(Agenzia Fides) – “There is growing intolerance and hostility toward small Pentecostal Christian communities, that are not allowed to do what is guaranteed by constitutional guarantees”: says to Agenzia Fides Sajan K. George, president of the global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), recalling the recent episodes of violence suffered by Protestant Pentecostal Pastors.
On August 20, Pastor Roy of the “Sharon Fellowship Church Town” was pelted with stones by extremists in Kodungallur, in the state of Kerala. Pastor Roy explained that, over the last five years, during the Sunday liturgies there have always been tension due to the presence of fanatical Hindus militants who want to stop the celebrations.
In another recent incident, in Bangalore, Karnataka, on August 18, a 26-year-old evangelist Christian leader of the Thadou Christian Fellowship Church was attacked and punched by five men, after paying a visit to his friend to lead a prayer meeting.
According to the Pentecostal communities, these attacks are on the rise. Speaking to Fides, Sajan K. George said: “Pastors are not doing anything illegal, or causing problems of public order or security. It is the militants who carry out gratuitous violence on innocent Christians. It is up to the state to give an institutional response, to stop the violence, ensure the rule of law”.
India: 8th anniversary of worst incidence of Anti-Christian violence, Christians still waiting for justice
On August 25, 2008, nearly 200 villages in Kandhamal were attacked and forced 30,000 people to flee the East-Indian state of Odisha. 300 churches and approx. 5,600 houses were looted and burned to the ground. 2,000 people were reportedly forced to renounce their Christian faith and more than 10,000 children had their education disrupted. The violence against the Christian community in Kandhamal led to the death of about 100 Christians, although the government figures put the figure at 39.
Though incident reports were filed, police investigations were not thorough, cases prematurely closed and offenders not prosecuted. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of India said the state needed to re-investigate 315 cases of communal violence from 2008.
“The minorities are as much children of the soil as the majority and the approach has been to ensure that nothing should be done, as might deprive the minorities of a sense of belonging, of a feeling of security, of a consciousness of equality and of the awareness that the conservation of their religion, culture, language and script as also the protection of their educational institutions is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution… it can, indeed, be said to be an index of the level of civilisation and catholicity of a nation as to how far their minorities feel secure and are not subject to any discrimination or suppression,” read that ruling.
Anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal is not uncommon and Christians in the district have been subject to hate campaigns by Hindu fundamentalists since the 1960s. The violence in 2008 was sparked by the killing of prominent Hindu and the media and police suggested a Maoist group could have been behind the death, however Hindu fundamentalists blamed the Christian community.
India’s Christian communities are tense as violence against them has been on the rise. Please pray for them.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope. Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
In Iran, converting from Islam to Christianity can land you in prison or even get you killed. However, many Iranians – considered “Muslims” regardless of personal beliefs – still “convert”. World Watch Monitor spoke to one such “convert”, a 27-year-old now living in Europe, about the challenges he faced along the way, and why he left Iran.
(Mohabat News) “[My family] were Muslims, but never very strict. We had a good life; my parents were both teachers and my father had some small businesses aside from that. My father was always busy finding ways to earn more and more money. He always followed Islam, except when it had to do with money; money was more important than religion.
“Like my dad, I also loved money. Money gives you friends, respect and fun. I just wanted to have fun growing up. Every night I spent time with my friends, going from place to place in the city; at the same time I genuinely tried to be a good Muslim. But it was hard. Sometimes I would try to say my prayers regularly, but I soon forgot about them or skipped them to sleep in, or have fun with friends. As a Muslim, I often had the feeling that I was failing on so many sides. Then I thought, ‘I’m lacking in so many ways. I will not go to heaven anyway. What is the point?’
“I was sent to a religious leader – trained especially to help Christian converts from a Muslim background return to Islam – by a friend who was worried about my sudden interest in Christianity.”
“I was surprised when one day I found myself having a strange thought: ‘Go and find out about Christianity’. I was startled. Why would I find out about Christianity? I didn’t know any Christians, and from what I’d heard, it was an old-fashioned religion and Christians were weird people. On top of that, it was dangerous. Why would I choose the chance of imprisonment and death above having fun?
“Time passed, but the thought didn’t go away. So one day I thought: ‘I’ll just do it. I will go and talk to some of those weird guys.’ So I took the bus to a church in a different part of the city. When I finally found the church, I asked the porter if I could ask him a question. ‘No,’ he replied curtly. I remember thinking all the way back to the bus: ‘Wow, what I’ve heard is right. These are seriously weird guys.’ It was only much later that I found out that the government had actually forbidden church members to answer any questions about Christianity to me or any other Muslim.
