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3 years ago
Christians Forced to Meet on Street
ICC Helps Secure Imprisoned Chinese Pastor's Release
Dear Friend:

On April 14, 2010, Liangren Church in China signed a two-year rental agreement for a building to worship in. Less than a month later, however, the government ordered the landlord to close the front gate with iron chains and locks. The church was forced to meet outside on the street. Because of this, Pastor Wang Dao wrote a letter seeking assistance. As a result, he was summoned to court and placed on criminal detention for “disturbing the public order.” ICC provided his legal aid in partnership with ChinaAid. He was released on bail but faces trial again in less than a year. Below is part of a letter he wrote in response:

Thank you for taking great risks in fighting for the rights of the persecuted Christians in China, including your care and help for Liangren Church of Guangzhou. The rights defense attorneys who work side by side with you are like angels.  Wherever there is a need for them, there is their presence!  Please accept our heartfelt gratitude for you!  May God keep a record of the hard work you have done!

...read more.
3 years ago
CHINESE CHRISTIANS BLOCKED FROM ATTENDING LAUSANNE CONGRESS: After receiving an invitation to attend Capetown 2010, house church groups in China formed a selection committee and raised significant funds to pay the expenses of their chosen delegates.  Chinese police threatened or detained some 200 Chinese delegates who had hoped to attend. When house church member Abraham Liu Guan and four other delegates attempted to leave China via Beijing airport on Sunday (Oct. 10), authorities refused to allow them through customs.  Officials detained one delegate and confiscated the passports of the other four until Oct. 25, the closing date of the conference.  Full
3 years ago
Increase in Foreign Christian Workers Expelled from Arabian Peninsula
Throughout the Arabian Peninsula, there has been a recent increase of Christian workers who have either been threatened or deported. Often, no concrete reasons are given. In some cases, the foreign Christians involved have been working in the region for many years. In the past few months, Christian expats were deported from Qatar, Oman and Yemen. A wave of deportations of Christian expats has already been observed in the Maghreb (especially in Morocco, which started in 2009 and still continues). It’s remarkable that this trend does not only occur on a national but also on regional level and that it is currently happening simultaneously. It may be a method by local governments to resist possible foreign influence and keep in with Islamists who are pressuring for influence over the political system.
3 years ago

Burma’s Ethnic Christians Fear Bleak Future after Election
Christians in Burma are concerned about the upcoming election (the first in 20 years). According to Compass News it is possible that afterwards, the military regime will try to “cleanse” the areas of Christianity. Most of the slightly more than two million Christians in Burma (also called Myanmar) reside along the country’s border with Thailand, China and India which falls under the military’s target zone.

The Burmese junta however is expected to remain at the helm of affairs after the election. The majority of people in Burma are not happy with the military’s USDP party, and military generals are expected to twist the results in its favor, said Htet Aung, chief election reporter at Irrawaddy.

A man who identified himself only as Pastor Joseph, who fled Burma as a child, referred to the junta’s clandestine campaign to wipe out Christians from the country. At least four years ago a secret memo circulated in Karen state, “The text, which opens with the line, ‘There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practiced,’ calls for anyone caught evangelizing to be imprisoned,” the British daily Telegraph reported Jan. 21, 2007. “It advises, ‘The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilize its weakness.’”

There is “utter confusion” among people, and they do not know if they should vote or not, said Aung Zaw, editor of Irrawaddy. While the second largest party, the National Unity Party, is pro-military, there are few pro-democracy and ethnic minority parties. “Many of the pro-democracy and ethnic minority candidates have little or no experience in politics,” Aung said. “All those who had some experience have been in jail as political prisoners for years.” For now, an uneasy calm prevails for Christians in the Thai-Burma border region.

4 years ago

Religious Freedom Grim in Islamic Maldives

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago southwest of Sri Lanka, claims a 100-percent Muslim population. With only 300,000 people, this South Asian nation has more than 70,000 expatriate workers representing several non-Islamic religions, including Christianity.

In previous years, Christian expats have either been arrested for attending worship in private homes or denied visas on suspicion of being connected with mission agencies. “[If] you engage any Maldivian in a discussion on Christianity and [someone] reports it to authorities, you can be in trouble,” an anonymous source reported to Compass. “A Maldivian youth studying in Sri Lanka became a Christian recently, but when his parents came to know about it, they took him away. We have not heard from him since then.”

A European expat worker stated, “I wish I could attend church, but I am too scared to look for one. I have not even brought my Bible here; I read it online. I don’t want to take any chances.”

Father, we pray for Your gospel to be spread and advanced in the Maldives, because we know that all things are possible with You, even despite an overwhelming Muslim population. We earnestly pray for religious freedom in the Maldives, so that Christians may openly worship You and proclaim the Good News to the lost.

Praying with you,

The Prayer Force Team

4 years ago

Dear Donna,

There is still time to take action in support of religious freedom in Morocco. The increasing pressure on foreign and national Christians warrants a strong response from the US and we need your voice to be effective!

Since March of this year, the Moroccan government has expelled about 128 foreign Christians including 58 U.S. citizens. The government claims that these individuals are guilty of proselytizing which is illegal in Morocco, but have failed to provide any evidence to substantiate the accusations.

