Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

New Life Church appeals against liquidation – November 29th

Forum 18, 14th November 2023

On 17 October, Minsk City Court ordered the liquidation of New Life Full Gospel Church. The Minsk City Executive Committee had called in court for its liquidation because local courts had found some of the Church’s online materials “extremist”. They also claimed that the Church had conducted activity not set out in its statute. The Church has appealed to the Supreme Court against the liquidation decision, which does not go into force until the appeal is heard.  No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.

Courts have banned a range of religious materials as “extremist,” even though they do not call for violations of the human rights of others. 

New Life Church continues its meetings for worship online or in borrowed churches. The regime ousted the Church from its own place of worship in February 2021 and bulldozed the building in June 2023.

All the legal and government authorities have refused to explain to Forum 18 why they had sought in court the liquidation of New Life Church.

New Life Church was founded in Minsk in 1992, gaining state registration in December of that year. The Church is a member of the Full Gospel Union and has been led since its foundation by Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko.

One New Life Church member suspected that the reason for the sudden eviction was that New Life recorded and on 21 November 2020 posted on its YouTube channel a video by church members protesting the regime’s violence against protestors objecting to election fraud.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Court Investigates Disappeared Pastor Koh – November 29th

Voice of the Martyrs, 28th November 2023

On Feb. 13, 2017, a group of men on motorbikes and in SUVs abducted Pastor Raymond Koh. His wife, Susanna, and their children have not heard from him since, though Susanna has continued to seek information from the police and Malaysia’s justice system. Susanna filed a legal case requesting new inquiries into her husband’s disappearance, which she believes was connected to a 2011 confrontation with the Islamic religious police.

The judge hearing the case visited the scene of the abduction on Nov. 6 and 7 to learn more about the situation. Pray this investigation will reveal the truth of what happened, that justice will be done for Pastor Raymond Koh, and that developments will bring fresh encouragement to Susanna and the Koh family.

Malaysia has three major ethnicities: Malay (60 percent), Chinese (30 percent) and native tribes. The Malays are the most powerful group in the country, and being Muslim is considered an important part of their identity. Most Christians are from the tribal and Chinese people groups, and most churches experience relative freedom if they do not evangelize the Malays. 

The government punishes Christian converts and strictly opposes outreach and evangelism among the Malay people.  Christians have difficulty acquiring building permits for new churches. Many churches work in other languages but not in Malay. No Malay churches meet openly.   Christian converts who are caught are confined to so-called re-education camps using torture and propaganda to force them to return to Islam. Many indigenous people have come to Christ in eastern Malaysia.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Christians who sold cheaper Bibles put on trial – November 29th

Church in Chains, November 23rd, 2023

On 20 November the case of ten Christians, now detained for two years and seven months, finally went to trial.

They were accused of “illegal business operation” because they bought Bibles from the officially recognised Three-Self Church and resold them to fellow Christians at a lower price. Several are elderly and some struggle with illnesses, making their suffering in detention even greater.

Wang Honglan (68) has served in the church for decades since becoming a Christian at the age of 24. Imprisoned for a total of 5 years because of her faith, she was subjected to re-education through labour for one year. Her church has held a prayer session at 6am every morning for thirty years, regardless of the weather. 

The prosecution is recommending a sentence of 10 to 15 years for the main defendants.

A defence lawyer commented, “We are all beneficiaries of the Holy Bible.  Perhaps many Holy Bibles were subsidised by the defendants. They have paid a price for this, and the lawyers urge everyone not to forget them.”

One of the defence lawyers, Fang Xiangui, criticised the court’s intentional scheduling of the trial to coincide with his engagements in another city. His request that the trial be rescheduled was rejected, thereby infringing upon the defence rights of the lawyer.

During the investigation, it was reported that none of the Christians on trial shouted or lost control and that all demonstrated intentional obedience – the lawyer said they were exemplary Christians.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

The Nanakshahi in India – November 29th

Joshua Project, November 28th, 2023

Nanak was the founder of Sikhism. This Hindu storekeeper (1469-1539) had a life-changing spiritual experience, which incited him to travel for years seeking spiritual truths. A wealthy admirer funded a village for Guru Nanak and his followers after they settled in Punjab. Some followers remained as permanent residents of the village; many more made periodic visits to obtain Nanak’s blessing. They listened to the teachings expressed there in numerous devotional hymns intended for communal singing, many of which still survive.  

