Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Mighty Fortress is our God

Excerpted from Jesus Freaks, a best-selling collection of worldwide testimonies targeting teens with the life-changing message of the persecuted Church.
And though this world, with devils filled, 
should threaten to undo us;
We will no fear, for God hath willed 
His truth to triumph through us;
The prince of darkness grim, 
we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, 
For lo! his doom is sure, 
Our little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, 
No thanks to them, abideth, 
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, 
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still, 
His kingdom is forever.
                          Verses 3 and 4
                          Hymn by Martin Luther
                          Father of the Reformation
                          Tried for heresy, 1521
Praising God, whether in psalms, in hymns, or in spiritual songs, gives tremendous strength to the believer. This hymn, written by a Jesus Freak in the 1500s, has helped Christians for centuries.

Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, learned from the Bible that God saves men by His grace and that man cannot save himself through his own effort. After receiving this revelation, he developed his own theology, based completely on the Bible. This greatly angered the established church of that time, who called for his execution, but Luther evaded them.

At his trial, corrupt church leaders tried to get him to recant, but he refused, saying:

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reasons – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.


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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pray for Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has a long history of suppression at the hands of Arabs, Mongols, Persians, Turks and Russians. The country gained its independence when the Soviet empire fell in 1991. A difficult first decade was beset by internal coups and war with Armenia. Nearly 1 million Azerbaijanis were displaced by this conflict.

Official religious freedom is tempered by reactions against “foreign” religions and fears of Islamist extremism. Christian work is increasingly opposed, especially through obstruction and intimidation, if not outright persecution. Most Azerbaijani Muslims are Shi’a, a trait shared with neighbouring Iran.

Racial discrimination also affects religious freedom because the Christian population is almost entirely ethnic Armenian and Russian while the Muslim population is largely ethnic Azeri.  A 1992 religious law that initially granted more freedoms has been amended several times with restrictions.

The State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations was formed in 2001. It demands the registration of religious communities and censors religious literature. Christian groups that do not register are considered illegal and often face discrimination.

Please pray for Azerbaijan.
  • As Azerbaijan remains a politically unstable nation, pray for stability and a genuine effort to make peace in and around Azerbaijan.
  • Pray for increased commitment to fundamental freedoms and for a proper perspective of the gospel message that Azerbaijanis have negatively associated with Russia and other foreign cultures.
  • Pray that Christian witness to the majority Muslim population may be with humility, wisdom and love.
For reports and accompanying prayer requests on other countries hostile to the gospel, visit our Azerbaijan country report.

Friday, September 28, 2012

VOM speakers in Manitoba and Alberta this October

We invite you to join us at one of the VOM events coming up in Manitoba and Alberta this October!

Sunday, October 14, 2012 – 11 a.m.
The Pas Fellowship
43 LaRose Avenue
The Pas, MB
Speaker: Gerald Bankert
For more information, phone Pastor Ziggy at 1-204-620-2872 or email him at

October 26-27, 2012
MissionFest Manitoba West
McDiarmid Drive Alliance Church
635 McDiarmid Drive
Brandon, MB R7B 2H6
Speaker: Greg Musselman
For more, phone our office toll-free at 1-888-298-6423. 

October 27-29, 2012
La Crete Bergthaler Church
10101 98 Avenue
La Crete, AB T0H 2H0
Speaker: Floyd Brobbel & Jim Penner
Please phone 1-780-928-3090 for more information.

Sunday, October 28, 2012 – 10:30 a.m.
Church of the Living Hope
235 Enniskillen Avenue
Winnipeg, MB  R2V 0H6
Speaker: Greg Musselman
For more information, phone 1-204-633-2230 or 1-204-952-4460.
To download the event poster, click here (PDF).

To view other upcoming VOM events or to request a speaker, please visit our events page or contact our office.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christians blessed by notes of encouragement

In August, we invited the subscribers of our Featured Resource email to write a letter of encouragement to Christians facing opposition in the Horn of Africa. Staff from VOM Canada recently visited with believers living in the area and distributed the notes.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ were pleased to learn that Christians worldwide are praying for them and are aware of their struggles.

VOM staff recently distributed your notes to
believers in the Horn of Africa.

One believer said, “I am so happy and very grateful. May God bless you all very, very much. It is so good to know that the people love us and have a concern for us. We feel we have someone on the other side of the world praying for us!”