Furthermore, the Moroccan government did not follow due process of law in the deportations and denied court hearings to those deported. Most of these individuals were expelled from the country without the opportunity to set their affairs in order, say goodbye to friends and family, or even to gather their belongings.

The Moroccan government has also increased pressure on national converts to Christianity. There are only an estimated 1,000 Moroccan Christian converts within the country who are not recognized by the government. Open Doors has learned of increased interrogations and surveillance of Christians which has made it nearly impossible for national converts to meet and worship together.

If left unchallenged on the deportations of foreign Christians, the government may perceive that Christians worldwide are willing to turn a blind eye to increased persecution of national Christians. For this reason, it is imperative that we speak out on behalf of the deported Christians.

You can help by sending a message to your U.S. Representative and Senators, asking them to sign a Congressional letter (view the letter) which requests that the Moroccan government stop all deportations and allow those who have been deported to return to the country.

Considering that the Millennium Challenge Corporation has a 5-year contract with Morocco which is worth $697.5 million, and this was awarded based on numerous factors including “ruling justly,” the government should be willing to abide by their own national laws on deportation and uphold their constitutional guarantees of freedom to worship both for foreign residents and Moroccan nationals.

Please use your freedom today to speak out on behalf of those Christians who have been treated unjustly by the Moroccan government.
4 years ago
: North Korean defector, Son Jong Nam, became a Christian after fleeing his homeland.  Later, Son returned to North Korea to share the Gospel even though he had experienced torture in a North Korean prison and knew the huge risk to his life if caught. Just this month the Associated Press reported that Son was tortured to death for his evangelistic efforts.  Read More>>
4 years ago
Last week, Open Doors USA launched a campaign in support of a Congressional letter to the King of Morocco. This letter asks King Mohammed VI to stop the deportation of Christians from Morocco and to allow those who have been deported on false charges the opportunity to return.  To date about 128 foreign Christians have been deported and 58 of those are U.S. citizens. Take action today!
NORTH VIETNAM
4 years ago

Pastors arrested, beaten, trigger caution and fear among believers.
Read Story>>

4 years ago

Egyptian Couple Shot by Muslim Extremists Undaunted in Ministry

On the afternoon of February 27, lay pastor Ephraim Shehata and his wife Rasha Samir were ambushed on a desolate street by a group of Islamic gunmen outside the village of Teleda in Upper Egypt. Both miraculously survived the attack.

The shooters have since been arrested and are in jail awaiting trial. However, despite suffering this trauma and left with debilitating injuries, Shehata is willing to drop all criminal charges against his attackers if the government will give him permission to construct a church building.
According to Compass News Shehata has tried for the last 10 years to erect a place of worship for Christians, but local Muslims and Egypt’s State Security Investigations (SSI) agency have blocked his efforts. “It is not allowed to build a church in Egypt,” Shehata said. “We can’t build a house. We can’t build a community center. And we can’t build a church.”

In Egypt constructing or even repairing a church building can only be done after a complex government approval process. By comparison, the construction of mosques is encouraged through a system of subsidies. Shehata, until the shooting, had all but given up on constructing the church building, but has since approached the State Security Investigations agency, saying that if he is allowed to build a church building, he will then take no part in the criminal persecution of the shooters.

Father, thank You for protecting Shehata and Samir’s lives and ask that you encourage Shehata as he remains steadfast and faithful in his desire to build a church. We ask that his request would be granted so that many can come and worship You. Thank you Father, we love You and give You the glory.

Praying with you,

The Prayer Force Team

4 years ago

June 10, 2010

Dear Donna

"…And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” 
- Matthew 10:22

Urgent Call to Prayer for Afghanistan

Devastating reports have been released from various news agencies that a member of the Afghan government has called for the public execution of Christian converts from Islam. This is in response to a video broadcast by the Afghan television network Noorin TV, which showed footage of Christian men being baptized and praying. The deputy secretary of the Afghani parliament said, "Those Afghans that appeared in [the footage] should be executed in public.” The video clip, along with inflammatory statements against the Christian faith, has repeatedly been broadcast on different television stations.

According to Afghan law, proselytizing is illegal and conversion from Islam is punishable by death. Many Afghan followers of Jesus have been frightened by these events and have gone into hiding while others have fled. Afghan Christians want the world to know about their situation, that in a country, where they have few rights and no voice, they want their voice to be heard. They are asking for our prayers.

Father, we plead with You to intervene on behalf of the Christians in Afghanistan. Please provide protection over current Afghan believers, as well as those who are coming to know You right now. We ask that this call for Christian executions would be reversed and that Your hand of justice will be in the midst of all government decisions. We know that You are sovereign, and we thank You for your abounding love on those who call upon You.

4 years ago

Egyptian Convert Endures Life at a Standstill – On the Run

For nearly two years, El-Gohary and his teenage daughter have been living in hiding because he abandoned Islam and embraced Christianity. During this time he has been beaten, forcibly detained, endured death threats, poverty, and crushing boredom.

Today El-Gohary and his daughter live in a tiny apartment on the outskirts of an undisclosed city in Egypt. Across the street is a mosque that regularly broadcasts anti-Christian messages. “Do not shake their hands. Do not go into their homes,” an imam shouts through the minaret loudspeakers. Unable to obtain work, because of his quest to change the religious designation on his national ID card from Muslim to Christian, El-Gohary has to rely on the kindness of other Christians to bring him food, water and occasional donations.

