Persecution Fridays – Iran – Arrest Details Revealed

February 15, 2013 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

Farshid Fathi, an Iranian Christian pastor, is beginning the third year of a six-year prison sentence on a conviction of “being chief-director of foreign organizations in Iran and gathering funds for these organizations.” Farshid is one of several believers arrested over the past few years in the Iranian government’s attempts to suppress Christianity. The details of his arrest were only recently released.

At about 6 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2010, security officials wearing plain clothes surrounded the home of Farshid’s father. When Farshid’s father opened the door to go to work, they forced their way into the home. They woke everyone in the house, including Farshid and his family who had stayed there Christmas night.

The authorities began a thorough search of the house. They questioned everyone present and, after completing the search, allowed Farshid to take his daughter to school.

“At the same time, another group of government agents attacked Farshid Fathi’s own house to arrest him, not knowing they were not home,” a source told Mohabat News. “They broke into the house illegally, destroying the entrance door, and searched everywhere confiscating whatever they thought could be used as evidence against Mr. Fathi, including his photos, flash drives, camera memory cards, the hard drive of his PC, laptop, documents, and even some money and his gas card.”

After authorities from the two raids communicated, they realized they had accidentally allowed Farshid to leave his father’s house. Livid over the mistake and sure Farshid had fled, the agents threatened the family with “harsh consequences” if he did not return.

But an hour later, Farshid did return. Authorities then beat him, insulted him and handcuffed him before transferring him to the Ministry of Intelligence building in Tehran. From there, he was taken to Evin prison, where he spent several months in solitary confinement.

A Christian prisoner who was Farshid’s cellmate for a few weeks asked Farshid why he returned home, knowing that the agents were waiting to arrest him. “I couldn’t leave my wife and children alone,” he replied.

Farshid’s faith remains strong even in prison. In December, he responded to the Newtown, Conn., tragedy by writing the following letter to parents of the victims:

To the fathers and mothers who lost their precious children in the Connecticut tragedy,

I really don’t know what word in the world could comfort you, what relief could be helpful for your broken heart, and which hand could clean the tears which fall from your cheeks. I just want to say: I am so sorry and you are in my prayers.

I am sure these high walls cannot stop my prayers for you. Before this tragedy happened, I was thinking about my suffering that I’m going through because of my Lord Jesus Christ, especially being far from my lovely kids. But when I imagine how hard your pain is I forget my sufferings. Because I know by God’s grace I will see my kids at the latest in 2017 when I come out from prison. But unfortunately you have to wait a bit longer. So I would like to express my deepest sorrow for your loss.

I believe we will have enough time in heaven with our lovely children forever. There is no gun there, there is no prison, and there is no pain.

In the hope of that glorious day.

Your Brother in Christ from prison in Iran,

Farshid Fathi
17 December 2012

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Persecution Fridays – Colombia – Rebels Kill Widow

February 8, 2013 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

Four months ago, National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas demanded that Alicia Castilla leave her home in Arauca, in northeastern Colombia. On the evening of Jan. 7, during a visit from the family’s pastor, assassins entered her home and shot her in front of her three children and her father. She died immediately. The guerrillas had killed Alicia’s husband, a lay-minister, two years earlier.

The guerrillas told Alicia’s 18-year-old son, Hernán, that the rest of the family had three days to leave the region. After that, they warned, the killers would return and kill the other family members one by one.

Alicia was the widow of lay-evangelist Nelson Ramos, who was killed by the ELN in January 2011. Nelson became a Christian two years before his death and often shared the gospel in Saravena, a town near Colombia’s border with Venezuela. A few months after his conversion, the ELN issued its first expulsion order against him and his family.

According to Hernán, the guerrillas never fully explained why they were so adamant about driving the family out of the area. Nelson was shot to death in the family’s home as his wife and two small daughters, now 9 and 6, watched.

After Nelson’s death, Hernán declared that he would avenge his father. He intended to join the Colombian military to gain training in weaponry, but he renounced his vow after a July 2011 encounter with children whose parents had been killed because of their Christian witness. Instead of seeking revenge, he was baptized and became deeply involved in church activities.

Hernán’s mother was at a workshop for widows of martyred believers in December when ELN guerrillas visited their home and warned them for the third time to leave the area. Although Alicia was willing to move, her elderly father was not.

After Alicia’s murder, government authorities refused to remove her body from the crime scene for fear of retaliation by the ELN. Funeral-home workers finally retrieved her body.

Founded in 1964, the ELN is one of several illegal armed groups fighting for control of the rich petroleum resources along the Colombia/Venezuela border. The guerrilla groups use the Arauca area as a narcotrafficking route. They forcibly recruit children into their ranks and persecute those who oppose them, including the church.

Persecution Fridays – Uzbekistan – Vacation Raid

February 1, 2013 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

Police raided a group of 80 Christians in Uzbekistan on Dec. 1 while they were vacationing at the Simurg resort in the Bostanlyk District of Uzbekistan. The raid occurred during a meeting at which they were discussing their faith and singing Christian songs. Police authorities confiscated songbooks and Bibles and charged some of the Christians with leading unsanctioned worship.

