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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (24-Jul-2005)
"For years I … never [saw] sun, moon, flowers, snow, stars, no man except the interrogator who beat [me], but I can say I have seen heaven open, I have seen Jesus Christ, I have seen the angels and we were very happy there." Rev. Richard Wurmbrand
Table of Contents
Kazakhstan
Government Bans Unregistered Religious Activity
(Forum 18) Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has recently signed into law several new restrictions on religious activity in Kazakhstan. These restrictions effectively ban all unregistered religious activity and introduce a system of harsh fines for all those seen to be violating the law.

Church leaders face fines of up to 100 times the national monthly minimum wage for leading unregistered churches; participants in unregistered religious activity (church members, evangelists, missionaries) face fines of up to 50 times that figure; those funding unregistered religious activity are set to be hit the hardest, with fines of up to 200 times the monthly minimum wage. In many parts of Kazakhstan, a church or religious organization’s hopes of registration lie with regional officials who are often deeply prejudiced against evangelical Christianity in the first place.

One such example is that of Pastor Rashid Turebaev of the Living Vine Methodist Church in Karaganda. Local police have recently decided that – having not re-registered his home there – he is operating illegally and must leave. He had previously been told that he didn’t need to re-register and Rashid believes he is being persecuted because “my religious activity is a particular irritation to them”. He had not passed on to the police details of the foreign members of his church.

Pastor Rashid is concerned that the authorities may force him to return to his native Uzbekistan, also noted for its persecution of Christians. He has already been arrested and sentenced once there, only to be freed after international pressure, but is concerned that authorities there will arrest him upon his return.
Prayer Points
  • Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him for his might, power and presence. Praise Him for planting His word in the hearts of so many Kazakh people.
  • Give thanks for our courageous brothers and sisters, who continue to serve and worship God in the face of continued harassment and persecution.
  • Ask God to show mercy on his church in Kazakhstan, to provide ways for the church to grow in spite of these new laws. Pray that Pastor Rashid might be allowed to stay in Karaganda and his church to flourish.
  • Pray that Jesus might reveal himself to President Nazarbayev, and the encounter will change his Kazakhstan’s attitude towards the Word of God.
  • India
    Village Expels Pastor; Christian School Harassed
    (CM) Villagers in Murichambedu, Tamil Nadu state have forced the closure of its Pentecostal church and expelled its pastor and his wife from the village. Hindu elders in the village accuse Pastor Steven of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. The elders have been encouraged by a leading regional daily newspaper Dinomalar, which has led a very one-sided campaign against Steven. It accused him of going door to door in the village converting locals to Christianity, and then taking his campaign to neighboring villages. According to Dinomalar, the villagers told Steven to stop but he ‘continued with his virulent activity’. The facts are that village chiefs, concerned at the lower participation of villagers in Hindu festivals, have determined to force Steven out of the village.

    18th July: Also in Tamil Nadu, the People’s Tribunal on the Rights of Christian Dalits is meeting. Christian Dalits, otherwise known as ‘untouchables’, are denied common rights granted to Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. The tribunal is due to hear the evidence and experiences of many Christian Dalits before recommending changes the law. 60% Of Indian Christians are Dalits. The results of this tribunal will be sent to Prime Minister Singh as well as regional leaders.

    18th July: Missionaries active in Orissa state report that the Hindu fundamentalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have set up a training camp in Jeypore devoted to training Hindus to fight Christian missionaries. It reportedly aims to train thousands of such fighters in the next two years.