Possibly the worst part for him is watching the suffering of his daughter, Dina Maher Ahmad Mo’otahssem. She cannot go to school or attend church, for fear of being beaten, kidnapped and forcibly converted, or simply killed. When asked what gets him through the constant pressure of living on the run, El-Gohary said, “My main driving force is I want to prove to people the amount of persecution that Muslim converts and Christians face here.” When asked the same question, his 16-year-old daughter, Dina pushed back tears and said one word, “God.”

Thank You, Father, for the courage and faith that El-Gohary and his daughter have. We know that You love them and ask that You protect them from any harm as they continue to follow You in the midst of their daily struggles. May Your Holy Spirit encourage them through Your Word and through fellow Christians around them.

Praying with you,

The Prayer Force Team

4 years ago

MUSLIM TEACHERS IN PAKISTAN ALLEGEDLY ABUSE CHRISTIAN STUDENTS
Open Doors USA has learned through Compass Direct News that Muslim teachers at a girls school here have derided Christian students for their faith, beat them, pressured them to convert to Islam and forced them to clean school bathrooms and classrooms after class hours, according to area Christians. Muslim teachers at Government Higher Secondary School in village No. 79-NB (Northern Branch), Sargodha, have so abused Christian students that two have dropped out, said a 16-year-old student identified only as Sana. Read Full Story >>

4 years ago

Expulsion of Christians Continues in Morocco

Following the expulsion of more than 40 foreign Christians in March, a second wave of deportations has occurred with 26 foreign Christians having been forcibly expelled in 10 days without due process. Deportation orders for these Christian workers from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, New Zealand and Korea , come from the Ministry of Interior led by a new, hard-line Muslim director. While they were accused of illegal proselytizing, Compass Direct News quotes a regional legal expert in saying that, “They expelled people who helped build up the country, trained people, educated Moroccan children, cared for orphans and widows, increased the GDP and trade….[They] weren’t even proselytizing under their own law.”

Father, we lift up your small church of only about a thousand Christians in Morocco. Build them up, encourage and protect them. We bring before You the deported Christians . Guide them in this critical time and meet the needs of their families who remain in Morocco. Multiply their work that it would not be in vain.

Praying with you,

The Prayer Force Team

4 years ago
Dear Donna Matthews,Maryam and Marzieh
 
ICC rejoices over the news that Maryam Rostampour, 28, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 31, arrested in Iran fourteen months ago for their Christian faith, have been freed by judicial authorities after being acquitted of all charges brought against them.
 
Maryam and Marzieh were first arrested on March 5, 2009 by Iranian security forces for being apostates (converting to Christianity from Islam).  It was not long before the world took notice of Maryam and Marzieh’s tremendous courage in the face of extreme pressure and intimidation.  Taken before a Revolutionary Court hearing on August 9, Maryam and Marzieh were commanded to recant their faith in return for their freedom.  “We will not deny our faith,” they said. “If we come out of prison, we want to do so with honor.” 
 
While detained at Evin Prison, Maryam and Marzieh were kept in solitary confinement and endured severe interrogations, all the while suffering from poor health.  Yet, in the midst of great trials and persecution, Maryam and Marzieh did not lose hope, but “considered all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 3:8). The international Christian community was moved by Maryam and Marzieh’s steadfast perseverance, and united behind Maryam and Marzieh as one body throughout the world in prayer for their deliverance.  The Lord heard ours prayers, and on November 18, 2009, Maryam and Marzieh were released from prison! 
 
However, the ordeal had not yet ended for Maryam and Marzieh.  Although released, the charges had not been dropped, and in April, Maryam and Marzieh were summoned to another court hearing
 
After a month of anxiously waiting for a verdict, ICC welcomes the news that on May 23, all charges against Maryam and Marzieh have been dropped!  Upon hearing the news, Maryam and Marzieh left Iran to an unknown country after being warned by judicial authorities that any future Christian activity in Iran will be harshly punished.  From henceforth, Maryam and Marzieh will be able to worship God freely and at all hours of the day without having to fear death or imprisonment.  Their faith and endurance has been an encouragement to countless believers throughout the world. 
 
Maryam and Marzieh are grateful for the support and prayers of Christians worldwide.  "We are most grateful to everyone who prayed for us," they said. "I have no doubt that God heard the prayers of His people. I believe our arrest, imprisonment and subsequent release were in the timing and plan of God, and it was all for His glory. But the prayers of people encouraged and sustained us throughout this ordeal."
 
Join us in rejoicing over the Lord’s deliverance of Maryam and Marzieh!   
 
Please pray:
 
-          For Maryam and Marzieh’s recovery, as months of abuse and mistreatment by Iranian security forces have undoubtedly taken a toll on their health
 
-          For Maryam and Marzieh’s adjustment into a new country and culture.  That their witness and faith will continue to move countless more lives into repentance, and toward salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
 
-          For the Iranian church, which continues to persevere and grow despite great torment and affliction committed against them by the Iranian government.
 
Note: ICC would like to acknowledge Elam Ministries for their tremendous effort in rallying international attention behind the plight of Maryam and Marzieh, and for Elam’s devoted support and prayers for these women throughout their captivity and suffering.
 
