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Seven Christians Detained For ‘Illegal’ Christmas Service

LAOS- Christians in southern Laos faced a grim New Year after seven believers including church leaders were detained by the Communist government’s security forces during violent church raids, reported Stefan J. Bos for (BosNewsLife).

Sirikoon Prasertsee, who leads the advocacy group Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF), said the detentions occurred late Saturday, December 29, when police stormed a Christmas church service in Nakanong Village located in the Phin District of Savannakhet Province.

He said three male church leaders, identified as Akeo, Kert, and Somwang, were first moved to the regional police headquarters. Police returned to the church and detained 4 more Christian men. “They were led away to the Phin district police headquarters,” Prasertsee said.

Shortly after BosNewsLife made the international community aware of their arrest, the seven were released.

CHURCH DAMAGES

Security forces also “demolished the stage, cut off the power line, destroyed the sound system, and seized 3 mobile phones,” according to HRWLRF, which represents Christians in the area.

Police are reportedly charging the Christians with the “illegal gathering for a Christmas church service without state permission.” 

The HRWLRF said it had urged the Lao government to release immediately and unconditionally the seven Lao Christians and pay for the damages to the physical properties of the church. It was not immediately clear when and how the government would react to these demands.

However, the detentions are the latest in a series of incidents targeting Christians in Laos.

Activists and local Christians say the persecution is partly linked to concerns within the Communist party and movement Pathet Lao, which has ruled the Southeast Asian nation since 1975, ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict regime aligned with Vietnam.

Communists view the spread of Christianity as a threat to their power base and way of thinking, BosNewsLife established.

INCREASED MONITORING 

“The government has recently made efforts to increase the monitoring of illegal house churches with the help of registered churches, resulting in the arrest and detention of Christian believers,” said advocacy group Open Doors.

“Provincial and local authorities hinder Christian activity. They often cooperate with community leaders like Buddhist monks to put pressure on Christians, especially converts. Families of converts heavily contribute to this persecution within the home.”

Christians comprise less than two percent of the mainly Buddhist population of over 7 million people, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The detentions come despite reported Western-style reforms in other areas such as the limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment which began in 1988. Laos also became a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2013.

In a statement to BosNewsLife, the HRWLRF urged the Lao government to respect “the right of the Lao people to religious freedom and the accompanying rights as guaranteed in the Lao constitution and the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009.”

Under these laws, the individual has the right to adopt a religion or belief of choice and the freedom to “manifest that religion or belief” publicly. ——

Christianity is considered a Western influence and especially dangerous by the Communist Party in Laos. Authorities heavily monitor all religious activities, including those of registered Christian churches, religious gatherings must be reported beforehand. House churches are forced to operate illegally, in secret.

Buddhist teachings are often considered part of Lao “cultural education,” and included in the curriculum at some schools. In one case, Christian students were required to attend a Buddhist temple ritual.

Converts to Christianity become outsiders within their Buddhist-animist communities, pressured by Buddhist monks, family members and local authorities to recant their new faith. Some believers are arrested and detained when caught engaging in illegal church activities, or when Bibles or other Christian literature are discovered. Others are threatened, fined or beaten in an attempt to make them renounce their faith.

  • Pray that Christians would have wisdom in witnessing to their Buddhist neighbors and family members. Pray that their efforts would be well received.
  • Pray that Christians in Laos would be able to freely access Bibles and register churches. Pray also that Christian children in Buddhist schools would not be discriminated against and receive low marks simply because of their faith.
  • Laos is one of the five remaining Marxist-Leninist countries in the world, and as such, it is strictly opposed to any influence deemed foreign or Western. The Communist Party puts enormous pressure on the small Christian minority. Please pray for increased openness and acceptance towards Christianity.

A Nigerian Christmas: no will or means to celebrate

Local government officials have been accused of complicity with herdsmen involved in the attacks, which have been going on for more than five years

How do Christians under pressure for their faith celebrate Christmas? In the ninth installment of our series, we hear from Nigerians in central Plateau State affected by violence.

