Friday, August 8, 2008

Group Calls for 31-Day Prayer to Protect China's Believers During Olympics

With the start of the Olympics just a day away, an international persecution watchdog group is inviting Christians throughout the world to join in a monthlong strategic prayer campaign to protect the unregistered church in China as it faces the prospect of even greater persecution during the Games.U.K.-based Release International accused the Chinese Government of pursuing a tough crackdown on “illegal religious activities” under the guise of preventing disruptions to the Games.The watchdog group has put together a prayer guide to cover the month of the Olympics, highlighting the Chinese government’s persecution of underground Christians who have been trying to help in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake,the persecution in particular of the Uyghur ethnic minority Christians in Xinjiang province, and the arrest and detention of numerous house church leaders and Christian rights campaigners.Release recommends that believers offer a prayer a day over 31 days for the situation of China’s underground believers.“Release is inviting Christians to stand with the persecuted Church in China. We want people to intercede for freedom of worship and Christian revival in this vast communist nation – to see the Kingdom of God extended in China,” said the head of Release, Andy Dipper.Other agencies supporting persecuted believers in China have also complained of a government crackdown ahead of the Olympics.The China Aid Association published a report on Tuesday detailing the increase in arrests and detentions of house church members in the last few months.The Texas-based group said that persecution of Chinese believers was taking place “daily” and accused the Chinese Government of being “hypocritical” Olympic hosts.The sentiment is one shared by the head of Open Doors USA, Carl Moeller."Unfortunately, there has been a crackdown on house church leaders in wake of the start of the Olympics," he said."It's a travesty that hundreds of Christians sit in prisons while the Chinese Government pats itself on the back for its hosting of the Games."The Olympic flame finishes its long journey to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games on Friday, marking the start of 16 days of competition involving thousands of athletes.
The following is Release’s prayer guide for the 31 days of prayer:
Day 1 The Sichuan earthquake in May caused the death of some 69,195 people. Despite the scale of the tragedy, the Chinese government refused to allow house churches to send donations to the relief effort. And some house church members were even arrested for trying to help in the quake zone. Please pray that the Chinese government will change its hostile attitude towards these Christians and let them engage in charity work.
Day 2 The Chinese authorities appear to be waging a concerted campaign of persecution against the ethnic minority Uyghur Christians of Xinjiang province, north-west China. Most Uyghurs are Muslim. Several Christians have been arrested on suspicion of separatist sympathies or leaking state secrets recently, including Alimjan Yimit. In May a judge sent Alimjan’s case back to the Public Security Bureau due to insufficient evidence – but Alimjan remains in detention. Pray for Alimjan’s swift release.
Day 3 On 2 July 2008, house church leader and Christian rights activist Hua Huiqi was evicted from his rented home in Beijing. Officials broke into the apartment with a hammer and threw the family, including Hua’s 90-year-old father, into the street with their furniture. Hua’s brother suffered serious injury to his eye when officers beat him. The government is rumoured to want to detain Hua during the Olympic Games: he was jailed for six months last year. Pray for a new home for Hua’s family and for their safety.
As in the days of Noah....

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