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Aidan Clay
 
Regional Manager, Middle East 
International Christian Concern
P.O. Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Phone: (800) ICC-5441
Fax: (301) 585-5918
 
4 years ago

Update - Lao Christians Expelled from Village Suffer Critical Illnesses

In a February Weekly Prayer Alert we prayed for 48 Christians that were forced at gunpoint to renounce their faith.  When they refused, they were marched four miles outside Katin village, and left on the side of the road. Compass News reports that since the attack the Christians have been unable to return to their homes and have been sleeping in the jungle. Due to lack of adequate food and clean water, the Christians are now suffering from illness including diarrhea, dehydration, eye and skin infections, fainting and general weakness, which has lead to one person’s death.

Official reactions to the plight of the Christians have been mixed. In March, a delegation of provincial and district officials visited the Christians at their jungle site and assured them of their legal right to embrace the faith of their choice and to live anywhere in the district. However, Katin’s village chief recently warned other residents that their personal possessions would be confiscated and their homes torn down if they had any contact with the expelled Christians.

Father, we continue to ask You to protect and sustain our brothers and sisters in Laos. We honor these saints who courageously refused to renounce their faith. May their steadfast commitment to You bear fruit, and through their witness, may many turn to Christ as their savior.

4 years ago
Dear Donna Matthews,
 
Burma is a country that has lived under a brutal regime which uses torture, rape and extrajudicial killings to enforce its rule. Its Christians have long been persecuted through these means. This year the military regime will be holding a highly corrupt election to justify its rule. The main opposition party, which won a landslide victory in 1990 and was immediately outlawed, has announced it will not participate. This party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi as its leader. She is currently imprisoned in Rangoon, Burma.
 
Burma is at a crucial junction where the world is watching to see how this election will play out. Recently when the NLD was outlawed from running in the election, another opposition party was formed, the National Democratic Force. However, even this new party acknowledges that unless something unexpected happens the military regime will not release power.
  
Please pray:
 
-          That the military rulers would not be able to continue repressing the Burmese people and waging a war against the ethnic and religious minorities. That international pressure would be felt by them and their hearts would soften toward their people.
 
-         That the continued scorched-earth policy toward the ethnic and religious minorities will stop. Christians throughout Burma have been subject to the harshest persecution. 
 
-         That international attention would force transparency in this situation. A special investigation into Burma is being considered by the UN, which could lead to intervention.
  
Learn more:
  
-          Watch the Oscar-nominated documentary Burma VJ,(currently available in the US only on YouTube).
 
-          Vote to assist underground reporting in Burma by clicking this link, and then clicking "Vote" next to Democratic Voice of Burma.
 
-          See information of ICC's recent trip to visit the persecuted in Burma at http://iccfieldnotes.blogspot.com
 
 
 
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Logan Maurer
 
Regional Manager, SE Asia
International Christian Concern
P.O. Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Phone: (800) ICC-5441
Fax: (301) 585-5918
4 years ago
Man Gets 8 Years of Labor for Entering N. Korea

Reports suggest the man met with and was inspired by Robert Park.


Sarah Pulliam Bailey

An American has been sentenced to eight years of hard labor and fined $700,000 for entering North Korea.

Reports suggest that Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, who had taught English in South Korea, was inspired by Robert Park, a Christian who walked into North Korea from China on Christmas day to "proclaim Christ's love and forgiveness" and call for leader Kim Jong Il to step down. Park was released in February without charge. The Associated Press reports that Gomes attended rallies in Seoul in support of Park, and Gomes was arrested one month after Park entered North Korea.

Former colleagues told the AFP that Gomeswas a deeply religious person. "He acted like an evangelist. He took the trouble to commute to Seoul to participate in Wednesday prayer sessions at a foreigners' church there," a teacher said. Senator John Kerry has called for his release, the Boston Globe reports.

Professor Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korean expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said he viewed the huge fine for Gomes as a “signal that North Korea is willing to negotiate and get some money for releasing Mr. Gomes.’’

“A lot of North Korea watchers may criticize this foolhardy, risky move by Park and Gomes because it raises thorny issues of having to pay ransom or make some kind of concession,’’ Lee said.

“But people like Gomes and Park embody a powerful human presence — the willingness to take a great risk and sacrifice themselves. . . . I think this kind of daring move will come to be viewed as, if not heroic, then certainly courageous in the long run,’’ Lee added.

4 years ago

Bob Fu Speaks with Gao Zhisheng by Phone,
Faith Strengthened

Yesterday morning, on April 6, 2010, ChinaAid President Bob Fu spoke with Gao Zhisheng over the phone. This was the first direct contact Bob has had with Gao Zhisheng since he last spoke with him by phone last January, as Bob was rescuing Gao's wife and children in Thailand. The conversation brought hope and light for the two men, after more than 400 days of uncertainty and doubt.

Gao told Bob he had spoken with his daughter Gege in New York earlier this morning. "She told me she felt like God was silent, that He had not heard her prayers," Gao shared openly, deeply pained by his daughter's anguish over their prolonged separation. He expressed concern for his family's safety and well-being, and his desire to be reunited with his family.