(World Watch Monitor) While the Islamist group Boko Haram has gained notoriety for its attacks on civil, military and Christian targets, a second source of violence has become a deadlier threat. Disparate groups of armed ethnic Fulani nomadic herdsmen have attacked villages, homes and people in Nigeria’s verdant Plateau state as the Sahara Desert pushes south and water sources and good pasture become scarcer. The Fulani are mostly Muslim and often the land to which they move their herds belongs to agricultural farmers who are Christian. Therefore although the clashes are primarily about resources, they are being viewed by some through a religious lens, and the government’s perceived failure to protect or compensate farmers is seen as being a continuation of its ambivalence regarding protecting Christians and other civilians in the north of the country from Boko Haram. Many of the communities attacked by Fulani herdsmen say they have received no aid from government or charities.

A brother of Ms Dalyop’s who was injured in the attack

Solomon Dachung Danboyi lost four nephews in an attack in November on Diyan village in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau state. Several other relatives were hospitalised. He said neither he nor the boys’ parents could think about celebrating Christmas. “We would only take out time to pray quietly in our home,” he said.

Iranian Christmas: Inconspicuous decorations … then celebrating behind bars

World Watch Monitor

How do Christians under pressure for their faith celebrate Christmas? In the fourth of our series we hear from an Iranian Christian who spent three years – and three Christmases – in prison.

Mohabat News – Because converting away from Islam is illegal in Iran, house churches meet in secret and Christmas is an “inner celebration” that takes place in people’s hearts, explains Mojtaba Hosseini, who became a Christian as an adult. He remembers one year when he and other members of their small congregation decorated the house and shared some food together. But they made sure the decorations were not Christmas-themed. “If police carried out a raid – which often happens at that time of year – we could say we were celebrating a birthday.”

In February 2012 the police raided his house church meeting and later that year he and another member were sentenced to 44 months in prison. Mojtaba was found guilty of ‘disrupting national security’ and ‘propaganda against the regime’, which related not only to his leading a house church but also to evangelism and contact with Christians outside Iran. After three years he was released from Shiraz prison on parole.

“Christmas had always been an inside celebration for me, so inside the prison I could celebrate it just the same. I would feel the joy of liberation in my heart,” which, he said, the government “is never, ever able to quench” despite separation from his family, interrogations he endured, uncertainty about the future, and sharing in a cell with “men who had committed the most terrible crimes”.

Merry Christmas from Voice of the Persecuted, Rejoice!

 

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 the 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

 

Report Series: Death and Destruction for Christmas: Muslim Persecution of Christians, December 2016

Police at the site of the Berlin Christmas market attack, which left 13 dead.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute

As in previous years, the month of Christmas saw an uptick in Islamic attacks on Christians—much of it in the context of targeting Christmas related worship and celebrations.

The one to claim the most lives occurred in Egypt.  There, on Sunday, December 11, an Islamic suicide bomber entered the St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo during mass, detonated himself and killed at least 27 worshippers, mostly women and children, and wounded nearly 70.  A witness described the aftermath: “I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene.  I saw a headless woman being carried away.  Everyone was in a state of shock. We were scooping up people’s flesh off the floor.  There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.”  In death toll and severity, this attack (pictures and videos of the aftermath here) surpassed the New Year’s Day bombing of an Alexandrian church that killed 23 people in 2011.  A couple of weeks before Dec. 11’s bombing, a man hurled an improvised bomb at St. George Church in Samalout.  Had the bomb detonated—it was dismantled in time—casualties would likely have been higher, as the church was packed with thousands of worshippers congregating for a special holiday service.  In a separate December incident, Islamic slogans and messages of hate—including “you will die Christians”—were painted on the floor of yet another church, that of the Virgin Mary in Damietta.

In Germany, Anis Amri, a Muslim man from Tunisia and asylum seeker, seized a large truck, killed its driver and pushed his corpse onto the passenger seat, and then drove the truck into the Christmas market of Berlin. Twelve revelers died and 65 were injured, some severely.  Four days later, the suspect was killed in a shootout with police near Milan.  The attack was similar to the Nice, France, terror strike, where another Muslim man drove a truck into crowds, killing dozens.  ISIS claimed responsibility, though initial reports claimed the man had no ties to Islamic terror groups.

