Saturday, June 30, 2012

War brings additional trials for Syrian believers

Christians in Syria who share their faith have always faced danger, but the escalating civil war is making evangelistic efforts even more dangerous, reports VOM-USA

Several evangelists who work with VOM have lost family members.

“In some cases, people were killed because of their Christian identity,” said VOM’s program officer for the region. “We are checking into how we can be of assistance to those who have been injured for their faith, including one whose face was mutilated as a warning to other Christians.”

The war has also displaced many Christians. As Christians flee the fighting and leave their houses behind, Muslims and members of the rebel groups take possession of them.

In addition, one church was closed by the government in recent months, and other churches remain under threat of closure.

Please pray.
  • Pray for peace and for the protection of Syrian believers.
  • Pray that Syrian believers will rest in the knowledge that the Good Shepherd walks with them through this difficult time (Psalm 23).
  • Pray that Christians will show Christ-like love to their neighbours, even those who persecute them. 
This story was originally published in our Persecution & Prayer Alert. Every week, The Persecution & Prayer Alert delivers specific prayer requests from restricted nations around the world directly to your inbox. You can also read the stories on our website. To sign up to receive the prayer alert, click here.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Story from church history: Pastor Meng refuses to run

The following was written by Dan Graves for

“Our missionaries have remained with us; we will stand by them, and live or die together." Meng Ch'ang-ch'un and the other Chinese pastors at Pao-ting Fu were united in their determination. The Boxer Rebellion, an angry reaction against western interference in China, raged across China. The government encouraged lawless bands to kill all foreigners and those who had adopted their ways, especially Christians. Thousands of people died.

Meng was a direct descendant of the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius. He was attending a conference in T'ung Chow when the news came that the Boxers had destroyed the railroad to Pao-ting Fu and cut communications. Meng could have fled to nearby Peking where foreign embassies offered some protection; many other Christians did. But he remembered the missionaries who remained behind. It seemed to him that his honor as a Chinese called him to Pao-ting Fu.

Immediately, he began walking home to certain death. It was a four day trek through Boxer hordes, but somehow he arrived safely. Back in Pao-ting Fu, he took up his daily tasks and preached as always. But now he added to his routine the extra burden of sending rank and file Christians to safety.

He sent his fifteen year old son away, too. The boy pleaded to be allowed to remain and face the danger – even death – with his dad, but Meng reminded him that the family would have no one left to testify about Jesus if both of them were captured and killed. Reluctantly the boy obeyed.

On this day, Friday June 29, 1900, the Boxers seized Meng. They tied his hands behind his back, dragged him to their heathen altar and lopped off his head. His head was put up for everyone to see as if he were a notorious criminal, but his body was flung into a ditch behind the temple.

The Boxers killed many other Christians at Pao-ting Fu the next day. These included both Chinese nationals and foreigners.

Six months later, Meng's body was was dug up and his head and body buried properly together. Early the next year, after the trouble had died down, the city of Pao-ting Fu held a great memorial service for the martyrs. More than half of the banners were in honor of Meng.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Christians nervous under new president in Egypt

He's only days into his presidency, but Egypt's president elect Mohamed Morsi has already made some promises to Christians. The question now is whether it's possible for him to keep them, reports Mission Network News.

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate was announced over the weekend to be the winner of Egypt's first democratic election. During his victory speech on Sunday, Morsi pledged to be "a president for all Egyptians," noting that Muslims and Christians both were vital to building Egypt.

Many believers are skeptical and even frightened of a Muslim Brotherhood-run Egypt. Although Morsi says he is for women's rights and religious freedom, many are deeply concerned by the Brotherhood's decades-long agenda to overthrow the Egypt's past secular government.

In reaction to Morsi's speech, Todd Nettleton with VOM-USA says, "Speeches are nice, but actions are better."

"Christians now watch and say 'Okay, he said nice words. Now what are his actions going to be?'" Nettleton adds. "That's really what they're looking for: how are his actions going to reflect that? Are they going to reflect respect for the Christian community and respect for religious freedom? Or are they going to be hardline, Islamic, Muslim Brotherhood actions which would limit religious freedom and move Egypt more and more toward a Shariah state?"

In the midst of transition, says Nettleton, the gospel will undoubtedly go forward as it has been doing. And it's too early to know how extreme or lax Morsi's regime will be. But Christians are holding their breath until actions start showing up.

There's much room for prayer. Pray for believers to have peace and calmness of spirit. Pray also for Morsi in the coming days as he picks his cabinet members.

"[Pray] that the people who will honour religious freedom – the people who will understand that there is a large Christian community in Egypt that deserves to be protected and deserves to have rights – will get into positions of influence and positions of power."

To learn more about Egypt’s persecuted Church, please click here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

‘I will never give up on your freedom’

Please pray for Gao Zhisheng, his wife, and their children.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
Gao Zhisheng, a Christian human rights lawyer in China, has been repeatedly kidnapped, arrested, imprisoned and tortured by authorities for defending the persecuted. 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.

In March, he was able to visit with his older brother and his father-in-law. The visit put to rest fears that the pioneer in the growing Christian legal defence movement in the country had died during the two-plus years of his forced disappearance into police custody.

Gao Zhisheng’s wife, Geng He, recently shared with VOM partner, China Aid Assocation, a letter she wrote to her husband. Below are excerpts.
How have you been? I haven’t received any word from you or any updates on your situation. Is everything alright with you?
Ever since you were put in Shaya Prison, we have been calling the prison, hoping to talk to you. Only a few words will comfort your heart and soothe my longings for you. But we could never get through on the phone. I want to ask our family members to visit you, but the prison is so far away, and I’m afraid the prison will find a random reason to refuse their visit of you. Not able to hear your voice or get any news about you, I’m in tremendous pain every day and my heart is never settled. This is unbearable. How I wish I was the one locked up in prison because I believe, so smart and capable, you would have got me out quickly.
Here’s some good news: Gege was admitted by a very good university which offered her some scholarship. If she takes a tutorial class during vacation time, she’s likely to get more scholarship, so she willingly signed up for it. In a short time, she will leave home for school. She’ll transition to college after finishing the tutorial class and very soon she will live a life of independence.
I also entered a community college this year. Tianyu is taking some interest classes. We all try to stay busy so that we won’t be preoccupied with worries about you. In my busy life I often exclaim: how times flies! But then I’ll think about you living each day as if it was a year. Then I’ll start feeling worried and anxious again.
I’m writing this letter to tell you that I will never give up on your freedom. I trust you will never give up either. I will never stop writing to you to encourage you as well as myself. In spite of the numerous difficulties and hardships, we shall not give up. We shall persistently fight for freedom as Guangcheng did.
Take care!
Geng He
May 20, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Global alliance calls for religious freedom in Sri Lanka

Religious liberty organizations united under the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) have released a statement on the church in Sri Lanka, calling for official recognition of Sri Lanka's evangelical community as represented by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL).

