VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

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One Year Anniversary of Pastor Wang Yi’s Arrest by the Chinese Government.

Early Rain Covenant Church pastor Wang Yi poses with sign that reads, ‘Pray for the nation on the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings. (China Aid)

December 9th marked the one-year anniversary of the arrest of Pastor Wang Yi, who is still in jail awaiting trial.  Early Rain Covenant Church members continue to be harassed and arrested.

Pastor Wang Yi understood the dangers coming against the church. In advance, he wrote the following statement to be released upon his arrest. “It is a glorious display of faith and courage in the face of persecution. It is sure to become a significant document in Chinese church history. Read it and pray for Pastor Wang Yi, his wife and son, his church, and all Christians in China who are facing various pressures because of their faith,” was shared by an Early Rain Covenant Church social media account.

My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience

On the basis of the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the authorities God has established in China. For God deposes kings and raises up kings. This is why I submit to the historical and institutional arrangements of God in China.

As a pastor of a Christian church, I have my own understanding and views, based on the Bible, about what righteous order and good government is. At the same time, I am filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at the wickedness of their depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience. But changing social and political institutions is not the mission I have been called to, and it is not the goal for which God has given his people the gospel.

For all hideous realities, unrighteous politics, and arbitrary laws manifest the cross of Jesus Christ, the only means by which every Chinese person must be saved. They also manifest the fact that true hope and a perfect society will never be found in the transformation of any earthly institution or culture but only in our sins being freely forgiven by Christ and in the hope of eternal life.

As a pastor, my firm belief in the gospel, my teaching, and my rebuking of all evil proceeds from Christ’s command in the gospel and from the unfathomable love of that glorious King. Every man’s life is extremely short, and God fervently commands the church to lead and call any man to repentance who is willing to repent. Christ is eager and willing to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the goal of all the efforts of the church in China—to testify to the world about our Christ, to testify to the Middle Kingdom about the Kingdom of Heaven, to testify to earthly, momentary lives about heavenly, eternal life. This is also the pastoral calling that I have received.

For this reason, I accept and respect the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily. As the Lord’s servant John Calvin said, wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward Him. For this reason, I am joyfully willing to submit myself to their enforcement of the law as though submitting to the discipline and training of the Lord.

At the same time, I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws.

But this does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church is in any sense “fighting for rights” or political activism in the form of civil disobedience, because I do not have the intention of changing any institutions or laws of China. As a pastor, the only thing I care about is the disruption of man’s sinful nature by this faithful disobedience and the testimony it bears for the cross of Christ.

As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world.

For the mission of the church is only to be the church and not to become a part of any secular institution. From a negative perspective, the church must separate itself from the world and keep itself from being institutionalized by the world. From a positive perspective, all acts of the church are attempts to prove to the world the real existence of another world. The Bible teaches us that, in all matters relating to the gospel and human conscience, we must obey God and not men. For this reason, spiritual disobedience and bodily suffering are both ways we testify to another eternal world and to another glorious King.

This is why I am not interested in changing any political or legal institutions in China. I’m not even interested in the question of when the Communist regime’s policies persecuting the church will change. Regardless of which regime I live under now or in the future, as long as the secular government continues to persecute the church, violating human consciences that belong to God alone, I will continue my faithful disobedience. For the entire commission God has given me is to let more Chinese people know through my actions that the hope of humanity and society is only in the redemption of Christ, in the supernatural, gracious sovereignty of God.

If God decides to use the persecution of this Communist regime against the church to help more Chinese people to despair of their futures, to lead them through a wilderness of spiritual disillusionment and through this to make them know Jesus, if through this he continues disciplining and building up his church, then I am joyfully willing to submit to God’s plans, for his plans are always benevolent and good.

Precisely because none of my words and actions are directed toward seeking and hoping for societal and political transformation, I have no fear of any social or political power. For the Bible teaches us that God establishes governmental authorities in order to terrorize evildoers, not to terrorize doers of good. If believers in Jesus do no wrong then they should not be afraid of dark powers. Even though I am often weak, I firmly believe this is the promise of the gospel. It is what I’ve devoted all of my energy to. It is the good news that I am spreading throughout Chinese society.

