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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (11-Sep-2005)
"(The European Parliament is) deeply concerned at the increase in arbitrary arrests, torture, unexplained disappearances, penal servitude, isolation and re-education camps endured by Christian clergy and lay people."
Table of Contents
India
Prayer Meeting Attacked; Churches Monitored; Church Ransacked
29th August (Compass Direct):
‘They were beaten up as if they were not human beings but animals. It was difficult for me to look at them, as (Jagdish Nayak) was still bleeding profusely’.

A prayer meeting in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, was attacked on 21st August, leaving 10 people, including women and a 2-year-old child, injured. The Hindu nationalist RSS is believed to have been behind the attack in which a group of 50 people threw stones at the prayer centre, destroyed equipment there, tore apart Bibles and savagely beat those who had been praying. The leaders of the prayer meeting Jagdish and Grace Nayak were already facing trial on charges of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. The attackers seem to have targeted the Nayak’s prayer meeting for both this reason and that Grace herself is a convert from Hinduism.

Although Jagdish and Grace named three of their attackers, they are still at large. The police deny that the RSS was involved and seem to be taking the attackers’ counter complaint – that the Nayaks were forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity – more seriously.

30th August (World Net Daily): An Assemblies of God church in Lakshmipuram, Bangalore, was vandalised in an attempt to stir up tension during a weeklong Christian festival in the city. The church’s leader Pastor Benny had appealed to the police for protection, but those appeals were ignored. Although no one was hurt during the daylight attack, a Bible was desecrated and the worship centre was ‘destroyed’.

31st August (Outlook India): Churches in Jaipur, Rajasthan State, face even stricter monitoring, according to the state’s Social Welfare Minister Madan Dilawar. Dilawar, a hard-line Hindu nationalist, claims that Indian Christians are engaged in proselytism and Hindus are ‘facing the brunt’. When reminded that his VHP party was forcibly converting people to Hinduism in the Ajmer district of Jaipur, Dilawar claimed it wasn’t religious conversion but ‘a return of the people to their original religion’.

6th September (AsiaNews.it) The funeral of Mgr Matthew Nellickal will be held on Thursday 8 September. The vicar-general of Tejpur diocese in the state of Assam in northeast India was murdered on the night of Friday 2 September in the bishop’s house. Fr Lois, secretary of the bishop of Tejpur, said the priest was found the following day in the store room next door to his bedroom, with deep cuts to the head. Local church representatives denounced the murder as part of an escalating spiral of anti-Christian violence sweeping across India in recent months.
Prayer Points
  • Praise God that he is everywhere and never once neglects his children. Thank Him that these people, sharing in his suffering, will also share in his glory.
  • Pray for all those injured in the prayer meeting attack. Ask God to heal their injuries. Ask God to grant Jagdish and Grace, justice and then humble their persecutors.
  • May the lie of ‘forced conversion’ by Christians and the hypocrisy of the Hindu nationalists be exposed. Ask God to obstruct groups such as the RSS and VHP in their campaigns of persecution.
  • Pray for the church in Bangalore. Ask that it can find the funds to repair the damage and continue to meet. Ask God to grant the church confidence to meet in spite of fear. May the wider church in India continue to flourish.
  • Vietnam
    Government Closes Evangelical Church; Nguyen Hong Quang Freed
    30th August (BosNewsLife): The Vietnamese government has closed a popular international church in Ho Chi Min City; just two weeks after the Communist administration had defended its religious rights record. The 500 member New Life Fellowship had been meeting in the city’s Plaza Hotel for 8 months, and has been closed on the grounds of operating without a permit. The church, led by Pastor Eric Dooley, had repeatedly applied for such a permit but seen its applications rejected. New Life was finally forced to close on 28th August.

    The Vietnamese government says it allows religious worship, including Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, but insists they operate through officially sanctioned institutions.

    31st August (Open Doors USA): The Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang was freed from prison on the 30th August, as part of a government amnesty to celebrate Vietnam’s National Day on 2nd September. Rev. Quang was arrested in June 2004 for supposedly resisting officers in their duty, and he was imprisoned despite repeatedly denying the charges.

    He stayed in five different prisons during that time, during which he was abused by his fellow prisoners (who were apparently rewarded for doing so by the authorities), his health deteriorated after being forced to do hard labour, his Bible was confiscated and he was once disciplined for sharing his faith with a fellow prisoner.

