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INDIA: Karnataka Christian hospital official arrested for proselytising

(AsiaNews) – Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu group, on Monday stormed the Sanjo Hospital, Mandya district (Karnataka), and beat up Simon George, a public relations officer, and Sister Nirmal Jose the hospital administrator.

The extremists claim that the two denigrated Hindu deities. Instead of helping the victims of the attack, police took Simon George into custody. He applied for bail but the court turned him down.

For Fr Josekutty Kalayil, who takes care of the hospital’s legal affairs, the incident stems from the hospitalization on Sunday of an elderly Hindu with high blood pressure.

Just before he was discharged, the man asked why there was a Bible in his room. Simon George, who was doing a routine tour, replied that he could read it if he was interested. This was followed shortly afterwards by the attack.

According to Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the hospital was attacked because it is run by Christian religious, even though it serves everyone, regardless of faith or caste.

“Christian missionaries who work in the medical and educational field are targeted every day by extremists who try to discredit their altruistic work, which is to get people the ‘beneficial touch’ of Jesus,” George explained.

In his view, the charges against the Sanjo Hospital staff are false. “There is nothing criminal or illegal about keeping a Bible in a hospital room; no Hindu deity has been offended,” he noted.

The Christian community Mandya district is very small, about 9,000 people out of a population of 1.8 million, but it is under constant threat from extremist groups.

“Our Christian institutions serve mostly those who attack, abuse and assault us. May God forgive them for they know not what they do,” was George’s laconic comment.

Pastor Stephen Tong: “Pastor Wang Yi is one of the greatest men in the world.”

Stephen Tong, a reformed Chinese pastor based out of Indonesia, has influenced the Chinese house church perhaps more than any other pastor in this generation. In the video below, he shares at the KL2020 conference in Kuala Lumpur some of his thoughts about Pastor Wang Yi. To prevent him from boldly sharing the Gospel, Yi was given a 9 year prison sentence by the government. Please continue to pray for this pastor and our Chinese brothers and sisters being persecuted for their faith in Christ.

China: Eradication of Jiangxi Province’s House Churches in Full Swing

The entrance to the church was sealed off.

Holding religious meetings at home is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs.

(Bitterwinter) Throughout 2019, authorities in the southeastern province of Jiangxi forcibly demolished numerous house churches, looted their property, and arrested clergy members under the pretext of the nationwide campaign to “clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.” Bitter Winter continues to receive more reports about such CCP-organized suppression attacks to force house churches into joining the Three-Self Church.

Ever since the central government’s religious work inspection team arrived in Jiangxi’s Fuzhou city in November 2019, clampdowns on house churches noticeably increased.

On January 5, local government officials came to a house church venue in Fuzhou’s Nancheng county to close it down. They took photos of the believers who were present at the time and registered their personal information. The church’s preacher was accused of holding religious meetings at home, which is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, the officials said. Afterward, police officers escorted the preacher to the county’s Public Security Bureau for questioning; he was detained for five days for refusing to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

A source who talked to the preacher after he was released told Bitter Winter that during detention, officers were saying that the state is cracking down on Christianity because it worries about the rapid increase in the number of believers who might unite with foreigners against the CCP.

On December 28, a Sola Fide venue in Fuzhou’s Lean county was celebrating Christmas when several police officers stormed in and drove away all congregation members, threatening to arrest and imprison them if they gathered again. Police officers confiscated Bibles, hymnbooks, audio equipment, and other valuables, and also removed Christmas decorations. Two church directors were escorted to the local police station for questioning, where they were forced to write statements promising not to hold private meetings anymore.

A month before that, another Sola Fide venue in the county had its religious symbols destroyed, and the gate sealed off, preventing anyone from getting inside.

Between December and January, at least three house church venues in Fuzhou’s Lichuan county were closed down.

In mid-December, the Shangrao city’s government ordered to close a house church venue, which had 20 congregation members. Officials threatened the believers that their children’s future would be affected if they didn’t stop assembling. The church director was detained for 15 days for “holding illegal meetings.”

On January 10, the local government cleared out and shut down a house church venue in Dexing city. Officials threatened to demolish the venue if its director held meetings there again.

On December 11, local government officials broke into a house church venue in Jiujiang city’s Xiushui county and took down and burned the cross and other religious symbols. The same day, four other venues in the county were subjected to similar crackdowns. The host of one of them was taken to the police station for questioning and was later forced to sign a statement pledging never to host religious gatherings at home.