The RLP celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and is part of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), representing 600 million evangelicals worldwide.

“This statement is significant as it is an expression of concern by the global Christian community on issues of rights, justice and equality of all citizens of Sri Lanka,” says Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission.

“As a nation emerging from civil war and progressing towards peace, stability, good governance and economic development, Sri Lanka stands at an important juncture in her history and it is essential that all communities are treated equally and able to live in an environment that is conducive to the fullest and unhindered enjoyment of their fundamental freedoms.”

Called the Colombo Statement, it calls on the worldwide church to pray “against the continued violent attacks on clergy and places of Christian worship,” and that “all religious communities will enjoy the Constitutional guarantees on religious freedom.”

“Having witnessed first-hand the difficulties that evangelical Christians face in Sri Lanka, I am deeply encouraged by the loving way that they have responded,” said Corey Odden, CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.

“We call on all Canadian Christians to stand with our persecuted family in prayer. This new peace is a critical opportunity for Sri Lankan leaders at all levels of authority to recognize the right of every person to freely express their religious beliefs and pray that they will take up the challenge.”

According to the statement, the Religious Liberty Partnership commits “to work toward the full realization of the religious rights of all Sri Lankans,” and “to stand in solidarity with the evangelical Christian community as they seek to have equal rights alongside other religious constituencies in Sri Lanka.”

Mr. Yogarajah, leader of the NCEASL, says that the statement is designed to ignite action. “We pray that this united global voice will encourage the government of Sri Lanka and others concerned to effect changes that will promote freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief in Sri Lanka.”

For more information about persecution in Sri Lanka, click here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Extreme tools

“We are the clay, He is the potter.”

One believer stood at the window, watching the midnight streets for movement that could signal the police closing in on the worshippers. The Christians were meeting secretly in the southern part of Iran. The foreign visitor added to the danger, for Iranian police would be furious to know Christians were sharing fellowship with an outsider.

One believer had recently been released from police custody, and the bruises on his body told about the treatment he had received. Although the police watched him closely and knew of his Christian work, he continued, ministering as much as he could when he wasn’t under arrest.

He spoke with passion and urged the gathered believers to grow more like Christ, regardless of the cost. All of them knew that the cost would be high, for all of them knew Christians who had been arrested, beaten, or murdered. Others had simply disappeared.

The wonderful service was long and worshipful. Afterward, the amazed foreign guest asked the speaker about his prison experiences and the suffering he had endured. “How can you,” he asked, “keep such a spirit of hope and cheerfulness in the midst of these troubles?”

“These trials are just ‘tools’ in God’s hands,” said the Iranian believer. “Who am I to criticize the tools that God uses to make me more holy?”

Humans have a fascination with the future. For centuries we have consulted astrologers and others claiming to know the future. We’ve written books and made movies based on the concept of time travel. We want to know what lies ahead of us on our journeys through life. Just as the clay cannot ask the potter what it will be, however, so we cannot ask our Maker what we will be. But we can trust that God will create something beautiful and holy with our lives. We know by faith that we are the products of God’s hands. In what ways do you need to trust that God, the Master Potter, is making you into a work of art?

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, June 23, 2012

Continue to pray for believers in Yemen

It has been three years since the
Hentschel family was kidnapped. 
It has been three years since the kidnapping of nine foreigners in Saada, north-west Yemen, reports Middle East Concern. The bodies of three of the kidnapped women – Rita Stumpp (26), Anita Gruenwald (24) and Eom Young-sun (33) – were found shortly after the kidnapping. The three were nurses in training.

There continues to be no news of Johannes and Sabine (a German couple), Simon (their son, aged 3) or of Tony (a British man).

The abducted adults worked for an aid organization that places medical personnel in hospitals in developing countries. Local imams were reportedly concerned that some of the relief workers were involved in evangelism while providing medical aid. The German Foreign Ministry's task force also deduced that the Germans were known locally as missionaries. Johannes was threatened months before the kidnapping by angry Muslims who objected to his efforts to share Christ with Muslims. Missionary tracts were found in the belongings of the martyred German nurses.

Lydia and Anna (7 and 6, daughters of Johannes and Sabine), who were freed in May 2010, are with relatives in Germany and are reported to be in good health. Although they and their adoptive family continue to inevitably face challenges, they are grateful that many have been praying for them.

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, if alive, will know the peace, presence and daily provision of Jesus and will be released unharmed shortly.
  • 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.
For more on Yemen’s persecuted Church, click here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pray for Algeria

Algeria gained independence from France in 1962 after a bitter war of liberation. A one-party socialist regime backed by the army held power for more than 25 years. Economic failure and political abuses of power provoked widespread agitation for change. Islamists won the 1992 elections, but the army intervened, and an ensuing civil war caused more than 100,000 deaths.

The current president appears to be accommodating militant Islamist groups. Freedom of religion is dwindling since legal changes in 2006. The Algerian National Assembly passed a presidential order in 2006 that requires all non-Muslim religious groups to register with the government and be officially approved. These groups must meet in government-sanctioned buildings under a government-approved pastor. Believers now face threats and intimidation by the government, family, friends, employers and Muslim extremists.

In January 2008, an intense media campaign against the church began as newspapers carried articles expressing concern about the growth of Christianity. Intense persecution followed — house churches were closed by authorities, several believers were arrested and some were formally charged with insulting Islam. The government has not allowed any new church buildings to be built and all newer churches that exist in Algeria today are house churches.

