Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coming up: VOM speaker in Winnipeg

VOM is visiting Winnipeg, AB this week. Please make plans to join us!

Sunday, February 5 – 11 a.m.
Tabernacle Baptist Church
155 Bannerman Avenue
Winnipeg, AB R2W 0T3
Speaker: Greg Musselman

For other upcoming events or to request a VOM speaker, please visit our website.

Christian sentenced to death in Pakistan fasting, praying and forgiving

Asia Bibi says she has forgiven those
who are persecuting her.
(Sources: VOM-USA, Atlas Shrugs)

Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother sentenced to die for allegedly committing blasphemy against Islam, says she has forgiven those who are persecuting her (for more, click here). She recently told a Pakistani journalist, who asked her a list of questions prepared by an American journalist, that she spends her time praying and fasting for her family and other persecuted Christians.

Asia is confined to a cell and is allowed to go outside 30 minutes each day. She sees her two daughters and husband one hour each week. Asia told her interviewer one of the prison workers recently tried to strangle her, and she must prepare her own food since it is feared she will be poisoned if workers in the prison prepare it.

Life for All is supporting her family and has hired a lawyer to try and overturn the conviction. She says she is hopeful that she will be released, but there is a bounty of about $8,000 offered by the Islamic clerics to anyone who will kill her. Asia says she is content that her future is in God's hands and she will accept His will.

Please remember Asia Bibi in prayer.
  • Please pray that Asia's young daughters and husband will rely on the Lord as a source of strength and hope. 
  • Pray that Asia's forgiving heart will be used by God to inspire others to forgive and show love. 
  • Please pray that the ongoing petition for Asia hosted by VOM-USA at www.CallForMercy.com will help lead to her release.
To watch a video interview with Asia’s family, click here. For more on persecution in Pakistan, click here

Monday, January 30, 2012

Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani refuses to compromise faith for release

Pastor Youcef remains imprisoned after refusing to
state that Muhammad was a messenger sent by God.
Photo: Present Truth Ministries
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani recently refused to state that the Muslim prophet Muhammad was a messenger sent by God despite the fact that it would have secured his release, reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

On December 30, 2011, local authorities said they would release the pastor if he agreed to make the statement, but the pastor rejected the offer and remains in prison awaiting a final decision on his case. The request violates article 23 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that no one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.

The pastor at the Church of Iran was arrested in Rasht in 2009, and in September 2010, he was tried and found guilty of apostasy and sentenced to death (for more, click here). He was made three similar offers in 2011 where recanting his faith would have saved his life, but he refused each time.

His case was eventually referred to Iran's Supreme Leader. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the case may have been passed on to the head of the Iranian judiciary, delaying execution for up to a year to allow time to convince the pastor to renounce his faith.

Please keep Pastor Youcef in prayer. 
  • Please pray that Pastor Youcef's courage and faith will continue to be an example to the world that the Lord is more valuable than any earthly reward. 
  • Please pray that his steadfast resolve to protect the integrity of the gospel message will lead others to salvation. 
  • Please pray for his release.

Encourage Pastor Youcef with a letter! 
Let Pastor Youcef know that he is not forgotten and that Christians around the world are praying for him.

  Youcef Nadarkhani
  Lakan Prison

Please note: When writing a letter, never mention the name of the source of your information or the name of any organization such as Voice of the Martyrs or Prisoner Alert. Also, please do not state anything negative about their government. For more information on letter writing, click here. To create a letter using phrases in Youcef’s own language, please visit www.PrisonerAlert.com.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Extreme Refusal

“They begged and begged me, but I couldn't give it to them,” said the man. “I know Christians are supposed to share, but I just couldn’t part with it.” He sadly held out his hand so that his listener could see his prized possession. 

“I really wanted to, but I couldn’t. You see, people in North Korea told me that they have been praying for fifty years to get a Bible. But I didn’t give them mine because I had been praying for twenty years, and I had just gotten it from a pastor in South Korea.”

He sighed deeply as his mind went to the needy believers in North Korea desperately praying for one copy of the Bible. He hugged his Bible to his chest. He had escaped the Communist prison state and was now living freely in South Korea.

Bibles in North Korea are rare. Because of the opposition from the Communists, believer consider them more precious than gold. One man was beaten to death with an iron rod along the Chinese border when he was caught bringing Bibles into North Korea. Sadly, cases like this are reported over and over.

“I cannot forget those people,” he said with a sigh. “I cannot forget the look of envy on their faces when I showed them my Bible. I feel so bad for them.”

They serve as coasters for drinks or a handy spot to rest the remote control. Their sturdy covers help compose a letter on hotel stationery or catch the ashes falling from a cigarette. They listlessly adorn the coffee table, next to the caramel candy dish and the TV Guide. Although this book remains a best-seller year after year, no one seems to be reading it very much. It is the Bible. The Bible is abused and neglected outside of those places where its true value is known all too well. How differently we might treat our Bibles if we had to pray twenty years to get one! What can you do to revive your passion for God’s precious Word?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Online persecution studies course beginning in March!

Are you looking for a new way to put the true cost of discipleship into perspective and help Christians around the globe suffering for the cause of Christ?

