Chinese believers killed in Pakistan

Chinese Students Killed by ISIS

 

Link

USA: Christian soccer player withdraws from US national team after being told to wear gay pride shirt

 United States

US Soccer has ordered all players in both their men’s and women’s national teams to wear gay pride shirts during matches against Sweden and Norway in June to celebrate gay pride month. These shirts differ from the normal shirts in having the numbers in rainbow colours. It has led to one of their star players, Jaelene Hinkle, who is a deeply committed Christian, withdrawing from the national team for what US soccer has officially termed “personal reasons”.

Jaelene Hinkle
Jaelene Hinkle

US soccer promoted their gay pride initiative with a video stating:

“US soccer pledges to support all our athletes, coaches and fans. We believe athletes should be judged by their character, work ethic and talent…no matter if you are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, if you can play – you can play.”

However, if you are a committed Christian and are selected to represent either the men’s or women’s national teams, US Soccer will require you to publicly promote a certain set of beliefs even when these directly violate your own deeply held Christian beliefs.

From Canada Free Press

Laws against extremism

It is true to say that whenever a state brings in laws to combat extremism that law-abiding Christ-honouring believers end up being persecuted. Such is the case in Russia where an Indian missionary Pastor Victor Emmanuel Mani would be deported leaving behind his Russian wife and young child. May God bless and uphold his appeal.

Christian teacher shot dead in front of his pupils in Kenya

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It’s the news every parent dreads: a gunman has walked into their child’s school and opened fire.   Sadly in northeast Kenya that’s exactly what happened recently. Al-Shabaab militants walked into Fafi Primary School, 60 miles from Garissa, and shot dead a Christian teacher, Elly Oloo Ojiema – right in front of his pupils. They kidnapped another Christian teacher, Joseph Kamau, and a Muslim colleague who tried to protect him.   Please pray that God will comfort Elly’s family and that the two kidnapped teachers will be freed soon.   The Muslim teacher of Somali descent who was abducted tried to shield Joseph, saying he was prepared to die with him. ‘We are going to teach you a lesson for protecting the infidels,’ his kidnappers told him. The militants also beat Muslims of Somali descent at the school as a punishment for associating with Christians.
Local pastors are now calling on the Kenyan Government to provide more security for the Christian community. Al-Shabaab militants appear to have stepped up their campaign of violence in areas bordering Somalia in the past few weeks.

  • Pray that God will comfort, protect and provide for Elly’s family.
  • Pray for the safe and swift return of Joseph and his Muslim friend. Thank God for the way that his friend stood up to the militants, at huge personal cost.
  • Pray for our Christian family in northeast Kenya who are under extreme pressure and living in fear. Pray that God will uphold them with his ‘righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10).

(Source: Morning Star News)

Freedom of speech at stake.

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Personal message

Will you join me in standing for freedom of speech?

Please help me challenge the censorship of biblical beliefs

Dear friends,

In 2015, I was thrown off my master’s course in social work because I expressed the bible’s teaching on sexual ethics, on Facebook.
I was told that my beliefs made me unfit to practise as a social worker.
With help from the Christian Legal Centre, I tried to get the decision reversed. But Sheffield University refused.
Even before I had finished my university course, I was effectively ‘barred from office’.
I had to challenge this decision, because freedom is at stake. And with your support, I have.
In April, we went to the High Court.
I praise God that the High Court agreed that Sheffield University’s decision could be scrutinised.
Thank you so much for your prayers and remarkable support already.
It’s so important because this case is not just about me – it’s far, far, bigger. it’s about the freedom of all of us to speak the truth about marriage and sexual ethics.
The High Court decision is a huge step forward.
But to keep going, I need your help. And I’m writing to ask you to stand with me in this case by making a donation today.
Yes, Felix, I want to stand with you, for freedom

‘I wanted to defend biblical marriage’

My extraordinary journey began in September 2015, when I posted on Facebook expressing support for Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses.
Her case was widely discussed on and off the university campus. I entered the discussion on my personal Facebook account, because I wanted to defend her.
I wanted to defend her because I, like her and indeed millions around the world, uphold the belief that marriage is the lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman.
But two months later, I received an email from a university official telling me that my comments were being investigated. I was summoned to a meeting the following week. That meeting’s outcome was my exclusion from university, and my hopes of becoming a social worker suddenly disrupted.
Read more about Felix’s story

‘I knew I couldn’t be the only one’

I could have let my dream go quietly, and pursued another path. But I knew that I couldn’t be the only one who has had to surrender dreams and plans, because the state has dictated which beliefs are acceptable in the public space.
We need Christians in roles of public office because we are motivated by the love of Christ. We are to carry light into darkness and offer the saving hope of the gospel.
But how can we do this when we are told that our very beliefs make us unfit to serve?
So with the help of the Christian Legal Centre, I decided to appeal.
An internal complaints body dismissed my appeal, ruling that the university acted fairly in dismissing me.
But I wasn’t about to give up.
We cannot allow this kind of ‘thought policing’ to become the norm.

In April this year, I took the rare step of taking the Sheffield University to court. I asked the High Court for permission to judicially review my expulsion.
I was granted permission to do so, but in order to take this forward, I need to raise the costs.
Can you help me?
Yes, Felix, I want to help you challenge censorship

‘You are not only helping me’

The Christian Legal Centre has not charged me a penny for the support they have offered.
Without their support and your generosity, this could not happen.
I couldn’t have come this far without you.
So I want to take this opportunity to thank you for standing with me. For helping me to make my story known.
Because by doing this, you are not only helping me. You are helping the many others like me who need someone to stand on their behalf.
Help Felix and others like him

Time to speak up

At a time where our society is becoming increasingly hostile to Christian beliefs – particularly biblical sexual ethics – it can be easy to think that there is no point speaking up.
We have recently seen in the news that holding the biblical view of sexuality is now viewed as immoral. Politicians are hounded out of office and labelled ‘bigoted’ and ‘hateful’ just for believing that marriage is between one man and one woman.
This is exactly why we must, together, make a stand.
It is a critical time to defend freedom of belief, and freedom of speech.
If you are able, please make a donation – not only to help me pay for my case to go forward – but also so that the Christian Legal Centre can continue its amazing ministry.
Please do not feel obliged to give. But if you can make a gift today, please do.
The Christian Legal Centre needs your support to meet the costs of this case and to continue its work.
Yes, I want to continue to stand for Christian freedoms

‘Thank you’

Finally, I want to say thank you again for your support and for your prayers throughout this journey.
Thank you for standing with the Christian Legal Centre so they can continue helping people like me.
Let’s pray that God’s will would be done in this next stage of my case.
Yours in Him,
Felix Ngole
Donate now to help protect freedom of speech

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More Muslim Kidnappings

Now three more Egyptian women abducted. This is a typical Muslim plot, one of their methods to intimidate, forcibly rape and convert non-muslims.

