Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chinese Christians See Mounting Persecution in Country’s Effort to Disband House Churches


2/21/2013 China (Fox News) - Christians and human rights advocates are alarmed over an aggressive crackdown on house churches in China, where the faithful are forced to call their gatherings "patriotic" assemblies or sent to prison where they can face torture, according to a new report.

Cases of the government persecuting Christians rose 42 percent last year, amid a three-phase plan by Beijing to eradicate the home-based churches, according to China Aid, a Texas-based human rights group. Experts say the Communist Party in China has long felt threatened by any movement that galvanizes a large sector of the population, fearing it could wield political clout. But the nation has become more systematically hostile to worshippers, according to Bob Fu, China Aid founder and president.

"There have been new tactics of persecution as well, especially with the government using secret directives and memos with long-term, step-by-step strategies to eradicate house churches,” Fu told “This is very serious stuff.”

Last year, the government mounted a new three-phase approach designed to wipe out unregistered house churches by forcing them to join the official "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" and stop defining themselves as churches. The phase included having China's State Administration for Religious Affairs secretly investigate house churches and create files on them, the report found. The current wave of crackdowns, which began midway through 2012, is part of the second phase, according to Fu. Fu said the government is using a wide array of subtle and ham-handed tactics to persecute Christians, targeting house church leaders and churches in urban areas.

“Instead of using law enforcement officials directly to attack churches, last year we found they used a softer approach,” he said. “They used utility companies, service committees and neighborhood committees to terminate contracts with rental facilities and cut off electricity and water [to the churches].”

Those semi-official agencies, including industrial and commercial affairs departments, used various excuses to “harass, interfere and ban” church services.

At least 132 cases of persecution affecting 4,919 Christians, including 442 church leaders, were reported last year, up from 93 cases and 4,322 Christians in 2011, respectively. The number of people detained (1,441) and sentenced (9) also increased from the year earlier, the report found.

“Many people, especially in China, don’t even know there are really hundreds and thousands of their fellow Christian brothers being persecuted,” he said. “If a country like China shows it does not respect its own citizens and their most basic freedoms, we should be on alert and take more action from our side in the United States to advance that (Source).”

Vietnam: Five Christian Families Attacked, Beaten Up by Fellow Villagers

2/26/2013 Vietnam (CR) - Newly converted Christians of the Sedang ethnic minority in Vietnam’s Central Highlands were terrorized last week – their homes and personal property badly damaged or destroyed in four consecutive night raids, and some of the faithful seriously injured from beatings in broad daylight, sources said.

Since becoming Christians in the past year, five families in mountainous Kontum Province have reported constant harassment from villagers upset that they are no longer contributing to communal sacrifices and other practices because of their new faith. The attacks from Monday (Feb. 18) to Friday (Feb. 22) constituted a third wave of sustained violence since their conversion, leaving their property severely damaged and their lives threatened.

Attacks on the new Christians – who belong to a Christian Mission Church (CMC) congregation in Ngoc La village, Mang Ri Commune, Tumorong District in northwestern Kontum Province – were primarily motivated by strong tensions within the ethnic group over the families leaving the “old ways.” Ideologically opposed to Christianity, local Communist officials freely permit and even encourage such conflicts, sources said.

At the same time, local Vietnamese officials commonly incite and employ area thugs to attack Christians, whose united faith is perceived as a threat to government ideology and sovereignty. Often officials themselves put on civilian clothes or otherwise disguise themselves, joining in the attacks, sources said.

The assailants last week attacked the Christians’ homes, pelting them with bricks and cement roof tiles and swinging wooden clubs. They then invaded their houses and destroyed their belongings.

The victims managed to take photos with their cell phones, and though taken mostly in darkness, the images are clear enough to show a destroyed fibro-cement roof; a motorcycle with parts bent, broken and missing; dishes and kitchen utensils smashed to pieces; food cast to the ground; badly damaged furniture; broken windows; wooden shutters, doors and frames ripped out of walls; and wooden clubs and bricks strewn about.

