Persecution this Week

Here is the latest news on the persecuted church. I will post this more often, as our family needs us now more than ever!

12/30/2010 Iraq (AFP) At Least Two Christians Killed in Baghdad Attacks- 

At least two Christians were killed and 12 people wounded in a string of six attacks on Christian homes in Baghdad on Thursday, an interior ministry official said. The worst attack was in the central Baghdad district of Al-Ghadir, where a homemade bomb exploded around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT), killing the two Christians and wounding three others, including one Christian, the official said. The attacks started at 7:30 pm in six different parts of the capital as the Christian community is still reeling from a massacre at a Baghdad cathedral on October 31st in which 44 worshipers and two priests died.

Al-Ghadir is an area with a significant Christian population, though many have fled following the massacre and in light of threats by Al-Qaeda to target them.

Other blasts, also from homemade bombs, injured another nine Christians.
A pall of gloom has descended on Iraq's badly battered Christian community since gunmen burst into Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad on October 31st and began firing on worshipers. Ten days later a string of attacks targeted the homes of Christians in Baghdad, killing six people and wounding 33 others. Full Story 

Pray that the Christians that were viciously attacked by the Muslim extremists in churches and Christian homes will quickly recover and that the families of the murdered loved ones will be consoled.
Pray that the perpetrators of the murders and violence against the Iraqi Christians will be brought to justice.
Pray that the believers will be encouraged and empowered by the Lord to continue to be fervent in worship and evangelism.
Praise that the Iraqi forces came to end the hostage situation.

12/29/2010 India (AsiaNews) Christians Right of Return In Orissa Under Threat-

In the Kandhamal district, where Hindu radicals are strong and aggressive, a government official has opposed allowing five Christian families, victims of an organized attack, to rebuild their destroyed homes. A missionary said: "We will take their case to court if the opposition continues."

In Orissa, Christmas was celebrated quietly, but not without worries because there were new cases of injustice and abuse against Christians in Kandhamal, one of the areas where radical Hindus are more aggressive. For many Christian victims of violence, there are difficulties in returning to their places of origin. The latest case is that of a local government official for development and construction, L. Mahanty, who has mistreated and opposed five Christian families’ reconstruction of their homes, destroyed during the anti-Christian hostilities. Four families belonged to the village of Beladadi Koenijhar (Tikabali Block). On December 25th, the official visited the village of Beladadi, ostensibly to examine the state of tranquility and security for Christians. But he insulted the five families, because they rebuilt their homes near the ruins of the destroyed houses. He shouted at them, "I will kick you out from here; the Hindus will cut you to pieces and throw you out and then you will know. Who told you to build your houses here?"

Father K.J. Markos, a Monfort missionary, who has helped Christians in Kandhamal, led one of the villagers on December 26th to Bodimunda village, where the official was visiting on other matters, and tried to argue with him. But the official went on to say that the villagers had to go away, and that the houses under construction had to be demolished and razed to the ground. Following this situation, Father Markos asked L. Mahanty to write down his opposition to allowing the homes of Christians to be rebuilt in this place, but the official refused. "If Mahanty opposes the reconstruction of houses by the Christians of the village, we will bring the matter to court," said Father Markos to AsiaNews.

Meanwhile, a court in the state of Orissa, Kandhamal, sentenced nine Hindu radicals to five years in prison for burning the homes of Christians in the village of Damangpadar. Full Story. 

Pray that the Lord will soften the heart of L. Mahanty, an authority of the local government, so that he will allow the Christians to rebuild their homes.
Pray that the Indian Hindus will repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
Pray that God will thwart any hostile plans of the Hindu radicals against the Indian Christians.

12/28/2010 Vietnam (AsiaNews) Hanoi Celebrates Christmas With a Series of Attacks Against Christians- 

With a series of attacks against Christians, the Vietnamese authorities have seriously interfered in the celebration of Christmas. In Hanoi, on December 19th, about two thousand Protestants were planning a celebration at the National Convention Centre, in the district of Tu Liem, that was rented for the occasion. But at the last moment, the managers of the state owned structure pulled their permission.

Deeply disappointed to see the doors closed and hundreds of plain clothes activists barring their access, the Christians started to pray and sing in the square outside the building. The police called in reinforcements, who started to beat them. Six people, including the Rev. Nguyen Huu Bao, who was to lead the meeting, were arrested. Similar events took place in Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Da Nang.

The attitude of the authorities towards Christians is borne out in a series of raids against the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ho Chi Minh City, and the destruction of the Dalat monastery.

Added to these events, there was a ban on Msgr. Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, Bishop of Kontum, from celebrating Christmas mass and the resumption of efforts by the "Committee of Hanoi for the solidarity of Catholics."

In the opinion of Father Pascal Nguyen Ngoc Tinh, a Biblical scholar from Ho Chi Minh City, what is happening in Vietnam, in the wake of the outcome of the Eighth Assembly of the representatives of Chinese Catholics, indicates that Hanoi is implementing a strategy to transform Vietnamese Catholicism into a "religion of rituals and festivals," a decoration for the regime’s self-promotion "to mask its commitment to human rights”.  Full Story

Pray that the wickedness of the Vietnamese government will not escape scrutiny and that the trauma and disillusionment will serve to prepare the way for an awesome work of God.

Pray that the Vietnamese Christians will ardently worship God and proclaim the Gospel through the leading of the Holy Spirit with courage and prudence even in the midst of the tormenting Vietnamese authorities.
Pray that there will be international condemnation of the oppression of Christians by the Vietnamese government.

12/26/2010 Pakistan (IndianExpress) Christians Step Up Campaign for Release of Asia Bibi-

Amidst pressure from Pakistan's religious hardliners not to amend a blasphemy law, Christian groups have pledged to take all possible steps for the release of a mother of five who has been sentenced to death for insulting Prophet Mohammed. The death sentence given to Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian woman that was “convicted” for blasphemy, has triggered a debate on the need to repeal or amend the controversial law.

For the first time since a lower court in Punjab province sentenced Asia Bibi to death last month, groups representing the minority Christian community organized a protest in Lahore on Saturday and called on the government to drop the death penalty for blasphemy.

The controversial clauses in the law, inserted during the regime of late dictator Zia-ul-Haq, prescribe the death penalty for anyone convicted for insulting Prophet Mohammed and life imprisonment for those found guilty of desecrating the Quran.

As the protestors marched through the city's streets before assembling in front of the Punjab Assembly, they urged the government to curb the misuse of the blasphemy law. "Our protest is not only for release of Asia Bibi but also for all those blasphemy accused, even Muslims, who were trapped under baseless charges…," said Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra, an official of PCDA.

The government should immediately take steps to get as many as 1,200 people accused of blasphemy released from prisons across the country, Sahotra said.

"Today's demonstration shows that the Christian community is protesting, even on Christmas, against misuse of the blasphemy law and for the release of Asia Bibi and all other accused," he added. Full Story.

Pray that Asia Bibi, a mother of five children, will be released unharmed and that she will be comforted and strengthened by God.
Pray that the controversial legal clauses that prescribe the death penalty for anyone convicted for insulting Prophet Mohammed and life imprisonment for those found guilty of desecrating the Quran will be overturned.
Pray that Christians, especially Pakistani believers, will expose the Christian persecution to the international community so that pressure can be increased upon the Pakistani government.
Pray that the Gospel will spread with saving grace and power and that there will be many Muslims that will come to faith in Christ.

12/26/2010 Nigeria (ChristianPost) 38 Killed in Nigeria Christmas Weekend Attacks- 

At least 38 people have been killed since Christmas Eve in attacks across Nigeria, including assaults against two churches. Local police suspect the radical Muslim group Boko Haram, which has a history of anti-Christian violence, in the church attacks.

In the northern town of Maiduguri, armed men dragged the pastor of Victory Baptist Church out of his home and then shot him to death. Two men rehearsing for the carol service at the church and two people walking nearby were also killed. Afterwards, the mob set the church and pastor’s house on fire, according to The Associated Press. Adding to the death toll are bomb blasts Friday evening in central Nigeria that killed 32 people.

Nigeria, which is nearly evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south, has a long and bloody history of sectarian violence. Most of the conflicts occur along the central region where Muslims and Christians fight moreso over grazing land and ethnic lines than over religious differences. Earlier this year, more than 500 people died in a sectarian conflict in Jos and surrounding area.

Authorities arrested hundreds of people suspected to be linked to the Jos massacre. But in September, more than 100 members of Boko Haram escaped jail following a violent raid of the prison in the northern city of Bauchi.

Boko Haram members have killed dozens of Christians, as well as police and local leaders. The Nigerian government has tried to crush the group, destroying its mosque and arresting its leader, but it appears to be reviving.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south, vows that the government will “go to the root” of the recent Christmas Eve attacks. “We must unearth what caused it and those behind it must be brought to book,” said Jonathan. Full Story


Pray that the brutalized Christians, especially those that lost a loved one through murder at the hands of Muslim extremists, will sense the Lord’s comfort in their grief and that they will not become embittered.
Pray that the Nigerian authorities, including President Goodluck Jonathan, will recapture more than 100 members of Boko Haram which escaped from jail and that the Boko Haram will be crushed by God’s might.
Pray that the government will be firm and victorious in protecting the Nigerian Christians from harm.
Pray that the believers will be encouraged and empowered by the Lord to continue to be fervent in worship and evangelism.

12/25/2010 Philippines (CBS/AP) Bomb Wounds 11 at Christmas Mass in Philippines-
A bomb exploded during Christmas Day Mass at a chapel inside a police camp in the volatile southern Philippines, wounding a priest and 10 churchgoers. The island is a stronghold of al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants, but it wasn't clear who was responsible for the bombing. Investigators recovered parts of a cell phone they believe detonated the device. All of the wounded were civilians. One woman remained at a hospital for observation later Saturday, but police said one did not need hospital treatment and the others have been treated and sent home. The Rev. Romeo Villanueva, 72, said a newly ordained priest, the Rev. Ricky Bacoldol, who was assisting him, was thrown off his feet by the blast impact and suffered a slight leg injury.

President Benigno Aquino III's spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said the bombing "violates the basic tenets of respect and peace of all who hold their faith dear." He said there could be no religious or political justification for the attack.

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic, but Christians are a minority on Jolo and nearby island provinces that are majority Muslim.

The Abu Sayyaf is believed to have carried out the worst terror attacks in the Philippines, including the bombing of a passenger ferry in 2004 near Manila Bay, which killed more than 100 people.

U.S. troops are deployed in Jolo and elsewhere in the Southern Philippines to train local troops in their fight against the Abu Sayyaf, Lo reports. The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for high-profile kidnappings and beheadings. The military estimates that battle setbacks, arrests, and surrenders have reduced the group's strength to more than 300 from more than 1,000 guerrillas during its heyday in 2000. The Abu Sayyaf is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations and is suspected of having received funds and training from al Qaeda. Full Story 

Pray that those that were injured by the violence will heal quickly. 
Pray that the Lord along with the U.S. troops that are deployed in Jolo and the Philippine government will thwart the ruthless Abu Sayyaf.
Pray that there will be a Christian revival in the Philippines.
Pray that there will be an international outcry that will condemn the savage attacks upon Christians by the Abu Sayyaf.

12/19/2010 Egypt (M&C) Verdict in Egyptian Copt Killings Trial Expected Mid-January
An Egyptian court is expected to hand down its verdict against three men charged with shooting Coptic Christians outside a church in the south of the country on January 16th, a judicial source said Sunday.

Gunmen opened fire on parishioners leaving a Coptic Christmas Eve mass in January of this year in Nagaa Hamadi, a town 650 kilometers south of Cairo. Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. The attack left eight Christians and one Muslim policeman guarding the church dead. Three Muslim men were charged with premeditated murder, harming public security, the use of force and violence, and endangering the lives of citizens.

A lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Ishaq Ibrahim, said that his organization has objected that the trial be before a state security court, which does not provide the right to an appeal. “We are generally against the trial of civilians before emergency courts,” Ibrahim said. Both military and state security courts are usually to try civilians accused of terrorism. Yet, the Emergency Law, which has been in place in Egypt since 1981, allows the trial of civilians in military courts.

Christians account for roughly 10 per cent of Egypt's population, according to official figures. While tensions exist between the country's Christian and Muslim populations, violence is rare. Full Story 

Pray that the Lord will surround all Egypt's traumatized Christians, especially those that have been personally victimized and those that have suffered the murder of a loved one, with His everlasting love and peace.
Pray that the believers will grow closer to the Lord and that they will share the Good News of salvation that is only through Christ.
Pray that the perpetrators of the murderous attacks against Egyptian Christians will be prosecuted.
Praise that violence is rare even in the midst of tension between the country's Christian and Muslim populations.
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