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Merry Christmas from the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

Dear brothers and sisters, peace to you all! Millions of believers around the globe are celebrating Christmas, the birth our Lord Jesus Christ. For some, this is a time anticipation of getting together with family and friends. For others it can be a time of stress, loneliness or grief. Yet, some reject the Son and the story of his birth altogether. But for Christians who know the joy of the Savior in their hearts, every day they are cherishing the peace and the love of Christ. With great hope, they await the day when they will see Him face to face, in all His glory and might. And the most precious gift, in Christ alone, of eternal life to spend with Him. This amazing gift, God has given in His grace for those who love Him and believe.

I encourage all of you, my dear brothers and sisters, to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. Rejoice! Only God knows the true hearts of men, but we will keep sharing the Good News of the Gospel. Pray for those struggling and for unbelievers to come to know our Christ.

We will not be gathering tonight on the prayer conference call, but we will resume the call on Thursday evening, 9 p.m. Eastern. Until then, please continue to lift our persecuted brothers and sisters in your prayers as if you are with them sharing in their trials and afflictions. Please pray for the precious harvest. May hearts be opened to the saving message of faith in Christ alone, our dear Lord and Savior!

Merry Christmas, our hearts and love are with all of you.

Nadia Dybvik, Prayer Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas from the Voice of the Persecuted Team

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:12-14(KJV)

Rejoice! In the name of the Lord, Rejoice!

In the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”

The true joy of Christmas is in the everlasting love of Christ.

All over the world, persecuted believers are worshiping God for the greatest gift ever given to mankind. They count their suffering worthy to be in Him as part of the Body of Christ. As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, please take a moment to remember and pray for those who are suffering in the name of Jesus.

This Christmas, let us reflect not on the trials, but on all God’s blessings in our lives. Let us praise the Lord for His faithfulness to give hope to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, bring liberty to captives and life to the lost. We thank God for comforting all who mourn, giving them strength and peace instead of mourning, and the ability to praise instead of a spirit of fainting. He is always with us in the storm.

Though nothing we could ever give or do will compare to the rescue mission of Christ, because of your prayers and faithful support, persecuted believers have been given hope. From all of us at Voice of the Persecuted and on behalf of persecuted believers, thank you for standing with us in the mission! We pray for the Lord’s guidance and the ability to do more in the coming year.

To all our persecuted brothers and sisters, our advocates and workers in the field, to all friends of Voice of the Persecuted—and to you who have supported our ministry and make it possible for us to care for our persecuted family… MERRY CHRISTMAS!

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all through the year.

From all of us at the Voice of the Persecuted, God bless you!

Voice of the Persecuted

Tonight on Persecution Watch: China, Burma and India (12/21/19)

 

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear prayer warriors, the Lord is manifesting His power all over the world. The enemy knows it and like a roaring lion he is enraged and on a rampage to devour any one who is rejecting the love of God. However, he was given no power to touch any of the Lord’s elect!

(John 3:17-21) “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Now more then ever we are experiencing how close we are to the end. With the Lord’s leading, we will lift up the Church in the following nations on tonight’s prayer call.

China: Crackdown on Christianity Ramps Up 

Myanmar (Burma): Rebels Who Closed More than 100 Churches Allow 51 to Reopen

India: Christians Face Increased Persecution as Christmas Nears

I welcome you dear one’s to come as God’s Spirit leads you to intercede for our brothers and sisters and for the global harvest!!!

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.

Indian Christians Facing Increased Persecution as Christmas Nears

 

Church building demolished on Jan. 9, 2019 in Narnepadu village, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh state, India. (Morning Star News)

(Voice of the Persecuted) Christians in India are suffering increased persecution with a recent surge of violence, intimidation or harassment against them. With the uptick of reports and investigations of Christians being persecuted, sadly most cases go unreported as victims and witnesses are terrified of repercussions. Authorities often ignore or refuse to record incidents or perpetrators of these crimes will file false claims against the Christian victims who then end up being arrested.

