Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Pastors, Newly Marrieds Arrested at Reception – November 30th 2022

International Christian Concern, November 30, 2022 (excerpts)

Nine Christian pastors were arrested and jailed on false charges of conversion activities in Azamgarh, in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on Monday. 

The pastors and a recently married Christian couple were arrested by police at a wedding reception. Radical Hindu nationalists pressured the police to act against the Christians. 

Witnesses told how the pastor of an Assemblies of God Church hosted a wedding reception at his house for his daughter and son-in-law.  During the reception, police raided the home and confiscated Bibles and other Christian items, alleging that the gathering was a conversion program.  The pastor explained that it was purely a wedding reception for his daughter, but police ignored his pleas and arrested the pastors and the newly wedded couple. 

“These days are very challenging days in our state,” a Christian leader from Uttar Pradesh said.  “More than 200 churches were shut down in the last few months, and 52 pastors and Christians are reeling in the prisons across the state of Uttar Pradesh.”  

Another Christian leader said, “Christians are living under the fear of being targeted and attacked for no reason, and police just need a complaint for them to act and send them to jail under the anti-conversion law.”

The United Christian Forum (UCF) recently released a report which said that violence against Indian Christians is at an all-time high.  This year saw the highest spike in incidents across India.  Uttar Pradesh was the most egregious, with 149 attacks against Christians.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Mali – Missing – Presumed Kidnapped – November 30th 2022

Aid to the Church in Need, November 22, 2022 (excerpts)

Fears are growing that a priest who disappeared in Mali has been abducted by Islamist militants.  German missionary priest Father Hans-Joachim Lohre went missing on Sunday (20th November) after celebrating Mass at a convent in Bamako, the country’s capital.

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) was told by the Missionaries of Africa – known as the White Fathers – that everything points to him having been kidnapped.

Father Lohre’s car was found abandoned and a cross which he always carried with him was lying on the ground.

The priest, who worked in Mali for more than 30 years, before his disappearance, told ACN that missionaries faced potential danger from Mali’s growing Islamist militant groups.  He said: “We are an easy target, but we have a mission”, adding “we have been told that the jihadists are watching us.  The jihadists come in groups, on motorcycles, and the local communities have to make deals with them. They are forbidden from ringing church bells and drinking alcohol, and women are forced to wear the veil.”

But he stressed that concerns about his personal safety did not keep him from continuing his ministry in Mali.

Extremist groups have overrun swathes of central Mali, imposing Shari‘a in the areas under their control.

“Therefore, it is crucial that we foster good relations with the Muslims around us.  We provide Christians with deep knowledge about Islam, so that when they return to their communities, they can help to build bridges and make contact with the surrounding mosques.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Woman Restrained by Family Opposed to Christ – November 30th 2022

Voice of the Martyrs, 10 November 2022 (excerpts)

Sita is a 65-year-old woman and the only believer in her family.  She was an active member of the church, but three years ago, her son married a woman who is aggressively opposed to Christianity.  The daughter-in-law turned the family against Sita. 

Since that time, the family has barred her from attending church.  Sometimes she is able to slip out to a women’s fellowship group.  Front-line workers have given her an audio Bible so that she can listen to God’s Word when she is alone at home.

84 percent of Nepalis are Hindus.  Hinduism is more prominent in the south, along the Indian border, and Buddhism is more prominent in the north.  There are small Muslim and Christian minorities as well as a growing Marxist (atheistic communist) movement.

The government of Nepal is taking an increasingly strong stand against religious conversion.  Despite the 2015 constitution that guaranteed religious freedom, Parliament passed a bill in 2017 criminalizing conversion to Christianity.  Christian communities are small, but they boldly witness for Christ despite harassment and risk.

84 percent of Nepalis are Hindus.  There is a small, visible Christian community in Nepal, but believers experience opposition from extremists among the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Marxist groups.  Christians face harassment and beatings from local Hindu nationalists who envision Nepal becoming a “pure” Hindu nation.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

100 Killed in Somalia Terrorist Attack – November 2nd 2022

International Christian Concern, 31 October 2022 (excerpts)

Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, launched a deadly attack in Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu, on Saturday, October 29.   

