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Tonight on Persecution Watch: Nations of Brutal Dictatorships and Severe Religious Oppression

Prayer ministry of Voice of the Persecuted

(Voice of the Persecuted) Looking back, our first prayer letter of 2019 we want to praise and thank the Lord for giving Asia BiBi her release from prison and safe conduct into a country where she can be a Christian without fear.

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.

As we start a new year, I feel it would be prudent to pray for some of the countries with the most:

  • Brutal dictatorships
  • High level of Islamic oppression

North Korea – Population: 25.6 million; Christians: about 300,000

Eritrea                                  5.2 million;               about  2.5 million

China                                    1.4 billion                         97.2 million

  • Pray for the protection of the secret believers.
  • Pray for the secret believer who are sharing the good News.
  • Pray that for the Christians that suffer, being tortured and being kept under inhuman prison conditions.
  • Pray to the Lord that He will exercise His power and bring about a change in government.
  • Pray specifically for Pastor Wang YI.

Yemen         Population: 28.9 million      Christians: a few thousand

Iran                                 82.1 million                         about 800,000

Afghanistan                   36.3 million                        a few thousand

Pakistan                        200.8 million                             3.98 million

Nigeria                          195.9 million                            91.12 million

 

  • Pray Believers from Muslim backgrounds, particularly for those who have been shunned by their families and community upon conversion.
  • Pray to the Lord that the constitution that promises religious freedom will be fully implemented and that the laws banning Christian practices will be abolished.
  • Pray that Christians Internet messages and websites will reach deep in the Muslim communities and encourage Christians.
  • Pray to the Lord that the believers will have courage, wisdom and boldness to reach out to Muslim neighbors.
  • Pray to the Lord that He will appear to many Muslims in their dreams and connect them with 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.

You are invited to join us on Thursday, January 3 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church.

Many blessings,

Andy, Prayer Call Moderator

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 

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 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.

Tonight on the Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call (Dec. 12, 2019)

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear intercessors, you are invited to join us tonight, Thursday December 26 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church. Looking back on 2019, I believe it would be good to lift up the 7 nations who in our, perhaps my, perception caused much prayer for the persecuted Believers.

In alphabetical order:

Afghanistan

Population: 36 million, Christians in the thousands

A country where Christianity is not permitted to exist. An Islamic state by constitution, which means all government and religious officials are hostile to other religions as Christianity is.

Christian converts from Islam face strong pressure from family, friends and neighbors and can even be attacked.

  • Pray for these believers to have courage and protection.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan does not allow conversion from Islam.

  • Please pray for a softening of the country’s leadership and local rulers.
  • Pray for isolated believers in Afghanistan, many of whom are totally cut off from any other Christians.

China

Population: 1.4 billion, Christians 97 million

China continuously increases restriction on religious freedom and monitors and controls Christians through CCTV and social ratings.

  • Pray that the Chinese Christians who were recently arrested in raids would have courage and perseverance in the faith—include Pastor Wang Yi.
  • Pray for Chinese Christians to stand strong amidst tightening religious restrictions and to engage in cross-cultural missions effectively.
  • Pray that the Chinese government would proactively enter into constructive dialogue with local churches, in order to understand that Christian values are aligned with traditional Chinese values and that Christianity can be a positive influence for Chinese society.

Eritrea

Population:  5.1 million, Christians 2.4 million

Brutal, authoritarian president suppressing Christianity under inhuman conditions.

Thousands of Christians have been imprisoned in Eritrea over the last decade, some of whom remain in prison after more than 10 years. Pray for endurance for brothers and sisters detained in horrific conditions and ask God to give them perseverance in their faith.

Pray for President Afwerki, that God would work in his heart and reveal the truth of the gospel.

India

Population: 1.3 billion, Christians 65 million

President Moro is determined to create a Hindu state with Hinduism as the only approved religion. Increased violence and restrictions towards Christians.

  • 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 with anti-conversion laws.
  • Pray for the government of India, that they would open to religious liberty.

Iran

Population: 82 million, Christians 800,000

Islamic State under the control of religious leaders meaning that Christians persecuted and restricted “under” Islamic law. Mosques are empty and people demonstrate against Islamic leaders.

Any Muslim who leaves Islam faces a charge of apostasy and can be thrown in jail or worse. Pray that the laws will change, allowing for freedom of religion.

Nearly all churches that held services in Persian have been closed in recent years and their leaders were arrested. Pray for Christians in Iran’s prisons to have genuine love for their guards and fellow inmates.

Pray for secret believers who meet in house churches, that they will be protected and will be faithful witnesses to the surrounding culture.

Nigeria

Population: 195 million, Christians 91 million

Weak government controlled by Muslims unwilling to protect Christians. Increasing violence in the Northern part of the country against Christians by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.

  • Please pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice, who made a slave for life by Boko Haram
  • Pray for Christians in the middle of Nigeria, who are facing increased hostility and attacks from Fulani militants.
  • Sharia law has been implemented in 12 northern states where Christians face marginalization and discrimination. Pray that these Christians would not be discouraged. Pray they will not be tempted to give up the faith in pursuit of an easier life.
  • Pray for Fulani militants, the members of Boko Haram and other extremist groups. Pray that God will touch their hearts with His truth.

North Korea

Population:  25.6 million, Christians 300,000

Brutal dictatorship that fears Christians. Goes to extremes to punish Christians and aims to eradicate Christianity.

  • The situation for Christians is vulnerable and precarious. They face persecution from state authorities and their non-Christian family, friends and neighbors. Pray for their protection.
  • Pray for strength and courage for Christians who suffer in prisons, labor camps and remote areas.
  • Pray that God will prepare the underground church in North Korea to be a light for the country—and that they will be ready to share the gospel freely someday soon.

Many blessings,

Andy, 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.

Tonight on Persecution Watch: Praying for the Inhumane Suffering of Eritrean Christians (Nov. 21, 2019)

 

(Voice of the Persecuted) Before praying for Eritrea, we want to pray for: Leah Sharibu and Alice, made slaves for life by Boko Haram.

Eritrea:

Population: 5.2 million, Christians 2.5 million

Horrific prisons and human rights atrocities. Since 1993, President Afwerki has overseen an authoritarian brutal regime that rests on massive human rights violations. During the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, government security forces conducted many house-to-house raids and imprisoned hundreds of Christians in inhumane conditions, including small shipping containers in scorching heat. Protestants, in particular, face serious problems in accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the State.

06/07/2019 30 Christians were arrested on Monday, June 3, while praying at nondenominational churches in three different locations in Asmara, Eritrea. This news comes shortly after the arrest of 141 Christians in Asmara in early May. According to local reports, the arrested individuals will be freed only if they disavow their faith.

The current Eritrean government only recognizes four religious affiliations, including Sunni Islam, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea, the Catholic Church, and Orthodox Christianity, even though the constitution proclaims religious freedom. Consequently, religious minorities outside of these four groups face consistent opposition from government bodies.

Eritrean police officers are known to carry out raids on private homes where devotees of unrecognized religions, especially Pentecostal Christians, meet for community prayer. In this week’s raid, Pentecostal Christians were targeted while they prayed in their community churches. The condition of the jails these Christians are sent is most troubling. Eritrea is known for imprisoning dissidents in metal shipping containers in the heat of its desert climate.

At least 10 prisons around the country are holding hundreds of prisoners who have been detained for anywhere from a few months to 20 years, according to Release Eritrea, a U.K. charity that highlights Christian persecution in the country. Among them is the former Patriarch of Eritrea Orthodox Church,

Abune Antonios, who is in his 80s and has been under house arrest and incommunicado since 2007. He was deposed after complaining about the government’s interference with the church.

Pray for endurance for brothers and sisters detained in horrific conditions and ask God to give them perseverance in their faith, some of whom still, remain in prison after more than 10 years.

Pray that the International community will focus, shine the light, on the inhuman prison conditions and that will lead to improve the life of prisoners.

Pray for President Afwerki, that God would work in his heart and reveal the truth of the gospel.

