Monday, October 31, 2011

Religious identification of two boys in Egypt restored to Christianity

Mario and Andrew
(Photo: Compass Direct News)
A positive development has ended a long running case concerning a Christian family in Egypt, reports Middle East Concern. This development follows the Supreme Administrative Court's July 3 ruling in favour of those seeking to have their religious registration officially changed back to "Christian." The ruling applies to any who were originally registered as "Christian," but whose registration was subsequently changed to "Muslim" (whether voluntarily or involuntarily).

On several occasions since 2007 we have requested prayers for Kamilia, an Egyptian Christian, and her twin sons, Mario and Andrew. The twins' religious registration was changed to "Muslim" by their father following his divorce from Kamilia. Although Kamilia won a long-running custody battle in 2009, a court ruled in 2010 that the twins' religious registration should remain "Muslim." Kamilia submitted an appeal (for more information, click here).

The twins have now been issued with new identity cards that state their religious registration as "Christian." This was made possible because July's Supreme Administrative Court ruling explicitly overrode all previous rulings.

One implication of having these amended identity cards is that the twins should now be treated as Christians within the education system. In 2008 they were held back for a school year after refusing to take an end-of-year examination for the Islamics class. As Christians they should be exempt from those classes.

More than 2,500 people were part of the application to the Supreme Administrative Court. It is not known how many have received their new identity cards.

Egyptian Christians thank us for our prayers. Please continue to pray!
  • Pray that Kamilia, Mario and Andrew will be able to live normally, and the twins' education will be uninterrupted. 
  • Pray that the numerous other Christians in similar positions will quickly and efficiently receive identity cards stating their religious registration as "Christian."
  • Pray that the rights of all Egyptian citizens will be respected. 
  • Pray that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him. 
For more information on the persecuted Church in Egypt, visit our Egypt Country Report.

Pray for the persecuted this November

Each year, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) gives us the privilege of joining together with more than half a million churches in 150 countries to pray for suffering believers. The day plays a vital role in encouraging and strengthening the persecuted Church through prayer and to bring awareness to their plight. As we hear of their overcoming courage in the face of arrest, imprisonment, torture and even death, our faith is also strengthened.

The Voice of the Martyrs actively partners with organizations such as the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Religious Liberty Commission and other VOM missions worldwide in promoting IDOP among Christians in Canada and around the world on the second Sunday of November.

A special resource kit is available for your church, Bible study or small group to use. To download these helpful resources or to find out more about IDOP, go to the links below.

To visit IDOP Canada, please visit
To visit IDOP International, go to

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Overcomers: Sudan

The Islamic regime of Sudan is launching brutal assaults against Christians in the Nuba Mountains. To find out more, watch the 1-minute video clip below.

To watch more videos like this, please visit

Interview with recently released Chinese pastor

Pastor Zhang while he was still in prison. 
Chinese Pastor Zhang Rongliang, also known as Uncle Z, has shared that the seven years and six months he spent in prison were a fruitful time of ministry, reports our sister mission, VOM-USA.

Zhang is still recovering from severe health problems after completing his full sentence on August 31, 2011. He was immediately admitted to a hospital for 15 days where doctors monitored Zhang’s high blood pressure and diabetes (for more information, click here).

In early December 2004 Zhang disappeared, and eventually, the Chinese government admitted they had him in custody. Zhang was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison for possessing and using a forged passport — which typically carries a six-month sentence. People and organizations around the world pressured Chinese Communist leaders to release Zhang. Thousands of individuals wrote letters and prayed while multiple organizations worked to secure his release.

“I am happy that you and others tried to arrange for my release, but in one way, I am happy that you failed,” Zhang told a VOM contact in China. “You almost made a big mistake. If you had been successful, there would be no church in that prison today.”

In a recent interview, a VOM contact asked about Zhang’s most recent prison experience:

VOM: Uncle Z, most people I know have the same question for you — How could you endure prison for so many years?

Zhang: First let me say that while I was in prison, I remembered our friendship and the times you helped our church. I could feel inside my heart that you were doing something to try to help me. Also, I believed many people and organizations and governments in the West were speaking out about my situation.

