Friday, November 30, 2007

TURKMENISTAN:Pastor Released from Prison

On November 9, Baptist Pastor Vyacheslav Kalataevsky was released after eight months in prison. According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts, Kalataevsky and his family are thankful for the prayers and support of believers around the world. Forum 18 News reports government officials have warned Pastor Kalataevsky not to meet for worship with fellow believers. Pastor Kalataevsky told Forum 18, "Officials summoned me for what they said was a conversation, but at the end presented me with a pre-written statement saying that I agreed not to meet with my fellow believers. All it lacked was my signature, but I refused to sign it, both on my behalf and on behalf of my wife." The Forum 18 report added, "Although Kalataevsky's congregation does not oppose state registration in principle. Officials kept telling him that his congregation does not have enough adult citizen members to apply for registration. They added that unregistered religious activity, including people meeting together for worship in homes, is banned." Praise God for Pastor Kalatatevsky's release from prison. Ask God to protect his family and congregation as they face scrutiny and pressure from the government.
Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 54:17
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs
As in the days of Noah....

Continue to Pray for Rami’s Widow and Sons

Pauline and her sons are in Bethlehem now. She is fragile and sometimes feels very weak. At the same time, her faith remains strong and she is encouraged by all of the letters and prayers she is receiving.Her 2 year old son, George, misses his dad so much and is hardly eating as a result. Pauline is 7 months pregnant and is expected to give birth on February 12th. This date is important because it marks her wedding anniversary.
Please pray:
*For Pauline and her sons George (2) and Wisam (10 months), that they can stand strong in these difficult times and experience the comfort of Jesus every single day.
*For those guilty of murdering Rami, that they will repent of their sins and seek forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.
Source :Open Doors
As in the days of Noah....

Christian Killed in Election Violence in Kano State;Religious motives underlie voter tensions; Christian’s lead at polls triggers attack.

KANO, Nigeria(Compass Direct News)Christians said violence over elections in the Sumaila area this month included a strong religious element, with Muslims killing one Christian in an attack on a Christian settlement.Eyewitnesses said violence broke out in the Gani electoral ward of Sumaila on November 17 after news reports showed that the Christian candidate for councillor for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Zara Gambo, was ahead in the polls, signifying the first ever victory for a Christian in the area.As a result, they said, Muslims attacked Christians in Gani town and in Gani Mission, a Christian settlement in the area, injuring several of them, destroying their houses and shops and killing elementary school teacher Danyaro Bala(picture left).He is survived by a wife and 11 children.Sani Duma, Bala’s younger brother, told Compass that he believes Muslims killed the local church elder in order to cow area Christians into submitting to Islam.“Religion is at the center of this attack on us and the killing of my brother,” Duma said. “The selection of only houses of Christians and their shops for destruction shows clearly that Muslims were out to force us into submitting to their hold on political leadership.”Duma said that area voters are all Hausas who speak the same language.“We are of one tribe, Hausa,” he said. “The only thing that divides them and us is religion. While we in Gani Mission are Christians, they in Gani town are Muslims. Religion is therefore the prime motive behind the attack on us, as only houses of Christians were burned."The administrator of the Sumaila Local Government Council, as well as the area divisional police officer, both declined to comment to Compass. On the night following the voting, Gov. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau blamed the PDP opposition for igniting violence in Sumaila.Gov. Shekarau, an Islamic preacher, is considered an open proponent of the Islamization of Nigeria. The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), which rules the state, introduced the Islamic legal code, sharia, in 2000.In chaotic elections marked by accusations of fraud in which roaming, armed thugs kept voters from polls, the Kano government admitted to two deaths in Sumaila for a total of six throughout the state. The ANPP was reportedly declared the winner of the local government in Sumaila.Among Sumaila Christians injured by rampaging Muslims, according to area Christians, was Danganye Barrau, who received machete cuts. Other injured Christians included Garba Buddi, Malam Saleh and Uba Bala. Muslims burned the homes and shops of Christians Dan Wuye, Saleh Dogo, Malam Yakubu, and two others identified only as Anayo and James.
‘Your Vote for Your Religion’
The Rev. Auta Jinta, deputy chairman of the Kano district of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), agreed that religion was a catalyst for violence. Muslims looted the property of the Dan Wuye family, he said, with one of his sons, Jarmai, losing two motorcycles, 30 goats and six bicycles.“There is no doubt that religious sentiments were involved in this,” Rev. Jinta said. “Today in Kano, there is no separation between religion and politics. It is your vote for your religion, and your life for your religion.”The Rev. Nathan Tella, pastor of a local ECWA congregation in Gani Mission, said Bala was a member of the board of elders at the church and a key leader in the church’s development.“I knew Danyaro Bala very well, and he has never been involved in partisan politics,” Rev. Tella said. He added that Bala was working at home during the voting. Later Bala went to visit a friend in Gani town, Rev. Tella said, and that night, after the election violence had subsided, Bala was ambushed and killed as he returned home.“The violence that broke out when it was getting clear that the Christian candidate would win is an indication that Muslims who control political power in Kano do not want Christians to be part of the government,” Rev. Tella said.Duma, noting that his brother did not vote, said Bala spent that day working with his Guinea corn.“My brother on that Saturday did not go to the polling station, as he has no interest in politics,” Duma said. After the Muslims killed him as he returned home on his motorcycle, he said, they set his corpse and bike on fire.“Because he was ambushed and killed on Saturday night, we did not know about this, not until Bilkisu [Bala’s daughter], who resides in Kano, received a phone call from a Muslim in Gani town informing her that her dad had been killed,” Duma said. “Since it was already late, we could not find the corpse until the morning of Sunday, November 18.” Duma said Bala, a teacher at the Gani elementary school, had never been a member of any political party.“We knew him to be a peace-loving person,” he said.

As in the days of Noah....


