Persecution Fridays – Pakistan

June 17, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Pakistan: The Power to Forgive

Shaken and still feeling the effects from an attack on their service, Numseoul Presbyterian Church publicly forgave the men who attacked them on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Armed with guns, the nephew of a former legislator, Muhammad Shoaib, and four other men disrupted the church service three days earlier. “They were just out of control,” Pastor Ashraf Masih told Compass Direct News. “Shoaib and his men broke the glass altar of the church, threw copies of the Bible towards the wall and desecrated the cross.” The gang also beat three elderly Christians with bamboo sticks.

The attackers cursed the congregation for disrupting the peace by worshipping on loudspeakers, Masih said. However, the church uses loudspeakers only inside the church building, located in a rural area outside Lahore. “The loudspeakers on mosques are used all day long for prayers and sermons,” he said. “I fail to understand why this man has turned against us in the last few months.” Continue Reading Persecution Fridays – Pakistan…

Persecution Fridays: Cuba

March 4, 2011 at 10:17 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Cuba: Persecution Increases

Pastors and Christian leaders in Cuba are reporting a shift in how the government treats Christians. The government appears to have moved away from higher profile forms of oppression, such as threatening to shut down or destroy churches, and is now focusing pressure on church leaders, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Church leaders both within and outside of the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) report receiving frequent visits from state security agents and Cuban Communist Party (CCP) officials. The CCC is an umbrella organization representing Protestant churches. These visits and meetings seem to have the intent of intimidating church leaders and making them aware they are under close surveillance.

In October 2010, Pastor Homero Carbonell decided to resign as leader of La Trinidad First Baptist Church in Santa Clara after prolonged government pressure and threats, according to CSW. He hoped giving up his leadership position would alleviate some of the demands on the congregation, but nothing has changed.

Pastor Carbonell, a respected high-level denominational leader, denounced the government persecution in an open letter, according to CSW. He wrote that spurious accusations against him, including allegations that he is associated with the counterrevolution, brought a series of penalties to his church. The pastor also described how the Religious Affairs Office has treated the church over the past three years. In one meeting with the Religious Affairs Office, officials told Pastor Carbonell to “behave himself.”

CSW reports that the government’s attention on Pastor Carbonell and his church may have been prompted by the church’s refusal to expel family members of political prisoners and members of human rights or pro-democracy groups.

Religious groups in Cuba are under the authority of the Religious Affairs Office of the CCP’s Central Committee, rather than a government body. Church leaders have complained for years about difficulties dealing with the Religious Affairs Office, especially with regard to permission for church repair or construction. Many of VOM’s partners in Cuba have faced conflict with authorities while building or repairing churches. Some get around requirements by constructing structures with roofs but no walls.

Bibles and Christian literature may be imported into the country only through the Cuban Council of Churches, which, according to CSW, represents a minority of churches. This limitation has led to a severe shortage of religious materials in Cuba. VOM friends help bring Bibles and other materials into the country through other channels and also sponsor a clandestine printing press for Christian literature.

Persecution Fridays: Egypt

January 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Egypt: Killer Sentenced to Death

An Egyptian court has sentenced a man to death for killing six Coptic Christians and a Muslim policeman in January 2010. Mohamed Ahmed Hussein was found guilty of premeditated murder for his role in a drive-by shooting outside a church in Nag Hamadi, in southern Egypt. VOM assisted some of the Nag Hamadi victims with medical care and recovery.

The sentence was issued just two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 23 people at a Coptic church in Alexandria. AFP news agency reports that the bishop of Nag Hamadi, Anba Kirolos, said his congregation was “satisfied” with the ruling. Two other men are also on trial in connection with the 2010 shooting.

A VOM rescue team has been caring for several survivors of the Nag Hamadi shootings, like this 20-year-old man.The lack of action on the case had frustrated Egypt’s Coptic population, who feel more and more marginalized by the Muslim majority as anti-Christian sentiment against them grows. Copts often complain of discrimination and harassment, and protest that attacks against them go unpunished or result in light sentences. The harsh sentence against Hussein may indicate that the government is listening to the complaints from Copts, who make up about 10 percent of the population in Egypt. Evangelicals make up less than 4 percent.

Continue to pray for unity in Egypt. Pray for the physical healing of those injured in the church attacks, and pray for families who lost loved ones. Ask God to give strength to Christians suffering harassment, torture and ill treatment.


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