November 2014: IDOP Around Mexico

This year we made a greater effort from our social network sites to promote IDOP: the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We had saw a reach extended to various nations in Latina America from Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and around Mexico, including in the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Sonora to name a few. We are finding more and more Latinos are interested in Extreme Missions and the persecution in restricted or hostile areas. Many are paying close attention to reports about atrocities perpetrated against our Christian brethren, and the constant attacks against Christians in Nigeria, Pakistan, Siria and Irak in particular… and they want to know if what they are hearing is true or exaggerated… and how to respond. DSCF5324                            Villa Union Sinaloa… DSCF5346                            Mazatlan, Sinaloa DSCF4827                         Temas de IDOP 2014: Ten Misericordia sobre ellos Señor.

Enfoque en Siria; Las Jovencitas raptadas de Chibok, Nigeria; Irak; las familias de los jovenes deChibok; los niños y familias refugiados de Siria y Irak; Los encarcelados como Asia Bibi y Pastor Saeed; los que se sientan abandonados; Petra y los demas de Los LLanos en Chiapas; y los que no puedan adorar a Dios en iglesias, … por donde sean. DSC_0236Chiapas Mexico con Director Luis Herrera, Coordinadora Niños Valientes Lolita Hernandez y niños voluntarios. DSC_0168Eduardo Lopez de Buena Vista Grupo compartiendo en Iglesia Nazarena de Tuxtla Gutierrez. idop 3Equipo Voz de los Martires y afectados comparten sus propios testimonios en Tuxtla. idop 10 Prayer Points:

  • Concern and discernment on part of Latin American churches for their brethren who suffer for the sause of Christ.
  • Prayer and physical support for those brethren through organizations like VOM and missions.
  • For strenghth and grace of Spirit for those who personally experiment persecution for sharing and exercising their faith, to maintain their confidence and hope no matter what the cost, and in so doing win those to Christ who would persecute them.
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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.


VOM NZ Persecution Alert: Vietnam

17Vietnamese police employed thugs to ransack a church center and drag away nine Christians, who were then charged with not having proper ID papers – documents officials had confiscated from them in previous raids. The unregistered Mennonite Church led by Pastor Quang has been regularly attacked by police and gangs since June.

Pastor Quang and other church leaders issued an emergency, worldwide appeal following Wednesday night’s attack.

(Here are two excerpts from that appeal)

“They send gangs and thugs, strangers, masked people, and police of various units to harass and arrest us during the day and the night, when we worship, when we pray, when we have Bible study, when we have children’s classes, when we eat together, when we have school ceremonies” “We hope that members of our faith community everywhere will pray for our Mennonite church in Binh Duong at this time” they conclude. (Source: Morning Star, Release International, photo Vom USA)

vietnam 1

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

Voice of the Martyrs Mexico IDOP #1: Iglesia Nazarena in Tuxtla Gutierrez

IDOP #1:

Iglesia Nazarena Tuxtla Gutierrez

idop 4Eduardo Lopez, leader of Tojolobal group expelled from  their own community of Buena Vista Bauhuitz in las Margaritas more than 2 years ago, shares their testimony in the first IDOP of the month.  Among Eduardo’s group there are some 40 people, with the birth 2 weeks ago of a baby after the Evangelical march in the capital. They remain faithful and firmly committed to their God and trusting in Him for their needs, despite having been threatened, having their possessions taken away, and finally being expelled from their lands. They have been sheltered in the buildings of their mother church in Comitan, where a number of them have found work to sustain their families, and where they have begun evangelizing others… for example through organized hospital visitation.

idop 3 On the 31st of this past October over 1000 Evangelicals marched in support of the persecuted Body of Christ in Chiapas, and when the government refused to attend to their situations, various groups stayed and set up camp in front of the Governor’s office in the park. There are now some 150 there, receiving support and encouragement from the regional Body of Christ…  drawn to the park to meet and fellowship with them.

idop 5The tiny Julia of Chilil, with Martha translating for her… both expelled from their community. Julia is a great woman of Christ with a heart on fire for sharing the Gospel and living her faith. No renuncio a mi Cristo / I will not renounce my Jesus, she said. when she was beaten, threatened with loosing all they had worked for, and finally was expelled with her family, a group of 30 in November 2009.

idop 10Maria Dolores Hernandez Bonifaz, Coordinator of the Kids of Courage program of VOM Mexico  organized and presented the first IDOP of 2014 with the special attendance of the Body of Christ persecuted in Chiapas Mexico. They represent the groups from Buena Vista Bauhuitz, Chilil, Mariano Matamoros, and Union Juarez. They are from both different regions and ethic groups, two of which are non Indigena Meztizo Mexicans.