Mohammed Hegazy battles for religious freedom as HRW report slams country’s abuses.
CAIRO, November 15 (Compass Direct News)Sick of hiding in a secret apartment in Cairo, Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy risked his life to shop for groceries late one night last week, a cap pulled low over his face.The Egyptian convert from Islam to Christianity does not normally chance being recognized in public by running errands for himself. Death threats forced Hegazy into hiding in August after he made an unprecedented legal bid to have his national ID card changed to note his conversion.The 24-year-old belongs to a new breed of Egyptian Christian converts who see no contradiction between their faith and political activism. “The Bible says to love your enemy and your neighbor as yourself,” Hegazy explained. “Working politically to provide food for poor people or freedom for the oppressed is one way to fulfill this command.”That conviction in part motivated Hegazy’s court case, but that same desire to take action has also frustrated him as he has sat idle for the past three months in hiding.The Christian acknowledged that he was finding his new life extremely difficult. He said it was impossible to hold a job because he couldn’t leave his apartment regularly for fear of being attacked by Islamists or state security police.On a rare occasion that Hegazy took the chance of shopping in public, a Christian recognized his face from a newspaper photograph.“If you are who I think you are, then God help you,” the Christian told Hegazy.Hegazy’s new lawyer, Gamal Eid, noted: “In a country like Egypt, his fears are credible.” Egypt Condemned
A report condemning Egypt’s treatment of converts away from Islam and members of the Baha’i faith this week noted that until 1990 most Christian converts did not believe they could remain in the country.“Before [1990] it was just individual converts, and they left the country,” said an anonymous Christian convert quoted in the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights report released Monday (November 12). “But fifteen converts … wanted to stay and stay together, this was something new.”Since then, some converts have worked, albeit anonymously, to become more active in Egyptian society.“The state does not recognize conversions from Islam and refuses to allow citizens to legally change their religious affiliation,” the report stated. It noted that because family law is governed by religion, converts face difficulties in the areas of divorce, marriage, inheritance, and their children’s mandatory religious education.“The baby is the main reason for opening the case,” said Hegazy, whose pregnant wife is due to give birth in January. “All converts’ children have something like schizophrenia because they are Christians at home but have to act like Muslims at school.”As a member of the Egypt Liberal Party, a group of secular-minded Muslims and Christians, Hegazy often attended demonstrations, fellow group members said. The party, not yet approved by the government, openly challenges Article Two of Egypt’s constitution, which designates Islamic law as the principle source of its legislation.Islam forbids apostasy, a justification often used by government officials and Muslim fanatics when harassing converts from Islam.“For Hegazy, challenging the government is as normal as eating breakfast in the morning,” one party member told Compass. “He’s not a coward, but that also means he doesn’t always think through the consequences of his actions.”Hegazy said he had expected public opposition when filing his case but had not foreseen spending the next three months confined to his apartment.Massive publicity surrounding the announcement of his move caught the convert off-guard.When lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla called Hegazy to say that he had filed the convert’s case and arranged an important interview with Agence France-Press, the convert said he went willingly.“They told me that they would take photos and send them outside Egypt, and that no one in Egypt would know,” Hegazy said.The next morning, Egyptian papers carried the convert’s picture and full story.Within days, death threats forced Hegazy into hiding and Nakhla to withdraw.Newspapers have slandered the convert’s reputation, and on October 11 fanatics chanting Islamic slogans vandalized his former home in Old Cairo.A journalist who later went to the scene told Compass that he had seen the remains of a large fire in the street where the group had burned the Christian’s belongings.“By publicizing the case and then withdrawing, it was like putting Hegazy in the hands of society to be killed,” said one of Hegazy’s mentors, who said he had tried to persuade Nakhla against pulling out. “Every five minutes while we were talking, the security police would call Nakhla and tell him they could not protect him if he was attacked.”On August 7, Nakhla held a press conference to announce his withdrawal, blaming Hegazy for not providing necessary documents.Sitting in an undisclosed location in Cairo three months later, Hegazy did not seem angry with his former lawyer.“Maybe this is part of God’s plan, and it may help other converts,” Hegazy said.
The case has received much less public attention at its first two hearings, on October 2 and on Tuesday (November 13), than when it was first announced.Returning Tuesday from a Giza administrative court where he had represented the convert, Eid said that eight Islamist lawyers had intervened against his client.Judge Muhammad Husseini adjourned the case until January 15, giving Hegazy time to acquire proof that Egypt’s Civil Status Department had rejected his request to change the religious designation on his ID.Several Christians close to Hegazy said they were skeptical about the chances of winning, but agreed that the case would still help the rights of converts in the long term.Despite a smear campaign against Hegazy in Egypt’s national media, a number of newspapers and talk shows had openly supported his right to convert, Christians said.“This case has allowed society to openly talk about the case of converts and sent the government the message people will rise up when oppressed,” one convert said.Requesting anonymity, the Christian said, “[Hegazy’s] role should be appreciated, in that he has taken the first step in confronting society, the government and even the church and other converts.”
Cautious ChurchesEgypt’s Coptic Orthodox church, several million strong, has been careful to officially distance itself from the issue of conversion.“The matter is highly politicized, and the [Orthodox] church has taken the side of the government,” lawyer Eid said.An Orthodox priest requesting anonymity agreed with the lawyer’s assessment.“Church leadership tells priests who are involved in baptizing Muslims to keep doing what they are doing, but that they are not responsible,” the priest said. “In other words, ‘God bless you but stay away.’”Christians from all three major groupings, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant, told Compass that fanatics could easily attack and destroy a church if word got out that it was converting Muslims.“When a Muslim converts to Christianity here, the problem doesn’t stem from the government or security apparatus, it comes from society,” a spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church commented.Father Rafic Greiche, a Greek Melkite priest, said that many Christians, not just Muslims, had difficulty accepting converts to Christianity.“I am ashamed because our church is not ready to accept converts,” Greiche told Compass. “More cases like that of Hegazy’s on the long term will help people to change their minds, but the government has to help.”Speaking to reporters Monday (November 12), HRW Midde East Deputy Director Joe Stork called on the government to cease forcing non-Muslims to designate Islam as their official religion.“We are talking about a government policy that is requiring people to lie and punishing people for telling the truth,” Stork said. “There is something very wrong with that.”l ID card changed to note his conversion.

As in the days of Noah...


The Chinese-North Korea border is guarded by the best North Korean soldiers. On the Chinese side, there are miles of fences and cameras have been installed. North Korea, too, is in the process of erecting fences. In addition, the North Korean army has laid booby traps—pits with bamboo spikes in them. Fleeing is practically impossible now, unless you have a paid “guide” and you bribe the soldiers on the North Korean side....
North Korean Jong-Cheol (not his real name) grew up without a father, who died at a young age. He was brought up by his mother and grandmother, who were both Christians. When he was small, Jong-Cheol’s grandmother told him Bible stories. Like many other children in famished North Korea, he started to roam around the country. One day he crossed the border into China. In China, he was taken in by a Chinese missionary. There Jong-Cheol came to faith in Jesus Christ. He also realized that his mother and grandmother had already been Christians. Eventually he was captured along with several other children. The Chinese police arrested them and they were forcibly repatriated to North Korea as thousands of children and adults are every year. There the children were rigorously interrogated on a daily basis. One of the children snapped and told police that Jong-Cheol was a Christian. The North Koreans executed Jong-Cheol because he refused to deny he was a believer. The Chinese-North Korea border is guarded by the best North Korean soldiers. On the Chinese side, there are miles of fences and cameras have been installed. North Korea, too, is in the process of erecting fences. Besides this, the North Korean army has laid booby traps – pits with bamboo spikes in them. Fleeing is practically impossible now, unless you have a paid “guide” and you bribe the soldiers on the North Korean side. As a result of the treatment of North Korean refugees by China, the North Korea Freedom Coalition – which includes Open Doors USA – is planning an International Protest Against China’s Violent Repatriation of North Korean Refugees. On Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1, protests and prayer vigils will be held at Chinese consulates in major cities around the world."The protests are a way of pressuring the Chinese government to comply with their obligations under the U.N. Convention on Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol,” says Open Doors USA Advocacy Coordinator Lindsay Vessey. “Under this convention, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should have access to the North Koreans refugees hiding in China – estimated at 100,000 to 300,00 – and be able to protect and help them find asylum in other countries like the U.S. and South Korea. Yet, China is deporting refugees back to North Korea where they face terrible punishment…death like Jong-Cheol suffered or long prison terms.“The Chinese government needs to know that Christians around the world are aware and care about the government’s flagrant human rights violations and that we are committed to praying and assisting these refugees. Please consider joining those around the world protesting against this injustice and praying for the refugees, many of whom are Christians.” Suzanne Scholte, Chairman of the North Korean Freedom Coalition, adds: For several years both the Chinese and North Korean authorities have implemented measures to close the border. Currently the Chinese authorities are working more aggressively with North Korean agents to hunt down and repatriate the North Korean refugees. We have heard several reports that North Korean agents are posing as refugees to draw out both humanitarian workers and true refugees as part of this escalating crackdown. Even refugees in jail are being used as "bait" to draw out potential rescuers, so that Chinese authorities can arrest them.“How ironic that this crackdown has intensified because of China's concerns over the upcoming Olympic Games. China cannot risk the world community seeing with their own eyes China's horrific treatment of the North Koreans, so they hope to eliminate the problem by forcing them back to face torture and imprisonment and even execution for fleeing their homeland. How ironic that an event promoting good will among nations is causing the Chinese to treat their neighbors with increasing brutality!”The schedule for the International Protest Against China's Violent Treatment of North Korean Refugees includes (all events start at noon local time):Friday, Nov. 30:
Los Angeles – 443 Shatto Place
New York City – 520 12th Ave. (corner of 12th and 42nd Street)
Washington DC – 2300 Connecticut Ave., N.W., petition delivery and dramatization of plight of North Korean refugees
Saturday, Dec. 1:
Chicago – 100 West Erie St.
Washington DC – 2300 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Houston – 3417 Montrose Blvd
San Francisco – 1450 Laguna St.
Other protests are being organized in such countries as Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Sprain, South Korea and United Kingdom. Click here for more information on the events. Vessey adds that North Korea has been ranked No. 1 on the annual Open Doors World Watch List for five straight years. The World Watch List ranks 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution.The North Korea Freedom Coalition is a bipartisan coalition of religious, human rights and non-governmental Korean and American organizations whose primary purpose is to bring freedom to the North Korean people and to ensure that the human rights component of United States and world policy towards North Korea receives priority attention. The North Korea Freedom Coalition Web site is Click to register for the Open Doors’ North Korea Prayer Campaign. You will be asked to sign up and pick a weekly 10-minute time frame when you can lift up North Korean Christians in prayer. You will also receive a weekly email update of the current prayer requests.
Source:Open Doors
As in the days of Noah....