In December, over ten government officials raided a house church venue in the Nankang district of Ganzhou city after a community committee official reported it. The police arrested and questioned the preacher for “holding illegal meetings” and summoned the venue’s landlord, ordered him to clear out the church.

Christians Suffer Two Months of Abuse in Jail on Baseless Charges in India

Pastors Om Prakash (left) and Ajay Kumar face baseless charges in Uttar Pradesh, India. (Morning Star News)

Police find no evidence for accusations but yield to Hindu extremist pressure.

India (Morning Star News) – Three Christians in northern India spent more than two months in jail suffering abuse from other prisoners, even though police found no evidence of wrongdoing and the complainant retracted his accusation, sources said.

In Uttar Pradesh state’s Mau District, 23-year-old pastor Ajay Kumar, fellow pastor Om Prakash, 20, and another Christian, 62-year-old Kapil Dev Ram, still face fabricated charges after being released on bail late last month.

Pastor Kumar said the time they spent in jail was a “nightmare.”

“Every night was a traumatic night for us,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “We did not know when a mob would wake us in the middle of the night and torment us.”

Accused of forceful conversion by Hindu extremists who disrupted their Nov. 26 worship at Ram’s home in Daraura village, the two pastors were released on bail on Jan. 27 after two months and a day in jail. Ram was released on Jan. 29 after spending two months and three days in jail.

In spite of the ordeal, the pastors managed to explain the gospel of eternal salvation to many prisoners in their barracks, with one putting his faith in Christ.

Pastor Kumar said they faced the same kind of Hindu nationalist opposition in jail as they did outside it.

“Prisoners inside the jail showed their religious bias,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “We did not lie when our co-prisoners asked us the reason for us being in jail, and when we told them that it’s a case of [forcible] conversion, they despised us and spread the word around.”

A group of prisoners came on many nights to wake him and Ram, who were in one barrack while Prakash was in another, he said.

“They used vulgar language and asked us how much foreign money we have earned by carrying out conversions,” Pastor Kumar said. “They demanded money from us, asking us to share the supposed loot with them. And when we explained that there was no money involved, they beat me with fists and legs. They spared Kapil from beatings as he is a senior citizen and said that I have to take his share of beating as well.”

They faced continuous threats, including warnings that they would not be spared after their release, he said.

“‘We will deal with you outside the prison for carrying out conversions,’ said many of them, but we always spoke to them politely,” Pastor Kumar said. “There are things that happened to us that I cannot even share about.”

One day an influential prisoner summoned him and asked him to pray for a man who had been unable to sleep at night since his arrest months before, Pastor Kumar said.

“He will go crazy and die in the prison, I was told,” he said.

Pastor Kumar went to the man, prayed for him and began to spend time with him, he said.

“One day he broke and began to confess his sins in prayer; he started to get sleep at nights,” Pastor Kumar said. “The troublesome prisoners began to trouble this man too, questioning him as to why he has started to pray along with the Christians, to which he answered, ‘When I was upset, nobody helped me. It was Ajay who told me about Christ and comforted me.’”

The day that Pastor Kumar and Ram were about to leave jail, the man told them that he believed in Christ and wanted to follow Him, the pastor said.

“I was full of joy,” he said.

In the other barrack, Pastor Prakash was suffering from chickenpox and was quarantined for nearly two weeks. He received no medicine for his illness.

“There was no neatness inside the jail. I could not sleep for the first full month. The food was extremely bad. Only because one must survive, one had to eat,” Pastor Prakash told Morning Star News.

The 70 to 75 prisoners in his area came to know that he was a pastor, and he told each of them the gospel of eternal life, he said.

“I spent time in prayer for two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening,” he said. “People started to come to me with their prayer requests. I shared the Good News with all the prisoners in my barrack.”

Of the nine prisoners released from his area while he was incarcerated, five said they wished to connect with him and attend his church after release, Pastor Prakash said.

“Though I went through a lot of troubles and hardships, I was happy I was inside, doing the Lord’s work,” Pastor Prakash said.

Baseless Accusation

Pastors Kumar and Prakash, who help lead Sharon Fellowship Church in Mohammadabad, Gohana about five miles from Daraura village, were visiting Ram’s home for the time of fellowship when the Hindu extremists intruded.

