentecostal Union's bishop for Brest region, Nikolai Kurkayev, a significantly smaller amount.

Baranovichi's state official dealing with religious affairs, Ruslan Krutko, told Forum 18 that Pastor Poznyakovich's fine was so large because the church performed similarly unsanctioned baptisms in the same lake in 2005. Confirming that the authorities had not responded formally to a request to be allowed to perform the baptisms, Krutko nonetheless insisted that official permission must be obtained in advance. A church member commented to Forum 18 that 'if we are fined again within a year, the authorities will have grounds to close the church down.'"

Monday, October 09, 2006

Forum 18: Kazakhstan: More Fines for Baptists


Facing continued fines for unregistered religious activity in Kazakhstan, Baptists who refuse on principle to register have insisted to Forum 18 News Service that they will not pay the fines. 'We don't pay because we don't consider we're guilty. Kazakhstan's Constitution guarantees freedom of worship and says nothing about registration,' Pastor Yaroslav Senyushkevich told Forum 18. Kazakh religious state registration procedures can be highly intrusive in their demands for information - including demands to know the political views of members. One respected legal scholar disputes that registration is in law compulsory. The latest two known fines for unregistered religious activity have been for amounts equivalent to just under twice the estimated average monthly salary.

'The law is the law and we will keep on fining members of unregistered religious organisations,' Lyudmila Danilenko of the Justice Ministry told Forum 18.'"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

VOM: Indonesia - Church Burnt to Ground

"Muslim Mob Reduces Church to Ashes - VOM sources/

Infuriated by reports that Christians were scheduling revival meetings at the Indonesia Evangelical Mission Church in Aceh province, a militant Islamic mob set the worship center ablaze on September 1st. Local Muslims from the town of Siompi, which was the first in Indonesia to implement Shariah law, reduced the building to ashes in an attempt to wipe out those in their province not bowing down to Allah. Church members have moved their worship services to a local house, as they refuse to buckle under Muslim attacks. Give thanks to God for these Christians who are remaining faithful to Jesus. Psalm 33:20-22"

VOM: India - Churches Attacked

"Congregation Attacked for Second Time - VOMsources/

For the second time in three weeks, Pastor Vijayakumar's congregation of 30, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, was attacked on September 10th. Reappearing after their first violent attack on August 20th, a militant Hindu mob stormed the prayer and worship service. The frightened congregation continued to worship, even though the militants threatened there would be a blood bath the following Sunday if they persisted in worshipping Jesus Christ. Pray for God's protection on His people and the militant Hindus who sit in darkness will be brought into the glorious light of His kingdom. Psalm 36:9 "

Muslim Militants in India Attack Christian Missionary School - Compass Direct

Recently a mob of around 250 Muslim militants attacked the Good Shepherd Mission School in Kashmir state, destroying the boundary wall and damaging the school building and equipment. A national newspaper has named the Dutch missionary director, Fr. Borst, as one of a handful of people encouraging Muslims to convert to Christianity, and officials have attempted to expel him from India. Pray Fr. Borst and the students will rest in God's peace and His assurance for the future of the school. Matthew 6:34.

Open Doors: Nigeria (Additional Info)

"Nigeria:* Jummai opened her tailor’s shop on the morning of September 18 in Dutse, the capital of Jigawa state in northern Nigeria, where Christians are less than 20 percent of the predominantly Muslim population. By that afternoon, her offhand comments exchanged with several Muslim customers had attracted the wrath of local Islamist agitators. According to Compass Direct angry mobs started forming all over town, demanding the Christian tailor be killed for blasphemy against Muhammad. The dispute spiraled into a violent, one-day rampage, leaving 16 churches burned down, six Christians injured and at least 2,000 Christians homeless.

Please Pray:

-For confidence and peace of mind for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria as they are being watched, or are under surveillance, by enemies of their Christian faith.
-For reconciliation between the Christian and Muslim communities; Pray that the Holy Spirit will move in the hearts of these people in a supernatural way.
-Pray for Jummai and other Christian brothers and sisters who have been harmed during the attacks.

Nigeria Update:

Last week, in response to the violence in Nigeria, Open Doors began to deliver relief aid to alleviate the immediate needs of Christians who have suffered loss in the attacks in Dutse.

Read More>"

WLC - Iran: House Church Leaders Arrested

"On Tuesday 26 September, secret police raided the home of Iranian house-church leaders Reza Montazami (35) and his wife Fereshteh Dibaj (28) confiscating their computers, Christian literature and
other items. Compass Direct (CD) reports: 'Montazami and his wife lead an independent house-church in Mashhad, the only known remnant of two active Protestant Christian congregations worshipping in the
city before Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. Both churches were closed by government order in the 1980s. Then in December 1990, the government executed a Mashhad pastor, the Rev Hussein Soodmand. A former Muslim who had become a Christian 24 years earlier, Soodmand refused to recant his faith after four months under extreme physical and psychological mistreatment in prison.'

Before Reza Montazami and his wife Fereshteh Dibaj were taken away Montazami quickly phoned his mother who came and took charge of their six-year-old daughter, Christine. The police told Montazami's
mother that Reza and Fereshteh were being taken to a certain police station. However they were actually delivered to a local intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The family has been told the couple will soon appear before a Revolutionary Court. The nature of the charge against them is as yet unknown. For the full story and a picture see <>. "

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Open Doors: Pakistan

"Pakistan:* A young Pakistani Christian jailed last week on suspicion of ripping book pages containing Quranic verses appealed to Punjabi police yesterday through his lawyer for his case to be cancelled for lack of evidence. According to lawyer Khalil Tahir Sindhu, the sole evidence against Shahid Masih, 17, was the testimony of a Muslim man already accused of the same crime. If convicted of breaking article 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code, Masih will serve a life sentence.

Sahotra, a Christian representative employed to secure his release is convinced Masih has been falsely accused. More than 200 Islamist extremists attended the first hearing against Masih and his Muslim accuser Muhammad Ghaffar before a judicial magistrate in Faisalabad on September 14, Sindhu said. According to Compass Direct at least 23 people, Muslims as well as Christians, involved in blasphemy cases have been murdered in Pakistan since the laws were instituted in the 1980s.
Read More

Please Pray:
* For Shahid’s safety in prison as he awaits further hearings.

* For the Lord to give Shahid and his family courage, increased faith, and the peace that only Jesus can give.

* For the Lord to give wisdom to those who make the laws in Pakistan, that they can find a way to rescind this unjust law."

Open Doors: Nigeria

"Nigeria:* A mob of Muslim youths injured six Christians, one critically, and burned 10 churches last week in Dutse, capital of Jigawa state in northern Nigeria. The attacks were sparked by allegations that a Christian woman, identified only as a tailor named Jummai, had blasphemed the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Demanding that she be stoned, angry Muslims went on a rampage, destroying several churches, 20 Christian homes and 40 shops and leaving more than 1,000 Christians displaced. Reported by Compass Direct, police have detained the accused woman for questioning, along with more than 20 suspects involved in the mob attacks. Read More

Please Pray:

* For the Lord to protect Jummai in these terribly dangerous circumstances.

* That Jesus will make His presence with her so evident that even her jailers will perceive it.

* That her life will be spared, and she will be able to return to her home and her family and her livelihood.

