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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (04-May-2006)
Table of Contents
Global
Nations of Concern
03-05-2006 – Earlier this week the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) announced its 2006 list of countries of particular concern (CPC). "The United States," says USCIRF, "designate as CPCs those countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief." The USCIRF is required to submit a list of CPCs to the US Secretary of State (Condoleeza Rice) in accordance with the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). This year the following countries have been designated as CPCs:

  • Burma
  • North Korea
  • Eritrea
  • Iran
  • Pakistan
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • The USCIRF says they have "also established a Watch List of countries where conditions do not rise to the statutory level requiring CPC designation but which require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the governments." These countries are listed below:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Indonesia
  • Nigeria
  • The USCIRF also says that "though not on the Watch List, the Commission is closely monitoring the situations in" the following countries:

  • India
  • Russia
  • Iraq
  • Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of the Christians in the above listed countries. Pray that the Lord would continue to strengthen their faith and continue to enable them to live victorious lives in Christ.


  • Pray for the non-Christians in those countries. Pray that the Lord would redeem them, heal them and draw them to Him.


  • Pray for the governments in those countries. Ask that the Lord would work in their hearts and make them love justice and mercy and enable them to see the Love of Christ. Pray for the salvation of these leaders and that they would draw near to God.


  • Thank the Lord for this list that highlights the suffering of believers in these countries. Pray that God would use this list in powerful way in the US government and that while compassion is showed to the countries concerned, may these countries be held accountable for their violations of the universally accepted right to freedom of religion.
  • Cambodia
    Church Destroyed
    03-05-2006 – Quoting officials, the Manila Times (MT) reports, "Some 300 Buddhist villagers, apparently angered by a rival faith within their community, have razed a partially built Christian church to the ground near the Cambodian capital." The church was being constructed in Boeng Krum Leu, 30 kilometers east of Phnom Penh. The church would have been the second in an overwhelmingly Buddhist community where there is only a single Buddhist pagoda. Officials deny having given permission for the Church to be built but the Church members decided to build it anyway and initially use it to provide accommodation to visiting pastors and later convert it into a Church.

    The MT says, "The Christians have not complained to the police—neither to recoup the lost investment in the now defunct church, nor to demand the arrest of the mob. The two sides came to a peaceful compromise after authorities gave them a lecture on the law of religious freedom."
    Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord that no one was injured in this incident. Thank the Lord for facilitating a peaceful conclusion to this situation and for ensuring that no severe penalties were inflicted on anyone.


  • Thank the Lord for the forgiveness of the Christians. Thank the Lord for enabling them to Love as Christ has taught us to love.


  • Thank the Lord for the general attitude of tolerance towards Christians in Cambodia. Pray that this freedom would continue to exist and that the Lord would continue to protect his servants in Cambodia.


  • Pray for the lost in Cambodia. Ask that the Lord would love them and hold them. Pray that God would bless them and draw them to Him.
  • Indonesia
    Church Services Disrupted
    02-05-2006 – Compass Direct (CD) reports that one Protestant Church and two Catholic churches have been forced to stop their services over the last month. "On April 17," reports CD, "a group of approximately 150 people claiming to represent the neighboring community paid a visit to the Shining Christian Church in West Semper, Clincing sub-district, North Jakarta. They bullied Pastor Yoshua Sugiharto into ceasing worship activities underway in the building since 2001." The Church is officially registered and was in its current location when the area was sparsely populated. A Muslim community has grown up around the Church and they seem to have taken exception to the presence of the Church.

    CD also reports "police asked the St. Clara Catholic Church in North Bekasi district, West Java province, not to hold a Good Friday worship service on April 14 after the FPI and another local Muslim group threatened to disrupt it."

    In another incident, "A mob of some 500 Muslims," reports CD, "also forced the Ciledug Catholic church, meeting in a residential building in the Regensi Bintaro Ciledug housing complex in Tangerang province, to cease services." The Church had already received permission to hold services but was waiting for a building permit. The 3000 Church members are now forced to hold services on other premises.
    Prayer Points
  • Thank God for the continued faithfulness of the Indonesian Christians who continue to persevere in the faith despite fierce opposition. Pray that they would continue to remain firm in the faith and that God would bless them abundantly.


  • Pray for the Churches mentioned above. Pray that the Lord would bless them and guide them into righteousness and that the Lord would show them the correct course of action to follow.


  • Pray for the Muslim mobs in Indonesia. Pray that the Lord would soften their hearts and guide them into a new understanding of what love and peace really is.


  • Pray for the police and authorities in Indonesia. Pray that God would shine his light upon them and that they would know God and act justly and fairly towards Christians.
  • Pakistan
    Blasphemy Accused Released on Bail
    03-05-2006 – Persecution Update (PU) reports that a woman accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, Naseem Bibi, has been released on bail. Naseem was arrested after she protested against the desecration of the cross outside her home. When she saw a large group of Muslims desecrating the cross, she started to quarrel with the Muslims. As a result, the Muslims started beating her. The police were called and she was arrested on charges of desecrating a poster of Khana Kaba, the Muslim holy place in Saudi Arabia. She was released on bail on April 22 after posting surety bonds of $832.628 USD. PU reports, "She has taken refuge in a shelter of Lahore with her husband and children for safety of life as attacks of Muslims extremists are feared if she moves to her home in Kasur district."
    Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord for the brave witness of Naseem. Thank the Lord for empowering her with the courage to confront those who would desecrate his holy name.


