Five Christians Killed, Five Others Missing in Muslim Herdsmen Attacks in Nigeria

These murders go on with impunity. Pray for increased protection and arming of civilians even.

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

The Rev. Dacholom Datiri of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN). (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Five Christians were killed and five others are missing after attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Plateau and Benue states in the past two weeks.

Two members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) were killed on Sunday (Nov. 12) in Plateau state’s Wereng village, Riyom Local Government Area (LGA), as they were returning to their village at about 9:30 p.m., area resident Gyang Dahoro, a COCIN elder, told Morning Star News.

Christopher Musa Chong, 28, and Bulus Dantoro, 35, were ambushed and shot death, and their corpses cut with machetes, according to Dahoro.

“The two did not return to the village on Sunday evening,” Dahoro said. “A search was organized, and their corpses were found in bushes the following morning with bullet wounds and machete cuts.”

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Martha-Kygizia

 

Martha has been detained in a psychiatric hospital, because her family deem her mad having left Islam to follow Christ. Pray for her succor by God and soon release. Pray for others under family and work pressure, for grace to stand firm.

Convictions of Malatya Murderers but still no justice. But some good news.

 UPDATE: A Muslim background believer came to faith as a result of being affected by these brutal murders in his home town of Malatya 10 years ago-pray for his establishment in the faith.

Pray these murderers will not escape justice!

Five Turks finally convicted of “Malatya massacre”

 

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LATEST:

UPDATE 27/7/17
Please pray for churches in Turkey who are concerned about a legal review of the sentences handed down last year to those guilty of murdering three Christians in Malatya in 2007. Last week, a court upheld the life sentences for the five perpetrators – but prison sentences for two high-ranking military men accused of planning the murders were declared ‘invalid’ and in need of review. Pray for justice for the families of the three murdered men: Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske. (Source: Middle East Concern) and for the conviction of those who masterminded the murders.

On Wednesday (28 September), five suspects charged with killing three Christians (pictured above, left to right, Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske) in Malatya in 2007 were finally convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  There are conflicting reports as to whether these convicted killers are at large or re-arrested.

UPDATE
Thank God for partial justice for the families of three Christians brutally killed in Malatya, Turkey, nine years ago. Yesterday, five men were convicted of murder and handed three consecutive life sentences each. Two military personnel were also given long jail terms: 16 other defendants were acquitted. Ugur Yuksel, Necati Aydin and Tilman Geske were tortured and killed at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya in April 2007. ?????However, because the convicted men plan to appeal, they remain at large: they have already been detained for the maximum limit of five years pending trial. It may take years for their appeal to be heard. The lengthy trial was made more complex by accusations that a criminal organisation was behind the murders, allegations that remain unproven. (Source: Middle East Concern)

Read the full story

UPDATE Thank God that a court in Turkey has awarded substantial damages (between £200,000 and £250,000) to the families of three Christians murdered in Malatya in 2007 – ruling that the Government was negligent in its duty to protect the men. Ugur Yüksel, Necati Aydin and Tilmann Geske were brutally killed at the publishing business where they worked. A court in Malatya ruled last week that officials ignored intelligence that Turkish nationalists were targeting the three Christians before they were killed. The trial of the five suspects continues, with the next hearing scheduled for March 1 (Prayer Alert, January 12). Pray for justice for the victims’ families. (Source: Morning Star News)

Are we near the end of the trial of the murderers of  Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and German national Tilman Geske drags on 7 years after their brutal deaths?

May the family and friends of the murdered men know peace.

May the Christians in Malatya continue faithful.

That all guilty will be convicted and some (DV) come to Christ.

That judges and officials will hear the gospel and be drawn to Christ.

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The victims

 

The accused


FOUR MALATYA MURDER SUSPECTS BLAME FIFTH

Four of the five suspects on trial for murdering three Christians in Turkey’s southeastern city of Malatya in 2007 have named the fifth suspect as the sole killer. The four men, now in their late 20s and each facing three consecutive life sentences, made their final defence appeals in court on 9 September (which was the 107th hearing in the eight-year long case).

The accused

  

The trial of the murderers of  Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and German national Tilman Geske drags on 7 years after their brutal deaths. The trial is into it’s 70th hearing. Pray for conclusion and justice.The three men were discovered bound to chairs by their hands and feet; each of them had been brutally stabbed and had their throats cut. Ugur was still alive when they were found but died later in hospital from his many wounds.

  

The three martyrs-Necati, Ugur and Tilman.

 

Five men, aged 19 and 20 at the time, were arrested at the scene and charged with murder. They each carried a note that read, “The five of us are brothers, we are going to death, we may not return. Give up any legitimate claim against us.”

Their trial opened in November 2007, and there have been 38 hearings since then but no verdict in the case. It has been complicated by attempts to identify those who instigated the murders.

In its 2012 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) named Turkey as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. Among the concerns raised about the country were “the delay of trials through lengthy procedures and the lack of convictions on some high profile cases”; the Malatya case was named as oneof them.

The shocking crime attracted high media coverage, and Tilman’s widow, Suzanne Geske, was interviewed on Turkish television shortly afterwards, where she expressed her forgiveness of her husband’s murderers. The couple had three children.

Necati was also married and had two children. Ugar was engaged; his fiancée has since married another Christian man.

Please pray for the conclusion of this trial and justice to be done .

 

Church leaders cannot train in Turkey.

It is almost impossible for churches to register officially-so people meet in unregistered house groups.

  • Pray for the victims families. Susanne Geske, Micah, Lukas and Miriam. Semse Aydin, Elisha and Ester.
  • For legal counsel who have been threatened.
  • For training of church leaders.
  • For easier church registration.
  • For the Lord to strengthen His people nationwide all at risk and despised.
  • ICC Note: Now six years removed from the brutal murders of three Christians in Malatya, Turkey, new evidence has been uncovered that provides additional support to the belief that the killings were part of a larger plot. The documents are believed to show that the murders were part of a network within the Turkish military and security forces that was aimed at discrediting Turkey’s ruling AKP party and creating the feeling of instability in the country. 

    09/26/13 Turkey (World Watch Monitor) – Nearly six years into the court trial over the murder of three Christians in southeastern Turkey, documents have emerged confirming that secret military units were involved in those assassinations and others.

    Malatya’s 3rd Criminal Court is forcing prosecutors and the military to turn over previously secret documents, throwing light on a shadowy network believed to be behind several decades of assassination and coup plots in Turkey.

    The court is conducting the trial of five men accused of stabbing, torturing and then slashing the throats of Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske in the Malatya office of Zirve Christian Publishing on April 18, 2007.

    Earlier this month, the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office handed over to the Malatya court confidential intelligence files seized from the General Staff’s Tactical Mobilization Group archives, known as the “Cosmic Room” in the Turkish media.

    According to the most recent indictment in the Zirve case, the documents confirm the existence and illegal activities of secret military units involved in extrajudicial surveillance and assassinations of members of Turkey’s Christian minority communities.

    “These documents have made it easier for us to see the big picture of what kind of an organization this is,” Zirve plaintiff lawyer Erdal Dogan told Taraf newspaper on Sept. 16.

    In effect, the attorney said, prosecuting Malatya’s Zirve case is revealing the structures that previously orchestrated the murders of two other Christians – Italian Catholic priest Andrea Santoro at his parish in Trabzon in February 2006, and Turkish Armenian editor Hrant Dink in front of his Agos newspaper office in Istanbul in January 2007.

    “The structure that committed the Zirve murders is the same structure that committed the Dink and Santoro murders,” Dogan told Hurriyet Daily News last week.

    In the Zirve case, the young suspects were arrested and put on trial, but the instigators behind them obscured their own identities by destroying evidence and mounting clever disinformation campaigns, according to the newly revealed documents.

    The assassinations have all been linked to the Ergenekon conspiracy, a ‘deep state’ organization embedded in various branches of the secular Turkish military. According to the Ergenekon verdicts handed down in August, the group’s express purpose was to discredit and bring down the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) government by targeting Christian minorities and causing civil chaos.

    *******************UPDATE***********************

    When will justice be done?

    As a result of changes to the Turkish judicial system, five murder suspects from the brutal killing of three Christians in central Turkey in 2007 may be set free. The new law reduces the number of years that a suspect can be held without conviction from ten years to five years. Now, nearly seven years since the murder, these men may be freed while the court case continues to drag on. The proceedings in the case have been far from smooth with the case being connected to larger conspiracy plots in the country. While the current judge in the case hopes to conclude the case by summer, it may once again be extended. (Photo: A 2008 snapshot of the five Malayta murder suspects. Photo Credit: World Watch Monitor)

     

    ******************LATEST********************

    Good Friday, April 18, marked the seventh anniversary of the murders of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske, who were viciously killed in 2007 in the offices of a Christian publishing house in Malatya. During graveside services held in remembrance of the victims, the Muslim family members of Ugur Yuksel, a Christian convert from Islam, cordially accepted a gift of a New Testament. A new law passed in February allowed the release of the five men accused of the murders, but the men have to wear electronic monitors until their trial resumes in June with a new judge and jury. Believers have noted a positive change in the way Christians are treated, saying they are more readily accepted as part of Turkish society.

Pakistani Christian sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy

UPDATE:

Pray for our brother Zafar who is in prison and in distress

Our brother Zafar is facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars in Pakistan over false accusations of ‘blasphemy’ – and really needs our prayers.

Zafar Bhatti, who is being held in Adyala Jail in Rawalpindi, was sentenced to life imprisonment in May, after he was accused of sending blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone. Five years on from his arrest, he insists he is innocent.

Please pray for our brother in Pakistan who is in distress and needs to know his Christian family worldwide are interceding for him.

Zafar says there have been several attempts on his life in jail, including a near-fatal poisoning in 2013. His health has deteriorated and he now suffers from a heart condition. He now hopes to take his case to appeal at the High Court.

  • Please lift Zafar to God and ask Him to comfort and sustain him. Please use the prayer that Zafar sent us to inspire your prayers on his behalf:

‘O my dear Lord Jesus, listen to my prayer; in my difficult times, I come to you. Release me from my captivity.

‘O Lord, forgive me my sins and have mercy on me; O Lord, listen to my prayer. I am your child. Hallelujah.’

  • Pray that God will provide for Zafar’s wife, Nawab Bibi, who is struggling to survive financially without her husband’s support. Thank God that Release partners have been able to provide her with some help. Pray that God will provide a good lawyer and funding for Zafar’s appeal.
  • Continue to cry out to God for justice on behalf of every member of our Christian family in Pakistan who has been persecuted through its notorious blasphemy laws. Pray that they will be set free from prison and the laws reformed, in the name of religious freedom and justice.

(Source: Release partners)

Nov. 02, 2017 | Pakistan
Pray for Zhafar Bhatti, Imprisoned Since 2012

 

CLAAS, a religious freedom advocacy group updated Voice of the Persecuted on the case of Zafar Bhatti, a Christian in Pakistan who was falsely charged of blasphemy and now sentenced to life imprisonment by a Pakistani court on May 3, 2017.

Bhatti had been charged under blasphemy law section 295C and telegraph act section 25D in 2012 for sending blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone, which is according to reports was not registered to his name. He denies the charges.

Since 2012, he has been imprisoned in Adiala Central Jail Rawalpindi. Considering the threats to his life, the case was conducted in the jail on April 24 but the judgment was reserved for later dates. On May 3, the Additional session judge jailed him for life.

Usually courts hand down a death sentence to those who are charged under 295-C, but because there was no concrete evidence against Bhatti, he was sentenced to life imprisonment instead.

In 2012 Islamabad, the lawyers’ bar passed a resolution that no lawyer will represent Bhatti in the court, but CLAAS accepted his responsibility. They’re also helping to care for his family.

Due to threats against the accused and their lawyers, CLAAS tried to move the case to Lahore but the request was denied.

Nasir Saeed, director CLAAS-UK said it is very unfortunate that even though there was not enough evidence against Bhatti, instead of freeing him, the court has sentenced him to life imprisonment because of pressure from Islamists.

“The blasphemy law is continuously being misused in Pakistan to take revenge and settle personal scores. Christians are the most targeted group, and several Christians have been burnt alive, and even their towns and churches are often attacked and set to fire.”

“The lower court’s judges always hesitate to make decisions on the merit, or free people accused of blasphemy, and instead transfer their burden to the higher court without realizing how their decision will impact the accused and their families’ lives.”

CLAAS says they will appeal against the lower court’s decision to the Lahore high court. They believe Bhatti is innocent and will be freed by the higher court. Unfortunately, it will take several years for his case to be heard by the High Court.

Please pray for Bhatti and his family who are suffering needlessly.

