Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In mailboxes this week!

The December issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is hitting mailboxes this week and next.

This Year in Review issue includes:
  • God’s work in dangerous places: Jesus never promised His people physical safety when doing His work, but He did promise His presence. Read the 2011 year in review, sharing how your gifts have carried out God’s work in some of the most hostile areas for Christians.
  • God’s work in Nigeria: A Christian was elected president of Nigeria, and Muslims rioted in the streets, taking out their anger on the Body of Christ. Learn how VOM responded by bringing help and encouragement to the church in Nigeria in the wake of the riots.
  • God’s work in India and Sri Lanka: Learn how your gifts helped children whose parents have paid the price for following Christ in these two countries.
  • God’s work in Colombia: Parachutes have poured in from our readers, but more is needed. These parachutes are taking the gospel into guerrilla-controlled areas in Colombia and many are coming to Christ.
  • Christmas Blessing: Iraq: Don’t miss out on this practical way to help, love and encourage our persecuted family in war-torn Iraq.
The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is the flagship publication of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada. Published monthly, it is available free of charge to anyone in Canada who requests it.

You can subscribe online here.

Christians remain detained after massacre in Cairo, Egypt

Over 30 Christians remain detained for alleged
involvement in the October 9 massacre in Cairo.
(Photo: Compass Direct News) 
Egyptian Christians have requested our prayers for the continuing detention of 34 Christians detained for alleged involvement in violence in Cairo on October 9, reports Middle East Concern.

On October 9, there were violent clashes in Cairo involving demonstrators marching in protest at the authorities' lack of action to prevent the destruction of a church building in Aswan (for more, click here).

Violence erupted when thugs and the army attacked protesters. The protesters were mainly Christians but also included some Muslim sympathisers. There remains some doubt about the death toll, but the most reliable sources report that 26 protesters (23 Christians, 3 Muslims) and one soldier were killed. A local human rights group reported that 12 of those killed died of injuries sustained while being run over by army personnel carriers. Many others were injured (for more information on the violence, click here).

On the day of the violence a state-owned TV channel put out reports claiming that Christians were attacking the army and calling for people to intervene. The channel subsequently acknowledged that this reporting was incorrect.

On November 3, a court ordered that the 34 imprisoned Christians remain detained pending the outcome of investigations into charges of charges of "inciting violence, carrying arms and insulting the armed forces."

Those supporting these Christians request our prayers that:
  • The truth concerning events of October 9 will become known, and those actually responsible will be brought to justice. 
  • Those detained will know the presence, peace and protection of Jesus.
  • Those who are innocent will be cleared of all charges and released. 
  • Those bereaved, wounded and/or traumatised will know the comfort, healing and restorative touch of Jesus. 
  • The authorities will act to protect all Egyptians, irrespective of their religious affiliation.
  • All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.
To learn more about the persecuted Church in Egypt, click here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chinese Bible exhibition called 'propaganda' by house church leaders

A deceptive exhibit in the United States that displays Chinese Bibles is causing North Americans to believe there is religious freedom in China, say three former Chinese house church leaders.

According to VOM partner, ChinaAid, the Christian leaders – who were all imprisoned in China for their beliefs – voiced their disdain for the display while visiting the exhibition "Thy Word is Truth" on the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary. The exhibition has already been viewed in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

On November 1, a forum regarding the exhibition was held at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas. The participants – representatives of China's government-controlled church and two professors from Dallas Theological Seminary – strongly supported the notion that China respects religious freedom and that scriptures are readily available to all believers. However, this is simply not the case.

Despite the government-run Amity Press' reports that millions of Bibles have been published in China, about two-thirds of them are exported, leaving many Christians without a Bible (for more on the need for Bibles in China, click here).

Please pray along with ChinaAid's founder and president, Bob Fu: "We hope and pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that China's house churches can soon be legally recognized, that all our brothers and sisters who are in prison for the sake of their faith would be quickly released, and that the Bible in China could be freely printed and transported."

To learn more, watch this four-minute interview with the Chinese house church leaders. For more information on persecution in China, visit our China Country Report.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Formerly imprisoned pastor forced to remain in Cuba

Photo from Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Confined to a country where the government has made it well known his presence is unwanted, a Cuban pastor and his family have been refused permission to leave despite the U.S. government's offer of asylum, reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Pastor Omar Gude Perez served almost three years of a six-and-a-half year prison sentence on charges human rights watchers say were unjust. While he was in prison, his wife Kenia and their two children received an eviction notice from government officials in an attempt to remove the family from their home (for more information, click here).

The family was granted asylum in the United States last July but have been informed by a government official that they will not be issued exit visas, which are required to leave the country.

Pastor Omar, who is a national leader in a fast-growing network of independent churches called the Apostolic Movement, was released from prison earlier this year but is prohibited from preaching or from travelling outside the city of Camaguey.

He was charged with illicit economic activity and falsification of documents, and many say the unfounded charges are a direct result of his Christian activities. Other Apostolic Movement pastors have also been harassed and threatened with imprisonment and the closure of their churches.

