May godly pastors be more involved in the politics of this impoverished, badly led nation.
Terrible wickedness on both sides as there is in almost every battle and war.
Bombing of Marawi City-Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Civilians on the island of Mindanao paid a high price with dozens killed and widespread destruction of homes and property amid the ‘battle of Marawi’ that pitted the Philippine military against militants allied to the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) between May and October this year, Amnesty International said in a report today.
The ‘Battle of Marawi’: Death and destruction in the Philippines is the first detailed human rights analysis of the conflict, based on a research trip to Lanao del Sur, Mindanao in September. It documents how IS-allied militants targeted Christian civilians for the worst of the abuses, including at least 25 extrajudicial killings, mass hostage-taking, and extensive looting of civilian property.
Philippine armed forces, meanwhile, detained and ill-treated fleeing civilians, and also engaged in looting. Their extensive bombing of militant-held areas of Marawi city wiped out entire neighbourhoods and killed…
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These murders go on with impunity. Pray for increased protection and arming of civilians even.
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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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”
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 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.
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 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.
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)
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.
Nov. 02, 2017 | Pakistan
Pray for Zhafar Bhatti, Imprisoned Since 2012
|Zhafar Bhatti, who was arrested and charged with blasphemy in July 2012, remains in prison, where he has been beaten several times. Zhafar, a traveling salesman for various medications, often used his door-to-door presentations to also share the gospel. He established a small NGO called “Jesus World Mission” with the purpose of helping the poor. On July 11, 2012, he was accused by a fellow NGO worker of sending blasphemous text messages from a mobile phone that she had given him. Zhafar and his wife left their village to avoid a riot, and police arrested him on July 26, charging him under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Other prisoners have beaten Zhafar several times and tried to poison his food, and Muslim prisoners continually pressure him to embrace Islam. Pray that Zhafar will remain strong in his faith, and pray that he will be released and reunited with his family soon. He might need to leave the country for his own safety.|
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.
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.
All the major persecuting countries are highlighted here and what is going on in them-no excuse not to know or pray!
Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, says, “Our prayers can go where we cannot. While many things may seem impossible from a human standpoint, in the realm of prayer there are no impossibilities.”
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.
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.”
Photo source: “Geng He” by medilldc (https://www.flickr.com/photos/medilldc/), used under CC BY 2.0 / Colour adjusted from original
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
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.
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)
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.
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 – 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
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
General global prayers are OK but specific prayers are better for specific people!
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.
Churches in Sudan continue to bear the brunt of a repressive Islamic government, including the SCOC (Sudanese Church of Christ) a Reformed denomination of 12,000 members.
Demolished church. Recently detained pastor.
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.
- Read more:No information on the condition of the Christian convert Mohammad Ali Torabi in Iran
- Read more:A Group of Christian Converts Arrested in South-Western Iran
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
(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.
Can you find the error here?
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.
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
More Hindu thuggery with apparent impunity
The Nigerian military are at best incompetent and at worse absolute cowards!
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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ALGERIA: Christian sentenced to five years in prison for blasphemy
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.
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
(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)
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)*
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
Oct. 05, 2017 | Uganda
|“Isaac” recently opened a shop to sell Christian videos and music, including some of his own recordings. But Muslims broke into the shop and took Isaac’s speakers so that he can’t play the music. Although he reported the burglary to authorities, they did not investigate. The Muslims later returned and destroyed everything in the shop. Isaac again notified authorities, but they have not responded. Please pray for Isaac as he considers the next steps for his business, and pray for all Christians in Uganda who are harassed and intimidated by Muslim extremists. Also pray that the Muslims involved in the attacks will feel guilty about their actions and seek forgiveness.
Oct. 05, 2017 | China
|In July, authorities closed a Christian school in Henan province, claiming it was brainwashing children. National security officers confiscated materials used at the school, which operated out of a woman’s home, and also removed items belonging to a house church that met there. Pray that the children who attended the school will be able to continue learning about Jesus and the Bible. Pray that their parents will find new ways to educate their children and that area Christians will be emboldened by this recent persecution.
|Sep. 28, 2017 | Iraq
Pray for “Mustafa,” Who Found Christ While Fighting ISIS
|Sep. 28, 2017 | Pakistan
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)
|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
(Source: Release contacts)
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.
Very informative video of a refugee spokesman from Eritrea:
First short version:
Long version with prayer points at end:
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.”
|Four Nepali Christians were sentenced to five years in prison on Dec. 22 after being convicted of “violence” and “witchcraft” for praying for a sick woman. On July 21, 2016, authorities arrested Nepali Christians Ruplal Pariyar and his wife, Ganga, along with Lali Pun and Bimkali Budha. In June, the four had prayed at their church for Seti Pariyar, a local woman who had been ill. Although Seti and her husband defended the Christians, stating that she had been healed, the judge convicted the four believers anyway. Please pray for their release.
