Saturday, March 31, 2012

"I don’t want my country to be emptied from Christianity"

In the past decade, Islamic militants in Iraq have stepped up their attacks against Christians. The most brutal attacks started in the south and moved north, causing a mass exodus of Christians. Half to two-thirds of the country's Christians have left Iraq since 2003.

However, as a team from The Voice of the Martyrs found out, many Christians are committed to staying in the country. Watch this 6-minute video to find out more.

For other videos about the persecuted Church, visit our multimedia site. To learn more about our brothers and sisters in Iraq, visit our Iraq Country Report.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Overcomers: Sudan

A Bible school supported by Samaritan's Purse has been destroyed in the latest bombing raid to hit South Kordofan, a Sudanese province that borders the newly created independent country of South Sudan. Watch this one minute video to learn more.

For other videos like this one, click here. For more information on Sudan’s persecuted Church, please visit our Sudan Country Report.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

MP promotes global awareness on religious freedom

On April 2, David Anderson, MP for Cypress Hills-Grasslands, will host the Second Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom and Governance.

With approximately one third of the world’s population living in countries where either government restrictions or social hostilities inhibit the free practice of religious beliefs, this event seeks to raise awareness of the religious persecution so many face around the world.

“As the exercise of freedom, the right to change religion, and the ability to practice faith freely becomes increasingly difficult, Canadians can provide leadership to protect this fundamental human right,” said Anderson.

Parliamentarians, faith and community leaders will participate. Presentations, panels and open discussions will deal with governance, the reality of religious restrictions, and ways in which Canadians can respond to this pressing global issue.

“As an MP, I have seen first-hand the positive effects of faith communities working together. Last year’s forum on religious persecution was well received and I expect we will have another lively discussion,” concluded Anderson.

The media and any concerned person are invited to attend this event. It will take place from 6 pm to 9 pm on April 2nd at the Government Conference Centre on 2 Rideau Street (55 Colonel By Dr) in Ottawa.

For further event information, please contact: 
Joycelin Ng

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Extremist group plots to 'end the Christian presence' in northern Nigeria

A recent bombing in Jos is part of an
effort to “end the Christian presence” in Nigeria.
The al-Qaeda linked Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has declared it is plotting to "end the Christian presence" in much of northern Nigeria, reports the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission.

According to a spokesman, the group is preparing to launch a campaign of terror against Christians through kidnapping Christian women and coordinated bombings. The women reportedly will be held for ransom and returned only to Christian families who leave the region. The goal is to eradicate Christians completely so that a "proper Islamic state" might be established.

The authorities say Boko Haram is well armed with sophisticated weaponry and munitions. This new threat against Christians is very direct and indicates very dangerous days lie ahead.

Please pray for Nigeria.
  • Please pray the Lord will protect and deliver believers in northern Nigeria. 
  • Pray He will frustrate the plans of the enemy and though His mercy bring many to repentance. 
  • Pray that Christians in Nigeria will not be fearful but trust God (Revelation 2:10).
Visit our Nigeria Country Report for more information on Nigeria's persecuted Church.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Elderly Christian woman arrested in Iran

Giti was arrested and held for three days without reason.
Photo: Mohabat News
A 78-year-old member of the Church of Saint Luke in Esfahan, Iran, was recently arrested by police and held for three days, reports the Farsi Christian News Network.

Giti Hakimpour was seized from her home in the early hours of February 22. After persistent inquiries and repeated visits by church leaders, Giti was eventually allowed home on February 25.

No reason has yet been given for her arrest, nor is it at all clear what, if any, charges are to be brought against her. Since she was born in a Christian family, the possibility of an apostasy charge seems to be remote. It now appears that established and traditional churches across the city, not just house churches, have become targets of the authorities.

The tightening of Iran's oppressive grip against the Christian community in Esfahan has reached new levels since the official media reported the discovery of a truckload of Bibles on its way to the city.

Please pray!
  • Pray that no charges will be brought against Giti. 
  • Ask the Lord to help her to overcome this ordeal. 
  • Pray that God will continue to work in Iran by growing His kingdom and preparing the hearts and minds of believers to stand firm at all times. 
  • Pray that the Lord will provide Bibles for those seeking to read His Word in Iran.
To learn more about the trials Christians face in Iran, go to the Iran Country Report.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Islamists in Egypt use rumours to attack Christians

Tensions remain high in an Egyptian village where several thousand Muslims went on a rampage on February 12 over a false rumour that a church was holding a 14-year-old girl against her will in order to convert her back to Christianity, reports Compass Direct News.

