691 posts categorized “Christian News”

February 28, 2014

Syrian Christians Told: Convert, Pay or Face the Sword

Christian leaders in the city of Raqqah, Syria, have reportedly signed an agreement to pay the jizya protection tax and accede to the demands of radical Muslim rebels who now control their city.

The agreement was announced online by The Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), one of the radical Sunni groups fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. ISIS is attempting to put in place full Sharia law in the areas of Syria it controls, and has already enforced the wearing of veils by women in the area. Syria-map

Islamic law teaches that Christians and Jews living in areas under Muslim control must pay a tax known in Arabic as jizya in return for the protection of the Muslim rulers, known in Arabic as dhimma.

The Christians in Raqqah also agreed to a list of conditions, including making no repairs on any church building, no public displays of crosses or other Christian symbols, and not holding Christian services outside of the church building. Even inside the church buildings, Christians are told not to sing or read Scriptures loud enough that a Muslim standing outside the building could hear.

The ISIS statements said they had met with Christian leaders and offered them the choice of converting to Islam, accepting the terms of the dhimma agreement, or risking being killed.

“If they reject…nothing will stand between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said.

Twenty Christian leaders reportedly signed the dhimma agreement, though online their signatures and names were shaded out so it is unclear the number or legitimacy of the signatures or the names of those who signed on behalf of the Christian community.

When the Syrian conflict started, Raqqah was a city of about 300,000 people, with only about 1% Christian. Many Christians fled the city and the area as the conflict grew, so it is unknown how many Christians are currently in the city.

Please pray for Christians in Raqqah and throughout Syria. Pray their faith will be strengthened, and that God will protect and watch over them. Pray also that radical Muslims, like the members of ISIS, will come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way.

Sources: VOM Sources, Middle East Concern, BBC, The Times of Israel


June 14, 2013

NY Times Exposes Chinese Labor Camp


One of the frustrations of my work at VOM is the seeming indifference of the secular media to the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. Yes, there are times when a story of persecution breaks through into our national conversation—Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran, or the attack on Dogo Nahawa in Nigeria—but for the most part Christian persecution is not a story we see on the evening news or read even in the fine-print sections of the newspaper.NYTLogo

Partly because of this frustration, I read with great interest the story in the New York Times this week about a letter smuggled out of the Masanjia labor camp in China that revealed the terrible conditions of the prisoners. The story of the letter is fascinating in itself—it was smuggled out of the country tucked inside a package of mock tombstones that were sold by a K-Mart in Oregon as Halloween decorations.

But the words that caught my eye weren’t about the letter; they were about the camp the letter was written from: “According to former inmates, roughly half of Masanjia’s population is made up of Falun Gong practitioners or members of underground churches …”

The story then details some of the things prisoners endure, besides long days of labor creating goods for export to the West. One woman talked about being dragged around by her hair, or being shocked with electric batons until her nostrils filled with the odor of burning flesh. Others spoke of having their four limbs tied to four beds, which were then kicked farther and farther apart by the guards. “That place is a living hell,” said Liu Hua, a 51-year-old former prisoner at the camp.

China’s people can be sent into that living hell for up to four years without even having a trial. The article suggests that when more “workers” are needed, local police will find reasons to arrest people because the labor camp will pay them for prisoners.

Some of my brothers and sisters are in that living hell. Perhaps even now one of them is being shocked, or lying in misery tied to the beds. Perhaps some are whispering words of encouragement to each other during an endless day of heavy labor. Or maybe they are quoting Scripture in their minds while their lips mouth the communist slogans that are a part of their “re-education” sessions.

Todd with Pastor Li De-Xian in 1999.
Todd with Pastor Li De-Xian in 1999.
I’m reminded of Pastor Li De-Xian, whom I met in China in 1999. He was arrested many times for leading his unregistered church. In September 1998, VOM made public a secret Chinese government document outlining Public Security Bureau (PSB) efforts to control Pastor Li. I’ve always remembered a part of it:

“He has been arrested and educated many times, and yet his heart has not died and his nature has not changed.”

I pray for my brothers and sisters who are being "educated" in the Masanjia labor camp today, as well as those in other labor camps across China. I pray that their hearts will not die and that their suffering will only conform them more closely to the unchangeable nature of Christ.

