Thursday, January 31, 2008

GFA: India

Gospel for Asia reports that a legal case before the Supreme Court of India affecting the rights of Dalits (India's untouchable caste) has again been delayed. The case is intended to close a loophole that states that Dalits who convert from Hinduism are no longer eligible for assistance they have received from the government, on the grounds that the caste system is part of Hinduism, and if a Dalit converts, they are no longer covered by the caste system.

China Aid: Yunan Province

House church members in Yunan Province were beaten after they went to the police station to request an accounting of items seized by the police. One 53-year-old woman was knocked into a wall and rendered unconscious for about 10 minutes. Article here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Open Doors: Turkish Widow Needs Your Letters (Direct Post)

Send Letters to Semse and Her Children
Semse Aydin lost her husband, Pastor Necati Aydin, as he was tortured and murdered in a Christian publishing house in Malatya, Turkey on April 18, 2007. Ceker, one of the suspects, who recently went to trial, exclaims that he told the judge that the confrontation turned “tense” when Aydin, who pastored a small congregation in Malatya, declared to the five young Muslims, “We are all the children of Jesus.” Read full story
Semse could use some encouragement right now. She is raising two beautiful young children, Elisa (7) and Ester (6), who miss their father dearly. You can send letters to Semse and her children through Open Doors. Keep in mind that Semse and her children only speak Turkish, so letters and pictures from your own children are greatly appreciated in lieu of long letters that will require translation. Please see our letter writing guidelines for more information.

Send all letters to:

Open Doors
ATTN: Semse Aydin and Family
PO Box 27001
Santa Ana, CA 92799

Pakistan: Pastor Murdered

Pakistani pastor Sajid William was shot dead in Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province. Persecution is and has been a major problem for Christians in this region, as they have seen a steady pattern of threats, especially during 2007, to convert to Islam or die. Read more about this here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

WEA RLC: Uzbekistan

Persecution continues to be a problem for believers in Uzbekistan. Registration is required, but it is almost impossible for small churches to meet the requirements, and if they continue to meet in defiance of regulation, they risk raids, arrest and confiscation of property. Read more about it here.

Forum 18: Russia

Old Believers are among the many religious communities which have been unable to get back places of worship confiscated during the Soviet period, despite a 1993 presidential decree ordering their return. As Forum 18 News Service has found, Old Believer communities of the Moscow-based Belokrinitsa concord are increasingly turning to the internet to raise these and other religious freedom concerns. They told Forum 18 that internet coverage and associated lobbying saved one of their parishes inYaroslavl Region from being stripped of legal status in 2007. Yet inTolyatti in Samara Region the parish does not yet know if publicity will prevent their half-built church's building permission from being removed. "If the church is declared illegal, they'll have to knock it down," Old Believer website editor Irina Budkina told Forum 18. "That would be an act of sacrilege." In Morshansk in Tambov Region, a parish briefly recovered a historical church in 2002, only to see it re-confiscated. Asked by Forum 18 why the building could not function as a church again, the head of the town's Cultural Department insisted that it was impossible for residents to live so close to "such an institution".

From Voice of the Martyrs (direct post) - Pakistan, Ethiopia, India

Pastor Killed – VOM Sources

On January 17, a pastor was shot and killed by an unknown person in Peshawar, Pakistan. According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts, the pastor had worked with the Assembly of God Church in Peshawar, for the past 10 years. He is survived by his wife and a one-year-old daughter. Pray for this grieving family and church. Ask God to comfort believers in Peshawar and for this pastor's family to realize that to be absent from the body is to be present with Him. Psalm 27:1, Psalm 23

Christian Family's House Bombed – VOM Sources

On January 12, a home belonging to a Christian family was bombed in the southeastern city of Jijiga. According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts, "Terefe Feleke, his wife and their two children were in the house at the time of the attack, thankfully none of them were seriously hurt. The roof of the house was destroyed by the bomb blast. While searching the compound, the police found another bomb set to explode a few hours later." Praise God, this family was kept from serious harm. Pray for Christians in Jijiga, where Muslims have recently mounted attacks against Christians in an attempt to drive them out of the region. Pray believers in this area will remain faithful and demonstrate Christ's love to their persecutors. Joshua 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:7