Sources said that between 2,000 and 5,000 hard-line Muslims, most of them from the Salafi movement, harassed Christian villagers in Meet Bahsar in the Nile Delta, attacked a church building to "save" the girl, damaged a priest's house and then destroyed his car. The girl was not in the church.

The girl's father, an ethnic Copt who converted to Islam, had stirred the crowd up on the mistaken notions that his daughter had converted to Islam and that Christians had kidnapped her. It was unclear if the girl's father was merely mistaken about her location or if he intentionally misled villagers.

The Salafi movement is made up of extremely conservative Muslims increasingly known for their hateful rhetoric and attacks against churches in Egypt. The Salafis have used rumours of kidnappings or relationships between Christians and Muslims to incite other attacks against Christians.

Please join us in prayer.
  • Please pray the Lord will use those in authority to protect Christians in Egypt. 
  • Ask the Lord to strengthen the faith of believers during this time of unrest in Egypt. 
  • Pray that Egyptian believers will rejoice in the opportunity to grow in Christlikeness through the ongoing opposition they face (James 1:2-4). 
  • Pray that the Spirit will move in the hearts of this girl and her father.
For more on persecution in Egypt, click here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

“I learned to see God”

Young Girl
Mainland China
During the Red Guard Era, 1966 – 1969

A Chinese girl refused to betray the secrets of the underground church, even though she had been tortured again and again. She was asked how she could bear so much suffering.

“I was not hard,” she replied. “I had been taught by my pastor that the real torture lasts very little. For one minute of torture, there are ten minutes of glancing at the enraged faces and the implements of pain. I decided to keep my eyes closed the whole time. I did not see the stick before it hit me or afterward. The suffering was much reduced.

“I relied on the promise of Jesus: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ I purified my heart of the fear of men, and I learned to see God. When the Communists became aware of my defense, they stuck my eyelids open with tape, but it was too late. My vision had already taken on a new aspect, and I had seen God as so many had seen Him before.”

Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. – Paul the Apostle, 2 Corinthians 3:18

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 the book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office

Saturday, March 24, 2012

He’s coming for me

The director of VOM’s youth ministry, Thirteen Three, recently posted the following music video on the Thirteen Three Facebook page. The music video, entitled “Coming for me,” includes video footage from Release International, VOM’s sister mission in the UK, and Open Doors.

Watch and share this music video about our persecuted brothers and sisters!

Thirteen Three is the youth and young adult initiative of The Voice of the Martyrs. To learn more about Thirteen Three and how you can get involved, visit our website or “like” us on Facebook. If you live in the Calgary area, come to the Thirteen Three launch event this April! For details, click here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Overcomers: Colombia

Members of the notorious guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) recently prevented a VOM evangelist, "Rolo," from entering La Macarena region in Colombia with radios, Bibles and Christian books. To find out more, watch this short video.

Visit VOM’s multimedia page to watch other Overcomers reports. For more on the persecuted Church in Colombia, go to our Colombia Country Report.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Doctors attempt to save eye of injured pastor in Uganda

Pray that Bishop Umar will retain sight in his left eye.
Photo: Compass Direct News
A church leader in Uganda who was targeted in an acid attack in December 2011 is currently receiving treatment in Israel to retain vision in his remaining eye, reports Compass Direct News.

Doctors at Sheba Hospital in Tel-Aviv are still not sure what chemicals Muslim extremists threw on Bishop Umar Mulinde, but they know that the acid is threatening the vision in his left eye. Mulinde said his left eye has been getting better under the specialized treatment he has been able to receive. However, Mulinde also said that "the damaged right eye is somehow affecting the left eye. The doctors are thinking of removing the right eye with hope of saving the left eye."

Mulinde said he was encouraged that ministry is continuing at his church in Namasuba, though his friend Zachariah Serwadda was ambushed on February 4 after an evangelistic outreach in the predominantly Muslim town of Mbale. "I only heard several voices as I dropped down when the windshield of my vehicle got broken," said Serwadda, who was unhurt in the attack. "It could be the same group. It seems it's the same network, because after attacking Bishop Mulinde they threw down letters at the ... threatening to attack other preachers like him."