In Turkey, a gunman dressed as Santa Claus entered a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year celebrations and shot 39 people dead, wounding several dozens.  The Islamic State later claimed the terrorist attack and portrayed it as an assault on Christian infidels and their Muslims sympathizers.  An ISIS spokesman said a “heroic soldier of the caliphate … attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast”; he characterized the government of Turkey as being “the servant of the cross.”   Separately, and ironically, Turkey’s National Ministry of Education issued an email to about 35 German-funded teachers in Istanbul.  It said:  “No more Christmas celebration and/or lessons on Christmas including carol singing is permitted, effective immediately.”   As the report adds, “That Turkey is the homeland of the real ‘Santa Claus’ is an irony largely lost on most media: St Nicholas, who secretly left gifts for poor children, was in fact Bishop Nicholas who lived in c.300 AD” in formerly Christian Turkey, or Anatolia, before the Islamic conquests.

In the Philippines, as Christians were celebrating Christmas Eve Mass in a Catholic church in Mindanao, a grenade exploded by the entrance.  Sixteen people were wounded.  According to the report, “No group has claimed responsibility for the Mindanao attack, but Muslim rebels and Islamist extremists are known to be active in the province, where there have been blasts in the past.”

On Christmas Day in Cameroon, an Islamic suicide bomber targeting Christians killed a young student and a woman, and injured five others, in an attack on a market full of Christmas shoppers in Mora.  Authorities said the bomber, who also died in the attack, was from the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, centered in neighboring Nigeria, and that the casualties could have been much higher had a vigilance committee not spotted the jihadi, who was pretending to be a beggar, and prevented him from penetrating the crowded market.

During Christmas weekend in Baghdad, Iraq, two Christian shops were attacked with gunfire.  Three were confirmed dead, though local activists say as many as nine were killed.  The shops were presumably attacked for carrying alcohol.  “What a bloody gift they gave us for Christmas,” Joseph Warda, a human rights activist, said.

A Muslim migrant in Italy who, according to police, “wanted to destroy Christian symbols,” managed to set a church nativity scene aflame and destroy a separate statue of Mary.  He was caught in the act by the church’s priest, who notified authorities. They rushed to the scene and fought to restrain the man, who was reportedly suffering from a “visible psycho-physical crisis.”

A fortnight before Christmas in a region in Germany that contains more than a million Muslims, approximately 50 public Christian statues (of Jesus, Mary, etc.) were beheaded and crucifixes broken.  Many local Germans were left “shocked and scared,” said the report.  Police, who called it a “religiously motivated attack,” said they “want this fear to disappear as soon as possible.”

The Islamic State published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season, according to a message posted late-night Wednesday in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group.  One Arabic-language message called “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to mobilize lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.”  Manuals for the use and preparations of weapons and explosives for aspiring assailants were also available on the same social media platform.

Police in Australia arrested seven men—described as “self-radicalized” and “inspired by the Islamic State”—for planning a series of bomb attacks in the heart of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, on Christmas Day.  Among their targets was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Four hundred police were involved in the raid, and more were deployed on Christmas Day as a precautionary measure.

In Pakistan, 43 people, mostly Christian, died, and another 120 were hospitalized, after they drank tainted alcohol at a Christmas celebration in the Muslim majority nation.  Joseph Arshad, Christian bishop of Faisalabad, while visiting the sick in the hospital, said, “This tragic event turned the joyous festivity of Christmas into mourning with many lives still hang[ing] in the balance due to critical conditions” of many patients.  A judiciary inquiry needs to be conducted to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In Uganda, 19 masked Muslims screaming “Allahu Akbar” and “Away from here, this village is not for Christians but for Allah,” stormed a church compound during Christmas Day service, and savagely beat 15 Christians.  Five were seriously wounded with broken bones.   “Previously at an all-night Christmas Eve service, a Muslim had put his faith in Jesus Christ and had been immediately healed of illness,” said the report:  “Yasiini Mugoya said he returned home and shared the gospel of Christ with his fellow Muslims early on Christmas morning. ‘They started beating me and forced me to lead them to the church compound where the Christians had prayed for me and I had received salvation and healing.  When we arrived at the church, the Muslims started attacking the church members.’”