Another shared, “I want to say God bless you all. It is so good to know that there are people across the world who pray for me. Thank you for thinking of us and sending these notes and for reminding us of the Word of God through the cards.”

We want to thank all of you who submitted a note of encouragement! Your words have been a blessing. Please continue to keep Christians in the Horn of Africa in your prayers, as many of them face opposition because of their faith.

Not yet subscribed to our Featured Resource email? Click here to sign up. You will receive an email each month with a unique way to remember those in bonds (Hebrews 13:3).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A prayer for Iran

Please join us today in this prayer for Iran. Please also consider sharing this prayer with your church or small group.
Lord God, majestic in power, we pray that today Your precious family in Iran may know You as the Father of compassion and God of all comfort.
Please strengthen and protect your family which faces persecution and hardship for the sake of Jesus.
Give wisdom to Your church in Iran, as they meet both publicly and in secret.
Encourage those who have been detained or imprisoned, and who are now separated from their loved ones. Please guard their hearts and minds with Your peace which transcends all understanding.
We pray for believers from a Muslim background who often face the greatest challenges. Please help each one to walk closely with You, to find fellowship with other secret Christians and to grow strong in Your Word of truth.
Thank you for each and every believer in Christ in Iran: may Your love surround them and Your power protect them from the evil one.
In the mighty name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Watch a video about a church demolished in Russia

In our Persecution & Prayer Alert, we recently reported on a church in Russia that was demolished by authorities on September 6.

You can learn more about this incident by watching the short video below.

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

In mailboxes this week

Look for the October issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter in your mailbox this week!
  • Faithful in the furnace – Read this month’s feature article to learn about how Christians like Kazim, Nadia and Sajid are remaining faithful in the furnace in Pakistan and about the ways you can stand with them.  
  • An update on Asia Bibi – Discover how God is ministering to Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, and how you can join us in a call for mercy on her behalf.
  • Christian martyrs – On October 30, 2003, Zhang Hongmei died from beatings received by Chinese police. Read about how her death challenged and inspired many around the world. 
  • Counting the cost in Bangladesh – When Ajit and his family converted to Christianity, they were harassed and assaulted by their neighbours. Discover how they are counting the cost in Bangladesh, and how you can come alongside believers like them.
  • VOM around the world – This month, learn how you can support and encourage a persecuted family in Vietnam, read about how Canadian Christians are using their creativity to support those suffering for their faith, and read the story of a pastor in India who was under fire for baptizing converts to Christianity. 
The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is the flagship publication of The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada. Published monthly, it is available free of charge to anyone in Canada who requests it. You can subscribe online here.

Missionary couple ordered to leave China

Please pray for the Church in China.
Officials from China's Public Security Bureau (PSB) asked a missionary couple to leave the country after they were caught attending a house-church service on August 31, reports our sister mission, VOM-USA.

At the beginning of the meeting, several PSB officers walked to the front and announced, "We know there are some foreigners in the church tonight, and it is illegal for any foreigner to do any religious activities in the Chinese church."

They ordered everyone to leave the building and detained the missionary couple, who are ethnic Chinese but hold U.S. passports. They had served in China for seven years, and officials ordered them to leave within 10 days.

"They did great mission work in China teaching the Bible and training disciples," a VOM contact wrote.

"They don't know what to do next."

Please pray for this couple as well as the church they are leaving behind.

For more information about persecution in China, click here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Extreme baptism

Slovakia: Annmarie

Annmarie, a young Slovak Christian, had been in prison for months because of her involvement with the underground church. She was regularly brought to a room where a guard would beat her in order to get information about other Christians in her church.

By God’s grace she was able to resist. She even used these times to tell the guard about the love of Jesus. The guard mocked, “If you don’t tell me secrets of the underground Church, I will beat out of you all your loves.”

Annmarie responded, “I have a boyfriend, the sweetest of all. He is love. His love does not seek pleasure but seeks to fill others with joy. Since knowing this boyfriend, I, too, can only love. You love hatred now. I beg you to love Love.”

The guard was so angry that he slapped her until she passed out. When she came to, she saw him sitting quietly as if in deep thought. Finally he asked, “Who is this boyfriend of yours?” Annmarie told him all about Jesus and why He came.

