Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Who Will Put An End To The Christian Killing Fields?


”Please, the world needs to know: We are captives, we don’t have water or electricity here in Aleppo but it is nothing compared to the fear we have toward the Islamists. Why is no one doing anything to save us?”
A young Assyrian Christian woman in Aleppo, Syria, spoke these words to me during a phone call a few days ago. She is stuck in the country with her three small children.
In wake of the ISIS invasion of Iraq, reports (long overdue) are emerging about the persecution of Christians and other minorities in the country. Yet ISIS is committing the same atrocities against non-Muslims in Syria, too.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has been emptied of almost all Christians. Ten days ago, ISIS – who now call themselves the Islamic State (IS) – distributed fliers to Christians that read: “Convert, Pay Jizya, Leave or Die.”
The Christians fled in droves before the Saturday deadline for their decision.
The scant few who remained were weak, old or injured and could not flee. A man who lost his leg in a bombing a couple of days prior to the deadline was forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint, according to his relatives.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, also has been nearly emptied of Assyrians, Armenians and other non-Muslims.

These are the words spoken to me by the father of the three children stuck with their mother in another phone call: "It’s happening right in front of their eyes and no one is lifting a finger to stop it. Please be our voice, we beg you -- make them do something to save us from being slaughtered(Keep reading for more).”

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sudan Refuses Pastor’s Appeal, Demolishes Church of Christ in North Khartoum

Our brethren need our prayers here.

A 600-Congregant Church in North Khartoum has been Demolished and Several Members Injured by Sudanese Authorities

06/30/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Church of Christ in Bahri (north Khartoum) was demolished this morning by Sudanese authorities. Authorities ignored an appeal by the church's pastor, which plead for the demolition to be stayed until after the rainy season. Meanwhile, a neighboring mosque remains untouched.

According to ICC sources, the Church of Christ in Bahri, Sudan’s third-largest city, was highly attended and “one of [the] big local churches in the area.” The reason provided for the church’s demolition is that “it was built on [a] square that belongs to [the] government for public services.” For 20 years, the church had peacefully shared space on that square with its counterpart, the Bahri Mosque, which, after the Church’s state-sanctioned demolition this morning, remains unharmed.
In an email to ICC this morning, a Church of Christ pastor in Khartoum wrote, “The people who used to attend service are about 600 people and they will not have place at moment to worship, even though the pastor in charge appealed to Authorities to give him time until after rain season but they refused.”

According to a former Sudanese pastor now living and working in the United States, members of the congregation were injured in a conflict with authorities while protesting the demolition(Source).

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Three Laotian Christian Girls Denied Education Due To Their Faith

This is the height of cruelty.

05/26/2014 Laos (The HRWLRF)- On Tuesday (May 20, 2014), the chief of Saisomboon village in Atsaphangthong district of Savannakhet province refused to provide guarantee for taking their final examinations to three Christian female students at the Liansai village school. The village chief cited that due to their belief in the Christian faith, the three students have thus forfeited their right to education. The three students are Noi, age 15, daughter of Sengkaew; Net, age 15, daughter of Khampuey; and Nut, age 14, daughter of Bounkong.

The Christian leader, Mrs. Kaithong, has since appealed the case to the Atsaphangthong district education chief, who has now made contact with the Liansai village school’s director regarding the denial of education to three Christian students. The decision will soon be made by the Liansai village school’s director and Saisomboon village chief whether or not to continue disqualifying the Christian students from taking final examinations on the basis of their religious belief in the Christian faith.

In a nearby village of Donpalai, not far from Saisomboon village, six Atsaphangthong district police officers and two sub-district police officers raided a worship service, forcibly snatched and confiscated 53 bibles from worshipers. The incident took place at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday morning (May 25) when about 80 believers gathered for worship in the house of Pastor Phupet(Source).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Underground Congregations Across China Facing Arrests, Harassment

 They are in my prayers.

4/24/2014 China (UCANews) - The powerful propaganda department of China's Communist Party last week handed Beijing's prominent underground churches a testing Easter present, banning any reporting about the Protestant Shouwang Church's outdoor services.

While Shouwang has been a target of the government for many years, the latest move against underground churches is part of a broader crackdown on dissent since the regime of leader Xi Jinping came to power in late 2012. The new government is targeting any organization perceived as a threat to Chinese Communist Party policy.

"There are thousands of family churches in Beijing, with congregations ranging from several members to thousands," said Xu Yonghai, a Christian activist in Beijing.
Xu told ucanews.com that members of unregistered Christian churches often shun the state-supported Church, whose members often aided Chinese authorities in crackdowns of "rival underground churches since the 1950s."

Since the eviction, the Shouwang Church has regularly posted open letters on chinaaid.org -- a US-based aid organization for Chinese Christians -- announcing the number of outdoor services they have held and objecting to the treatment meted out by local authorities, the latest on March 27.
In an Aug 13 letter published online, the Shouwang Church said that during a religious service held two days earlier at least 38 members were arrested, with nearly two-thirds of the group held for an indeterminate amount of time.

"It was really sad for us to hear that one sister was manhandled by a deputy [police] director ... who seized her by the throat and pulled her hair. Our sister calmly faced such rough treatment, and forgave this man by God's grace," the letter read.

Denied the necessary permits to rent or build a church Shouwang has continued its outdoor worship. The Church has held close to 200 outdoor services, come rain, hale or shine. Despite restrictions on their outdoor activities they have resolutely continued to gather.

In the capital particularly, underground church members are often agitators for political change in China. More recently reports have emerged that members of a number of these communities have recently been harassed and members detained.

"My family church never had members arrested for 25 years, but it happened under the new regime," Xu said. "We had most of our members, 17 out of 20, arrested and detained for up to one month in January."

