Friday, April 28, 2006

Forum 18: UKRAINE: "We're not for democracy - we're Orthodox"


Fr Anatol Curtev, a priest of the Bessarabian Metropolitanate of theRomanian Orthodox Church, is sceptical that the authorities will protecthim and his parish in the village of Kamyshovka in the far south-west ofUkraine from violence. He and his parishioners claimed to Forum 18 News Service that the village's Russian Orthodox priest Fr Aleksei Grecu hit him on the head just before they started their separate liturgies on 12 March to mark the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and that Fr Grecu organised a brutal attack on him in the station of the nearby town of Izmail on 12 April. "It's a complete lie - I didn't hit him [Fr Curtev] or organise the attack," Fr Grecu told Forum 18, but admitted he was interviewed by police."But if he's doing evil, what are we supposed to do? They're uncanonical and diabolical schismatics who shouldn't exist on Ukrainian territory." Fr Grecu dismissed any idea that the Bessarabian parish has any religious freedom rights. "We're not for democracy - we're Orthodox."

Forum 18: SERBIA: President Signs Controversial New Law

From Forum 18:


Despite openly recognising that the controversial new religion law approved by parliament on 20 April violates the European Convention onHuman Rights, Serbian president Boris Tadic signed it into law on 27April. He ordered parliament to amend the law "in an urgent vote" to remove the violations, though Aleksandar Mitrovic of Serbia's Evangelical Alliance told Forum 18 News Service the president "was unable to give me a clear answer as to how he thinks he can achieve this, given his status and authority". Under a last-minute amendment before parliament approved the law, all but the seven recognised "traditional" faiths lose their legal status and will have to reapply, even those present in Serbia for more than a century like the Nazarenes, Baptists and Adventists. They also lose their tax-exempt status. "This law makes some citizens more equal than others," General Secretary of the Baptist Union Zarko Djordjevic complained to Forum 18. Minority faiths also fear they will lose the chance to regain confiscated property in the restitution bill expected to begin its parliamentary process in May.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

North Korean Christian Under Death Penalty

A North Korean visiting his Chinese brother was arrested, tortured and imprisoned and is now facing public execution.

Son Jong Nam, 48, was visiting his brother in China and appears to have discussed details of his life in North Korea and possibly his faith. He also received financial assistance from his brother, and for this, he faces execution as a spy.

His family and many North Korean activist organizations are asking the international community to put pressure on North Korea to release Mr. Son. He has undergone torture, and his family is not permitted to see him. They have been expelled from Pyongyang, where he is being held.

Please pray for Mr. Son and his family and write your leaders to put pressure on North Korea.

Pastor arrested in Eritrea


April 19 (Compass Direct) - Besides the jailing of another Protestant pastor in February, authorities have also jailed 70 Muslims for opposing the government appointment of the chief mufti. Informed sources in Asmara confirmed in early April that the 70 Muslim prisoners arrested over the past two years are confined in one cell at the Wongel Mermera center. Most of the 28 jailed pastors and priests from the Protestant and Orthodox churches are also held at the Wongel Mermera center, where prison authorities have gathered them into one cell to keep them from "influencing other prisoners with the gospel." Asmara sources have confirmed the arrest of Pastor Daniel Heilemichel of the Charismatic Word of Power Church, taken from his home on February 23. "His wife is in great distress," a local Christian told Compass, noting that the couple had been married just a month prior to Heilemichel's arrest."
Read More

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pray for Korea

North Korea is at the top of every list when it comes to repression, persecution, intolerance and the evil of its leadership. Open Doors is working in concert with other organizations in a two-fold effort: 1. To raise awareness in the international community of current conditions in North Korea and 2. to raise our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in North Korea in prayer. North Korea Freedom Week is April 22-30, 2006.

Click Here to visit the Open Doors Website for more information and church materials (bulletin inserts).

"Wednesday: Planning

- Pray for a clear, Christ-inspired vision for North Korea Freedom Week.

- Pray for the planning of the week, and that God will speak truth through the organizations, churches and individuals who will be leading and guiding this event.

Thursday: The North Korean People

- Pray for the population of North Korea - the starving, the deprived, the persecuted, the imprisoned, the tortured, and above all, the unbelieving.

- Pray that this upcoming week will emphasize God's love for the North Korean people, and both encourage and challenge us all to pursue love, justice and righteousness as we act on behalf of the North Korean people.

Friday: The International Community

-Pray for God to begin working in the hearts of the international community that they might receive and respond to the situation in North Korea with love and conviction.