Please pray!
  • Pray that Mulinde will retain his sight. 
  • Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of Mulinde and his friend Serwadda. 
  • Pray that the Lord will bless their efforts to spread the gospel. 
  • Pray that the perpetrators of these attacks will repent and come to know Jesus Christ. 
  • Please pray that increased persecution in Uganda will result in increased boldness among believers (Acts 4:29-31).
To post a prayer of support and encouragement for Mulinde and Serwadda, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MP raises voice for persecuted Christians

Have you ever written a letter to your MP, urging them to raise a voice for persecuted Christians?

David Sweet, the MP for Ancaster/Dundas/Flamborough/Westdale, recently spoke about Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor who has been sentenced to death for apostasy. Mr. Sweet also mentioned the one year anniversary of the death of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian minister in Pakistan’s government who was murdered on March 2, 2011. Bhatti was a critic of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws in relation to many cases of Christians being falsely accused of blaspheming Muhammad or the Qur’an, including the highly publicized case of Asia Bibi.

To hear David Sweet’s recent speech, watch this short video clip.

Consider contacting your MP about Pastor Youcef or another Christian who is facing persecution because of their faith. To get started, visit our website for helpful hints about writing government officials. For a sample letter you can send on behalf of Iranian Pastor Youcef, click here. To sign a petition calling for the release of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, click here.

Thank you for raising a voice!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Christians in Laos threatened to recant or leave their homes

Laos is a Communist-ruled South-east Asian state known for its abysmal human rights record, particularly its appalling prison conditions and systematic use of torture, reports the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission.

Christians in this poor, landlocked nation face intensive persecution. Generally the religious persecution occurs outside the main cities, targets the already marginalized and persecuted ethnic minorities, and is committed by belligerent and corrupt local officials. In Laos, religious liberty exists in theory but not in practice. Article 30 of the Laos Constitution states: “Lao citizens have the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religions.” However, the Prime Minister's 2002 Decree on Religious Practice (Decree 92) renders religious liberty illusory by mandating that religious activities first be approved by the village, district and regional authorities.

On March 2, Khamla, the only known Christian in the whole of Viengphuka district in Luang Namtha Province, was summoned to meet with Lao officials at their headquarters. Khamla had recently converted to Christianity after being miraculously healed from a long-term disease in answer to the prayers of believers from another district. After rebuking and interrogating Khamla, the authorities gave him an ultimatum: recant or leave Dongvieng village by March 7. Local authorities are reportedly determined to keep Christianity out of Viengphuka district. No update on Khamla is available.

On February 18, local authorities in Pakoo district of Luangprabang Province issued an expulsion order against 10 Christian families. The families, comprising some 65 believers, were given until March 18 to either recant their faith or leave Hueygong village. Eight of the 10 families became Christian only three months ago, but without the permission of the Pakoo district chief, a district religious affairs official and the secretary of the Communist party's regional branch. The head of religious affairs of Luangprabang Province has reportedly intervened and is seeking a reversal of the expulsion order on the grounds that it is illegal as provincial religious affairs are supposed to be under his jurisdiction. Whether he is protesting injustice or procedural irregularity is unclear.

Please pray that God will...
  • bless His faithful Church in Laos, protecting them wherever they are, meeting all their spiritual, emotional and physical needs.
  • redeem this suffering, using the arising witness to fan flickers of faith into a revival that transforms communities: may there be a spiritual awakening in Laos that liberates tribal animists driven by fear of ancestral spirits; Lao Buddhists driven by fear into legalism and ritual; and spiritually empty Communists driven by atheism into meaninglessness, selfishness and cruelty.
  • bring unity and solidarity to the body of Christ in Laos, so that registered (state-approved) religious groups will not be ashamed of those who are suffering on account of Christ's name. May they have strength and courage from the Holy Spirit to support their brothers and sisters who are suffering. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)
For more on persecution in Laos, please visit our Laos Country Report.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Coming up: Standing in the Fire Prayer Conference

This spring, please join us for our youth ministry launch and for our annual prayer conference!

