VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

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Tonight on Persecution Watch: Out of extreme persecution, a testimony of love

Photo: William Warby, CC BY 2.0 (modified by Voice of the Persecuted)

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear brothers and sisters, when I meet people I like to tell them who I am and share testimonies of my amazing Father and how much he loves, provides for and speaks to me. They’re often excited to hear more. I too get excited hearing stories of the amazing Grace of God from our brothers and sisters in Christ of old and present.

This morning, the Lord reminded me of a precious brother, Richard Wurmbrand, who was persecuted because he knew the love of Jesus and he loved him too!

In 1948, Richard was arrested by the Romanian Communist secret police on his way to church. He spent a total of fourteen years in prison. Three of those years in solitary confinement in a cell thirty feet underground, with no light or sound.

During his imprisonment, he was beaten and tortured physically and psychologically. He was forced to listen to the constant broadcasts of phrases denouncing Christianity and praising Communism. Richard recounted having the soles of his feet beaten until the flesh was torn off, then the next day beaten again to the bone. His body was scarred by the physical torture for the rest of his life.

“I have seen Christians in Communist prisons with 50 pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterword without water, starving, whipped, suffering from cold and praying with fervor for the Communist. This is humanly inexplicable! It is the love of Christ, which was poured out in our hearts.”
I tremble because of the sufferings of those persecuted in different lands. I tremble thinking about the eternal destiny of their tortures.
I tremble for western Christians who don’t help they’re persecuted brother. In the depths of my heart, I would like to keep the beauty of my own vineyard and not be involved in such a huge fight. I would like so much to be somewhere in quietness and rest. But it is not possible… The quietness and rest for which I long would be an escape from reality and dangerous for my soul.
The West sleep and must be awakened to see the plight of the captive nations.”
—Richard Wurmbrand
When I come on the call as a moderator, I come with the knowledge of why we pray for our brothers and sisters. We pray for their sufferings in persecution, for their protection and freedom, because we love them.
“God will judge us not according to how much we endured, but I am much we love.” —Richard Wurmbrand
We also come on the call because we love those who do not know the Lord as their Savior. Despite all the abuse and torture Richard endured, he later said after his release:
“It was in prison that we found the hope of salvation for the Communists. It was there that we developed a sense of responsibility toward them. It was in being tortured by them that we learned to love them.”
“Consider as sin any minute of life spent on something other than saving souls for eternity from this world doomed to destruction.” — Richard Wurmbrand
Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you as you are called by the Holy Spirit to join me tonight.
In Christ’s love,
Nadia Dybvik, Prayer Call Moderator

From any location on your phone

Time: 

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST+

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035      

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin has led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also serves as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ.

Meet you on the call!

#Thanksgiving Place Setting to Remember the Persecuted #NotForgotten

Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

(Voice of the Persecuted) As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and the blessings of God and family, again we ask for you to remember millions of our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted. Many brothers and sisters worship in secret. Large numbers are in hiding, refugee camps, brutal prisons or held as captives completely cut off from their families. Their crime? Choosing faith in Jesus Christ and refusing to deny him as their Lord and Savior.  It’s critical that we remember the Persecuted Church and stand in solidarity with them. Therefore, can you place a setting on your holiday table in remembrance of our persecuted family in Christ? The empty place setting at your Thanksgiving dinner table will serve as a reminder to pray for all those wrongfully imprisoned and being persecuted for their Christian faith around the world.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:18-20

As we sit down to dinner, praise the Lord giving thanks that we live in a nation with protected religious freedom and the right to worship our Lord without fear of being persecuted. Remember to include our persecuted Church family in our prayers. Ask your family and friends if they can join you to pray daily for those suffering. Let’s get America praying!

Please share a picture of the place setting on your social media pages with the hashtags #Thanksgiving and #NotForgotten. It greatly encourages the persecuted to see others are remembering to pray for them. Share your photo with us so we can pass it along to them.

Praying for the peace of our Lord to wash over you and your families. That anger or animosity can be put aside and love is shared by all at your gatherings. May you and your family spend the day counting all your blessings and thanking God for every single one. That you will shine the Light with a heart full of love allowing nothing to steal your joy. That my friends is a personal choice we can all choose this day, regardless of our situations or the people around us.