According to Forum 18 News, police initially claimed they only wanted to check internal passports. But the 12 policemen confiscated three Bibles and 100 songbooks and fingerprinted all those present. According to an eyewitness who asked to remain anonymous, police insulted the believers with abusive language and threatened to bring criminal charges unless they signed statements.

Four members of the group were charged with illegal storage of religious material, holding religious meetings and unauthorized religious activity, among other offenses. When asked why the Christians were being punished for merely reading their Bibles and singing Christian songs, a policeman replied that worship must occur only in “places specifically set up for religious purposes.”

Persecution Fridays – Cuba: The Faceless Enemy

October 26, 2012 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

Much has been written and said about the new season of openness for Christians in Cuba. But those who are able to speak freely say that the persecution is still there, though it is now better concealed. Since the government redefined Cuba as a “secularist” nation from an “atheist” nation in 1992, evangelicals have experienced an era of tolerance, where they meet without permission, but are largely ignored by the government. As an example of this tolerance, one church of around 1,000 members has given birth to 18 independent house churches. These new congregations range in size from 300 to 700 people. Continue Reading Persecution Fridays – Cuba: The Faceless Enemy…

Persecution Fridays – Pakistan: Radicals Burn Church

October 19, 2012 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

On Friday afternoon, Sept. 21, a mob of several thousand radical Muslims attacked St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Mardan City, Pakistan. The attackers, armed with rifles and kerosene, overwhelmed security guards and broke into the church. They destroyed Bibles and prayer books, desecrated the altar and set fire to the church building and several surrounding homes and buildings. The mob was returning from a protest against the film Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked violence in many Middle Eastern countries this month and led to the death of Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya. In Pakistan, the government had declared Sept. 21 a national holiday in honor of Muhammad, and the day had been set aside for peaceful protests. Continue Reading Persecution Fridays – Pakistan: Radicals Burn Church…

Persecution Fridays – India: Arrested for Baptisms

October 12, 2012 at 5:32 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

“I enquired about the possession of the Christian spirit, and the reply came … that it was the Holy Spirit. Well, at any cost I didn’t want to be robbed of this new life and hence started learning Christianity.”

Thus began the journey of Reverend Chander Mani Khanna from high-caste Hindu devotee to dedicated Christian pastor arrested for baptizing former Muslims. Continue Reading Persecution Fridays – India: Arrested for Baptisms…

Persecution Friday – Laos: Young Khmu Persecuted

September 7, 2012 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

A young Khmu woman is being persecuted by her family for converting to Christianity. The family of 17-year-old Phum has burned her Bible and hymnbook, forbade her to attend church and even threatened her life in attempts to persuade her to recant her faith.

Phum became a Christian after attending church with a friend in Oudomxay province. Impassioned to learn more about Christ, Phum studied her Bible and attended church every week. Knowing that her family would disapprove — especially her older brother, who works for the Lao Patriotic party — she tried to hide where she went each Sunday. Continue Reading Persecution Friday – Laos: Young Khmu Persecuted…

Persecution Friday – Israel: Christian Church Evicted

August 31, 2012 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

Pastor Steven Khoury from Holy Land Missions in Jerusalem has received a 30-day notice of eviction from the owner of the building where his church currently worships.

“The pressure from the Muslim community is so strong that the landlord is given no other choice but to do this,” Khoury wrote in a letter to The Voice of the Martyrs. “With just 30 days left to move a church community, another Band-Aid solution of renting a place is not a viable solution. Our church community needs permanent roots.” Continue Reading Persecution Friday – Israel: Christian Church Evicted…

Persecution Friday – Nigeria: University Attacked

August 24, 2012 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

Extremists killed 19 Christians, including two professors, as they worshiped on the grounds of Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria, on Sunday, April 22. An additional 22 people were injured.

Christians from two churches, the Chapel of Victory and the St. Stephen Catholic Church, were meeting at the university when unidentified gunmen attacked them at about 9 a.m. The attackers hurled small, homemade explosives into the crowd of worshipers and fired on those trying to escape. They then fled on motorbikes and in a car, according to eyewitnesses. Continue Reading Persecution Friday – Nigeria: University Attacked…

Persecution Friday – Bounchan: Imprisoned for Christ

August 17, 2012 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

Khmu Christian Bounchan Kanthavong spent 13 years and eight months in prison in Laos for his faith. He was released earlier this year. Before he came to faith in Christ, Bounchan was an assistant district governor for the communists.

In 1965, Bounchan had been a soldier in Laos. He eventually became the assistant of an important official. He first encountered Christians when he was sent to study politics in Tha Gnong in 1975. At the time, he didn’t pay much attention, but later as assistant district governor, he visited villages where there were Christians. He was intrigued by their worship, but these Christians were afraid of him because of his government position. Continue Reading Persecution Friday – Bounchan: Imprisoned for Christ…

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