Persecution News Special Edition
November 1, 2001
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. (1 Corinthians 12:26-27).
"...the time is coming that who ever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me." John 16:2-3
When Christians in situations of persecution are asked what American Christians can do for them, they always say, Pray for us. In this time of increased news about persecution, we have many opportunities to serve our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ by praying for their needs. As you read each news item, note who needs prayer, what the situation and needs are, and who is hurting them. Then, when you pray, tell God what the situation is, ask Him to meet the specific needs, ask Him to intervene in the problem and to bring truth into the heart of the persecutors. The fervent prayers of Gods people can make the difference in the lives of the persecutors, as well as the believers. Please dont forget the suffering and threatened Christians this Sunday, and throughout the coming months.
SUSPECTS IN PAKISTAN CHURCH MASSACRE ARRESTED
(Pakistan) The Associated Press reports that police in Pakistan have 12 Islamic militants in custody in connection with the massacre of 16 Christians last weekend. The Minister for Minorities, himself a Christian, says Pakistan's military government has also tightened security at churches across the country following the massacre. Please pray for believers as their faith is severely tested in this time. Christians, Hindus and other religions make up about three percent of Pakistan's 140 million people.
SURVIVOR OF CHURCH ATTACKS THREATENED
OCTOBER 31, 06:14 EST
By MUNIR AHMAD
Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) A woman who helped police draw sketches of gunmen who killed 16 people at a church said Wednesday that one attacker called and warned her to "get ready for death.''Authorities said 100 people have been detained for questioning about the attack Sunday on St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church in Behawalpur, a city in south-central Pakistan.
Maryam Jalal, 70, survived the attack, and helped police sketch out three of six suspects. On Tuesday, she said, she received a call from a man who identified himself as one of the attackers.
"I had spared the old lady on Sunday, but now she will die,'' Jalal quoted the caller as saying. ``Get ready for death,'' he told her. "The caller has also threatened to kill my all children,'' Jalal told The Associated Press by telephone from Behawalpur. Police immediately put her under heavy guard. She also is a close relative of S.K. Tressler, Pakistan's minister for minorities. The gunmen burst into St. Dominic's during Protestant services of the Church of Pakistan, spraying the congregation with gunfire. Sixteen people were killed, including the minister and a Muslim police officer guarding the church outside. Investigators have rounded up dozens of suspects from different areas of Pakistan. At least 100 were in police custody Wednesday afternoon, police said. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has ordered stepped-up security at all Christian churches in Pakistan. Pakistan is 97 percent Muslim. Christians constitute a small portion of the remaining 3 percent.
Conflicting Reports Surround Fate of New Tribes Missionaries
According to Charisma News Service, reports that an American missionary couple kidnapped in the Philippines has been executed are inaccurate. Radio broadcasts on the southern island of Mindanao claimed recently that Muslim captors killed Martin and Gracia Burnham, who were abducted in May.
But, reports Charisma, the murder claims were dismissed as "unreliable" by New Tribes Mission (NTM), the Sanford, Fla.-based ministry with whom the Burnhams serve. NTM said that there was "no credible source" for the information.
Wahab Akbar, Philippines regional governor, said in a statement Oct. 29 that the Burnhams were still alive "contrary to rumors they were beheaded," Reuters reported. Akbar also said that leaders of the militant Abu Sayyaf group that were holding the couple were reportedly prepared to release them for a $2 million ransom.
NTM said that although reports suggested that the Burnhams were doing well, their lengthy captivity was "taking [its] toll."
Tajikistan Launches Campaign Against Christian Activity
A leaked letter from the head of the government's religious affairs agency in Tajikistan's southern Khatlon region, which borders Afghanistan, reveals official concern about "increased activity" by Christian churches in the region which, he declares, should be placed under "the most stringent control."
The Sept. 6 letter, obtained by Keston News Service, was addressed to the head of Khatlon region, N. Miraliev. Local Protestants have told Keston that this letter, and an instruction issued 11 days later by the region's first deputy head calling for closer scrutiny of Christian groups, heralded what they term "real persecution" of Christians in the region. Law enforcement officials regularly visit Christian churches that have already been registered and are trying to find formal grounds to close them down.
According to Keston, the letter complains that "in recent years Christian teaching has taken root throughout the region, Christian activity has increased, which has complicated the work of local khukumats administrations], law enforcement agencies and the committee for religious affairs."
Speaking to Keston on Oct. 20, Protestants from Khatlon region said that this letter had been prompted by the regional authorities themselves, in order to launch "an all-out campaign to eradicate Christianity." As confirmation of their view, the Protestants showed Keston an instruction to district authorities dated Sept. 17 from the first deputy head of Khatlon region, ordering them "to pay more concentrated attention to Christian organizations."
State Dept. Releases Religious Freedom Blacklist
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Oct. 26 that the United States has added North Korea to its blacklist of countries of "particular concern" because of what it says are restrictions on religious freedom.
According to Reuters news service, the five countries designated last year -China, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar and Sudan - remain on the list, which is an annual requirement under the Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The State Department singled out the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan for particularly severe violations of religious freedom; however, the Taliban do not qualify for inclusion because the United States does not recognize them as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
Boucher said the State Department added Marxist North Korea this year because of reports indicating the government has cracked down on unauthorized groups in recent years. "There have also been unconfirmed reports of the killing of members of underground Christian churches. In addition, people who proselytize or who have ties overseas appear to have been arrested and subjected to harsh penalties," Boucher added.
Four of the designated countries - Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Sudan - are already on the list of "state sponsors of terrorism." The report is also critical of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which have cooperated to greater or lesser extents with the U.S. campaign against terrorism.
FERVENT PRAYER NEEDED FOR SUFFERING CHRISTIANS
Life At It's Best's Norm Nelson is urging believers to stand together. The days ahead bode ill for many Christians, says Nelson.
He says they recently lost a Palestinian Bible school student in Jerusalem due to the unrest. He also pointed to the horror of the church massacre this weekend in Pakistan. "We are seeing all kinds of things take place all around the world where Christians are suffering. It is incumbent upon us to get behind these brothers and sisters in Christ through our prayers and if possible, also through our giving, to support them."
Nelson says it is imperative to reach out to the body of Christ in solidarity. "The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is coming up this next Sunday. I would just hope that every Christian church in North America would take time and pray fervently for the Lord's protection and blessing upon these brothers and sisters in Christ."
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This Sunday is The INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
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.
Read the book of Esther to see Gods plan for dealing with persecution (fasting, prayer and exposure of the facts).
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.
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.