Happy Thanksgiving and may God greatly bless you!

Lois Kanalos, Founder and the Voice of the Persecuted Team

Tonight on Persecution Watch: Thankful and serving in love (Nov. 26, 2019)

Set a place at your table to remember and pray for the persecuted with your family, this Thanksgiving. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Dear brothers and sisters, our sins are forgiven, we are redeemed and able to receive the gift of eternal life. One day, we’ll be where He is in eternity. Oh, what a blessing it is to know the Lord God Almighty. This we know, we love Him because He first loved us with an everlasting love. This is what believers give thanks for, now and forever.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I remember a familiar song that my dear pastor, who is now in glory, led us to sing.

Give thanks with a grateful heart 

Give thanks to the Holy One

Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son (repeat)

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”

Let the poor say, “I am rich

Because of what the Lord has done for us” (repeat)

Give thanks

What a beautiful song! I hope you were able to listen to the full version in the video above.

On Thursday, Americans will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Preparations for the big meal are well underway with visions of turkeys dressed with stuffing taking center stage on the holiday table. Many will travel near and far to be with family and friends on this day of thanksgiving. It’s a tradition well known to much of the world.

As we get ready to celebrate, let us remember the One who loves us so dearly. Thank Him for our precious freedom to worship Him freely, for as long it may last. Let us not forget that many of our brothers and sisters around the world do not have this same freedom. With love, pray for them as they endure hard times, sorrow and persecution. It’s our Heavenly Father’s desire that we too love our brethren as He does.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

Tonight, as the Spirit leads, I invite you to come on the call and pray with me for the persecuted Church.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you all.

In Christ love,

Nadia Dybvik, Prayer Call Moderator

From any location on your phone

Time: 

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST+

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035      

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin has led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also serves as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ.

Meet you on the call!

 

VIDEO: Egyptian TV News Report Alleges Turkey Supplying Weapons to Nigeria’s Boko Haram

Throughout the years, detail after detail has emerged of Turkey’s leadership supporting the violence of the world’s most notorious Islamic terrorists. For the most part, U.S. and European main stream media had basically remained silent of Turkey’s alleged ties to Islamic terrorism. According to an Egyptian television news program which aired between 2014-2015, Turkey is clearly a terrorist state with a broad reach. Raymond Ibrahim is the Shillman Fellow in Journalism at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an expert on the Middle East and Islam. Ibrahim told CBN he’s not surprised by the Ten.tv report. See video.

Four Christian Farmers Killed by Muslim Fulani Herdsmen in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Professor Felix Ilesanmi, chaplain of Trinity Chapel at the Federal University of Technology, Yola, was kidnapped in northeastern Nigeria. (Morning Star News) [modified]

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Nov. 14 killed four Christians in north-central Nigeria, attacking them with machetes as they slept in their beds, area residents said.

The four members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Agban village, near Kagoro in Kaduna state’s Kaura County, were farmers who were killed in the early morning hours, villagers said.

“Hosea Ayuba, Ado Adamu, Abagu Danladi and Kusa Danladi were killed by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen,” area resident Derek Christopher told Morning Star News in a text message. “They were attacked with machetes, and their corpses had machetes cut wounds. The herdsmen came to the area in a minivan and a motorbike.”

A relative of Ayuba, Williams Adamu, mourned the loss, calling the latest attack in the area, “one too many.” Herdsmen also attacked Agban in 2017 and 2015.

A member of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Agban, Gideon Akut, and another village Christian, Didam Ashio, also said that the four named Christians had been killed by Fulani herdsmen.

“Please help me pray for my dear Agban community,” Ashio told Morning Star News.

Christopher said area Christians mobilized to pursue the herdsmen, who reportedly also stole three cows, apprehended the killers and turned them over to police in Kafanchan town, Jema’a County.

Kaduna State Police Command spokesman Yakubu Sabo said in a statement that the murders were reported at 3 a.m. to the Kafanchan station “through our operatives at a security checkpoint.”

“A team of police detectives led by the Area Commander, Kafanchan, acted on a tip-off and intercepted a bus with Reg. No. BLD 43 XA conveying three suspected armed men,” he said. “Investigation is already on over the killing at Agban.”

He reportedly identified the two captured suspects as Sadiq Umar and Umar Abubakar, both of Unguwan Nungu of Jema’a County. Efforts were underway to capture fleeing accomplices, he added.