When he asked how to make Jesus his friend too, she told him that he must repent and be baptized. “Then baptize me immediately or I will shoot you,” he demanded.

Annmarie did baptize him, and he later became a prisoner with the very ones he used to beat.

When people are in love, they let everyone know it. They tell their families, their friends, their neighbours, and anyone else who will listen. Love so consumes them that they cannot help but talk about their beloved. In the same way, one’s baptism is a public announcement of being identified with Christ and His community, of being in love with Jesus. Baptism of an adult is a sign to all who witness it – even if only by another prisoner in a cell – that one is ready to follow Christ at all costs. Our love for Christ motivates us to proclaim our commitment to the world.  Even if not threatened, do we have courage to tell of our love for Jesus?

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, September 22, 2012

Christians in Afghanistan gain confidence and faith

Said Musa was imprisoned in 2010.
Since then, Christians have become
more open about their faith. 
Christians in Afghanistan are less fearful than they were a couple of years ago, and many are dedicated to witnessing and growing in their faith, reports VOM-USA.

"The fear that gripped the believers in 2010 is gone," wrote a VOM contact. That year, two Christian men, Said Musa and Shoaib Assadullah, were imprisoned for their faith, and a parliamentary leader called for the execution of Christians.

But since then, some believers have become more open about their faith and several small groups have started meeting again. The Afghan Christians "see that God has kept them," the contact wrote. He said one group of believers has drafted a statement committing themselves to evangelism and discipleship.

Today, persecution comes mainly from family and communities, rather than the government. Among the ongoing difficulties facing believers in Afghanistan are ridicule in the workplace, dismissal from jobs for being non-Muslim, and the inability to find a Christian marriage partner.

Thank God for his work among the Afghan people, and pray that their witness will bear much fruit.

For more information on Afghanistan’s persecuted Church, visit our online country report.

Friday, September 21, 2012

‘Join’ the secret church for a day

These Iranian believers gather in secret to study God’s Word.
Looking for ways to get your church more involved in praying for and serving our persecuted brothers and sisters? Try out this idea from our sister mission in the UK, Release International. This activity would work especially well on The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) on November 4.
1. During a Sunday church service, fill a container with enough slips of paper to cover the number of people in your meeting, including six with the word “Christian” written on them and six with the words “secret police.” The former should also include a simple codeword so that the six “Christians” can identify each other in conversation (i.e. “peace” or “joy,” or something more generic, like “lunchtime”). The rest of the slips should be blank. Make sure the slips are folded so that only the recipient can see what’s written on them.
Note: You may like to increase or decrease the numbers of Christians and police or the time you allow for the activity depending on the size of your congregation. Alternatively, you can select a certain number of members of your church to act out this scenario while the rest of the congregation watches from their seats. This activity could also be used with a youth group or Bible study.
2. Next, ask every member of your church to take a slip from the container (without showing anyone else) before or during the service.
3. At an appropriate point in the service, inform the congregation that they now have 10 minutes to engage in conversation during which time the six “Christians” have to try to find each other without alerting the “secret police,” and the six “secret police” have to try to identify the Christians.
4. Can the Christians discover each other without being detected by the police? At the end of 10 minutes the police reveal who they are and then say who they think the Christians are. Will they have guessed correctly? The Christians can then identify themselves and reveal whether they were able to spot each other during the activity.
The goal of this activity will give you a better understanding of how careful and cautious Christian converts need to be in expressing their faith in countries such as Iran. We recommend that, if at all possible, you run the activity during your actual service, rather than during refreshments afterwards, so that the congregation is focused on the event.

If you do take part in this activity, please be sure to let us know! Send us your story, including photographs if possible, and we will share about it on our blog.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pastor Youcef writes letter of thanks

The following letter of thanks from Pastor Youcef, who was acquitted of apostasy and released from prison earlier this month, was provided by Present Truth Ministries.

“Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your Name be glory, for Your faithfulness, for Your loyalty…” — Psalm 115:1

Salaam ! (Peace be upon you !)

I glorify and give grace to the Lord with all my heart. I am grateful for all the blessings that He gave me during my whole life. I am especially grateful for His goodness and divine protection that characterised the time of my detention.

I also want to express my gratitude towards those who, all around the world, have worked for my cause, or should I say the cause that I defend. I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy. You are all very dear to my heart. May the Lord bless you and give you His perfect and sovereign Grace.