Persecution is intensifying, as Islamist groups become increasingly intolerant of other expressions of faith. Catholics and the Protestant Church of Algeria are the only Christian bodies officially recognized. Muslim fundamentalists are strongly agitating for the institution of Islamic Shariah law.

Please pray for Algeria!
  • Pray God will use the current restrictions to draw many more Algerians into a relationship with Christ. Pray for conversions to Jesus among powerful Islamist leaders in Algeria.
  • Pray Algerian believers will respond to pressure with faith and perseverance.
  • Pray for the nation’s young people, who make up 65 to 70 per cent of the population (and a large majority of Christians). Pray they will not be frustrated or disillusioned, but rather strengthened and encouraged in Christ Jesus.
For other Country Reports and prayer requests, visit our website.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Iran: A letter from prison

In the closed land of Iran, one might be surprised to hear that there are many people with open hearts. Thousands of Iranians are coming to Christ by hearing the gospel through satellite programs, secret evangelism and even dreams. Among those converting to Christianity are officials within the government itself.

However, the growth of the Church is coming at a cost. Iran's underground Church faces persecution, prison charges and, in some cases, even death.

The family of Haik Hovsepian, an Iranian Christian martyred in 1994, has produced a music video highlighting the conflicts faced by many Iranian believers today and how Christians around the world can be bound with them (Hebrews 13:3).

Please consider showing this video during your next church service and sharing it with friends and family, inviting them to join you in praying for the Church in Iran!

For other videos about the persecuted Church, please visit our multimedia site. You can learn more about our brothers and sisters in Iran at our Iran Country Report.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Covert persecution on the rise in Indonesia

This church was shut down by authorities in Indonesia.
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
Covert persecution tactics are increasing in Indonesia, with Christians facing church closures and violent attacks.

Mission Network News recently interviewed VOM’s Greg Musselman regarding the increased opposition. Below are excerpts from the article.
If [the] trend of persecution continues through the year, marginalization of Indonesian Christians will have increased by 50%. This will be the third year in a row that persecution has gone up. 
However, the trials Christians in Indonesia face don’t always make the news. 
Greg Musselman with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “The persecution is not as violent [in Indonesia] as in places like Nigeria, which gets a lot of coverage, but it’s an ongoing situation there. Christians are marginalized, and with the rise of more of a militant Islam, there’s concern that it’s going to become even worse in Indonesia.”
While violent persecution still happens in Indonesia, Musselman says that even the passive-aggressive restrictions on the church need to be taken seriously. “[In] Indonesia, because it’s just more subtle pressure on Christians, it has a very devastating effect on people who are willing to reach out….When it’s more violent, [people] have to make a decision, ‘Are we willing to spread the Gospel in the face of such danger?’” 
“It’s an ongoing, always underlying [pressure in] the life of the church there. In some ways they accept that and say, ‘Well, this is just the way it is.’” Musselman begs the question, “When do you speak up and say, ‘Enough is enough and we’re going to meet no matter what and the government can’t do this to us?' Does that fuel more persecution?” 
Despite all this, the church in Indonesia is steadily growing. 
Musselman was encouraged by meetings he had with Indonesian believers in underground Bible colleges and discipleship training centers. “The passion of these young people to go and plant churches, and the amazing stories that we’re hearing [about people] coming to Jesus Christ…they’re phenomenal stories.” 
Please be praying for safety and growth of the church in Indonesia. “I can only see that this more sophisticated persecution from the militant Islamist side—which is the issue in Indonesia—is getting stronger,” says Musselman. “The church needs to be even stronger than the persecution coming at them.”
To read the full report, click here. For more information about Indonesia’s persecuted Church, visit our Indonesia Country Report.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prayers for the persecuted

Everywhere The Voice of the Martyrs ministers, the first request of persecuted Christians is often: "Pray for us."

One way we aim to encourage prayer for the persecuted is through our online Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. Our prayer wall serves as a source of encouragement to persecuted Christians who are able to visit the site and read prayers on their behalf.

Below are a few recent prayers that have been posted to the Prayer Wall. Consider adding your own prayer for the persecuted by clicking here.

Abba Father. You are awesome and mighty, the only true and living God. You created all things and in Your hand is all power. Every authority, visible and invisible, is subject to You. In the name of Your Son and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I bring before all my brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution all around the world. Strengthen them with all might and help them not lose heart but to trust You completely. Comfort them in their affliction and deliver them at Your appoint time. Amen.

Jesus, stand on your persecuted church side helping and protecting. Our brothers and sisters need to feel your loving arms in spite of the horrible things around them. Keep them strong in You. Help them grow as a church. May their lives glorify You and bring freedom to Your Kingdom. In Christ´s name. Amen. 

Father, please let your oppressed children know of the glory you have stored up for them as they continue to be faithful to Your Kingdom. May they be encouraged and filled with joy and even more faith to do the work You have entrusted to them, and may they live in peace, safety, and freedom. In the most holiest name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Update from China’s Shouwang Church

The Shouwang Church has been meeting
for worship outdoors since last April.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
Members of China’s Shouwang Church, who have been forced to worship outdoors since April 2011, recently shared the following letter with VOM partner, China Aid Association.