Hindu Radicals Attack Pastor in India

The Global Council of Indian Christians reports that Pastor Siddarama Gokhavi and his congregation were attacked by Hindu radicals during their Sunday worship meeting in early November in Ananda Nagara, Bihar. Over 20 Bajrang Dal Hindu radicals, chanted a slogan while vehemently attacking the church and its members. When the local Karnataka police were alerted about the incident, they arrived and began to aid the Hindu radicals instead of helping the Christian victims. Some of the police dragged Gokhavi and six others in an apparent plan to physically injure them. The pastor and his wife were accused by the police of persuading Hindus to convert to Christianity.As the police commenced their attack, the Hindu radicals proceeded to burn Bibles and other Christian literature, and destroy church property. Fortunately,Pastor Gokhavi and his congregation are in stable condition.Yet, they are dismayed and shocked to know that the police were directly involved in this act of Christian persecution.
PRAYfor Pastor Gokhavi and his congregation as they physically and mentally recover from this attack.
PRAYthat the Hindu radicals and the Karnataka police are charged and brought to justice for the crimes committed against the church.
PRAY that Pastor Gokhavi and his congregation will grow in faith by virtue of this incident.
Source:International Christian Concern
As in the days of Noah...

China Detains Mangers of Australian Company for Spreading Christianity

China (BosNewsLife) China Detains Managers of Australian Company for Spreading Christianity - Three senior employees of an Australian-owned multi-million dollar bio-engineering company in China's Guangdong province have been detained and their company closed over allegations of involvement in "illegal" Christian activities. Daniel Ng, a founder of the company, urged President Hu Jintao to intervene and said their company only wants to help poor peasants in the region.Full Story
As in the days of Noah....

Business Manager Murdered for His Faith in Lahore

Pakistan (ICC) Business Manager Murdered for His Faith in Lahore - Riaz Shahid, 51, the only Christian employed in a higher managerial position at Imperial Chemical Industries, was murdered by unidentified person(s) at his house in Bahar, a huge Christian neighborhood in Lahore. According to a source, Shahid had worked at the company for about 20 years and had just received a promotion. His family suspects that he was murdered on the basis of religious hatred by his Muslim colleagues, based on several items left at the scene. Full Story
As in the days of Noah....

Indian Bible Students Beaten for Preaching "Foreign Religion"

India ( Indian Bible Students Beaten for Preaching "Foreign Religion" - Two Bible college students have been lauded for their Christ-like response to the savage beatings they endured from a mob of anti-Christian extremists in India's Haryana state earlier this month. Students Vijay and Soman witnessed to the leader of a Hindu radical group, and in response the young men were beaten and dragged through the street. Full Story
As in the days of Noah...

Phillippines Government "Killing" CHristians

Philippines (BosNewsLife) Philippines Government "Killing" Christians, World Council of Churches Says - The World Council of Churches has accused the Philippine government of being involved in "extra-judicial killings" and other mistreatment of Christian workers. Among believers murdered by government-backed forces were several church activists and pastors who allegedly supported opponents of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's administration. Full Story
As in the days of Noah...

The fears and Hopes of Iraqi Christians

Iraq (AsiaNews) The Fears and Hopes of Iraqi Christians - This story is actually a message from Louis Sako, the Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk, Iraq. While acknowledging that "Christians at home or among refugee communities are going through an emotional rollercoaster," Sako writes that "about a thousand Iraqis are making the trek home from Syria - many are Christian families. Once shut down churches are now reopening." Though the future is far from certain, the return of many Christians is encouraging. Full Story
As in the days of Noah....

Enraged Muslims Attack Domestic Church in West Java

Indonesia (AsiaNews)-Enraged Muslims Attack Domestic Church in West Java - Dozens of angry Muslims took another harsh action against a local house church in Bandung, West Java. The fresh violence took place as dozens of local Christians gathered to hold a Sunday service. According to Pastor Obertina, "They forced entry - and then destroyed everything, threatening me." This area is known for its numerous cases of violence against the so-called "illegal churches"Full Story
As in the days of Noah....

Strengthening missions movement in Asia

International-The missionary movement in Asia seems to be growing.Bruce Johnson of Asian Access reports, "Europe and the U.S. and North America have been sending missionaries over the past decades. However, I've been so encouraged as I've traveled across Asia, and I keep hearing in country after country where they are sending missionaries to other parts of Asia."Myanmar is sending missionaries to Japan. China and South Korea are sending missionaries to other parts of Asia."They have a 'sending' spirit to see the Gospel go forward," said Johnson.Though the volume of believers is a contributing factor to the movement, their heart for Great Commission is key.There is a great advantage to this new movement that will allow them to reach new areas."Authorities don't look at their faces and see a Westerner, but they see an Asian, and they're able to allow them to move forward.I think there's an openness across borders and across cultures that allows this kind of missionary movement to actually go forward and be healthy," said Johnson.Anti-conversion laws that are prevalent in these areas are part of the Gospel, Johnson said.Opposition is nothing new, but overt persecution is hard to grasp for many Westerners.In Asia there are "people coming to your home and threatening you, to dragging you out into the street and beating you, to authorities coming and questioning you. There's a broad variety, but I would say, generally, persecution is not a major threat to the Gospel going forward," said Johnson.Prayer is essential for Asian missionaries who face an overwhelming darkness as well as economic challenges to presenting the Gospel.

As in the days of Noah....

Five on trial in Turkey Christian workers' slayings

Turkey-Five men accused of murdering three Christian workers went to trial in Malatya central Turkey last week.At stake is Turkey's willingness to tackle persecution. Voice of the Martyrs Canada's Glenn Penner explains: "If the killers are allowed to simply get away with lesser charges, or it's seen that these murders were somehow justified on the basis that these Christians were involved in missionary activity, then Turkish Christians are certainly going to feel that they're not equal members of society, and that their religious activities are going to continue to be under threat."The defendants face life sentences for tying up, torturing and slitting the throats of Necati Aydin, 35, Ugur Yuksel, 32, and German national Tilmann Geske, 46, on April 18 at the Malatya-based Christian publishing house they ran.Trial resumes January 14. Lawyers for the defendants asked for more time to prepare their defense.Pray for opportunities for Christians in Turkey to share the truth of Christ. Despite the government reforms to facilitate joining the European Union, there is no indication of increasing religious freedom.While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in "buildings created for this purpose," and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions. In other cases, those who dare to profess Christ face harassment, threats and prison.Evangelism is difficult.However, Penner says, "The church is continuing to move forward, and Christians are continuing to witness.But, of course, it does cause some anxiety.There have been a number of attacks on evangelicals in the last two years, and they're wanting to know, 'Will our government stand up for us? Will they defend us? Or will they allow us to be shot, killed and attacked with impunity?'"

As in the days of Noah....