Recently Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution to prevent abuse through introducing safeguards. However, all such calls have faced strong opposition in the past. Those who’ve demanded changes in the blasphemy law were silenced and threatened with death.  The governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti were savagely killed, as their acts were considered equal to blasphemy by hardliners.

Nevertheless, this latest resolution is clearly something to be welcomed and another reason to continue praying for the repeal of the laws so nobody has to suffer needlessly,  CLAAS told Voice of the Persecuted.

https://releaseinternational.org/media/download_gallery/PP_Zafar_Bhatti_Sept17.pdf

Meanwhile, Nabeel Masih, a 16-year-old accused of blasphemy in Punjab, has just been denied bail for the second time. He has been in jail since September after being accused of ‘liking’ on Facebook an allegedly blasphemous post. Nabeel’s friends say he’s been framed.

PAKISTAN – FURTHER “BLASPHEMY” ARRESTS AS FACEBOOK COOPERATES WITH PAKISTAN TO POTENTIALLY SHUT DOWN FREE SPEECH

Ashfaq Masih, a Christian bicycle mechanic from Lahore, was arrested by police on 15 June after being accused of “blasphemy” following his refusal to give a Muslim customer a discount for being a “holy man”. Police have officially registered a case against him, but at the time of writing it is not known if the allegations will result in Ashfaq facing criminal prosecution.

In early July, Pakistan’s Interior Minister met with Facebook’s Vice President of Global Public as the Pakistani government continued its efforts to introduce what would amount to a global Islamic blasphemy law on social media. They discussed “steps and actions being taken [by Facebook] to remove blasphemous content that is illegal in Pakistan”, and the Minister later affirmed “the understanding shown by Facebook … and the cooperation being extended to us on these issues”.

Last month, Pakistani authorities handed down the death sentence to a Shia Muslim man for posting “blasphemous” statements on social media, while a 16-year-old Christian boy from Punjab is currently being held in jail and denied bail after being accused of liking and sharing a post which “insulted” the Kaaba in Mecca, the holiest Islamic site in the world.

Pray for Ashfaq Masih, who appears to be the latest victim in another case of Pakistan’s infamous “blasphemy” laws being used to settle personal grudges against the vulnerable Christian minority. Pray that the authorities will not give credence to the allegation against him and that he will be able to return safely to work. Pray that the people who run Facebook will not bow to demands to limit freedom of speech, which would amount to the creation of an online Islamic blasphemy law.

Mussie Yemane-Eritrea

Prisoners of Faith Alert
Christian separated from his family for 11 years!

Like many others who have been imprisoned in Eritrea, Mussie Yemane has never been charged with any crime. He is not a criminal – if anything his ‘crime’ is simply loving and seeking to serve Jesus Christ. For this, Mussie was arrested and detained in 2006 and has remained in detention ever since.

Will you pray for Mussie, for his wife, his children, his President, his nation and his fellow prisoners?

Pray that in his prison cell, Mussie may be able to recall clearly the faces of his loved ones and friends. Pray that he will be gracious, forgiving, full of hope and that his life will be a constant testimony to the enduring and unchanging love of God for men and women from every nation.

Click th link below to download/read the Prisoner Profile of Mussie Yemane

PP_Mussie_Yemane_Nov2017

Click on the link below to find out more about others like Mussie who right now are imprisoned in Eritrea, and help bring freedom to Eritrean prisoners of faith by supporting our Pray 173 campaign.

Christian maths teacher facing disciplinary hearing after calling pupil born female a ‘girl’

Christian Concern

 This is absolutely MAD, wicked, senseless and shows an increasing sick society and leadership-JK

Breaking News

Christian maths teacher facing disciplinary hearing after calling pupil born female a ‘girl’

Christian teacher Joshua Sutcliffe faces disciplinary hearing

A respected Christian maths teacher at a school in Oxfordshire is facing discipline for ‘misgendering’ a student.

Joshua Sutcliffe, from Oxford, began working at the school in September 2015 and currently teaches children aged 11-18. He has achieved excellent results, with his Key Stage 3 students outperforming every parallel class.

But on November 2, a complaint was made that Joshua referred to a pupil as a ‘girl’, rather than the desired ‘boy’.

Although born as a girl, the pupil had self-declared as ‘male’. Joshua had not been given any formal instruction on how to refer to the pupil. An investigation began immediately, during which Joshua was prevented from teaching and forced to spend all his time ‘in isolation’ in the staff room. He is now suspended, pending a further investigation.
Watch Joshua’s Story

‘Transgender ideology is being imposed’

Responding to the disciplinary process, Joshua commented: “I have been shocked and saddened by the actions of the school, which, in my opinion, reflect an increasing trend of seeing Christians, people like me, being marginalised in the public square, and our beliefs punished and silenced.

“While the suggestion that gender is fluid conflicts sharply with my Christian beliefs, I recognise my responsibility as a teacher and Christian to treat each of my pupils with respect and dignity.

“I have never looked to impose my convictions on others, I just try to earnestly live out the gospel of peace.

“I have balanced these factors by calling the pupil by the chosen name and although I did not intentionally refer to the pupil as a ‘girl’, I do not believe it is unreasonable to call someone a girl if they were born a girl.

“The aggressive way in which transgender ideology is being imposed is undermining my freedom of belief and conscience, as well as the conscience of many people throughout our nation who believe that gender is assigned at birth. 

“I have a deep conviction that we are all made in God’s image, male and female.

Watch Joshua’s Story

‘A flood of cases’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Joshua said:

“This case is one of a flood of cases we are encountering where teachers are finding themselves silenced or punished if they refuse to fall in line with the current transgender fad.

“We all know how much we change during our teenage years. It is vital that during those years we help our children to live in the biological sex they were born rather than encouraging them to change ‘gender’. If we encourage them to change gender it is not kind and compassionate; it is cruel.

“What we need is a culture in our schools which gives emotional support to children through puberty without encouraging them to make life-long decisions against their natural born biological sex.

“If we collude in the transgender delusion we do not serve our children well, we harm them.”

‘Discriminatory behaviours’

Following the week-long investigation, the school found that Joshua ‘misgendered’ the pupil, ‘demonstrating discriminatory behaviours’ and ‘[contravened] the school’s equality policy’. The school recommended dealing with the matter of ‘misconduct’ under the disciplinary policy.

Since the pupil started at the school, Joshua has tried to balance his sincerely held Christian belief that biological sex is God-given and defined at birth, with the need to treat sensitively the pupil. He avoided the use of gender-specific pronouns, and instead referred to the pupil by the pupil’s chosen name. Joshua admits saying “Well done girls” when he addressed a group of students including the pupil in question. The pupil became irate at this and Joshua sought to defuse the situation and apologised.

Bible club cancelled

Whilst working at the school, Joshua also began running a successful Bible club, which was attended by over 100 pupils before being shut down by the school 18 months after its inception. He was initially told by the Headteacher that the Bible club could not run without a register and a curriculum. Yet, after producing the required documents, the Head still insisted on cancelling the club. During this time, the school’s LGBTI club, mindfulness club, and Qigong club continued running without a register or curriculum.

Following a grievance meeting initiated by a deputy headteacher, it was found that the Bible club could continue running but only when the school was satisfied that it could be run in such a way that upheld the school’s policies. Determined to comply with the conditions and have the club reinstated, Joshua made numerous attempts over the following five weeks to follow instructions to reinstate the Bible club to be run in a way which upheld the school’s policies. After ignoring the issue over this period, the Head agreed to a meeting where the issues would be discussed.

International media attention

Since Joshua’s story hit the newspapers on Sunday, his case has been featured all over the news – on TV and radio as well as newspapers.

Along with Andrea Williams, Joshua appeared on ITV’s This Morning and has since given interviews to numerous radio stations. Nearly all the major UK newspapers covered the story, including in-depth articles in the Mail on Sunday, the Mirror and the Sun. It’s caught the attention of media around the world too – including the Washington Times and news services across Europe, Russia and China.

All of this attention has been a wonderful opportunity to share the good news about God and his plan for humanity, created male and female, in his image.

Douma-Chad

Douma (16) whose father was so angry at his conversion tried to kill him with a cutlass. He has been disowned and is in hiding.

Pray for his safety, care and wisdom for those discipling him and for a schooling solution

 

Another Eritrean prisoner dies

 

Martial law in this awful country:

ERITREA – Security forces shoot 28 dead

Armed security officers shot dead 28 protestors while violently suppressing a demonstration in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital on 31 October. The demonstrators were objecting to the government’s attempts to enforce its 2014 plans to transform all private and religious schools into state-financed and administered “community” schools. The government says that Christian students will be banned from wearing any religious items like crosses “to prevent interreligious strife.”

The protesters included over 100 students from a Muslim school who were protesting the arrest of their Honorary President for criticising the government’s actions. Armed security officers arrested demonstrators, beat some with sticks, and shot at them with live ammunition. Soldiers were still seen patrolling the streets at around 5 pm. Some released protesters report that they were mistreated.

In September, a Christian school was ordered to immediately close and give a list of all its students to the authorities. When the school resisted, the government shut it down and arrested two Christian leaders.

Barnabas Fund’s own special report on Eritrea, published in March 2017, concluded that the government pursues a “specific policy of religious persecution” against Christians.

From Asmarino Independent here

Eritrean mother of three dies in desert prison

Our sister Fikadu has died in an Eritrean prison camp within three months of her arrest.

Her three children do not have their father to care for them either: he was detained with Fikadu, along with his eldest son and every single member of their church, as our partners working in Eritrea reported in May. The young girls are with their grandmother.

#Furthermore: Nov. 09, 2017 | Eritrea
Pray for the Children of Believers Who Are in Detention Camps

Fikadu was detained during a mass arrest in Adiquala, part of an ongoing crackdown on evangelical Christians across Eritrea. By last week, she had died.

Please ask God to comfort Fikadu’s children and her husband.

The crackdown on Eritrea’s Christians continues. A total of 210 believers have been detained since April, mostly in raids on their own homes. In the first week of August, 23 Christians were arrested in Asmara. In July, 16 teenage girls on national service were detained in the same camp as Fikadu – as were other Christians and relatives who tried to visit them.

There have been reports of female prisoners having their hair shaved off. One woman arrested in June in Nefasit has reportedly become ‘mentally ill’ due to harsh prison conditions. The cause of Fikadu Debesay’s death is unknown but Metkel Abiet, the desert camp where she was held, is known for its extreme temperatures.

  • Ask our heavenly Father to comfort Fikadu’s children and her husband, and reassure them of His unfailing love.
  • Pray for the release of all 210 Christians detained since April – and the many other Christians behind bars in Eritrea. Some pastors have been detained indefinitely.
  • Lift up the Eritrean authorities in prayer, and ask God to touch their hearts. Pray for an end to their restrictive policies.
  • Join our Pray173 prayer campaign to help bring freedom for long-term prisoners of faith in Eritrea.

Chinese Dissident Gao Zhisheng probably detained again

Latest:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Christian Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Escaped, Recaptured
Nov.8th 2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that, with the help of two friends, Chinese Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng escaped in August from his home in Shaanxi, where he was under house arrest. For 23 days, he hid in a vacation house in Jiexiu city in neighboring province, until Shaanxi police mobilized a large number of officers to cross the border and recapture him. While his friends were detained, Gao vanished again and now is believed to be under police custody in Beijing.
One of his friends who assisted with the rescue, Mr. Li Fawang, was released on October 26 with bail pending trial. Four days later, he reached out to his reporter friend to recount how they successfully brought Gao out and give details of subsequent development.
Upon learning that Gao sought to escape from his house arrest, Shao Zhongguo snuck him out and the two met with Li Fawang in neighboring province Shanxi.  Li had pre-arranged with a local friend to provide accommodations for Gao until they found another safe haven. Their plan went unnoticed until about three weeks later when both Shao and Li were arrested and detained by the police.
Li briefly saw Gao when he was about to be transported back to Shaanxi for detention. The encounter was so brief that Li was unable to utter a word to Gao. Gao’s whereabouts became unknown after they parted ways.
Both Li and Shao suffered mistreatment in detention. They were shackled, rejected daily necessities, beaten, fed leftover food, and Li, who suffers from diabetes, was denied medicine for the first few days and lost his eyesight as a result.
Gao’s wife Geng He expressed her concern on Twitter earlier today, “Waiting, waiting…Finally the 19th Party Congress is over, yet we still have no news of Gao Zhisheng.”
Gao’s lawyers, Zhang Lei and Yan Xin, visited two Ministry of Public Security offices in Shaanxi province to inquire about Gao’s case on November 8. Officials from different offices all responded with, “No, we do not handle his case.
His disappearance is concerning, especially since his health has declined from the years in captivity as he suffers tooth loss and other health problems. He did not want to risk being captured so he turned down his friends’ offer to bring him to a dentist during the short period when he was free. Now recaptured, the government might permit harsher treatment and hide him indefinitely.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Though we are glad to know that Mr. Gao enjoyed brief freedom that was taken away from him for more than a decade, we are concerned about his treatment after being recaptured. In most cases, the Chinese government treats human rights advocates and Christians on the same level as terrorists once they are imprisoned, often putting them through torture and solitary confinement.Given Gao’s successful escape, he is subject to retaliation from law enforcement. We hereby urge the Chinese government to stop its unlawful detention of Mr. Gao immediately.”

