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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (06-Nov-2005)
"This is a time to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering for Jesus Christ every day. Prayer is the most powerful tool to help those who are persecuted. And it is what those who are persecuted ask for the most." - Janet Epp Buckingham, director of the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Table of Contents
Africa
Focus on Africa
(Violence against Christians Continues)
Khartoum, Sudan, 1st November: There has been no government response to an arson attack on a Khartoum church two weeks ago. The majority of the bamboo, wood, mud and straw-constructed church, located in the El Thawra suburb of Khartoum, was “completely burned”. The church has a congregation of 150 to 200 worshippers each Sunday, its pastor Rev. Kodi said. “The first Sunday [after the fire], they just came and worshipped there without any shelter,” he added.

Sudanese Christians were hoping that the recent formation of a National Unity government would pay more attention to their plight and make greater efforts to protect them. The Khartoum governor, Dr. Abdelhalim Motahfi, is responsible for security and police investigations, yet the members of the El Thawra church have yet to see even the start of a police investigation into the fire that wrecked their church.

Sources have told us the increased religious violence in Tungan Rogo village has led to the death of three Christians and the injury of thirteen. The violence erupted after a Christian farmer confronted a Muslim tribesman, who had taken his cattle onto the farm and damaged some crops. The tribesman cut off one of the farmer’s hands.

Sources in Asmara, Eritrea have confirmed that a number of Christian prisoners who were detained from church offices at the beginning of last month have been released without charges. All the female detainees and at least two male detainees have been released after spending several days incarceration.

In separate news Pastor Ukbamichael Tekle-haimanot of Eritrea, who was arrested at a wedding in Barentu at the beginning of the year was released from a prison in Sawa military training centre. Over the nine months during which he was incarcerated pastor Ukbamichael‘s health condition was of great concern to his colleagues and his family.
Prayer Points
  • Pray for the release of all Christian prisoners of conscience without preconditions and restore religious freedom to all Eritreans.
  • Pray for the pastor and congregation of the church in Khartoum burned to the ground. Thank the Lord for the strength exhibited in gathering for church without any shelter. Pray for continued strength and perseverance for these Christians.
  • Pray for the church at large in Eritrea. Many Christians continue living in detention without trial or necessary human provisions. Pray for the government to relent this hideous campaign designed to disrupt the ministry of Jesus. Give Him praise for the release of the few detainees this week.
  • Pray for the situation in Nigeria. Christians have overcome extreme persecution but face new challenges. Pray the God of mercy and grace would intervene and keep His people safe.
  • Indonesia
    Violence Continues
    Three Christian Schoolgirls Beheaded
    Sulawesi, 29th October (International Christian Concern): The pattern of persecution against Indonesia’s Christians took a turn for the worse with the beheading of three Christian high school girls – Yarny Sambual, Tresa Murangbe and Alfina – in Poso. Two others had their throats slit, but survived. However, one of the survivors remains in a serious condition.

    Between 1998 and 2002, hundreds of Christians were murdered and more than a thousand saw their homes burned down. 2003 and 2004 saw a series of assassinations of pastors and Christian leaders.

    Church Building Stopped
    “There should not be a single church built in the Cikarang area.” (Muslim protesters in Cikarang Baru)

    West Java, 29th October: Dominated by hostile chants such as the one above, a series of protests by Muslims in Cikarang Baru has stopped the building of the much-needed GPdI Kalvari church there. The protests began in earnest on 9th September, when 500 local Muslims gathered. 200 protested ten days later, and they returned on 3rd October.

    Habib Novel Al-Habsyi, a prominent local Muslim, echoed many of the protesters’ sentiments in declaring that building a church in Cikarang Baru was ‘ridiculous’, as ‘no-one’ in the area was a Christian. In addition, he claimed that people were manipulated into agreeing to the church building. Benny Assa, pastor of the GPdI Kalvari congregation, says the landowner made land available for the church due to the hundreds of local Christians who had no place of worship. The Bekasi district chief Manaf stated that the application had been correctly filed: “If there is a group of people, who opposed my recommendation, then they are opposing the government’s policy, and they will be facing the law,” he said.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for those who would stir up religious strife for unjust political gain. Pray for the nation of Indonesia to denounce the attacks that lead to the death of three Christian girls. Pray for the quick hand of justice to serve the families of these girls.
  • Pray for Christians who have had there churches closed recently. Pray for the peace of God to dwell in them and the desire to carry out the ministry of the Gospel would rise up stronger.
  • Pray for peace in Africa. Where persecution has abounded let the Grace of God abound even more. When men seek to oppress and persecute pray God would cover the land with His glory that He may be glorified.
  • Vietnam
    Persistent Persecution
    Persecution of Hmong Christians
    (Center for Religious Freedom) In early October, two Hmong men from the Chi Ca Commune, Xin Man District, Ha Giang Province, provided testimony to the legally-recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam-North (ECVN-N) in Hanoi about attacks on Protestants in late August and early September by border patrol police and local defense forces.