“I tried to go to other churches, but I got the same response there. I had already given up when one night the thought came back in a very intense way. I can’t find words to describe it. The thought reoccurred in my mind: ‘Go and find out about Christianity and learn how these people think about God.’ The feeling confused me. Did I drink too much alcohol? I had trouble sleeping that night because I was thinking how I could find out more.
“Then I remembered my friend. He worked for a security force investigating illegal ‘underground’ activities. His job was to track all underground activities, including ‘underground’ Christianity and illegal evangelism. Asking him was my last chance. I knew that my friend could get into a lot of trouble by helping me to contact with someone who could tell me more about Christianity, so I decided to bring up the issue playfully so he wouldn’t notice I was actually being serious. My plan worked. My friend gave me the address of a church that he knew was open to Muslims.
“I was so excited! I’d learned that Sunday was the day of the Christians, so the next Sunday I went to the address my friend gave me. When I got closer I saw that there was a worship service going on. At the time I knew nothing about Christianity, so I didn’t know exactly what they were doing. I didn’t know how long it would take. But I just decided to wait outside until someone came out.
“When the service ended a man came out. ‘Can I ask you a question?’ I asked him. He looked at his watch and replied, ‘Sorry, I am in a hurry now, but please come back next week and ask for me. I thought he might be acting out of politeness, but I decided to try anyhow.
“The week after, I stood by the door of the church again. I was looking for the man, but didn’t see him. I started to feel quite uncomfortable. Then someone came to me and asked: ‘Can I help you?’ I told him I was looking for the man who had told me to come back. He said: ‘Unfortunately, he is not here right now.’
“I was about to walk away, when he asked me a dangerous question: ‘Do you want to come in and enjoy the service?’ Now, I have to explain to you that this is something you just don’t do as a Muslim in Iran. So, my first thought was: ‘No, no, no!’ But at the same time I knew this was the moment. So I took a deep breath and said yes.
“My parents weren’t happy about my new faith, but they didn’t give me a lot of trouble. It was because of the people who discipled me that I eventually chose to leave the country. If the authorities would have found me, it would have led to those people, and they would have been in big trouble.”
“The man opened the door for me. I had seen many mosques from the inside. Big ones, small ones, old and modern. But the feeling I had when I entered the church was something I’ve never felt before. It wasn’t even the way it looked.
“I had seen churches on TV. So it wasn’t so much the sight that startled me, it was the way it felt. It felt so peaceful. Walking past the pews I felt like I was in an aquarium; it was like I had a lot of weight on my shoulders. I sat there and felt overwhelmed. I stood up when everyone stood up and sat down when everyone else did. I don’t remember anything from the first sermon, I was too consumed with my feelings.
“After the service there was coffee and tea. A man asked me: ‘You’re here for the first time, right?’ I said yes. I asked him if I could ask him questions about God. He said: ‘Not here, but please come to my home’.
“So I went to his home. I came with a lot of questions. The answers were strange, but in a good way. It was, for instance, the way he talked about heaven. ‘A place in God’s absolute presence,’ he [called it]. ‘A place in which your spirit is at peace totally with your creator.’
“In Islam heaven is a place where you can have all sorts of things you can’t have on earth – different sorts of women for your satisfaction, wine, etc. I hadn’t heard about the Christian idea of heaven before, but somehow his words about heaven made complete sense to me.
“[He] also told me that God isn’t a far-away person but someone who created the earth and put us as humans in the centre. He made us in his image. He even gave us a piece of his very own Spirit. I compared him to Allah, who was far away and got angry about the little things. But with the Christian God I was welcome the way I was. He created me with my weaknesses, he even used my weaknesses to be more like Him. This was a big difference from Allah, who would punish me for any small thing. No, God was my Father, someone who knew me as a person.
“Still, my Muslim background was too strong to just let go. It took a lot of struggling. I told God: ‘If you really care, please show me the way.’
“The funny thing is that apart from that church member, one of the people who helped me understand Christianity during that period was someone who had exactly the opposite intention – a ‘mini-Ayatollah,’ as I call him. This religious leader was trained especially to help Christian converts from a Muslim background return to Islam. I was sent to him by a friend who was worried about my sudden interest in Christianity. But with everything the religious leader said about Islam, I found an alternative in the Bible that was much better.
“It wasn’t a specific moment, a lightning flash or a dream. It happened gradually that I became a Christian. It was like the curtains that had been hanging in front of the truth for a long time had been opened for me. What I saw was beautiful.