 

Suzan Ashraf Rawy   Hanan Adly Girgis    Rania Eed Fawzy

Three Christian women ‘kidnapped’ in Cairo suburb
Suzan went missing last week, as she walked to the church where she works in Egypt. Local Christians fear the 22-year-old (pictured) has been kidnapped – just like two other young women who vanished from the same Cairo suburb just days before.
Women in Al Khosous, a mainly Christian town just outside Cairo, are said to be too frightened to leave their houses: a women’s meeting at Suzan’s church, which she attended, has been cancelled.
Please pray for the safe return home of our three Egyptian sisters in Al Khosous.
The suspected abductions follow an incident in which a Muslim was accidently shot and killed during a dispute over money. A Christian man was taken into police custody and is expected to be charged with manslaughter.
Since then, there has been a sharp increase in attacks on Christians, especially women, in Al Khosous. But this persecution is nothing new: several local women have had acid thrown in their face, for not wearing veils.
Christians across Egypt remain under intense pressure. Extremists shot dead at least 29 Christians whom they pulled off a bus in Minya Province on May 26. Church bombings in Tanta and Alexandria in April, and in Cairo in December, killed at least 68 people.

  • Pray for the safe return of Suzan Ashraf Rawy and the two other missing women. Pray that they would know God’s protection and that his peace will fill them and their families and guard their hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7).
  • Pray for our Christian family across Egypt, that they will stand firm in their faith and put their complete trust in almighty God.
  • Pray for wisdom, boldness and firm resolve for the Egyptian Government in resisting the spread of Islamist extremism in their nation and protecting the Christian community.

(Source: Morning Star News)

Abduction of Bangladeshi girl

BANGLADESH – Twelve-year-old Christian girl kidnapped by Muslim man; family fear the possibility of her forced marriage (i.e. rape!)

A twelve-year-old Christian girl from Boruakona, eastern Bangladesh, was kidnapped by a 35-year-old Muslim man on 26 May. At the time of writing, the girl’s whereabouts are unknown, although the family have expressed concern that she may have been forced into marriage. The girl’s grandfather said that, as well as reporting the kidnap to police, the family also approached local Islamic leaders who “had assured us that we could bring our child back in 24 hours. But nothing. Police have also failed. They say they are searching … As Christians and religious minorities, we are persecuted by the Muslim majority. We can no longer live in this country.”

CHINA – House church suffers intense persecution

 LATEST: Zhang Xuihong is starting a five year sentence for “illegal business operations”.
LATEST: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the much persecuted Huoshi Church in China’s southern Guizhou province. Local officials recently issued them with a fine of 7 million yuan (more than £800,000) – because, they said, donations the church had received between 2009 and 2015 were ‘illegal income’. When the church went to court last Friday to dispute the fine, the hearing was fraught with irregularities: many of those overseeing the hearing had been involved in persecuting the church. Several of the church’s leadership, including Pastor Yang Hua, and the church’s accountant, Zhang Xiuhong, are in prison on false charges. (Source: China Aid)

 

CHINA – House church suffers intense persecution  
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China where a prominent house church is experiencing intense persecution.

china
Several leaders of Huoshi Church in Guìyang city, south-west China, are currently detained, including Pastor Yang Hua, and church services have been banned.
Pastor Yang’s wife, Wang Hongwu, has written an open letter describing the church’s plight and calling for prayer.
She says pastors and members have been detained and beaten and the church has been barred from its meeting place. No more than 20 people are allowed to attend prayer groups.
Pastor Yang, who has significant health problems including a form of arthritis, was detained in December and formally charged with ‘divulging state secrets’ on January 22.
Zhang Xiuhong, who oversees the church’s deacons, has been in detention since July on suspicion of ‘theft’. Another pastor, Su Tianfu, is currently under 24-hour surveillance after being released on bail. Two other Christians connected with the church are also in custody.

  • Pray that all charges will be dropped against Huoshi Church members.
  • Please pray that God will meet the financial needs of church staff and the church itself. They continue to pay a mortgage but have been banned from taking an offering.
  • Pray that the congregation will not be forced to disband even though many members are currently dispersed among other churches.

Uganda battleground

Uganda is a country that has seen many inroads by Islam.. But many are turning from Islam to Christ who then are fiercely persecuted. Jazila (26) was thrown out of her house and ALL her possessions burnt and her father cursed and disowned her. She has a 4 year-old daughter. Same day Fauzia (22) who has a 3 year-old son,  experienced the same.

Shixing, China

A small but totally unreached people-they must hear,  there must be disciples made.

Shixing in China

The area inhabited by the Shixing has a long and rich history. Their villages are “guarded by watchtowers erected by powerful Naxi kings several hundred years ago.” The Naxi’s interest in the region may have been due to the abundance of gold once found in the Shou Chu River. There has never been a known believer or Christian fellowship among the Shixing people.

Ministry Obstacles
The Shixing have no background in monotheism – there is much to correct in their worldview.

Outreach Ideas
Han Chinese believers may be able to carry the message of salvation to their Shixing neighbors.

Pray for the followers of Christ
Pray for the believers that will one day emerge among the Shixing, that pastors and teachers are even now being prepared for them.

Pray for the entire people group
Pray the Shixing will awaken to their need for life as found in the one who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Scripture Focus
“Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” Psalm 2:8

Christian Lawyers in prison-Li Heping and Jiang Tianyong. Pray for Jiang.

 

LATEST: UPDATE 

CSW Logo

Li Heping has been released!

After almost two years in detention, unable to see or speak to anyone in the outside world, Li Heping (on the right in the above photo) is at last with his family. This footage shows the emotional moment when he was reunited with his wife and daughter.

We’re writing this email to say thank you. So many of you prayed, protested, sent letters and signed petitions. We asked you to pray for Li on Monday and within two days our prayers were answered. We serve an amazing, powerful God who’s able to move in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

Please keep praying
Li’s wife, Wang Qiaoling, has reported that government authorities are still watching the family. It’s very likely that there’ll be severe restrictions on Li’s freedom and ability to talk about what has happened to him for the rest of his four-year suspended sentence.

Many human rights lawyers and activists just like Li, who were arrested as part of a government crackdown, are still in prison or have disappeared altogether. We’ve seen how powerfully prayer worked for Li: please keep praying for others like him.

May. 26, 2017 | China
Pray for Li Heping, Recently Released from Prison

Our Chinese brother faces a life sentence – for defending human rights
Chinese Christian lawyer Jiang Tianyong has not been seen since he disappeared last November. Now, his family have been told he’s been charged with trying to overthrow the regime – and faces a potential life sentence.
Jiang Tianyong went missing as he returned from visiting the family of a fellow lawyer who had been detained during the July 2015 crackdown on ‘dissidents’. Jiang is thought to have been held incommunicado in an illegal ‘black jail’ until now.
Please pray for peace and perseverance for our brother Jiang Tianyong as he awaits trial.
Jiang’s father has just received a statement from a local Public Security Bureau in southern Hunan province informing him that Jiang was charged with ‘subversion of state power’ on May 31.
Jiang, a fierce advocate for minorities’ religious rights and broader human rights, was charged in December with ‘inciting subversion of state power’ and sentenced to spend time in an unofficial ‘black jail’. His family have now been told he’s being held at Changsha No. 1 Detention Centre – the first official confirmation of his whereabouts for six months.

  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will fill Jiang afresh, giving him the power and strength he needs to endure.
  • Pray for the immediate release of Jiang Tianyong and all the other lawyers and activists arrested during and since the 2015 crackdown.
  • Pray for peace for Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, and their daughter who have fled to the US to avoid further harassment.

(Sources: China Aid, Reuters)

Jiang has been detained since November 2016 and newspapers accuse him of leaking state secrets.

Jiang

Eritrean refugees in Israel

Street protest in Israel against desperate plight of Eritrean asylum-seekers

Not being treated according to Exodus 22:21.