Previously herdsmen attacked Agban village on Feb. 21, 2017, shooting dead five Christians – Emmanuel Gabriel, Kalat Boniface, Victor Joseph, Lucky Iliya and Zakaria Kabok. Herdsmen also attacked Agban on Feb. 20, 2015, sources said.

Kidnapped Professor Released

On the same day, Nov. 14 as the attack in Kaduna state, gunmen in military fatigues in northeast Nigeria kidnapped a chaplain at a public university, sources said. He was reportedly released within a week.

The five men kidnapped professor Felix Ilesanmi from the campus of Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH) in Yola, Adamawa state, at about 8:30 p.m., at gunpoint, area residents told Morning Star News.

Chaplain of Trinity Chapel at the Federal University of Technology, Yola (FUTY) on the MAUTECH campus, Ilesanmi teaches at FUTY’s department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Area resident Rebecca Musa told Morning Star News he was taken from his apartment on the university campus in the Girei area of Yola by five armed gunmen who took him away on motorbikes. Zidon Love, another resident of the area in Yola, said Ilesanmi was kidnapped at 8:30 p.m. by five gunmen in military uniform.

“They collected his wife’s phone also,” Love said. “They carried him from his house within the university in a vehicle, but on getting outside the school put him on a [motor]bike and rode off.”

Ilesanmi is also area chairman of the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students (NIFES), Love said. On Oct. 16, sources said, he had led Christian students and staff members of the university through teachings on the power of the Holy Spirit in leading people to Christ.

Adamawa State Police Command spokesman Suleiman Nguroje was quoted in local press on Tuesday (Nov. 19) as saying Ilesanmi had been released. He said the unidentified kidnappers abandoned him, but terms of the release were unknown.

In October, a professor of Soil Science at the university, Adamu Zata, was kidnapped. He had also been kidnapped in October 2018.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Tonight on Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call (Nov. 23, 2019)

 

Dear prayer warriors, ever since Jesus came into my life, I would spend hours reading God’s Word in my precious Bible. God also brought to my attention the testimonies of brothers and sisters, of old and present, through the scriptures, other books and stories that I heard. I loved hearing the testimonies of brothers and sisters who followed and served the Lord. I was captured by their faith and love for Him. They were willing to obey even if it meant giving up their own life, family, friends, everything to follow Jesus. It saddened me deeply to hear of their sufferings and persecution and how many had lost their lives.

But it also moved me to hear of God’s power and unbelievable miracles through them. How He would provide, protect and rescue them, even take them home with Him into eternal Glory. I loved and admired these dear brothers and sisters. I often imagined walking in their footsteps. God used and is using their witness to shape my life as I walked with Him to this day. I also desire to be obedient to my precious Lord Jesus, like them…unto that Day of Glory prepared also for me.

I want to love and serve our Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. But am I truly willing and able to do that even if it means my life? I recall the words of a precious woman who once said,

“My life does not belong to me. I must follow where the Lord leads. I was bought at a high price and must be obedient to the One who purchased me. Isn’t it costly to live like that? Yes, but it is far more costly to disobey.” Her name was Corrie Ten Boom.

I can tell you that God has impressed those words deeply into my heart. They have become my words and my way of life. I can honestly say through Jesus whom straightens me, yes, I am willing.

As I serve Him, I also serve as a Moderator on the Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call.

I believe what Corrie Ten Boom said:

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.”

This is my encouragement to you all, to believe it!!!

As the Spirit of God leads you tonight, I welcome you to come pray on the call with this joyful and excited attitude.

In Christ love,

Nadia Dybvik, Prayer Moderator

From any location on your phone

Time: 

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST+

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035      

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin has led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also serves as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ.

Meet you on the call!

The Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted Team

 

Christian Poisoned by Muslim Brothers in Eastern Uganda, Sources Say

 

(Morning Star News) – A Christian father of four in Uganda was discharged from a hospital on Monday (Nov. 18), eight days after Muslim relatives poisoned his food for leaving Islam, sources said.

Ronald Rajab Nayekuliza, 48, had eaten food tainted with pesticide at a memorial for his deceased father in Kakola village, Namutumba District in eastern Uganda on Nov. 10, he told Morning Star News.