I also understand that this happens to be the very reason why the Communist regime is filled with fear at a church that is no longer afraid of it.

If I am imprisoned for a long or short period of time, if I can help reduce the authorities’ fear of my faith and of my Savior, I am very joyfully willing to help them in this way. But I know that only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the church and use peaceful means to disobey, will I truly be able to help the souls of the authorities and law enforcement. I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.

Moreover, I must point out that persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians. For the government is brutally and ruthlessly threatening them and hindering them from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness in the world than this.

If this regime is one day overthrown by God, it will be for no other reason than God’s righteous punishment and revenge for this evil. For on earth, there has only ever been a thousand-year church. There has never been a thousand-year government. There is only eternal faith. There is no eternal power.

Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ.  When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.

Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.

And so, respectable officers, stop committing evil. This is not for my benefit but rather for yours and your children’s. I plead earnestly with you to stay your hands, for why should you be willing to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for the sake of a lowly sinner such as I?

Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.

First draft on September 21st, 2018; revised on October 4th. To be published by the church after 48 hours of detention. 

Appendix: What Constitutes Faithful Disobedience

I firmly believe that the Bible has not given any branch of any government the authority to run the church or to interfere with the faith of Christians. Therefore, the Bible demands that I, through peaceable means, in meek resistance and active forbearance, filled with joy, resist all administrative policies and legal measures that oppress the church and interfere with the faith of Christians.

I firmly believe this is a spiritual act of disobedience.  In modern authoritarian regimes that persecute the church and oppose the gospel, spiritual disobedience is an inevitable part of the gospel movement.

I firmly believe that spiritual disobedience is an act of the last times; it is a witness to God’s eternal kingdom in the temporal kingdom of sin and evil. Disobedient Christians follow the example of the crucified Christ by walking the path of the cross. Peaceful disobedience is the way in which we love the world as well as the way in which we avoid becoming part of the world.

I firmly believe that in carrying out spiritual disobedience, the Bible demands me to rely on the grace and resurrection power of Christ, that I must respect and not overstep two boundaries.

The first boundary is that of the heart. Love toward the soul, and not hatred toward the body, is the motivation of spiritual disobedience. Transformation of the soul, and not the changing of circumstances, is the aim of spiritual disobedience. At any time, if external oppression and violence rob me of inner peace and endurance, so that my heart begins to breed hatred and bitterness toward those who persecute the church and abuse Christians, then spiritual disobedience fails at that point.

The second boundary is that of behavior. The gospel demands that disobedience of faith must be non-violent. The mystery of the gospel lies in actively suffering, even being willing to endure unrighteous punishment, as a substitute for physical resistance. Peaceful disobedience is the result of love and forgiveness. The cross means being willing to suffer when one does not have to suffer. For Christ had limitless ability to fight back, yet he endured all of the humility and hurt. The way that Christ resisted the world that resisted him was by extending an olive branch of peace on the cross to the world that crucified him.

I firmly believe that Christ has called me to carry out this faithful disobedience through a life of service, under this regime that opposes the gospel and persecutes the church. This is the means by which I preach the gospel, and it is the mystery of the gospel which I preach.

The Lord’s servant,
Wang Yi

First draft on September 21st, 2018; revised on October 4th. To be circulated by the church after 48 hours of detention. 

English translation provided by Amy, Brent Pinkall, and the China Partnership translation team.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China.

