Saturday, December 31, 2011

Canada’s Parliament raises a voice for Asia Bibi

Pray for Asia Bibi!
Canada's Parliament is demanding the release of a Christian woman condemned under Pakistan's blasphemy law, reports Mission Network News.

Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother in Pakistan, was arrested by police on June 19, 2009, and charged with blasphemy after she engaged in a religious discussion with co-workers. After a lengthy trial, on November 8, 2010, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a judge. Her attorneys filed the appeal promptly, and now wait for the Lahore High Court to rule. If the appeal is rejected, Asia would be the first woman to be lawfully executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. She remains in prison, waiting to hear the high court’s ruling (for more, click here).

In December, Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.) made the following motion: “That, the House of Commons joins the Senate of Canada in calling upon the Government of Pakistan to immediately release Ms. Asia Bibi, to ensure her safety and well-being, to hear the outcry of the international community, and to respect the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Bob Dechert, Member for Mississauga-Erindale (CPC) speaking in the House said, "Last November, the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a statement concerning Asia Bibi's incarceration in Pakistan under its blasphemy law. At the time, the Government of Canada registered its concerns with Pakistan at the highest levels. We have also called on the Government of Pakistan to repeal laws criminalizing blasphemy which restrict religious freedom and expression, and target religious minorities."

He also noted that Governor Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the two government officials who were gunned down for speaking out against the blasphemy law and urging freedom for Bibi (to learn more, click here).

Phil McColeman, Member for Brant (CPC) expressed his concern over the sentencing, adding that their objections were registered with Pakistan's foreign minister.  Canada has urged Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy laws.  Officials say they restrict freedom of religion and of expression. These laws, he said, have disproportionately targeted religious minorities.

In November, our sister mission in the United States delivered petitions calling for Asia’s to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C. The team from The Voice of the Martyrs was courteously received and the petitions were accepted by the Embassy personnel. We pray that Pakistani officials will grant Asia Bibi mercy and acquit her of the charges. If you haven’t signed the petition yet, please do so today at

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Overcomers: Somalia

Al Shabaab militants murdered a teenage boy after monitoring Bible studies hosted by the boy's family near Mogadishu. Watch this one-minute video clip to learn more.

For more videos about the persecuted Church, visit our multimedia site.

Iranian officials hopeful Christians will forget about Pastor Nadarkhani

Please remember Pastor Youcef in your prayers.
Photo: Present Truth Ministries   
Iranian Christians thank us for our continued prayer for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose death sentence for apostasy (i.e. leaving Islam) was upheld in provincial court hearings in late September 2011, reports Middle East Concern. No written verdict has yet been delivered following those hearings.

It has recently been reported that the Head of the Judiciary had ordered the presiding judge at the provincial court to continue delaying the issuing of the written verdict. Pastor Youcef is to remain detained, and pressure to recant his faith in Jesus is to continue. Recanting his faith would lead to his immediate release.

Youcef is a pastor within the Full Gospel Church of Iran denomination in the northern city of Rasht. He has been detained in prison since October 2009. In September 2010 the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province found him guilty of apostasy and sentenced him to death - a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2011.

The Supreme Court also ordered the original tribunal to clarify whether or not Youcef was ever a practicing Muslim as an adult, and to give him further opportunity to recant his faith in Jesus. He refused to do so during the September 2011 hearings. The judge's verbal ruling acknowledged that Youcef had not been a practicing Muslim as an adult but upheld the death sentence because he was from Muslim ancestry and therefore guilty of apostasy (for more on Pastor Youcef, click here).

According to Present Truth Ministries, the order was designed to cause the international community, specifically Christians, to forget about Youcef’s case.

"Once we forget about him, then they are free to execute him," a spokesperson from Present Truth Ministries told Mission Network News.

Please don’t forget Pastor Youcef! 
  • Pray that Youcef's death sentence will be revoked and his conviction overturned.
  • Please pray that Youcef, his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort, presence and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon. 
  • Pray that Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord's enabling and guidance. 
  • Pray that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pray for Christians in Iraq this week

Shops owned by Christians in Iraq’s
Kurdish region were attacked this month.
(Photo: YouTube image from Compass Direct News) 
Iraqi Christian leaders are calling for our prayers during the Christmas and New Year period, reports Middle East Concern. Some fear that there will be sectarian attacks during this period, especially as the country adapts to the changed security situation following the formal withdrawal of US military forces.

A number of recent incidents, in which Christians were the victims of violence, have contributed to these fears. In these incidents, whilst Christians were the victims, the precise motives of the attackers are not clear. Typically, violence in Iraq has numerous causes, including economic interests, tribal rivalries, settling of long-standing scores and religious motives.

On December 13, a Christian couple was shot dead in Mosul whilst driving. Their two young daughters, though with them at the time, were not physically injured.

On December 12, a 29-year-old man was kidnapped from his family's store in Erbil, capital of the area administered by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). He was released in a military operation after three days in captivity.

On December 2, there were attacks on a range of businesses, many of them Christian-owned, in Dohuk province within the KRG region. The attacks were perpetrated by extremist Muslims following inflammatory messages in a mosque. The security services acted to prevent further attacks in some locations (for more, click here).

In previous years, Christmas services have been cancelled in some parts of Iraq, or have been restricted to the hours of daylight, because of security concerns.

Please keep Christians in Iraq in your prayers! 

The February edition of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter will feature stories of persecuted Christians in Iraq. Sign up for your free subscription today!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hardliners make new push for anti-conversion laws in Sri Lanka

Buddhist nationalists in Sri Lanka have caused concern among Protestant Christians by renewing their calls for anti-conversion laws, reports our sister mission in the UK, Release International.

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) party, which has been pushing for legislation banning "forced conversion" since 2004, renewed its campaign in a press statement this month. It called on the government to re-introduce to Parliament the JHU'S Prohibition of Religious Conversions Bill.

Sources inside Sri Lanka say Christians are also concerned about a loosely worded circular from the Ministry of Religious Affairs issued in September which stipulates that building or maintaining places of worship must be sanctioned by prior approval of the Ministry.

According to sources, evangelical churches in particular are facing increased pressure from the state, with "indiscriminate closure and threats." Their applications to register formally are routinely rejected, and there is evidence that planning permission is even being denied for non-church buildings if the applicant is a Christian individual or organization.