His wife said the poisoning struck fear in the Christian community.

“The members of the church are gripped with fear and failed to attend church service on Sunday, Nov. 18,” she told Morning Star News, requesting her name be withheld. “We need prayers so that God may guide us as we face uncertainty of tomorrow within a hostile environment of Muslim relatives.”

Nayekuliza said he had felt compelled to attend the gathering even though his brothers had killed six of his piglets two days before, part of increased opposition this year.

Six months after putting his faith in Christ in 2017, Nayekuliza had donated a small portion of land inherited from his Muslim father, who died in 2009, for construction of a church building. His four brothers began building a mosque nearby.

Since 2018 villagers have been throwing stones at the church building during Sunday worship services, Nayekuliza said.

Earlier this year, his older brother, Anus Wako, began sending him written warnings to remove the church building and to stop raising pigs on the ancestral land, Nayekuliza said.

“You rearing pigs is against the faith of our father,” Wako wrote. “We are from a Muslim family, and our father did not allow the keeping of pigs. While our father was still alive, you were a Muslim; that is why he gave you land to live in, not for the construction of the church. Our family has become a laughingstock to our Muslim neighbors.”

Early on the morning of Nov. 8, the six piglets were killed, he said.

“I was extremely shocked to wake up to find six of our piglets killed,” Nayekuliza said.

“I knew it must be my brothers; that really confirmed my earlier fears. My brothers had threatened me with witchcraft as well as receiving curses from Allah. This has made me live in great fear of my life and that of my family.”

Earlier this month his four brothers – Wako, Kalipan Waswa, Hakim Mutwabule and Dambo Magid – invited clan leaders, local council leaders, residents and all family members for a special memorial service in honor of their late father, Mwalimu Sowedi Nawandyo, on Nov. 10.

“They had planned the meeting without involving me,” Nayekuliza said. “In any case, I attended because they said it was in honor of our late father. It was a great celebration. Many people attended, and many goats and chicken were slaughtered.”

As guests were leaving the celebration, Nayekuliza looked restless, his wife said.

“He told me that he was feeling a kind of nausea,” she told Morning Star News. “Immediately he started to vomit, then followed by diarrhea, with fever and complaining of abdominal pain. We then rushed him to Ivukula Health Centre III. As we arrived at the hospital, my husband had lost consciousness.”

After admitting him to the hospital, she and another Christian on Nov. 10 reported the tainting of Nayekuliza’s food with a toxic substance related to organophosphate insecticides. They filed the complaint at Ivukula police station under the reference number 5432 /10/11/2019, and police rushed to his older brother’s house.

“When the four brothers saw the police vehicle, two of them fled,” a Christian friend said. “The police arrested two brothers, Anus Wako and Kalipan Waswa, who were released on bond after four days.”

Nayekuliza’s wife said he is still recovering from the poisoning.

“My husband is better but still very weak, with blurry vision and feeling numbness in his body,” she said. “We need prayers and more medical attention for him.”

The couple has three children, ages 12, 10 and 7, and she is pregnant with another.

Nayekuliza has been the leader of a small church of 30 members since 2017. In March 2017 a church pastor had told him about Christ’s love, he said.

“After several weeks, conviction came to me,” Nayekuliza said. “I invited him again to my home, and thereafter I gave my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”

The poisoning is the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Police, Extremists Use Clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, India to Thwart Christians

Protesters flee police tear gas directed at Kashmiris protesting India’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir state’s special status in August 2019. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – Heavy-handed revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy and statehood by the government of India three months ago has led to measures used against Christians, sources said.

The government on Aug. 5 revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir state in 1949 that allowed it to have its own constitution. By thus abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A of India’s constitution, the government set back separatist movements within the Muslim-majority state while ushering in security measures that make it nearly impossible for Christian congregations to meet.

Besides cutting off all communications and Internet access and imposing a curfew to forestall an uprising against the measure, the government prevented assembly by issuing an order, Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Effective on Aug. 5 in Srinigar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and in Jammu on Nov. 9, Section 144 prohibits assembling of four or more people, with those violating it subject to charges of rioting.

