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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (31-Jul-2005)
“The attitude of Hindu extremists towards Christians is inconsistent. First, they attack us and then they want to send their children to our schools because of the high quality of education.” – Indian Bishop Thottumarickal
Table of Contents
China
God’s Grace Overshadows Persecution
On July 25th in Fujian China 50 Christians gathered to celebrate Catholic Mass in a private home, for the purpose of praying for a cancer stricken member. At 8 PM security police descended upon the home and arrested Father Lin Daixian, a seminarian, and 9 other Christians. Many of those in attendance were beaten savagely attempting to stop the arrest of Father Lin. The Cardinal Kung Foundation reported injuries including, broken bones and teeth, brain injuries causing severe swelling, fainting, and many other kinds of injuries. The private house where the arrests took place was totally ransacked and severely damaged. The arrested are now held in the Pingtan detention center.

US based Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reported on the recent arrest of 100 students in Langfang City, Hebei province, China. The six through twelfth graders were arrested, interrogated, and then released by security police, with a warning to stop meeting together and to cease affiliation with unregistered church activities. In the same report VOM stated that on July 1st 10 pastors were arrested while attending a baptismal service for 60 new Christians. All received 15 days administrative detention and $25 to $36 (USD) fines and then released.

China remains a nation that cannot reconcile freedom of belief with a need to control the masses. The underground church remains elusive in government attempts to control unauthorized meetings and secretive church services. Underground Christianity continues to grow at an unchangeable pace, with a dedication to Jesus reminiscent of the early church in the book of Acts. God has utilized the Chinese government’s action in persecution to further His kingdom and has built a Chinese body of believers refined and strong in their faith. Over the next several years we will hear of young evangelists and church leaders carrying a stronger mantle passed to them by the patriarchs of faith in China.
Prayer Points
  • Pray for the eleven Christians held in the Pingtan detention center. Pray God would visit them in a miraculous way and give them comfort. Pray for His protection and strength.
  • Pray for the new church leadership under training in China. Pray the persecution of the past and the current crackdown would build a resistant and strong leadership of the growing church in China.
  • Pray for the believers in China who work tirelessly in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. Pray for the evangelists who face daily persecution as they travel from village to village.
  • Pray for the nation of China to reconcile the fact that this move of God cannot be stopped. Pray for leadership to understand the blessings of God upon a nation that will honor Him and allow the worship of His Son.
  • Indonesia
    Three Christian Women Face Trial
    Three Christian housewives, who held Sunday school programs in one of their homes are on trial, accused of the forced ‘Christianization’ of Muslim children. The women – Rebecca Laomita, Ratna Mala Bangun Ety Pangesh – were arrested on 13th May and held in Indramayu State Prison. The outcome of the trial is in danger of being influenced by local Muslim fundamentalists who have been gathering outside the courthouse and chanting inflammatory slogans.

    There had been no complaints from the parents of the children who attended the program and none from the children themselves. Most of the attendees were Christians, some of whom invited Muslim friends. Local Muslim leaders are angered by several children’s’ reluctance to take part in Muslim activities and their inability to recite Muslim prayers. A local school principal complained that children were singing Christian songs in the school corridors, and this prompted the arrest of the three women.

    The authorities base their case on the Child Protection Law, which applies if people use ‘deception’ or ‘enticement’ to make a child change his or her religion. There is no evidence of any child having been deceived – no child attended without parental consent – and no child was offered money or anything else to attend. The women face a maximum of five years in prison. Their ‘crime’? Having children voluntarily colour pictures of Bible figures, sing Christian songs, listen to Bible stories and learn Christian prayers. Your intercession on their behalf is much needed.