To answer your question, I want to remind you that in my life, I have become accustomed to living in prison. This is the fifth time I have been in prison. So now, you see, I have spent one fourth of my life in prison and in some ways I have needed to adapt, to become accustomed to prison.

The second answer to this question is that the entire time I was in prison, I knew that many Christian brothers and sisters were praying for me constantly. So I had strength to overcome.

Finally, I want to remind you that our church movement has for years sent out missionaries to the unreached people groups of China and more recently to the Muslim peoples of the world. The missionaries leave their homes to go to a new environment. They preach the gospel in the area where they are called to preach. You have followed the call of God to China. I am the same as you. I consider myself and I treat myself as one who is a missionary. The difference is that God called me to preach to the prisoners.

For the full interview, click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New laws in Kazakhstan oppress Christians

The president of Kazakhstan has ushered in two new laws that severely restrict freedom of religion, reports Forum 18 News Service.

President Nursultan Nazarbaev signed the laws – which have been adopted with what one observer called "unprecedented" speed – in mid-October. The laws have attracted fierce criticism from local religious groups, human rights defenders and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

"The Law on Religious Activity and Religious Associations" imposes a very complicated registration system for faith groups, bans unregistered religious activity, promotes censorship and requires government approval to build or open new places of worship. The other new law includes amendments that may also have a far-reaching impact on religious freedom.

Please join us in praying!
  • Pray for courage and wisdom for Christians and others who are raising a voice against these restrictive new laws. 
  • Please pray believers would be protected from legal persecution. 
  • Pray that President Nazarbaev's heart would be softened and that he would relent and repent (Acts 9).
For the full article, click here. The November edition of The Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter, a free monthly publication, includes a special report on the increasing restrictions in Kazakhstan. You can sign up for a free subscription here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Join us in New Brunswick this weekend!

Despite persecution, God is moving in believers’ lives worldwide.

Join us this weekend in Moncton, NB, for a day of seeing and hearing how God is moving in nations where Christians are persecuted for their faith.

Several VOM staff members will be sharing stories from their recent trips to visit Christians from Nigeria, Colombia, Vietnam, North Korea, Indonesia and Iraq. You will learn how VOM comes alongside persecuted believers in these restricted nations and how you can get involved.

As 2011 is also VOM’s 40th year of ministry, our founders, Klaas and Nellie Brobbel, will share testimonies of God’s faithfulness over the years.

Make plans to join us!

Saturday, October 29
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The First Church of the Nazarene
21 Fieldcrest Dr.
Moncton, NB E1G 1T1

The conference is free and open to all. Kindly RSVP with your name and the number attending by calling 1-888-298-6423 or emailing Find out more at

We look forward to meeting you!

Family refuses to support young Christian in Myanmar

Please pray for Ying,
a young woman who chose
her faith over her family.
A young Christian in Myanmar was forced to choose between faith and family recently when her relatives demanded that she recant her faith, reports VOM-USA.

On September 19, Ying, 21, was preparing to leave for classes at an underground seminary when her relatives locked her in the house. They threatened to disown her, beat her and withdraw support — including food — if she continued to attend seminary or church. In addition, they threatened to send her to a remote village with no known Christians if she did not recant her faith. Instead of giving in to their demands, Ying ran away from home and left her family behind.

Ying’s mother died when Ying was young, and her father left her with an aunt and two stepsisters. Although she grew up and lived in a Buddhist family, Ying became interested in Christianity. When she was 20 years old, she overheard an evangelist telling a neighbouring family about Christ. Ying approached the evangelist and asked him questions about Christianity. At 20 years old, she became a Christian.

Ying began to attend seminary immediately after her conversion. Since leaving her family last month, she has had no means of support. VOM-USA is now helping pay Ying’s seminary fees and living expenses. After she completes seminary, Ying hopes to serve as a missionary to people who have never heard about Christ.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Students at orphanage in India forced to pay idol worship fee

Christian orphans in West Bengal, India, have been forced to contribute funds for idol worship in order to gain admission to a high school, reports Compass Direct.