Desperate plight of Eritrean Christian refugees gets even worse: but you can help them
“We have already begun to see a great deal of fear among the most vulnerable members of our community.” This was a recent message to Barnabas Fund from an Eritrean Christian agency in Israel, describing the effect of a new law implemented last month by the Israeli government.

Will you help needy Eritrean Christian women, seriously affected by the new law?
Will you help needy Eritrean Christian women, seriously affected by the new law?

Section 4 of the Law for Preventing Infiltrators and Ensuring their Departure (known as the “Deposit Law”) deducts 20% from the earnings of every African asylum-seeker, on top of normal taxes. It also requires their employers to make a monthly payment equivalent to 16% of the person’s salary. Effective from 1 May, this law will seriously impact the 40,000 Eritreans – mainly Christians – who fled to Israel hoping to find freedom and security in a country where they could worship the Lord without fear.

The funds – from employee and employer – will be set aside by the Israeli government and only released to the individual asylum-seeker when he or she agrees to leave the country permanently. Of course, none will return to the brutal communist regime of Eritrea which mercilessly hounds Christians of certain denominations, imprisoning them for years in atrocious conditions just for meeting together to pray. That leaves only the “voluntary” return programme to Uganda or Rwanda; Eritreans who have tried this have often ended up in the hands of human traffickers and some have been killed by Islamic State.

As a direct result of this new law, thousands of vulnerable asylum-seekers – already struggling to survive – will be plunged further into poverty. Employers will be loath to hire them because of the 16% levy, and those who manage to retain their jobs will lose a further 20% of their meagre income.
Generosity from Israeli citizens, but it is not enough

Members of the Israeli public generously donate food and other items to the Eritrean Christian agency for distribution to the neediest Eritreans – mainly mothers with small children. But, as the effects of the new law begin to bite, these donations will not be sufficient. The agency desperately needs funds to buy more items for distribution, such as pasta, rice, cooking oil, baby formula milk, and nappies.

Many Israelis are deeply unhappy with the stance of their government regarding the Eritrean asylum-seekers and a number of Israeli non-government organisations are assisting them, as well as engaging with the government to try to persuade them to change their policies.
Further harassment of men at Holot

Street protest in Israel against desperate plight of Eritrean asylum-seekers
Street protest in Israel against desperate plight of Eritrean asylum-seekers

Since Barnabas Fund and various Israeli media highlighted the atrocious conditions of the Holot Detention Centre earlier this year, additional restrictions have been placed on the three thousand Eritrean men held there. Their mobile phones have been blocked so they cannot contact family and friends. And the many who were studying can no longer access the educational materials they used to receive via their mobile wifi hubs.

Heavily armed, Boko Haram fighters attack Borno State capital in Nigeria’s northeast

I doubt the truth of his claim!

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Heavily armed, suspected Boko Haram fighters  launched attacks in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital in Nigeria’s northeast region. Residents scattered as gunshots were heard being being fired in all directions of the Jiddari Polo area.

Security authorities say they have repelled the Boko Haram members. In a text, Brigadier General Sani Usman, Director Army Public Relations, said people should not panic and that people should not flee as the military had the situation under control. Tense after hearing gunshots for a long period of time, many decided to leave their homes and sought safety in nearby locations. Locals residents are asking for our prayers.

During a national broad cast a week ago, it was reported that acting President Yemi Osinbajo said the government had re-organized, equipped the armed forces, and inspired them to heroic feats the against the Boko Haram insurgency.

He said that the terrorist group which openly challenged the sovereignty and…

View original post 332 more words

Five Muslims Sentenced to Death in Pakistan for Heinous Murder of Christian couple

Good, some justice in a wickedly discriminatory country!

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Composite of Shahzad Masih and Shama Masih. (Morning Star News courtesy of famly) Composite of Shahzad Masih and Shama Masih. (Morning Star News courtesy of famly)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A court in Lahore has handed the death sentence to five Muslims for torturing and killing an impoverished Christian couple over allegations of burning the Koran, sources said.

Eight others charged in the attack were sentenced to two years in prison, sources said. Hundreds of villagers in Kot Radha Kishan, incited by Muslim leaders calling for violence via mosque loudspeakers, were involved in the Nov. 4, 2014 assault in which 26-year-old Shahzad Masih and his five-months pregnant wife, Shama, 24, were thrown into a burning brick kiln. [Read VOP Nov. 6 2014 report condemning the horrific attack]

Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Chaudhry Azam on Wednesday (Nov. 25) handed death sentences to Irfan Shakoor, Muhammad Hanif, Mehdi Khan, Riaz Kamboh and Hafiz Ishtiaq, along with a fine of…

View original post 969 more words

Christian Sanitation Worker in Pakistan Dies after Hospital Refuses to Treat Him, Family Says

Despicable conditions and responses!

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Protestors with Irfan Masih’s body during demonstration. (Twitter)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian sanitation worker in Pakistan died on Thursday (June 1) after Muslim doctors refused to treat him for poisonous gas he was exposed to in a sewer, sources said.

Doctors at Civil Hospital Medical refused to treat 28-year-old Irfan Masih of Umerkot City, Sindh Province, saying they did not want to touch the filth-covered worker during the Islamic month of Ramandan, Masih’s brother told Morning Star News.

Babar Masih said that his brother entered a deep manhole to clear a sewage line but smelled poisonous gas and called out for help.

“Irfan’s coworkers did not have the equipment to pull him out, so another worker, Yaqoob Masih, descended into the manhole to rescue him,” he said. “However, both men inhaled the fumes and fainted. Two other Christian sanitary workers, Faisal Masih and…

View original post 846 more words

Indian persecution hits new low.

INDIA – Is taking Christian children on a summer camp now a crime in India?

In two separate incidents in Madhya Pradesh state on the night of 21-22 May, at least ten Christian church workers and at least 70 Christian children (aged between 6 and 15) in their care were detained by police as they travelled to a Vacation Bible School summer camp.

On the evening of Sunday 21 May, a mob of about 400 Hindu extremists demanded that the Christian church workers, held by railway police at Ratlam station, be booked on charges relating to kidnapping and forceful conversion. Although the children and their parents were all Christians, the authorities claimed that the parents had not submitted the necessary paperwork when they converted to Christianity and therefore their children were still officially Hindu – hence the accusation of forceful conversion of the children being taken to the Christian camp. The approximately 59 children were later released to their parents.

Ratlam Junction
Ratlam Junction
CC BY-SA 3.0 by Superfast1111

In the early hours of Monday 22 May, police held a further at least eleven Christian children and two Christian church workers caring for them in Chhoti Gwaltoli, in Indore. The church workers were charged on suspicion of kidnapping the children and trying to convert them to Christianity by force, allurement or fraudulent means.

Posts on social media have accused the police of harassing the children, their parents and the wider minority Christian community.

Source: GCN

Nosu, China.

Believe it or not another unreached people in a country with reputedly 50 million believers!

Nosu, Tianba in China

Violent conflict, inter-tribal and inter-clan warfare, and the taking of slaves were commonplace among the various branches of the Nosu until recently. The War songs were equally awe inspiring: “We are the famous Black Nosu! We are the tigers who eat up human flesh! We are the butchers who skin people alive! We are the supermen!'” The Tianba Nosu have been influenced by Chinese culture more than the other Nosu groups in Sichuan, although they still retain their traditional dress and most of their ceremonies and customs.

Ministry Obstacles
These people may have little concept of a loving, forgiving creator God.

Outreach Ideas
Sustained, focused prayer is needed to prepare these people to receive the good news of Christ.