    Although we must praise God for his release, one of the five Christians arrested with him – Pham Ngoc Thach – still remains in prison. Pastor Quang’s Mennonite church still faces a struggle to register with the government, and the Quang family’s house was destroyed in a dispute over a building permit.
    Prayer Points
  • Praise God for his might, a might that the government of Vietnam fears. Praise Him for his unstoppable Spirit and for his desire to see Vietnam redeemed.
  • Ask God to show mercy to Pastor Dooley and all the members of New Life Fellowship. May He allow them to worship elsewhere, no matter what the law may say.
  • Thank God for releasing Rev. Quang. May God provide the Quang family with somewhere to live and allow Rev. Quang’s ministry to continue. Lift up Pham Ngoc Thach to the Lord and pray for his release. Pray for all the prisoners who witnessed Christ in these men.
  • Ask God to humble Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and his Communist administration, lead them to repentance and salvation.
  • Burma
    Government Closes Popular Church
    (The Irrawaddy) The Full Gospel Assembly, a rapidly growing church in downtown Rangoon, has been ordered by Burma’s military government to cease all activities, according to Christian sources in the capital. The church operates several programs in Rangoon, including Bible training courses, women’s and youth meetings, weekly worship services, and monthly fasting and prayer.

    “At present we are not allowed to do any activities—even weekly worship service,” a pastor from the church told The Irrawaddy by telephone on Friday, offering no other details and preferring to remain anonymous. Sources in the capital have said that the government has cracked down on Christian churches in recent months, closing several of them after many local residents had converted from Buddhism to Christianity.

    Christians in rural areas have reportedly experienced more restrictions on religious expression than in urban areas.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the believers who are prevented from worshipping in their home church. Pray for the ministry to continue unhindered.
  • Pray for the peace of God to guide the leadership of the church as decisions are made for meeting places.
  • Pray for the many Christians who face persecution in Burma. Pray God would move through His people to accomplish His purposes in this nation.
  • Pray for the military leadership in Burma to realize Christians are a blessing to the nation and will bring the favor of God when allowed to worship the Lord in freedom.
  • Eritrea
    Wedding Party Disrupted; Arrests Made
    (Compass Direct) Eritrean police arrested a bridal couple from the banned Hallelujah Church along with their 18 wedding guests on Sunday night, dragging them to jail because they are “Pentes” (Pentecostals), authorities said. The seven women and 13 men were attending a private wedding ceremony on September 4 in the home of the bride when Asmara police raided the house.

    Breaking into the traditional wedding tent of the groom, Mengesteab Tesfamariam, the police took him into custody along with his bride, Berekti Keshi Almaze, and their best men and bridesmaids. Jailed at Police Station No. 5 in Asmara, the 20 prisoners included two key leaders of the Hallelujah Church, Aklilu Habteab and Kashay Imbaye, as well as Zerit Gebreneguse, an evangelist in the Philadelphia Church.

    The Hallelujah Church reportedly had taken careful precautions to avoid attracting the attention of local officials, who in recent months have escalated their raids on weddings conducted by Protestant congregations that have been closed. Sunday’s ceremony was conducted in a private home, with only a few close friends invited and none of the usual singing or other noticeable Christian activities. But somehow police learned about the wedding, arriving just as the ceremony was beginning. So far relatives and friends of the jailed guests have not been allowed access to the prisoners.

    A total of 17 Protestant pastors are now jailed in Eritrea, where worshippers from any Christian community outside the government-recognized Orthodox, Catholic or Lutheran churches have been subject to arrest since May 2002. At least 1,000 evangelical church members are known to be in custody in prisons, police stations and military confinement camps across Eritrea for refusing, after arrest, to sign documents recanting their faith. Many are held in solitary confinement and subjected to regular beatings and more severe forms of torture.
    Prayer Points
  • Many Christians are suffering for their faith in Eritrea right now. Pray for those who languish in prison often in conditions unfit for human beings.
  • Pray for those arrested recently. Pray that God would keep them in His protection and meet their every need.
  • Pray for the government of Eritrea to stop the persecution and acknowledge the rights of individuals to freely worship without fear of oppression.
  • Pray for wisdom from above to guide Eritrean Christians in the midst of persecution. Pray for the plans meant to cause harm to fall into confusion and persecutors to have their blinded eyes opened.
  • Kazakhstan
    Christians Face Fines for Worship
    (Forum 18) In Taraz in southern Kazakhstan, Baptist pastor Pyotr Panafidin refuses to register his church on principle – now a punishable offence in the wake of July amendments to the religion law - and on 2 September he was fined more than three months' average wages. Trying in vain to register his Protestant church in the Caspian port of Atyrau is Pastor Rustam Kairulin. The application was rejected for the sixth time in July. "Every time, officials find some fault in our documents," he told Forum 18 News Service. "But I think these are just quibbles – in fact, the authorities don't want Christianity to become widespread in the region." On 6 August officials raided a Protestant church in nearby Gulsary which has been refused registration four times and ordered church members to write statements on why they were attending an unregistered religious community.

    Pressure continues on Protestants in Atyrau [Atyraü] region of north-western Kazakhstan as the authorities find pretexts to refuse religious communities registration, Aleksandr Klyushev, head of the Association of Religious Organisations of Kazakhstan (AROK), complained to Forum 18 News Service from the capital Astana on 6 September. At least two local Protestant churches have been arbitrarily denied registration, a serious concern now that unregistered religious activity in Kazakhstan has been made illegal and punishable. Meanwhile, in Taraz in Kazakhstan's southern Zhambyl region close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, a Baptist pastor was fined on 2 September more than three months' average wages for leading a church that refuses state registration.

    Rustam Kairulin, pastor of the Protestant Sonbakyn church in the Caspian Sea port of Atyrau, said he had tried to register his community with the Atyrau regional justice administration six times without success. "We were last refused registration in July this year," he told Forum 18 from Atyrau on 6 September. "Every time, officials find some fault in our documents. But I think these are just quibbles – in fact, the authorities don't want Christianity to become widespread in the region."
    Prayer Points
  • Pray over the situations occurring in Kazakhstan. Pray for Jesus to guide Christian leadership in responding to the threats of fines and in leading their congregations through government obstacles.
  • Pray for provision of the funds to pay the fines levied on the pastors. Pray God would show His provision in ways that would be a testimony to His greatness.
  • Pray for government officials as they place roadblocks to registration by the churches. Pray they would honor the efforts by these churches to abide by the law.
  • Pray the international community would protest this harassment of Christians. Pray for justice and truth to be exposed in the hearts of those who would persecute the people of God.
  • China
    More Arrested; Pressure Applied to Cease Persecution
    (Phayul.com) The European Parliament urged China on Thursday to stop persecuting Christian clergy and lay people, spotlighting Beijing's poor human rights record despite their closer economic ties. "(The European Parliament is) deeply concerned at the increase in arbitrary arrests, torture, unexplained disappearances, penal servitude, isolation and re-education camps endured by Christian clergy and lay people," it said.

    The resolution, voted by 78 votes to five with one abstention, asked Beijing to supply information about missing and jailed Catholic clergy, listing the names. "Recently ... due to international pressure, the Chinese government has put into effect new regulations in religious affairs but it is already abundantly evident that these changes do not go far enough," Cypriot Liberal deputy Marios Matsakis said.

    According to a press release from the Cardinal Kung Foundation, Underground Roman Catholic priest Father Pang Yongxing and a recently graduated underground seminarian Mr. Ma Yongjiang were arrested at approximately 3 PM on Friday, September 2, 2005, by the Security Bureau of Qing Yuan Xian (county), Hebei. Seven or eight police vans were mobilized for this arrest.

    The 32 year old priest, Father Pang, was born in Pang Qu Village of Qing Yuan County, Hebei. Cardinal Kung Foundation reported on July 26, 2002 for Fr. Pang’s last arrest in 2001 when he was sent to a labor camp for three years. Since his release one year ago, he has been working in an underground church in Qing Yuan County which has approximately 800 underground Catholics.

    Mr. Ma recently graduated from an underground seminary and has been assisting in Father Pang’s parish.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for Father Pang and Ma Yongjiang as they remain in detention. Pray the Grace of God would cause them to remain steadfast in the faith. Pray their captivity would be used to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for the members of the parish who have lost their leader by his arrest. Pray for others to rise up in wisdom and understanding and continue the ministry of Father Pang.
  • Thank the Lord that governments of principle that have protested the persecution of Christians. Pray the pressure would bear fruit for those who risk their live for the Gospel.
  • Pray for the nation of China. The changes within China have opened some areas to freedom of worship while keeping other areas under repression. Pray for the underground believers to continue to grow into maturity despite the challenges they face daily.
  • 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
  • Remember the ten Christian families in Suoi Rut hamlet, Doi Sau village, Quang Ngai province, Vietnam who had their houses torched because they refused to deny their faith in Jesus.
  • Pray for the Christians in ethnic Huichol in Agua Fria, Jalisco state, western Mexico who were recently chased from their homes by villagers because they are Christians.
  • Pray for Christians in Indonesia who face the threat of attacks at work and where they meet to worship. Militants have forced the closure of house churches with cooperation of police authorities.
  • Pray for Christians associated with the New Life Charismatic church in Minsk, Belarus. They have long undergone battles to keep their church operating while authorities threaten to confiscate their land.
  • Pray for Montagnard Christians being repatriated to Vietnam from Cambodia. Many have suffered persecution upon returning to their villages. God help us to pray continually over this situation.
  • Christians in the West Bank of Israel were subjected to a fierce attack on their village by Muslim Fundamentalists on September 3rd. Many houses and vehicles were torched in the attack.