Gao thanked Bob Fu personally for ChinaAid's role in pressing the FreeGao campaign internationally on his behalf for so long, and for aiding his family in their escape from China.

He informed Bob that he had just returned to his Beijing apartment from his guarded location in Shanxi. Abandoned for more than a year, Gao was saddened by the thick layer of dust covering the apartment and the emptiness of the rooms.

Using the words of Psalm 23, Pastor Bob Fu prayed for Gao Zhisheng and his family, reminding him of God's faithfulness and love.

Gao further reported he had just recovered from a racking cough for more than a month, but was not able to give any further details about his physical condition. According to Pastor Fu, Gao was deeply concerned about the condition of his family in New York, but has remained strong in his faith.

"Gao Zhisheng and his family have suffered deeply from the long separation," said Pastor Fu. "Despite the persecution, he continues to trust the Lord."

Pastor Fu was moved by Gao's need to be with his family. "By allowing us to speak with Gao Zhisheng, the Chinese government has shown they have been forced to respond to the international outrage and pressure on Gao Zhisheng's behalf.

"Yet, Gao is still not able to speak or move freely. According to international norms and Chinese law, he has the right to travel overseas to reunite with his family and to be free, if he is not found in violation of laws during his probation."

"We must call on the Chinese government to release Gao Zhisheng and permit him to reunite with his family in the United States. It is his legal and basic human right to be united with his loved ones."

Gao ZhishengThanks to the 134,446 people who signed the petition, the 13,663 people who sent letters to their local representatives, the 2,767 people who contacted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the hundreds of thousands around the world who donated their financial support, prayers, and advocacy efforts to Free Gao Zhisheng for the past 400 days - the first phase of the Free Gao campaign is a success!

However, Gao Zhisheng is still not free. His treatment and condition for the past year remains a mystery.

ChinaAid will continue to campaign for Gao Zhisheng's freedom until he is able to reunite with his family. In the coming weeks, we will be revising the FreeGao.com website, and exploring new avenues of advocacy on Gao's behalf.

Thank you for your continued support! Watch for upcoming details on how to continue to help Free Gao Zhisheng.

4 years ago

Continued Prayer for Eritrean Prisoners  

In February of this year, there was a call to prayer for prisoners in Eritrea... the arrests however continue to escalate.

On March 27, military officials arrested 17 more Christian men that were gathered for prayer in a town called Segenaite in southern Eritrea. Then on Friday, April 2, 25 more Christians were arrested, all members of the Asmara Full Gospel Church and include an unknown number of women. This is now the third reported arrest of a group of Christians in less than a month.

Sources announced in February that approximately 2,200 Christians remain in prison for their refusal to stop practicing their faith outside of the government-sanctioned churches. Open Doors recently received the translation of a powerful and encouraging letter from a pastor of an Eritrean church, written to his wife from prison. Please join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in prison as you read the letter. 

Father, please give our Eritrean brother and sisters in prison continued steadfast trust and hope in You as they minister Your Word in the midst of hardship and uncertainty. Provide comfort and peace to their families. We to pray for their release, and for freedom for all Christians in Eritrea to worship You.

Praying with you,

The Prayer Force Team

4 years ago

April 7, 2010

Dear Donna

Iranian Authorities Release Assyrian Pastor on Bail

The Rev. Wilson Issavi, who was accused of “converting Muslims,” has been released from prison on bail and is awaiting trial. Although this is a positive update, continued prayers are needed. The joy of Issavi’s family at his release is tinged with fear as they wait in agony for the possibility of him being killed by Islamic extremists, as is common in Iran when Christians are detained for religious reasons and then released. “Sometimes they release you just to kill you,” an anonymous Christian source said. 

Compass News reports that Iranian authorities have set up a video camera outside Issavi’s church to monitor anyone going in or out of the building. According to the pastor’s friend, low-key ethnic Christians, such as the Assyrians, are largely unbothered but active Christians are treated differently. “When you start evangelizing, then you are in real trouble.”

Father, we know that You are sovereign and that You hold Issavi’s life in Your hands. We ask that You would heal his body, protect him as he awaits his trial, and comfort him and his family with Your peace. We continue to pray for the Christians in Iran who face much opposition because of their faith. Renew their love for You daily, and let them bring glory to You in their pain and suffering.

4 years ago

March 31, 2010

Dear Donna 

Christian Woman Jailed under Pakistan’s ‘Blasphemy’ Laws

Last week in Alipur, Pakistan, police arrested a Christian woman named Rubina Bibi on the baseless accusation of making a derogatory remark about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. A reliable police source told Compass News, on condition of anonymity, that Bibi was accused of blasphemy by a Muslim relative, who allegedly turned a minor quarrel into a religious issue. The charge comes under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which have gained international notoriety for their misuse by Muslims to settle personal grudges. With the charge, Bibi could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment with a large fine.

Father, we cry out to You for the life of Rubina Bibi. We ask that You would comfort her as she sits in prison, and that by Your grace, she would be set free of all accusations and charges against her. Please give the Christians in Pakistan wisdom and discernment as they hold fast to the Word of life and press on toward the goal in Jesus Christ.