    15th July: Prayer is also needed for a Christian school in India which is facing constant harassment from local Hindus. In a campaign to discredit the school, Hindus have accused it of forcing children to change their religion as well as teaching the Bible. Whilst the school does indeed teach the Bible and pray before each class, it has gained its good reputation through the quality of its English teaching.
    Prayer Points
  • Praise God! His Kingdom is on the move and has those opposed to it fearful. Give thanks that even expelling Pastor Steven from Murichambedu will not stop the Word of God from going forth throughout the land called India.
  • Pray against the propaganda line used in India that Christians are forcibly converting Hindus. Ask God to stop the forced reconversion of Christians back to Hinduism. Thank God for giving us the free will to choose Jesus.
  • Pray for protection and respect to be granted to all of India’s Christians, including the Dalits. Pray that the government act against those who use violence and intimidation to achieve their aims. Pray that Jesus might visit the training camp in Jeypore in a powerful way.
  • Pray for all Christian schools in India, that they might be free to teach the Word without intimidation and persecution. Ask God to show favor to India’s children
  • Vietnam
    Church Building Partially Demolished
    (CM) In the latest action of persecution directed at the Vietnamese Mennonite Church, government officials destroyed the rear portion of the home of Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang and his family. Portions of the room where weekly church services are held were destroyed as well. The government utilized arbitrary ordinances declaring the demolished portion of the building was originally built illegally. The initial order was dated in 2002 prior to the arrest of Rev. Quang. Workers were quoted as saying, "Please sympathize with us; we are only hired hands doing this because we need food on our tables. We don't want to destroy the church and we will be very careful not to destroy the church's property."

    Pastor Quang has been harassed and imprisoned for many years because of his outspoken criticism of Vietnam’s human rights record. A trained lawyer he has stood in the gap for those oppressed by the communist government. One of the “Mennonite Six” the pastor remains imprisoned for interfering with the duties of officials. His church has been the target of government persecution including arrests, fines and detention for persons participating in ministry at the home.

    Vietnam has presented itself to the world community as a protector of the freedom to worship and denies Christians are persecuted. In recent visits to the United States the Vietnamese government has used supposed religious leaders to convince US Representatives that freedom of religion is promoted and to mislead many into believing there is no persecution. The truth belies the facts and evidence.

    In Mrs. Quang’s own words, "In Vietnam is it not only to our family that these kinds of things happen. Many people suffer injustice. For my family, it's because of my husband. I frankly told that to the officials."
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the Vietnamese Mennonite Community that has suffered much at the hands of the communist government. Pray god would use this situation for His purposes.
  • Pray for Mrs. Quang to stay close to the Lord and depend on Him for all things. Pray she would find comfort in His arms and supply for her every need.
  • Pray for the government of Vietnam to finally put into practice promises made to the international community. Pray for accountability to hold this government responsible for its actions.
  • Pray for confrontation in the spiritual realm to produce fruit in this nation and a thriving body of believers that has withstood the test of persecution.
  • Pray for the workers who were forced to participate in the destruction of the building. Pray the conviction they felt will turn into a confrontation with Jesus and they would find mercy, grace and love in knowing Him.
  • Uzbekistan
    Raids and Confiscation of Religious Literature
    (Forum 18) After a secret police raid on her home, interrogations, death threats and a large fine in June, and a 15 day prison sentence for her father, Tashkent-based Protestant Marina Kalinkina told Forum 18 News Service that secret police pressure has not let up. On 11 July, secret police officers again interrogated her about what they claim was illegal religious activity as part of her work for Bridge of Friendship, a registered charity she leads. One officer told her that if she dared to complain about her treatment to international organisations it would only make things worse for her. Begzot Kadyrov of the government's religious affairs committee defended the secret police actions, claiming that Kalinkina is using her charitable work as an opportunity to preach. "In other words, she is doing the work of an unregistered religious organisation, and that is forbidden under Uzbek law," he told Forum 18.

