Archive for the 'persecution' Category

07
Oct
09

persecution, flooding and North Korea

Extreme Flooding in India
   India is experiencing the worst flooding in 100 years. According to the Christian Post, 222 people have died and 2.5 million have been forced from thier homes.

Kidnapped Iraqi Christian Dead
   A 45 year old Iraqi Christian was killed and kidnapped and his body found on Sunday. Since 2003, half the Christian communicty has left Iraq and more continue to leave as violent incidents like this increase.

Christian Arrested for Distributing Tracts in Egypt
   I am continually learning about more and more countries that do not have lawes against Christianity, yet Christians are arrested and persecuted there. This story is one such example.

Justice Comes to Orissa
   Its a small step, but a step nonetheless. Six people were sentenced to 4 years imprisonment for their role in anti-Christian violence. For background information on Orissa check out this past post: Orissa Prayer Campaign

The Paradox of North Korea
   Very few journalists are allowed in North Korea , however, this BBC journalist was given teh unique opportunity to visit “one of the most effective systems of control ever envisaged.”lsdkjf  /zxx.v;p

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09
Sep
09

world watch list: saudi arabia

While communist North Korea does not support any religion, Saudi Arabia rejects all non Islamic religions. Ruled by King Abdullah, the Islamic monarchy arrests, flogs, deports and tortures those who practice Christianity in public. Of the 24.7 million citizens, only 2.2% are Christian. In the past, those who worshipped privately were generally left alone. However, in the past year, there has been an increasing number of arrests of those worshipping privately. Christians risk arrest, honor killings and persecution everyday. Please pray that those who are learning about Jesus through the internet and sattelite television are able to find fellow believers and have questions answered and recieve spiritual encouragement.

Saudi Arabia has a religious police force,mutawwa’in, who threaten and persecute Christians. In January of 2009 a house pastor named Yemane Gebriel was forced to leave his hometown under threat of the religious police. He is a personal driver who pastors a 300 member house church in Riyadh. He found anonymous notes in his van telling him to leave the country. When he did not comply, Abdul Aziz, a member of the mutawwa’in, threatened him face to face. He was forced to leave to an unknown location. For more information on this story, visit the Compass Direct Link http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/saudiarabia/1906/

Pray that Gebriel’s church, as well as other churches’ whose leaders have been captured or forced to leave, have the strength and encouragement to continue meeting and persevering in thier faith.

07
Sep
09

World Watch List: North Korea

North Korea has been at the top of the WWL for seven consecutive years.  Of the 28.3 million citizens of North Korea, 70% have no religious belief.  People are told they must worship the country’s political leader, Kim Jung Il. Only 1.7% of the population are Christian.  The borders are closely monitored and people caught trying to leave N. Korea are sent back and forced into prison camps, beaten, tortured and often executed. Many try to escape to China, but Chinese government actively looks for North Korean refugees and sends them back. The amount of people in labor and prison camps has risen since 2008 and there are an estimated 50-70,000 Christians in camps.  In your prayers for North Korea, pray that spiritual and physical aid reaches the estimated 400,000 believers in the country. Also pray for wisdom and strenght for those trying to escape.

While Christians are specifically targeted due to the fact that they are viewed as threat to the government, most people in North Korea are suffering under the oppresive rule of Kim Jung Il. The government violates all international human rights laws and many different groups are concerned with the situation in N. Korea. I found the following video on YouTube and although its a bit long , I encourage you to watch it all the way through. It has alot of interesting facts and the pictures demonstrate the horrific situation better than this humble blogger can.

07
Sep
09

Persecution and the World Watch List

Every day this week, we will feature a different country whose Christian citizens face severe persecution on a daily basis. Every year, Open Doors creates a World Watch List, a list of 50 countries around the world with the most severe persecution. We will blog about the top seven countries: North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Maldives andYemen.