Indeed I have been put to the test, the test of faith which is, according to the Scriptures “more precious than perishable gold.” But I have never felt loneliness, I was all the time aware of the fact that it wasn’t a solitary battle, for I have felt all the energy and support of those who obeyed their conscience and fought for the promotion of the justice and the rights of all human beings. Thanks to these efforts, I have now the enormous joy to be by my wonderful wife and my children. I am grateful for these people through whom God has been working. All of this is very encouraging.

During that period, I had the opportunity to experience in a marvellous way the Scripture that says: “Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, our encouragement abound through Christ.” He has comforted my family and has given them the means to face that difficult situation. In His Grace, He provided for their spiritual and material needs, taking away from me a heavy weight.

The Lord has wonderfully provided through the trial, allowing me to face the challenges that were in front of me. As the Scriptures says, “He will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength….”

Despite the fact that I have been found guilty of apostasy according to a certain reading of the Shar’ia, I am grateful that He gave the leaders of the country, the wisdom to break that judgement taking into account other facts of that same Shar’ia. It is obvious that the defenders of the Iranian right and the legal experts have made un important effort to enforce the law and the right. I want to thank those who have defended the right until the end.

I am happy to live in a time where we can take a critical and constructive look to the past. This has allowed the writing of universal texts aiming at the promotion of the rights of man. Today, we are debtors of these efforts provided by dear people who have worked for the respect of human dignity and have passed on to us these universal significant texts.

I am also debtor of those who have faithfully passed on the Word of God, that very Word who makes us heirs of God.

Before ending, I want to express a prayer for the establishment of an unending and universal peace, so that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is in heaven. Indeed, everything passes, but the Word of God, source of all peace, will last eternally.

May the grace and mercy of God be multiplied to you. Amen !

Youcef Nadarkhani
September 8, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pastor targeted in acid attack forgives persecutors

On Christmas Eve 2011, militant Muslims attacked Pastor Umar Mulinde in Uganda, pouring acid over his face. The attack has changed Pastor Mulinde's life forever. Today he is in Israel, receiving state-of-the-art medical treatment.

In this short video, Pastor Mulinde shares about his conversion to Christianity, the details of his attack, and the lessons he has learned. (Length – 3:00)

To learn more about the attack on Pastor Mulinde, read the story from our Persecution & Prayer Alert. For other videos about Christians like Pastor Mulinde who are remaining firm in their faith despite persecution, visit our multimedia site.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Story from church history: Baptists oppressed in Russia

The following was written by Dan Graves for

"Baptists are particularly dangerous," noted a Russian newspaper in 1972. "Every Russian Baptist tries to win adherents to his faith."

Indeed there was some truth to this, for Johann Gerhardt Oncken, one of the first German Baptists, taught that "every Baptist is a missionary" and it was through the testimony of German artisans sent by Oncken to Russia that the Baptist faith took hold in that nation.

However, the real growth of Baptists in Russia came after World War I. Russian prisoners were taught by German missionaries and returned home to convert others. By 1950 there were an estimated 2,000,000 Russian Baptists. The largest proportion were in the Ukraine. The communists forced all evangelicals into a single union, the AUCECB.

Nikita Krushchev launched a major crackdown, accompanied by heavy propaganda, against all churches, especially the Baptists. This lasted from 1959-1964. The Communists urged that baptism be discouraged, that young people no longer be taught religion, and that ministers no longer try to win new converts but merely maintain the congregations they already had.

When Metropolitan Nikolai of the Orthodox Church died, the leadership of the Evangelical-Baptist union began to give ground to the government. Nikolai had strengthened them by resisting Soviet demands; his death looked like murder.

Many Baptists were unwilling to capitulate. They held to their convictions that faith cannot be compromised and the gospel must be preached to others. In 1961 Baptists leaders formed a committee which challenged the union leadership. They called for sanctification of the church and urged local churches to discipline leaders who cooperated with the state.

These Reform Baptists were largely descendants of the original Oncken Baptists. Their brave leader, A. F. Prokofiev, soon found himself in prison with 100 other evangelical leaders. Georgi Vins, who had worked beside him, stepped into the breach. A number of women formed a Council of Prisoner's Relatives to make the world aware of the plight of their godly men.