China Continues to Hold and Presumably Torture Nobel Nominee Gao Zhisheng
 6th September 2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Nearly a month has passed since Chinese Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was presumably taken by state security from his home near Shaanxi’s Yulin city on the morning of August 13, where he was under house arrest. The whereabouts of Gao, reputed as the “Conscience of China,” are still unknown. As is typical in these cases, he could face torture in a black jail hidden away in rural province.
Gao became the target of Chinese authorities for defending the most vulnerable in China, including Christians, coal miners, and Falun Gong practitioners. He has been kidnapped numerous times, repeatedly endured torture, including beatings, sleep deprivation, and electric shock, and spent many years in jail and solitary confinement. The Chinese government released him in 2014, but placed him under house arrest.
The causes for his disappearance could be many, including President Xi Jinping’s retaliation for Gao’s recently published memoir, in which he heavily criticized the Communist Party and predicted a 2017 collapse of the regime; the upcoming 19th Party Congress, a major power show where Beijing wants no accidents and demands silence from dissidents; or interviews he recently gave to the media in Hong Kong and the US, detailing torture and inhumane treatment.
His older brother, Gao Zhiyi, was brought in by police on August 26 and briefly detained before being released. Zhisheng’s supporters believe that the detention prevented his brother from being inquired as to Zhisheng’s whereabouts. In addition, aTwitter account organized by his supporters called “Gao Zhisheng Caring Group” also recently posted, “So far the family and friends of Gao in China, two have been warned, and seven were summoned (among them two have disappeared) by the authoritiesThese nine cases are the known ones.
His disappearance is concerning when details of past torture and abductions, recorded in his books, are taken into account. Years in captivity have decayed his health as he suffers tooth loss and other health problems.
 
“Now that I know he has disappeared, I am in a state of emotional collapse,”  Zhisheng’s wife, Geng He, who currently resides in the US with their children, told Radio Free Asia.
Former Virginia congressman, Frank Wolf, when asked to comment on Mr. Gao’s disappearance, stated, “Mr. Gao was my adoptee for the Defending Freedoms Project five years ago, where I highlighted his case and pushed for his release. It’s truly unfortunate that after years he still doesn’t get to taste freedom. The sudden disappearance of Mr. Gao last month is worrisome in light of Liu Xiaobo’s death and knowing the secret arrests and horrendous torture Chinese government has put dissidents through. I urge the Chinese government to immediately release and sustain freedom of Gao Zhisheng.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “It is a shame that a country so eager to prove its legitimacy to stand among the world leaders, continues to violate basic human rights and secretly imprison and torture its own human rights defenders. China will never be looked up to unless it learns to respect its own citizens. Let us not forget the plight of Mr. Gao and many imprisoned Christians who suffer inhumane treatment. We ought to continue to press for their release and keep them and their suffering families in our prayers.”

 

 

A Chinese Activist: Out of Prison But Not Free

ICC is advocating for persecuted Christians at the highest levels. On August 7th, prominent human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng was released from prison but is not yet free. His lawyer told BBC News that Gao has been “utterly destroyed” after three years in jail. Since his release, public security officers “visit” him daily in shifts, each lasting two or three hours. As a result, he and family members are unable to live normal lives. In September, ICC joined 20 other organizations in calling on President Obama to address the case of Gao Zhisheng and other Christians in China enduring imprisonment and torture because of their faith. Please pray that the U. S. government and the international community will help bring Gao Zhisheng to the U.S. to receive medical treatment and reunite with his family.

 

 

Great answer to prayer. BUT Gao is a broken man, broken by the cruel totalitarian state machine.

Please pray for Gao Zhisheng, a prominent defender of persecuted Christians in China, who has just been released after a three year prison sentence. Reports suggest he has been held in solitary confinement for the whole three years, where he was fed a single slice of bread and piece of cabbage once a day. Ask God to give him strength as he recovers, and for wisdom for those attempting to help him get asylum in the USA, where his wife and two children live.

LATEST..

When Chinese authorities released Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng from prison on Aug.7, we didn’t hear anything from him, presumably because of the communist state’s one-year prohibition against him saying anything publicly that might “damage the reputation or interests of the state.”

His family had telephone conversations with him, but they didn’t hear much from him either. After some phone talks in which he said very little, the Los Angeles Times reported, his wife wasn’t sure whether he was still in too much pain to talk or had forgotten how.

It has become clear that isolation and torture left Gao, once a prominent attorney who defended Christians and the Falun Gong, unable to speak coherently. China Aid reports, “Gao has been utterly destroyed. He can barely talk – and only in very short sentences – most of the time he mutters and is unintelligible.  It is believed that he is now suffering from a broad range of physical and mental health problems; he has not been allowed to see a doctor since his release.”

As his wife, Geng He, pointed out to the Times, if he cannot even obtain adequate dental care, what hope does he have for obtaining help to recover his mental health? While she and their two children escaped to the United States in 2009 and are living in northern California, Gao is under virtual house arrest at Geng’s sister’s place in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Province in the country’s far west. Dentists there don’t have the means to repair the damage malnutrition did to his remaining teeth, and the government has forbidden him to travel to Beijing, much less to the United States to be reunited with his family.

Gao’ s advocacy for religious minorities led to his conviction in 2006 for “inciting subversion,” and in 2007 he began serving a previously suspended sentence of three years in Shaya County Prison in Xinjiang region. After he wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress about human rights abuses in China, authorities “disappeared” him on Sept. 21, 2007, torturing him for more than 50 days. Gao later revealed that his captors shocked his genitals with an electric baton and pierced them with toothpicks.

“As with the torture experienced during his pretrial detention, the purpose of this mistreatment was to extract a false confession,” noted a petition by Freedom Now, which works to free prisoners of conscience.

Thugs suspected of being agents of the state again abducted Gao on Feb. 4, 2009. He reportedly reappeared from March 28, 2010, to April 20 of that year, during which he described how police beat him for two days and nights, according to Freedom Now.

China announced on Dec. 16, 2011 that it would take him to prison to serve the three-year sentence imposed on Dec. 22, 2006, thus withdrawing the five-year probation then about to expire. In Shaya Prison since December 2011, Gao remained in isolation in a small cell with little light 24 hours a day, according to China Aid.

“Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him,” the advocacy group reported. “He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. He was fed a single slice of bread and piece of cabbage, once a day; as a result, he has lost roughly 22.5 kilograms (50 pounds) and now weighs about 59 kilograms (130 pounds). He has lost many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was also repeatedly physically tortured.”

His wife commented to China Aid that she was devastated by his condition.

“The only thing I feared more than him being killed was his suffering relentless and horrific torture and being kept alive,” she said. “We desperately need help from our adopted country and from President Obama and Secretary Kerry personally to demand the Chinese government to allow my husband to come to the United States for medical treatment. If President Xi Jinping has any sense of decency or humanity, after crushing my husband both physically and psychologically, the least he could do is allow me as a devoted wife to care for him.”

Jared Genser, head of Freedom Now, told China Aid he was heartbroken for Gao and his family.

“We knew that if Gao wasn’t killed, he would have suffered immensely,” Genser said. “But the situation is far worse than my limited imagination enabled me to contemplate. While China is a great power in the 21st century, the inhumanity and brutality that it has demonstrated by the torture of Gao Zhisheng shows its profound insecurity and fear of anyone in its population who stands up to its repression.”

Morning Star News

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo source: “Geng He” by medilldc (https://www.flickr.com/photos/medilldc/), used under CC BY 2.0 / Colour adjusted from original

Please pray for Gao Zhisheng, a prominent defender of persecuted Christians in China, who has just been released after a three year prison sentence. Reports suggest he has been held in solitary confinement for the whole three years, where he was fed a single slice of bread and piece of cabbage once a day. Ask God to give him strength as he recovers, and for wisdom for those attempting to help him get asylum in the USA, where his wife and two children live. Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/1w8RukR<br /><br /><br /> Photo source: "Geng He" by medilldc (https://www.flickr.com/photos/medilldc/), used under CC BY 2.0 / Colour adjusted from original

10441137_10152821827472454_4488266589776323193_n

 

ICC Note:

BBC reported that Gao Zhisheng, a prominent Chinese Christian human rights lawyer, has been released after 3 years in prison. Gao is best known for his work defending persecuted religious groups and other social groups.  In 2005, the Chinese government shut down his law firm and revoked his lawyer’s license. He was charged of inciting subversion and disappeared in 2009.

08/07/2014 China (BBC)– One of China’s most prominent dissidents, Gao Zhisheng, has been released after three years in jail.

His brother said he left the Xinjiang prison on Thursday morning and was now at his father-in-law’s home in Urumqi.

Fellow activist and close friend Hu Jia told BBC Chinese that Mr Gao was seeking dental treatment in Urumqi, the region’s capital.

Mr Gao, a prominent human rights lawyer, was arrested in early 2009. He was accused of inciting subversion.

He was released briefly in 2010, and claimed he was tortured while in detention. Shortly after that he disappeared again.

State media subsequently said in 2011 he would be jailed for three years for violating probation rules.

Mr Hu told the BBC that Mr Gao is “having problems with his teeth” but is expected to head to his hometown in north Shaanxi province after having treatment.

 

Gao Zhisheng timeline

•             2005: Authorities close down Gao Zhisheng’s law practice

•             Dec 2006: Convicted of subversion and sentenced to house arrest

•             Sept 2007: Says he was tortured during a period of detention

•             Jan 2009: Disappears; last seen accompanied by security officials

•             Mar 2010: Reappeared for a month before disappearing again

•             Dec 2011: State media says he has been jailed for three years

•             Jan 2012: Gao revealed to be in Xinjiang prison

•             August 2014: Gao freed from jail

 

‘Loose teeth’

The Associated Press reported that Mr Gao’s wife, Geng He, spoke to her husband later on Thursday.

Ms Geng and the couple’s two children are in the United States where they sought asylum in early 2009.

She told AP that it was clear there were security minders present as she could hear unfamiliar voices in the background.

*************MORE*************

NEWS UPDATES:
Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng has reportedly been released into ‘controlled freedom’, according to Release partner China Aid. Gao was freed from prison on Thursday and is currently with his brother in Xinjiang province. Gao has not been allowed to talk to anyone, not even his wife in the US. Some reports say he is accompanied by Chinese security agents. He was jailed for ‘inciting subversion’ after ‘violating probation rules’. Please pray that Gao will be granted full freedom and reunited with his family. (Source: China Aid)

Iranian Christian denied basic rights

Mohabat News – Since the family of the Christian convert prisoner, Abdol-Ali Pourmand, who has been in prison for two weeks, has not yet been officially informed of their loved one’s charges, their efforts to hire proper legal representation for him have been hindered.

Mr. Pourmand (Elias) who is 38 years old, is one of the ministers at the Payam-e Aramesh (Message of Peace) house church in Dezful. He was arrested on October 19, 2017 and immediately transferred to Ahwaz.

PHOTO:  MOHABAT NEWS

His family told Mohabat News that the judge handling Mr. Pourmand’s case told them they do not have the right to hire a lawyer to represent him in court.

Even though Article 35 of the Iranian constitution recognizes the right for all prisoners to have proper legal representation, it is common practice by the Iranian judiciary to prevent religious prisoners and prisoners of conscious from hiring a lawyer to represent them in court.

Myanmar imprisonments

MYANMAR – Christian leaders convicted for exposing human rights abuses

Two Christian leaders, Dumdaw Nawng Lat, 67, and Langjaw Gam Seng, 35, were imprisoned for a combined six and a half years for “exposing the military’s crimes.” The Lashio District Court, in the northern Shan State, passed the sentence on 27 October 2017.

The two leaders assisted visiting journalists reporting on damage caused by military airstrikes to a church and other civilian structures in Muse, northern Shan State, in late 2016. Consequently, the military arrested them on 24 December 2016. Signed confessions that they supported the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) – which their lawyers claim were signed under extreme duress – were the only evidence used to convict them.

“The outrageous prosecution of the two religious leaders for reporting on abuses shows the need for international inquiries in Myanmar,” a spokesperson for Fortify Rights said.

Ethnic Burman identity is closely linked to Buddhism in this 87% Buddhist nation. Christianity is portrayed as a foreign religion, although it has been present since the late 1700s. The mainly Christian Kachin people suffer great persecution, including desecration of their churches, sexual violence, and forced conversions.