Prayer Points

Pray for Individual Believers—“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” —Hebrews 12:1-2

Pray for the imprisoned & their families. (Heb 13:3)

Pray for believers threatened & terrorized by the police. (Heb 13:6)

Pray for the weak & the fearful. (Heb 4:15-16)

Pray for those who have lost jobs or homes for their faith. (Heb 11:16)

Pray for Pastors and Church Leaders.“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known…” Colossians 1:24-25

Pray for churches strategizing next steps to navigate persecution. (Matt 10:16; Ps 37: 5-6)

Pray for strength for pastors ministering to dispersed churches. (Phil 4:13; Col 1:29)

Pray that God will teach pastors how to exhort the suffering church with his Word. (Eph 6:19; Col 2:1-2)

Pray for pastors’ knowledge and love for Christ to deepen through suffering. (Phil 1:9-10, 3:8)

Pray for God’s Kingdom to Advance “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 “Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” —Philippians 1:18

Pray that God will empower the church to love and witness to those who hurt them. (Rom 12:19-20)

Pray for the light of Christ to reach the darkest places—in prisons and among the persecutors. (1 Pet 2:9)

Pray for an overflowing of joy, hope, faith, and love as the church participates in the sufferings of Christ. (1 Pet 1:6-9)

Pray for the church to persevere and be kept blameless until the gospel is proclaimed to all and Christ returns. (1 Thess 5:23; 1 Pet 1:13-16)

 

Charge of “Promoting Christianity” for an Armenian student imprisoned in Iran

Iran: An Armenian student, arrested in nationwide demonstration December 2017, faces charges of attempting to form warrior groups against the regime, promoting Christianity and anti-Islamic activities.

(Mohabat News) Karen Vartanian, born Tehran in 1994, is singular and 9th semester student of pharmacy at Arak University. He is one of the Armenian Christians and one of the detainees in the nationwide demonstration.

According to news sources, this student protester was arrested on December 30, 2017, and spent 17 days under the most severe physical and mental torture, so that he lost 15 kilos of weight during the deterrence.

“Karen Vartanian “was summoned to the Revolutionary Court two weeks ago. His trial was held on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, in the presence of him and his lawyer. In the court, he faces charges of insulting and disseminating lies, disturbing the public opinion, attempting to form warrior groups against the regime, promoting Christianity and anti-Islamic activities. Temporary detention was issued to him and the date of the main court was determined. Despite the protests of him and his attorney, they were informed that he would be transferred to the Fashafiyah prison until the trial date.

“Karen Vartanian” has congenital heart disease and had heart surgery in April 2018. Although his family and lawyer asked the judge to bail out due to his heart disease and threat of his life, the judge told them that the bail would not be issued to security detainees at the behest of the judiciary, even if the trial date is one year later.

According to a reliable source, “Karen Vartanian” was beaten by the prison authorities during the transfer from court to the detention center in front of her mother’s and sister’s eyes, and the agent of assassin said falsely to the people present at the site: “The accused has raped several daughters under 18 years old.

After two days of arrestment at a temporary detention center, the arrested student was transferred to the notorious Prison of Fashafiyah in Tehran on Thursday, August 30, 2018.

He suffered a heart attack at the Fashafiyah Prison and was transferred to Rajai Hospital on Sunday, September 2, 2018 with manacle and under guarded care with a plainclothes officer and a soldier. His family could see him only for a few minutes behind the glass, and this short meeting was enough to see the effects of beating on the face, eye and feet of their son. Despite the physician’s advice, that his 3-4-day rest was urgent due to surgery and his severe physical condition, prison authorities did not agree that his treatment continued at the hospital and returned him to prison after an outpatient treatment.

During the detention, Karen Vartanian only had short phone call with his family two times. This Christian family is very concerned about the life threatening and the situation of their son. Despite the continuous follow-up of the family, he was not allowed to visit the family and the judge did not specify the date of his trial./FARSI

 

Jailed US pastor still refused ‘due process’ in Turkey

A photo of the Rev. Andrew Brunson during his time in prison. Photo courtesy of World Witness

(World Watch Monitor) As a high-level US delegation arrived in the Turkish capital [on 23 January], in an effort to resolve high-level tensions between the two NATO allies, discussions were slated to include what officials in Washington have termed the “wrongful detention” of US pastor Andrew Brunson for the past 15 months.

Led by Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Asian Affairs Jonathan Cohen, the bilateral meetings in Ankara are the first sessions of a Joint Coordination Committee recently established between Turkish and US diplomatic and justice officials.

With the visit coming right on the heels of the Turkish military’s “Operation Olive Branch”, launched over the past weekend in Syria’s Afrin province, the Turkish media stressed that the delegation included officials from the US Defense Ministry.