Please pray.
  • Pray that the JHU's bid to introduce anti-conversion laws in Sri Lanka will fail. 
  • Pray that officials will end discriminatory policies which limit the activities of some Christians. 
  • Ask God to bless and protect evangelical Christians and pray for all those working for religious freedom in Sri Lanka.
For more information on persecution in Sri Lanka, go to the Sri Lanka Country Report

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Illegal prosecutions and punishments in Uzbekistan

Sergei Kozin has been fined 80 times the minimum monthly wage after a police raid on a group of Baptists in Sergeli District near Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in July, reports Forum 18 News Service.

The case was brought forward even though it was beyond the legal time limit to bring charges. Baptists stated that the case was fabricated, with the alleged witness not producing the required identity documents. The judge in the case had noted the lack of evidence and legal documents produced by police.

In another case, after being summoned to a police station for questioning on October 16, two schoolgirls stopped coming to a church. The police threatened them that "they will be in police records and thrown out of school."

The next month, five officials raided a home in Fergana without a search warrant on November 19. When the wife of the occupant refused the officials entry, they pushed her out of the way and confiscated about 100 Christian books, DVDs and a computer.

You can help by praying!
  • Please pray for Christians in Uzbekistan who are continually targeted by authorities. 
  • Pray the Lord will give believers wisdom when dealing with those who oppose their Christian activities. 
  • Pray the Church will continue to grow in spite of restrictions.
For more on the persecuted Church in Uzbekistan, visit our Uzbekistan Country Report.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Death threats for evangelist challenging injustice in Pakistan

Shahbaz Bhatti was
assassinated in March for
speaking out against the
blasphemy law.
A Pakistani Christian has received death threats after condemning the murder of a Christian government minister who was killed for opposing the blasphemy laws, reports our sister mission in the UK, Release International.

Evangelist Arif Ferguson, 36, and his entire family have had to go into hiding following death threats from militants. Arif was first warned after sharing the Gospel among Muslims. More serious death threats followed after he made a statement to a local newspaper condemning the assassination in March of Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who had spoken up against the blasphemy law (for more, click here). Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for killing Shahbaz Bhatti, and the same group is now threatening Arif.

Arif, a laboratory technician, fled to Karachi after being tipped off that the militants were trying to track him down. But even there he received death threats, forcing the family of nine to go into hiding again. Arif and his sisters have lost their jobs as a result. Arif shared, "I trust in Jesus. If I die, it will be for Christ."

Please pray!
  • Please pray for Arif and his family -- for their protection, support and encouragement. 
  • Pray the Lord will provide for them. 
  • Pray their faithful testimony will be an encouragement to other believers.
Find out more about the intense persecution of Christians in Pakistan at our Pakistan Country Report.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas: The day the balance of power shifted irreversibly

A devotional by Elizabeth Kendal, an international religious liberty analyst and advocate and a member of the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission

After rescuing Jacob's/Israel's descendants from slavery in Egypt, God brokered a covenant with them at Sinai, promising to be their faithful God if they would just trust and obey him. Thus, God's protection was dependent on the people's faithfulness. The trouble was the covenant required perfect faithfulness from every individual: thus it was too difficult for the people to keep, for sin reigned.

When God agreed to let the people have a king, the king became God's “vassal,” standing before God as the people's representative head. From that point on, God's protection was dependent on the king's faithfulness.
The trouble was kings, like commoners, were flawed, fallible and sinful by nature: they routinely let their people down, for sin reigned.

To solve the problems of sin and fallible kings, God promised “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7). Jesus Christ, son of David, Son of God, is HE (Matthew 1: 23). He was born a king (Matthew 2:2). He lived a sinless life of perfect obedience (Hebrews 4:15), thereby totally fulfilling the requirements of the covenant on behalf of his subjects. Then he died a king (John 19:19). As the “Lamb of God,” he paid the penalty for the sins of all who, through faith, would become his subjects (Matthew 1:21).

Having secured salvation, Jesus was then glorified by the Father who raised him to life and exalted him to the highest place. From “the throne of his father David,” this King Jesus now reigns forever, for “of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

“He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill [have supremacy over] all things.” (Ephesians 4:10 ESV)

The coming of Immanuel heralded the beginning of the end for the forces of evil that have reigned in this world. Though Jesus won the decisive battle over sin and death at the cross, the defeated powers have not yet been eliminated and are resisting their inevitable end with everything they can muster.

“They [the combined powers of the world] will make war on the Lamb [Jesus Christ], and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17: 14 ESV)

As violent persecution escalates, as Christian security deteriorates and as religious liberty declines globally – undeniable facts – it is imperative that we “take heart” (John 16:33), remembering that Immanuel's kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36) and “cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 13:26-29). We, who through faith belong to HIM, are eternally secure.

It is also imperative that we never give up. For it was out of love for the world that God gave his only son (John 3:16), so that through him all the peoples of the world might be blessed (Genesis 12:3). The times in which we live are times of immense spiritual conflict, for God is in the process of bringing down all false gods and defeated enemies (Psalm 110:1). Yet ultimately all idols will be discarded and the true Saviour, Jesus Christ, will alone be exalted (Isaiah 2:10-21). As the battles rage, the world's greatest need, though it rejects it, is that the Church, God's instrument of blessing, be upheld in prayer. It is only through the strength provided by our glorious and victorious reigning King Jesus – strength he gives in answer to prayer – will these ongoing battles be turned back at the gate (Isaiah 28:5,6; Zechariah 4:6). Though she be assailed on every side, the Church must continue to preach the Gospel of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ, the hope of the world.

For the promise is this: the world will finally recognise HIM (see Isaiah 2:2-4; Psalm 22:27,28).

Yes, the coming of Immanuel marked the moment when the balance of power in the world shifted irreversibly! No wonder the angels rejoiced (Luke 2:8-14) – they understood!

May this knowledge – of who Jesus is and what happened at Christmas – lead us to rejoice AND inspire us to pray.

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.” (Revelation 19:6b ESV)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Watching, praying for the persecuted at Christmas

By Carl Moeller, Open Doors USA. Article posted at
As much of the world becomes more dangerous for Christians each day, many in the persecuted church defy the threat of terrorist violence and arrest by religion police simply by worshipping as a community of believers.