Please join us in praying.
  • Please pray that Pastor Omar and his family will continue to faithfully serve Christ wherever He leads them.
  • Pray that, if it is the Lord's will, they will be able to leave Cuba for the United States.
  • Please pray that governing authorities in Cuba will cease in their harassment of Christian leaders and that followers of Christ will remain steadfast in their faith.
To learn more about persecution in Cuba, visit our Cuba Country Report.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Preaching from the Rooftop

James, the Less
Jerusalem, Israel
63 AD

James looked down from where he stood, balanced carefully at the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem. Far below, he could see that the streets were filled with people. It was Passover, and Jews from all over the known world had come to the Holy City.

A hand grabbed his arm, pulling him off balance. “Get on with it!” a voice threatened. Behind him, a safe distance from the dangerous ledge, stood the chief priest, scribes, and Pharisees. “Deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah! Before all these people, deny that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was resurrected from the dead,” they demanded.

James the Less was one of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus. He was also one of Jesus’ younger brothers, as was Jude. He had obviously known Jesus and walked with Him for many years. He had seen Jesus alive again after His crucifixion and resurrection.

James risked another glance at the street below. Many of the people down there knew him. For thirty years, he had been the bishop of the church at Jerusalem. During that time, he wrote a book of the Bible, the Epistle of James. He had openly preached Jesus as the Messiah and the resurrected Son of God on almost every street corner. How could he deny what he had seen with his own eyes, heard with his own ears, and touched with his own hands: his risen Lord?

Through his preaching, his prayers, and his example, James converted many people to Christ. He was on his bare knees so often, worshipping God and praying for forgiveness for the sins of the people, that his knees became numb and calloused, like the knees of a camel. This also earned him the nickname of “James the Just.” He was respected by everyone, even many who opposed what he taught and believed.

Feeling threatened by the rapid growth of the church, the chief priest, scribes and Pharisees came up with a plan. They would force this well-known church leader to deny his faith before the multitude. But James refused to cooperate.

From his place at the top of the temple, he preached with more boldness than ever. Every person in the crowd below looked up as he proclaimed, “Jesus is the promised Messiah! He is sitting at the right hand of God, and shall come again in the clouds of heaven, to judge the quick and the dead!”
When the crowd below saw his courage and heard his bold words, they loudly praised God and magnified the name of Jesus. Enraged, two or three of the religious leaders jumped forward and pushed James off the temple roof.

Miraculously, James was not killed by the fall; only his legs were broken. Then the priests, scribes, and Pharisees said, “Let’s stone the ‘just man’ James.” They picked up rocks to stone him to death. James, kneeling on his broken legs, prayed, “Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
One of the priests, when he heard James praying, begged the others to stop, saying, “What are we doing? ‘The Just’ is praying for us. Stop the stoning! Stop the stoning!”

While he was shouting this, another man ran up with a big, heavy stick in his hand and struck James in the head. James died instantly from the blow, still in prayer.

The word “martyr” originally means someone who tells what he has seen, an eyewitness. Jesus Freaks are people who have seen Jesus’ power in their own lives and just can’t help telling others about it. A favourite saying of a teenage girl who boldly approaches other teens is, “If you knew what I know about Jesus, I’d want you to tell me!”

Excerpted from Jesus Freaks, a best-selling collection of worldwide testimonies targeting teens with the life-changing message of the Persecuted Church. You can order a copy on our online catalogue or by contacting our office.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pakistan: A dangerous place for Christian women

In Pakistan, many Christian women are mistreated. Some are called dogs. Others, like Shafia, are kidnapped, raped, and abused. However, in the midst of such brutal treatment, Shafia's relationship with Jesus has given her peace and hope.

Watch this four-minute video to learn about this young woman’s amazing faith in God and her desire to live for Him!

To learn about Release Women, a ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs that seeks to connect women in Canada with persecuted women worldwide, click here. For more on persecution in Pakistan, visit our Pakistan Country Report.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Overcomers: Nigeria

Dozens of Christians have been killed by Muslim extremists in Nigeria's Plateau state in recent weeks. To learn more, watch the short video clip below.

You can watch other video reports here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to hear court's decision in December

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
remains in Lakan Prison in Iran.
Photo: Present Truth Ministries
With his faith intact and his love for Christ steadfast, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani remains in Lakan Prison in Iran charged with apostasy and sentenced to death. The Iranian government has denied the sentencing is based on apostasy despite abundant evidence to the contrary (for more, click here).

According to Present Truth Ministries, the court in Gilan is awaiting a response to their two letters of referral that were written to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khameini. Youcef's attorney has said the court will wait one month for a response. If they do not receive a response, they will issue a ruling sometime in mid-December.

According to a member of Pastor Youcef's denomination who requested anonymity, Youcef's health has deteriorated and he has undergone physical and psychological torture, reports Compass Direct News.

"We know that he has been in extreme situations, and we consider that torture," the source said. "When you have spent time in a solitary cell unable to talk to others for a long time, or you are told you will be killed, this is also torture."