    To that end Christianity is increasingly viewed as a threat to the majority Muslim community. Top Islamic clerics recently disclosed their displeasure with the increased building of Christian churches and the activities of pastors and evangelists throughout the nation. Perceiving a threat, the Indonesian Ulemas Council recently outlined plans to stop the spread of Christianity.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for these women who face increased hostile threats and are now pressured to adopt Islamic ideals. Pray God would lead them beside still waters and restore their strength in the midst of this battle.
  • Pray for the authorities to truly seek justice in this case and not succumb to the pressures from self interest groups. Pray for the mouths of the violent to be stilled in Jesus name.
  • Pray for the children who are victims of this persecution. Pray they would find comfort in the One who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Pray this situation would cause these children to stand up for the rights of Christians in Indonesia in the future.
  • Pray true vindication would be the outcome of the trials. Pray the accusers would find no rest or peace until they repent of their accusations.
  • Cambodia
    Disgrace in Treatment of Christian Refugees
    Many reports were released this week detailing the abusive treatment of Christian Montagnards living in refuge in Cambodia. Victims of persecution in their homeland of Vietnam, many Montagnards fled through the jungles following a government crackdown, to find sanctuary inside of Cambodia. The United Nations failed to protect these people and caved in to demands by Cambodia and Vietnam to return them to their homes. On July 20, 2005 Cambodian security police went to the refugee camp called [site 1] and brutally attacked men and women forcing them onto buses to return to Vietnam. Eyewitness accounts published by Human Rights Watch describe the following:

  • “Around 4:30 am I could hear the Montagnards singing hymns inside the house. By 5:30 police had set up roadblocks and sealed off the entire area. They would not allow reporters or human rights monitors to get close. Most of the Montagnards had assembled in the downstairs courtyard, where they were sitting down.”
  • “The Montagnards were completely non-violent. Some were gathered in a group and began to pray and then a terrible sound of lamentation and wailing came. Some moved forward and sat clinging to one another, crying.”
  • “I saw the Montagnards sitting clinging together on the floor, wailing. The police grabbed one man and he would not move, so five police moved in to forcibly move him. They beat him with their hands and kicked him. They used an electric shock baton on him and he writhed in pain and his head banged on the cement.”
  • “I heard the cries and saw the police push and drag the Montagnards onto the bus. I saw a policeman beating one man with his hands and another officer hitting a man who was hanging onto his wife and brother.”
  • “I saw three refugees, including one woman, being dragged out by their legs and in other ways. As one man was dragged out, his wife followed him carrying a baby and screaming. One man was crying and screaming as he was carried out by four officers. I saw two lines of men in camouflage uniforms and small green helmets come into the site. I heard the sound of electric batons and turned to see two of these men holding batons in the air and turning them on.”
  • Long a concern of Christian Monitor, we condemn this action by Cambodia in treating human beings in this manner. Perhaps the lessons of the ‘Killing Fields’ have had no impact on human rights. The Christian Montagnards who are our brothers and sisters in Christ, have been forced to flee religious persecution in Vietnam and now are victims of indirect persecution in Cambodia. We ask that God would give them a place of rest and bring justice to the abusers.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray against the violence perpetrated by the Cambodian police against the innocent lambs. Pray God would recompense each soldier that brutally attacked the Montagnards.
  • Pray God would honor the prayers of the Christians and the devotion demonstrated through the singing of hymns. Pray He would remove the damage of the abuse from their memories and restore their strength.
  • Pray for healing from physical injuries sustained in this unwarranted attack. Pray emotional scars would heal in the children who witnessed this event. Pray God would protect the refugees upon return to Vietnam.
  • Pray the nation of Cambodia would humble itself in the presence of God and repent of this shameful act. Pray God would accomplish His will in Cambodia and draw many to His Son.
  • Vietnam
    Continued Flagrant Persecution
    Last week we reported in the newsletter the destruction of the home and church building of Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang. Pastor Quang is the Mennonite leader in Hanoi, Vietnam who is serving a sentence for his part in the “Mennonite Six”. This week Compass Direct reported that a follow up raid at the same building took place on July 24, 2005. Around
    7 PM 30 police officers descended on the house and told the 15 Christians inside to stop their prayer meeting and ordered the wife of Pastor Quang to disband the meeting. She was cited for conducting ‘illegal religious activities’ and ordered to appear in court to clear up the violation. Two men were taken into custody and released several hours later.

    Police returned again several hours later to make sure the group had disbanded. Upon discovery that the group was not reformed police harassed Pastor Quang’s wife over registration of vehicles on the property. According to Compass Direct News there have been at least 80 incidents of this type of harassment since the Pastors arrest in June of 2004. One wonders how the government of Vietnam can hold to a policy of religious freedom while conducting this flagrant persecution.

    The Mennonite World Council stated, “Vietnam has been under international scrutiny over its intrusive monitoring of religious groups. Since November 2004, the government has proclaimed several national-level changes intended to lessen criticism of its heavy hand in managing “organized” religion.

    Conversations with officials indicate that a major concern of the government is political insecurity over rapid growth in the number of evangelical believers among ethnic minority groups, who have long been at the margins of Vietnamese culture. A majority of the Mennonites in Vietnam are ethnic minorities. Strong public advocacy for the plight of minority groups and minority Christians by Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang and several other Mennonite leaders in recent years may be a major underlying factor in government hostility toward some Mennonite churches.”
    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.
  • India
    Anti-Christian Campaign Continues
    For some time Christian Monitor has maintained a focus section on India. Daily there are news reports and testimonies of persecution highlighting a concerted effort to target Christians. Recently the Catholic Bishops of India issued a report that Hindu activists were preparing a campaign to discredit Christianity in the state of Orissa. 30,000 pamphlets were prepared and ready for distribution by a group supporting the murderer of Rev. Graham Staines and his two sons. Authorities have promised to prevent the distribution but little action is expected.

    Gospel for Asia (GFA) reported a radical mob attacked Pastor Kiran in northern India in June. The pastor had left home to pick up household items when confronted by an angry mob. For three hours the mob beat and shoved Pastor Kiran and determined to bring him to a public place and break his arms and legs with an iron rod. Thankfully God intervened and the pastor was rescued. He has continued his ministry while suffering from the beatings. The incident has raised fear within the believers in this area of further attacks.

    On July 21st Fr. Thomas P.T. was arrested and charged with forced conversions in violation of the state’s Freedom of Religion law. Hindu activists from the RSS party pressed charges against Fr. Thomas accusing him of raising fees at the Catholic school while discounting tuition for those who would convert to Christianity. According to the diocese which Fr. Thomas belongs, “Father Thomas’s arrest is part of a conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar (an umbrella group, a ‘family’ of organizations and parties to which the RSS belongs). In the RSS’s agenda, there is a campaign to foment anti-Christian hatred among Hindus and cause social unrest as a means to increase its popular appeal and slander the Church and its missionaries”.

    The tactics are clear and the daily persecutions expose the concentrated effort of radical groups to stop the message of the Gospel. These incidents outlined only touch the surface of the growing number of reported persecutions. False accusations and a growing offensive by the radical groups place India on persecution watch.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray against this campaign of deceit. Pray for confusion to disrupt the plans of these radical groups, and freedom of religion to be honored.
  • Pray for Christians who have suffered from the violence used against them. Pray for healing in their bodies and renewal of their spirits. Pray Jesus would comfort and protect.
  • Pray for Pastor Kiran and Fr. Thomas. Both men are victims of the anti-Christian attacks and deserve our intercession.
  • Pray for the government of India to act with wisdom and justice as their creed. Pray for the local authorities to promote fairness without prejudice. Pray for the people of God to dwell in peace.
  • 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 Asiya Zasedatelevaya from Turkmenistan. During a prayer meeting and Bible Study in her home recently, police disrupted the meeting, confiscated Christian literature and beat her with her Bible in front of her 4 year old daughter.
  • Pray for the nation of Belarus. Vague religious laws continue to prevent the Evangelical Christians from gaining registration and allow police to break up small prayer groups and meetings.
  • Angry fanatical mobs have attacked seminary housing in Pulo village, Makasar district, east Jakarta Indonesia. The two attacks have caused $10,000 in damage and displaced the students. Pray for their protection.
  • Pray for “Stephen” and other missionaries in Ethiopia. The identity of “Stephen” who ministered among Muslims was recently discovered. He was dragged from his home and beaten by an angry mob. His home was torched and he was beaten by police in detention.
  • Pray for Christians in Sri Lanka facing increased attacks targeted at church destruction. Two recent attacks left two building damaged and some church members were beaten.
  • Pray for Father Gérard Jean-Juste who was arrested once again in Haiti. A tireless advocate for the poor and needy Father Girard has repeatedly been harassed for his work.