Voice of the Martyrs, 10 June 2021
A Persian house church leader had two boxes of Farsi New Testaments in the trunk of his car. When he saw that he was approaching a police checkpoint, he pulled over and left the boxes of Bibles on the side of the road.
Later that night, the police chief saw the boxes on the roadside and thought they might contain contraband, so he put them in his truck and took them home.
Once he got home and opened the boxes, he discovered the boxes were filled with Bibles and wasn’t sure what to do with them.
Since the Persian New Year was approaching, he decided to give the Bibles to each family member and guest at his home.
A Voice of the Martyrs worker reported that when one of the women who received a Bible called the contact information inside of it and was asked who gave her the New Testament, she replied, “My family friend. He is the police chief.”
Pray that the police chief and those who received the Bibles will find salvation in Christ through them. Pray that Bible distributors in Iran will continue to find creative ways of delivering Bibles into the country.
World Watch Monitor, 14 June 2021 (excerpts)
This week, a coalition of over 120 Nigerian NGOs, including Action Aid, issued a plea that President Buhari act over the decline in security. Following what it referred to as “a sharp increase of 43 per cent in mass atrocities 2020” it had “recorded an all-time quarterly high of almost 2000 fatalities from mass atrocities incidents across the country” from January to March 2021.
The NGOs noted how the government had downplayed the severity of “large scale terrorist attacks in the North West” by tagging the criminality as “banditry”. They had in a February statement charged President Buhari to halt the drifting of Nigeria to what they called a ‘state of anarchy’.
On 13 May, President Buhari pledged that his administration will “use all available resources and manpower in dealing with bandits”.
During Eid prayers, Bauchi State Governor urged the Federal Government to improve the security architecture. “Most of the criminality is coming from us as members of the Islamic faith, such as banditry, kidnapping and the rest. We must be very courageous to say it. It’s not something acceptable in the tenets of Islam … Apparently, the Federal security architecture has failed not because of any compromise but because the situation is overwhelming”.
Barnabas Fund, 14 June 2021 (excerpts)
A 17-year-old Ethiopian Christian has been shot dead without trial in broad daylight at a roundabout in Dembi Dollo, Oromia region on 11 May.
Oromia regional special forces claimed that Amanuel Wondimu belonged to the banned Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). They arrested, beat and paraded him, forcing him to shout, “I am a member of the OLA. Don’t do what I did. Learn from me.”
The town’s administration posted a video on social media in which security forces taunt the bloodied teenager with a handgun tied around his neck.
He was shot twice in the head at a roundabout in the town. Witnesses said local police and armed forces ordered vehicles to stop and compelled local residents and business owners to watch the killing.
Since the killing, government authorities have further intimidated Dembi Dollo residents, including Amanuel’s family members and friends.
Amanuel’s father asserted that his son had no links with the OLA, he was a devout Christian and served as a deacon in his local church.
Another relative said that Amanuel never had any involvement in politics, adding, “He spends most of his time in the church. The accusations against him are absurd.”
Morning Star News, 26 May 2021
Fulani herdsmen on Sunday, May 23, killed 14 Christians in a village near Jos, Plateau state and 8 others in another village, sources said.
Herdsmen attacked Kwi village near Jos, at about 11 p.m., said area resident Solomon Mandiks, a Christian rights activist.
“14 Christians were butchered to death, including children,” Mandiks told Morning Star News in a text. “8 members of one family have all been killed … besides an additional six other Christians killed by the herdsmen in the village.”
Earlier that night in Dong village, Jos North County, armed herdsmen attacking at 8 p.m. killed eight Christians, area residents said. Asabe Samuel, 60-year-old member of the local Evangelical Church, said that a large number of herdsmen invaded as residents were about to go to sleep.
“I was by the central area of the village when I heard Fulani gunmen shooting around my house,” she told Morning Star News. “This forced us to run to hide.”
As the sounds of gunshot were coming from the direction of her house, others advised her not to return home.
“I still rushed to my house, and just as I was getting closer to my house, I found … a corpse was lying beside my house,” Samuel said. “We heard the attackers retreating and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar [Allah is greater].’ The herdsmen were communicating with themselves in the Fulani language.”
Barnabas Fund, 24 May 2021
Armed men, suspected to be jihadist militants, attacked a baptism ceremony in a village of Oudalan province, Burkina Faso on 18 May, killing 15 people.
Many others were forced to flee the village, located in mainly Christian northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali, in fear of their lives.
While no jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, groups affiliated to both Al Qaeda and Islamic State are active across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The Sahel region of Africa, along with parts of West Africa such as Nigeria, has in the last few years become the epicentre of global jihadist activity.
Earlier this month a church was vandalised during a terrorist attack in Niger which left five dead and two seriously injured.
In August 2020 at least six people, mostly children, were killed and four others injured when an improvised explosive device detonated on a road in northern Burkina Faso.
Church in Chains, 25 May 2021
On 23 May, Pastor Yang Hua (44) of Huoshi “Living Stone” Church in Guiyang, Guizhou province was brutally beaten after local Chinese Communist Party police learned that he planned to make a visit next day to Christian friends in Qingdao, Shandong province. Pastor Yang, whose birth name is Li Guozi, previously spent two and a half years in prison for “divulging state secrets” and was released in June 2018.