Scheduled speakers include Gilbert and Joseph Hovsepian, Iranian brothers whose father, Haik, was martyred in 1994 (for more information about the Hovsepian's ministry, go to

Be sure to mark your calendar now for these special events in Calgary! If you plan to attend, please let us know via email ( or phone (1-888-298-6423).

Centre Street Church, West Campus
4120 Centre Street N
Calgary, AB  T2E 2Y7

Friday, April 13, 2012
7:15 - 10 p.m.

Standing in the Fire Prayer Conference
Saturday, April 14, 2012
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

“If you tell others, people will kill you”

Excerpted from Jesus Freaks, a best-selling collection of worldwide testimonies targeting teens with the life-changing message of the Persecuted Church. 

Masih (This name has been changed to protect the individual)

Masih was an active Islamic student and argued with Christian students. He couldn’t understand their opinions. Eventually they humbly offered to help Masih learn more about Jesus. He had many questions about Him which they answered.

But Masih was not satisfied. He went to some Muslim clerics who were his friends. They said, “Christians told you this. Don’t be deceived by them.” Masih felt they were avoiding his questions and pressed them for specific answers. In the end, they gave the same answers that the Christians did.

Still, Masih needed more proof. He eventually went to another priest who was a friend and asked him the same questions about Jesus. The priest told him, “What Christians told you is true, but if you tell others, people will kill you.”

When Masih heard this, he went to a Christian pastor. The pastor told him about Jesus as Saviour by using both the Koran and the Bible. As he compared the texts, Masih slowly came to the realization that the Koran did not tell the whole story about Jesus. In his own heart he realized that Jesus was the truth and any sincere student of truth must follow the Jesus of the Bible, not of the Koran.

Masih told us in his own words what happened after he came to this realization.

“My family kicked me out. My brother returned from Germany and threatened to kill me; but if God is for me, who can be against me?

“My parents said I was kidnapped by Christians. They accused the Christian pastor. I gave court testimony for the pastor, clearing him. I then hid with Christians in another city and went to theological seminary.

“My brother from Jordon did not threaten me, but invited me to visit and told me: ‘Don’t tell Jordanians you are a Christian.’ When he heard I had become a pastor, he and his family didn’t want to see me.

“I am now an ordained pastor and I was married two months ago. I am happy in Jesus. Although I lost my physical family, I have my spiritual family.

“Now I help my Christian brothers and sisters to understand Muslims and lead them to Christ.”

You can order a copy of Jesus Freaks from our online catalogue or by contacting our office

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Persecuted North Korean Christian starts new life

Some North Koreans have been able to escape from the country and its strict human rights violations. Kim Eun Jin is one of those survivors.

The 31-year-old was born in Pyongyang, North Korea. She was part of the nation's secret underground church. Please watch the video below, and share her story with a friend!

For more information on persecution in North Korea, please visit our website. For other videos like this one, go to our multimedia site.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Overcomers: Laos

Seven Christian leaders arrested during a church service last December in Boukham village in Laos have been unconditionally released. For the details, watch this one minute video.

Want to share about persecuted believers with your own church? Play an Overcomers report during a service! For other videos you can share, visit our multimedia site.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Four Christians killed in bomb attack in Jos, Nigeria

Debris of the car engine used in the attack.
(Sources: VOM contacts, Release International)

Four Christians died and over 50 more were injured after a car bomb exploded at the Church of Christ in Nigeria headquarters on February 26 in Jos, Plateau state. The Sunday morning worship service had just started when two suicide bombers detonated their explosives.

One of the bombers was killed, while the other was later apprehended. The Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack, which sparked violent reprisals in which two Muslims were killed.

Boko Haram, which models itself on the Taliban, aims to impose radical Islamic law in Nigeria, including a more extreme form of Shariah in the north. To achieve this, observers believe the militants are attempting to destabilize relations between Christians and Muslims.

The group has been stepping up attacks against the Christian minority in the north and has ordered Christians to leave. At the same time, the militants have been targeting Jos, the dividing line between the mainly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.

Please pray!
  • Please pray that Christians in Nigeria will remain faithful to God, even in the midst of unrest.
  • Pray the Lord will give those affected by the violence the desire and strength to forgive their attackers.
  • Pray for those who are grieving.
  • Pray the Lord will reach many in Nigeria with the truth of the gospel so they may repent and believe.
For more on the persecuted Church in Nigeria, click here. To post a prayer for Nigeria's suffering Christians, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Persecution documentary premiers tonight

Freedom of religion: it’s a right that many of us enjoy to its fullest extent. However, in some parts of the world, the ability to practice one’s faith and beliefs can come with a dangerous and demoralizing price.

