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4 years ago
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4 years ago
Central African Republic

An Open Doors co-worker shared about a moving experience during a recent trip to CAR:

On Sunday, I was invited to preach at the Evangelical Church of the Cooperation in Mbanza-Hoto neighborhood. When we arrived at the church, we were welcomed by the lay-pastor who is also a medical doctor. He treats women who have been raped, and told us of the daunting number of women who have suffered in this way.

The atmosphere at the church was lively. Initially, there were mostly young people, but the adults joined later to listen to my sermon from Rom. 12: 19. "Do not avenge yourselves my beloved … for vengeance is upon the Lord".

I combined this Scripture with the story in Genesis 34 about the rape of Dina, Jacob's only daughter by the son of the Shechemite king. Simeon and Levi avenged their sister with the help of the other brothers by killing all Schememite males and looting everything, including women and children.

There is so much resemblance between this story and the relentless rape, murder and looting in CAR, and the spirit of hatred and revenge with which Seleka and anti-Balaka act. Although Christians are allowed to defend themselves, our self-protection may not transcend into acts of revenge. The destructive consequences of revenge can be clearly seen in these present day realities in CAR.

Romans 12: 20 tells us to do the opposite of revenge. It tells us to love our enemies.

There are examples of this happening, as well; in the town of Bouali, a priest sheltered Muslims in his church to protect them with his own life against anti-Balaka reprisals.

Open Doors is standing beside the church in CAR to assist them in the immense task of reconciling the people of CAR. We are convinced that it all starts here, with the very hard but extremely spiritual response of loving the enemy and entrusting vengeance to God. We pray for God's grace upon His children in this, and pray particularly for church leaders as they help their members understand and live out these truths.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes

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4 years ago

A local believer named Tien and his family were forced to leave their house in south Vietnam in December. The property belonged to the local company that Tien worked for, as the company provided housing benefits to its employees.

Prior to December, a district official confronted Tien about the birthday party he organized at his house the month before. That night, seven new believers were baptized at his birthday celebration.

The same official later charged Tien with conducting an "evangelistic event" for 50 people, and pressured his employer to take away his housing benefit. Despite two decades of service, Tien's employer ordered him out of the company property.

"Tien actively shares his faith with others," said a local source. "A hundred people have come to Christ through his ministry. Please pray for him and his family."

4 years ago

A group of about six officials - two of them in police uniforms - raided Begjan Shirmedov's home in Dashoguz, Turkmenistan. They arrived during a house church meeting, attended by about 15 church members.

The officials told them that religious activity without state registration is illegal. The believers replied that they have been attempting to obtain registration without success since 2004.

Police searched every room in the house, and confiscated all Christian literature and CD’s. When they asked where the literature had come from, family members insisted they had collected the books over many years, as they have been Christians since the mid-1990s.

About 15 church members, women and children included, were taken away to be questioned. According to a Forum 18 report, "Begjan Shirmedov was dragged out of the house by his collar.” Begjan is a 77 year old, elderly man who, according to the Turkmen tradition, should be treated with more respect.

"They treated an elderly man like a tramp in front of his wife, his children, church members and neighbors without fear of having to answer for their actions," said a local source.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes


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