* For Nigeria, that this terrible destruction targeted at the Christian community will be brought to an end."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

VOM: Uzbekistan

"(VOM Sources)

During the past month, The Voice of the Martyrs has stepped in to help Christians in Uzbekistan who have suffered arrests, imprisonment, torture and deportation at the hands of police. VOM recently received information from inside Uzbekistan that two leaders from Bethany Church were deported. On September 5th, Pastor Sergey Khripunov and his family were taken under police escort to the airport in Tashkent, where they will be flown to Moscow, Russia, to live. They were stripped of their Uzbek citizenship and deported for practicing their Christian faith. Ivan Bychkov, another pastor of Bethany Church, and his family were expelled for the same reason on August 11th. They are now living under very poor conditions in Moscow. VOM contacts also report that 27 Christians were arrested on August 28th, in the city of Termez in Southern Uzbekistan, for their involvement in illegal religious activities. Six of the believers were severely beaten by police and then held up to six days in jail until the marks left from the torture disappeared from their bodies. At the time of his release, the eye of Khusan Pirimov was still red from the beatings. The names of the other five who suffered harsh abuse are, Azamat Radjapov, Abdusattor Kurbanov, Laziz Umarov, Yesimdjohn Mamadjanov and Yurij Stefanko (a Ukrainian citizen from Kiev).

Pray the Lord will quickly heal the bodies, minds and spirits of those who were beaten so severely. Pray the refugees will be encouraged and strengthened by the help they receive from their brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray God will move in power to protect Christians in Uzbekistan from any more abuse from the authorities. "

Compass Direct - India (Madhya Pradesh)

"(Compass Direct)

Attacks against Christians in Madhya Pradesh continued this week, with Hindu extremists attacking at least three Christian gatherings. A total of eight Christians were accused of attempted forced conversion or hurting Hindu religious sentiments. One was released without charges and four were released on bail, while another three remain in police custody. In the most recent case, on Tuesday (September 12th), police in Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh, detained the Assemblies of God pastor, Venkatesh Kumar Sadhu, after extremists accused him of attempted forced conversion. A family in Ghama Thana village had asked Sadhu to visit their home and pray for a sick family member. While he was praying, members of the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal arrived, attacking the pastor and damaging his scooter. The Bajrang Dal then filed a complaint against Sadhu, and the pastor was taken to the local police station for questioning. The police later admitted that Hindu extremists were pressuring them to prosecute Christians such as Sadhu.

Pray the Christians will be filled with the peace that comes from knowing they are in the center of God's will.

Praise God that He alone is the force that brings new converts into His Kingdom.

Pray many Hindus will realize God is with the Christians and they can do nothing to change that. "

Compass Direct - India (Karnataka State)

"(Compass Direct)

Hindu extremists investigating the activities of Varghese Thomas, an evangelist in Karnataka state, laid a trap for him on Sunday, September 3rd, before beating him and his wife. Thomas is 60 years old and his wife, Leelama, is 57 years old. Thomas has established a small congregation in his home village of Guttigar that meets in a believer's house. On his way to a meeting Sunday evening, Thomas and his wife saw the apparent victim of a motorcycle accident lying in the middle of the road, and he left his car to assist the victim. As soon as Thomas bent over the victim, the man threw red chili powder into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. A group of about 15 Hindu extremists hiding in the bushes nearby then jumped out and assaulted Thomas, accusing him of tricking people into coming to prayer meetings. His wife said, 'One of them came up to the car and told me that both of us would face a cruel death if we continued to preach in the village.'

Pray God will protect Thomas and his wife and give them a spirit of courage and loving boldness.

Pray the members of the congregation will also know the love and power of Him whom they serve.

Pray God will open the eyes of the Hindus who used Thomas' compassion to trap him, will come to know the love of Jesus and seek His forgiveness."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

VOM: China - Detained Christians apply to read Bible in prison

"(China Aid Association)

Four Christians in custody in Langzhong City, Sichuan Province have submitted applications demanding their right to read the Bible in the detention center where they have been since June 27. They also asked that a suitable place inside the detention center be provided for regular Sunday services. The four Christians, Li Ming, Jin Jirong, Wang Yuan, and Li Mingbo, were illegally arrested when they went to the local Social Order Office to inquire about the situation of two members of their church, currently imprisoned. The four applicants have not been allowed to read the Bible since they were sent to the detention center. The officers even forbid them to use biblical terms such as God, Jesus, etc, when they communicate with their families. August 20, 2006, the four engaged Dr. Li Baiguang, from Beijing, and Miss Gou Qingju, as their lawyers. The formal application on their behalf requests the assurance of their right to read the Bible and a place to meet for regular Sunday services at the detention center. Dr. Li Baiguang commented, 'Though we know our legal action may have little obvious effect, we will persevere. This case would also shake up Chinese judicial officers and let them know religious freedom is a birth right that can never be deprived. Secondly, it can serve as a legal education for officers in the Chinese government who lack the basic concept of Rule of Law.'

Pray these four Christians find favor with the court and receive their requests. Pray their witness of faith and courage will allow the officials to see the reality of Jesus in their lives. Pray the name of Jesus will be glorified in all the proceedin"

Open Doors: Eritrea

"Eritrea:* Information gathered from compiled statistics smuggled out of Eritrea indicate that at least 1,918 Eritrean citizens are imprisoned and subjected to torture and forced labor because of their religious beliefs; 95 percent of these known religious prisoners of conscience are Christian. Of the total number in prison, 35 are pastors, priests, and church elders under arrest in Asmara’s Wongel Mermera investigation center. In 14 other cities and towns, an additional 1,758 Christians of both evangelical Protestant and Orthodox confessions are jailed. According to reports compiled by Compass Direct, many were arrested while simply attending prayer meetings in private homes. Since the arrests began 4 years ago, none have yet been brought before a court of law to be charged or tried. Read More

Please Pray:

- For the faith and courage of all these prisoners.
- That Jesus himself will speak to their hearts.
- For the salvation of the persecutors, that their hearts will be pierced with the Gospel.
- For their families’ welfare and that the Lord will comfort and encourage them."

Open Doors: Sudan

Sudan: Open Doors’ Africa Services Director, JP, has been involved with the construction and development of the Multi-Purpose Training Center (MPTC) in Southern Sudan. Describing the atmosphere of the training center, JP said “joy and happiness…you see peace and hope as well -- hope that the situation will change, that the people of Southern Sudan will have a better future and hope that the education of the students at the MPTC will make a lasting change in the lives of many people.” When asked about the future importance of the MPTC, JP answered, “The church in Southern Sudan is very unstable, very weak. People never had the possibility to study or to be trained. This is different now, thanks to the training center.” Students who come to the center are not educated, but they are very intelligent and very eager to learn, hungry for the Word of God, and hungry to learn more skills. Although the students are extremely poor and cannot pay for the tuition, Open Doors has been able to not only provide support for the construction of the center but now also provides financial support for their education. Read More

Give Thanks!

We rejoice in the wonderful fruit of the faith and hard work and persistence of the Sudanese Christians; and the sustaining prayer and support of our Open Doors family!

Please Pray:

- For wisdom and strength for the pastors and church leaders who have been trained at the MPTC.
- For the expansion of the MPTC to accommodate the many servants whom God is calling.
- For God to provide continued protection for the teachers, students, and facilities as the LRA is still a threat in Southern Sudan.

WEA RLC: Elections Critical to Religious Tolerance in Tajikistan

"Some 97 per cent of Tajikistan's seven million people are Sunni Muslims. Christianity is amongst the religious minorities, and Protestant Christians are about 0.02 per cent of the population. Though Tajikistan is officially secular the government strongly supports Sunni Islam. Religious minorities are persecuted or heavily restricted, especially in their outreach to the ethnic Tajik population. When ethnic Tajiks become Christians they are ostracised by their Islamic families and community. Please pray for them. Since July 2005 the activities of the churches have been increasingly controlled. Earlier in 2006 a new law was proposed that would severely restrict the churches and stop the activities of non-registered religious bodies. Getting registration for a church in Tajikistan is very difficult now but under the draft law it would be almost impossible. Please pray that it will be dropped.