4 years ago

In the Trenches: Ethiopian convert faces imprisonment
In the Trenches

Courageous Christian arrested for Bible distribution.
Read More>>

4 years ago

March 17, 2010

Dear Donna

Morocco Begins Large-Scale Expulsion of Foreign Christians

Moroccan authorities deported more than 40 foreign Christian aid workers in an ongoing, nationwide crackdown that included the expulsion of foster parents caring for 33 Moroccan orphans. Police first went to Village of Hope orphanage last Saturday, questioning children and looking for Bibles and evidence of Christian evangelism; by late Sunday night they had told all foster parents and staff that they had to leave on Monday.

The eviction process was painful. The Moroccan authorities gathered the children together and told them about the deportation of foreign staff and foster parents. After that, parents had to further explain to the devastated children what was about take place. Some of the children had been with their parents for 10 years, and the trauma caused was beyond description.

Chris Broadbent, an orphanage staff member, emphasized that government accusations that they had been proselytizing were unfounded and that all staff had signed and adhered to a non-proselytizing policy. "We were a legal institution," he said. "Right from the start, they knew it was an organization founded by Christians and run by a mixture of Christian and Muslim people working together."

Father, we ask that You would open the eyes of the Moroccan government and authorities. We pray that a point of compromise may be reached, so that the 33 children can be reunited with the only real parents they know. We pray for peace and understanding between the Muslims and Christians living in Morocco, and that You would use the Christians to show Christ’s love and grace, no matter the circumstances.

4 years ago
Dear friend of the persecuted, #6 Afghanistan

Farzam* was living out his faith the best that he could. Unable to share the gospel openly, he prayed for God to show him how he could be an example to his family and neighbors while keeping his faith a secret. Farzam felt alone in his faith and was encouraged only by the inner presence of Christ…and then came the call. An Afghan pastor living in another country had heard of Farzam and wanted to visit. In the ensuing weeks this pastor linked Farzam with three other men who began meeting together to study and pray. No longer living in isolation…Farzam now had fellowship with his brothers in Christ.

Pray for Farzam and his Christian brothers, for their safety and courage to remain faithful to Christ. Pray that they would bring the light of the gospel to their family and friends who continue to live in spiritual darkness.

With few Christians, life in Afghanistan is dangerous for those who decide to serve Christ. Rejection by neighbors and family can be even more threatening than persecution from the government. Bibles and other Christian study materials are difficult to find. God is using technology such as radio broadcasts and mp3 players with the Dari New Testament to reach the Afghan people. One brother proudly shows his mp3 player and proclaims, “This is my Bible; this is my teacher.”

Give thanks for the radio broadcasts and for the Bibles and mp3 players that have come to Afghanistan. Pray that they would be used to open the eyes of Afghanis to the truth and power of the gospel and to increase Christ’s church in Afghanistan. “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” Isaiah 29:18 

*Farzam uses a pseudonym to protect his identity.


Sincerely,

Open Doors USA

4 years ago
Dear Donna Matthews,
 
We are very excited to announce the release of about 30 Eritrean Christian women who were arrested on December 5! The women were arrested by Eritrean officials for gathering for a prayer meeting.
 
ICC was the first organization to break the news about the arrest when we reported it on December 7. See our first press release here.
 
Our press release was picked up by major news agencies, including Reuters which interviewed Eritrea's Information Minister based on our press release. See the Reuters article here.
 
A journalist from BBC News also contacted us and asked for the contact information of our sources. The BBC then interviewed our sources for their own story about the arrest. See the BBC article here.
 
Where light is shone, the darkness scatters! We would like to thank all of you for praying for these women and all Eritrean Christians. We remain extremely concerned about the situation of Christians in Eritrea. More than 3000 Christians are detained in underground dungeons, metal shipping containers, and military barracks. Please continue to pray for their release and contact your representatives at www.house.gov to highlight the plight of the persecuted Christians in Eritrea.
 
 
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Jeff King
President, ICC
 
International Christian Concern
P.O. Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Phone: (800) ICC-5441
Fax: (301) 585-5918
4 years ago
IRAN RELEASES TWO CHRISTIAN WOMEN: On November 18, Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad were released from one of Iran’s notoriously brutal prisons. Both women were released with no bail required, after spending nearly nine months in prison. Although they could still face charges of proselytizing and ‘apostasy,’ or leaving Islam, their release is remarkable, as it is rare for Christians to be released from prison in Iran.  Open Doors would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who prayed and sent messages to the Iranian government on behalf of Maryam and Marzieh! Full Story>>
4 years ago
Iran's Christians face terrible persecution and prejudice. Now mounting anti-Christian pressure is affecting their right to worship freely even more blatantly.

The Iranian Ministry of Information has forced the termination of Friday services for one of the country's largest Protestant
churches.

Rev. Sourik, overseer of the Assemblies of God Churches in Iran has announced that the Central Church in Tehran is no longer allowed to hold Friday services.  The church was forced to end these services or be completely shut down nationwide.

"The announcement of the termination of the Friday services was received with shock and utter surprise and resulted in many openly weeping in the church service," reported the Farsi Christian News Network, which has close ties with Iranian Christians.

Many in the West may not understand the significance of this move, but according to Voice of the Martyrs Canada,
"The believers of this church, which has been holding two Friday services since the 1960s, will find it difficult to attend Sunday services as Sunday is not a day off for many, as it is in the West."