But according to a report in Hurriyet Daily News today, “The working group’s agenda includes a number of issues that have led to tension in bilateral relations in recent months, including the visa crisis and ongoing investigations of US consular staff.”

In Brunson’s case, the pastor of Izmir’s Resurrection Church was inexplicably detained some weeks after a failed 15 July, 2016 coup attempt against the Turkish government. After two months’ refusal to deport him, it became clear he had been caught up in Ankara’s massive crackdown to identify and punish the so-called Fethullah Gülen Terror Organisation (FETO) network accused of infiltrating Turkey’s armed forces and government and masterminding the coup.

In the ongoing state of emergency law ever since, 50,150 “suspected” judges, prosecutors, soldiers, academics, journalists, human rights activists and police officers have been jailed and held for months in pre-trial detention for supporting Gülen, an exiled Turkish Muslim cleric residing in the US.

Still no indictment

Fifteen months after Brunson was first detained and threatened with deportation on 7 October, 2016, Turkey’s judiciary still hasn’t issued any written indictment spelling out the allegations against him.

According to vague reports in Turkey’s pro-government media, his charges are based on “secret evidence” and a “secret witness” accusing Brunson of trying to overthrow the Turkish government.

He and his lawyer continue to be denied access to his confidential case file. In effect, he has experienced no substantive “due process” – an individual’s legal entitlement to notice of a charge and a hearing before an impartial court of law.

After six months in a crowded cell with 20 Turkish prisoners also accused of Gülen links, Brunson was moved to the maximum security Kiriklar Prison in Izmir, where he has shared a cell with two Turkish prisoners.

He is allowed to leave his cell once a week for a scheduled visit with his wife or a US consular officer.

According to two US representatives who visited him in October on behalf of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, “He is the only American, the only English speaker, and the only Christian in the prison. He lives in a world of physical isolation and psychological dislocation.”

During his incarceration, he has missed his daughter’s wedding, and then her university graduation.

In late September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly declared that his government was holding Brunson as a political hostage, demanding that the US extradite Gülen back to Turkey in a prisoner “swap” for the pastor. Turkey insists that the evidence it has sent to the US proves that the cleric planned and orchestrated the coup attempt.

President Erdoğan declared further on 11 January that “as long as I hold office”, Turkey will not extradite any jailed “suspects” to the United States until Washington hands over Gülen. If Erdoğan persists, he will effectively cancel a 1979 extradition treaty between the US and Turkey on criminal matters.

Arrested at the age of 48, Brunson had raised his family and ministered in Turkey for 23 years. On 3 January, he spent his 50th birthday in his cell.

“We would never have imagined this kind of a birthday,” a close family member said. “Andrew did what he set out to do: he thanked God for the life he has had.” see below

As indicated in his only photograph from his imprisonment, Brunson has lost more than 50 pounds (20kg), becoming a pale, slender version of himself.

Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) note:

Pastor Andrew’s wife has recently shared, “This past month the tears have been flowing with a series of disappointments, including missing our daughter’s university graduation. Having those disappointments hit around Christmas made it all the harder.”

On January 1, 2018, a note from Andrew was shared that had been written a few weeks prior.

I am deeply grateful to all who have prayed for me. This trial – time in prison – has stretched me far more than I ever would have imagined. I have been very weak, had many doubts, felt very alone. I know that God’s grace is sustaining me, even when I do not feel that grace, and I know that the prayers of God’s people are surrounding me and giving strength. One of my big fears has been that I will be forgotten in prison. Thank you for not forgetting! It is a great encouragement to know there are people praying for me – it reminds me that I am not alone, and that I need to stand firm, with my face pointed in God’s direction always. Thank you for standing with me in this most difficult time.
Many blessings to you
Andrew

Responses poured in from that post to say that prayer is continuing. His wife expressed her extreme gratitude and said,  “I will pass some of these messages on to Andrew”.

Below is the most recent message from Andrew shared only two days ago.

