Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Open Doors: Indonesia - Schoolteachers' Appeal Denied (Action Requested)

"Indonesia: * On February 7, the Supreme Court in Jakarta turned down the second and last appeal for three schoolteachers convicted of trying to convert Muslim children to Christianity. Dr. Rebekka Zakaria (47), Ratna Bangun (40), and Eti Pangesti (43) have 27 months remaining of their three-year prison term handed down on September 1, 2005. "'They're strong women, but they're having a hard time digesting the decision of the Supreme Court right now. However, I'm certain that they will eventually regain strength from the Lord,' Dr. Rebekka's daughter reported.'"

Read More>>

Please Act:

Write to Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun and let them know that you are praying for them.

Letter-Writing Guidelines:

- Do not mention Open Doors
- Greeting cards, artwork by children, and postcards are best
- Print clearly (you can write in English)
- Be encouraging, keep your message brief, include 1-2 Bible verses
- Don't say anything negative about the government or Muslims
- Provide your name & country, but not your full address
- Don't send money directly to these women

Send Letters to:

Open Doors USA
P.O. Box 27001
Santa Ana, CA 92799"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

If Abdul Rahman is released, he needs our prayers

CNN Alerts sent me an e-mail saying that Abdul Rahman, the Afghani convert from Islam to Christianity, may have been released. If this is so, he needs our prayers now more than ever.

Shari'a law (Islamic religious law, applied to everyday life) states that a sane male convert from Islam should be killed. Mullahs in Afghanistan have stated that if Rahman was released, they would stir up the people to "tear him into pieces". Our brother in Christ is in more danger than ever.

Barnabas Fund's "Right to Justice" campaign urges us to write our elected officials to pressure Islamic governments to protect their Christian minority citizens. Rahman is far from the only person in this situation. I personally am horrified at how little has been said on his behalf by "organized Christianity". The Pope spoke out for him, but many Western Christian organizations have been silent publicly. My opinion is that this is a betrayal of Christians under fire -- but sadly, I'm not surprised. I know first-hand how hard it is to get Christians to be 'fired up' or to take action on behalf of the Persecuted Church.

In an e-mail I received from Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, president of the Barnabas Fund, it said:

"Abdul Rahman is willing to die for Christ and for his fellow Christians. Can we do anything less than stand with him? There are times when God calls us to make a choice - to stand for what is right, for His Kingdom and for His people. If the Church does not back up this our brother in his courageous stance, she will come close to denying Christ. Abdul Rahman said, 'IF I MUST DIE, I WILL DIE. SOMEBODY, A LONG TIME AGO, DID IT FOR ALL OF US.'"

I wonder how many of us would say the same? Please remember Abdul Rahman in your prayers, but also remember those in China, Eritrea, India, Vietnam and many other countries who haven't received press exposure, but must also endure in chains.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Algeria: Severe new penalties for 'Proselytising'

"Subj: Algeria: severe new penalties for 'proselytising'
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.


A presidential order that establishes new conditions for the exercise of non-Muslim religious practice was passed in the Algerian Ummah council (Senate) on Monday 13 March, and in the Algerian National Assembly (Parliament) on 15 March. As a presidential order, the text would not have even been open to debate.

An article entitled 'New sanctions concerning the illegal exercise of religious worship - Evangelicals under high surveillance', was published on 14 March in the French language Algerian newspaper 'Actualite'.

In this article, writer Hamid Saidani laments, 'The form chosen for the promulgation of this law closes the door to any debate on this subject which is extremely sensitive because it touches on a principle established by the fundamental law of the land, which is the freedom of worship and of conscience. The content of this legislative framework would certainly have been greatly benefited if the discussion had been allowed.'

Saidani reports that the order, classified as No 06-03 and dated 28 February 2006, puts forward a number of arguments which call for the strengthening of the law regarding religious activities that could be considered as "missions of proselytising". According to Saidani the penal aspects of the text are, between a 2 and 5 year prison term and a fine of 50 to 100 million centimes (this amounts to approx. US$7,000 to US$14,000 (1 Algerian dinar = 100 centimes)) for anyone who "incites, constrains or uses seductive means seeking to convert a Muslim to another religion (...), or who produces, stores or distributes printed documents or audio-visual formats or any other format or means which seeks to shake the faith of a Muslim."

Saidani concludes: "It is certain that this legislation seeks to block proselytizing missions and missionaries led notably by American evangelical churches in certain regions of the country, however it remains vital that the texts be clear and explicit, and this so that the way will not be opened for the violation of individual and collective liberties established by the laws of the Republic which would be swallowed up by a revival of the demons of inquisition."

Arabic News reports that the new law "is an attempt to withstand the Christianizing campaign which had witnessed a notable activity recently especially in al-Qabayel area east of the country."

Arabic News also adds, "The law also bans practicing any religion 'except Islam' 'outside buildings allocated for that, and links specialized buildings aimed at practice of religion by a prior licensing.'"