Last year violence marked Christmas celebrations in Egypt for the second consecutive year. Just days before Coptic Christians celebrated Christmas (Jan. 7 on the Julian calendar Coptic Christians use), as midnight Mass adjourned at a church in Alexandria, Egypt, a suicide bomber killed 24 Christians. Approximately 100 were injured in the New Year’s Day massacre. Militant Islamists also murdered six Christians and wounded nine others as they left Christmas Eve services at St. John’s Church in Nag Hammadi, Egypt.

In Jos, Nigeria, last Christmas Eve the al Qaeda-affiliated Boko Haram terrorist group killed at least 86 Christians with bombs and attacks that primarily targeted worship services. The victims included church choir members hacked to death with knives. On Christmas Day last year in the Philippines' Sulu province, Islamists detonated a bomb inside a chapel, injuring a priest, a 9-year-old girl and nine others.

Christmas is a favorite time for Iran's religion police to harass Christians. Two years ago Iran's mutaween, or religion police, carried out a wave of arrests of Christians, jailing dozens in a sweep of house churches in the days surrounding the holiday. On Dec. 23, 2009, in Mosul, Iraq, a bomb exploded near a church, killing two people; in Mosul on Christmas Eve, Islamists shot a Christian to death at his home.

In a season that for Christians represents great joy and peace, prevailing tension and strife may squelch the celebration. Christmas, like Easter, represents a window for abuse of Christians by persecutors. Believers in Iraq told me that in recent years even hanging traditional decorations in their homes has proven increasingly risky because it draws up reservoirs of hatred toward the church. That's why some Christians in Iraq and elsewhere have curtailed visible observation of Christmas such as lights, decorated trees and Nativity scenes.

This year Christians in the Middle East will mark Christmas for the first time since Arab Spring uprisings toppled entrenched dictators Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Moammar Gadhafi of Libya. As popular revolts geared up last year over Christmas we saw no decrease in violence against Christians. Indeed, attacks on Egypt's Coptic Christian minority have soared, even perpetrated by that nation's military.

Unrest continues in much of the region. Violence targeting believers is ongoing in far-flung places around the globe such as Iraq, India, Nigeria, Sudan and Indonesia. Christians are experiencing persecution in Vietnam, Burma and China. In mid-December North Korea threatened to bomb Christmas trees that South Korean Christians had erected at the nations' volatile border. Turkish authorities have uncovered a sweeping al Qaeda plot to bomb all churches in Turkey's capital, in addition to the Turkish Parliament and U.S. Embassy.

We are never privy to what lies around the bend, but we can pray to the Lord who is. As we hear the Christmas songs of joy and peace, we must remember the persecuted and support them through concerted prayer. Pray that new governments replacing toppled dictators in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia will give Christian minorities a proper and protected place in society. Pray that the hope that led to the Arab Spring uprisings will produce real fruit in the form of true freedom of worship. Should violence erupt, may Christians be protected.

Though the signs for Christians in places hostile to the gospel are not encouraging, the Holy Spirit can redeem any situation for God's glory. May the redemptive power of the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem transform these fears into a season of great hope and true peace.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Robbing ourselves of joy

Have you ever robbed yourself of joy?

Ashley Campbell recently wrote a blog about losing her joy in the midst of Christmas giving. Her story is one that many of us can relate to during the busyness of the season.

Along with her narrative, Ashley posted beautiful photos of a storybook about St. Nicholas that was written by VOM’s Editor-in-Chief, Cheryl Odden (click here for more information about this book).

St. Nicholas lived a life marked by giving and sharing with those in need. Giving gave him joy. Does giving produce the same result in us?

Below are excerpts of the text and images from Ashley’s blog. I hope that during this hectic season you will joyfully give of your time and talents in thankfulness for the gift of God’s Son!

I want to raise givers. I want to be a giver. The saying that it is better to give than receive is so very true. Sure it is fun to get a gift or a special surprise – it is tons of fun – but there is a deeper more sustaining joy that comes with giving. Giving makes a happy heart. I’ve learned that. I’m still learning that. I want my kids to experience the kind of consuming joy that is so much deeper than the happiness of receiving.

This week Chris met the kids and I at Walmart after school. Our church is one of the host sites for Toys for Tots and we were armed with a list of some of the biggest toys needs. I told each of the boys they could pick out x-number of gifts for another boy their age. I wanted them to have fun, to be excited to give, to enjoy the adventure of it all.

There was the part of me that was thrilled to be given much so that along side my kids I could give much. Then there is the part of me that gets tense and high strung when going into a store with all four kids. My kids are well behaved for the most part, but I worry way too much about what others think when they see me out with all four.

The boys were so excited. Their voices were a bit louder than normal. They would pick up a toy and then set it down to look at another. They wanted to dart from aisle to aisle in search of the perfect gifts for boys that may only receive one present this Christmas. A few times they were in the center of the aisle and didn’t move out a stranger’s way quite fast enough.

Basically, I wanted to contain all their excitement and just get the job done. When we checked out, I looked at Chris and told him, “Next year I am just doing this by myself.”

We got to the church. Completely stressed and frazzled, I wanted to just unload it myself and go home. Each of the kids wanted to help unload and carry bags inside. They laughed. They ran, They carried bags bigger than they are….they relished the act of giving. My thoughts were on the spectacle we were at Walmart.

The next morning, I read Ann Voskamp’s words, “Only self can kill joy. I’m the one doing this to me.”

I wanted my kids to experience the joy of giving, but I was so blinded by concern about what others thought of my family…I robbed myself of joy.

Instead of relishing and etching the memory of their joy filled faces in my mind, I chose to focus on the grumpy faces of strangers.

Instead of being in a life changing moment with my kids, I was wanting to change the moment.

Instead of delighting in a shopping spree of fun, I couldn’t get to the check out line fast enough.

I did it to myself.

I missed out.

My kids taught me the unabashed excitement of giving. Instead of just picking a gift and being done with it, they showed me the delight in choosing the best gift even if it means picking up and setting down 20 others first. They showed me a truly happy heart in giving delights in the process as much as the gift….and doesn’t care if everyone else thinks their zeal and delight in giving is annoying. My kids got it this week. And they taught me in the process.

