Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Open Doors: Sri Lanka (direct post)

Attacks on Bible School in Sri Lanka Continue

A Provincial Council member, identified as Winton Appuhamy, assaulted a security guard at a Bible college in Lunuwila two weeks after an attack on the institution’s students. Appuhamy appeared at the college gate at midnight on March 15 and assaulted the unarmed security guard. After beating the security guard, he left, threatening to return and rape female students who are residents at the college. When Appuhamy was arrested by the police, he claimed that he had acted out of patriotic concern, accusing the school of harboring Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists.

In the previous March 2 attack, a group of masked men had beaten the Bible college students as they walked from the railway station to the school, injuring nine of them. Rev. Lal Vanderwall, Diocesan Overseer of the Believers’ Church said “There were about 10 men on motorbikes who assaulted them, kicking and beating them with fists and rods”. Read Full Report

Please pray:
  • For God’s protection over our brothers in sisters in Sri Lanka. As in Psalm 37:39, "He is their stronghold in time of trouble."
  • For compassion toward our enemies. “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” Psalm 145:8

Open Doors: India (direct post)

Rajasthan, India Passes New ‘Anti-Conversion’ Bill

On March 20, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party passed a new “anti-conversion” bill in Rajasthan state, an area situated in the north-western part of India. The constitutionally questionable bill states that if a group or organization is found to be “contemplating” the use of money for converting people, its registration can be cancelled. Christian groups fear this provision would provide the pretext for numerous complaints against Christian organizations.

The bill also obliges anyone intending to convert to send notice at least 30 days in advance or face a fine of up to 1,000 rupees ($25 US). It adds that the same requirement and penalty will not be applied to a person wishing to revert to her or his “original religion.”
Read Full Report

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

News Round-up: Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Israel

(ADNKronos) Saudi Arabia, in negotiations with the Vatican, has announced that it might be possible to have churches in that country -- if Christians acknowledge the Prophet Mohammed. Read more.

(BBC) Moammar Qaddafi, during a visit to Uganda, has declared that the Bible has been "forged", since it doesn't mention the Prophet Mohammed. A leading Ugandan Christian has called for forgiveness for Qaddafi's remark. Read more.

(YNetNews) After a Purim attack on a 15-year-old Messianic Jewish boy from Ariel, Messianic Jews speak out about harassment by religious Jews in Israel. Read more.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Compass Direct: Ethiopia

Two churches in Southern Ethiopia were attacked by Muslims, leaving one worshiper dead and wounding 23 others. The attacks were eventually stopped by local militia, although a Christian policeman was attacked while militia did nothing, and was shot by a militiaman who claimed to be shooting at his attacker. Eyewitnesses say that this is unlikely, and that the militiaman is Muslim and was sympathetic to the attackers.

Read more.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Compass Direct: Forcible Reconversion in Himachal Pradesh

Hindus in India have long accused Christians of "forcibly converting" Hindus to Christianity. Now they have done for real what they have only be able to accuse Christians of. Two hindutva organizations, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) lured, pressured, threatened and bribed known Christians to a Hindu temple and forced them to sign papers, eat food offered to Hindu idols and drink water from the Ganges.

Sadly, some of the Christians capitulated for real, but many were adamant that what had been done was forced on them and they still intended to follow Christ.

Read more.

Compass Direct: China

Compass Direct news reports that a Chinese Christian, Liu Huiwen, imprisoned for distributing a Christian leaflet to Muslims, has been placed in a Muslim-majority prison and is being mistreated. After a recent (twice-monthly) prison visit, his wife said he looked very thin and was limping. His wife attempted to go to Beijing to report this mistreatment, and was warned by the police to stay home and keep quiet.

Please write to or fax the Chinese Embassy on Liu's behalf.

Chinese Embassy in Washington DC
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 338-6688
Fax: (202) 588-9760

Read more.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Forum 18: Uzbekistan


Uzbekistan continues to attack peaceful religious activity, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. A Baptist in the eastern city of Fergana, Eduard Kim,was fined the equivalent of nine months average wages, after a raid by ten state officials on his house where about 40 local Baptists were meeting for Sunday morning worship. A Pentecostal pastor near the capital Tashkent, Kamal Musakhanov, has been fined over two months average wages for"violating the rules on teaching religious doctrines." His congregation is affiliated to a registered Pentecostal church. Jehovah's Witnesses in the central city of Samarkand were raided and some of their members were severely assaulted by police. And Grace Presbyterian Church in Tashkent has been forced to halt all its activities. Asked why the church was stripped of legal status and property, an official told Forum 18 that "they violatedthe laws on religious propaganda and not everything was in order with the auction whereby they had purchased their building."

Forum 18: Russia (Direct Post)


A regional court in Russia has dissolved a functioning Methodist congregation because it did not file a report about its annual activities on time, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Deprived of legal personality status, the church may now only gather for worship at premises provided by its existing members and give them religious instruction. Methodist Pastor Vladimir Pakhomov told Forum 18 News Service that the Belgorod branch of the Federal Registration Service "even told me there was no point in attending court, as the church would be closed in any case." The court did not - contrary to a Constitutional Court decision - attempt to find out whether the church operates or not. "They could close us and others down in exactly the same way - many registered communities don't submit this information in time as they see it as a formality," a local Baptist pastor commented. The Methodists did not submit their report on time due to the near impossibility of Protestants finding a suitable legal address in Belgorod Region. "We sent them letters, two official warnings," a local official told Forum 18. "When we got no response we had no choice but to take them to court."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

WEA RLP: Iraq (Direct Post)

[Edited] - Update: CNN has just reported that the Archbishop has been found dead:

There has been no word from Archbishop Rahho since his abduction and, while the kidnappers have twice raised the ransom price, they refuse to give any proof he is alive. Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk told Aid to the Church in Need that they are deeply worried that Archbishop Rahho is either extremely ill or dead. Further to this, 20 March marks the fifth anniversary of the start of the US-led war on Iraq. Terrorists have vowed that on this anniversary they will 'open a new page in the fighting' and focus on operations that will 'cause the maximum pain and bewilderment to the enemy'. This might be sheer bluster, or it might be a legitimate threat. Please pray that God will protect his remnant Church in Iraq.

WEA RLP: Tensions Escalating in Sri Lanka (Direct Post)


Ethnic and religious tensions have grown again in Sri Lanka over the past two years as hostilities between Tamil separatists and the Sinhalese-dominated government have escalated. The Church bridges the Tamil-Sinhalese divide and is therefore targeted by extremist militants from both sides. The war, which officially resumed mid-January 2008, gives Buddhist nationalists a perfect opportunity to attack the Church under the cover of the prevailing chaos, and even blame the Tamil separatists. Christians have been the targets of several appallingly violent attacks in recent weeks. In Ampara on 17 February, Pastor Neil Edirisinghe (37) was fatally shot in a contract killing, while his wife Shiromi (31) was critically wounded. Please pray for peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

Action Item: Letters to North Korea from America (Direct Post)

Free North Korea Radio has launched a special program entitled Letters from America. They have asked Christians in America to share their personal thoughts about North Korea with North Korean people. These letters will be read aloud and broadcasted into North Korea on a special program.

These letters are intended to give North Koreans a better perspective on how Americans really think and live. If you are interested in taking part in this program, send an email to, including what you would like to say to the North Korean people. Please keep the letter short-- with approximately 200-300 words in length. You can write more than once since this radio program is aired weekly.

View CNN segment on Kim Seung Min and Free North Korea Radio

Open Doors: Somalia (Direct Post)

Hawa Ahmed has survived 17 years of war in Somalia . At 30 she is the mother of 3 small children. Until the recent fighting near her home in Mogadishu , she and her husband were making a living by selling fruit in the market. As the fighting broke out, it got more and more dangerous to stay, so they fled with hundreds of others to a makeshift camp on the outskirts of war-torn, war-tired Mogadishu which was once Somalia 's beautiful and prosperous capital.
The 19 mile long road in Somalia from the edge of Mogadishu to the town of Afgooye is filled with camps for displaced people. Family after family has been crammed into tiny shelters made of bent twigs and scraps of cloth. Hawa is tired and thin. She says, "I have never begged, but I am close to it now."

Somalia is currently Number 12 on Open Doors 2008 World Watch List of most persecuted countries in the world. Due to the high risk to both missionaries and converts Open Doors has in the past been cautious when communicating about Somalia. It is time to break the silence - Somalia desperately needs change. Register to receive the monthly prayer points beginning April 1st. Be a part of the global prayer campaign.

Open Doors: Laos

According to Compass Direct, nine Hmong church leaders in Laos have been sentenced to 15 years in prison because their churches had grown past the point Laotian leaders deemed "acceptable". Laos has no guaranteed freedom of expression, in fact, previously, Laotian believers were ordered to sign forms renouncing their faith. If they did not do so, they were evicted from their homes and villages. Please pray for these leaders, their families and churches and Laotian leaders, that they will come to know Christ and recant these imprisonments. (More info here.)

Forum 18: Belarus (Direct Post)


Belarus seems to be increasing its use of technical building regulations to harass Protestant churches, Forum 18 News Service notes. The fire safetyd emands for which one church was fined would have involved moving walls, Pastor Mikhail Kabushko, a Pentecostal in Brest Region, told Forum 18. "Every time they check, there is something new. Even if we were to fulfil everything now, there's no guarantee they won't come up with something more." Separately, the pastor of a Minsk-based charismatic church, who also thinks health and safety demands are being used to oppress Protestants, faces prosecution for refusing to admit state inspectors onto church property. Officials have avoided answering Forum 18's questions. A 50,000-signature, 3,442-page long petition from across Belarus calling for a change to the Religion Law has been submitted to the Constitutional Court, Parliament and Presidential Administration. The Constitutional Court has replied that appeals should be submitted via President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Parliament or other authorised state bodies. These state bodies now have a month to reply to the petition.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Forum 18: Russia (Direct Post)


At the request of a Russian Orthodox bishop, the regional PublicProsecutor's Office, Organised Crime Police, Department for the Affairs of Minors, Education Department and ordinary police in Smolensk have made a series of check-ups on a local Methodist church, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. They also forced the church to remove missionary college plans from its website. Bishop Ignati (Punin) of Vyazma claimed the college "aims not to bring about the rebirth of the spiritual-moral foundations of the life of our people, but its spiritual destruction." He then asked the Regional Public Prosecutor "to take the measures necessary in this situation to defend the inhabitants of our city, particularly youth, from this pseudo-religious organisation." Even though the Bishop's appeal contained no legal argument, the Public Prosecutor's Office explained to Forum 18 that it reacted because: "Any citizen or organisation may appeal to us." Ifa citizen suggests an organisation is harmful, but not in breach of the law, "we'll check the legality of its activity," Forum 18 was told.

Methodist Pastor Aleksandr Vtorov has filed suit for moral damages against Bishop Ignati. Intimidated by the unprecedented wave of check-ups, onlyfive Methodists attended last Sunday's worship service, instead of the usual 36.

WEA RLC: Iraq (Direct Post)

After the US purged al-Qaeda from Iraq's Sunni centre in mid-2006, al-Qaeda made Mosul in northern Iraq its new base. Terrorism there then escalated with a continual stream of church bombings as well as the kidnap and assassination of Christian leaders. On 29 February, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho (65) was leaving Mosul's Holy Spirit Cathedral after celebrating the Way of the Cross when his car was ambushed by terrorists. Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped while his driver and two bodyguards were shot and killed. A $1.8 million ransom has been demanded. Mosul is no longer a refuge for Assyrian Christians and a full-scale war looms. Iraq's Christians desperately need our prayers. (Psalm 118:8)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Nations pressure China to stop crackdown on North Korean refugees

North Koreans (particularly North Korean Christians) have long sought to leave their repressive country for the relative freedom of South Korea or even China or Mongolia. One of the "underground railroads" which these people use runs through China, and the Chinese have been assiduous in tracking refugees who come in or through their country. They not only have arrested and repatriated the refugees, they also arrest those who help them.

Now, there is an international movement pressuring China to ease up on the refugees, who Chinese officials say come to China for financial reasons, not political ones. Read more.