134 posts categorized “Mission Network News”

February 17, 2014

US Government Leaves Religious Freedom Post Empty

VOM's Todd Nettleton was interviewed last week by Mission Network News for a story about Christian persecution hearings held in Washington DC and especially about the currently-vacant post within the U.S. State Department of "Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom."

Here is a portion of the resulting article:

International (MNN) — Of all the Christian persecution stories covered in the 21st century, the one singled out for focus in Washington, D.C. was the 2008 pogrom in India’s Orissa State.

Capitol3At a hearing before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, John L. Allen, Jr., author of “The Global War on Christians,” pointed out these events occur in countries where Christianity is expanding but religious freedom is lacking. Allen also used his time to challenge U.S. President Barack Obama to quickly fill the post of  ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

One question that came up was why the Orissa pogrom was chosen as the incident to focus on at the hearing, especially when compared to the attacks of the Joseph Colony in Pakistan, the Egypt Muslim Brotherhood attacks, and the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria. Todd Nettleton, spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs USA, answered, “I think the focus went in that direction because of the nature of the attacks, because of the violence of the attacks, and the number of people who were affected. Not only killed, more than 100 people lost their lives; but literally thousands of people were displaced by these attacks. Some of them are still displaced and it’s six years later.”

When the other countries in question were pointed out as comparable, Nettleton added, “The other thing that I think brings a focus to it is the lack of action by the  Indian government to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Though the Orissa government claims it took strict action against the accused, their reports show that of the hundreds of charges brought, just 75 cases ended in convictions. There were an additional 477 people convicted for lesser offenses connected to property damage, but little else has been done to recompense the 50,000 left homeless after the 2008 attacks.

That brings us to the remarks made by Elliott Abrams, a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), who told the subcommittee that the lack of an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom sends the wrong message about the U.S. stance on religious freedom. Nettleton explains, “I think the message sent by this administration has been that this is not a high priority: ‘There are other things that we are more interested in,’ and that tone has really carried through.”

Following the abrupt departure by Susanne Johnson-Cook in October, the Obama administration did not set a timeline to replace her. The post has only been filled for 30 months of the Obama Administration, which seems to reinforce the true priorities of the Administration. Nettleton says, “The fact that this International Religious Freedom post has been vacant so much of the Obama administration says those words are nice, but the actions really haven’t matched up to that. We haven’t seen that commitment in terms of the day-to-day hard work that it takes to influence other countries, to provide more freedom for our Christian brothers and sisters.”

You can read the full article here.

Photo credit: Todd Nettleton

September 9, 2013

Do Americans Care About Persecuted Christians?

VOM’s Todd Nettleton was interviewed last week by Mission Network News about the question of why more attention isn’t paid—in the media and in American churches—to the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters. Here’s the resulting story from MNN:

International (MNN) — The Church is under fire. At that sentence, half the people who started reading this article just moved on to something more interesting.

However, that response is troublesome. The plight of believers gets little attention on the global stage, leaving many Christians throughout North America unaware, and therefore, indifferent to what’s going on in the body of Christ.

Mention persecution, and eyes glaze over. Silence continues because not enough church leaders are talking about it from the pulpit. Despite Barna Research stating the opposite, there’s a movement in North America where church leaders and pastors say their flocks don’t want to hear such negative and depressing things.

That’s despite the following:

Al Qaeda vows to slaughter Christians after the U.S. ‘liberates’ Syria. Nigeria’s Boko Haram has slaughtered 3,000 Christians since they began waging war. Egypt’s Coptic Church is under fire. A Church official there says after the recent violence that destroyed over 72 churches, there are just 57 Christian churches in the entire country, down from more than 300 as recently as 2003. The Barnabas Fund, a ministry to the persecuted Church, is airlifting Christians out of Sudan. So far, they’ve evacuated more than 5,000 Christians from northern Sudan. In Pakistan, believers are still trying to put their lives back together after 3,000 angry Muslims torched the Joseph Colony six months ago. That’s only part of the Middle East and North Africa. Asia is also on the list. North Korea is trying to erase Christians, and has been atop the Open Doors World Watch List for 11 years as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. There’s ‘religicide’ going on in Burma, and in parts of India.

And still, there’s relative silence from North America. There are a few who have been speaking out as loudly as they can, but the overall impassive response to the worldwide persecuted church begs the question: do we care? Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA says, “I think the question arises because we look around the world. we see more than 60 countries where Christians face some form of harassment or persecution, and you look at the average response of the average American Christian which is basically, ‘Man, that’s too bad.’”

A defensive response is also common. But here too, Nettleton asks, “If we care, how is that being lived out? How are we SHOWING that we care? Not based on clicking the ‘like’ button on a Facebook page, but how are we showing that we care in action that is designed to produce a result or some easing if the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters?” He goes on to explain, “How we show we care is by being involved, by connecting with these Christians who are suffering. The first line of doing that really is knowing them: knowing their names, knowing their situations, knowing the countries that they live in so that we can pray effectively.”

Nettleton is also quick to note that the issue has gotten more traction as awareness of social justice issues has risen. “More people know about the persecuted church now than did 15 or 20 years ago. I think the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which is coming up in November, has been a significant part of making the American church aware of what’s happening with persecuted Christians.”

But there’s still a long way to go, he concedes. “One of the challenges is Americans are pretty home-focused. Our media covers things that are happening in America. In a 30-minute news program, we might get two minutes of what’s going on around the world.”

Another aspect is understanding the spiritual and biblical component of persecution. “These are not just statistics or people who live 10-thousand miles from here. This is our family. These are our brothers and sisters.” He points out his own two brothers. If they were to be arrested and face the scenarios faced by Christians in Eritrea, for example, he would be making noise about their plight. The same should be true of the body of Christ. “I should be aware of what’s happening with them, and when they’re being persecuted and oppressed, I should be speaking out on their behalf. I should be letting people know that it is happening and doing whatever I can within my power to make it stop happening.”

When believers put real faces, names and places to the stories, the bigger picture becomes clearer. Nettleton explains, “It’s not presented as ‘this is what the Bible said was going to happen. This is what Jesus said ‘if you follow me, the world will hate you’. This is happening all around the world. Followers of Christ are being hated because they’re followers of Jesus Christ.”

Sometimes Americans avoid the discussion of the persecuted church because the news is discouraging. It’s hard to hear and yet feel helpless about changing anything. However, Nettleton breaks response down to its most simple elements. “You start by praying. you educate yourself, an then, whatever God lays on your heart as a response, you keep saying ‘yes’ to that and keep responding to that. You will find that you will enter into the ‘fellowship of suffering’.”

The what? Nettleton explains that when people invest in taking on the troubles facing believers worldwide, they begin to understand the God who provokes such a response. As a result, “The persecuted church is strengthened because we can encourage them, we can stand with them, and we can be a voice for them. But we’re strengthened as well because we see their faithfulness, and we see God’s faithfulness to them. And our faith is encouraged and challenged, and we find that we grow spiritually, as well.”

You can start your journey by clicking here.

YOUR TURN: Do you think the issue of Christian persecution is given adequate attention in American media? What about in American churches? What can Christians do to help make sure the persecution faced by our brothers and sisters in hostile and restricted nations is known? Continue the discussion in the comments below.

April 8, 2013

Pray for North Korea

VOM’s Todd Nettleton was interviewed Friday by a reporter from Mission Network News about the current situation in North Korea. Here is the resulting story:

North Korea (VOM/MNN) ― North Korea is setting a megaphone in front of the saber it's rattling.

On Friday, the North Korean government said it would not be able to guarantee the safety of embassies after April 10, and suggested that Russia, China, and Great Britain consider evacuating their diplomats. NK-map

Tensions have been on the rise since the United Nations imposed harsher sanctions following Pyongyang's third nuclear test on Feb. 12. The rogue state expressed fury over ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises and threatened a nuclear strike against the U.S. It also scrapped the Korean War armistice, began moving missiles, and restarted a plutonium reactor capable of producing more fuel for nuclear bombs.

One concern is that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has something to prove. He's still tightening his grip on power and is something of a military unknown.

While the situation appears to be serious, governments are playing down the rhetoric from North Korea, assuming it represents yet another tantrum by a regime starving for attention, legitimacy, and economic aid. Spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA Todd Nettleton describes the typical pattern. "The world community makes some concessions. They deliver some food or they lower the sanctions or they deliver some oil, and the crisis magically goes away until the next time North Korea needs something."

Nettleton connected on Friday with VOM contacts working with North Korean Christians. According to them, "When North Korea needs something, when they need concessions, they create a crisis. They do a lot of saber rattling and a lot of press release about how terrible it's going to be for all the aggressors against them."

The situation is still fairly rhetorical. Nettleton says they're taking their cues from their national partners, some of whom are North Korean defectors. He goes on to say that because the poverty and hunger situation is desperate, it's unlikely the threats are little more than talk. He explains, "The surrounding nations are comfortable with the status quo. Maybe at times it's a little irritating, but it is seen as a better alternative than to see the regime fall and North Korea fall into complete chaos with those surrounding nations left to clean up the mess."

North Korea is the worst perpetrator of persecution against Christians in the world. Christians are tortured, imprisoned, and murdered. Private, non-state-sanctioned religious activity is prohibited. Anyone discovered engaging in clandestine religious activity is subject to arrest, torture, or even public execution.

As many as 100,000 believers are thought to worship secretly. Possessing a Bible, saying the words God or Jesus, and meeting together are all offences punishable by death. VOM reports estimate that of the hundreds of thousands incarcerated in labor and concentration camps, about 30,000 are Christians.

Yet there are still requests for help. VOM supports Gospel radio broadcasts into North Korea and participates in balloon launches that carry the hope of Christ into the country. "Pray that North Korean Christians will remain faithful, that they will remain encouraged. The other thing we can pray is for the delivery of Gospel materials, for the these balloons, for these radio broadcasts, for other Gospel work that is going on into North Korea, that the Gospel message will get in there, that it will be received, and that there will be fruit."

Restricted Nations NK coverLearn more about the history of the church and persecution in North Korea by reading VOM's book, Restricted Nations: North Korea. Order your copy online.

December 26, 2012

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

Cult Causes Issues for Believers in China

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 8.40.04 AMChina (ODM) ― Christmas is a time of tension for many churches in countries where Open Doors works. The same is true for churches in China. The cult "Eastern Lightning" is causing the tension. According to Eastern Lightning, Friday the 21st of December, the end of the world will occur.

Eastern Lightning is a cult offshoot of Christianity in China. They believe that God has returned to earth as a woman, "born to an ordinary family in the Northern part of China" to guide mankind for the third and last time.

The Chinese government lists the group as a "cult" and has actively tried to suppress it, (which is different from the softer treatment on house churches), especially since its millenarian theology tends to take an explicitly anti-government stance. In the past, the members have kidnapped Christians and others, and forcibly tried to convert them.

Now, the Chinese government has launched full-force actions to wipe out this cult. Some local governments have warned Christian churches to keep a low profile and to not arrange large-scale meetings at Christmas, as there may be actions to suppress such meetings in case they are related to this cult.

This will affect the work of the Chinese Church. Many are planning evangelistic events during the Christmas season.

Churches have not indicated they'll stop working, so pray that they'll have wisdom as they gather to fellowship and worship. Pray that believers will stand firm in their faith. Also, ask God to reveal Himself to members of Eastern Lightning.

Source: Mission Network News

December 20, 2012

Christians to Gather Undaunted by Threats

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 12.14.14 PMInternational (MNN) ― In years past, a hanging Christmas Day threat against Christians emerged in countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, and India.

Todd Nettleton, a spokesman with Voice of the Martyrs USA, says it's the one time of year Christ is openly part of community celebrations. "In a lot of those countries, a Christmas morning worship service is a very common thing. It's a part of the Christmas festivities; it's a part of the Christmas morning." It's also a time of increased threats, harassment, and fear, he explains. "You have the church gathered together; http://www.biblegateway.com/they have a worship service. The challenge is: that can become a target."

For example, the Nigerian church bombings carried out by the Boko Haram (an Islamist group linked to al Qaeda), the church bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, and the attacks on church gatherings in India were all meant to disrupt services and create enough fear to keep people away. It makes perfect sense to Islamic militants, says Nettleton. "If you don't like Christians, and if you want to make a statement about that, Christmas Day--a holy day, a day when the world is talking about Christmas, is talking about Christians, what could be better than to target Christians on that day and to generate a lot of attention to that?"

However, rather than engender people to the cause, it has sometimes created the opposite effect. "I think the folks who are attacking are very much in the minority, even within their own countries, within their own cultures. These are radical Muslims who want to strike out at Christians. In many cases, they would like to see Christians eradicated from their country. "

In fact, the paradox of persecution has driven many people into the church to understand the God Christians are following. "For outsiders looking in, they say, ‘Wow! Those Christians are able to love the people and forgive the people that attacked them. How do they do that?' That obviously is an open door to say, ‘That is the holy spirit. That's Jesus working through me.'"

Nettleton notes that in the last two years, warnings and threats were on the rise in the days approaching Christmas. And yet, in a year of uprising and frequent attacks on Christians, there has been silence.

It's an eerie stillness, like the calm before the storm. Nettleton offers a theory on that: "It may be that these countries are already on high alert, they're already watching out. That's one possible answer to that, but I don't know if that's the correct answer, and I don't know how to interpret that exactly." It also doesn't mean that there won't be attacks coming. Regardless, "There are faithful believers who are meeting every Sunday. They will meet on Christmas." Nettleton says believers are undeterred. A VOM team recently bet with Christians in Northern Nigeria who had survived their church being burnt down. Asked if they would leave, the Christians made this statement: "They will have to kill all of us if they want this church to stop being here."

Increased security is already in place at some Christian churches around the world, given past threats and current hostilities. What can you do? Nettleton says, "What I hope American Christians will remember during this Christmas season, is to pray for the protection of our brothers and sisters who are celebrating Christ's birth in countries where they don't have the same freedoms and they don't have the same protection that we have here."

For the majority of the persecuted church, rather than be silenced, they will use this time to proclaim the peace of Christ, as do the Nigerian believers. Nettleton was touched by their dauntlessness. He shares their sentiment. "As long as we're alive, we will meet. We will continue to be the church. We will continue to meet together for worship. So the threats obviously make people concerned. They make people nervous, but in the vast majority of cases, the Christians say, ‘This is our home. This is where God has placed us. We will gather together, and we will worship.'"

Source: Mission Network News

December 18, 2012

India: Police Join Hindu Extremists in Persecuting Christians in the Hindu Heartland

This year we have shared countless stories about the persecution of Christians in Orissa which is considered the "Hindu Heartland".  Mission Network News along with Morning Star News share a report that is stunning to any American who may not realize that the police in India do not necessarily aim to protect and serve like the police do in America.  The contrast is very striking.  Consider praying for the police in India as you read how they are joining in persecuting Christians in India.

Click here to read the full story at Mission Network News.  Here's an excerpt:

Screen Shot 2012-12-18 at 12.00.48 PMHowever, reports of police helping Hindu extremists attack Christians in Madhya Pradesh is a little disconcerting. Usually, Stravers explains, extremists go to police before they engage in violence against believers; then when the attack is reported and police are called in, they often arrest the Christians.

"This is the first time I've heard a case that confirmed police officers were part of the attackers," Stravers says.

A church pastor told Morning Star News that at the end of November, four police officers broke into his church during worship service and ordered Christians to leave. Close behind was a mob of Hindu extremists who told the leader "Jesus' name will not work in Madhya Pradesh" and warned against future mention of His name.

"The extremists further threatened to kill us, cut off our legs, burn down our houses. and expel us from the village if we speak the name of Jesus again and conduct meetings in the future," the church leader said.

When a church member tried to file a complaint at the local police station, an officer slapped him twice in the face.



December 6, 2012

Clashes build in Egypt over constitutional crisis

Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 10.24.42 AM Egypt (MNN) ― The clash was inevitable.

After days of protests where thousands of people vented their spleens over President Mohamed Morsi's power plays and the passage of a Sharia-based draft constitution, Morsi's supporters came out en masse.

The two sides pelted each other with rocks, firebombs, and fought with sticks. There seemed to be little military or police intervention as the president's supporters fought with the opposition in the streets.

Despite the unrest, plans for a December 15 referendum on the draft will go move on schedule. Critics say the Upper House of Parliament rushed the draft through passage and there are growing concerns that it does not protect political and religious freedoms and the rights of women.

Christian Aid Mission Africa director, Rae Burnett notes that "most Egyptians are actually secularists. Then, of course, they have a wide Christian community which has been suffering for years but hasn't really said anything because they weren't killing them. They were just keeping them out of the mainstream of society."

In terms of trading one dictator for another, Burnett says under the old regime, "At least they were able to function as churches and do some evangelism as long as they didn't get into the Muslim community, but now they are really afraid because Sharia law is brutal. It's horrifying, and it's not something that secular Muslims want either because it infringes (totally) on their lifestyle."

The more recent moves will change the face of Egypt for a long time. "Our situation here is getting worse day by day," reports an Egyptian ministry leader supported by Christian Aid. Indigenous ministries are growing more concerned each day as they watch radical Islam gain control in Egypt.

In a communique shared Wednesday with Burnett, he wrote, [sic] "The expected war has begun. Right now, while I'm writing, there is a war between the brotherhood army and the protesters. It is expected for many to die in a sea of blood. They attack them and call the victorious shouts of wars as if they attack enemies. And they're throwing gas bombs and fire on the protests. Also one of the Islamic elders call on satellite channels to take revenge from Christians as they are the reason for not applying Sharia until now. Situation is so dark and desperate. Please pray for us."

Every day there is more and more evidence of what life could look like if Sharia takes over. Sharia calls for one thing: "Either conversion or death to the enemies of Islam, which is anybody who is not a Muslim. It's very scary because Egypt is a very large and influential country." Although Christians have already been suffering economic and educational persecution for many years, this is different. Burnett explains, "The native Egyptian ministries are really asking for our prayers and also our help, because they're really in financial difficulty."

Many Christians face economic and educational discrimination. However, Burnett says the people they help "have no means of support. They don't work (they're missionaries anyway), but even if they wanted a job, who is going to hire a Christian to work in an Islamic society? They [Muslims] don't do it."

The ministry leader shared that in an earlier demonstration, "Mobs were chanting, 'We want Islam,' and one demonstrator noted, 'It is our country, and those who do not like our law or decisions should leave.' [The demonstrator] then led the crowd to insult badly those who oppose Sharia, singling out and threatening Christians though they were not present"

Tens of thousands of Christians have fled the country due to the increasing danger of being attacked or killed, or their homes and businesses ransacked or set on fire. There have been numerous accounts of attacks where Christians face not only the physical violence of being attacked, but also being arrested for the attack.

Burnett, however, says most of the Christians they're helping are determined to remain. "The people that we're helping don't have any buildings, they don't have any properties, (other than we've enabled them to buy a flat), and they are not denominational. They are independent, indigenous ministry leaders. They have no thought, whatsoever, of leaving."

Aside from helping them financially, Burnett says they're asking for prayer. How can we pray? "I would say, just the way I always want people to pray for me: that I would grow in strength of my relationship with the Lord, that I would have His will and His power to be light and life before people, that I would be willing to lay down my life."

The ministry leader adds, "There is widespread talk of continuing the revolution for democracy. Some have even declared they will not be satisfied unless they get rid of that president like they did before. We continue our work of discipleship and neighborhood evangelism, and we are so grateful for all of your prayer and financial support in these dangerous times. It is keeping us alive. Please relay our thanks to all who are helping us."

Source: Mission Network News

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December 5, 2012

North Korea: Increase in Spies Has Led to More Persecution

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 2.30.25 PMNorth Korea (MNN) ― For the 10th straight year, North Korea tops the Open Doors World Watch List as the country where Christians face the most severe persecution.

North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un hasn't made any essential changes in the year after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il. He has been too preoccupied with building his image and tightening security to make changes.

The "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il told the people three years ago that in 2012, North Korea would once again be a strong and prosperous country. He died in December of 2011, leaving the country to his son, Kim Jong-Un.

Open Doors USA reports, "The regime tried to model this young leader after his grandfather. His appearance and public speeches mirror North Korea's 'Eternal President.'" There are still many differences. Kim Jong-Un's attendance of performances with Disney figures, female musicians, and an orchestra playing music from a Rocky movie were widely televised. However, the dream of a strong and prosperous nation is still far from reality.

The number of trained North Korean spies in China is growing. Border patrol has been taken over by the National Security Agency, which puts pressure on captured smugglers to disclose information about Christians helping refugees.

In at least one region of North Korea, citizens are pressured to confess their crimes. A person told a reporter from DailyNK.com, "They are gathering people by factory, school, and people's units and telling them to write letters confessing precisely what foreign media they have viewed up to now. When they give you the paper, they warn you, saying they know everything anyway so just write it down: when, where, and what you saw; where and from whom you got it; and your impression of it."

Open Doors contacts that live in North Korea have reported no changes in their circumstances. There is no sign that Kim Jong-Un will improve religious freedom. Some arrested Christians were tortured and then released in order to betray their brothers and sisters or to serve as bait.

One Open Doors co-worker in North Korean said, "It's so dangerous to help Christians who have been released by the government. Some have been tortured so severely they cannot walk anymore. Often we cannot help them, because that would bring too much risk to us. We can pray for them. We know that Jesus will not leave them, nor forsake them."

Pray for the Christians who are being persecuted on a daily basis. Ask God to be with those who are being tortured. Pray that God's Word will continue to be shared.

Source: Mission Network News

December 4, 2012

Christians in Egypt are Becoming More Concerned

Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 2.28.50 PMEgypt (MNN) ― Violence toward Egyptian Christians is about to get worse.

Following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, persecution escalated. Persecution has intensified even more in recent days.

An Egyptian ministry leader supported by Christian Aid Mission said, "Our situation here is getting worse day by day." Ministries are growing more concerned as they watch radical Islam gain control in Egypt. Christians in Egypt believe that dark days of persecution are approaching.

On Tuesday, tens of thousands of secular and Christian believers protested in Tahrir Square.

Most recently, judges from the country's highest appeals court and its sister lower court are on an indefinite strike.

The standoff began when President Morsi issued decrees that gave him near-absolute powers and gave himself and the Islamist-heavy assembly immunity from the courts. This open-ended strike took place on the day it was supposed to rule on the legitimacy of two key assemblies controlled by allies of the Islamist leader.

The judges will remain on strike until Morsi rescinds his decrees. Without a functioning justice system, Egypt will be plunged even deeper into turmoil.

Though unlikely, the ministry leader writes, "We pray that this common protest will restore the bridges between Christians and Muslims as it was in the days of the revolution."

Tens of thousands of Christians have fled the country. There is an increasing danger to being attacked or killed, or their homes and businesses ransacked or torched.

The ministry leader remains and continues to share the Gospel. "God has given us the grace to form friendships with Muslims and show them the love of Christ in practical ways. We ask for your prayers and financial support during this terrible time, which will only grow worse. Our most pressing need is to support our coworkers as they labor in the shadow of this darkness."

If you would like to help this persecuted Egyptian ministry, click here. Continue to keep Christian leaders working in Egypt in your prayers.

Source: Mission Network News