There may be no followers of Christ among the Tianba Nosu today, but pray for those that will soon emerge from this group. Pray they will be kind and compassionate to one another.

Pray for the entire people group
Pray that God by the gospel to the Tianba Nosu will overturn their history of violence, and bring the knowledge of the Prince of peace.

Scripture Focus
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” John 4:35

Eritrean Church Leaders still in jail 12 years later

NEW ERITREAN PRISONER PROFILES: We’ve just added five new profiles of Eritrean Christian prisoners to our website.
Rev G. Gebregiorsis

Futsum Gebrenegus

Meron Gebreselasie

Oqbamichel Haimanot 

Tekleab Menghisteab

 

Kiflu Gebremeskel, Patriarch Abune Antonios, Haile Naigzhi Photos: World Watch Monitor

Kiflu Gebremeskel, Patriarch Abune Antonios, Haile Naigzhi Photos: World Watch Monitor

(World Watch Monitor) Although the tiny East African nation of Eritrea has a population of just 6 million, Eritrea is one of the leading sources of refugees in Europe. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is a lack of religious freedom.

The Eritrean government outlawed worship outside of Islam and the Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran and Roman Catholic Church in 2002, driving all other Christian churches underground as they faced varying degrees of restrictions and attacks. Since then, thousands of Christians have been arrested and incarcerated without benefitting from a legal process. Among them are a number of prominent church leaders arrested in 2004, who remain incarcerated today, almost 12 years later. World Watch Monitor spoke with the family of one of these prisoners.

Haile Naigzhi, leader of Eritrea’s Full Gospel Church, was arrested during the early hours of 23 May, 2004. He was taken from his home to Police Station #1 in Asmara, then moved to Wongel Mermera – a dungeon-like prison in Asmara, where he still resides, alongside at least five other prominent church leaders (see list below). They have little hope of release anytime soon.

For years following Naigzhi’s arrest, his wife and three children (names withheld to protect their identity) waited for his release. In 2013, his wife received credible information that the government wanted to arrest her and the children, so she decided to flee.

As World Watch Monitor reported last year, the journey out of Eritrea is fraught with danger. Movement in Eritrea is heavily controlled through an internal travel-pass system and checkpoints; anyone trying to cross the border can be shot on sight. If you make it past those first two hurdles, you reach the desert, exposed to the unforgiving elements and lawless human traffickers. Whatever destination you aim for after that could see you either crossing the Mediterranean on a rickety boat or dodging deportation from African countries with diplomatic and ideological ties to the Eritrean government.

World Watch Monitor cannot divulge the details of the Naigzhi family’s journey, nor where they ended up, but today they are settled in a new country, where they have been granted asylum.

“We feel safer here,” said Naigzhi’s wife. “We are able to freely serve God. I am also happy because the children are in a good school.”

But their 19-year-old daughter misses home. “Ever since we left our country, things have dramatically changed in a way we didn’t know they would. I knew the moment we left that we would have an uphill battle until we are able one day to go back home again. And it was all true.”

Naigzhi’s wife added: “I miss my husband dearly. It is very lonely for me.”

Their eldest daughter last saw her father when she was seven, whereas the youngest son (13) does not remember a time when they were all together.

The other boy, 17, last saw his father when he was five and confessed to also feeling homesick.

“I miss home, I miss my friends, and I miss our house,” he said.

“It is difficult, but we hold on to Jesus,” said Naigzhi’s wife.

Her daughter added:

“We learnt that having a ‘bed-of-roses’ kind of life on earth is not actually God’s number one plan for us, but that everything we face in this world shapes our spirits into the beautiful spirit the Lord wishes to see in us. I am happy in every way and most especially to be the daughter of the Most High God. I am also happy to be the daughter of a prisoner for Christ. He is the best dad ever! God will make things perfect one day, and I trust Him with all my heart. He is faithful to keep His word.”

Eritrea is No. 3 on Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian. No-one knows for certain how many Christians remain in the elaborate network of incarceration centres in Eritrea. Although there seems to have been a lull in arrests, pressure remains high on Christians and on society in general. Thousands are still intent on fleeing the country, the majority aiming for Europe. Hundreds have died trying.

Incarcerated church leaders

Abune Antonios

Head of the Orthodox Church, removed from his position in 2007 after criticising the Eritrean government for interference in church activities. Two priests accompanied by government security agents entered the Patriarch’s residence and confiscated his personal pontifical insignia. He was replaced by Abune Dioskoros – a development orchestrated by the Eritrean government. Patriarch Antonios, who has never been charged with any offence, remains under house arrest and strict state surveillance.

Ogbamichael Teklehaimanot

Senior pastor of the Kale Hiwot Church. Arrested for participating in a Protestant wedding ceremony in Barentu on 9 January, 2005. Taken to Asmara Police Station No. 5, then subjected to 10 months of solitary confinement and hard labour at Sawa military camp. Released after six years, then re-arrested six months later, after a fleeing church member, who was being monitored, called him. Now back in prison in Barentu, where he has been for 11 years in total.

Kidane Weldou

Senior pastor of the Full Gospel Church and member of the executive committee of Gideons International in Eritrea. When his vehicle was found abandoned in 2005, his wife and four children assumed he had been arrested. Believed to be in Wongel Mermera prison.

Haile Naigzhi

Leader of Eritrea’s Full Gospel Church, arrested at his home during the early hours of 23 May, 2004, and taken to Police Station #1 in Asmara.

Kiflu Gebremeskel

Founder and senior pastor of Southwest Full Gospel Church, and member of the executive committee to the Full Gospel Church of Eritrea. Before he became a full-time pastor, Dr. Gebremeskel was also a mathematics lecturer and until 1999 was department and faculty head at the University of Asmara. Has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Chicago University. Taken from his home in Asmara Gejeret in May 2004. Wife and four children have not been able to visit him.

Million Gebreselasie

Anaesthetist and pastor of Massawa Rhema Church. Arrested on 3 June, 2004, five days after another pastor, Tesfasion Hagos (who has since been released and granted asylum in another country), visited his church and home. Arrested at a police checkpoint just before entering Asmara, as he was returning Pastor Hagos’ belongings to his home. Taken to the 2nd Police Station, where he was held for about two months, before being relocated to Wongel Mermera, where he remains. Unmarried.

Futsum Gebrenegus

Eritrea’s only psychiatrist. Also served as an Orthodox priest. Arrested in Nov. 2004 for allegedly being involved in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Gebremedhin Gebregiorsis

Expert theologian and Orthodox priest also arrested in Nov. 2004 for allegedly being involved in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Tekleab Menghisteab

Doctor and Orthodox priest also arrested in Nov. 2004 for alleged involvement in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Click to enlarge.

Tajikistan – Church pastor held for having Christian literature.

Secret police arrested a church pastor in Khujand – the second largest city in Tajikistan – in April and are accusing him of “extremism” for being in possession of Christian literature, including church hymnbooks. Bakhrom Kholmatov’s family have not heard from him since his arrest. The Tajikistan government imposes heavy restrictions on all religious groups and the import, export and distribution of religious publications has to be approved by the authorities. Under new laws introduced in 2011, children under the age of 18 are prohibited from taking part in public religious activities – a cause of great concern for Christian parents. Christians make up around 2% of Tajikistan’s mostly Muslim population.

