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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (18-Sep-2005)
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. - The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:12
Table of Contents
North Korea
Join Christians Around the World in Prayer
(Assist News) Churches and Christians around the world are being urged to remember the suffering people of North Korea during the Week of Prayer for North Korea running from 19-25 September, 2005. "The immensity of the need and the deep spiritual darkness in North Korea requires urgent and intense prayer by the Body of Christ," says Christian Solidarity Worldwide's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.

Thomas says that North Korea is probably the most closed of all societies in the world today and its walls of isolation have very effectively blocked the population from hearing the Gospel. CSW is urging all Christians to pray for North Korea during the Week of Prayer. "We know of no country in which the state repression of Christianity is so thorough and violent," says Thomas. "We therefore strongly urge the Church to fervently pray until we see the forced imposition of idolatry and the violent suppression of faith fall, and the walls of darkness and repression crumble. Now is a pivotal time to pray and we urge all Christians to take to heart the injunction in Hebrews 13.3 to 'remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
Prayer Points
We want to encourage every reader to take time throughout this week to pray for NorthKorea. Excellent prayer resources are available at: www.csw.org.uk/Countries/NorthKorea/index.htm
China
European Parliament Passes Anti-Persecution Resolution; US Denies Asylum to Persecuted Christian
(Reuters, AP, Christian Freedom International) A European Parliament motion has called on China to end its persecution of Christians, expressing deep concern at ‘the increase of arbitrary arrests, torture, unexplained disappearances, penal servitude, isolation and re-education camps endured by Christian clergy and lay people’. Initiated by the parliament’s Christian Democrat group, the motion demanded that China supply information about missing and jailed Catholic clergy, listing their names.

In a separate development, a leading European Parliament member has called on China to reconsider its travel ban on four Chinese Catholic priests and allow them to visit the Vatican. China claims the men’s poor health and old age prohibited them from travelling.

And, Li Xiao-dong, a Christian from Ningbo, China, has been denied asylum in the United States. Whilst still in China, authorities punched and kicked Li, then shocking him with electric batons, until he “confessed” to organizing “unauthorized” Christian house-church meetings. It is from this persecution that Li is escaping, although the US Board of Immigration Appeals insists that Li “feared… prosecution rather than persecution”, was being punished for his “illegal activities not his religion” and that China had a legitimate right to enforce its laws on unregistered churches. More than 60 million Christians are, like LI, members of underground churches.

This decision can be overruled only by the US Attorney General or a federal court.
Prayer Points
  • Give thanks for Li Xiao-dong and the many Chinese Christians who love Jesus more than their own lives and face persecution daily. Praise God that His kingdom is growing in China despite this persecution!
  • Ask God to move mightily amongst the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, humbling many and opening their eyes to His love. May the authorities allow the free travel of Christians outside China.
  • Ask God to continue to rise up and strengthen people in the free church to campaign and intercede for the persecuted church in China.
  • Pray that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales intervenes to grant Li Xiao-dong asylum. May asylum authorities’ worldwide wake up to the reality of persecution in China.
  • Pakistan
    Mobs Attack Christian Homes as Man Charged with Blasphemy
    (American Daily, Compass Direct) The Christian community of Chungi Amer Sidu, Lahore, urgently needs your prayers, after a recent spate of attacks by angry Muslims forced more than 100 families to flee their homes.

    The Muslims accuse a local Christian man, 27-year-old Younis Masih, of blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed. Masih – now in police custody – vehemently denies the charges, claiming that he had merely gone to an Islamic worship service in a nearby home to complain about the loud music. Reports describe him as having disrupted the service and arguing with the Imam. However, the response of the Muslim mobs and the local police has been violent in the extreme. Masih was first thrashed with sticks, and then beaten until he fell on the ground and became unconscious. His wife, having tried to defend him, was also beaten badly and many of her clothes were torn to shreds. Masih has since been ‘tortured brutally’ in prison, according to the All-Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA).

    Local police reportedly did nothing to stop the subsequent attacks on local Christian homes, and the violence even spread to the local Bait Ania church where Bibles were thrown to the ground. It also appears that certain local Christians, rather than defending Masih, aided the mobs and some even participated in his beating. The Muslim worship service took place in a home nearby. Masih faces execution if found guilty of blasphemy.
    Prayer Points
  • Praise God that all truth is to be found in Him. Ask that the truth be known in this case, and that Younis Masih be treated fairly.
  • Ask that God’s mercy prevail in this whole situation that the violence stops and local Christians feel safe enough to return to their homes. Pray for Christian unity and a true Spirit-led revival in Chungi Amer Sidu
  • May the Lord set Younis Masih free from his addiction to heroin and allow him to return to a right relationship with his Saviour. Pray for Pakistan’s more than 2 million heroin addicts, that the Lord can set them free and, in his mercy, grant them new life.
  • Pray for the Pakistani police and government. Pray that they might treat all Pakistani citizens equal, irregardless of their faith. May the police treat Christian prisoners with fairness and dignity. May God’s kingdom come to Pakistan.
  • Vietnam
    Clinging to Faith Results in Home Destruction
    (Compass Direct) Authorities in the Son Ha District of Quang Ngai Province incited a mob to burn down the home of evangelist Dinh Van Hoang on August 21 because he would not sign a paper denying his Christian faith. Local public security police chief Dinh Van Hoang and his deputy, Thai Mai Quan, came to Hoang’s home on that Sunday morning and told him that Christians were not accepted there. They warned him that he would have to give up his religious faith or face the destruction of his home.

    Hoang, as he has done previously, replied that he could not give up his faith.

