Morning Star News, 28 February 2021
Local officials and other tribal animists in a village in eastern India locked council doors, tied up pastor Lakshman Oraon and beat him for more than an hour.
“I did not shout or cry before them,” Pastor Oraon told Morning Star News. “I was praying, praising the Lord, remembering His sacrifice for me on the cross.”
The elders of Jungur village, Latehar District in Jharkhand state had summoned him and other village Christians on Jan. 24 to demand that they help fund the ritual worship of tribal deities. When he refused, he said, they tied his hands behind his back, knocked him to the floor and struck his back, head and face.
“When they tied me and started kicking me, I was not at all angry. The Lord reminded me of the verses in Matt. 5:11-12,” Pastor Oraon said, reciting in Hindi Christ’s statement that followers are blessed when others revile and persecute them, and that they rejoice. “I received great strength from these words. There was a smile on my face all through.”
Boko Haram death-threat ultimatum to pastor
Barnabas Fund, 1 March 2021
Islamist terror group Boko Haram has given the Nigerian government until 3 March to save the life of Pastor Bulus Yakuru, abducted in Borno State on Christmas Eve.
The militants snatched the pastor during a raid on the predominantly Christian village of Pemi, about 20 km from Chibok, in which eleven people were killed on 24 December. The gunmen went on to murder five Christians abducted in the region as a so-called “Christmas present”.
In a video recently released by Boko Haram, Pastor Bulus pleaded with President Buhari, the Borno State Governor, and the Christian Association of Nigeria to intervene to secure his release.
While one of the terrorists stands behind him with a knife, the pastor was filmed saying that his captors gave him an ultimatum on 24 February, threatening to kill him a week from that date.
“If you want me alive, I beg you in your capacity as president, the governor and our local government chairman to save me from this suffering … Please pray for me … Please release me from this pain,” said Pastor Bulus.
A staff member from one of the NetACT partner colleges in Ethiopia has reported that the civil war/unrest in the Tigray region has left the region highly unstable. Hunger and rape are being used as weapons in the ongoing conflict.
28 articles have been submitted for the second issue of the NetACT journal. Based on the quality of the journal submissions, NetACT is trying to organise an online writers’ workshop later in the year.
On Tuesday Dawn had a meeting with Ashley, Heston and his wife Magdalena to discuss the discipleship groups connected with the church Heston pastors which draws its members from a Wellington area plagued by gangs. Dawn and Ashley will be attending the Zebulun church youth group on Friday night and then having a group for adults on Saturday afternoon.
Dawn got into prison today! At very short notice but it was good to see the men in Medium A. When asked for prayer requests, the consensus was for the ability to follow Jesus, be self-controlled and choose to love despite provocation (we had been looking at 1 Peter).
Barnabas Fund, 19 February 2021
New government measures, which will include a database of church leaders, look set to introduce even more state control over Christian ministry in China.
The Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, first announced in November 2020, will come into effect on 1 May 2021.
Key among the measures is the creation of “a database of religious personnel” listing all those authorised by the state to perform religious ministry. Church leaders not registered in this database will not be permitted to undertake ministry.
In order to be registered church leaders must be those who “love the motherland, support the leadership of the Communist Party of China, support the socialist system, abide by the constitution, laws, regulations, and rules, [and] practice the core values of socialism”.
The database will include “the basic information of religious personnel” and each pastor, or other religious leader, added will be given an identification number.
The new rules obligate churches and religious organisations to conduct formal assessment of their pastors. The churches must use this assessment to apply “rewards and punishments”, which will also be recorded in the database.
André, Gaby, Cipri and Alix have found work in a local factory in Cluj. Silveu has brought questionable friends back to the Centre and needs to improve his attitude.
Istvan has moved out with friends, probably a permanent goodbye. Alix has suicidal moments and has spent €2000, which he can ill afford, on a hair transplant which he doesn’t really need.
Covid infections are rising again in Romania. There have been no tenders yet for developing the Blythswood’s depot.
Balazs hopes the Hungarian Presbyterian church will join the Hungarian government to help with the school Blythswood sponsor in Kenya.
Adi has unfortunately lost an appeal against the local government’s removal of tax exempt status for Talita Kum and his proposal for EU funds for the running costs for TKs 1-4 has again been turned down. Bureaucratic nit-picking is a major hurdle for projects like these in Romania.
Voice of the Martyrs, 25 February 2021
A Syrian boy who came to Christ while taking refuge in another country continues to follow the Lord.
Ishmael left Syria with his family when the war broke out. He started school in the country where they were living as refugees but had to leave school at age 8 in order to work and help his father provide for the family.