Pray with me.

 

Todd Nettleton has served the persecuted church and VOM 15 years. He has been interviewed more than 1900 times by various media outlets. He's the author of Restricted Nations: North Korea, and served on the writing team for FOXE, Extreme Devotion, Hearts of Fire and other VOM books. Todd is scheduled to speak at upcoming VOM Regional Conferences in Tulsa and Wichita.


June 13, 2013

More Attacks on Pastors in Tanzania

Earlier this week, we shared a video report from Gary Lane in Tanzania that included the story of Pastor Mathayo Kachili, who was killed because of his faith in Christ. Pastor Kachili’s story is also included in VOM’s June newsletter.

Tz-mapThe persecution of Christians in Tanzania continues. On the night of Sunday, June 2, the home of Pastor Robert Ngai in Geita town, northeastern Tanzania, was attacked by a large group of radical Muslims. The attackers broke into the home and attacked Pastor Ngai with machetes. The pastor received serious cuts on his hands and arms when he raised his arms to protect his head from the blows. Doctors at the local hospital said the injuries were beyond their ability to treat, and urged that he be rushed to a hospital in a nearby, larger city for treatment. Ngai is the pastor of the Evangelical Assemblies of God Church. At last word from VOM contacts, he was still in ICU.

Two nights before the attack on Pastor Ngai, the home of Pastor Daudi Nzumbi in Geita also came under attack. Pastor Nzumbi leads the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania (FPCT) congregation in Geita. Thankfully, the attackers fled after they were confronted by Pastor Nzumbi’s large, barking dogs.

When Pastor Nzumbi heard his dogs barking, he looked out the window and saw the attackers. He called the police, but the officer in charge told him, “I cannot protect every pastor!”

VOM contacts are working to get more details on these attacks, and to offer encouragement and assistance to these two pastors and other Christians in Tanzania affected by violent Islamic attacks. Please continue to pray for Christians in Tanzania as well as for their persecutors.


June 12, 2013

Radio Update: Tanzania and Iran

MicEvery other Wednesday, VOM's Todd Nettleton checks in with Moody Radio Quad Cities for a brief update about VOM's ministry and news from the persecuted church around the world.

In today's interview, Todd provided word of recent attacks on pastors in Tanzania, as well as a look at Iran in light of this week's election.

CLICK HERE to listen to this morning's interview.

Thank you, Moody Radio QC, for being a consistent voice for our persecuted brothers and sisters!


June 11, 2013

Tanzania: Pastors Targeted

The feature story in VOM’s June newsletter focuses on the rise of Islam in Africa, with stories of recent persecution from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Gary Lane contributed to that feature story, and also filed this video report to CBN News:

  

Please PRAY for the church in Tanzania, and all across eastern Africa. Pray Christians will continue to be bold witnesses for Christ in spite of the danger and threats. Pray also for Generosa and her 12 children as they mourn the loss of husband and father.


February 12, 2013

Cease-Fire in Nigeria?

Although it hasn't received a great deal of media coverage, late last month a Boko Haram commander spoke publicly about a cease-fire in the group's ongoing war with the Nigerian government.

It's too early to tell if this is a legitimate change in direction for the Nigerian-based radical Islamic group, and the Boko Haram commander who made the statements isn't the group's top leader. One of the principal demands of the cease-fire is the unconditional release of all Boko Haram members currently imprisoned in Nigeria, a demand the Nigerian government seems unlikely to meet. Nigeria-map

Boko Haram (loosely translated as "Western education is a sin") has pushed for the adoption of Sharia law in northern Nigeria and has publicly stated that Christians in the area have three choices: leave, become Muslims or die.

Nigeria's leaders and military have viewed recent developments with guarded optimism; the military has said it will wait 30 days to see if attacks continue before deciding how serious Boko Haram is about a cease-fire. Meanwhile, the media have reported increased business activity and more people on the streets in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and "headquarters" of Boko Haram.

Please PRAY with Christians in Nigeria for lasting peace. Pray that Muslims there will be reached with the gospel and come to know Christ personally. And pray for God's protection of our Christian brothers and sisters, regardless of whether the cease-fire holds. If you'd like to contribute to support VOM's work in Nigeria and other Muslim nations, you can do so here.