Rev. Dr. Subimal Dutta, the director general of Ambassadors Service Society which operates the Gilgal Children's Home, has faced threats for opposing the collection of money for idol worship at government schools or government-aided schools.

In early September, the extremists stormed into the Society compound and warned Dutta to stop all Christian activities within seven days or they would forcibly shut down the mission. They also sternly warned him that his life would be in danger if he involved police or any administrative officials.

At a meeting on September 23 with the village head, the local political party, and the Ambassadors Service Society, an agreement was reached for re-opening the Society. However, the agreement required all students at the government high school to pay the idol worship fee without complaint.

You can help by praying!
  • Please pray that the Lord will protect Dutta and the children he is responsible for. 
  • Pray that they will not be afraid to continue to meet together to worship Him. 
  • Pray the Lord will grant wisdom to Dutta in this difficult situation. 
  • Pray that those who oppose Christians would repent and know Christ.
For more information on India's suffering believers, please visit the India Country Report.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Overcomers: Pakistan

In 2009, Arifa Alfred was kidnapped in Quetta, Pakistan, after drinking tea that had been drugged. She has since escaped. Watch the video below to hear her story. (Length: 1 minute)

Visit our multimedia site for more videos about the persecuted Church.

Christian café in the UK warned over ’homophobic’ Bible verses

Jamie Murray, the owner of a Christian café,
was told he couldn't publicly display Bible verses.
(Photo: Christian Institute)
The Christian Institute is reporting that police have apologized to the owner of a Christian café in Blackpool, England, for incorrectly ordering him to stop displaying Bible verses on a TV in the café.

Jamie Murray, owner of the Christian café called Salt & Light, mutes the sound on a TV located in the back of the café while it displays the entire New Testament verse by verse.

Murray said police came to the café following a complaint regarding “insulting” and “homophobic” material. Murray contested the officers’ claim that his display was illegal. Police said their sergeant assured them that insulting words were a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

“I couldn’t believe the police were saying I can’t display the Bible. The officers were not very polite, in fact they were quite aggressive. It felt like an interrogation,” said Murray.

Murray agreed to stop displaying the verses on the screen until receiving legal advice. After talking with his lawyer, Murray again played the Scripture DVDs.

The Christian Institute reports that police have since come back to Murray with a partial apology. They admitted they got the law wrong and apologized with regards to their previous engagement with Murray.

The officers did not apologize for launching the investigation and they deny that they banned Murray from displaying the Bible texts. Murray says the police did indeed threaten that he could be arrested if he continued to display the texts. He says he forgives the police for the situation but will not allow the case to get swept away.

“Mr. Murray doesn’t want to see this happen to anyone else, so he intends to lodge an official complaint with the police,” said the Christian Institute’s Mike Judge.

Lancashire Police told the BBC: “It appears that the officer has misinterpreted the Public Order Act and we have apologised to the cafe owner for any distress we may have caused.”

For the full article, click here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Orphans under pressure in Laos

Eleven orphans in northern Laos are currently facing pressure from the principal of their orphanage to stop attending church, reports VOM-USA. If they do not obey, the children may have to leave the orphanage.

After attending a local church and becoming a Christian, one of the orphans shared the gospel with his peers. Soon, 10 other orphans turned to Christ and began regularly attending church. When the principal heard of the conversions, he told the children multiple times to stop attending church.

After pressuring the children with no results, the principal called the group to his office on August 19. He told the children they must stop attending church or face the consequences.

Seven of the orphans promised they would stop attending church, but none of them have renounced their faith. The remaining four orphans continue to attend church and refuse to bend under the pressure. Please pray that God will protect these orphans, who depend entirely on government support.

To learn more about persecution in Laos, please visit our Laos Country Profile.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sexual assault used as weapon of persecution in Pakistan

A Christian mother of five has been raped in the village of Mustafabad, Kasur district. ASSIST News Service reports that Arifa Mushtaq (name changed for security reasons) was coming home by bus from her work in a garment factory when two locals grabbed her while another accomplice held a gun to her head.

Mushtaq Masih, Arifa’s husband, is devastated by the assault and has filed a complaint with the local police. ASSIST has learned that Arifa’s family is being threatened by two of the alleged rapists. Mushtaq was told that if he did not withdraw his complaint, his children would “go through what his wife has gone through.”