From Human Rights Watch here

Pakistani Christian in Derby brutally attacked by Muslims

UNITED KINGDOM – Pakistani Christian left hospitalised after attack by Muslims

A Pakistani Christian from Derby was beaten up on the evening of 20 October, for displaying a cross and Remembrance Day poppies in his car, he said. Tajamal Amar described his attackers as Pakistani Muslim men and explained, “I am not a brother [to them]. I am a kaffir [a derogatory term for non-Muslim]. They left me for dead. They hit me as if they were playing on a football pitch … I am Christian. Because of the poppies on my car, because of the cross in my car, I have been hit.”

The 46-year-old dad and food delivery driver suffered internal bleeding, extensive bruising and a broken nose that left him hospitalised. Tajamal told journalists it was not the first time he has been targeted. “Several times, local [Muslim] Pakistani people in Derby have taken offence from the fact that I am Christian. When they first find out, many stop talking to me. My wife and I have often been shunned. I fled from Pakistan to escape violence such as this, but more and more the same violence is coming into Britain. Freedom of religion should be the right of any British citizen but today I feel unsafe, even then nothing will stop me going to church.”

From The Express here

Wicked unofficial crackdown on Christians in Tamil Nadu.

Christians in India banned from worshipping together

Ten church congregations in Tamil Nadu have been told to stop meeting for worship – and 20 more have been threatened with similar bans.

Hindu extremists put pressure on local officials to close down the churches in Coimbatore district – by insisting they stop worship until they gain official permission to meet. Applying for a permit can take at least 18 months and sometimes several years, local Christians say.

Please pray for our Christian family in Tamil Nadu who are facing what appears to be an orchestrated campaign of persecution from Hindu extremists.

Officials and police who issued the orders appear to be acting after complaints from the Hindu nationalist organisations including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). These groups have threatened to lodge complaints against 20 further churches. Most of these congregations have been meeting for many years.

‘It is a well-planned conspiracy against the Christian community,’ said Pastor Johnson Sathyanathan, president of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches of Coimbatore.

Hundreds of local Christians have demonstrated against the move. The minister of Internal Affairs of Tamil Nadu has instructed senior police and politicians to intervene and ensure worship services can resume.

  • Please pray that Christians in Tamil Nadu who are currently barred from meeting as a congregation for worship will find other ways to worship and have fellowship. Praise God that as our Indian brothers and sisters draw near to God, He will draw near to them (James 4:8). Pray that God’s presence will fill their homes.
  • Pray that the orders to halt worship services will soon be withdrawn.
  • Pray that high-profile state officials such as the minister of Interior Affairs will take a stand and ensure religious liberties are upheld in Tamil Nadu, and across India.

(Source: Morning Star News)

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Support Felix in prayer

Case news

Breaking News

Court allows expulsion for expressing Biblical teaching

Christian student Felix Ngole will appeal today’s ruling

The High Court has rejected Felix Ngole’s attempt to reverse his expulsion from a university social work course because he expressed his biblical beliefs on Facebook.

But, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Felix has announced that he will appeal the ruling.

He says that he is very disappointed by today’s ruling which “supports the university’s decision to bar me from my chosen career because of my Biblical views on sexual ethics.” 

“I intend to appeal this decision which clearly intends to restrict me from expressing my Christian faith in public,” he adds.

Explaining the significance of the case, Andrea Williams, says:

“The court has ruled that although Felix is entitled to hold Biblical beliefs on sexual ethics, he is not entitled to express them.

“But freedom to believe without freedom of expression is no freedom at all!

“Many views are frequently expressed by students on social media and in other contexts. It is the expression of Biblical ethics that has been singled out for sanction by the university.

“The university has acted as ‘thought police’. This ruling will have a chilling effect on Christian students up and down the country who will now understand that their social media posts may be investigated for political correctness.

“Rulings like this show that society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian beliefs and values. Christians are being told to shut up and keep quiet about their ethical views or face a bar from employment.

“We completely support Felix in appealing this ruling in an effort to protect basic freedoms in society.”

Thank you for your prayers and support for Felix and the Christian Legal Centre team.

Please continue your support as Felix prepares for the next stage, helped by the Christian Legal Centre. 

Yes, I want to support Felix in the next step of his challenge

‘Expressing Biblical beliefs’

In 2015, while studying for an MA in social work at the University of Sheffield, Felix engaged in discussion on Facebook prompted by the story of the American registrar Kim Davis who was imprisoned after she declined, on conscience grounds, to register same-sex ‘marriages’.

Felix expressed his Christian beliefs on the issue and argued that “same sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not. It is God’s words and man’s sentiments would not change His words”.

He was asked for Biblical support for his arguments, and quoted various passages to demonstrate this.

Nearly two months later, Felix received an email from a university official informing him that his Facebook comments were being investigated. He was later interviewed by an investigatory team, and subsequently removed from his course by a panel chaired by Professor Marsh, an LGBT rights campaigner.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Felix sought to challenge the university’s decision in a judicial review which was heard in the High Court over two days.

Today, however, the court has ruled that the university acted lawfully in removing Felix from his course.

‘Perception of discrimination’

The court heard that the university’s investigatory team “accepted that Mr Ngole was fully entitled to his religious beliefs, and had acted with honesty and integrity.

The university said that it was not Felix’s beliefs that were at issue, but his public posting of these beliefs. The university said that this expression of his views “may have caused offence to some individuals”.

The university argued that it was right to sanction Mr Ngole and bar him from his chosen profession despite the fact that Mr Ngole had lawfully expressed his Christian views as a practising Christian, outside of his professional studies, in a context in which he was not identified as a social work student, and despite this expression having no impact on his work and professional abilities!

The university agreed that there had been no cause for concern or evidence of Felix acting in a discriminatory fashion, whether on placement or otherwise.

The university’s decision was not based on speculation that Mr Ngole would discriminate in the future either. No discrimination by Felix had actually occurred, or was expected to occur.

What in the end was judged to have justified the university’s actions was a risk of damage by perception:

The court ruled that “It was how [Felix’s comments] could be accessed and read by people who would perceive them as judgemental, incompatible with service ethos, or suggestive of discriminatory intent.

“That was a problem in its own right. … But whatever the actual intention was, it was the perception of the posting that would cause the damage. It was reasonable to be concerned about that perception” (emphasis added).

Help Felix continue his challenge

The Christian Legal Centre is not charging Felix for the support that we are giving him. His case is important for all of us.

But we are only able to offer support to those who need it because of your generosity. Thank you.

Felix’s case is about the freedom to hold and express biblical beliefs.

If you can, please make a gift to help us support Felix as we prepare for the next stage. All donations, however large or small, make a difference. Thank you.

Yes, I want to support Felix in the next step of his challenge

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High Court hears Felix Ngole’s challenge

Thank you for your prayers for Felix Ngole and the Christian Legal Centre team during this week’s High Court hearing.

Felix was removed from a social work course at Sheffield University after he expressed his Christian beliefs about marriage and sexual ethics during a Facebook discussion.

With help from the Christian Legal Centre, he is challenging the decision at the High Court. Thank you for your support which has made this possible.

Standing Counsel Paul Diamond highlighted the importance of the case, saying that left uncorrected, Felix’s experience could be the beginning of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture for Christians in public service. He also argued that the European Convention on Human Rights protects Felix’s expression of his beliefs.

The court also heard how the chair of the committee that removed Felix is a longstanding LGBT activist but this interest was never declared. Further evidence was submitted about a visit to the university of a controversial Islamic teacher just a short time after Felix was told that he was being investigated for his defence of a mainstream, Christian understanding of marriage on Facebook.

Please continue to pray. We are now waiting for a ruling in the case which could take several weeks.

Felix has asked for your continued support in this important case.

Read Felix’s request for your help
Donate now to stand with Felix

‘Politically incorrect’ Bible on trial

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of [Felix’s] case”, says Tim Dieppe, as he reflects on this week’s High Court hearing. He outlines some of the arguments made and evidence submitted, before concluding: “Basic freedoms in our society are at stake. It is not really about the politically incorrect student, it is about the politically incorrect Bible … It shows the true intolerance of those who argue for tolerance.” Gavin Ashenden has also written about what is at stake.
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Breaking News

Christian student granted judicial review after being expelled over views on sexuality

Felix Ngole has been granted permission for a judical review
 
Thank you for praying for Felix ahead of his hearing at the High Court.
We give thanks that on Tuesday (25 April) the High Court granted Felix permission for a judicial review of the decision to expel him from the University of Sheffield, after he expressed the Christian view of marriage and sexuality during a Facebook discussion.
Read Andrea Williams’ comment on the case
Help us protect gospel freedoms

Christian bar to office

Andrea Williams writes:
Felix Ngole puts another face to the increasing alienation of Christians from the public square.
In 2016 he was expelled from the University of Sheffield for expressing support for the biblical view of sexuality during a Facebook discussion.
Yet in an important ruling today, justice prevailed as the High Court granted permission for Felix to judicially review the University’s decision to expel him.
Read Andrea’s full comment
Yes, I want to stand with Felix

Donate to support Felix

The Christian Legal Centre is not charging Felix for the support that we give him. We are able to offer support to those who need it because of your generosity. Thank you.
But, as ever, this case is not just about Felix. It’s also about the freedom to hold and express Christian beliefs in public service.
Please help us to support Felix and others like him, by making a donation, however small, if you can.
Yes, I want to donate to support Felix

What to pray for the persecuted.

General global prayers are OK but specific prayers are better for specific people!

Biblical guidance:

For endurance to persevere knowing the hope that God gives…Colossians 1:27.
Count it all joy (I Peter 3:9,14,17)

They ask for courage, and strength to face the day. That the Holy Spirit would strengthen the persecuted believers…Ephesians 3:14-21
To be comforted and that their immediate needs be met.
They ask for those who can help to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
That the persecuted would know how to share the gospel…Exodus 4:12 Gospel will spread (Ex.1:12)
Pray that persecuted believers will know Christ in deeper ways… Philippians 3:7-11

Pray that persecuted believers will know how much God loves them…Romans 8: 38,39. Submitting to his chastening and sovereignty (Ex.50:20, John 19:11)

Please pray that Christ will soften the hearts of their persecutors…Matthew 5:44

Search rest of this site for topics of prayer.

Iran: Another Christian Convert Arrested in South-Western Iran

Mohabat News – Another member of the Payam-e Aramesh (Message of Peace) house church in Dezful, Abdol-Ali Pourmand (Elyas) was arrested on October 19, 2017 and transferred to Ahwaz.

Knowledgeable sources told Mohabat News that the security authorities raided Mr. Pourmand’s house when he was working on his farm. Plain-clothes security authorities searched his house thoroughly in his absence and confiscated a few Bibles and Christian CDs.

Later, Mr. Pourmand received a call from the Ministry of Intelligence. He was summoned to their office in Dezful. He went to the ministry’s office and was arrested on the spot.

Three days after his arrest, on October 21, 2017, Mr. Pourmand was allowed to make a short phone call to his family. During the call he told his family that he is told he will not be held there for long.

Mr. Pourmand has been married for two months and is currently separated from his new bride.

Three other Christians have been arrested in Dezful recently. Mohabat News has obtained confirmed reports of them being beaten in prison and threatened that if they don’t renounce their faith in Christ and turn away from their Christian faith they will be forced to leave the country or be beaten to death.

Persecution of Christians in the south-western province of Khuzestan has intensified in the last several weeks, especially in the city of Dezful.

Another member of the Payam-e Aramesh (Message of Peace) house church, Mohammad Ali Torabi, also known as Davoud, had also been arrested at his work place on October 10, 2017. He was transferred to Ahwaz immediately after his arrest. His family was also told that he will be released soon, but he has not yet been released.

The Islamic regime of Iran has been using different methods, including harassment, terror, arrest and heavy sentences to persecute Christians over the last three and a half decades, especially Farsi speaking Christians in the country. Time and time again International Human Rights and Religious

Watchdog organizations have condemned the Islamic regime for its mistreatment of Christians, but they deny all reports of Christian persecution.
Despite Iranian government’s extensive programs for spreading Shi’ite Islam and punishing conversion to other religions by death, embrace of Christianity among Iranians citizens has been on the rise across the country./FARSI

Port Authorities in Sudan Detain Bible Shipment without Explanation

Port Authorities in Sudan Detain Bible Shipment without Explanation

UNITED WITH THE PERSECUTED

(Morning Star News) – Authorities in Sudan have detained a container of Bibles in Port Sudan without explanation for at least two years, a source said.

A Bible Society in Sudan representative told Morning Star News the container was one of two containing Arabic Bibles detained more than two years ago. The other container was released shortly after appeals to port authorities.