Please pray!
  • Please pray that Pastor Youcef will remain healthy and strong despite the burdens of imprisonment.
  • Pray that the worldwide attention garnered by his persecution will increase pressure on Iranian officials to stop harassing and imprisoning Christians.
  • Please pray that Youcef and his family will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding as they endure these trials (Philippians 4:7).
To post a prayer of support for Pastor Youcef and his family, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. For more on the trials believers face in Iran, click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Attack on church compound kills two, wounds three in Kenya

Samuel (on right) and Peter lost their
eight-year-old sister, Winnie Mwenda,
in an attack on their home.
Photo: Compass Direct News
On the night of November 5, suspected Islamic extremists with Somalia's al Shabaab militia threw a grenade into the home of Patrick Mutinda, an elder and church guard at an East Africa Pentecostal Church congregation outside Garissa, Kenya, reports Compass Direct News.

Killed instantly were eight-year-old Winnie Mwenda Mutinda, the daughter of Patrick, and 25-year-old John Kikavu. Patrick's 12-year-old son, Samuel, suffered burns on his chest and leg, while his 10-year-old son, Peter, sustained burns on his hand and leg. The boys' grandmother, Rachael Kandu, was also severely burned. All three were in stable condition at press time.

An area pastor said a fellowship of church leaders met two days before the bomb attack and wrote a letter to authorities requesting police security for churches in Garissa, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. On November 6, the pastor received a threatening message on his mobile phone, stating, "Message from al Shabaab -- You must migrate [from] Garissa town within 48 hours or you see bomb blast taking your life and we know your house, Christians will see war. Don't take it so lightly. We are for your neck."

Al Shabaab activity near the Somali-Kenya border, including Garissa in northeast Kenya, has increased since Kenya began air strikes on al Shabaab-held territory in southern Somalia last month. The air strikes are in retaliation for the rebel group's kidnapping and murder of foreigners in Kenya.

You can help by praying!
  • Pray the Lord's protection will be upon these believers, may these latest threats come to nothing! 
  • Pray for complete healing for those who were injured. 
  • Pray that the Lord will comfort those who are grieving.
  • Ask God to take away any fear and instead give the believers a spirit of power and love (2 Timothy 1:7).
For the full report, click here. To post a prayer of solidarity with these suffering believers, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Boko Haram attacks nine churches in Nigeria

Rev. David Usman was killed by
members of Boko Haram in a
separate incident earlier this year.
Photo: Compass Direct News
On November 4, al-Qaeda affiliate Boko Haram launched attacks in Damaturu and Potiskum in Yobe State and in Maiduguri, Borno State, reports the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.

The death toll from the coordinated assaults presently stands at 150 and is expected to rise. Nine churches were targeted, along with mosques, a bank, an anti-terrorist court, police stations, and army posts. Boko Haram spokesman Abul-Qaqa has reportedly stated, "More attacks are on the way."

In Damaturu's mostly Christian New Jerusalem district, six churches were bombed. According to one resident, "The whole city is traumatised." Nigeria's The Nation reported on November 7 that "in spite their churches being burnt, Christians in Damaturu yesterday defied the security panic and held their Sunday service in open air at the premises of their burnt churches."

Please pray!
  • Thank the Lord for the great unity and faithfulness displayed by these Christians; ask the Lord to protect and shelter them from further attacks.
  • Pray for President Goodluck Jonathan and all those in authority in Nigeria; pray that the Lord will grant them strength and wisdom to deal with this Islamist group.
  • Pray for the members of Boko Haram, that they will come to know Jesus Christ.
To post a prayer of solidarity for suffering believers in Nigeria, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. To learn more about persecution in Nigeria, please visit our Nigeria Country Report.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Radical Muslims seek to turn Ethiopia into an Islamist state

In a recent press conference, the Ethiopian government expressed its concern over the growing violence against moderate Muslims and Christians by radical Wahhabi Muslims, reports International Christian Concern.

The government also announced discovering plans of the Wahhabi Muslims to turn Ethiopia into an Islamic country governed by Shariah law.

"We have found evidences and pamphlets were publicly distributed during the month of Ramadan calling on the Muslim community to stand up against all non-Wahhabi Muslims and followers of other religions," said Mersessa Reda, the Director General at the Ministry of Federal Affairs of Ethiopia.

Please join us in praying. 
  • Pray for protection and courage for Christians living in Muslim-dominated areas of Ethiopia. 
  • Pray that the Father would frustrate every plan of the Wahhabi Muslims to turn Ethiopia into an Islamist state, which would lead to increased persecution of Christians. 
  • Pray for the leaders of Ethiopia.
To read the full report, click here. For more information on persecution in Ethiopia, click here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Words from our founder: In the hands of our Sculptor

Photo: Soyer Isabelle at nl.wikipedia 
My brothers and sisters, you also must believe that your lives are clay in the hands of a wonderful Sculptor. He never makes mistakes.

If at times He is hard on you, it is because He sometimes has what we could call negative success. He loses a pawn in order to win the chess game. He loses a battle in order to win a war. He causes his Son to endure suffering in order to save a world.