In Indonesia, Muslims yelling “Allahu Akbar” stormed a building where hundreds of Christians were lighting candles and singing “Silent Night” as part of a Christmas service, and forced the celebrations to be stopped.  Shortly before the group stormed the building, the pastor had just prayed and said “Christmas is not a day for hatred but Christmas is a day for reconciliation and peace.”  Separately, the nation’s military and paramilitary personnel—a total of 150,000 people—were on high alert during Christmas as militant Muslims stepped up their anti-Christmas rhetoric and threats.   Security forces managed to kill three Islamic terrorists discovered with bombs which they had planned to use; another dozen or so Islamic terrorists were arrested for also planning Christmas time attacks.

Anti-terrorist forces in Bangladesh foiled a planned suicide attack on a Catholic church during Christmas.   The conspirators, who belong to the “New Group of Mujahidin,” planned to bomb Holy Spirit church in Dhaka, the capital, but were tracked and arrested on Christmas Eve.

Authorities from Christian-majority Kenya said intelligence revealed that Al-Shabaab, an Islamic terror group in neighboring Somalia, was planning a series of terrorist attacks during the Christmas season, including on houses of worship.  The nation was placed on high alert and citizens were told to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities.

One Christmas Day, a video was released of a Catholic priest who was kidnapped on March 4, 2016 in Yemen, when Islamic terrorists raided a nursing home and killed 16 people, including several nuns and aid workers. In the video, Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, who appeared weak and out of breath, said “Nothing has been done by Pope Francis or the Bishop of Abu Dhabi to get me released, in spite of contact being made by my captors.”  He also implored the Catholic pope: “Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life.”

Several flyers and posters were found plastered on churches all throughout South Sudan during the Christmas season.   They contained anti-Christian rhetoric and “included calls for Muslims to neither visit nor congratulate their Christian neighbours on the festive season,” said the report.

More stories of Christian experiences under ISIS continued to emerge in December. “I just want to go home,” said 80-year-old Victoria Behman Akouma, now in a refugee camp.   When ISIS took over her town in August 2014, “They asked me to convert to Islam, but I told them I will die a Christian and that they can kill me if they want to.”

Based on the findings of a prominent statistician and researcher in Italy who was interviewed on Vatican Radio, “Christians continue to be the most persecuted believers in the world with over 90,000 followers of Christ being killed in the last year”; this comes out to one death every 6 minutes on average, the majority of which occur in Africa.

The rest of the accounts of Muslim persecution of Christians to surface in the month of December, though with little direct relation to Christmas, include:

Austria:  A 22-year-old Muslim asylum seeker from Afghanistan stabbed a Christian woman with a knife for reading from the Bible in the asylum center.  According to the report, the man “had taken offence to the fact that the woman had been invited by Christian residents of the property to discuss the Bible. When he found out what she was doing, he stormed into the kitchen where the woman was standing and tried to plunge the knife into her upper body.” The 50-year-old woman’s thick winter coat deflected the knife, but “she did injure her ear when she fell backwards from the force of the man’s violent blows.”

Crete:  Unknown vandals set fire to the Church of Archangel, in the Lagolio village of Crete.  The only clue to their identity is that they wrote “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic on the walls, “infuriating locals,” said the report.  Although local residents managed to put out the fire before it spread, icons and other sacred items were burned.

Democratic Republic of Congo: In a region where Islamic terrorists associated with the Allied Democratic Forces are highly active and where many people of the Christian-majority nation have been killed, a young nun was found shot dead in her office.  According to the pontifical institute’s World and Mission magazine, Sister Marie Claire joins a growing list of clergy in Africa “who have given their lives for the Gospel.”

Uganda:  Muslim relatives beat a 30-year-old former Islamic teacher unconscious after he publicly confessed he converted to Christianity.  Then, on December 8, Muslims attacked his 60-year-old mother who, after visiting and listening to her ostracized son’s conversion journey, also embraced Christianity; they gashed her head open and broke her hand.   Separately, Muslims destroyed the home of a single mother because she converted from Islam to Christianity.  On December 23, she received a letter in Arabic reading, “Be warned that if you do not return to Islam, then your days are numbered. We do not want to be associated with infidels. You have become a disgrace to Allah and the Muslim community at Kitoikawononi.”  On the following day, Christmas Eve, Muslims came and razed the woman’s home to the ground, leaving her and her three children homeless.

