Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Iran: Missing convert located – 6th October 2021

Middle East Concern, Oct 4, 2021

Iranian Christians are thankful that Ayoub Poor-Rezazade has been released on bail.

Ayoub was arrested with two other Christian converts on 5 September. There had been no news from him or about him since 8 September, causing consternation, especially since his friends were released on 21 September and had no news of Ayoub’s whereabouts.

On 3 October, after submitting bail of 400 million tomans (about $15,000), Ayoub was released from Lakan Prison in Rasht. His friends had also submitted the same bail.

Ayoub had spent 10 days in custody of the Revolutionary Guard before being transferred to solitary confinement in Lakan Prison.

He had been separated from his friends to be interrogated about church finances.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – October 6th 2021

Anti-conversion laws against Indian Christians

Barnabas Fund, 4 October 2021 (excerpts)

Extremists in India continue to use anti-conversion laws as a means of harassing church leaders and other Christians.

On 28 September a pastor in Himachal Pradesh was arrested on charges of attempting to gain converts to Christianity through force and bribery..

The following day, in Madhya Pradesh, radical Hindutva nationalists disrupted a Christian wedding, alleging that the bride had unlawfully converted from Hinduism.

Pastor Charlie John and two Christian brothers were arrested after extremists ordered them to stop distributing Bibles and leaflets in Rampur, Himachal Pradesh.

The pastor explained, “I only offered the Bible, and I gave it to those who freely accepted the Good News.”

“Someone refused the Gospel I was giving them and I didn’t insist.  “We share the Good News with people, tell them about Jesus, but without forcing anyone to convert. The accusations made against me are totally false.” 

In Madhya Pradesh the police filed no charges against the couple or the wedding party, but continue to investigate. 

“The newly wedded couple are Christians and their marriage reception was disturbed based on a false allegation of religious conversion,” said a local pastor.

An Indian legal expert has argued that “a ban on conversion motivated by any sort of gain is in effect a ban on all conversion” which therefore nullifies India’s constitutional commitment to freedom of religion.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – October 6th 2021

A younger retired minister, Hannes Theron, has taken over the responsibility for running the NetACT office and developing relationships with the colleges across Africa.  The Theology Faculty at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the larger universities in South Africa, is interested in joining NetACT.

Fraser is struggling with the latest issue of the NetACT journal.  The ‘copy-edited’ files he has been sent are a mass of inconsistencies, requiring a complete re-working to make them ready for publication.

Only 10 men are allowed to attend prison Bible study. One man says he would follow Jesus up to a certain point, fearing that, if he showed weakness, he would be trampled on and humiliated by other prisoners.   Pray he would follow Jesus completely, not just up to a point. He was, however, glad for a long sentence as he met Jesus in prison whereas he’d not known him outside.

Fahiem, the Muslim background man was the first to arrive at the Bible study this time, clutching his new Bible protectively, eager to make right choices and change his life, and appreciative that he be included in these prayer notes. In 2021, 4 close family members have died so he wants to live a changed life and show them a better way – amazing that people in another continent can have a prayerful impact on those so far away.  Dawn was able to go into Maximum and Medium A at Drakenstein today to lead classes on emotional and spiritual maturity over the next 2 weeks.  She has started a discipleship group at Zebulun.

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – October 6th 2021

Daniel Centre

The new storage centre foundations are now 75% complete with the industrial floor and insulation to complete.  The Covid situation in Romania has worsened into the fourth wave.

Balazs is back from a week in Kenya but goes again for a month on October 24th.  Samuel Okomo’s health issue is probably stress-related, having lost his wife to cancer last year.  One of the volunteers left there is having a remarkable impact on widows with her Biblio-drama.

Alix has resigned as assistant to Balazs and Dani but they hope to recruit one of the Kenya volunteers who has just resigned from her social services work to replace him.  André continues to be much more co-operative but  Julian, who is mentally challenged and recently baptised, is causing concern as he has been in contact with an ex-Daniel Centre resident who has HIV Aids.

Alex, Cipri and Damian are increasingly hard to handle as they should be looking for places to live independently with EU funding but are not very pro-active in searching for such places.

Talita Kum

No major updates from Adi with Balazs having been in Kenya but Adi did sponsor a very successful annual ball for the elderly in Jimboliya while Balazs was gone.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Saudi Christian convert flees after persecution – October 6th 2021

Church in Chains, 23 September 2021 (excerpts)

“Adam”, a Saudi Arabian Christian in his late forties, converted from Islam 3 years ago, so dangerous for a Saudi that his real name cannot be used. Since then, he has endured constant persecution, to where he has reluctantly decided to leave Saudi to join his family abroad.

Accused of helping his wife’s sister “Eve” (also a Christian convert) to leave Saudi Arabia against her husband’s wishes, he has faced pressure from his family, especially Eve’s husband, who then brought a false charge against him of theft and had him beaten up.

He has faced four court cases and has been in prison several times, for a total of around four months.

From a Yemeni background, he spent most of his life in Saudi Arabia as a Muslim. When Eve became a Christian 3 years ago, her family asked Adam to convince her to return to Islam, unaware that he too was exploring Christianity. In great danger from her family as a convert, Adam helped Eve and her 2 children to flee the country.

On 5 May 2021, Adam’s wife “Hope” was contacted by her family who believed Adam would be sent to prison and it would be better for her to stay with them. They put her under pressure to divorce him, but eventually let her to go free. In July, Adam sent Hope and their younger son “Andrew” abroad for safety.