-Pray that the testimonies of defectors before congress during North Korea Freedom Week will compel politicians in the U.S. and around the world to take action in their diplomatic relations with the North Korean government.

Saturday: The Spiritual Battle

- Commission the angels to surround each event; pray that Satan's schemes will be frustrated and that God's name will be praised throughout this Freedom Week.

- Pray also for the awareness and action stirred by the Demonstration Against North Korea's Abduction of Citizens of Japan, South Korea, and other Nations that will be taking place in Washington DC.

Sunday: North Korea's Leadership

- Pray that God will soften and redeem the hearts of Kim Jong Il and his regime, and raise up other leaders with a knowledge of Christ to replace oppression and corruption with freedom and truth.

- Pray for the U.S. and South Korean governments to have the wisdom and the will to support human rights, including freedom of religion, for all North Koreans.

Monday: North Korean Prisoners

- Pray for the protection, nourishment and ultimate release of the 200, 000 prisoners who are being tortured, starved and experimented on in North Korea’s Stalinist-style prison camps.

- Pray for the thousands of Christians suffering in these camps—that Christ will use their testimony of love to draw His people to Himself.

Tuesday: Famine in North Korea

- Pray for the provision and nourishment of the North Korean people, that God will literally provide their daily bread, and for the continued work of the existing organizations able to distribute food to the people.

- Pray also that the hand of God would be working through both the North Korea Genocide Exhibit and the Congressional Hearing in Washington DC."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Compass Direct - India: Easter Week marred by violence


April 17 (Compass Direct) - Easter in India was marred by violence throughout Holy Week. In the southern state of Karnataka yesterday, 15 Hindu extremists said to be from the extremist Bajrang Dal attacked a Sunday morning church service, assaulting Pastor V.P. Paulouse, injuring his head and fracturing both hands; his wife also was severely beaten. In Madhya Pradesh state, on Good Friday (April 14) two Christian women in Jabalpur district were arrested for 'promoting conversion.' Last Tuesday (April 11) near Mumbai, at least two pastors suffered serious injuries when about 50 Hindu extremists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad barged into a prayer meeting of 500 Christians and assaulted them with chains and iron rods."

Read More

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Open Doors: Nigeria, Bangladesh, Israel

"Nigeria: * Two female Christian students remain missing after seven Muslims attacked them almost a month ago at Ahmadu Bello University in Kaduna state. The two students were about to bathe at the women's residence when the Muslim women emerged from a mosque and attacked, beating them until they were unconscious. The women, identified only as Joy and Priscilla, were treated at the university health clinic but disappeared immediately thereafter. Their disappearance has raised serious religious tensions on campus. James Kagbu, the university's Joint Chapel Council secretary, said "Muslim students under the auspices of the Muslim Students' Society have been terrorizing Christians in the university without provocation."

Read More>>

Please pray:

-For Joy and Priscilla: for their protection and safe return; for their sustained faith; and that Christ will be manifest through the testimony of these women.

-For the Muslim students who took part in these attacks: that they will come to know Christ and the magnitude of His forgiveness and grace.

-For the alleviation of religious tensions on campus and that all other Christians will be able to love their Muslim colleagues with the love of Christ.

Bangladesh: * An angry mob recently set fire to a church in the Pancchari sub-district - a remote area of Bangladesh - capping a year of extreme hostility towards villagers who had converted from Buddhism to Christianity. While Bangladesh is predominantly a Muslim country, there are small pockets like Pancchari where Buddhism flourishes. According to Compass, Christians attacked in this remote region have been told not to contact the authorities or seek hospital treatment or they would face even greater persecution.

Read More>>

Please pray:

-For the Christians living in the Pancchari region—for their protection and deliverance from violent attacks, and for the perseverance and faith to stand firm through the storms of persecution.

-For God’s mercy upon this sub-district—for the restoration of the Church and the whole village.

-That God will be able to use these acts of violence to show Himself as the Prince of Peace and arbiter of love to Christians and Buddhists alike.

Israel: * According to Compass, the Palestinian Bible Society bookshop in Gaza has reopened! After a five-week-long closure in response to unknown militants’ threats to bomb the building, Hanna Massad, pastor of Gaza Baptist Church, whose wife, Suhad, is the Bible Society bookshop’s director, said that the bookshop reopened with permission from the Gaza Interior Ministry, over the objections of the building’s owner. “Today,” explains Massad, “Was a very special day for us, after [facing] the pressure and the power of the kingdom of darkness face-to-face, especially in the last four days...We experienced the power of answered prayer. Thank you for praying with us and for us.” Massad asks for ongoing prayer: “The situation in Gaza [is] still very dangerous, and the threat [is] still on…The evil one [tried] everything he could to stop us from doing what God called us to do.”