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mark your calendar (Open Doors: North Korea)

Pray for North Korea

"Open Doors is asking you to pray on behalf of persecuted Christians in North Korea during North Korea Freedom Week April 24-30.
We are partnering with the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC) to increase awareness of the inhumane conditions in that communist country and raise up prayers on behalf of those being abused and disenfranchised.

Thousands of Christians are currently suffering in North Korean prison camps.

The late Kim Il Sung and his son, the current leader Kim Jong Il, have compelled the people to exalt and revere them as gods.

Two to three million North Koreans have died of starvation due to the man-made disaster created by Kim Jong-Il and his communist policies.

"Open Doors, USA is focusing on raising prayers across the United States for those suffering for their faith. Get involved and get your church or group involved. Those with no rights or freedom are counting on us," says Dr. Carl Moeller, President of Open Doors, USA.

As a member of the NKFC, Open Doors USA has created prayer materials and bulletin inserts for you to use during the North Korea Freedom Week.

Print and share specific prayer information for each day of the week. (
click here)

Download church bulletin or small group handouts on specific topics. (
click here)

Find information on events for that week including prayer vigils in Washington DC and Los Angeles. (
click here)

Please pray fervently for those suffering in North Korea.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. --
James 5:16 "

Thursday, March 23, 2006

From WEA RLP: In India, an arrest and trial not so publicized (digest version)

"Elizabeth Kendal, WEA RLP:


Rajasthan, northwest India, is a BJP-ruled state (Hindu nationalist) with anti-conversion laws. Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) runs a Bible institute, 13 orphanages, 65 schools, a hospital along with leprosy and HIV centres, churches, a bookshop and a printing press in Rajasthan. EMI ministries have been the focus of Hindu militant attacks. Most serious is the militant siege on the Emmanuel Hope Home in Kota. Sympathetic locals are risking their lives to deliver food to the 2500 orphaned and abandoned children who live there. The state has frozen all EMI's bank accounts and declared it intends to seize all EMI's properties. Hindu militants have placed bounties on the heads of EMI founder, Archbishop MA Thomas (71) and his son, EMI president, the Rev Dr Samuel Thomas. Other Christian leaders associated with EMI have been harassed by police. This persecution also affects EMI's other ministry, Hopegivers International, which provides humanitarian and educational services to more than 20,000 children in India and Africa.

Hindu extremists have accused the Thomases and EMI of distributing a controversial book which they allege denigrates their religion and deities. The official complaint was registered on 14 February under Sections 153(a) and 295(a) of the India Penal Code. Compass Direct explains that Section 153(a) deals with hurting religious sentiments, whilst Section 295(a) is for deliberately outraging religious feelings or insulting the religious beliefs of a community. Moreover according to a Supreme Court ruling truth is not a defence under Section 153(a). Both offences are punishable with up to three years imprisonment. EMI is not a major distributor of the offensive book. However, Hindu nationalists found a few copies for sale in the EMI centre in Kota. The book, 'Haqeeqat' by attorney MJ Matthew rebutts a highly offensive and controversial RSS (Hindu nationalist paramilitary) text. On 16 March plain-clothed police arrested Samuel Thomas at gun-point and took him to Kota jail. There is also a non-bailable warrant out for the arrest of Archbishop Thomas who is in hiding. This is a blatant and aggressive politically motivated attack on an amazing and much needed Christian ministry. The response of the central government is absolutely critical.


* Rev Dr Samuel Thomas in jail in Kota, Rajasthan, India, that God will protect his body, mind and spirit, draw him closer to Him in prayer, increase his faith, and fill him with peace, courage and hope from the Holy Spirit.

* God to give insight and courage to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and India's PM Manmohan Singh, that they will each be able to see through all devious plots, discern what is right, and make a decisive, strong and courageous stand for justice and religious liberty.

* God to make all things work together for good for Samuel Thomas (Romans 8:28), that the testimonies of this man would come from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:19) and be used by God for great effect in the hearts of individuals and for the future of his nation (Isaiah 55:9-11; Philippians 1:12-14).

'Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine...' (Ephesians 3:20)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Open Doors: India, Turkey

"For Prayer:

India:* The murder of Pastor Eusebio Ferrao in Goa state early Saturday morning (March 18) has sent shockwaves through the Christian communities of India. Police have ruled out theft as a motive for his murder since nothing was missing from the church premises. While police are baffled, local Christians believe Pastor Ferrao was targeted because of his recently published comments on religious riots in the south of Goa.

Read More>>

For Praise:

India:* After being held captive for two months by the Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) in Manipur state, the Rev. Tongkhojang Lunkim was released this past Saturday. The Rev. Stephen Bryant, senior international editor and publisher of the Upper Room devotional, said Rev. Lunkim's kidnapping was clearly linked to his Christian work. 'Lunkim has lived with threats and danger ever since Christ called him', Bryant told the United Methodist News service. Before handing him over, the KLA forced Lunkim to stop his alleged 'anti-KLA activities,' and to apologize for his involvement. The Rev. M. Haokhothong, Lunkim's son-in-law, told Compass Direct that he was grateful for those who have prayed for his release.

