Wednesday, May 26, 2010

057. May Update; incl. Iran, Laos, Morocco, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 057 | Wed 26 May 2010

MAY 2010 UPDATE -- During May we prayed concerning . . .

IRAQ, where the indigenous Assyrian-Chaldean Christian population is besieged by escalating Muslim fundamentalism (that marginalises, discriminates against and persecutes) and Islamic terrorism (that kills). We prayed about the 2 May terrorist attack which targeted a convoy of buses transporting Christian students to Mosul University.

* UPDATE: Two students died in the 2 May attack while around 70 were injured, with 50 requiring hospitalisation. The most seriously injured have been transferred to hospitals in Turkey. Subsequently some 1000 Christian students dropped out of classes due to insecurity. On 7 May, lecturers and Muslim students at Mosul University staged a sit-in to protest the deadly attack. One Muslim student activist said the protest will only end when Christian students can return to their classes in security. This is an awakening of conscience. Pray for the Holy Spirit to bring religious awakening to the University of Mosul.

INDONESIA, where the politically driven, unconstitutional enactment of Shari'a requirements by local authorities in West Java is causing persecution to escalate, including the phenomenon of illegal forced church closures. Militant Islamists realise that the state law has no value and the reality on the ground is that Islam rules.

ERITREA, where some 3000 Christians of all ages are imprisoned for their faith in the most cruel and inhumane conditions where torture is rife. Pray for God's direct intervention for the sake of his Church. (Ephesians 1:19-23)

'God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.' (Ephesians 1:22 NLT.)

MAY 2010 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .


Iranian believers Maryam Rostampour (28) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (31) were arrested on 5 March 2009 and imprisoned in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison on charges of apostasy (leaving Islam). When they told the Islamic judge who presided over the Revolutionary Court they would never renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, they were returned to prison to 'think it over'. As the months passed their health deteriorated but their faith and their faithfulness did not. On 22 May 2010, after being acquitted on all charges, Maryam and Marzieh fled Iran after being warned by judicial authorities 'that any future Christian activity in Iran will be seriously dealt with'. While they are now safe, they have escaped Iran with little more than their lives. Leaving behind families, friends and belongings, they will now start a new life with the freedom many of us take for granted. The women attribute their endurance through trial to God who 'kept and used us' and 'has chosen us. All the glory goes to him.'


Forty-eight Laotian Christians were expelled at gunpoint from Katin village, Saravan Province, on 18 January 2010 for refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. The district head has said that he will not tolerate the existence of Christianity in areas under his control. After the Christians were driven out, their homes, papers, farms and livestock were acquired by others. Locals have been warned not to have any contact with the expelled Christians who have since made temporary shelters in the jungle several kilometres from the village. Due to prolonged lack of adequate food and clean water, one believer has since died and two have been hospitalised. The others are wracked by diarrhoea, dehydration, eye and skin infections, fainting and weakness. Pray that God will intervene for these and other persecuted Laotian Christians, providing all their needs and delivering comfort and justice.


Twenty-six more foreign Christians have been expelled from Morocco, bringing the total to 105 since early March. In violation of Moroccan law, the expelled foreign Christians have had no right of appeal and often no opportunity to inform their family or pack a bag. Reportedly Muslim hardliners inside the government -- specifically in the Ministry of Interior -- are pressuring the king to demonstrate his Islamic credentials. A media campaign has been unleashed to demonise Christians and turn the masses against them. Compass Direct News reports that some 7000 Muslim leaders signed a document describing the work of Christians within Morocco as 'moral rape' and 'religious terrorism'. At least two Moroccan Christians have been beaten in recent days, while others have reportedly been interrogated and harassed. This is a turning point for Morocco. However, according to one deported European Christian, 'it is massively backfiring', as many Moroccan Muslims impacted by the deportations are shaken by the injustice, persecution and repression being waged in the name of Islam against peaceful, servant-Christians. Pray for religious awakening in Morocco.


Three Protestant churches and a pastor's home were demolished in Kano State in Northern Nigeria after a local Shari'a court consented to their destruction. On 15 May a Baptist church in Banaka, Takai Local Government Area (LGA), was destroyed. Then on 19 May, a mob of around 100 Muslim youths destroyed two church buildings and a pastor's residence all belonging to the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Kwasam, Kiru LGA. While no lives were lost, death threats have driven the local ECWA pastor into hiding. The mob's ringleaders were reportedly Muslim converts from the Christian community. Pray for God's Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin leading to repentance and faith. May Kano hear a new testimony: of grace and sacrifice conquering hatred and destruction.


On Sunday 16 May Tashkent City Church of Christ, which has been legally registered since 1999 and is one of the largest and most active churches in the Uzbek capital, was raided by five government agencies: the police, the National Security Service (NSS, secret police), the Tax Inspectorate, the Fire Brigade and the Sanitary-Epidemiological Service. The police arrived without a warrant, confiscated cash, literature and property, and filmed everyone who was present, including the children. They acquired the passport details and car number-plates of the 500 adults present as well as the names and addresses of the children. The police then officially closed and sealed the church while the Fire Brigade cut off the electricity. Eight members were arrested and tried in the Mirzo-Ulugbek district criminal court of Tashkent on 17 May. On 18 May, three members, including the assistant pastor, Artur Avanesyan, were sentenced to 15 days administrative detention, while five others were issued heavy fines. The government views Protestant Christianity as a threat to social harmony.


The story of K'pa Lot exemplifies Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) cruelty to the Degar/ Montagnard Christians indigenous to the Central Highlands. K'pa Lot was arrested on 20 May 2007 for publicly expressing his faith and refusing to worship in a VCP-built 'official' church. In prison he was kept isolated and was always relocated just prior to prison visits by human rights monitors such as the Red Cross. On 9 March 2010, K'pa Lot was released from prison and hospitalised so he could die in hospital rather than in state custody. He was so swollen from beatings and torture that his own family did not immediately recognise him. After K'pa Lot (31) died from internal bleeding on 11 March 2010, his widow, H'Nguen, leaked this information to international religious liberty advocates. On 3 May, H'Nguen and her two children, H'Danh and Y-Ly, were forced into the Nhan Hoa Police Station, where H'Nguen was ordered to sign her children over to government custody. H'Nguen resisted for six hours and was eventually permitted to leave with her children. K'pa Lot died for his beliefs. Now his widow and children are at risk for leaking that information. Such cruelty is not uncommon in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Pray for the Church in Vietnam.