China President Urged to Listen to Plight of Persecuted Chinese Christians

A prominent Chinese Christian leader has written an open letter to China’s president, calling him to listen to the suffering of country’s innocent persecuted Christians.In the letter, released Wednesday by the China Aid Association (CAA), Pastor Zhang Mingxuan,(picture left,middle) president of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), tells the story of how he became a house church leader and leader of CHCA. He also lists incidences of persecution against Christians such as beatings, imprisonments and tortures.Despite the contribution of the CHCA to charitable causes-particularly to aiding orphans and the homeless-the organization has been subject to more persecution in the time before and after the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).Local police reportedly asked Zhang and his family to close down his house church along with his school and a nearby orphanage.In his letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, Zhang said, “It is my belief that this persecution is a result of the corruption of officials subordinate to the central government, failure to enforce the law in a strict way, distortion of facts and evildoings and collusion between the local despots and the officials.”Zhang urged the president “to seriously consider the misery of the common people and urge the officials subordinate to you to stop persecuting Christians and implement their promises in the Constitution on religious freedom.“We can have a harmonious society when we build it on the foundations of love, friendship, fairness and justice," he added.Zhang said that the desire of Chinese Christians is “to win justice for the common people in China so that the Chinese society is full of love and care and that China can become free, prosperous, and a real powerful country in the 21st century in both soul and in social system.”He finished by saying, “We sincerely pray to the Lord to punish the evil and promote the good so that the common people can receive blessings and that China will have real religious freedom. I believe this is also the wish of President Hu. I hereby pray to God to bless you and all the officials in power, to give them more wisdom in ruling China.”In related news, the CAA reported that a house church led by Pastor Gao Wendong in Linyo City, Shandong Province, has won a legal battle against the local police.The church was represented by Beijing Christian lawyer Ms. Wu Chenglian and was helped by Zhang. On Nov. 17, the church won its legal battle and had its confiscated property returned.
PS:Truly Pastor Zhang is bold in the Lord...!Let's earnestly pray for this man of God and for the thousands like him that have to endure the hardships of an atheistic ruthless regime on a daily basis!!!!!Thank God for pastor Zhang!!!!!!
As in the days of Noah....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

'You're not a Christian – Go to jail!':Woman sentenced for false ID papers because father briefly converted to Islam

Egyptian authorities sentenced a woman to [[[[three years in prison because her father's brief conversion to Islam 45 years ago legally made her a Muslim while her identity papers state she's a Christian.]]]][[[[Shadia Nagui Ibrahim, 47, was charged in Cairo with fraud even though she didn't know that according to Egyptian law, her father's conversion in 1962 made her a Muslim, ]]]]the South African Press Association reported. When his daughter was 2 years old, Nagui Ibrahim left home and converted to Islam.He reconciled with his wife three years later and re-converted to Christianity.In the process, he had someone forge his personal identity documents to say he was Christian.
Traditional Muslim practice forbids conversion from Islam, which is punishable by death.The man who forged Nagu Ibrahim's documents was detained in 1996 for falsifying dozens of documents and confessed to changing Ibrahim's papers, SAPA reported. Nagu Ibrahim also was detained and informed his daughter officially was a Muslim, because children in Egypt automatically take their father's religion.When Shadia Ibrahim married in 1982, she stated she was a Christian. Authorities prosecuted her for "providing false information on official documents," and after a lengthy trial she was sentenced in 2000, in abstentia, to three years in prison.Egypt forbids a Muslim woman from marry a Christian man.Her charges after the sentence were dropped, but she was detained in August this year and sentenced to three years after a brief court session, her lawyer said, according to SAPA.

As in the days of Noah....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Palestinian Pastor Vows to Continue, Despite Ongoing Threats

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK-His efforts to help his people have led to numerous death threats. Because another Palestinian pastor was recently murdered, he takes the threats seriously.“I have to take the threats seriously,” says Pastor Isa Bajalia, an American-born Palestinian who founded a ministry in Ramallah known as Middle East Missions. “Rami Ayyad once sat in my place and thought they probably won’t do anything,” he notes.Rami Ayyad, the manager of Gaza City’s only Christian bookstore, was abducted and killed in early October. The attack came six months after his Palestinian Bible Society bookshop was bombed, and nearly daily threats of violence. No arrests have been made in his killing.Threats against Pastor Isa began in May, after a medical mission team came from a U.S. church to minister in Ramallah. There were three physicians, several nurses, and other volunteers who distributed medicine, vitamins, and other essentials. “The group was very bold in the way they prayed and witnessed, and somehow the word got back to the Palestinian Authority,” says Pastor Isa.“We have to use wisdom in ministering to people of other faiths-and not be offensive,” he says. “At the same time we have a sovereign mandate in Mark 16-The Great Commission.”Pastor Isa also ran into trouble more recently when he attempted to sell some land in Ramallah that once belonged to his grandfather, who immigrated from Ramallah to the U.S. in the early 1950s. Pastor Isa has identified two men he alleges are attempting to extort money from him, in exchange for his grandfather’s land. One of those threatening him is a member of the Tunzin militia group.“It’s like the mafia,” Pastor Isa says. “He says if I pay him $30,000 and assign the land over to him, he’ll get off my back.” Pastor Isa grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and was born-again at a Baptist Church when he was 14. He met his wife at Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid-1980s. They have one son.Many generations of his family lived in Ramallah and had ties to the Greek Orthodox Church. “Because of my family roots, I’ve always had a desire and a calling from God to better the lives of my people,” he says. “The thrust of our efforts is to bring educational opportunity and humanitarian relief to the people of Ramallah.”In 1996 the Bajalias launched a kindergarten in Ramallah for children aged 3-5. Due to the intifada, their school was forced to close in 2002. They have also been involved in church-planting efforts, but with the tense atmosphere currently in the West Bank, those efforts take the form of cell groups meeting in private homes.A surprising incident clarified Pastor Isa’s ministry vision about 12 years ago. One afternoon as he walked toward his house he was startled by a shepherd running down a hill, chasing his sheep. He heard the man yelling, causing a commotion.“I noticed the sound of sheep hooves coming from behind me along with a man shouting in Arabic for me to stop.”When Pastor Isa turned, he noticed the sheep were following him. “When I stopped the sheep stopped running,” he recalls. “The shepherd was out of breath and thanked me for stopping.”“I don’t know why, but my sheep were following you home,” the man said, somewhat perplexed.Pastor Isa continued to the door of his house when he felt God speak to his heart, saying, ‘If you continue to obey me, I will always cause sheep to follow you – and some shepherds.’Pastor Isa and his wife have ministered in the Middle East since 1991. He sees a delicate balance between humanitarian relief and maintaining an effective witness. “We’re firm believers that the light of Jesus Christ shines first and foremost through your life,” he says.“We befriend those we minister to in our humanitarian efforts,” he notes. “We attempt to somehow allow them to see the life of Jesus lived through us. We try to sink into the shadows of the background to allow His personality and character to be in the forefront.”“That always opens the door to questioning on their part,” he adds.Just this week, mounting threats forced Pastor Isa to flee Ramallah and take cover in East Jerusalem. Despite these pressures, Pastor Isa remains steadfast. “I’m a firm believer that battles are won from your knees,” he says. “I will not stop being obedient to the high call of God.”
By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
As in the days of Noah....

Ministry adds food to its North Korean Bible outreach

An international relief ministry has expanded its distribution of scripture to Christians in the most persecuted nation in the world to include something more than spiritual food.For several years, Alpha Relief has provided humanitarian aid and discipleship materials to persecuted Christians in North Korea. Initially, Alpha Relief concentrated on scripture distribution to the underground church, but founder Chris Moore realized that many Christians were starving to death because of a widespread famine."Around December of 2006, we started getting word from the people we were working with, that they literally had run out of food and they were going into the woods to forage for roots and to pull bark off of trees and essentially eat anything they could find," he says. "So when the situation became that dire and we were aware of it, we added to our scripture distribution the element of emergency food aid."He explains that if people cannot eat and are dying of starvation, then sending Bibles has very little meaning. The underground church helps in the distribution of food to orphans and the homeless, says Moore. He also explains that there are many factors contributing to the famine plaguing North Korea. He includes among them are the fact that less than 20 percent of North Korea is suitable for farming, and the Marxist-Leninist policies of the communist nation.

