691 posts categorized “Christian News”

December 26, 2012

Muslim Extremist Groups Continue to Grow Violent Toward Christians in Indonesia

Screen Shot 2012-12-26 at 10.40.45 AMIndonesia (MNN) ― The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently raised concerns over the plight of religious minorities in Indonesia.

Many are Christians who have been noting the rise of violent attacks and forced displacement. This, in addition to other forms of discrimination, such as being denied identification cards. Sources from Open Doors and the Voice of the Martyrs say there have been reports of forced church closures, even where the churches have secured legal permission.

International Christian Concern reported Jakarta police finally taking security measures to protect Christians as they gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. More than 12,000 police were deployed to roughly 2,000 churches throughout Central Java.

Muslim extremist groups in Indonesia, with suspected ties to al Qaeda, continue to grow more violent towards Christians, with little resistance from authorities.

Voice of the Martyrs noted one incident with a girl named Ribur who was jailed for 60 days for talking about her faith in Jesus. According to the VOM report, she chose to be part of an agricultural mission project in Aceh on the island of Sumatra. Teaching about how to raise crops and livestock often gave the team opportunities to answer questions about their faith.

ICC says Ribur eventually began a community Bible study. She and another teammate had developed a relationship with a local woman, who eventually gave her life to Christ. That’s where Ribur ran into trouble.

Shortly after this, a mob attacked Ribur and the other Christian worker. The beating continued for 45 minutes, eventually ending when the police came and arrested the pair for blaspheming Islam. When officials asked her why she shared about Jesus, Ribur said, "Jesus wants everyone to know about Him."

Eventually, the pair was released. However, Franz Magnis-Suseno of the Driyarkara School of Philosophy says, "The religious situation in Indonesia is marked by a rising number of social conflicts between neighborhoods and villages; conflicts on ethnic and, increasingly, on religious lines."

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) cited the lack of religious freedom in Indonesia as among the issues that marred the country's human rights record.

Ignorance by the government has obviously encouraged increasing violence against minority groups in other areas, too, all across the country, which could potentially be misused by political interests approaching the 2014 legislative and presidential elections, said Kontras.

Pray for Christians like Ribur who are facing persecution for their faith. Ask God to give those who face persecution the strength to stand strong and testify the truth.

Source: Mission Network News

 


2012: Boko Haram's Bloodiest Year

Screen Shot 2012-12-26 at 10.00.47 AM

If there has been one nation on my heart this year, it is Nigeria because of the intense persecution of Christians by Boko Haram.  We even saw the Jubilee Campaign petition President Obama with the hopes of getting enough people aware of the terrorism of Boko Haram so that the United States State Department would defund Boko Haram.  Sadly, that hasn't happened yet.

The following is from Mission Network News:

Nigeria (MNN) ― Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant Islamist group, had their bloodiest year in 2012, responsible for over 750 deaths.

General Aziza, Nigeria’s former national security advisor, says the upscale in Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks may be linked with the upcoming 2015 Nigerian presidential elections.

When President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, was elected president of Nigeria in 2011, a series of Boko Haram killings followed. Boko Haram made threats on the president to resign or else turn Nigeria into an Islamic nation.

Rae Burnett, the Africa Director for Christian Aid Mission, explains, “I do believe that it’s spiritual warfare, but it’s definitely the desire to see that Islam is the world religion. They start where they are, and these guys are Nigerian, so they want to be empowered in Nigeria.”

Several of the Muslim-majority Northern states began declaring themselves under Sharia law after the 2011 elections. Of the 32 Nigerian states, 12 currently are govern by Islamic Sharia law. 2015 will be Muslims’ next chance to gain power in Nigeria’s political arena.

However, Boko Haram grew quiet on the large-scale attack front earlier this month. The fact that Christmas was approaching—the biggest Christian holiday of the year—wasn’t lost on anyone and created an eerie silence. Attacks were expected, especially since Boko Haram has declared intent to eradicate Christians from Nigeria.

And Boko Haram militants have the means to back up this desire. With ties to Al-Qaeda and funding for weapons, they fight in pockets and avoid any clashes with the Nigerian military. They’ve gotten bolder. According to Burnett, “They do whatever is in front of them. If it’s a school bus, they’ll blow it up. If it’s a school, they’ll blow it up. They’re trying to make people afraid.”