Please keep these Christians in your prayers. Pray that they will confidently entrust themselves to Christ so that they can preach the gospel without hesitation (2 Timothy 1:7-12).
Dear brothers and sisters:
Peace in the Lord! On this past Sunday, we held the twenty-first outdoor worship service of this year. It was a hot day, and believers continued to worship our Lord Jesus Christ with faith and hope.
The same sister was once again taken away to be detained in a hotel on Friday, and was not released until Sunday morning. As far as we know, on Sunday morning, at least fourteen believers were taken away from locations near the platform for attending the outdoor service. Five believers were released on the way, directly sent home, or released right after they arrived at local police stations. Eight believers were sent to Zhongguancun Police Station in Haidian District, and were released around 14:00pm in the afternoon. One believer was sent to Guangying Police Station in Chaoyang District, and was released around 18:00pm.
We know that the old commandments of God are ever new; the content never changes, yet the way to carry out might vary. Today, with Lord’s grace and mercy, believers has been marching forward with faith and hope till today as Shouwang Church is experiencing these things. We have seen the victory of God’s word in this generation during this process. And when we face temptations from the world, weakness of our flesh, and attacks and schemes from the enemies, we come to understand how precious promises in the Scripture are in a deeper way: “the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.” (1 John 2:17)
May peace and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the mercy and love of Father God, and the console and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, be with each brother and sister of Shouwang Church and all the churches who remember Shouwang Church in prayers, from this time on and forevermore! Amen. 
Beijing Shouwang Church

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Now I am Strong

Thomas Hudson

The crowd looked on, curious about what the martyr would do next. Thomas Hudson had come this far without denying his faith. The bishop had questioned him again and again, he’d no weakened in prison, and now he was walking to the place of execution. At the last minute, would he recant?

Just before the chain around him was made fast, Hudson stooped, slipped out from under the chain, and stood a little to one side. A hush came over the crowd – everyone wondered why he hesitated. The Christians prayed.

Only Hudson knew the real reason he had stepped down. At the last minute he had suddenly been attacked with doubts and felt his faith growing weak. Not willing to die while feeling this way, he fell upon his knees and prayed to God, who sent him comfort.

Then he rose with great joy, as a reborn man, and cried, “Now, thank God, I am strong. I don’t care what man can do to me!”

Going to the stake again, he put the chain around himself.

The fire was lit.

Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armour that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armour that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

Paul the Apostle
Martyred in Rome, 65 AD
(Ephesians 6:10-13, CEV)

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Remember the persecuted this summer (Part 1)

Pastor Hua Huiqi in China received hundreds of letters from
believers around the world when he was in prison for his faith.
Will you write a letter of encouragement this summer?
Looking for ways to remember the persecuted this summer? Below are ways that you can take the message to heart, praying for and serving those suffering for their faith.

Remember those suffering for Christ in your prayers. When you hear the story of a persecuted Christian, pause and pray for them.

Sign up for our free monthly newsletter. Published monthly, it is available free of charge and without obligation in one-year subscriptions to anyone in Canada who requests it.

You can also keep the needs of the persecuted Church close to heart by subscribing to our weekly email, The Persecution & Prayer Alert. This email contains short summaries of recent incidents of persecution with accompanying prayer requests.

You can also visit our online Country Reports to learn more about restricted and hostile nations and how you can lift them before the Lord in prayer.

Stay in touch by “liking” us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

Write letters of encouragement to our family members who are imprisoned for their faith. To get started, visit our letter writing site to download our letter writing guide and prisoners’ list. In Canada, you can also request this free resource by contacting our office and we will mail you a copy. You can also compile letters using phrases from a prisoners’ own language at Prisoner Alert.

Do you have any other ideas on how Christians can take the message of the persecuted to heart this summer? Leave your ideas and suggestions in the comments section below!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Christian teen persecuted by family in Laos

Somchi, another Laotian teen,
has also faced persecution for her faith.
Pray for young Christians in Laos. 
A young Khmu woman in Laos is being persecuted by her family for converting to Christianity, reports our sister mission, VOM-USA. The family of 17-year-old Phum has burned her Bible and hymnbook, forbade her to attend church, and even threatened her life in attempts to persuade her to recant her faith.

Phum became a Christian after attending church with a friend in Oudomxay province. Impassioned to learn more about Christ, Phum studied her Bible and attended church every week. Knowing that her family would disapprove — especially her older brother, who works for the Lao Patriotic party — she tried to hide where she went each Sunday.

After about two months, Phum’s family noticed her weekly disappearances. When they asked her where she was going, Phum told them she had become a Christian. They accused her of being a traitor to her country and of following a foreign religion. To escape her family’s condemnation, Phum would retreat to her room, wrap a blanket around herself and read softly from the Bible.

Phum continued to attend church, but her family tried to prevent her from practicing her faith. Her father gave her house chores every Sunday, and her brother hit her with a wooden stick when she tried to walk out the front door.

One Sunday, Phum’s family confronted her and demanded that she stop attending church. When they threatened to throw away her hymnbook and Bible, Phum reluctantly complied with their demands. She couldn’t face losing her most precious possessions.

After missing worship services for two weeks, Phum walked the several miles to her church leader’s house and tearfully apologized for not attending church. Despite complying with her family’s demands, they continued to scold her daily, and her brother burned her Bible and hymnbook. He told Phum that if she ever attended church again, she would be kicked out of the house, sent to jail or killed.

The family intentionally works in distant fields every Sunday so there is no chance for Phum to sneak away to church. She is still prevented from attending church and greatly misses her church family and Bible.

Please pray that the Lord will soften the hearts of Phum’s family toward Christianity and toward Phum. Pray that Phum will keep her eyes on Jesus, persevere in her faith, and not grow weary or lose heart (Hebrews 10:32-39; Hebrews 12:1-3).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blasphemy conviction overturned in Pakistan

Munir and his sons celebrate the acquittal.
A court has acquitted a Christian couple in Pakistan sentenced to life in prison for blasphemy, reports Compass Direct News.

The couple's lawyer said the judge accepted the couple's appeal because prosecutors failed to prove allegations that 32-year-old Munir Masih and his wife Ruqqiya defiled the Qur'an or insulted Muhammad in December 2008.

The allegations came under sections of Pakistan's blasphemy laws which are often used to exact revenge on Christians over personal disputes. In this case, the Christian couple's children had fought with the family of Muhammad Yousaf, who then directed his driver to file the blasphemy charges.

A trial court exonerated them of blasphemy against Muhammad in 2010 due to a lack of credible evidence, but sentenced them to life imprisonment, which is 25 years in Pakistan, for allegedly defiling the Qur'an. Munir was released on bail in December 2010, while Ruqqiya, a mother of six, had been awaiting the decision in jail.