As in the days of Noah...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Anti-conversion legislation in India keeps Christians vigilant

India-Hindu nationalists have been frustrated in their bid strengthen an already stringent anti-conversion bill in Chhattisgarh State, India.One amendment would have required a person who wants to change his religion to report those intentions to government officials at least 30 days in advance.The government would then have the right to grant or deny the request.The governor also openly opposed another clause in the amendment which exempted people from the law if they are reverting from Christianity or Islam back to their native religion. The amendments target religious conversions classified as "occurring by force or allurement."Dave Stravers of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India explains, "A law like this needs to be confirmed by the governor. Just two days ago (Monday), the governor vetoed the bill."Christians claim the bill violated the Indian Constitution's religious freedom clause. Although they make up less than one percent of the nearly 21 million residents of Chhattisgarh, they have been effective in ministry. A strong anti-conversion law would have jeopardized many evangelistic projects. "So," says Stravers, "Christians are rejoicing that this prospect of a strong anti-conversion law is not going to happen in Chhattisgarh."Mission India has multiple literacy classes in the state. Stravers says one was recently shut down by militants, but one woman refused to be intimidated.32-year old Rani joined Mission India's Adult Literacy program earlier this year and was pleased about everything she was learning. She became a Christian, and a worship group started out of this literacy class.Extremists from the Bajrang Dal group stormed into the literacy center and questioned the group. The students explained they were learning to read and write, but the extremists harassed them and forced them to drink alcohol.The literacy students were shaken and decided to stop the worship service.After several days of silence, Rani had had enough. She walked to the homes of the literacy students and persuaded them to attend the worship services. She reminded them that they were worshipping a true and living God who would take care of them and help them.Her determination encouraged others who, despite the threat against them, "rrestarted their classes, and they're doing their Sunday worship again as they did before and just trusting God to protect them." Stravers says, "To me, it just illustrates the point when people say, 'How can I pray?' of course we say, 'Pray for protection.' But especially, pray that people will have courage."

As in the days of Noah....

Christian activists jailed in Egypt

Egypt-Egypt is a predominantly Sunni Muslim state. Conversions from Islam are viewed as apostasy, although Muslim scholars differ on the what action should be taken. Christians in Egypt are often treated as second-class citizens, denied political representation, and discriminated against.The Middle East Christian Association is a Christian rights group that speaks out on their behalf. Voice of the Martyrs Canada's Glenn Penner says they're also now the targets."The spokesman of MECA (45-year-old Wagih Yaob) and another man (47-year-old Vict George) were taken from their Cairo homes at about 4:30 in the morning, and after being interrogated, they were sentenced to 15 days' detention for 'insulting Islam' and 'ruining the reputation of Egypt.' Later that day, their lawyer (Mamdouh Azmy) in Alexandria was also taken to a Cairo prison."Believers have been feeling the pressure. Just two weeks ago, an Egyptian court acquitted two other MECA activists who had faced charges of defaming Islam. At times, the discrimination results in violence, as happened during three days of rioting, starting on New Years Eve 1999 in El-Kosheh. In February 2003, two of 96 Muslims accused in this riot were convicted. However, in June 2004, 94 of the 96 convicted criminals were acquitted.These are just a few of the incidents that are behind the concerns Christians have shared. Penner urges prayer. "Pray for those Egyptians, like these with the Middle Eastern Christian Association, who have the courage to speak up, that they'll continue to do so despite all the harassment that they're facing. Pray that Egyptian Christians would respond to persecution in a Godly fashion."

As in the days of Noah....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Messianic Jews active in Sderot

An Israeli anti-missionary group complained this week that Messianic Jewish congregations are becoming more publicly active in the southern town of Sderot in an effort to bring comfort through Yeshua (Jesus) to a community living under an increasingly difficult physical threat.
Sderot and surrounding communities continue to suffer almost daily rocket and mortar attacks from neighboring Hamas-controlled Gaza. The anti-messianic group Yad L'Achim insists local believers in Yeshua are exploiting that situation when they invite neighbors to worship services and present them with copies of the New Testament.[[[[Yad L'Achim officials told Israel National News they are increasing efforts in Sderot to counter what they see as the detrimental threat of growing faith in Yeshua as the promised Jewish messiah.]]]]

As in the days of Noah....

POLICE STATE GERMANY:Parents to beg for their own grocery money

Homeschooling parents who have been battling the government over their children's education are heading into court today to beg permission to use some of their own money for groceries, after authorities froze their personal and business bank accounts.Dagmar Neubronner, who with her husband, Tillman, runs a home-based publishing business and homeschools sons Moritz, 10, and Thomas, 8, told the Home School Legal Defense Association the couple got word yesterday of the lock on the accounts."After the bailiff/marshal could not find possessions to take away from us, today we received news that our accounts have been blocked to impound the penalty payment of 4,500 euros," she wrote. "So our work as a publishing house is blocked, too, and we cannot withdraw money to buy food."As WND has reported, the fine is being imposed because the couple is unwilling to subject their sons to the grind of the daily school requirements in Germany.Government officials determined to stamp out "parallel societies" are adamantly opposed to homeschooling in Germany, and the Neubronners case is just the latest in a string of incidents in which the HSLDA has gotten involved. In this case, the organization that promotes homeschooling worldwide already has written to Mrs. Senatorin Renate Jurgens-Pieper in Bremen, asking for a continuation of previous permission for the Neubronner family to teach their children at home. "I understand that this family would like to homeschool their children and that while you previously allowed them to do so you are refusing to permit them to homeschool this year," the letter from HSLDA President J. Michael Smith said."We also ask you to use your influence to modify the Bremen City-State [law] to make homeschooling possible for anyone who chooses it. To deny parents the right to homeschool their children is to deny them a basic and fundamental human right. Will you consider setting an example for your whole nation that respects the rights of parents and children to be home educated?"WND has reported previously how German officials targeted an American family of Baptist missionaries for deportation because they belong to a group that refuses "to give their children over to the state school system."A teenager, Melissa Busekros, also returned to her family months after German authorities took her from her home and forcibly detained her in a psychiatric facility for being homeschooled.And WND has reported on other families facing fines, frozen bank accounts and court-ordered state custody of their children for resisting Germany's mandatory public school requirements, which by government admission are assigned to counter "the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views."The Neubronner sons had not fared well in Montessori or experimental schools "for a variety of reasons including the bus rides, the noise in the classrooms, and lack of challenging material, and a failure to connect with the kids in the school."But school officials in Bremen have ordered the parents to force their sons into the public school. Their failure produced the fine, which authorities already had sought to collect by inspecting their home for items that could be confiscated and sold."It is unbelievable especially when you consider … there is no urgency at all," continued Mrs. Neubronner. "The children just received good school reports and our appeal negotiations [are] still to come."She told the HSLDA her family is offering some help, and she hopes for some assistance from the family's court appearance."By seizing the bank accounts of the Neubronners and in seeking to seize the personal property for sale, German public officials have yet again demonstrated a colossal disregard for their citizen's basic human rights," Michael P. Donnelly, a staff counsel for HSLDA, told WND."The Neubronners are decent hardworking citizens who are sincerely doing what is in the best interests of their children and do not deserve this kind of harsh treatment. These outrageous and disproportionate actions are rooted in laws that date back to the darkest days of recent German history. With Slovakia and Romania now making positive changes to legalize homeschooling, Germany stands out as a dark shadow in Europe as an oppressor of this basic human right.""Even the United Nations has called on Germany to reform the way it treats homeschoolers. We appeal to the German people and German leadership to do what is right and to protect rather than attack families who choose to homeschool their children," he said.In the case involving Melissa Busekros, a German appeals court ultimately ordered legal custody of the teenager who was taken from her home by a police squad and detained in a psychiatric hospital for being homeschooled be returned to her family because she no longer is in danger.The lower court's ruling had ordered police officers to take Melissa – then 15 – from her home, if necessary by force, and place her in a mental institution for a variety of evaluations. She was kept in custody from early February until April, when she turned 16 and under German law was subject to different laws.At that point she simply walked away from the foster home where she had been required to stay and returned home.Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented on the issue on a blog, noting the government "has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole."Drautz said homeschool students' test results may be as good as for those in school, but "school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens."The German government's defense of its "social" teachings and mandatory public school attendance was clarified during an earlier dispute on which WND reported, when a German family wrote to officials objecting to police officers picking their child up at home and delivering him to a public school."The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling," said a government letter in response. "... You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. ... In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement."

