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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (30-Oct-2005)
“I have read your articles about the Christian persecution in Eritrea. I rejoiced more when I read that more Christians are persecuted all over the world. As much as the Grace of God abounds in our life, the pain that will be done upon us will rise and try our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Eritrean Christian brother to Christian Monitor
Table of Contents
Nigeria
Christians ‘Suppressed, Discriminated Against, Humiliated’
19th October (Compass Direct): Sharia Law in Kano State is increasingly switching the focus from guiding the lives of local Muslims to trying to convert the state’s 13% Christian population to Islam. The situation is especially clear in education; children of known Christians are denied access to local schools. Christian students are forced to observe Ramadan – denied food – as well as study Arabic, Islam and say Islamic prayers. Christian teachers are not provided to give them religious instruction. Christian parents are afraid to send their children to public schools and all requests to build Christian schools are refused. Christians in Bari Dorayi once built a nursery-primary school and the government demanded its closure.

Sharia law is rigorously enforced by a group of more than 9,000 known as the Hisba, which harass Christian women not wearing Islamic dress, and intimidate as many Christians as possible. There are numerous cases of persecution, although hostility towards Christians has escalated since May 11th, 2004. On that day, local government and religious leaders incited Muslims to attack Christians: 1,750 were killed (including 10 pastors), 30 churches were burned and 30,000 Christians were displaced.
Although the Nigerian law allows for freedom of religion, in reality Kano is quite the opposite. A local Christian leader noted that Muslims were ‘taught from childhood that Christians are evil and cannot be trusted’. Many churches are empty, and those Christians who remain in Kano are living with an admirable faith and bravery.

Rev. Dangora: God’s Grace amidst Persecution
25th October (Compass Direct): One of the most prominent Christian leaders in Kano is Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, of the Evangelical Church of West Africa. Rev. Dangora converted from Islam to Christianity 25 years ago, and his ministry has prospered in the face of numerous arrests, threats to his life and attacks. During those 25 years, 300 Muslims in Kano have accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Rev. Dangora’s church has remained standing despite government insistence on its illegality and countless threats to demolish it. He has planted 4 additional churches despite the threats.
Prayer Points
  • Ask God to have mercy on the Christians of Kano, providing them with protection and the opportunity to keep their children free from Muslim interference.
  • Ask God to give Christian students the courage to refuse to say Islamic prayers. May the Nigerian government enforce its freedom of religion law and restore dignity to the Christians in Kano.
  • Pray for the hundreds of thousands of displaced Kano residents in other Nigerian states. May they one day have the opportunity to return to a peaceful and free Kano.
  • Praise God for the faith and courage of Rev. Dangora and all those Christians who live and minister amidst persecution. Thank Him for all the saved souls, and pray for a miraculous move of the Spirit amongst the Kano government and the law enforcers.
  • China
    Persecution without End
    Several events illuminated the ongoing persecution of Christians in China this week. China Aid Association (CAA) released new information on Pastor Cai Zhouhua. In September of 2004, Beijing Pastor Cai was arrested along with his wife, her brother and his wife for printing illegal religious literature and operating an illegal business. Thousands of Bibles were confiscated from a warehouse in Beijing and Pastor Cai was imprisoned. CAA reported the trial of Pastor Cai has been postponed twice without proper notification to his defence attorneys. Additionally, Pastor Cai is providing forced slave labor while in detention. Earlier reports indicated severe torture methods were used to force a confession to his alleged crimes. There is no doubt this situation is persecution designed to stop the ministry of a well loved Beijing underground church pastor, and to disrupt the distribution of Bibles inside of China.

    On October 20, 2005 Christian Monitor received information regarding the arrest of 50 underground church leaders gathered for a retreat in Gougezhuang Village, Laishui County, Hebei Province. The PSB and religious affairs officials from the city of Baoding made the arrest. Some of the arrested were beaten and personal belongings confiscated. We are happy to report all were released the following morning following international pressure.

    In a report critical of the Chinese Governments human rights practices, the US Congressional Executive Commission on China stated this week:

    “The Chinese government continues to harass, abuse, and detain religious believers who seek to practice their faith outside state-controlled religious venues. Religious believers who worship within state-controlled channels are subject to government regulation of all aspects of their faith. In 2005, the government and Party launched a large-scale implementation campaign for the new Regulation on Religious Affairs to strengthen control over religious practice, particularly in ethnic and rural areas, violating the guarantee of freedom of religious belief found in the new Regulation.”

    And then added: “In the past year, the Chinese government continued a campaign begun in 2002 that focused on harassing and repressing unregistered Protestant groups and consolidating control of registered Protestants. Hundreds of unregistered Protestants associated with house churches have been intimidated, beaten, or imprisoned. The Chinese government opposes the relationships that many unregistered Protestant house churches have developed with co-religionists outside China.”

    In firsthand testimony Christian Monitor learned of some details regarding the hospitalization and subsequent funeral of Pastor Allen Yuan. While hospitalized for 4 months while he was in a coma-like state, the government placed a police officer outside his hospital door since he was considered a “dangerous man”. The police were overheard telling the doctors they did not want him to recover. After Pastor Yuan died, the authorities went to the official state churches in Beijing and told the pastors to tell their congregations NOT to attend his funeral, as he was considered a counter-revolutionary and a dangerous man. The authorities then went door to door in some neighborhoods to tell people not to attend his funeral. On the day of his funeral, 2500 people showed up and another 1000 people were turned away by plainclothes police. The police turned off the electricity so that during the funeral the air conditioning units and sound system would not work. Pastor Yuan’s wife is doing as well as can be expected.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for Pastor Cai while in detention and undergoing intense pressure for his faith in Jesus Christ. Pray for God to provide for his every need. Pray for protection and then strength to endure the hard labors forced upon him. Pray this situation would face increased exposure to the world.
  • Thank the Lord for the quick release of the fifty underground church leaders. Pray for those who were beaten to receive healing for their wounds. Pray for the protection of all as they are watched by police. Pray the plans of the enemy would fall into confusion.
  • Pray over the nation of China. Pray commitments to protect the human rights and religious freedoms would be honored. Pray for continued growth in the church, both spiritually and numerically. Remember those who labor unselfishly for the sake of the Gospel.
  • Pray for Pastor Yuan’s wife and ministry. Pray for his legacy to bring a deeper understanding of God and spiritual maturity for Chinese believers. Pastor Yuan always requested prayer for the lost millions of China, for the new believers to stand strong, and for the leadership of China
  • Egypt
    Christian Jailed for Rape
    “Maybe they are not going to hurt me,” Shafik said, referring to the police. “But they are going to let the criminals hurt me. Especially when they tell [criminals] that Shafik is preaching the Bible, and he takes Muslim girls to Christianity. That is going to make them crazy.”

    Cairo, 26th October (Compass Direct) – Egyptian Christians are deeply concerned about the welfare of Shafik Saleh Shafik, recently sentenced to a year in prison after a guest at his shelter for troubled women accused him of rape. There are concerns that his Christianity will make him a target for the other inmates in prison. Shafik’s defence lawyers claim his trial was deeply unfair: judgement was passed despite great inconsistencies in Magda Rafael Gayet’s testimony; Egypt’s leading forensic scientist testified on Shafik’s behalf, the court verdict was postponed three times and there was a blatant pro-Islam bias amongst the judges. Furthermore, although sentence was passed on 20th October, no written verdict has been released. The law demands one within 30 days or the case must be retried.

    Anti-Christian Demonstrations Lead to Violence
    Alexandria, 22nd October (AsiaNews) – Egyptian Coptic Christians have been the target of a new spate of violence. The Copts comprise 10% of the population and have faced widespread discrimination for more than 1,500 years. They are often accused of being hostile to Islam and a threat to Egypt. Local Muslims object to the distribution of a DVD that tells the story of one man’s desire to convert from Islam to Christianity. The film – “I Once Was Blind but Now I See” originated as a play in the Christian Coptic Church in Alexandria. A crowd of 5,000 protesters gathered outside the church, proceeding to clash with police. A nun and a Christian lawyer were stabbed two days previously, and protesters continue to insist the play is “offensive to Islam”.
    Prayer Points
  • Give praise to the fair and just God we share with Shafik. Ask that the Lord’s perfect will be done in this case.
  • Ask God to protect Shafik in prison and create opportunities for him to witness to the other inmates.
  • Pray for the Christian Coptic Church in Alexandria and the DVD. Ask that it still be able to reach those hungry for freedom and truth.
  • Pray for the Christian population in Egypt. Ask God to build up their faith under this persecution and give them an even greater desire to worship Him and be witnesses of His love and grace. Pray for the salvation of President Hosni Mubarak.
  • India
    Will the Persecution End?
    The answer is no. It is becoming abundantly clear that the persecution of Christians is increasing and becoming a daily threat. Christian Monitor has maintained a focus on India section for nearly a year because of the unrelenting persecution of Christianity. The nation of India should be embarrassed for allowing the persecution to continue.

    This past week witnessed:

  • Five Catholic nuns were attacked in Bhandaria by activists from the Sangh Parivar, a Hindu fundamentalist nationalist group. One of the sisters—68-year-old Sister Rosario—was badly beaten; the other nuns sustained only minor injuries. The attack occurred on October 25 when the assailants approached the nuns, who belong to the Prabhudasi (Maids of the Lord) Order, as they were waiting for a bus to go to Udaipur (Southern Rajasthan) and started hitting them with sticks. (AsiaNews.it)
  • For nearly two weeks, Hindu extremists have been attacking Christians in the Banswara district of Rajasthan state, resulting in the cancellation today of the last day of a revival festival. The violence accelerated on Tuesday (October 25), when the Tribal Christian Welfare Society’s Christian revival meetings began in Sagwa village. At least 50 incidences of beatings have occurred since then. Late yesterday, government officials ordered the Society to cancel the remainder of the three-day festival because of escalating violence. (Compass Direct)
  • About 30 Hindu extremists attacked a pastor, his wife and their driver in the western state of Gujarat on October 23. The three sustained internal injuries. The Rev. Arthur Jebaraj and his wife, Nyana Sundari Jebaraj, and their driver, Dattu Daulat, all belonging to the Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB), an indigenous Christian organization, were assaulted in Kaparada Taluka, in south Gujarat state. The attack took place at about 11 p.m. on Sunday as they returned from Garma village, where they had conducted a thanksgiving prayer meeting, to their home in Chempa village.(Compass Direct)
  • The Kerala High Court on Monday dismissed a writ appeal filed by a South African national challenging the Government of India order, directing deportation of a three-member family of foreigners for indulging in religious conversions in Kerala. The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Rajeev Gupta and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan ruled that the Foreigners Act did not provide for filing objections against the GOI order, issued under section 3(2)(c) of the Foreigners Act, on the basis of a report of the Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, which was supported by adequate proof.
  • The petitioners, consisting of Pretorius Barend Johnes Pretenas of South Africa, his German wife Sylivia Christini Pretenas and their son Bjoren Pretorius of German nationality, were charged with indulging in conversion of tribals of Keerampara in Ernakulam district into Christianity.(Manorama Online)

    Christian Monitor has received several letters critical of reports like the above. The criticisms follow a deceptive line that all Christians are interested in financial gain through increased numbers of converts and enticement of people into conversion. This deception is a cover for the violence directed at Christians and deserving of condemnation.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the nuns attacked and beaten with sticks. Pray for healing in their bodies and spirits. Pray the attackers would be brought to justice. Pray for determination to press on in the work of Jesus in spite of persecution.
  • Pray for the Christians attacked during the revival festival in Rajasthan. Many have been beaten and many threatened. Pray for God to protect them with His strong right hand. Pray for safety and peace under the shadow of His wing.
  • Pray for the Rev. Arthur Jebaraj, his wife Nyana Sundari Jebaraj, and their driver, Dattu Daulat. All received internal injuries following an attack as they returned home from a prayer meeting. Pray for healing, strength and renewed determination to press on for the sake of the Gospel. Pray the attackers would be brought to swift justice.
  • Pray for the South African Christians ordered to be deported for “indulging in religious conversions”. Pray truth would be exposed and the intents of the heart revealed in the Pretenas family and their accusers. Pray the nation of India would honor commitments to protect the rights of all.
  • Global
    Lest We Forget
    (CM) Let us continue to intercede for the many needs of the persecuted church around the world. Time and space do not allow for an adequate representation of all these needs. Several are presented here and are no less important than those presented in-depth in this newsletter. The Christian Monitor website contains recent articles that expose prayer needs in these nations. Continue to lift up these needs and pray continually for persecuted Christians around the globe. You may never see or hear the results of your prayers but know that they impact many lives. If at all possible commit to an hour a day to intercede for the needs presented in this newsletter. Please tell others about the issues highlighted.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for Christians in Vietnam. Recent discovery of a document exposed a plan to eliminate house churches. The document calls for “mobilizing the masses to fight and resist religion and religious belief, and eradicate places complicating public security.” These “places” are an obvious reference to Christian house churches.
  • A call to prayer has been issued for Christians in North Korea. Christian group Open Doors UK, which works to serve and support persecuted Christians around the world, has reported the call for prayers for North Korea, the last surviving bastion of world Communism and one of the most closed-off countries in the world.
  • Christians in Uzbekistan need our prayers as well. Members of the Full Gospel Church in Jizak, at an informal meal to celebrate the harvest festival last Tuesday (25 October), had their meal broken up the ordinary police, the National Security Service (NSS) secret police and officials from the Public Prosecutor's office.
  • Pray for Reverend Fernandez, the only Anglican priest in the East African nation of Eritrea. Rev. Fernandez received abrupt orders in early October to leave the country. “I just had to leave everything incomplete,” he said.
  • Pray for embattled Belarus Pastor Yurevich. The administrator of the Minsk-based charismatic New Life Church, Vasily Yurevich, has been fined a third time for leading unauthorised worship. The latest fine is the massive amount of 3,825,000 Belarusian roubles (11,645 Norwegian Kroner, 1,488 Euros or 1,780 US Dollars).
  • Pray for Christians in Bangladesh. Increased attacks by extremists have led to many seeking shelter out of fear. Rapes, tortures, evictions and beatings have been administered to Christians at alarming rates.
  • Pray for Christians in Indonesia. Churches have been closed, villages ransacked and murders committed recently.