Just trust. Don’t live on another’s messages, but discover the message for which He is molding you.

Excerpted from Pastor Wurmbrand’s book, If Prison Walls Could Speak. You can order this book online or by contacting our office.

The Voice of the Martyrs was founded in the mid-1960s by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned and tortured by Communist authorities in his native Romania for 14 years. While still in prison, Pastor Wurmbrand envisioned a ministry that would focus on the plight of the persecuted Church, raise a voice on their behalf, and provide encouragement and assistance to them. For more information, please visit our website.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rise up for the persecuted! Join VOM’s Volunteer Network

God is bringing together concerned Christians across Canada to serve today's persecuted Church.

There are many ways to get involved! Watch this six-minute video to find out how you can use your time and talents to help those who are suffering for Christ around the world.

For more information on how you can volunteer with VOM, click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Overcomers: Somalia

A kidnapped Christian convert from Islam was found decapitated recently on the outskirts of Hudur in south-western Somalia. For more, please watch the clip below for this week’s edition of The Overcomers.

Visit our multimedia site for other video reports about the persecuted Church.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Coptic student in Egypt murdered by classmates for wearing a cross

Ayman Nabil Labib
Photo: Assist News
Seventeen-year-old Ayman Nabil Labib was murdered following a classroom altercation in Mallawi, Minya province, on October 16, reports the Assyrian International News Agency and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Although Egyptian media reported the incident as non-sectarian, his parents reported that their son was murdered "in cold blood because he refused to take off his crucifix as ordered by his Muslim teacher."

Ayman also had a cross tattooed on his wrist, as per the Coptic tradition, as well as another cross which he wore under his clothes. According to witnesses, he was told to cover up his cross tattoo, but refused and defiantly exposed the second cross he wore under his shirt.

While official sources reported that Ayman was beaten up in the school yard, in reality he was severely beaten in the classroom in the presence of the teacher, who allegedly attempted to choke him. Ayman was then followed as he fled to the washroom, where the attack continued.  He was still breathing when a supervisor took him to his room, but was dead an hour later when an ambulance transported his body.

Two Muslim students were detained in connection with the murder. However, there are grave concerns that local officials may be "hiding" the evidence and trying to influence witnesses, claiming that the attack took place as a result of friction between students.

Meanwhile the governor of Minya has suspended the school's headmaster, two supervisors, and two social workers who were on duty when Ayman was killed. Since then, all five have reportedly disappeared.

Please pray.
  • Please pray the Lord will comfort this family and the entire Coptic community over this most recent tragedy. 
  • Please pray the perpetrators will be brought to justice. 
  • Pray that the Lord will use this difficult situation to spread His goodness and grace throughout Egypt.
Go to our Egypt Country Report for more details on the persecuted Church in Egypt.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sending Christmas cards this year? Don’t forget your persecuted family!

This year, we encourage you to send Christmas cards to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are imprisoned for their faith. Your letters will remind these believers that they are remembered and loved.

Write letters individually or with your family. Consider organizing a letter writing event with your small group, Bible study, or Sunday school!

You can include bookmarks, photographs, or children’s drawings with your cards. Be creative!

For international mailing, Canada Post advises that cards be mailed between November 22 and 29. Of course, if you letter arrives after Christmas it will still be welcomed and appreciated.

Get started today. For detailed instructions on how to write a letter to a prisoner, and for our full list of prisoner addresses, please visit our website. You can also compose letters in a prisoner’s own language here.

Sudan to become a Muslim state

Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, stated last December that if South Sudan seceded from the country, the North would become an Islamic state. Barnabas Aid is reporting that al-Bashir is making good on that promise as he recently confirmed plans to adopt an entirely Islamic constitution and implement Shariah law.

“Ninety eight per cent of the people are Muslims and the new constitution will reflect this. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source [of the constitution],” said al-Bashir.

Sudan’s current constitution makes allowance for freedom of speech, but non-Muslims face persecution from the Muslim community.

Since the secession in July (click here for more), Southerners who live in the North have been legally treated as foreigners. They have been given a deadline to either leave the North or obtain the right to stay, which is a complicated process. Christians and other non-Muslims face loss of government jobs and residency permits.

This move by the government makes the future of the church in Sudan very grim. Reports already show a recent increase of targeted assaults on Christians (for more information, click here, here, or here). Persecution is especially severe in the Nuba Mountains, where lands are razed and given to Arab northerners.

Please pray for the remaining Christians in Sudan.
  • Pray that Christians throughout Sudan will continue to entrust themselves to Christ and preach the gospel boldly, knowing Jesus is the ruler over the kings of the earth (2 Timothy 1:7-12, Revelation 1:5).
  • Pray God will grant Christians in Sudan wisdom in deciding whether to go or to stay in their country.
  • Pray for the spread of the gospel amongst the Muslim community in Sudan.
Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christian student fellowship banned in Inner Mongolia, China

The Sept. 15 ban that was issued
by the Religious Affairs Bureau.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
Chinese police and government officials shut down a Christian student fellowship group in Inner Mongolia, China, and detained its leader in September, according to VOM partner, ChinaAid. Authorities cited "illegal evangelism" as the reason for the ban.