On this date, September 18, 1965, the Baptists broke from their forced union with other evangelicals, forming their own organization, the CCECB -- the Council of Churches of Evangelical Believers, Baptists. Georgi Vins was secretary.

Vins had no illusions about what it would cost him to take this stand. His father had been imprisoned and beaten before him. Vins was forced underground in 1970. Captured in 1974, he faced the same treatment as his father. Eventually a letter campaign won his release to the United States.

By their tough stand, Baptists forced concessions from the Soviet government. Much of the Krushchev legislation was rescinded. Restrictions were lifted from the AUCECB but left on the CCECB as the government tried to force the Baptist churches back into the all-faiths union.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Extreme hostage

England: Bill and John

Bill and John were near the docks in southern England when they saw the Romanian flag hanging from the stern of a ship. It was during the years of Romania’s hard-line Communist rule.

With little conversation, they recognized the mission field before them, untied their cases of Bibles and went abroad. They stepped into the mess room where the ship’s entire thirty-five-man company was gathered. Bill and John explained why they had come and began to pull out the Romanian Bibles. The crew immediately gave the two their undivided attention. Most of them had never before heard about God and his Son, Jesus.
When Bill and John discovered that they didn’t have enough Romanian Bibles, two burly seamen grabbed Bill by the arms and gently but firmly sat him in a chair. They explained apologetically in broken English that Bill would stay there until John came back with Bibles for all of them.

A hostage for Bibles – John didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but it was the only way the Romanians could make sure that John would return. In a Communist country full of broken promises, they didn’t trust anymore.

John rushed to the office and packed his case full of Romanian Bibles. Within an hour, he was back in the mess room, where the crew gratefully received the Bibles and released their “hostage.”

Get the word out. That’s what Jesus said to do about his gospel message. However we can, wherever we go, whatever we do, we must be about the business of spreading the word about Christ. Our commitment may take us to the docks or simply to the breakfast table of our unbelieving neighbours next door. Either way, we must be prepared to share God’s Word with those who are spiritually perishing. Are you driven to get the word out about Christ? Are you conscious of the limited time you may have to complete your mission? Don’t waste another moment thinking someone else will do your part. What can you do today to spread the Good News?

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, September 15, 2012

Update: Evangelists released in Aceh, Indonesia

Two evangelists accused of forcing a woman to be baptized near Banda Aceh, Indonesia, were released for lack of evidence, reports VOM-USA. Roy and Ribur were released on July 30 after spending two months in police holding cells.

The two had invited a Muslim woman to attend their Bible study group and were meeting with her to explain their faith. When the woman realized they were Christians, she left the home and reported them to her village head. A group of neighbours then beat Roy and Ribur and dragged them to police.

The village head submitted their backpacks – which contained a list of new believers, Christian books and a water bottle – as evidence of wrongdoing. He alleged the water bottle was used for conducting baptisms (for more information, click here).

After two months, a court dismissed the case against Roy and Ribur, and they were evacuated out of the city. Though the court dismissed the case, it left open the possibility for police to provide more evidence.

Please continue to lift these two men to the Lord in prayer. Thank Him for their release. Pray that they will continue to share the Good News with others in Indonesia.

You can learn more about Indonesia by visiting our Indonesia Country Report.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pray for Nigeria this November

Every year, Christians in more than 130 countries join together in prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). This year, IDOP falls on Sunday, November 4, 2012.

To help you, your family, or your congregation join in this worldwide prayer movement, IDOP Canada prepares a kit with testimonies, videos, specific prayer points, and more. The following story is included with this year’s kit.

