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Weekly Edition (02-Oct-2005)
“The timely release of Mr. Zhang reflects the fact that the international community can be mobilized to urge the Chinese government to honor its commitment on the rule of law and international covenants. We urge the Chinese government to release all the prisoners of conscience like Mr. Zhang.” - Bob Fu of China Aid Association
Table of Contents
‘Illegal’ Minsk Church Suffers Huge Fine
28th September (Forum 18) The New Life charismatic church and its administrator Vasily Yurevich, charged two months ago with organising an illegal service, has been fined 4 million Belarusian roubles (1,895 US$), 160 times the national monthly minimum wage, by a Minsk court. In evidence presented to the court, the church was accused of holding services that ‘took place in a building not specially designed for religious events without the permission of the district administrator’. Police accused a church leader of ‘preaching on a stage… urging those present to turn to God’.

Yurevich is appealing against the fine, and has yet to pay an additional 3.6 million rouble fine issued in December 2004. Police also raided the church on 9th September before this latest fine was handed down. Court judge Natalya Kuznetsova showed a clear prejudice towards New Life in her deliberations, in her final conclusions claiming that the church was a “sect” so could “club together” to pay the fine.

The church has been worshipping in a disused cowshed that it purchased in September 2004. Belarus is Eastern Europe’s last remaining dictatorship, one in which the authorities persecute those they perceive to be a threat.
Prayer Points
  • Give thanks for this wonderful church’s passion for Jesus and the desire to meet together and worship Him. Give thanks that they are prepared to meet in a disused cowshed; such is their love for the Lord!
  • Lift Vasily Yurevich and Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko into the Lord’s hands. Ask God to strengthen them in faith that they may continue to trust him even when their church is facing such hardship. May they be able to encourage their church members in the same way.
  • Ask that God might have mercy on those who discriminate against and persecute Christians in Belarus. May He convict them of their sin and, just as He did with the Apostle Paul, turn them into disciples for His kingdom.
  • Ask God to bring an end to this evil and corrupt dictatorship in Belarus. Pray for President Alexander Lukashenko to be saved. Pray for spiritual freedom to come to Belarus.
  • China
    Praise Report and Continued Persecution
    (CM) This past week events provide further evidence of a continued campaign to persecute the underground church movement in China. The Beijing government is set on exerting its authority and control over a large number of Christians, resulting in beatings, tortures and imprisonment for the victims of the campaign

    Xinjiang Province in northwest China produced the latest example of how far Beijing will go. 45 year old Christian businessman Tong Qimiao was picked up by security police and beaten after telling his interrogators he did not have the information they requested. In the report obtained by Christian Monitor, China Aid Association stated Tong’s relationship with evangelist and friend Wang Xinrong resulted in his detention. After the beating police dropped Tong on the sidewalk and told him to hurry home. Unable to walk, Tong was able to contact his wife who took him to a nearby hospital. He is currently being treated in the Second People’s Hospital of Kashgar with a broken chest bone.

    Hebei Province is targeting the unofficial Catholic Church in a crackdown aimed at subduing the independence of the underground church and forcing registration with Religious Affairs and the Patriotic Association. According to one believer quoted in AsiaNews, "It seems we have gone back to the times of the Cultural Revolution, with intransigence and persecution”. We must hold these brother and sisters in prayer as they face sure reprisal for failing to submit to the wishes of Beijing.

    We are thankful for the release of Zhang Yinan following completion of his two year sentence at hard labour. Zhang was arresting in October of 2003 for subverting the Chinese government and socialist order. His personal prayer journal was used as evidence to convict this writer and underground church historian. Following his release, according to China Aid Association, Zhang was brought to the police department and refused his ID card restricting his ability to travel.

    In another attempt to regulate Christianity in China, Beijing announced new rules aimed at tightening controls over news posted on the internet in order to “protect the interests of the state”. News criticising the state's religious policies or preaching cultist or superstitious beliefs are banned. The announcement did not however, give any date as to when the rules would come into effect in the report released by AsiaNews.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for brother Tong as he recovers from his injuries sustained in the beatings administered by the PSB. Pray for his spirit to grow stronger through this incident and his faith to increase. Pray he would trust in his Savior.
  • Pray for the family of brother Tong. Pray they would find provision from the hand of God and His peace in the circumstances. Pray they would continue in their faith and touch the lives of many.
  • Pray for the Christians in Hebei Province. Pray God would keep them safe under His wing and protect them with His strong right hand. Pray the attempts by the government to control the work of God would fall into confusion and discord.
  • Praise God for the release of Zhang Yinan. Pray his re-entry into society would be accomplished without incident. Pray God would supply the needs of his family and protect his ministry.
  • India
    More Christians Charged With ‘Forced Conversion’
    20th - 28th September (Compass Direct) Durg, Chattisgarh – A pastor and eight of his church members appeared in court on 26th September, charged with attempting to convert Hindus by offering them money. The accused all deny the charges, and refused the judge’s offer to drop the case if they stopped their activities. Thus, the case has been postponed for a fourth hearing on 28th November. The eight were originally arrested in June for disturbing the peace, after a mob of 200 Hindu extremists accused them of false conversion. They are Pastor Jaichand Dongre, Ishwar Lal Chevat, and Meena, Sadhna, Uma, Radha, Champa, Gumpa and Sojo Bai. Their church members have since been threatened and ordered to close their church. Also in need of your prayers are Vijay and Salen Nikury, a brother and sister from Sarguya district accused of forced conversion.