After the arrests on Nov. 26, three other pastors arrived at the Ranipur police station to speak to the Station Officer (SO).

One of the other pastors, Raj Kumar, told Morning Star News that the station officer said he questioned villagers who had attended the fellowship and found no evidence of forceful conversion.

“He said the people testified of the miracles that happened in their lives after attending prayer in Kapil’s house,” Pastor Raj Kumar said. “He met a lady who said that she could not conceive for 15 years and that after getting prayed for, she is six months pregnant now. The SO said that he found no ‘forceful conversions’ taking place in the village, and that these people have done nothing.”

The officer told him and the others that he would keep the Christians in custody for one night and release them after their appearance before a judge the next day, he said.

“We returned home only to learn later that a group of people from the Hindu organizations reached the police station after we left and pressured them to charge the Christians severely,” Pastor Raj Kumar said.

Police registered a First Information Report (FIR No. 236) based on a written complaint from Prakash Paasi, chief of Daraura village. The High Court in Allahabad would grant the Christians bail in January based on Paasi’s deposition in favor of the accused Christians, Pastor Raj Kumar said.

“Prakash Paasi submitted a sworn affidavit in the court that stated that he was not in a proper frame of mind due to some domestic disturbance in his family, when some people came to his house and obtained his signatures on some documents that he had no idea about,” Pastor Raj Kumar said. “He also said that he later went and enquired of the people attending the prayer meeting and learned that there was no conversion taking place, but that it was a normal prayer meeting taking place in Kapil’s house.”

The Christians posted bail of 400,000 rupees (US$5,555) each, sources said.

They were charged under Indian Penal Code sections for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, outraging religious feelings and inducing a person to believe that he will be rendered an object of the Divine displeasure, besides the charge under the religious institutions act. Under the Religious Institu­tions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, they were charged under Section 3, which prohibits a religious institution from promoting disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between different religious communities.

Offenses under the religious institutions act are cognizable, meaning police can make an arrest without a warrant, and non-bailable as per Section 7 of the Act. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 rupees (US$140).

“This case is not only the longest custody case in the year 2019, where the Christians have remained in jail for more than two months, but also a case where they have been strategically booked for ‘misuse of religious institutions for political and other purposes,’” Christian rights activist Dinanath Jaiswar told Morning Star News. “A lot of homework has been done before putting this section on the Christians.”

Christian leaders in Uttar Pradesh reacted strongly to the use of the Religious Institu­tions (Prevention of Misuse) Act.

“We had no clue as to what the Religious Institu­tions (Prevention of Misuse) Act meant,” Pastor Prakash told Morning Star News. “The police officials did not bother to explain or tell us what they have booked us under.”

A lower court initially rejected their application for bail. Morning Star News efforts to reach their attorney were unsuccessful.

According to the terms of the bail granted by the higher court, the three Christians must present themselves in court nearly every two weeks or whenever the court demands, Pastor Raj Kumar said.

“The three presented themselves before the Court on Feb. 6 and then on Feb. 20,” he said. “It is a very tedious procedure, and we do not know how many years it will take for them to prove their innocence.”

Since his arrest, Ram’s licence to run a government ration store in his village has been cancelled, Jaiswar said.

“It is heart-breaking that the only source of income of Kapil’s family has been snatched away from him,” Jaiswar told Morning Star News. “It was his livelihood.”

Hindu Pressure

As part of their regular visits to church members’ homes, pastors Kumar and Prakash had gone to Ram’s house on Nov. 26, where about 10 to 12 people were gathered for worship, when it was disrupted by members of the Hindu extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV).

The HYV is a Hindu youth militia founded in 2002 by Yogi Adityanath, now the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

At about 11:45 a.m., seven or eight Hindu extremists charged into the house and began to video record them on their mobile phones, Pastor Kumar said. The intruders harshly questioned the women, asking what they had received for becoming Christians, he said: “Are you given money for medical treatment? Are you promised free rations? What do they give you to make you follow their faith?”

“When they began to shout at us, Kapil asked them to leave his house, objecting to the hostility they created inside his house,” Pastor Kumar said.

When pastors Kumar and Prakash left Ram’s house, they found a large crowd waiting outside. Ram’s family spoke with the Hindu extremists for more than 20 minutes, and twice when the pastors tried to leave, the extremists snatched their motorbike keys from them.

“They blamed us for carrying out forced conversion and threatened to kill us and smash our faces,” Pastor Prakash said.