The gangs on Friday (Feb. 22) beat a number of the Christians in broad daylight, with some, including women, struck below the abdomen. Several were reported to be seriously injured. One family, threatened with death if they stayed in their home, fled into the forest, where they were forced to spend nights in the cold with inadequate clothing and no shelter.

While the religious freedom environment for many Christians in Vietnam’s larger cities has improved considerably in recent years, that of many ethnic minority Christians in remote and mountainous regions of the country definitely has not, sources said. Regularly occurring incidents demonstrate that Vietnamese authorities actively work to limit and contain Christianity, even as they appear to have given up on eradicating it(Source).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Indian Pastors Face Persecution with Courage

2/25/2013 India (WND) – India’s constitution assures the nation’s citizens of religious freedom, but Christians who are trying to spread their faith say there’s only one problem with that.
“In many cases, that provision is ignored,” said Gospel for Asia Development Director John Beers.
The result is predictable: persecution. International Christian Concern reported recently that local police departments in India are sometimes leading the anti-Christian attacks. Beers said because India’s culture still is rooted largely in traditional religions, Christian missionaries and preachers in India “expect to face persecution.”

“The students training for ministry know they will be beaten,” Beers said. It happened in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh just recently. A pastor was attacked and beaten in his church, and the congregation was threatened by the mob during a Sunday service. The church’s sponsoring missions agency, which asked not to be identified to protect the safety of the congregation, said local Hindu groups were angry about the church’s outreach.

“This kind of persecution happens frequently and much worse in many parts of India. The attackers carried out the assault because we had just finished an outreach in the area surrounding his church one month ago and it affected some of the villagers deeply,” the mission leader told WND.

“It was cold there, many people in our group were showing the love of God to them by providing blankets for the very poor. Some of the people were so touched that they wanted to know this God that we serve and some of them accepted Christ into their lives and became Christians,” the leader said. Hindu nationalists also stoke the fires of persecution by claiming that any Christian activity is carried out by American or British missionaries.

The mission leader says that isn’t the case. “These benevolent, Christian people were all Indians, and the event was planned by them, not Americans,” he said.

He suggested fear drives as much of the persecution as “nationalism.”
“I can only assume their motive, like many in the past, was fear based on loss of control over the people,” the mission leader said.
“Religious persecution is many times rooted in politics, not fear of religious freedom. I am not sure if this was the first time he was attacked but I do know that there have been other similar stories in the same region but, as I said before, this happens quite frequently in many parts of northern India,” the leader said.

“I’m also not sure if this was an organized attack against all Christian churches in the area, but every once in a while, the Hindu extremists do organize much like they did in Orissa several years ago when Christians were beaten and even killed, houses and churches burned,” he said.

Gospel for Asia Vice President Daniel Yohanan doesn’t downplay the impact of persecution, but he says that people in the Far East and Asia approach religious issues differently. He says to understand why Christians in India would endure persecution, the Eastern view of religion and the purpose of life must be understood. In the East, he said, people think their “entire purpose is to find forgiveness of sin.”

“That’s why people go on pilgrimages; that’s why they go to the temple,” Yohanan said.
“They know they’re sinners. … They’ve never heard about Jesus. If you ask someone if they know Jesus, they say Jesus doesn’t live here. Go to the next village,” Yohanan said.

“When they finally hear what Jesus did for them on Calvary, for them, persecution is a minor thing,” Yohanan said. “It’s worth it to go through persecution if they can be forgiven of their sin.

They say they’ll give their life if they can have a new life in Christ,” Yohanan said.
“In the West we have believers whose faith doesn’t change their entire life. It may change what they do on Sunday, but not everything. Over there they say that Christ forgave them.”
In America, he said, “we’ve lost a theology of suffering.”