* the continuing growth of the Church in Tajikistan and the many converts among ethnic Tajiks; for the eastern mountainous areas, where the Islamic influence is very strong, to be reached by the gospel.

* God's protection of and provision for all Christians, especially church leaders, workers, and missionaries, as well as their ministries particularly amongst young people and in prisons; also for converts from Islam and wisdom for church leaders working in hostile Islamic environments.

* the presidential elections on 6 November this year, that they will help Tajikistan move towards greater democracy and freedom.

* the draft law on religion to be dropped, and for the existing law to continue as it maintains the rights of religious minorities and meets international standards."

Open Doors: Iran

"Iran: Recently the United States took Iran to task for its “harsh and oppressive treatment” of religious minorities, including Christians. In its annual “Report on International Religious Freedom” around the world, the State Department said it found a further deterioration in what it called “the extremely poor status of respect for religious freedom” in Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on a three-day visit to New York City and is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly. The following is an update on the status of persecuted Christians in Iran.

The situation in Iran is very similar to that of the first century church: mass conversions, persecution, signs and wonders, visions and dreams and even multiple wives. Only God knows how many thousands of Iranian Muslims have come to Christ through Christian satellite TV broadcasts. Most of the new believers are young and very passionate about their faith in Christ, although, out of fear, most remain “secret believers” not connected to any church or house church. Christians report that persecution has increased markedly and that believers are experiencing much greater hardship since the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in August 2005, who has pledged to restore an Islamic government in Iran.
Read More

Please Pray:
- For the present government and leadership in Iran, that God will soften their hearts to be open to His love.

- That the leaders at the UN General Assembly meetings who hear President Ahmadinejad speak will not be swayed by his false talk.

- That the Lord will raise up prayer from every corner of the world for the country of Iran.

- That God will protect and comfort His people in Iran and that the Holy Spirit will give them power to witness in every situation.

- That the presence of Jesus will be evident among them as never before.

Open Doors: Columbia

Colombia: A team from ODUSA visited Colombia in July. On this trip they met the children of a Christian mother who was murdered on July 7th (Click Here to read “Mother of Four Murdered for Evangelizing”). Although the children’s names have been changed for this story, Michael (14), a sister Ana who is 9 years old, and a younger brother (3) are now living in a home that receives Open Doors support. When Michael first arrived at the home, he was especially traumatized because he had witnessed his mother being shot by a hired gunman. Thank the Lord for the opportunity given to these children to receive comfort and love in the home, and for the opportunity He gave these Christian visitors to minister to His beloved flock. Read More

Please pray:

- That the children -- Michael, Anna and their young brother -- will come to know Jesus as their Savior; and that they will find comforting arms and loving hearts to help them.

- For the grandparents who are caring for the baby, who was only 5 months old at the time of the murder.

- For the children’s father who had left the country; that he will return and be a Godly leader for the family.

- For the many Colombian children who live in the midst of danger and terrible violence.

- Against the unending persecution and fear that reigns in Colombia.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Six Christians Released from Prison in Uzbekistan

September 8, 2006

Six Christians released from prison in Uzbekistan

Prayers have been answered for six Christian men who were arrested last month in Termez , Uzbekistan.

The men, including a Ukrainian national on holiday visiting Christian friends, had been arrested around August 24th. Other Christians arrested at the same time, including some women and children, had been beaten before they were released. Some of the women had been sexually abused, the first report of this in modern church history in Uzbekistan . The six detained men were not told the reason for their arrest. Barnabas Fund received a report on September 6th that they had been released, after paying a fine of $400 each. Church leaders were forced to borrow money in order to pay the fines, and also to cover the cost of necessary medical treatment for their Christian brothers.

The men had been held for eight days without prosecution. It is believed that they were held this long in order to give the bruises and wounds they sustained from being beaten time to heal before they could have a medical examination to see how they had been injured. On their release two of the men were taken to hospital; one man had had his hands and feet held in buckets of quicklime, causing injury to his skin.


Praise God for this answer to prayer. Pray for these six men and also for the women who were molested, that they will heal quickly, both from their physical injuries and the trauma they have endured. Continue to pray that Christians in Uzbekistan will be able to turn to the Lord in this time of trial and see it as an opportunity to grow in patience, endurance and deeper faith. Thank the Lord for the optimism and hope they currently have."

Church Attacked in Aceh Indonesia

Angry Mob Attacks Church in Aceh, Indonesia

Pastor faces wrath of Muslims after organizing revival for 500 Christians.

by Sarah Page

DUBLIN, September 8 (Compass Direct News)

A pastor and his wife living in Aceh province, Indonesia, have gone into hiding after a Muslim mob set fire to a church building following a revival service on September 1.

Several weeks ago, Pastor Luther Saragih of a congregation called Siompin, an Indonesia Evangelical Mission Church, distributed letters to several villages in Aceh Singkil inviting Christians to a revival service.

A Muslim resident somehow received a copy of the letter and edited it, making it appear that Muslims were invited to the service. He then distributed his own version of the letter to 3,000 Muslims. According to one local source, the police knew this was happening but made no attempt to restrain this man.

Large Christian gatherings are extremely rare in Aceh, but at this service over 500 Christians arrived to take part -- along with a large crowd of irate Muslims. The police were also present. Local Muslim leaders argued for several minutes with police, and eventually Saragih was taken to the police station. There the police scolded the 40-year-old pastor for organizing the event and ordered him to cancel it and send people home. A pastor from Jakarta asked for 10 minutes to explain the situation to the Christians who had gathered. When the police relented, he returned to the church and spent 10 minutes preaching a brief message on "walking in the shadow of death" to those who had gathered before sending them away. At about 7 p.m., when everyone else had left, Saragih and his wife Netty, pregnant with their first child, returned to their own home just a few minutes down the road from the church.

At 10 p.m. that night, a convoy of two trucks and 50 motorcycles arrived outside the church, carrying over 100 liters of gasoline. Witnesses said there were over 100 men present, many of them carrying swords. The mob poured gasoline over the building and set fire to it; they also attempted to burn a second building that was used as a church kindergarten.

Some of the attackers came looking for Saragih and Netty at their home, which is nearby. The couple escaped into the nearby jungle and stayed hidden in the undergrowth. Many thought the couple had been consumed in the flames of the church buildings, but a friend found them at around 4 a.m. Christians in a neighboring province have provided shelter for Saragih and his wife, following reports that local police and Muslim leaders are still searching for the couple. It is uncertain when -- or if -- they will be free to return home.

Friends estimate that the fire caused at least US$20,000 worth of damage. The fire destroyed two motorcycles (one belonging to Saragih and another borrowed for the revival); two electronic piano keyboards (one borrowed for the revival) and a computer and printer. The province of Aceh is unique in two ways: the government has granted limited autonomy to the province following years of civil war, and sharia (Islamic law) replaced state law earlier this year, leaving the Christian minority at a distinct disadvantage.

"After this, we're afraid they might set fire to other churches," a local source said. "We plead with Christians around the world to keep us in their prayers."


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Forum 18: Moldova

1 August 2006


After attempts by health officials and police with guns and truncheons to close a children's camp, Baptists have denied to Forum 18 News Service claims that the camp is 'unsanitary.' 'The authorities say there are bad conditions for the children at the camp - after they themselves cut off the water,' Baptist leader Ivan Fonaryuk told Forum 18. But local Mayor Iurie Onofrichuk claimed that 'there's the danger of an epidemic.' The children's camp has been running since 2002, and has had good relations with the local Sanitary Epidemiological Service. A German Baptist at the camp told Forum 18 that 'compared with homes and other facilities in the district there is no great difference - or perhaps the camp is better.' The appointment of a new local health official marked the start of the Baptist's problems - despite a senior police official, who inspected the camp, reporting that conditions are 'normal'. Police are currently posted at the gates, to try to stop Baptists entering. It remains unclear why local authorities are this year trying to close the camp."

Open Doors: Bangladesh

Bangladesh: Monwar, a former Muslim who embraced the Christian faith and was baptized three months ago in Tangail district, Bangladesh, has been faced with increasing persecution. Recently his own uncle, Juran, (a Muslim) filed several false charges against Monwar and his family. One of the false charges is recounted below:

"Monwar is an armed gangster, creating atrocities in the village. On July 12, at 9 o'clock in the morning, Monwar was trying to build a pillar on our land, which he illegally acquired. My wife, Kohinur, who was pregnant at that time, came to stop him. Monwar caught her by her hair, kicked her in her belly, and stabbed her with a heavy iron knife on the chest, clearly intent on killing her."

Kohinur was indeed injured and is hospitalized in serious condition, but it was not Monwar's doing. Monwar has denied all of the charges against him.
Read More>>

Please Pray:

-For Monwar and his family, that the truth will prevail by God's mighty power.
-For their protection from physical harm, and encouragement directly from our Heavenly Father.
-For Kohinur: She is in serious condition and there is a danger of miscarriage. Ask Jesus to spare the life of her and her baby. Please pray also for her salvation.
-For the believers in Tangail District, that the presence of Jesus Himself will give them more faith and power to maintain their witness in spite of persecution. "

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Forum 18: Kyrgyzstan

"12 July 2006

An official of Kyrgyzstan's state Religious Affairs Committee has told Forum 18 News Service that the Religion Law could soon be amended to restrict evangelism or proselytism. 'I hope that the new draft of the Law will be as close as possible to international standards,' But, 'we have to take local reality as our starting point,' Shamsybek Zakirov told Forum 18. He expressed concern about anger from local Muslims in southern Kyrgyzstan, directed at the Religious Affairs Committee and local Protestants at Protestant evangelism. Zakirov confirmed statements made by Pentecostal Pastor Dzhanybek Zhakipov to Forum 18 that pressure by the authorities on local Protestants has increased. Government minister Adakhan Madumarov today (12 July) was reported as also indicating that the Religion Law may be tightened. The problem of intolerance of Christians and other religious minorities - leading to violent attacks and even murders - is widespread in Central Asia."

Forum 18: Kazakhstan

"14 July 2006

A Pentecostal theological college is facing attempts by the authorities to close it, along with a media campaign against the college, and the dramatic increase in fines of unregistered Baptists has continued, Forum 18 News Service has found. These are the latest developments in Kazakhstan's crackdown on religious freedom. The Shymkent Prosecutor's Office is prosecuting the local Elim Seminary for not having an Education Ministry licence - even though the college immediately applied for a licence when this requirement was introduced in May. The Prosecutor, Erzhan Ezaliev, claimed to Forum 18 that 'Personally I am neutral towards Protestants. But the law is the same for everybody.' In 2005, the same Prosecutor's Office - without any legal grounds for its action - also tried to close the Seminary. Also, two Baptists, one a Pastor, have been fined for unregistered activity and breaking an order banning a church. The fines imposed are much greater than the previous norm."

Bosnia: Obstacles to Building Places of Worship

"13 July 2006

Legally building a place of worship in Bosnia and Herzegovina is often difficult, Forum 18 News Service has found. Religious communities of all faiths face obstruction in getting permission to build or re-build places of worship. For example, in the Bosniak-controlled area, mosques have been built without official permission. But Catholic and Protestant churches face years of official obstruction, Forum 18 has been told. In the Croat-controlled area, especially in and around Mostar, Muslim and Protestant places of worship cannot be legally built. In the Serb-controlled area, Serbian Orthodox churches can be built, but places of worship of other faiths can face much obstruction. Another problem Forum 18 knows of limiting building and other activities throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina is taxation. All religious communities must pay 17 per cent VAT on all their activities - even on humanitarian aid."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

WEA RLC: Malaysia bans more Christian books

"Date: Thursday 13 July 2006
Subj: Malaysia bans more books deemed prejudicial to public order.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.

Once again, Malaysia's Internal Security Ministry has used the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984 to ban books on religion. The banned titles are books that critique Islam and books that assist in Christian witness to Muslims. Many are international best sellers and have been in circulation, including in Malaysia, for many years. They are banned on the grounds that the Internal Security Ministry has deemed them prejudicial to public order. In reality however, the only members of the public likely to be provoked by these books are Islamists who rely on repression because they are threatened by public debate and public access to alternatives. That the government should pander to this element in this way is very disturbing."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Open Doors: China, India


The Zhongmu City People's Court sentenced Chinese house church pastor Zhang Rongliang to seven and a half years in prison. Zhang is a key leader of the China for Christ house church movement. He was arrested by police without charges on December 1, 2004. Months later was he charged with 'attaining a passport through cheating' and with 'illegal border crossing.' Zhang's lawyer was not optimistic about an appeal. Pastor Zhang's wife, Chen Hongxian, was shocked at the verdict. 'Who would have thought the outcome would be this bad?' Chen said. 'It is the Communist Party's court, not the People's Court, that makes the real decision.' Pastor Zhang has five chronic diseases, including high blood pressure and severe diabetes. Chen has asked the international Christian community to continue praying for her husband. Previously Zhang had spent a total of 12 years in prison for his religious activities.

Read More

Please Pray For:
- Pastor Zhang, that he will be paroled quickly because of his poor health, and receive mercy even at the hands of his enemies.
- Pastor Zhang's wife, that God will provide comfort and peace during this uncertain time.
- The underground Church in China, especially for those who minister to God's flock."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Compass Direct: India

"Policeman tells victims seeking justice, 'Ask Jesus to call me on my mobile phone.'

July 6 (Compass Direct) - When four tribal Christians in Toranpada village, Maharashtra state, asked for help following an attack by Hindu extremists last month, police responded by taunting and kicking the victims, then filing charges against them.

Members of the local Tribal Welfare Committee had beaten Baburao Mahala, 32, Anil Chaudhry, 23, and a couple identified only as 20-year-old Kalpana and her husband Sunil, 24, on June 8 for converting to Christianity.

The four converts filed a complaint at the local police station immediately after the attack. When they returned on June 15 to ask what action had been taken, one police officer told them, 'Ask Jesus to call me on my mobile phone.'

Three police officers then asked for a demonstration of prayer. When the four Christians knelt down, the officers kicked them and taunted them. The officers then filed charges against them for breaching the peace.

Abraham Mathai, a member of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission and leader of the All India Christian Council, accompanied the four to the office of the director general of police on June 20 to protest against the officers' behavior.

'They harassed the Christians instead of giving them assurance that the perpetrators would be brought to book,' Mathai said.
The director general of police ordered an inquiry, but police at the station have denied any wrongdoing.

Elsewhere in Maharashtra state, a government school in Sagar village, Nashik district has denied admission to children from Christian families, according to Mathai.

'The state government says that primary education is free for all, but how can the children of Christians benefit from this scheme if they are denied admission?'

The government in Maharashtra is ruled by a coalition of the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress Party. Of over 96.8 million people in the state, a little more than 1 million are Christian. "


"July 10 (Compass Direct) - For two years Francis Yohanna Anche, 15, has been suffering from a brain injury he sustained when Muslim students in his high school in Zaria city attacked Christian students. His right hand and leg are still paralyzed from a machete cut to his head. Muslim students at the Government Science Secondary School-Kufena, Anche told Compass, had written a letter on June 24, 2004 warning Christian students that they should stop worshipping in the school's chapel or else face their wrath. Seven other Christian students also sustained injuries in this attack. Christian leaders in Kaduna describe the state as the nerve-center of Islamic extremism, where many religious conflicts in northern Nigeria originate and spread to other parts of Nigeria."