    Rohtas, Bihar – Prayer is needed for the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society (GEMS) compound, where an attack by Hindu extremists on 25th September left four men injured and the entire community shaken. This is not the first time the Christian compound has been attacked, but on this occasion a group of 16 attackers brutally beat the staff and stole their belongings. The most serious of the injuries was Kirupakaram Shankar, whose spinal cord was injured, He has now lost movement in one leg. The compound houses 100 families and a total of 900 children.

    Karnatka – The Hindu fundamentalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has accused Christian-run children’s homes and orphanages of ‘misusing’ orphan children and engaging in ‘child trafficking’. VHP All India Secretary Mohan Joshi initiated these claims, which have shaken up many local missionaries working with children.

    Madhya Pradesh - Rejoice! Hindu politicians have blamed Christian missionaries and government laxity for the “huge” number of Hindus converting to Christianity in the past ten years. The state’s Christian population grew by 80% between 1991 and 2000.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for the eight Christians who go to trial on November 28th. Pray the hearing would be conducted with truth and justice. Pray God would cause His will to be accomplished.
  • Pray for the four men injured in the attack on the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society. Pray for the return of stolen property and for the attackers to be brought to justice. Pray God would heal Brother Shankar’s leg and the damage done to his spinal cord.
  • Pray for missionaries in Karnataka who have been accused of ‘child trafficking’. Pray God would defend them and would shield missionaries from persecution. Pray for the orphans of Karnataka who fall under the care of the Christians.
  • Pray for the nation of India to reconcile the disputes between Muslims, Hindus, and Christians. Pray for wisdom in dealing with injustices and for truth to be upheld by all.
  • Vietnam
    Persecution and the Release of Rev. Than Van Truong
    (CM) In the drama of the Christian Vietnamese Montagnards, followed closely by Christian Monitor, we are thankful the United Nations has decided to escort and monitor the repatriation of six Montagnards from Cambodia. Many Montagnards had fled persecution for religious faith and confiscation of ancestral lands. Finding refuge in Cambodia and protection by the UN, these refugees were subjected to return by Cambodian officials. Many reports of abuse and intimidation upon return to Vietnam were left unchecked by UN officials. We welcome this intervention and pray the Christian Montagnards will truly find peace.

    In another praise report Rev. Than Van Truong was released from his one year incarceration in a mental hospital. Originally arrested in 2003 for sending Bibles to top government officials, Rev. Than was imprisoned for nine months without charges. Unable to charge and convict him he was sent to a prison mental hospital and given heavy drug injections. His situation was discovered by visitors to Le Thi Hong Lien (part of the Mennonite six) and his release was credited to international pressures and prayers for his release.

    Vietnam remains an oppressor of unregistered religious activity. Nina Shea of Freedom House stated to the US Religious Freedom Commission, “Over the last 15 years the government has allowed what she termed a "zone of toleration" for approved religious practice. However, she observed, at the same time, it has actively repressed, and targeted as subversive, religious activity it cannot control or that which refuses government oversight. Religious prisoners remain behind bars, churches remain closed, and restrictions and harassment on all of Vietnam's diverse religious communities continue," Shea told the congressional committee.

    She said that there are an estimated 100 religious prisoners in jail or under some form of house arrest for religious activity. In addition, hundreds of churches, home worship centers, and meeting places remain closed. And regarding the Catholic Church she noted that the government continues to impose limits on the number of seminarians, as well as controlling appointment and promotion of clergy.
    Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord the UN will monitor the repatriation of the Christian Montagnards. Thank Him for those who intervened and have prayed for these precious people. Pray they would truly find freedom in Jesus.
  • Praise God for the release of Rev. Than. We rejoice in his ability to return home and be surrounded by his family. Pray there would be no long term effects from the drugs administered to him.
  • Pray for the return of Rev. Than to the ministry God called him to conduct. Pray local officials would not interfere with his ministry and that many would be touched by this man of God. Pray for wisdom for Rev. Than in conducting his ministry and protection from further persecution.
  • Pray for the nation of Vietnam. Pray for a true desire to allow the people of God to worship freely and to fellowship with one another. Pray for the church to continue to grow in spite of threats of persecution and attempts to control the Spirit.
  • 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 Christians in the Orthodox section of Karsu, Turkey who suffered attacks and injuries by a Muslim mob. The attacks originated with the provocation of two Christian young men through insults directed at Christian women.
  • Pray for Archbishop Jovan of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Macedonia. Recently sentenced to an additional 2 years imprisonment, the Bishop now faces an additional trial that began on September 29th.
  • Pray for the school in Cikampek, Indonesia that is under construction by a Christian foundation. Hundreds of Muslims marched on the school and have threatened to destroy the building once completed.
  • Pray for Pakistani Ribqa Masih who was kidnapped and raped recently. She was threatened with death if she did not convert from Christianity to Islam. She courageously has testified in court and faces further threats. Pray for her family as they face threats as well.
  • Pray for Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Mozdok in Russia's North Caucasus. The church is facing confiscation of a prayer house due to obscure building regulations and denial of the ability to bring the building up to local standards.