Upon his death, Nanak chose a disciple to be his spiritual successor and leader of the emerging Sikh community: Nanakshahi. Unlike the Hindu community from which Nanak originated, Sikhs know that only one supreme God reigns. They believe in God’s gift of salvation through disciplined meditation on his name. This meditative focus ought to be sufficient without idols, texts, structures or routine religious duty, focusing instead on inward prayer. Because Guru Nanak didn’t promote Jesus, his followers do not either.   

There has been an economic downturn in tin mining, the main industry among the Bangka. This presents an opportunity for Christ followers to minister to the Bangka by helping them build new businesses and explore new industries.

Intercessors could pray for the Nanakshahi community from afar and have contact with them by praying for their needs in person that Jesus would reveal his nature and his salvation to the Nanakshahi community during their meditation and through other supernatural encounters.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Secret storytelling helps young converts – November 15th

Open Doors, November 9th, 2023 (excerpts)

In the Muslim-majority Southern Philippines, Christians can face persecution and opposition. An undercover community of Christians are sharing stories from the Bible to disciple and encourage the next generation of the church.

Ten-year-old Wahid has already learned a powerful truth – words that he can cling to in the difficult times ahead. Where Wahid lives in the Southern Philippines, choosing to follow Jesus can be very dangerous. While a lot of the country’s population is Christian, his region is mostly Muslim – and anybody who decides to leave Islam for another faith can face death threats and being disowned by their family and community.

But Wahid is finding a valuable new community – a group of Christians sharing stories from the Bible. Wahid and other young secret believers come with their parents to this undercover group, led by Open Doors local partners, and together find comfort and inspiration as they read the Bible together.

The group meets twice a month, sharing stories about the heroes of faith and how God takes care of His children. Each time someone tells a story, they learn how to disciple others, ensuring that everyone learns these important lessons.

The secret meetings wouldn’t be possible without the support of the parents who want to see their children grow in their new faith. “Even though there’s danger,” a local leader says, “the parents support their kids, showing how faith can help families stick together, cope and overcome tough times.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Sara Ahmadi’s message of peace and faith – November 15th

Church in Chains, November 3rd, 2023 (excerpts)

In May 2023 we rejoiced at the news from Iran that Sara Ahmadi and her husband Homayoun Zhaveh had been acquitted and released from Evin prison following a ruling at the appeal court in Tehran.

Sara and Homayoun are converts from Islam who were sentenced to 8 and 2 years respectively for their house-church activities – Sara for leadership and Homayoun for membership. The 9 months they spent in prison were especially difficult as Homayoun suffers from advanced Parkinson’s and was held in a separate section to Sara.

On 24 October, Open Doors published a message sent from Sara via Iranian Christian advocacy organisation Article 18, in which she describes how God brought calm to her soul and testifies to how her prison experience deepened her faith:

As we were sent to prison, one thing calmed my soul in this stormy and noisy moment and propelled me towards peace and joy. In one moment, the Spirit of God reminded us of everything that He taught us since before our arrest in 2019 until that very moment. 

As soon as I remembered all of this, I wiped my tears from my face and told Homayoun not to worry, that God was with us and that we would be acquitted and released soon. I said we would only have to be there for a while and must do God’s will among the people we were sent to be in their midst, and that Jesus was alive and would fulfil His promise to us even in the valley of the shadow of death.” 

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Bombed Church Blamed for Explosion – November 15th

Voice of the Martyrs, November 9th, 2023

On Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, hundreds of Christians gathered at a church in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to end a weeklong series of prayer meetings. The gathering was so large that chairs and tarps were placed outside to provide overflow seating. Those in attendance did not know that radical Islamic group ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) had buried a bomb in the outdoor seating area.

Just after a children’s choir finished performing, the bomb exploded, killing 15 people, and seriously injuring roughly 70 more. “Now some people are saying that we planted the bomb!” said one assistant pastor, explaining, “Those people think we are trying to gain sympathy and funding.”