Read More>>

Please pray:

-That God will continue to bless and grow the ministry of the Palestinian Bible Society Bookshop.

-That it will be an unwavering source of Christ’s love to the Muslim World.

-That the Angels will continue to surround this shop and be victorious in this heavy spiritual battle.

Friday, April 07, 2006

WEA RLC: Afghanistan - It's not even CLOSE to over

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


In light of the apostasy case against Abdul Rahman, German publication Der Spiegel published an excellent article on Christianity in Afghanistan. Written by Matthias Gebauer in Kabul, this article entitled, "A Community of Faith and Fear", dissolves the fantasy and exposes the reality of life for Christians in Afghanistan. Gebauer interviews Afghan Christian Hashim Kabar (not his real name) who says, "We must recognize that freedom of religion, as promised by the Afghan constitution, does not exist. But maybe it's good that the international community is now aware of that."

Der Spiegel notes that when the Taliban came to power in the mid-1990s, its "Supreme Leader Mullah Omar ordered his men to raze churches to the ground, to lynch Afghan Christians and to kill or drive out foreigners who followed Jesus Christ". This posting contends that the recent apostasy debacle and a resurgent Taliban are about to make the situation for Afghan Christians much worse.

As the Der Spiegel article concludes: "Even though Afghanistan has dismissed its case against Abdul Rahman, this is a cold comfort for Kabar. He and his friends fear that anger among Islamists over Rahman's release could spur them to take matters into their hands and act even more brutally toward converts. 'Abdul Rahman's release is a good thing,' he says. 'But the international community needs to keep its eyes open.'

'"According to Kabar, the worst thing would be if the resolution of the case leaves the impression that everything is now OK for converts living in Afghanistan. If that happens, he says, the case would have done more harm than good. 'We are going to stand by our faith,' he adds on parting. 'Any kind of support would help us a lot.'"

It may be that the "only" help and support we can give is to pray -- we need to remember our Brothers and Sisters in Christ daily.



A Community of Faith and Fear
By Matthias Gebauer in Kabul 30 March 2006,1518,408781,00.html

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Compass Direct: India - Supreme Court Denies Tribal Posts to Converts

"Judges uphold law excluding Christians from running for provincial office.

April 4 (Compass Direct) - The Supreme Court last Tuesday (March 28) quietly ruled that conversion of tribal people to Christianity could disqualify them from running for some elective offices if the posts involve religious functions. This ruling emerged from the court's verdict upholding a law that excludes Christians from running for the office of headman in Elaka Jowai, Meghalaya state. Dr. John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, said the court has deeply injured minority rights. "The issue is both one of separation of church and state and of the right of minority religion believers to seek whichever secular political or administrative office they wish to", Dayal said."


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Open Doors: India - Hindutva fanatics take another crack at reconversion

India: * A Hindu extremist group planning centenary celebrations in April hopes to "reconvert" as many as 10,000 tribal Christians to Hinduism during the event. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will hold the Dharma Jogna in Orissa, India on April 8-10. Given the recent trend of mass "reconversion" ceremonies organized by the RSS and its sister organization, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council), Christian leaders fear many tribal people may be persuaded to reconvert against their will. "We are extremely worried," said the Rev. Dandia Basi Hrudaya, secretary of the Orissa chapter of the All India Christian Council (AICC). "The AICC and other Christian leaders are meeting this week to finalize plans to protect the tribals during this event."

Read More>>

Please Pray:

-For the perseverance of Christians amidst grave opposition by the RSS and VHP.

-That the objective of the ceremonies will fail, and that these events will not become a stronghold for Satan to distract and destroy.

-That God will use this persecution once more for His glory, to show Himself to His people and to the rest of the world."