Because of the disjointed nature of Boko Haram’s fighting tactics, several smaller attacks still occur weekly in Northern Nigeria, but they are largely unreported.

Burnett shares, “Once, I read [about another attack] and called my friend [in Nigeria] and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about this?’ He said, ‘Look, if I tell you about every terrorist attack, we would be on the phone all the time.’ They’ve become so common place that they are happening every day. We don’t hear about them.”

The attacks have gotten so bad in the state where Christian Aid’s headquarters are located that they need to move to a safer site. But Christian Aid can’t do it without the funds. Out of the $40,000 needed, they only have $10,000—enough to buy the land and lay a foundation. Christian Aid still needs $30,000 to finish the headquarter buildings and residences.

“They really need to move from the state where they are now,” says Burnett. “Two and three times a week, they are suffering terrorist attacks.”

But despite the danger, the 120 missionaries in Nigeria associated with Christian Aid are staying in the ministry field. “They are committed to making the Lord known and dying for Him if need be,” says Burnett. “They’re doing wonderful work, and many people are coming to Christ.”

Pray for Christians in Nigeria to persevere and hold fast to their hope in the Lord. Pray for many others in Nigeria to come to know Christ and for church leaders to advance their ministry.

 

Source: Mission Network News

 


December 21, 2012

Persecution Podcast #145: Pakistan, Egypt, Laos and Iran

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 8.17.29 AMThis week we have a little bit longer podcast that you'll want to tune in for.  Learn the latest prayer requests from David and then hear some inspiring comments regarding the persecuted church, fear and hope.  What is stronger fear or hope?

Click here to listen to this podcast and please share with your friends!  (This link will open automatically and start playing the show)

Now you can also share these podcasts and anything VOM produces on your Pinterest account.  Click here to follow the official Pinterest page.


December 17, 2012

Indonesia: Jail for Sharing Jesus

Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 8.37.07 AMRibur was beaten and locked in jail for 60 days because she talked about Jesus.

Ribur grew up in a Christian family in Indonesia, and during high school she became interested in mission work. After studying for five years in a Bible school, she joined a community-development group that was teaching agricultural methods to villagers in Aceh, located in the far north of Indonesia’s most western island, Sumatra. Teaching agricultural methods, such as organic farming and livestock breeding, gave the team an opportunity to hear about people’s lives and share their Christian faith if asked.

Ribur soon started a small Bible study in a nearby village, meeting weekly with a family of believers and reaching out to the Muslim community as well. She and a friend from the development group, Roy, began speaking with a woman in the community named Maria. They visited her on a Monday and returned to see her the next day. Maria was ill, but they spent a little time sharing about Christ. Maria then appeared to pray and ask Christ into her life.

On the third day, Ribur and Roy went back to check on Maria. A young man waiting outside talked to Roy while Ribur went inside the house to find Maria. As soon as Ribur arrived, Maria excused herself and said she had to go somewhere. Suddenly, the young man speaking with Roy punched him, and a crowd of neighbors gathered.

Someone grabbed Ribur by her headscarf and hair, and the crowd began beating her. The crowd then forced the two Christians to walk to the village leader, lashing them with a cattle whip as they walked. When they arrived, an official accused them, saying, “Why did you bring Jesus to Aceh?” As Ribur began to answer, she was struck again.

The accusatory questions and beatings continued for 45 minutes. Ribur prayed that the Holy Spirit would give her the strength to stand strong and testify to the truth. Her face was bruised, and the inside of her mouth was bleeding. One person had used a stapler to beat her in the head. Roy was also bruised. Eventually the local police came and detained them. They then drove them to the provincial capital, more than an hour away.

They arrived at 8 p.m., and the police questioned Roy and Ribur until 3 a.m., accusing them of blaspheming Islam. “I wasn’t frightened,” Ribur said, “because I had already been beaten in the other office. Also, the Bible says you will have persecution.”

“Why were you sharing about Jesus?” the officers asked.

“Jesus is for all people,” Ribur said.

“What materials did you bring?”

“Just a Bible,” she replied.

“Have you read the Quran?”

“Yes, but not too deeply,” she said.

“Why did you share about Jesus?”

“Jesus wants everyone to know about him,” she said.

Roy and Ribur were arrested on May 29, 2012, and three days later were charged with abusing Islam so that police could continue to hold them. The police seemed to be searching for evidence.