As in the days of Noah...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Muslims intimidated church into holding Arafat memorial:Christians fear 'we'll become casualties of retaliation, escalating violence'

JERUSALEM-Intimidation by members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party forced a Catholic church in Gaza to hold a memorial service yesterday for the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, according to sources in Gaza's Christian leadership.The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety, said Catholics now fears retaliation from Hamas, Fatah's rival, after holding yesterday's ceremony commemorating the third anniversary of Arafat's death."The church was obliged to hold the event for Arafat after Christian leaders participated in a Hamas event 10 days ago," said a Christian source close to the church."Now we fear Christians may be casualties of the escalating violence. We may be caught in the crosshairs, and we're afraid of retaliation."The Arafat memorial was held at Gaza City's Holy Family Church. Manuel Musallam, the parish's priest was quoted by participants calling Arafat's death "a great loss for the Palestinian people.""Arafat was a great and very courageous leader," stated Musallam, according to memorial participants speaking to WND. "We miss this great person who was the first to bring hopes of freedom and independence to the Palestinians. We call on the Palestinian leadership to follow Arafat's road to end the suffering of Palestinian people." The church event was part of larger, three-day memorial services held throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with events in Gaza setting off the worst factional clashes between Fatah and Hamas in months.Hamas gunmen Monday reportedly opened fire at a massive Fatah rally in Gaza that had over 250,000 participants in the largest show of Fatah strength in Gaza since Hamas took over the territory in June. Seven Palestinians-all reportedly Fatah supporters-were killed in the clashes, according to news reports.Some 85 more were wounded in the violence, three of whom are said to be in serious condition.The church memorial was the second time in recent days Christian leaders in the Gaza Strip said they were intimidated into showing support for the Palestinian leadership.Earlier this month, WND reported Christian leaders in the Gaza Strip were intimidated into attending and expressing support for a speech in which the territory's Hamas leader urged the worldwide spread of Islam, according to sources in Gaza's Christian community.Artinious Alexious, priest of Gaza's Greek Orthodox Church, and Emanuel Salum, a Catholic leader in Gaza, were at a major speech 10 days ago by Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Hamas government in Gaza and deposed prime minister of the previously Hamas-run Palestinian Authority.Also present were hundreds of gunmen, including members of a group, Jihadia Salafiya, suspected of carrying out anti-Christian attacks in Gaza such as the lobbing of grenades last September at Alexious' church.Hamas banned most international media from covering the event, only allowing entry to journalists accredited by the terror group.A major theme of Haniyeh's speech was the spread of Islamic values throughout the world, according to reporters in attendance.The reporters present said at one point during his speech, Haniyeh spoke about the "excellent" situation for Christians living under Hamas rule in Gaza.He pointed to the two Christian leaders in attendance, at which point to two raised their hands and nodded in agreement, witnesses told WND.According to sources in Gaza's Christian community speaking on condition of anonymity, Alexious and Salum were intimidated into attending the Hamas speech. The sources said in the weeks prior to the event, Haniyeh's office repeatedly called the Christian leaders to request they free their schedules to assist the Hamas rally."The priests thought it was a diplomatic way to threaten them and put pressure on them," said one source."After discussions within the Christian community leadership it was decided it would be dangerous not to assist in the meeting even though it would be very strange to see priests assisting in a meeting about the spread of Islam,"the source said.Hamas in June seized complete control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah amid widespread fears it would impose hard-line Islamic rule in the territory and that life for Christians might deteriorate.About 3,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of over 1 million.There have been a slew of recent alleged anti-Christian attacks in Gaza, including the murder last month of a Christian bookstore owner whose beaten, bullet-ridden body was found after his shop repeatedly had been targeted by Islamists.Rami Ayyad, who managed the only Christian bookstore in Gaza, also had been threatened a number of times by local Islamist groups.

As in the days of Noah....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Egypt Arrests Three Christian Rights Activists

Egyptian police over the weekend detained three members of a Christian rights group who were reportedly investigating the death of a Christian man allegedly killed by Egyptian police.Pre-dawn raids in two Cairo homes captured Wagih Yakob, 45, spokesman and lawyer of the Middle East Christian Association (MECA), and another member of the rights group, reported the group’s president Nader Fawzy from MECA’s Toronto headquarters, according to Reuters.Later that same day, Mamdouh Azmy, another lawyer for the group, was detained from his office in Alexandria.“They haven’t done anything at all,” Fawzy told Reuters. “The government is trying to stop us from working in Egypt.”The U.S. Copts Association said the recent arrest was likely caused by the men’s investigation into reports that a Coptic worker in Cairo was thrown from his balcony by two Egyptian police after he refused to pay them extortion money, according to WorldNetDaily.The association’s report said soon after the Coptic worker’s fall, the Egyptian police had reported the death as suicide.Days before Sunday’s arrest, two of men’s colleagues were released after completing a 90-day detention. The organization’s president in Egypt, Adel Fawzy Faltas, 61, and MECA member Peter Ezzat, 25, had been accused of insulting Islam, destroying Egypt’s reputation, owning a gun without a license and being a threat to national security during their three-month interrogation, according to the Compass Direct news agency. They were released, however, without charge.Two of the three arrested activists have been issued 15-day detentions, Compass reported.Egypt’s population of 80 million is about 90 percent Muslim and only about 10 percent Christian. Although the percentage of Christians in Egypt is small, it represents the largest Christian population in the Middle East.The Middle East Christian Association’s mission statement calls for secularism, equality with full citizenship for Christians living in the Middle East.

'Spies' identified as Christian photographers:'They had started studio to support themselves'

A team of "foreign spies" arrested by North Korean authorities-and possibility executed-actually are Christians who had started a portrait photography studio to support themselves, according to The Voice of the Martyrs, which ministers to the Persecuted Church worldwide.
The organization based in Bartlesville, Okla., is reporting that authorities from the National Security Service of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea held a news conference in Pyongyang recently to announce the arrest of "foreign spies" and "native citizens working for a foreign intelligence service."However, the people arrested were, in fact, "Christian believers and not spies," VOM confirmed. Li Su Gil, a spokesman for the security service, did not identify those arrested but confirmed they "carried out the missions by means of diverse espionage equipment," according to VOM.VOM then identified the following North Korean Christians "who have disappeared and are believed to have been arrested by government authorities:"
Onseong, North Hamgyong Province: Chul Huh, male; Chun-Il Jang, male, 39; Young-Si Jin, male, 32; Myung-Chul Kim, male, 36; Nam-Suk Kang, male, 48; and Young-Yae Lee, female, 37. Yoeryong, North Hamgyong Province: San-Ho Kang, male, 36. Cheongjin, North Hamgyong Province: Mi-Hae Park, female, 30; Suk-Chin Suh, male, 29."These North Korean Christians had started a portrait photography studio to help support themselves, and had registered their businesses with appropriate government authorities," VOM said. "According to VOM sources working in North Korea, they were not involved in espionage activities. It is believed that equipment taken by the government was in fact photography equipment used in their portrait work." "Following Jesus Christ is considered treason in North Korea, where the government mandates that worship is reserved for deceased dictator Kim Il Sung and his son, the current dictator, Kim Jong-il," said Todd Nettleton, spokesman for VOM. "The Voice of the Martyrs is proud to stand with Christ's followers in North Korea, and deeply concerned for the well-being of our brothers and sisters there."We call on the North Korean government to release these Christian believers, who were involved in legitimate business activities to support themselves and their families," he said.The Voice of the Martyrs has been involved in helping North Korean Christians for decades, including a ministry project that launched thousands of "Scripture balloons," mylar balloons filled with helium and printed on either side with biblical passages.
"VOM has conducted other projects to help North Korean Christians but cannot discuss details publicly to protect the safety of VOM workers and contacts inside North Korea," the ministry said.The location of those recently arrested also is not known, VOM said."We pray that they are alive," Nettleton said. "But we know it is possible that they have finished their race on earth and gone on to their eternal reward in heaven. We encourage Christians everywhere to pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea, who must constantly face the threat of arrest, torture and execution simply for living out their faith in Jesus Christ."
As in the days of Noah....