As Voice of the Persecuted had feared in 2014, Christian persecution has spiked under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi is a former militant with the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS), one of India’s most active and violent radical Hindu organizations. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is known for its open support to groups such as the RSS, as well as for backing a state that is 100 percent Hindu. Modi, as a BJP member, was the party’s choice as candidate for the post of prime minister. Modi has won two consecutive terms with a full majority since 2014. This has encouraged radical persecution against religious minorities in the country.

Indian Christians are frequently and falsely accused of bribing or forcing people to become Christians. Mobs attack, burn down churches and destroy properties, beat and sometimes kill Christians for their faith. In only a single week in December, International Christian Concern documented over half a dozen instances of religious persecution against Christians. The group said as many of the world’s Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas, Indian Christians are struggling with a growing sense of fear.

The report shared that 10 Christians were arrested on false charges, 25 Christian families were cut off from clean drinking water, and several churches, including one church with nearly 600 members, was shut down. The increasing intolerance is impacting their ability to freely celebrate Christmas, ICC shared. Some churches have felt forced to cancel Christmas programs out of fear they will invite attacks.

In of one of the recent incidents, a mob of extremist Hindu nationalists attacked and savagely beat members of Rev. Bhovi’s church community as they cleared land to build a church. Following the attack, extremists cut the water supply for 25 Christian families and threatened to drive them out of the village unless they renounced their faith in Christ.

“We were small in number at the police station compared to mob of Hindu radicals,” the pastor said. “All of the 25 Christian families were present at the police station to lodge a complaint; however, the police told us that Christians cannot hold any meetings in the village and that pastors from outside the village cannot visit the Christian families, even during this festive season.”

“We have cancelled all our Christmas events in Banni Mardatti village, including carols, cottage meetings, and pre-Christmas events,” said Pastor Raja Bhovi of His Grace Church in India’s Karnataka State. Pastor Bhovi said he planned to take the 25 Christian families of his flock to Arsikare, a town that is 30 kilometers away from their home in Banni Mardatti village, to celebrate Christmas. “Our hope is that we will have a peaceful Christmas celebration, even though it is away from our homes,” Bhovi said.

Extremists closed a church in Uttar Pradesh after filing a false criminal complaint against the church’s pastor, Rev. Ramjit, accusing him of being involved in forced religious conversions. Police told Ramjit that he was no longer permitted to hold Sunday worship services at his church. “We are very uncertain about this year’s Christmas,” Pastor Ramjit said. “Unlike previous years, we have been told to shut down our church since December 8. It is a very painful situation for us now. We are all hoping that things will change.” Pastor Ramjit has appealed the decision and is trying to get permission to hold a Christmas service.

“If we fail to get permission, we will have to organize several smaller gatherings in homes on Christmas day. We are going to have a service one way or another,” the pastor said.

Tonight, the Prayer Team will be lifting up Christians in India on the prayer conference call. If the Lord is breaking your heart for these dear Indian brothers and sisters, come pray with us on the call. Prayers will also be shared for those suffering in China and Burma.

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!

Axe-Wielding, Tribal Animists Set Bibles, Church Building Ablaze in Eastern India

Tribal animists shout at pastor Bibudhan Pradhan in Perigaon village, Odisha state, India, on Dec. 1, 2019. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – Tribal animists in eastern India earlier this month surrounded a church building with axes, threatened to kill Christians within and later burned down the thatched-roof structure, sources said.

Hard-line animists in Odisha state’s Perigaon village, Rayagada District, attacked on Dec. 1 after having raided Christians homes to seize and burn Bibles five days earlier.

“After we concluded the prayers and community lunch service [on Dec. 1], a batch of around 15 tribal men came with axes, surrounded the church and threatened that they will chop us into pieces,” pastor Bibudhan Pradhan told Morning Star News.

The assailants surrounded the pastor and his wife as they were trying to return to their home in another town, he said.

“They took us inside the village and held us hostage for more than four hours,” Pastor Pradhan said. “They abused us in vulgar language, words that I can’t utter with my mouth, and threatened us that their gods and goddesses will swallow us alive for propagating Christianity in an Adivasi [indigenous tribal] hamlet.”