Indonesia: A man entered an elementary school in East Nusa Tenggara, walked to the back of a classroom and began stabbing children. Seven children were injured. The man, who was reportedly Muslim, recently migrated to the village which is reportedly 90% Christian. Angered villagers stormed the police station, overpowered the police, and killed the man who stabbed their children.  Separately, a group from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) stormed and threatened a car dealership which had asked its employees to wear Christmas themed outfits.

Pakistan:  A Muslim man beat and kicked a 58-year-old Christian woman unconscious after she refused to clean his home because she was already overbooked with two other homes.  “She offered to come back another day with a team of a further two cleaners, however the landlord wanted his home cleaned immediately,” said the report.  When Bashiran [the woman] refused, stating that she was too old to take on another job, especially of this size on her own, Afzal [the man] became angry.  He glared at Bashiran and accused her of disrespect as Christians should not be refusing to take orders from Muslims. Bashiran was pushed to the floor, and Mr Afzal began kicking and punching her until she became unconscious.” When her son went to the police, they refused to register the crime; when the family pushed the case, Muslims threatened to kill the Christians unless they dropped it.   Separately, a Christian boy was videotaped being publicly beaten for drinking water from a fountain located inside a mosque.   The video shows the boy yelling and screaming after being whipped with wooden sticks and beaten with shoes. 

Egypt:  A “reconciliation meeting” was held by top officials in Naghameesh, where a building Christians were using to hold church services was torched by angry Muslims.  Although the “brotherhood of all Egyptians”—Christians and Muslims—was the main theme, when it came to the question of giving their fellow Christian brothers the same right to worship, the majority of Muslim leaders and family members at the reconciliation meeting continued to refuse them a place to pray in. Authorities acquiesced and did nothing to support the Christians.  “We don’t understand what is so dangerous about the Copts praying and exercising their legal rights in this matter,” one local Christian said.  Separately, but around the same time, the Egyptian government boasted that it is opening 10 new mosques every week; that there are 3,200 closed mosques that need renovating, and that the government is currently working on 1,300 of them; that it will take about 60 million Egyptian pounds to renovate them, but that the government has allotted ten times that much, although a total of three billion is needed; and that the Egyptian government is dedicated to spending that much—for “whoever abuses public funds [which should be used for Islamic worship], enters a war with Allah, ”  to quote Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Gom‘a, Minister of Awqaf, or endowments.  But when the nation’s more than 10 million Christian minority seeks to build or renovate a church—and pay all expenses from their own pockets—Muslims riot and authorities acquiesce.

Iran: “Between May and August 2016 [Iranian] security forces arrested at least 79 Christians,” said a December report, even though “the true number of Christians apprehended by the authorities could be notably higher,” because “many” arrests are never recorded.   “At the time of writing some of these 79 Christians remain in detention and have still not been formally charged.”

About this Series

The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic.  Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:

1)          To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.

2)          To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam;  theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Raymond Imbrahim

The Light of the world has come! Merry Christmas from Voice of the Persecuted

Voice of the Persecuted Merry Christmas 2015

At Voice of the Persecuted, we share with you all the joy that is felt as we recall and honor the birth of our dear Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Even angels appeared to announce the great event and joy to the world.

 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 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 2:8-14

A promise of peace among men with whom He is pleased!

It’s a special time of gratitude, giving, hope, anticipation of a new year and time spent with those we love.  But for many, it can be a time of isolation and loneliness, longing for those we have lost and the place we called home. As we hear of war, terror attacks and fallen economies, many fear for what may come. When Christ was born, people also lived in oppression and walked in dark times.  But through amazing love, we were given the greatest gift, a Savior, Jesus who is the Light of the World!

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  John 8:12

In the darkness of night, Christ was born to bring hope and light into the world. He did what no other could accomplish; He brought salvation to all who believe, love and follow Him. As followers of Christ, we will never walk in darkness.

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

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14

To all our persecuted brothers and sisters, our advocates and workers in the field, missions who partnered in emergency situations—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…THANK YOU! We pray for the Lord’s guidance and the ability to do so much more in 2017.

Rejoice! In the name of the Lord, Rejoice! Christ is King and Savior of the world.

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all through the year. We thank you for standing with us in the mission!