This March, our sister mission, VOM-USA, is offering an online workshop designed to inform, inspire, and educate Christians worldwide about the reality of persecution and the importance of becoming personally involved in ministry to suffering believers.

Course subjects include biblical perspectives on persecution, the history of persecution, and how we should respond to persecution today.

The workshop is 12 weeks in length and costs $90 CAD. Students should anticipate spending 3-4 hours per week on the coursework, which includes lectures, sermons, videos, and student forums.

This is a great opportunity to fellowship with believers from around North America while learning more about the persecuted Church!

Get started today! For more information or to register, please visit www.VOMClassroom.com.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Overcomers: Nigeria

At least 45 Christians were murdered by Muslim herdsmen and soldiers in Nigeria in late November, 2011. Unfounded allegations of cattle theft preceded the attacks and thousands of vulnerable and unarmed Christians fled the area in fear, leaving churches largely empty on the Sunday following the attacks. Find out more by watching this short video.

To watch more videos like this one, visit our multimedia site. Click here for more information on the persecuted Church in Nigeria.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng remains imprisoned in China

Gao with his family in January 2009.
Photo: ChinaAid
For the first time since his most recent forced disappearance 20 months ago, the whereabouts of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been confirmed, reports ChinaAid.

Gao Zhisheng's older brother, Gao Zhiyi, received written notification of Gao's incarceration in Shaya Prison in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in far western China. The notification was signed and dated by the prison on December 19.

Gao Zhisheng has been repeatedly kidnapped, arrested, imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities for defending the persecuted (for more, click here). He disappeared into police custody in April 2010, the most recent in a series of forced disappearances since his 2006 conviction on a subversion charge.

On December 16, just days before his five-year probation period was to have ended, the Chinese government announced that it was sending him to prison for three years for violating his probation. It was the first word that he was still alive, but no information of his condition was released.

Please pray.
  • Thank the Lord that Gao's family has received word on his whereabouts. 
  • Pray the Lord will strengthen and sustain him and his family. 
  • Pray that Gao will be given the grace to exemplify the love of God through consistent love and prayer for those who persecute him (Matthew 5:43-48). 
  • Pray for his release.
For more information on China's suffering Church, click here. To post a prayer for Gao and his family on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall, click here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dancing before the Lord in Iran

“Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” – 2 Samuel 6: 14-15

Our sister mission in the United States recently posted a video of Iranian Christians dancing together while chanting the many names of God.

The faces of these brothers and sisters are pixelated to conceal their identities, as Christians in Iran are continually at risk of facing persecution from government authorities (for more information, click here).

For other videos like this one, check out VOM-USA’s YouTube channel or visit our multimedia site.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Muslim extremists in Uganda throw acid on church leader

Muslim extremists threw acid on Bishop Umar Mulinde
outside his church near Kampala.
Photo: Compass Direct News
Islamic extremists threw acid on a church leader on Christmas Eve, leaving him with severe burns that have blinded one eye and threaten his sight in the other, reports Compass Direct News.

Bishop Umar Mulinde, 37, who was previously a sheikh (Islamic teacher), was attacked when a man who claimed to be a Christian approached him.

"I heard him say in a loud voice, 'Pastor, pastor,' and as I made a turn and looked at him, he poured the liquid onto my face as others poured more liquid on my back and then fled away shouting, 'Allahu akbar,'" Mulinde said.

At last report, his face, neck and arms bore deep black scars from the acid and his lips were swollen. The wounds are so severe that he may need plastic surgery. Police have reportedly arrested one suspect.

Mulinde is married and has six children. He has faced several injuries and attacks from Muslims since his conversion to Christianity in 1993.

Please pray!
  • Pray the Lord will heal Mulinde's physical and emotional wounds. 
  • Pray that he will receive all the treatment he needs. 
  • Pray he will remain steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-10).
  • Pray that the perpetrators will repent and turn to Christ. 
  • Pray for those in authority who are dealing with this case.
Everywhere The Voice of the Martyrs ministers, the first request of persecuted Christians is often: "Pray for us." You can help answer that request by joining VOM in praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Sign up today to receive specific, up-to-date prayer requests by email every Thursday through the Persecution and Prayer Alert.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Radical Muslims kill 29 Christians in 2 days in Nigeria

A wounded Nigerian in one of the many attacks by Boko Haram.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
Members of the radical Islamic group, Boko Haram, killed 29 Christians in two days, reports International Christian Concern.

Twenty Christians were gunned down on January 6 while holding a meeting to discuss ways to transport a body of a fellow Christian who was killed in an attack a day earlier. The martyrs in the January 5 attack were attending a worship service at Deeper Life Church in Gombe when the attack took place.

The killings followed a threat issued on January 1 by Boko Haram telling Christians to leave northern Nigeria within three days (for more information, click here).
Boko Haram fights for the implementation of a strict form of Shariah law all over Nigeria, including the southern region of Nigeria where Christians are the majority. The Nigerian government declared a state of emergency to contain anti-Christian violence.

Rev. James Wuye, a northern Nigerian church leader, has urged Nigerian Christians not to resort to revenge in the face of increasing attacks. He said, "I ask Christians in Nigeria that we should exercise restraint and pray that the God of Elijah will surely fight for us. And Christians should show love for their neighbours because that is what Jesus Christ teaches."