In the powerful new documentary Persecuted Christians, award-winning filmmaker and accomplished foreign correspondent Martin Himel exposes and explores some of the atrocities and inhumanities that persecuted Christians are facing in Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan.

Moving personal stories are told of a group of families who have suffered greatly for their faith. They’ve escaped oppression in their home countries to rebuild their lives in Canada, while often leaving behind loved ones who continue to be in danger.

Martin and associates also travel to the Middle East to get a firsthand look at where some of these devastating events have taken place and to meet with political officials about this ongoing situation.

Persecuted Christians premiers tonight, March 14, at 10 pm EST on Vision TV. 

Watch the video clip below for a sneak peak of Persecuted Christians. In this clip, you will meet Rami and Christine, a Christian couple from Egypt who are rebuilding their lives in Canada after suffering torture and threats in their home country.

Do you have a heart for the women of the persecuted Church?

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.

Ingrid Hajen, the Director of Release Women, was recently interviewed by Simone Da Costa. Below are excerpts from the interview.

What is Release Women’s (RW) mission?
This ministry is dedicated to connecting women in Canada with women in nations hostile to Jesus. We pray and remember our suffering sisters and their families, and as we pray for them they become part of our lives. We also share their stories in our small groups, churches, bible studies etc. Our circumstances in Canada may be very different but we can still identify with some of their hardship and pain. What is most exciting to me is the fact that we can do something small yet significant in order to directly minister to and bless our sisters in the Lord, and without leaving the country! At the moment we are working on a couple of exciting hands-on projects. For example, in a couple of months, our RW volunteer team will be meeting a group of sisters that defected from a hostile nation. We will actually meet ‘face to face’ using technology similar to Skype. Testimonies will be shared and scripture passages read that will show them that God loves and values women as well.

There have been many success stories, I’m sure; can you share a brief one?
I was sent to Colombia recently, to meet with pastors’ wives and widows and learn about their needs. I took along hand-made cards that contained notes from women in Canada to encourage them. One of the women I met and prayed with is “Natalia” (not her real name). Natalia became a part of the guerrilla movement, preparing explosives and cleaning weapons. Soon after she gave birth to her son, he was diagnosed with a medical condition that needed attention. Since Natalia could not get the help her son needed in the jungle, she requested permission from the commander to relocate to the city. The commander approved her request, but also gave her a new assignment: to recruit teenagers for the guerrilla cause and teach them how to track potential targets such as pastors, tourists and military. Some time later, while battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol, Natalia became pregnant again and gave birth to a second child. During this time, Natalia’s first born began attending church with a neighbour and heard about the return of Jesus Christ. One day her son told Natalia that he was worried about what would happen to her when the Lord returns. That night she dreamed that Christ had returned—but not for her. Troubled by her dream, she went to church and eventually received Christ. Natalia is now in hiding and learning a trade to support herself and her family. Having a safe house available to Christian such as Natalia and her kids is often the difference between life and death.

How can someone be a part of Release Women?
If you have a heart for the women of the persecuted Church, the following are the various ways you can get involved with Release Women. Your involvement can easily be adjusted depending on your time and your gift and abilities.
  • Attend a Release Women conference for a time of prayer, action and encouragement. Designed for women, the conference is free of charge and gives you the opportunity to learn about and support your sisters in chains.
  • Pray for the ministry of Release Women. Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for its leaders. Pray for the women planning and attending the conferences. Pray especially for women persecuted for their faith; pray the Lord will bless and keep them in whatever situations they face.
  • Join the Release Women volunteer network across Canada. Organize a prayer group in your local area, help plan Release Women conferences or assist with administrative duties.
In whatever capacity you volunteer, you will be supported with prayer, guidance and resources. We would be pleased to learn how your time and talents can bless Release Women and our sisters in chains.

To read the full interview, click here. For more information about Release Women and how you can get involved, please visit our website.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pastor released from prison in Turkmenistan

Praise God for Pastor Ilmurad’s release!
Back in August, we invited you to write letters of encouragement to Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev of Turkmenistan. We are pleased to share that after nearly 18 months in prison, he has been released!

