Saturday, February 6, 2010

Messages From Martyrs

Once again I would like to bring up the issue of Christian persecution as its growing at alarming rates all over the world.

How many Christians would you guess have died as martyrs this last year? Believers in Jesus who died for their faith?

5,000? 10,000?

How many Christians are being persecuted right now for their faith?

2 million? 20 million?

The actual answers may just astound you. I have three reports from two different sources: The Berean Call and Gospel For Asia:

First stop: Communist China -


Police in northern China have sentenced five Christian church leaders to two years of "education through labour" after they protested against a police raid on their church, a rights group said Wednesday.

The punishments came after a Shanxi province court last week sentenced five other leaders of the same church to up to seven years in prison for trying to protect the unregistered church from demolition, said ChinaAid, a US-based Christian rights group.

"To arbitrarily send five innocent citizens to labour camps is in direct violation of international human rights covenants," the head of ChinaAid, Bob Fu, said in a statement.

The statement said the case, in the city of Linfen, showed Chinese authorities were intent on suppressing religious freedom.

Up to 1,000 followers of the unregistered 60,000-member Fushan church in Linfen held a protest prayer meeting a day after police raided church buildings on September 13, the rights group said.

Following the protest, police began rounding up church leaders, it said.
"Education through labour" is a punishment meted out by police that does not require judicial procedures such as a trial. The punishment has long been criticised as arbitrary and susceptible to abuse.

The government says China's official churches have 15 million Protestants and five million Catholics. But there are believed to be many millions more worshipping in "underground" or "family" churches, which refuse to submit to government regulation.

Second stop: somewhere in India -

New Believers Attacked by Family
February 4, 2010

When Soumil Dutta, Shreyas Das and Saaz Das decided to surrender their lives to Christ, their families turned on them.

Their attackers beat them in an attempt to intimidate them in to denying Christ, but the three young men remained steadfast.

After the beating and threats did not work at home, the relatives tracked down Gospel for Asia–supported pastor Dadra Thackeray. Since it was through his church that these new Christians heard about Jesus, they threatened Dadra with extortion, saying they would make him pay 100,000 rupees ($2,164 US) for each person who became a believer through his church.

Our GFA field correspondent noted that the Lord is using Pastor Dadra in a great way to reach many souls for the Kingdom in the village where these three believers live. Pastor Dadra needs prayer for protection for him and his family, and that he will have grace and wisdom to handle the situation wisely.

He also asks for prayer for the new believers who are being treated badly by their family, that the Lord will also protect them and strengthen their hearts so their faith will remain strong.

The family members and the others tormenting them, who are still furious about the choice these young men have made, need prayer as well, that they will come to know the love of the Lord and realize the truth about Jesus.

Pastor Dadra is serving in Assam, India. Learn more about the state he's working in.

Third stop: The Middle East, Israel and Egypt -


A recent visitor to Jerusalem, Majed El Shafie, bore witness to [anti-Semitism and the persecution of Christians] at a reception and press conference held at the Van Leer Institute on December 14.

Shafie and his colleagues formally introduced his Toronto-based international human rights organization, "One Free World International."

Shafie knows a great deal about Christian persecution: He converted from Islam to Christianity in his Egyptian homeland when he was 18.
"During my years in law school in Alexandria," Shafie explains, "the persecution of Christians was going on all around me and it made me wonder why it was happening. For the first time in my life I started to think about it. I started asking questions of my best friend Tamer, who was a Christian, and I started reading the Bible. I started making comparisons between the Bible and the Koran....Of course, converting from Islam to Christianity -- or to any other faith -- is dangerous business in Muslim lands.

Under Shari'a law such conversions are understood to be a capital offense - enforced by the death penalty in some states, and bringing about various abuses and vigilante tactics in others. Nonetheless, Shafie was outspoken about his new faith."

After I converted I wrote a book about the difference between Islam and Christianity which soon caused me to be arrested and imprisoned. There were three charges. The first charge was that I was trying to make a revolution against the Egyptian government. The second charge was that, because I was seeking equal rights for Christians, I was accused of trying to change the state religion to Christianity. The third charge was that I worshiped Jesus.

So in fact I looked at the judge and I said, 'Guilty as charged.'"

Shafie was imprisoned and tortured. Even today scars on his back testify to the violence he endured. After a lengthy hospitalization, he was placed under house arrest in Alexandria, and it was from there that he escaped and made his way to Israel.

Finally in 2002 Majed got approval to enter Canada....Shafie's December 2009 trip to Israel was, in part, a gesture of thanks to a country that gave him a new beginning. He also took the opportunity to affirm his personal support of Israel as a free nation and to take a stand, in solidarity with Israel, against anti-Semitism.

Shafie appeared at his press conference with two Canadian members of Parliament, Scott Reid and Mario Silva, both of whom are actively engaged with issues related to human rights and anti-Semitism. Dr. Frank Dimant, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith Canada, and Timothy King, a One Free World board member, also shared the podium with them.

The speakers agreed that "anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism."Shafie went on to say that the report on the IDF's Cast Lead operation in Gaza by the head of the UN fact-finding mission, Justice Richard Goldstone, serves as a disturbing example of anti-Zionist rhetoric.

Shafie underscored specific facts about Hamas's tactics and the IDF's response that were not mentioned in the Goldstone report:

"We needed to know from his report that Hamas was using civilians as human shields. We needed to know from his report that for I don't know how many years Hamas has been shooting thousands of rockets into Israel.

We need to know from his report that before the Israelis bombed any target in Gaza, they sent thousands of fliers into the area and told the people to get out - 'We're going to bomb here in two hours.' Goldstone's report is a disgrace!"

After speaking about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Shafie then began to discuss the plight of persecuted Christians. One Free World reports that in 2008, 165,000 Christians were killed worldwide because of their faith, claiming, "Every three minutes a Christian is being tortured in the Muslim world... between 200 million and 300 million Christians are persecuted in the world, of which 80 percent are in Muslim countries and the rest in communist and other countries."
(Gilbert, "Beaten But Unbowed,"
The Jerusalem Post, January 1 - 7, 2010, p.18-19).

Lastly, from the ministry of Voice of The Martyrs, I'd like you to meet a prisoner in Pakistan, who was sent there because she believes just as you and I do: in the LORD Jesus Christ, her LORD and SAVIOR.

Her name? Asia Bibi - here is her story:

Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old Pakistani woman from the village of Ittanwali, was arrested by police on Friday, June 19, and faces possible blasphemy charges. Asia is the wife of 50-year-old Ashiq Masih, and their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of more than 1,500 families.

Many of the local women work on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees, including Asia. During their work many of the Muslim women have pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. In June, the pressure became especially strong.

On Friday, June 19, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith, with the Muslim women telling Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women Christ had died on the cross for our sins, then asked them what Mohammed had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them Jesus is alive, but Mohammed is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”

Upon hearing this response the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia Bibi. Then some men came and took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey. Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She is currently being held at the police station in Nankana city.

Christians there urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed that they must go forward due to pressure from local Muslim leaders.

The Voice of the Martyrs urges Christians around the world to pray for Asia Bibi and her family. Further, we call on the Pakistani government to insure that the rights of Christians like Asia are protected.

There are others we can pray for as well: many others - to read and pray for these brave saints, please follow this link - (on this page, please scroll down until you see "Prisoner Archives on the left side of the page, right under the story of Asia Bibi)

To view the VOM web site, please follow this link -

May the LORD Jesus bless and keep us, and grant us a heart of unparalleled compassion for the persecuted saints in this world.

agape, grace & peace,

brother James

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