Please pray!
  • Pray the Lord will give Christians the grace and strength to resist taking up arms against their attackers. 
  • Pray the Lord will bring rest and peace to this troubled nation. 
  • Pray for those who have lost loved ones; may they be filled with the joy that comes from knowing that they will see them again at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). 
  • Pray for the Nigerian government, the military and the members of Boko Haram.
For more on Nigeria's suffering Church, please click here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Extreme Courage

Romania: A Young Woman

It was almost midnight as the women prisoners heard the Communist guards arrive. They quickly gathered around the condemned, a young women of twenty who had been sentenced to die for her faith in Christ. They whispered hurried good-byes. There were no tears from the young Romanian woman, no screams for mercy. 

Earlier that evening, the prisoners had listened to the young woman, her face glowing with love. “For me, this grave is the doorway to a heavenly city,” she had told them. “Who can tell the beauty of that city? There, sadness is not known. There is only joy and song. Everyone is dressed in the white of purity. We can see God face-to-face. There are such joys that human language cannot express. Why should I weep? Why should I be sad?”

She was engaged to be married, but that night, she told them, instead of being with her earthly fiancé, she would meet her heavenly bridegroom.

The pitiless guards entered the cell, and the woman stepped toward them, ready to go. As she left the cell, surrounded by guards, she began to recite the Apostles’ Creed. Minutes later, with tears streaming down their faces, the remaining prisoners heard shots. The executioners thought they had ended the young woman’s life, but they had only sent her to live forever in a much better place.

Courage is the bridge that carries us from a nominal existence on earth to an inexplicable longing for a heavenly future. Those who fully understand the certainty of heaven’s existence find it easier to exchange their comparably paltry lives on earth for eternal citizenship in heaven. Courage helps us to let go of all we cling to on earth – all the things that make us long to stay here. It takes courage to believe in a life after death. After all, life on earth is all we really know until the moment we die. We are courageous when we launch out in faith, believing Christ has made it possible for us to cross into eternity with him. Once we have made that firm decision, we can face life with purpose and death with courage.

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, January 21, 2012

Myths about anti-Christian persecution

What misconceptions have you heard or had about the persecuted Church?

John L. Allen Jr. recently highlighted in the National Catholic Reporter what he believes are five myths about anti-Christian persecution. Below are excerpts from his article.

Myth #1: Christians are vulnerable only where they’re a minority.

First of all, even if this were true, it would hardly diminish the seriousness of the issue. According to a recent Pew Forum analysis, 10 percent of Christians live in societies in which they're a minority. Given that there are 2.18 billion Christians on the planet, this translates into more than 200 million people, many facing threats such as those in the Gaza Strip.

Any scourge that imperils 200 million people, whatever the cause, would merit concern.
Yet it's palpably false that persecution occurs only where Christians are a minority. According to October 2010 data from the Pew Forum, Christians face harassment in a staggering total of 133 countries, representing more than two-thirds of all nations on earth, including many where Christians are a strong majority.

Myth #2: It’s all about Islam.

A disproportionate share of anti-Christian persecution is, indeed, fueled by radical Islam. Open Doors, an Evangelical group, put nine Muslim states on its "Top 10" list for 2011 of the most dangerous places for Christians, including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Iran.

Yet simply identifying anti-Christian persecution with Islam is misleading. There are compelling examples of collaboration between Christians and Muslims in many parts of the world.... It also should not be forgotten that the most numerous victims of Muslim extremism are, in fact, other Muslims.

Moreover, radical Islam is hardly the only source of anti-Christian animus. Christians suffer from a slew of other forces, including: ultra-nationalism... totalitarian states, especially of the Communist variety... Hindu radicalism... Buddhist radicalism... corporate interests... organized crime... state-imposed security policies... even, believe it or not, Christian radicalism.

Myth #3: No one saw it coming.

When Christians are targeted, politicians and police often play the role of Capt. Louis Renault in Casablanca, professing shock at what happened but suggesting the violence was an unforeseeable calamity rather than a failure of vigilance. Yet in a disturbing number of instances, the warning signs were all too clear.

Turkey offers an example. On June 3, 2010, Bishop Luigi Padovese, an Italian Capuchin and the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, was murdered by his driver, who claimed he had a private revelation identifying Padovese as the anti-Christ. Since the driver had been receiving psychiatric treatment, Turkish authorities announced there was no "political motive" and declared the case closed.

What that failed to acknowledge was the general climate in which a madman might get the idea that a Catholic bishop was evil.

Myth #4: It’s only persecution if the motives are religious.

Scanning the Fides list of pastoral workers killed in 2011, it's tempting to conclude that much of this violence isn't really anti-Christian. In many instances, it seems more like a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time....

Today's risks are hardly limited to classic instances of martyrdom, but a wide variety of circumstances in which Christians are in harm's way. Even if they're not attacked for religious motives, their reasons for being in that spot are usually rooted in their faith....

In identifying Christians who need help, the only thing that should matter is that they're in the firing line – not what's in the head of whoever's pulling the trigger.

Myth #5: Anti-Christian persecution is a right-wing issue.

Of the five myths considered here, this is undoubtedly the most pernicious. If we can agree on anything in this polarized world, it ought to be that persecution of people on the basis of their beliefs – whatever those beliefs may be – is intolerable....

The truth is that persecution against Christians, ideologically speaking, is an equal-opportunity enterprise....

Defending persecuted Christians, in other words, is hardly an effort that should concern the political and theological right alone. Styling anti-Christian persecution as a political football is not only an obscenity, but it's factually inaccurate.

Do you agree with John L. Allen Jr.’s statements? Which myths would you remove or add to his list? Which would you clarify?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Overcomers: Eritrea

Denied their most basic needs for survival, three Christians have died in Eritrean military camps. To learn more, watch this one-minute video.

For more video reports, check out our multimedia site. To learn more about persecution in Eritrea, click here.

One year later, no answers to Egypt church bombing

Survivors of the Saints Church’s bombing
in Alexandria examine bodies of victims.
(Photo: Watani)
(Sources: AP, International Christian Concern)

Just over a year ago, Amira Maurice was attending a New Year's Eve Mass in the Saints Church in Egypt's Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria with her fiancé, their marriage set for only a few months away. Then a bomb blast ripped through the church.

Now, the 28-year-old pharmacist is in Germany undergoing the latest in a string of surgeries to save her leg and deal with her burns. Her fiancé is dead, one of the 21 people killed in the suicide bombing targeting the church (for more on the attack, click here).

The one year anniversary of the bombing of the Saints Church in Alexandria has passed with no new insights to the case. Named as Egypt's most dramatic anti-Christian attack, the bombing killed 21 people and wounded many more.

While a few suspects were detained, they have since been released and no other inroads have been made in the investigation.

Please continue to lift this situation to the Lord in prayer.
  • Pray for those who continue to grieve the loss of loved ones. 
  • Pray for the wounded who continue to heal from the attack. 
  • Pray that the perpetrators will be located and that the authorities will justly investigate the event. 
  • Pray that religious freedom will be respected in Egypt.
For more on the trials believers face in Egypt, go to the Egypt Country Report.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Convert from Islam whipped in public in Somalia

Somali Muslim converts from Islam are harshly dealt with,
like the believer pictured here who was beaten.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
A Somali convert from Islam was paraded before a cheering crowd recently and publicly flogged as a punishment for embracing a "foreign religion," reports Compass Direct News.

Sofia Osman, a 28-year-old Christian from Janale city in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, had been taken into custody by al Shabaab militants in November.

The public whipping was meant to mark her release. She received 40 lashes on December 22 while jeered by spectators.

"[Sofia] was whipped 40 lashes ... but she didn't tell what other humiliations she had suffered while in the hands of the militants," an eyewitness said, adding that the whipping left her bleeding. "I saw her faint. I thought she had died, but soon she regained consciousness and her family took her away."

The whipping was administered in front of hundreds of spectators after Sofia was released from her month-long custody in al Shabaab camps.

In the days after the punishment while Sofia was nursing her injuries at her family's home, she would not talk to anyone and looked dazed, a source close in touch with the family said. "Please pray for her quick recovery," the source added.

You can help by praying!
  • Pray the Lord will completely heal Sofia of all physical and emotional injuries.
  • Ask the Lord to protect her from further harm.
  • Pray that she will rest in the knowledge that the Good Shepherd walks with her through this difficult time (Psalm 23).
  • Pray her faithful testimony will be used as a witness for the gospel.
  • Pray for all Christians in Somalia.
To post a prayer for Sofia, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. To learn more about persecution in Somalia, visit the Somalia Country Report.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anti-Christian incidents in Indonesia nearly doubled in 2011

Attacks against Christians in Indonesia increased in 2011,
such as officials sealing this church in Bogor, West Java.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
Acts of violence and intolerance against Christians in Indonesia almost doubled in 2011, reports Compass Direct News.

The Indonesian Protestant Church Union counted 54 acts of violence and other violations against Christians in 2011, up from 30 in 2010. The number of such incidents against religious minorities in general also grew, from 198 in 2010 to 276 in 2011.

The worst is perhaps yet to come if authorities continue to overlook the threat of extremism, said a representative from the Jakarta-based Wahid Institute, a Muslim organization that promotes tolerance.

Indonesia's hot-bed of extremism is West Java, the most populous province that includes the nation's capital city of Jakarta. This province alone witnessed 160 incidents against religious minorities. Churches in West Java, where there are approximately 520,000 Christians, also suffered the most last year.

On Christmas Day, two churches in West Java's Bogor city bore the brunt of growing extremism. "Islamist vigilantes screamed and yelled at us and threatened us, as we sought to hold a Christmas service," a leader of the Gereja Kristen Indonesia told Compass.

Please join us in prayer.
  • Pray believers will be encouraged to continue to meet together despite opposition (Hebrews 10:23-25). 
  • Ask the Lord to continue to grow His church in number, wisdom, understanding and faithfulness. 
  • Pray for those who oppose the gospel in Indonesia.
Go to the Indonesia Country Report for more on persecution in Indonesia. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Buddhists oust believers from their homes in Nepal

Pray for believers in Nepal who are
facing hardships for the sake of Christ.
Buddhists in Nepal drove a pastor and other believers from their village, accusing the pastor of bringing a foreign religion to the village and promoting teachings against society, reports VOM-USA.