We look forward to joining with you in prayer this November!
NIGERIA: Fatu’s story
Fatu and her husband, Pastor Kallah, were enjoying time with friends in their home when they heard a commotion outside. A mother of nine children and grandmother of seven, Fatu went to the door with her husband and friends, curious to see what was happening out in the streets of Gombe. 
It was April of 2011, and Nigeria had just re-elected President Goodluck Jonathan, who was a Christian. But many did not accept the results, especially militant Muslims. A Christian worker in Nigeria shared at the time, “Just this morning we woke up to the fresh news of attacks on Christians... across Kaduna [state]. Many churches, Christian houses, and properties are now on fire…. The fear of Muslims is that they do not want a Christian governor and President in Nigeria. Even before now, it has been rumoured that, if the People Democratic Party wins the election, they will not accept the result and that Christians should be ready to pay the price….” 
Fatu and her husband were among those Christians who would pay the price. 
When they looked out the door, they saw Muslim youths in the streets, breaking windows in their neighbourhood. When they reached Fatu’s home, they broke in the door and forced their way in. Fatu urged her husband to flee because he was outnumbered, but he refused and chose to confront the young rioters. “Why are you after me?” he asked them. 
“We want to kill you because you are an infidel,” they replied. 
“To God be the glory,” he told them as he raised his hands. “If you say you want to kill me, I am ready.” 
The attackers responded by striking his head with an ax. He fell to the ground and died immediately. Fatu watched the horror unfold before her eyes.  
Yet, instead of being bitter and inconsolable, she shared, “If I am able to endure like him, that will comfort me.” She has also chosen to forgive her husband’s murderers because she says they don’t know what they do.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is Toronto driving the churches away?

Toronto needs more, not fewer, churches.
(Photo: PadoukDesign/Flickr)
Is Toronto driving the churches away? Tim Challies, pastor at Grace Fellowship Church, recently wrote on his blog about the prohibitive increase in rent charges that congregations are now facing. He writes, “This action threatens to drive away churches from a city in desperate need of far more, not fewer, churches.”

Below are excerpts from his blog.
Toronto is a city of 2.6 million where churches are small and real estate is costly. For this reason many churches meet in gymnasiums and cafeterias they rent from the Toronto District School Board. But now, very suddenly, the TDSB has taken action to get churches out of its schools. At the end of August each of these organizations was notified that they would face an imminent increase in rental fees. The next day they learned that this increase would range from 140% to 800% and that it would begin to go in effect in just four days. Unless the Board can be convinced to change course, they will effectively drive hundreds of churches from its nearly 600 schools.

At the end of August, the TDSB announced to their permit holders that effective September 1, 2012, they would streamline the organizational categories under which they distribute rental permits. As of that date, religious organizations (and only religious organizations) would no longer receive subsidies offered to other not-for-profit and charitable organizations. These subsidies are provided by Ontario’s Ministry of Education in their Community Use of Schools Program which allocates funds to underwrite many of the costs associated with fair, equal and diverse use of school buildings.

As the Board revoked subsidies, it simultaneously announced that it intended to raise rental prices for all tenants by 43.7% effective January 1, 2013. Between the rental increase and the loss of subsidies, most churches will no longer be able to afford to rent school buildings. Many of them will have nowhere else to go.
If you are not a Toronto-area resident, please pray that the Lord would work through this situation. Toronto real estate prices are extremely high and to this point public schools have been nearly the only affordable options for new and small churches. Toronto is among the world’s most unchurched and most diverse cities, with over half of its residents having been born in another country. This action threatens to drive away churches from a city in desperate need of far more, not fewer, churches.
(To read the full blog article, click here.)
What is your take on the raise in rental prices? Would you consider this persecution? If you were a member at one of these churches, what would you do?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hmong Christians remain bold witnesses in Vietnam

Authorities treat the Hmong people poorly in Vietnam and Laos, and many Hmong people are Christians.

In this video, our sister missions Release International and Voice of the Martyrs Australia visited a remote underground church to encourage the Christians who have been persecuted heavily by their government. (Length - 3:36)

This clip is excerpted from the video Enemies of the State. To order a copy, visit our online catalogue.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Comforted to comfort

In his article entitled “He Knows,” Greg Laurie writes,
“Jesus knows about your suffering. When you are hurting in a bad way, it is great to talk to someone else who has been there. It is encouraging to see they are still standing, they are still alive, and they have endured it. 
As a result, they are able to comfort you with the comfort with which they have been comforted. And one day, you will be able to do the same for someone else.”
How have the testimonies of persecuted Christians helped you through a season of hardship? Have their stories enabled you to be a source of comfort to others facing persecution or hardship? Please share your responses in the comment section below.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani acquitted and released

We are pleased to share that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison in Iran and has been reunited with his family!

In November 2010, Pastor Youcef was found guilty of apostasy and sentenced to death. During his imprisonment, prison authorities used various methods to try and convert Youcef back to Islam. Youcef refused to deny his faith in Christ.

At a court hearing on September 8, Youcef’s previous conviction for apostasy was withdrawn and he was convicted on charges relating to evangelistic activities and sentenced to three years' imprisonment, reports Middle East Concern.