The extremists continued to record videos as they tried to make the pastors confess to forcible conversion.

“They argued with the members of Kapil’s family, trying to lead them into acknowledging that they have received some kind of monetary help or any other benefit to convert to Christianity,” Pastor Prakash told Morning Star News.

The Hindu extremists called police, who arrived and detained the two pastors and the homeowner. Pastor Kumar said he was shocked that police allowed the extremists to shoot video of officers interrogating the Christians.

Officers took them to Ranipur police station.

“When we were still sitting in the police station, some police personnel were sent to the village to investigate about the case, who returned to report that there was no conversion taking place,” Pastor Prakash said. “A police officer made his report and booked us under a single section of the law. He was about to set us free to go home around 9 in the night when a crowd that belonged to various Hindu organizations entered the police station. They began to pressure the officer, demanding that strict action should be taken against us.”

After spending the night in custody and appearing before the judge, the next afternoon Pastor Prakash asked the station officer when he would let them go.

“He responded that he is going to put us in jail,” Pastor Prakash said. “He said, ‘We are tired of what is going on in the state – the whole state is upside-down because of this conversion matter.’”

India is ranked 10th on the Open Doors’ 2020 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 worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

China: Christians Forced to Choose Between State Benefits and Faith

Portraits of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai were posted by officials in a believer’s home in Lu’an city.

Local officials throughout China are intimidating people of faith to renounce religion and start worshiping the Communist Party and its leaders, past and present. Officials warned them “not to praise Jesus but the Communist Party because it supports his livelihood.” “You must listen to the Party and follow it forever and ever.”

by Tang Zhe (Bitter Winter) Ever since President Xi Jinping took office, his portraits and quotes started invading places of worship and even believers’ homes, pushing his personality cult to unprecedented levels. People are also threatened to have their poverty alleviation and other government aid removed if they don’t replace religious symbols with portraits of Xi Jinping or Mao Zedong.  Bitter Winter continues to receive more such reports.

In Fenyi county of the southeastern province of Jiangxi, Caochang township officials came to the home of a Three-Self church member on December 27, 2019. They forced the believer of more than 30 years to replace two religion-themed pictures with a portrait of Xi Jinping.

Village officials visited the woman’s home several times to ensure that she doesn’t host religious meetings or read the Bible, threatening to revoke her subsistence allowance if she does.

In June, government officials tore down a picture with the cross from a wall in the home of a 60-year-old believer in Fenyi county’s Dongcun township. They threw it into a trash bin and posted portraits of Xi Jinping and other CCP leaders in its place.

“The government is imposing stricter and stricter control over religion. I’m afraid we won’t be able to attend Sunday service in our Three-Self church,” a local churchgoer said worriedly.

Believers in the eastern province of Shandong face similar suppression. On November 15, government officials raided a Three-Self meeting venue, spanning the history of more than 40 years, in Heze city-administered Shan county. They forced their way inside when no one was there and replaced a painting depicting Jesus and embroidery of the cross, displayed in the center of a wall in the hall, with a Xi Jinping portrait. The officials threw away the religious paintings and moved all the tables and chairs into the courtyard.

The next day, they returned to the venue again, threatening to demolish the building if the owner continued renting it to the church and ordered him “not to praise Jesus but the Communist Party because it supports his livelihood.” “You must listen to the Party and follow it forever and ever,” the officials warned before leaving.

In December, two more elderly believers in Shan county had paintings depicting Jesus replaced with images of Xi Jinping. Officials threatened one of the women to revoke her subsistence allowance if she continued believing in God. “You are allowed to worship Xi Jinping only,” the elderly believer was pressured.

“Believing in God is deemed a crime in China, where believers are restricted every day, as their rights and liberties are obstructed,” an elderly Christian from Shandong’s Penglai city, who was also threatened to lose her subsistence allowance, told Bitter Winter. “The CCP propagates the freedom of religion, but persecutes old women like me for their faith.”

In October 2019, a Sola Fide house church member for 26 years from Lu’an city in the central province of Anhui was ordered by a local official to take down a picture with Chinese characters for “God loves the world” she had at home. The woman refused and was warned that her poverty alleviation subsidy would be revoked if she continued resisting. She chose her faith over money, but the officials still took down the picture, saying that she could not keep it even if she gave up the subsidy because “this is the Party’s policy.” He then forcibly took down the picture, replacing it with portraits of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China. He took photos afterward, to send them to the higher-ups.

VOP NOTE: Please pray for Chinese Christians to remain faithful under pressure and endure the extreme government persecution against them.

 

NIGERIA: Boko Haram beheads Rev. Andimi Branch Chairman of (CAN)

Rev. Andimi pleads for help on video released by the Boko Haram

Nigerian Christians are reeling from shock after learning Rev Lawan Andimi was executed on Jan. 20 by the Boko Haram. He was an ordained minister of EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, served as EYN district secretary for the Michika area and was a branch chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the Michika area. The state CAN chairman, Bishop Dami Mamza, disclosed on Tuesday that Boko Haram insurgents had demanded for £200million ransom and rejected the N50million offer before executing Andimi. He said the captors threatened to kill him on Saturday but did not carry out the execution until Monday.

Part of a message Voice of the Persecuted received this morning from one of our sources on the ground said, “Having sleepless nights with the executions of Boko Haram and especially the killing of the pastor in December and Rev. Andimi. Although, there are many cases of such nature. It is very disturbing.”

Ahmed Salkida, a journalist known to have access to Boko Haram and release information for them, shared the horrific news on Twitter.

Later, he also shared, “Reverend Lawan Andimi was beheaded yesterday afternoon, the video of the appalling executions with that of a soldier was obtained at 2:42pm. I made sure that the family, the authorities and the church were duly informed before the news was put out to the public this morning.”

Reports claim the Boko Haram terrorists rejected a N50m ransom offer that fell short of their steep demand and went ahead to behead Rev. Lawan Andimi on Monday. The insurgents had demanded for N946m but was only offered N50m, infuriating the terrorists.

Morning Star News reported that Rev. Lawan Andimi had a treasured life – loving family, an affectionate congregation and respect from his colleagues.

The kidnapped district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Michika County, in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, had stated in a video that he trusted in God should he lose his life to Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram.

CAN President Samson Ayokunle confirmed in a comment to the Nigerian newspaper the Daily Post that Pastor Andimi had been executed.

Pastor Andimi had said in a Boko Haram video released by Salkida on Jan. 5 that he hoped to be reunited with his wife, children and colleagues.

“If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God,” he said. “I want all people close and far, colleagues, to be patient. Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything.”

Pastor Andimi, who also served as chairman of CAN’s local chapter, was kidnapped on Jan. 2 when Boko Haram attacked two Christian communities in the area.

In the video released on Jan. 5, the pastor called on church leaders to speak out for him and urge Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri to intervene to secure his release.

“I have never been discouraged, because all conditions that one finds himself is in the hand of God,” Pastor Andimi said in the video.

Strongly Worded Statement

CAN President Ayokunle said in a press statement that the execution of Pastor Andimi was “gruesome, unfortunate and a shame on the federal government,” according to Nigerian newspaper The Nation.

“What has become of intelligence-gathering of our security agencies?” Ayokunle said in the statement. “Is this government and the security agencies still claiming that the war against these criminals in religious garments has been won despite all the killings? Is the government sincere in fighting these terrorists or merely paying lip service to the war against the insurgency? Is there any hope that our security is guaranteed under this government?”

CAN’s director of legal and public affairs, Kwamkur Vondip, reportedly said in a statement that the church did “everything within her reach to secure the safe release of this pastor gentleman but it was not possible because they didn’t have the military power to do so,” according to The Nation.

“Just last Sunday, a clergyman, Rev. Denis Bagauri, was murdered by unknown gunmen in his residence at Mayo Belwa of Adamawa state,” Vondip reportedly said. “The church views the unabated kidnappings, extortions and killings of Christians and innocent Nigerians as shameful to the government that each time boasts that it has conquered insurgency.”

In the strongly worded statement, Vondip said it was reprehensible and saddening that each time the government claims the defeat of Boko Haram, more killings are committed.

“In the light of the current developments and the circumstantial facts surrounding the prevailing upsurge of attacks against the church, it will be difficult for us to believe that the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria, bearing in mind the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed towards a religion and region!

“Is that lopsidedness not a cover-up for the operation of the insurgency? If not, why couldn’t the well-equipped security agents of Nigeria get this man killed rescued?”

Vondip urged the government to ensure the release of Leah Sharibu, kidnapped from a high school in Dapchi, Yobe state in February 2018, and hundreds of other victims of Boko Haram and splinter group the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).

“A government that cannot protect the governed is a failed government,” Vondip said. “Can the government tell us what they did since Rev. Andimì cried out to them for help?…If the security agencies claim the terrorists are operating outside the country, why is it possible for these hoodlums to invade the country, kill, maim, burn and kidnap without any convincing checks on the part of the security agencies?

“Since the government and its apologists are claiming the killings have no religious undertones, why are the terrorists and herdsmen targeting the predominantly Christian communities and Christian leaders?

“If the security agencies are not living up to the expectations of the government, why hasn’t it overhauled them with a view of injecting new visionary ones into the security system?”

He said that as long as the government refuses to act, the crimes will continue.

“We are almost losing hope in government’s ability to protect Nigerians, especially Christians who have become endangered species under its watch,” he said.

Ayokunle called on the international community to come to the aid of Nigeria, “especially, the Nigerian church, so that we might not be eliminated one by one.”

President Buhari, in a statement to the Daily Post, said security forces were working continuously to secure the release of hostages and appealed for Nigerians not to see terrorist attacks and plans as a religious fight or persecution of Christians.

“Not seeing terrorists as they should be is exactly what they wish to divide Nigerians,” Buhari said in the statement. “Nigerians must continue to be united in ensuring that they do not subscribe to the terrorists’ message of division. Unfortunately, some leaders and politicians seek to make political capital from our religious differences.

“As we fight Boko Haram on the ground, so too must we tackle their beliefs: stability and unity in face of their hatred is itself a rejection of their worldview. This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicization of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured” (Hebrews 13:3).

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. You can also join the Persecution Watch prayer conference call tonight and pray united for them. Call details below

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Tonight on Persecution Watch: Violence Against Christians in India

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Intercessors, Again, we want to lift up two persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice that this year will be the year where they will be set free. And also pray for pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison.

India

Population: 1.35 billion Christians 65 million

Continued violence against Christians and churches. Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, attacks have increased, and Hindu radicals believe they can attack Christians with no consequences. As a result, Christians have been targeted by Hindu nationalist extremists more and more each year. The view of the nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith—including Christianity—is considered non-Indian. Additionally, in some regions of the country, converts to Christianity from Hinduism experience extreme persecution, discrimination and violence.

Because radical Hindu nationalists view followers of Jesus as alien to the nation, all Christians in India are suffering persecution. Driven by a desire to cleanse their country from Islam and Christianity, nationalists do not shy away from using extensive violence to achieve their goals.

Converts to Christianity from Hinduism bear the brunt of the Christian persecution in India and are constantly under pressure by the state, their community and their families to return to Hinduism (especially via campaigns knows as ghar wapsi, which means “homecoming”). These Christians are often physically assaulted and sometimes killed.

On June 19, 2018, five Christian women (aged 20 to 35) were performing a street play in Jharkhand when they were abducted and then gang raped in a forest. Police stated that the assault was also allegedly filmed on cell phones. On January 20, 2018, the body of Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy in Adaiyalachery (Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu) was found hung from the thatched roof of his house, a week after he complained to police about opposition from radical Hindus.

  •     Pray for Christian converts from Hinduism who are forcefully pressured to return to their national religion.

 

  •    Pray with Christians in India for God’s provision and protection as they preach the gospel in places = the states with anti-conversion laws.

 

  •    Pray for Christian girls placed under house arrest by their families because of their faith. Pray they would be encouraged in their faith and that their families would come to know the Lord.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord that He will exercise His power and bring about a change in government and that they will be open to religious liberty.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord for that pastors and teachers that train the saints will have unhindered acces into India.

 

  •    Pray that Christians Internet messages and websites will reach deep into the Hindu communities and will encourage Christians.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord that the believers will have courage, wisdom and boldness to reach out to Hindu neighbors.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord to give NGOs favor that they will be invisible to the authorities and can continue to provide spiritual and other support to believers.

 

  •     Pray to the Lord that believers will love and forgive their persecutors.

 

  •      Pray that the Lord will build His church by adding daily to the number of believers.

 

Many blessings,

Andy, Prayer Call Moderator, Persecution Watch

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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 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 served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

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. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

 

Chinese Church Issues Statement Following Prison Sentence of Pastor Wang Yi

Early Rain Covenant Church Photo: Facebook

(Voice of the Persecuted) A statement from Early Rain Covenant Church regarding the severe sentencing of Pastor Wang Yi, encouragement for other churches being persecuted and a request for prayer.

Since December 9th, 2018, our church’s senior pastor Wang Yi has been imprisoned on charges of “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations.” On December 26th, 2019, he was secretly tried at the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court. On December 30th, the court announced that Pastor Wang Yi was sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined 50,000 RMB. Our church issues the following statement to clarify our position:

1. As the senior pastor of this church, Pastor Wang Yi is a faithful servant who has been chosen by God and by the Lord Jesus Christ. His teachings on the truth of the gospel are consistent with the entirety of biblical revelation; they are consistent with the creeds, confessions, and relevant catechisms inherited by the universal church; and they are consistent with the constitution of Western China Reformed Presbytery. The influence that God has given Pastor Wang Yi within the universal church and especially within Chinese churches throughout the world is a result of his being called by God and courageously preaching the gospel amidst the unique cultural and political circumstances in China.

2. Pastor Wang Yi’s sermons, lectures, books, and articles are produced for the pastoring of believers and for the spreading of the gospel. From the perspective of the church, he produces these things as a way of fulfilling his call to the ministry and responding to the gifts and grace he has received. By producing these things, he is fulfilling his duties as a pastor and a missionary. From the perspective of society, he is exercising his freedoms of religion and of speech, rights granted to Chinese citizens by the Constitution and laws of China. The books printed by the church have never been printed for profit but only for the pastoring of believers and for the spreading of the gospel. He has never conducted so-called “illegal business operations.”

3. Ever since Pastor Wang Yi received his calling from God, he has always held to the biblical principle of “separation of church and state” regarding the relationship between church and state. He has spent much time researching, preaching, and writing about this. It is widely known in the Chinese church that he has always taught that Christians should submit to authorities in power in accordance with Scripture. He has taught that even when the church is being persecuted, Christians should be willing to submit to the government’s physical restrictions of them as well as to the depravation of their property. He has never said or done anything that amounts to “inciting to subvert state power.”

4. Pastor Wang Yi’s arrest, imprisonment, and trial are persecutions he has suffered for the sake of the Christian faith, and they testify to the sufferings of Christ for the glory of God (1 Pet. 5:1). He is a gift and joy whom God has given to this church (Eph. 4:11, Phil. 4:1).

5. Pastor Wang Yi did not commit any crime. The authorities’ charges of “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations” are part of the unjust persecutions against the Chinese house church. Regardless of the sentence the authorities pronounce against him, Pastor Wang Yi is the senior pastor of this church and a faithful messenger of the kingdom of heaven whom we stand with and follow and whom the Lord Jesus Christ has chosen and approved.

In Christ, we issue the following exhortation and protest against Pastor Wang Yi’s severe sentence. Do you government officials not know that this is a sin against God? Do you not know that this is an abuse of your authority (Rom. 13:3)? Even so, we do not hate you. On the contrary, our merciful and righteous God wants us to love you and to pray for you. We desire that those public officials and law enforcement officers who are involved in this case would quickly repent and believe in the Lord, that you would know the atonement and forgiveness of sins which the Lord Jesus extends to all through his suffering on the cross, and that you would obtain eternal life and hope.

We invite all sojourners throughout the world who belong to the universal church to pray fervently for Pastor Wang Yi and Elder Qin Defu, who are being imprisoned for the sake of Christ and of the gospel, as well as for their families. Pray for all of us. We will also pray for you. In this eschaton, which Jesus Christ brought about through his incarnation, through his perfect life, through his betrayal and trial, through his substitutionary death, through his resurrection and ascension, through his gift of the Holy Spirit—in this eschaton, may we testify, through our suffering, that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6) and that he is the light of the world.

We also invite churches who are currently being persecuted to fix their eyes together with us upon the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, may we be united to the King of Kings who ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high, who is our eternal high priest and prophet of the last days. May we be strong in his grace as we keep on fighting despite repeated setbacks. We do this to fulfill the Great Commission and to spread the gospel, that the glorious name of the triune God might be praised. May God help us and allow us to experience together the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of God until the day we see him face-to-face. May blessing and honor and wisdom and wealth and glory and power and authority be to our holy Father who is in heaven, to the Lord Jesus Christ who obtained our salvation, and to the Holy Spirit our Helper who continually helps us. Amen!

