Wednesday, January 31, 2007

VOM: Uzbekistan

Uzbek secret police arrested Protestant Pastor Dmitry Shestakov at his church from Andijan last weekend, seven months after a regional prosecutor had accused him of committing high treason. Apparently, now accused of “incitement of national, racial and religious enmity” under Article 156 of Uzbekistan’s penal code, he could face up to five years in prison if he is convicted. According to Compass Direct News, authorities began to harass him in May 2006, apparently in reaction to the conversion to Christianity of some ethnic Uzbeks. In November, U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom John Hanford announced the addition of Uzbekistan to Washington’s annual list of Countries of Particular Concern for its “abysmal record on religious freedom and other human rights.” * Read More>>

Please Pray:

For Pastor Shestakov—for his physical well-being, sustained faith, and perseverance; also pray that he will be released from all the charges held against him. Psalm 31:1-5

For all Uzbek Christians who face similar threats and dangers as the climate of religious and human rights abuse escalates. Revelation 13:10

That the powerful truth of God will rain down on Uzbekistan, that justice will fill the streets again, and that the fear of God will be put in the hearts of the Uzbek government so that all the people might praise His holy name. Revelation 14:7

Thursday, January 25, 2007

ICC: GFA Missionaries beaten at Hindu Festival

Gospel For Asia Missionaries Beaten, Arrested at Indian Festival

From Gospel for Asia
For Immediate Release

ANS (1/23/07) -- Gospel for Asia (GFA) native missionaries—including a state leader—have been driven away, beaten and even arrested by police at the site of the Ardh Kumbh, a massive festival during which millions of Hindu pilgrims bathe in the confluence of two sacred rivers at the north Indian town of Allahabad.

Yesterday (Monday, January 22), an estimated 20 million people bathed in the Ganges where it meets the Yamuna River, and up to 60 million are expected to have taken the religious plunge before the 45-day event is over on February 16. To help accommodate the huge crowds and promote safety, officials have set up a “city” of 50,000 tents over a 30 square-mile area, brought in 25,000 toilets and deployed a police force of around 20,000. Traffic has been rerouted from all roads leading to the river.

As a result, GFA native missionaries ministering at the event had to walk or ride bicycles about 10 kilometers (6 miles) to reach the festival site.

GFA native missionaries and Bible college students were attending the event to offer the pilgrims an alternative to the traditional rituals by introducing them to Jesus. The team for the festival outreach included staff members from the GFA state office, women from local churches, students and staff members from Bible colleges as well as pastors from Allahabad.

As of January 21, more than 200,000 pilgrims had happily accepted the Gospel tracts. On that day, however, radical anti-Christian thugs beat up three native missionaries, stole their materials and told them to leave the festival. One of the missionaries was taken to the hospital with severe injuries, although he is responding well to treatment.

Anti-Christian sentiment was also evident yesterday morning, when police told a GFA women’s team to leave. The women retreated, but a men’s team, headed by a state leader and two pastors, continued to share the Good News with those attending the festival. The police then arrested six of the Christians, questioning them for a day before releasing them. One of the arrested pastors called it “an honor” to be persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.

GFA President K.P. Yohannan asks Christians to pray that the persecution will not escalate. “Please pray for our workers who were serving at this event, and that many pilgrims will receive the Good News of forgiveness through our Lord,” he said.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

VOM: India - Christian thrown from train; killed


Christian Dies after Being Thrown from Train in India - VOM Sources/ Asia News

On January 12, Bansi Lal died after being thrown from a train in the Devas district of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is believed that Lal was returning from a Pentecostal meeting when he was thrown off the train. While police quickly ruled his death a suicide, Indian Christians believe his death was caused by members of a militant Hindu youth organization. Lal converted to Christianity two years ago and since then had received threats. Pray God will comfort those who mourn Lal's death. Ask that his story will bring others to Christ and pray for Christians in India to walk in love towards those who persecute them. Romans 12: 14, 21

VOM: North Korea


Evangelist Executed for Bible Distribution - VOM Sources/ World Bible Distribution

A North Korean evangelist has been executed for possessing and distributing a Korean New Testament. World Bible Translation Center has confirmed the incident, even though the details of the death are not available. Pray for the family and friends of this evangelist. Ask God to comfort them and encourage them, knowing that to be absent in this natural body, is to be present with the Lord. Also pray Christians in North Korea will entrust themselves to Christ and preach the gospel without hesitation. II Timothy 1:7-12

VOM: Ethiopia


Homes of Christians Burned, Christian Man Killed - VOM Sources

On January 8, the homes of three Christian families were burned by Muslims in the village of Begge. Even though the family belongings were burnt, no one was injured in the attack. At last report, the police had not yet investigated the incident or taken any action to bring the arsonists to justice. In the same area, 10 Christian youths have been living in a church building in Begge three months after fleeing from their homes. They were chased from their homes after their families threatened to execute them for converting from Islam. In a separate incident, a Christian man was killed by an unknown person in the town of Kofele. The father of five was hit on the head with a metal iron rod. His family believes he was killed by Muslims, since the Kofele area is dominated by Muslims. Pray God will comfort this brother's family in their grief. Ask God to encourage the Christian families who are homeless, so they can have deep assurance of God's love in the midst of tough times. Ephesians 3:14-19

Open Doors: Nigeria


More than 200 Islamists attacked Christians in Nasarawa state as they were attempting to rebuild a Reformed Church building that had been burned down by Muslim extremists two years ago. Following the incident, the Nasarawa state government banned any further attempt to reconstruct the facility, according to Compass Direct News. “I personally witnessed the attack on the workers at the reconstruction site of the church,” said the Rev. Jerry Modibo, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Nasarawa state chapter. “The Muslims were chanting, ‘Death to Christians, death to infidels. This town is for Muslims, we don’t want Christians here.’” According to Modibo, banning church-building is just one way the government is trying to stifle Christianity in the central Nigerian state. * Read More>>

Please Pray:

For the health and quick recovery of the Christians who were attacked and injured in this incident, and for the many other Nigerian Christians who face violence and persecution on a daily basis. 1 Peter 5:10

That Nigerian Christians will not cease to exhibit the grace and love of God towards those who persecute them; and specifically, that these 200 Islamists will come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Luke 6:27-28

That all government attempts to stifle the growth of Christianity in Nigeria will be thwarted, and that the Nigerian Church will be strengthened and sustained by God to carry out His commission to the people of Nigeria and beyond. Proverbs 19:21

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

CSW: Sri Lankan pastor shot dead


CSW, January 17, 2007

A pastor was shot dead by Sri Lankan security forces on 13 January in Jaffna, according to a report from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL).

Rev. Nallathamby Gnanaseelan, aged 38, was the Pastor of the Tamil Mission Church in Jaffna. He was a member of the NCEASL, and according to their report, he was not engaged in any political activity.

Rev. Gnanaseelan was killed on Chapel Street after he had taken his wife and daughter to hospital. According to reports, he was shot in the stomach and then in the head. His Bible, bag, identity card and motorcycle were taken away and he was left in the road. Sri Lankan security forces initially claimed he had been carrying explosives, and then said he was shot because he failed to stop when challenged.

In recent months there has been a dramatic upsurge in violence in Sri Lanka, particularly in Jaffna, as the conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government has escalated. According to the NCEASL, extrajudicial killings, abductions and disappearances have been widespread, and “the civilian population has been facing a severe shortage of food and medicine, enduring immense hardship and suffering.”In a statement, the NCEASL said: “Thousands of people are arbitrarily arrested, tortured or ill-treated … We call upon the international community to raise their voices and prevent the massacre of the innocents in this country. The establishing of a United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka is an urgent need. The world cannot stand by and watch as this situation deteriorates, while every day, people pay with their lives.”

In addition to the deteriorating political situation in Sri Lanka, violence against Christians continues and the Sri Lankan Parliament is considering a proposed anti-conversion law. Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: “We offer our deepest condolences and sympathy to the pastor’s family as they mourn. While the Rev. Gnanaseelan’s murder may not have been primarily motivated by religion, it will only increase the tension for Sri Lanka’s religious minorities. We urge all sides to the conflict, including the Sri Lankan Government, the LTTE and paramilitary forces, to cease the violations of human rights, and we urge the international community to take action to bring the escalating conflict in Sri Lanka to an end.”

Compass Direct - Eritrea: 68 more Christians arrested in clampdown

Eritrea Arrests 68 More Christians in New Clampdown

January 23, 2007, 11:54:43 AM

Government ministry officials jailed, conscripts’ Bibles burned.

LOS ANGELES, January 23 (Compass Direct News) – Police and military authorities in the East African nation of Eritrea jailed 68 more Christians in three official round-up operations conducted the first week of January.

The new arrests of both Protestant evangelicals and Orthodox renewal movement church members marked the Eritrean government’s widening crackdown against Christians whose faith and freedom to worship have been outlawed for nearly five years.

In an unprecedented arrest, on January 5 police officials in the northern town of Keren took into custody eight staff members working in government ministries.

The jailed Christians are all members of Medhane Alem, a renewal movement within the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Police interrogations reportedly have focused on attempts to force the eight detainees, five men and three women, to identify local leaders of their movement and to name everyone known to be supporting them.

Three Medhane Alem priests have been jailed for nearly two years, and 10 months ago 65 of the group’s lay leaders were excommunicated from the church by government order.

The Keren police station commander told families of the eight imprisoned government staff members that the arrest order had come from higher authorities.

"This is a new strategy of the government," one local Christian commented, echoing the belief of other area believers. It was the first known arrest of government ministry staff solely for their religious beliefs.

The same day, security police in the southern port city of Assab arrested 25 Christians from their homes, workplaces and schools. All 25 prisoners were incarcerated at the Wi’a Military Camp and subjected to harsh pressures to recant their religious beliefs. Seven of the 25 Christian prisoners are women.

Remarks from security authorities in Assab have indicated that the roundup of local Protestants was expected to continue.

Military Burns Conscripts’ Bibles

In another incident confirmed on January 4, military commanders at the national Sawa
Military Center conducted what they termed a "random check-up on the activities of Christian extremists" among student conscripts.

While searching the conscripts’ personal effects, military personnel found 250 Bibles that the Christian students were using in their personal devotional time. After burning all the Bibles before the entire military camp, the commanders arrested 35 of the teenage students and ordered them subjected to severe military punishment, including physical torture.

In May 2002, Eritrea closed down all independent religious groups not operating under the umbrella of the government-sanctioned Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran or Muslim faiths. Anyone caught worshipping outside the four recognized religious institutions, even in private homes, has been subjected to arrest, torture and severe pressure to deny their faith.

Independent Protestant churches have been refused legal registration, and subsequently the Orthodox Church and its flourishing renewal movement also fell out of favor
Last month the government of Eritrea wrested financial and personnel control away from the Eritrean Orthodox Church, under de facto government control since Patriarch Abune Antonios was placed under house arrest and then divested of his ecclesiastical authority 18 months ago.
More than 2,000 Christians, including pastors and priests from both Protestant and Orthodox churches, are now under arrest in police stations, military camps and jails all across Eritrea because of their religious beliefs. Although many have been incarcerated for months or even years, none have been charged officially or given access to judicial process.

In its 2006 religious freedom report, the U.S. State Department for the third year in a row named Eritrea a "Country of Particular Concern," designating it one of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world.

Monday, January 22, 2007

VOM: Pakistan - Evangelists Attacked By Taliban

Evangelists Attacked by Taliban; One Killed; Two Injured - VOM Sources

On January 2, 2007, two evangelists working with Muslim converts in the dangerous Northern areas of Pakistan were attacked by the Taliban. One of the men was shot and killed instantly, two other Muslim friends were wounded and one escaped. The Taliban has since sent threatening calls to one of the evangelists. Since the police in this area favor the Taliban, pray for God's protection for these brothers and for healing for those wounded in the attack. Pray this situation will bring these Muslim brothers into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Also, pray God would comfort the family and friends of the brother who was killed, assuring them their loved one has received a crown no one can take away. Revelation 3:5,11

VOM: China - Encourage Pastor Cai (PRAYER ALERT)

From VOM:

UPDATE - Pastor Cai in Labor Camp - China Aid Association

Pastor Cai is serving his three-year prison sentence in a labor camp near Tianjin City. "His wife was released from prison and is in good health. She is caring for their son, but is afraid. Pastor Cai's brother reported that Cai is in good spirits and his faith is very strong," a China Aid Association (CAA) contact said. Meanwhile, Pastor Cai's church was raided on Christmas Eve, while 150 members were worshipping. "Police officers raided the church, videotaped and forced the members to register their identification and warned them not to gather," CAA added.

Pray God will encourage Pastor Cai in prison and give his wife strength and courage to remain steadfast in her faith. Acts 14:21-22

Write an encouraging letter to Pastor Cai and his family at!

VOM: India - Anti-Conversion Bill Passes; Evangelist Beaten

(from VOM)

Indian State Passes Anti-Conversion Bill; Evangelist Attacked

On December 30, 2006, the congress party passed the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, where only 8,000 of the more than 6 million people are Christian. Under the anti-conversion bill, any person found forcibly converting another person could be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined up to 25,000 rupees ($565 US). Meanwhile on January 2, 2007, an evangelist and three Christian brothers were beaten by Hindu radicals after being falsely charged with forced conversion. They all sustained internal injuries. Pray God would give Christians in India boldness to stand for Him in the midst of persecution. Pray for protection and that publicity from these laws will cause Christians worldwide to lift the country of India before God's throne. Proverbs 2:8

Forum 18: Turkey: Religious Freedom?

18 January 2007


There are now two major questions in the struggle for full religiousfreedom in Turkey, Otmar Oehring of the German Catholic charity Missio <> notes. Firstly, will the controversial Foundations Law be adopted, and ifso in what form? Secondly, will the Turkish authorities move towards fullreligious freedom after a recent momentous ruling by the European Court ofHuman Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg? The ECHR did not accept the Turkish state's argumentation over the seizure of non-Muslim minorities' property,and even the Turkish judge at the Court had no objections to the ruling. In this personal commentary for Forum 18 News Service<>, Dr Oehring suggests that, as Turkish accession negotiations with the European Union have gone quiet, the ECHR may now be the best route for Turkey's religious minorities to assert their rights.

Barnabas Fund: Iraqi Christians under siege

The Barnabas Fund has an article to read prayerfully, about what Christians in Iraq are enduring as a consequence of war and Saddam Hussein's downfall. While Hussein was truly a despot, his own diffidence about religion meant that most religions more or less co-existed quietly. That has all changed. The ongoing attacks by Islamic radicals mean that Christians are leaving Iraq. Please pray for our brothers and sisters who cannot leave.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

From VOM: India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sudan, Romania

VOM News and Prayer Update: January 16, 2007

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."(Romans 1:16)


Pastor Attacked for Christmas and New Year Services - VOM Sources

On January 7, 2007, Pastor Gabriel was attacked and beaten by Hindu extremists because he held Christmas and New Year services. The attackers were infuriated believers gathered to sing and pray to a "foreign God-Jesus." Pastor Gabriel sustained head injuries that have resulted in him losing his sight. Meanwhile, believers who were on their way to visit Pastor Gabriel in the hospital were involved in a car accident and incurred severe injuries. Pray God will heal Pastor Gabriel and those injured. Ask God to give believers in India boldness to continue serving Him in the midst of increasing persecution. Psalm 103:3, Psalm 138:3


Police arrest Pastor's family and demolish part of building - Compass Direct News

On January 9, 2007, police raided Rev. Hong Quang's church and residence and arrested 17 people who were having a prayer meeting. While in custody, some believers were threatened, crudely grabbed, led by the hair, slapped on the face and beaten. Pray God's protection and courage for Christians in Vietnam. Deuteronomy 31:6 Revelation 3:5,11


Sudanese Police Deny New Year's Church Attack - Compass Direct News

Sudanese police have denied attacking 800 Christians at a New Year's Eve service in Khartoum's Anglican cathedral. Six members of the congregation were injured after the police fired tear gas into the church. As a result of the attack, the sound system, pews, chairs and windows were damaged. Pray God will heal believers injured in the attack. Pray for protection and that publicity from the attack will cause Christians worldwide to lift the country of Sudan before God's throne. Proverbs 2:8


Controversial Religion Law Passed; legal challenges planned - Forum 18 News

The Romanian President has approved a controversial new Religion Law which bans religious defamation and public offense to religious symbols. Christians in Romania are concerned the law will make it difficult for religious communities not currently recognized by the government to gain recognition. Christians and human rights activists are hoping to appeal this law. Pray God guides and protects Christians in Romania and grants them wisdom as they seek to appeal this new law. Isaiah 59:11


VOM Workers Request Prayer - VOM Sources

VOM workers in Bangladesh ask for prayer as Bangladesh has been plunged into political chaos. Elections scheduled for January 22 have been postponed and the president has stepped down as interim leader shortly after declaring a state of emergency following 10 weeks of street protests which killed 45 and injured hundreds. Bangladesh faces political instability. "There are now widespread fears that the political order could break down, leading to either a military government or yet more space for hardliner Islamist groups," a VOM source said. Pray for peace to prevail in Bangladesh and for God's protection upon believers in the midst of political chaos. Isaiah 26:3