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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.

Police in Uttar Pradesh, India, Most Harsh on Christians, Sources Say

 

Pastor taken into custody from house church in Lakhimpur Kheri District-YouTube Morning Star News

India (Morning Star News) – Police in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state work in tandem with Hindu extremists to treat Christians and other religious minorities especially harshly, sources said.

“The UP police force is very different from the rest of India,” Dinanath Jaiswar, a volunteer with legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India, told Morning Star News. “They are very brash in their dealings with Muslim and Christian minorities, and there have been several cases of violence in police custody, but by God’s grace we have tried our best to reach them on time, and even while in the clutches of the enemy, God protects His people.”

From April 2017 to February 2018, India’s National Human Rights Commission registered 365 cases of judicial and custodial deaths in Uttar Pradesh, according to The Indian Express; the next highest amount was 127 cases in West Bengal state.

“It does not take long for a police officer here to lose his temper and thrash a person in custody,” Jaiswar said.

Most cases reported against police stations in several Uttar Pradesh districts fell under the categories of torture, infliction of injury and grievous hurt, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

“It has become a trend that a batch of Hindu extremists barge inside Christian homes and accuse them of proselytizing Hindus to Christianity,” Jaiswar said. “When Christians deny the accusations and restrain them from disrupting the prayers, they use the police force to take Christians into custody.”

ADF-India personnel in Uttar Pradesh are often called to rush to police stations to try to intervene before any charges are filed, ensure that Christians are safe and work to release them as soon as possible, he added.

“UP’s legal aid team works like a Rapid Action Force,” Jaiswar said. “We aim at immediate release of pastors in custody. If police extend the custody over the night, the next morning they would file the FIR [First Information Report], and the victims will be presented before the judicial magistrate and will be sent to judicial custody.”

Obtaining bail is a lengthier process, but ADF’s Uttar Pradesh Legal Aid Cell strives to arrange for immediate release on personal bonds, he said.

Pastor Surendra Vanwasi of Jeevan Marg Trust was leading Sunday worship at a home church in Karubir village, Mau District on Nov. 17 when police arrived and took him into custody. The station house officer at Chirraiyakot Police Station “was rash and adamant,” Jaiswar said.

“Tens of requests were put before the higher ranked police officials, and only then the SHO agreed to release Pastor Vanwasi,” he said. “In the guise of enquiry police had detained him, but thankfully no charges were filed.”

Similar case of detention was reported in Mirzapur District on the same day. A church leader identified only as Pastor Khaiya from Mizoram state was invited to Uttar Pradesh to deliver a message to a congregation in Mirzapur. By noon, a mob of upper-caste Hindus and Hindu extremists had surrounded the venue, Jaiswar said.

“They slapped Pastor Khaiya and handed him to police,” he said. “When we reached Jamalpur police station, the local believers informed us that Pastor Khaiya was taken to police station like a criminal. It is a Naxalite [Maoist rebel]-belt area, and the police station in Jamalpur is specially equipped to torture Naxal suspects. The police had locked up Khaiya in an underground cell.”

The ADF team used social media and called higher officials in the district in attempts to win immediate release, he said.

“The situation turned tense as the upper-caste leaders and Hindu extremists insisted the police officers level serious allegations of forced religious conversions under stringent sections of the Indian Penal Code,” Jaiswar said. “By later that evening, the SHO had finally agreed to release Pastor Khaiya on personal bail. We were forced to give it in writing that he would not be involved in any conversion activity in future.”

Youth Pastors Jailed

Youth pastors Om Prakash, 23, and Ajay Kumar, 20, were leading a worship service at the home of Kapildev Ram in Daraura village on Nov. 25 when the village president intruded into the house and ordered the Christians to stop, sources said.

“Ram’s sons did not allow the village president and his aides to attack the youth pastors,” the youth workers’ trainer, identified only as Pastor Ramjit, told Morning Star News. “They stood as defense and did not let the person touch the pastors. This made him angry, and he went and brought the police force with him and got the pastors and also Ram arrested.”

