If one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
TALIBAN MAY FREE CHRISTIANS
A Taliban official Aug. 22 predicted that two Americans and six others detained in Afghanistan on charges of proselytizing Muslims would be able to return home soon and would be allowed to bring in lawyers for their upcoming trial.
Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, the Taliban's liaison representative to the United Nations in New York, lashed out at the United States and the Western media for blowing out of proportion the case of eight foreign aid workers, who also include four Germans and two Australians.
"This case is not so serious, and the media are making an outcry," Mujahid said in a telephone interview with The Washington Times. He said the regime in Kabul wasn't very "strict" in applying Islamic law and added that neither the foreign workers nor the 16 Afghan citizens arrested on the same charges would be sentenced to death, as required by law.
Commenting on Mujahid's charges that the case has been blown out of proportion, a State Department official asked: "If they think it has been overblown, why don't they allow access to our citizens?" A U.S. official left Kabul on Aug. 21, after a week of futile efforts to communicate effectively with the Taliban.
BIBLE DISTRIBUTORS MEET VIOLENT OPPOSITION IN INDIAN VILLAGE
Coordinators for World Bible Translation Center's WBTC-India branch in Bangalore, India, report violent opposition from Hindu activists to a Bible distribution in connection with India's Independence Day celebrations. P. Joshua, WBTC-India coordinator, said that Translation Center staff and volunteers distributed Gospels of Luke, Proverbs and Scripture portions among villages surrounding Bangalore on Aug. 15, a holiday commemorating India's break from British rule in 1947.
One team of two men was visiting Avalahalli, a village of about 1,000 inhabitants north of Bangalore when they encountered an angry mob after handing a Gospel to a Hindu activist. When the Hindus realized that the free literature was Scripture, "the activists who had received them instigated the people of the village to attack our staff," said Joshua. Some 40 men quickly surrounded the distribution team and started "hitting and kicking them and pushed them down on the ground." He said that some 15 men participated in the violence while others looked on. "One of them said, 'Where is your Jesus? Let him come and save you from us.'
Bruised and sore, the two men returned to the office in the evening, tired but joyful. "No beatings, no kicks, no bashings and no pain could take away their joy that the Lord had given," reported Joshua. As other distribution teams returned to the Bangalore office he described how "all of us here praised the Lord for He intervened through the village elder to rescue our staff and also for protecting the other six teams while they were distributing in the other villages."
The WBTC-India team reported that 75,500 tracts, 21,200 books of Proverbs and 12,800 Gospels of Luke were distributed in schools, colleges, hospitals and villages.
CHURCHES SEE ISLAM AS GROWING THREAT IN WEST AFRICA
Rev. Mitre Djakouti believes that there are many believers in Togo (in West Africa) who are unable to declare themselves Christians openly for fear of persecution. "I know of eight who, since they have been reading the Bible (when no one else is there), have 'peace in their hearts.'"
One of his church members, a chemist, lost his wife when he became a Christian - her Muslim family came and forcibly took her.
"There is a sort of quiet, constant opposition to Christians. Nothing obvious. For example, when we want to start a new church, we cannot get the necessary permissions, or the Muslim community will lodge formal complaints about the singing or praying 'noise.' They try to stop us meeting," Djakouti said. "At the moment only widows and outcasts are allowed to become Christians."
Another problem Christians face is the increased level of community aid sponsored by Muslims, thanks to financial support of Saudi Arabia and others. "The Muslims are after our young people. We have our teams of evangelists... but we wish we could offer them more than just the gospel message - they have many needs. Islam is gaining ground because we are not in a position to offer people physical help," Djakouti continued.
MORE ARRESTS IN VIETNAM
HO CHI MINH CITY, August 21 (Compass) -- A pastor and lawyer who has been regularly harassed for exposing religious liberty abuses in Vietnam was arrested on August 17 along with his wife and another man in the capital city of this Southeast Asian country.
Rev. and Mrs. Nguyen Hong Quang and Truong Tri Hien were arrested in Ward 26 in the Binh Thanh district of Ho Chi Minh City. Their identity cards were confiscated and they are reportedly on a hunger strike, according to local sources.