Dear praying friends,

Each day I pray the following: “Father God pour out on me, your son, the courage, strength, endurance, perseverance and steadfastness of Jesus, that I may run the race set before me and finish well, a bride resplendent, purified in the fires of faithful obedience, and worthy of Jesus, my Beloved and King of Glory.” I pray this over my family as well. I supposed it applies to all of us, especially in times of trial and testing. I feel like I am living in Isaiah 50:10 – hanging on in the dark. Thank you for standing with me – and for me – in prayer, and sharing in my imprisonment. It is a great encouragement when Norine tells me that prayer continues, even after this long time. Again, I thank you. May the Lord accomplish his purposes, do a deep and thorough work in me – and do it quickly!

Andrew

Some have recently asked if they can send prayers and messages to Andrew in prison. We’re asking that you refrain from doing so at this time. If you would like to encourage the family and view the latest updates on Pastor Brunson, please visit this Facebook page. Your prayers may be shared with this dear pastor.

Keep praying!

In the midst of Evil: Christian describes how they endure persecution

 Being a Christian has never been easy. It has brought suffering, pain and persecution for those who stand firm in their faith. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18. Despite the challenges and hurdles, Christianity has grown over the centuries and the Bible holds wonderful promises for the ones who are suffering; “Blessed are those who are persecuted.” Matthew 5:11

(Voice of the Persecuted) Pakistan is a nation which persecutes Christians and is known as the 4th most dangerous country to be a Christian. The blasphemy law is used as a tool to settle personal vendettas against Pakistani Christians. It’s a place where Christians can be lynched publicly upon false religious allegations. Thousands of minority girls are kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam. Christians in Pakistan live in fear, many afraid to even speak with Muslims about their faith.

Thailand, a popular tourist hot spot, has been one of the major destinations for Christians fleeing persecution in Pakistan. But they fled to Thailand without the full knowledge of the dangers that lie ahead. Thailand, not being a signatory of the UN refugee rights convention, regularly arrests asylum seekers and refugees. The nation considers them to be illegal migrants despite them having UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) documents. Hundreds are in the notorious Immigration Detention Center and have been living in a deplorable situation for several years. The Immigration Detention Center is designed to hold about 50 detainees at a time. Presently, there are close to 200 people which leads to lack of space, sanitation and serious health concerns. They are at risk of contracting highly infectious diseases such as, tuberculosis, skin infections, among other air/water borne illnesses. They’re malnourished due to a diet of nothing more than rice and cucumber soup. Please pray for them to remain steadfast in holding onto their faith.

Pakistani Christian asylum seekers brought to court caged in police vans.

“Faith in Christ plays an important role in the life of a persecuted Christian”

Many have been wondering if they could endure the atrocities our brothers and sisters suffer in restricted nations. Christian Malik, our Thailand representative, knows the hardships of persecution very well. He recently shared about the role faith plays in his life and that of other Christian refugees. Last month, during Q&A on our November prayer conference call event, one of the participants asked what advice he had for those in the west when persecution comes knocking at our door. He told us,

“Faith is all that is keeping us alive. In Thailand, every second holds an uncertainty about the future. One second, we might be free, the next second we might be behind bars. Under such circumstances, we pray and ask God for his mighty intervention in our lives and to keep us protected from all harm and danger. We are not allowed to work here which means we are unsure about securing food and other necessities for our daily needs, but our Father in Heaven is mighty and has great promises for us.

Matthew 7:11 mentions, ‘If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ Amen. Our Father in Heaven is indeed merciful and gracious.  He provides for us from His riches. The bible states, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ When we are need, we ask God, we seek, and we find it. We knock at the door and it is opened for us. There has never been a time when God denied, He provides for us according to His time.

Faith in Christ makes things possible, not easy. We know the journey will be hard, but we have surety from God that it would be possible. In the dictionary of Faith, the word impossible doesn’t exist. Our God is a living God and He never leaves us alone. The suffering in Thailand has brought us closer to God and our lives here have become a living sacrifice.”

Persecution always results in the dispersion of believers and the spread of Christianity. Persecution will grow the Church in the 21st century as well. “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.” (Acts 11:19).”