“Because of our prosperity, we see suffering as an absence of God’s blessing in our lives,” Yohanan said. “In the Bible, Joseph was in prison for 13 years and in the perfect will of God, but in America we don’t see it that way.”

Christian Teen Murdered for Allegedly having Affair with Muslim Girl in Pakistan

2/25/2013 Pakistan (PCP) -A Christian boy named Mard-e-Khuda, resident of Tehsil Haroonabad, District Bahawalpur, aged 19 years was barbarically assassinated on 9thJanuary2013. He was falsely accused of having an affair with a Muslim girl.

The local young Muslims had threatened him and they also used to proclaim openly that they will kill Mard-e-Khuda. On 9th January 2013, three Muslim men named Muhammad Shafique, Illyas(Eidoo) and Sufiyan broke into his house and brutally assassinated him at 5.30 a.m. Illyas and Sufiyan gripped his hands and legs tightly and Mohammad Shafique hit his head with an axe. Afterwards Illyas and Sufiyan also stabbed him with a dagger. In the meanwhile Mard-e-Khuda’s father woke up and as he started shouting and crying, the culprits ran from the spot.

On the same day an FIR bearing no.7/13 under section 302/34 was registered against them in Faqeerwali Police Station Bahawalpur. Unfortunately the Police is cooperating with the culprits and they have not yet arrested Mohammad Shafique, Illyas and Sufiyan. All three of them are living in the same vicinity and the police is not taking any action against them, even the S.H.O stated that such Christian who was having an affair with a Muslim girl was rightly killed by the Muslims.

In Pakistan, hundreds of Christian girls are raped and forcefully converted by the Muslims but if any Christian man does such thing, he is sentenced to death and even the Muslim girl is also apostates. Religious minority is facing this discriminatory law every day while living in Pakistan(Source).

Chinese American and Two South Korean Missionaries Detained at House Church Meeting

02/25/2013 China (ChinaAid) - At about 2 o’clock on the afternoon of February 20, the Missionary Meeting of the West held by a house church in Jimo, Shandong Province, was raided by the local police and departments in charge of religious affairs. It is learned that two missionaries respectively from America and South Korea were detained. Besides, over 90 members of a fellowship of college students and house church missionaries were booked by their IDs and were then dispersed by force.

After the mission meeting of college students in Jimo City, Shandong Province was raided, a Chinese American and two South Korean missionaries remain in detention; their passports have been confiscated. Decisions will be made about them, and they may be deported from China.

In addition to these situations, it is reported that starting from 2012, some agencies of the Chinese government have conducted secret investigations on over 300 missionaries from South Korea. They have now deported or forced out nearly 100 of them. The remaining 200-some missionaries are all planning to withdraw from China soon to dodge the brunt of the crackdown(Source).

Monday, February 25, 2013

China: Presbyterian Church Raided, Pastor Beaten by Police


2/21/2013 China (CA) -Presbyterian Federation of Beijing has made an urgent appeal for prayers for the persecuted church in Heilongjiang and for assistance in hiring lawyers to intervene according to law. Prominent Christian Lawyer Li Fangping has agreed to represent the church in this case.

At about 7 p.m. on February 19, two police officers from Youhao District of Yichun City of Heilongjiang suddenly broke into Youhao Church (photo on the above). Under the guise of fire-code compliance inspection, they viciously harassed the members who were serving at the church. The chief pastor of the church, Sister Sun Wenxian, said that the officers didn’t give any acceptable reasons for their action. Further, one of the officers had a strong smell of liquor and was in a drunken state.

Pastor Sun Wenxian denounced them to their face for their unreasonable conduct and demanded that they show their identification papers. For this, the two police officers became furious and called her bad names and threatened to seal off Youhao Church. In addition, they became physically violent and beat her. In the physical conflict Pastor Sun Wenxian was injured so severely, both mentally and physically, that she had a heart attack.