This news is especially hard for this congregation because their pastor has been detained for several weeks after refusing to allow authorities to
"impose the reading of the Koran on Christian children."

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has insisted that the practice of forced Koranic courses violates Article 26 of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, which Iran has signed. The Article says, "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children."

Authorities have told Pastor Nadarkhani "Not happy with the fact that we tolerate you, you pushed too far your boldness by refusing that your children follow Koranic courses." As of publication, Pastor Nadarkhani is still imprisoned.
 
4 years ago

COPTIC FAMILY FORCED TO SURRENDER WOMAN RESCUED IN EGYPT: State Security Investigations (SSI) forces in Egypt arrested, abused and then extorted money from a Coptic Christian for rescuing his daughter from her Muslim husband, who was holding her against her will in Alexandria, according to sources in Egypt. Full story>>

4 years ago
Encouragement from Vietnam

Compass News reports that on October 19, the Assemblies of God (AoG) church in Vietnam received an “operating license,” the first step in becoming legal.  They now have permission to “carry on religious activity” anywhere in the country for the next year.  In the meantime, they must submit some extensive documentation, including a doctrinal statement, a constitution and by-laws, and a four-year working that must be approved by the government before being allowed to officially organize.  This is the first of these operating licenses to be granted in two years.    

Father, we give thanks for this encouraging news from Vietnam.  We call for your Spirit’s intervention this year as the AoG prepares and submits the required documentation.  Give them favor with the authorities that Your Word would go forth in great power and the people of Vietnam might stand united in praise and worship.

4 years ago

October 21, 2009

Dear Friend,

Upcoming Tunisian Elections

Join Christians in Tunisia as they pray for their country and the presidential and legislative elections to take place October 25.  This North African country along the Mediterranean boasts a population of over 10 million people. The comparatively small Christian community is largely made up of foreign residents and native-born citizens of Arab or European descent.  There are no laws against conversion from Islam; however, government officials use bureaucratic means to discourage it, and new Christians often face ostracism, with most of the pressure from families.  

Father we join the Tunisian Christians as they pray for their elections that those who rule their country will rule with godly justice and that their hearts will turn to You. We also ask that You protect the Muslim Background Believers from persecution, but also bring opportunities for them to share the good news of reconciliation with Yourself through the sacrifice of Christ
.

4 years ago

September 23, 2009

Dear Donna,  

North Korea Prayer Vigil 

Scores of North Korean citizens have tried to escape the oppressive regime in their country.  Once across the border, instead of finding freedom, often they are caught and forcibly repatriated.  In North Korea this crime is punishable by death.  Many who have been captured are sent to a labor camp…seldom do they survive living under the horrific conditions of a North Korean prison. 
 
Tomorrow, September 24, marks the 27th anniversary of the signatory date when the government of China agreed that they will allow refugees to seek asylum, as defined through the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.   However, since that date there have been countless violations with refugees being repatriated to North Korea or forced into prostitution, marriage or other forms of human bondage in China.  This is often to the gain of the Chinese capturers; it has become a lucrative business in China. 

For seven consecutive years, North Korea has held the number one position on the Open Doors World Watch list of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe.  This year the anniversary of the signing will be marked with prayer vigils around the world along with other activities. 

Father, we feel the heaviness of the fear in which the people of North Korea exist on a daily basis.  May the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees who have sought refuge in China come to an end.  May Your mighty hand of protection be upon the people of North Korea, especially Christians, who live in the shadow of fear, that they might know the light and hope of the gospel.

5 years ago

Dear Donna,

Testimony of Emad, a Believer in Iran

“I travelled around the world with my business; I was married and had children. I had everything in life, money, car, home, a really good life.  I was a successful man.

“But I was empty, life had no meaning and I was desperately unhappy. I considered suicide and set out to take my own life. I should have been dead.  I heard a voice calling my name and reaching out to help me, and then I woke up and was shocked that I was still alive. A friend came to see me; he was a Christian and led me to Jesus. I converted 9 years ago.

“Within 2 months of this, my wife left me and took me to court. In the court the judge asked me, ‘Are you a Christian?’ I replied ‘Yes.’  The judge asked me to write down that I was a Christian. This became the evidence used against me.  In just one court hearing I was divorced, lost my children, lost my business, lost my home, all my money and possessions and was kicked out of the city.”

Emad is now remarried and is a leader of a group of mostly men.  He however remains unemployed and sometimes still struggles to understand why.  When people find out he is a Christian they will not hire him.  Also people owe him money but he cannot take them to court; he no longer has any rights because of his faith.  He knows this is part of being a Christian; it comes with saying “yes” to Jesus. 

Recently Emad participated in a training course.  “I really was grateful for all the training and the books.  These things we can touch and give thanks but I cannot put into words the depth of gratitude for knowing that people care and pray for me.  It encourages us all so much and reminds us that God will not leave us all alone. Thank you very much.”   

Father today we lift up men and women, like Emad, who have sacrificed so much for their faith.  As we unite in prayer, help us to see the spiritual depth to be found in their suffering and understand that their suffering does not defeat them, but strengthens them.  “I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak,then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)   

5 years ago

ChinaAid & VOM

 

DAY 168: Gao Zhisheng Petition Delivered; Chinese Embassy Says "Take it away!"