The time Youcef already served (two years and 11 months) counted towards the new sentence. The court accepted a bail payment (in the form of a salary guarantee document) in order to release him one month early.

Pastor Youcef has been reunited with his wife and two children.

We thank you for your prayers and letters on behalf of Youcef and his family! Below are photos tweeted by Jordan Sekulow for the ACLJ.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Extreme sufficiency

Nigeria: Rose

“Hurry, get into the closet. Do not make a sound unless you hear my voice. Do you understand?” Rose heard the two small voices of her preschool children say, “Yes, Mommy,” then she bolted out the door and headed towards her daughter’s school, praying that it was not too late.

At the proclamation of Sharia, or Islamic law, by the Nigerian government, pockets of violence broke out against Christian groups because they had opposed the laws. Rose’s oldest daughter was still at school during the rioting, and Rose was sure she would not be safe there. When she arrived at the school, her daughter had been taken to a military base for safety. Eventually, Rose found her, and they returned home where the two younger children were waiting safely.

The following day, when her husband left for a Christian gathering, it was the last time she saw him alive. Roughly 260 churches were destroyed during these riots, and more than 460 Christians were killed.
In the months since her husband’s murder, Rose has drawn comfort from the book of Acts. She said, “The same God that allowed Stephen to be stoned also allowed Peter to escape from prison. God has been faithful, and his grace has been sufficient.” Today Rose continues to work in the church where her martyred husband pastored, and she busily raises her three children.

It has been said God will never lead us where his grace cannot keep us. We must realize that sometimes his plan does not include a miraculous deliverance from illness, death, or oppression. Yet his grace is sufficient, and he has not abandoned us. We must trust that God would not lead us to a place of ministry or work without an adequate measure of his grace to make it. Sometimes his plan involves simply seeing us through an ordeal instead of delivering us from it. Have you come to a point where you are willing to entirely rely on Him? You’ll likely never say that God’s grace is all you need until his grace is all you have.

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.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pray for Rimsha Masih this weekend

Rimsha Masih, a Christian Pakistani teenager who was accused of desecrating the Qur’an, has been in prison for three weeks, reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

After several delays, the high profile blasphemy case was scheduled for Friday, September 7. Rimsha is believed to have Down’s Syndrome and is deemed to be 14 years old.  

Update: At the case on Friday, Rimsha was released on bail. Praise God!

Hundreds of Christians have fled Rimsha's neighbourhood.
Please also pray for them this weekend.
A witness has testified that the leader of his mosque, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, had falsified evidence to implicate Rimsha.  He claimed that Chishti had added pages of the Qur’an to a bag of burned rubbish used as evidence against her to strengthen the basis for the blasphemy accusation, and that he had instigated both the complainant’s charge and the mob aggression that followed.

On September 2, Chishti was himself charged with blasphemy under section 295B of the Pakistan Penal Code, and is currently in police custody.  It is further alleged that he and others from Rimsha’s neighbourhood on the outskirts of Islamabad have been promoting anti-Christian sentiment in recent months.

This weekend, please intercede on behalf of Rimsha.
  • Set aside time to pray on Friday, September 7 for Rimsha’s case. Please pray the Lord will protect Rimsha and her family. Pray for a favourable outcome. Pray that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. Also pray for the country of Pakistan. Ask the Lord to use this case to promote religious freedom for all in Pakistan. Pray that Christians in Pakistan will be the light that draws their neighbours to Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16).
  • Post a prayer for Rimsha on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall
  • Share this story with your congregation in your church bulletin and spend time praying as a church family for Rimsha. Share about Rimsha with your Sunday School class or Bible study group. 
  • Tell others about Rimsha. Share this story with your friends and family. Post this story on your blog, share on Facebook, or retweet on Twitter. Let others know how the blasphemy law in Pakistan is used against Christians and other religious minorities.
If you have other ideas on how to remember Rimsha in prayer this weekend, please share them in the comments section below. Thank you for praying for Rimsha!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The promise of persecution

Monica’s arm was cut with a machete by militants in Nigeria.
You may not face the same level of opposition as Monica,
but God’s Word promises persecution to
“all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.”  
In an article about the promise of persecution, author Greg Laurie writes:
The Bible says, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Now that is a promise we rarely claim.