The pastor asked that Christians pray for those who are grieving and struggling to recover from their injuries. He also asked for prayers that the church will be vindicated, that Christ will be glorified, and that peace will come to the DRC.

While the DRC is one of Africa’s largest countries geographically with a Christian-majority population, Islamist groups severely persecute Christians along the DRC’s eastern border.

One of the principal persecutors is the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The ADF is active in the Rwenzori Mountain area and seeks to establish Islamic law throughout the region.

When rebels capture groups of people, they often release Muslims while killing Christians who refuse to convert. There are more than 100 other armed groups operating in the DRC who also target Christians.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

The Bangka in Indonesia – November 15th

Joshua Project, November 13th, 2023

The Bangka live on the island of Bangka in the South China Sea, off the east coast of Sumatra Island in Bangka-Belitung Province. Other Indonesians often visit this island because it has beautiful beaches. Inhabitants of the island are composed of two groups: those descended from the Malay and those descended from the Chinese.

The Bangka Malay are Muslims, so their faith is in the teachings of the Koran rather than the blood of Jesus Christ.  However, they are not particularly orthodox in their beliefs.  Mosques have few visitors during the sunset ritual prayers.

There has been an economic downturn in tin mining, the main industry among the Bangka. This presents an opportunity for Christ followers to minister to the Bangka by helping them build new businesses and explore new industries.

Pray that the Spirit leads this people group to hope in Christ and that He becomes the trustworthy anchor of their souls.

Pray that there would be economic prosperity in the Bangka community, and that the Lord would be faithful in providing financial resources to struggling families. Pray that the small group of Christ followers among the Bangka would rise up in courage and share the love of Christ with their unbelieving neighbours. Pray for spiritual hunger among the Bangka, leading them to the cross.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

The Normans in Romania – November 1st

October 30, 2003 (excerpts)

Family Update

Good news in our family this month is that Ema is pregnant. According to the doctors the baby is around 7-8 weeks old. We are immensely thankful for this providence from the Lord and look forward to next year when our first child will be born. Rejoice with us.

We anticipate the financial burdens which are coming; however, we face them with joy, knowing that this is truly a blessing and that the Lord will provide through the generosity of His people.


Things continue to move somewhat slowly with the church.  I have spent many hours on a one-to-one basis with the men who do not usually come to gatherings. This has had a strong impact on them, and I hope they will see the value of meeting together.  Until then, it gives me an opportunity to be involved in their lives, build better trust, and help them in their spiritual lives. I will do my best to spend a little time (outside of official meetings) with each man in the church, at least once a month.


The homeless ministry is moving a little more slowly without much progress in finding the homeless in our church’s vicinity.  Advice from others who have done this ministry before gives me a better grounding for finding the homeless and building relationships with them.

Esther and Mary have finished their beginning level training in street evangelism, and we are now a team. There are five of us in the team and we will soon go out in groups together. I have two men whom I continue to train, plus another two in reserve who would like to be trained at a later date.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

CHINA: Bible seller released from prison – November 1st

Church in Chains, October 19, 2023 (excerpts)

News has emerged that Deng Tianyong (52), was released from prison on 1 July after serving a 3-year sentence for selling audio Bible players.  He returned to his hometown of Shaxi in Guangdong province and is reported to be in good spirits although he has lost a lot of weight.

China Aid reports, “After his release, he did not seem to be free. He never answered phone calls from close friends.  Friends speculate that he, like other Christians released from prison, may have been instructed by police not to contact any Christians.”  Deng is an employee of Shenzhen Tree of Life Technology Company, which sells Bible players – small digital playback devices that store sermons and hymns as well as audio Bibles.

The players are convenient, simple to operate and have become very popular in China. The Chinese government has made the manufacture and sale of Bible players an “illegal business” offence.

The executive director and legal representative of the company was Deng’s wife Fu Xianjuan, who is serving a six-year prison sentence and is not due for release until July 2026.

Deng is a former drug addict, of whom China Aid writes: “It was the Christian faith that completely changed him, so that he not only successfully recovered from drugs, but also became a God-fearing man.”  His lawyer visited him during his imprisonment and reportedly led him in worship.