Maria Dolores, better known for her Mexican diminuitive of Lolita, was assisted by her two adolescent sons… Isaac and Benji presenting VOM as a ministry in Mexico.

Lolita said afterwards:

“Praise the Lord, it was a great blessing for us having the opportunity to present Voice of the Martyrs as a ministry, especially accompanied by several of our brethren who are actually part of the persecuted Body of Christ here in Chiapas. Their opportunity to share their testimonies makes the IDOP more personal, knowing their brethren are camped out here in the capital, in front of the Governor’s office. They have shared their gratitude with God, knowing that He will respond to their petitions.  Their faith is unbreakable and tested, an example of their love and committment to their Lord and His for them. They understand that their time here is temporary, and pray that the Lord give them understanding, wisdom and patience  during this time… while hoping that the authorities will respond according to the laws that are established by the Mexican Constitution to guarantee their freedom to practice their religion.

The Nazarene Church expressed both its appreciation to VOM for its work, and its concern for the persecuted brethren who are so close… but until now, unknown to them.

We lift in prayer:

  • the groups who are camped out in the capital, waiting on those government officials who are appointed to attend them
  • the authorities in their communities who have rejected them for their Evangelical faith
  • and the petitions for other nations around the world where religious persecution exists.

 

India: VOM USA… Hindu militants wearing saffron bands arrived and accused the Christians of converting Hindus.

vomc india

INDIA: Christians Attacked by Hindu Militants

Sources: World Watch Monitor, Morning Star News

This man was injured in the attack.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Tensions remain high in a remote village of Chhattisgarh State after clashes between Hindu militants and followers of Christ. On October 25th, local officials summoned area Christians to a meeting in Madota Village under the pretext of resolving conflict over bans in the district on missionaries and non-Hindu religious activity. Dozens of villages in the district passed such bans earlier this year.

The Christians in the village gathered at the designated spot all day, but nobody else turned up. However, that evening, armed Hindu militants wearing saffron bands arrived and accused the Christians of converting Hindus. The militants then beat more than 15 of the unsuspecting believers. More than 10 of those maliciously attacked, the majority of whom were seriously injured, had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

Pray over the village during this time of tension and unrest, asking that the ‘Prince of Peace’ will use the Christians there to be His agents of ministry and reconciliation.

Also ask our gracious Father to bring a swift recovery to those who were injured in this latest assault.

May the Hindu militants soon respect the religious freedom of the believers in this village, so that these Christians will be free to practise their faith without fear of attack.

Until then, may God strengthen the resolve of His children to continue following Him in spite of the possible risks.

Nigeria: VOM USA… Boko Haram Continues Campaign of Terror in Borno State

vomc Nigeria

 

NIGERIA: Boko Haram Continues Campaign of Terror in Borno State

Sources: Release International, Open Doors, Reuters

Pray for the safety of Christians in hideouts within Nigeria.
Photo: Flickr/selena deckelmann

Despite recent news of a cease-fire agreement between the government and Boko Haram, Nigerians in Borno State are continuing to endure horror at the hands of the militant group.

In late October, Boko Haram militants sent messages to Christians who were hiding out in the hills of Gwoza Local Government Area, telling them that any non-Muslims found there would be killed. Many of the affected believers tried to escape to neighbouring Cameroon in the night, but were stopped. Boko Haram then later attacked the hill area, killing those who remained. Meanwhile, in Mafa village, 30 young people were reportedly kidnapped by the militants on October 25th and 26th.

These latest attacks and abductions have cast great doubt over the effectiveness of the peace deal the government allegedly reached with Boko Haram. The government also claimed that the hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April would soon be released. However, a man claiming to be the leader of Boko Haram recently said that the girls, many of whom are Christians, have been “married off” to the group’s fighters. (For more information on the kidnapped girls, please visit this page.

In the wake of these distressing events in Borno State, let us lift up our brothers and sisters there:  asking that the Lord will grant each one His peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

May those who are now mourning the loss of loved ones be comforted, and may God also attend to the needs of those injured in the recent assaults.

Please pray for the hundreds of youths who have been abducted by Boko Haram in recent months…requesting that through His divine intervention, they will very soon be freed and returned to their worried family members.

Finally, intercede on behalf of the militants behind these attacks, asking the Holy Spirit to move in their hearts so they will repent from their sins and turn to Jesus for salvation.