Read More>>

For Prayer:

Turkey:* A Turkish Muslim shouting insults against Christianity pulled a long butcher knife on two pastors and a group of teenagers on the evening of Saturday, March 11, at a church in Mersin, threatening them and their families. In a 30-minute standoff in the town on the southern coast of Turkey, Erdal Gurel entered the church while 25 of the church's young people were rehearsing for an Easter passion play. The 19-year-old Gurel was apprehended by police after threatening Pastor Hanri Leylek with a knife, cursing Christianity, and chasing the youths.

Read More>>

For Praise:

Turkey:* In a country where the media often portrays the tiny Protestant community exceedingly negatively, it is rare for news organizations to call attention to the religious persecution of these Christians. Normally, Turkish nationalists threatening to hang local Protestants for operating a Christian literature stall at a book fair wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. However, the media have publicized the threats made by these Muslims, and justly brought attention to the persecution of this Christian minority.

Read More>>

Please Pray For:

- Open Doors projects in both India and Turkey.

- The safety of Open Doors staff in India and Turkey, and that there are many fruits from all their efforts.

- The non-Christians in India and Turkey, that they are reached with the Gospel; pray for our staff and other Christians as they minister and witness to them.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

UZBEKISTAN: Persecution Continues

"By Igor Rotar,
Forum 18 News Service

Persecution of Protestants continues throughout Uzbekistan, Forum 18 News Service has found. Amongst recent incidents indicated to Forum 18 are the interrogation of a group of 40 Protestants for 18 days, the unlawful imposition of a fine for 'security' on one woman, Protestants in a cafe being ordered by police to state that they were in an unauthorised religious meeting, and nine Pentecostals at a social gathering having permitted religious literature - including copies of the New Testament - confiscated. Fines were also imposed. Iskander Najafov, a Christian lawyer, commented that 'I believe it is quite absurd to use the phrase 'unlawful religious activity' of the Syr-Darya Protestants,' he told Forum 18. 'No-one can prevent people from visiting each other and talking about religious issues!' The head of the Criminal and Administrative Court for Syr-Darya, Akbar Nazimov, was unable to explain to Forum 18 why permitted religious literature was confiscated."

Read more

Monday, March 20, 2006

Indonesia - Religious Liberty Crumbling (Digest version)

"From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.

- appeal to Constitutional Court denied
- Joint Ministerial Decree (SKB) No 1, 1969, reviewed.

A joint ministerial decree issued in Indonesia in 1969 established guidelines for religious groups wanting to build places of worship. Religious groups had to apply for a permit, but a local council could only grant a permit if locals living in the immediate vicinity of the proposed church, mosque or temple gave their consent. In practice, this made it difficult for non-Muslims to receive a permit to construct a place of worship, particularly in strongly Muslim districts. This in turn created a burgeoning house-fellowship movement, whereby unregistered fellowships meet for prayer and worship in homes, offices or shops.

The growth of radical, fundamentalist, political and militant Islam in Indonesia through the 1990s and especially since October 2001 has given rise to a campaign of intolerance against apostasy and church proliferation. Apostasy and Christian expansion were key issues at the annual national meeting of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI: Indonesia's most senior body of Islamic clerics), in Jakarta in July 2005. Clerics complained that Christianity was making "worrying inroads" and that Christian preachers were converting Muslims at "an alarming rate", while the "phenomenon" of church construction was "most disturbing". The MUI subsequently issued an 11-point fatwa that, among other things, describes liberal interpretations of Islam, secularism and pluralism as being against Islam.

The fatwas and the MUI's relationship with the Anti-Apostasy Movement Alliance (AGAP) led to a surge in Islamic fundamentalist and militant activity against Christian ministries and churches. In September 2005 three Christian women, Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun, were imprisoned in West Java after being found guilty of "Christianisation" of Muslim children (introducing Christianity to Muslim children) For background see: WEA RLC "Indonesia: Removing enticements to apostasy" 2 Sept 2005 <>. Islamist clerics decried the women's Sunday School ministry as "incitement to apostasy". Meanwhile, dozens of fellowships and churches have been forced to close under threat of violence.


According to AKI, Theophilus Bela, the secretary-general of the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (ICRP), urged the government to revoke the joint ministerial decree because, he said, it was responsible for attacks against churches. ''The joint ministerial decree is against the Pancasila state ideology and 1945 Constitution, as well as human rights. It isn't just but instead has the potential to tear apart religious harmony and limit people from worshiping,' he said.'

But the Religious Affairs Minister and the Home Affairs Minister, have, like the Constitutional Court judges, failed to uphold the principle that religious liberty (as defined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is a fundamental human right. Rather, Indonesian policy appears to be that Islam will be protected, Islamists will be appeased, and the right to worship will be reduced to a concession subject to the whim of locals who are increasingly under the intimidating influence of intolerant, pro-Sharia Islamist preachers and militants."

Elizabeth Kendal


1) Christian minority wary of rules to set up places of worship.Jakarta, 20 Feb 2006.
(AKI/Jakarta Post)

2) Changing rules for building churches (Overview) 8 March 2006

Afghani convert faces death penalty

"From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.


On Monday 26 January 2004 Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai signed the new Afghanistan Constitution into law. While many rejoiced and hailed the document as a great leap forward, most religious liberty monitors and advocates despaired.

'Article Two
Ch. 1, Art. 2
The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam. Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.

Article Three
Ch. 1, Art. 3
In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.'

( OR (English translations vary slightly.))

In effect, the requirement of Article Three abrogates any perceived suggestion of religious liberty in Article Two.

A groundbreaking case is about to test Afghanistan's Constitution and the constitution of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai. An Afghan Christian is presently on trial in Kabul charged with rejecting Islam. He faces the death penalty if he refuses to renounce his Christian faith and return to Islam.

There have been vigilante executions of apostates in Afghanistan in recent years. Between June and September 2004 five Afghan believers, including Mullah Assad Ullah, were stabbed or beaten to death in summary executions by Taliban adherents who accused them of abandoning Islam and then "spreading Christianity" in their communities (Compass Direct 10 Sept 2004). Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi told newsgroup Reuters, "A group of Taliban dragged out Mullah Assad Ullah and slit his throat with a knife because he was propagating Christianity."

But the trial of Abdul Rahman is the first trial of its kind since the fall of the Taliban, and will be a test case for Afghanistan and for President Karzai. Fear and Islamic zeal are running high in Afghanistan in the wake of resurgent Taliban terror, the Guantanamo Bay Qur'an desecration controversy (or myth) of May 2005, and the recent Cartoon Intifada violence of February 2006. President Karzai will be under immense internal pressure to prove his Islamic credentials and uphold "the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam", while he should also be under immense external pressure from his donors and allies to defend Abdul Rahman's fundamental human right to religious freedom.


Daniel Cooney, writing for the Associated Press (AP), explains that the defendant, "41-year-old Abdul Rahman, was arrested last month after his family accused him of becoming a Christian".

The trigger for the case appears to be a custody dispute.

Judge Ansarullah Mawlavazada told AP that during a one-day hearing last Thursday 16 March, Abdul Rahman confessed to converting from Islam to Christianity some 16 years ago while he was working as a medical Aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Associated Press reports that after four years in Pakistan, Rahman moved to Germany, where he lived for nine years. Rahman's father told AP that Rahman returned to Afghanistan in 2002 and tried to gain custody of his two daughters, now aged 13 and 14, who had been living with their grandparents their whole lives. AP reports, "A custody battle ensued and the matter was taken to the police. During questioning, it emerged that Rahman was a Christian and was carrying a Bible. He was immediately arrested and charged."

Judge Mawlavazada says Abdul Rahman could face the death penalty if he refuses to revert to Islam as Sharia law proposes capital punishment for any Muslim who converts to another religion. As Afghanistan's constitution states: "No law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam."

Daily Times of Pakistan reports (Monday 20 March), "Afghan police have detained a man for converting from Islam to Christianity, a judge said on Sunday, adding the man could face the death penalty if he refused to become a Muslim again.

"Islamic Sharia law proposes the death sentence for Muslims who abandon the religion. Afghanistan's new constitution says 'no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam'.

"Supreme Court judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada said the suspect, Abdur Rahman, was arrested after members of his family informed police of his conversion."

He would be charged in coming days with abandoning Islam, Mawlavizada said. 'The prosecutor says he should be executed on the basis of the constitution,' Mawlavizada said, who added that Rahman could come back to Islam. 'If he does not ... he will be punished,' he said."

Associated Press spoke to Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission who also notes that Afghanistan's constitution is based on Sharia law which is interpreted by many Muslims as mandating death for apostates.

Judge Mawlavizada told AP he would rule on the case within two months. AP reports that all attempts to interview Abdul Rahman in detention were barred.

AP reports, "The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said he had offered to drop the charges if Rahman converted back to Islam, but he refused. 'He would have been forgiven if he changed back. But he said he was a Christian and would always remain one,' Wasi told AP. 'We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty.'"


Benjamin Sand reports for Voice of America, "The court has ordered a delay in the proceedings to give Rahman time to hire an attorney. Under Afghan law, once a verdict is given, the case can be appealed twice to higher courts."

This is the first case in which the defendant has admitted to converting and is refusing to back down, even while facing the death penalty."

If convicted, the case could ultimately force President Hamid Karzai's direct intervention."

The president would have to sign the papers authorizing Rahman's execution, a move that could jeopardize Mr. Karzai's standing with human rights groups and Western governments."

So far, President Karzai has not commented on the case.

But political analysts here in Kabul say he will be under significant pressure from the country's hard-line religious groups to make an example of Rahman."

Elizabeth Kendal


1) Afghan Christian Could Get Death SentenceDaniel Cooney. KABUL, Afghanistan, 19 March 2006 (AP),,-5697060,00.html

2) Christian convert faces execution in AfghanistanReuters 19 March 2006

3) Afghans detain man suspected of abandoning Islam.Daily Times. 20 March 2006

4) Afghan Man Faces Execution After Converting to ChristianityBy Benjamin Sand. Kabul.18 March 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Open Doors: India, China

"India: * Two recent accounts have been reported of targeted attacks on Christian women by Hindu villagers in the eastern state of West Bengal. In the first incident, six young men forced their way into the home of Kanai Kamelia, manhandling and trying to sexually assault his wife, Renuka Kamelia. The young men reviled the Kamelia family for attending a Christian prayer meeting. Renuka Kamelia, who bled profusely after the assault, later went to the Bhupathinagar police station, where police were said to have reluctantly registered her complaint. In the February 16th attack, 13 local residents attacked the wife of influential Christian leader Biman Bandhu Patra. Leading the attack was Patra's brother, who had long been upset about his decision to become a Christian. Read More>>

Please Pray:

- For the protection, healing and safety of these women and their families.

- That their attackers would see the love of Christ through the testimony of these faithful women.

- For the courage, perseverance and blessing of the persecuted Church in India, and for their ability to incessantly love and undergo persecution on behalf of Christ.

- That Jesus Christ would be praised within this nation.

Testimony from the Field

China: (from a pastor in North-central China) "On behalf of the local church leaders -- I would like to say thank you. Nevertheless, the needs in our county are great. We want to have the victory. Persecuted churches in our country need your prayers. I pray that whoever reads this letter will pray for our church groups here, and pray, too, that I shall serve Him with all my heart and be a faithful servant. I also pray that God will protect you with love and serve Him with faith.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

Indonesia: Christians alarmed at closing of churches by state

It's the usual fuss about registration, with the added proviso that already established churches are also being shut down or not permitted to build.

More subject for prayer.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

VOM: India - Pastor Killed in Apparent Cover-Up

"After preaching God’s Word at a New Years service at Beradakia Church in his native town of Baliguda, Kandhamala district in India, 35-year-old Pastor Jimendra Nayak (Mantu) [picture of Nayak and his family here] never made it home to the village of Barakhema. At 8:00 p.m. on January 1, 2006, Nayak took an auto rickshaw after service to return to his home in Puri district, where he has lived for two years and served as pastor of Indian Church Assembly. He didn’t leave the vehicle alive.

Police insist that he died in a mysterious “accident,” but the officer in charge and the postmortem doctor were not available for comments. VOM contacts investigating the pastor’s death reveal that the pastor’s accidental death was highly unlikely.

Before Pastor Nayak’s body was removed from the alleged accident scene without proper procedures and dumped at Baliguda Hospital, his body was found inside the cabin of the rickshaw with his head badly smashed. Khanu, who is linked with Hindu radicals and is the owner/driver of the rickshaw with vehicle number OR_07L_2054, sustained no injuries, while no major damage was done to the glass of his transport. Other rickshaw drivers in Baliguda collected accounts of Khanu spending large amounts of money on friends and alcohol around the time of the incident.

It is reported that when Nayak’s widow, Sashrekh Pradhan, and relatives initially attempted to file a complaint looking into the suspected murder, but the police officer to which it was submitted rejected it. The person assisting the widow as she prepared a petition for an investigation into the death of her husband was harshly rebuked by the presiding officer. No inquiry about the cause of Nayak’s death was made before the complaint, and no action was taken once it was filed. For six weeks following the pastor’s death, relatives have unsuccessfully tried numerous times to attain a postmortem report.

All of the circumstantial evidence, along with the apathy demonstrated by the police and hospital, clearly point to the premeditated murder of Pastor Nayak. The police’s stance that the incident was an accident is strongly based on “evidence” provided by Binod Pattnaik, who was a co-passenger in the rickshaw and is a reported sympathizer of Hindu extremists. When VOM sources interviewed bystanders who were around the bus stop where Nayak found his ride, they noted unfamiliar people discretely asking questions about the pastor’s whereabouts, the time of his prayer service, etc.

Furthermore, Pastor Nayak’s widow and relatives divulged that radical Hindus targeted him for some time, approaching him on numerous occasions because of his witness to Hindus. He was threatened and restrained from carrying out his missionary work in the community. But Nayak’s love for Christ saw him through all of the persecution, just as it is currently doing for his widow and family. His mourning wife, Sashrekh Pradhan, one-year old son, Digal, 14-year-old sister, eight-year-old handicapped brother and elderly parents are all living testimonies of his faithful service for the Kingdom. They are pressing forward in their quest to fulfill Jesus’ great commission on earth."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

VOM: China - Praise

If you ever wondered if it does any good to complain to foreign governments, read the last part of this item from VOM's prayer update.

(China Aid Association)

Thirty-six house-church leaders, school students and the students' teachers were taken into custody in a raid on Wednesday, March 1st. They were released the evening of that same day, shortly after CAA called for their release. However, the 10,000 copies of the unlawfully confiscated Christian literature were not returned. Instead, they were given to a government committee, which will rule whether or not they are illegal literature. The released students continued their classes the next day. CAA also learned that a top provincial Public Security Bureau (PSB) official who directs the crackdown campaign decided to grant the release after increased international pressure.

Give thanks to God that these innocent believers are free. Give praise to the Lord for the work of China Aid Association in responding quickly to the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters. Pray God will use the literature to bring the Chinese officials out of the desert land of unbelief into His glorious Kingdom. "

WEA RLP: Pray for Burma


The ruling military junta in Burma ruthlessly crushes all dissent and is on the offensive against ethnic minority insurgencies. Many of these pro-democracy minorities have large Christian communities. The Karen people - nearly 20 per cent of Burma's population - are 40 per cent Christian and like others are still fighting for self-determination. Whilst the junta's interest is power, not ideology, it arms Buddhist militias to attack the Christians amongst the restive ethnic groups - a government-sponsored religious war within the larger civil war. This army offensive has created over a million internally displaced people, many of whom are constantly on the move through the dense jungles of eastern Burma. Many of those suffering and dying are Christians.

Please pray for peace with justice in Burma, and for wisdom, grace, strength and provision for Burma's suffering Church. See also <>"

Open Doors: Praise Items

He always answers prayer. Let's praise Him for His Mercy and Protection for those who are in danger and under persecution.

"Praise Reports

Vietnam:* Pham Ngoc Thach, a Vietnamese evangelist imprisoned for "resisting an officer doing his duty", was released today after completing a two-year sentence at a prison in Xuan Loc, Dong Nai province. Thach and the Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang were arrested in March 2004, after an attempt to report two undercover police agents who were staking out Quang's house. For two years, Thach was subjected to heavy labor and abuse, but he has recently been set free.
Read More>>

Peru: * After serving 13 years for terrorist crimes he didn't commit, Walter Cubas was freed from Lima's maximum security Castro prison on February 1 as a parolee. Ministering to fellow evangelicals while in prison, Peruvian officials had accused Cubas of being a Shining Path subversive. However, during his imprisonment, some 1,000 cards and letters kept his hopes alive that the worldwide body of Christ hadn't forgotten him. Read More>>

Pakistan:* According to Compass Direct, the two Muslim seminarians responsible for the murder of a Pakistani Christian in Pakistan's Punjab province were finally brought to justice 22 months after Javed's death. Before a courtroom packed with Islamic madrassa (a school for teaching Islamic theology and religious law) students and police, Judge Javed Iqbal Warraich sentenced Maulvi Ghulam Rasool and Mohammed Tayyab to 25 years in prison for their part in torturing and killing Catholic university student Javed Anjum. Read More>>

Testimonies from the Field

Nigeria: (From a widow who lost her husband in the 2004 riots.)

"In addition to the help you have rendered to us, I want to assure you that I appreciate your prayers for us. May the good Lord continue to use you to encourage many others as you have done for my family. The entire Alheri Baptist Church Pajat wishes to express gratitude to God for revealing to you the needs of widows and also giving you the spirit of having concern for their physical and spiritual needs. May God prosper all of you who are undertaking our needs in Jesus’ name."

India: (Pastor Basant Giri is serving the Lord in the area where the Australian missionary, Graham Staines, was killed by fundamentalists. It is a difficult area for evangelism and ministry work.)

“My faith has been strengthened many fold. God knows how much we were in need of encouragement… God’s word is powerful and has removed all doubt. In such times of persecution, all by myself in the field, the thought sometimes comes to my mind that I am alone. But my belief has been strengthened to know that I am never alone. God is in control; He truly is!”

India: (Pastor Rai Singh Bhinde)

“We rejoice even though we are persecuted”; this is what I tell my congregation, “For the Lord is with us, and will carry us through these times of trouble.” In moments of trial, we may tend to lose hope, but God is always gracious. We are blessed that people so far away are praying for our safety and interceding for our lives’ sake.”

Indonesia: (GKKD Head of Synod Pastor Eduwar Moinyong said the following during the court hearing when the verdict for the three Christian ladies was pronounced:)

“I wish to express my appreciation for Open Doors’ commitment and support to my members and church workers who are now under fire. Your prayers are heartfelt; they carry us each day.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Compass Direct: Cuba (prayer needed)

Former denominational president apparently accused of aiding illegal emigrants.

March 2 (Compass) - Last week Cuban authorities jailed an evangelical pastor who served as national president of his denomination until last year, apparently on charges of aiding emigrants who sought to leave the country illegally.
Relatives of the Rev. Carlos Lamelas, however, said the allegations against him are groundless. Some sources inside the island nation believe police targeted Lamelas for harassment because he has challenged the Castro regime on religious rights issues.

On the morning of February 20, five police officers entered the Lamelas home in Havana and searched it thoroughly before arresting Lamelas. They also confiscated his computer, personal documents and several pieces of office equipment.
Initially, Uramis Lamelas did not know the whereabouts of her husband. Later in the week, she learned where he was being held and requested an interview with him.

One week passed before authorities granted her a 10-minute visit on Monday (February 27). Uramis Lamelas said her husband appeared 'exhausted and depressed,' and that he had been isolated from other inmates during his confinement.
Although the couple could not speak openly because police officers stood close by during the interview, Lamelas told his wife that officials are evidently seeking to incriminate him for aiding emigrants seeking to flee Cuba without government permission.

At press time, Cuban authorities had not advised Lamelas or his family of the charges against him.

Nevertheless, those who know the Lamelas family said any allegations of aiding emigrants are totally unfounded.

"They accuse him of getting people out of the country illegally, which is a big lie, because to do this costs a lot of money,” said one close family member. “If he had that kind of money, he wouldn’t be living with hunger like he is now.”

Sources in Havana said that the apparent allegations against Lamelas are part of a harassment campaign aimed at silencing a dynamic religious leader.

An ordained minister of the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) for more than a decade, Lamelas planted several house churches while pastoring a local congregation on the Isle of Youth. In 2004, while serving as president of the denomination’s General Assembly of ministers, Lamelas moved his family to Havana.

His troubles began soon after the move, due to Lamelas’s resistance to what he considered inappropriate government interference in church affairs. At one point, he refused to sign what amounted to a loyalty pledge to the Castro regime and challenged as unconstitutional certain controls over church activities.

In January of 2005, just two months after the Church of God annual convention overwhelmingly endorsed Lamelas for a second term as president, the national board of directors voted to oust him from the position and expel him from the church.
Dozens of fellow ministers who questioned the move and expressed support for Lamelas were also expelled, without appeal.

Cuba’s director of Religious Affairs issued a ruling almost immediately that endorsed the disciplinary action against Lamelas, a move that aroused suspicions of government complicity in the affair.

Deprived of income and under constant surveillance, Lamelas and his family have depended on the kindness of friends to survive for the past year. During that time, police twice detained Carlos for questioning before his arrest last week.

Before following his call to the ministry, Lamelas worked as a professional scuba diver. He and his wife are the parents of two daughters, Estefanía, 12, and Daniela, 5.

A long-time friend who spoke to Uramis Lamelas yesterday by phone described her as “not upset, very calm,” despite the ordeal she is facing.

“She has hired a lawyer, and maybe next week she will start the legal process, but I don’t know how long this will take,” he said. “She asked for prayers for Carlos, and I am sure that right now it’s all we can do.”

Monday, March 06, 2006

Forum 18: Belarus, Kazakhstan

"3 March 2006

When Baptist deacon Vladimir Golikov spoke in a private capacity at an evening on married life on 28 January at a cultural centre near the capital Minsk, local ideology official Oleg Bobrik arrived to close down the meeting. Golikov had violated an unwritten rule banning religious believers from speaking publicly on social issues. 'I was accused of conducting religious propaganda, but there was nothing religious in my talk - it was about family life and ethics,' he told Forum 18 News Service. The authorities came close to sacking all 15 employees of the cultural centre in retaliation for his participation. Also in late January, the Supreme Court closed down Generation, a social organisation run by Minsk Christians and registered in 2004 which was accused of conducting religious activity at its English camps and classes. The excuse
used was an invalid legal address. Ahead of elections, religious leaders in some towns are summoned by the local authorities and warned not to get involved in politics.

1 March 2006


Baptist pastor Pyotr Panafidin's refusal to pay a massive fine imposed last September for leading his unregistered church in the southern town of Taraz has led to a three-day imprisonment and the decision to confiscate his home. Detained at a court hearing on 27 February, Panafidin is due for release on 2 March. "Of course we're worried - if the house is seized, he, his wife Katya and their nine children will be homeless," a local Baptist told Forum 18 News Service. "Of course the detention and the threat to seize the pastor's home are not pleasant," Arbol Argynov of Kazakhstan's human rights ombudsperson's office told Forum 18 from the capital Astana." If a religious community is not registered with the authorities, that is no reason to restrict it." He says the requirement for religious communities to register must be removed for Kazakhstan to meet itsinternational human rights commitments."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

