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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Barnabas Fund, 15 February 2021
Prosecutors in Muslim-majority Somaliland were granted extra time on 10 February to detain in custody a Christian couple and their new-born baby and two other Christian women on suspicion of “spreading Christianity”.
Somaliland’s small Christian community is feeling “very vulnerable” following the arrests of five Christians by police in the capital Hargeisa
On 21 January, police from the capital Hargeisa arrested and detained in custody Mohamed and Hamdi with their baby, as well as Aster, an Ethiopian woman.
Their lawyer said that on his initial visit they all appeared in good health and were being well treated. However, he has since been denied access, despite his verbal complaint and subsequent assurances from the public prosecutor’s office.
Many believers are reported to have fled abroad after the arrest in September 2020 of a Christian couple detained for being “apostates and evangelists spreading Christianity”. The couple, who have three children, were unexpectedly released and deported two months later after European government representatives raised the case with the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Islam is the official religion of Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Its constitution states that individuals have the right to freedom of belief. However, the constitution also prohibits Muslims from converting to another religion.
Morning Star News, 28 January 2021
Muslim villagers on Sunday attacked the wife and children of a pastor in eastern Uganda who is still receiving hospital treatment for a previous assault.
Previously a group of area Muslims beat Pastor Nabwana with sticks and a blunt object on his head, back, stomach and chest.
A church leader visited Naura, wife of Pastor Nabwana, and her family at their thatched-roof dwelling on January 22. He said they need protection as well as financial assistance.
So far the church has paid medical bills of about $1,000 for the couple, and the church leader said further medical bills for them will amount to about $950.
Naura had been hospitalized for five days after the previous attack, incited by mosque leaders announcing that a local imam had left Islam for Christianity. A group of Muslims beat her and Pastor Nabwana and demolished parts of their church building.
The former imam, whose name is withheld for security reasons, put his faith in Christ on Dec. 5 and on Dec 27 joined the church worship. The new Christian was given the opportunity to share the journey of how he came to faith in Christ, and when mosque leaders heard the celebration, they announced the apostasy.
The Voice of the Martyrs, 28 January 2021
A group of Turkish believers who produce Christian literature ask for prayer as they operate in Turkey’s tense climate for believers. After nine years of publishing a theological magazine, “we are still able to do our job in this dark atmosphere,” they wrote.
A reader, Tolga, wrote to tell the group the difference the magazine made in his life. Tolga lived a life of crime and drugs growing up and was constantly in and out of jail. In prison, he heard about “missionaries” who spy on Turkish people, and it made him curious. He covered his face and snuck into a church to get a Bible.
In 2018, he subscribed to the Christian magazine to help him understand the Christian faith more fully; now he belongs to Christ and is saved.
The believers who create the Christian magazine ask for prayer that they will be able to continue producing it.
They also plan to produce content for the growing number of those living in Turkey who speak Persian. “Pray that the hearts of the people we reach would be open to the Lord,” they wrote. “Our aim is only to serve the gospel.”
Morning Star News, 29 January 2021
Police in Pakistan who had dismissed accusations of blasphemy against a Christian nurse who was attacked by hospital personnel registered a case against her today after pressure from an Islamist mob.
Staff members of the hospital in Karachi slapped, beat and locked nurse Tabeeta Nazir Gill, 42, in a room after baselessly accusing her of blaspheming Islam.
Police had questioned and released Nazir Gill after concluding that the accusations were false, but a Muslim mob besieged the police station today after the complainant, Saba Wasi, called on Muslim leaders to mobilize them.
Wasi alleges in the complaint that Nazir Gill said that only Jesus is the true Saviour and that Muhammad has no relevance.
“Fortunately, someone called the police, and they promptly arrived on the scene and saved her life,” said Pastor Eric Sahotra, who was among the first to reach the police station.
Barnabas Fund, January 5, 2021
Collusion between communist authorities in North Korea and neighbouring China over the arrest, punishment and forced repatriation of Christians has been described by exiles interviewed by Korea Future Initiative (KFI).
Investigators documented the torture and abuse of North Koreans in China before they were deported back to their home country, further tortured, and sent to brutal “re-education” camps for the “crime” of their Christian faith.
The KFI report describes a North Korean Christian being abducted in China by 3 Chinese men and a North Korean woman and driven to the Chinese border on the Amnok River. The Christian was bundled into a boat by at least 4 waiting North Korean security agents and taken across the river to North Korea for interrogation. Interrogators used information sourced from informants in China.
Il-lyong Ju, an exiled human rights advocate, wrote that the “cruel actions” of those in North Korea who persecute Christians must be prevented. He added, “North Korean officials, whose crimes evoke thoughts of Auschwitz, must be identified and held accountable. And we must not forget the testimonies of the survivors in this report who have overpowered death in North Korea.”