The youth ministry sends workers to 30 village house churches in four districts in Uttar Pradesh on weekdays. Leaders had sent Prakash and Kumar to Daraura village on Nov. 25, and the next day Ranipur police registered an FIR against them and Ram alleging promotion of enmity between religious groups, deliberately hurting religious sentiments, inducement by rendering an object of divine displeasure and other charges.

Lower court and District Sessions judges rejected their bail pleas. ADF-India’s attorneys have filed a bail petition in the High Court at Allahabad.

Ranipur Station House Officer Ashok Kumar Yadav noted in the Hindi-language case diary that neighbors were disturbed when the mob formed at Ram’s home.

“Our police team had reached it on time and urged them to disperse immediately,” Yadav wrote. “As our attempts to restore peace in the area had failed, we had to arrest the pastors to bring the situation under control.”

Pastor Ramjit said the youth pastors are facing mistreatment from heavy brutes in the district prison.

“When I visited them last week, they told me that under-trial prisoners in murder cases had put up fight and abused our boys in filthy language,” Pastor Ramji told Morning Star News. “They seem very frightened. Both their marriages have been set for summer, and their fiancées and families have been waiting for their release.”

‘You May Arrest Me’

When a mob of no fewer than 60 Hindu nationalists armed with hockey sticks stormed into a Christian’s home in Ghaziabad city, which straddles both Uttar Pradesh state and Delhi National Capital Region, and beat the homeowner and the pastor leading a Bible study, officers from Loni police station took both Christians into custody.

The assailants also vandalized the homeowner’s furniture, said Sanjay Mcgee of Indian Christian Assembly (Bharatiya Masih Mahasabha).

As it was late at night, Christians feared police would hold pastor Jagdish Marotiya and the homeowner overnight and charge them in the morning, Mcgee said. A Christian leader from the Delhi National Capital Region, Minakshi Singh, rushed to the police station and was there until midnight trying to persuade officers not to be misled by Hindu extremists.

“We had enough evidence of videos and photographs of the destruction the armed men had caused, and I was trying to reason with the officials as to why had not they taken any action against the assailants, and why the victims had been detained,” Singh told Morning Star News. “The argument went on for a very long time, and finally at midnight the police agreed release the Christians.”

In the area, called Bharat Nagar Society, about 25 Christian families refrained from putting stars outside their homes during Christmas season, terrified that they would be identified as Christians and targeted by Hindu fanatics, Mcgee said.

“When I visited the area on Dec. 3 after the attack on the home, there were security guards everywhere, and they stopped us from entering the colony,” he said. “I asked the guards where were they when a resident’s house was vandalized two days before, but they denied the attack. An elderly female member of the home church there told us that police had threatened [the homeowner’s] family not to pursue a case against the assailants.”

Good Shepherd Church in the Trilokpuri area came under attack a week before. On the second day of a three-day convention the church had organized, Nov. 23, more than 100 members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh surrounded the site chanting, “Go back! Go back!” Singh told Morning Star News.

Higher police officials from the Mayur Vihar station reached the venue and ordered that the gathering must cease in order to restore peace, she said.

“As soon as I received this information, I rushed to Trilokpuri and met the assistant commissioner of police and told him that it is our constitutional right to pray to our God,” she told Morning Star News. “But the police official told me that it is not possible to let you continue Christian prayers, saying, ‘Who will take responsibility if the situation turns hostile?’ I told him that I will take the responsibility, ‘You may arrest me, but the convention should go on.”’

After long discussions on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, police allowed them to continue as long as they refrained from using the sound system, Singh said. More than 200 policemen were deployed, and barricades were installed on four sides of the church building, she said.

“A mob of at least 200 Hindu extremists showed up outside the church premises and were shouting to the top of their lungs, ‘Har Har Mahadev [Shiva is everywhere],” she said. “We told the police that our people would remain calm, and there will not be any problem from our side, and you please control the mob outside the premises.

“By God’s grace, the final day of the convention was a success. The police also had the chance to hear the gospel and joyfully joined us for the meal after the prayer service.”

pastor prays with ADF-India team after his release from jail in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, India in November 2019. (Morning Star News)

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

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

Christian Family in Hiding after Hindu Extremist Mob Assaults Them in India

Hindu extremists severely attack retired pastor and his family in northern India. Photo: Morning Star News

(Morning Star News) – A retired pastor, his wife and their sons are in hiding from police after a Hindu extremist mob injured them in a gruesome assault in northern India, sources said.