This is only one example of sexual assaults being used by Muslims as weapons of persecution against Christians. Advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that in Pakistan, which is a Muslim majority country, Christian girls and women are particularly vulnerable targets.

ICC reports that an 18-year-old woman was working alone on a Muslim-owned farm when three of her employer’s relatives allegedly raped her. She was told not to tell anyone or they would kill her and her brother. She says it is impossible for her to bring her case to the police because of the threats.

Jonathan Racho, ICC Regional Manager, says the police would provide little assistance.

“In Pakistan, when Christians bring their case to court or to the police there is a reluctance from the government to protect them,” said Racho.

Nazir Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress, said the instances of rape and forced conversion of Christian women to Islam is on a continual rise. He said 99.9% of cases of rape in Pakistan are not reported.

“If a Muslim man rapes a Christian girl, then he easily forces her to convert to Islam, marries her and covers up his heinous crime of rape under Islamic law,” Bhatti told ICC.

You can read ASSIST’s article here and ICC’s article here.

You can help by praying!
  • Pray for Arifa and her family. Pray they would be given the strength and peace of their Saviour.
  • Pray for the 18-year-old woman who faces death threats if she reports the heinous crime perpetrated against her.
  • Pray for the Muslims who commit such terrible acts. Pray they would be overwhelmed by the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lives touched through VBS program in the West Bank

More than 25 kids in the West Bank recently received Christ.
Praise God!
Pastor Stephen Khoury, a VOM partner, successfully completed a summer VBS program in the Bethlehem suburb of Shepherd's Field, despite opposition from neighbours and local authorities, reports VOM-USA.

On the first day of the VBS, Stephen was accosted by a neighbourhood woman and her two sons, but the Holy Spirit enabled Stephen to respond wisely and to calm the woman.

Over the course of the five-day event, the leaders' car tires were slashed and the building and grounds of the youth centre were vandalized. But Stephen and the other Christian workers were encouraged. "We had more than 78 kids come, and more than 25 kids from different religions received Christ," Stephen said. "Lives were changed forever."

As a result of their VBS success, a new outreach meeting will be held each Friday at the centre.

Please pray for those conducting outreach through the Shepherd's Field centre.
  • Pray that they will not falter in sharing the message of Christ.
  • Pray that the kids who accepted the gospel will grow in their faith each day.
  • Pray that many more in the West Bank will hear the Good News and turn to Jesus.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Story from church history: The martyrdom of William Tyndale (ca. 1494-1536)

So great is our passion to know the truth that some seekers will give everything, even their lives, for the treasure of knowing one certain thing.

William Tyndale was a well-educated scholar who was frustrated at the distance between English education and the Bible, the source of truth. Tyndale’s life would be devoted to overcoming just this obstacle.

Tyndale was born sometime around 1494 in Gloucester, England. Ninety years earlier the Church had banned the only English Bible in the world, the hand-copied work of John Wycliffe. It was a flawed translation, based on the Latin Vulgate, but it was all English speakers had. And to have it was a crime.

Tyndale’s passions eventually settled on a mission as dangerous as any in his century: to work from the Greek and Hebrew texts to create a Bible in vernacular English, so readable and accurate that an Englishman could depend on it, learn from it, and find God’s voice in it.

To do that work, Tyndale had to leave England. Tyndale travelled to Germany where he completed the New Testament in 1525. Then he went on to Antwerp, one step ahead of English agents, where the first five Old Testament books were translated and printed. In Belgium he met a community of English merchants, and though agents were searching the continent to find him, Tyndale felt secure enough to relax his guard. His lack of caution would prove fatal.

Tyndale took up a friendship with Henry Phillips, who won Tyndale’s confidence but secretly sought the bounty offered for his capture. In May 1535 the trap was set. Tyndale was taken under guard to the castle at Vilvoorde, near Brussels, where he suffered in dank and cold for eighteen months before standing trial for “maintaining that faith alone justifies... that to believe in the forgiveness of sins, and to embrace the mercy offered in the gospel, was enough for salvation.” The complete list of charges included direct attacks on church teaching.

Tyndale knew how these trials ran. He would have no chance at defence, and death was the remedy. With his body shaking from cold and the winter’s light dim for writing, he worked to complete the English Bible, helped by a sympathetic prison governor.

In August 1536, Tyndale was condemned as a heretic and defrocked. For two more months he was kept at Vilvoorde. Then in early October, just past dawn, he was led from prison to the stake. Formalities included placing the Mass once more in his hands, then quickly snatching it back, the offer of last-minute reprieve if he would only recant, and always the shouts of a crowd gathered to witness a “heathen” die.

Secured to the stake, surrounded by brush and logs, Tyndale was heard to pray, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” Then the executioner snapped hard on the rope, strangling Tyndale before the blaze consumed his body.

That final prayer was for the bully King Henry VIII, whose pursuit of a king male heir had already cost Anne Boleyn her life and Catherine her marriage. So full of his own power and pomp, would this king’s eyes ever fall favourably on Tyndale’s English Bible?

Indeed they did. Two years after Tyndale’s death, King Henry authorized the distribution of the Matthew Bible, much of it Tyndale’s work. And then in 1539, all printers and sellers of books were ordered by the king to provide for the “free and liberal use of the Bible in our own maternal English tongue.” Tyndale’s dream and his last earthly appeal had come true.

Excerpted from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs. written by John Foxe and The Voice of the Martyrs. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Overcomers: Nigeria

The death toll in Plateau state, Nigeria, is rising as violence continues. To learn more, watch this week’s edition of The Overcomers. (Length: 1 minute)

You can watch other videos about persecution at

Christians in Egypt in mourning after massacre

(Sources: Compass Direct News, Middle East Concern)
Hundreds were wounded in the military attack on
Christians protesting a destroyed church burning.
At least 26 were killed. (Photo: Compass Direct News)

Funeral services were held on October 10 in Cairo for some of the victims of a military attack against a group of Christian protestors that left at least 26 dead and hundreds wounded.

The attack began in the late afternoon on October 9, when Christian protestors marching through Cairo began getting pelted with rocks and other projectiles near an overpass that cuts through the downtown. By the time the protestors were able to make it to a television and radio broadcasting building commonly known as the Maspero Building, the army began shooting into the crowd and ramming riot-control vehicles into the protestors.

Later in the evening there were reports of sporadic violence against Christian-owned businesses and fighting close to the Coptic Hospital, where most of the bodies of the dead and wounded had been brought.

In the wake of what could be the worst act of violence against Egyptian Christians in modern history, leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church called for three days of fasting and prayer for divine intervention, along with three days of mourning. Coptic Christians, once a majority in Egypt, now make up 7 to 10 per cent of the country's 80 million people.

You can help by praying!
  • Please pray for rest, peace and justice in Egypt. 
  • Pray for the leaders of this nation; ask the Lord to give them wisdom. 
  • Pray God will minister to those who are mourning and give those who are victims of violence the grace to forgive their attackers. 
  • Ask the Lord to protect and strengthen His Church in Egypt.

To post a prayer of solidarity with suffering believers in Egypt, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall. For more information on the persecuted Church in Egypt, please visit the Egypt Country Report.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kidnapped men released; two others killed in Iraq

We recently requested prayer for three Assyrian Christians, together with a Turkman Muslim, who were kidnapped near Kirkuk on September 21. Middle East Concern reports that they were released on September 30. Praise God! Reportedly a ransom was paid to secure their release.

However, the Christian community continues to suffer, as two Christian men were shot dead in Kirkuk in recent days. Hanna Polos Emmanuel's body was found on the city's outskirts on October 1. He was 60 years old. Bassam Isho was killed in the Muthana district on October 2. He was 30 years old.

Iraqi Christians fear that these incidents are targeted attacks to destabilize Christian communities in Iraq.

For the full report, click here.