Early Rain Covenant Church
December 30, 2019

Voice of the Persecuted asks that you be their voice and share this story. Encourage your church, friends and family members to pray with you for them in their suffering. These precious Chinese believers are praying for you!

Original:
秋雨圣约教会关于王怡牧师被判重刑的声明

自2018年12月9日以来,本教会主任牧师王怡被当局以“煽动颠覆国家政权罪”和“非法经营罪”之名羁押,2019年12月26日在成都市中级人民法院被秘密开庭审理。12月30日,王怡牧师被宣布判刑9年,并处罚金5万元。本教会特作如下五点声明,表明教会的立场:

1,作为本教会的主任牧师,王怡牧师是上帝和主基督所拣选的忠心的仆人,他在福音真理的教导上符合整本圣经的启示,符合大公教会所传承的信经、信条及相关要理问答,符合改革宗长老会华西区会的宪章规定;上帝使王怡牧师在普世教会尤其是在全世界华人教会中拥有的影响力,是因为他蒙主呼召,按主所赐,大有勇气地在中国特有的文化与政治处境中宣讲福音;

2,王怡牧师的证道、讲座、书籍和文章,是他牧养信徒、传布福音的信息。从教会范围来看,这既是他对所蒙圣职呼召的践行,也是他对所领受恩赐、恩典的回应,是他履行牧师和宣教士职分的本分;从社会层面来看,这是他对中国宪法和法律所赋予中国公民的信仰自由和言论自由权利的践行。教会印制的书籍,从未有任何牟利行为,其目的都在牧养信徒和传福音,从未有过所谓的“非法经营”之行为;

3,王怡牧师自蒙呼召以来,在教会与政府关系上持守基于圣经的“政教分立”立场,在这方面有多年的研究、讲道和写作,在中国教会中广为人知,他在教会中从来都是教导基督徒要按照圣经顺服在上掌权者,即使在教会受逼迫的时候也愿意顺服政府对基督徒身体的限制、财产的剥夺,从未有过“煽动颠覆国家政权”的言论和行为;

4,王怡牧师被拘捕、被囚禁、被审判,是为基督信仰遭受逼迫,为上帝的荣耀作基督受苦的见证(彼前5:1),他是上帝赐给我们这间教会的礼物和喜乐(弗4.11;腓4:1);

5,王怡牧师并没有违法犯罪,当局对他“涉嫌煽动颠覆国家政权罪”和“非法经营罪”的指控,是中国家庭教会遭受不公义逼迫的一部分。无论当局如何判决,王怡牧师都是本教会的主任牧师,是我们所认同和跟随的主耶稣基督所拣选和设立的忠心牧者。

我们对王怡牧师被判重刑发出在基督里的劝告和抗议。岂不知政府人员这样做是得罪上帝的吗?岂不知这是对上帝授予政府权柄的滥用吗(罗13:3)? 即便如此,我们对你们没有仇恨,怜悯与公义的上帝反而要我们爱你们、为你们祷告,深愿参与这场教案的公务人员,秉公执法,能早日悔改归信主基督,认识主耶稣在十字架上受难对世人一切罪的代赎和赦免,并得到永远生命与盼望。

我们邀请寄居全地的普世教会,为因基督和福音缘故被囚禁的王怡牧师、覃德富长老和他们的家人继续切切代祷。为我们众人祷告,我们也会为你们祷告,愿我们在这末世 — 耶稣基督以他降世为人、完美一生、被卖受审、代罪受死、复活升天和赐下圣灵带来的末世中 — 以我们的受苦见证基督是道路、真理、生命(约14.6),是这黑暗世界的光。我们也邀请正在遭受逼迫的教会,一起定睛死而复活的耶稣基督,依靠圣灵与已经升到高天之大者右边的王万之王、永远的大祭司和末后的先知紧密联合,在祂的恩典上刚强起来,屡败屡战,屡战屡败,为的是践行大使命,让福音广传,使三一上帝荣耀的名得着称赞。求上帝帮助我们,让我们在逼迫中,同享上帝长阔高深的慈爱,直到与祂面对面的时刻。愿颂赞、尊贵、智慧、丰富、荣耀、能力和权柄,都归给我们在天上的圣父,为我们赢得拯救的主耶稣基督,不断向我们施恩帮助的圣灵保惠师。阿们!

秋雨圣约归正长老教会
2019年12月30日

Early Rain Covenant Church-Facebook

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