Ribur was alone during the 60 days she spent in jail. She was the only woman in the women’s cell, and she used the time to read the Bible and pray. No one bothered her, but one of the guards told her it was the first time they had seen how a Christian prayed and read.

“Prison was a learning process for me,” she said.

Ribur was released after two months. Police could find no evidence against her and Roy, so they had to let them go. “After I was released, I felt that the same God who helped me in the prison was helping me still,” said Ribur.

The group’s work in Aceh has stopped for now. Ribur continues to help at her local church, and she dreams of planting churches in Sumatra.


November 30, 2012

EGYPT: Draft constitution passed

A draft constitution was passed today by Egypt's constituent assembly, after many representatives—including Coptic Christians—had left the room to protest the process. Several articles of the constitution raise concerns for Christians who fear that more persecution may be coming in Egypt under President Mohamed Morsi's government.

I was asked today by a reporter what this means for Christians in Egypt. I wish I could answer that! I do know that Christians are worried about what the future holds for them in their country. Will religious minorities be protected? Will a person have the freedom to change their religion under a constitution that says "the principles of Islamic Shariah" will be the "principle source of legislation?"

I don't know the answers to those questions. But I do know this: God's spirit is not stopped by constitutions or man's laws.

As I watch what is happening in Egypt today, I am reminded of when the ayatollahs came to power in Iran (even though I was only 9 years old!). The mullahs took over, and they immediately adopted Shariah law and told the people of Iran, "We are going to run the whole country according to Islam. Finally we can be all that we're supposed to be as a country, because we are doing everything according to the Koran and Allah's will."

At the time, many wondered what would happen to the church in Iran. Many feared it would be wiped out. How would they survive such oppression? How would the gospel go forth?

Today we are 30+ years down the road, and the church in Iran is one of the fastest growing churches in the whole WORLD. People are coming to Christ in droves. One Iranian worker told me a couple of years ago that if you shared the gospel with 10 Iranians, five of them would choose to follow Christ immediately; the people of Iran are that hungry for Truth!

A significant source of their hunger is Islam. They've been told that their country is being run according to true Islam. So when the government fails, the people see it as the failure of Islam. Questioning the government means questioning Islam. And almost everyone in Iran is questioning the government! And they are HUNGRY to find another way, and Jesus is truly The Way.

So as we see political and constitutional battles going on in Egypt, and as it appears more and more likely Islam will become the driving force of the government and the authorities there, it is tempting to get discouraged. But we must remember that God is still at work and out of this He can grow and strengthen and build His church. I pray that if there is an Islamic government in Egypt, it will produce the same result as the Islamic government in Iran: tens of thousands of Egyptians finding the Way, the Truth and the Life in Jesus Christ.

Todd Nettleton has served the persecuted church and VOM almost 15 years. He has been interviewed more than 1800 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.


November 23, 2012

Militants Murder Christian Before Crowd in Somalia

Screen Shot 2012-11-23 at 12.48.47 PMSomalia (MNN) ― As if in answer to the capture of 300 Al-Shabaab members last month in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, the attacks on civilians have gotten more extreme and more public.

The latest attack came last Friday when Islamic extremists brutally murdered a Christian in the city of Barawa, in broad daylight. Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton explains, "In this case, it is a 25-year-old man named Farhan Haji Mose. He apparently became a Christian in 2010, out of a Muslim background."

Nettleton goes on to say that Mose "had a business in Somalia which required him to travel to Kenya. It's thought that he met Christians while he was in Kenya, received the Gospel, and received Christ." Muslim extremists then tracked Mose for six months, to confirm his Christian activity before catching him and accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said.

Al Shabaab members caught up with Mose in the coastal city of Barawa in Somalia. He was accused, and convicted by the impromptu "court," while a crowd assembled to witness the sentence that comes with an apostasy conviction. Nettleton clarifies that "in the minds of a radical Islamic militant, these people are apostates. They've left to follow another religion. The just punishment is execution."

Mose was summarily beheaded, and then his body was desecrated as a warning for others. "Their goal is to rid Somalia of Christianity," notes Nettleton. The number of Christians who have been tracked down and murdered has been growing over the last couple of years. What's more, he adds, is ominous news that the religicide isn't held to Somalia's borders. "We've heard reports that Al Shabaab literally has a list of people they are looking for who are suspected of having left Islam and being Christians."