“I didn’t tell my family: ‘Surprise! I am a Christian now!’ They discovered gradually. I had always been a bad boy and I started behaving differently. For instance, I brought the [dramatized life of] “Jesus” DVD home and watched it with my little brother. They’d expected me to go on drugs, or get in trouble with the police. They didn’t expect me to become a Christian.
“My parents weren’t happy about my new faith, but they also didn’t give me a lot of trouble. It was because of the people who discipled me that I eventually chose to leave the country. If the authorities would have found me, it would have led to those who discipled me, and they would have been in big trouble.
“I was 18 when I left home. Now I am 27. I haven’t been back in Iran since. I haven’t seen my family in 10 years. It’s a big sacrifice. But despite everything, I am undoubtedly happy and thankful.”
VOP Note: It’s quite interesting how God used an unlikely source to help this young man find the Truth. Please remember Iranian Christians in your prayers.
- Pray for Iranian Christian converts choosing Jesus despite the danger and reality of persecution.
- For those seeking to find the life saving message in the Gospel.
- Though unhappy about his conversion, the young man’s family didn’t put extreme pressure him. This is not the case for many others. Pray for discernment and wisdom. Pray families will see the light of Christ shining through their converted family members and be drawn to faith by the Lord.
- Pray for the authorities. That their hearts will soften.
- Pray for Christians being pressured to return to Islam to endure and not deny their Christian faith.
- For those imprisoned for their faith to be released.
- Pray for the move of the Holy Spirit over the land of Persia and the spread of Christianity now taking place—second only to China.
- For God to have mercy on the people of Iran. That they will come to know Jesus and have a place in His Kingdom.
Write To Encourage Maryam Naghash Zargaran (Nasim) imprisoned in Iran for her Faith in Christ #FreeMaryamNaghashZargaran
(Voice of the Persecuted) Maryam Naghash-Zargaran – Nasim was arrested and put into prison for practicing her right to believe in the religion of her choice. In this case it is Christianity.
She was sentenced to 4 years on July 15, 2013 in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. Maryam is in ill health, and has suffered a heart attack while in prison.
Why is Maryam in prison?
When she was arrested, Maryam was involved with the establishment of an orphanage in Iran. Despite having no political agenda, an Iranian Revolutionary Court falsely declared Maryam’s Christian activities to be proof that she was ‘acting against the security of the Iranian nation’. Her imprisonment violates international law, to which Iran is a party, which guarantees freedom of religion and belief.
In September 2013, Maryam was transferred to Modares hospital on Sunday to be treated for her heart disease. Having had heart surgery before, mental pressures in prison resulted in her heart attack, and as a result she was transferred to hospital. To date, there is still no detailed news about her condition.
Additionally, Maryam is suffering depression due to the effects of prison conditions.
Her friends, are determined to ensure that Maryam is not forgotten.
Like Maryam’s Facebook Page, and please mention Maryam on Twitter with the Hashtag #FreeMaryamNaghashZargaran
Postcards to Evin Prison
Please continue to send postcards to Maryam at Evin Prison.
Your words and letters to Maryam will not be wasted if you write. The postcards and letters you write will make a big difference to Maryam, letting her know that she has not been forgotten. Feel free to use scripture, but please do not write negative comments about the Iranian government. Messages will be read by the prison guards.
Maryam Naghash-Zargaran – Nasim
Islamic Republic of Iran
Please continue to Pray for our Iranian sister and for those who have the power release her. Write and send a postcard of support and let her know that she is not forgotten. If you have a Facebook account, you can stay updated on her situation and get a message to her by sharing it as a comment here. Stand United with our persecuted brothers and sisters. Thank you for praying, raising awareness and writing to those imprisoned for their faith! (Hebrews 13:3) One in the Body of Christ
God Bless you!
Have you ever read the Gospel according the Matthew straight through in one sitting? … Do you ever spend hours watching television shows? In 1993, Christian filmmakers set out to make a Jesus film which would be Word-for-Word the Gospel. What emerged was a presentation of Jesus in exultant joy (Hebrews 1:9) and deep passion – a Man who was God on His knees in the sand, weeping over people’s pain, reaching His healing hand into their broken lives; a Man who restrained all the power of the universe and allowed His blood to fall to the ground…for you. The year is about 62 A.D., and the aging apostle Matthew recalls the remarkable events he witnessed as a young man. As his story unfolds, the centuries melt away and we are intimately involved in the life of Jesus. The mystery and the wonder of His birth—His baptism and temptation in the wilderness—The compassion and hope of the Sermon on the Mount. Walk with Jesus through Galilee as He calls His disciples, performs miracles, and begins teaching His world-changing message of love and redemption. This deeply moving presentation is a unique word-for-word presentation in the NIV. The movie is over 4 hours long. Watch it in segments if your unable to view it all.
