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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (13-Nov-2005)
“It is so fitting that today the United States government once again designated China as a “Country of Particular Concern” for denying its citizens religious freedom and human rights for the 7th consecutive year.” Joseph Kung, the President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation
Table of Contents
China
Focus on China
‘There is no so-called persecution of religious people in China’. (China’s State Bureau of Religious Affairs)

Protestant Pastor Jailed for Printing Bibles
Beijing, 9th November: A leader of the Beijing ‘underground’ Protestant church has been given a three-year prison sentence for illegally printing and distributing Bibles and other Christian literature. Pastor Cai Zhuohua was sentenced together with his wife Xiao Yunfei and brother-in-law Xiao Gaowen, who received two year and 18 month sentences respectively. The defendants, none of whom was permitted to address the court, were accused of illegally printing 40 million Bibles and Christian books and illegally selling two million of them.

Cai’s lawyer, Zhang Xinshui admitted that his client had printed the Bibles but insisted that they were distributed for free. In a further development, the Beijing Shengzhi law firm that represented Pastor Cai, had all law operations suspended for one year by the authorities.

Catholic Priests Detained
Wenzhou, 4th November: Wenzhou police arrested two priests from the ‘underground’ Catholic Church after they gave an interview to L’Expresso, an Italian weekly newspaper. The priests, Fathers Wang Xhowfa and Shao Gumin, have long been targets for persecution by the authorities. Father Wang spent 15 years in a labour camp and Father Shao was detained for 18 months in 1999-2000.

Hebei, 9th November: A bishop, again from the underground Catholic Church, was arrested on 8th November. Jia Zhigao serves in Zheng Ding, Hebei Province, and this is his eighth arrest since January 2004. Bishop Jia is 70 and takes care of 100 handicapped orphans in his own home. Authorities took him away for what was chillingly referred to as a “study session”, having detained two of his priests, Fathers Li Suchuan and Yang Erneng, the previous day. None of them has yet returned home.

Footnote:
The US State Department classifies China as a ‘state of particular concern’ regarding religious freedom. US President George Bush is due to visit China next week as part of a three-country tour in Asia. He will meet with President Hu Jintao and has the perfect opportunity to raise these cases with him and other officials.
Prayer Points
  • Praise God for the courage He has given to so many imprisoned Christians in China. May God make their witness in prison as powerful as possible.
  • Thank God for each person He reached and is still reaching through the ministry of Cai Zhuohua. May all the Bibles and tracts distributed bring many people to Christ.
  • Pray for the welfare of Pastor Cai, Fathers Wang, Shao, Li and Yang and Bishop Jia while in detention. May God allow them to stand firm in faith and resist all orders to deny Jesus.
  • Pray for an international response to persecution that backs up words with actions. Ask God to provide opportunities for President Bush to discuss the cases above with President Hu. Pray for real freedom in China.
  • Belarus
    Orthodox Parish Denied Registration
    Brest, 9th November: State officials in Brest, south-west Belarus, have refused to register the Orthodox parish of SS Sophia and Her Three Daughters: Faith, Hope and Charity. Local officials insist that Orthodox parishes can only meet if they have the approval of a local Moscow Patriarchate bishop. The parish, led by Father Ioann Grudnitsky, was previously affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate, only to leave after a dispute. It then became part of the US-based Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, a body of believers Belarus authorities refuse to recognise.

    Some local parishioners have attempted to meet in homes for worship, only to find that the authorities put a stop to that as well. One such example is Lilya Yukhovskaya, who was fined an amount three times the monthly minimum wage for “making her house available for a religious event”. In February, Father Grudnitsky himself was fined twenty times the monthly minimum wage for “conducting a religious service without permission”. State registration is required for all religious activity in Belarus, yet authorities are seemingly free to choose the grounds on which they refuse registration. Thus, Christian worship services across all the denominations are being forced underground.
    Prayer Points
  • Thank God for the parish of SS Sophia and its desire to continue worshipping the Lord whatever the cost. Pray that this courage is a powerful witness to all who seek to persecute and discriminate against Christians.
  • Ask God to provide the funds for Father Grudnitsky and Lilya to pay their fines. May God fill them with joy and Christ’s love for those who persecute them.
  • Ask God to remove the hostility towards evangelical Christians that exists at the heart of the Belarusian government. May God convict each persecutor of their sin and lead them to salvation in the name of His son.
  • Pray for the miraculous salvation of President Alexander Lukashenko, that he too might see the glory of the Lord, fall to his knees in repentance and change his ways forever. May God’s kingdom truly come to Belarus.
  • Vietnam
    More Evidence of Cover-up
    "The so-called ‘persecution of Montagnard protestants’ is absolutely non-existent."

    “Viet Nam rejects allegations in a press release issued by the Freedom House on Thursday asserting that Viet Nam is repressing minority Christians.” Remarks by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Dung.

    Once again we highlight the nation of Vietnam as one of the worse persecutors of Christians. So designated because of the cover-up and deceptive tactics used to tell the world how much freedom of religion is revered while punishing those who choose to follow Jesus. Mentioned in last weeks newsletter, The Freedom House Center for Religious Freedom exposed a brutal campaign targeting Hmong Christians in Vietnam. Two Hmong Christians testified that in attempts to force renouncement of faith, seven Christians from the Chi Ca Commune, Xin Man District, Ha Giang Province, were imprisoned and tortured. Electric batons and beatings inflicted broken bones and severe bruising. Pictures were released on November 10th of two Christian men lending factual evidence to the allegations. The pictures clearly show the brutality of the torture and bring shame on Vietnam. Naturally, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry rejected the assertion and denied repression of minority Christians.

    According to the report, Vang Seo Dung and Ly Van Dung were the two victims reported to be most severely injured when security forces cracked down on Protestants in the Chi Ca Commune in late August and early September 2005. As Nina Shea of the Center stated, “Instead of taking the report seriously, Hanoi is staging a cover-up. It is essential that it conduct a transparent and fair investigation into credible charges of torture.”

    On a positive note, news has reached Christian Monitor of the successful transfer of Bibles in the Hmong language recently. Received testimony of miraculous events surrounding the transfer testifies to the power of prayer. It was reported that the Hmong contacts stated they had spent much time in prayer for these precious Bibles.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the situation in Vietnam. Pray for the word of God to reach those who pray for Bibles. Pray for the protection of couriers willing to carry the Word. Pray for the safe transfer of Bibles and protection for the contacts inside Vietnam.
  • Pray for healing in the bodies of Vang Seo Dung and Ly Van Dung. Pray the persecuted would have compassion on the persecutors. Pray God would show mercy on the torturers and bring them to knowledge of His grace and forgiveness.
  • Pray the government of Vietnam would cease the deception and cover-up of the campaign to crackdown on Christians who refuse to join the ‘Official’ church of Vietnam. Pray for truth to continually be exposed until forgiveness is requested.
  • Pray those who minister the Gospel underground would find protection and safety under His wing. Pray the determination to preach the Word would continue to grow in the face of adversity.
  • Eritrea
    Much Prayer for Christians Required
    Often highlighted on Christian Monitor for the constant persecution of Christians, Eritrea is designated another year as a country of concern by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). In addition Open Doors USA has launched a petition on behalf of the persecuted Christians living in Eritrea.

    The annual USCIRF report state in the opening paragraph, “The government of Eritrea engages in particularly severe violations of freedom of religion or belief. It has banned all public religious activities by all religious groups that are not officially recognized, closed their places of worship, inordinately delayed action on registration applications by religious groups, arrested participants at prayer meetings and other gatherings, detained members of unregistered churches and other activists indefinitely and without charge, mistreated or even tortured some religious detainees, and severely punished armed forces members and national service inductees for possession of religious materials including Bibles.”

    According to Open Doors USA, “26 evangelical pastors and 1,778 Eritrean Christians held in prisons, military confinement camps and shipping containers as a result of secret prayer and worship meetings outside government-approved churches.” In response Open Doors is seeking signatures to urge US Congress and the US Department of State to continue efforts to end religious freedom violations by the Eritrean government.