VOP message on IDC relief package

This Christmas, let’s stand strong with our brothers and sisters and uphold them in our prayers. Let us also bless them with their needs as faith without deeds is incomplete. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2: 15-17

VOP is on the ground in Thailand. This Christmas, join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus. We’re planning an outreach for a large number of asylum seekers and refugees in Bangkok. We have only 4 days left to deliver Christmas relief packages, much needed supplies and nutrition to those suffering in the notorious IDC, Immigration Detention Center.

Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds to complete this Christmas mission. If you feel led to help, please consider our mission and donate, today. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings to share the joy of Christmas with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. God bless you and your families. May your Christmas be filled with much joy as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Savior.

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

Donations always desperately needed

Christian Woman Temporarily Released From Iranian Prison for Medical Treatment

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Maryam (Nasim) Naghash Zargaran imprisoned for Christian faith

(Voice of the Persecuted) 36 year old Maryam (Nasim) Naghash Zargaran, a Christian convert, has been released from Evin Prison in Iran and will receive much needed medical care. Maryam requires frequent medical attention as she had undergone heart surgery 9 years ago. She began a hunger strike on May 26 or 27 in protest of the prison’s denial to properly care for her heart condition atrial septal defect, diabetes, severe pain and other complications.

Mohabat News shared she has been suffering from pain in her ears and severe headaches, weight loss, and suffering from depression. While the prison’s medical staff recognized Maryam’s critical need for treatment, the Prosecutor refused to allow her to leave for medical care. Her family and friends were extremely worried for Nasim’s condition and and believed she was near comatose.

16 years ago, Nasim, who came from a Muslim background, was one of the first converts to Christianity under Saeed Abedini’s counsel. She also worked with him planting house churches. Abedini told Baptist Press that shortly after his 2012 imprisonment, Nasim was arrested because of her vigilant evangelism. She was charged with “acting against national security” and in July 2013 sentenced to four years in the women’s ward of Evin prison. A retrial request was refused and she has been incarcerated for nearly three years.

Abedini shared on social media that bail was put up for Nasim and she is now home. He was even able to talk to her and said, “I saw her, and she looks like she is just one step from death.” He also claimed after being released, she went to the hospital to get treatment,but they recognized her and wouldn’t treat her. Her sister in law, a doctor, is now treating Nasim in her home.

Though Nasim has been furloughed, it’s very possible that they will take her back to Evin within a week or so.  “I think they (Iranian authorities) allowed this to shut down the news,”Abedini said.

To all those who prayed and raised their voice, THANK YOU!

CONTINUE PRAYING

Maryam’s (Nasim) family and friends are asking for that we pray for her health and her release. Please also pray for the Iranian government to soften their hearts towards this sister and others imprisoned for their faith in Christ. For the Gospel to go forth in Iran. Pray for the strength and courage of Iranian believers to share the love and light of Christ and for the presence of the Holy Spirit and revival to take place. God bless the Iranian people.

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 PERSECUTEDEvery 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

 

2015 Worst in History for Christian Persecution Since Statistics Have Been Tracked

cross-persecution

More than twice as many Christians were killed for their faith in 2015 than in the previous year–making it the worst in history.

From Frontpage Mag, by Raymond Ibrahim

Open Doors, an organization that advocates for persecuted Christians, recently released its latest World Watch List—a report that highlights and ranks the 50 worst nations to be Christian.  It found that 2015 was the “worst year in modern history for Christian persecution.”

Who claims the lion’s share of this unprecedented persecution?  Muslims—of all races, nationalities, languages, and socio-political circumstances: Muslims from among America’s closest allies (Saudi Arabia #14 worst persecutor) and its opponents (Iran #9); Muslims from economically rich nations (Qatar #21) and from poor nations (Somalia #7 and Yemen #11); Muslims from “Islamic republic” nations (Afghanistan #4) and from “moderate” nations (Malaysia #30 and Indonesia #43); Muslims from nations rescued by America (Kuwait #41) and Muslims from nations claiming “grievances” against the U.S. (fill in the blank __).