December 31, 2012

Libya Coptic Church Blast Kills Two Egyptians

Please continue your prayers for Christians in Libya as the Coptic Church has once again been on the receiving end of a church blast.  BBC News is reporting that two Egyptians were recently killed and two were also injured due to a blast which was apparently done with homemade dynamite.

Here's part of the story:

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 8.48.00 AMTwo Egyptians have been killed and two injured in an apparent attack on a Coptic church building near the Libyan city of Misrata, officials say.

A Misrata city council official told the BBC that there had been an explosion at the building as the four victims were eating lunch there.

It is not clear who was behind the blast in the small town of Dafiniyah.

There were conflicting reports as to whether it happened on Saturday or Sunday.

The Misrata council official told the BBC that home-made dynamite used for fishing was found on the site of the explosion.

The Egyptian government has requested more security at the church, Egypt's Mena news agency reported.

"Egypt is requesting an investigation into the circumstances of the operation and for those responsible to be put on trial," it quoted Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr as saying.

The church in Dafiniyah, just outside Misrata, is frequented by Egyptians.

Related News:

 

 


Say Prison is Good, Not Jesus

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 7.54.06 AM“You are saying it wrong,” the exasperated guard instructed the elderly Chinese believer. “You are supposed to say ‘Prison is good,’ not ‘Jesus is good.’”

    Al Ling smiled. “But prison is not good. That’s the point. Am I supposed to lie?”
    

“Then give me fifty push-ups!” the frustrated Communist guard commanded. “Just like yesterday.”

    Seventy-year-old Al Ling did her push-ups and returned to her camp. Ling’s husband had been arrested for spreading the gospel, and he had passed away. Now she was in prison for telling her fellow Chinese people about the love of Christ.

    “Food is good, prison is good!” the prisoners were forced to shout as instructed after a hard day’s labor in the field. “Jesus is better!” Her strong voice stuck out from the crowd.
    

“Al Ling, do you want more push-ups today?” the guard asked.

    “I want you to know how much Jesus loves you,” she smiled in response. She was thrilled at the opportunity to tell the Communist guards and other prisoners how good Jesus was, even if it meant doing daily push-ups. Upon her release, the guards decided to interrogate her one last time. “Where does your husband work?” the young guard asked.

    “Oh, he is doing underground work,” she answered. The interested guard took out a notepad. Al Ling smiled, “He passed away years ago.”


Al Ling was no theologian. She was not a practiced orator. Yet with her innocent, steadfast, and even humorous replies, she was able to confound the Communist enemies. We may play mind games, wondering what we would say or do if we were in the same situation. Could we think on our feet? Jesus reminds us that we ought not worry about what we will say when we are asked to defend our faith. We are not asked to give a prepared speech. We are asked to rely on him for words of wisdom—at the moment we need them most. When that moment arrives, God will give you the words to say to be an effective witness for his sake.

Source: Extreme Devotion


December 28, 2012

Uzbekistan: Vacation Raid

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 4.16.44 PMPolice raided a group of 80 Christians in Uzbekistan on Dec. 1 while they were vacationing at the Simurg resort in the Bostanlyk District of Uzbekistan. The raid occurred during a meeting at which they were discussing their faith and singing Christian songs. Police authorities confiscated songbooks and Bibles and charged some of the Christians with leading unsanctioned worship.

According to Forum 18 News, police initially claimed they only wanted to check internal passports. But the 12 policemen confiscated three Bibles and 100 songbooks and fingerprinted all those present. According to an eyewitness who asked to remain anonymous, police insulted the believers with abusive language and threatened to bring criminal charges unless they signed statements.

Four members of the group were charged with illegal storage of religious material, holding religious meetings and unauthorized religious activity, among other offenses. When asked why the Christians were being punished for merely reading their Bibles and singing Christian songs, a policeman replied that worship must occur only in “places specifically set up for religious purposes.”

Source: Forum 18 News Service


December 27, 2012

Iranian Pastor Youcef Re-Arrested on Christmas

Sadly, today CBN News is reporting that Pastor Youcef was re-arrested on Christmas.  Please take a few minutes to watch the short video report provided below.  Please click here to read the full story at CBN News.

Please keep Pastor Youcef and his dear family in your prayers.