Compass Direct: Vietnam - Property of Christians burned

April 3 (Compass Direct) - Less than a year after believers in Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province saw some of their dwellings destroyed, a mob burned down five homes of other Hre minority Christians in the legally-recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South). Church leaders believe local authorities either allowed or instigated the burning of the five homes owned by Hre Christians in Son Tinh Commune, Son Tay district of Quang Ngai province, on the morning of March 7. In addition, two believers who had rebuilt area homes destroyed in July 2005 had their outbuildings for storing paddy rice burned on March 4. One of the Christians, Dinh Van Heo, lost 55 sacks of rice; he had recently faced severe pressure to recant his faith. "
More here >>

VOM: Indonesia - Church forced to close/Revised regulations restrict new churches

"VOM contacts in Indonesia report that on March 26, hundreds of radical Muslims converged on the Church of Pentecost in Indonesia (PTDI) in Gunung Putri, Bogor County, West Java during a Sunday morning service. The mob's angry protest over the property being "misused" as a church building lasted five hours. Some of the women among the 190 congregants began crying hysterically as a result of the mob's hostile demonstration, with some falling unconscious and collapsing to the ground.

After law enforcement officers of the Resort Police of Gunung Putri set up a meeting between the church's pastor, Daniel Fekky, and representatives of the Muslim mob, the pastor agreed to close the church and cease all of its Christian activities. Only then did the Muslim mob of 200 disband. Pastor Daniel has led PTDI's services for nine years, but the residents of Gunung Putri and the local government did not protest his ministry until a year ago. The concerned pastor exclaimed, "If this church is closed down, where can my congregants and their children worship the Lord?"

Muslims defended their closure on legal grounds, even though there is a constitutional guarantee for freedom of worship in Indonesia.

Last week, the Religious Affairs Minister and the Home Minister announced a revision of the 1969 Joint Ministerial Decree (SKB) which dealt with church buildings and government approval. The revisions will need the signature of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono before coming into effect.

The revised SKB regulations would set three conditions before a church building can be built or a congregation legally established:

1. Proof of at least 90 existing members with official ID cards

2. Signatures from 60 neighbors of different faiths approving of the establishment of the new Christian congregation

3. approval from local authorities

Indonesian Christians say the new law will make it more difficult to open new churches, especially in rural, predominantly Muslim areas. They also point to already-established churches which have tried for years to get government approval, without success.

Article 29(b) of the Indonesian constitution guarantees Indonesian citizens the freedom to choose their own religion and to worship according to the dictates of that religion."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Forum 18: Belarus - Religious Freedom Lawyer Jailed

The response by the official in the article below is priceless. Talk about afraid!

Following Baptist pastor Georgi Vyazovsky's completion of a 10 day jail term, religious freedom lawyer Sergei Shavtsov has been jailed, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Shavtsov organised a Christian business leaders seminar, after being denied official permission, and was detained after police raided the seminar. His wife Dina Shavtsova told Forum 18 'Why shouldn't they hold a seminar? All it was about was a Biblical view of history.' Dina Shavtsova said that her husband's sentence - although on identical charges - is not directly connected with Pastor Vyazovsky's. 'But the authorities are punishing the same kind of activity - unapproved religious events.' Vitali Misevets, head of the Frunze district Ideology Department, claimed to Forum 18 that 'It's not absurd to deny permission for such a meeting. How do we know what 35 people were going to be discussing?' Fears have been expressed that Pentecostal Bishop Sergei Tsvor will be jailed on similar charges."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

VOM: Children of Christian Martyrs Need Your Help

From Voice of the Martyrs:

"I want to forget this nightmare....Both my parents were killed by the Jihad soldiers. I just left their dead bodies as I fled for my own life. We lived in misery, traveling from village to village. Then, I learned about the Caleb House. I now live there with 50 other orphaned children. I ask the Lord to bless VOM and all those who have supported us."
—Testimony of Ivon Nanlohy

In 2001, our Indonesian office helped establish the Caleb House to serve as a safe place for children of martyred Christians in Indonesia. These children faced horrific trials no child should experience, but they remain strong in their faith. The staff at the Caleb House provides for all their needs, including education and counseling to help them deal with the tragic events they have witnessed.

Staff members from The Voice of the Martyrs–U.S. headquarters recently visited with these children and were encouraged by their gentle spirits and the faith they displayed. When asked how we could help the children, they all had the same request.

VOM learned these children have to walk an hour up a mountain to school each day, and then they must return by foot. This is especially hard on the younger children. The orphans also fear they could be attacked on the road by radical Muslims who have specifically targeted Christian youth.

The Voice of the Martyrs is now inviting you to help us provide a new, quality bus for these children. Funds collected in excess will be specifically designated for our ministry work in Indonesia.

If you would like to help contribute to purchase a bus for the orphans of the Caleb House, please click here now.