VOM: Pakistan

"Violent protests against the cartoons of Mohammad that targeted Western businesses and institutions have spread to Christians who are seen as followers of a Western religion. Please pray for the following:

- On February 13th, Muslim college students and Islamic militants vandalized missionary-run Edward's College in Peshawar, smashing windows in various buildings. Two days later protestors in Peshawar damaged St. Michael's Convent School, St. Elizabeth's Girls' College, and a mission hospital run by the Church of Pakistan. A United Presbyterian girls' school in Kasur was also damaged by a mob of several thousand Muslims. (VOM Canada)

- A crowd of Muslims in the southern province of Sindh, burned down two churches and a convent school February 22nd, reportedly over an incident of Koran desecration. Local sources said the violence occurred after a Muslim was arrested for allegedly burning pages of the Koran and trying to frame his Christian father-in-law. (Compass Direct)

- Yousaf Masih, a Christian detained on blasphemy charges, has been released on bail. Two days later, 65 of 85 Muslims, detained for the assault on churches in Sangla Hill, were also released. The blasphemy charge against Masih, a semi-illiterate farm hand, provoked a mob of 2,000 Muslims to attack and set fire to three churches, a convent, two schools, a hostel for girls and several Christian homes. (Religion Today)

Pray Christians in Pakistan will bless the Lord with their faithful witness to His amazing love for His enemies. Pray moderate Muslims all over the world will speak up in protest against the evil violence of Islamic extremists. Give thanks to God Yousaf Masih has been released, and pray God will protect him from any retaliation by the Muslims."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

WEA RLP: Remember North Korea


On 16 February North Korea celebrated 'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-il's birthday. North Korea remains one of the world's most cruel, politically and religiously repressed states. The regime runs a vast network of concentration camps where whole families to three generations are incarcerated. Few survive the forced hard labour, experiments, beatings and starvation. Kim has surrounded himself with an enormous guard corps and military whose personal loyalty is bought through daily provision of food, heating and other luxuries and privileges. Whilst propaganda has traditionally maintained
national loyalty, small degrees of openness are gradually rendering this less effective. This social situation is extremely delicate and dangerous. Please pray for openings and reforms so the Church may be freed and restored to bring healing to the people and the land, and for God to protect and sustain North Korea's incarcerated and underground Church, blessing and empowering her witness.

(Christian Solidarity Worldwide has a new website dedicated to mobilising prayer for North Korea at <>.)

WEA RLP: India/Dangs followup


The way the Shabri Kumbh Mela organisers saturated Dangs with incitement to kill Christians indicates they intended it should culminate in a deadly pogrom against Dangi Christians. However the Shabri Kumbh Mela ended without violence. Clearly God intervened and preserved his children in answer to the prayers of many, and for this we thank and praise him. But Dangi Christians are facing a very insecure future in this toxic environment caused by the torrent of anti-Christian hate propaganda that was openly distributed. The Hindu nationalist Sangh Parivar are claiming success in Dangs, boasting 'great gains', i.e. many conversions. They envisage exporting their new conversion strategy right across the tribal belt of north India. This is extremely threatening.

The Sanghs are trying to boost the numbers of Hindu nationalist voters and militants, with the overall aim of getting the Hindu nationalist BJP elected to power in the 2009 federal elections. Meanwhile, the militants will be used to crush the Sangh Parivar's greatest threat: Christians and the Christian missions whose health and education services bring liberation to enslaved, down-trodden tribals who have long been victims of Aryan Hindu racist persecution. Violence against Christians is escalating in frequency and intensity, particularly across the north India tribal belt. Please pray for God's intervention to protect and empower his Church, and to frustrate the plans of the wicked.

Open Doors: China, India

China: * Gao Wei (pseudonym) was an active leader for several years, first in the state controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement church, then in an unregistered house church until 2004. As pastor, teacher, evangelist and youth leader, he was consistently being monitored, chased and harassed by the government. After years of being hotly pursued, with the intent of protecting his family, he fled to a Western country. Even now, it is too dangerous to reveal his real name. Read More>>

Please join us in prayer:

-For this man of God, and for the protection of his family and friends.
-That those he has ministered to will take up the fight in his absence.
-For courage among Chinese Christians to suffer similar opposition.
-That the Chinese government will be unable to detect and destroy the ministries of similar men and women.

India: * After discussing a land dispute in Khamachon village in Nawanshahr district, an Indian woman from Canada slapped Balhar Singh, the pastor of Doaba Punjabi Christian Sabha. Accusing the pastor of "forcible conversion", Surjeet Kaur and three unidentified youths beat the Christian leader so severely that he required hospital treatment.
Read More>>

Please join us in prayer:

-For health, faith and perseverance of Balhar Singh as he continues to lead his church in loving neighbors and enemies alike.
-That those who persecute Christ's followers will one day know Him too.
-For the courage and commitment of Indian Christians to truly be the love of Christ to their Hindu neighbors.