Please join us in prayer!
  • Praise God that Ruqqiya is now home with her family. 
  • Please pray that the unsuccessful prosecution of this false charge would deter others from making false accusations against other Pakistani Christians. 
  • Pray that this family will continue to serve Jesus Christ, despite the hostility they have faced.
For more on the persecution of Pakistani Christians, visit our Pakistan Country Report.

This story was originally published in our Persecution & Prayer Alert. Every week, The Persecution & Prayer Alert delivers specific prayer requests from restricted nations around the world directly to your inbox. You can also read the stories on our website. To sign up to receive the prayer alert, click here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bhatti murder case in Pakistan increasingly murky

Justice remains elusive for Shahbaz Bhatti,
who was murdered in March 2011.
Pray that God will bring about justice
in an unjust world (Psalm 140).
The investigation into the murder of Pakistan’s only cabinet-level Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti, has become mired amid suspicions of a possible cover-up, reports Compass Direct News.

Lax investigations, a series of freed suspects and lack of coordination across law enforcement organizations have stalled the case following the March 2, 2011, slaying of the federal minister for Minority Affairs, sources said. A trial court in the garrison town of Rawalpindi this month exonerated yet another suspect arrested for his alleged role in the murder.

Rana Masood Akhtar, special judge in Anti-terrorism Court II, freed Ziaur Rehman after an investigating officer told the court that he was no longer wanted in the case due to lack of evidence. In February police had dropped investigations into another suspect, Abid Malik, for lack of evidence.

Bhatti’s brother, Paul Bhatti, said the family is not satisfied with the police investigation and authorities’ low level of interest in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“We thought Ziaur Rehman’s arrest would lead us to the killers of my brother, because the police had obtained an international arrest warrant based on evidence,” he said. “I don’t understand why they issued the request [for an Interpol warrant] if they did not have sufficient evidence.”

Bhatti was an outspoken critic of the country’s widely condemned “blasphemy” laws. At the scene of Bhatti’s murder, police recovered a leaflet, presumably left by the attackers, asserting that they had killed him for raising his voice against the blasphemy laws.

Officially, police claim that the Taliban were behind the murder, while Interior Minister Rehman Malik has put the blame on militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.

To read the full report, click here. For more information on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, visit our Pakistan Country Report.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Story from church history: Mary Dyer (ca. 1611-1660)

Convinced that the intolerant law of Massachusetts Colony banishing Quakers violated God’s law, Mary Dyer would not stay quiet or stay away. Mary was a Quaker, and Quakers believed that God could communicate directly to us and that salvation could be assured. This was considered heresy by the Puritans in Massachusetts, so they banished her from the colony.

Mary challenged that law with a persistence that finally led authorities to a critical decision: Agree with Mary and change the social structure of the colony, or silence her. Mary Dyer died on the gallows on June 1, 1660, affirming her stand against the government that persecuted her Quaker faith. “Nay, man,” she said at the last, “I am not now to repent.”

Mary had other alternatives. For one, she was married to a respected colonial official, William Dyer, who more than once had rescued her from a Massachusetts jail through his political connections. For another, Mary had the testy patience of Massachusetts Governor John Endicott on her side. Finally, Mary had a mission to Native Americans of Shelter Island, teaching and converting them to the Quaker faith. Had she been content with her work and obedient to the law, she might have seen the last of her eight children reach adulthood. But she was neither content nor submissive.

In April 1660, Mary returned to Boston, led by her conscience and fully aware of her danger. On May 31, the General Court of Massachusetts summoned Mary Dyer and convicted her of willful violation of the banishment decree. Replied Mary, “I came in obedience to the will of God, desiring you to repeal your unrighteous laws, and that is my work now and earnest request.”

The next morning she was escorted to the gallows, a troop of drummers in front and behind to keep Mary from preaching to the gathering crowd. She left behind engraved on the wall of her jail cell: “My Life not Availeth Me / In comparison to the Liberty of the Truth.”

In 1959, on the 300th anniversary of her death sentence, the Massachusetts General Court decreed that a bronze statue of Mary Dyer be erected in her memory on the grounds of the State House in Boston, recognizing the truth and social value of Mary Dyer’s “earnest request.”

Excerpted from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs, a collection of stories about Christian martyrs from the dawn of Christianity to the modern times. In Canada, you can order this book from our online resource catalogue or by contacting our office.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Judge upholds Christian's prison sentence in Egypt

A judge in Upper Egypt has upheld a six-year sentence of a Christian man convicted of blasphemy against Islam, reports VOM-USA.

The charges resulted from an argument between 49-year-old Makarem Diab and a co-worker about differences between Jesus and Muhammad. Diab was sentenced on February 29 in a 10-minute hearing during which he had no defense attorney.

At his first appeals hearing on March 16, Diab's co-worker instigated a riot by Muslim attorneys outside the courthouse. The angry lawyers interrupted Diab's hearing, assaulted his attorneys and blocked access to the courtroom.

Diab's lawyer, who said the judge upheld the sentence out of fear, is attempting to appeal the sentence again. Diab is being held in Assiut General Prison.

Please pray!
  • Pray that Diab will get a fair hearing and that he will remain strong during his imprisonment. 
  • Pray that he will exemplify the love of God through consistent love and prayer for those who persecute him (Matthew 5:43-48).
This story was originally published in our Persecution & Prayer Alert. Every week, The Persecution & Prayer Alert delivers specific prayer requests from restricted nations around the world directly to your inbox. To sign up to receive the prayer alert, click here. You can also read the current edition’s stories on our website.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Extreme author

England: John Foxe

John Foxe, a young teacher at Magdelen College, pleaded in prayer, “They call themselves your priests and ministers, but they worship themselves and their political power. Help them realize that there is no need for another mediator between God and man but Christ Jesus and his Word.”

Someone overheard John and immediately reported him to the college administration. They accused him of holding beliefs in rebellion to the government and against the state church. When he refused to deny his convictions, the council expelled him from the university.

Because of this, John had great difficulty finding work as a teacher. One day, exhausted with hunger, he sat praying in a church. A man John had never met suddenly appeared and thrust a sum of money into his hand. “Cheer up,” he said. “In a few days new work will present itself to you.” A few days later he was hired as a tutor.