The report finds that “Islamic extremism” is the main source of persecution in 41 of the top 50 countries—that is, 82 percent of the world’s persecution of Christians is being committed by Muslims.  As for the top ten worst countries persecuting Christians, nine of them are Muslim-majority—that is, 90 percent of nations where Christians experience “extreme persecution” are Muslim.

Still, considering that the 2016 World Watch List ranks North Korea—non-Islamic, communist—as the number one worst persecutor of Christians, why belabor the religious identity of Muslims?  Surely this suggests that Christian persecution is not intrinsic to the Islamic world but is rather a product of repressive regimes and other socio-economic factors—as the North Korean example suggests and as many politicians and other talking heads maintain?

Here we come to some critically important but rarely acknowledged distinctions.   While Christians are indeed suffering extreme persecution in North Korea, these fall into the realm of the temporal and aberrant.  Something as simple as overthrowing Kim Jong-un’s regime could lead to a quick halt to the persecution—just as the fall of Communist Soviet Union saw the end of religious persecution. The vibrancy of Christianity in South Korea is suggestive of what may be in store—and thus creates such fear for—its northern counterpart.

In the Islamic world, however, a similar scenario would not alleviate the sufferings of Christians by an iota.  Quite the opposite; where dictators fall (often thanks to U.S. intervention)—Saddam in Iraq, Qaddafi in Libya, and ongoing attempts against Assad in Syria—Christian persecution dramatically rises.  Today Iraq is the second worst nation in the world in which to be Christian, Syria fifth, and Libya tenth.  A decade ago under the “evil” dictators, Iraq was ranked 32, Syria 47, and Libya 22.

The difference between Muslim and non-Muslim persecution (e.g., communist) of Christians is that the latter is often rooted in a particular regime.  Conversely, Muslim persecution of Christians is perennial, existential, and far transcends this or that regime or ruler.  It is part and parcel of the history, doctrines, and socio-political makeup of Islam—hence its tenacity; hence its ubiquity.

Moreover, atheistic communism is a relatively new phenomenon—about a century old—and, over the years, its rule (if not variants of its ideology) has greatly waned, so that only a handful of nations today are communist.

On the other hand, Muslim persecution of Christians is as old as Islam. It is a well-documented, even if suppressed, history.

To further understand the differences between temporal and existential persecution, consider Russia. Under communism, its own Christians were persecuted; yet today, after the fall of the USSR, Russia is again reclaiming its Orthodox Christian heritage.

North Korea—where Kim Jong-un is worshipped as a god and the people are shielded from reality—seems to be experiencing what Russia did under the Soviet Union.  But if the once mighty USSR could not persevere, surely it’s a matter of time before tiny North Korea’s walls also come crumbling down, with the resulting religious freedom that former communist nations have experienced. (Tellingly, the only countries that were part of the USSR that still persecute Christians are Muslim, such as Uzbekistan, #15, and Turkmenistan, #19.)

Time, however, is not on the side of Christians living amid Muslims; quite the opposite.

In short, Muslim persecution of Christians exists in 41 nations today as part of a continuum—or “tradition”—that started nearly 14 centuries ago.  As I document in Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, the very same patterns of Christian persecution prevalent throughout the Muslim world today are often identical to those from centuries past.

A final consideration: North Korea, the one non-Muslim nation making the top ten worst persecutors list, is governed by what is widely seen as an unbalanced megalomaniac; conversely, the other nine nations are not dominated by any “cults-of-personalities” and are variously governed: including through parliamentarian democracies (Iraq), parliamentarian republics (Pakistan and Somalia), one-party or presidential republics (Eritrea, Sudan and Syria), Islamic republics (Afghanistan and Iran), and transitional/disputed governments (Libya).  Looking at the other Muslim nations that make the top 50 persecutors’ list and even more forms of governments proliferate, for example monarchies (Saudi Arabia #14).

The common denominator is that they are all Islamic nations.

Thus, long after North Korea’s psychotic Kim Jong-un has gone the way of the dodo, tens of millions of Christians and other “infidels” will continue to suffer extreme persecution, till what began in the seventh century reaches fruition and the entire Islamic world becomes “infidel” free.