  • Lift up pastor Kholmatov and ask that the Father will be his hiding place and protection (Psalm 32:7).
  • Pray that his family will be encouraged that the Lord delivers the righteous (Psalm34:17).
  • Pray that the government of Tajikistan will revoke its oppressive laws and permit religious freedom.

https://reformedglobalprayer.com/2017/05/10/tajikistan/

Cowardly Muslim Terrorism…Gunmen Kill at Least 35 Coptic Christians in Egypt

It seems to me that in every country where there is a strong jihadist Muslim element and they are up against democracy or Judeo-Christian ethics or an established church they will bomb and kill to try and get their way. They are deluded fools of Satan who face hellish judgment.

More Egyptian terror

Gunmen Kill at Least 35 Coptic Christians in Egypt
 
Masked Gunmen Attack Coptic Christians, Mostly Children, Traveling to Monastery
05/26/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that multiple masked gunmen attacked a caravan of Coptic Christians traveling to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, Egypt. Minya province is approximately 140 miles south of Cairo.

Sources told ICC that two buses and two other vehicles were traveling from a village to the monastery to pray. Most of the passengers in the buses were children. The source also informed ICC that the caravan was “in front of the Abu Tartour plateau when 10 masked [militants] in four 4×4 vehicles intercepted [the caravan] …and opened fire.” The source continued, “[The attack] resulted in the death of 35, most of them kids and more than 25 are injured.” So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The precision and execution of this attack led the source to believe that “the militants carried out this attack very carefully; they knew the details of the trip and its time and ambushed the buses.”
In recent months, radical extremists have hunted Coptic Christians. In April 2017, ISIS suicide bombers killed approximately 70 Christians in two church bombings on Palm Sunday.
On May 6, a Coptic Christian, who ran away from El-Arish, was murdered after he returned to his barbershop. Four masked gunmen shot him, following the pattern established in the January and February murders of seven Coptic Christians.
In February 2017, hundreds of Christian families fled their homes in El-Arish, a city located in the Sinai Peninsula, after ISIS carried out a series of murders targeting Christians. Between January 30 and February 23, seven Christian men living in and around El-Arish were targeted and murdered by masked men. During the height of the killings, an ISIS affiliate in the Sinai region promised to eliminate the Christian minority, claiming that Egypt’s Christians were the group’s “favorite prey.”
On December 11, 2016, a suicide bomber attacked the small church of St. Peter and St. Paul, attached to St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral located in Cairo. As a result of that attack, 25 Christians, mostly women and children, were killed.
Coptic Christians make up approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million. These constant attacks have created an atmosphere of insecurity and fear among Coptic Christians. President al-Sisi declared a state of emergency after the Palm Sunday bombings, but it has done little to curb the violence.
 
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “These attacks are blatant and targeted acts of persecution against Christians. Extremist groups, especially ISIS, have declared Christians to be their ‘favorite prey’ and seek to eliminate the Christian minority. The government must be more intentional about protecting vulnerable minorities and punishing the attackers. Continual support for displaced families is vital, whether it is food, housing, or medical care. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.”
For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

 

# # #

You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference International Christian Concern (ICC) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.

Pray for Altan, Unable to Attend Church

What would you do?

May. 26, 2017 | Turkey

Islamists besieging Marawi, southern Philippines, kill 9 Christians at checkpoint

Duterte is not a man to mess with. More bloodshed is inevitable.

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

(World Watch Monitor) UPDATE (25 May): Nine Christian civilians were reportedly shot dead at a militant-run checkpoint in the besieged city of Marawi in the southern Philippines on Tuesday (23 May).

Filipino news site GMA News Online – one of the biggest news and public affairs networks in the country – reported that local residents identified the nine as Christians, saying they had been pulled from a truck, had their hands bound and then their bodies riddled with bullets and left in a field.

This latest update comes as a Catholic priest and 13 other Christians are still reportedly being held by the Islamists, who have laid siege to the city, setting fire to buildings including a cathedral and Protestant-run college, and erecting the black flags of ISIS.

Reuters reports that the militants have been using the hostages as human shields, and have contacted…

View original post 1,037 more words

PHILIPPINES – Church torched and Christians held hostage as Islamists rampage through city in Mindanao

Islamist militants have burnt a church and taken Christians hostage in Marawi, a city on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Around 100 armed men launched an assault on Marawi on Tuesday (23 May), prompting thousands of residents to flee and leading the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to impose martial law across the whole of Mindanao. A local Christian leader said that the Islamists seized a pastor, ten worshippers and three church workers, and are threatening to kill them unless the government withdraws its security forces. There are also reports that a policemen has been beheaded by Islamists.

Please pray for the safe return of Pastor Teresito ‘Chito’ Suganob and the 13 other Christians kidnapped from his church.
Armed men raided St Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday and abducted the 14 Christians. As well as setting light to the cathedral, they also burned down three buildings of the church-owned Dansalan College.
The Filipino army engaged in firefights with militants whom the Government has since identified as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group: two soldiers and a police chief were killed. President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed martial law in Mindanao, an island with a significant Muslim population.

  • Pray for our Christian family in the Philippines, especially in the south of the country where several Islamist terrorist groups have been active.
  • Pray especially for wisdom for church leaders in the southern Philippines: several pastors have been held hostage by terrorists.
  • Pray that God will thwart the plans of the men of violence, including the Maute Group, considered one of the newest but most feared terror groups in the country.

(Sources: BBC, Morning Star News)

The government of the Philippines has been engaged in a decades-long conflict with Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines, which has a significant Muslim population. The previous government agreed a peace deal with some Islamist armed groups in 2014 and also proposed creating an autonomous region in Bangsamoro – an area which includes the city of Marawi – with its own laws, which would have allowed for the implementation of sharia. Public opposition to the deal has resulted in the legislation to enact it being delayed, and some Islamists have continued their violent campaign.

From Aljazeera here

Christians in Kenya fear imminent attack – please pray

Please pray for our Christian family in north-east Kenya who fear an imminent attack after a renewed outbreak of violence against non-Muslims in the region.
Al-Shabaab militants appear to have stepped up their campaign of violence in areas bordering Somalia – and Christians in the city of Mandera believe they could be the next target.
‘The Christians living in Mandera are living in great fear of an imminent attack,’ one church leader said. ‘We have to think whether to continue with the Christian mission work or to leave the place. We cannot pretend that all is well.’
Please pray that our Christian family in Mandera and across Kenya will stand firm in their faith.
Al-Shabaab militants are suspected of involvement in a gun attack on quarry workers in El Wak, 105 miles from Mandera, on May 12. Two people died, including a Christian named Dalama Otieno. It’s believed the group were targeted because they were non-Muslims.
Three days later, government official Dekow Abbey Sirat was shot dead at his home in Mandera County. Al-Shabaab said it carried out the attack.
The same group killed six Christians in a grenade and gun attack on a residential compound in Mandera last October. Previously, in late-2014, it had killed 38 non-Muslims at a quarry in nearby Kormey and shot dead 19 Christians after hijacking a bus near Mandera.

  • Ask God to protect and strengthen His people in Mandera: pray that they will look to Him, their ‘refuge and fortress’ (Psalm 91:2)
  • Pray security forces will be adequately deployed
  • Pray that God’s people in Kenya will stand firm in their faith. Pray that attacks will only strengthen their resolve to build God’s kingdom in their nation and that their hearts will not grow cold (Matthew 24:12).
  • Pray for Al-Shabaab militants, that their plans will be thwarted and that they will renounce violence.