    “Right after, a mob forced its way into my house, destroying a wall,” Hoang told Compass. “Once more they demanded that we give up Christianity. My wife and I answered that we would not give up the faith. So they burned our house and all our property.” The mob included war veterans, local defense forces, young people and hamlet chief Dinh Van Xoa, Hoang said. This was the third time Hoang’s home has been burned
    Prayer Points
  • Rejoice in Brother Hoang’s refusal to deny his faith. Pray for continued boldness tempered with wisdom from on high, to fill this man of God. Pray for the peace of God to keep him.
  • Pray that every need of his family would be met. Pray for God’s provision and protection as they continue in ministry.
  • Pray for the salvation of those who participated in the destruction of his home. Pray they would experience a God encounter and hear Him as the Apostle Paul did.
  • Pray for the nation of Vietnam as attempts to stop the Church are intensified. Pray for confusion to fall upon the plans and schemes to persecute those who belong to Jesus.
  • Cuba
    Religious Law Restricts House Churches
    (Forum 18) Protestant house church leaders fear that sweeping new regulations restricting religious meetings in private homes, adopted in April 2005 but which are due to be implemented this month, could severely curtail their ability to meet for worship. Services that have not been authorized are banned, while those organizing approved services must submit the names of and signed approval from all owners of the house, days and times when services are held and the number of worshippers. The full name and place of residence of the pastor and details on their theological education must be given. No more than one church of any one denomination can exist within two kilometers (1.25 miles) of each other. Foreigners cannot attend house churches in mountainous areas, and require specific permission to attend churches elsewhere. Violations will lead to the church being closed and both the leader and the foreigner being fined 1,000 US dollars.

    A government directive issued in April 2005 and due to be implemented this month has the potential to severely curtail religious freedom in Cuba by imposing complicated and repressive restrictions on religious meetings in private homes. Although the document does not specifically say that it refers to Protestant house churches – it speaks of "the holding of religious services in personal property homes" - Protestant leaders fear that the house church movement will bear the brunt of its impact. While the practical implications of the directive will only become clear over time, house church leaders fear that this heralds a new and more antagonistic chapter in their relations with Fidel Castro's government.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the extensive house church movement in Cuba. Pray that God would protect and lead them in this time of uncertainty.
  • Pray for wisdom to rule the hearts of Christian leaders as they formulate plans to continue the ministry should persecution persist. Pray for clear guidance as questions of registration arise.
  • Pray for the new laws to have minimal impact on the functions of the house churches. Pray for confusion in implementation and enforcement.
  • Pray for strength among the faithful and peace to rule their hearts and minds
  • Belarus
    Intervention Prevents Protest
    (BosNewsLife) In an unprecedented move a Belarus security chief on Thursday, September 15, offered to mediate between the government and members of an evangelical church the authorities want to close down, church leaders said. The reported promise made by General Filistovich came as members of the embattled New Life congregation in Minsk prepared to gather in front of the Minsk City Executive Council building to demand freedom of worship and to protest against a decision by city officials to confiscate their land on which the church is build. He "gave his word of an officer that he will learn our problems and will personally influence the positive resolution," New Life said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest.

    General Filistovich, who is a deputy interior minister and chief of security forces, "asked believers not to go on the street until all the means are not used in negotiations with authorities," New Life explained. "As a last opportunity the general offered personally to mediate in this negotiations which will be on Monday, September 19, at midday in his office in the building of the Ministry of Interior," the church added.

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide added, “according to a press release issued by the church, city authorities have refused to respond to requests from church leaders to meet and discuss the decision. The church, which numbers around 600 members, has notified Mayor Michael Pavlov of their plan to assemble in Minsk today.

    The Full Gospel Union Church denomination, which has around 60 churches across Belarus, has been the target of numerous government efforts to shut down its operations. This comes as part of an overall policy of religious repression in what many consider to be the country with the worst record on human rights in Europe under the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko.”
    Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord that General Filistovich intervened and pledged to mediate this situation. Pray he would maintain his integrity and honor his word.
  • Pray for the meetings to be held this Monday. Pray God would accomplish His will for the church in Belarus. Pray all would feel His presence and seek truth and justice.
  • Pray the international community would watch the proceedings and maintain a remembrance of Belarus commitments to human rights.
  • Pray for the nation of Belarus to know the truth about Jesus and understand the blessings for a nation whose God is the Lord.
  • Indonesia
    More Churches Prevented from Worship
    (ABC Asia Pacific) In Indonesia, another two Christian churches in the capital, Jakarta, were blocked by Muslim militants over the weekend, forcing 500 Christians to conduct services in the street. Muslim hardliners have closed more than 30 churches across Indonesia over the past year. Our reporter in Jakarta, Marianne Kearney, says Muslim groups have defended the forced closures, often using the threat of violence, arguing that the churches are illegal.

    Church leaders admit some communities have been forced to conduct services in houses and shops, without the proper permits, because the local Muslim communities have opposed the construction of new churches. Under Indonesian law religious groups must have permission from local communities, as well as the government, before building places of worship. Richard Daulay, the secretary general of the Indonesian Communion of Churches, says that in the majority-Muslim nation, the law is biased against Christians and other minorities.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Indonesia. Pray for their faith to strengthen in the midst of these trials. Pray for compassion to fill their hearts and wisdom to lead them.
  • Pray for the peace of God to lead all men and women of Indonesia to live at peace with one another regardless of their beliefs.
  • Pray for the members of the churches that have been closed over the past year. Pray for boldness in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus and demonstration of the love we are commanded to show for our neighbor.
  • Pray for the work of the Gospel to go forth and the plans and purposes of God to be accomplished in this nation.