Pray for cooperation among the Christians of Eritrea, that they would be one. Tragically, the Orthodox Church in Eritrea sometimes acts as an agent of persecution against other Christians.

Pray to the Lord for Bibles and discipleship materials to be readily available.

Pray to the Lord that He opens the doors to evangelism, that believers can boldly share the Gospel.

Pray to the Lord that that the internet is easily accessible and minister to both believers and non-believers.

Pray that the evangelical churches will be recognized and become legitimate centers for Bible teaching and worship.

Pray for the growth of the church and that the powers of darkness will not prevail.

Blessings,

Andy, Prayer Team 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!

Eritrea: Orthodox Patriarch Antonios expelled for ‘heresy’

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Patriarch Abune Antonios was removed by the Asmara government and placed under house arrest in 2007 after he refused to comply with the regime’s attempts to interfere with church affairs. The event led to a schism in the EOC with a pro-government group supporting a new government-approved replacement who was not recognised by the Papacy in Egypt who installed the patriarch and his predecessors, as reported by ICN.

Following international pressure Antonios made a first public appearance in 2017 as he participated in a mass which rights called a “marketing exercise” by the government.

He remained under house arrest but in April filmed a video that was broadcast in which he reportedly talked about his circumstances and criticised the fact the Church was being led by a layman. The patriarch, who is suffering from health problems, allegedly also said his fellow clergy did not care for his wellbeing. He is currently staying in servant’s quarters of the house owned by the pro-government Bishop Lukas, who himself has ambitions to become the next patriarch, said ICN.

Apparently referring to the video, the pro-government bishops said in a letter explaining their decision to expel the church’s legitimate leader, it was ‘recent activities’ by Abune Antonios that had raised questions about the sincerity of his repentance and that they were concerned about the growing risk of heresy in the church. They did, however, say they would continue to provide the patriarch with food and a place to stay.

In May, a monitoring group for the UN said “thousands” of Christians are facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea” and questioned why the UN was not monitoring the situation more closely.

Eritrea is 7th on Open Doors International’s 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Priest sends alarming report of ongoing suffering in Eritrea

“The regime does not relieve pressure: it is a state-prison” Photo: Agenzia Fides

The official end of the war with Ethiopia has not stopped the exodus and people still flee from Eritrea. Boys and girls run away from an oppressive regime and from a very poor society that does not offer job opportunities. Abba Mussie Zerai, a priest of the eparchy of Asmara, wrote an open letter in which he criticizes the ruling class of his Country, asking to keep the attention alive: “The regime in Asmara – he says in the letter sent to Agenzia Fides is one of the world’s toughest political regime, a dictatorship that suppressed all forms of liberty, annulled the 1997 constitution, suppressed the magistracy, militarized the entire population. A dictatorship that, in a word, has created a State-prison. The numerous, detailed reports published by various international institutions and organizations and by the most prestigious NGOs and humanitarian associations have denounced this situation for twenty years. Also the two final reports of the investigations conducted by the UN Commission on Human Rights, clearly states that the regime has elected terror, making its own people slaves. Not surprisingly, in the 2016 report, we come to the conclusion that there are well-founded elements to refer the main leaders of the Government to the International Criminal Court”.

In recent years many Eritreans have fled. A substantial part stopped in Ethiopia, which currently houses 175 thousand, and in Sudan, which has welcomed 110 thousand. But many are heading north. Once they arrive in Italy they move to Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

Many Eritreans die during the journey. The accident that symbolizes this tragedy is the shipwreck that took place on October 3, 2013, when more than 300 people died. “As Eritrean – observes Abba Mussie – I ask to bring the bodies of the victims of the massacre Lampedusa back to Eritrea and of all the other young refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean and are buried in Italy. It is time to overcome controversies, in the name of a human principle of great significance: to give families a place to pray for their loved ones”.

In this context, the regime does not loosen its grip on the population: dozens of political prisoners are still detained in prisons, international commissions can not enter prisons and any form of freedom, starting with politics and religion, is not guaranteed. “Even recently – continues Abba Mussie – opponents have been arrested, Catholic and Islamic schools have been closed, eight medical centers and Catholic hospitals have been barred, while the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church Abune Antonios, stopped in 2004, is still under arrest after 14 years”. And, launching an appeal to the international community, the priest concludes: “One can pretend to close one’s eyes to reality in the name of geostrategic and economic interests. Or one can give voice and content with force to the values of freedom, democracy, justice, solidarity”. source: Fides

Eritrea ranked 6th on Open Doors 2018 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus.

Eritrea: Rights groups call for renewal of UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate

(World Watch Monitor) Rights groups have called for the mandate of the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Eritrea to be renewed in June.

The human rights situation in the East African country has been monitored by the UN Human Rights Council since 2012, when it appointed Ms Sheila B. Keetharuth as the Special Rapporteur. In March this year she, however, acknowledged that during her tenure the human rights violations in the country have “continued unabated”.

Father Thomas Reese, of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, told a US human rights commission in April that Eritrea remained “one of the worst examples of state-sponsored repression of freedom of religion or belief in the world”.

“The State Department estimates that between 1,200 and 3,000 individuals are held on religious grounds,” he said. Among them are several Evangelical and Pentecostal pastors who have been detained for more than 10 years.

Evangelicals and Pentecostals in Eritrea have been at particular risk of detention since a 2002 law was passed prohibiting Churches other than the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and also Sunni Islam.

“The situation in the country is only getting worse”, Dr Berhane Asmelash told World Watch Monitor.

The Eritrean pastor who was imprisoned for his Christian activities and moved to the United Kingdom 18 years ago, said, “We’re seeing the abused becoming abusers. They know it is wrong but it was done to them too. The government, the president, has been successful in sowing division and creating mistrust. You can’t speak in Eritrea because it might make you end up in jail at any time”.

The rare protests that were seen in the streets of the capital Asmara in November, following the government’s plans to turn all schools public, were not a sign of a possible ‘Eritrean Spring’, according to him. It won’t be repeated again soon, he said, “because of what happened to the protesters: they were arrested, jailed, and tortured. They [the authorities] will make sure you won’t do it again. And it discourages anyone who has similar ideas”.

‘Who needs people?’

The pastor was visiting a refugee camp in Ethiopia three weeks ago. At the end of 2017 Ethiopia was host to 164,668 Eritrean refugees with most of them in transit to other destinations.

People are “streaming out of [Eritrea]”, he told World Watch Monitor. Just the week before about 5,000 people had crossed the border, he said.

World Watch Monitor reported last month that an estimated 10 per cent of Eritreans have fled the country since the turn of the millennium, finding refuge in neighbouring countries or crossing the Mediterranean in search of safety in Europe and beyond. They have become the ‘top group’ of African asylum seekers in 2017.

People leaving their country “is exactly what the government wants”, the Eritrean pastor said. “They say: ‘Who needs people? They only cause trouble’.”

He says that there are hardly any young people left in the country. “The regime makes it impossible for them to stay. They leave the country because they can’t find a job or have a normal family life because of the mandatory conscription. Or they are kidnapped, like the son of a friend of mine. He was sold to someone in Sudan and his father had to pay a ransom to get him back”.

It is a bleak picture the pastor paints of his home country, which has been dubbed the “North Korea of Africa”.

“The kind of people the government want in the country are like the woman I saw in a disturbing YouTube video”, he told World Watch Monitor.

“In an interview with the Eritrean state television she said she had been paralysed but that, after having washed herself in a dam that was built by the government, she had been healed. She praised the president for that. For her it was now first the president, then Jesus.”

UN ‘failing’ Eritrea’s detained Christians

“Thousands” of Christians are facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea” – UN Watch (Photo: David Stanley)

Eritrea’s human rights record was again in the spotlight at the UN Human Rights Council earlier this week. Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in her opening remarks that over 100 people were arrested in Eritrea in 2017 for practising religions not officially recognised by the state, reports World Watch Monitor.