Mengfu (Blessed) Fellowship was forced to close and its leader, Liang Guangzhong, was put into administrative detention for 15 days as part of China's ongoing persecution of house churches and Christian groups that meet outside government-approved churches.

Officials also confiscated cash from the offering collection box as well as electronics and materials used for teaching. The Mengfu Fellowship has hired a Christian lawyer to formally request a review of the orders.

You can read the full report here.

Please pray!
  • Please pray that the Mengfu Fellowship would be legally vindicated and their fellowship would be restored. 
  • Pray their faithfulness will encourage other believers facing similar challenges in the region. 
  • Pray that God will raise up many more young people in China to wholeheartedly follow and serve Him.
For video reports and testimonies about persecution in China, please visit our multimedia site.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Evangelist murdered in Nigeria

Mark Ojunta was killed by extremists in Nigeria.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
A 36-year-old Christian evangelist was shot and killed in violence-ridden Borno state, Nigeria, the day after his family members, along with other Christians, were evacuated from the region in the face of death threats by Boko Haram extremists, reports Compass Direct News.

Mark Ojunta was ministering in Nigeria's north-eastern state with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) when he was murdered.  "Brother Mark took his family out on Friday (Aug. 26), but he went back to the field because he had a class with some believers on Saturday," said CAPRO international director Amos Aderonmu. "It was in the night that the sect came to where they were staying and knocked at the door, and he tried to escape but could not get away."

Mark is survived by his wife, Ema, and two children, 3-year-old Kambe and 9-month-old Akira, as well as his parents and sisters. The killing came less than three months after the June murders of a Church of Christ pastor and his church secretary in Maiduguri (for more information, click here).

Boko Haram leaders, who have claimed responsibility for these and other attacks and church bombings, have declared they want to establish an Islamic theocratic state in Nigeria. They reject democratic institutions, which they associate with Christianity. Many Christians have left the area, and some churches have shut down as many of their members have lost their lives.

Click here for the full article.

Please join us in praying.
  • Please pray that the Lord will place a hedge of protection around Christian leaders and teachers so they can reach more souls in northern Nigeria. 
  • Please pray that Ema, Kambe and Akira would find peace and strength amid their loss and lean on the Lord through their grief. 
  • Pray that God will receive glory as more Nigerians turn to Him despite efforts to deter the spread of the gospel.
For resources to guide and assist you in praying for the persecuted Church, please visit our website

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Despite death sentence, Asia Bibi’s family holds firm

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blaspheming the Islamic prophet Muhammad, has become the focus of global attention. Believers around the world have rallied to take action on behalf of the 45-year-old wife and mother (for more information on her, click here).

In the video below, you will hear about CBN News’ recent trip to Pakistan to visit with her family. You will also watch an interview with Paul Marshall, co-author of the new book, Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide. (Length: 8:40)

To learn more about persecution in Pakistan, please visit our Pakistan Country Report. For more videos like this one, visit our multimedia site.

He who endures to the end will be saved

Mohammed Saeed was twenty-seven when he began searching for something spiritual outside of his family’s Islamic faith. In that search, he attended an evangelistic healing festival with a sick friend in the nearby village of Bail Ahata, in his homeland of Pakistan.

Mohammed has never experienced anything like the Christian festival. He was amazed at the joyful spirit and the incredible healings that he saw taking place. The evangelists there prayed for Mohammed’s friend. Days later, the friend was pronounced cancer free, and Mohammed was convinced he needed to discover more about this Jesus who had healed his friend. Soon he accepted Christ, was baptized, and started attending church regularly. He had finally found the joy and contentment he had never found in Islam.

Mohammed’s faith grew and he became more vocal and aggressive in sharing Christ with others. In his neighbourhood, he would knock on doors and pray with those he met. But his bold witness drew hostile reactions from some family, friends, neighbours, and even some church members who feared for his safety. He was now viewed by the Islamic community as an infidel, and co-workers and customers at the restaurant where Mohammed worked refused to eat food he had cooked or even touched. His parents and relatives wouldn’t give him food or allow him to touch kitchen utensils. He lost his job, and his wife took their two sons and moved in with her parents.

In June 2002, four years after his conversion, a Muslim relative asked Mohammed to stop by his shop, saying he wanted to learn more about Jesus. Mohammed arrived at the shop carrying his nine-month-old son in his arms. The relative closed the door and urged Mohammed to return to Islam or he would be killed immediately. Mohammed stood firm, insisting he would not renounce Christianity. If necessary, he was prepared to die for Jesus. The relative pulled out a knife, stabbed Mohammed in the stomach, and slit his throat, lips and tongue. Later, Mohammed’s infant son was discovered sitting in a pool of blood beside his martyred father’s body.

Jesus said, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on Earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided, three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12: 51-53). Mohammed Saeed experienced these words in a most horrific manner. But he also experienced another of Jesus’ promises: “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).