He and his wife remained calm in captivity, he said. Church members told the assailants that the pastor had to return to his home in Rayagada and suggested they take them in place of him and his wife. The assailants released the couple with an ultimatum to stop worship services and never again enter the village.

They took no one else hostage, but that night they set the mud-and-bamboo structure on fire, the pastor said.

“Christians from the Adivasi hamlet reside about one kilometer far from the church site,” Pastor Pradhan said. “But the fire spread faster, and within 10 to 15 minutes the roof made of dry grass shattered, and the bamboos also caught fire.”

On Nov. 26, after village Christians had gathered for an hour-long prayer at the church site, a gang of drunken animists raided their homes as they slept, he said. The Christians were unable to call police as the area has no cell phone coverage.

Church elders rushed to Pastor Pradhan’s home the next morning.

“They were horrified by what happened the night before,” he said. “The drunk men abused the Christian families in filthy language and forcefully searched their homes for Bibles. The Christians tried hard to resist them to no avail. They gathered the Bibles from Christian homes at one spot at the center of the village, poured kerosene and lit fire.”

The animists, who worship gods based in ancestors, spirits and nature, ignored their pleas to calm down and spare their Bibles, he said. Pastor Pradhan and the elders complained to village elders that day.

“But the elders of Perigaon village justified the act of burning Bibles and in return abused me in filthy language,” he said. “They said that because of me the village has lost its rich culture and values, and that I had introduced a foreign faith, and that my presence and the Christian prayers in the village had hurt them deeply.

“They also issued threats that they would go to any extent to put an end to the spread of Christianity in the village.”

Nine of the approximately 75 families in Perigaon village are Christian, he said.

“My wife and I had been ministering in Perigaon for the past four years,” Pastor Pradhan said. “At least thrice the tribal extremists blocked us from entering the village by laying huge branches of trees on the road.”

Forced Signatures

Pastor Pradhan on Dec. 2 accompanied church elders to Rayagada police station to file a complaint about the Dec. 1 and Nov. 26 attacks.

Pallab Lima of the Minority Rights Forum of Odisha told Morning Star News that police did not take the complaints seriously.

“We insisted to police that a First Information Report [FIR] must be filed, and the church arson should be investigated,” Lima said. “But he was only summoning Christians to the police station and was not taking any action against the assailants.”

Inspector Nihar Ranjan Pradhan of Rayagada police station summoned Christians several times on Dec 2. and Dec. 6, forcing them to sign a document prohibiting them from worship in the village, Pastor Pradhan said.

“On Dec. 2 officer Pradhan forcefully took our thumb prints on a document that was written in Odiya that there will not be any Christian prayers in Perigaon village,” he said. “He was very biased and refused to listen to our pleas.”

After 10 p.m., police registered an FIR against the assailants based on a complaint by church elder Bhasker Rao’s wife, Sure Kadraka, under Indian Penal Code sections for mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy a house ordinarily used as a place of worship and criminal intimidation.

Leaders from the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal reached the police station along with tribal villagers, a Christian who visited the church members at Rayagada police station, Hananiyo Lima, told Morning Star News.

“Police held the suspects in custody for a while and sent them away,” Lima said. “No cases were registered against the assailants, who confessed that they had set the Bibles ablaze, held the pastor hostage and later burned down the church. We refused to sign on any document, but they took our fingerprints forcefully.”

Inspector Pradhan summoned them to the police station again on Dec. 6.

“This time, he was very angry that he was receiving phone calls from human rights activists enquiring about church arson,” Lima said.

Asked why the Christians were summoned to the police station, Inspector Pradhan yelled at Morning Star News, “Who is calling them to the police station? They came to the police station,” and abruptly disconnected.

Rayagada District Superintendent of Police Saravana Vivek told Morning Star News the inspector and sub-collector visited Perigaon, that a “peace committee” had been formed, and that police were looking into the matter “very closely and seriously.”

