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."