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Weekly Edition (09-Oct-2005)
“The statistics compiled reveal that since China’s reform and opening up, among the estimated 60 to over 100 million house church Christians, at least 2.7 million people have been arbitrarily arrested (i.e. one in every 22 people), 440,000 have been sentenced to reform through labour, 750 have been officially listed as wanted, 200,000 have gone missing or been forced to flee their homes, over 10,000 have died due to physical persecution, over 20,000 have been left handicapped as a result of torture, 130,000 have had their homes under surveillance, 1.12 million have been fined extortionately (the smallest fine was 50 cents, the largest over 800,000 Yuan equal to ~$100,000).” - Li Shixiong of the Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in China
Table of Contents
The Church Continues to Suffer
According to a report from AsiaNews the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCCP) is attempting to reassert control over the official Catholic Church which is considered too close to the Vatican. CCPA General Secretary Liu Bainian is reportedly holding meetings with bishops and reminding them of the mandatory allegiance to China and not to the Vatican. Part of this campaign was the decision to bar four bishops from travelling to Rome for the current Synod.

In China the Catholic Church is active on two fronts. Those affiliated with the government sanctioned CCCP and a vast network of underground churches. The persecution of the underground Catholic Church is well documented by the Cardinal Kung Foundation. A visit to their website at www.cardinalkungfoundation.org will inform you of the conditions of both groups.

The underground evangelical church in China suffered another arrest in a report by China Aid Association (CAA). According to the report, Mr. Ma Shulei, a full time house church evangelist, was arrested in Mianchi County, Sanmenxia City, Henan Province, along with his 58-year-old father, Mr. Ma Yinzhou, who is a house church pastor. September 26, 2005, Mr. Ma Shulei returned home from Yunnan Province to visit his father. Someone immediately reported this information to the police. When the police arrived, Mr. Ma Shulei was not at home. Therefore, the police arrested his father Pastor Ma Yinzhou, and forced him to reveal his son’s whereabouts. To save his father, Mr. Ma Shulei turned himself in October 2. However, his father was not released and both are now in police custody.

These recent actions illuminate and further evidence a campaign to crackdown on Christians inside China. The government is regressing to the days of Chairman Mao seeking to control Christianity out of fear. The CCP is fearful of the rapid growth of the underground church and fears the devotion of Christians to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and not submit to the State as god.

Finally, the following update on Chinese Christian businessman was received by Christian Monitor from China Aid, “As you may have received our 9-30-05 press release, I just got another piece of information from a reliable source that Mr. Tong who is still in ER in the hospital were visited this morning by the agents from State Security demanding him to write a false affidavit stating he was not beaten by the security agents", furthermore the security agents made the business registration bureau official came to the hospital making a threat to shut down his business in Xinjiang if he refused to comply. Mr. Tong and his wife already refused to make false testimony since he was indeed beaten and wounded. The security agent went to the hospital with a copy of CAA press release downloaded from an overseas Chinese news web called www.BoXun.com and told Mr.Tong and his wife they will hunt down any individual who leaked the information.”
Prayer Points
  • Pray for Christian brothers and sisters in China to act with abundant wisdom from God as the government continues to tighten the grip on the Catholic Church. Pray for God to protect those who serve Him and keep them safe.
  • Pray for evangelist Ma Shulei and his father Pastor Ma Yinzhou while in detention. Pray God would use these two men to impact the lives of those around them and remain strong in His power. Pray for their protection and provision. Pray for repentant hearts in the police officials and a speedy release for both.
  • Pray for Mr. Tong and his family. Pray Mr. Tong would recover from his injuries and be relived of pressure from authorities to sign an affidavit stating he was not beaten. Pray for protection of his business and freedom to continue his life in Christ.
  • Pray for the underground and official church in China. Pray for continued growth not only in numbers but in maturity. Pray for the workers to find strength in the Holy Spirit to carry out the work of the Gospel. Pray for protection from hostile groups with strength to endure should tortures befall them. Pray for the favour of God to continue resting on His children in China.
  • Eritrea
    New Government Crackdown against Evangelicals
    (Release Eritrea!) Asmara – Eritrea’s evangelical Christians have grown to expect persecution for their faith, but the latest government action against them is reported to be the worst so far. Since the beginning of this week (3rd October), Eritrean security forces in the capital city of Asmara have detained more than 200 and the whereabouts of hundreds more are unknown. People were seized from the streets, workplaces and their homes for being evangelicals and members of minority churches. The government of President Issayas Aferwerki considers all denominations other than Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran to be illegal.

    One of the victims of this latest crackdown is the development (emergency aid and feeding) project run by Kakhiwet Church. Security forces closed down the project and detained its entire staff. Please remember the project’s general secretary Mr. Ukbay, his administrator Mr. Ghebre Michael, Pastors Simon, Teklit and Mr. Berhane in your prayers. The report of those detained provides part of the prayer needs; many of the detained were forced to abandon wives and children, who have now become easy targets for persecution as well.