You probably don’t need to hear reasons that it’s important to read the Bible. You know it is. But you might need some motivation. We hope this will encourage you to open your Bible and take up reading it again. While watching, pause the movie and read the Gospel of Matthew in your Bible. Experience God’s Word afresh, and His promises for you anew. HE loves you!
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked a predominantly Christian village in north-central Nigeria on Saturday (Aug. 13), killing seven Christians, sources said.
Two weeks after herdsmen attacked a nearby area in Kaduna state, the assailants attacked Golkofa village in the same state’s Jema’a Local Government Area on Saturday night, they said.
“The Christians were killed in their homes,” Golkofa resident Sunday Saleh told Morning Star News. “Some of the victims were shot while others were cut with machetes.”
Saleh said the seven Christians killed were Thomas Maimasara, 40, and Sabo Boyi, 25, both cousins of his; Bobo Okocha, 18; Monday Hamza, 24; Waje Rubutu, 17; Linus, 20; and Julius, 19. The latter five Christians were members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Golkofa, he said.
Golkofa village is about five kilometers (three miles) from Gada Biyu village, where similar attacks killed 13 people Aug. 1-3.
Saleh said Nigerian police evacuated the corpses of Saturday’s attack at about noon on Sunday and took them to Kafanchan General Hospital. The victims were to be buried on Wednesday (Aug 17).
The Rev. Dr. Sunday Ibrahim, secretary of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), confirmed the killings in a phone interview with Morning Star News.
“These attacks on Christian communities are senseless and uncalled for,” he said. “Why carry out attacks on communities without provocation? The Nigerian government needs to stop these killings by these Muslim herdsmen.”
The chairman of the state chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Dr. Haruna Usman, told The Daily Trust newspaper that he was unaware of the attack but noted that herdsmen injured an area farmer on June 26, and in revenge village youths burned down a Fulani settlement.
The Rt. Rev. Timothy Yahaya, Anglican bishop of Kaduna, told Morning Star News that Christians have been attacked incessantly in the state.
“The attacks by the herdsmen on Christian communities are not only condemnable but must be stopped by the Nigerian government,” he said. “We are tired of these bloody attacks on Christians, not only in Kaduna state, but also in other parts of the country.”
Kaduna and Plateau states have been plagued by such attacks for years, with Fulani leaders making unsubstantiated claims of cattle rustling by youths among the predominantly Christian farmers as the pretext for the killings. In recent years there are signs that Islamic extremist groups are arming and/or accompanying Muslim Fulani herdsmen and inciting them in their tribal and economic conflicts with Christian farmers. The assaults on unarmed Christians have reached central-eastern states such as Taraba and Benue, as well as more southern areas.
In Jalingo, Taraba state, Catholic Bishop Charles Hammawa told ChurchMilitant.com that Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, has helped arm Muslim herdsmen against Christian farmers and drive them out. He called it a new strategy Boko Haram is employing after losing substantial territory in the past year.
“It appears to be a strategy to deliberately populate areas with Muslims and, by the sheer weight of superior numbers, influence political decision-making in the region,” he said.
Church leaders say attacks on Christian communities by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.
A new leader recently took power of Boko Haram, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who has reportedly promised to kill more Christians and burn down more churches.
A faction of Boko Haram remaining faithful to former leader Abubakar Shekau reportedly released a video via a journalist on Twitter purporting to show many of the 276 girls kidnapped from a high school in Chibok, Borno state in April 2014.
In a propaganda video apparently made in part to garner funding as the main Boko Haram group continues to receive foreign financing, one of the girls speaks of their suffering from aerial bombing as she begs “my people and our parents” to urge the Nigerian government to release Boko Haram prisoners so the girls can return to their families.
(Voice of the Persecuted) With no news for months, their parents and many others have worried about the condition of the 218 Chibok schoolgirls, a majority Christians, still missing. In a disturbing video shared below, Boko Haram recently released new footage showing around 50 of the abducted girls dressed from head to toe in hijab’s—Islamic attire. It’s heartbreaking to note that the face of every girl held an expression of hopelessness, with some even weeping. Others held babies, obviously raped after forcibly converted to Islam then married off to their kidnappers. It’s sickening to imagine the mental and physical abuse they have endured. God have mercy upon them.
The girls were kidnapped in mid April 2014 when Boko Haram militants attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Due to security risks, the school had already been closed for a month. Students had been called in only to take final exams.