A monitoring group for the UN, United Nations Watch, said “thousands” of Christians are also facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea”. The group also asked why the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, “failed to closely assess this situation”.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious freedom and human rights advocate, mentioned the arrest of dissidents and their family members and noted that the Commission of Inquiry had found that “Eritrea had committed crimes against humanity”.

The Special Rapporteur did highlight the detention this month of hundreds of perceived opponents, some as young as 13, following the death, in custody, of a 93-year-old school director who defied government orders, as Reuters reported.

Haji Musa Mohamednur was the director of a private Islamic school in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. The government orders that he disobeyed included a ban on the veil and stopping of religious teachings.

His arrest in October led to student protests on the streets of Asmara – a rare sight in the strictly governed East African nation.

Video: During peaceful protest, PFDJ shot at civilians as they marched against the dictatorship for their rights. Approximately 28 people were killed.

ROME’S COLOSSEUM TO BE LIT RED FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

The Roman Colosseum Photo: Wikipedia

By Dan Wooding (Assist News)  The Roman Colosseum will be illuminated by red lights later this month to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, and especially in Syria and Iraq.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. the Colosseum will be spotlighted in red, to represent the blood of Christians who have been wounded or lost their lives due to religious persecution, according to Crux.

Simultaneously, in Syria and Iraq, prominent churches will be illuminated with red lights. In Aleppo, the St. Elijah Maronite Cathedral will be lit, and in Mosul, the Church of St. Paul, where this past Dec. 24, the first Mass was celebrated after the city’s liberation from ISIS.

The event, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) — follows a similar initiative last year, which lit-up London’s Parliament building in red, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. In 2016, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit. 

Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told journalists on Feb. 7 that the “illumination [of the Colosseum] will have two symbolic figures: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian condemned to death for blasphemy and whose umpteenth judgment is expected to revoke the sentence; and Rebecca, a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram along with her two children when she was pregnant with a third.”

“One of the children was killed,” he said, “she lost the baby she was carrying, and then became pregnant after one of the many brutalities she was subjected to by her captors.”

Once she was freed and reunited with her husband, she decided she “could not hate those who caused her so much pain,” Monteduro said. [Read Voice of the Persecuted’s (VOP) report: Held Captive For 2 Years By Boko Haram: Rebecca’s Story and the relief sent to them through VOP’s aid mission, Project 133 Nigeria here.]

Rebecca and family united. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Aid to the Church in Need released a biennial report on anti-Christian persecution Oct. 12, 2017, detailing how Christianity is “the world’s most oppressed faith community,” and how anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak.”

The report reviewed 13 countries, and concluded that in all but one, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms for the period 2015-2017 than during the prior two years.

“The one exception is Saudi Arabia, where the situation was already so bad it could scarcely get any worse,” the report said.

China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. Egypt, India, and Iran were rated “high to extreme,” while Turkey was rated “moderate to high.”

The Middle East was a major focus for the report.

British Parliament lit up in red.

“Governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the report said. “If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”

The exodus of Christians from Iraq has been “very severe.” Christians in the country now may number as few as 150,000, a decline from 275,000 in mid-2015. By spring 2017 there were some signs of hope, with the defeat of the Islamic State group and the return of some Christians to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.

The departure of Christians from Syria has also threatened the survival of their communities in the country, including historic Christian centers like Aleppo, ACN said. Syrian Christians there suffer threats of forced conversion and extortion. One Chaldean bishop in the country estimates the Christian population to be at 500,000, down from 1.2 million before the war.

Many Christians in the region fear going to official refugee camps, due to concerns about rape and other violence, according to the report.

A man prays in a bombed out church in Aleppo.

ACN also discussed the genocide committed in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State and other militants. While ISIS and other groups have lost their major strongholds, ACN said that many Christian groups are threatened with extinction and would likely not survive another attack.

A spokesperson for Aid to the Church in Need, said, “We invite everyone to attend, either in person or in spirit, on February 24, 2018 at around 6 p.m. in Largo Gaetana Agnesi, Rome.”

About the writer: Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan has written numerous books, and his most recent reporting trip for ANS was to Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

VOP is on the ground helping persecuted Christian refugees from Nigeria and Pakistan. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope. Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTEDHis Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

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