“We are concerned about each and every person’s safety,” Vivek said. “Whatever is legal and possible has been done.

“Tribals are dominant in Rayagada, and the tribal families’ sentiments have been affected.”

Tension over Temple

Vivek told Morning Star News that villagers were angry that a Hindu priest who had been granted land for Hindu worship had converted to Christianity, resulting in the rituals having ceased for the past four years.

The officer said the former Hindu priest has built a Christian house of worship on the land, and that he must renounce all rights to the land.

Pastor Pradhan told Morning Star News the convert had actually been a priest of tribal Adivasi religion, not Hinduism, and that the land had been the site of an Adivasi temple. The former animist priest is now church elder Bhasker Rao.

Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayam Sevaksangh (RSS) has been using the words “Hindu” and “Adivasi” as synonyms in order to promote the Hindu caste hierarchy. The use of this language among police and administrative officials is indicative of their Hindu nationalist leanings and connections with the RSS, sources said.

“The church’s site is one kilometer from Rao’s residence,” Pastor Pradhan said. “He was formerly the tribal Adivasi priest and has come to Christ four years ago. He has been under immense pressure from the villagers to perform the offerings and worship to Adivasi deities, but he resisted their advances.”

Rao was willing to relinquish the two acres of land granted to him by the Adivasis as well as two additional acres, the pastor said.

“He had requested the village council to take away a total of four acres from him and relieve him from the priest’s duties, but they demand that he only must perform the rituals, and that if he doesn’t do it, the entire village will be cursed, and that the tribal deities would swallow them alive,” Pastor Pradhan said. “He even suggested the council members to transfer the priestly responsibilities to any of his kinsmen and leave him free to follow Christ.”

Officer Vivek said civil administration officials are also involved along with police, and that police are trying to bring the Christians and assailants together for talks to avert future crimes.

Threats

Based on the complaint Rao and his wife filed, police should have filed more serious charges than they did, an attorney for legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India, Pratap Chinchani, told Morning Star News.

Instead of taking stern action against the assailants, police have turned against the victims, with official documents telling them in essence, “There won’t be Christian prayers in the village – you move out of Rayagada and conduct your worship service elsewhere,” he said.

“How can police restrain the pastor from visiting the village? This kind of approach is illegal, and it must be legally challenged,” Chinchani told Morning Star News. “This inaction of police must be challenged in a court of law. As ADF-India, we are ready to incur the travel expenses for the victims to travel down to Cuttack, where the High Court is located [about 280 miles from Rayagada).”

Pastor Pradhan said villagers have threatened that if church members take legal action, they would expel the Christians’ children from government welfare hostels and forbid burials within village limits.

“They also demanded that Christians must fund Adivasi rituals and festivities, and if they refuse to donate, they will not be allowed to avail the government benefits or have the tribal status,” he said.

In the face of the threats, church members have decided not to pursue legal action. Chinchani practices at the Cuttack High Court 500 kilometers (310 miles) away, and the ADF-India team is offering them counsel through local contacts.

Odisha, formerly Orissa state, was the first to pass an anti-conversion law in 1967, attorney Chinchani said. Forbidding conversion by inducement or fraud, the law is commonly misused to file false charges against Christians in attempts to stop the spread of Christianity.

Officer Vivek said villagers alleged that people have converted to Christianity by means of inducement, which the church members deny.

“The former priest had also converted seven other families to Christianity,” he said.

In 1973, the High Court of Orissa declared the anti-conversion law contradicts the Constitution of India’s guarantee of freedom and belief, Chinchani said.

“The court held in its conclusions that article 25(1) of the Constitution ‘guarantees propagation of religion and conversion is a part of the Christian religion,’ that the term ‘inducement’ is vague, and that the state legislature lacked the competence or jurisdiction to make the law in question on the topic of ‘religion’ under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution,” he said. “It has always been a hard time for Christians in this state.”

Odisha’s population of 4.1 million is 93.6 percent Hindu, 2.77 percent Christian and 2.17 percent Muslim, according to the 2011 census.

