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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (28-Aug-2005)
"...I was in prison and you came to visit me..." Persecuted Christians, he says, have already found their freedom in Christ. "They just want us to remember them...Is that too much to ask?" - Jim Jacobson of Christian Freedom International
Table of Contents
Burma
Prayers and Bibles Needed
(BosNewsLife) Stefan Bos recently toured Southeast Asia and wrote ‘Praising Christ between Mud and Misery’ highlighting the plight of Karen Christians. “Crossing quick sand and a river brown from mud and sewage is the only way for visitors and anxious reporters to enter the area of Burma's Christian Karen people. Out of view from Thai border patrols, a Karen man leads us to Thue Mwe Nee, one of several villages now surrounded by landmines in a bit to delay the advance of government forces.

They are not able to openly plant rice fields; an important source for food in Burma, a country the military junta calls Myanmar. However despite being hungry and soaking wet this rainy season, children find reasons to sing about Christ. Some revival songs were exported by missionaries visiting their settlements, others are of their own.

Outsiders are mistaken in believing that aid, money, and food are priorities on their wish list. Their requests are humble and, by Western standards, cheap. "Prayers and Bible's is what we need," locals say here. They are involved in what they call a "spiritual battle" against the Communist government. In recent months, at least dozens of Christian villagers have been rounded up and tortured by Special Forces, BosNewsLife learned.”
Prayer Points
  • Pray for the Christian Karen people in Burma. Pray for their welfare while enduring threats from government forces. Pray for those who remain despite the dangers. Pray for those who have fled to other countries for safety.
  • Pray for the children who sing to the Lord in spite of their living conditions and the fear they have experienced. Pray the joy of the Lord would remain alive in them and God to meet their every need.
  • Pray over the nation of Burma as the ‘spiritual warfare’ continues. Partner with the Karen Christians as they battle principalities of the darkness. Together we can help them in this battle.
  • Pray for those who are in prison and suffering through tortures. Pray God would protect and sustain them. Pray for merciful treatment and a sure witness to God’s glory.
  • Indonesia
    Police Back Church Closures
    (adnkronosinternational) Despite laws banning people from taking the law into their own hands and recognizing freedom of religion in Indonesia, police in West Java have admitted to helping Muslim hard-liners close dozens of churches in Bandung. They have backed the closure of more than 30 "illegal" churches in the city which had caused "anxiety" to local residents, according to West Java Police spokesman Muryan Faisal. Roman Catholics make up the three percent Christian minority in Indonesia's overwhelmingly Muslim population.

    The churches, which had been established illegally in private houses, and were opposed by local people, mostly Muslims, Faisal claimed. "Our investigation showed that they were not churches but private houses that were made into places of worship without permits from local authorities and approval of residents ... So, there were violations of regulations," Muryan told The Jakarta Post in Bandung.

    Communication Forum of West Java Churches Chairman, John Simon Timorason said that 35 churches had been closed by the hard-line groups over the past year.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the churches that have been closed in Indonesia. Pray for the believers who worshipped together. Pray they would find fellowship without attracting the rage of the Muslim community.
  • Pray the police who participated in the persecution would find no rest until their consciences are cleared. Pray for repentance to overwhelm them and the forgiving power of Jesus to consume them.
  • Pray for peace in the villages. Pray for reconciliation between the groups who find themselves at odds, and leaders of principle to solve the disputes.
  • Pray for the nation of Indonesia. This nation on the verge of realizing prosperity must deal with the persecution of Christians and find ways to prevent the hostilities. Pray for God to lead them and guide them into truth and justice.
  • Eritrea
    Harsh Detention for Christians
    (Compass Direct) Three months after 250 wedding guests were arrested in the Eritrean capital for attending a Protestant Christian wedding, 129 of them remain jailed under severe conditions. Initially 70 of the arrested guests identified themselves as members of the government-approved Orthodox, Catholic or Lutheran churches, after which police officials in Asmara released them.

    Compass has confirmed that the remaining 180 wedding guests were held at Asmara’s Police Station No. 5 for six weeks. The majority belonged to either the Meserete Christos or Full Gospel churches, in addition to members of Tebadasso, a renewal group within Catholicism.

    Some of the prisoners had their Bibles confiscated and burned in front of them, and all were subjected to insults and mocking because of their faith. The male prisoners reportedly were subject to beatings.

    More than 1,000 of their church members also remain under custody in prisons, military confinement camps, police stations and metal shipping containers, accused of breaking the law by worshipping outside government-approved churches. Popular Christian singer Helen Berhane has been locked in a shipping container at the Mai-Serwa military camp since March 2004. She was arrested for her latest music tape, accused of “corrupting” Eritrean young people.

    In May 2002, the Eritrean government banned all religious groups outside the Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran and Muslim faiths. Authorities have since refused to legalize the country’s 12 independent Protestant denominations, arresting and jailing any of their 20,000 members caught praying, singing or worshipping in now illegal church buildings or even in their own homes.
    Prayer Points
  • Intercede for those who remain imprisoned in Eritrea. The conditions in which they are held are harsh and inhumane. Pray for their protection.
  • Pray for those who have been released. Pray the experience would cause them to become strong in the Lord. Pray for healing in their bodies and their minds. Pray for the grace of God to carry them through.
  • Pray for Eritrea. The crackdown continues with government approved churches feeling the persecution. Critics of the government persecution face repression and retaliation.
  • Pray God would accomplish his purposes. Many times we do not understand the future results of present afflictions but must trust in His will.
  • China
    Bibles Desperately Needed
    (Forum 18) The anachronistic official system of publishing, censorship and printing controls fails to meet Chinese Christian publishing needs, Forum 18 News Service has been told. One example of this, amongst others noted by Forum 18, is the severe restrictions on Bible publishing, which right is restricted to the state-controlled Catholic and Protestant religious associations. Despite the considerable achievement of the China Christian Council (CCC) in Bible publishing, continuing rapid church growth has resulted in an ongoing considerable shortage of Bibles and other Christian literature. This is exacerbated by CCC refusal to allow other Chinese publishers to publish Bibles, to the extent of threatening to sue rival publishers, and the astonishing ban on legal Christian bookshops outside the CCC legally selling the Bible. This situation causes both Christian and non-Christian Chinese people to use imaginative ways of bypassing the official system to distribute Christian literature, including Bibles.

    Cai Zhuohua represents the efforts to distribute Bibles in China. He is a Chinese house-church pastor who, in September 2004, was arrested for printing Bibles and Christian literature without government permission. His trial was originally scheduled to be held in June 2005, but has been postponed. According to prosecution papers obtained by his family, Cai was to be prosecuted for "illegal business management" for printing over 200,000 copies of Bibles and other Christian literature. Cai has always protested that his venture was not a business proposition but that, in response to the desperate shortage of Christian books in China, he was planning to distribute his books free.
    Prayer Points
  • The Word of God is very precious to the Chinese believers. Pray their prayers would be heard and the word would fall into their hands.
  • Pray for couriers from around the world who travel to China with Bibles. Pray they would face no obstacles in taking the Bibles through customs and meetings with contacts would go smoothly.
  • Pray for Christians in China who risk their welfare by following the commandment of Jesus to preach the Gospel. Pray the seed they sow would fall into fertile soil. Pray for the leadership of the underground church to continue training their people in the Word.
  • Pray for those in prison for their faith. Pray for Pastor Cai while imprisoned. Pray his testimony would fall on fertile soil and many would know Jesus because of him.
  • Russia
    Bizarre Campaign to Discredit Evangelical Christians
    (World Magazine) When graduate student Dima Belozyorov took a late-night study break from his Russian literature assignment and turned on the television in his Krasnodar apartment, he was aghast to see a documentary disparaging evangelicals. "The program reported the Adventist Church in Krasnodar was printing Satanic Bibles and using human blood for ink," he told WORLD. "They also alleged that the church commits a dozen ritual murders each year."

    The television program that aired in Russia's southwestern agricultural region is part of a yearlong, nationwide media campaign sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church. The pseudo-documentaries are designed to persuade the Russian people that evangelicals are crazed members of heretical "sects." According to Mr. Belozyorov, "Another episode depicted Christians as demented cult members convulsing on the floor and frothing at the mouth."

    Designed to sway public opinion against the evangelical community, the television programs are making an impact. Local officials evicted Grace Community Church, with 40 members, from a cultural center building where they had worshipped for years. Church leaders say they have been unable to rent facilities anywhere in Krasnodar for Sunday worship services since the documentaries.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the truth to be exposed. Pray those who seek to discredit Christians would be exposed too. Pray this hideous campaign would fall into confusion in Jesus name.
  • Pray for Christians in Russia who face campaigns by the “righteous” to stand firm in their faith. Pray god’s people would march forward and find strength in the midst of trials.
  • Pray for the leadership of Russia. Pray memories of the past persecution of Christianity would curtail the present harassment.
  • Pray for truth and justice to prevail in this situation. Pray the accusers would not rest until they have repented to Him whom they say they follow.
  • 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
  • Continue to pray for Christians in Vietnam. With the release of a government white paper on human rights the propaganda machine is painting a picture of freedom while underground Christians suffer persecution.
  • Pray for Christians in Saudi Arabia. Reports continue to surface of increased persecution under the new leadership of King Abdullah. We suspect the new King is flexing his muscle and charting a continuing policy of no tolerance.
  • Christian workers in Colombia continue to face danger and threats from rebel groups. Two Catholic priests were murdered two weeks ago, bringing the total number killed in August to three.
  • Pray for groups of Christian workers throughout restricted nations who continue to work with churches and church leadership. At risk of their wellbeing they continue to be an integral part of ministry in closed nations.