Jan. 20, 2017 | Nepal
Another sad story from Egypt!
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.
NIGERIA – Released Chibok girls finally reunited with families, but 113 still held by Boko Haram
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
Sep. 21, 2017 | Gaza Strip
Pray for Musa, a New Christian in Hiding from His Family
|Pray for a young man in Gaza who came to faith in Christ through Internet ministries. Since becoming a Christian, “Musa” has been threatened and attacked many times by his family. He eventually was forced to flee after they tried to kill him. Currently in hiding from his family, Musa continues to participate in online Bible study and fellowship with other Christians, who encourage him in his faith. Pray that Musa will grow in faith and one day be able to share the gospel with his family.||
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.
June 2nd 2017. Latest….. He has been released as all charges dropped. He is very thankful.
Dec. 09, 2016 | Kyrgyzstan
|Kyrgyzstani believer Marat Niyazaliev remains in an investigative prison after being falsely accused of molesting a young girl. At the time of the alleged molestation, Marat was in a city about 60 miles away, renewing his passport. He made a phone call on the bus ride home, and phone records from his service provider have verified his location. Despite these facts, Marat was arrested in December 2015 and taken to an investigative prison, where he must remain while his case is processed. Before his December arrest, Marat told VOM workers that he had been greatly affected by the accusation and was having difficulty praying. Please pray that the truth will become known during this investigation, and pray for the spiritual health of both Marat and his family. He leads a house church in his home, started in 2011 but now with 40 members.
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.”
Police detained seven children for a week and two adults for ten days after Hindu extremists attacked a group of Christians travelling to a youth Bible conference by train. Police charged the adults with kidnapping and forcible conversion.
The photo shows a mother trying to comfort her crying daughter at the railway police station in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, before they were separated. The extremists beat parents who tried to regain custody of their children.
On 23 October, Anita Francis (50) and her daughter Sophia Francis (19) went to the railway station in Indore to take the Avantika Express for Mumbai with seven children – four boys aged 5, 13, 17 and 17, and three girls aged 5, 12 and 13. The children are relatives of Anita Francis, living in the same colony (where nearly 80 per cent of residents are Christians), and she had parental permission to take them to the annual Bible study conference for young people from all over India.
They boarded the train and had taken their seats when a mob of extremists from the Hindu nationalist organisation Hindu Jagran Manch entered their compartment and forced them off the train. The organisation is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghor RSS (National Volunteers’ Organisation), the Hindu nationalist parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The extremists asked Anita Francis how much money they had received to convert the children to Christianity, according to her nephew Alex Matera (19), who had come to see them off with his father, Anita’s brother Amrit Kumar Matera (52).
Alex told Morning Star News that he tried explaining that all the passengers were baptised Christians going to a Bible study conference as they do every year. He said, “They gathered the children from where they were seated and collected them all at one place, interrogating and intimidating Anita without even giving her the chance to reply. The children were pushed and pulled in the most ruthless manner… We don’t know how these people got to know about the travel plans. They alleged we convert children forcibly.”
The Hindu extremists called the media to witness the alleged “kidnapping” of the children. Amrit said, “There was a mob waiting at the platform with media persons clicking pictures, recording videos and asking all kinds of questions. The presence of the media and the crowd was evidence enough that the Christians were ambushed with a well-planned strategy.”
The extremists verbally abused Anita, beat Amrit, Alex and the three older boys (beating the 13-year-old so severely that his leg became swollen) and dragged the Christians to the Government Railway Police station.
“They tried to force us to hail Hindu gods,” said Amrit, “and when we did not, they beat us. They intimidated the children to repeat the slogans or else face the beating. The 5-year-old boy and girl were made to chant the slogan, ‘Hail lord Ram’ repeatedly. We felt so helpless as they intimidated the little children before our eyes, and we could do nothing to help them.”
Anita had telephoned the children’s parents, who hurried to the railway police station, where the extremists assaulted them too, while police watched. Dennis Michael, father of sons Priyal (17) and Harsh (13) and daughter Anushka (12), already had a broken leg from an accident, and the extremists repeatedly struck his broken leg with their boots.
The police released Sophie and Alex at 11 pm but kept Anita and Amrit in custody, charged them with serious crimes (including kidnapping, forcible conversion and trafficking of minors*) and sent them to Indore’s Musa Khedi Jail.
After some initial contact, parents who arrived at the police station were not allowed to see their children. Anita’s relative Tanna Machado, who came to the railway station after Anita called her, said: “What was inhuman was that the children were not allowed to use the restrooms since the time they were detained until 7 pm at night. They were neither given anything to eat until late night.”
The children were taken away – the girls to a shelter near the station; the boys to a children’s home on the outskirts of the city. Parents were not told where their children had been taken and were not allowed to see or speak with them in the week that followed.
Dennis Michael filed for habeas corpus on behalf of all the parents at the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court (pictured). The petition claimed the attack was politically motivated and stated, “The constitutional rights of the petitioners have been imperiled by illegal detention of their children without any reason.”
At the habeas corpus petition hearing on 30 October, the court asked each child whose custody they would like to return to. All said they would like to return to their parents. The court ordered that they be handed to their parents immediately and asked the home secretary and the officer in charge of Indore Government Railway Police station to file a report.
The Indian Express reported that the families had not returned to their homes out of fear. Dennis Michael, speaking from an undisclosed location, said: “All these days I was moving around dazed looking for my children. Now that we have got their custody, we are too scared to return.”
Adults released on bail
On 3 November, Anita and Amrit were released on bail after their lawyer submitted the high court’s habeas corpus ruling and supporting affidavits from the parents in the sessions court. (The photo shows friends and neighbours waiting for them to be released.)
The charges remain and the accused are trying to cope with the stigma of having been jailed for ten days. Anita is a well-respected retired teacher, while Amrit has taught at St Arnold School, Vijay Nagar, Indore, for 21 years. “I have not gone back to the school,” he said. “It is embarrassing to answer questions about my jail stay.”
On 17 November, Madhya Pradesh High Court ordered an investigation into the case against Anita and Amrit and into the allegations that the children were assaulted by Hindu Jagran Manch activists. The allegations were made by the parents in the writ petition and by the children in open court. The court reprimanded the railway police and asked the SHO to hand over case records.
The court stated, “The conduct of the SHO, Police Station, GRP Indore, in not handing over the custody of the children to their parents when they were brought to the railway station raises various doubts over his way of functioning and discharge of duties as SHO. Once the documents were shown to him by the parents and the children wanted to go with their parents, this court really does not know what prevented the SHO from handing over the children to their parents.”
Previous cases of children detained
The Indore case echoes an incident in May 2017, also in Madhya Pradesh, when the authorities detained 72 children on their way to a Bible camp. Police took the children off a train at Ratlam railway station and sent them to a shelter home following activists’ allegations of forcible conversion.
Rev Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, commented, “Earlier as well, in 2015, there have been cases wherein a child as young as eight months old was detained with the mother on charges of conversion. We also recorded an incident wherein a family of four from Bhopal was arrested near Chhindwara on alleged conversion charges, and children were separated from parents and kept in separate jails which were over 150 kilometers apart.”
He said law enforcement agencies are under pressure from non-state political actors, “and go the extra mile to placate them, while Christians pay the price. This must stop, and the chief minister must intervene to restore confidence among the Christian community.”
Madhya Pradesh is one of eight Indian states that have passed anti-conversion laws. Officially called “Freedom of Religion” laws, they are intended to stop Hindus converting to other religions but extremists use them as an excuse to accuse Christians of “forcible conversion” of Hindus.
(Indian Express/Morning Star News/Scroll)
* The police charged Amrit Kumar Matera and Anita Francis with: kidnapping, punishable by up to seven years in prison and/or a fine; forcible conversion, punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine; trafficking of minors, punishable by 14 years to life in prison; crime with common intention; insulting the religion of any class, punishable by up to three years and/or a fine; obscene acts or songs, punishable by prison up to three months and/or a fine; voluntarily causing grievous hurt, punishable by up to seven years in prison; mischief by destroying or moving a landmark fixed by public authority, punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine; and sexual harassment. Later, Amrit Kumar Matera was also charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act.
Church in Chains has written to the Indian Ambassador requesting a meeting to discuss this incident and other attacks on Christians in India
Nov. 16, 2017 | Laos
|Four Christian men arrested over the past two months were released from jail recently. The first believer to be arrested, “Sanyahak,” was detained in early October after 40 people came to know Christ through his witness. The three other men were later arrested, amid ongoing harassment of seven Christian families in the community. The Christians remain faithful despite being forbidden from practicing their faith in any way. They are being closely watched and could be arrested if authorities see any evidence that they are practicing their faith. Praise God for the release of these four men and for the steadfast faith of these families. Pray for their wisdom and perseverance in determining next steps.||
|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.
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.
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.
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 sure: you can help poor and needy Christians through the Zimbabwean churches.
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!
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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.
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.
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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