Besides thousands of security forces sent to the area, Hindu extremists have used the order to prevent Christians from meeting for worship, sources said. Based on Section 144, police took pastor Mohan Lal Kaith of the Ranbir Singh Pora (R.S. Pora) area in Jammu District into police custody on Nov. 10 as he led Sunday worship at a congregation member’s home.

Police took him into custody on both Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, releasing him each evening at 6 p.m. after spending the day threatening and intimidating him, he said. Police told him that Section 144 prohibited his congregation from meeting.

“I asked them, ‘If Hindu temples, Gurdwaras [Sikh temples] and mosques, and pujas [Hindu worship] can take place despite the imposition of Section 144, why not Christian prayers? It is the norm, Christians gather and worship on Sundays across the world. Why are you targeting me alone?’” Pastor Kaith said. “But the SHO [Station House Officer] was very angry, and he asked me to plead with the Ram Sevaks [worshippers of Ram] and [Hindu extremist] Bajrang Dal activists for forgiveness, and that I was wrong to question him. I told them, ‘All right Sir, I didn’t know that Section 144 was imposed. Please forgive me.’”

A large mob gathered outside the police station. Relatives present, fearful that the mob might target his small children, begged police and Hindu extremists to free him, the pastor said.

“The Station House Officer of R.S. Pora police station hurled abuses at me that I am a baba [religious guru] in the making, and that I have no idea that he can trap me into a huge case from which I can never get out of,” Pastor Kaith told Morning Star News.

The station officer continued threatening him, telling him repeatedly that he was wrong to lead Christian worship, and that cases against him had already been filed, the pastor said.

“Then I told him that, ‘I have not violated the Indian Constitution, and I abide by every word written in it as framed by its makers. If still you see fault in me, it is fine – you can forcefully frame me in any case that would incriminate me for sharing about Christ, but I will not stop,’” Pastor Kaith told Morning Star News.

He said he had decided to face whatever consequences might follow. The Bajrang Dal and Ram Sevaks had been threatening him three months before the Section 144 order, he added.

“They threatened me and closed down the worship service in my own house, and then in two other areas in the homes of believers,” he said. “How far can they go to stop us from praying and worshipping together? Some of the new believers come to church for healing or for blessings, and when they see opposition from outside, they backslide and don’t turn up again.”

A remnant gathering remains, and they are praying that they would grow stronger in faith, he said.

Pastor Kaith said he has received scores of threats in text messages in the Hindi language over the past six months.

“Every few minutes I received a message that the Bajrang Dal and Ram Sevaks are aware of where I am, and that they are observing me closely, and that I should preach about Hindu gods while sharing about Christ, and that if I failed to do so they would punish me with death,” he said. “The neighbors in the village keep watch on me, and if they see me going out for prayer, immediately the message passes on, and a mob of Ram Sevaks and Bajrang Dal reach there to disrupt the prayer service. They use filthy language, so that we can never have a proper dialogue with them.”

Police filed cases against Pastor Kaith under sections 107 and 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code, suspicion of committing a breach of peace. He has been ordered to appear before a judge on Dec. 9.

Religious Freedom ‘Getting Worse’

The former state of Jammu and Kashmir has a Christian population of 0.28 percent according to the 2011 census, while Muslims make up 68.3 percent and Hindus 28.4 percent of the total 12.5 million population.

Since the repeal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, the state has been divided into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir in the west, and Ladakh in the east, effective Oct. 31.

“It has always been difficult for missionaries and pastors to serve in Jammu and Kashmir region, but the latest move taken by the Indian government abrogating Article 370 has stirred the anger of dominant Islamic community,” pastor Vishnu Dev, based in Punjab state’s Ludhiana District, told Morning Star News.

Islamist Kashmiri separatists and other Islamic extremists groups have also threatened and attacked civilians, hoping to sow chaos in response to the federal clampdown, and Christians are gripped by fear of violence, sources said.

On a recent visit to churches enduring persecution in Jammu and Kashmir Territory, Pastor Dev told Morning Star News that he was shocked to see that Sunday worships took place in secret.

“At the most, five families would gather in a house and would pray in secret. Microphones and large congregations have disappeared,” he told Morning Star News. “It is saddening that the religious freedom situation for Christians in the valley is only getting worse.”

He said Srinagar-based pastor Lance Thomas and his wife are under constant surveillance.