Disguised as guards, they entered the school and told the girls to come with them. Many of the female students were taken away in trucks to the fortified camps of the Islamic group in the Sambisa Forest. The militants also set homes on fire during the attack.
A militant dressed in camouflage and holding a rifle spoke in the Hausa language and claimed the girls have resigned themselves to their fate. He warned if the Nigerian government does not give up the battle against the radical Islamic group and release all Boko Haram members, the girls would not be seen again. He also threatened the girls will be killed if the military tries to rescue them. In Vanguard’s report, per the news agency’s sources, the militant in the video is believed to be Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s notorious leader. Though unseen for some time and thought to be killed during an airstrike, it’s recently been confirmed he is alive.
His message translated by Vanguard (references to Allah have been changed to God by the news agency):
We thank God for giving us the opportunity to send this message to the parents of these girls [pointing at the girls sitting behind him.]
It pleased God to let us have these girls in our captivity for over two years now. Our first message is to the parents of the girls to let them know that their daughters are still with us, some of them.
I also want to tell them to ask the Nigerian government to release our brethren, especially those in Maiduguri, Lagos, Abuja and other places across Nigeria. They should be released immediately.
You all knew that we had the girls, but God never allowed you to know their location and you will never know by God’s grace. You keep lying in your media that you will rescue them, they have been with us for over two years, yet you can’t even know where they are. You have just been lying about these girls, people should know that.
Also, for the over two years that we have been with these girls, about 40 of them are married, some are dead as a result of airstrike by infidels. We will show you a video of how your own aircraft dropped a bomb that killed some of these girls. Some of the girls have suffered fractures and other forms of injuries as a result of the air strikes.
As you can see, these are the girls, all we want is for you to release our brethren otherwise you will never get these girls God willing. This in short is our message to the Federal Government and the parents of the Chibok Girls.
As long as the government does not release our people, we will also never release these girls, that is our message. I specially informed our people in captivity in Lagos that they should be patient and continue with their prayers, God will take us to where no one expects and we will rescue them. All those in Lagos, Maiduguri and other southern parts of the country. Keep praying, very soon, we will rescue you.
Let me conclude this message by saying that many people have been coming to us lying that they were sent by the Nigerian government to get the girls released. Let the government and the whole world know that we have not sent anyone to negotiate with the government on our behalf over these girls. We have dealt with you in the past and you know our recommended negotiators. If you need to, you should talk to them. We don’t use our own people to negotiate with you, we use your own people such as journalists to talk with you. We have not sent any other persons. You know that we prefer to use journalists known to you.
Let me say again, release our people and we release your girls, otherwise, they will never be released. If you think you have the power to come and rescue them, go ahead and try.
President Buhari, your Army has been lying to you that they have finished us, let them try and see if they can rescue these girls alive.
Obviously pressured and directed, one of the girls was chosen to make an appeal on the video. She claimed her name was Maida Yakubu and shared that some of the girls had been killed in aerial raids targeting Boko Haram strongholds. She also said 40 have been “married” to fighters. She pleaded,
“Oh you, my people and our parents, you just have to please come to our rescue: We are suffering here, the aircraft have come to bombard us and killed many of us. Some are wounded. Every day we are in pains and suffering, so are our babies … No one cares for us.
“Please go and beg the government of Nigeria to release the members of our abductors so that they too can free us to let us come home.”
The girl was later indentified by her parents.
There’s also footage of bodies alleged to be that of girls killed during airstrikes. Many believe they were not killed by the Air Force, but ordered to be executed by Shekau for the purpose of the video message. It is also being questioned if any of the dead girls were even from Chibok, as the schoolgirls are known to be Boko Haram’s greatest bargaining chip.
In part of a statement by Bring Back Our Girls leaders, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, said:
“853 days since the abduction of our Chibok Girls, we woke up to a video on the state of our girls. We are left with mixed feelings of grief and strengthened hope as the chilling words continue to sink in.
“Today, 28 months since the abduction, we call on the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, China, Australia, Israel, agencies like the United Nations and African Union, and all who previously expressed intentions to support the rescue efforts, to reengage and adopt a strategic rescue position. As global citizens, this is the least our #ChibokGirls deserve.”
Please keep the Chibok girls and their families in your prayers. Pray the militants (persecutors) taking part in the insanity will have the scales removed and see the true evil behind it. To repent and turn to Christ. Please remember all our Nigerian brothers and sisters in your daily prayers.
Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters who have suffered brutal persecution.
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They’re so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed