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Update on the Persecuted Church

By Voice of the Martyrs -- Please take time with your church or Christian group to pray for your brothers and sisters in the persecuted church. And as you pray, be sure to tell others about the suffering of the persecuted church and invite them to join you in intercession.

Here are some areas that you can lift up in prayer:


(Charisma News)
Vasily Yurevich plans to appeal a fine handed down on December 28th, according to Forum 18 News Service. He was fined 150 times the monthly wage for organizing an "illegal" service on property the church owns. The fine came exactly two weeks after the church received written notice that its re-registration application had been rejected, rendering all its public activity illegal and subject to punishment. New Life pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko, who could also be fined, said: "We will stand up for our rights to worship God. This is all we want to do, and God will defend us."

Pray the Lord of all creation will encourage Belarusian believers to continue meeting. Pray He will help them find creative ways to assemble together. Pray international publicity about these religious restrictions will cause authorities in Belarus to allow churches to continue meeting. Pray God will draw the nation of Belarus to Himself, and all will know the value of human life and the joy of worshipping the Creator.


(Compass Direct)
On January 9th, Eritrean authorities entered a building in Asmara, and arrested 25 members of a Catholic Church during a wedding rehearsal. The arrest marked the first crackdown against the Catholic community, which enjoys "official" recognition by the government, along with Orthodox and Lutheran Christians and Muslims. The same Sunday morning, security police arrested 67 evangelical Christians at a wedding ceremony in Barentu, taking all of them, including the elderly and young children, to the Sawa Military Training Center for "military punishment." Meanwhile, 25 of the 60 Rema Charismatic Church members arrested at a New Year's Eve celebration have been released after signing a pledge not to participate in such meetings again.

Pray international protests will bring about the release of these innocent victims, especially the children and the elderly. Pray each one will know the comforting presence of Jesus during this ordeal. Pray their faith and witness will lead their captors to the Lord.

(Charisma News)
A young worker with Strategic World Impact, a group that specializes in humanitarian emergencies, was arrested January 17th, with no reason given for his arrest. According to Assist News Service, the same staff member had been arrested a few weeks ago and while in custody had witnessed the deaths of eight people. The number of believers in Eritrea arrested for their faith is up to 567.

Pray God will protect this young man, especially since he witnessed the deaths of eight people. Pray for his quick release. Pray Jesus will give him His very special strength and comfort as a witness to his captors.

(VOM sources)
VOM recently learned of the arrest of two pastors, Kidane Gebremeskel and Abraham Belay. These men are now being held by police. Kidane has a wife and three children; Abraham's marital status is unknown.

Pray God will encourage and sustain these faithful believers, whatever treatment they are facing. Pray He will give supernatural peace and hope to their families.


(ASSIST News Service)
Representatives of the Paris Elim Church will be going to court in order to continue worshipping in their current location. The pastor says the local government is trying to chase the church from its current place of worship. This is happening to many other Protestant churches in Paris, and in many other places across France. He says the local authorities have had a policy for some time that is anti-Christian and they desire to see churches closed. In addition to pressure from local authorities is the increasing rise of Islam, which is becoming more aggressive and very anti-church and anti-Christian.

Pray the members of Paris Elim Church will remain faithful to Jesus in this controversy. Pray the court will allow them to continue worshipping at their present location. Pray the Holy Spirit will move in love and power to defeat the spirit of atheism that pervades France.


Besides all the devastation from the December 26th tsunami, three new churches have been threatened with closure when the head of the North Grogol community accused the churches of disturbing the community, as well as meeting illegally in business buildings. The pastor of one church that has a legal certificate from the Religion Department authorizing them to meet is firm that they will continue to meet. In a separate incident, a priest in Central Java, Thomas Harsidiyono, was found dead in a church retreat compound on January 14th, with massive head wounds. Despite the string of attacks against Christians in various areas of Indonesia, the provincial police chief said that the attack was "probably" robbery.

Pray the churches facing possible closure will trust God, seeking His will concerning a place where they can continue to worship together. Pray God will comfort the parishioners who are mourning the loss of Fr. Harsidiyono. Pray for the people of Indonesia who do not know the love of God in Christ Jesus His Son.


(Compass Direct)
Christian leaders in Northern Nigeria say a report released in December by the government of Kano state grossly underreports the number of Christians killed by Muslim militants last year. The report states that 84 people died in religious clashes in Kano, in 2004. However, the chairman of the Kano chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria places the casualty count at nearly 3,000 Christians dead. Meanwhile, intelligence forces have uncovered plans by Muslim militants in Kano, to attack Christians and burn down churches in order to destabilize the government and force the observance of Islamic law.

Pray God will comfort all the families mourning loved ones who have been killed. Pray Christians will remain bold in their faith and will love their enemies. Pray the Muslims will come to know the God of mercy who forgives and redeems through the blood of Jesus.

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Used with permission. (c) 2004 Voice of the Martyrs

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