Iraqi Christians rejoice in the release of the kidnapped men and thank us for our prayers. They request our continued intercession that:
  • Those kidnapped, together with their families, will find emotional healing after facing this trauma.
  • The families of those killed will know the peace, presence and comfort of Jesus.
  • The perpetrators of violence against Christians will know the Spirit's conviction, the Son's offer of forgiveness and the Father's welcome to relationship with God.
  • The authorities will act decisively to improve security for all people, including Christians and other religious minorities, in Kirkuk and throughout Iraq.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wife of imprisoned Christian in China shares her story

Alimujiang Yimiti, a Uyghur house-church leader in China, has been detained since January 2008. In 2009 he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for "instigating separatism and revealing state secrets to foreigners." The charge was based on two private conversations between Alim and an American friend, even though there was no evidence to suggest that sensitive information was discussed. Those close to the case have insisted on Alim’s complete innocence.

In November 2010, a high court accepted Alim’s appeal to have his case reviewed. In December, Alim’s wife and two lawyers prepared an appeal. The judge, however, informed them that the collegiate bench had already studied the case and made a decision (for more information, click here).

In this five-minute video, Alim’s wife describes seeing God at work despite being abandoned by family and other believers when her husband was arrested. Please watch this video, pray for Alim and his family, and share their story with your friends and family members.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Update on Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

There have been developments in Iran concerning Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose death sentence for apostasy (i.e. leaving Islam) was upheld in court hearings in late September, reports Middle East Concern.

First, his lawyer has been informed that the case is being referred to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Second, the Supreme Court announced on October 11 that it would be willing to consider a further appeal. These are unusual developments in Iran's legal system, and are likely to further delay the issuing of a written verdict following the most recent hearing.

There is continuing uncertainty about the case. The Iranian authorities have repeatedly suggested that a death sentence has not been passed. This is despite the fact that written verdicts issued by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province in September 2010 and the Supreme Court in July 2011 explicitly stated that the charge was apostasy and the sentence death.

In July, the Supreme Court also ordered the original tribunal to clarify whether or not Youcef was ever a practicing Muslim as an adult, and to give him further opportunity to recant his faith in Jesus. He refused to do so during the September hearings (for more information, click here).

Iranian Christians rejoice that Youcef's life has been spared thus far and thank us for our prayers. They request our continued intercession that:
  • Youcef's death sentence will be revoked and his conviction overturned. 
  • Youcef, his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort, presence and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon. 
  • Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord's enabling and guidance.
  • All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him. 
For more information on the persecuted Church in Iran, please visit our Iran Country Report.

Church building destroyed in Egypt

Please pray for Christians in the village of Merinab, Egypt.
On September 30, approximately 1,000 local Muslims destroyed the church of St. George in the village of Merinab, Aswan province, reports Middle East Concern. The mob also damaged other property belonging to Christians. The security and fire services failed to intervene.

As we reported in mid-September, the church was being renovated with all necessary building permits in place.

On August 26, there was a confrontation between local Muslim and Christian residents. In subsequent days a mob blocked all roads into the village, demanding that work on the church building be stopped.

On September 2, a meeting was held involving the church leaders, local Muslim leaders and representatives of the security forces. The church leaders agreed to forgo the construction of the spire and external cross on the building in order to maintain communal harmony.

However, there were further threats against the church as Muslims demanded that the domes be removed from the church building's roof structure. Further meetings failed to agree a way forward.

Two church buildings in the Cairo area that were destroyed by mobs earlier this year have been rebuilt by the army. Other church properties damaged or destroyed by mobs have not been rebuilt by the army or other state institutions, and Egyptian Christians are not optimist that rebuilding will be offered in this case.

For the full report, click here.

Egyptian Christians request our prayers that:
  • The situation in Merinab will be defused and the church will be re-built. 
  • Christians in Merinab will know the presence and peace of Jesus, and the daily guiding wisdom of the Spirit. 
  • Church leaders in the area will know the Spirit's guiding wisdom in their interactions with other community leaders and in leading their congregations. 
  • There will be effective government action to address sectarian pressures against church building projects. 
  • All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mexican martyrs: Pastor Mariano & Pastor Jairo

Mariano Diaz Méndez was a minister of the indigenous Tzotzil Evangelical Church in San Juan Chamula, a small town in the central highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. He was traveling near the village of Botatulan early on the afternoon of October 24, 2003, when a group of heavily armed men stopped his car. As a pastor in a tumultuous area, Méndez was well aware of the threat against his life and intimately familiar with the increasing attacks aimed against evangelical Christians from the caciques, or community chieftains, in the area.