In August, a group of men beat Adam up on the order of his brother-in-law. He fell on iron and cut his leg very badly, with heavy loss of blood.  Treated in hospital, on his release he was put in prison for a night. Consequently, Adam decided to leave the country and join Hope and Andrew. An older son, “Matthew”, fled Saudi Arabia after helping Adam get Eve out of the country.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – September 15th 2021

Indian Pastor Burned with Acid

Barnabas Fund, 7 September 2021 (excerpts)

A 16-year-old Christian suffered burns over 60 per cent of his body as the result of an acid attack in eastern India.

The pastor was attacked at the end of August 2021 shortly after leaving his house to go and sell vegetables in the village market early in the morning.

The teenager’s family, who converted to Christianity two years ago and regularly hold Christian meetings in their home, say they believe that radical Hindutva nationalists carried out the attack.

The pastor conducted daily prayer meetings in his house but was warned to stop by the extremists. His refusal led to the acid attack.

In India, it is not unusual for someone to be serving as a pastor at such a young age. There are so few Christian workers, a situation aggravated by the death of at least 2,000 Christian leaders since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

An Indian church leader told Barnabas Fund that the state in which this attack was carried out is not known for anti-Christian violence, adding, “I am worried that this will become a model of attack for others to follow.”

The Evangelical Fellowship of India documented 145 cases of atrocities against Christians in the first half of 2021. These incidents included three murders, 22 attacks on churches and 20 instances of ostracism or social boycott in rural areas for those refusing to give up their faith.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Absolute Denial of Religious Freedom – September 15th 2021

Church in Chains, 8 September 2021 (excerpts)

A new report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom describes the North Korean government’s religious freedom violations as an “absolute denial of religious freedom”.

The report was launched on 18 August and is based on interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators of religious freedom violations, the perpetrators being former North Korean government officials. The majority of interviewees had escaped from North Korea in 2019.

The investigators identified 68 cases of the state prosecuting individuals for their religion or belief or for their association with religious persons. Victims suffered human rights violations including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and the denial of life.

Its authors state: “The North Korean government poses an acute challenge to its citizens’ enjoyment of their right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief.”

They go on to say, “We find that the denial of religious freedom is absolute. Our findings establish that the persecution of individuals exercising their right to religious freedom in North Korea goes well beyond a government neglecting its duty to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief.

“It also extends beyond a government persecuting one or more social groups for their religion or belief. Rather, the situation that exists is one where the state enforces the absolute denial of religious belief through the active mobilisation of organs of the government.”

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – September 15th 2021

Edward the ex-prisoner, now working with the young men at Beth Uriel house in Cape Town, is still faithfully following Jesus in the way that he lives and is a great encouragement to the parole officers who see so many men return to prison.  Pray he would obtain the wood and other resources to renovate the hut he want to live in on the Beth Uriel grounds.

Dawn was allowed back into prison today for a Bible study in Maximum. We hope to include Medium A soon.  Ebrahim in Maximum writes and plays songs to encourage the other believers.  A Muslim inmate was felt drawn to join us to learn more about God and has said he’ll return next week. He’s asked for a Bible.

There’s a great problem with violence in South Africa.  Many inmates come from families where beating a child unconscious or hitting him with a brick is an acceptable form of discipline. Some people working in prison ministry or church circles say beating is what they need, it’s what they understand.  What we understand can be changed.

Pray for a revolution in thinking that all who follow Jesus trust him enough to turn the world’s thinking upside down.

Pray for smooth arrangements for us to visit the UK in November!  Ruth had a positive phone call with someone from Student Finance but the information she sent in hasn’t solved the problem.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Muslims open fire on Christians in Pakistan – September 15th 2021

Barnabas Fund, 13 September 2021 (excerpts)

Several Christians were injured in a shooting incident on 6 September in the Shera Kot district of Lahore, Pakistan.

A group of six or seven Muslims opened fire on the houses of Christian residents in the district at about 2.30 p.m.

Five Christian women, one of them pregnant, and one man were injured in the shooting. Three of the six are in a critical condition. The man, Asif Nawab, was returning home from work when an attacker opened fire, injuring him in both legs.

The attack stems from a dispute between a Christian named Asghar and a Muslim, Dilshad Doggar, according to local church minister, Pastor Adnan.

Dilshad Doggar, along with several armed young Muslims, moved towards Asghar’s house that afternoon. Asghar was not at home at the time and has not returned home since the incident. The attackers also fired at several Christians’ houses and at the church building.

The Shera Kot police registered a First Information Report in response to Asif Nawab’s complaint. 10 suspects were arrested and the 2 alleged main culprits are in the custody of the police as the matter is being investigated further.  The case has been filed under charges of attempted murder and rioting with use of deadly weapons.

Shera Kot is home to around 60 Christian families who are living among a larger community of Muslims. Since the incident Christians have stayed in their homes and police security has been provided for them.

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – September 15th 2021

Daniel Centre

The pouring of the storage centre foundations is slow.

Some Kenya project volunteers will leave for time in Kenya at the end of September; Balazs will go for the first week, and then for a month with more volunteers from October 25th.  Samuel Okomo, director of the Kenyan school has been down with a lengthy illness which could threaten the existence of the school, currently with 250 students but with potential for 400.

André is back at the Centre, much more co-operative after a hard time of working long days on a Spanish farm.  Julian, mentally challenged but a conscientious church attender, was baptised last week.  He works for Ikea but could be a long-term resident at the Centre as he is vulnerable to being cheated by others.

School is back in but, with rising Covid, medical masks are now mandated.  Cluj has a population of 400,00.

EU funding for independent living is now promised by October and Alex, Cipri and Damian may well move out then.  With more options open to young school leavers, only difficult cases now apply to join the Daniel Centre.

 

Talita Kum

The 36 students who come to TK1 and the 44 who come to TK2 re-started school on September 13th and there will be a 20th celebration this weekend for the founding of TK1.  There is good co-operation from the business community in Jimboliya but the new local Council has been creating problems for Adi over the tax situation.