The detained shipments were destined for Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, said the source, who asked to remain unnamed for security reasons. At present the Bible Society in Sudan does not have a single copy of an Arabic Bible available in Khartoum, he said.

Other shipments of Bibles at Port Sudan, on the Red Sea, have also been detained over the past two years, he added.

A church leader said availability of Bibles and Christian literature in the country is increasingly limited.

“There is difficulty in getting Bibles in the country,” he said.

The Bible Society in Sudan representative said a port official in the past week has been more willing to consider releasing the shipment. Sudan links Christianity with the West, and Christian leaders speculated that Sudan may be opening to releasing the shipment as the U.S. administration lifted sanctions on Oct. 12. The sanctions had been in place since 1997 for Sudan’s terrorist ties and human rights violations.

Port officials were unavailable for comment.

Other international Bible providers have also complained of Sudan detaining shipping containers full of Bibles – usually due to corruption, but in some cases also to keep Judeo-Christian scripture out of the country.

Detainment of Bibles in Sudan also took place before 2011, with one shipment held up for nearly four years, the Bible Society source said.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

The Copts of Egypt

Can you find the error here?

“Nicene Creed” according to Coptic Church

Answer: This was the original Nicene Creed of 325 AD  BUT it was revised at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD with the words “and the son” inserted after “proceedeth from the Father”. Sadly the Eastern Orthodox Church and Coptic church are alike mainly bereft of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit (i.e they are dead orthodox churches) as a result, though there are renewal movements in Egypt.

 

More disgraceful Nigerian military complicity.

NIGERIA – Muslim Fulani herders continue onslaught against Christian communities

Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked Mai Farin Mota, killing four people in the predominantly Christian village in Plateau State. Eyewitnesses report that the attack began at 9pm on 13 October. The army and police failed to respond while the attack continued for over six hours, despite frantic phone calls for help.

Earlier on 11 October in a similar attack in nearby Jebu Miango, 10km from Jos, herdsmen destroyed several houses and killed three people. The community later protested against the soldiers at the nearby military checkpoint after a victim reported that some of the attackers were wearing military uniforms.

A local Christian also reported that a soldier taunted him, “Why don’t you ask your God to guard you?” when approached for help.

There has been an upsurge in Fulani terrorist attacks in Nigeria, and local reports say up to 30 people have been killed in the last month. The recent murder of a former top civil servant in one such attack has prompted the national parliament to call for an investigation.

From Global Christian News here

Top

Mob rule in India

More Hindu thuggery with apparent impunity

Patna: Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi during a program in Patna, on July 23, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Two Christians Hospitalized in Critical Condition After Brutal Assault on Church in India
Christian Persecution Continues to Escalate as State Elections Near in Chhattisgarh
10/18/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Christians attending a worship service in Jaripara village, located in the Dantewada District of India’s Chhattisgarh State, were brutally assaulted by suspected Hindu radicals on Sunday, October 15. According to witnesses, a mob of more than 300 attacked the Bastar for Christ Movement (BCM) Church and beat the congregants, leaving nine seriously injured, including two in critical condition at the government hospital in Dantewada.

According to witnesses, more than 300 people encircled the BCM Church around noon on October 15 as a worship service was being conducted. The mob then disrupted the service, dragging Christian worshipers out of the church and into the street. There, the mob ordered the Christians to renounce their faith. When the Christians refused, the mob attacked and beat the Christians with sticks and slippers. Christian women were stripped by the mob and even Christian children were not spared. The mob then vandalized the BCM Church and set fire to the church’s furniture.
As a result, many Christians were injured, including Raju Sodi and Sangetha Kartami who sustained serious injuries to the head and hands. Both Raju and Sangetha were rushed to a nearby hospital following the attack and were later transferred to the government hospital in Dantewada as their conditions were deemed critical.
The attack on Jaripara’s Christians is inhuman and highly condemnable,” a local pastor, who wished to remain anonymous, told ICC. “These attacks are popping up on the backdrop of the state elections that are nearing. The BJP, who is in power in the state, makes it all the more easy for the Hindu radicals to carry on the hate campaign against religious minorities for the political gains.
Local police refused to file a First Information Report (FIR) when the Christians contacted the police. According to local Christians, Hindu radicals had filed an FIR on the Christians prior to the attack. Jaripara’s Christians had to protest for more than 24 hours to have police accept their complaint about the brutal attack and it remains doubtful that local police will bring the perpetrators to justice.
Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have continued to escalate under the rule of the current BJP-led government. Anti-minority rhetoric used by BJP leaders for political expedience coupled with an atmosphere of impunity for those who attack minorities is much to blame for this escalation in violence. According to Open Doors USA, Christians in India were attacked 410 times in just the first six months of 2017. This marked a dramatic increase from the 441 attacks recorded over the entire year of 2016.

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India are becoming an almost daily occurrence. Hindu radicals across the country seem to have been given a wide berth by local authorities to pursue their hate campaigns against Christians and other minorities. This inability or unwillingness to protect and enforce the rights of Christians must come to an end. While Article 25 of India’s constitution guarantees full religious freedom for all citizens, the lack of India’s enforcement of this freedom leaves Article 25 as just words on paper. India’s leaders must do more to confront the issue of growing religious violence. Until then, Christians across India will continue to feel like second-class citizens vulnerable to religiously motivated assault.

More Fulani Atrocities

The Nigerian military are at best incompetent and at worse absolute cowards!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fulani Militants Raid Village, Kill 28 Women and Children
Villagers Hiding in School, Found by Militants and Slaughtered 
10/17/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Fulani militants raided Nkedoron community in Plateau State, Nigeria. During this raid, the militants attacked and killed at least 28 people, mostly Christians, including many women and children. This struggle between Fulani militants and Christian farmers has been an ongoing and bloody struggle for years. As the Fulani continue to migrate south, militants clash with more Christian villages. This year alone, there have been more than 30 attacks on these Christian villages, leaving more than 250 killed and hundreds of homes burned down.
Rev. Andrew Okebe, the Zonal Coordinator of Christian Association of Nigeria, Miango District, told ICC, “The soldiers had told the women and children to go and hide in the primary (elementary) school class at night while the men in the village constituted a vigilante group and join[ed] the soldiers in patrolling the area. Sadly, the militia descended and the soldiers fled, leaving the defenseless villagers to be massacred by the terrorists.”

According to Rev. Okebe, these persistent attacks have left villagers feeling like the security operatives assigned to their communities are not committed to protecting and securing their lives from the aggressors whom they believe to be Islamic jihadists who want occupy their land. This attack followed only a few weeks after a Fulani militia invaded Ancha, a neighboring village to Nkedoron, where 20 members of a Baptist church were murdered in cold blood.

The most disturbing part of this attack is that there were members of the military stationed in the village. These soldiers are a part of Operation Safe Haven, which is the government’s attempt to confront the Fulani militant violence in the Middle Belt. Even though these soldiers were on the scene before the attack, they did nothing to prevent this terrible atrocity. It has left many questioning the dedication of these men to protecting the communities they are charged with protecting.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, stated, “We pray for those who are suffering the pain of loss. This unbelievable act of violence is becoming all too common for Christian villages in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. The government of Nigeria must not only condemn the violence, but take the necessary steps to ensure that the perpetrators are punished and unable to commit these acts again. Until then, Christian villagers in the Middle Belt will be left to wonder if their community will be next.”
For interviews with Nathan Johnson, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

Liberation of Raqqa

International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #241, Washington, D.C. 20006
Media Contact:
Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator
(301)-859-3842
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Raqqa Liberated After Three Years of ISIS Occupation
Christians Left in a Tense Situation as Violence Continues in Syria
10/17/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have liberated the majority of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a city central to ISIS’s activities in the Middle East. ISIS had fully captured the Syrian city in January 2014.

Raqqa’s liberation three years later carries significant symbolic weight in the fight against ISIS. After the city’s capture in 2014, it quickly evolved into the extremists’ headquarters where they put their brutal vision into practice. The militants’ merciless battlefield tactics extended into their management of the city. Mass executions and terror became the norm as religious police patrolled the streets.
Before the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, an estimated 10 percent of Raqqa’s population was Christian. Most abandoned the city while ISIS was still establishing their headquarters. A few thousand, however, choose to remain. Raqqa’s three churches were destroyed and closed. The largest, the Armenian Catholic Martyrs Church, was converted into an Islamic center that screened videos meant to attract new recruits. Christians were forced to register with the militants and pay a jizya tax in exchange for their safety.
In December 2014, ISIS released a set of rules restricting the behavior of Raqqa’s remaining Christians. Christians were banned from engaging in public acts of worship, repairing damaged churches, and reading the Bible aloud. Breaking any one of these rules was potentially punishable by death.
In March 2016, ISIS militants issued a decree banning Christians and Armenians who remained in the city from leaving. It was estimated that the Christian families who remained in Raqqa at this time numbered in the dozens.
John, a Christian who chose to remain in Raqqa, told World Watch Monitor last year, “You’re constantly alert, never looking into someone’s eyes when walking on the street; always aware of what to say and not to say.” He continued, “I saw a lot of cruelty. Every Friday they executed people. I was there when they beheaded the first man in public. They could not behead him with the first cut. He suffered so much they finally shot him.”
The liberation of Raqqa has been heavily anticipated since the liberation of Mosul from ISIS four months ago. In anticipation of ISIS’s defeat, some Christians managed to successfully escape with the help of coalition forces. According to reporting from the National, a Christian soldier who was part of the coalition said, “We got a Christian family out… This is our goal in the campaign to liberate Raqqa.”

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The cruelty with which ISIS captured and administered Raqqa has left deep scars on the entire Middle East region. ISIS intended Raqqa to serve as an example of the goals for their so-called caliphate, and it was from here that they planned their terror across the region. Raqqa was once home to a thriving Christian community, most of whom fearfully fled because of ISIS’s efforts to eliminate all signs of Christianity. Those Christians who became entrapped inside Raqqa experienced indescribable suffering because of their faith. The liberation of Raqqa is a much-needed step in the war against ISIS; however, the broader violence in Syria continues to create a dangerous situation for Christians. There is much healing and rebuilding that is needed before Syrian Christians will consider returning to their homes.”

For interviews with Claire Evans, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

 

INDIA – Place of anti-Christian violence becomes a place of inspiration for Indian Christians

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Christians pray in India

(Agenzia Fides) – The victims of anti-Christian violence perpetrated in the Indian state of Orissa in 2007 and 2008 “are testimonies of authentic faith, that overcame difficulties and persecution, and today inspire many people in India and abroad”: says Archbishop John Barwa, at the head of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in the Indian state of Orissa (or Odisha), to Agenzia Fides. The district of Kandhamal, theater of that violence, has become a “place of pilgrimage where one listens to the testimony of survivors and therefore share solidarity with the victims, where economically poor people, but strong and rich spiritually”, explains the Bishop.

Fides learned, a delegation of 45 women, representatives of 14 Indian regions, convened by the Bishops’ Conference of India for the National Meeting on “The Role of Women in creating the Family” gathered in Kandhamal. The delegation was led by Mgr. Jacob Mar Barnabas…

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Our brother in Algeria is behind bars – for a Facebook post

LATEST: 

ALGERIA: Christian sentenced to five years in prison for blasphemy

 Slimane has gone on hunger strike desirous to be moved to a jail nearer his family.

UPDATE   Please pray for our Algerian brother, Slimane Bouhafs, whose family has appealed on his behalf for a presidential pardon – which they see as their last resort to have him set free. Slimane is serving a three-year sentence for ‘insulting Islam’ in posts he made on social media. His appeal to the High Court in September was unsuccessful. Ask God to sustain Slimane, whose family say he is suffering ill health linked to inflammatory rheumatism. (Source: World Watch Monitor)

An Algerian Christian has been sentenced to five years in prison – the maximum term – and heavily fined for blasphemy against Islam and its prophet.

Slimane Bouhafs (49) was arrested on 31 July 2016 for posting a Facebook message about the light of Jesus overcoming the “lie” of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. He also published photos showing the execution of a civilian by an Islamist terrorist. Slimane was arrested near his house in Bousselam, Sétif province, in the Kabylie region of northeast Algeria. He was brought before the prosecution without access to a lawyer and was jailed in Sétif prison, where he began a hunger strike in protest at his arbitrary detention.

On 7 August, Slimane appeared before a judge in Sétif town (300km from Algiers, the capital) and was convicted of insulting Islam (the state religion, according to the constitution) and the Prophet Mohammad, a charge punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine of 50 000 – 100 000 Algerian Dinar (the equivalent of approximately €410 – €820). He was given the maximum sentence and the maximum fine.

The Vice-President of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, Said Salhi, denounced what he called “this attack” on the guarantees of freedom of conscience and worship enshrined in the constitution.