Confronting this discomforting and better-left-unsaid fact is the first real step to alleviating the sufferings of the overwhelming majority of Christians around the world.

Unfortunately, however, while some are willing to point out that Christians are being persecuted around the Muslim world—why that is the case, why 82% of the world’s persecution is committed by Muslims from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances—is the great elephant in the room that few wish to address.  For doing so would cause some long held and cherished premises of the modern West—chiefly the twin doctrines of religious relativism and multiculturalism—to come crashing down.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen who was imprisoned in a North Korean Prison Writes A Christmas Message

American citizen, Kenneth Bae sentenced by North Korea to 15 years in a labor camp...but now released and back in the U.S.

American citizen, Kenneth Bae sentenced by North Korea to 15 years in a labor camp…but now released and back in the U.S.

Voice of the Persecuted is still praising God for the miracle of Kenneth’s release from North Korea. And that he is able to be surrounded by the love of his family, sharing Christmas in their presence. Our great God still hears us and answers our prayers! Continue to pray, PRESS IN! In Jesus holy name, Heaven come down!

We are grateful to God that we are able and happy to share Kenneth’s Christmas message with you.

Dec 25, 2014 — Dear friends,

Thank you to all of you for signing my son Jonathan Bae’s petition “Amnesty for my father Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in a North Korean Special Labor Camp.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude to learn that so many of you have signed the petition on my behalf —177,552 signatures!

Thanks to all of you who raised your voices to advocate for my freedom, I was able to come home and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family back on US soil. Because of your support and prayers for me and for my family, I was able to endure and sustain during my time in North Korea.

Since I was released more than one month ago, I have had a chance to rest and reconnect with my family. We have spent a few days at the beach, which, as you can understand, is quite surreal considering where I have been. I am still praying about my future—what I will do and where I will live—but I feel at peace, knowing God will guide me as He has always.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on the glorious day of our Savior’s birthday! May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and your family!

Blessings,

Kenneth Bae

 

Second Appeal Hearing for Three Iranian Clergymen

Iran Christians
Pastors Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad and Deacon Silas Rabbani attended a second court session today as part of their appeal against six-year sentences on trumped-up political charges, which had been handed down in October.

The three men were represented by their lawyer Moshkani Farahani, who had previously argued against the charges faced by each of his clients at the last court session of this trial on 24 November.

During the previous session, Mr Farahani argued that it was inconceivable that Behnam Irani could have been guilty of the political crimes given that he was already imprisoned. He went on to state that Matthias Haghnejad should be released on the basis that he had previously been acquitted of charges by a tribunal in Bandar-Anzali.

Mr Farahani also contended that people cannot be sentenced on political charges for simply belonging to a religious fellowship; in this case, a Christian community: “It is normal for members of minorities to be in touch with each other; Jews are in touch which others, Zoroastrians are in touch with each other, it is the same for Assyrians, Orthodoxes and Evangelicals. Such connections cannot be perceived as a penal crime…”

In other news, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) have been informed that another Christian, Ebrahim Hosseinzadeh, was arrested by agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security last month during a raid on his apartment, during which Christian books and his laptop were confiscated.

Although the exact date of Ebrahim Hosseinzadeh’s arrest is unclear, reports received by CSW indicate that it was between 18-20 November. Mr Hosseinzadeh, who is 32 years old, converted to Christianity in 2009 and is a church house leader in Shiraz.

After he was taken into custody, Mr Hosseinzadeh was transferred to ‘Pelak 100’, a detention centre in Shiraz under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence. Sources close to CSW believe he is still detained.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The charges faced by Pastors Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad and Deacon Silas Rabbani are clearly unjust, as Mr Farahani has argued in court. We continue to call on the authorities to release these clergymen along with Ebrahim Hosseinzadeh, unconditionally and without delay. Their only ‘crime’ is to exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief, as guaranteed in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is signatory. We urge the Iranian government to uphold this right for religious minorities in Iran, in line with its obligations under international law and the provisions upholding the rights of religious minorities in its own constitution.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

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