“They have been ministering in Srinagar and other areas of the Kashmir Valley in the toughest times now – they visit believers’ homes and worship inside their homes with Christian families,” Pastor Dev said. “Their movements are closely under the watch by police officials as well as religious extremists in the area.”

Communications Blackout

Ahead of the repeal of the state’s special status, the central government cut all communication lines and placed political leaders under house arrest to try to head off opposition protests, which have erupted sporadically.

As a result, the region has been without Internet service for more than 105 days.

Srinagar-based Pastor Thomas said both his phone numbers are tapped by government officials.

“I can’t communicate much over the phone right now, and because of the Internet clamp down, it would be very difficult to write an email also, as only one government cyber-café is open,” Pastor Thomas told Morning Star News.

Pastor Jeewer Joeswa of Rajouri District said he also has been hampered.

“In Kashmir Valley, the curfew is still on,” he told Morning Star News. “There are very few churches in the region, and nowhere will you find open worship as a congregation. All Sunday gatherings are done secretly inside a Christian’s home, hiding from the police and neighbors.”

The communications blackout has also been problematic, he said.

“It was a total blackout – we had no access to phone lines or Internet when the government was deciding to abrogate Article 370,” he told Morning Star News. “The connections were restored in Jammu Region in a couple of days, but Srinagar still suffers an Internet clampdown, and we could not reach our pastors and Christians there for weeks.”

Pastor’s Eardrums Injured

In the Jewel area of Jammu, Hindu nationalists seized a pastor from a house-church worship service on Oct. 6 and took him to a neighboring village, where they badgered him with questions and beat him, damaging his eardrums, he said.

Initially two men took him from the service he was leading, pastor Packiya Raj said.

“A mob of 25 strongmen joined the two persons, and they forcefully boarded me in a vehicle and took me to a garage and then to a village nearby,” Pastor Raj told Morning Star News. “They started badgering, ‘Tell us, how many more like you are in Jammu? How many believers did you get here? What are you doing in Hindus’ houses? Where are your believers and pastors, tell us their address?’”

They beat him as they questioned him, he said. After beating him further, they left him at the Domala police station, he said.

“The police didn’t help me, and they told me that prayers should be done inside a church and not at home,” Pastor Raj said. “The police officials told me that it is my mistake that I have gone to someone’s house, and the local people are angered. It is a very natural reaction, they said.”

Pastors from neighboring areas arrived at the police station within about a half hour. They asked officers to file a case against the assailants, who had falsely accused Pastor Raj of adultery, he said.

“They [Hindu extremists] told the police, ‘There were six to seven ladies in the house. We don’t know what this fellow was doing inside,’” he said. “They tried falsely to book a stronger case against me, but by God’s grace my wife and son also reached there, and police didn’t pay heed to these allegations.”

Over the following three days he suffered severe body pains, including pain in his ears, he said.

“The doctors told me that both my eardrums were damaged, and that I should undergo an operation,” Pastor Raj said. “By God’s grace, both the operations were successful.”

He declined to register cases against the attackers, who remain poised to accuse him of assembling for worship in a home, though apart from Section 144 as implemented in the region, home worship is not illegal in India.

“I live in a rental house here, and it is not safe as the people connected to the assailants also live very close by, and I am constantly under watch,” he said. “If I speak any louder, they can hear me.”

Originally from Tirunelveli District in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state, Pastor Raj and his wife, Rajakani, had a strong desire to serve among those who have never heard of Christ, he said.

“I was working as an assistant pastor in Chennai when I received the confirmation from the Lord that I should serve the unreached in Jammu and Kashmir. We immediately obeyed and moved to Jammu with our son, who was 1-year-old then,” he said. “After much toil, we now have four to five families in each village. Even among the neighboring houses, there would be at least one person who has heard of Christ and desires to come to Him but is afraid, because of their families and the presence of Hindu extremists in their area.”

In September 2018, while distributing gospel tracts in Amb Grota and Nagbani villages, Hindu extremist Rashtriya Sevak Sangh (RSS) members chased them away, threatening to kill them if they see them again in those areas, Rajakani said.

Elesh Prabhu Vasave, secretary of the Friends Mission Prayer Band of Jammu and Kashmir region, requested prayers for peace to return to Kashmir, and for safety of pastors and missionaries serving in regions stripped off of Internet and phone service.

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

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