Wednesday, September 29, 2010

075. September Update: Incl. Algeria, China, India, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 075 | Wed 29 Sep 2010

SEPTEMBER 2010 UPDATE -- During September we prayed concerning . . .

USA, where a church in Florida had globally advertised an 'International Burn a Koran Day' for 9/11.

* UPDATE: We praise and thank God that the event did not go ahead, not because we regard the Qur'an as sacred (for in fact it underpins an ideologically and politically dangerous, false religion that must be refuted), but because it was to be a deliberately provocative act that would have impeded mission and needlessly imperilled the lives of multitudes of already traumatised Christians throughout the Muslim world. Now Randall Terry and other Christian activists plan to hold a 'Hear Muhammad Speak' event on 6&7 October, where they will read Qur'anic exhortations to violence before tearing up the texts as rubbish. They plan to do this outside Cordoba House (the proposed 'ground zero' mosque) and at various other sites around the US. Whilst we may affirm their aims -- to provoke debate, expose inconsistency and highlight persecution -- once again the method is highly questionable.

'In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you . . . ' (Matthew 7:12 NIV)

TURKMENISTAN, where persecution and repression of Christianity is escalating as President Berdimuhamedov becomes as totalitarian and cultish as his predecessor, Niyazov.

INDONESIA, where one Bekasi pastor was stabbed and another bludgeoned as Islamic intolerance escalates with impunity.

SOMALIA, where Christians continue to be martyred at the hands of Islamic militants intent on turning Somalia into a fully Islamised and Talibanised state and safe-haven for international terrorists. (They are not far from achieving that goal.)

-- also this month . . .


In March 2006 only six months after it granted amnesty to some 10,000 condemned Islamists, the Algerian government passed a religion law that seriously represses Christianity. The law is doubtless part of a quid-pro-quo deal with the Islamists whereby Islam is advanced and Christianity is repressed in exchange for 'peace'. This Ramadan, a number of people were arrested for eating during daylight hours even though there is no law against it. Two of those charged are Christian construction workers Hocine Hocini and Fellak Salem. Further to this, Algerian authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Ali Arhab, the Algeria-born, France-based director of Channel North Africa gospel satellite broadcasts. The warrant -- on bogus charges of 'swindling' -- prevents Mr Arhab (a dual national) from visiting family and friends in Algeria. Mr Arhab is doubtless being targeted because of his service to the Algerian Church. (For more details see Religious Liberty Monitoring)


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) still operates a Mao-era 'laogai' of nearly 1000 state-owned slave-labour camps. Anyone the local authorities deem a problem can be sent without charge or trial to the laogai for up to three years of 'administrative detention' in what is portrayed as a pre-emptive rather than punitive measure. (This is one reason why 'Made in China' is so cheap.) When their house church in Xuchang, Henan province, was raided by police in March, Liu Yunhua, Gao Jianli and others refused to pay 'fines' (i.e. bribes) and were consequently detained for 15 days. On 25 March Liu and Gao were sentenced to one year of 're-education through labour' in the laogai. They have appealed, claiming the authorities were acting illegally. On 20 September several of their relatives and supporters were arrested (including Pastor Zhang Mingxan) while attending their second hearing. Three of the Christians were issued with administrative orders for 15 days detention. While this is all very normal and routine for China, the CCP has been escalating its propaganda campaign, even inviting the BBC to tour and marvel at the CCP's 'commitment to supporting the development of Christianity', and the 'millions of dollars of government funding' for state-run churches which have 'substantial freedom'. The CCP is doubtless hoping to discredit the suffering of the persecuted house churches. (See Religious Liberty Monitoring)


On Sunday 26 September Hindu militants stormed the small, mostly tribal fellowship in Umachagi village, Karnataka, led by Pastor Shivanda Siddi (45) for the past five years. After interrupting prayers they tried to argue with Pastor Siddi while abusing the believers and taking their Bibles. For the next half hour they insulted, beat and stripped the pastor before telephoning the police and falsely accusing him of forced conversions. When the police arrived they arrested the pastor, seven women and two children. Whilst the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) was able to intervene to get the women and children released, Pastor Siddi was tried and charged under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits 'forced' conversions. Pastor Siddi is being detained in Sirsi prison in Uttar Kananda. This represents the Hindu nationalists' preferred method of repression and persecution and is becoming all too common in 'secular' India. The Evangelical Fellowship of India has recorded 106 such major incidents in 16 states up to August this year, including 37 in Karnataka.


According to the Farsi Christian News Network, authorities in Hamedan arrested nine Christians who have since been charged with carrying out evangelism. This was announced on 10 September by a member of the Iranian Security services via Iran's Fars news agency, which is connected to the Revolutionary Guard. The accused were described as 'Christian Zionists' and 'evangelicals', two of whom were allegedly being sponsored from outside Iran while the other seven were Iranian co-conspirators. Please pray for the Church in Iran.


The Special Tribunal on Lebanon, set up to investigate the February 2005 assassination of PM Rafiq Hariri, will soon hand down its ruling. It is widely expected the tribunal will indict Hezballah, Syria and Lebanese intelligence heads. Reports and local evidence indicate that Hezballah is preparing to stage a violent policy-reversing coup (similar to the one it achieved in May 2008) to prevent the tribunal from fulfilling its mandate. Hezballah has reportedly deployed some 3500 militants deep inside the Christian areas north of Beirut. Having taken up residence in homes purchased through their Christian allies in the Free Patriotic Movement, the militants are positioned to besiege the homes of Hezballah's Christian opponents. In the event of conflict, Hezballah's Christian allies will be pitted against Hezballah's Christian opponents in an act of Hezballah-sponsored Christian self-destruction. Please pray that all Lebanese Christians will seek the Lord. (See Religious Liberty Monitoring)


EAST: On 3 September Tariq Gill, in the Christian colony of Mohalla Kalupura, Gujrat district, Punjab, was cleared of charges of blasphemy. Outraged Islamic fundamentalists have attacked the colony more than 10 times since. A mob of some 40 Islamic fundamentalists (including several MPs) armed with guns, axes and clubs attacked the colony on 23 September. Gill's mother was stripped and dragged naked through the streets. Those critically wounded were hospitalised. A local bishop and several pastors have been threatened with death.

WEST: On Sunday morning 12 September, a bomb exploded at the entrance of St Paul's Lutheran Church in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West Frontier Province). St Paul's belongs to the Church of Pakistan, a Protestant union. Whilst two Christians were injured in the blast, the situation would have been much worse had the timer been set a little later. Locals view the bombing as an act of intimidation aimed at subjugating or driving out the Christian minority. Please pray for Pakistan's besieged Church.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Selah (Psalm 62:5-8 ESV)