Hindu Extremists Injure Nearly 100 – Compass Direct News

On January 16, more than 80 people were injured in an attack on a large Christian meeting in Chhattisgarh state. According to Compass Direct News, the attack was followed by an assault on a missionary camp in Dhamtari district that hurt at least a dozen Christians. "The Hindu attacks come within weeks of unprecedented anti-Christian violence in neighboring Orissa state. In Chhattisgarh's Durg district violence, Christians said it was no coincidence that Hindu nationalist extremists launched the attack as the political arm of the militants, the Bharatiya Janata Party, was holding a public meeting in the area," Compass Direct reported. Pray for the safety of believers in India. Ask God to heal and encourage them to remain courageous despite attacks and increased persecution. Pray the testimonies of these faithful believers will draw non- believers into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:19, Isaiah 26:3

Friday, January 25, 2008

Compass Direct: Bangladesh, India

In opposition to her conversion, unknown attackers set a 70-year-old Bangladeshi woman ablaze, leaving her with burns over 70% of her body. Please pray for healing for her and for courage to stand in her faith despite this hideous attack.

In the wake of Christmas violence against Christians in Orissa State in India, Christians are again being told to convert or die, and that there will be additional attacks against them. At least 4 Christians were killed, and 730 houses and 95 churches were burned in the earlier attacks. The Hindutva group, Rashtriya Swayemsevek Sangh (RSS) is responsible for inciting the violence, which included forced reconversions to Hinduism.

ICC: Pakistan, China, Somaliland

A poor Pakistani Christian laborer received a violent response by his Muslim employer when he asked for a raise.

Praise Item!: Three Chinese house leaders were released from labor camp in China, with an apology!

Somaliland officials tortured a house church pastor from Hargeysa for leading a high-ranking official's niece to Christ. Sources indicate that the Criminal Investigation Department in that country is infiltrated with jihadists who have compiled a list of church leaders which they have vowed to eliminate -- despite the claims of a Somali representative to the US, one Dr. Saad Noor, who says "There are no Christians in Somaliland."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Forum 18: Serbia, Uzbekistan

Minority faiths don't have long to wait for approval in Serbia. Why, in just '450 to 500' years (according to Milan Radulovic, former Religion Minister, presently in charge of approving permits) minority faiths may come to be acceptable. Read more about it here.

In Uzbekistan, despite an amnesty for prisoners in December, 2007, a number of people who are of minority faiths remained imprisoned. (

Also in Uzbekistan, Grace Church in Tashkent faces new attempts at eviction after earlier charges of providing psychotropic drugs (cough medicine!) were dropped. Full article

Friday, January 11, 2008

Forum 18: Belarus


A regional religious affairs official in Belarus has defended the legality of a fine, imposed on Baptist pastor Yuri Kravchuk in mid-December for unregistered religious activity. "Just like in any other country," the official in the western city of Grodno, who declined to be named, insistedto Forum 18 News Service, "all religious organisations must be registered in order to have the right to function." In defiance of international human rights standards, Belarus is the only country in Europe making state registration compulsory before religious activity can take place. Asked why registration was needed, the official remarked that this was not a question for him. "I don't write the laws, I just implement them," he explained to Forum 18. "Here in the Republic of Belarus we have our own laws, whether good or bad. We think they're good, other people might think they're bad."

Meanwhile, on 10 January the charismatic New Generation Church in Baranovichi won in court as officials tried yet again to seize their church building from them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

WEA RLP: Central Asia (Former Soviet Islamic Republics)

During 2007 there were numerous reports of restriction and persecution of Christians in Central Asia. However, these may be only the tip of the iceberg of the real situation regarding persecution of the Christians living and worshipping God in the predominantly Islamic environment. Most of what would be considered persecution in Western countries is just part of daily life for every Christian there; persecution comes from family, neighbours, Muslim religious leaders and the government. Most of these cases may never become generally known. Religious legislation in these countries is undergoing changes that restrict worship and evangelism even more. Despite this, the number of Christians is constantly growing.

In AZERBAIJAN Christians are not allowed to worship together in unregistered churches; numbers of churches' attempts to get officially registered have been frustrated for years. A Baptist pastor, Zair Balayev, was arrested for illegal religious activities and 'resistance to police' during a home church service and sentenced to two years in prison. Other pastors are threatened with arrest. Any work with children and young people is strictly prohibited by the authorities. More changes in religious legislation are expected.

In KAZAKHSTAN the government proclaims freedom and its tolerance of all religion. However, in reality the preference is for traditional Sunni Islam, the Russian Orthodox Church and Judaism while other 'non-traditional' religious groups face difficulties and sometimes persecution. A large group of unregistered Baptist churches was harassed. Its members were fined and part of their property was confiscated as punishment for illegal church meetings. In August 2007 a large Presbyterian church was targeted by the National Security Committee police.