A front-line worker met Ishmael and helped him get back into school. “I became like an older brother to him,” the front-line worker wrote, and he and Ishmael met for weekly Bible studies.
After several years, Ishmael’s family decided to return to Syria, and Ishmael has kept in touch with the front-line worker. “Sometimes he reminds me to study the Bible even more than what is in our Bible study program,” the front-line worker said.
Pray for Ishmael to continue to grow in his faith and pray for him to be able to continue his education. Pray also for the front-line worker who is touching the lives of many Syrians like Ishmael.
Morning Star News, 12 February 2021
Renowned French film-maker, journalist, and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, hardly a right-wing “Islamophobe,” is among those who have made reports that indicate funding from Islamist organizations abroad is behind the radicalization of mosques in Nigeria.
Radical mosques and Islamic schools contribute to the kind of violence perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen, leading to the well-founded fear of slaughter that many Christian villagers in north-central Nigeria experience each night.
“Such fear is hardly ‘phobic.’ It indicates a very real and increasing danger that cannot be overlooked,” writes Lela Gilbert, senior fellow for religious freedom at the Family Research Council, in a recent report. “And such danger should not be ignored by those who have the power and means to confront and contest it.”
In her report, “The Crisis of Christian Persecution in Nigeria,” Gilbert notes that international media contribute to the ignorance of the ongoing slaughters in Nigeria among people in the United States.
“Because many reporters and others in the media often operate from a secularist worldview, religious concerns are frequently overlooked by ill-informed commentators and analysts,” she reports. “Worse yet, far too many incidents remain unreported altogether. This lack of reporting is occurring while one of the 21st century’s worst atrocities unfolds.”
Myanmar – shoot, “punish and breakdown” civilians
Barnabas Fund, 16 February 2021
Amid widespread mass protests in Myanmar, a chilling Myanmar Army document was discovered instructing soldiers to “punish and breakdown” ethnic-minority Christians and other civilians deemed to be against the military regime, or even appearing critical of it in social media posts.
The official document lists a sequence of actions that military personnel should take including firing a 12mm weapon at individuals or using a 38mm weapon on groups of civilians. Regional reports show military patrols have escalated from carrying side-arms to automatic rifles.
Christian leaders in the region requested prayer for the people of Myanmar and for a “change of heart” of army and coup leaders. “Please pray for the Karen people in hiding in the jungle,” they asked.
Thousands of Christian villagers fled military bombardment in Karen State to take refuge in remote jungle on 1 February, the same day as the Myanmar leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was ousted in a military coup.
Fraser had a very positive meeting on Monday aimed at making world scholarship available in Africa and African scholarship available to the world. A hard-drive loaded with resources to be put on the NetACT portal has gone missing in Stellenbosch University library office.
Pray for the leaders of Hope Prison Ministry as they plan for the coming year. We hope that “spiritual workers” will be allowed back into the prisons by next week.
Dawn and Ashley have visited another minister to discuss the idea of small groups.
South African visas which have expired have been extended until the end of March, so please continue to pray that Dawn’s visa application will be properly granted soon.
The Nehemiah Bible Institute in Wellington concentrates on training ‘informal’ church leaders, some with only a Primary School education, and needs imaginative ways to use the Portal for this training.
Young boys and adolescents are being reinforced by pit-bull owners in the idea that violence and intimidation are what makes a man. Pray that someone will promote a healthy alternative, a model of manhood that honours God and teaches true respect, not “respect” through fear.
Inreach groups in Nigeria are closed due to terrorist threats but threats against staff in Jos continue. Pray also for the 120 people from a Muslim background who were converted through Inreach and moved to a discipleship centre last year where they now need to remain for security reasons.
It seems unlikely that we’ll be back to the UK this summer, so if anyone could arrange a video chat, a Zoom meeting or record an interview with us, please get in touch.
The Voice of the Martyrs, 11 February 2021
After Muslim mobs destroyed 12 churches in the Alaba zone in 2019, believers waiting for their churches to be rebuilt report an increased dedication to missions and outreach in their communities.
In a single day, extremists moved through the town of Alaba Kulito and destroyed 12 church buildings. Two years later, church leaders and evangelists now report that their congregations are more motivated than ever to share the gospel with their persecutors.
One congregation sent five evangelists to an unreached people group. Another evangelist reported that more people responded to the gospel message in the previous two months than in six months of previous work.
“The persecution has awakened the churches for missions. We were prioritizing buildings, furnishing them and buying other materials. But now our number one priority is missions,” one of the church elders said.
“After the persecution we haven’t raised funds for church buildings and other materials but for missions.” Praise God for the attitude of the believers and pray for changed hearts as a result of their efforts.