Under the reign of Henry VIII, Christians like John were tolerated. When Mary I came to power, however, she executed any who defied the religious edicts of the state. Three hundred people died during her five-year reign. John and his pregnant wife fled England to Belgium, barely escaping being apprehended.

In defense of those who died for their faith, John wrote Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

It is one thing to read about persecution, yet quite another to experience it. In the same way, many people read about the lives of committed Christians and admire their courage from afar. Yet they have no firsthand experience of faith to call their own. While they extol the martyrs’ courage, they cannot relate to its source: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They may read the gospel message, yet they do not respond in faith. Martyrs lived and died calling others, even their oppressors, to faith in Christ. Could they be calling you toward Christian commitment even now as you read their stories? Don’t merely extol their faith when you are invited to experience it firsthand.

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

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Iran launches new wave of attacks on Christians

The Iranian government is said to be launching a new wave of persecution against Christians, reports CBN News.

The regime has ordered Iranian intelligence to infiltrate church groups in major Iranian cities, and agents are identifying pastors and other Christians, targeting them for arrest and torture in prison.

Former member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Reza Kahlili, verified the crackdown. He said Iran's ayatollahs are frustrated with the large number of Muslims who are now embracing Christianity.

Reza Kahlili is author of A Time to Betray. He wore a disguise to protect his identity as he talked to Gary Lane, a contributor to The Voice of the Martyrs’ newsletter.

Watch the video below to hear Reza’s comments about the situation in Iran and what Christians are currently facing.

Friday, June 8, 2012

An interview with Ali Golchin (Part 3)

Photo from FCNN
Ali Golchin, an Iranian Christian who was imprisoned in 2010 for evangelism and action against national security, recently shared about his experiences with Mohabat News.

We recently shared parts 1 and 2 of his interview. Today, we invite you to read the final part of his talk with Mohabat.

Please remember Ali in your prayers. Pray too for other believers who are currently imprisoned in Iran because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

While you were still in jail, many news services and media published news about your arrest and detention. From your experience, do these things help the situation of the person in detention? Or do they worsen it? What was your experience in this regard?

When I was in custody, occasionally it prompted some changes in the interrogators’ behavior, giving permission for me to visit my family and call them on the phone more frequently.

When I was released, I noticed that while I was in prison, my situation had been reported in the media and internet campaigns had been launched. Also some interviews had been conducted concerning my situation. Then I realized that it can be a great help to a prisoner’s situation when news about him/her is spread and Human Rights organizations are informed in this respect. I would like to speak about a memory from the time while I was still in jail and totally unaware of what was going on outside.

One day the interrogator who used to question me in Evin prison, came to me before an interrogation session and said in a friendly voice, “What is this they are doing? We have arrested and brought you here, and outside they are reporting this news.  Websites write about this, launch campaigns, conduct interviews and then pressure us through Human Rights channels and international community to release you … !”

So, as they said themselves, it shows that these kinds of reports work as leverage in favor of the prisoner and at least cause them to treat him/her more favorably. Another positive impact is that it brings awareness to the world about the situation of the Church and Christians in Iran. And people of the world would know about what is happening in Iran. They would know that a Christian prisoner is subjected to the harshest situations without really doing anything wrong or committing any crime and can potentially face the most severe sentences.

Reporting on the situation of such people can be a great help for their release or at least it can reduce the pressure on them and even soften the court’s ruling.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Remembering Martin Burnham (1959-2002)

10 years ago today

“If I have to go, I want to go out strong for the Lord.” Those were some of 42-year-old Martin Burnham’s last words before he was killed.

Martin and Gracia Burnham, New Tribes missionaries, were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary on May 27, 2001, at a beach resort in western Palawan Province, Philippines, when their lives were forever changed.

Muslim extremists from a group called Abu Sayyaf kidnapped Martin and Gracia, holding them hostage for a year in the jungle along with several others. Rather than responding with hatred or despair, Martin chose to react to the situation with Christ-like love. He led the group in singing inspirational songs and encouraged them. When his captors forced him to carry bags of rice in the rain, he did so without complaining, even though his severely worn shoes caused him to often slip and fall down.

Friends and former hostages shared that Martin and Gracia remained steadfast in their faith despite enduring near starvation, constant exhaustion and frequent gun battles. Although they sometimes felt forgotten by God, they continued to cling to their faith in Him.

Days before his death on June 7, 2002, Martin was prompted to write a goodbye letter to his three children – Jeffrey, 15; Melinda, 12; and Zachary, 11. The letter, which Martin gave to Gracia, was initially lost in a firefight between the Philippine Army and Abu Sayyaf rebels. It was later discovered by troops who went back to look for it.

Although reports concluded that Martin was killed by a bullet in the crossfire between the Philippine Army and Abu Sayyaf rebels, an arrested militant later confessed that the Abu Sayyaf leader had ordered his subordinates to kill Martin if the Philippine soldiers came too close. Gracia, wounded, was set free.

Living one’s life to share the gospel at all costs is a generosity that the Burnhams knew well. It’s the ultimate gift that we, as members of Christ’s Body, can also give as we ask the Lord to open doors to share His love with others, even those who may not receive it with kindness.

It is a generosity that Gracia continues to show to others. On her website she writes, "The past 10 years have been unbelievable. I have spoken of my experiences in more places than I can recall. I have traveled from California to New York and from Texas to Canada (and even overseas!) in order to speak of God's grace to us.”

Gracia, a friend of VOM’s sister mission in the States, has shared at many of their regional conferences. She has also written two books, entitled In the Presence of my Enemies and To Fly Again.

Today, Martin and Gracia’s faithfulness is continuing to impact the Philippines.

As we remember Martin’s life and legacy 10 years later, may we also show the generosity of sharing Christ with others, even at great cost.

Words from our founder: A new heart, a new character

VOM founder, Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001),
strips to the waist showing the scars received
during his 14 years in prison. 
And what if I am tortured? Christ saved a robber while He was on the cross. My brethren to my right and left have sometimes brought their torturers to Christ.