Slimane became a Christian in 1997 and was baptised in 2006. His daughter Afaf said he has always defended the interests of his country and is known for his commitment to democracy and religious freedom in all his writings published on his Facebook page. He belongs to a separatist group called the Movement for Self-Determination of Kabylie (MAK), and is chairman of the St Augustine Coordination of Christians in Algeria, which defends minority rights and freedom of religion. The heavy sentence is thought to be a way of silencing him because of his political activism.

The organisation Front Line Defenders has stated that it “strongly condemns the heavy sentencing of Slimane Bouhafs as it is believed to be solely related to his peaceful and legitimate work for the promotion and protection of freedom of conscience in Algeria“.

Slimane’s family members have denounced what they called a “sham” trial and say they are deeply concerned as he suffers from a chronic illness and his health has already deteriorated in prison. His daughter says he suffers from inflammatory rheumatism, which worsens under stress. “He needs to follow a special diet,” she said.

A source who wished to remain anonymous told World Watch Monitor that the maximum sentence was “severe in view of a rather minor offence“, adding that such comments on social media are common in Algeria and do not usually trigger the wrath of the authorities.

The President of the Protestant Church of Algeria says its lawyer will appeal the verdict.

Kabylie
The vast Kabylie region, which is about the size of Denmark, has a strong sense of regional identity and resists the control of the central government in Algiers. It is mainly Berber, while the rest of Algeria is mainly Arab, and is home to most of Algeria’s tiny but fast-growing Christian minority. The authorities regularly harass and even arrest MAK activists.

Kabylie has a history of harbouring armed groups, and the Algerian army regularly carries out searches in an effort to eradicate terrorism. The region’s forests and cave-riddled mountains provide cover for guerrillas: it was a refuge for fighters during the Algerian War of Independence against the French colonialists, and in the 1990s, during the Algerian Civil War, became a hideout for the Armed Islamic Group, which later became Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Read more about Algeria in Church in Chains’ Algeria Country Profile

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(Front Line Defenders, World Watch Monitor)

Pray for our brother who was convicted of ‘blasphemy’ for a post on Facebook in which he described the ‘light of Jesus overcoming the lie of Islam’. He also shared a photo of someone being executed by an Islamist terrorist.

The 49-year-old was arrested on July 31 in the Kabylie area of Steif province and interrogated in the absence of a lawyer. He appeared before a judge on August 7 and was given the maximum jail sentence for blasphemy under Algeria’s penal code – and a large fine.

His family and an Algerian human rights group appointed lawyers for him: the court claimed that he had decided to defend himself. The Protestant Church of Algeria says it intends to appeal against the verdict.

  • Pray that our brother will know God’s peace and protection. He is reported to suffer from a chronic illness. Pray that God will comfort his family too.
  • Pray that his appeal will be heard quickly and will be successful.
  • Pray for officials in Algeria, that they will start to see Christians as a force for good, rather a threat.

(Sources: Middle East Concern; Premier Radio)

Facing a Task Unfinished

The purpose of this article is twofold; first to encourage knowledge of the diversity of peoples inhabiting the earth, the size of any church among them, and the need to pray for and support church planting among the least reached. Second to postulate that the great commission of Christ to witness to all peoples and disciple them has some way to go to be fulfilled.

Who are the throng around the throne in Revelation 7:9?

“After these things I saw and behold a great crowd which no one was able to number out of every NATION, even TRIBES and PEOPLES and TONGUES standing in front of the throne.” Revelation 7:9 also 5:9 and 14:6.

Perhaps THE key sign our Lord Jesus Christ gave to his church that the end of the world was near was that recorded in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” This sign taken alongside his clear command to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18) and the fulfilment (Revelation 7:9) show that every people group MUST have a group of disciples before the judgment day. “ After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and  kindreds,  and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; “The fact that kindreds are mentioned suggests an even smaller group than that of a ”nation” which is a people group (TA ETHNE) NOT a political country.

Nation (Gr. ETHNOS) means a race or tribe, a body of people living according to one custom and rule (from ETHOS custom) especially Jews (Luke 7:5, Acts 10:22) also foreign nations (Matt.4:15, Mark 7:26 ‘the Syrophenician’, Rom.3:29) even Gentile Christians (Rom.11:13, 16:4, Acts 15:17, 10:28, 23:6, Luke 12:30, 23:2, I Peter 2:9, Matt.21:43, Acts 10:35.) Vine defines the word as a multitude of people of the same nature. The most illuminating verses on the precise meaning of nations in the Old Testament are Genesis 10 especially vv. 5, 31-32 where a list of peoples descended from Noah’s three sons is recorded. They consisted of families with their own language living in a particular area of the world (“countries” v20) often called after their forefather. This list is repeated in I Chron.1:32. These nations are of the same race or physical type, language (as part of culture) and geographical area. Included among them are Medes, Ionians, Scythians, Cushites, Philistines, Cretans, Zidonians, Elamites, Assyrians, and people from Sheba. Note that many of these were mentioned again in the list of the peoples who heard the wonderful works of God, in their own languages at Pentecost. Similarly in Acts 13:19 where Paul explains that in conquering the promised land of Canaan seven nations were destroyed, we know these were the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Canaanites, and Hivites (Deut.7:1). None of these are geopolitical nations as we have them today (e.g. those comprising the United Nations) with their national boundaries although some groupings did form into such e.g. the Medes and Persians became modern Iran but conversely a large nearby people the Kurds have no national homeland of their own and are part of several political nations. Romans 4:17 is also helpful if we remember that Abraham was the father of all the Arab nations descended from Ishmael, of all the Jewish tribes from Isaac and Jacob, the Edomites through Esau, and the tribes from the sons of Keturah.  The Old Testament Hebrew word for nation is GOY, usually meaning Gentile heathen nation, although also used of Jews (Mal.3:9). Here is the Joshua Project definition,

What is a people group?

“For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance” (Source: 1982 Lausanne Committee Chicago meeting.)

Thus the key point here is that “nations” in Scripture is not the same meaning as nation states today.

PEOPLE (Heb.AM 5971) is the most frequently used O.T. word for a grouping of humans but it can mean all the people of the world (Gen. 11:6), most frequently by far (x1600) it refers to the Jews (Gen.17:14), but also God’s elect (Ps.29:11, Hos.2:23), the reprobate (Zech.14:12, the nations (Gen.25:23), language groups (Est.3:12), an extended family (Gen.32:7), or just a group in a city (I Kings 21:9), thus any size of group basically! PEOPLE (Gr. LAOS) are of the same stock and language, almost always used of the elect people of Israel (Matt.13:15) but also Philistines, Egyptians etc. (Rev.5:9, 10:11, 17:15, Rom.11:1, Heb.11:25, Acts 15:14), the elect (Acts 18:10, I Peter 2:10). Almost identical to nation but also used interchangeably in the New Testament with OCHLOS which is the word more often used for a gathered public throng. Thus in both testaments this word is quite ambiguous.

KINDREDS, TRIBES (Heb. MATTAH (‘branch’ 4294 or SHEBET branch/clan. Jon.1:8), clans (Gr. PHULE) can mean race, clan, kindred or tribe (Rev.7:5-7,9, Heb.7:13, Acts 13:21, Matt.24:30). From the tribes of Israel we can gather that this grouping were all descended from one of the sons of Jacob, spoke the same language and at the time of Moses numbered anything from twenty to a hundred thousand. Thus a tribe or kindred, is a smaller unit than a nation (Ps.22:27), which would comprise all the Israelites.

CLAN would be even smaller and families even smaller again. FAMILY (Heb. MISHPACHAH 4940) is of interest as another collective noun used in the Old Testament particularly in the covenant promise to Abraham, reiterated to Jacob that through them all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen.12:3, 28:14). It appears that families can mean anything from the nuclear family group of a couple (and their children if they have any), to a larger group that made up a tribe (Ex.6:14-19, Numbers 1, Joshua 18-19) and in Amos 3:2 it means all the Jews. When Achan was singled out (Joshua 7:16-18) he was from the tribe of Judah, of the family or clan of Zarhites, and of the household of Zabdi. The word family is used of each of these groupings. So this particular noun does not help us to distinguish group size but it usually denotes a grouping smaller than a nation or tribe.

It seems to me the use of these three terms (NATION, TRIBE and PEOPLE) are almost interchangeable, with considerable overlap, except that tribe describes a smaller group than nation or people and family a smaller group again but the writers of Scripture use them so as to cover every possible grouping of men who share common ethnic characteristics normally ancestry, language and custom, down even to the size of clans or extended families. They may NOT necessarily share the same location because so many are dispersed. The usage seems akin to, ”Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs” in the epistles which we believe comprehensively covers all the 150 Psalms. To include all peoples on the earth these slightly different terms are used together. The point I want to emphasise is that each of these ethnolinguistic groups must be represented as part of the bride of Christ on the last day, and ONLY THUS the great commission of discipling the nations will have been accomplished.

Tongues is clearly different languages (GLOSSAE) and these have been well documented (Wycliffe Bible Translators)*

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Click on pic to enlarge.

How are we to know where the church stands in this great commission? There appears to be a general misconception among many Reformed people that the job is nearly, if not, done! Here is a recent quote from a Reformed pastor, “But, at the same time, most of humanity has heard the gospel. Only about four percent of the world’s population do not have the gospel or any Scriptures in their language today. But Wycliffe Translators give a different statistic that 1.5 billion people don’t have the full Bible in their heart language.

Jesus has this in mind when He speaks of the gospel going to the ends of the earth—that after His departure and before His return the gospel would go to all nations.”

Just because 96% of the world’s people have written Scriptures surely does NOT mean the gospel has gone to the ends of the earth. What if a large percentage of these folk cannot read and there are no true churches in their vicinity as is the case in many of the unreached peoples e.g. in India? The resource is not being accessed! Hence they are not reached!

Now the vexed question is, have not some of these tribes become extinct before they were ever exposed to the gospel? A point difficult to prove but Acts 14:16 suggests that was the case. Have not some of these tribes been reached in the past and then died out? Possible but unlikely. If a people group has not been reached in 2016 it is highly unlikely, considering all the modern methods of dissemination e.g. personal witness, modern travel methods, preaching, printed page, radio/TV, internet and mobile phone, that they were reached before. The only clues would be found in a detailed history of mission in a particular country or getting info from a targetting mission organisation. But these parachurch mission agencies which support churches who do the sending,  form the basic source of information for the Joshua Project which is the website I am advocating we ought to support, at least in prayer. Thus there is no harm, indeed it seems safest to me, that those groups known to be totally unreached today (no known believers), are targeted for prayer and the sending of labourers as soon as practically possible. I do not expect any single denomination to be able to achieve what is a massive operation that only God with his resources can accomplish.

According to the best sources, Joshua Project website and the book Operation World there are 9813 distinct people groups who are socially cohesive, of the same race, language and culture, but who may reside in adjoining political countries. Out of a total world population of 7.3 billion, 4051 of these groups, numbering 3 billion and comprising 42% of the total, are ‘unreached’. They may have written scriptures but many cannot read them and because their total Christian (evangelical) population is less than 2% (which could be construed as reached!) the church is incapable of reaching all their people who historically have never been exposed to the gospel. Most unreached peoples today were NEVER reached in the past either but getting evidence to prove or disprove this is difficult. Fact is, some peoples have no known believers, today and never have! I guarantee that even a brief look at the Joshua Project website will enlighten you!

The Joshua Project are also aware that many formerly reached peoples are now nominal e.g. many in the West and many who were reached by false Christianity where syncretism reigns e.g. Mexico and Central America; these would also count as unreached. The vast majority (65%) of the Unreached Peoples live in the 10/40 window which is the rectangle on the globe between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator and east of the Greenwich Meridian. This is more or less the Muslim World and the Subcontinent of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The largest of these peoples include the Shaikh of Bangladesh (136 million), the Shaikh of India (83m), the Yadav of India (60m) and the Brahmin of India (60m). India has the most unreached peoples of any country.

Our aim as part of a Reformed denomination should be to continue pressing on in places with obvious open doors and receptivity e.g. the Philippines but also be like Paul in Romans 15:20-21 who desired to reach the unreached, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.”  To achieve this latter task takes a lot more preparation, training and providential logistics! We can rest assured Christ the head of his church will gather every  last one of his elect! But we must do all in our power to pray, send missionaries and support those who will go.

Dr Julian Kennedy

Uganda-Pray for Isaac, Whose Shop Was Destroyed by Muslims

Oct. 05, 2017 | Uganda

China-Pray for Families Affected by the Closing of a Christian School

Oct. 05, 2017 | China

Be encouraged God is working even in the Islamic war zones.

Sep. 28, 2017 | Iraq
Pray for “Mustafa,” Who Found Christ While Fighting ISIS

Pray for Imran Ghafur, Who Remains in Prison in Pakistan

Sep. 28, 2017 | Pakistan

Sudan injustice

Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Sudan, amid a recent upsurge in persecution. Last Friday, Mahjoub Abotrin, an elder of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) in Omdurman, was taken in for questioning. In August, seven church leaders were interrogated then released on bail, including Pastor Kowa Shamaal who was detained during the investigation into Czech aid worker Petr Jašek. The arrests are reportedly linked to the SCOC’s refusal to hand over its leadership to a government-appointed committee.(Source: Morning Star News)

China fines

Su (L) and Yang.

Pray for Chinese pastors Su Tianfu and Yang Hua who have just been refused a hearing to contest a stiff fine against their church, in breach of normal legal protocol. Huoshi Church in Guizhou province was fined 7 million yuan (about £800,000) for receiving the same amount in ‘illegal income’ through members’ giving. Yang is currently serving a two-and-a-half year sentence for ‘divulging state secrets’ and the same charge has now been made against Su. (Source: China Aid)

Vile assault in Pakistan.

Young Christian in Pakistan suffers brutal attack – then ‘police cover-up’

Eighteen-year-old ‘Alian’* suffered a brutal sexual assault – but local police in Pakistan seem reluctant to investigate. The Christian teenager was beaten, stripped, gang-raped and forcibly converted to Islam – and left unconscious.

Please ask God to comfort and heal our young brother in Attock district in Punjab.

Release contacts who are supporting Alian and his family say it was a Muslim friend of Alian who lured him to an isolated place on false pretences.

When Alian was found after the attack, he was taken to hospital, where he was threatened and told to remain silent, according to his family. Police initially dismissed his rape allegations. Police have since arrested several suspects but appear to be pressuring the family to drop the case.

*Name has been changed

  • Please pray that God will heal and restore Alian and deliver justice for him. Pray that Alian will know that the God of unfailing love cares deeply for him and sees his distress (Psalm 33:18).
  • Pray for a sharp change of heart in the local police dealing with Alian’s case. Ask God to give them the courage to bring his attackers to justice.
  • Ask God to sustain and strengthen His people in Pakistan, amid severe persecution and relentless discrimination.

(Source: Release contacts)

Bakhrom in Tajikistan

Three-year sentence confirmed for Pastor Bakhrom Kholatov

Pastor Bakhrom, pictured with his wife Gulnora, two sons, Firdavs (now 21) and Firus (now 19), and  daughter, Gulnoza (now 14).
Bakhrom Kholmatov, pastor of the Good News of Grace Protestant Church in Khujand, northwest Tajikistan was arrested and imprisoned in April 2017 after secret police officers raided his church. They harassed and beat church members. Officials claimed that Christian songs found on his computer and the book More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell are “extremist materials”.

In July he was sentenced to three years in prison for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred”, and on 18 August his appeal was rejected.

 

 

 

Four Nepali Christians released after nine months wrongful imprisonment.

UPDATE Sept 2017

Four Nepali Christians Released After Nine Months of Wrongful Imprisonment
Nepali Christians Wrongfully Imprisoned for Praying for Mentally Ill Woman Finally Released

09/27/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) is elated to report that four Nepali Christians, Lali Pun, Bimkali Budha, Ruplal Pariyar and his wife Ganga, were finally released from prison when their sentences for “violence and witchcraft” after praying for a mentally ill woman were reversed.  This news comes after ICC’s advocacy team led a petition to the Nepali government demanding their release earlier this year.

These Christians were originally convicted in December of last year in the District Court in Salyan after the father-in-law of a mentally ill woman accused them of abuse and witchcraft against her.  The father-in-law had brought the woman to a local church for prayer in the hopes that their efforts might heal her.  The mentally ill woman, Seti Pariyar, left the prayer service and was later found in a forest harming herself and yelling before being taken home.
After reading a media report of the incident, a complaint was made by Bhisma Pariyar. This led to the hearing and following conviction in District Court, despite the mentally ill woman and her husband testifying that the four did not act in a forceful or abusive manner. The woman also testified that she was healed because of their prayers.
This wrongful imprisonment was further indication of Nepal’s continued backslide on issues of religious freedom.  Earlier this year, the Nepali parliament passed a new law criminalizing conversions to non-Hindu religions. The parliament passed the law despite Article 26 (3) of Nepal’s 2015 constitution already restricting religious conversion and expression.

Nate Lance, ICC’s Advocacy Manager, said of these Christians’ release, “International Christian Concern is so pleased that this situation has reached its rightful resolution.  However, the imprisonment of these Christians should have never taken place as the facts of their innocence were clear. This is a step in the right direction for religious freedom in Nepal, but there is still much work to be done.  No one should fear imprisonment for the free expression and practice of their religion.”

 

Jan. 20, 2017 | Nepal

Muslim Mentality!

Another sad story from Egypt!

Mob Violence Terrorizes Small Christian Village in Egypt
Facebook Post Published and Deleted Four Months Ago Sparks Violence Against Christians
09/25/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on September 14, a Muslim mob in the village of Tawa in Minya attacked the local Coptic Christian community. Homes, businesses, and cars were destroyed and three Copts suffered minor injuries. These attacks were in retaliation against a Facebook post which was widely shared among Christians. The author, a 22-year-old Christian resident of Tawa named Bassem, had written the post in May following the deadly attack by Islamic extremists against a caravan of Coptic Christians traveling to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor.

Bassem wrote on May 27: “Are we (Copts) Egyptians not from Egypt? No matter that you try to hurt us, one day all your ways will fail. Do you think that I cry? Never! I don’t cry because I trust in Jesus very much, I prostrate to him and he loves me. He never leaves me one day. When you demolish the homes of his children, you attack himself. I ask Jesus to touch your heart and change you. Our Lord knows and see what is happening to us. Continue and increase your terrorism, but I’m not afraid because it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God.”
At the end of the post, Bassem shared photos of Salafi Sheikhs whom he believed bore responsibility for inciting extremist violence against Christians. Bassem deleted the post the next day, on May 28, but not before it had spread across social media. It wasn’t until four months later that a Muslim villager in Tawa saw the post on the Facebook page of Bassem’s friend, Mena. The post then spread among some of the Muslim villagers, who considered the post an insult to Islam.
Essam, a Christian resident in Tawa and an eyewitness to the mob’s violence, told ICC, “Many Muslims gathered and the mob began to attack Christian homes and shops. They were pelting stones at the homes while shouting, ‘Allah Akbar.’ They hurled bricks and stones at Mar Girgis (St. George) Coptic Orthodox Church despite the presence of some security guards who had been assigned to guard the church, but the guards couldn’t confront the huge number of the mob. The police then arrived in the village, controlled the situation, and arrested Muslim villagers. The security forces have now deployed across the streets of the village.”  
On September 15, the governor of Mina and the security director toured the village while accompanied by a number of parliamentarians as well as Islamic and Christian clerics. The same day, the prosecution detained 19 Muslims pending an investigation into the violence. The prosecution also ordered the arrest of Bassem and Mena, charging them with insulting Islamic figures and inciting sectarian strife. Both Christian men have fled the village.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Egypt’s Coptic Christian community has greatly suffered at the hands of Islamic extremists. In Tawa, Christian men, women, and children were once again terrorized by those who have no desire for peace. This violence is unacceptable. We are relieved to learn that Bassem and Mena were not injured by the mob, but alarmed about the prosecution’s decision to charge them although they were clearly targets of the mob’s violence. We pray for their safety and that of their fellow villagers. The authorities need to be more intentional in protecting the lives and property of Egypt’s Christians.” 

Another Pakistani teenager in blasphemy row

Turf war thrusts Pakistani teenager into blasphemy row

Simon* is a very poor Christian who scrapes together a living by collecting items for recycling and who now finds himself caught up in a blasphemy row – and he’s only 16.

The teenager from Punjab, Pakistan, has been attacked, tortured and arrested in a row that has sparked uproar in his village in Gujranwala district.

Please ask God to keep Simon and his family safe.

Release contacts in Pakistan say the row followed a dispute with another recycler who was not happy that Simon was gathering paper and bottles near the same religious monument as him. When burnt scraps of a Koran were allegedly found at the site last month, Simon got the blame.

Soon after Simon was arrested, a large mob broke into the police station and abducted him. They threatened to kill him and tortured him until local police called for back-up to bring the situation under control. Due to local unrest, Simon was twice transferred to other police stations. He is now being held in jail.

*We’ve changed Simon’s name for security reasons.

  • Please pray for justice for Simon and his family: like many of Pakistan’s Christians, they are very poor and Simon’s father labours for Muslim landowners. Pray Simon will be released soon.
  • Ask God to fill Simon with His peace and teach him how to trust his almighty Father through this ordeal.
  • Pray that Pakistan’s authorities will do more to prevent abuse of the country’s widely misused blasphemy laws. Pray too that they will yield to international demands for legal reform.

At last many Chibok girls reunited with families.

NIGERIA – Released Chibok girls finally reunited with families, but 113 still held by Boko Haram

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Nigerian authorities have finally allowed more than 100 “Chibok girls” kidnapped and subsequently released by Boko Haram to be reunited with their families. Boko Haram released 82 girls, 75 of whom are Christians, in exchange for captured Boko Haram terrorists in May. However, the girls were kept in Abuja to undergo psychological therapy, along with 21 others who were released in 2016. According to a government spokesperson, they are now “fully rehabilitated” after their years of captivity (during which many of the girls were forced to convert to Islam and marry Islamist militants) and have been given scholarships so they can go back to school. The girls were among 276 kidnapped in 2014 from a school in Chibok where they were sitting their end of year exams – around 113 girls are still being held by Boko Haram.

From BBC here

Pray for Musa, a New Christian in Hiding from His Family

Sep. 21, 2017 | Gaza Strip
Pray for Musa, a New Christian in Hiding from His Family

Jharkhand’s State Governor in India Approves “Anti-Forced Conversion Law”

International Christian Concern
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jharkhand’s State Governor in India Approves “Anti-Forced Conversion Law” Despite Opposition
Jharkhand’s Christians Fear Increased Division and Persecution Under New Law
09/20/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill 2017 was given approval by the governor of India’s Jharkhand State on September 5, 2017. This approval came amidst strong resistance and protests by Christian groups, minorities, and other members of civil society in Jharkhand. To date, protest rallies across Jharkhand continue to draw large numbers as the effects of the bill have already been felt. According to local church leaders, several Christians were accused and sent to jail despite the fact that the bill has yet to become law.

Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill 2017, also known as the “Jharkhand Dharma Swatantra Adhiniyam,” was introduced and passed by the state legislative assembly on August 11, 2017. Section 3 of the bill states, “No person shall attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion / religious faith to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means, nor shall any person abet any such conversion.” Violation of Section 3 would lead to imprisonment of up to three years, a 50,000 INR fine (approximately $778.00 USD), or both. In cases where the violation involves a minor, a woman, or a person from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe communities, the prison term would be raised to four years and the fine would be raised to 100,000 INR (approximately $1,556.00 USD).
Similar laws, popularly known as “anti-forced conversion laws,” already exist in six other states in India, including Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. In these states, Hindu radical groups abuse the vague terms of these laws to falsely accuse Christian leaders of forceful conversions.
There is a danger to the social harmony in the state of Jharkhand,” Rev. Dr. Manmassih Ekka, a Christian leader from Jharkhand’s capital of Ranchi, told ICC. “The passage of the bill is clearly an attempt to polarize [the] tribal community by the ruling BJP.
We have already seen the aggression of the Hindu fundamentalists misusing the bill as four Christians were falsely charged under forcible conversions and were sent to jail in [the] Simdega district of Jharkhand,” Rev. Manmassih reported.
We are asking the government to take back their decision in the interest of people of Jharkhand,” Rev. Manmassih continued. “On behalf of the All Church Committee of Ranchi, we are organizing a public meeting in Ranchi along with [other] progressive groups, including the Hindu community.
Dr. John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council for the Government of India, said, “The [bill] comes with the backdrop of a well-orchestrated demand, in fact a promise, by the ruling BJP [government], for similar national legislation. Such a promise was made by the Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu, when he was a Union Minister.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “To see another state in India pass and approve a Freedom of Religion bill is deeply disappointing. These laws are widely abused by Hindu radicals, both in states where they are officially law and even in states where they are not. Due to the legal ambiguity within the laws themselves, these laws provide an easy excuse for radicals to attack Christian leaders with impunity. One simply needs to claim that a pastor was forcefully converting an individual following an assault. As a result, instead of the pastor’s assailants being arrested, it’s the assailed pastor who is arrested by police following an attack. With attacks on Christians skyrocketing, the adoption of this law will only incite more violence and seems to be another step away from India enforcing religious freedom for all.