God bless you,

From all of us at the Voice of the Persecuted

This Christmas, Remember The Persecuted

reminder-setting

 

(Voice of the Persecuted) My Brothers and Sisters, many of you will be sitting down with family and friends enjoying their fellowship. Perhaps you will be opening gifts and enjoying Christmas dinner. With no doubt, we will reflect upon the birth of Jesus. For sure there is much to be thankful for. God has given unto us a Savior. One who has saved us from our sins. For Jesus is the greatest gift.
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However, many of our brothers and sisters will not be enjoying the fellowship of the their families and loved ones. Many of them will not even have a Christmas dinner. These will be our persecuted brothers and sisters in restricted nations.
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Dear saints, let us remember our dear sister, Asia Bibi who has spent over 8 years in a Pakistani prison because of her testimony.  Many other persecuted Pakistani asylum seekers stuck in the limbo of the asylum process seen as prey or possible terrorists. Believers in Eritrea held captive in shipping containers barely surviving the extreme conditions. Remember those in China arrested because they share the Good News of our Lord and Savior. Our Nigerian brothers and sisters who fled the Boko Haram, but now languishing for years in an IDP refugee camp as it’s still too dangerous to return home. Let us remember Rev. Andrew Bronson recently separated from his family and put in a Turkish prison under false charges.

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VOP Prevents Arrested Christian Asylum Seekers From Going To Central Jail

Child arrested with mother on Christmas Eve

Child arrested with mother on Christmas Eve

(Voice of the Persecuted) Barely an hour after sharing a report on Christmas Eve highlighting persecuted Pakistani Christians in Thailand, we received a distressing call that more had been arrested including women and children. We immediately added that update to the earlier report. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we were able to pay the overstay fees for 4 woman, including one who is pregnant and their children from going to the Central Jail. (Children between 8yr-3 months) They’re so grateful to you!

Child being comforted through cage of police van

Child being comforted through cage of police van

 

Thailand is not a member state of the of 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention and the UNHCR has been powerless to protect them from arrest. The Thai government considers these persecuted believers as illegals in spite of the fact they’re documented registrants with the UNHCR as genuine asylum seekers. Asylum status often takes 5-6 years as they wait in fear to be resettled in a welcoming nation. They are unable to legally work and their children unable to attend school. These wait times are unbearably long, inhumane. Read our Dec. 15, 2015 report to learn more of what these persecuted believers are facing in Thailand.

Paying the overstay fees prevents them from being mixed in with the criminal element at the Central Jail, but they will still be taken to the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). The cost to bail them out of the IDC is much higher (approx. $1450USD at today’s exchange rate), but paying the bail guarantees they will not be rearrested for 2 years.

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The conditions in the IDC is horrifying and a place full of contagion. They’re fed a soupy mix with little nutritional value of cucumbers and rice in boiling water—nothing else. You can imagine the condition of those detained in only a few short weeks. Voice of the Persecuted was able to offer food relief to those suffering ‘inside’ 4 times last month. We are greatly concerned for their wellbeing, particularly the little ones, the pregnant women and their unborn babies.

It’s a very hard situation for Pakistani Christians in Thailand. Too many are living in fear, afraid to even go outside, unable to support their families. Those who work illegally are at greater risk of arrest, but what choice do they have? Voice of the Persecuted is paying monthly living/medical expenses for families suffering the greatest need. More cases are continually brought before us, but heartbreakingly unable to help them all. With your love and support, we’re praying that 2016 will see many more of our brothers and sisters covered and comforted by the Body of Christ, us!

If you are feeling led to bring hope to Christians suffering in Thailand please consider the following:

  • Cover the monthly living expenses for a family in great need. (approx $250+/- based on family size)
  • Provide bail to protect a persecuted believer from rearrest for two years. ($1450 based on exchange rate)
  • Food deliveries for the nutritional needs of those detained in the IDC. ($50 provides 2 meals a day for 4 people weekly – personal hygienic products such as soap, tooth brushes and paste are also much needed items.)
  • Donation of any amount which is always greatly appreciated.

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Thailand. Come with us on the mission through your gifts!

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Voice of the Persecuted - Project 13:3 Aid Mission

Voice of the Persecuted – Project 13:3 Aid Mission

 

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