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: Iran

October 22, 2010 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 

Iran: Pastor Sentenced to Death

Christians in Iran are reporting that Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani has been sentenced to death for what is called a “thought crime.” VOM contacts confirm that the pastor’s trial was held in recent weeks in the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the province of Gilan, but a formal verdict has not yet been delivered by the court.

Pastor Youcef, a leader in the Full Gospel “Church of Iran” network, is one of several members of his church who have been imprisoned. The Iranian government has also threatened his wife with life imprisonment and has threatened to take away their two children, who are currently being cared for by relatives. Pastor Youcef was arrested in October 2009 after protesting a decision by the government requiring that his son study the Quran.

Media reports suggest that Pastor Youcef was transferred to Lakan prison, which is supervised by the Political Police of the Islamic Republic. If a death sentence is officially handed down by the court and Pastor Youcef is executed, his would be the first judicial execution of a Christian in Iran in two decades.

This arrest is the latest in a series of arrests of believers in Iran in the past year. Eighty-three Christians are known to have been arrested in Iran since the beginning of 2010. Of those, 65 were subsequently released, but 18 are still believed to be in custody.

The Voice of the Martyrs stands with and supports persecuted believers in Iran. VOM encourages you to pray for Pastor Youcef, his family and other believers in prison. Ask God to protect them and to embolden them to proclaim his name in the face of great persecution.

There is still hope!

March 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I am an American. I am proud of my country and the rich history of Christian heritage that I have as a United States citizen. Today, I am reminded of many things. Yesterday, against the will of the majority of Americans, the House of Representatives of the US Congress passed a bill that will completely overhaul the health care system in America. They claim that it is proof that the federal government still works for the people. They claim that it is a “victory for the American people”. All of this after months of arm-twisting, inside deals to bully government officials into voting for this monstrosity. Add to this the misrepresentation of every proceeding and what the bill actually says. This bill will add to our debt and completely destroy the American ideal. We will slowly become more like other countries who have been trying to make socialized medicine work for years and failing miserably. From a political standpoint, there is still hope that the bill can be killed through reconciliation. Outside of that, there is hope that my state and many others will enact legislation that will exempt those states from unconstitutional federal laws under the power given to the states in the ninth and tenth amendments. But that’s not the hope that I’m talking about. Continue Reading There is still hope!…


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