Two cars packed with explosives blew up within minutes of each other near the city’s busy Zobe intersection.  Following the explosion, militants opened gunfire on passers-by.   

According to a statement released by Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Muhamud, “So far, the number of people who died has reached 100 and 300 are wounded, and the number for both the death and wounded continues to increase.”

The attack took place at the same intersection where a truck laden with explosives blew up on October 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring over 200 more.  That attack was the deadliest in Somalia’s history and has also been attributed to Al-Shabaab.   

Police spokesperson Sadik Dudishe released a statement following the October 29 attack describing some of the victims of the attack, which included women, children, and the elderly.   

He said, “the ruthless terrorists killed mothers.  Some of them died with their children trapped on their backs.”

Please pray for the victims of this recent terrorist attack in Somalia.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Church Planter Questioned by Authorities – November 2nd 2022

The Voice of the Martyrs, October 27, 2022 (excerpts)

More than one million refugees have flooded into Lebanon because of the civil war raging in neighbouring Syria.  Pastor Bassam recently opened a new church near the Syrian border to minister to refugees and others in that region.  After the church’s initial service, Pastor Bassam was summoned to appear before local officials who questioned him about his evangelistic activities.  He tried to answer their questions, stating that he does not force anyone to come to the services or change their beliefs.  Pastor Bassam requests prayers that the church will be allowed to operate without interference and also for his wife, who has been suffering from an illness.

Many Muslims in Lebanon have suffered greatly at the hands of other Muslims during Syria’s civil war, resulting in a new openness to Christ.  Because Lebanon has a significant Christian population and its government protects the freedom of worship, it has become a safe haven for displaced Christians throughout the region.  Despite the hardships, many evangelical churches in Lebanon have not only welcomed but also cared for Christian and Muslim Syrian refugees, who have limited resources and few rights in the country.

Many Muslim refugees have bravely attended home Bible studies and church services to learn about Christ.  Significant numbers have placed their faith in Christ, been baptized and become active in local churches.  Some Christian converts from Islam are already actively witnessing to Muslims.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Islamists Kill 15 Christians in Nigeria – November 2nd 2022

Morning Star News, October 27, 2022 (excerpts)

Suspected Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists killed two Christians in north-central Nigeria on Friday (Oct. 21) after slaughtering 13 others in two prior attacks.

The assailants attacked a village in Obi County late at night, killing Moses Saaku and Aondofa Saaku and wounding a Christian woman, all members of the Universal Reformed Christian Church.

A Christian woman by the name of Kwaghdoo Saaku was injured when the herdsmen cut off one of her breasts.  

In Keana County on the night of Oct. 8, the terrorists killed 10 Christians, displacing hundreds of others.  Most of the slain Christians were women, children and the elderly who were unable to escape the onslaught.

The attackers, strongly believed to be herdsmen and terrorists, shot sporadically on Christians who were sleeping in their houses.

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year.  The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Fines, car park worship ban for New Life Church – October 19th 2022

Forum 18, 3 October 2022 (excerpts)

On 25 September, Police banned Minsk’s New Life Church in Belarus from meeting for Sunday worship in the car park of the building from which officials forcibly evicted it in February 2021.  Police detained the pastor Goncharenko and another pastor Bokun.  A judge fined each 2 months’ average wage for leading the 18 September service.

Officials have forced Minsk’s New Life Pentecostal Church to halt the worship meetings it has held in the church car park every Sunday, whatever the weather, since evicted from its church building.   Police banned the 25 September service, threatening to detain anyone who did not leave.

Police held Pastor Bokun overnight after detaining him on 22 September.  Police seized the mobile phones from both pastors, telling them they would get them back only when the fines have been paid.

Asked what was wrong in holding an hour-long worship meeting outside the building, and about the fines she had imposed on the two pastors, Judge Yuliya Bliznyuk absolutely refused to respond.  “I do not give comments on the phone,” she told Forum 18 before hanging up.

Artyom Tsuran, a Deputy Chair of Minsk City Executive Committee, has rejected all New Life Church’s attempts to seek permission to hold meetings either in the car park or to have their church building returned to them.

Pastor Goncharenko insists that the Church needs and ought to be able to hold face to face worship meetings. “As the Bible says: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them'”.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Iran Punishes Christians with Harsh Sentences – October 19th 2022

Morning Star News, 16 October 2022 (excerpts)

When authorities in Iran summoned a Christian couple in Tehran on Aug. 13, the house-church members supposed it concerned the return of their confiscated belongings.

Instead, Homayoun Zhaveh and his wife Sara Ahmadi were detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison, notorious for its harsh treatment of people deemed political enemies of the state.

Christian Solidarity International recently issued a call for prayer for Zhaveh, 63, and Ahmadi, 44.  Middle East Concern reported they were first arrested in June 2019 for belonging to an “illegal organization” – Zhaveh spending a month in Evin Prison and Ahmadi held there for 67 days – half in solitary confinement.

In November 2020, Ahmadi was sentenced to 11 years in prison for her alleged role in leading a house church and Zhaveh to 2 years for house church membership, including a 2-year ban on membership in any social or political group, a 2-year ban on foreign travel and 6 months of community service.

The convictions were upheld on appeal in December 2020, but Ahmadi’s prison sentence was reduced to eight years. They expected to start their sentences on June 15, 2021, at Evin in the COVID-19 pandemic, but were told they could return home for an indeterminate time.

Now when “Homayoun and Sara answered a summons to the prison, expecting to have confiscated property returned,” MEC stated.   “They were both detained.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

A Bangladeshi convert persecuted but still strong – October 19th 2022

Open Doors, 7 October 2022 (excerpts)

In Bangladesh, our Bangladeshi brothers and sisters face persecution – with believers from a Muslim background experiencing the most intense targeting.  But these courageous Christians are standing strong in their faith.

When Marjina found out that her son Monju had become a Christian, she was devastated.  The majority of people there are Muslim – and, in some communities, almost everybody is.  Christians who convert from Islam face the worst persecution.  Marjina was worried for her son’s safety, but also horrified that he had abandoned Islam.

Local religious leaders insisted that she was the one to return him to Islam – and she did her best.  Not violent or manipulative, she pleaded with him to abandon his new faith.  But Monju had other plans – and so did God.

“I spoke to her about Jesus and why I converted,” Monju says.  Marjina loved hearing his story so much that she wanted to know more and more about Jesus.

She finally decided to become a Christian herself.  Her attempts to lead her son back to Islam had brought her to Jesus.  Not long afterward, Marjina was baptised.

In early September, when local Muslim leaders found out about her new faith, they turned violent.  They dragged her to the ground, hitting and kicking her head, stomach and chest.  She had to be rushed to hospital, and still isn’t able to eat properly.  Marjina and Monju are standing firm in their faith and ask for prayers from their global family.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

China ‘Liquidates’ House Church in Crackdown – October 5th 2022

Morning Star News, August 26, 2022 (excerpts)

Authorities in China on Aug. 19 officially “liquidated” an historical house church in Shaanxi Province in a crackdown on churches that refuse to join the state-controlled Three-Self Church.

The Church of Abundance, which began about 30 years ago, had been targeted as a “cult”, but officials closed it as an “illegal social organization”.  This appeared to be part of President Xi Jinping’s call in 2021 for action against “illegal” religious groups, Bitter Winter reported.

“Xi Jinping’s plan of compelling all Protestant Christians to join the government-controlled Three-Self Church is being ruthlessly implemented,” the group stated.  The Church of Abundance was ordered to cease activities or its members and pastors would be subject to arrest and detention.

The ban also targeted the China Gospel Association, part of the same house church network.  The wife of an arrested pastor stated, “There was undoubtedly physical abuse by these so-called law enforcement officers during their ‘law enforcement.’”  The wives and most church workers were released, but not preacher Fu Juan, the group reported.

“The whereabouts of preacher Fu Juan is unknown, and her husband has not yet received any official written notice of detention,” a pastor’s wife reported.

On Aug. 19, about 100 armed police officers in Shanxi Province surrounded 70 members of Covenant Home Church attending a parent-child camp.  Officers detained nine Christians who were accused of running an illegal religious organization.