The oppressors accused Christians in the village of using bribery and coercion to convert local residents to Christianity. It is also believed a six-year-old girl was sexually abused by one of the individuals who incited the expulsion.

A VOM worker has helped the victims resettle in another village and also prayed with the family of the girl who was abused.

You can help by praying.
  • Pray that the passion these believers have for Christ will be the light that draws others to Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16). 
  • Pray for healing for the girl who was abused. 
  • Please pray that hostility against Christians in Nepal will cease and that believers will be allowed to live and worship freely. 
For more on persecution in Nepal, visit our Nepal Country Report.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Iranian pastors report to prison

Pray that these pastors will be returned to their families soon.
Photo: Assist News Service
Three pastors, who are also husbands and fathers of young children, have been ordered to report to prison in Shiraz, Iran, reports VOM-USA.

Pastor Parviz Khalaj, a husband and father to a 10-year-old son, was convicted of committing crimes against the order and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Pastor William Belyad who was convicted of the same crime, was sentenced to five years in prison and will be taken away from his wife and one-month-old son. William's wife, Nazly, was arrested with him but has not been called to serve a sentence yet.

Pastor Behrouz Sadegh Khandjani, a husband and father to a seven-year-old daughter, was sentenced to one year in prison for the same conviction.

Another pastor, Mehdi Foroutan, was arrested at the same time and has already reported to prison (for more, click here).

Please pray!
  • Please pray that these brothers will remain faithful and will be soon returned to their families. 
  • Please pray for strength and peace for their wives and children. 
  • Praise God that William's wife, Nazly, has not been called to prison. 
  • Ask God to be near to those suffering in prison for His name's sake.
To receive prayer updates, consider signing up for our weekly emailed prayer digest, The Persecution & Prayer Alert. Use the prayer alert in your small group, as a family, or share the stories with your congregation. Sign up today!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

North Korea: A Visiting Missionary

When the boy in the hotel finally spotted the visiting “businessman,” he ran to him and grabbed his hand. The startled visitor tried to pull away but soon realized that the boy was making the sign of the cross on his palm silently with his finger. The man, a missionary who had prayed to make contact with the church, looked down into the face of the rail-thin boy and immediately understood the message: “The church is alive in North Korea!”

The next day, the missionary met secretly with the boy. He learned that his father was a Christian who had been imprisoned years before. The boy’s family had greatly suffered under the brutal government and had to beg for food just to survive. Now because of drought, people everywhere were dying from severe malnutrition.

When the missionary asked what he could do, he thought surely the boy would request food for his family. But the boy asked him for only four things: to take his tithe that he had saved over many years, to baptize him, to give him Holy Communion, and to give him a better Bible.

The man was moved to tears as he realized the boy’s wisdom. Physical help would only serve him for a day or two, and then he would be back in the same predicament. Spiritual help would prepare him for eternity.

Wanting something and needing something are two entirely different things for most people. What they want is not what they need. Yet what they need most is not what they want. This is why so many people are frustrated. The child in this story teaches us what happens when all our wants are lined up with all our needs. He got it right. He wanted the very thing he needed most: Jesus Christ. When all you want is all you need, you will find great satisfaction. You may say you want money, but you’ll soon find that money meets only so many needs. You may say you need money, but soon you’ll want other things as well. Only Jesus can satisfy your wants and needs at the same time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Indonesia: Abandoned for coming to Jesus

"Lidya" (not her real name) is well aware of the cost to follow Christ in the Muslim-dominated nation of Indonesia.

Her story is not uncommon in the Muslim world, where some women are abandoned, tortured or even killed by their husbands for becoming Christians. But despite the cost, Lidya will not be intimidated from telling others about Jesus and what He has done in her life.

Watch this 4:15 minute video today to hear Lidya’s story.

For other videos about persecuted Christians, visit our multimedia site. To learn more about Indonesia’s suffering Church, click here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Overcomers: Sri Lanka

Buddhist nationalists in Sri Lanka have caused concern among Protestant Christians by renewing their calls for anti-conversion laws. For more, watch this one-minute video clip.

Click here to watch more video reports about the persecuted Church. For more on the trials Christians face in Sri Lanka, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Brutalized teenage believer in Sudan prays for forgiveness for her tormentors

Please keep Hiba in your prayers.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
A young Sudanese Christian teenager who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and physically attacked over the course of one year is praying that her former captors, a gang of Muslims who tried to force her to convert to Islam, find mercy.

After escaping last July, she says she is praying that Jesus reveals himself to her assailants, and "forgives them for what they did to me," reports International Christian Concern.

Hiba Abdelfadil Anglo says she escaped from them with the help of God who did not want her to suffer any more (for more information on her kidnapping, click here). "I want to thank God who saved me from the hands of the abductors," said Hiba just two months after she escaped. "I also thank God for all believers all over the world for their prayers for me and my family. It was because of your prayers that my situation changed."

Hiba, who missed one year of school due to the abduction, is in school again, but her widowed mother lost her job after taking time to search for her daughter, so the financial burdens are a strain.

Please pray.
  • Please pray that Hiba's physical and emotional wounds will be healed and that she will succeed in her studies and grow in her faith. 
  • Please pray that her captors' knees will bend before Jesus, and that they will turn to the one true God in repentance. 
  • Pray that God will strengthen and embolden the Church in Sudan.
To post a prayer of solidarity with Hiba, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. To learn more about how Sudanese believers suffer for Christ's sake, visit the Sudan Country Report.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bomber of Christian family in the West Bank deemed fit to stand trial

Yaakov "Jack" Teitel
(Photo: Shin Bet)
An American-born man who bombed the home of a Messianic Jewish family in the West Bank has been declared fit to stand trial, reports our sister mission, VOM-USA.

Yaakov "Jack" Teitel, 39, stands accused of planting a bomb in the home of Pastor David Ortiz in 2008 (for more information, click here). Teitel, who has been dubbed the "Jewish terrorist," is also charged with the murder of two Palestinians and with other serious offenses.

Teitel's lawyers had tried to argue that he was not mentally competent, but a district court judge in Jerusalem ruled that the married father of four is fit for trial.

Teitel emigrated from Florida to Israel in 2000, and in March 2008, Teitel attempted to murder 15-year-old Ami Ortiz, the son of a Messianic Jewish couple in Ariel, by allegedly placing a bomb in a Purim gift basket at the Ortiz's home. The bomb, believed to be intended for Ami's father, exploded when the teenager opened it, and he was severely burned and injured by shrapnel.

The trial is scheduled to begin in several weeks.

Please pray!
  • Please pray that Ami will continue to heal and that all the victims of Teitel's violence will be comforted. 
  • Pray that authorities will act justly in this case. 
  • Pray that Teitel will repent and come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Attacks continue in Sudan’s border region

Sudan and South Sudan appear to be on the brink of war as security in the border region continues to deteriorate, reports VOM-USA.

Sudan continues to attack and bomb areas along the border, including areas inside the new sovereign nation of South Sudan. The border region is home to vast natural resources as well as majority-Christian ethnic groups.

"We are following this situation very closely as we plan projects and outreaches to respond to the crisis and encourage the persecuted church in the Nuba Mountain region," wrote a VOM field worker.

In early December, Christian aid organizations serving refugee communities along the border were forced to evacuate their field workers because of intense aerial bombing and shelling by Sudan.

Members of AIM Air, who transport aid to the refugee communities, said the biggest obstacles affecting relief efforts are the bombing, shelling and fighting in Jau and Yidra, communities inside South Sudan. These regions are home to the largest Christian community in South Sudan and Sudan.

More than 300,000 people have been displaced by the conflict, which began on June 6, 2011.

Please pray that God will continue to sustain His people there!

For more on persecution in Sudan, please visit our Sudan Country Report.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Church raided in Ahvaz, Iran

Please pray for imprisoned Christians in Iran. 
Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following a raid on an officially recognized church in Ahvaz during a service on December 23, reports Middle East Concern.

All mobile phones were confiscated, as was the church's audio-visual equipment and Christian literature.
All attendees, including children, were reportedly detained. Most were released within a few hours. However, the church's pastor (Farhad), his wife (Shahnaz) and two other church members (David and Naser) remain detained. Their whereabouts are unknown.

We are pleased to report that another Iranian Christian, Shahla Rahmati, was released on December 20 having been cleared of all charges against her. She had been detained since March 9.

Iranian Christians request our prayers that:
  • Farhad, Shahnaz, David and Naser will know the presence and peace of Jesus, and be released soon. 
  • All church members will know the Spirit's wisdom and guidance, especially concerning meeting together for worship.
  • All confiscated property would be returned.
  • Shahla would know the Father's love and healing as she adjusts to normal life.
  • All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him. 
To learn more about persecution in Iran, visit our Iran Country Report.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Extreme Worship

Ancient Babylon: Daniel

He heard the decree from his window: “For the next thirty days, anyone who prays to anyone other than the king will be thrown to the lions.”

Daniel pushed the shutters open. On the rooftop across the way, two of the king’s advisors who hated him stood, glaring intensely. He nodded cordially as he met their eyes, and they nodded back, as cunning smiles spread across their faces.

Daniel went to every window in his chamber and swung it wide open. At each there seemed to be observers. Then he went to the center of the room, where all could see him, knelt, and began worshipping God.
The king was dejected when the guards brought Daniel before him. The king had been tricked. His decree could not be revoked, though he had sought all day to find a way to free Daniel, whom he considered to be good man.

“Take him,” King Darius said to the guards. Then he looked in Daniel’s eyes and said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (Daniel 6:16). The soldiers took Daniel to the den, with the king following close behind. Daniel did not say a word, but bowed to the king and walked in among the lions. The doorway was sealed with a large boulder.

Daniel went to the center of the den, knelt, and began worshipping God.

Extreme worship is not a manner of praise. It’s not a specific method or a particular tradition. It’s not determined by debating organ music verses contemporary praise. In fact, it has little to do with how we praise God at all. Extreme worship is defined by when and where we worship. When we are drawn to worship during our most stressful times, we practice extreme worship. When we are drawn to sing praise where the opposition is strongest, we practice extreme worship. Like Daniel, we must not allow our circumstances to dictate when and where we worship God. We must be prepared to live out our faith anytime, any place. Are you willing to serve God in extreme worship today?

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, January 7, 2012

Al Qaeda planned to bomb churches in Turkey’s capital

Police discovered and arrested Al Qaeda
extremists who were planning to attack churches
and Christians in Ankara, Turkey's capital.
Compass Direct News reports that 11 Al Qaeda militants planned to destroy all churches in Turkey’s second largest city. An article in the daily Taraf newspaper says a home-grown terrorist cell allegedly made plans to attack churches and Christian clergy.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office investigated various documents and CDs that contained revised jihadist plans. The new jihad plan was allegedly to focus attacks in Turkey before moving on to other countries including the United States.

Among the plans and sketches seized earlier this year was a list of Christian workers living in Ankara. Christian leaders in the area were shocked when they heard.

“No one has had any news about this until now,” said one Christian worker.

The Taraf reports that some of the militants were tracked for as long as six months. Along with detailed maps, assault rifles, and ammunition, over 1,500 pounds of explosives were seized over the course of the investigation.

Members of the terrorist group were instructed by Al Qaeda not to enrol in Turkey’s military, send their children to public schools, or recognize the authority of Turkish courts. There were also guidelines for what to do if arrested.

For more information, read Compass’ article here. For more information on the trials Christians face in Turkey, click here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Overcomers: Vietnam

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. Find out more by watching this short video clip.

For more video reports on the persecuted Church, click here. To find out more about persecution in Vietnam, visit our Vietnam Country Report.

Tibet house church members criminally detained

In a historic first, members of a house church
in Tibet were detained, interrogated,
and beaten for belonging to "an illegal cult."
Members of a house church in Lhasa, Tibet, were criminally detained by police in October, reports ChinaAid. Brother Song Kuanxin, from China’s Henan province, was one of 11 members who were held for almost a month before being released. The incident is believed to be the first time that authorities in Tibet have targeted house church Christians.

On October 5, Song returned from China to Lhasa to find his house in chaos and his belongings scattered. His wife and two little children were in shock.

“The first thought that crossed my mind is my place had been burgled. As we were going to call 110 (the emergency number) to report the crime right away, our front door was shut closed,” said Song.

A police officer walked in and said they wouldn’t need to call in the emergency. Song was taken into custody, only being told that his house had been declared a location of illegal gatherings. He was not permitted to explain or defend the gathering. Two days later, Song was notified that he was officially being charged “on suspicion of [being part of a] cult group.”

While in prison, Song was repeatedly beaten. When he was released, he was told police had destroyed items that had been confiscated from his home.

Pray for Brother Song Kuanaxin and the rest of his house church.
  • Pray for opportunities for Song and fellow church members to witness the truth to those opposed to the gospel. 
  • Pray that God will provide the believers’ daily needs.
  • Pray that the faith of those in this house church will be strengthened.
For the full report from ChinaAid, click here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Muslims in Kenya beat Somali Christian until unconscious

There has been a string of attacks on
Somalis in Kenya who have converted
to Christianity.
Ibrahim, a 23-year-old Somali Christian, was on his way back to his home in an undisclosed town in Kenya on December 5 when he was beaten by a gang of young Muslim men, reports Compass Direct News. The attack came just six weeks after Ibrahim’s older brother was also beaten.

The assault comes because Ibrahim is an alleged apostate. His family, however, claims he has been raised as a Christian his entire life.

Ibrahim had bought food and was returning home when the gang ordered him to stop. Ibrahim refused and that’s when the beating began. He heard one of the assailants say, “This is one of the guys we have been looking for, and today we have found him – we did not succeed in killing your brother, but today we are going to kill you.”

Ibrahim says he was hit in the knee and the eye. He remembers being beaten and then waking up at home. He had been knocked unconscious. He found out area residents had assisted in stopping the beating. At last report, Ibrahim could not see well because of the eye injury and he was in pain all over his body.

In a related attack earlier in October, Hassan, Ibrahim’s older brother, was left naked and bleeding. He too had been running errands when six young Muslim men attacked him, striking him in the head and face with a metal bar. They wounded his hands with a knife and left him at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

Two of the attackers were arrested, but Ibrahim and Hassan’s mother says the assailants escaped custody.

Their escape has affected her decision to report the latest attack to police. “I feel it will be a waste of time, because those who attacked Hassan were released without being charged in court,” she said.

The Christian woman has already seen the death of her husband and is the sole supporter of her family of seven sons and two daughters.

You can read more about persecution in Kenya by reading Compass’ full report.

Pray for this family!
  • Pray that God will sustain this mother and her entire family.
  • Pray for physical healing for Ibrahim and Hassan, as well as spiritual strength.
  • Pray the men who continue to terrorize this family will be brought to justice and see the light of Christ in those they persecute.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Canada to ban veil during citizenship ceremony

The Toronto Star has an opinion piece that talks about how the Canadian government may ban the niqab and burqa during the Canadian citizenship ceremony.

The two sides of the issue both have interesting points.

They should NOT remove their veils
On this side of the issue are those who say that forcing Muslim women to remove their veils during the ceremony is, as the Star puts it, “coercing women to fit into the mainstream.” The question arises whether one needs to look and act “just like us” in order to enter and join Canadian society.

Sympathizers say wearing the veil is not causing harm to anyone else, so why force a woman to do something she deems inappropriate? Is the very ceremony that welcomes people of all faiths and ethnicities the place to do that?