    The two men, Chang Seo Vu and Thao Seo Lo, testified that in an attempt to get them to renounce their faith, seven local Christians had been imprisoned and tortured with electric batons, and that two of them, Ly Vang Dung, and Vang Seo Dinh, were viciously beaten and suffered broken bones. Their testimony also named six officials who had authorized the physical beatings and abuse.

    These reports, as well as recent events in Dien Bien Province (see Center for Religious Freedom’s October 28, 2005 Press Release), show that Vietnam continues to violate the Prime Minister’s February 4, 2005 “Special Instruction Regarding Protestantism” that specifically “outlawed attempts to force people to follow a religion or deny a religion.” This was also a key commitment Vietnam made in its May 2005 agreement on religion with the United States.

    Jungle Surrender
    (InfoMekong.com) In the 30-year aftermath of the Vietnam War, many Hmong families who fought against the communists have been hiding in the mountains and jungles of Laos, trying to escape harsh retribution of the communist government.

    On October 12 reports surfaced that 242 men, women and children from the jungles of Bolikhamxay Province had surrendered due to lack of food and medical care.

    A more recent update on the incident alleges that four battalions of soldiers had surrounded and attacked the exiled group. Five were killed and 239 captured.

    These 43 families are being kept underneath the open platforms of villager’s houses in Ban Na Yaa and are strictly watched by military forces and local authorities.

    Another 800 exiled Hmong still live in the jungles of Bolikhamxay Province facing--the unpleasant choice between starvation and capture or surrender to certain persecution. They have said they would consider surrendering if there were humanitarian support and oversight by the international community.

    Montagnard Prisoner List Released
    (CM) Once again the situation of the Christian Montagnards demands our attention in prayer. For the past several years this indigenous group of Central Highland people has undergone intense persecution and considerable deceit from the mouths of Vietnamese officials. Pronouncing freedom for the Montagnards on one hand, the reality is the government has continuously imprisoned, tortured and abused the human rights of these people. The Montagnard Foundation released a plea to the international community for the release of over two hundred Montagnards imprisoned over the last several years. We support the cause and request prayer for each of these individuals. We implore you to visit www.montagnard-foundation.org for more details.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for God to have mercy on the nation of Vietnam. The continued persecution of Christians while telling the world how much religious freedom exists must revile the very nature of God. Pray for justice to be served on those who persecute, and exposure of the sins of this nation to continue.
  • Jesus, our weary and war-torn world desperately needs to know You, the Prince of Peace. Use us to pray, give, and go so that everyone—including the Hmong—can hear about the hope salvation brings. Millions of Hmong are exiled from Your kingdom, trapped in the wilderness of sin. Deliver them from spiritual affliction. Let loving-kindness and truth, righteousness and peace “kiss” in the lives of the Hmong. (Psalm 85:10) Thank You for the 100 families among the Laotian Hmong refugees in Thailand who recently accepted Christ. Continue to lovingly draw the Hmong to Yourself. (InfoMekong.com)
  • Pray for Montagnard Christians who continue to suffer abuses and confiscation of their lands. Pray for the release of over two hundred young men who suffer tortures and abuses at the hands of hostile police.
  • Pray for the Mennonite church in Vietnam. We do not hear too much lately but know they are watched and kept under oppression. Pray the work of the Lord would be completed through this precious body of Christ.
  • 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 the law firm defending Chinese house church Pastor Cai (see last weeks newsletter). The law firm has received notice that operations have been suspended for one year from the Chinese government.
  • Pray for arrested Chinese underground priests Father Wang Xhow Fa and Father P. Paulus Shao Gu Min. Both were arrested recently following interviews given to AsiaNews.
  • Pray for the will of God to be accomplished as the United Nations holds the nation of Belarus accountable for violating religious freedoms. Although the case involved Hare Krishna devotees, the impact could ease the restrictions placed upon many Protestant churches.
  • Pray for the Coptic Christians in Egypt. Many government leaders are raising the concern for this group of Christians facing increased discrimination and persecution.
  • Pray for Christians in Azerbaijan. Oppressive state registration requirements are causing the denial of many groups to meet in worship and prayer.
  • Pray for the Serbian Orthodox Church to finally attain freedom to carry out the work of the ministry. Continue to pray for Archbishop Jovan while imprisoned on “false” charges. Pray for wisdom for the leadership as issues are published and freedom is sought.
  • Pray for Christians in the nation of Guinea who face ever increasing violence from radical groups seeking to extinguish the flames of the Gospel. Recently a baptismal service was broken up because the singing interrupted prayers at a local mosque.
  • Remember to pray for suffering Christian brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe on November 13th. For resources please visit www.idop.org.