Patram Mangala, retired Church of North India pastor now helping to run St. John School in Sohna, Gurugram District in Haryana state, sustained injuries to his nose when he was hit with a spade in the face, and his 28-year-old son Abhishek Mangala lost four front teeth and ruptured blood vessels in his eye in the Sept. 22 attack.

Pastor Mangala’s 65-year-old wife Sarla Mangala sustained an injury under her right eye apart from internal injuries to her body, and their son Raj Kumar Mangala, 40, sustained internal injuries in the attack, which appeared to be rooted in a recent court judgment against the Hindus in their attempt to erect a Hindu idol on the property, the retired pastor said.

The 68-year-old Pastor Mangala and his wife were cleaning their front yard in the early evening when a group of Hindu extremists with wooden sticks surrounded them and began to assault them, he said. Between 30 to 40 other people then joined in the assault.

Pastor Mangala’s sons ran to help their parents but were also attacked. The pastor said he could identify only some of the assailants, and that those who joined in had been notified earlier for a well-planned attack.

Abhishek Mangala lost teeth in assault by Hindu extremists in Sohna, Haryana state, India on Sept. 22, 2019. (Morning Star News)

“Two men, Anil Kumar and Danny, smashed a stone on Abhishek’s face, breaking four of his front teeth,” Pastor Mangala told Morning Star News. “His mouth was profusely bleeding, and his face was covered with blood. Abhishek’s lip tore, and his left eye blood vessels ruptured.”

Their home is part of the St. John’s school premises, and the assailants picked up a spade used for repair work on the institution in the attack, he said. They also struck them with rocks lying outside the gate, along with sticks.

“They began to hit me with their legs and fists and manhandled my wife by pushing her and hitting her,” he said. “They abused us using vulgar language and threatened to kill us. The attackers snatched the gold ring that I was wearing in my finger and snatched my son Abhishek’s cell phone as well.”

Besides the injury to his nose from the spade, Pastor Mangala sustained injuries to his thigh and other parts of his body, he said.

The family reported the assault to city police in writing on Sept. 24, but officers registered no complaint for nearly a week – in stark contrast to a false complaint registered against the Christians the day of the attack, he said.

“The culprits have been threatening us to kill us, and they have warned us that if we go to the police, they will kill us,” Pastor Mangala reported in his complaint, translated from Hindi. “In the future if I or my family members are attacked, these people named in the complaint should be held responsible. I request that strict action be taken against these hooligans and a First Information Report be registered and they be arrested. I pray that justice be given to me and my family.”

Local news media broadcast the Hindu extremists’ false charges as stated by a police official and the main accused in the pastor’s complaint, Anil Kumar. Officer-in-Charge Arvind Dahiya told Punjab Kesari News Channel that an FIR had been registered against Pastor Mangala, his wife and their two sons for “breaking the Hindu temple and illegally trying to take possession of the Hindu temple land under the Indian Penal Code.”

They were also charged with rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant, injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation, he said.

Kumar told media that the Christian family attacked him and the others.

Denying all allegations, Meenal Mangala, the daughter of Pastor Mangala, told Morning Star News that she felt helpless as she does not know who to contact for help.

“The allegations against us are false and fabricated,” she said. “We don’t know what to do. It is our property, and we have the papers to prove it. They forcefully wanted to worship their god on our land. Through court we stopped that and won the legal battle, but now they are spreading a false and fabricated story through media, and it is being telecasted on local TV.”

Meenal Mangala said the family has submitted a CD to the police containing footage from CCTV cameras installed at the school facing its front gate. The cameras captured the entire assault and show how the Hindu extremists beat the family, she said.

Fearing arrest, the Christian family has left their home and gone into hiding since being released from the hospital.

Only after Morning Star News spoke to Investigating Officer and Assistant Sub-Inspector Shish Ram asking why no action was taken on the complaint of trespassing and assault filed by the Christian family did officers register a case against the assailants on Friday (Sep. 27).