Read More>

Monday, July 10, 2006

Forum 18: Uzbekistan

"3 July 2006

In Muinak in Karakalpakstan region - where all Protestant activity is banned - local Protestant Lepes Umarov faces up to three years' imprisonment on criminal charges for 'breaking the law on religious organisations'. The duty officer at the police station told Forum 18 News Service that Umarov was released by the police after several hours' detention in late June after signing 'an undertaking not to leave the country'. Forum 18 has also learnt that Pentecostal pastor Dmitry Shestakov from Andijan has fled Uzbekistan to escape criminal charges also lodged in June in retaliation for his church work. In Kuvasai in Fergana region, the secret police have questioned the 11-year-old son of the Vitkovsky couple in whose home a Baptist church meets. The church's services have repeatedly been raided in recent months and a judge threatened Viktor Vitkovsky with imprisonment on 27 June. He and his wife were due in court on 3 July."

Forum 18: China

"6 July 2006

Perhaps surprisingly, China's book lovers have ready access in the many bookshops in the country's cities to publications about religion. While very little - if any - tackles any connection between religion and contemporary Chinese society and polity, various publications discuss the history, doctrine and practices of the five approved faiths - Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism - Forum 18 News Service has found. While state censorship persists, books promoting a particular faith and offering adherents texts to help their religious practice are difficult to find in general bookshops - though some innovative publishers have been able to get round official controls. Instead, religious believers have to seek out bookshops of the five state-sanctioned faiths, whose own publications cannot be sold in general bookshops as they lack official publication data. Private bookshops - such as those run by individual Protestants - can only stock devotional material that has slipped through the official net."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

VOM: India - Harassment Continues

"(VOM sources)

A group of junior doctors of Gandhi Medical College in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh beat up a Dalit Christian laborer for several hours, cut his hair and forced him to drink his own urine in Gandhi Medical College hostel on June 21st. The police sources said the junior doctors started beating the Christian at 2:30 p.m. and continued the thrashing until night. The man somehow managed to free himself from the clutches of his tormentors and rushed to the nearest police station. The police are looking for the unknown persons on charges of wrongful confinement and physical abuse. In Bothli village in Durg district Sunday, June 25th, dozens of activists of a Hindu group, Dharam Sena, disrupted a weekly prayer meeting of Christians. As the prayer meeting was going on, more than a dozen Hindu fanatics surrounded the house, shouting slogans against Christians. They then barged into the house and started to attack all those present. Attacks on minorities, particularly on Christians, are increasing alarmingly. They are suffering a series of attacks and assaults by hardliner Hindu groups in many of the North and South Indian States.

Pray God will protect the Dalit Christians who are the poorest of the poor and give them peace and safety. Give thanks to God for the perseverance of the saints who remain faithful to Jesus in spite of severe persecution. Pray the Holy Spirit will come in glory and loving power to the whole country of India. "

VOM: Eritrea - Imprisoned Christians Escape

"(VOM Canada)

In the early morning of May 16th, 15 Christians escaped from a military training camp in Asabe, Eritrea and attempted to escape across the desert into neighboring Djibouti. According to a June 23rd report from Open Doors U.K., the men had been detained in metal shipping containers for the past two years because of their faith in Christ. Military police pursued the men when they were discovered missing. After two days, the bodies of five of them were found dead from exposure. At last report the other 10 had not been found and there was no indication if they were successful in crossing the border into Djibouti. If they remain in Eritrea, their lives are in grave danger.

Pray if there are survivors, the Lord will bring them safely to a place where they can recover from their ordeal. Pray the families of the deceased will find comfort in the fact that Christ is victorious over death, and their loved ones will be raised with Him. Continue to pray for the safe release of the many Christian prisoners in Eritrea."

VOM: China - House Church Leaders Arrested

(China Aid Association)
May 27th and 28th, 2006

30 house-church leaders from Langzhong City, Sichuan Province were arrested and forced to pay fines. Eyewitnesses and family members of the victims reported that the arrests happened from 11 a.m. on May 27th until 9 a.m. on the 28th during a fellowship meeting. Fifteen members of the Public Security Bureau in six police vehicles raided the meeting. Eyewitnesses say that during the arrests and interrogations, Christians were abused inhumanely by constant heavy beatings. Though some of those arrested were released on the 28th, on morning of the 29th, 14 house church leaders received criminal detention notices. They are:

Li Ming
Wang Yuan
Li Jinbo
Li Chengxi
Shi Zhihe
Gou Yongcai
Jin Jiyun
Wang Shuhua
Gou Qingju
Ke Xiufang
Sun Changfen
Hu Yongju
Zhang Shulan

Liao Zhoulan Pastors Li Ming, Wang Yuan, Li Jinbo and Jin Jiyun are major leaders of the Chinese House Church Alliance which was established in 2004. It is made up of approximately 300,000 members from various house church movements scattered across 21 provinces. CAA also learned that in recent weeks a number of house churches from Beijing, Shangdong and Guangdong were forced by the local authorities to close. Polite letters of protest and concern may be sent to the Chinese Embassy.

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington DC 20008
TEL: 202-7456743
Fax: 202- 588-0032; 202-7457473

Pray Jesus will draw close to the prisoners with His loving comfort.
Pray God will protect them from further beatings.
Pray their faithfulness to Jesus will inspire Christians everywhere to seek a closer walk with our Savior and Friend. (Compass Direct)

Chinese officials have expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 12th condemning rising persecution of religious believers in China. The resolution came after U.S. President George W. Bush invited three members of China's house-church network to the White House on May 11th--author Yu Jie, law professor Wang Yi and legal scholar Li Baiguang. Yu, 33, attends Ark Church, an unregistered Protestant house church that has had to change locations six times to escape harassment.

When Yu was asked to visit the White House, secret police in Beijing immediately called his wife, Liu Min, at her office in downtown Beijing. "They bluntly asked me to stop attending Ark Church, assuming that if I stopped going, the others would also scatter," she said.

When she replied that she could not obey the order, the police said they would spread rumors to damage her husband's reputation. Police also advised her to divorce Yu.

Give thanks to God that information about the lack of religious freedom in China is being made public. Ask God to protect the house church representatives who were willing to suffer the consequences of reporting to President Bush. Pray all those who are threatened by the Chinese authorities will continue to stand up for Jesus.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Belated Happy Fourth of July!

I pray that you all found time to praise the Lord for, and celebrate, our freedoms as Americans yesterday, and that you were able to be with family and friends.

Please remember to pray for all of those who don't share those freedoms, for whom faith and worship are literally matters of life and death.

Pray for the leaders of their countries, that their hearts may be softened towards those they lead and that they too would come to know Christ.

In Jesus' name,


Open Doors: Cuba, Malaysia

CUBA:* The Rev. Carlos Lamelas, pastor and former national president of the Church of God in Cuba, was unexpectedly freed from jail on Monday (June 26) according to Compass Direct. The surprise move astonished and delighted many observers following the case. Members of Lamelas’s extended family accompanied his wife, Uramis, and their two daughters to the Villa Marita Detention Center in Havana for what they thought would be their weekly 15-minute visit with the jailed pastor. “It was a surprise indeed on Monday when we went for the visit,” Rev. Lamelas’s sister, Lourdes, informed friends in an e-mail. “They informed us that they had decided on a change in procedure and that the case was closed! He was free to go home.” Arrested on February 20, Rev. Lamelas was jailed for more than four months without being formally charged. Government officials reportedly accused him of aiding Cuban citizens in leaving the country illegally. Read More

Please pray:

- Thanks and Praise to the Lord God Almighty!