Pastor Ilmurad, 46, was arrested at his home in Mary in south-eastern Turkmenistan on August 27, 2010. He was charged with extracting money from three people – an accusation his wife, Maya, and fellow church members strongly denied.

Forum 18 News Service reports that Pastor Ilmurad was among a group of about 230 prisoners freed under amnesty from a labour camp on February 18.

"Church members have been coming to the house to celebrate my release with me," Pastor Ilmurad said. "I want to thank ... everyone who supported me and helped my release."

While in prison, he was shown – but not permitted to read – some of the letters sent to him by Christians around the world. "I was able to see letters and cards from Canada, Britain and elsewhere that had come in for me. But although I could have a quick look at some of them, they wouldn't give them to me." However, even the knowledge that people wrote letters encouraged him. "They showed me I was not forgotten,” he added.

Praise God for Pastor Ilmurad's release! Pray that God will heal any physical, emotional, or spiritual wounds. Pray that God will continue to equip and use Pastor Ilmurad to further His Kingdom in Turkmenistan.

While Pastor Ilmurad has been released, there are other Christians who remain imprisoned for their faith. Remind them that they are not forgotten! To compose a letter in a prisoner’s own language, visit For our letter writing guide and complete prisoners’ list, click here. Your letters do make a difference!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Religious groups raided, threatened in Belarus

Religious communities in various parts of Belarus have faced raids and threats for holding meetings deemed illegal by officials, reports Forum 18 News Service.

In January, officials threatened to strip a pastor's congregation of state registration after he held a service for disabled Christians at a church-owned home in a village in Brest Region rather than the church's main building in a nearby town. Officials said that the pastor had violated the law by conducting a religious service away from the congregation's legal address without first receiving permission from authorities.

In February, police in the capital city of Minsk launched a mass raid at a pastor's home where believers had gathered for a meeting. Thirty-four participants were taken to a police station, but were released two hours later without any explanation and without any official record being drawn up.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Belarus.
  • Please pray believers will be encouraged to continue to meet together despite opposition (Hebrews 10:23-25). 
  • Ask the Lord to strengthen His church in Belarus and add to its number and faithfulness. 
  • Pray for wisdom for pastors and church leaders in Belarus.
Go to the Belarus Country Report for more information on the trials believers face in Belarus.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Li Ying released early from prison in China

Praise God for Li's early release!
(Sources: China Aid Association, VOM-USA)

Journalist and Christian activist Li Ying was released from prison in China on December 25, 2011, almost five years before the end of her 15-year sentence. During her time in prison, she was reportedly forced to work 15 hours a day on products for export. Her visits with her family were also strictly limited, and she was not allowed to have a Bible.

Li was arrested in April 2001 for her work on an underground Christian magazine. In December 2001, Li was one of 17 South China Church leaders who were convicted of "using a cult to undermine enforcement of the law," five of whom were sentenced to death. Li was one of them, but as a result of the ensuing international outcry a higher court revoked the death sentences in September 2002, citing lack of clarity about certain facts and insufficient evidence. The case was retried in October 2002. Instead of the crime of "using a cult," the five who had been condemned to death were convicted instead of "intentional assault."

China Aid Association founder and president, Bob Fu, spoke with Li on February 10. Li is very grateful for the support she received from around the world. She told Fu that she was aware of the many letters she had received but that authorities never let her see the letters.

Thank the Lord for this wonderful answer to prayer! Ask Him to restore Li physically and emotionally. Pray that she will draw ever closer to Him as she comes to terms with her new life outside prison walls. Pray for the many Christian believers currently in prison for their faith.

To learn more about the persecuted Church in China, please click here. To find out how you can encourage other imprisoned believers in China, visit VOM's letter writing site. For our letter writing guide and complete prisoners' list, click here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Overcomers: China

Government persecution of Christians and churches in China worsened significantly in 2011. Find out more by watching this one minute video.

For other videos like this, please visit our multimedia site.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seven imprisoned Christian leaders freed in Laos

Seven Christian leaders arrested during a church service last December in Boukham village in Laos were unconditionally released on January 12. The village chief had ordered authorities to raid the Christmas service on December 16, 2011, even though freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Lao constitution.