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 Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Rebels in Burma Who Closed More than 100 Churches Allow 51 to Reopen

Burma (Morning Star News) – Ethnic rebels who closed more than 100 churches in eastern Burma (Myanmar) in 2018 have allowed 51 Baptist churches to reopen, sources said.

Ethnic Wa rebels of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) this week announced they had permitted 51 Baptist churches to reopen in northern Shan state after investigating the congregations and their activities for 14 months. The review process is still underway for the remaining churches, according to UWSA officials.

At least 10 church buildings were destroyed when UWSA troops closed the churches in September 2018 and detained more than 200 Christians who were later released after investigation.

“We are investigating the rest of the churches. We shut down the churches because some people who work at the churches were very extreme,” Nyi Rang, in-charge of UWSA’s liaison office in Lashio town, northern Shan state, told Morning Star News. “In some places, there were a few houses. But there were many churches. It created disunity with local ethnic communities.”

The general secretary of Lahu Baptist Convention, identified only as the Rev. Lazarus, said the churches were not “extreme.”

“I don’t think churches and our religious activities create division and problems, because we have churches that belong to ethnic Wa, Kachin, Lahu, Ahkar and Lisu,” Lazarus told Morning Star News. “There could be other reasons to shut down the churches.”

The re-opened churches are located in Shan state’s Panghsang, Hopang, Kho Pang and Namphan townships, he said.

Most of the population in the Wa region bordering China worships spirits, called Nats. Many ethnic races such as the Lahu, Ahkar, Kachin, Lisu, as well as some Wa, however, are Christian. There are some Buddhists in the region.

The UWSA is Burma’s largest ethnic armed group, with an estimated 30,000 soldiers. Its leaders have communist views, a reflection of their long-time proximity to the Chinese border.

Lazarus said denomination officials were happy that 51 churches were reopened.

“We are very happy, and we thank the Wa authorities for allowing us to reopen the churches,” Lazarus said. “We hope that they will also reopen the rest of closed churches.”

The Lahu Baptist Convention released a statement on Sept. 25, 2018, asserting that some Lahu students detained by the UWSA were forced to serve as UWSA soldiers. Earlier that month, UWSA troops shut down at least 10 churches, including six belonging to Kachin Baptist Convention.

All church buildings constructed after 1992 would be destroyed or shut down as they were built without permission of UWSA’s leaders, the group said in a Sept. 13, 2018 press statement.

A UWSA-run television program stated that the rebel group had arrested and interrogated religious leaders for violating organization regulations and laws prohibiting foreigners to serve as religious leaders in Wa-controlled areas.

Christian leaders have said the militants, who predominantly follow tribal religions, seek to reduce the spread of Christianity.

The UWSA is the military wing of the United Wa State Party (UWSP), the de facto ruling party of the area. It was formed after the collapse of the armed wing of the Communist Party of Burma in 1989.

The UWSA announced its territory as the Wa State Government Special Administrative Region on Jan. 1, 2009, and although the government of Burma does not officially recognize its sovereignty, the Burmese military has fought alongside the UWSA against Shan nationalist militias.

Though de facto independent from Burma, the Wa state officially recognizes Burma’s sovereignty over all of its territory, and in 2013 the two parties signed a peace deal.

Burma is about 80 percent Buddhist and 9 percent Christian.

The country is ranked 18th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Crackdown on Christianity in China Ramps Up

Early Rain Covenant Church members Photo: Facebook

(Morning Star News) – As more government officials in China are empowered to close churches and a “social credit” system threatens to block Christians from schools, bank loans and jobs, authorities have taken harsh measures against more churches, sources said.

In Beijing, Early Rain Covenant Church elder Qin Defu was sentenced to four years in prison on Nov. 29, according to advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA). Qin was charged with illegal business operations as a result of the church using 20,000 Christian books, according to CAA.

Authorities had promised his family that he would be released if he accepted a state-appointed attorney, the group stated.

The charge on which Qin was sentenced could signal a stiff sentence for Pastor Wang, who has been charged with both “inciting subversion of the state” and illegal business practices after being arrested more than a year ago.

