VOM Korea: What Happens When A Christian Is Imprisoned?

What Happens When A Christian Is Imprisoned?

wurmbrand, man and his workPost by Pastor Tim – Some years back North Korea separated imprisoned Christians from the rest of the concentration camp population.  Why?  Because in the midst of their own suffering, imprisoned Christians were a witness to others, and more and more prisoners came to faith in Jesus Christ!  Pastor Foley wrote about one such North Korean prison story – if you haven’t read it yet, it is worth your time.

I was reminded by this as I read Richard Wurmbrand: The Man and His Work, by Merv Knight, co-founder of Voice of the Martyrs Australia. He told the story of Nikolai Khamara who died because of being tortured in prison.  He had been tortured in severe and horrifying ways, which included burns, wounds, bruises and having his tongue cut out.  In the book Extreme Devotion, it is recorded that when threatened with having his tongue cut out Khamara replied,

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ.  There, I have said the highest words that can be said.  And if you wish, you can now cut out my tongue (Extreme Devotion, Day 264).

But what was most amazing to me was not the fact that Khamara suffered and died for the cause of Christ, but that he was originally arrested and imprisoned for robbery.  Khamara was not a Christian . . . he was a thief.  In his own words he said “I am a lost man.”  But while he was serving a 10 year prison sentence for his crimes, he was surrounded by Christians imprisoned for their faith.

Merv Knight recounted what happened to him while in prison.  He said,

Khamara watched the Christians and wondered what kind of beings they were.  They were men, but they would show joy despite their suffering and would sing in very dark hours.  When they had a piece of bread, they shared it with someone who had none.  Their faces would shine as they spoke to someone whom Khamara could not see. (pg. 18)

Through the witness of these Christians, and the realization that he was a lost man, Khamara gave his life to Christ in a prison cell.  Khamara’s life was forever changed because of the witness of those Christians who were imprisoned for their faith.

Whether it’s the more recent stories of North Korean Christians in concentration camps, or the documented stories of Christians imprisoned under the Soviet Union . . . one thing seems to always be the same – even in the worst places, Christians are sharing the gospel and Jesus is redeeming lives.

Not even prison camps or concentration camps can change that.

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PTL: VOMC / VOM Australia / VOM USA: Upcoming Release of Christian Bookstore Worker!

Upcoming Release of Christian Bookstore Worker!

Wenxi Li

Former bookstore employee, Wenxi Li, is currently scheduled for release from a Shanxi province prison on December 18th. Wenxi, who is from Beijing, had travelled to Shanxi province to help local Christians open a new bookstore. Police raided the new business and confiscated hundreds of books. On December 19, 2012, Wenxi was asked to come to the police station in order to retrieve the $6,000 worth of books that had been seized by authorities. Upon his arrival, he was immediately arrested and sent to prison. The bookstore worker was later denied bail and then sentenced to two years in prison on June 17, 2013. VOMC’s initial report, which provides more details of his arrest, can be found here.

Wenxi’s family is cautiously optimistic that he will be released on schedule. Although since being transferred a few months ago to the prison where he’s currently being detained, he has received better overall treatment and was even permitted to make sporadic five-minute calls to members of the family. His wife, Cai Hong Li, reports that he sounds encouraged and is in good health. She is also thankful that while in prison, Wenxi was able to share the Gospel with other inmates and, as a result, several have become Christians.

Though Cai Hong hopes her husband will take some time to rest after his return home, she told VOM staff that he is passionate about the bookstore ministry and will likely want to return to this work as soon as he is released. She then asked for prayer for his forthcoming release and, additionally, for the improvement of her health as Wenxi’s imprisonment has been very difficult on their family.

How encouraging to receive this news of Wenxi’s soon-approaching release from prison! May there be no delay of schedule concerning his release, so he can be reunited with his family in time for Christmas…a gift they will most certainly treasure this season. May the transition go smoothly, bringing needed healing and restoration to each member of his family after the ordeal they’ve all experienced. Let us also pray for Wenxi’s friend and bookstore co-worker, Lacheng Ren, and others who are imprisoned in China for their faith. Ask the Lord to mediate on their behalf as well, while caring for them and their families throughout the legal processes. In the meantime, as in the case of Wenxi, may they have opportunities to lead many to Christ.

VOM Australia / Nigeria: A Young Child’s Terrible Encounter with Boko Haram

VOM Australia / Nigeria Prayer Alert 11 Dec 2014

NIGERIA: A Young Child’s Terrible Encounter with Boko Haram

vomc NigeriaAfter a brutal attack on Christian worshippers on Sunday 22 November in Attagara, Hassan was running back home holding his ‘Children’s Bible’ when three Islamic insurgents grabbed him and sat him down.

According to an eye witness, one of the insurgents wanted to take the Children’s Bible from Hassan’s hand but the little boy refused. The Muslim insurgent snatched the Bible by force and threw it into a nearby burning fire. Hassan ran to where the fire was to rescue his Bible.

While he was struggling with a stick to remove his Bible from the fire, an insurgent hit three-year-old Hassan on the head with the butt of an AK47 and pushed the little child into the fire. Not satisfied, he proceed to step on Hassan’s head and pressed the head of the child into the fire, all the while railing curses and abuses on the boy and calling him ‘stubborn infidel.’

nigeria boyThe heartless Muslim left Hassan and walked away.

Hassan survived the attack but was badly burned (scroll down to view image of Hassan).

Source: Voice of the Christian Martyrs Nigeria

Prayer Points

  • On behalf of Hassan and others like him who have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram, cry out to the Lord to bring justice to an unjust world; ask Him to protect and preserve His people (Psalm 140).
  • Pray the Lord will bless this young child with a strong faith, endurance and an unquenchable desire to love and serve the Lord all his life.
  • Pray the Lord will completely heal this young child, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Prayer Alert: VIETNAM: Bible College Attacked for Seventh Time

VIETNAM: Bible College Attacked for Seventh Time

Sources: VOM Canada Ministry Partners, VOM Australia

Mennonite Bible College after the attack.

On November 2nd, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang was leading his Bible college church in southern Vietnam when nearly 300 perpetrators began throwing stones and other objects at the church. This most recent attack damaged areas of the building that had just been repaired after previous similar incidences of violence.

“We had to cover the front of the church with timber to protect us from rubber bullets, rocks and rotten eggs,” says Pastor Nguyen, following this recent attack on the Mennonite Bible School in Binh Duong province. Still in shock from the mayhem caused by the perpetrators, some of the church members were also followed home and physically assaulted.

In June of this year, police, government officials and hired thugs broke down the gate of the college and began ransacking the buildings. Both male and female students, as well as their pastoral instructors, were rounded up and beaten. (For more information on the incident, click here.There is also a video clip online, featuring an interview with Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang that took place a few years ago.)

Since the initial June attack, those affiliated with the college have suffered from repeated arrests and other difficulties resulting from the main water and electricity supplies having been cut off. In addition, Pastor Nguyen often receives calls from strangers threatening to bomb the school if it’s not removed from the area. (For more information on the difficulties facing Pastor Nguyen and other believers in Vietnam, go to our online country report.)

Ask the Lord to give Pastor Nguyen and the students of this Bible college the ability to unconditionally love their enemies as our Lord has instructed (Matthew 5:44). Despite the repeated violence and senseless damage of their facility’s buildings and property, may these men and women be greatly encouraged over the fact that no one can ever rob them of their love for Jesus and the lasting spiritual investments they are making through the study of God’s infallible Word. For in the process, they are laying up treasures in heaven, rather than here on this earth where material things corrode and thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:20). Also pray that God’s divine protection and supernatural power will enable His people in Vietnam to persevere and overcome the enemy’s strategies so that the light of the Gospel will banish the realm of darkness over this Communist nation.


VOMC Prayer Alert: Pray for God’s perfect peace to calm the distraught hearts of the kidnapped girls and their families

nigerian mothersIt has recently been reported that the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok (in Borno state) has been seized by Boko Haram militants. Since the group’s abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in April of 2014, this mainly Christian town has been frequently mentioned in international news headlines. Boko Haram has also repeatedly targeted the villages surrounding Chibok in recent months in its fight to create an Islamic state within Nigeria.

Borno state senator Ali Ndume reported that security forces posted in Chibok ran from the area during the attack as they were greatly outnumbered by the insurgents. A vigilante who was present at the time, in his effort to assist with the defense of the town, now serves as an eye witness of the scene. “You couldn’t count (the militants) because there were so many,” he testifies. “All the security and the soldiers ran away and left us on our own. They didn’t shoot at them, they just ran. All the ammunition we had was finished, so there was no way we could attempt to hold the area.”

Since the kidnapping of the schoolgirls, much concern has been raised over the fact that the area is not well protected. As a result, thousands of Chibok residents have fled their hometown community, hoping to find safety in other parts of the country.

Let us pray for God’s perfect peace to calm the distraught hearts of the kidnapped girls and their families, as well as those of their once close-knit Chibok community (Philippians 4:7).

The Voice of the Martyrs Canada

nigeria 6

VOM Australia Persecution Alert: India… Tensions erupting in Chhattisgarh’s southern Bastar district

13 Nov 2014

INDIA: Tensions Erupt in Bastar District

vomc india

Tensions are erupting in Chhattisgarh’s southern Bastar district as violent persecution with impunity becomes prevalent.

At least 50 villages have banned all non-Hindu religious practice. In many places Christians are being denied food rations and access to water. Churches are being attacked and Christians assaulted without the authorities intervening, which guarantees that the situation will escalate.

Officials in Madota invited Christians to meet with them for mediation on 25 October. The Christians attended but nobody else did. Then, in the evening, a truck arrived with 50 Hindu militants who attacked the defenceless Christians with knives, swords and axes.  Fifteen believers were wounded and 12 required hospitalisation for serious injuries. Many Christians have fled. Impunity is almost inevitable.

Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin

 

Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will protect and provide for believers; ask Him to give them the resolve to continue to follow and serve Him in spite of the severe opposition. Intercede for those who are injured.
  • Pray the Lord will stir those in authority to act justly and seek peace for all citizens.
  • Pray the believers will be able to love and forgive their attackers and by doing so act as a compelling witness for the love, strength and authority of Jesus Christ.

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Christian Organisations Call for International Pressure on Mexico Regarding Religious Freedom

  19/11/2014

Credit: Coordination of Christian Organizations of Chiapas

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) joins Impulso 18, Open Doors-Mexico and Voice of the Martyrs-Mexico in calling on the international community to hold Mexico to account on religious freedom issues.

The joint call follows last week’s national conference on freedom of religion and belief in Mexico City, which included testimony from victims of religious freedom violations and contributions from experts on the topic.

The conference coincided with a peaceful protest by communities who have been forcibly displaced because of their religious beliefs, and which began on 31 October in front of the government palace in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of the state of Chiapas. The protesters, including children and the elderly, are calling on the state government to address their cases as a matter of urgency. At least one of the affected communities has been displaced for more than five years.

Representatives from the protesting communities participated in the conference in Mexico City, organized by Mexican religious freedom organisation Impulso 18 and CSW. Fidel Lopez Hernandez of the Buenavista Bahuitz community, a group of 44 men, women and children who has been displaced since 23 July 2012, told those present at the conference that the government had shown little interest in resolving the case. No one from the town has been held to account for the arbitrary detention, physical violence and sexual assault which accompanied the forced expulsion of the Protestants.

Luis Herrera, Director of Voice of the Martyrs-Mexico, said, “Because of the way in which the different states in Mexico deal with cases of religious intolerance, we call on the different levels of government to pay special attention to find an immediate solution to these religious conflicts, especially considering the length of time some of these cases have gone on. This includes the State of Chiapas, which leads in terms of numbers of cases due to a reluctance to make significant decisions to tackle the root of the problem. We call on the government to develop the appropriate policies and to appoint capable civil servants, who will promote a message of tolerance in all communities for a healthy co-existence.”

Humberto Bayon, Director of Open Doors-Mexico said, “As coordinator of Open Doors in Mexico, the conference to which our entire team and representatives were kindly invited opened to us up a wider perspective on the issue of religious intolerance. While our organisation focuses mainly on our ‘family of faith’ (Galatians 6:10), it was refreshing to learn from the speakers and academics that one should not be tolerant of intolerance. For our team, learning how to use the mechanisms for appeal in international institutions like the United Nations and the European Union was the most worthwhile of that which we received during these days together.”

Dr Jorge Lee Galindo, President of Impulso 18, said, “Systematic religious freedom violations at all levels have been endemic in Mexico for centuries. Some of the most egregious are the forced expulsions of members of minority faiths, often accompanied by violence and the violation of other rights, including access to water and to an education, which occur mostly in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Puebla. Rather than seeking to uphold the constitutional rights of these citizens, the government has tended to pursue extra-legal agreements that often result in the continued violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. There is little political will in Mexico, on the state or federal levels, to properly address and resolve these cases; therefore we believe that international pressure and focused attention on the issue is key.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “It is unacceptable that in a modern and diverse democracy like Mexico these types of serious religious freedom violations continue to take place on a regular basis, affecting thousands of men, women and children, with no adequate response from the Mexican government at any level. We call on members of the international community, including the European Union and the United States, to actively monitor the religious freedom situation in Mexico and to hold the government to account under its obligations in the treaties to which it is party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Cultural, Social and Economic Rights – as a matter of urgency. Communities like that of Buenavista Bahuitz cannot afford to wait any longer for their rights to be upheld.”

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Law of Uses and Customs, which is in effect in many parts of the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Puebla and Guerrero, gives significant autonomy to indigenous communities. It is meant to be exercised in line with the fundamental human rights protections in the Mexican Constitution and international treaties to which Mexico is party; however, this is rarely enforced. Local leaders frequently try to enforce community uniformity in terms of religious practice and belief, compelling members of the community to participate in the religious activities of the majority or face punishment. Violations range in severity, but in the absence of government intervention, and because of a failure to hold the perpetrators to account, they all too often escalate to the point of destruction of property, arbitrary detention, forced displacement and violence.
  2. For more information see CSW’s report on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Mexico.

PS: Voice of the Martyrs Mexico works in the field and is the direct source for the majority of cases in Mexico. Work is done through the following programs:

  • Immediate Attention and Mediation
  • Women in the Breach and Family Workshops Vocational Training / Projects
  • Locos por Jesus Youth
  • Kids of Courage
  • Blessings and Humanitarian Aid

We are a Mexican national office of VOM which means we are self sustaining, receiving donations and offerings fronorganizations and the Body of Christ. It is no small accomplishment to do so in Latin America. You may make donations to the above programs through deposits to:

Name: MINISTERIOS VDLM VOM MEXICO, A.C.

Acct #: 0196498256 

Bank: BBVA BANCOMER S.A.

Swift: BCMRMXMMPYM    

ABA: 21000021

CLABE: 012130001964982561  

Number and Name of branch / Sucursal: 4439 – SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS