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 ]