“Qin’s attorney said the church’s pastor, Wang Yi, admitted in a testimony that he was involved with these books,” CAA reported. “As such, the lawyer speculated Wang would receive no less than a 10-year sentence.”

Authorities on Dec. 9, 2018 arrested Pastor Wang and more than 100 members of Early Rain Covenant Church; most of them have been released, while Pastor Wang’s wife and child remain under house arrest.

In Shanghai, authorities raided Wheat Church on Dec. 1, broke up the unregistered body’s worship service and ejected members, accusing them of conducting religious activities at an unapproved venue, according to CAA.

The 200 Christians refused to leave, remaining outside in the cold as they sang and worshipped, according to CAA.

The actions are part of progressively harsher measures against Christianity and other faiths deemed a threat to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since Xi Jinping became president in 2013. New religion regulations introduced in 2017 greatly expand the number of government departments that can enforce restrictions on religious practice, an attorney in China told The Epoch Times.

“Under the previous law, only the Religious Affairs Bureau would enforce religious restrictions,” the unidentified attorney told the news outlet. “Under the new law, every layer of government can regulate religious affairs. The fact that there are so many more officials cracking down on unregistered churches puts tremendous pressure on the members of those churches. As part of this crackdown, Chinese Christians are facing the most persecution since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.”

In ultra-nationalist efforts to stop ordinary citizens from engaging in religion and other activities deemed a threat to CCP control, China has installed 20 million surveillance cameras with advanced facial recognition software to collect data for the purpose of establishing a “social credit” system to monitor perceived loyalty and dissent, Elizabeth Kendal of the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin notes, citing author Willy Wo-Lap Lam in his book, “The Fight for China’s Future.”

The system is expected to be fully operational in 2020, but Kendal notes that non-compliant Christians and others, such as human rights attorneys, already find they cannot travel as negative social credit prevents them from purchasing a train ticket.

“The days are coming when whole Christian families will find themselves unable to access not merely transport, but schools, hospitals, bank loans and jobs,” she writes.

Such measures flow from the CCP in 2012 formulating five new “black categories” of groups to be quelled – human rights lawyers, underground religious practitioners, dissidents, commentators influencing opinion on the Internet and disadvantaged social groups, Kendal states. The list echoes the “five black categories” of the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, when Chairman Mao Zedong designated landlords, rich farmers/peasants, counter-revolutionaries, evil influences and rightists as enemies of the communist revolution to be neutralized – re-educated and if necessary eliminated, she notes.

‘Subversion’
With courts beholden to the Chinese government, authorities commonly charge pastors with subversion as religion is regarded as a threat to the CCP and stability, according to the attorney quoted in The Epoch Times.

“These pastors have no right to legal representation,” the attorney said. “If they have someone brave enough to be their lawyer, the pastor can be beaten up before seeing that lawyer. And their attorney can be beaten as well.”

The subversion charge against Early Rain’s Pastor Wang calls for a sentence of up to five years, or 15 years in extreme cases.

He was a human rights activist and a constitutional scholar before becoming a pastor.

Under the new religion regulations, house churches have been forced to dissolve if they refuse to register, according to the attorney quoted in The Epoch Times, adding that those registering are subject to surveillance, monitoring of sermons and other heavy-handed measures.

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 10, 2018 included China among 10 countries designated as Countries of Particular Concern for severe religious rights violations.

 

Tonight on the Persecution Watch: Praying for the Church in Turkey (Dec. 17, 2019)

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear brothers and sisters, we all remember that precious day, by the Grace of God, when our dear brother Andrew Brunson, was released and reunited with his precious wife, Norine. Such a joyous victory and how grateful we are to our glorious and faithful Father. For 2 years, we faithfully prayed with full expectation for our brother unto his freedom. I still remember how Blane Scogin, leader of Persecution Watch, who was led by the Holy Spirit to encourage us to continue praying without ceasing until Pastor Andrew would be free. Our God who reigns from heaven is an awesome with wisdom, power and love. Yes our God is an awesome God!