The Rev. Quang, a Mennonite pastor who trained as a lawyer, has been arrested and detained numerous times because of his efforts in documenting attacks on the Vietnamese Protestant Mennonite community and for his evangelistic activities. "I have a paper saying I should be expelled from my country," he wrote in June. Vietnamese authorities have waged a consistent campaign to crack down on the activities of unofficial house churches in Vietnam.
On August 16, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom named Vietnam as one of several countries where "grave violations of religious freedom persist."
WARFARE DESTROYS HISTORIC RELIGIOUS SITE
SKOPJE, Macedonia, Aug. 21 An explosion today ripped apart a 14th-century monastery, one of the most revered Orthodox buildings in Macedonia, even as NATO officials maintained that the cease-fire here was generally holding. In six months of low-level ethnic war, this is one of the few attacks on a religious building. Neither the Macedonian Slavs, who are Orthodox, nor the ethnic Albanians, who are Muslim, have made religion an overt part of the conflict here. Today each side blamed the other, in an attack that seemed, both by the target and the timing, aimed at inflaming passions. The explosion occurred just a week after the Macedonian majority and ethnic Albanians signed a peace deal and on the very morning that NATO military officials in Brussels recommended sending the full force of 3,500 troops to collect weapons from ethnic Albanian guerrillas. While not ruling out that government soldiers destroyed the monastery, several Western officials said that seemed unlikely given its significance to Orthodox Macedonians. The compound's oldest part, a church, was built starting in 1335, and the monastery itself is celebrated in Macedonian folk songs as a place of Christian resistance to the Ottoman Empire.
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY CENTER BURNED IN MALAYSIA
LOS ANGELES, August 23 (Compass) -- A Christian community center in Malaysia was set ablaze on July 21 by suspected Muslim extremists. The building was unoccupied during the alleged arson attack, reported local fire and rescue officials.
The early Saturday morning fire gutted the Marthoma Christian Community Center in Sungei Patani, a city located about 190 miles northwest of Kuala Lumpur in Kedah state on peninsular Malaysia. Damage to the center was estimated at 300,000 ringgits ($79,000).
Community center vice-president K.J. Abraham said the church had filed police reports on July 19 and 20 after building caretakers noticed that two windows had been broken and homemade petrol bombs were found near the premises. It was believed at that time to be the work of vandals.
However, police told church authorities that they believe members of the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM, or Kumpulan Militan Malaysia) are responsible for the fire. The KMM, an extremist Muslim jihad group whose members were reportedly trained in Afghanistan, have been accused of numerous armed robberies, an attack on a police station, the murder of a prominent politician, and fire bombings of a another church and a Hindu temple.
The Marthoma Christian Community Center was primarily used for community gatherings and Christian services. Since the fire, the congregation has been forced to meet in homes for Sunday morning services. Church members are reported to be "discouraged and demoralized" by the destruction of their building.
While church leaders have deemed the attack on the center an isolated event, some expressed fears that these types of attacks could become more frequent if Islamic fundamentalism, such as that practiced by the KMM, is allowed to grow unchecked.
Christians comprise about seven percent of Malaysia's 21 million people.
PERSECUTION NEWS is a non-regular periodic service of Foot of the Cross Publications. Articles are copied from various sources, including Newsweek, Australian Broadcasting Corp, Compass Direct, Religious News Today and FridayFax and others as noted with each article. Persecution News is published for the sole purpose of disseminating information about persecution of Christians around the world, and subscriptions are free.
The INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH (IDOP) is coming up Sunday November 4, 2001. Thousands of churches throughout the world will be remembering, praying for and calling public attention to the persecuted Christians by participating in IDOP activities on that day, and for weeks beforehand.
With the many current news stories about Christians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China and other places, there has never been a better time to bring persecution to the attention of the world.
Read the book of Esther during the month of September in preparation for IDOP activities.
Write letters to the editor of your local paper, pass out copies of this newsletter to others in your community, contact Voice of the Martyrs for information about having a special presentation in your community, obtain a presentation packet from VOM and show the video to your church.
Even wearing a Christians Still Die t-shirt can have an impact in curbing persecution activities.
Last year, many Christians hung mini Christmas lights, made by imprisoned Christians in China, on their front window and lit them for the world to see as a show of support for the persecuted brethren. You might even write to your local paper saying that you are going to do this and why.
Evil thrives on silence. Lets not be silent anymore.