The seven leaders were held without being charged until December 30. Since authorities were unable to charge the pastors with violating a religion law, they eventually charged them with violating the village's “hiit," the traditional spirit cult. The Christians were fined the equivalent of 35 times the average monthly wage.

International human rights organizations had exerted pressure on authorities to release the imprisoned Christians, and the families of those arrested filed complaints against the village authorities shortly before they were released.

Please pray!
  • Praise God for the release of these bold followers and thank Him for their safety while in custody. 
  • Please pray that these believers will remain faithful despite any future persecution they may face.
  • Pray that their steadfastness will strengthen the faith of other Christians in Laos.
For more on the trials Christians face in Laos, go to the Laos Country Report.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Christians tortured for their faith in Malaysia

Gary Lane of CBN News recently travelled to Kuala Lumpur to investigate the government-sanctioned hostility against Christians.

In his travels, he observed hidden "purification centres" where many Christians are held. These centres are known to beat and torture Christians. Watch this video to see footage of a purification centre and to hear interviews with persecuted Christians (Length 5:09).

The March edition of The Voice of the Martyrs’ Newsletter shares other testimonies of believers in Malaysia standing firm in their faith at great cost. Be sure to sign up for your free copy today.

Join VOM in Calgary this spring!

This April, join VOM for the launch of our new youth and young adults ministry and for our annual prayer conference!

Scheduled speakers include Gilbert and Joseph Hovsepian, Iranian brothers whose father, Haik, was martyred in 1994 (for more information about the Hovsepian's ministry, click here). The conferences will also provide the opportunity to pray for the persecuted and worship together with fellow believers. Be sure to mark your calendar now for these special events!

Youth Ministry Launch
Friday, April 13, 2012
7:15 - 10 p.m.

Standing in the Fire Prayer Conference
Saturday, April 14, 2012
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Centre Street Church, West Campus
4120 Centre Street N
Calgary, AB T2E 2Y7

For more information about VOM's youth ministry, visit or visit our Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Iranian court bars Christian convert from university for one year

Women pictured inside the Evin Prison
Photo: Mohabat NEWS
A Christian convert was recently sentenced to one year of deprivation of education by a court in Tehran, Iran, reports Mohabat News.

Fatemeh Nouri, an art student in one of the universities in Tehran, was arrested in September 2011 at her home and was then transferred to Evin prison. Fatemeh was convicted of attending a house church, insulting sacred figures, and activities against national security.

She was released on November 30, 2011, after spending almost three months in prison. However, she is not allowed to receive an education for the duration of her one-year deprivation sentence.

The Iranian constitution allows religious freedom for followers of non-Islamic faiths. The sentencing violates the country's own laws, as well as the universal declaration of human rights, which considers education a right for all regardless of race, colour, belief, religion and gender.

While the Islamic Republic has in the past made Christian students attend Islamic courses in an effort to convert them, it now seems that the deprivation of education or expulsion from universities may be the new method for opposing the spread of Christianity.

You can help by praying!
  • Please pray that this sentence will be recognized as unlawful and will be overturned. 
  • Pray that Fatemeh will not become discouraged, but that she will find new strength in Christ. 
  • Please pray for Fatemeh's future as well as for the futures of all young Iranian Christians seeking to further their education and bring glory to God with their gifts.
To learn more about persecution in Iran, go to the Iran Country Report.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Islamic extremists behead another believer in Somalia

Islamic extremists belonging to the al Shabaab extremist group in Somalia beheaded a young Christian man just outside Mogadishu last month, reports Compass Direct News.

Twenty-six-year-old Zakaria Hussein Omar, who had worked for a Christian humanitarian organization banned by al Shabaab, was murdered on January 2 in Cee-carfiid village. The body of the young man lay undiscovered for about 20 hours before nomads came upon his remains.

A close friend who identified Omar's body said Omar had confided in him that he feared for his life when the organization he was working with was banned by the al Shabaab. Omar, an accountant, had converted to Christianity seven years ago while he was living in Ethiopia. He is survived by his wife, his parents, a brother and four sisters.

Last September, militants also decapitated a young Christian man, Guled Jama Muktar, in his home near Mogadishu. Earlier that month, the terrorists beheaded a Christian convert, Juma Nuradin Kamil, in south-western Somalia.