Myanmar update

Rev. J Laning and Margaret, Elder John VanBaren and Val spent about two weeks (May 2-16) in Myanmar with Rev. Titus Certi, their church, and a group totalling 41 men including 31 from “up country” for a Reformation conference. This is II Timothy 2:2 in action. The wives and girls served humbly in the background. I hope to add recent pics of the church and the men involved. Meantime the full account should soon be available at:

Official PRCA site

Conferees

Rev. Titus and family. He is very busy not only leading his church but also translating KJV into Burmese along with other Reformed books and lessons.

 

Pray for the Spread of the Gospel to North Korea Through Radio Broadcasts

May. 19, 2017 | Korea, North

Pray for a Church Planter Receiving Death Threats

May. 19, 2017 | Colombia

Xavier serves at great personal risk in paramilitary country.

Xavier serves at great personal risk in paramilitary country.

 

Azerbaijan

 

Pray for Guzal, a former Muslim whose husband Asad apparently came to profess faith but when persecution came from relatives he hardened his heart and now forbids her going to church, meeting believers or reading her Bible. Pray for him and the meeting of her spiritual needs.

More about the country

MERF Newsletter

MERF - Caring for Threatened Converts			B
MERF - Caring for Threatened Converts			B

Also downloadable and past issues at : http://www.powerofchristatwork.net


Faithful, Fruitful and Cost-effective Indigenous Missions in Action!

More Praise & Prayer:

  • Praise God for the first 2017 graduation of South Sudanese and other East African students from MERF’s 3 months intensive Bible course in Lokichoggio, Kenya. Pray for 23 students from 7 different tribes beginning the second course.
  • Please remember to pray for Nelly, a key Arabic media ministry staff member reaching Muslim women, she is experiencing a recurrence of debilitating MS symptoms.
  • Please pray for comfort in Christ to the many families suffering hunger, danger, and loss in the fighting in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and South Sudan.

Feel free to share with other Christians.

Machhi, India

 Yet another unreached people.
Machhi (Hindu traditions) in India

The traditional occupation of the Machhi is fishing, which continues to be their primary source of livelihood. Child marriage is prevalent among the Machhi. Property is usually shared by the sons but a widow receives a 12% share of her husband’s property. Their attitude towards formal education of both boys and girls is favorable.

Ministry Obstacles
The polytheistic worldview of the Hindu Macchi makes it difficult to accept a creator God who stands outside his creation, who created the universe at a point in time.

Outreach Ideas
Christians need to present the person of Jesus Christ to the Macchi community. Gospel recordings would be very helpful.

Pray for the followers of Christ
There may be no one among the Hindu Macchi community today who knows and follows Christ. However, pray for those that the Lord will soon call to himself. Pray they will be faithful to fellowship together, and will be zealous to know and follow Christ. Pray they will live holy lives.

Pray for the entire people group
Pray for the Machhi community to be able to properly support their families, having adequate incomes. Pray they will be able to adjust to the rapidly changing conditions of the 21st century.

Scripture Focus
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” Isaiah 52:7

Never forget North Korea

The Worst:North Korea

North Korea’s hatred of Christianity has
condemned hundreds of thousands of
Christians to death over the decades and it is
estimated that they currently have 30,000 to
70,000 Christians imprisoned in the dreaded
penal camps. Christians not in the camps are
extremely wary and hiding in the shadows.
DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea – North Korea) is the world’s worst
human rights violator and the most violent
persecutor of Christians.
The Kim family’s communist government
is the source of all persecution. The Kims
have deified themselves and will allow no
other god in the land. They are often called
madmen as a result but that doesn’t really capture
them. Their creation, the North Korean
state, was designed above all else to feed and
protect themselves. They have knowingly set
themselves up as gods not because they are
mad, but because this system of idolatry furthers
their interests, control, and safety. Their
demonic creation reveals them not to be crazy,
but rather to be extreme narcissists.
Each successive Kim demands complete
loyalty to himself. Putting anything or anyone
else above the state is considered treason.
Since Christianity elevates God over
the State, North Korea sees Christianity as a
dangerous movement that must be silenced.
North Korea persecutes Christians using three
primary tools: songbun system, civil and
political police, and gulags.
Songbun is a three-tier (first – core; second
– wavering; third – hostile) societal classification
system that rewards/punishes citizens
based on their ancestral and personal loyalty
to the State. Disloyalty in either category
eliminates the opportunity to achieve the
highest songbun, core.
Those in the hostile class only make $3-$5
per month. Sadly, all Christians are classified
as ‘hostile.’
The State devotes massive resources on
the monitoring of its citizens through civil
and political policing. Witnesses confess that
the State “was always watching what we
were saying [and] doing.”
The final tool of the North Korean security
apparatus is the gulags, or labor camps loosely
based on Stalin’s prison system. Gulags exact
severe and effective punishments that hinder
movements considered “anti-state,” like
Christianity. While the government denies the
existence of these prisons, satellite images and
former prisoners’ testimonies affirm the camps’
continued use as well as the guards’ inhumane
treatment of prisoners.
Massive workloads, starvation, extreme isolation,
satanic torture, and the casual murder
of prisoners define North Korean gulags. One
former child prisoner described how prisoners
were forced to stone each other to death in a
camp. Another prisoner reported seeing the
execution of whole families in gas chambers.
“ ‘I witnessed a whole family being tested
on suffocating gas and dying in the gas
chamber,’ he said. ‘The parents, son and a
daughter. The parents were vomiting and
dying, but till the very last moment they
tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth
breathing.’ ” (BBC: Access to Evil).
Cracks are appearing in North Korea’s
stony façade as high level defectors are
leaving like never before. Also, external
information, including the Gospel, is
flooding in which totally disrupts the narrative
of the Kim regime of DPRK being a
worker’s paradise.
Kim Jong-un is desperately trying to
control the situation. There is evidence
of more arrests, expanding prisons, and
increased torture. Christians are at a
greater risk for persecution during North
Korea’s hour of desperation.
In 1907, Pyongyang experienced one of
history’s greatest revivals and was dubbed
the ‘Jerusalem of the East’ as a result. Satan
has worked to extinguish this flame and it
nearly worked. Yet, a small flame still flickers
within North Korea and may just soon
turn into a consuming fire to burn down the gates of this prison.

More murder in Egypt

 
Another Christian in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula Murdered by Suspected ISIS Militants
Eighth Killing Follows Expanded Operations by ISIS in Egypt
05/07/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Saturday, May 6, a Christian man in El-Arish, Egypt, was shot and killed by four masked men while inside his barbershop. This is the first Christian to be murdered by masked men in El-Arish since seven were killed in a series of murders over the months of January and February, causing hundreds of Christian families to flee the city.