Bomb attack targets Christians in Nepal

Assumption Catholic Church after the bombing in 2009.
Two years after an explosion shook one of the biggest Catholic churches in Nepal and killed three people, the underground group that orchestrated the attack claimed responsibility for another bomb blast in November (for more on the 2009 attack, click here).

According to Compass Direct News, a crude bomb went off on November 22 in front of a leading Christian charitable organization's office in the capital city, sowing fresh fear and insecurity among Christians. Thankfully, there were no casualties.

At the site, police found leaflets signed by someone calling himself a senior member of the Nepal Defence Army, a militant armed group that has terrorized Christians and Muslims, demanding that they leave Nepal.

The leaflets asserted that the majority population in Nepal was Hindu and that therefore it should be a Hindu state. The leaflets also accused the charitable organization of converting Hindus to Christianity.

On the same day in the north-eastern district of Sindhupalchowk, local residents of the predominantly Buddhist village of Danchhe assaulted two brothers for leading worship services at their home, leaving one unconscious.

Please join us in prayer.
  • Ask God to grant courage and boldness of faith to Christians in Nepal. 
  • Pray that believers in Nepal will exemplify the love of God through consistent love and prayer for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:43-48). 
  • Pray for lasting peace in Nepal.
To post a prayer of solidarity with Christians in Nepal, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. Please visit the Nepal Country Report for more on the trials believers face in Nepal.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Teenagers make a difference

Sandal, a Pakistani teenager, spent more
than a year in prison after she was
accused of blaspheming the Qur’an.
Teenagers DO make a difference.
Our sister mission, VOM-USA, recently posted the following article on their blog. I hope it encourages you to share about the persecuted Church with those around you!
My favorite things about road trips are the surprises along the way, and my most recent trip didn’t let me down. I stopped in Chattanooga, Tenn. and fell in love with the people. One person I met learned of my association with The Voice of the Martyrs, and she enthusiastically told me about what the youth group at her church, Woodland Baptist Church, was doing. As she described it, my excitement grew. Here was a group of youth who are passionate for the persecuted church. 
Fast forward to one week later… 
The crowd watched him – a teenager – walk to the front of the room. He stuck out, an obvious interruption. But he wasn’t alone. Fifty-one other people followed him. 
Standing side by side on the stage, they stopped. “I’m not ashamed,” they said. Single cards hung around their necks. Each teenager carried the name of one of the countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. Nina Stephenson, a church member who shared her personal testimony of persecution, had already pointed out the desperate need of the persecuted church. 
“Today God is calling us to pray for the persecuted church, for those who know Him and love Him, who are not ashamed to say like the apostle Paul, ‘For I am not ashamed, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes,’” Stephenson said. “That declaration of faith could cost them their lives, their freedom, their family, their home or their job. But they stand firm in the Lord Jesus Christ.” 
The teenagers led the congregation in worship, singing “O Church Arise.” Afterward, the astonishment of the audience was apparent. Some clapped. Others cried. The apparent passion, the sudden awareness of what is happening to Christians around the world caused a tremendous reaction. 
Are you inspired? 
Share the message of the persecuted church with everyone. The youth in your life – specifically teenagers, who often are stereotyped as indifferent and lazy – can, do incredible things. For the persecuted church, they can pray and write letters. They can also tap into resources you might not have. They can tell their friends at school or work. With grandparents, mentors and parents who constantly boast of their teenagers’ more recent activity, youth can reach more expansive social circles. These young adults have no limitations. Through their creative presentation, the youth at Woodland Baptist Church not only spread awareness within their congregation, they probably opened the eyes of people they will never meet. 
Now, it is your turn to follow their example. (2 Timothy 1:7-12)
There are many ways that you can get involved in serving and sharing about the persecuted Church. Get started by visiting our website, or check out VOM’s youth and young adult initiative!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Padina’s story

Watch the amazing story of Padina (not her real name) and her seriously ill mother. Both of these Iranian women were ready to commit suicide, but instead came to faith in Jesus Christ after a Christian television program and a miracle changed everything! See how these ladies went from despair to a life filled with hope and are now risking their safety to tell others about Jesus. (Length: 7:20)

For other videos like this, visit our multimedia site.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Update on kidnapped Christians in Yemen

The Hentschel family
December 12 marked two-and-a-half years since the kidnapping of nine foreigners in Saada, north-west Yemen, three of whom were murdered shortly afterwards, reports Middle East Concern.

There continues to be no news of Johannes and Sabine (a German couple), Simon (their son, age 3) or of Tony (a British man). Lydia and Anna (7 and 5, daughters of Johannes and Sabine) who were freed in May 2010 are with relatives in Germany and are reported to be in good health (for more on their release, click here). It is a challenge for these relatives to function as Lydia and Anna's parents in light of their unique needs and in the context of the other children in their home.

Christians close to the situation are hopeful that the recent agreement to transfer power from President Saleh to the Vice President and the formation of a unity government may lead to the release of information about the four missing foreigners. These political changes have not yet led to much positive change in the country as a whole, and protests and violent clashes continue in many parts.

Christians in Yemen and others close to this situation thank us for our prayers and request our continued intercession. They ask us to pray that:
  • The missing four (assuming they are alive) will know the peace, presence and daily provision of Jesus and will be released unharmed shortly.
  • Information about their whereabouts will be forthcoming.
  • The country will be governed in a Godly manner, respecting all ethnic, tribal and religious groups.
  • The families and colleagues of those missing and murdered will know the peace of Jesus amidst continuing uncertainty.
  • All expatriate Christians working in Yemen will know the Lord's guiding and protecting.
  • The perpetrators will be convicted by the Spirit and drawn to the forgiveness, love and true life offered by Jesus.
To post a prayer for these believers, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. For more information on persecution in Yemen, go to our Yemen Country Report.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New draft regulations outline official religious censorship in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan's Agency of Religious Affairs (ARA) has prepared – but not yet adopted – new regulations to implement the system of compulsory state censorship of almost all religious literature and objects, reports Forum 18 News Service. The regulations for "expert analyses" will also apply to religious organizations' statutes.