Christians in Myanmar are also persecuted

Analysis: Christians in Myanmar are also persecuted – and now face jihadi threat as well: Barnabas Fund issues warning – humanitarian catastrophe a real possibility

BURMA (MYANMAR)

As world news focuses on the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, several people have asked us whether Christians are also persecuted in Myanmar. The answer is yes – they suffering appalling persecution and violence at the hands of the military, but unlike the Rohingya they are largely ignored by the world’s press. However, a new threat is now emerging as jihadists head to the region to “support” Rohingya Muslims.

Several months ago, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom commissioned a report on the persecution of Christians in Myanmar. Entitled Hidden Plight: Christian Minorities in Burma, It makes shocking reading. There is large-scale violence and intimidation of Christians by the army. To quote just one short section of that report:

“The military routinely occupies churches and summons entire congregations for interrogation. Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) troops have desecrated, damaged, and destroyed churches. The military continues to perpetrate grave human rights violations with near-total impunity, including sexual violence in church compounds and the torture of pastors, church workers, and ordinary civilians. To date, approximately 120,000 people have been forced to flee.”

The military use Buddhism as a means of legitimising their oppressive rule, claiming to be defending Buddhism and the Barmar (Burmese) majority against Muslims and Christians, who are predominantly from ethnic minority groups. As well as direct attacks by the Burmese military, they have empowered a group called The Committee for the Protection of Race and Religion  (better known as Ma Ba Tha), and other ultra-nationalistic monks, to incite violence and attacks on Christian pastors.

The predominantly Christian people-groups are the Karen people who mainly live in the east near the border with Thailand, the Kachin and Naga who mainly live in the north, and the Chin, who mainly live in the south-west, particularly Chin State.

However, now a new threat to Christians is emerging as a direct result of the Rohingya crisis. Last October, Islamic militants from a newly formed insurgency group called Harakah al Yaqin launched a series of attacks on police posts in Rakhine state. Harakah al Yaqin was created by a group of Rohingya emigres based in Saudi Arabia and therefore represents a dangerous new development. The army responded in its characteristic heavy-handed fashion causing tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Then on 25 August, Harakah al Yaqin coordinated attacks on an army base and 30 police posts in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state. In response the Myanmar army launched what they termed “clearance operations” against Rohingya, a euphemism for the terrible atrocities now being perpetrated against Rohingya civilians.

Now Al Qaeda is urging jihadists to flock to the region to fight for the Rohingya Muslims. This is not an idle suggestion. It is, in fact, almost exactly what happened a few months ago in the southern Philippines when Islamic State (IS)-linked jihadists from across South-East Asia quietly infiltrated Marawi city and then seized control of it, killing a number of Christians; despite an ongoing battle with the Philippines military, the jihadists remain in control of Marawi.  In January, Malaysian authorities claimed to have arrested an IS-linked jihadist heading for Myanmar to fight in the Rohingya area. As IS loses military control in Syria and Iraq, Al Qaeda sees itself as having an opportunity to regain its claim to lead the global jihadi movement. That is why a few days ago Al Qaeda issued a statement telling jihadists in neighbouring Bangladesh and India, as well as Pakistan and the Philippines, that they have a “sharia obligation” to go to Myanmar and fight for the Rohingya.

How does this affect Christians in Myanmar, who are already suffering appalling persecution and violence from the state? The attacks which the Islamic militants from Harakah al Yaqin carried out three weeks ago were in the North of Rakine state. This is right next to Chin state, which is the only state in Myanmar that is majority Christian. In fact, one of those attacks, at the town of Maungdaw, was only about 30 miles away. If, as now seems likely, foreign jihadists arrive and turn a local Muslim insurgency into an Al Qaeda-linked jihadi struggle, as IS have just done in the Philippines, there is a very real danger that jihadists will attack Chin state.

If they do, that will put the Christians there in an impossible situation, suffering terrible violence at the hands of the Myanmar army AND being attacked by jihadists. In other words, there is the very real prospect of Christians in this part of Myanmar facing a humanitarian catastrophe that is even worse than the horrific levels of violence currently being suffered by Rohingya Muslims.

Pray for Vu, Rejected by Her Family

Sep. 14, 2017 | Laos
Pray for Vu, Rejected by Her Family

Pakistan Pray for Esmail, Unemployed After an Attack by Colleagues

Sep. 14, 2017 | Pakistan
Pray for Esmail, Unemployed After an Attack by Colleagues

 

Esmail and his wife.

Marat Niyazaliev has had all charges dropped-PTL.

June 2nd 2017. Latest….. He has been released as all charges dropped. He is very thankful.

Dec. 09, 2016 | Kyrgyzstan

Jakarta governor Ahok sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy

Shock sentence comes after hardline Islamist groups called for Christian official to be jailed for referencing Qur’an verse

Ahok supporters protest outside the court in Jakarta.
Ahok supporters protest outside the court in Jakarta. Photograph: Mast Irham/EPATuesday 9 May 2017 First published on Tuesday 9 May 2017

An Indonesian court has found Jakarta’s Christian governor guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison, in a trial that was widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, was “found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment”, the head judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, told the court.

“As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions, including the religion of the defendant himself.”

Another judge, Abdul Rosyad, said reasons for the stiff sentence included that “the defendant didn’t feel guilt, the defendant’s act has caused anxiety and hurt Muslims”.

After the verdict, the five-judge panel ordered Ahok’s immediate arrest. Ahok has said he will appeal.

The blasphemy charge related to Ahok’s use of a passage of the Qur’an during campaigning for his re-election in September, which hardline Islamist groups said amounted to insulting the holy book.

He insinuated that his opponents had used a Qur’anic verse to trick people into voting against him. An edited version of his speech went viral online, sparking outrage.

Ahok, a Christian with ethnic Chinese roots, is a double minority. His trial came after large protests against him in the capital that drew hundreds of thousands on to the streets.

On Tuesday, hundreds of members of hardline Islamist groups gathered outside the south Jakarta courtroom amid a heavy security presence, calling for Ahok to be given the maximum penalty.

As news of the sentence emerged members of the crowd shouted “God is greatest”.

The government has been criticised for not doing enough to protect religious minorities, but President Joko Widodo, an ally of Ahok’s, has urged restraint over the trial and called for all sides to respect the legal process.

Thousands of police have been deployed in the capital to prevent clashes between Ahok supporters and opponents. “Both groups will have the opportunity to demonstrate, but we are taking steps to prevent clashes,” said the national police spokesman, Setyo Wasisto.

Ahok lost his bid for re-election in an April run-off to a Muslim rival, Anies Baswedan.
He will hand over to Baswedan in October. The vote was the most divisive and religiously charged in recent years.

Prosecutors had called for a suspended one-year jail sentence for Ahok on charges of hate speech. His opponents believe that is too light. The maximum sentence is five years in prison.

Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was “a sad day for Indonesia”.

“Ahok’s is the biggest blasphemy case in the history of Indonesia. He is the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, an ally of the president. If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?” he said.

Harsono said more than 100 Indonesians have been convicted of blasphemy in the past decade, and acquittals in such cases were extremely rare.

Todung Mulya Lubis, a human rights lawyer who also defended the Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, said it was worrying that one judge cited the leader of a hardline Islamic group known as the Islamic Defender’s Front as an expert in the judgment.

“Rizieq Shihab cannot be considered as an expert because he openly, publicly accused Ahok of blasphemy, so he is not an independent, neutral expert anymore. But the judges mentioned his name in their judgment and I thought this is not correct.”

“The judges also talked about experts from [the Islamic organisation] Majelis Ulama Indonesia. With all respect, I don’t think they can be considered as experts because they had taken sides already, long before the trial.

Lubis said the verdict set a “bad precedent”, adding: “Religion is a private matter … so when you put it in the criminal code it can be used by people to discredit and suppress others. This is the problem with the blasphemy law. This is a very sad moment for us.”

Laos- Praise God for the Release of Four Men and Faithfulness of Seven Families

Nov. 16, 2017 | Laos

Help Christians in Tragic Zimbabwe at this Time of Crisis

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Help Christians in Tragic Zimbabwe at this Time of Crisis

 This post exposes the wicked legacy of Mugabe who MUST be deposed! 

Donate now
Three-quarters of the population of Zimbabwe live below the poverty line. Four-fifths subsist on the food they grow themselves. All have endured decades of repressive rule, and recurrent drought.

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Barnabas Fund feeds hungry Christians in Zimbabwe and increases this aid at times of major food crisis

Barnabas Fund cares for the neediest, working through local Zimbabwean churches and ministries. We feed hungry Christians, increasing our support at times of major food crisis, for example hyperinflation and drought. We have provided up to a million meals a month, that is 70 tonnes of food aid monthly, focusing always on the most vulnerable.
A special concern is the elderly, including care home residents.

For a longer term solution to hunger, we are funding a grassroots Christian programme to train subsistence farmers in a simple, cheap and sustainable farming method, which greatly increases yields.

A gift to our Zimbabwe General Fund will support these and other projects which feed and build up believers in Zimbabwe. 

The Church in Zimbabwe plays a major role in society, and has therefore been one of the targets of government harassment and persecution. Many courageous pastors and ministers have taken a stand for justice and righteousness, risking arrest, imprisonment or worse.

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Farming projects enable self-sufficiency. Can you help families like this one?

Zimbabwe lies under military rule today after the surprise “coup” of Tuesday. No one knows what the future holds. Some dare to hope for an end to the long years of suffering, but others fear it will be a case of new leadership and old problems. One thing is sureyou can help poor and needy Christians through the Zimbabwean churches. 

Donate now

Asia Bibi’s final appeal against blasphemy to be heard in Supreme Court by end 2017??

In October, it was reported that the Supreme Court was likely to hear Aasia [Asia] Bibi’s blasphemy case during the next couple of months.

Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, told The Express Tribune that the court’s additional registrar had conveyed to him that the case was likely to be fixed for hearing in November. However, if for some reason there was a delay, it would definitely be listed in December.

“I have been told that currently the Supreme Court’s special bench is hearing criminal appeals filed in 2015. The Aasia case was listed the same year. Therefore, it will be heard during the ongoing year,” said the lawyer.

Legal experts say it’s unclear if a bench led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will resume, or the special bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, will hear her case.

The 51-year-old Christian, has been on the death row since November 2010 after being convicted of controversial blasphemy charges during an argument with a Muslim woman. Aasia’s case gained prominence after then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer pleaded for her retrial and was subsequently shot dead by his guard, Mumtaz Qadri, in January 2011.

In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld Aasia’s death sentence, but the Supreme Court stayed her execution in July 2015.

Lord please sovereignly cause her to be acquitted and leave this rotten country for her own safety!

Background:

 

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Aasia Bibi with her children before blasphemy charges

In October, it was reported that the Supreme Court was likely to hear Aasia [Asia] Bibi’s blasphemy case during the next couple of months..

 

Describing her case, Bibi said she was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Because she is a Christian, some of her Muslim co-workers objected, saying that she should not touch the water vessel as she would make it unclean. An argue began and harsh words were exchanged. Bibi claims the women later accused her of blasphemy in conspiracy with another Muslim woman. Bibi maintains her innocence.

Whilst Aasia Bibi’s defence believe they have a strong case, there is huge pressure from Muslims to uphold the death sentence.

Aasia Bibi’s husband and two of her children
Aasia Bibi’s husband and two of her children

Speaking directly to Barnabas Fund’s contact in Pakistan, Aasia Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih requested prayer for protection and that justice will prevail. He has also asked that specific prayers be made for the lawyers defending Aasia Bibi, as well as the judges who will hear the case. He said that the family are well and thankful to Barnabas Fund for helping them to purchase a house.

Commenting on the significance of the appeal, Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan, wrote, “Some insist it is not just a fight for one life, but a battle for the nation’s soul as the state walks a razor-sharp line between upholding human rights and appeasing populist hardliners.”

Should the judges rule in favour of Aasia Bibi, there is the risk that she and her family will be targeted by vigilantes as have many others acquitted of “blasphemy” charges in Pakistan. It is symptomatic of the increasing Islamisation of Pakistan and the immense difficulty that Christians in particular have in defending themselves against false accusations. Whilst it would be a huge victory for justice should Aasia Bibi be acquitted, more challenges could yet lie ahead for her and her family.

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

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LAHORE: The Supreme Court is due to hear the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi, a Christian, accused for blasphemy, on Thursday. Some insist it is not just a fight for one life, but a battle for the nation’s soul as the state walks a razor-sharp line between upholding human rights and appeasing populist hardliners.

This will be the final appeal for Asia Bibi, some six years after she was sentenced to death, accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.

“There is no question that what is at stake is the very soul of the state and Pakistan society: does Pakistan respect the rights of the most vulnerable? Does it defend those rights against spurious allegations even where those allegations involved matters that are sacred to most Pakistanis?” Mustafa Qadri, an expert on human rights in South…

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