A Communist officer, beating a Christian prisoner with a rubber truncheon, put his stick aside and asked, “What is it about you? How is it that your face is shining? You have something like a halo around your head. How can you look at me so lovingly? I would never love a man who jailed and beat me. How is it that you can obey the foolish commandment of your Christ to love your enemy?”

The Christian answered, “I am not obeying a commandment. It is not that I love you only because Jesus orders me to. Jesus has given me a new heart and a new character. If I wanted to hate you, I would no longer be able to do so. A nightingale cannot sound like a crow, because it is a nightingale and not a crow. So a Christian can only love.”

That rubber truncheon has remained put aside forever.

Excerpted from Richard Wurmbrand’s book, With God in Solitary Confinement. In Canada, you can order this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

VOM’s online courses are now FREE!

“God says we should serve Him not only with all our heart, but also with all our mind. This means intellectual work, hard work. As children we used our brains to learn algebra and geometry. As adults we explore the mysteries of molecules and atoms. When man split the atom, he created the ultimate weapon. Why should we not ponder diligently every atom of the Word of God, however challenging the task, so that we might counter with the ultimate Truth?” – VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand 

Put your mind and intellect to work! Our sister mission in the United States now offers FREE online classes that will help you better understand the theology of persecution and how you can stand with those suffering today.

Examples of classes include “Muslim Evangelism” and “Intercessory Prayer for the Persecuted Church.” The classes are self-paced, so you can study when it is convenient for you!

For more information, or to sign up for a free class, visit VOM Classroom today!

An interview with Ali Golchin (Part 2)

Photo from FCNN
We recently shared part 1 of an interview with Ali Golchin an Iranian Christian convert who was charged in 2010 with evangelism and action against national security. Ali has since been released and has left Iran.

Here is part 2 of his interview with Mohabat News.

Do Christian converts in Iran face any restrictions for going to church? If so, what are they?

I think Christian converts have problems going to church for various reasons. Many factors taken together cause these problems. One of these is having a non-Christian family. In the first place non-Christian families can cause problems for Christian converts to go to church.

Second is the limited number of official churches in Iran and their distance from Christians’ homes. With more than 12 million people in Tehran, the number of churches in this huge city is less than the number of fingers on your hand. And the reason for this is that the Islamic regime of Iran does not allow Farsi-language churches to operate and also does not grant construction permits to Christians in order to build new churches.

Third is the atmosphere prevailing over the church. Especially, in recent years pressures have escalated and the Intelligence Office of the Islamic Republic has ordered church officials to prevent new-believers from entering their churches or risk the complete cancellation of their Farsi services.

The wave of arrests of Christian leaders, who were holding Farsi church services, is another reason for these restrictions, which terrorizes new Christians.

Identification of Christian converts by security authorities is another important reason. After identifications, Christian converts are summoned or arrested and then released after being interrogated and terrorized.

The next restriction is the order issued by the Iranian Intelligence Office calling on churches to cancel their Farsi church services on any days other than Sundays.

However, none of these restrictions became a serious barrier for Christians, but resulted in the growth of house churches in every corner of the cities.

With respect to these pressures and restrictions imposed by the Islamic regime of Iran to prevent Christians from attending the churches, how do Christians have their fellowship?

I have personally experienced it. After I was released from prison, I could not be active in the church as I was before. The reason was because all my activities, going to the church and my contacts with other Christians were being watched closely. However, we tried to have fellowship with new believers or other Christian converts through holding house-church meetings. We were filling the vacuum of not being able to go to official churches by going to house-church gatherings which were held underground. This way we managed to partially satisfy this need.

What kind of place is a house-church? And what kinds of activities are done there?

As I said, due to pressures and restrictions against them, Christians turn their own homes into places of fellowship and worship. Generally, Christian converts gather there considering security matters. One person leads the group in worship and they have fellowship there. The activities in house-churches include worshiping, singing hymns, praying, teaching and preaching from the Bible. There are even people who have access to some Christian doctrinal books. They bring their books with them so that others can receive teaching and grow in their Christian faith. Nothing is going on in house-churches but spiritual fellowship and worship.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Blessing our persecuted family in Iraq

In response to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq, VOM offices in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Finland worked together to let our spiritual family know they are not forgotten.

Through our Christmas Blessing outreach, and in partnership with The United Bible Society of Iraq, VOM provided packages containing material and spiritual encouragement to believers suffering for Christ’s sake in Iraq.

Watch this video to hear the stories of persecution and hope from believers in Iraq! (Length 9:55)

Monday, June 4, 2012

New Bold Believers Activity Book now available

Bold Believers in Algeria and Tunisia teaches children about the obstacles faced by Christians in North Africa and about how God helps them overcome their struggles.

The 56-page book for kids ages 5 to 12 includes many colourful photos and charts, colouring pages for younger children, crafts and activities, and nine feature stories.

Children learn what school is like for Christian kids in Algeria and Tunisia, and about the culture, language, religion, geography and history of the region. Additional features include instruction about how to prepare a testimony, Muslim Fact Cards, a North African animals domino game, and recipes.

You can download this resource and other Activity Books for FREE at VOM’s children’s site.

An interview with Ali Golchin (Part 1)

Photo from FCNN
Ali Golchin is an Iranian Christian convert who was charged with evangelism and action against national security. He was arrested and jailed by the Islamic regime’s security authorities on April 29, 2010. In prison he faced long hours of interrogation by security officers and solitary confinement.

After his release in July 2010, security continued to watch him continuously, threatening and pressuring him. Like many other Iranian Christians, Ali decided to leave Iran. Mohabat News recently interviewed Ali and asked him about his time in prison as well as his current situation. Below is part 1 of the interview.

Mr. Golchin, what caused you to leave Iran?

It was about two years ago, on April 29, 2010, when I was arrested as a security suspect and transferred to prison. Although I was released later on bail, threats by security authorities did not end even after I was acquitted of all charges. It impacted my life severely and I was feeling that it could happen again at any time. I could not bear the situation any longer so I convinced my family and myself to leave the country. Actually the threats and the incidents that I predicted could happen at any time increased my desire to leave Iran.

After you were arrested, a court sentenced you to one year in prison. What allegation was made against you that resulted in such a verdict?