Excerpted from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs. You can order a copy of this book from our online resource catalogue.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

VOM speakers visiting churches in Ontario this month

Speakers from The Voice of the Martyrs are visiting churches in Kanata, Thunder Bay, and Strathroy this month. Please join us!

Sunday, November 20 – 10 a.m.
Kanata Community Christian Reformed Church
46 Castlefrank Road
Kanata, ON
Speaker: John Barron

Tuesday, November 29 – 7 p.m.
United Reformed Church of Thunder Bay
23 Hwy 130
Thunder Bay, ON
Speaker: Claude Paquin

Wednesday, November 30 – 8 p.m.
Providence United Reformed Church
447 Second Street
Strathroy, ON
Speaker: Corey Odden
*For Providence United Reformed Church members only.

Please note that the November 16 youth presentation in Brampton, ON, has been cancelled.

To check out other upcoming events, or to request a VOM speaker, please visit our website.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Overcomers: Indonesia

A bomber detonated eight pipe bombs by the main door of a church building in Central Java as worshippers were leaving the morning service. Watch this 1-minute video clip to find out more.

To watch other editions of The Overcomers, please visit out multimedia site at

Indian teacher arrested and deported for owning a Bible in Maldives

A parliament building in Male,
the capital of the Maldives.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
Police in Maldives arrested and held Shijo Kokkattu, a 30-year-old teacher from India, for more than two weeks before deporting him earlier this month for keeping a Bible in his home, according to Compass Direct News.

Shijo was arrested during a police raid in late September prompted when his colleagues found Christian materials on a school computer he had used and reported it to authorities.

The country's 2008 Constitution is decidedly anti-Christian and states that a "non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives." Expatriates following other religions can practice their faith only individually and within their respective homes.

Last month, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs published new regulations to control propagation of non-Islamic religions in the country. Any violation is punishable by imprisonment of between two and five years, banishment or house arrest. Foreigners who are found proselytizing are to be deported.

For the full report, click here.

You can help by praying!
  • Please pray that Shijo's position would be restored and that the Maldivian authorities would relent in their efforts to further restrict and repress the Christian faith. 
  • Please pray that Christian leaders and teachers would continue to persevere in their efforts in Maldives despite the risks to their careers and well-being. 
  • Pray that religious freedom will be respected in Maldives.
This story was originally published in our weekly email prayer alert. To sign up to receive The Persecution & Prayer Alert, click here. Go to our Maldives Country Report for more information on persecution in Maldives.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Join VOM for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Speakers from The Voice of the Martyrs are visiting churches in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario this Sunday, November 13, for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).

Please join us in remembering our brothers and sisters in prayer!

Grace Baptist Church – 10:30 a.m.
1150 Glenmore Drive
Kelowna, BC  V1Y 4P3
Speaker: Jan Steffen

New Beginnings Church – 10:30 a.m.
12350 Coventry Hills Way N.E.
Calgary, AB  T3K 4T1
Speaker: David Harrison

Forward Baptist Church – Youth presentation: 6 p.m. Feature presentation: 7:30 p.m.
455 Myers Road
Cambridge, ON  N1R 5S2
Speaker: Greg Musselman

For downloadable prayer resources you can share with your church or small group, please visit IDOP International or IDOP Canada today.

To check out other upcoming events, or to request a VOM speaker for your church, Christian school, or Bible study, please visit our website.

Update on recently released Iranian Christian woman

Arezo Teymouri
Arezo Teymouri and her husband, Arash Kermanjani, were arrested in Iran in 2010 at the home of Vahik and Sonia Abrahamian. The couples were taken to the Ministry of Islamic Guidance prison, where they were abused physically and psychologically and held in solitary confinement during their first 40 days in prison.

Arezo, Arash, and Sonia were released from prison in April 2011. Arezo and Arash left soon afterwards for Turkey, where they received medical treatment.

A VOM contact recently reported, "The major problem with Arezo's leg – which would have required major surgery – is now gone! She was jumping up and down, to the initial consternation of her husband. It appears that the leg is healed!"

Arezo has been able to pick up Turkish easily, and they have been well received. Praise God!

Vahik and Sonia have also left Iran, arriving in the Netherlands in September (for more information, click here).

Thank you for praying for these Iranian brothers and sisters! To learn about other prayer needs for Iranian Christians, please visit our Iran Country Report.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Calling all youth and young adults!

Last week, we shared with you about 13:3, a new initiative of VOM Canada that seeks to inspire, connect, and engage youth and young adults with the persecuted Church.

We invite you to watch the short video below to meet the 13:3 Director, to hear more about the heart and vision of 13:3, and to find out how you can be bound with those suffering.

We encourage you to get involved and share about 13:3 with others! Get started today. Check out the 13:3 website here to learn how you and others can be bound with them.

Three Christians die from inhumane confinement in Eritrea

Three Christians have died after they were
denied medical care in Eritrean military camps.
Three Christians are dead from inhumane confinement in Eritrean military camps, according to Open Doors USA.

Terhase Gebremichel Andu, 28, and Ferewine Genzabu Kifly, 21, were arrested during a prayer meeting in 2009. They faced military brutality and were denied medical care. The women died of starvation and ill health.

Another Christian, Angesom Teklom Habtemichel, 26, also died from poor treatment within weeks of Terhase and Ferewine. He was diagnosed with severe malaria but was denied medical treatment. He died only days after contracting the disease.

Within the last 10 years the Eritrean government has jailed, tortured and killed many Eritreans for political and religious reasons. It is estimated that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 Christians currently in Eritrean prisons. Despite this, the government still maintains that no groups or persons are persecuted for their beliefs or religion.

You can read the full report on Mission Network News’ website here. For more information on persecution in Eritrea, please read VOM’s country report.

Pray for Eritrea:
  • Pray for peace for the families of Terhase, Ferewine, and Angesom. Pray that the Lord will grant them the strength to forgive.
  • Ask God to encourage and strengthen Christians currently imprisoned in Eritrea for their faith.
  • Pray that stories such as these will inspire many Christians to pray for Eritrea and its Christians.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Authorities order church to close in Algeria

On October 17, Algerian authorities ordered the closure of a church in the country's second largest city because the church did not have a registration certificate, according to VOM-USA.

The 90-member House of Hope church in Oran runs several ministries in the Ain-Turck neighbourhood, including a Bible school, a media studio, a safe house, and a network of evangelists.

When church representatives visited the state office to inquire about necessary documentation, no one could tell them what was required for church registration. After further inquiries, the minister of the interior told church representatives that he did not know who ordered the church to close.

"It looks like an attempt from the authorities to test the church's reaction," said a VOM worker. "In Algeria, nothing is guaranteed, so we trust our Lord and move boldly."

At last report, House of Hope is continuing its services.

Please pray for favour from the authorities as well as wisdom and perseverance for the church's leaders!

For more information on the persecuted Church in Algeria, please visit our Algeria Country Report.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Petition for Asia Bibi to be delivered this month

Asia Bibi’s family
Our sister mission VOM-USA recently received an update from a field staff in Pakistan regarding Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy against Muhammad (for more, click here).

Asia has been in prison for more than two years, separated from her husband and daughters by an unjust ruling based on an unjust law. Her appeal has been filed with the High Court, but there is no clear indication of when the court will rule on the case.

Although VOM-USA had heard reports that Asia was "tortured" by a prison official, her husband clarified that she has not been tortured but has been harassed by a prison guard (the guard has since been disciplined). Because of threats against her, Asia is held in a secure cell, separated from the general prison population.

Asia's husband also shared some encouraging news. One of Asia's guards is a Christian and has consistently been kind to her. Asia has her Bible, and she receives encouragement and blessings from God's Word each day.

In spite of her challenging situation, she testified that God has been faithful in encouraging and sustaining her. "God is with me," she told her husband. "I feel strong and protected."

THANK YOU for your prayers for Asia Bibi! Clearly, God is answering our prayers. Please continue to pray.

To help raise a voice for Asia, VOM-USA has created an online petition. Since its launch in August, more than 300,000 signatures have been collected (including digital and paper signatures). This month, VOM staff will make the first delivery of those signatures to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington D.C. If you haven't yet added your voice to this chorus for justice, now is the time!

Go to today to sign the petition to free Asia Bibi. If you've already signed the petition, please share the web address with your friends. Share it on Facebook and Twitter. Share the petition drive with your small group or Bible study group. Encourage everyone you know to speak out for Asia Bibi by joining this call for mercy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Overcomers: Pakistan

A Christian mother of five who was raped by two Muslims rejoiced after police in Pakistan's Kasur district arrested a suspect and suspended an officer who had dismissed her complaints. Hear her story by watching this 1-minute video clip.

For other video reports, visit our multimedia site.

Islamic extremists behead 17-year-old Christian in Somalia

Al Shabaab militants murdered a teenage boy on September 25 after monitoring Bible studies hosted by the boy's family near Mogadishu, according to Compass Direct News.

Islamic militants began watching the family of Guled Jama Muktar after the family arrived in the country from Kenya in 2008. "I personally know this family as Christians who used to have secret Bible meetings in their house," the source said.

According to witnesses, al Shabaab members arrived at Guled's home at 6 a.m. while he was getting ready for school and his parents were already at work at an area market. "The neighbours heard screaming coming from the house, and then it immediately stopped," the source said. The neighbours informed the parents, who quickly returned home to bury their son fearing further violence. The family then fled.

This latest killing is not an isolated occurrence. A mother of four was brutally killed for her Christian faith in January (for more, click here), a young Christian man was shot dead this past spring (click here for details), and a kidnapped Christian convert's decapitated body was found in September (read the story here).

Muslim extremists from al Shabaab, which has ties to al Qaeda, control the south and centre areas of the country. Al Shabaab has been designated a terrorist organization by several western governments.
You can read the full report here.