Without such ARA approval, religious books cannot be imported (apart from small quantities) or distributed, and religious organizations will not be able to gain state registration. The draft regulations make no provisions for any challenges to ARA's censorship decisions.

In addition to the censorship regulations, the ARA and various other state bodies are also preparing other regulations to implement October's harsh new Religion Law (for more information, click here).

These include regulations on how religious communities must register or re-register, how local and foreign citizens wanting to engage in whatever state officials define as "missionary activities" must register, how and where places of worship are allowed to be built, where worship can take place outside registered places of worship, where religious books and materials are allowed to be sold, and what names religious communities are allowed to give to their places of worship.

Please pray!
  • Pray that these new regulations will not be adopted.
  • Pray that the Lord will give believers in Kazakhstan boldness and tenacity to proclaim the Gospel despite these new potential restrictions.
  • Ask the Lord to provide opportunity and means to flood this nation with His Holy Word.
To learn more about the trials Christians face in Kazakhstan, go to the Kazakhstan Country Report.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Extreme Sight

Liuba Ganevskaya had been beaten repeatedly in the Russian prison. But when she looked up at her torturer, holding the whip above her back, she smiled.

“Why do you smile?” he asked, stunned.

“I don’t see you as a mirror would reveal you right now,” Liuba said. “I see you as you surely have been – a beautiful, innocent child. We are the same age. We might have been playmates.”

God opened Liuba’s eyes to see the man differently. She saw his exhaustion; he was as tired of beating her as she was of being beaten. He was frustrated that he wasn’t able to make her reveal the activities of other believers.

“He is so much like you,” God said into Liuba’s heart. “You are both caught in the same drama of life. You and your torturers pass through the same veil of tears.”

Seeing the man through God’s eyes, Liuba’s attitude changed. She continued talked to him. “I see you, too, as I hope you will be. A persecutor worse than you once lived – Saul of Tarsus – and he became an apostle and a saint.” She asked the calmed man what burden weighed on him so much that it drove him to the madness of beating a person who had not harmed him.

Through her loving concern, Liuba ushered her torturer into Christ’s kingdom.

Earthly eyesight is often hindered by a variety of ailments: astigmatism, nearsightedness, glaucoma, and others. Just as our eyesight benefits from corrective lenses, the eyes of our heart can profit from spiritual intervention. Left to our own devices, we see only the bad in others and not the good. But God grants spiritual vision to those who want to see life from heaven’s perspective. We can begin to see an intolerant boss, or someone who insults us, as a wounded individual who needs love. We can see behind the intimidating mask of a rebellious teenager to the frightened girl or boy who is crying out for acceptance. Do you see others with heaven’s eyes? What difference would spiritual eyesight make in your life?

Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finding blessings amid torments

Sister Meena was attacked
by Hindu militants in 2008.
On August 25, 2008, Sister Meena was at work in the village of K. Nuagaon, Kandhamal district, Orissa state, when Hindu militants stormed the area. She was grabbed by several men who tore off her clothes and held her down while one man raped her. Sister Meena was then paraded naked through the streets along with a priest. Although police were present, they did nothing to stop the assault.

Many other Christians were also targeted by Hindu militants in what has been called the worst anti-Christian violence since India’s independence more than six decades ago. More than 100 people were killed, 4,500 homes and churches were burned, and 70,000 people were displaced. Many were forced to flee to nearby forests without food or water for days, while relief aid was stolen.

Three years later, the young nun has chosen to share about her suffering. "In my life,” she said, “I have been forced to suffer incredible pain ... I consider this torment a blessing. And now I can understand the suffering of others at a deeper level in a Christian spirit.”

Below are some excerpts from Sister Meena’s interview with Asia News.
“First of all, when I think of Kandhamal pogrom, my first thoughts go to those people who lost their precious lives in the genocide. All of them are martyrs like the early Christians of the Church. They have died for Christ and for their faith. I pray for them. I am proud of them.

People who have witnessed the Kandhamal riot are also not less. I am proud of them too and admire their faith and resilience to move forward in life.

From the ashes of Kandhamal, the Church in Kandhamal will rise. The people of Kandhamal continue to rise to the occasion and have started to gather broken pieces from their remnants and ruins in order to restart their lives. Thanks to God for providing grace and power to them.

Above all, I have lived and work with and for the people of Kandhamal. I belong to them as well. People of Kandhamal have become part of life.

I see the Christians of Kandhamal as true disciples of Christ. They will turn everything to harmony, peace and justice. All people would understand and benefit out of these, healing division and hatred, bringing the divine ray of hope and light to all, including those who oppose the Gospel and its followers.”
For the full article, click here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Overcomers: Nigeria

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. To learn more, watch this one-minute video clip.

Please click here for more video reports about today’s persecuted Church.

Iran threatens churches as support increases for imprisoned pastor

Pastor Youcef and his family
Photo: Present Truth Ministries
The situation of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani – who remains on death row in Iran for his faith – is gaining increased international attention, reports The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

The Mexican Senate is the latest international body to take a stand for Pastor Youcef, stating that it “condemns the death sentence handed down to Yousef Nadarkhani for religious reasons” (for more on Pastor Youcef, click here).

Canada has also made statements calling for Pastor Youcef’s release. In addition, the Foreign Affairs Council and the Council for the European Union have released statements condemning Pastor Youcef’s conviction and execution sentence. The European Parliament also passed a resolution calling for Pastor Youcef’s release.

ACLJ appreciates the willingness of the international community, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, to bring attention to Pastor Youcef’s plight, and urges international Muslim leaders (none of whom have spoken out) to call for Pastor Youcef’s unconditional release.

Yet, as these and other nations and international organizations increase the pressure on Iran to release Pastor Youcef, Iran is renewing its efforts to persecute Christians.

The Minster of Intelligence of Iran recently called house churches a threat to youth in Iran and stated the regime was preparing to crack down on these churches. A similar crackdown occurred right around Christmas last year, and it appears that Iran is preparing more raids again this year (for more on last year’s crack down, click here).

This news is not only disturbing for Pastor Youcef, the pastor of a Christian house church who awaits final determination on his fate by Iran’s Supreme Leader, but for hundreds of other Christian converts in Iran.

Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef. Pray for continued international attention. Ask the Lord to bless, encourage, and strengthen Christians throughout Iran.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christian woman in Pakistan awaits hearing in December

On November 10, an appeal was held for Ruqqiya Bibi, a Christian woman in Pakistan sentenced to 25 years in prison for “defiling the Qur’an” by allegedly touching it with unwashed hands (for more information, click here).

According to the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement, Ruqqiya’s lawyer presented the case for her release in court, denying the accusation and stating that the witnesses brought forward by the prosecution contradict those mentioned in the First Information Report. He pressed for her acquittal and release from prison.

In response, the judge moved to set an appeal hearing for her case in the third week of December.

Please pray!  
  • Please pray for Ruqqiya and her family’s safety. 
  • Pray for those supporting Ruqqiya in her legal battle. 
  • Pray that her conviction will be overturned at the upcoming hearing. 
  • Pray for other Christians in Pakistan who are facing charges of blasphemy. 
To learn more about persecution in Pakistan, visit our Pakistan Country Report

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I against my brother: a Somali story

A VOM partner that works with Somali Christians shared this video with our office this morning. The video explores one Muslim woman’s journey of faith, which challenged her ideas about what it means to be a Christian and led her to a decision that would cost her everything.

The persecution of Christians in Somalia is severe. At least 10 Christians, including four teachers, were killed for their faith in 2008 and several others kidnapped and raped. A 17-year-old Somali woman who converted to Christianity from Islam was shot to death in November 2010 in an apparent "honour killing.” Muslim militants murdered a 21-year-old Christian man in April 2011 after someone allegedly informed the Islamic militants of his conversion from Islam.

In spite of the intense persecution, there continue to be Somalis who are willing to sacrifice everything for their faith in Jesus Christ.

If you are short on time, watch the 1:25 minute trailer. The full movie is 15:21 minutes.

Share the trailer or full video with your friends or family members, and encourage them to pray for Somalia! For helpful devotionals and prayer points, visit Somali Story online and click “resources for churches.” To learn more about persecution in Somalia, visit VOM’s Somalia Country Report.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Police in Pakistan beat Christian couple falsely accused of theft

A Christian couple is facing charges of theft after police in Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, severely beat the pregnant woman and her husband for three days when they refused to confess, reports Compass Direct News.

Salma Emmanuel, 30, and her husband, Emmanuel Rasheed, 39, said that they were inexplicably arrested after the Muslim woman who employed Salma as a maid had allowed the Christian woman to temporarily store some of her jewelry at her house.

Salma said police arrested them on November 5, keeping her at the Women's Police Station for interrogation and her husband at the City Police Station.

Upon reaching the police station, an inspector identified only as Nazia and two other policewomen started punching and kicking Salma and striking her with batons, demanding that she "confess her crime." Salma, who is five months pregnant, was taken to a hospital in critical condition on November 7, the life of her unborn child also threatened. The doctor on duty confirmed that her body bore marks of severe violence.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Aziz Afridi denied that police had tortured her, but after reports of the violence reached local media, the deputy inspector general of Haraza Division ordered an investigation.

At City Police Station, Emmanuel Rasheed was undergoing a similar ordeal. "The police beat me up mercilessly," he said. "A policeman offered to remove the theft charges against me if I was willing to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam. I told him that no matter what happens, I will not renounce my faith, nor would I confess the false charges made against us."

You can help by praying.
  • Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of this couple.
  • Pray they will both make a full and complete recovery.
  • Pray that Salma will safely deliver a healthy child.
  • Pray the investigation will be unbiased and the truth of this case will be brought to light.
  • Pray for all believers in Pakistan who are in danger of facing discrimination and severe opposition because of their faith.
For more on the persecuted Church in Pakistan, please visit our Pakistan Country Report.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Islamist group leading in Egypt’s parliamentary elections

Injured protestor in Cairo in unrest against
military power that preceded elections in Egypt.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
Islamist groups made a strong showing last week in the first stages of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, renewing concerns Christians have about their future in the country, reports Compass Direct News.

The Freedom and Justice Party, affiliated with the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, won 40 per cent of the vote overall. The Al Nour Party, made up of members of the extremist Salafi group, garnered 20 per cent of the vote. By comparison, the relatively liberal Egypt Social Democratic Party received 15 per cent of the total vote.
The election results confirmed the fears of Egyptian Christians, many of whom believe that Islamists will take control of the country in the wake of the revolution that deposed former President Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptians now wait for the run-offs and final two rounds of this election, another election to seat the second half of Egypt’s bicameral chamber, and then finally the election for the next president.

Further wins by Islamists, Christians said, will guarantee increased persecution against them or at a minimum, entrench their second-hand status in the country.

Please pray for Egypt.
  • Please pray the Lord will bless the Egyptian people with strong, wise and benevolent rulers.
  • Regardless of the final outcome of these elections, please pray that the Lord’s people will keep their eyes on Jesus, persevere in their faith, and not grow weary or lose heart (Hebrews 10:32-39; 12:1-3).
For the full report, click here. For more information on persecution in Egypt, visit our Egypt Country Report.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Iran: A Persecuted Pastor

“Sometimes I miss those days of persecution”

The words came from an Iranian pastor who had escaped to the West. In Iran, arrest and police harassment were common experiences. He had even lost his home and job because of his faith. Now he was free to live and worship wherever he wished. How could he long for the days of persecution?

“Sometimes I miss those days,” he said, “because I was so alive. I felt every day that Jesus was with me.”

The pastor had planted a church near the front lines of the Iran-Iraq war. He earned money by driving a taxi and grew his church by sharing Christ with his passengers. In two years, he had won souls from nine language groups. Many soldiers worshipped with them each week, and he had baptized fifteen Muslim converts.

The pastor and his wife counted on God for everything. When the bombs of war fell around them, they prayed for his protection. When there wasn’t enough money, they prayed for his provision. And each day God came through for them.

Their ministry was rewarded. Ten members of his church have gone on to become pastors. Even now, the pastor can see fruit from the time of the ministry at the front lines.

If you’ve never been in love, you cannot understand what it is to be heart-broken. If you have never lost a loved one, you cannot truly relate to those who mourn. You cannot understand the longing for something you have never experienced. Those who have been persecuted for their faith describe a peculiar longing. They long not for the persecution as much as they long for the sense of fellowship their persecution brought them. They don’t miss the torture as much as they miss what the torture taught them. The end result far outweighs the suffering. If you want to experience a deeper walk with Jesus, you must be willing to obediently sacrifice for him. That is also a type of suffering. 

Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yubelina’s persevering faith

Yubelina was badly injured during an attack on her Christian village in Indonesia. As she ran from her attackers, she spilled a kerosene lamp that ignited and burned her face. That was in 2001.

During the past 10 years, our sister mission VOM-USA has walked alongside Yubelina. They paid travel costs from her remote village to the island of Java, where she received high quality care, and arranged for her to have plastic surgery.

Yubelina still bears the scars of her ordeal, not only on her face but also in her heart. Her husband left her, and she supports her two children by working on her brother's farm.

Every time a stranger gasps or recoils at her face, every time her daughter comes home in tears because someone called her mother a monster, Yubelina's suffering is renewed.

Yubelina's two older children, Vivi, 17, and Vandi, 15, study at a boarding school an hour and a half away. Her youngest child, 13-year-old Febi, is still at home with her. Since becoming more committed to her faith in 1999, Yubelina has prayed that her children will grow strong in the Lord.

As Yubelina and her two daughters sifted through more than 1,200 cards, letters, drawings and small gifts from VOM readers, she was overwhelmed by the love shown by her Christian family. "After the incident where I was burned and when my husband left, there was so much misery and suffering. But I received blessings from the Lord. I believe God has a plan for me."

In Philippians 4:17, the Apostle Paul says the church at Philippi receives fruit for helping him in his distress. As we see Christian persecution increasing around the world, we rejoice in the vital fruit that we receive through Yubelina's persevering faith.

Watch this two-minute video clip to hear Yubelina thank Christians around the world for their gifts and prayers. 

Please ask the Lord to bless Yubelina and her daughters. Pray that they will grow stronger in their faith and their trust in God. Pray that Yubelina’s testimony will encourage other Christians to look to Jesus in all things. To add a prayer for Yubelina on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall, click here.

The January edition of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter will share testimonies of other believers in Indonesia who are standing firm in their faith amid persecution. Be sure to sign up for your free subscription today.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Overcomers: Egypt

Seventeen-year-old Ayman Nabil Labib was murdered following a classroom altercation in Mallawi, Minya province. Watch the short video below for more details.

To watch other video reports about persecution around the world, visit our multimedia site.

A long bus ride in Algeria

This story was originally published for Kids of Courage, the children’s ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs.

Gerard is a Christian worker in Algeria. In 2006, the government passed a new law that said churches must register with the government. But the authorities did not grant many churches registration, so churches that continued to meet were “illegal.” Then the government began closing down unregistered churches.

“The government is always going to come up with new laws,” said Gerard. “They are not believers, so they cannot understand the hope we have.”

The government gives individual Christians a hard time, too. Two years ago, a student in a secret Bible school was stopped at a checkpoint. When soldiers found Bible study materials in her bag, they arrested her.

Gerard was also bothered by the police. He was riding on a bus when it was stopped by police at a checkpoint. After they searched his bag and found a Bible, they began to curse him. “This is my faith. This is what I believe,” Gerard told a policeman. The policeman spat on him.

Everyone on the bus saw what happened, so they found out that Gerard was a Christian. For the rest of the bus ride, they insulted him. “All of them started to say bad things,” Gerard said. “I hoped that the long ride would finish soon.”

No one on the bus hurt Gerard, but he has been beaten for his faith before. Still, his trust in Christ remains strong. “Even if they arrest or beat me or something, they cannot come into my mind and change my mind,” he said.

For other stories about the persecuted Church to share with your kids or Sunday school class, visit Kids of Courage today!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thousands of Egyptian Christians gather to pray for country

Tens of thousands of Christians recently
gathered for prayer in Egypt.
Photo: Dr. Wafik Wahba
On November 11, an estimated 70,000 Christians gathered for worship and prayer at St. Simon Church (also called the Cave church) in Cairo, Egypt. Millions more around the globe watched the live broadcast on TV and the Internet, reports Dr. Wafik Wahba, Associate Professor of Global Christianity at Tyndale Seminary.
From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following morning, Christians from varying denominations focused their prayers on repenting, forgiving, and dedicating themselves to live consecrated lives.

The prayer event, the largest of its kind in Egypt's modern history, comes during a tumultuous time for the country. In February, the former president was forced out of office and Egyptians have since faced continuing chaos, brutality, and frustration.

The culmination of this sense of despair reached an unprecedented level on October 9, when at least 26 people were killed and hundreds more were injured when army personnel attacked a large gathering of predominately Christian protestors (for more, click here).

Elections for the next house of parliament began on November 28. The elected parliament will be entrusted with the task of drafting a new constitution and establishing a new government. There are currently 25 parties competing for the nearly 500 seats in parliament, contributing to the complexity of Egypt's election process. These parties vary from Islamic fundamentalists to Marxists. Christians and Muslims alike worry that their dreams of a free and democratic country that respects religious freedom will be undermined by Islamic extremism.

Despite the unrest and uncertainty, Christians in Egypt are looking to the Lord for protection and guidance. A prayer movement has been growing for the past few years and is now spreading to churches across the country.

Please join our brothers and sisters in Egypt in prayer.
  • Pray that Christians in Egypt will place their hope and trust in Jesus Christ, who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). 
  • Ask the Lord to bless and protect His children in Egypt. 
  • Pray for continued unity among believers. 
  • Pray for peaceful and just elections.
To learn more about persecution in Egypt, go to our Egypt Country Report. To post a prayer for Christians in Egypt, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Couple remains faithful despite restrictive laws in Kazakhstan

The president of Kazakhstan has ushered in two new laws that severely restrict freedom of religion. Evangelical Christians in particular will likely face increased persecution as a result. However, hardship is nothing new for the believers of Christ in this former Soviet country. In this report, you'll meet a couple from Kazakhstan who will not be intimidated by these new laws. (Length: 4:45 minutes)

For other videos like this, visit our multimedia site. To learn more about the persecuted Church in Kazakhstan, click here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More than 130 Christians murdered by extremists in Nigeria's north in November

The Living Faith Church building
was destroyed by Boko Haram.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
A murderous, four-hour rampage in early November in the eastern region of northern Nigeria left 150 people dead -- at least 130 of them Christians, reports Compass Direct News.