The perpetrator of the attack in the police station in Guiyang was in plainclothes and said he represented the district level Committee of Political and Legal Affairs. The attack took place in front of three other local officials.
Pastor Yang’s injuries included scratches to the head and neck and the authorities sent him to the local A&E by ambulance. The attack also triggered a flare up of his pre-existing pancreatitis, for which he is to undergo a medical check-up.
Pastor Yang’s imprisonment was part of a crackdown on Living Stone Church that included the house arrest of co-pastor Su Tianfu, with whom he had founded the church in 2009. It grew to become Guiyang’s largest house church and resisted the authorities’ pressure to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement, resulting in raids, fines, confiscation of church property and detention of members.
While the pastor was in prison, he reported that government prosecutors had threatened the lives of his wife and children as well as his own life.
Voice of the Martyrs, May 13, 2021
The three majority-Muslim groups (Shiite Arab, Sunni Arab, and Sunni Kurdish) that compose modern-day Iraq have been in conflict for centuries. Attacks by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) forced tens of thousands of Christians to flee the country, leaving a small but bold and faithful remnant.
For many of these Iraqi Christians, much of their day-to-day life is focused on survival, and yet they faithfully advance the gospel. Many of Iraq’s Muslims have rejected Islam and become open to Christ for a variety of reasons, including the corruption and violence rampant among both radical Sunni Muslims (including ISIS) and Shiites (including the Iraqi government, backed by Iran).
These circumstances provide a unique opportunity to share the gospel with Iraqis searching for hope and truth. The violence and instability have also led to a revival among traditional Christians, many of whom have come to saving faith and become bold witnesses for Christ.
Voice of the Martyrs workers see doors of opportunity open for ministry to an unreached and unengaged people group in Iraq. The Shabak of Iraq are Islamic with very little Christian presence among them. They experience harsh discrimination from other Iraqis and Kurds, including violent attacks, which presents a barrier to reaching them with the gospel. But VOM workers now see signs of opportunities to share the gospel with this group.
Church in Chains, 12 May 2021
China continues to tighten its grip on religion, the State Administration for Religious Affairs has introduced new “Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy”, which came into effect on 1 May.
Under the new Administrative Measures, those who “engage in religious teaching activities” must register on a database of religious clergy and will be given an identification number and a clergy certificate. Anyone not registered on the database will not be permitted to undertake ministry.
To qualify, according to Article 3, “Religious clergy should love the motherland, support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, support the socialist system, … practice the core values of socialism, adhere to the principle of independent and self-administered religion in China, … operate to maintain national unity, religious harmony, and social stability.”
Registered churches must sing patriotic songs, fly the national flag, install surveillance cameras, listen to pro-Communist Party sermons, put up portraits of the president and display quotes from his speeches extolling “core socialist values”.
International Christian Concern 05/15/2021
Believers who have a deep passion for the persecuted are few and far between in the Church. Often, those who have a heart for the persecuted find themselves alone in their congregation.
Jeremiah was called as a prophet by God to call out the sins of Israel in a nation filled with idolatrous practices. Though he suffered much for his calling, he never stopped revealing God’s messages to Israel. Jeremiah was known as the lonely prophet and we know his pain.
Like Jeremiah, we who carry the burden of the persecuted are compelled to share their plight with those around us in the Church. Sadly, much of the Church cannot be bothered with the persecuted.
We pray that you will be encouraged by the words of others who share your burden. For we have also seen and been transformed by their faith and are encouraged by their courage, sacrifice, and growth.
The Western Church needs the persecuted for they are the antidote to Western Christianity in all its weakness and lack of depth.
Together, we will continue to call out to the Church to remember those in prison and to learn from and be transformed by them. We must obey the Father’s call to care for His suffering children.
The Voice of the Martyrs, April 29, 2021
Most Christians are from the Chin and Karen tribal groups, while relatively few of Myanmar’s Burman ethnic majority have come to faith. Myanmar has many Bible schools even though most are illegal, and indigenous church planters and missionaries boldly proclaim the gospel. Churches are growing despite widespread persecution by the government and the Buddhist majority.
Rohingya Muslims are a small but significant group that has suffered devastating human rights violations in recent years at the hands of the military government.
The widespread, long-running civil war directly affects Christians when they are targeted for attack by the warring factions. Villagers with animistic beliefs take vengeance against Christians, claiming they are angering the local spirits. Church gatherings and church buildings are allowed in many parts of the country, but tolerance varies from state to state. Active believers who share their faith face difficulties. Within tribal groups, families oppose conversion and new believers are subject to close government monitoring. Buddhist monks have actively opposed new Christian converts and evangelists. Pastors face arrest and are usually held for a few days at a time.
Eleven families of believers from the Palaung tribe in Shan State have experienced pressure from villagers to leave their new Christian faith. Villagers grew angry because the believers had gathered to worship and pray. Pray for the persecutors to experience the love of Christ, and to hear and see the gospel displayed in the lives of the Christian families.