Chaos normally creates more chaos. "The goal of Al Shabaab is to create fear, to create control. What better way to do that than to show publicly what happens to somebody who leaves Islam to follow another faith?" Al-Shabaab is enforcing a harsh interpretation of sharia in the territories it controls. This militia was strongly radicalized through the external influence of al-Qaeda in recent years.

In the confusion of a failed state and the presence of uncontrolled militias, the result is anarchy. Christians are extra vulnerable these circumstances. This is where Voice of the Martyrs can help. While they can't reveal everything they're doing, says Nettleton, "One of the things that we are doing is providing safe houses for Christian converts. As we talk about this case, the Muslims who come to faith in Christ know very well the risks they face. So sometimes, having a place to go where they're safe--not only where they can be safe, but where they're discipled--is an incredible blessing."

Safe houses means someone needs them, which means Al Shabaab has not wholly succeeded in stopping the Gospel or ridding the country of Christians. Muslim-background believers (MBBs) do not have organized church groups because of the risk. They exist as individual secret believers and can only know a few others to make an underground group. According to reports from Open Doors, the largest known group in Somalia is composed of five believers.

What can you do? Prayer is the first defense. It's often the only thing a church under fire requests. Ask the Lord to give wisdom to authorities in Somalia. Pray that the Lord will bring an end to Al Shabaab's activities and influence in Somalia and in bordering nations. Pray that Christians will not retaliate in anger, but will show Christ-like love and forgiveness to their persecutors.

Source: Mission Network News

 


October 25, 2012

VOM Australia's Merv Knight Interviewed About Richard Wurmbrand

Today we have a special interview, just posted earlier today, by our VOM staff with Todd Nettleton and Merv Knight who is involved in The Voice of the Martyrs ministry in Australia.

Here's a short description of the video: After being asked by Richard Wurmbrand to start a ministry to persecuted Christians around the world, Merv Knight helped start Voice of the Martyrs Australia and has continued working there ever since. Merv has not only worked with VOM Australia but has also partnered with VOM USA as a board member for more than 2 decades. In this interview VOM USA's Todd Nettleton interviews Merv Knight about the history of our mission, the history of God's work through The Voice of the Martyrs, and his memories of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand.


Tanzania: Attacks Continue

Screen shot 2012-10-25 at 3.48.21 PMChristians in Tanzania have lost churches, homes, cars and livestock in a series of recent attacks, and some have received physical injuries. In the most recent attack, Muslims returning from worship at a mosque on Friday, Oct. 12, burned a car belonging to Bishop Muhiche of the Tanzania Assemblies of God church. After burning his car, the extremists moved on to destroy the pastor’s church.

“Police had to intervene, but it was too late,” said a VOM contact. “They had to use a helicopter to help some Christians escape the attacks. When I went there, we were confronted by the police using tear-gas bombs to scatter the attackers.” Muslims tried to keep the incident quiet by confiscating journalists’ video cameras, but the news was still broadcast on all the local television stations.

That same day, in Ushirombo District of Shinyanga Region, Muslim extremists attacked the Reverend Victor Simbaulanga. Enraged by an open-air evangelistic meeting the pastor was leading, the attackers beat Simbaulanga so severely that he had to be hospitalized. A VOM contact is working to have the pastor transferred to a hospital in a safer area so he won’t be attacked again.

On Sept. 28, Muslim extremists in Tunduru District of Ruvuma Region attacked a Christian medical doctor, Vitalis Lusasi, while he was in his car. They smashed the car’s windows and attempted to burn the vehicle before onlookers intervened.

Less than two weeks earlier, on Sept. 17, Muslim extremists reportedly attacked Christians in the same region, burning 60 pigs and attempting to burn six houses. Bystanders helped save five of the houses, but one was destroyed. A few nights later, two Christians’ cars, one belonging to a pastor, were set on fire in the same area.

“No one has been arrested so far in connection with all these wild attacks, probably because 85 percent of the residents of Tunduru are staunch Muslims,” said a VOM contact. He said some of those who have been attacked are traumatized and won’t talk about their current situation, fearing future attacks. “We really do not know what is going on,” said the VOM contact. “We need your constant, intensive prayers.”