Ram said a case was registered against the Hindu assailants under First Information Report 608 for rioting, rioting armed with deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.

He said justice would be done, though no action has been taken yet.

The land on which the St. John’s School was built was purchased in Sarla Mangala’s name on Sept. 30, 1985, according to official records. She and Pastor Mangala were running the school and residence in 2015 when some Hindus trespassed and erected a Hindu idol and brought construction material onto the campus, Sarla Mangala charges in a lawsuit.

“On June 10, 2015, in the evening between 6-6:30, some anti-social elements came to our land and tried to enter forcefully,” Pastor Mangala said. “They threatened to kill my wife if she did not leave the property, hence we filed a complaint in the court claiming that the property is ours and that no construction should be done on that land. I approached the court against the trespassing four years ago and got a stay from the court. The court pronounced judgment in our favor two months ago.”

Tehmina Arora, director of legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India, said in a press statement earlier this year that India must enact laws to protect religious minorities from such attacks.

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith,” Arora said. “It is worrying to see these horrendous acts of mob violence continue. It is high time special laws are enacted to protect Christians and other religious minorities from being attacked and then imprisoned under false accusations.”

Mob attacks are not isolated incidents in India, added Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF-International.

“While the right to religious freedom is protected by the Indian constitution, we nonetheless see Christians face persecution and denial of their fundamental rights,” he said. “Sadly, the recent mob attacks are not isolated incidents but testify to what many Christians experience in India today. All people have the right to freely choose, and live out, their faith.”

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

Photo: Retired pastor’s wife, Sarla Mangala and son, Abhishek Mangala

Pakistani Christian youth being arrested without cause

Voice of the Persecuted Asian correspondent – Since March 2018, the Christian area of Youhanabad in Karachi city, Pakistan has been raided 3 times by secret agencies who arrested 24 young Christian males. The first raid was conducted on March 30 in which four people were arrested,  followed by another raid on April 15th with six people arrested. 14 more were taken into custody during the latest raid on May 8th. Each time, the raids were conducted between 2 – 5am when people are sleeping in the comfort of their homes.

Most of those arrested were educated males as young as 15 years old. Christians in the area shared horrific accounts where secret agents forcefully entered their homes by climbing over the walls or cutting through the locks. The agents verbally abused the women, while the young men were lined up in the street to be identified by a local named ‘Shiraz’. Apparently Shiraz had an inclination towards criminal activities and was arrested for those activities prior to the the raids. Some claim Shiraz had been asked to identify and falsely accuse the young Christian men with possession of arms and robberies.

Khurram Shahzad, a dental technician, was arrested on May 8. His wife told the press that when her husband tried to ask the grounds of his arrest, they beat and dragged him out. Witnesses claim a police mini truck with no license plate on the vehicle was used in the raid.

Akash Younus, a 15 yr. old Christian boy, was arrested on April 15, but it’s suspicious that the FIR (first incident report) was registered on April 20th. He said he had been taken to a secret location and subjected to brutal torture during his detention. He claimed that he was beaten with clubs and electrocuted as they tried to force him to admit to false charges of burglary and the possession of illegal weapons. 3 days later, he was released on bail.

Imran Robin, also a 15 yr. old, was arrested along with his elder brother, Kashif Imran, who is a 10th grade student going through board exams when he was arrested. It is believed all those arrested were likely being forced to admit to the false charges.

UCA News reported that Christian residents of Youhanabad held a protest outside St. John’s Church in Karachi against police raids on May 15. A lawyer has been hired and a report filed to contest the police claims.

Fearing more raids, parents of the Youhanabad Christian community stopped sending their children to school, or moved their youth elsewhere to protect them.

There are approximately 70,000 missing people in Pakistan, according to Defence for Human Rights Pakistan. ‘There are no formal applications against the missing persons thus forcefully disappeared.’ Source Wikipedia.

Please continue to pray for Pakistani Christians as the state continues to use gruesome tactics to subdue the community.

Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) is on the ground in Thailand offering relief for Pakistani asylum seeker families. We’ve also initiated support for brothers and sisters suffering inside the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). We intend to send in more food, hygiene products and the much-needed sundry items not offered to them by the detention centre. Donations, whether large or small, aid in our ability to carry out this mission which is highly appreciated by our persecuted family. Go with us to Thailand sharing your blessings with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. God bless you and your families.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

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

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to 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

Andrew Brunson…We Wait and Pray

As I begin to write, it is about 9:45 p.m. in Turkey. The trial of Andrew Brunson has concluded at least for today. As of right now, no decision by the court regarding his innocence or guilt has been forthcoming.

This is simply one of those times in which many of us, as intercessors, have not been getting a clear answer from the Spirit as to the outcome for our dear brother, Andrew. Some are not even sure how they should pray for him. It’s as if God has us in a state of waiting on Him. Taking us through a lesson of learning to solely rely on and trust Him. So, we wait with expectation that He will answer and certainly do not want to walk in the light of our own understanding.

In this case, no news may be good news. However, dealing with the government of Turkey who can say. As I spoke with a sister earlier, she mentioned that a tactic of Islamic hard-line regimes is to play on the emotions of their victims. To wear down or break the ‘spirit’ so to speak. But we, as believers in Christ, will put ourselves before the Lord who holds all of history in his hands.

Our hearts are with Andrew who pleaded his innocence in the courtroom, today, and we cry out for his release. But we realize that God’s will is to bring about His glory and His glory alone.. Whatever the outcome of this case will be, we wait upon the will of God that will bring glory to his name.

I urge all who read this to please continue lifting our brother and his family up in prayer. Pray for his release and to soon be reunited with his family. Pray also for his physical and mental health. Let us pray that the will of God be done which will glorify Him.

Your brother in Christ,

Blaine Scogin

Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch

(Update: The Turkish court has decided to keep Pastor Andrew in jail pending trial over alleged links to a group accused of orchestrating the failed 2016 military coup in Turkey. NTV reported the next hearing will be on May 7.)

Father, we give you praise with the knowledge that Your ways and plans are always perfect. You’re with us and will never forsake us. You care deeply for our dear brother Andrew, yet allowed him to go into captivity in this season. Though we may not fully understand, You are never wrong, so we give thanks and worship You. We pray for the leadership of Turkey and those in charge of this trial taking place in Izmir, a place once known as Smyrna. May their hearts be softened towards our brother and false accusations against him be brought into the light. We pray for the Gospel to go forth in Turkey. That understanding will come and the Truth of salvation in Christ be revealed to the Turkish people. Heavenly Father, whatever the outcome of this trial, we accept Your will. But if it pleases You to show our brother mercy, we ask You for his release. In Jesus Holy name, we pray.

 

Blasphemy charges against 2 Christians and a Hindu in Pakistan

(Voice of the Persecuted) Our foreign correspondent (Asia) reported to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) that blasphemy charges were laid against Bhola Ram, a 45-year old Hindu man, Vishal Tariq (18) and Adil Saleem Masih (25), both Christians. All three were employed at Civil Hospital Dunga Bunga as sweepers.

Bhola Ram, a government employee, is the main suspect in the case. He was relocated from Chak Panj Kosi, Southern Punjab to Donga Bunga. Ram had been transferred to work at Civil Hospital Dunga Bunga and an employees’ quarter was sanctioned for his stay. Among other things, he found the quarters filled with hospital records. He asked Dr. Kashif Nazir, the doctor in charge, about the records and was told to move them to the next room.

After Ram moved the records, he gathered all the trash and took it outside to be burned. While the trash was on fire, he saw what appeared to be pages containing verses of the Quran and he panicked. Not able move fast enough, due to a previously broken leg, he asked the two Christian boys to get the pages out of the fire.

VOP’s correspondent said,

“It’s worth noting that the Christians were so afraid of the situation that they risked themselves by going directly into the flames to save the pages. As a result, the hands and feet of both boys were burned.”

The report continued that a female health worker reported that Bhola Ram and the boys had burned pages of the Quran. Like wildfire, the news spread quickly causing journalists and locals to rush to the scene. It was alleged that the 3 accused were beaten by the people, but they denied it under pressure from the police.