    “The situation continues to deteriorate for Christians in Eritrea,” said Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl A. Moeller in a statement released by the ministry. “Over the past six months the number of Christians imprisoned for their faith has doubled. Some of them, including young people, are locked in shipping containers placed in the hot sun.

    The petition can be accessed by following the link Open Doors Petition.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for international pressure to prevent the persecution of Christians in Eritrea. Pray the pressure will bring about the release of all detained for their faith.
  • Pray for the ‘unregistered’ believers in Eritrea to hold firm to their faith and to continue the work of the ministry without fear of what the government could do. Pray for wisdom from on high to lead them in day to day decisions regarding the ministry.
  • Pray for those detained in inhumane conditions. Pray for strength from the Lord and miraculous provision for their every need. Pray the persecutor would fall under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and show mercy to those called by God.
  • Pray the international community would continue to pressure the leadership of Eritrea to protect the human rights of all. Pray for relaxing of the obstacles of registration to make them transparent and un-burdensome. Pray for this nation to realize the blessings of Jehovah on those who choose to follow Him.
  • 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 Uzbekistan who suffer from legal manoeuvring designed to keep believers from worshipping and meeting together in fellowship. As one Christian stated to Forum 18 News, "Harsh measures have been targeted at Christians, unfortunately in Uzbekistan today there is no Protestant church that doesn't face persecution, whether registered or not.
  • Pray for Christians who face continued persecution in India. Over two hundred documented attacks this year have caused pressure to be applied to the government to assist in stopping the violence.
  • Pray for Christians in Somalia who face threats from radical groups’ intent on forcing their values on the Christian Community. Pray for the family of Dr. Osman Sheik Ahmed, a well-known figure in Somalia’s higher education sphere, who was shot and killed Friday, Oct. 7, in northern Mogadishu. Witnesses have confirmed to Osman’s family and members of his house church that he was assassinated by Islamic hit men from Mogadishu’s radical Islamic courts. He is survived by his wife, Zahra Ali Hassan, and nine children.
  • Pray for peace in Indonesia as third parties incite religious violence for political purposes. Pray the peace of God would heal this land and bring about respect for the freedom to worship God.
  • PRAYER
    Our Prayer for the Persecuted
    Jim Dykstra
    06-Nov-2005
    There is no selfless act of love those of us living in freedom could demonstrate, than to fall on our knees and intercede for our brothers and sisters suffering for the same faith we embrace. In my travels and meetings with the persecuted church the question is always asked, ‘what can we do to help’? The response always requests prayer and requires telling others to pray. The Apostle Paul encourages us to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18) This is where victories are won. Prayer is not a weapon in our arsenal but is central to the battle. When we align ourselves with God and pray we will see victory. Unfortunately, failure to pray often means surrender to the enemy. These are reasons to encourage others to join in the battle for the persecuted. That is why Paul encouraged us to be alert and pray always.

    Please join with Christians around the world by participating in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This Sunday November 13, 2005, millions of believers in hundreds of nations will join together in united prayer with and for our Christian brothers and sisters suffering around the world. This act of selflessness will bring eternal rewards for those willing to commit themselves to praying for persecuted believers. Their courage and strength is exhibited in a willingness to follow Jesus at any cost and should motivate us to attain a deeper walk of faith.
    Our prayer...
    Father, we humbly bow before you in obedience to the call to prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters. We lift up the nations of North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Sudan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Belarus, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mexico, Cuba and many others who persecute those who have given their lives to You. We pray for endurance in the midst of suffering, faithfulness to the Gospel, and healing for the suffering whether physical or spiritual. We pray those of us who live in freedom would understand that their suffering affects us as much as it does them. As You suffered on the cross so Christians around the world will suffer. As Peter wanted to defend You in the garden so we should desire to defend the oppressed and speak out for them. Yet Your suffering was for us and you knew what lay before you. So too, those in nations under persecution know what they will face but do so knowing that it is not in vain. Teach us to pray.