Bible-store owner riddled with bullets:Now Islamic terrorist pegged for allegedly torturing, killing Christian

JERUSALEM – A senior Hamas militant is suspected of torturing and killing the manager of a Christian bookstore in the Gaza Strip who was found dead last month, according to Palestinian security officials.The body of Rami Ayyad, who managed the only Christian bookstore in Gaza, was discovered last month riddled with gunshot and stab wounds. Ayyad, a Baptist, was accused by Gaza-based Islamic groups of engaging in missionary activities. His bookstore, owned by the Palestinian Bible Society, was firebombed in April after which he told relatives he received numerous death threats from Islamists.The day of his abduction, Ayyad reportedly said he was being followed by a car that had no license plates.Security officials associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization told WND yesterday there is information Ashraf Abu Layla, the central Gaza chief of Hamas' so-called military wing, the Izz al-Din Al Qassam Brigades, was behind the murder which is widely viewed as an anti-Christian attack.The security officials said Hamas forces closed the investigation into the death of Ayyad in spite of what they said was evidence of Layla's involvement. A Hamas spokesman denied the accusation while a top member of Hamas' "military wing," contacted by WND and speaking on condition of anonymity, would neither confirm nor deny his group was behind the Ayyad killing.
Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since last June, when Hamas took complete control of the Gaza Strip, seizing all U.S.-backed Fatah security compounds.Last month, WND quoted witnesses stating Ayyad was publicly tortured a few blocks from his store before he was shot to death.The witnesses said they saw three armed men, two of whom were wearing masks, beat Ayyad repeatedly with clubs and the butts of their guns while they accused him of attempting to spread Christianity in Gaza. The witnesses said that after sustaining the beating, Ayyad was shot by all three men.Ayyad left behind a pregnant wife and two young children. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.
Christians warned: Accept Islamic law
Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Jihadia Salafiya, an Islamic outreach movement that recently announced the opening of a "military wing" to enforce Muslim law in Gaza, told WND in a recent interview all Christians in Gaza engaged in missionary activity will be "dealt with harshly." Jihadia Salafiya, allied with Hamas, is suspected of a slew of Islamist attacks, including firebombing Internet cafes and one in May against a United Nations school in Gaza after it allowed boys and girls to participate in the same sporting event. One person was killed in that attack.When Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, there were widespread fears it would impose hardline Islamic rule in the territory, and that life for Christians might deteriorate.About 3,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of over 1 million.Immediately after Hamas' Gaza coup, Abu Saqer told WND in an exclusive interview Christians could continue living safely in the Gaza Strip only if they accepted Islamic law, including a ban on alcohol and on women roaming publicly without proper head coverings."[Now that Hamas is in power,] the situation has changed 180 degrees in Gaza," said Abu Saqer, speaking from Gaza."Jihadia Salafiya and other Islamic movements will ensure Christian schools and institutions show publicly what they are teaching to be sure they are not carrying out missionary activity," he said.Abu Saqer accused the leadership of the Gaza Christian community of "proselytizing and trying to convert Muslims with funding from American evangelicals.""This missionary activity is endangering the entire Christian community in Gaza," he said.Abu Saqer claimed there was "no need" for the thousands of Christians in Gaza to maintain a large number of institutions in the territory.He said Hamas "must work to impose an Islamic rule or it will lose the authority it has and the will of the people."
As in the days of Noah....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pastor Flees PA after Threats on his Life

"Moslem hatred of Christians in Palestinian territories has intensified since the Iraq War and the terrorist attacks in the US on Sept. 11, 2001 to the point of open acts of persecution, threats and violence."

With the dirt still fresh over the coffin of a Palestinian martyr in Gaza, another evangelical pastor in Palestinian territories fears he may be the next target of persecution against Christians and is taking no chances.Isa Bajalia, who is a pastor in Ramallah, fled to Jerusalem after receiving several threats against his life and was refused protection by Palestinian officials.These latest threats underscore the growing violence against Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, in Palestinian territories. Less than a month ago a Palestinian Bible Society worker in Gaza, Rami Ayyad, was kidnapped and killed.“I was told, ‘The same things that happened to Rami in Gaza would happen to you,’”Bajalia recounted. “They said, ‘We can catch you in the US;’ ‘We’re going to break your arms and legs;’ ‘Beyond the fact that you can’t see well, you’re also not going to walk;’ and, ‘Just like Hamas did to Fatah, we’re going to shoot you in your knee caps.’”
To read more go to:
PS:IF this is not evil....i don't know what it is.......
Please Pray for pastors like Isa that are being threatened and persecuted EVERY DAY in the ARAB WORLD....!!!!!

As in the days of Noah....

Friday, November 9, 2007

COLOMBIA:Evangelical Pastor Killed

Pastor Diego Armando Bejarano, 27, was killed recently in the region west of Bogotá. Witnesses say hooded men took Bejarano by force and stabbed him. The motives for the killing are unknown;however, it is common knowledge guerrillas groups view Protestant pastors who encroach on territory under their control as military objectives. In the last 10 years, guerrillas have assassinated 133 pastors, Protestant missionaries and Catholic priests, according to the Evangelical Council of Colombia. Ask God to encourage and minister to the pastor's family and church as they mourn. Pray his testimony draws his attackers and nonbelievers into the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Matthew 5:4
Source:Voice of the Martyrs
As in the days of Noah....

Indian Evangelist Killed, Sacrificed for Hindu 'Goddess'

An evangelist in the North Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was killed by Hindu priests suspected of seeking human sacrifices for a Hindu “goddess” in the latest in a series of attacks against Christians in the country.According to the Global Council of Indian Christians, Vipin Mandloli, 27, was shot dead near Aamkut village in the Jhabua District, Madhya Pradesh.Mandloi, who works as a shepherd in his spare time, left his home on Oct. 14 to a nearby mountain to graze his sheep near a Hindu temple."There was a new temple of Kali, the 'goddess' of the Hindus, and he was in its premises," reported GCIC president Sajan K. George. “Three ‘Pujaris,’ or Hindu priests, came there and they shot and killed Vipin Mandloi with a … pistol.”GCIC alleged that the Hindu priests were angry that Mandloi had become a Christian after falling victim to alcohol abuse and a failed marriage. According to the advocacy group, Mandloi transformed to a very devoted Christian and even supported the churches and evangelists in the locality."The ‘goddess’ Kali is a bloodthirsty ‘goddess’ and she is even given human sacrifice," said George, “so it is suspected that the priests found this an opportune time to kill the evangelist as they were already upset with his decision of accepting Christ.” There has been growing concern about attacks against Christians in the same region. With an investigation in the process, GCIC hopes justice will be rendered to the family.

As in the days of Noah...

North Korean Christians arrested; current status unknown

In a highly unusual press conference in Pyongyang in September, the National Security Service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced the arrest of “foreign spies” and “native citizens working for a foreign intelligence service.” The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), a ministry serving Christians in restricted nations who are persecuted for their faith, announced today that those arrested in North Korea were in fact Christian believers and not spies.The security service spokesman at the press conference, Li Su Gil, said that those arrested “carried out the missions by means of diverse espionage equipment.”He did not name any of those arrested.VOM has identified the following North Korean Christians who have disappeared and are believed to have been arrested by government authorities:
Onseong, North Hamgyong Province:
Chul Huh, male
Chun-Il Jang, male, 39
Young-Su Jin, male,
Myung-Chul Kim, male, 36
Nam-Suk Kang, male, 48
Young-Yae Lee, female, 37

Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province:
San-Ho Kang, male, 36

Cheongjin, North Hamgyong Province:
Mi-Hae Park, female, 30
Suk-Chun Suh, male, 29
These North Korean Christians had started a portrait photography studio to help support themselves, and had registered their businesses with appropriate government authorities. According to VOM sources working in North Korea, they were not involved in espionage activities. It is believed that equipment taken by the government was in fact photography equipment used in their portrait work.“Following Jesus Christ is considered treason in North Korea, where the government mandates that worship is reserved for deceased dictator Kim Il Sung and his son, the current dictator, Kim Jong Il,” said Todd Nettleton, spokesperson for VOM. “The Voice of the Martyrs is proud to stand with Christ’s followers in North Korea, and deeply concerned for the well-being of our brothers and sisters there. We call on the North Korean government to release these Christian believers, who were involved in legitimate business activities to support themselves and their families.”The Voice of the Martyrs has been actively involved in helping North Korean Christians for decades. Among the projects the ministry has carried out for North Korea is the launch of thousands of “scripture balloons,” mylar balloons filled with helium and printed on either side with scripture passages. VOM has conducted other projects to help North Korean Christians but cannot discuss details publicly to protect the safety of VOM workers and contacts inside North Korea.VOM sources do not know the whereabouts of the arrested believers. It is possible that they have already been tried and executed.“We pray that they are alive,” said Nettleton. “But we know it is possible that they have finished their race on earth and gone on to their eternal reward in heaven. We encourage Christians everywhere to pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea, who must constantly face the threat of arrest, torture and execution simply for living out their faith in Jesus Christ.”
Christians are encouraged to write letters protesting the arrest to the DPRK delegation to the United Nations:
Permanent Mission of the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10017

As in the days of Noah...