    Forum 18 also reported that police and secret police continue to hunt down religious literature in Uzbekistan, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Latest seizures include 15 Bibles from the home of Protestant pastor Viktor Klimov in Gulistan on 17 June, 90 Hare Krishna books seized by police and secret police from a devotee in Bostan on 16 June. Five Protestants in Kungrad were officially warned on 1 June, after bringing religious literature into the country. An official of the government’s Religious Affairs Committee has defended such seizures, telling Forum 18 that "the police did have the right to seize Klimov’s Bibles temporarily, but they then had to send the books to us for analysis, and we of course will conclude that these books (in other words, the Bibles) are not banned in Uzbekistan," Begzot Kadyrov stated. Such censorship of and restrictions on religious literature violate Uzbekistan’s international commitments to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for Marina as she faces constant pressure for her charitable work. Pray for the direction of the Lord to be manifested in her. Pray for wisdom in actions and security in the shelter of His wings.
  • Pray for the pressure to abate in the name of Jesus. Pray God would intervene to throw confusion into the plans of the secret police. Pray for God to confront these men and sear their consciences for the purpose of allowing them to see the light of the Gospel.
  • Pray against the seizures of literature and harassment from the authorities. Pray God to protect His Word and the couriers who carry it. Pray for eyes to be blinded and free passage of the materials.
  • Pray the nation of Uzbekistan would honor commitments to protect freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
  • Eritrea
    Brutal Crackdown Continues
    (Release Eritrea) Eritrean security forces have detained 18 college students, all evangelical Christians, on Friday the 8th of July 2005.The students were from Halhale College, some 20 miles from Asmara. In what appears to be a pre-planed operation, unlike previous mass detentions, the officers approached each student as they left exam halls, following their finals. In a separate incidence, on Wednesday July 6th, Semere Zayid, the university lecturer who was detained and released earlier this year, after a four week detention, has disappeared following a visit to report at a police station in accordance to the conditions of his release. It is now feared that Semere Zayid has now followed his colleagues to wenjel mirmera (crime investigation unit –also known as Karshelie) adjacent to the 2nd police station in Asmara.

    (Christianity Today) In March, police in Eritrea arrested the pastor of a Full Gospel church on a busy boulevard in the capital city of Asmara. In his mid-50s and married with four children, Kidane Weldu was neither charged nor allowed outside contact. "He is held incommunicado in the second police station in Asmara and is at risk of torture," according to an Amnesty International report. "Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of religion." Compass Direct reports that Weldu is one of 16 pastors and 883 Christians overall in the East African nation jailed for their faith. The Eritrean government—while claiming that it allows freedom of religion—has stepped up its arrests of Christians this year after outlawing independent churches in 2002. Security forces have jailed at least 240 Christians this year. Many of those arrested are held in metal shipping containers. Sweltering in the daytime and cold at night, the containers have no sanitation. Infectious diseases and diarrhea are common.

    On August 5th according to Release Eritrea, they are announcing one day of prayer and fasting for Eritrean Christians and Ministers of the Gospel who are back home inside of Eritrean prisons, who are persecuted because of their faith on Jesus Christ. To day there are a lot of Christians and ministers on a difficult situation, and it seems their condition is getting worst as the time goes on, this brothers and sisters needs our support and prayer.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the students arrested on July 8. Pray for their location to be revealed and for their release. Pray God would protect and provide for them.
  • Pray for Semere Zayid who disappeared once again. Pray his whereabouts would be revealed and that he would be alright. Pray for his protection from harm and provision for his daily needs.
  • Pray for the Pastors and Christians who remain in detention in Eritrea. Pray for their safety and pray they would supernaturally endure the deplorable conditions in which they are held. Pray for strength and provision from on high.
  • Pray for an army of prayer warriors to rally in support of the day of prayer for Eritrea on August 5th. Pray God would make straight the path for these prayer partners to be available to intercede. Pray that fervent effectual prayer would accomplish much.
  • 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
  • With thanksgiving we rejoice in the release of Bishop Zhi Guo from detention in China. Pray for him as he is pressured to join the official Catholic Patriotic Association.
  • Pray for Christians in Iraq as they petition the government to provide equality for all beliefs and refusal to allow Shari’a law to be included in the constitution.
  • Pray for Montagnards who are being forced to return to Vietnam from refuge in Cambodia. Many of these people have been persecuted for their faith and escaped oppression only to be forced to return.
  • Evangelical Christians in Russia have asked for prayer and attention to their situation as pressure is applied from various government levels to control them. Arrests, church burnings and denial of visas are some of the ways this group is persecuted.
  • Pray for Christians in Zimbabwe who are protecting the homeless in the midst of an illegal resettlement. Church workers have been harassed and arrested for their convictions.
  • Continue to pray for the three Indonesian Christian women, Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun who were arrested for enticing children to convert to Christianity. Their trial should take place soon. Visit our website for contact information.