Nabeel Saber Fawzi, age 40, and his family, including a wife and two children, were among the hundreds of Christian families to flee El-Arish in late February 2017.
Nabeel and his family fled to Port Said where they lived in a small apartment in a youth house,” a relative of Fawzi, wishing to remain anonymous, told ICC.
On April 27, Nabeel decided to leave his wife and children in Port Said to return and reopen his barbershop in Arish because he did find any job in Port Said to meet the physical needs of his family,” the relative explained.”Plus, he thought that the situation had become quiet and stable in Arish.”
He was opening his barbershop from time to time over the last 10 days,” the relative continued. “On Saturday, May 6, four masked gunmen broke into his shop and shot him in the head resulting in immediate death.”
Starting in late January through February, seven Christians in El-Arish were murdered under similar circumstance. As this series of targeted murders was taking place, an Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai promised to eliminate Egypt’s Christian minority claiming Egyptian Christians were the group’s “favorite prey.” Since then, ISIS attacks across Egypt have dramatically increased, including the bombing of two churches on Palm Sunday killing at least 45 and injuring another 126.
William Stark, ICC’s regional manager, said, “We are deeply concerned for the developing situation in Egypt. This year has already been a difficult year for many Christians in Egypt, especially those displaced by the El-Arish murders and those affected by the Palm Sunday bombings. Unfortunately, many of the Christian families displaced from El-Arish find themselves in situations similar to Nabeel. Cut off from their homes and livelihoods, many are finding it difficult to provide for themselves. More has to be done by Egypt’s authorities to confront ISIS and secure Christian communities across Egypt. Until then, it is likely we will continue to see attacks on Christians and their places of worship.”

Saudi Arabs

Another unreached people: How will they hear.  If they are converted how can they live out their faith?

Arab, Saudi – Hijazi in Saudi Arabia

Arabia once had a large Christian population, but they were expelled when Islam gained control 1300 years ago. Saudi Arabs see themselves as preservers of the Islamic faith, and the Wahabi fundamentalists were formed here. The Hijazi Arabs speak one of the variants of the Arabic language.

Ministry Obstacles
Any overt expression of the Christian faith is likely to bring strong negative response.

Outreach Ideas
Satellite TV and evangelistic websites are only two of the ways that the Gospel message can be communicated to these people.

Pray for the followers of Christ
Pray fervently for the few believers among the Arabs of Saudi Arabia, for their protection, and for their growth in the faith. Pray they will be courageous yet very tactful.

Pray for the entire people group
Pray for the Saudi Arabs, that their religious zeal will soon be directed toward serving Jesus the Son of God.

Scripture Focus
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Psalm 96:3

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Pastor in India Loses Hearing from Assault by Hindu Extremists

Is his hearing loss permanent? Don’t know, but sounds like it is.

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Pastor Sikhandar Kumar after assault in Jadhua, Bihar state. (Morning Star News courtesy of family)

India (Morning Star News) – A pastor in eastern India’s Bihar state has lost his hearing after Hindu extremists assaulted him outside his home on church premises last month, sources said.

Doctors at a Hajipur government hospital determined the loss of hearing and wounds on Pastor Sikandar Kumar’s body were a result of being beaten with iron rods and sticks, Vaishali District Superintendent of Police Rakesh Kumar told Morning Star News.

Pastor Kumar, 45, was at his home in Jadhua village when a young boy riding a bicycle knocked on his door on April 5, church officials said. The boy told the pastor and his wife that a group of men were waiting outside to meet him, according to pastor Arun Kumar, who is now leading the victim’s Pentecostal congregation.

“When the pastor…

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Pakistani Christian sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy

Yet another Pakistani travesty of justice!

 

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.

Believers’ homes in Israel attacked

Messianic believers in southern Israel have been the target of a violent protest over a new meeting centre that’s just opened in Dimona.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews caused a disturbance outside the new Messianic meeting place last Thursday – then took their protest out into the community, attacking believers’ homes.

Please pray for Albert and Esther Knoester who lead the new centre in Dimona and for their congregation.

Those behind the attacks last week are thought to be linked with the anti-missionary organisation, Yad L’Achim. After protesting outside the Messianic centre, they attacked the Knoesters’ home and that of another member of the congregation, breaking windows and causing other damage. There were children in both houses at the time, and they were said to be extremely frightened.

Attacks on Messianic congregations in Israel are common: the one in Arad town reportedly suffers harassment almost daily, and several church buildings have been attacked in recent years.

  • Please pray that our almighty God will comfort and strengthen Messianic believers in Dimona and across Israel. Pray that they will know he will protect them ‘in the day of trouble’ (Psalm 27:5).
  • Ask God for wisdom for Albert and Esther, and for other families in their congregation: pray they will continue to witness to their community, despite opposition.
  • Pray that Israeli officials will deal effectively with those responsible for these incidents, for the sake of religious tolerance in their nation.

(Source: Middle East Concern)

Morocco abolishes death penalty for apostasy from Islam

MOROCCO

Morocco’s High Religious Committee decreed earlier this year that individuals who leave Islam should not face the death penalty for apostasy. This astounding ruling from a body charged with issuing fatwas (an authoritative religious or juridical ruling), reverses the classical sharia legislation that has stood since medieval times.

It is all the more significant given that the same High Religious Committee had issued a book just five years ago, containing fatwas which affirmed the classical sharia position that a Muslim who changes his or her religion should be punished by death.

Kutubiyya mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco
CC BY-SA 2.0 by Jean-Marc Astesana

In their 2017 document, entitled The Way of the Scholars, the High Religious Council argued that Muhammad and his early followers killed apostates only for political reasons (because they were traitors to the nascent Islamic community) not for religious reasons:

“The most accurate understanding, and the most consistent with the Islamic legislation and the practical way of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is that the killing of the apostate is meant for the traitor of the group, the one disclosing secrets … the equivalent of treason in international law.”

The High Religious Committee supported this stance with examples of the words and actions of Muhammad and other early Muslim leaders, showing that apostates were only punished when they posed a security threat. They also pointed out the Quran speaks only of apostasy being punished in the afterlife, not in this life.

The same points have been made over the centuries by many Muslims who believed that Muhammad never intended a death sentence for apostasy as such, only for treason.  But these scholars lost the argument and the death sentence was incorporated into sharia as it was gradually developed. All five surviving schools of sharia practised today (four Sunni and one Shia) have a death sentence for adult males who leave Islam.  Since about 1258, no change has been allowed in sharia, and anyone calling for an amendment to the apostasy law risks the death sentence themselves for daring to seek to change sharia.

The Maliki Sunni school of sharia, practised in Morocco, has a death sentence not only for men but also for women apostates. Three days are to be given for repentance before the execution is carried out. The apostasy need not be spoken aloud in order to incur this punishment. Child apostates are to be killed on reaching maturity.

The Moroccan High Religious Committee (or Superior Council of the Ulema) is presided over by King Mohammed VI. According to Article 41 of the 2011 Moroccan constitution (one of the most moderate constitutions of any Muslim-majority nation), the King, known as Commander of the Faithful, is responsible for ensuring compliance with Islam and also for freedom of worship.  He submits questions to the Committee, which studies the issues and then writes a fatwa to answer the question. No one else is allowed to comment on the issues.   The powers, composition and methodology of the Committee are established by royal decree.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, founder of Barnabas Fund and himself a convert from Islam to Christianity, has for many years been campaigning for the abolition of the classical Islamic apostasy law with its death sentence.  “The courageous and visionary announcement by the Moroccan authorities is to be warmly welcomed and applauded” commented Dr Sookhdeo.   “It is over 700 years since anyone of recognised stature within the mainstream global Islamic community has taken this stance publicly. Morocco, as a leading Islamic nation with a track record of moderation and led by a king descended from the Islamic prophet Muhammad, is uniquely placed to spearhead a movement that must gladden the hearts of all right-thinking people of any faith or none.  I call on other Islamic religious authorities, such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo, to adopt the Moroccan position so that we can see the total abolition of the death penalty for Muslims who choose to leave their religion.”

 

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.”

82 Chibok Girls Released

Paragraph highlighted in red is a concern! And of course any concession to these murderous Islamists is shameful.