The Islamic extremists seek to impose a strict version of Shariah (Islamic law), ridding the country of Christianity. The country's president, Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed, has embraced a version of Shariah that mandates the death penalty for those who leave Islam.

Please pray. 
  • Please pray that Omar's wife and family will find peace and rest in Christ. 
  • Please pray that the Lord will intercede against the violence facing our brothers and sisters in Somalia. 
  • Pray that the gospel will spread like never before in Somalia.
To watch a video about the cost of following Christ in Somalia, click here. To learn more about persecution in Somalia, visit our Somalia Country Report.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Words from our founder: Love held Him to the cross

Christ on the Cross by Diego Velázquez
When asked to descend from the cross, Jesus did not move. Were nails more powerful than the hands of hte Son of God? On several occasions when large crowds had sought to molest Him, He escaped. Yet alone, armed only with a whip, He had challenged the unholy practices of a courtyard full of merchants guarded by the temple police – and escaped unharmed. He said “I AM” in Gethsemane, and a company of soldiers fell to the ground.

No, it was not nails that kept Jesus on the cross, but His love for me. For me, a non-person. Jesus loves the Father and He loves me. “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Excerpted from Richard Wurmbran’s book, Alone with God. You can order this book from our online catalogue.

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

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Government persecution of Christians in China worsened in 2011

The Shouwang Church was suppressed
for 38 continuous weeks in 2011.
Photo: ChinaAid
Government persecution of Christians and churches in China worsened significantly in 2011, reports ChinaAid.

From 2010 to 2011, the total number of people persecuted, detained, sentenced, or abused jumped 42.5 per cent. Compared with the statistics in past ChinaAid annual reports, the trend of worsening persecution has persisted for the past six years, with an average annual increase of 33.1 per cent.

Two major cases are representative of the 2011 practise of targeting influential house churches for persecution: the large-scale suppression of Beijing Shouwang Church for 38 continuous weeks (for more, click here), and the continued strict surveillance and suppression of the Linfen church in Shanxi province since it was banned in 2009 (click here to learn more).

ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu said, "House churches in China which are committed to the sole headship of Christ in the church and to evangelism must operate as illegal groups conducting so-called 'illegal religious activities,' and consequently must be ready to suffer the administrative penalties inflicted by the state."

Please pray for China.
  • Thank the Lord for the extraordinary faithfulness of Christians in China who continue to serve the Lord though they face intimidation, threats and arrest. 
  • Pray they will exemplify the love of God through consistent love and prayer for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:43-48). 
  • Ask the Lord to continue to grow His church in China.
To learn more about China's suffering Church, visit the China Country Report.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Persecuted Christians: Affliction or privilege? (Part 3)

For the past few weeks, we have been sharing videos from a recent conference held by The Moody Church about the persecution of Christians today. The conference, entitled Persecuted Christians: Affliction or Privilege? The Impact of Islam in the East & West was designed to increase awareness about the persecution of Christians and to inspire believers to pray for those suffering.

Last week, we shared with you about the legacy of the Eastern Church in the face of persecution. The week before, we shared a video about the biblical response to persecution.

Below is the last video in the series, entitled “Non-Muslims Living Under Islamic Law.”

Please share your comments or questions about this video below. What did you learn from this video? What challenged you? What inspired you?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Church ransacked in eastern Algeria

The Protestant Church of Ouargla in eastern Algeria was vandalized by an unknown number of armed men on the evening of February 1, reports International Christian Concern.

After the assailants broke through the gate, they ransacked the church building. "We heard noises on the terrace, but we could not get out because the threat was real. They could kill us," said Pastor Mourad, who was inside the building with his wife and children.

The Church of Ouargla is the only church in the region and has been recognized by the government since its establishment in 1958. Pastor Mourad has been repeatedly threatened and attacked since being ordained as pastor in 2007.

In the summer of 2009, his wife was beaten and seriously injured by a group of unknown men. Then, in late 2011, rubbish was thrown over the compound walls while an angry mob shouted death threats at Pastor Mourad.

You can help by praying!
  • Pray the Lord will protect Pastor Mourad, his family and church members. 
  • Pray the believers will take heart and place their hope in Him. 
  • Ask the Lord to grow the Church in Algeria, in number and in faithfulness.
Go to the Algeria Country Report for more on the trials believers face in Algeria.