Here is some information on how the list is formed:

 The World Watch List is compiled from a specially-designed questionnaire of 50 questions covering various aspects of religious freedom. A point value is assigned depending on how each question is answered. The total number of points per country determiens its position on the WWL. The questions differentiate between the legal, official status of Christians (e.g. Does the constitution and/or national laws provide for freedom of religion?; Are individuals allowed to convert to Christianity by law?) and the actual situation of individual Christians (Are Christians being killed because of their faith?; Are Christians being sentenced to jail, labor camp or sent to a psychiatric hospital because of their faith?). Attention is paid to the role of the church in society (Do Christians have the freedom to print and distribute Christian literature?; Are Christian publications censured/prohibited in this country?) and to factors that may obstruct the freedom of religion in a country (Are Christian meeting places and/orChristian homes attacked because of anti-Christian motives?).” -WWL

02
Sep
09

Orissa: Yesterday and Today

Today’s persecution in Orissa stems from seeds of violence sown in December of 2007. An argument between Christians and the VHP (World Hindu Counsel) over the pitching of a tent in a local village to celebrate Christmas led to the destruction of Christian shops and beating those who choose to continue with Christmas celebrations. (source: Compass Direct News).

Eight months later, a prominent leader of the VHP, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, was killed. Hindu extremists immediately blamed local Christians, although a few days after the killing extreme communist groups publically took responsibility. Still, a year later, Christians continue to be persecuted. (source: Compass Direct News).

In the months immediately following the death of Saraswati, 100 Christians were killed. Buildings, 4,500 homes, 250 churches and 13 educational facilities, were also destroyed. 50,000 people had to flee to refugee camps and only half have been able to return home. . Those who have returned must start from scratch rebuilding homes and businesses. Some have been forced to deny their faith, while others must live out their faith in secret. (source: Compass Direct News).

Even more disturbing than the violence is the inability of Christians to receive justice from the government. In police reports related to the incident, 11,000 were named as attackers. A mere 679 have been arrested. There were over 750 police reports filed and only 1 has resulted in a conviction.  One major reason for the hold up is that Hindu extremists continually threaten witness and those who file complaints. In July, a key witness in a case agreed to testify against the extremists. Twenty four hours later when he was brought to trial, he denied any knowledge of the case. It was later confirmed that three extremists and threatened to kill him if he testified. (source: Compass Direct News).

This is a small corner of the world that desperately needs our prayer and support. These Christians need to be protected and the government is not intervening strongly or quickly enough. Check back for more information as Open Doors launches its Orissa Campaign on September 8.

06
Aug
09

3 years is nothing

What goes through a Christian prisoner’s mind on his day of sentencing? In a letter written from his prison cell, Shi Weihan allows us a rare opportunity to re-live with him the events of June 10, 2009. Shi, 40, a Christian bookstore owner in Beijing, was originally arrested by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) Nov. 28, 2007 along with one of his employees Tian Hongxia. He and his family have gone the through the ups and downs of the Chinese legal system since then.

The prison guards didn’t give me any prior notice of the trial. That day, I was summoned so swiftly after breakfast that I didn’t even have time to change but left in my yellow prisoner’s garb.

As I got into the court van, I saw 15 other prisoners packed inside – six aside on benches with no room to move and three crouching in the middle – all with hands cuffed behind their backs. I could see two other vans which were also packed with 15 prisoners each. A jeep carrying policemen from the courthouse escorted the convoy at the back. We weren’t allowed to talk in the van, but we could hear the policemen’s conversation: except for my case which would be tried in the “Collegiate Hall,” all the other prisoners’ cases would be tried in the “Simple Hall.”

I was praying all the way, entrusting my whole self to God. These words sounded in my ears again: “You are part of My plan. Every step you take brings you closer to victory. You are My child; My grace is sufficient for you.”
My eyes welled up with tears and I tried my utmost to hold them back. I prayed, “Whatever Your will, Lord, please give me strength!”

The van drivers were speeding like cows on a rampage. Suddenly, two vans braked to a halt. The momentum was so strong that my handcuffs cut into my skin. At that moment, I felt like we were being treated worse than pigs.
I’d been cut off from the outside world during the last two months, but I was in no mood to peek out at the scenery on the streets. I kept praying in my heart that I would not throw up.

Very soon, we arrived at the entrance to the basement of the courthouse and some policemen came to take us inside in a single file. In the basement, they handcuffed my hands in the front and locked me in a small glassed cubicle while the other prisoners were divided into groups of seven or eight persons and locked in three or four other cubicles. I sat down on a bench to rest, waiting for the nauseous feeling to pass.