October 24, 2012

Nigerian American Christians Seek Tougher US Action Against Boko Haram

Screen shot 2012-10-24 at 4.08.23 PMOne of the nations where Christians are being persecuted mercilessly is Nigeria.  I have had a burden for Nigeria ever since I started to hear about all the Christians being killed by Boko Haram.  We've covered much of that persecution here on the blog.  

Today I wanted to tell you about a press conference that took place recently where Nigerian American Christians got together in order to raise awareness about Boko Haram and also ask the United States State Department to implement tougher sanctions against Boko Haram.

10Tv.com is reporting the following:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nigerian American Christians are demanding that the U.S. declare Boko Haram (BOH'-koh hah-RAHM') a foreign terrorist organization.

...

In June, the U.S. State Department designated three Boko Haram leaders as terrorists, but stopped short of labeling the entire group.

 

The Osun Defender adds to the story the following details:

Speaking earlier on Tuesday at a press conference attended by officials from the US Congress Homeland Security Committee, NGOs and religious groups and leaders in the US, the CANAN leader observed that “Boko Haram is sustained by the procurement of unbelievable amounts of heavy arms and weapons, clearly transported from country to country and certainly funded by some fat pockets.”

...

Restating the need for the US to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, FTO, CANAN leaders said with such a designation “all their top political backers will understand that the stakes are now higher, and they will face a wider net of justice. This in turn will likely curtail them from funding the terrorists.

...

On the expressed concern that the US designating Boko Haram an FTO might amount to internationalizing the problem, the Nigerian-American Christians stated, “such a view is already overtaken by events as the group has already threatened international peace, and the problems are no longer entirely domestic or academic.”

...

According to CANAN, “While we Nigerian-American Christians are the first to affirm the sovereignty of Nigeria, we recognize that Boko Haram is part of the worldwide phenomenon of terrorism and its many aftermaths set in motion after 9/11.

They explained that it was the sincere belief of their group “that the Nigerian government is no longer capable by itself alone to effectively check this group without some drastic international help including the designation of the group as an FTO by the US.

Please pray for the safety of believers in Nigeria and for those in positions of political power, who can make a difference, to do the right thing and care about the persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

October 23, 2012

How Western Christians Can Help

Screen shot 2012-10-23 at 3.49.40 PMI have been called the “Voice of the Underground Church.” I do not feel worthy to be the voice of such an honored part of the Body of Christ.

 However, in Communist nations, I led for years a part of the Underground Church. By a miracle I survived fourteen years of torture and imprisonment, including two years in a prison “dying room.” By an even greater miracle, God somehow saw fit to reach into the prison and bring me out. It was decided by the Underground Church in Romania that I should leave my country and take a message to the free Christians of the world. By a miracle, my family and I were able to leave, and I was able to fulfill the charge given me by those who remained behind laboring, risking, suffering, and dying in dozens of captive nations.

 

I speak on behalf of my brethren who lie in countless nameless graves. I speak on behalf of my brethren who now meet secretly in forests, basements, attics, and other such places.

 

The message I bring from the Underground Church is:

 

“Don’t abandon us!”

 

“Don’t forget us!”

 

“Don’t write us off!”

 

“Give us the tools we need! We will pay the price for using them!”

 

This is the message I have been charged to deliver to the free Church.

 

I speak for the Underground Church, the silenced Church, the “dumb” Church, which has no voice to speak.

 

Hear the cries of your brothers and sisters in captive nations! They do not ask for escape, safety, or an easy life. They ask only for the tools to counteract the poisoning of their youth—the next generation—with atheism. They ask for Bibles to use in spreading the Word of God. How can they spread the Word of God if they do not have it?

 

The Underground Church is like a surgeon who was traveling by train. The train collided with another train and hundreds of people lay on the ground, mangled, injured, dying. The surgeon walked among the dying, crying out: “If only I had my tools! If only I had my tools!” With these surgical instruments he could have saved many lives. He had the willingness … but he did not have the tools. This is where the Underground Church stands. It is so willing to give its all. It is so willing to give its martyrs! It is so willing to risk years in prisons! But all of its willingness is of no value if it does not have the tools with which to work. The plea of the faithful, courageous Underground Church to you who are free is: “Give us the tools—the Gospels, the Bibles, the literature, the help—and we will do the rest!”

 

This is an excerpt of Tortured for Christ (Chapter 7). To purchase this book, click here.