  • Pray those who witnessed her stand against abuse of the cross would soften their hearts and turn to God with all their might and power.


  • Pray for the Muslims of Saudi Arabia, that God would release them from the bondage of Islam and that they would turn to Christ in ever increasing numbers.


  • Pray that the Lord would provide for Naseem and her family and that the payment of the bail would not adversely affect their ability to survive.
  • Uzbekistan
    Pastor's Home Raided
    24-04-2006 – "Police officers from Uzbekistan’s criminal investigation department burst into the home of a Protestant pastor in northwest Uzbekistan," reports Compass Direct (CD), "disrupting 12 people as they were having lunch together. The pastor and another believer were charged with 'breaking the laws on teaching religion.'" According toCD, the police charged Pastor Lunkin Sergey of the Union of Independent Churches (UIC) and fellow UIC member Chursin Vasily with breaking laws in teaching religion. The police also confiscated 32 legally purchased New Testaments says CD.

    According to CD, "Three Turkmen citizens at the luncheon were deported back to Turkmenistan, reportedly with black stamps in their passports prohibiting them from re-entering Uzbekistan again." At the moment the two men are awaiting a court decision.
    Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord for the continued faith of Uzbek Christians. Thank the Lord that despite all their afflictions they continue to persevere in the faith. Pray that the Lord would continue to strengthen their faith and continue to guide them and nourish their souls.


  • Pray that the court verdict given would be just and that the two men would be released. Pray that the Lord would shine His light and mercy on them and that they would be able to grow in their faith.


  • Pray for the police in Uzbekistan. Pray that the Lord would soften their hearts, work miracles in their lives and draw them to Him.


  • Pray for the government of Uzbekistan. Pray that God would be merciful and turn their ways to good so they would allow believers to worship freely in their country.
  • Uzbekistan
    English Teachers Fined
    01-05-2006 – "Four Americans," reports HCBJ World Radio (HCBJ) "have been fined for ‘missionary activity’" in Uzbekistan. HCBJ says, "An Uzbek court fined the four English language teachers from the nonprofit group, Global Involvement Through Education, $400 each for ‘urging local students to change their traditional confession to a religion of Protestant character.’"
    Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord for the witness of these English teachers to those in Uzbekistan. Pray that the Lord would keep these teachers safe and that they would continue to live their testimony out in the eyes of those around them.


  • Pray for the continued spread of the Gospel throughout Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Pray that God would continue to open the doors to His ministry and that many would follow.


  • Pray that the Lord would provide the necessary funds to the teachers so that they would be able to pay their fines.


  • Pray that God would continue to protect these teachers and their students. Pray that the Lord would use their teaching as a powerful service in His ministry.
  • Sudan
    Testimony of a Christian Slave
    01-05-2006 – This week the testimony of a Sudanese Christian who was given as a gift to a family and forced into slavery appears on the Hodjas Blog. Simon Aban Deng writes, "I belong to a people who have been subjected to mass murder, slavery, systematic rape, religious persecution, enforced starvation, dislocation, exile. We are the victims of genocide, both physical and cultural. We have been targeted for annihilation as human beings and as members of a culture. These miseries did not fall upon us from the sky; we have been and remain the victims of the radical jihadist regime in Khartoum."

    According to Simon, two genocides have been carried out against the Christian Sudanese. The first, in 1955, shortly after independence, "1.5 million Southern Sudanese Christians were slaughtered by the Arab/Muslim dominated government in Khartoum. " The second genocide saw 2 million Christians killed between 1983 and 3 months ago when a treaty was signed between the South and the Government. Simon writes, "Our only offense was our determination to remain faithful to our religion and to honor our African cultures. For these "crimes"The National Islamic Front regime has committed genocide against us."

    In his harrowing testimony Simon states: "When I was nine year’s old, my village was raided by Arab troops in the pay of Khartoum. As we ran into the bush to escape I watched as childhood friends were shot dead and the old and the weak who were unable to run were burned alive in their huts. I was abducted and given to an Arab family as a ‘gift.’ A ‘gift,’ ladies and gentlemen. When you look at me, do you see a gift?"

    Simon concludes by challenging the United Nations: "Do you stand for all human rights? Do you stand for all human liberties? Do you care about the dignity of all of the people of the world, including those branded by jihadists as infidels? The questions I have asked are repeated every single day by millions of black Sudanese. Can you answer me?The failure of the United Nations to guarantee the basic rights of the slaves of Sudan and other black African ’infidels’ is shameful beyond my ability to express."
    Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord for freeing Simon from the grip of his captors and thank the Lord for Simon’s determination to expose the abuses by the government of Sudan. Pray that the Lord would strengthen Simon and pray that God would empower him in his faith.


  • Pray for the Christians of Sudan. Pray that the peace in the South would be a lasting peace and that the government of Sudan would respect them and their right to belief.


  • Pray for the situation in Darfur, west Sudan. Pray that the government of Sudan would come to know their sins and stop the genocide they have started there.


  • Pray for all the non-Christians in Sudan. Pray that God would shine His light in their hearts and that they would return to the Lord and worship Him as the one Holy God.