    One item of news concerning Eritrea should cause minor encouragement. Last week Eritrea was one of the first nations to have sanctions applied under the United States religious freedom law. The US State department notified Congress that the Secretary of State had banned commercial export of certain defence articles to Eritrea. Join us in praying this type of action would precede a significant and meaningful worldwide response to those who persecute our brothers and sisters.
    Prayer Points
  • Praise God that no amount of crackdowns, persecution and evil can stop his kingdom coming to Eritrea! May He breathe fresh confidence and faith into the Eritrean church, so it grows and spreads wherever it meets.
  • Pray that God humbles President Aferwerki, his government and security services in a mighty way. May God in his mercy bring them to their knees and face to face with the evil they are committing.
  • Pray for all our brothers and sisters who were recently detained, as well as for those who have been in prison for longer. May those prisons and detention centres be sites of revivals that no power can stop. Ask God to strengthen the prisoners’ faith and increase their love for Him. May God release them according to His perfect will and plan.
  • Pray for all the families of those detained; ask God to protect them and provide their material needs. Ask that the Kakhiwet Church be able to resume its humanitarian works as soon as possible.
  • Indonesia
    Forced Church Closures; Update on Prisoners
    An alarming trend supported with factual evidence is occurring in Indonesia. According to a recent fact finding mission conducted by Christian Freedom International (CFI), “religious persecution targeting minority Christians in Indonesia, particularly in West Java, is both systemic and systematic.” At least thirty five Christian churches have been closed in the past twelve months by radical Islamic groups, often with the support of local authorities.

    According to CFI President Jim Jacobson, “AGAP (Aliansi Gerakan Ant Pemurtadan which translated into English means Anti-Apostasy Alliance Movement) has a mission to close churches and basically eradicate Christianity in Indonesia. They use fear, intimidation, threats, and obscure government regulations, in cooperation with local officials, to accomplish their goal.”

    The Indonesian government has been on record as having condemned the attacks while little has been accomplished in preventing the same. Christian schools have been targeted and prosecution utilizing obscure anti-conversion laws has resulted in the innocent suffering harsh imprisonment and fines.

    One such case involved three Christian women who taught a thriving Sunday school program that allowed Muslim children to attend with parental permission. A local Muslim group pressed charges of “attempting to coerce children to change their religion” of which they were convicted and sentenced to three year prison terms. CFI recently visited the women in jail and Rebecca told CFI president Jim Jacobson, “I want people to know about our situation. I want prayer support. I was surprised so happily that American Christians were so interested in our case. Please pray for us.”

    For more information documenting the church closures, visit www.christianfreedom.org and view the fact finding report.
    Prayer Points
  • Pray for Christians living under threats in Indonesia. Pray God would hear their cry and attend to their need. Pray for His protection and mercy to keep them from harm.
  • Pray for continued wisdom by the church leaders as they are forced to close their churches. Pray they would act with much prayer consider their flocks. Pray for the ability to move underground should pressures continue to fall on them.
  • Pray the government of Indonesia would do more than acknowledge the problem but move with action to stop the senseless brutality. Pray for justice to be served and truth to be honoured.
  • Pray for the three sisters serving out their sentences. Life in the prison is very rough and demanding. Yet the light of the Gospel is shining as one sister has been allowed to hold church on Sunday. Pray their testimony would lead many to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray for their release and acquittal of all charges.
  • 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
  • Praise the Lord for the reversal of the United States in granting asylum to Mr. Li Xiaodong. Mr. Li sought asylum fearful of the persecution he would face if returned to China for his participation as a member of the house church movement. Thank Him for all who prayed and took action for him.
  • Continue to pray for Christians in India. Constant threats and attacks beset the church as radicals seek to eliminate Christianity. The deception that Christians entice others to convert is being used as a new mantra in attempts to persecute the faithful of God.
  • Pray for Christians in San Nicolas, Hidalgo state of Mexico. Recent reports highlight the persecution of evangelical Christians culminating in threats of expulsion from their homes by town leaders. False accusations cover up hostilities that have been brewing for the last 14 years.
  • Pray for Christians in Romania who are alarmed by a proposed religion law segregating the church into three groups. The rights and freedoms of these groups vary based on their membership. Pray God would remember the persecution under the communist leadership behind the Iron Curtain. Pray for freedom to be valued by all.
    Prayer and Update on Turkish Christian
    Middle East Concern
    Our most recent prayer request for Yakup in Turkey was issued on 20th September. Recall that he was badly beaten by three assailants in October 2003 whilst giving out New Testaments in his home town. The beating resulted in a blood clot in his brain that caused serious injuries including loss of speech and use of some limbs. He has been slowly recovering since - Praise the Lord - but does not have full use of his right arm or complete emotional stability.

    Recall that a hearing was scheduled for 6th October in the case against his attackers. We regret to report that the hearing was postponed until 15th December because the further medical tests requested at the previous hearing in July have not been carried out.

    One other item to report is that Yakup has returned to living with his parents. Recall that he left home before the July hearing and was believed to be living on the streets in Istanbul.
    Our prayer...
    Therefore, let us continue to join with Turkish Christians in asking God that:

  • Yakup would be healed of his remaining injuries, both physical and mental/emotional
  • His pastor and Christian friends would be granted wisdom and perseverance in their support of him
  • The attackers would be convicted of assault and ordered to pay compensation
  • The truth of Jesus would be made known to many through events surrounding Yakup.