- For Rev. Lamelas’s health and full recovery from his ordeal.

- That he and his family will neither be harassed nor threatened, but would walk in the Peace of God.

MALAYSIA:* Hotels in Malaysia have refused to host a series of religious rights forums after angry protestors shut down an event on May 14 and accused the organizers of being “enemies of Islam.” Article 11, a coalition of 13 religious and human rights groups, had organized a series of forums to discuss constitutional rights and the dilemma created by a dual legal system incorporating both civil and sharia law. The coalition is named after the same article in Malaysia’s constitution, which guarantees the right of every citizen to “profess and practice his religion.” On May 14, police cordons and a crowd of roughly 500 demonstrators greeted participants arriving for a forum in Penang. Eventually police insisted that the forum be shut down, despite having issued an official permit for the event. “This incident shows how serious the breakdown in constitutional values is,” National Human Rights Society deputy president and lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a speaker at the forum, told local reporters. “If we cannot speak on the constitution, where are we as a nation?”
Read More

Please pray:

- That the Lord would give wisdom and determination to Prime Minister Badawi and his government, to uphold the Malaysian constitution and defend and protect all the citizens of Malaysia.

- For the strength and safety of Malik Sarwar, the National Human Rights Society, the Article 11 coalition, and all those who are striving for peace and justice.

- For the Christians living in Malaysia to remain strong and not let this shake their faith.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Voice of the Martyrs - News

"UZBEKISTAN: Police Disrupt Easter Gathering and Seize Passports
June 23, 2006
The Voice of the Martyrs

VOM staff in Uzbekistan report that on April 16th, police in the city of Nukus, just miles from the Turkmenistan border, burst into a private home of Christians celebrating Easter with friends. Their fellowship was broken us just as they began to drink their tea and open God's Word. Police searched the home and seized Christian materials. No receipts were given for the materials taken. The believers were forced to write statements explaining why they were having tea with the group and what they were talking about. This was done even though it is not illegal for friends and family to drink tea and read books in private. Police took the passports of Bakhtiyer Gazhayev, Mader Baltayev and Ikram Saburov, all from Turkmenistan, as well as the passport of the Uzbek woman who was hosting the gathering.

Two days after the police raid, less than 24 hours were left before the Turkmens' allowed stay in Uzbekistan would expire. Police had still not returned their passports. On this evening, a VOM worker visiting Nukus met with the three Turkmen Christians, who told him about the injustice taking place. He went straight to the local police chief to demand an explanation of why the passports were taken and when they would be returned. Initially, the chief indignantly refused to answer. The VOM worker warned him that in several minutes, the whole world would know about the persecution of Christians in Uzbekistan, and especially about its treatment of foreign Christians. The police chief relented and said the Turkmens' passports would be returned the next day. When the VOM worker insisted he would stay until he personally saw them returned, the chief exclaimed, "All right! We'll give them their passports back today.”

Whether police were stalling or getting advice from the Committee of National Security on how to proceed, several hours passed. The Christians waited patiently by the gates of the police station. With only 15 minutes left before the office closed for the day, the police called the three Turkmen Christians in one by one and gave them back their passports. The police chief told them, “We were going to give you your passports even earlier, but you brought this Voice of the Martyrs representative with you. It is because of him that such a delay with the passports happened.” The police chief still refused to disclose why the passports were confiscated in the first place. The following morning, Bakhtiyer, Mader and Ikram returned home to Turkmenistan.

Police seized the passports knowing the serious problems the Turkmen could run into without such documentation. If police refused to give back their passports after three days, the three would face serious punishment in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for breaking passport laws?as foreigners are forbidden to stay abroad without their cards. In the unlikely case they were able to return to their native country without them, they would have been imprisoned for their passport violations.

The Uzbek believer who hosted the Easter gathering did not receive her passport that day. A young police lieutenant explained, “You see, our civil workers have the passport of your Uzbek Christian.” The “civil workers” were plainclothes KGB officers.

The Voice of the Martyrs is thankful for the opportunity to be the voice of Christians who are oppressed by those hostile to the gospel."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

ICC: Vietnamese Jail Montagnard Christians

"HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife)-- Six Evangelical Christians of Vietnam’s Montagnard Degar minority were facing another tense day Wednesday, June 28, after a court reportedly jailed them on charges of inciting religious unrest and organizing illegal border crossings to neighboring Cambodia.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) quoted an official at the Dak Nong Province People's Court as saying that the men from the Central Highlands region were sentenced to between five and seven years in prison for "violating solidarity policies and organizing illegal migration." The Vietnam News Agency reportedly said that the evangelical Christians from the Montagnard Degar community “incited almost 300 people to protest," apparently against the government. They were arrested as they and 16 others tried to cross the border to Cambodia last October, ABC said. Vietnamese officials claimed the six had planned to either set up an independent state or "flee to Cambodia in groups with an accusation that the Vietnamese state violated human rights and repressed religions." Their names were not released.


In an angrily worded statement obtained by BosNewsLife, representatives of the Montagnard Degar people rejected Vietnam’s accusations. "Vietnam’s repeated allegations that Montagnard Degar people are seeking an independent state are baseless,” said Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI). "The indigenous Montagnard Degar Peoples have suffered decades of persecution by the government of Vietnam, namely; confiscation of their ancestral lands, Christian religious repression, torture, killings and imprisonment..." In addition, "to date over 350 Montagnard Degar prisoners remain in Vietnamese prisons for charges involving merely standing up for human rights, for spreading Christianity or for fleeing to Cambodia. As part of the Vietnamese Government’s policy Vietnamese soldiers continue with a campaign of brutal repression and religious persecution of Montagnards," claimed MFI, an advocacy groups with close contacts in the Central Highlands. In June 2006, the US State Department continued to maintain Vietnam on its "watch list" of countries it says are the “worst violators” of religious freedom. News the latest detentions came shortly after Reports of the arrest came shortly after earlier this month Secular and Christian investigators condemned the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for not doing enough to ensure the safety of predominantly Christian Degar Montagnards returning from Cambodia to Vietnam where they are "detained, interrogated and even tortured."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Open Doors: Algeria, Saudi Arabia

From Open Doors:

"The attacks against African Christians are often direct and brutal. The laws enacted, like those in the following story, can have a devastating effect upon the education and future opportunities for Christians who are barred from receiving proper avenues of education. Pray that like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, they will cling to their faith and receive God’s gifts of wisdom and service.

Algeria:* Two Christian foreign students from sub-Saharan Africa have been expelled from Algeria, and 12 others have been commanded to leave by June 27. Authorities have taken the identity cards and residency permits from several of the students, leaving them without any proof of identity. There was no specified the reason for the expulsion. The students attended a well publicized seminar organized by a well-known Christian organization in March 2006. A new law restricting non-Muslim worship was passed in March 2006, however it will not go into effect until September. Among other provisions of the law, it prohibits any action that “incites, constrains or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion, or by using to this end establishments for teaching, for education, for health, of a social or cultural nature, or training institutions, or any other establishment, or any financial means.” Punishment is two to five years in prison and a fine. The law will also prohibit Christian activity anywhere outside a state-recognized church building. As one Algerian Christian stated, “If these foreign students receive such treatment, whose faith is known by all, and who have embraced the Christian faith for generations, what will it be like for our own students and for our churches! We who are Christians from Muslim backgrounds only the Lord Himself knows what the future will bring!”

Please Pray:

- For the Lord to move in a miraculous way to prevent this law from ever being fully enforced.

- That God will guide the Algerian authorities to make wise decisions, realizing how many lives and careers could be destroyed by their decisions.

