Monday, December 29, 2008

Compass Direct: Bangladesh - Buddhists force Christians from home (Direct Post)

DHAKA, Bangladesh, December 26 (Compass Direct News) – Buddhist villagers in southeastern Bangladesh’s Rangamati district last week beat a young father and drove him from his house for converting to Christianity. The Buddhists in Asambosti, in the Tabalchari area some 300 kilometers (186 miles) southeast of Dhaka, warned Sujan Chakma, 27, not to return to his home after beating him on Dec. 18. Chakma, who converted to Christianity about four months ago, has come back to his home but some nights the likelihood of attacks forces him to remain outside. He is often unable to provide for his 26-year-old wife, Shefali Chakma, and their 6-year-old son, as area residents opposed to his faith refuse to give him work as a day laborer. Chakma, his wife and son do not eat on days he does not work, he said. “They threatened me that if I come back to my home, I will be in great trouble,” he said.

Earlier this year in Rangamati district, Bengali Muslim settlers killed a tribal Christian for defending indigenous peoples from illegal land-grabs. On Aug. 19 Ladu Moni Chakma, 55, was stabbed repeatedly and his throat was cut at Sajek in Baghaichuri sub-district in Rangamati district after he reported to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission how a military commander helped settle Bengali Muslims on area lands.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Forum 18: Nagorno-Karabakh (Direct Post)


President Bako Sahakyan of the internationally unrecognised entity of Nagorno-Karabakh is considering a restrictive new Religion Law, Forum 18 News Service has found. The new Law imposes vaguely formulated restrictions, including: an apparent ban on unregistered religious activity; state censorship of religious literature; an undefined "monopoly" given to the Armenian Apostolic Church over preaching and spreading its faith, while banning "soul-hunting" and restricting others to undefined "rallying their own faithful". Garik Grigoryan, head of the parliamentary Commission on State Legal Issues, claimed to Forum 18 that "it will be a more liberal, democratic Law."

Members of religious communities have expressed serious concerns to Forum 18. One member of the Armenian Apostolic Church rhetorically asked Forum 18: "Where's the freedom?"Another described the Law as "like rubber," noting that "you can't see exactly how it's going to be put into practice." The Law also does not resolve the issue of a civilian alternative to compulsory military service.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Open Doors: India, Nigeria, Egypt (Direct Post)

Please Pray for India
News about the terrorist attacks last Wednesday in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, infiltrated the homes of many Americans this past Thanksgiving weekend. Several news sources reported that terrorists targeted many tourist sites, a hospital, and even a Jewish center, killing nearly 200 people. Even though the Indian government has declared the siege in Mumbai officially over, violence continues in the northern Indian state of Orissa against the Christian community, claiming the lives of at least 500 people. In the past few months more than 18,000 have been injured and around 4,500 houses and churches have been destroyed. Join our campaign and ask your Representative to sign a resolution to stop the violence in Orissa.

Violence Erupts in Jos, Nigeria
Communal violence broke out in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Nov. 28 after Muslims began attacking Christians on claims of vote-tampering, leaving hundreds dead and thousands fleeing their homes. Local residents said the fight was sparked after officials reportedly refused to post local council election results the previous day, prompting speculation that a party backed largely by Christians had won. Muslim gangs in the Ali Kazaure area of the city began attacking Christians, which resulted in a death toll estimated to be in the hundreds. According to Compass Direct News, Muslim militants burned several churches, including that of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the Sarkin Mangu area of Jos. Several mosques were also reportedly razed in the tumult. Read more about the attacks in Nigeria.

Two Christians Wrongly Detained, Tortured in Egypt
On November 22 Egyptian authorities sent brothers Refaat and Ibrahim Fawzy Abdo to a detention camp near the Egypt-Sudan border where they were tortured so authorities could try to extract a false confession, according to Compass Direct News. The two Christians were originally arrested for allegedly killing a Muslim during an attack back on May 31 at the Abu Fana monastery in Egypt. The brothers’ attorney, Zakary Kamal, said the timing of the murder at the monastery rules out any possibility of the two brothers committing the murder. Monks at Abu Fana say the Fawazy Abdo brothers were far from the monastery at the time of the attacks. Read the full story about their arrest on our website.

For more information on persecuted Christians worldwide, download the Persecution Update.

Prayer Points:
  • Pray for God's comfort and healing for all those bereaved or injured in recent attacks in Mumbai, Orissa and Jos.
  • Pray that the police and military will be able to contain any further unrest and that Christians in Nigeria will not be tempted to participate in any of the violence.
  • Pray for the continuing safety of Open Doors' staff in Nigeria, India and Egypt.
  • Pray for the release of the two brothers who have been wrongfully detained and tortured in Egypt.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open Doors: Egypt, Vietnam, Iraq (Direct Post)

Christians Arrested, Shops Looted in Egyptian Village
Authorities in an Egyptian village arrested 50 Christians, whose shops were then looted to pacify Muslims following violence that erupted on Nov 4. Muslim villagers attacked the homes and shops of the Christians after 14-year-old believer Mina William failed to dismount his donkey as a funeral procession passed. Members of the procession reportedly beat William before completing the procession. According to Compass Direct News, the processional members later attacked homes and shops of local Christians before police broke up the crowd with tear gas. Police in the village have since harassed Christians through intimidation, “fines” and racketeering, taking an estimated $50,000 from village Christians, sources said. Read more on these attacks on Christians in India.

Vietnamese Authorities Pressure New Christians to Recant
According to church leaders in Lao Cai province, authorities in Vietnam’s far north are pressuring new Christians among the Hmong minority to recant their faith and to re-establish ancestral altars, which is in violation of Vietnam’s new religion policy. According to Compass Direct News, when the authorities in the Bac Ha district discovered that villagers had converted to Christianity and discarded their altars, they sent “work teams” to the area to apply pressure. Earlier this month, several high officials were sent to try to convince the converts that the government considered becoming a Christian a very serious offense. Christian leaders in the area told Compass Direct News that there were threats of being cut off from any government services. They also said that when this failed to deter the new Christians, the officials threatened to drive the Christians from their homes and fields, harm them physically and put them in prison. Read more about the government supported persecution in Vietnam.

Special Prayer Request from Maria’s Father, Abdurahman*
Last week Compass Direct News reported that Maria, an Iraqi Christian girl, was released from prison for defending herself and her family from her uncle’s attack. Her uncle had cut her mother with a knife and was fiercely beating them for converting to Christianity and for “shaming” the family.
As we thank the Lord for her early release, we want to also pray for her father, Abdurahman, as he looks for a job or a way to get out of Iraq. Abduraham converted to Christianity in 1998 and has suffered opposition from his Muslim family ever since. Read more about Maria’s release from prison and the obstacles that her family continues to face.

Prayer Points:
  • Please pray that the attacks in Egypt will cease and that this violence-prone area will become a place of peace and unity.
  • Pray for Mina William, the Egyptian Christian boy who suffered the severe beating from Muslim attackers.
  • Pray for a reversal of the new religion policy in Vietnam.
  • Pray for the believers in the Bac Ha to stand strong in the face of persecution.
  • Pray that Maria’s father, Abdurahman, will find a job and be able to provide for his family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Barnabus Fund - Palestinian Muslim speaks out for Persecuted Christians (Direct Post)

Palestinian Muslim columnist speaks up for persecuted Christian minority in the Middle East

Christians in the Middle East have been facing much discrimination, harassment and persecution in recent years, and very often the perpetrators are members of the Muslim majority. The number of Christians in the Middle East has been declining continually over past decades, and there is fear that in some countries, such as Iraq, there is a real push to drive out the whole Christian community.

On October 25th the Palestinian columnist, `Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar, wrote a column for the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, focusing on this persecution of Christians in Arab countries. `Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar, himself a Muslim, warned that the expulsion of Christians and the attempt to denounce them as “infidels” was causing great damage to the Arab culture, of which Christians are an essential and original part. In his article he criticized the fact that no one dared to come to the help of persecuted Christian minorities in the Middle East and he condemned the unwillingness of Arab intellectuals, the elite, non-government organizations and leaders of the private sector to act on behalf of Christians. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East, translated the article into English and published the following excerpts on its website.

"In Iraq, a crime is currently being committed – another in a series of
iniquities brought by the winds of change that came in the wake of the [U.S.]
occupation, which sought to impregnate Iraq with the seed of democracy. [But]
the [resulting] fetus emerged deformed and weird. The worst outcome of this
situation is, possibly, the carnage against ethnic communities and minorities
that has swept through Iraq. Neither Sunnis, nor Shi`ites, nor Christians, nor
Kurds, nor Turkmen, nor [members of] other [groups] have managed to escape it.

"However, the string of murders and expulsions of Christians, which has
been going on for several months, is by far the most grievous – [and] it [must
be taken as] a warning that hostility and crimes against minorities may spread
to the neighboring countries [as well].

"Christians are being persecuted not only in Iraq, but in most Arab
countries, regardless of their numbers there. They are subjected to every
possible kind of discrimination, as well as expulsion. The problem is that it is
not only Arab officials who are remaining silent [in the face of these crimes] –
[they do so] because their primitive mentality is centered on the cult of the
ruler – but, alarmingly, so are Arab intellectuals, the elites, non-government
organizations, and leaders of the private sector. All these groups look on at
these unprecedented [acts of] folly without apprehending the danger with which
these crimes are fraught.

"Statistics show that in 2005 the number of Christians in Iraq was as high
as 800,000. By early 2008, it had dropped by half, [indicating] that 50 percent
of Iraqi Christians had been expelled from their homes and lands.

"Today, this problem is also rampant in Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, and
Palestine – and while the situation may be slightly different in Palestine, the
trend is the same.

"Let us be honest with ourselves and courageously say out loud that
Palestinian Christians are taking many severe blows, yet are suffering in
silence so as not to attract attention. I do not refer here to the suffering
caused by the occupation... but to actions of the past 20 years at least – that
is, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967 – involving the confiscation
of Christian property, especially in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Al-Birah.

"What makes things worse is that those who are plundering [the Christians`]
property are either powerful [in their own right] or are backed by various
elements, among them high-ranking military officials or influential members of
large clans.

"Attempts by the political leadership to partially rectify this situation
have failed. Nor has the judiciary system been able to [resolve] many of the
problems, which we still face today. Over the past few years, several of my
Christian friends have told me of the harm they have suffered, including various
threats, even death threats, for trying to gain access to their lands after they
were taken over by influential Bethlehem residents.

"Furthermore, there has been an attempt to marginalize Christian culture in
Palestine, even though it is rich and deeply rooted [there]. This began with
[accusations] of unbelief [against Christians] – a move that ultimately harmed
Palestinian society as a whole...

"Despite all the injustices [against the Christians], no one has seen or
heard of any constructive action to curb it and to [defend] the Christians`
rights – whether by the elites, by any of the three branches (executive,
legislative, and judiciary), by non-government organizations, or even by the
political factions themselves. [Such action should have been forthcoming] not
out of kindness and compassion, but [due to] regarding Palestinian Christians as
indigenous to this land, and [therefore] no different from us, with the same
rights and obligations [as Muslims].

"But the most fundamental problem here may be related to culture. We
continue to instill a horrific culture in our children, one that sees Christians
as infidels... and as `the other.` We need an injection of humanistic and
national awakening; we must raise an outcry and stand up to restore the
Christians` rights, of which they have been deprived – [and we must do this] in
order to preserve the demographic balance, which will safeguard the unity of our
homeland and the justness the Palestinian cause.

"[Let us] remember that the tribes of Arabia were Christian. The best
writers and poets were Christian, as were [many] warriors and philosophers... It
is they who bore the banner of pan-Arabism. The first Palestinian university was
established by Christians.

"Enough [examples]! It is not words that we need, but progressive
attitudes, and the truth, so that it can be presented to tyrannical rulers, and
so that clerics and old men will not be the only Christians left in the Holy
Land and in the city of [Jesus`] birth."

It is very encouraging to read words like these and to know that Muslims are speaking up on behalf of Christians who are persecuted and discriminated against in Muslim-majority contexts. It gives hope that the peaceful co-existence of Christians and Muslims is possible and that mutual respect is a key element to preserving a culture to which both Muslims and Christians have contributed over centuries.

Please Pray

Praise God for Muslims like ‘Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar, who dare to challenge the current anti-Christian developments in the Islamic world. Pray that many more will join him and others in promoting respect and equality between Christians and Muslims and demanding an end to discrimination, harassment and violence against Christians in Muslim countries.

[My note: And in the end, let us pray for their salvation.]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Forum 18: Kazakhstan (Direct Post)


Kazakhstan's Senate has significantly harshened the draft Law amending several laws on religion, before returning it to the Majilis, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Officials are still refusing to make the draft text public, but Forum 18 has seen the latest changes. Among the increased restrictions on freedom of thought, conscience or belief, the Senate changed the draft text to require permission from both parents for children to attend any religious event, and removed judges' discretion over the level of fines imposed for violating the Religion Law. The draft Law already contains many restrictions, including only allowing religious literature distribution in permanent buildings designated by the state, and possibly endangering religious-based charitable activities. Kazakhstan has also not agreed to publication of an OSCE review of an earlier text of the Law, although the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights told Forum 18 that it "has recommended to the Kazakh authorities that the legal review be made public, as is normal practice." Kazakh officials have refused to say when the Majilis will discuss the Senate changes, but Forum 18 has learned that this will be on 24 November - the same day a roundtable with OSCE experts is scheduled [to] begin.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Open Doors: Kenya (Direct Post)

Nuns Abducted in Kenya near Somali Border
Negotiations continue for the release of two nuns abducted by insurgent Somali militia at midnight on Nov. 9 from Kenya’s northern Mandera district near the Somali border. Pastor Alois Maina of Community Church in Mandera told Compass Direct News that the two nuns were being held in El-Haddah, Somalia, about 19 miles from the border. A pastor in Mandera who requested anonymity told Compass Direct News that Christian leaders were collaborating with village elders in both Kenya and Somalia to negotiate with the militia for the nuns’ release. “What we need at the moment is prayer,” said the pastor.
View the full story on our website.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Compass Direct: Update on Laos (Direct Post)

Lao officials have released three prisoners from Boukham village, Savannakhet province, after several weeks of detention, but restrictions on Christian worship in the village are still in force.

Pastor Sompong Supatto, 32, and two other believers, Boot Chanthaleuxay, 18, and Khamvan Chanthaleuxay, also 18, were released on Oct. 16 against the wishes of the village chief, who had threatened to hand Supatto a life sentence at a maximum-security prison. Village officials remain hostile to the presence of Christians, according to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

Authorities initially arrested Supatto and four other believers on July 20, storming their house church and ordering the 63 Christians present to cease worshiping or face arrest and imprisonment for “believing and worshiping God.” The five were briefly detained after the raid and released on condition that they would cease holding worship meetings.

Police targeted the believers because their church was not officially registered. Because such registration comes with strict limitations on church activities, many Christians prefer not to register.

When they continued to gather for worship, police arrested Supatto and two members of the Chanthaleuxay family on Aug. 3, detaining them in handcuffs and wooden foot-stocks in the nearby Ad-Sapangthong district police detention cell. Police initially said they would not release the men until they renounced their faith, HRWLRF reported.

On Aug. 25, the village chief encouraged family members to apply for bail for the two teenagers but said Supatto did not qualify for bail, as his punishment for leading the Boukham church would be “life in prison.” Days later, the chief again pressured family members to sign documents renouncing their faith to secure the teenagers’ release, but they refused.

In September, the chief of Boukham village called a special community meeting to resolve the “problem” of eight resident Christian families who refused to give up their faith. Normally all adults would attend these meetings but on this occasion Christians were excluded.
The meeting ended with plans to expel all 55 Christians from the village; at press time, however, no expulsion had taken place, according to Compass sources.

Following the prisoners’ release, credited to international advocacy efforts, Boukham Christians began traveling to other house churches in the district for worship, but they hoped to resume services in their own community if restrictions were lifted.

Still Worshiping in Another Village, Despite Threats

Christians from Katin village, Saravan province, have continued to meet together despite threats from local authorities.

Officials on July 21 detained 80 Christians in the village after residents seized one believer, identified only as Pew, and poured rice wine down his throat, killing him by asphyxiation. When family members buried him and placed a wooden cross on the grave, officials accused them of “practicing the rituals of the enemy of the state” and seized a buffalo and pig from them as a fine.

They also threatened other Christians with confiscation of livestock if they did not give up their faith, a significant threat as farm animals are essential to the agrarian lifestyle of the villagers and are expensive to replace.

On July 25, officials rounded up 17 of the 20 Christian families in the village – a total of 80 men, women and children – and detained them in a school compound, denying them food in an effort to force the adults to sign documents renouncing their faith. The remaining three families had already signed the documents under duress.

As their children grew weaker, 10 families signed the documents and were permitted to return home. The remaining seven families were evicted from the village and settled in an open field nearby, surviving on food found in the nearby jungle.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Open Doors: Columbia (Direct Post)

Church Leaders under Fire in Colombia

Christians in Colombia are anxious to learn the fate of Pastor William Reyes, missing since Sept. 25. Reyes left a meeting in Valledupar, Cesar, at 10 a.m. that morning heading home to Maicao, La Guajira. He never arrived. According to Compass Direct News, family members and fellow ministers fear that Reyes may have been murdered by illegal armed groups operating in northern Colombia. The pastor’s association had been receiving repeated threats from both the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and right-wing paramilitary units since March. Read the full report about the missing pastors in Columbia on our website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Forum 18: Azerbaijan (Direct Post)

6 November 2008

Baptist pastor Hamid Shabanov - on trial since July for allegedly possessing an illegal gun - was transferred from prison to house arrest at a hearing in Zakatala on 5 November, church members told Forum 18 News Service. He had been detained for twenty weeks. His next hearing is due on 17 November. He insisted that the accusation against him is fabricated. "The police came into my house back in June and placed the pistol there," he told Forum 18. "The first time I saw it was when they claim to have found it." He believes he will eventually be cleared. "The Word of God is stronger than a pistol." Shabanov's church has been denied legal status since the 1990s, one of three Baptist congregations whose applications have failed. Also denied registration is an Assemblies of God congregation in Baku, whose pastor insisted to Forum 18 that the authorities simply do not want to register any more Christian churches. The State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations refused to discuss registration denials with Forum 18, but its head Hidayat Orujev told the local media on 5 November: "Not one religious organisation applying recently for registration was denied it."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Open Doors: Eritrea (Direct Post)

Eritrean Christian Dies in Military Prison

Open Doors has received word of another evangelical Christian who has died while in military confinement. Teklesenbet, a member of the Full Gospel Church, was arrested during a prayer meeting in Assab about a year ago. According to sources, he suffered very harsh military punishment during his incarceration. He allegedly died after the commanders refused to give him medical attention for his critical case of malaria. In 2002 all independent Protestant churches were outlawed in Eritrea. Only Islam and the Eritrean Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Christian denominations were given official recognition. Buildings of all other churches were closed and private gatherings in homes were banned. Worshippers caught disobeying these restrictions have faced arrest and torture in prison camps that are notorious for their horrific conditions.

Compass Direct News estimates that 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 due process. Read more about persecution in Eritrea on our website.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Compass Direct: Laos (Direct Post)

Officials crack down in three provinces; some believers held in wooden stocks.

Authorities in Laos have detained or arrested at least 90 Christians in three provinces, including the arrest of a pastor and two other believers from a house church in Boukham village, Savannakhet province.

Arrests were reported in the southern provinces of Saravan and Savannakhet and in Luang Prabang province in the north.

In one incident, Compass sources said officials detained 80 Christians in Katin village, in the Tah Oih district of Saravan province, after residents seized a Christian neighbor identified only as Pew and poured rice wine down his throat. The wine flooded his lungs and killed him, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

When mourning family members buried him – an immediate necessity because of the warm climate – and put a wooden cross on the grave, village officials accused them of “practicing the rituals of the enemy of the state” and seized a buffalo and pig from the family as a fine.
A few days later, officials rounded up 17 of the 20 Christian families in the village – a total of 80 men, women and children – and detained them in a local school compound, denying them food for three days in an attempt to force the adults to sign documents renouncing their faith.

Three other Christian families in the village had already renounced their faith under increasing pressure from authorities, according to a report from Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

As their children grew weaker, 10 families signed the documents and on July 30 were allowed to return home. The remaining seven families, however, were evicted from the village and have since settled in an open field outside the village, building small shelters and surviving on food found in the nearby jungle.

Compass Direct: Somalia - Christian Beheaded for Converting from Islam (Direct Post)

Anti-Christian violence spills into Kenya as Somali Muslims attack in Nairobi.

NAIROBI, Kenya, October 27 (Compass Direct News) – Among at least 24 aid workers killed in Somalia this year was one who was beheaded last month specifically for converting from Islam to Christianity, among other charges, according to an eyewitness.

Muslim extremists from the al Shabab group fighting the transitional government on Sept. 23 sliced the head off of Mansuur Mohammed, 25, a humanitarian aid worker, before horrified onlookers of Manyafulka village, 10 kilometers (six miles) from Baidoa.

The militants had intercepted Mohammed and a driver, who managed to escape, earlier in the morning. Sources close to Mohammed’s family said he converted from Islam to Christianity in 2005.

The eyewitness, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said the militants that afternoon gathered the villagers of Manyafulka, telling them that they would prepare a feast for them. The people gathered anticipating the slaughter of a sheep, goat or camel according to local custom.

Five masked men emerged carrying guns, wielding Somali swords and dragging the handcuffed Mohammed. One pulled back Mohammed’s head, exposing his face as he scraped his sword against his short hair as if to sharpen it. Another recited the Quran as he proclaimed that Mohammed was a “murtid,” an Arabic term for one who converts from Islam to Christianity.
The Muslim militant announced that Mohammed was an infidel and a spy for occupying Ethiopian soldiers.

Mohammed remained calm with an expressionless face, never uttering a word, said the eyewitness. As the chanting of “Allah Akubar [God is greater]” rose to a crescendo, one of the militiamen twisted his head, allowing the other to slit his neck. When the head was finally severed from the torso, the killers cheered as they displayed it to the petrified crowd.
The militants allowed one of their accomplices to take a video of the slaughter using a mobile phone. The video was later circulated secretly and sold in Somalia and in neighboring countries in what many see as a strategy to instill fear among those contemplating conversion from Islam to Christianity.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that a similar incident took place in Lower Juba province of Somalia in July, when Christians found with Bibles were publicly executed. Their families fled to Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, and such killings are forcing other Christians to flee to neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Compass Direct: India - Orissa (Direct Post)

Hindu extremists beat Fr. Bernard Digal unconscious, leaving him bleeding in forest.

NEW DELHI, October 31 (Compass Direct News) – More than 3,000 people today attended the funeral in Bhubaneswar, Orissa of a Catholic priest who died on Tuesday (Oct. 28) from injuries sustained in anti-Christian violence that began in August. Father Bernard Digal died in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, after an operation to remove a blood clot that developed in his brain due to a head injury from Hindu extremists attacking him on Aug. 25-26 in Kandhamal district, Orissa state. He was 46.

“He was smashed like a pulp,” Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, told Compass. “Because of the hate campaign of the [Hindu extremist] Sangh Parivar, the attackers lost their humanity and they became devils. Human beings can’t do what they have done.”

Fr. Digal was visiting Sankarakhole parish when violence flared after Maoists killed Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and his disciples on Aug. 23. Though police suspected Maoists from the start and the outlawed Marxists had claimed responsibility for the murders by Sept. 1, Hindu extremists bent on stoking anti-Christian flames continued to publicize that Christians had committed the crime – and have not stopped doing so.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

GFA: Uttar Pradesh (Direct Post)

Persecution a "Way of Life" in India

The attacks taking place in Orissa are making the news, yet so much of the ongoing persecution throughout India goes largely unnoticed by the outside world.

Every day, Gospel for Asia missionaries and Bible college students make a calculated choice to serve Jesus, knowing that they could be beaten or even face martyrdom for their Christian faith.

Raju in Uttar Pradesh is one of them. So are Vikram in Delhi and several Bible college students in Maharashtra.

Anti-Christian extremists do not like the fact that Raju's church in Uttar Pradesh has grown to more than 150 believers. And two weeks ago, they found a way to let him know it.

Around 7 p.m., returning home from visiting new believers, Raju was attacked from behind by an extremist mob of 10 people piled on three motorbikes. The radicals pushed him down and kicked him repeatedly in the face.

Raju's own motorbike fell on him, fracturing his hand. He was also left with injuries on his face from the kicks. He was unconscious for about five hours and unable to speak for a while after being admitted to a hospital. He was released several days later and is doing much better, but doctors have advised him to rest for a few more days because of internal injuries.

Forum 18: Uzbekistan (Direct Post)

23 October 2008

Seven members of a Tashkent-based Pentecostal church are due to complete 15-day prison sentences on 25 October, imposed to punish them for attending a prayer gathering in a private home, Protestants told Forum 18 News Service. The seven have to pay for their own detention.

Five other church members were fined. The judge refused to tell Forum 18 why the twelve had been punished for peaceful religious activity and why she had ordered Bibles and other Christian literature confiscated from them to be destroyed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Open Doors: Soldier protecting Christians Killed in Orissa, India (Direct Post)

Soldier Protecting Christians Mutilated, Killed in Orissa, India

A paramilitary soldier assigned to protect Christians from Hindu violence in Orissa was mutilated and killed by a mob on Oct. 13. The body of the soldier was recovered from a nearby forest. According to Compass Direct News, the death marks the first time that central security personnel have been targeted in Orissa of the riots powered by Hindu extremist fervor. The violence stems from a Hindu extremist group that insists on blaming Christians for the Aug. 23 murder of Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati, even though Maoists admitted killing him and four associates.

Read more about this horrific attack and the continual violence in Orissa state.

China Aid: PSB Beats Christians (Direct Post)

PSB Officers Beat Pastor's Son, Wife

Around noon on October 16, Zhang Jian received an urgent phone call from his mother. Plainclothes Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers had broken into her upstairs apartment and were throwing all the family's belongings out into the street:

"When I got there, I saw my mom lying on the ground being knocked down by these thugs ... I tried to use my body to protect my mom from being hurt by them. Then this group of 15 officers immediately surrounded me and started beating my head and body with iron bars and said, 'We need to teach you a lesson as a troublemaker.'"

The violent attack lasted 25 minutes.

Authorities persecute this family simply because they are Christians. Their ministry to orphans and house churches - ordinary Christian activities - are considered crimes in China. Zhang Jian was severely injured in the attack and needs immediate surgery. His family is now in hiding with nowhere to live. His father is missing, believed to be kidnapped by authorities.

» Learn more about Zhang Jian and his family and how you can send emergency help.

Open Doors: Various (Direct Post)

INDONESIA A mob of extremist Muslims has stormed a church service in Cipayung, East Jakarta, forcing the Christians to flee. The mob then erected banners in the street declaring a ban on “churches and religious services.”

MALAYSIA A court in Malaysia has denied a woman’s appeal to renounce Islam and convert to Christianity. Thirty-five-year-old Lim Yoke Khoon is expected to appeal to Malaysia's top civil court.

NIGERIA Blaming the death of their leader on Christian prayers, an Islamist group in the Kwara state capital has launched a new wave of violence against believers. Since June, at least three Christians have died and several others have been injured.

Read More

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Forum 18: Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan (Direct Post)


Kazakhstan's controversial amendments to various laws affecting religion or belief reached the Senate on 29 September after being approved by parliament's lower house and are now with the Senate's Committee for Social and Cultural Development. Committee chairman Akhan Bizhanov three timesrefused to tell Forum 18 News Service whether the new Law aims to increase state controls on the activity of religious communities and individuals. The text of the Law as approved by the lower house - and seen by Forum 18 -would for the first time explicitly ban unregistered religious activity, ban sharing beliefs by individuals not named by registered religious organisations and without personal registration as missionaries, require all registration applications to be approved centrally after a "religious expert assessment" of each community's doctrines and history, and impose a wider range of fines on individuals and communities and bans on religious communities who, for example, conduct activity not specifically mentioned in their charter. Groups without full registration would not be able to maintain publicly-accessible places of worship.

16 October 2008

Kyrgyzstan's Parliament has passed without discussion the first reading of a restrictive draft Religion Law, which may, according to some, pass its final reading on 21 October. However, others have told Forum 18 News Service that the second and final reading will be later. It is unclear what is in the current text, as officials refuse to release the latest version. Deputy Zainidin Kurmanov told Forum 18 that the latest text is on the parliamentary website, but other deputies state that they do not know what is in the draft Law. Kurmanov revealed that the draft Law includes: a ban on unregistered religious activity; a threshold of 200 adult citizens to gain state registration; a ban on "proselytism"; a definition of a "sect"; and a ban on the free distribution of literature.

Kurmanov claimed he didnot understand objections as "only criminals should be afraid of law and order." Protestant, Jehovah's Witness and Baha'i religious minorities have all expressed concern at the secrecy surrounding the Law, the lack of public consultation, and the restrictions thought to be in the first reading text. A joint Venice Commission / OSCE legal review of a July text of the Law is also highly critical of it. Officials claim to be organising a roundtable, but religious communities say they have not been invited to it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Open Doors: Phillippines (Direct Post)

Philippine Christians Fear Failed Pact Increases Risk of Reprisals

Militant Islamists in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao have stepped up their attacks on majority-Christian villages following the failure of a peace agreement that would have enlarged an existing Muslim autonomous region there.

“The problem is that many people living in these areas don’t want to be part of a Muslim autonomous region,” a source in Mindanao who preferred to remain anonymous told Compass Direct News. “The closer you get to these zones, the more nervous people are,” he said. “The town of Kolambugan, where most of the fighting took place in mid-August, became a virtual ghost town for a while. It had a population of 25,000. But people are slowly returning to their homes.”

A Christian family from the area said many people were afraid to sleep at night because they kept hearing reports that they would be attacked at midnight.

Read more about the ongoing violence in Mindanao.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Barnabas Fund: Iraq (Direct Post)

Iraqi Christians flee Mosul as Islamic extremists launch campaign against them:
"We left everything behind us. We took only our souls."

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the city of Mosul in northern Iraq over the past week after Sunni Muslim extremists launched a deadly campaign to remove the Christian community from the city. “We left everything behind us. We took only our souls,” said Ni’ma Noail (50), a civil servant who had to abandon his home in Mosul and is now living in a church. At least seven Christians were murdered between 4 and 8 October, killed execution-style by gunmen. Other estimates suggest the number of Christians killed is as high as 25 or even 40. Christian houses have been blown up, and at least 744 Christian families (approximately 3,750 people) have left their homes to find refuge with relatives or in churches and Christian centres in seven towns and villages to the north and east of Mosul. Some are sleeping in their cars. They are in desperate need of food, clothes, bedding, items for personal hygiene and other basic necessities. (13th October 2008)

Read More

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Forum 18: Kazakhstan (Direct Post)

6 October 2008

If convicted at his trial due on 9 October in the northern town of Esile, Baptist pastor Andrei Blok could face up to four months' imprisonment. He is being tried for refusing to pay an earlier fine for leading his unregistered church, part of what local Council of Churches Baptists describe as the authorities' "economic war" against them. Local Baptists told Forum 18 News Service Blok considered the fine "unfounded and illegal". The town police chief admitted to Forum 18 Blok is being prosecuted because of his unregistered religious activity. In mid-September, another Baptist pastor, Aleksandr Kerker, was given his second massive fine for leading unregistered worship, amid moves to seize his land and two cows for failure to pay his first fine. "The Baptists still go on holding their meetings - no one is really pressuring them," the judge who rejected Kerker's appeal told Forum 18. In the southern city of Shymkent, officials raided the Protestant New Life church's Sunday morning worship service.Like other religious leaders, the pastor was forced to fill out an intrusive questionnaire asking about the ethnic composition of his community. One official accused the pastor of "corrupting Kazakh nationals to change their religion".

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Compass Direct: India (Direct Post)

At least two killed today, another succumbed to axe injuries Wednesday; 400 houses burned.

NEW DELHI, October 3 (Compass Direct News) – At least two more Christians were killed today in Orissa state’s Kandhamal district after Hindu extremists this week set fire to nearly 400 homes there and in Boudh district. A third man succumbed to axe injuries on Wednesday (Oct. 1).
Weeks after Hindu extremist violence erupted against Christians, this morning tribal peoples in Sindhipankha village killed Dushashan Majhi, a local influential Christian, first shooting him and them cutting him to pieces. Local Christian leaders reported that Majhi was a government servant working in the treasury.

The mob then turned on Sanyasi Majhi, also said to be Christian, who was with Dushashan Majhi. There were unconfirmed reports that a third victim was killed along with the other two.

A local Christian who wished to remain unnamed told Compass that after killing the two men, the assailants massacred cattle belonging to village Christians and burned Christian-owned houses. Sindhipankha is about seven kilometers (four miles) from Tumudiband.

Local news reporter Lalit Jena told Compass from Kandhamal that the attacks – which have continued unabated since Hindu extremists blamed Christians for the death of Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 23 even though Maoist militants admitted murdering him – involve women first ransacking the Christian homes.

“The modus operandi of the tribal mob is such that women go first and attack the Christian houses,” he said. “They ransack and rob the household’s gold and other jewelry, TVs and all that is precious. The men then follow and burn the houses. Lately it has been reported that now they are fighting among themselves for the booty.”

Jena added that tribal peoples who lived in poverty before the violence now have obtained many heads of cattle, including goats and cows, within a short span, as well as household goods.

“They may have no electricity in their villages, but one can see lots of television sets, nearly all of it looted from the Christians,” he said.

Read more here ...

Compass Direct: Indonesia (Direct Post)

Residents reject letter of permission from Religious Affairs department.

JAKARTA, September 25 (Compass Direct News) – Residents in North Jakarta have ordered the pastor of a small congregation to cease holding services in his home, despite a letter of permission issued by the Religious Affairs department. On Sept. 12 village officials in South Rawa Badak, Koja district called a meeting with pastor Syaiful Hamzah and his wife Tiolida Sihotang, police officers, and representatives from the village mosque. At the meeting, officials urged Hamzah and his wife to sign a document agreeing to cease all worship services in their home, effectively rejecting permission granted by Religious Affairs officials. A sympathetic Muslim cleric, Wasi Sholeh, informed Hamzah that “certain people” had made violent threats against him, and that he could not guarantee Hamzah’s safety if he refused to sign the agreement. The couple eventually signed the document under duress.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Compass Direct: Kenya (Direct Post)

Effort to replace building with mosque injures 10 Christians, ruins structure.

GARISSA, Kenya, September 29 (Compass Direct News) – A longstanding effort to replace a church with a mosque in Kenya’s northern town of Garissa culminated in an attack by 50 Muslim youths this month that left the worship building in ruins.

The gang stormed the building of Redeemed Gospel Church on Sept. 14 and pelted the congregation with stones, sending many Christians fleeing while others became embroiled in fistfights. Ten Christians received hospital treatment for minor injuries and were released.

Church leaders said the Muslim mob also destroyed pews, damaged the church building’s walls of corrugated iron, smashed the glass-mounted pulpit and burned the church banner with its stand.

“We had just started the Sunday service when, without warning, a rowdy group of about 50 Muslim youths invaded the church, pelting stones at us and destroying our structures,” said the church youth chairman, identified only as Suma.

Local media reported that the 10 church members were hospitalized, but a district nurse at the hospital told Compass that no one was admitted due to the violence. A church elder at East Africa Pentecostal Church in Garissa, about 400 kilometers (249 miles) from Nairobi, confirmed that the church members were treated at the hospital and allowed to go home.

Tensions between Christians and the Muslim-majority population in the semi-desert town of 20,000 people began simmering after Muslims built a mosque next to the church plot at No. 21 Windsor in June 2007. Purchasing its land on Nov. 1, 1999, the church had begun worshipping there by early 2001, eventually growing to 400 members.

Church leaders complained to the district commissioner in June 2007 that the new mosque was built too close to the church – only three meters separate the two structures – and that it was blocking the church entryway.

“Prior to that, the owner of that land had promised to use half of it and sell the other half to the church,” the church leaders reported to the district commissioner in June 2007. “But in 2007, she changed her mind and gave it to the sheikhs to build the mosque. We reported the matter to the DC’s office that it would not go well with the church.”

Officials had ruled that no further permanent structures were to be set up on the land by either party until a later date to be determined by the district commissioner.

“The church faithfully obeyed, but the Muslims defied the orders and began immediately to put up a permanent structure,” according to the letter church leaders wrote to the district commissioner. The building of the mosque was allegedly sponsored by M.K. Roble, a wealthy Muslim in Garissa, according to the letter.

“The problems between the church and the Muslims began and have escalated since then,” it states.

Government security intelligence had reported that Muslims planned to destroy the church if it continued to operate within the residential area, District Commissioner (DC) Alois Okango told Compass. The administration had proposed a new site for the church to worship, Jamhuri Club, but two days before the attack church leaders wrote two letters to Okango saying they would remain worshipping in their building.

“We would like to notify you that our church members have decided to have our Sunday service at our usual place on September 14 and not at the new site of Jamhuri Club,” they wrote in one of the letters, “because we have come to realize that the new site is only temporary, and we will only move out of our premise if we are guaranteed a permanent place of worship.”

Okango told Compass that to avert a crisis, the administration has decided that the church should relocate temporarily to a site near an agricultural showground. The government also advised the church to sell its property near the mosque and buy another piece of land, preferably outside Garissa town center.

This suggestion, Okango told Compass, did not augur well with church members, who felt they had already established the church at the site and that it was the mosque that should be moving.

“The Christians threatened to go and worship in the ruined premises if no action was taken,” Okango said. “They said they were ready to die for the sake of their faith.”

The government is striving to avert further incidents by preventing the Christians from returning to the ruined structure, according to a Provincial Police official identified only as Chelimo. With tensions expected to rise during the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said police were taking precautionary measures to ensure that the congregation never returned to their property.

“To allow this would be suicidal,” Chelimo told Compass. “We have deployed five security guards every day to make sure that the members of the church will not enter its structure.”

Elusive Justice

Wondering why those who attacked the church had not been arrested and charged in court, Redeemed Gospel Church pastor David Matolo said the government should punish the assailants.

“The church has the right to be protected by the government – allowing the minority Christians to suffer is quite wrong,” Pastor Matolo told Compass. “Why should the Muslims interfere with the church’s worship? I as their pastor cannot shy away when my members are ill-treated. We are ready to pay the price, but we want justice to be done.”

He said church leaders had agreed on an alternative site only to have the district commissioner suddenly revoke it.

“The DC had promised to locate us to the provincial residential area, and we had cleared the said site, only to be stopped without prior notice,” Pastor Matolo said. “Now we have no place to worship.”

A missionary from Tanzania who works in the area informed Compass that Muslims have distributed leaflets threatening to destroy all churches in Garissa. They have also threatened to burn Garissa’s open-air market operated by Christians from “down Kenya,” that is, non-Muslims, he said.

The missionary said the safety of the more than 2,000 Christians in Garissa is in jeopardy, and he appealed to the government to protect the right of worship of all people.

“It is quite unfair that the Redeemed Gospel Church has been displaced and is now praying under a tree in an open space with no amenities,” he said.

District Commissioner Okango said that the administration must protect Muslims from the noise of worship emanating from church at night that has disturbed residents, as well as prevent clashes. In both the mosque and church, loud speakers had been set up facing each other with confrontational messages blaring from each.

“The government is sensitive to the feelings of the people,” Okango said. “We cannot allow disorder to reign in North Eastern Province in the name of religious patriotism.”

Land issues alone have not been responsible for tensions in the area. The Rev. Ibrahim Kamwaro, chairman of the Pastors’ Fellowship in Garissa, said Pastor Matolo had offended Muslims when he preached to a lame Muslim man.

Muslims were said to be upset that the pastor persuaded the disabled man to stop going to the mosque and instead join his church. Pastor Matolo’s alleged promise to the disabled man of a better life offended area Muslims, Rev. Kamwaro said.

Muslims restrict churches in Garissa in various ways: Christians are not allowed conduct prayers, sing or use musical instruments in rented homes owned by Muslims. No teaching of Christian Religious Education in schools is allowed; only Islamic Religious Knowledge is taught.
Garissa has more than 15 Christian denominations, the main ones being the East Africa Pentecostal Church, the Redeemed Gospel Church, the Anglican Church, Deliverance Church, the Full Gospel Churches of Kenya, the Africa Inland Church and African Christian Churches and schools.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Open Doors: Kyrgystan, Kazakhistan (Direct Post)

2 October 2008

Kyrgyzstan's proposed new Religion Law - which ruling party deputies say will make it more difficult for religious communities to gain legal status and for people to share their faith - is set to reach the full Parliament in the second half of October, Kanybek Osmanaliev, Chair of the State Agency for Religious Affairs, told Forum 18 News Service. "There are many inadequacies in the current law," a parliamentary press officer told Forum 18. "Religious organisations function freely without any control. This law will bring control." Osmanaliev has expressed concern over the"abnormality" of a rising number of people changing faith, especially young ethnic Kyrgyz joining Christian churches. He complained of "illegal" activity by "various destructive, totalitarian groups and reactionary sects", among whom he included the Hare Krishna and Mormon communities. FrIgor Dronov of the Russian Orthodox Church told Forum 18 of his support for the proposed new Law. "The earlier Law was too liberal and led to the spiritual destruction of the country. Thank God the state is starting to act."

29 September 2008

Kazakhstan's controversial new restrictions on freedom of thought,conscience and belief have passed the lower house of parliament, the Majilis, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. "The Senate will consider the Law within days, then it will go to the President," Kayrat Tulesov, Deputy Head of the state Religious Affairs Committee told Forum 18. "We're trying to have this law adopted in its current form." He brushed aside the many strong criticisms from human rights defenders and religious organisations of the draft Law, which amends the Religion Law, the Administrative Code, and other laws. Kamal Burkhanov, who leads the Majilis Working Group preparing the text of the Law, is finalising the text. He refused to make it public, telling Forum 18: "We cannot provide you with a copy of the text - it is our law after all, and it should be none of your concern."

Kazakh human rights defenders, such as Ninel Fokina, head of the Almaty Helsinki Committee, strongly criticise the lack of openness and delay in releasing the text. She pointed out to Forum 18 that "clarifications" can still be introduced into the draft before it is sent to the Senate. A senior official has allegedly suggested that the authorities plan to "very delicately, very exactly, in a very coordinated way and without noise" close some religious organisations.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Open Doors: Eritrea (Direct Post)


An evangelist imprisoned since 2006 for his Christian activities is receiving especially harsh treatment because of his ministry to fellow inmates. Teame Weldegebriel’s family is worried about his health after trying repeatedly, without success, to get permission to visit him. “Please tell the brethren to continue praying for me. I am not sure I will see them again,” Weldegebriel said. According to Compass Direct News, there are more than 2,000 Christians in Eritrea who are imprisoned for their faith.

In mid-July, a Christian woman and her children were rounded up from a prayer meeting and placed in a metal shipping container until their release last month. “I remember the horrible ordeal I went through with the children. After three weeks I was released with my two children, while the other Christian soldiers remained locked in the prison cells,” said the woman, who requested anonymity for security reasons. Her husband had been previously arrested but the family has not been able to make contact with him since June 2007. Read more about the ongoing persecution in Eritrea.

Open Doors: Iran (Direct Post)


Without international pressure, there is little to stop the Iranian government from ratifying a bill that will make apostasy (leaving Islam) a capital crime, warns human rights groups and experts. On Sept. 9, the Iranian parliament approved a new penal code by a vote of 196-7 calling for a mandatory death sentence for apostates, or those who leave Islam. The Christian and Baha’i communities of Iran are most likely to be affected by this decision. “Unless there is a coordinated and very strong effort from the international community to place pressure on Iran for this, I don’t think there will be anything stopping the Iranian government from passing this legislation,” Joseph Grieboski, founder of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, told Compass Direct News. Read more about the apostasy bill and its effects in Iran.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Forum 18: Russia (Direct Post)

22 September 2008

Baptists in different parts of Russia have experienced state harassment in recent months, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. This has included interrogation by the FSB security service, defamatory state television coverage, a warning for home worship and a fine for preaching in public. The congregations concerned all belong to the Baptist Council of Churches,whose communities do not register with state authorities. In one example, two FSB security service officers in Kurgan Region separately questioned two Yurgamysh church members for four hours about internal church matters. Regional state TV later broadcast a programme on the church called"Criminal News". This made unsubstantiated allegations, such as that children from the church are "retarded, downtrodden, dress differently from other [school] pupils and often have to repeat the year," and that church members live off illegal business. The region's parliament is to consider proposals "to protect citizens from religious sects" on 30 September. Proposals include compulsory notification of the existence of an unregistered religious group and compulsory registration for communities with ten or more members.

Barnabas Fund - Indonesian Village Destroyed (Direct Post)

Indonesia - Help Needed to Restore Destroyed Christian Village

We reported in May on the destruction of Horale, a mainly Christian village in a remote area of Maluku province in Indonesia. It is home to 175 families. On the night of May 2 a mob from a predominantly Muslim village nearby attacked Horale, wounding 56 Christians and brutally killing four, including an 84-year-old man and a six-year-old girl. The local school, three churches and 120 houses were burnt down and crops, fishing boats and motor-cycles destroyed. The villagers fled to the jungle to hide from the attackers.

Barnabas Fund is helping the Christians of Horale to rebuild their homes and their lives. The first grant was sent earlier this month. The main aim is to help the villagers to reconstruct up to 120 houses, by providing funds to cover the building materials. An average house costs about $1,840, and the villagers will do the building work themselves. If sufficient funds are available Barnabas Fund intends also to assist with the reconstruction of the community center and village school, and also to provide fishing boats. In order to highlight the plight of the Christians of Horale we have put together a Powerpoint presentation containing background information and images which could be used within a church service or study group. Download as a Powerpoint presentation, or PDF.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Open Doors: Laos (Direct Post)

Christians Pressured to Renounce Faith

LAOS - Confronted with evidence of rights abuses, an official in Champasak province, Laos, said district officials had “misunderstood” religious freedom regulations when they arrested and detained two men for converting to Christianity, according to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF). District police officers, in cooperation with the village chief, arrested Khambarn Kuakham and Phoun Koonlamit on Sept. 8, accusing them of “believing in Christianity, a foreign religion,” HRWLRF reported.

The Lao Movement for Human Rights confirmed that both men had been placed in criminal detention for five days and ordered to renounce their faith. According to Compass Direct News, officials warned Kuakham that he had violated the terms of his employment by having contact with Christians and converting to the Christian faith. He must renounce his faith in order to return to his teaching position, they said. If he refused, he would face a lengthy detention. Read more about persecution in Laos on our website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ICC: More news from Orissa (Letter from ICC)

I'm sure you have heard the terrible news coming out of Orissa, India where the Christian community has been brutalized.

Up to 50 Christians have been murdered and 100 churches destroyed, with 20,000 in refugee camps and up to 50,000 Christians hiding in the jungles and left homeless.

As we speak, ICC has 2 representatives inside Orissa. One will be distributing emergency aid to devastated Christians and the other is investigating/recording the ongoing tragedy.

We are doing an initial distribution of aid that will help 500 believers and are hoping to do a lot more. We are distributing blankets, soap, baby food, etc.

The brother doing the investigative work is about to go into areas without phone or email. This morning I received this email from one of the brothers and thought I would send it out to you as he tells us that we must mobilize prayer for the believers there.

Dear Jeff,

In spite of all the assurance given by state govt. the local administration
has not done any thing to subdue violence in Kandhamal. The death toll is
increasing everyday. The demolition of houses and forceful conversion has become
everyday news.

Day before yesterday, someone tricked Ishwar and his wife Pranati to
come out of the relief camp (by saying his father died). Having heard this
tragic news he and his wife came out of the relief camp and went through the
forest to reach their village where they found that the news given to them was
false. On the way back to the relief camp Pranati told police that a group of
tribals forced her husband to accompany them deep into the jungles and then
killed him. Pranati has lodged a case with the police but the dead body is not
recovered by police.

We need to mobilize prayer even more intensively than before. Our
rescuer is God himself. No one seem to (care for the) Christians in Orissa. The
police and the administration are in partners with (the radical Hindus who are
attacking us) and their schemes. Only God can intervene in our situation. Thank
you for praying for us.

Brother ______ is traveling today to ___________ in south Orissa.
Fifteen Christian villages were set on fire there, and an evangelist was burnt

Thank you for the immediate help extended to persecuted Christians in

God bless you.

With you in the Kingdom building

This incredible outpouring of hate against believers in India is staggering. Please lift up your brothers and sisters right now and in the coming days and ask God to protect the believers as well as our two representatives inside.

Be Blessed,
Jeff King
President, International Christian Concern

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Open Doors: Eritrea (Direct Post)


Imprisoned and tortured for her Christian faith since December, 37-year-old Azib Simon died of malaria in Eritrea’s Wi’a Military Training Center in late July. Christians in the prison are rarely given medical attention, and sources said authorities refused to provide treatment for Azib’s malaria. Five Christians have now died in Eritrean prisons after being tortured for refusing to recant their faith.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

VOM: Saudi Arabia (Direct Post) - Muslim Cleric kills sister after she converts

In August, a Muslim cleric and member of Saudi Arabia’s Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, killed his sister 26-year-old Fatima Al-Mutairi, after she proclaimed her faith to her family, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The Voice of the Martyrs contacts report Fatima’s fellowship with other believers was mainly limited to Internet forums and phone correspondence. "As part of her testimony to the family, she proclaimed that the way of Christ is the most pure and most holy way of all. After sharing with her family, she found her brother in her room with her laptop open before him," VOM contacts said. "Her laptop contained notes about her spiritual journey, which he was searching in order to find more evidence against her. Her brother locked her in the room for four hours, during which time she wrote a final letter on the Internet. Fatima was killed soon thereafter," VOM contacts added.

Prior to her martyrdom Fatima wrote a poem that shows her love for Christ and her desire to share His love with her family.

And We For the Sake of Christ All Things Bear
A poem written by Fatima Al-Mutairi before her martyrdom

May the Lord Jesus guide you, Oh Muslims
And enlighten your hearts that you might love others
The forum does not revile the Master of the prophets
It is for the display of truth, and for you it was revealed
This is the truth which you do not know
What we profess are the words of the Master of the prophets
We do not worship the cross, and we are not possessed
We worship the Lord Jesus, the Light of the worlds

We left Mohammed, and we do not follow in his path
We followed Jesus Christ, the Clear Truth
Truly, we love our homeland, and we are not traitors
We take pride that we are Saudi citizens
How could we betray our homeland, our dear people?
How could we, when for death - for Saudi Arabia - we stand ready?
The homeland of my grandfathers, their glories, and odes - for it I am writing
And we say, "We are proud, proud, proud to be Saudis"
We chose our way, the way of the rightly guided
And every man is free to choose any religion
Be content to leave us to ourselves to be believers in Jesus
Let us live in grace before our time comes
There are tears on my cheek, and Oh! the heart is sad
To those who become Christians, how you are so cruel!
And the Messiah says, "Blessed are the Persecuted"
And we for the sake of Christ all things bear
What is it to you that we are infidels?
You do not enter our graves, as if with us buried
Enough - your swords do not concern me, not evil nor disgrace
Your threats do not trouble me, and we are not afraid
And by God, I am unto death a Christian - Verily
I cry for what passed by, of a sad life

I was far from the Lord Jesus for many years
Oh History record! and bear witness, Oh Witnesses!
We are Christians - in the path of Christ we tread
Take from me this word, and note it well
You see, Jesus is my Lord, and He is the Best of protectors
I advise you to pity yourself, to clap your hands in mourning
See your look of ugly hatred
Man is brother to man, Oh learned ones
Where is the humanity, the love, and where are you?
As to my last words, I pray to the Lord of the worlds
Jesus the Messiah, the Light of Clear Guidance
That He change notions, and set the scales of justice aright
And that He spread Love among you, Oh Muslims

Monday, September 15, 2008

Forum 18: Kazakhstan (Direct Post)

11 September 2008

Baptists who do not wish to receive state registration continue to be punished for meeting for worship without legal status, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Three local administration officials and a police officer raided the Sunday worship service of a small congregation in Ayagozin East Kazakhstan Region in July. Church member Pavel Leonov was later fined 100 times the minimum monthly wage after refusing to register the congregation. On 3 September the Regional Court rejected his appeal, court officials told Forum 18. In Pavlodar Region, Oleg Voropaev was fined ten months' minimum wages for leading his Baptist congregation. "The state's compulsion of the community to register violates the rights to freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed by the Constitution," Voropaev told thecourt. Both Leonov and Voropaev have been fined in earlier years for their peaceful religious activity. Baptists have described the state's actions against them as an "economic war".

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Open Doors: Evangelical Family Attacked (Chiapas, Mexico) - Direct Post

Three Family Members Murdered in Chiapas, Mexico*

When the 11-year-old daughter of Antonio Gomez became ill of a stomach ailment, her father decided that it was due to witchcraft committed by his evangelical neighbor. On August 23, Gomez and seven of his friends allegedly killed three adults and wounded six children with machetes. According to Compass Direct News, the attackers burst into the family’s hut and killed the eldest son, Rene, and then fatally attacked his father and mother as well. Mariano Lopez Perez, public prosecutor of Indian Justice, said neighbors regarded the father in the attacked family, Gomez Diaz, as “an evangelical who prayed a great deal.” Read more about the Chiapas massacre on our website.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More violence in Orissa: Barnabas Fund (Direct Post)

India: Renewed Upsurge of Anti-Christian Violence by Hindu Extremists in Orissa

We have to report a shocking new outbreak of violence against Christians in the Indian state of Orissa, which has continued for several days.

On Saturday August 23, the Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates were assassinated. Saraswati, who was a senior figure in the nationalist VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), had called for India to become a Hindu nation, and strongly opposed the conversion of Hindus to Christianity. The police and state officials have blamed the attack on suspected Maoist rebels, and Christian leaders in India have clearly condemned it. But the VHP and its allies alleged in inflammatory speeches that Christians were responsible, and they called a protest that rapidly escalated into violence.

The media have very limited access to Orissa at present, and reports from the region are still somewhat confused. But it is already clear that damage to property is extensive. Scores of church buildings have been demolished, and hundreds of homes destroyed. Other Christian institutions, including schools, offices and prayer houses, have been vandalized, looted or burned. Buses and other vehicles have been torched.

Many Christians have been attacked, especially in rural areas where mobs are attacking whole villages. Church leaders have been beaten up and women raped, and as many as 10,000 believers may have fled into the jungle for safety, without food or protection from the monsoon rains. Current reports of the death toll range from 12 to 36.

Some of the stories emerging from the area are truly horrific. A young woman attempted to stop the extremists from attacking the children at a Christian orphanage, and was thrown alive into the burning building, where she died. A paralyzed man in another village was unable to escape from a fire and was burned to death. A pastor was killed and his body cut in pieces.

The response of the state government appears to have been patchy at best. At first the rioters blocked roads to hinder the progress of government forces. Later it was reported that curfews had been imposed, but these have not been consistently enforced. Additional protection has been provided in the towns, but not in the countryside. Christian leaders have appealed to the national government for help, and thousands of Christian schools and colleges have been closed in protest.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Forum 18: Tajikistan (Direct Post)


Worship for religious communities is becoming more difficult in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, Forum 18 News Service has learned. Several mosques were demolished in 2007 and a synagogue and a Protestant church were demolished with no compensation in summer 2008 amid city rebuilding plans. Two other Protestant churches and the Jehovah's Witnesses have been banned. Now the High Economic Court ruled on 29 August in the long-running dispute over the property of a further Protestant church, Grace Sunmin. But Judge Zulfiyya Yusupova - who had barred international observers from the courtroom - refused to tell Forum 18 what the decision was. The authorities want to seize the building back, despite the fact that the church bought it legally ten years ago. "For nine years we have been working on this place and renovation still continues," one church member told Forum 18. "But now the authorities think the time has come for them to take a ready building away from us." The OSCE office in Tajikistan is concerned about the confiscations and destruction, especially over the lack of transparency and the failure to ensure adequate compensation. "If the City of Dushanbe truly needs the said compounds for its civic and public plans, it should compensate the said religious groups accordingly," it told Forum 18. "Sheer confiscation and destruction of property, if done outside of national and international laws and with undue cause, would be contrary to the OSCE commitments of Tajikistan."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Open Doors: Indonesia (Direct Post)

The manager of a campground in East Jakarta asked staff members and 600 female students from a theological college who had taken refuge there to leave and pay fees. Officials had sent the students to the facility after a violent mob attacked the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology (SETIA) in East Jakarta on July 25. When police intervention failed, staff members and students were evacuated on July 26 and 27, even as protestors armed with swords, machetes, bamboo stakes and acid continued to attack them. At least 20 students were injured in the attack, some with sword slashes. Read more about these attacks on the Open Doors website.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. The Ramadan prayer campaign is now available for you to unite in prayer with other believers who are praying for the Muslim world during the month of September.

Prayer Points:
  • Pray that the staff members and students from SETIA will be able to return to their school soon and that the violence in East Jakarta will cease. (Psalm 7:9)
  • Pray for the love of God to infiltrate the hearts of the violent perpetrators in both Indonesia, and also in Orissa. (Acts 3:19)
  • Pray for the family and friends of those who have been killed amidst the violence in Orissa. (Isaiah 61:2)
  • Pray for Muslims to receive Jesus Christ in their pursuit of holiness this Ramadan. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

[*News Source: Compass Direct News ]

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One News Now: India (Direct Post)

Violence against Christians continues in one state in eastern India in the wake of the murder of an anti-Christian activist.

This past weekend a top leader in the World Hindu Council was killed by a mob of 20 men suspected of being Maoist rebels. Since then, other leaders of the World Hindu Council have incited followers to go on a rampage against Christians in India's Orissa state. At least eight people have been killed, including six members of churches affiliated with
Gospel for Asia. GFA reports that the buildings of at least 15 of its churches -- and the homes of more than 125 church members -- have been burned. GFA founder and president K.P. Yohannan encourages Christians around the world to pray for and help those affected by the rioting. He recalls when Jesus pleaded with his disciples to remain awake for at least one hour, waiting with him in prayer. "Which means he is saying, 'I'm in great pain and great sorrow. Share my suffering,'" Yohannon says. "And I think as believers, in a free nation like this, we need to be asking the Lord to give us a burden to understand the pain and suffering of multitudes of Christians, our brothers and sisters, and [to] pray for them. [Perhaps to] take a day of the week to fast and pray for them."

Hindu extremists are blamed for torching a Christian orphanage and raping and murdering a nun. In an online video address, the ministry leader also shares that they know nothing of the whereabouts of dozens of their GFA missionaries.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Open Doors: China (Direct Post)

Chinese Government Plans Crackdown on House Church Leaders

As the Olympics have concluded, there is new evidence of religious freedom abuses that reveals a stark contrast to China’s effort in providing religious services for athletes and visitors during the Games. According to Compass Direct News, China hired religious clerics and published a special bilingual edition of the Bible for distribution to athletes and official churches during the event. Simultaneously, officials asked house church leaders in Beijing to sign documents agreeing not to hold services during the Games, the China Aid Association (CAA) reported on August 13. As most Olympic athletes, tourists, and journalists will be gone by October, China has a new strategy on dealing with what they call four “troublesome elements,” which includes house church leaders, CAA reported on August 18. Read more about the government crackdown on house church leaders in China.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Forum 18: Uzbekistan


Uzbekistan is continuing its nationwide attacks on religious minorities, Forum 18 News Service notes. The trial of Aimurat Khayburahmanov, a Protestant detained since 14 June in the north-west of the country, is in progress. He faces a possible sentence of between five and 15 years' imprisonment, and is being tried for teaching religion without official approval and establishing or participating in a "religious extremist"organisation. In a related case, Jandos Kuandikov, another local Protestant, has been fined for unregistered religious activity. The judge in that case, Bakhtiyor Urumbaev, claimed to Forum 18 that the Immanuel and Full Gospel churches were banned in Uzbekistan. Kuandikov disputes this, pointing out that his church is seeking re-registration.

Forum 18: Kazakhstan


Almaty regional Public Prosecutor's Office seems keen to seize property from religious communities, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Six property cases against Christian and Muslim religious organisations in the region are known to have been initiated since mid-June. Amongst them is Agafe Protestant Church, the regional Economic Court ruling - despite numerous violations of due process - that the Church's building and land should be confiscated. A defence lawyer has received anonymous death threats, and an appeal will take place on 27 August. The regions' Hare Krishna commune also continues to struggle to retain its property. Similar attempts to seize religious property continue elsewhere in Kazakhstan. Near the north-western town of Alga, New Life Protestant Church has been evicted from its building. Grace Protestant Church in Semey, eastern Kazakhstan, has been forced to brick up windows, as the Fire Brigade insists on this "in case there is a fire in the neighbouring property." The Church has also been prohibited from using its own building.