As you may have heard, one of our dear brothers in Christ, Rami Ayyad, was recently martyred in Gaza.A married father of two precious kids (and one on the way), Rami was the manager of the Bible Society Bookshop in Gaza. He had received numerous death threats in recent days because of the bookstore’s presence.And those threats became reality on October 7 when his tortured body was found.The death of Rami Ayyad highlights more than ever the need for Open Doors’ upcoming International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) on Sunday, November 11th. this is a spiritual battle we’re fighting… one that will only be won with spiritual weapons!Check out this powerfully emotional video of Rami’s wife and loved ones, to see how you can PRAY for them.
Read more about this tragedy so that you can INFORM others.Order a free kit so that your church and small group can ACT on behalf of secret believers and other persecuted Christians like the Ayyad family.

As in the days of Noah...

Widow of slain Turkish worker: 'A cross for me every day'

ISTANBUL,Turkey-On a recent Sunday night while on the way home from church services, a sad little voice came from the back seat of the car.“Mommy, I miss my Daddy so much. Can't Jesus bring him back to us?”Her mother sighed, and then turned from the front seat to explain gently once more to her 6-year-old daughter, "Esther, Jesus decided to take Daddy to heaven, to be with Him. So we have to wait until Jesus takes us to heaven to see Daddy again."The little girl thought for a few seconds and then declared, "Well, if Daddy isn't coming back, then I want to go to heaven too!"More than six months have passed since Esther Aydin's father was beaten, tortured and then slaughtered with a knife in Turkey's eastern city of Malatya by five young Muslims who claimed in initial statements they had done it "for our religion."But Esther and her brother Elisha, 7, are still struggling painfully with the loss of their father, Necati Aydin, who shared his martyrdom on April 18 with another Turkish Christian, Ugur Yuksel, and German Christian Tilmann Geske. They were bound hand and foot, tortured with multiple stab wounds and had their throats cut.The ritual slayings appeared to be a deliberate observance of the Quranic instruction to "strike terror into the hearts of unbelievers" by smiting them above the neck and striking every finger (Surah 8:12). The victims' fingertips were sliced repeatedly and their windpipes and esophagi severed.As their mother put them to bed on another recent evening, Elisha finally asked, "Mommy, are you crying about Daddy?"Admitting it had been hard for her to cry since his death, his mother told him, "I am crying in my heart every day, Elisha."Bravely trying to comfort her, Elisha answered, "You don't need to cry, Mommy. We know he is in heaven with Jesus, along with Uncle Ugur and Uncle Tilmann."But a few nights later, as he again dissolved in a flood of tears, he sobbed out his own fears to her, admitting he was terrified that she might die, too.In-laws' oppositionFor Semse Aydin, who spoke at a recent memorial service near Istanbul to her husband's Zirve Publishing Company colleagues, the shock of the cruel and sudden death still hits her every morning when she awakens."Necati's absence is a cross for me every day," she admitted.Ten years ago, Necati Aydin's strict Muslim family had violently opposed his decision to become a Christian. They literally kidnapped him when they learned of his pending marriage, threatening both of them if he did not change his mind and come back to Islam."I was afraid for his life, and that he would renounce Jesus," Aydin said. "So I told the Lord I would give him up, that I would sacrifice our marriage. I prayed that the Lord would just keep Necati for Himself, not for me."But Necati Aydin stayed firm in his new faith in Christ and, after writing a farewell letter to his family, he married Semse in 1998."Now, God has taken him back," she said. "He is the one who gives and takes away. So how can I be angry with the God who is over everything?"But the realities of single motherhood still overwhelm her, despite the comforting support of her older sister, who squeezed them into her modest apartment in western Turkey the week after the tragedy.Finding their own housing provided difficult as they dealt with persecution. Her brother-in-law’s church has been targeted in two attacks, including an attempted arson."It's a daily stress on all of us," Aydin said, "for my 9-year-old niece and her parents as well as for me and my children, to know there are people who hate us so much they want to frighten us and even kill us."Even the children have been ostracized at school because of their distinctively Christian first names.'A knife to my heart'The draining process of returning to Malatya in early September to pack up and move from their former home was like "a knife to my heart," she said."It was as painful as death itself to close that chapter of my life," she said."Without Necati, I feel like I don't have a home anymore. I can't feel like this is really my home now, because he's not here."Even so, she made time during the visit to call on her Muslim neighbors, once again testifying to them of the love and forgiveness she had found in Christ. She gifted each one with a New Testament and a copy of her husband's letter to his family explaining why he had become a Christian."It took so much energy, and it was so painful, but Jesus would not let me dodge this last opportunity," she said.But there were encouraging times as well, she said, meeting with many of the Christian believers in Malatya who had come to faith through the witness of herself and her husband, who had been their pastor.Despite the personal cost of her pain, Aydin stands by her public statement to the Turkish media two days after her husband's death, declaring that she has forgiven the five culprits, now jailed and awaiting trial.In fact, she is actively praying for at least one of them to repent of their deeds and come to faith in Christ."That's the ultimate revenge, isn't it?" Aydin asked.
by Barbara G. Baker — Compass Direct

As in the days of Noah....

Fears for Christians and Other Minorities in Pakistan

LONDON (ANS)-Pakistani Christians are expressing concern about the public order situation in their country, and the security of minorities, following President Pervez Musharraf's widely criticised suspension of consitutional government and his declaration of a state of emergency over the weekend.Ekklesia News Service said that Musharraf's move, which has embarrassed his Western allies and outraged democracy and human rights advocates, comes ahead of a Supreme Court decision on whether to overturn his recent election victory. The signs are that Musharraf’s poll ratings are likely to slip to single digits.“This move is not about law and order primarily, it is about Musharraf's desperate attempt to survive politically,” a leading analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity for safety reasons, told Ekklesia. The army loyal to Musharraf has been arresting lawyers, opponents and civil society advocates in a widespread clampdown.There are signs of public protest, but widespread fear. Ekklesia said that churches now fear the situation will be exploited by those who wish to carry out more attacks on the minority Christian community.News agencies say independent news channels have been forced off the air and telephone lines were cut. Meanwhile army vehicles have taken up positions on key roads in Islamabad surrounding the Supreme Court.In one of a number of incidents in recent weeks, two Catholic sanitary workers were reportedly shot and killed because they refused to convert to Islam. Bribery allegations were also involved, Ekklesia said.A Catholic-run public high school in Sangota, in the Swat Valley, was also attacked by a group calling itself Janisaran-i-Islam, allegedly for “forcibly converting students” and “encouraging un-Islamic behavior.” The school has reopened after being closed for a while.However, Ekklesia said that some Muslims who boycotted and attacked Christians in Gowindh, a Punjabi village of 10,000 people, have subsequently apologized for their actions, which were stirred up by misinformation from extremists.Several Pakistani Christian leaders and church officials have distanced themselves from General Musharraf and criticized his policies recently, Ekklesia said, amidst claims from militants that they back the West and U.S. policies.
By Jeremy Reynalds-Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

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