Voice of the Persecuted shared a report of Andrew Brunson speaking to MEP’s about his life as a pastor in Turkey for 25 years, “twenty-three by choice, two by force in the prisons”. All those years, Brunson told the Turkish people about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Though he and his wife suffered in Turkey, Andrew said they still loved the Turkish people and have no regrets they went there and did the work that made him a target for persecution. “It wasn’t a job for me. I fully believe in what we did, and I don’t try to hide that my call is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. I believe He is the only way of salvation and I don’t apologize for saying that. We spent 25 years in Turkey not to undermine the system in any way but to bring God’s offer of eternal life.”

Turkey has a large unreached people group who have never heard the Gospel of Christ. Brunson’s imprisonment has changed that. During his incarceration, Brunson was told about the unprecedented prayer movement taking place on his behalf. He said he didn’t feel worthy of it, but certainly needed prayer and was very grateful. As basically an unknown, he wondered why millions of people were praying for him. He concluded that God was using this with intentions to pour prayer into Turkey.

“I rode a wave of prayer out of Turkey but…there was a tsunami of prayer that crashed into Turkey that is going to bring great blessing to that country…God was using my imprisonment for good in that way.”

A letter written by Turkish Christians around 2011 asked for the global church to pray for them. The request also recalled the brutal attack on 3 Christian men who were murdered for their faith in Malatya, Turkey in 2007. The victims had their hands and feet tied and their throats slit. The attack was considered one of the most vicious on Christians in Turkey at that time. Click hear to watch a video report of the news story.

“From the body of Christ in Turkey, to our holy and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are writing to you from Turkey – from the land of Noah, of Abraham, of Paul, of Mt. Ararat and Harran, of Antioch, Ephesus, Galatia and the Seven Churches of Revelation……

Yet today in our land of 72 million, which is 99.8% Muslim, the size of Christ’s flock is only a handful. We are writing to ask, indeed, to plead for your prayers.

As Turkish Christians we love our country very much. Pray for God’s will to be done, and for His Kingdom to come!

Pray that the Lord’s hand will be with us and a great number of people will believe and turn to the Lord.

We, the church in Turkey, have invited the worldwide church to pray for the land and the church of Turkey. We ask you at your church to pray for us…

We are praying for you, and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding and we beg you brothers.

Pray for us! The God of peace be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 1: 11 “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many..

These are a few points to help direct your prayers for Turkey. Please feel free to pray for any other points you feel led to pray for.

1- Please pray for the blessing and peace of Turkey in general, as the Lord desires us to bless and be a blessing to all.

“By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted….” Proverbs 11:11

2- Pray the Lord will display His love and mercy to the people of Turkey by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon our land, revealing His glory through healings, signs and wonders.

3- Pray the Lord breaks down the lies and the endless disinformation about Christ, the Bible and Christians that has blinded and hardened hearts in our land. Pray that God redeems the negative memories of history.

“Of course, we are living in the flesh, but we do not fight in a fleshly way. For the weapons of our warfare are not those of the flesh. Instead, they have the power of God to demolish fortresses. We tear down arguments and every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive in order to obey Christ..” 2 Co. 10:3-5

4- Pray that hearts and eyes are opened to see Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.

5- Pray for the Turkish believers who are always on the frontline to walk close to the Lord. Pray for refreshing, emboldening, strengthening, protection and encouragement.

6- Pray for more servant hearted leaders. For good role models. For faithful laborers.

7- Pray for the ongoing unity amongst the churches and for its increase and deepening.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus that together you may, with one voice, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5,6

Thank you for your prayers. May the Lord’s hand be upon you always.

We also encourage you to watch this prayer video.

Tonight, we welcome you on the Prayer Conference Call, as the Lord leads.

Pray for the Church in Turkey, for Andrew Brunson, for God is not done with him and his wife Norine yet, and for those who are lost. Call details below

In Christ Love,

Nadia Dybvik  and Merlaine Smokes, Prayer Call Moderators

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.

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