Sister Hao, who serves in the church, told us that during this time they phoned #110 for police several times but none came. However, in comparison, these two police officers called, and within five minutes a large group of agents from Domestic Security Protection Squad (DSPS) of the Public Security Bureau entered the courtyard of Youhao Church. Sister Hao said that only when they saw Pastor Sun Wenxian was having a heart attack, they didn’t dare to do whatever they had intended.
After that, Pastor Sun Wenxian was rushed to a local hospital for treatment, where she is reported in a stable condition. In her telephone call, Pastor Sun Wenxian called on various churches to pray for Youhao Church and for the rulers(Source).

Hindu Radicals Terrorize Christians in India


2/24/2013 India (WND) - Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde says his nation faces an increasing terrorism threat from self-proclaimed “right-wing” Hindu groups, and that’s bad news for Christians here. In a report on India television network NDTV Shinde said ultra-nationalist Hindu groups have formed camps to train operatives to carry out attacks.

“Groups like RSS are a threat to India,” he said. That would be Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which states on its website: “Sangh is not a mere reaction to one or another social or political aberration. It represents a corpus of thought and action firmly rooted in genuine nationalism.”
The group states its movement is a response to colonialism and any anti-nationalist movement in India, including religious movements.

William Stark, Asia analyst for the Christian human-rights group International Christian Concern, says the RSS itself confirms the home minister’s statement that it’s a violent group.
“Attacks are common in India. Hindu radicals, generally linked with the group RSS, attack pastors and other Christians for converting to Christianity,” Stark said.

Stark added that one of the tragedies of the growing terrorist threat is that many of the attacks are covered up by the government.

“Often these attacks go uninvestigated by the police. In most cases the police go through the motions of an investigation, but really don’t want to uncover any evidence,” Stark said. Animesh Roul, an India-based terrorism analyst who directs the Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict, disputes the home minister’s opinion, claiming RSS isn’t really violent.

“RSS is a right-wing Hindu group, but neither violent nor covert. Again, it’s not transnational in nature, but, yes, over the years it sympathizes with Hindu-related issues elsewhere,” Roul said.
“They do some moral policing and of course raise their voice against any misuse/abuse of Hindu gods or goddesses, in Indian culture abroad,” Roul said. He said RSS mostly is volunteers working for the idea of a Hindu nation(Source).

200 Million Christians in China Without Bibles

 I hope this situation changes.

02/22/13 China (MNN) - Within two decades, China is on track to be the largest Christian nation in the world, according to Bibles For China. Reports are projecting growth to over 400 million believers, and yet one thing is lacking: Bibles. Bob Drew with Bibles For China notes, "It's estimated that roughly 200 million Christians right now don't have Bibles in China."

Without the grounding of Scripture, new Christians are at risk of falling into heresy. Yet, the isolation prevents access. And there is another obstacle aside from remoteness and scarcity: cost. Millions of rural Chinese Christians subsist on less than $100 per year, which means a $5 Bible costs about a third of month's wages. "A lot of these people have never seen a Bible", Drew says. "They've been learning Scripture off of chalkboards; they've been learning from very, very old versions of the Bible, dating back prior to the 1940s."

The discipline required to memorize chapters at a time is admirable, but Drew says Bibles For China wants to do more. "We raise funds in developed countries that legally and openly give Bibles free of charge to the believers living in poverty-stricken areas. For Bibles for China, we focus on rural Chinese areas."

At a cost of $5.00 each, Bibles for China is currently purchasing and distributing God's Word free of charge to rural Chinese believers--complete Bibles which are legally printed in China. The need is huge: hundreds of thousands of Bibles have been requested. "When [some of them] actually got a new Bible, we had people literally break down and cry, screaming and chanting to God just how thankful they were just to have [His Word] in their hands(Source)."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pakistani Christian Shot Dead after Arguing with Muslim over Religion

I pray that this Muslim one day faces justice.

2/202/2013 Pakistan (FIDES) -Roshan Masih, a 45 year old Christian, was shot dead after an argument over religion in Lahore, capital of Punjab Province. Fides learned that the episode, on 16 February, brought bewilderment and grief ito the local Christian community : it was an act of murder in cold blood: Roshan’s defence of his Christian beliefs compared to Muslim beliefs, may have been considered ‘blasphemous’. Roshan Masih had converted from Hinduism to Christianity and about 20 ago settled in Lahore. Days before the murder he had a heated argument over religion with a local Muslim, Sohail Akhtar. The latter waited for his opportunity, and, on 16 February, seeing Roshan sitting outside a shop run by Sadiq Masih, another Christian, Sohail Akhtar, armed with a rifle, shot him dead there and then.

“This is truly a tragedy: an innocent man is slain for defending his faith in a simple argument. The episode is emblematic of the conditions of Pakistani Christians. The authorities have a duty to guarantee the basic rights of Christian minorities(Source).”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Arrested Chinese House Church Minister Stands up for His Rights


2/08/2013 China (CA) - A well-known Chinese minister taken into police custody twice for evangelizing before Christmas in a public park and administratively detained for 13 days has initiated administrative litigation against the police, using the law to protect his legal and religious rights.
Cao Nan was taken into police custody on Dec. 8 and 15 while he was evangelizing at the Lychee Park in Shenzhen. On the first occasion, seven other church lay leaders who were evangelizing with him were also detained, and everyone was released the next day. On Dec. 15, eight other church lay workers evangelizing with Cao were also detained. They were released the very late the same day, but Cao was transferred to the local detention center. The next day, he was administratively detained by the Futian Sub-Bureau of the Public Security Bureau for "masquerading under the name of Christianity to disturb social order multiple times at Lichi Park in Futian District." He was not released until Dec. 28.

Litigation Request:
Confim, according to the law, that the “Public Security Administrative Penalty Decision” Shen Gong Fu Jue Zi (2012) No. 044018 imposed on the plaintiff by the defendant on December 16, 2012 was illegal and rescind the administrative penalty decision.

Facts and reasons:
At about 15:30 on December 16, 2012, the plaintiff, Wang Ruien, Wang Silang and several other Christians arrived of their own accord at Lizhi (Lychee) Park in Futian District, found a suitable place (many other people were singing and dancing nearby) and began to sing song, dance and talk about life experiences and Christian ideas. Some spectators gathered around, including some park security guards who were using their cameras to videotape the plaintiff, Wang Ruien, Wang Silang, and the others. As the plaintiff, Wang Ruien, Wang Silang and the others were engaged in their activities, a police officer and a government security officer arrived at the scene and told us to stop. The plaintiff stepped forward to explain, and the police officer took the plaintiff to the local police station, where they took down a written record of the questioning of the plaintiff. After the questioning, they made the plaintiff wait at the local police station until about 11 o’clock at night when the defendant issued “Public Security Administrative Penalty Decision” Shen Gong Fu Jue Zi (2012) No. 044018. The reason given was " harming society by masquerading under the name of religion,” and the punishment of 12 days of administrative detention was imposed based on Article 27, Paragraph 2 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Penalties for Administration of Public Security. The plaintiff did not agree and asked that the implementation be delayed. But they refused and sent the plaintiff straight to the detention center. Therefore, the plaintiff refused to sign the papers for the “penalty decision.”

To sum up, the administrative penalty imposed by the defendant on the plaintiff violates the statutory procedures stipulated in the Law of the People's Republic of China on Penalties for Administration of Public Security and the Law of People’s Republic of China on Administrative Penalty and is illegal and invalid. Pursuant to Article 11 of the Administrative Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, the plaintiff is filing a complaint against the defendant in accordance with the law, asking the People’s Court of Futian District of Shenzhen City to confirm that the administrative penalty imposed by the defendant on the plaintiff violates the law and to rescind the administrative penalty decision made by the defendant on December 16, 2012(Source).