Morning Star News, 11 May 2020
Animists in central India last week told five Christian families they would lose their harvest lands unless they returned to their tribal religion. The Christians had forbidden an animist leader to perform tribal worship on their land.
The village leaders told the Christians, ‘You are not partaking in our tribal rituals, and so we cannot allow you to profit from your agricultural lands.’
The Christians said, “We follow our faith but have never been a burden on this village or to our kinsmen – you cannot snatch away our lands.”
Even before they spoke any word further, the elders began beating two of the Christians, and a mob of 60 people soon gathered around them clamouring for them to renounce their faith in Christ.
The tribal animists had threatened to expel the Christian families and seize their land for more than a year.
Saving Forgotten Lives
Barnabas Fund, 13th May 2020
Thanks to the generous giving of our supporters, Barnabas Fund has sent £766,706 of life-saving aid to Christians in 24 countries, in desperate situations due to the lockdown.
Many low-paid daily-wage earners have lost their meagre incomes and are locked down without food. We have sent food aid for more than 250,000 Christians.
Many live in conditions where it is impossible to keep a safe distance to avoid infection. We have provided hygiene products for more than 14,000 Christians.
Pastors supported by the Sunday offerings of their congregations are suddenly destitute when people can no longer gather for worship. We have sent support to more than 6,400 church leaders.
On top of this, locust swarms are multiplying in East Africa and Pakistan and anti-Christian violence continues in many contexts.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 7 May 2020
For the past 17 years CSW, along with other NGOs, have organised a protest vigil outside the Eritrean Embassy in London in May to mark the anniversary of the Eritrean government’s outlawing of religious practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox Christian denominations or Sunni Islam in May 2002, and the campaign of arrests, which at its peak saw at least 3000 Christians of all denominations detained arbitrarily.
CSW has now joined 23 other NGOs in signing an open letter to member and observer states of the United Nations Human Right Council, calling for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
The Special Rapporteur’s reports are a key means of monitoring the human rights situation in Eritrea, where officials are deemed to have committed violations amounting to crimes against humanity since 1991. However, the Eritrean government has refused to cooperate with successive mandate holders, and the country’s human rights situation continues to deteriorate. The current mandate is due to expire at the 44th session of the HRC, which is currently scheduled to begin in June 2020.
Open Doors, 11 May 2020
“Do you want your family, or do you want your new faith?” 10 years ago, Kabil knew he had to choose Jesus. Nothing can equal the life that Jesus gave to me.”
When Kabil first became a Christian, his family were not particularly hostile. A few years later, however, things got worse. Kabil has not seen his mother since then and is only rarely in contact with his brothers and sisters.
Shortly after he decided to follow Christ, Kabil was give the role of Bible teacher in his church – and noticed that what they were lacking was discipleship training.
“After we started offering the Open Doors Discipleship course, we noticed changes among our brothers. We saw that they were staying in the church.”
The course has been transformative in Kabil’s church. “I think that if this training did not exist, the church would not last over time.”
Currently, there are about 350 attendants in different churches, including many whose faith has to be kept secret from their families.
Kabil sees blessing in the midst of persecution. “I would say that persecution is never fatal to the church; actually, it is a blessing.”
Jacksons – May Update 2
InReach in Nigeria is being greatly used to help Muslims encounter Jesus. This is often not safe. A group of converts are still across Nigerian borders, being discipled and looked after in a safe place.
One of the men involved in their escape was captured by Boko Haram but recently managed to escape – he has been left extremely traumatised. Pray for his healing and continued safety. Pray for the InReach team – Boko Haram know who they are and are gathering information on them.
Please pray for wisdom for all those in authority who are having to make decisions that affect people’s lives, that their decisions will be made selflessly and with integrity, without regard to their personal aggrandisement.
Pray for the congregations that have no facilities for online services, that people will not drift into misinformation and conflict.
Dawn had many of the Covid 19 symptoms 4 weeks ago and Fraser took to bed with what looked like the same thing. But Dawn’s strength is holding up and Fraser is gradually progressing in the right direction.
Three of the young men at the Centre have now been allowed to go back to work; István at the supermarket, who had had pneumonia, tested negative for Covid 19.
Danny, the staff member currently doing his two weeks supervising the young men, expected to be Covid-tested before this present stint but local government did not have the facility to test him. Balazs or another staff member will take over from Danny on 9th May, but they are concerned about the local lack of necessary testing.
There have been 11,000 confirmed cases of Corona virus and 600 deaths in Romania.
Schools don’t re-open till September – older children get online classes through Zoom with their teachers but younger children get emails from teachers and parents do most of the actual teaching at home – less satisfactory.