- For these students and everyone affected by this new government policy, and for the Lord to renew and increase their faith, and give them courage and hope for their future.

Saudi Arabia:* Over one hundred Eritreans, Ethiopians, and Filipinos were gathered in the morning for worship in a home in the coastal city of Jedda on Friday, June 9, when a group of Saudi police entered the meeting, wooden clubs in hand. The startled worshippers brought chairs to seat the policemen, who sat and waited for the three-hour worship service to conclude. None used their clubs or physically mishandled the worshippers. “Actually, some muttawa [Muslim religious police] came to this gathering about two weeks before,” a local source told Compass, “but they did not do anything.” But after the June 9 weekly praise and prayer service finished, police arrested four leaders of the group. Typically the Saudi government deports expatriate Christians caught conducting worship meetings in their homes or privately owned villas, forcing their employers to terminate their work contracts. Under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, public non-Muslim worship is prohibited, although members of the royal family insist that Christians are free to worship within their own homes. Last year five East Africans were detained for a month for leading a private Christian worship service in Riyadh.

Please Pray:

- For the men being held who are now facing deportation; pray that the Lord will make known His presence in order to encourage and comfort them, and use them to witness to and bring hope to other prisoners.

- For the men’s prompt release and that God would reassure them that He will provide for them and their families.

-For the Saudi royal family and government officials, that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Forum 18 - Russia


Pentecostals, Catholics and Baptists are among religious communities to complain recently of police failure to protect them from attacks or other unwarranted intrusions during services or of police raids to prevent them conducting religious activity - such as giving out religious literature - which they regard as legitimate, Forum 18 News Service notes.

Police failed to respond when 300 Pentecostals in Spassk in Siberia were terrorised by 20 drunken youths who attacked their service in April or when a Catholic service in St Petersburg was disrupted by intruders in late May. Only when church leaders complained did the authorities take belated action. In Ivanovo near Moscow, the FSB security police initiated a raid on a 14 May Baptist evangelisation event at a rented cinema and an investigation is underway over the fact that copies of the New Testament being handed out did not include the name of the publisher. 'We are still trying to find out what will happen,' Pastor Aleksandr Miskevich told Forum 18. 'I can't imagine how they are going to check the authenticity and authorship of the Gospels!'"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Forum 18: Uzbekistan

"20 June 2006

Amid rising government persecution of Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious minorities in Uzbekistan, a Protestant pastor from Andijan [Andijon] faces up to twenty years' imprisonment if prosecutors go ahead with a trial for treason, Protestants have told Forum 18 News Service. Dmitry Shestakov, known as David, who leads a registered Full Gospel Pentecostal congregation in the city, has gone into hiding for fear of arrest. 'It's unclear exactly which article I'm to be prosecuted under,' he told Forum 18 from his place of hiding on 20 June, adding that he has learnt that the Prosecutor's Office might have changed the accusation to one of inciting religious hatred, which carries a five year maximum prison term. 'The one thing I can say with certainty is that the threat of arrest is very real.' An official of the Andijan regional Prosecutor's Office told Forum 18 that the number for the investigator in the case, Kamolitdin Zulfiev, is secret. Were Shestakov to be given a long prison term it would represent a major escalation of moves against religious minorities."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 381

China Aid Association (CAA) <> reports that imprisoned South China Church founder and senior pastor Gong Shengliang (53), who was beaten almost to death by authorities in Jingzhou Prison in June 2003, has once again been the victim of serious intentional, totally unjustifiable violence in custody. According to CAA, authorities at Hong Shan prison, Wuhan, Hubei Province, assigned a prisoner to watch Pastor Gong and report on him. On 21 March this prisoner beat him mercilessly, resulting in some hearing loss and leaving his face so severely swollen and painful that he was unable to move his mouth for three days. The prison authorities then rewarded the abusive prisoner and punished Gong further. Moreover, Christian literature sent to Gong by his family is denied him, and Gong's letters to his family are withheld by the prison.

This news is a reminder that prison conditions in non-Western countries are often very different from those in the West. The most important differences do not revolve around wealth, but around worldview and ideology. Many Westerners don't realise or have forgotten how crucial Judeo-Christian worldview and teachings have been in shaping Western laws and values. In particular, the words of Christ have deeply influenced Western society, providing a good moral foundation. However different societies are built on different foundations and their laws spring from quite different premises. Atheistic Communism cannot find value in the life of an individual. And whereas the gospel of Jesus explains sin and justice while offering grace, redemption and transformation, other religions revolve around works, shame and punishment. In the non-West, human rights are of less concern and justice (and injustice) is generally punitive, not restorative or redemptive.

Christians in non-Western prisons are frequently subjected to appalling hostility and violence. The nations in which they are imprisoned have lamentable human rights records, torture is routine and corruption reigns. Christian prisoners must remain in our prayers always because their physical and emotional suffering can be severe, continual and inescapable. The devil seeks to gain a foothold through despair whereby he will tempt suffering believers to doubt God's presence, goodness and love. Numerous Christians including significant Church leaders are imprisoned in China; nearly 1800 in Eritrea; and an estimated 100,000 in North Korea! Other countries where Christians are in prison on account of their faith include Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Vietnam and Laos. If these prisoners would only renounce Christ and betray their brethren, then the beatings and torture would end and they could go home to their families. Instead, they choose to be like Moses: 'He thought it better to suffer for the sake of the Messiah than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him.' Hebrews 11:26 NLT


* the Holy Spirit to fill every imprisoned believer with an unshakeable assurance of God's faithful, eternal presence and love.

* for the Spirit of God to empower imprisoned believers to 'wait on the Lord' and find new, supernatural strength in our strength-sharing, promise-keeping God (Isaiah 40:27-31), so they will be able to endure suffering, display faith, extend grace, and keep their eyes fixed on Jesus through every storm.

* God's protection and healing for Christians abused in prison.

* our gracious God to bless all Christian witness in prisons, so that persecutors will be convicted of sin and judgment, godless prisoners will be drawn to godliness and the gospel, and all Christ's witnesses with this high and difficult calling will be lights in the darkest of places and be blessed with the assurance that their struggles are not in vain. 'Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, fortheirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Matthew 5:10 NIV

Fax and Write for North Korea

"Open Doors USA is leading a campaign on behalf of the North Korea Freedom Coalition to focus attention on the violent repatriation of North Korean refugees by the Chinese government.

Most of these refugees have fled to China to escape starvation and persecution in their homeland.

In violation of international law, China is seizing these refugees and forcefully sending them back to North Korea where they face torture, prison or labor camps, and sometimes even execution for having fled their homeland.

Please join the
Fax and Pray Campaign to save these North Korean refugees!

By faxing a letter to the Chinese Ambassador, you’ll be making your voice heard on behalf of the thousands of refugees currently hiding in China!

Please join us during the week of June 19-25 to
fax individual letters to China’s Ambassador to the USA, urging China to stop its policy of repatriating North Korean refugees whom they know will be maltreated.

Thank you for your prayers and support! "

Open Doors: Laos, China (North Korea)


Communist authorities in Laos arrested 10 North Korean refugees and two South Korean activists in late May as they attempted to reach safety in neighboring Thailand, a South Korean newspaper reported on June 9. Lao police arrested the first group, consisting of eight refugees and one activist, on May 31. A second group of two refugees and their activist guide was arrested at around the same time. According to Compass Direct, after almost two weeks of tense negotiations with political officials, the refugees were released into the hands of South Korean embassy staff on Saturday, June 10. When all efforts had failed, a representative of Helping Hands Korea paid a ransom of $500 per person for eight of the refugees; another activist ransomed the other two. The two South Korean activists were identified as Kim Hee-tae and Shin Sang Hwa, both believed to be Christians. The religious background of the 10 North Korean defectors was unknown at press time.
Read More>>

Please pray:

- The Lord will heal and comfort the refugees, and draw the unbelieving to Himself.