KYRGYZSTAN can be considered an oasis of religious tolerance in the Central Asian region. However, the government is becoming more and more aware of the growing intolerance among the local Muslim population towards Christian missionary activities. Converts are considered to be traitors to Islam and are threatened, excommunicated and sometimes severely persecuted by their families and neighbours. The government prefers not to interfere where possible and advises Christians not to provoke religious hatred.

In TAJIKISTAN the government insists on the secular nature of the state but Islamic traditions are very strong in the villages and there is a growing Islamic revival in the cities. Christianity is represented mainly by the Russian Orthodox Church and a small but growing number of Protestants. The local population reacts very negatively towards any missionary activities among Tajiks, with converts being considered traitors to the Islamic faith and are treated very badly. In some cases police threatened converts from Islam. Changes in legislation are bringing more restrictions on religious activities. Only groups with not less than 400 members (800 in the big cities) will be officially recognised, compared with the present 10. The religious education of children aged under seven will be prohibited. The Christian churches have developed their responses to the new law.

TURKMENISTAN became a police state with almost no freedom for its citizens during the rule of dictator Niyazov. After his death there were hopes of positive change but the situation with religious freedom only worsened. The Christians tell of a new wave of repression that especially affects churches consisting of ethnic Turkmen and other traditionally Islamic nationalities. The police raid the churches and the houses of believers, arresting church leaders, confiscating Christian literature and threatening the believers. Often the police collaborate with the local Islamic leaders.

In UZBEKISTAN the government seeks to prohibit any missionary or unregistered religious activities in the country. Christian literature is confiscated and Christians are fined. Changes in the existing religious legislation are expected which will make it even more repressive. At personal risk, Christian lawyers faithfully defend the rights of the persecuted Christians.


* thanking God for his continued enabling of the Christians in Central Asia and continuing growth of the churches in that region.

* asking him to protect and strengthen all the Christians and especially the Christian leaders with their families and those Christians who are converts from Islam.

* thanking God for the Christian lawyers who defend the rights of the persecuted Christians, praying for their protection, wisdom and success in their work.

'Deliver me from my enemies, O my God, protect me from those who rise up against me, deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. For, lo, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men band themselves against me.' (Psalm 59:1-3 RSV)

Open Doors: Iraq

Coordinated Blasts Rock Churches in Iraq

Four Iraqi churches and three convents were damaged in coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday. “Three churches in Baghdad and three in Mosul were hit without fatalities,” Bishop Andreas Abouna told Compass from Baghdad on Monday. He said the blasts occurred within five minutes of each other at approximately eleven in the morning. Father Bashar Warda of St. Peter’s Seminary said that the coordinated bombings sent a clear warning to Christians on the Feast of the Epiphany, which is also known as Christmas Eve day for several of Iraq’s indigenous churches. “There has been much violence against the Sunni and Shiites, while the Christians have been left alone, at least for [the past few months],” Warda told Compass. He said that the blasts let Christians know that, “whatever [violence] is happening around the country, you [Christians] will be part of it also.” Read full story

Please pray:
  • That the damage to the churches and convents will not impair the ministry in their communities and it will be quickly fixed with minimal costs. (2 Kings 12:5)
  • And give thanks to the Lord that there were no fatalities! (Psalm 78:4)
  • That the death threats and bombings will cease. (Deuteronomy 11:25)

Open Doors: Honduras

Repeated Attack on a Pastor in Honduras

Misael Argeñal, a pastor of a large church in Honduras, was beaten and robbed last month for the second time in three years. According to Compass Direct News, organized criminals who oppose his stand against violence may be behind the attacks. Highway robbers stopped him, beat him, and held him hostage for one hour. They robbed him not only of electronic equipment but also took the clothes he was wearing.“It was an act of intimidation to stop my work,” the pastor said. A week before the attack, Argeñal told Spanish-language TV network Univision that two men dressed as policemen on a motorcycle followed him as he left his 25,000-member, La Cosecha (The Harvest) church. “They told me that if I didn’t stop (my ministry) they would kill me,” Argeñal said.
Read full story

Please pray:
  • For Argeñal’s health and that he will continue to be bold in preaching the gospel. (Job 33:26)
  • That his church will grow even larger than it is today with active members willing to serve God and share His truth. (Ezekiel 36:10)
  • For the salvation of the perpetrators of this attack. (Psalm 67:2)