FIR (police report) accused for blasphemy

The initial police report (FIR no. 1014/2017) was registered on September 28, 2017 against Bhola Ram and Vishal Tariq under section 295-B (Blasphemy law), 435, 201 and 109 of the Pakistani penal code. Muhammad Farooq, sub inspector at the police station, was the complainant. Adil Saleem Masih was not named in the report as one of the accused, but still alleged to be part of the incident. The FIR claimed the complainant received a call from a local journalist about the incident. When the police arrived at the scene, they were briefed of the situation and asked Dr. Nazir to write a statement and submit it to the police. In his statement, Dr. Nazir deliberately didn’t mention the burning of pages containing Quranic verses.

Ata-ur-Rehman, a district police officer (DPO) of Bahawalnagar, dismissed the FIR due to the support of the local lawyer community. They argued that Bhola Ram, being illiterate, could’nt have done what he was accused of. Religious groups present insisted the matter be brought to investigation, but DPO Ata ur Rehman maintained his position.

This is only one event where the accused have been freed without any damage, but there is no surety that they will be safe from violence or murder at the hands of extremists, warned the VOP correspondent.

Life-and-death Issue in Pakistan

Pakistan’s blasphemy cases have often evoked anger among groups in the majority Muslim country. This has led to extreme violence by large vigilante mobs and hardliners. Sadly, some have been murdered though later found innocent. Such was the case with Shahzad Masih (28yr) and his pregnant wife, Shama (25yr) who were brutally tortured, thrown into a brick kiln furnace and burned to death in an act of sheer barbarism by a vicious mob. The couple had three young children. See our report 

Often the accused are continually considered guilty of blasphemy even though they have been exonerated from all charges. AMNESTY International shared that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used against religious minorities and others who are the target of false accusations, while emboldening vigilantes prepared to threaten or kill the accused.

The report, “As good as dead”: The impact of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, shows how people accused of blasphemy face a grueling struggle to establish their innocence. Even if a person is acquitted of the charges against them and released, usually after long delays, they can still face threats to their life. View report 

We witnessed this in the case of a young, mentally-challenged girl falsely accused of blasphemy. Rimsha Masih was arrested in August 2012 and accused of burning the pages of some Islamic texts. She was jailed after angry crowds threatened to burn Christian homes in the Islamabad Christian neighborhood where her family lived. The charge against Rimsha was brought to the attention of the global community and caused international outcry. The case against her later collapsed after police were informed the cleric of the mosque in Rimsha’s area had planted the burned pages on her. Pakistani courts eventually threw out the charges citing a lack of evidence, which angered many.  The cleric was arrested for the false accusation, but later released without penalty, again, due to lack of evidence.

Following the infamous blasphemy case over 400 Christian families from her neighborhood were forced to flee due to serious threats. Rimsha, who had faced the possibility of the death penalty, was secretly evacuated from the country and given asylum in Canada where she now resides with her family.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and for those who’ve fled persecution to seek asylum, but now face extreme hardship and discrimination in places such as Thailand.

VOP is on the ground in Thailand. 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

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to 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

Donations always desperately needed

 

 

 

 

 

Did God Hear Our Prayers? What We Can Do To Help Asia Bibi Now

help-asia-bibi

(Voice of the Persecuted) After one of the judges refused to take part and stepped down from the hearing of Asia Bibi’s final appeal on Thursday, it’s been postponed for an indefinite period. A letter has been written to the Chief Justice of Pakistan asking him to immediately appoint another judge to hear this case.

Bibi has been detained since 2009 when she was accused of uttering derogatory remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. According to her husband after “drinking a glass of water from our village well”. Her Muslim co-workers believed she had defiled the well simply because she is a Christian. In Pakistan, Christians are often thought of as ‘unclean’ because of their faith. See Voice of the Persecuted’s interview with a persecuted Pakistani Christian describing the harsh discrimination they face.

Asia was sentenced to death in 2010 by the lower court, a decision which was upheld by the Lahore Court and then challenged in the Supreme Court.

Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan.

On the day of the hearing, the courtroom was overcrowded. For security reasons, Asia was kept from attending the hearing. Asia’s husband, Ashiq Maish was present in court along with some Christians to support him. Also present was Joseph Francis, National Director of CLAAS-PK (Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement) who had been following the case. According to Francis, security was very heavy and thousands of security troops had been deployed in Islamabad. Hundreds were deployed outside the court as several Islamic groups demanded Asia’s execution. They argued that a person charged with blasphemy deserves death and nothing less.

Bibi’s attorney, Saiful Malluck who is also a Muslim, has claimed he’s received death threats on several occasions. He also heard reports that the exetremists Muslims of Laal Masjid (Red Mosque, Islamabad) announced ‘whoever supported Asia Bibi, will also be considered blasphemous‘. Malluck requested the government of Pakistan to take notice of the threat and provide him protection.

Last year, Malluck claimed the Pakistani government was solely responsible for situation. He said,

“Many legal requirements have been ignored in the case of Asia Bibi, the only woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. The authorities must put aside religious sentiments and verify the facts, first. However, they are subject to the influence of religious fundamentalists and do not stop the militants from attacking those accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, or setting fire to their homes.”

Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, the attorney for the complainant against Bibi, was also present in court with dozens of clerics and Muslim supporters, opponents of her release.

Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK, told Voice of the Persecuted, “Although the hearing has been adjourned I’m still very hopeful that at the next hearing the charges against Asia will be dropped and she will be freed by the Supreme Court.”

He added, “But I am also scared that there can be tremendous repercussions for the Christians whether her conviction is overturned or upheld. If her conviction is upheld, then she can appeal to the president of Pakistan. “Undoubtedly pressure will be further built by Islamists groups and if, God forbid, her appeal is rejected by the president of Pakistan then she will become the first person to be executed for blasphemy in Pakistan. Also if charges are dropped and she is freed, there will be huge protests in Pakistan by the Islamists and Christians’ properties and lives will be at risk.”

He concluded, “It is very important that the government takes this matter seriously and takes security measures before the appeal hearing, not just in Islamabad but throughout the country and particularly in Punjab.”

As well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.

ACLJ shared that international pressure is clearly working. That it’s time to keep increasing the pressure. No one should be put to death for their faith and this vile violation of human rights must be stopped. Join with the 526,299 others supporting our sister by signing the urgent petition for Asia’s release here.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

DON’T BE SILENT! Your voice, our voices collectively, CAN make a difference by calling out for the freedom and release of our sister, Asia Bibi. Take action now by signing the petition, help by informing everyone about Asia’s case using your VOICE through conversations, at church, email and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Contact your elected officials to pressure the Pakistani government to quickly hear her case, acquit, release and safely transfer her and the family to France where she has been given honorary citizenship. Do all these things, but most importantly PRAY and encourage others to pray with you, for Asia and for Pakistan. 

Note from Voice of the Persecuted’s Prayer Director, Blaine Scogin:

My Brothers and Sisters, by now you have heard that Asia Bibi’s case was not heard by the Pakistani Supreme Court. Perhaps some may wonder were our prayers in vain, or did Satan gain the upper hand here?  I would say a resounding “NO”. I believe we were praying God’s heart for our sister, Asia. What we must now do is rest in God’s will. That He will bring good out of this, that is what the promise of Romans 8:28 is all about. We must trust that God’s acceptable, good, and perfect will is being worked out.   This outcome in our sister’s case does not surprise God. He knew what was going to happen even before this trial started. We must trust in this. We must trust that God is still in control. Indeed when did He ever lose control? I want a thank those of you who came on the prayer call to pray united for Asia, her family, Pakistani Christians and the nation of Pakistan. I want to thank you for pouring out your heart to our Lord Jesus on behalf of our sister.  We will continue to pour out our hearts and cry out for her release. But we will also continue to trust that God’s perfect will to be worked out in her life. We will continue to trust that God will do what will glorify Him in the life of our sister, Asia Bibi.

Your brother in Jesus, Blaine

Know that there is power in prayer and that GOD hears our cries for the persecuted. HE is mighty to save. TRUST and BELIEVE!

L. Kanalos, VOP Founder/Advocate

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