- For the “activists” who risk their own lives and freedom to help the desperate North Korean people.

- That the Lord will move upon the hearts of government officials in these surrounding countries, so they will not harass these refugees, but let them pass through their territories without difficulty.


Rising Tide of Refugees

Leaving North Korea without official permission is a serious crime. Security guards closely question all refugees who are forcibly returned; many are tortured and/or imprisoned. Those who return with a Bible or admit having contact with Christians in China face certain torture and imprisonment, and, in some extreme cases, execution.Despite these risks, hundreds of North Koreans continue to cross the border into China, seeking relief from the brutalities of the regime. Thousands of North Korean refugees are living in China. Without legal citizenship, however, they are constantly at risk of being arrested and sent back home. The Chinese government recently increased the “bounty” payable for turning in a North Korean refugee from 1,000 yuan (US$125) to 3,000 yuan (US$374). According to a Compass source, China forcibly repatriates an average of 500 North Koreans every month, sometimes as many as 200 per week. “The Chinese are extremely serious about ferreting out North Koreans,” he said.

Please pray:

- That these Chinese policies toward North Korean refugees will be abandoned. Ask the Lord to bring pressure upon law makers in China to stop these cruel practices.

- That God will give them grace to see that these actions are dishonorable, and shameful to the people of China.

- Pray for the courage, faith, and powerful witness of these saints in North Korea and China as they bring the light of Christ into the darkness.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Turkmenistan: Baptist deported due to worship


A Baptist who is a Russian citizen, Aleksandr Frolov, was deported from Turkmenistan on 10 June because of his religious activity, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Local Baptists told Forum 18 that Frolov's latest problems began after he visited Russia. After he returned, three officials came to his home and confiscated his Residence Permit. The officials gave their reasons as his attempt to import Christian literature, failure to notify the Migration Service of his exit from the country, and the holding of worship services in his home. Frolov separates him from his wife, a Turkmen citizen, their three year old son, and five month old daughter at their family home. Local Baptists have called for prayers and appeals for Frolov to be allowed back to his home and his family, for local Baptists to be allowed to hold worship services freely, for an end to restrictions on receiving Christian literature and for believers to be able to travel freely to visit other congregations."

These believers need your prayers!

Open Doors USA: "These Believers Need Your Prayers!

Prayer Support Vital for Believers in the Three Countries Where Christians Suffer the Most

After extensive research, careful documentation, and review of testimonies from persecuted believers around the world, Open Doors has issued the 2006 edition of our World Watch List. This annual report ranks the 50 nations where Christians suffer the most, based on the intensity of persecution that believers face for actively following Christ.

An estimated 200 million Christians worldwide may be subject to interrogation, arrest, and even death for their faith in Christ. We call upon all believers to pray for these brothers and sisters, especially in the following three countries where persecution is the most intense.

1. North Korea - hundreds of Christians killed in 2005

For the fourth year in a row, North Korea holds the ignoble distinction of being the world's worst violator of religious rights. As the most repressive nation on earth, the regime is suspected of detaining more political and religious prisoners than any other country. Human rights violations are commonplace.
The brutal Stalinist regime considers Christianity the greatest threat to its power. Consequently, Christians are specially targeted for arrest - often along with three generations of the believer's family in an effort to eliminate the faith's influence.

Tens of thousands of Christians are currently suffering in North Korean prison camps where they face cruel abuses and starvation-level food rations. Open Doors also estimates that hundreds of Christians were killed in 2005 - sometimes just for carrying a Bible.

Please pray for religious freedom for our Christian brothers and sisters in North Korea. Ask God to give them the strength they need to stand strong in the midst of intense suffering. Pray also that God’s Church will continue to grow in North Korea.

2. Saudi Arabia—largest crackdown on Christians in a decade

Also for the fourth straight year, Saudi Arabia holds the second spot on the World Watch List. Officially, there is no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. By law, citizens are only allowed to adhere to one religion: Islam.

The public practice of non-Muslim religions is strictly prohibited, and although non-Muslims have the right to worship in private, more than 70 Christians were arrested during worship in private homes in 2005. This is Saudi Arabia’s largest crackdown on Christians in a decade.

In addition, apostasy (conversion to another religion) is punishable by death. Christians who have converted from Islam live in constant fear for their lives. They worship in secret and are usually isolated from other believers.

Please pray for safety, courage, and strength for believers living out their faith in this oppressive country. Pray also that God’s Word would continue to go forth in Saudi Arabia and that many would come to faith in Christ.

3. Iran—a new wave of persecution follows presidential election

Islam is also the official religion in Iran, the country holding the number three spot on the World Watch List this year. In June 2005, the election of Muslim hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president prompted a new wave of persecution against Christians.

Presumably as part of the new president’s commitment to make Iran adhere even more rigidly to Islamic law, local officials throughout the nation have allegedly been ordered to crack down on all Christian cell groups. Increasingly, Christians have been harassed, beaten, and imprisoned. In November a house church pastor was killed, and it is feared that many more Christians will be murdered for their faith in the days ahead.

Former-Muslim converts face particular hardship as the government is intent on making them return to Islam. A new law makes it illegal to offer any assistance to believers of Muslim origin, a policy that threatens discipleship and evangelism efforts.

Please pray for Christians in Iran, particularly Muslim-background believers who worship in fear and secrecy. Pray that false doctrines will not arise in their isolated cell groups. Pray also that evangelism and discipleship efforts will go forth despite opposition.

Thank you for remembering all of these persecuted believers in your prayers. Your prayers and gifts are a vital part of encouraging and equipping our brothers and sisters in Christ, allowing them to stand strong in the midst of unimaginable hardship and persecution."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Open Doors: India, Iran (new stories - prayer needed!)

"India: * With the encouragement of a local chief and the apparent backing of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, villagers in the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh gang-raped two Christian women after the husband of one of the women refused to deny Christ. When Gokharya Barela refused, the village head told villagers that they were free to rape any Christian woman they found. That evening, Barela's wife and another Christian woman were raped; both women attend prayer meetings of the Indian Evangelical Team (IET). Read More>>

Please pray:

-For these women and their families - that God will comfort them and heal their wounded hearts in the wake of this injustice and that the Holy Spirit would move them to forgive their persecutors in a way that would reveal God's unending love.

-That God will strengthen, empower and bless the Church in Madhya Pradesh in the midst of this heavy persecution, and that every one of their sufferings would be used to draw His people to Himself.

-For the grace of God to fall upon the nation of India.

Iran: * A Christian convert jailed six weeks ago in northern Iran was released last night and reunited with his family. A former Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager, Ali Kaboli, 51, hosted house church meetings in his home and traveled in the Caspian Sea region as an itinerant evangelist. Kaboli was arrested without explanation on May 2 at his carpenter's workshop in Gorgan. Under Iran's strict apostasy laws, Kaboli's conversion 35 years ago still qualifies him to receive the death penalty. Sources told Compass that a hefty bail had been subsequently posted for Kaboli's release.
Read More>>

Praise God for Ali’s testimony and that he is now home with his family!

Please pray:

-That Iranian authorities will no longer pursue the apostasy charges against Ali Kaboli.

-For the ministry of Ali Kaboli—that God will continue to use this man in mighty ways to show Himself to the people of Iran and the rest of the world.

-For the families of men and women like Ali—that God will comfort and provide for the loved ones of His faithful servants.

-That this case and others like it will deeply affect the Iranian officials to the point of recognition that Christ is Lord.