Since Christianity’s advent in the Chiapas Highlands in the 1960s, the caciques have used violent tactics to discourage its spread. Scores of evangelicals have died and hundreds more have suffered injury by groups who practice a “traditionalist” religion, a semi-pagan mix of Mayan religion and Roman Catholic beliefs.

Pastor Méndez bolted from his car in an attempt to evade his attackers, but they overpowered him with their weapons, their bullets piercing his body and bringing the pastor to the ground. The assailants shot him to death.

The deadly assault against Pastor Méndez had occurred exactly one week after a pastor in the city of Mapastepec, namely Jairo Solís López, had also been killed by the caciques.

Both Pastor Méndez and Pastor López had given their hearts to serve Christ in the face of formidable challenges in Chiapas. Together, they embody what God promises in Revelation, that “they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death”; rather, they overcame “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (12:11).

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Overcomers: Iran

Pastor Vahik Abrahamian, a 45-year-old Armenian Christian, was released from prison on the morning of August 29. Praise God! Watch this 1-minute video clip to find out more.

For more videos like this, visit our multimedia site.

Flyers single out Christians in Israeli town

A member of an ultra-Orthodox anti-Christian group
protests outside the home of a Christian couple.
(Photo: Compass Direct)
In July, we told you about an ultra-Orthodox anti-Christian group called Yad L’Achim that accused a Christian couple of manipulating a young girl to convert to Christianity. A full-page ad in the local newspaper disclosed the couple’s address and invited residents to protest outside their home.

In a similar pattern, Messianic Jews in a suburb west of Jerusalem have been targeted by a flyer campaign. The perpetrators have posted the addresses, phone numbers, and photographs of Messianic Jews in the town of Mevassarat Zion in an apparent attempt to incite harassment.

Asher Intrater, leader of the Ahavat Yeshua Congregation, believes the flyers are “an effort to drive us out of the neighborhood.” He said this is the first time he has seen a positive response from the local authorities.

While Yad L’Achim’s involvement is unverified, it does match a pattern that is emerging in Israel against Messianic Jews and evangelical Christians.

You can read Compass Direct New’s full article here.

Pray for Christians in Israel!
  • Pray they would lean on God for strength and security.
  • Pray that the perpetrators would see Christ in those they target.
  • Pray for the gospel’s spread in the midst of this persecution.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Man accused of blasphemy dies in prison in Pakistan

Another Christian has died in a Pakistani prison,
raising concern for the safety of Asia Bibi.
Concerns for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in prison on charges of blasphemy, have grown since the death of another Pakistani Christian prisoner, reports International Christian Concern.

On September 9, Aslam Masih died of the Dengue virus, a treatable disease. It is believed that officials denied him proper medical treatment. The Christian man was arrested in 2010 when an Islamic missionary group falsely accused him of blasphemy. Aslam was initially released due to a lack of evidence but pressure from radical Muslims led to his re-arrest.

This is only the most recent instance in a string of similar cases. In March, Pakistani official reported that a Qamar David, a Christian man also accused of blasphemy, died of a heart attack. His lawyer insisted he was murdered. In 2009, Falish Masih was found dead in his cell. He had wounds all over his body, but police say he committed suicide.

The recent death of Aslam Masih and these other examples make the Christian community wary about Asia Bibi’s safety in prison. You can help by signing a petition on behalf of Asia Bibi at

To read the full report, click here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Coming up: Women's conference in Edmonton

Christian women are suffering for their witness in nations hostile to Christ. Some are incarcerated in prison cells, without their basic needs being met. Others are forced to labour under great duress. Still, many are subordinated and sexually abused, discriminated against and mistreated.

Release Women, a ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs, seeks to connect women in Canada with persecuted women worldwide.