The policemen in the courthouse gathered outside our cubicles for their instructions. The air felt thick with tension. I tried to calm my breathing so that I could eavesdrop on their conversation through the glass partition. The policeman in charge gave them each a small electric baton and said, “If any prisoner
is unwilling to accept the judgment when it’s passed, don’t strike them in the courtroom. Do it after you bring them back to the basement. Is this understood?” They replied in unison, “Understood.”

After they were dismissed, several of them tested their batons. The crackling sound of electric sparks reached my ears. It was a frightening sound. A thought struck me: “If I am the only one being sentenced, why are there so many policemen?” It felt like an ill portent.

The court policewoman had called my name three times. She sounded so serious that I wondered if it was a good sign. How long a sentence would I receive? An acquittal? One and a half, three, five, eight, 10 years? Anything seemed possible. But I told myself that I am a servant of God with a clear conscience – never have I failed my country, its society, people and church!

I heard my name called the fourth time. I responded that I was in the first cubicle and two policemen opened the glass screen and brought me out. At the first floor, I was made to squat facing a wall with my head bowed. A tall and stout policeman came to snap an unflattering photo of my profile – barefoot, in prisoner’s garb and head bowed towards the wall.

The judge came in, surrounded by several uniformed and plain-clothed policemen. They talked and handed the court secretary a document, then instructed her to bring me into the courtroom. After a policeman violently pushed me back down on the floor before releasing my handcuffs, I finally walked into the courtroom followed by Tian and five others from the printing factory. I prayed, “Please give me strength.”

Two policemen grabbed me by the shoulders and escorted me to the first defendant’s chair. I quickly scanned the faces of the people seated on the other side and saw Dad, Mum, Zhang Jing… I missed them so much.
After a few minutes, the judge entered the room. He asked a couple of brief questions and then made us stand up to receive our sentences. But I couldn’t hear what he was saying. My emotions ran wild because I was so happy to see my family again. I tried to calm myself and hold back the tears that filled my eyes.

When the judge called my name, I very quickly came back from turmoil to reality. “Prison term of three years, fine of 150,000 Yuan ($22,000),” he pronounced. I took it most calmly. I had expected a term of 12 years at least for the 2.57 million Bibles that were discovered and the tens of millions that had been distributed before that. Three years was acceptable – they would pass in a blink. If the government had wanted to be lenient, they would have done something much earlier. This case was thorny for them as well.

After each one of us heard our sentences, we were handcuffed again to leave the courtroom. I turned around to face my family, raised and waved my hands, and smiled at them. Though no words passed between us, my eyes communicated God’s blessing to them. We would be strong in God!

The policeman tugged at my hands to rush me to leave. As I lowered my hands and turned away, I heard my wife yell, “Shi, I love you!” This time I could no longer stop the tears from running down my face. I
walked out of the room with my head lowered and without turning back because I didn’t want my wife and parents to see their husband and son crying.

We were taken back to our cubicles at the basement. No one resisted, so the policemen had no opportunity to use their electric batons.

Alone once more in my cubicle, I had no reason to hold back my tears, so I cried my heart out until there were no more tears. As I calmed down, I fell to my knees facing the wall and offered up my thanks to my Father. I heard the same voice ring over and over again in my ears: “My child, My grace is sufficient for you.”

I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and watched the passers-by on the streets as we rode back to the prison. I could sincerely say in my heart, ‘Lord, You are so great!’ The rest of the day passed with joy.

It is only around a year before I will be reunited with my family. Three years in prison in exchange for millions of souls – that’s totally worthwhile! A portion of Scripture that has been my source of strength came back to me:
“’We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’ (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, NIV)

“Three years in prison in exchange for millions of souls – that’s totally worthwhile!” That statement had such an impact on me. I’m barely willing to endure three minutes of social discomfort or embarrasement to share the gospel…much less three years of imprisonment! Lord grand me the courage you gave Shi…courage to share your word, will and love at whatever cost. Then grant me the joy to celebrate having to pay that cost.

Pray for Shi and his family…that his last year of imprisonment will be full of opportunities to further the kingdom of God, that they will have strength to endure the seperation and that they really will be reunited at the end of the sentence.




The purpose of the blog

To EDUCATE, ENLIGHTEN and ENCOURAGE. To be a voice to those who have none, a voice that is LOUDER than their persecution, oppression and pain. A righteous voice that is LOUDER than the enemy.

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