Bob Fu with 100000 signature books submitted to CECC and Prof James FeinermanBecause of your efforts, on July 9 and 10, ChinaAid was able to deliver the petition with more than 100,000 signatures to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), the U.S. State Department and the Chinese Embassy.

American attorney David E. Taylor, a ChinaAid volunteer, delivered the petition for Gao's release to the Chinese Embassy. However, when the embassy staff saw the petition was from ChinaAid for Gao Zhisheng, she said, "I'm sorry, Sir, I'm sorry! Take it away!"

Taylor left the petition at the front door of the embassy, stating that: "The Chinese Embassy was legally served with the petition even though they tried to avoid it."
Read full statement from Attorney Taylor regarding the petition delivery.

The Chinese government simply wants us to give up. They refuse to comment on Gao Zhisheng's whereabouts or well-being. But, we will not give up. With your help, ChinaAid will continue to travel to Washington and meet with concerned U.S. government officials and continue to gather signatures from around the world for the petition to free Gao.

Please continue to share the petition drive with your friends. Encourage them to learn about Gao's story and to take action at www.FreeGao.com.

Please also continue to financially support this critical effort. Gao's story of persecution is only one of many. But it is also a key story in exposing the truth behind China's Communist regime and its abuse of human rights.

Make a donation.

As a result of the petition, several Congressional leaders have agreed to send a letter to Chinese Ambassador Zhou regarding Gao Zhisheng's current whereabouts and condition. It has become clear that the efforts on behalf of Gao Zhisheng are not only important for Gao, but, also, for all human rights attorneys in China.

Your prayers, financial contributions, e-mails and phone calls to Chinese government officials and sharing this campaign with family and friends are sending a cry for justice and freedom that is having impact in China and in America. We will continue to grow the petition and will not give up until Gao's whereabouts and safety are known. Please continue to "speak out" within your sphere of influence and, especially, in prayer, until Gao Zhisheng's freedom becomes reality!

To see the latest information, make an online donation, view the latest signature totals on the petition, and see photos, go to www.FreeGao.com.

» Go to www.FreeGao.com now.

5 years ago

July 8, 2009

Dear
Donna  

Pakistan Cleric Uses Mosque Loudspeaker to Call an Attack on Christians  

Claiming a Christian field worker had blasphemed Islam when he asked a Muslim to let him pass, an Islamic cleric ordered an attack on Christians which resulted in more than 500 Muslims ransacking and looting at least 110 houses.

Sardar Masih told Compass News that the incident began on June 30 when he and his 10-year-old son were returning from the fields on a tractor. “When we entered the village, Muhammad Hussein and his nephew had parked their motorbike in the middle of the road,” Masih said. “I requested them to get it aside, and Hussein said that he did not know how a ‘sweeper’ [a derogatory term designating lower-class Christians] could order him.”

Chanan Masih, Sardar’s father, said, “We thought that it was just an ordinary clash and would settle down with the passage of time, but they not only came [to our home] and attacked us, they then did havoc to all Christian families.”

On the day of ‘the call to attack,’ most of the Christian men were away harvesting or selling crops at the Lahore Vegetable Market leaving many homes defenseless.  The Muslim mobs entered homes where mostly women and children were present and in some instances beat the women, local Christians said. 

Muslim Leaders Appalled

Muslim leaders told Compass News that the culprits must be brought to justice. “I am born in a Muslim family, but today I am feeling bad because of what my fellow Muslims have done,” said Chaudhry Ahmed Ali Tohlu, a government leader.  Since the attack, Deputy Mayor Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made a public announcement on the mosque loudspeaker that the violence was shameful.  Area Christians, however, said they remained fearful.   

Father, we thank you for the Muslim leaders who were willing to stand for the rights of our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. We join in prayer asking for complete restoration of any damage done both physically and emotionally and asking that You calm the hearts of the Pakistani Christians; that Your perfect love drive away all their fears.      

Praying together,

5 years ago
Update on Marzieh & Maryam

Maryam and Marzieh are doing well despite being imprisoned for four months. The Voice of the Martyrs contacts report they remain courageous and trusting in God. In June when a judge told them he would make sure they were both executed as "apostates", they responded with courage, telling the judge to "expedite his sentence." Following the recent political turmoil in Iran, 600 women have joined Maryam and Marzieh in Evin prison.

We encourage you to continue praying and writing to Maryam and Marzieh to make sure they are not forgotten. They have been strengthened by the prayers and help of believers like you. Write to the government requesting they be released.

More Info...

Marzieh & Maryam
5 years ago
Dear friends,
Iran's old dictator won the election and quite a rebellion is going on with those who are not in favor of him. He will retaliate with a certainty!
Please pray that he will not take out his wrath on innocent Christians who are only trying to survive!  Also pray that those who dare to speak up with have an impact on the outcome and pray for the safety of all Christians in that country!
5 years ago
Keep praying for the election in Iran! Don't give up!
5 years ago
Pray for the election in Iran, that the election will result in a less restrictive government.
CHRISTIANS IN RESTRICTIVE COUNTRIES!
5 years ago
| Blue Label
PRAYER FOR CHRISTIANS IN RESTRICTIVE COUNTRIES WHO ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WORSHIP!

This post was modified from its original form on 04 Jun, 9:07