After months of negotiation, 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls were released by Boko Haram militants on Saturday 6 May.

They were part of the group of 276 girls (predominantly Christian) kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, in April 2014.

The 82 young women (now aged between 19 and 21) were handed over to the Nigerian government in the town of Banki in northeast Nigeria close to the border with Cameroon. It is understood that the young women were released in exchange for five Boko Haram militant commanders.

The deal was negotiated by Mustapha Zanna, a barrister who currently runs an orphanage in Maiduguri but who was once the lawyer of the late founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf. It also involved the Swiss government and the Red Cross. A source said that negotiations were complicated but that “Both parties agreed to manage the release of the girls in a no winner, no vanquished manner. We don’t want to jeopardise the chances of freedom for others.”

Meeting with President Buhari

pres-buhari-with-chibok-girls-may-17On Sunday, the young women were picked up in Red Cross vehicles and boarded military helicopters to be flown to the capital, Abuja, where they were given medical checks and later met Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari. “I cannot express in a few words how happy I am to welcome our dear girls back to freedom,” the president said, according to a statement released by his office. President Buhari promised to “personally supervise” the authorities charged with ensuring the girls’ “health, education, security and general well-being”. The 45-minute meeting was held shortly before President Buhari left for London for a medical consultation amid growing concerns over his health.

The young women appeared tired, sombre and confused but in reasonable health. Two of the group were physically injured – one with a wrist injury and the other was on crutches. One had a young child with her.

Joy in Chibok

Sources from Chibok said the entire town reacted with joy when the releases were confirmed, with churches full for Sunday services in which there were expressions of gratitude to God for “the bountiful harvest of release of our daughters from the hands of their abductors”.

“Our joy is unquantifiable; we are most grateful to God most high for this day, and will continue to pray fervently for the release of the remaining 113,” said Mrs Yana Galam, the leader of the mothers of the abducted girls, as she boarded a vehicle to Abuja.

The Bring Back Our Girls campaign welcomed the releases and commended the government for its action but also stated that the freed girls require rehabilitation and trauma counselling. “It’s not just to bring them back home, we must ensure that they get the education they are supposed to have…it is time for them to be reunited with their families. Psychosocial therapy… there has to be rehabilitation. And at the end of the day, we want to have world leaders out of every one of them so that they can be what the terrorists did not want them to be.”

It is unclear what will happen to the 82 young women. Some 21 others who were released in October 2016 are still being kept in Abuja, ostensibly for counselling and have not been allowed to go back and live with their families, who live 800 km away in Chibok. Concerns have been expressed that the government is reluctant to allow them freedom because it doesn’t want details of their treatment by Boko Haram to become known.

It is thought that some of the other 113 abducted schoolgirls are dead or have been radicalised and do not want to leave their Boko Haram husbands. A Boko Haram commander previously told a Nigerian newspaper that about ninety of the students “had since become Boko Haram members, having been married off and radicalised… as soon as they were captured”. The Nigerian government has pledged to work to secure the release of all the abducted girls.

Names of the released young women

1. Kwatah Simon 2. Grace Dauda 3. Junmai Paul 
4. Tabita Pogo 5. Yanke Shetima 6. Junmai Miutah 
7. Juliana Yakubu 
8. Mary Yakubu 
9. Ruth Kolo 
10. Mairawa Yahaya 
11. Rachael Nkeke 
12. Fibi Haruna 
13. Asaba Manu 
14. Esther Usman 15. Filo Dauda 
16. Awa Abga
1 17. Lydia Joshua 
18. Naomi Bitrus
 19. Martha James 20. Falmata Musa 
21. Aisha Ezekiel
 22. Awa Yerima
 23. Mwada Baba
 24. Hannatu Ishaku 
25. Mwa Daniel 
26. Rifhatu Soloman 
27. Maryanu Yakubu 
28. Rebecca Joseph 
29. Laid Audu 
30. Amina Pogu
 31. Sarah Nkeki 
32. Esther Josiiuwa
 33. Saraya Yanga 
34. Ruth Amos 
35. Hauwa Musa 
36. Hauwa Ishaya 37. Glory Aji
 38. Mary Ali 
39. Rahilla Bitrus 
40. Luggwa Mutah 
41. Lataba Maman
 42. Lydia Habila 
43. Deborah Peter
 44. Naomi Yaga
 45. Kwazigu Haman
 46. Lugguwa Samue
l 47. Maryamu Lawan 
48. Tobita Hellapa 
(Maryam Lawal)
 49. Ruth Ishaku
 50. Maryamu Musa 
51. Margret Yama
 52. Kawa Luka
 53. Solomi Titus 
54. Naomi Yahona
 55. Maimuna Usman 
56. Grace Paul
 57. Hawa Ntakai
 58. Yagana Joshua 
59. Comfort Bulus 
60. Ramatu Yaga
 61. Rhoda Peter
 62. Naomi Luka
 63. Naomi Adamu
 64. Liatu Habila 
65. Victoria William 
66. Ladi Ibrahim 
67. Christiana Ali
 68. Hanatu Stephen 
69. Patina Tabji 
70. Martha James
 71. Tabita Sila 
72. Yana Bukar 73. Abigie Bukar
 74. Hadiza Yakubu 
75. Naomi Zakariya 
76. Maryamu Wari 
77. Amina Bulama 
78. Asabe Lawan 
79. Mary Dauda 
80. Maryamu Balama
 81. Naomi Philemon 
82. Saratu Ayuba

(Al Jazeera, CNN, Daily Post, Daily Trust, Guardian)

P.R.C.P. Youth Camp 2017

The youth of the Protestant Reformed Churches of the Philippines recently met for teaching on “Love not the world” from their three pastors.

  • Do pray for these young people who are the church’s future.
  • For future pastors and office bearers.
  • Godly couples and covenant children.
  • Their witness at school and college.
  • Their godliness at home.

Represented were Berean, Bulacan, Maranatha and Provident churches plus some from Apayao.

INDIA – Justice denied to the Christian victims in Orissa

Justice delayed is justice denied!

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

(Agenzia Fides) – “There are many little-known and never recounted incidents which occurred in the district of Kandhamal. Justice was denied to the most vulnerable and marginalized people such as Adivasi and Dalit Christians. The poor and the marginalized do not receive justice: this is a serious matter of concern for all of us if we want to save the Indian Constitution. The old saying is really true: Justice delayed is justice denied”: This is what A.P. Saha, a judge of the High Court of Delhi told Fides, presenting a new research on anti-Christian massacres that occurred in Orissa in 2008. The research, signed and published by two authors, lawyers Vrinda Grover and Saumya Uma, offers unusual and unpublished stories, revealing the shortcomings in managing justice to the victims.

Commenting on the publication, John Rebeka, activist for human rights, recalls the extent and the consequences of that campaign of violence:…

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News about Iran

 

Farsi speakers (main language of Iran) number 110 million. Hard copies of Scripture are unobtainable in the region. The main religion is Shiite Islam (cf Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia). Interested people can now access audio and written Scripture, music and  Christian literature on line. Through texting, voice chats and group studies lonely believers can have fellowship but they all need pastoral care and a church.

Middle East Reformed Fellowship newsletter

Other prayer points:

Amin, Afshar and Hadi have been detained without charge since last August and went on hunger strike to get medical care.

Three other men have been sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine-pray for a successful appeal.

Veronika and son, baptised in Turkey were arrested in February when their home was raided and Christian literature found.