As believers, we lay hold of promises of God's provision and of God's protection. But when is the last time you heard someone pray, "Now Lord, You promised in Your Word that if I live godly, I will be persecuted. So bring it on, Lord"?

We don't pray that, because who wants to be persecuted? There is no enjoyment in that. But if you are living a godly life, then persecution will come.
Have you faced opposition for your faith? How have the stories of suffering Christians prepared you for the persecution that God’s Word promises?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Video interview with Asia Bibi's family

Asia Bibi, the mother of two girls, was convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan for speaking the truth about Jesus Christ.
Watch this video to learn the story of her imprisonment. (Length - 5:08)

To continue to receive updates on Asia's case, be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter today.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Extreme contrast

Russia: Claudia Vasilevna

Secret Soviet police documents show that in Butovo, a suburb of Moscow, forty-four thousand people were shot in groups of two hundred and buried secretly. One night during the slaughter, Claudia Vasilevna opened her door to a haggard woman who was supposed to be shot for her Christian faith but managed to escape. She begged Claudia to hide her.

Fearful, Claudia refused. She closed the door and left the woman outside, sealing the woman’s death sentence. For over fifty years, Claudia has struggled to forget the image of the women.

In contrast to Claudia’s struggle, Romanian church members enjoyed peace in their hearts by helping two Germans soldiers who had escaped en route to a Soviet jail. They sought refuge in the church of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. At the end of World War II, Romania was ruled by harsh Nazi Germany. As Germany was losing the war, the Russian army entered Romania and began taking Germans as prisoners of war.

Hiding or helping a German was punishable by death.

The soldiers still wore the German uniforms and were candidates for death. The church families agreed to help protect them because it was not their place to judge but to help every person in mortal danger. They also reached out to German children during this time, knowing that they were only doing what Christ would do in their place.

Christians often have to choose between trouble for their bodies and trouble for their souls. It’s the difference between earthly trouble and eternal regret. Extreme Christians live in such contrast with the rest of the world that sometimes it is hard to relate. Their circumstances we may face decisions that require extraordinary courage. Will we choose earthly security over eternal significance? Will we take an earthly risk that may result in a spiritual gain? When you are faced with situations that require in a spiritual gain? When you are faced with situations that require courage beyond your means, ask God for help. He will provide the wisdom you need at the right time to make the right decision.

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, September 1, 2012

Christians in Iraq facing discrimination and violent crime

Many Christians in Iraq are at risk.
These two young men have been harassed and threatened
for their gospel work with Kurdish refugees.
Click here to watch a video with their powerful testimony.
Iraqi Christians have requested our prayers as they continue to be disproportionately affected by violent crime in some parts of the country, reports Middle East Concern.

In late July, a Christian man was kidnapped in Baghdad and a high ransom demanded for his release. His family and friends negotiated for his release and sold some property to raise the ransom. Regretfully, the victim was killed anyway. Kidnappings are not uncommon in Iraq, especially in minority communities.

While the victim in this case was a Christian, the principal motivation for the attack was economic rather than religious. However, Christians in Iraq continue to be soft targets for violence, as a minority community with limited ability to retaliate. They are sometimes perceived as having contacts outside Iraq who can help them meet ransom demands.

A further matter of concern in Iraq relates to a new law proposed in the autonomous Kurdish area of northern Iraq. On May 11, the Kurdistan Parliament's Committee for Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs announced its completion of a draft Law to "protect sanctities."

If enacted, this law would be used against anyone who is deemed to defame religion. The draft law does not specifically protect Islam over Christianity or other recognised religions. However, based on the precedent of religious defamation cases elsewhere, Christians in northern Iraq fear that, in practice, the new law would be used primarily to bring sanctions against those whose words or actions are construed as anti-Islamic. The Parliament has not yet set a date for the vote to enact the new legislation.

Please pray.
  • Pray that those kidnapped will be freed unharmed, and ransom demands will be dropped.
  • Pray that Christians throughout Iraq will know the Lord's constant protection and daily guidance.
  • Pray that the draft blasphemy law will be rejected.
  • Pray that the perpetrators of violent crime in Iraq will know the Spirit's conviction of guilt and hear about and respond to the Father's offer of forgiveness and life.
For more information about Iraq’s persecuted Church, please visit our Iraq Country Report.