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Weekly Edition (02-Jul-2006)
"The Apostle Paul told us to remember those in prison as though we were there with them. In the free world we have failed to follow the command and let many slip into obscurity. Will you make a difference?" -Jim Dykstra
Table of Contents
Forgotten Christian Serving His Eighth Year
Ranjha Masih is now in his eighth year of a life sentence imposed in 1998. Masih, 58, was arrested following accusations that he damaged a sign containing written verses from the Koran. Masih was participating in a funeral procession for former Faisalabad Catholic Bishop John Joseph when the alleged blasphemy occurred. Although police testified the sign was intact and Masih denied damaging it, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for “blasphemy”.
Recently Masih was honored for maintaining his Christian beliefs while enduring his imprisonment by The International Society for Human Rights. My concern was raised with the following statement, “Please pray for Ranjha Masih,” Faisalabad Catholic Bishop Joseph Coutts appealed to Compass. “The man has been sitting forgotten in jail for years.” How can we sit in silence knowing one of our own brothers in Christ is wasting away in jail under an alleged offense?
Injustice always demands our action when situations come to our attention. The injustice lies in the initial trial for Masih lasting five years (he was arrested in 1998 and sentenced in 2003), inattention to an appeal filed three years ago on his behalf and the medical conditions that prevent Masih from walking without pain. Will you allow Masih to remain forgotten?
For more information visit CompassDirect.org. To get involved advocating for Masih write to:
His Excellency General Parvez Musharaf,
President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Aiawan-e-Sadar, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Fax: +92-51-9206061
E-mail: ce@pak.gov.pk
Prayer Points
• Pray for Ranjha Masih during his imprisonment. Pray he would sense the presence of God in his cell. Pray the Holy Spirit would be his comforter and he would know he is not alone as Jesus is with him.
• Pray for the family of Masih. He is married and leaves 6 children without a father. Pray the Lord of all would supply their every need. May the Lord grant them security and surround them with the Hosts of Heaven.
• Pray for those handling his legal affairs. Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) has been working on his appeal. Pray the walls of injustice would fall and the appeal would receive the attention deserved and mandated by international norms.
• Above all pray for healing for Masih’s knees from crippling arthritis and any other medical conditions that would cause him pain. Let the healing be a testimony and witness to the faithfulness of a loving Lord and Savior.
Underground Bishop Goes Home
Catholic Bishop Guo Wenzhi, 88, went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on June 29, 2006 without formality or celebration. Bishop Wenzhi was ordained in 1948 and labeled a counter revolutionary six years later. After spending 10 years in forced labor the Bishop resumed his evangelistic activities establishing underground meeting points and impacting the lives of many. Re-arrested in 1989 he spent several months in jail for participating in an underground bishops conference.
We take note of this servant of the Lord for his faithfulness to his Savior Jesus in spite of various persecutions. Never seeking glory for himself but selflessly sacrificing himself for the work of the Gospel. We choose to honor this man of God and further call attention to the millions of Christians in China zealously pursuing the call of God to reach the lost with the Good News of salvation.
Following my first trip to China I realized my ignorance to the situation facing believers in China. Persecution was generic term for me until I saw Christians forced to worship underground and heard the testimonies of those imprisoned for their faith. Worse, the propaganda machine in China churned out lies and deceptive statements discrediting the loyalty of many to their homeland, proclaiming that freedom to worship is allowed and respected throughout China. The lies have been exposed over and over and the patriotism demonstrated by Christians reaching out to their fellow countrymen proves the love they have for China. They are not criminals and are worthy of our honor and respect.
As Bishop Guo Wenzhi maintained a low profile let us honor his life’s work by praying for the nation of China and the underground church flourishing under the threat of persecution, never discriminating by religion but by faith in Jesus Christ.
Prayer Points
• The nation of China to recognize the right of individuals to freely worship the Lord without control or intimidation. Pray for the government to cease a campaign to harass and arrest those who follow the call of God.
• Pray for those in prison for their faith. Pray they would remain steadfast in the faith and pursue righteousness and truth. Pray the chains of bondage would break in the name of Jesus.
• Pray for the faithful who continue to preach the Word and minister to the multitudes knowing the penalty of following the convictions of their hearts. Pray they would be anointed by the Holy Spirit to reach the lost and would receive a crown and hear the words of Jesus, “Well done my faithful servant”.
Escapees in Great Danger
BosNewsLife and Open Doors reported on the remarkable escape of 15 men imprisoned for their faith in Eritrea. Held in a metal shipping container, these men managed to escape and followed a path of freedom through the desert, seeking refuge in neighboring Djibouti. The tragedy was only magnified with reported deaths of 5 escapees due to a lack of water.
Eritrea is well known as a nation that persecutes and is listed by many governments as a country of concern for violations of United Nations treaties and agreements, relating to religious freedoms. As many as 1800 Christians are reported imprisoned for their faith in Jesus. The detentions are harsh with many held in metal containers like the one the fifteen escaped from.
We cannot allow the Christians of Eritrea to be forgotten. We cannot allow the remaining escapees to become another statistic of persecution. I have tried to envision myself as having to escape captivity much like they have, only my imagination cannot conceive the emotional or physical conditions these Christians face, I can only weep over the struggles they face.
Prayer Points
• The Lord to miraculously take these men on journey to freedom in order to announce to the world the reality of persecution in Eritrea. Pray he would protect and provide their physical and spiritual needs.
• Pray for the world to recognize the plight of Christians in Eritrea. Pray governments would continue to pressure the leadership of Eritrea to release those imprisoned for their faith.
• Pray for the prisoners to remain strong and the Lord to protect them. Pray for healing for those who are sick or injured. Pray for daily supply of every need and shame to fall on the captors. Let the walls of prisons be shaken and the fear of the Lord to fall on the guards.
North Korea
Not to be Forgotten
God will never allow the name of Choi Yung-hun to slip from my memory. Day after day I pray Mr. Choi and wear a leather bracelet to remind me of this modern day hero. While Mr. Choi is not in prison for his faith, he is imprisoned for following his conviction from the Lord to help those in need. His courage in following the conviction led him to plan and execute escape for North Korean refugees hiding in China. That plan was interrupted by Chinese Security Police and Mr. Choi endured a lengthy trial ending with a 5 year sentence. The latest update is written by his wife following a visit in April of 2006:

• My husband looked pale and had grown even thinner, indicating his extended difficulties with life in the prison, but he smiled when he mentioned that people call him "Mr. Missionary" in the prison. He never fails to read the Bible and pray every morning, believing the God will help him. He also repeatedly mentioned how sorry he was that he had been causing so much trouble to his family, in addition to not being able to support his parents and family members. The meeting with Choi Yong-hun only lasted 30 minutes, and his mother and I could not help but follow him with our tear-filled eyes until he was led out of sight.

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) urges you to send postcards or letters to the Shandong Province Prison, letting the general manager know that the eyes of the world are on him and on China's "justice" system.

General Manager of Shandong Province Prison
Shandong Province Prison Office
163 Lishan Road
Jinan City, Shandong Province
China 250014

He still sits in a jail cell in China, after having served 3 years and 4 months of a 5-year sentence. He is still being punished for his attempt to help North Korean refugees in China.
Prayer Points
• Pray for Mr. Choi and his family. He is married and has two daughters.