Our upcoming "Holding to the Hope" conference, based on Hebrews 10:23-24, will include a time of worship, prayer and letter writing. Guest speakers include Emma Dipper, the Release Women Coordinator for our sister mission in the UK, and Takoosh Hovsepian, an Iranian woman whose husband, Haik, was murdered for his Christian activities.

Event details are as follows:

October 15, 2011
9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Northgate Baptist Church
13208-95 Street NW
Edmonton, AB  T5E 3Y4

Please make plans to join us! All women, from teenagers to senior adults, are invited. Kindly RSVP with your name and the number attending by phoning our office or emailing us at There will be sandwiches available for a free-will offering with proceeds going towards a Release Women project.

For more information, please visit our website.

Pastor Vahik and Sonia Abrahamian flee Iran

Vahik and Sonia arriving in the Netherlands. (Photo: FCNN)
Prisoner of faith, Pastor Vahik Abrahamian and his wife, Sonia, have left Iran with the help of the Netherlands Embassy in Iran and with approval from the Iranian government.

The Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN) reports the couple left Iran for the Netherlands on September 15. Vahik and Sonia continually expressed their desire to remain in Iran for the sake of their ministry; however, fears for their safety caused them to flee the country.

In September 2010, the Abrahamians were arrested along with the two friends they were visiting and were taken to the Ministry of Islamic Guidance prison. They were abused physically and psychologically and held in solitary confinement during their first 40 days in prison.

In July we reported that Sonia had been released from prison along with the other couple. She was told her husband would be released 10 days later but Pastor Vahik was not released until August 29.

Vahik, Sonia and their families are rejoicing over the couple’s wellbeing and liberty. Iranian Christians and their brothers and sisters across the world are thankful to God for granting their prayers for the release and safety of Vahik and Sonia.

To read FCNN’s report, please click here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Muslims kidnap Christian girl to “purify” her

A 14-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan has been abducted by Muslims, reports Pakistan Christian Post. Five Muslim men allegedly kidnapped her in Gujranwala City of Punjab Province to “purify” her by making her a Muslim and the mistress of one of the men.

Eye-witnesses say the Muslims, armed with deadly weapons, forced their way into the home of Rashid Masih in broad daylight and abducted his daughter, Mehek. They held a gun to Mehek’s head and forced her to climb into a car.

The same witnesses chased the men, but were threatened to stop under pain of death. Workers from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance heard about the case and reported it to the police. ASSIST News reports that police reluctantly registered the case but have not taken any substantial investigative action.

The Pakistan Christian Post’s article can be found here. ASSIST News’ article can be found here.

Pray for Mehek!
  • Pray God will protect Mehek’s physical and emotional well-being.
  • Pray that her kidnappers will release her unharmed and come to a knowledge of Christ.
  • Pray for a strengthening of faith for Mehek and her family.
To learn more about persecution in Pakistan, please visit our Pakistan Country Report.

Monday, October 3, 2011

“A call for mercy” video contest winners

The Voice of the Martyrs USA recently ran a contest to raise awareness for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.

VOM supporters were asked to create a two minute video to encourage others to sign an online petition calling for Asia’s release (

Here are the top three videos. Which one is your favourite?

If you haven’t yet signed the petition for Asia, please do so today!

In mailboxes this week!

The October issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is hitting mailboxes this week.

Inside this issue:
  • Paying the price in Vietnam: This month, you will meet four men and three women who are paying the price for following Christ in Vietnam. 
  • What does the Church in Canada need?: Does the Church in Canada need persecution to bring about revival? Read what VOM CEO Corey Odden has to say in response to this critical question.
  • Belarus: A communist ‘island’: A former republic in the communist Soviet Union, Belarus still maintains its communist roots. Learn how a restrictive law is affecting the Church and how a pastor was incriminated for leading a worship service. 
  • Back to our roots: VOM founder Pastor Richard Wurmbrand wrote, “Let the aim of our lives be to give joy to those around us.” Be encouraged by this challenge to bring joy to others.
  • Will you pray with us?: November 13th is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Don’t miss this opportunity to share with your church the overcoming testimonies of our persecuted family worldwide!
The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is the flagship publication of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada. Published monthly, it is available free of charge to anyone in Canada who requests it.

You can subscribe online here.