How is this any different from asking a Christian to remove a symbolic necklace? Is this the beginning of a slippery slope?

They SHOULD remove their veils
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney falls on this side of the debate along with the Conservative Harper government.

Kenney says the veil “reflects a certain view about women that we don’t accept in Canada. We want women to be full and equal members of Canadian society and certainly when they’re taking the citizenship oath, that’s the right place to start.”

The question arose as to whether one would be able to tell if the woman was really swearing the oath underneath the veil. She could be mouthing anything and no one would be able to tell.

Some who agree with Kenney may say if someone wants to join our country, they have to abide by our ways and customs. If not, they’re free to go elsewhere.

There are people who say that allowing a veil at the moment someone becomes a Canadian makes a statement. That statement could open doors to having other religious practices enter into Canadian society (for instance, Islamic Shariah law which has been implemented in minor courts in some countries).

Possible solutions
The Star’s editorial writer suggests a simple solution:

“Why not have the few veiled women who want to swear the oath unveil themselves before women judges, in private, or before a male judge if they are willing?”

The article notes that there have been no cases of women who have refused to show their faces when applying for licenses and other documents.

What do YOU think?
Do you think this is a precedent setting case? What does it mean for religious freedom? Is it comparable to any other cases? What does a Christian stance on this issue look like?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Update on Christians detained following protests in Egypt

We recently requested prayer concerning the detention of 34 people for alleged involvement in violence in which 26 protesters and one soldier were killed.

The violence occurred in Cairo on October 9, when demonstrators marched in protest at the authorities' lack of action to prevent the destruction of a church building in Aswan. The protesters were mainly Christians but also included some Muslim sympathizers. Egypt's National Council for Human Rights reported that 12 of those killed died of injuries sustained while being run over by armoured vehicles.

Middle East Concern reports that, of the 34 detained, all but one have now been released. Six were freed after initial investigations. A further 27 were released on December 15 after a judge accepted an appeal to revoke the prosecution's recent decision to extend their detention for another 15 days. Most of those released are Christians.

Christian leaders, among others, continue to call for the release of the final detainee, Alaa Abdel Fattah, a Muslim, who has been detained on multiple occasions for speaking out against the former regime and the army.

Those supporting these Christians request our prayers that:
  • Those recently released will know the presence and peace of Jesus as they resume normal life. 
  • The remaining detainee will be released.
  • The truth concerning events of October 9 will become known, and those responsible will be brought to justice.
  • Those bereaved, wounded and/or traumatized will know the comfort, healing and restorative touch of Jesus. 
  • The authorities will act to protect all Egyptians, irrespective of their religious affiliation.
For more on persecution in Egypt, click here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Regime change in Syria bad news for Christians

Please pray for Christians in Syria.
A regime change in Syria would almost certainly have negative effects on Christians, reports our sister mission, VOM USA.

The Syrian uprising is "not about 'democracy' as the West knows it," wrote Elisabeth Kendal in the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin. "It is about restoring [Sunni Muslim domination], Arab hegemony and the Islamic order to Syria."

During the uprising, Syrian Christians have been forced from their homes and Christian businesses burned. Protestors at one event reportedly chanted, "The Alawites to the grave and the Christians to Beirut."

While VOM-supported evangelists have long faced harassment and other difficulties while sharing the gospel, many fear that a change in Syria's leadership could raise anti-Christian persecution to levels seen in Iran.

Please pray for the protection and perseverance of God's children in Syria. To learn more about the trials Christians face in Syria, please visit our Syria Country Report.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

God, our Puzzle Master

“But I am not a Communist. You must believe me,” pleaded Pastor Im when the United Nations regained the occupied territory in September of 1950. The North Korean Communist soldiers had kept Im locked in an isolated prison cell for two years for preaching to others about Christ and for refusing to change his sermons into pro-Marxist propaganda.

When the UN troops arrived, he felt certain he would be a free man again. Yet they mistook him for a Communist and threw him into another cell with the Communist captives.

Being a compassionate man and accepting the situation as God’s will, Pastor Im witnessed to the Communist prisoners. Many were converted to Christ. “We keep hearing about this prison camp preacher,” said an American missionary to his friend visiting Korea as a chaplain.

“Since he knows the prisoners so well, I wonder if he would help us organize an evangelistic service?” questioned the chaplain. God answered their prayers.

The American missionaries were able to get permission to have access to Pastor Im. And the “prison preacher” faithfully helped and preached at prison camps all over South Korea. Thousands of Communists accepted Christ. Within a year, twelve thousand prisoners were rising each morning for dawn prayer meetings.

Pastor Im never saw his family again, yet thousands became his brothers in Christ in the prison camps.

“What’s the point?” This is the question on everyone’s minds when we see unjust suffering and violence. However, we cannot always know God’s purposes. We can only know they are great and they are ultimately for our good. We are like individual puzzle pieces spread out over a table. We strain our eyes from side to side and see that the pieces immediately around us do not seem to fit. We feel frustrated and frightened. Yet God is the puzzle Master – the only one who sees the whole picture. He can see all the pieces in your life at once. He knows how they fit together for his greater purpose. Will you look with trust into the eyes of the Master, content wherever he places you?

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.