Ten church buildings were also bombed and hundreds of people are still missing after more than 200 members of the Islamic extremist Boko Haram sect stormed the Yobe state capital on November 4.

The attacks by Boko Haram were motivated by anti-Christian sentiments. Witnesses say the terrorists asked Christians they met to recite the Islamic creed, and those who could not do so were instantly slaughtered.
The day before the terrorist attack, an armed Muslim gang not believed to be affiliated with Boko Haram, killed two Nigerian mothers and injured 12 others including an eight-year-old boy in a raid on a Catholic church in Kaduna state.

"As these Muslims began shooting, they shot Mrs. Justina Isaac, a mother of three, who had all the while been hanging around by the window outside the church listening to my teachings in the church," said a Catholic seminary student who was leading worship at the time. "And when she was felled by the bullets, the cry of her baby attracted another woman, Mrs. Hassana Luka, who came out of her house close to the church to find out what the problem was, only to be killed too."

The following night, the gang went on to attack a Christian village in the same area killing another Christian and injuring one other.

You can help by praying.
  • Please pray that those who are beating and killing Christians in northern Nigeria will see their sin and will turn to Jesus and repent. 
  • Pray that the Lord will protect Christians in the region and that the families of those murdered will find peace and comfort in Him.
For more information on the attacks, click here and here. To learn more about persecution in Nigeria, please visit our Nigeria Country Report.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Believers beaten and belongings destroyed in Vietnam

Pastor Nguyen Duy Duong
was among those injured in the attack.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
More than a dozen Christian men, women and teenagers were brutally beaten and their property destroyed near Hanoi, Vietnam, in what sources say was a religiously-motivated attack.

Compass Direct News reports that the Christian house church leaders, as well as other assembled believers, were severely injured during a gathering in the home of Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau in Lai Tao village.

A gang burst into the home at 9:30 a.m. on November 13 and warned Nguyen that they would kill him if he continued gathering Christians, according to sources in Vietnam. The attackers then beat him until he lost consciousness.

The offenders smashed chairs, overturned a pulpit and tore a cross from the wall and threw it into a nearby pond. They also destroyed motorcycles owned by four of the pastors present, which was an enormous loss for them.

The believers are members with the Agape Baptist Church, an unregistered house church organization of about 2,200 believers who worship regularly in 38 congregations. The head of the Agape Baptist Church, Nguyen Cong Thanh, met with the injured and said all he could do was weep at the violence.

"Why do they gratuitously beat servants of the Lord like this -- what crime have they committed, what enemies have they made?" he said. "All we want to do is gather people to worship and serve God and our fellowman."

Please pray!
  • Please pray that those beaten will make a full recovery and that the Agape Baptist Church will grow stronger despite the violence and oppression.
  • Pray that the perpetrators of this attack will repent and look to Christ for salvation.
For more information on the suffering Church in Vietnam, click here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Learn more about Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom

Interested to learn more about Canada’s new Office of Religious Freedom?

Check out the latest issue of Policy in Public, a publication from Cardus. Cardus is a think tank based in Hamilton, ON, that is dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture. Drawing on more than 2,000 years of Christian social thought, Cardus works to enrich and challenge public debate through research, events and publications, for the common good.

The winter issue of Policy in Public, available for free online, includes the following articles:
  • How and why to support religion overseas by Scott M. Thomas
  • Why religious freedom must be a top priority by Paul Marshall
  • Putting the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom in context by Janet Epp Buckingham
  • Canadian evangelicals and religious freedom by John G. Stackhouse Jr. 
To read these informative articles, visit Cardus online.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Overcomers: Iran

Mehdi "Petros" Foroutan, 27, has been in prison since September 25. He is currently serving a one year sentence for crimes against national security. Learn more about his case by watching this short video report.

Visit our multimedia site for more video reports about our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

Indian converts from Islam beaten after baptism

Seven Christians were detained and beaten
by police after a video of their baptisms
was viewed by a religious law official. 
Christian workers feared arrest after Muslim leaders alleged that seven Christians were “lured” from Islam, reports Compass Direct News. The names of the converts and their pastors were obtained from a video officials watched of the men being baptised. The video was later posted to YouTube.

Police in Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley detained the youth and beat them. They asked them if they had been offered money to convert. Pastor Khanna, who pastors the church where the men were baptized, says all of them were willing to sign affidavits declaring they were not lured.

There is nothing in India’s constitution that forbids propagation of the Gospel or conversion.

“If it was meant to be a secret or illegal activity, we wouldn’t have allowed cameras,” said Khanna. There were multiple people recording the event.

The mufti (India’s highest religious law official) was the one who complained to the police about the alleged “luring” of the former Muslims. He told media the video was definitive evidence that the men had been lured to Christian, even though the video only shows the baptism.

There are only a few hundred Christians in Kashmir. Tensions between Muslims and Christians in the area have escalated as of late. Last year, violence erupted after a video of U.S. pastor Terry Jones burning a Qur’an was shown on TV. Churches and schools in the area have been vandalized and burned down since.

To read the full report click here. To learn more about persecution in India, please read our India Country Report.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Be a blessing to your persecuted family in Iraq this Christmas

From the Tower of Babel, to the Jewish captivity, to modern-day wars with neighbouring countries, Iraq has experienced a turbulent history riddled with conflict.

The church in Iraq has not been spared from turmoil. Just this year, three churches were bombed (for more, click here), a Christian man was tortured and killed by militants (click here for more), and an elderly believer was stabbed to death (for details, click here).

Estimates claim that only half of Iraq's pre-2003 Christian community remains in the country. However, despite the risks, many have chosen to stay and witness.

This year, you can be a blessing to Christians in Iraq through our annual Christmas Blessing project. For $50, you can provide a Christmas Blessing package to a believer. Each package contains a Bible, a blanket, sugar, rice, tomato paste, powdered milk, and cooking oil. These items will help meet believers' materials and spiritual needs.

To be a blessing to Christians in Iraq this Christmas, please phone our office or donate securely online.

To learn more about the difficult reality for Iraqi Christians, click here.