The accusations the judge charged me with the same day that I was arrested and before being transferred to Evin prison were actions against national security and Christian propagation through organized activities, evangelism and recruitment for Churches. The judge issued a warrant for my arrest based on these accusations.

Did they ever put you in solitary confinement during the time of your detainment? If so, how long were you there? What was your situation there?

Yes, they did. I was held in solitary confinement since the day I was arrested and transferred to prison. In fact, I spent all 87 days in solitary confinement. As you can tell from its name, solitary confinement is a small room. One and half meters wide, two and half meters long and at the most three meters high, I believe. Only one person is held there with no contact with the world outside or even with others in prison. It is a place to put the prisoner under severe mental pressure. We all know that man is a social creature and needs contact with others. He needs to speak with others. However, you are refused everything in there. In addition, you’re also physically pressured there. It is hot in summers and I am sure it will be as cold in winters. It has a steel door which is always closed. It is only opened when they want to feed you or take you for interrogation with your eyes blindfolded. That is a harsh place. I think putting someone in solitary confinement is the worst kind of torture possible to persecute someone.

It is said that you were arrested because of keeping Bibles. Is it a crime to own or carry a Bible in Iran?

I was accused of different things. One was keeping a Bible and the other was leading house churches in various cities including Tehran and other counties. Charging me with this, in fact, they said by doing this you are promoting Christianity among non-Christians. However, all our works and activities were dedicated to Christians, to lead and teach them. Also, according to the law, my lawyer told me, “Neither keeping a Bible, nor carrying it is a crime. And as a Christian, being in contact with other Christians as a teacher is not illegal!” However, I was charged with these things and arrested because of carrying Bibles as well as for leading house churches.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Extreme witness

Pakistan: Sheraz

The letter’s power didn’t come from its one line of words: “Stop preaching to Muslims.” Its delivery method made the greater impact; it was attached to the bloody body of a Bible college student named Sheraz. The letter and Sheraz’s body were dumped at the front gate of his church near Lahore, Pakistan.

Sheraz hadn’t followed the letter’s advice. He had preached everywhere he went about the love of a Saviour who had died for his sins. He had preached to the workers at the factory where he worked, to his Bible school, and to his own family.

A week earlier, Sheraz was working at the factory to support his parents and three sisters when he got into a discussion with some Muslim coworkers. They became angry, and other workers reported a heated argument. That was the last time anyone saw Sheraz alive.

Sheraz had known the risk. Many others in Pakistan had been killed for sharing their faith. Others had been accused of blasphemy and locked away in prison. But the gospel message was too good, and Sheraz just couldn’t keep it to himself.

The members of his church wouldn’t take the letter’s advice either. They continued to preach to Muslims, offering Jesus’ love to those enslaved by the hatred and fear of Islam. They, too, knew the risks, but they have continued and will continue, even if they must follow Sheraz’s example.

The most effective witness is a sincere one. We don’t have to memorize the theological significance of the atonement to tell others that Jesus makes a difference in our lives. All Jesus asks is that we testify to what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears. Our personal experience is the most powerful argument for faith in Jesus Christ. No one can dispute it, because it happened to us. Are you hesitant to share your faith? Are you afraid you will say the wrong thing or be stumped by someone’s questions? Just say what you know to be true. Your personal experience makes you an expert witness in the case for Christianity.

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, June 2, 2012

Prisoner of faith: Alimujiang Yimiti

Please write Alimujiang a letter,
reminding him that he is remembered by
his family around the world.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
In September 2007 Chinese government officials closed Alimujiang Yimiti’s business and accused him of using it as a cover up for “preaching Christianity among people of Uyghur ethnicity.” He was later arrested in January 2008 and accused of “subversion of the national government and endangering national security,” a crime punishable by death.

Alimujiang, a former Muslim, became a Christian more than 10 years ago and has been an active Christian in the growing Uyghur church.

His case was accepted for review in November 2010, raising hopes that the injustice of his case might finally be revealed. In mid-February 2011, however, he received a notice informing him that his sentenced was being upheld – a sentence which is reportedly the harshest given to a Christian in a decade. The news came as a blow to his wife and children, who have had little contact with him since his detention.

You can stand with Alimujiang by writing him a letter of encouragement.

When writing a letter, never mention the name of the source of your information or the name of any organization such as The Voice of the Martyrs. It is not dangerous for a prisoner to receive letters from individuals, but if an organization is mentioned they may be accused of links with “foreign organizations” and receive harsher sentences. Also, please do not state anything negative about their government. For more information on letter writing, please click here. To create a letter using phrases in Alimujiang’s own language, please visit Prisoner Alert. Under “What you can do,” select “Write an encouraging letter.” Then click “Create letter.”

Please mail your letters to:
Alimujiang Yimiti
Section 11
The Xinjiang No. 3 Prison
No.1339, Dongzhan Road, Urumqi City
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 830013

Friday, June 1, 2012

Judge rules to liquidate church in Azerbaijan

In the first known case of a church closure under Azerbaijan's new religion law, a judge in Baku ruled on April 25 to liquidate Greater Grace Protestant Church, reports Forum 18 News Service.

Under terms of the ruling, religious activity by the church or its members is illegal and is subject to punishment. The church intends to appeal the ruling. Although Greater Grace registered with the state in 1993, it did not re-register in 2009 when the new religion law passed because leaders believed the church was already registered.

Hundreds of churches that re-registered in 2009 are still waiting for the State Committee to respond to their applications. In some cases, churches were denied registration because of unspecified errors in their applications. Christians fear that the ruling against Greater Grace sets a dangerous precedent for other churches in the country.

Please pray.
  • Pray that Christians in Azerbaijan will continue to gather together for worship despite restrictions. 
  • Pray that believers will confidently entrust themselves to Christ so that they can preach the gospel without hesitation (2 Timothy 1:7-12). 
  • Pray that religious freedom will be respected in Azerbaijan.
This story was originally published in our Persecution & Prayer Alert. Every week, The Persecution & Prayer Alert delivers specific prayer requests from restricted nations around the world directly to your inbox. You can also read the stories on our website. To sign up to receive the prayer alert, click here.