It's not just underground churches but members of state sanctioned churches that are now being targeted by the government. In Nanle County, Henan province, Pastor Zhang Shaojie of the state-approved Three Self Patriotic Movement was arrested on Nov 16 on a charge of "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order”. Beijing lawyer and civil activist Xu Zhiyong was recently convicted on the same charge and sentenced to four years in prison(Source).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pakistani Christian gets death in blasphemy case

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A court convicted a Pakistani Christian man and sentenced him to death Thursday in a blasphemy case that sparked a riot last year in the eastern city of Lahore, according to his lawyer.
Naeem Shakir, the lawyer for Sawan Masih, said a judge announced the verdict during a hearing at the jail where the trial has been held out of fears that Masih might be attacked on his way to court. Shakir said he would appeal.
Although Pakistan has never executed anybody under the law, crowds angered over blasphemy accusations have been known to take the law into their own hands and kill those they suspect of violating it. Once an accusation is made it is extremely difficult to reverse, in part because law enforcement personnel do not want to appear to be going easy on suspects.
Such vigilantism has created a climate of fear, forcing frightened judges into holding court sessions inside jails and keeping witnesses from coming to the defense of those on trial.
Many human rights activists say the blasphemy law, which allows for punishment of life in prison or death, is misused as a way to target people for personal gain or revenge.
The incident that led to Thursday's conviction began March 7 last year when a young Muslim man accused Masih of maligning the Prophet Muhammad. Police arrested Masih, but the next day a mob ransacked the neighborhood where he and other Christians live, setting fire to homes and destroying household possessions.
Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight ahead of the riots. Many in the neighborhood have since moved back, and their homes have been rebuilt.
The police arrested 83 suspects following the rampage, including the man who brought the complaint against Masih, said a Lahore police official, Rana Taseer Riaz. But so far none of the suspects have been convicted and all were released on bail, he said.
Amnesty International condemned Masih's conviction and sentencing. The organization said there were serious concerns about the fairness of his trial and called for his immediate release. The organization also called on Pakistan to bring to trial the people responsible for attacking the Christian homes.
"Failure to do so will effectively send the message that anyone can commit outrageous abuses and excuse them as defense of religious sentiments," said David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
Pakistan's blasphemy law has existed since even before the country's 1947 founding. During the 1980s, the U.S.-backed military dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, amended it to add the death penalty and single out Islam as the religion that may not be insulted, among other changes(Source).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Two Christian Kindergarten Teachers Detained in China

Their souls should be in our prayers.

2/20/2014 China (ChinaAid) - Two Christian women were taken into custody on Tuesday from the Christian kindergarten in China’s southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region where they both work full-time.

Cheng Jie and Mo Xiliu were placed under criminal detention on Wednesday and charged with “engaging in illegal business operation” according to detention notices issued by the Yufeng (corrected Feb. 21) branch of the Liuzhou Public Security Bureau. Translations of the document will be published shortly.

These detentions appear to be related to the Christian teaching materials used in the school. “The Guangxi authorities are obviously trying to use the business-related, trumped up charges in order to cover up its religious persecution,” Bob Fu, ChinaAid founder and president, said.

“We urge the Guangxi authorities to immediately release these two innocent Christians,” Fu said.
Cheng’s husband, Pastor Du Hongbo, is a house church pastor and missionary. The couple has two small children, aged 3 (corrected on Feb. 20) and 1-1/2 years old (Source).

Friday, January 31, 2014

Chinese Gov’t Continues to Pressure House Churches

Let's hope our brethren continue to persevere even in the midst of this trial.

1/25/2014 China (ChinaAid) - A house church in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of China’s southern Guangdong has been pressured by local police six times since the beginning of the month; meanwhile, Christians in Neihuang County, in central Henan fear to attend church meetings because of persecution from several local government departments. Police have disrupted church gathering twice a week since the beginning of January to warn the church to cease their meetings, “Mark,” a missionary at Guangfu House Church in Guangzhou, said.

“They come to our place twice a week. This past Sunday… I went to the local police station and talked with them about our belief and what we do. They gave me the phone number of a deputy director of the police station; I also saw him. He asked me whether we just read the Bible and pray. I said yes and didn’t say anything more than that,” Mark said.

“I thought this thing was over so we went on with the gatherings. Then, they came again, and they even told the landlord, who is a brother among us, not to gather together.”

On one occasion, the church members tried unsuccessfully to obtain information about those persecuting them. “We asked the officer from the local police station to leave his phone number, but he wouldn’t do so. When we asked him to give us his name, he only said his last name, which is Yao. When we asked for his first name, he wouldn’t tell us,” Mark said.

“When I said I wanted to see his identification papers, he said I didn’t need to look at them. He just said he is from Pingguwu Police Station, and that I can find him there, and that the director of the police station told him to come to our place. When I asked him what the director’s last name was, he didn’t say.”

This isn’t the first time Guangfu House Church has experienced persecution. Last May, three Christians from the church were summoned by the Baiyun District Public Security Bureau and were accused of preaching the Gospel to passersby.

On that occasion, the believers were told that their gatherings were illegal. As a result, the landlord of the building where the church met was pressured to the point of cancelling the church’s lease.
In addition, the water and electricity in a home that Mark had purchased to host meetings in were cut for almost a year.

Mark also said that Guangfu House Church has heard of another local house church have received warnings from police.
Neihuang County, Henan

In addition to persecution in Guangdong, believers in Neihuang County in China’s central Henan told ChinaAid that the Neihuang County Public Security Bureau, Religious Affairs Bureau and other government agencies have pressured believers so much that many are afraid to participate in church services.

“They dare not come to the gatherings,” one believer said. “When people from the Religious Affairs Bureau come, many of the believers dare not come out. Some people in the town risk their lives to come to the gatherings(Source).”