Please pray!
  • Please pray that the family of Guled would find peace and rest in the Lord and that their faith would remain strong despite this loss. 
  • Pray that al Shabaab would be thwarted in their efforts to harm and kill Christians and that God's love and protection would surround His faithful followers in Somalia. 
  • Pray for lasting peace in this war-torn nation.
To post a prayer of solidarity with those mourning the loss of Guled, go to our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. To learn more about persecution in Somalia, please visit our Somalia Country Report.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Officials to demolish church buildings in Sudan

Government officials are threatening to
destroy three church buildings in Sudan.
Government officials are threatening to destroy three church buildings in Sudan, reports Compass Direct. The church buildings were marked for demolition with red crosses on September 11, and local church leaders say the officials simply said, "We are going to demolish these churches."

Officials from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Public Utilities - Khartoum State arrived at the Sudanese Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the Roman Catholic Church accusing them of operating churches on government land without permission, although church leaders say the buildings are not located on government land.

Christians in the region also said officials from the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment have called church leaders for information about their church members and activities, collecting information in an effort to make Islam the official state religion. "This is purely for intelligence purposes, so that they can put more restrictions on churches and Christians," said the Rev. Yousif El-Denger Kodi, general secretary of the Sudanese Lutheran Church. "We as church leaders are aware of their plans, but we pray for God to rescue us from their evil plans."

Please pray!

  • Please pray for the Lord's protection over the church in Sudan.
  • Please pray that followers of Christ in Sudan would remain steadfast in the face of persecution and that they would be free to worship in their local churches without harassment or fear.
To read the full report, click here. For more information on Sudan's persecuted Christians, go to the Sudan Country Report.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Church leader's prison sentence extended by five years in Iran

Behnam Irani's prison sentence has been extended.
Please pray for him. (Photo: Mohabat News)
The prison sentence of Behnam Irani, an Iranian church leader, has been extended by five years, reports Mohabat News. The extension of his sentence was issued on October 18, three days before his scheduled release from prison.

In April 2010, a Behnam Irani was arrested following a raid on his home in Karaj where approximately 10 young men newly converted to Christianity had gathered for fellowship and Bible study. Officers later entered his home and confiscated most of his personal belongings, including pictures, cameras, computers, Bibles, and other Christian literature (for more information, click here). He was eventually sentenced to one year imprisonment for “propaganda against the regime.”

According to local sources, there is concern that Behnam may be charged with apostasy.

Please pray!
  • Pray that Behnam will remain strong in his faith.
  • Pray that he will have opportunity to share the gospel with others.
  • Pray that this ruling will be reversed and that he will be freed from prison.
  • Pray for other Iranian Christians facing imprisonment for their faith in Christ.
For more information on Iran's persecuted Church, please visit the Iran Country Report.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Check out our new youth ministry website!

VOM has launched a new website for 13:3, our youth/young adult initiative.

The mission of 13:3 is to empower and impassion youths and young adults to be bound with their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ through praying, giving, writing and telling others.

The ministry is inspired by Hebrews 13:3: “Remember the Lord’s people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don’t forget those who are suffering, but imagine that you are there with them.”

Check out 13:3 today at, and be sure to share this new resource from VOM with the youths and young adults in your life!

In mailboxes this week!

The November issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is hitting mailboxes this week and next.

Inside this issue:
  • Songs in the night: Read the stories of five women who are actively witnessing for Christ in one of the most hostile nations in the world today.
  • Christmas Blessing Iraq: This year you can sponsor a package containing a Bible and daily necessities to Christians in Iraq to let them know that they are not forgotten.
  • Bookstore: Consider giving VOM books and DVDs to friends and family this Christmas. Don’t miss out on the specially priced packages.
  • Christian Martyrs: Read how God’s grace sustained one man who endured much persecution, in order to lead an Armenian king to Christ.
  • Kazakhstan Special report: VOM’s Greg Musselman recently had the opportunity to sit down with a couple ministering in Kazakhstan. Learn about the challenges the church is facing in the Central Asian country.
The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is the flagship publication of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada. Published monthly, it is available free of charge to anyone in Canada who requests it.

You can subscribe online here.

Church closed and pastor arrested in Indonesia

At least 30 churches have been closed
or burned in Indonesia this year alone.
The pastor of an Indonesian church established almost a quarter of a century ago has been arrested for allegedly forcing people to attend church, reports VOM-USA. He faces up to three months in prison for the charges against him.

His church has also been closed. Officials allege that the Indonesia Pentecostal Church (GPdI) in Sumedang was using an illegal building permit. Officials had previously asked the church to cease conducting Christian worship and had also requested that the church move its services into a building belonging to the Institute of Public Administration (IPND).

An Indonesian Christian organization said the IPND cannot accommodate the congregations of any more closed churches, since about 14 churches have already been relocated to the building. At least 30 churches have been closed or burned in Indonesia this year alone, according to Jakarta Christian Communication Forum.

You can help by praying!
  • Please pray that Christian brothers and sisters in Indonesia would continue to find the means to worship despite church building closures and the arrest of church leaders.
  • Please pray that God would multiply the faith and love of His followers in Indonesia in the face of persecution.
  • Please pray that this church would be reopened and its pastor freed.
For the full report, click here. To learn more about the persecuted Church in Indonesia, please visit the Indonesia Country Report.