5 Talita Kum’s teachers now offer online support to the children who normally attend Talita Kum.
Planning for Talita Kum 3 & 4 goes on and has now reached the detailed planning stage.
There was little uptake to continue the fortnightly quizzes online, so they have been dropped.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 20th April 2020
A religious leader and his colleague are kidnapped from a migrant shelter and not seen or heard from since. Another is assaulted, extorted and threatened at gunpoint. Both provided protection to migrants and asylum seekers trapped on the border. Religious leaders warn that threats and attacks against them are one of the most serious problems facing churches today in ironically one of the world’s most religious countries, Mexico.
The worsening situation for migrants and asylum seekers passing through Mexico has been exacerbated by the US Migrant Protection Program which has made it increasingly difficult for migrants to win asylum cases in the US, and many have sought refuge in church-run migrant shelters across Mexico while they wait.
While many Protestant and Catholic leaders have responded to the rising levels of need in an outworking of their faith by following commands to help the poor, their work increasingly exposes them to organised criminal groups who prey on the vulnerable migrant population.
High levels of fear engendered by the brutal and very public tactics of illegal groups targeting migrants and intimidating the population mean that church leaders and other victims are usually extremely reluctant to speak out. Members of criminal groups very rarely have to face any kind of justice and the consequences of speaking out against them are potentially too horrific to consider.
57 murdered and church damaged in Mozambique
Barnabas Fund, 15 April
Islamist fundamentalists murdered at least 57 people, with a further five deaths unconfirmed, and smashed their way into a church in an upsurge in violence at the beginning of April in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, which is Muslim-majority.
On 10 April, militants launched a murderous attack where one person was shot, another burned alive, and three drowned as they tried to escape. About 60 people were taken hostage but released later the same day.
On 9 April, five died in an attack on the Quirimbas archipelago. The terrorists caused severe damage to the local church and destroyed homes of church missionaries.
On 7 April, at least 52 people were massacred in the same area when they refused to join the terrorist group. “The criminals tried to recruit young people to join their ranks, but there was resistance,” said a police spokesman. “This provoked the anger of the criminals, who indiscriminately killed, cruelly and diabolically, 52 young people.”
The Bishop of Pemba said that Muslims “have, from the beginning, distanced themselves from these attacks and said that those involved are not religious, and are misusing the name of religion to do this,”
Militant Islamist organisation Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama have effectively gained control of an area of Cabo Delgado.
World Watch Monitor, January 15, 2020
A case can be made that today there are more Christians in China than members of the Communist Party. Christians appear to threaten President Xi Jinping’s government as they worship a higher power than him and the Party. But it would be impossible to imprison at least 90 million Christians as they have done to a million Uighur Muslims.
So China and other authoritarian states, which already heavily restrict ‘religious freedom’, are stepping up their use of biometric technology and artificial intelligence.
Children under 18 are now strictly forbidden to attend churches, especially in Henan where the percentage of Christians is among the highest. In Xinjiang, one officially-sanctioned church requires congregants to queue for facial-recognition checks.
A Social Credit System (SCS), rating everyone to reward good citizenship and punish bad, is reportedly adding penalties for those who “illegally spread Christianity”.
Online resources are a major source of encouragement for Christians. Online sharing will now be allowed only when the religious affairs department has issued a license for it.
In addition, the mass media continue to mischaracterize Christians as ‘agents of the West’.
Morning Star News, April 27, 2020
Presbyterian assistant pastor Sarfaraz Raja was preparing to deliver a Good Friday sermon in Pakistan on April 10 when he heard that police had intruded into his house and were harassing his mother and other family members.
“I excused myself from the sermon and immediately rushed to my home with the village headman, Chaudhry Ranjeet Lal, and some other people,” said Pastor Raja.
They found Sub-Inspector Shahbaz Ahmed and five other policemen threatening his mother and family members.
“Instead of explaining the purpose of his raid, SI Shahbaz grabbed my collar and bundled me into their vehicle.” Police also arrested his uncle, Manzoor Raja, who lives with the family.
Upon reaching the police station, officers took liquor manufacturing equipment from a room and forcibly took the two men’s photographs with it. They then accused them of illegally manufacturing and selling liquor.
He was released on bail the next day. Police falsely arrested him because he has complained about them protecting area criminals, the pastor said. “Almost all crimes in our villages are backed by the local police,” he said.
He said his involvement and prior complaints of criminal activities had drawn the ire of Shahbaz.
Villagers are standing by ready to vouch for him, and the village headman, Lal, said he supported Pastor Raja.