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More from ICC:
More than 2,000 Christians in Marxist leaning Eritrea are imprisoned for their faith.. About half the population is Sunni Muslim, and the balance is Christian with a small fraction of Buddhists and Bahai.   The government views leaders of large unregistered churches as threats and fear they will expose abuses and conditions in the prisons. As a result it is extremely difficult for relatives to visit those in prison, and inmates are not allowed to receive or send letters. One evangelist incarcerated since 2006 for his activities is receiving especially harsh treatment because of his ministry to inmates, according to Compass Direct News. Teame Weldegebriel is close to despair languishing at the Mai Sirwa Maximum Security prison. “It seems that hell has broken loose on me,” Weldegebriel told Compass sources. “Please tell the brethren to continue praying for me. I am not sure I will see them again.” Teame is considered dangerous due to his boldness in sharing Christ, leading to the conversion of many. His family is concerned for his health, and has not been allowed to visit him.
Pray for the Spirit’s sustenance of Teame, as many inmates are said to have insufficient food.
Pray that Eritrea would finally implement its 1997 constitution which provides for religious freedom.
Pray that the many reported converts to Christ in Eritrea would stand strong in the faith regardless of the difficulties being experienced. 
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Release International posted this story entitled “starved and beaten for their faith-former prisoners in Vietnam tell of brutality behind bars”

“Paul” and “Stephen” (names changed to protect their identity) are Christians from the minority Hmong tribe in Vietnam. It was found that found that some of the harshest persecution in Vietnam is reserved for the ethnic Hmong people, who sided with the United States in the Vietnam War. The authorities regard evangelical Christianity as an American export intended to undermine the communist revolution. Stephen was jailed for three years, leaving his wife to work the fields and bring up their 7 children on her own. His brother was also murdered for telling other about Christ. His brother wouldn’t deny Christ, so the authorities beat him till he died. Stephen would spend his days in prison breaking rocks and if he did not make quota they would beat him. Before being imprisoned both men were asked to sign a document saying if they renounced Christ they would be set free. They both refused. Stephen says, ” Inever denied Jesus. Never. I believe that even if I die I will still put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord never, never left me. Every day, when I breathe the air, I trust in the Lord.” Paul’s response to the document was this “even if you nail me like Jesus Christ to the cross I will still not deny him. You can do to me exactly like Jesus Christ and I will still be happy.” Paul was imprisoned for 10 years for spreading the Truth that is Christ. Paul thought, “Sometimes I thought I would die, but after that the Lord give me more strength so I could complete the course. That’s why after a few years, they didn’t beat me anymore.” Both prisoners were starved and malnourished while in prison given only rice and little vegetables.On one occasion Paul was so hungry he picked up and ate a frog, he knew the insides of the frog were poisonous but he ate them anyways.

Both men are out of prison but still continue to share Jesus.”I am never frightened about what will happen in the future for me,” says Paul, “because I understand that the Lord is with me and many, many people around the world are praying for me.”

Please pray for Paul and Stephen that their lives would bring others to Christ and that we too, will have never drifting faith.

Just a reminder:  we are going to start sending out email updates with excerpts of new stories and information we’ve added, along with links to the blog.  If you would like to join the mailing list, please let us know by commenting on this or any other post.  You won’t have to give your email address in the comment box, because that is required to post a comment anyway, and this way, only we will be able to see your email address. 

I just received this email from World Vision: 

By now, you’ve likely heard that a powerful 7.9 magnitude quake struck China two days ago, killing more than 12,000 and injuring tens of thousands.  Tens of thousands more are reported missing. 

We want to update you on the status of World Vision sponsorship projects in China.  Our nearest project is located more than 120 miles away from the area where the earthquake occurred and as of our last report, all sponsored children are safe.  However, World Vision staff members are on the ground in the affected area and are providing immediate aid to 10,000 survivors in the wake of the recent disaster. 

“People are going to need immediate supplies, such as temporary shelters, blankets, medicines, clothing, food and water,” said Victor Kan, World Vision’s emergency response director for China. 

A gift today will help us to respond quickly and effectively to provide Family Survival Kits, containing things like: 

  • Emergency food
  • Clean water
  • Blankets and temporary shelter
  • Cooksets

 

As World Vision teams respond to this latest disaster among so many others currently confronting the world, I ask you, our faithful sponspors, to join us in prayer.  Please pray for children and families in China who have been affected by this deadly earthquake, and pray that aid agencies like World Vision would quickly acquire the resources they need to come to the assistance of those who have been left devastated by this disaster. 

May God bless you,

Rich Stearns

President, World Vision U.S.

We are going to start sending out email updates with excerpts of new stories and information we’ve added, along with links to the blog.  If you would like to join the mailing list, please let us know by commenting on this or any other post.  You won’t have to give your email address in the comment box, because that is required to post a comment anyway, and this way, only we will be able to see your email address. 

Li Ying has been in prison since April 2001 because she was involved in publishing an underground church magazine.  Because she is not allowed to have a Bible in prison, pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort her and remind her of God’s Word.  Also, pray that she will be released and that the Chinese government will deal justly with her case; pray for her family, also, because her mother has not been allowed to visit her since September 2005.  For more information about Li Ying, follow this link http://www.prisoneralert.com/pprofiles/vp_prisoner_111_profile.html?_nc=dba8ce511cebc7f3062a04d71735853c

Source: Prisoner Alert

The following was taken from Compass Direct News: http://www.compassdirect.org/en/display.php?page=lead&lang=en&length=long&idelement=&backpage=&critere=&countryname=&rowcur=

Refugee testimonies in a report released this month by a U.S. government body confirm severe persecution of Christians throughout North Korea.

In the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) report, refugees said that Christianity remained a key factor in the interrogation of people repatriated from China to North Korea. Border guards reserved the harshest punishment for those who admitted having any contact with Chinese or South Korean Christians.

The report, released April 15, found that consequences are harsh for those found violating state policies on religion.

“For example, recently many North Korean refugees have Bibles with them when they are repatriated,” one refugee said. “In North Korea you can get away with murder if you have good connections. However, if you get caught carrying a Bible, there is no way to save your life.”

Most of the refugees interviewed said they had little exposure to religious activity before seeking asylum in China, although a few told stories of grandparents hiding a Bible or other religious literature – adding that punishment for owning a Bible could include execution and the imprisonment of “three generations” of the owner’s family.

“Worshiping God or [contact with foreign religious groups or leaders] would make one a political criminal,” another refugee confirmed. “The government believes that the Christian church is an anti-national organization.” Yet another stated categorically, “There is no freedom of belief or religion … [We are taught] that if one is involved in religion, one cannot survive.”

Former security agents interviewed for the report said authorities told them that U.S. or South Korean intelligence agencies distributed Bibles as part of a master plan to destabilize North Korea.

Based on interviews with North Korean refugees who have sought asylum in South Korea, the report confirms that some religious practices – of Christianity, Buddhism and traditional folk religion – have survived the repression of both Kim Il Sung and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il.

“The report provides evidence that the cult of personality surrounding Kim Jong Il and his family remains strong, and that Kim Jong Il’s regime perceives any new religious activity as a security threat to be combated at all costs,” according to a USCIRF statement. “As a result, stringent security measures have been enacted to stop the spread of religion, mostly Protestantism, through cross-border contacts with China.”

Refugees interviewed for the report also confirmed that the few official churches in Pyongyang were “sham” churches, and that articles in the North Korean constitution guaranteeing religious freedom were included solely for the benefit of an international audience.

Former North Korean security agents interviewed for the report said police had stepped up efforts to halt religious activity at the border. The North Korean government even provided basic theological training for border security guards, enabling them to identify and entrap North Korean converts.

“New believers” who have come to faith through contact with Christians in China are considered a greater threat than “old believers” who came to faith as a result of family tradition.

The Church – Alive and Well?

The report offers a rare perspective on the health of the North Korean church. Interviewees testified to secret church meetings and missionary activity; officials perceived both as threats to North Korean security.

The North Korean government has claimed there are a total of 512 house churches throughout the country, but one former police agent quoted in the report said while there were certainly “underground believers” in North Korea, it was far too dangerous for “underground churches” – gatherings of more than a handful of believers – to operate.

Refugees interviewed who had been to Pyongyang knew about the few official religious venues in the capital but said they were “showplaces” for foreigners, and not “real churches like those in China and South Korea.”

These same refugees knew of religious rights provisions in North Korean law but believed these were included for “show” and did not reflect reality. “We … learned in college about [legal] statutes regarding freedom of religion,” one refugee stated, “but the professors told us that it was only to show outsiders and that we should not believe in any religions.”

The constitution of North Korea “mentions freedom of belief or freedom of religion a lot,” another stated. “It’s quite different in reality. If you say the word ‘religion’ you could face consequences.”

Another refugee said the government did not allow independent religious organizations for fear that the regime would be endangered, because “religion erodes society.”

Cross-border contact with China has definitely contributed to the growth of the North Korean church in recent years. While it is impossible to measure this growth, some refugees interviewed for the report had attended prayer meetings, while former border guards had been instructed to set up false underground churches to attract Christian converts repatriated from China.

Refugees confirmed both religious activity and religious repression, consistently reporting that practitioners can be arrested, sent to political prison camps or executed.

“In 2003, an underground church called ‘Yuseon’ was uncovered,” one said. “In around 1999 or 2000, one lady went to China to earn some money and returned to North Korea carrying two Bibles with her. She was arrested and sent to the National Security Agency. Then, her whole family disappeared.”

Caught at the Border

Testimony confirmed that Christianity was a key factor in the interrogation of repatriated refugees. The admission of contact with Christians in China may result in torture, imprisonment in North Korea’s labyrinth of labor camps or execution.

Those who escape such punishment face ongoing surveillance and discrimination. Protestant Christians are targeted because of their historical connection with U.S. missionaries and their present connection with a vibrant Protestant population in South Korea.

Explaining the official North Korean viewpoint, a former security guard said that the United States was perceived as “controlling one-half of the Korean peninsula” and attempting to “use religion to get the other half.”

Following the years of famine, in 1999 the regime recognized that thousands of citizens had gone to China in search of food. Border security guards may now overlook cases where refugees have accepted merely food or shelter from Korean-Chinese churches.

But refugees have also got wiser in recent years; many have learned not to admit to such contact with religion in China.

 

 

We started this blog because we believe all followers of Christ are one body and as believers we should know what is going on in the world and we should be lifting each other up in prayer! 

We had always heard about Christians being persecuted for their faith, but we didn’t really know where to go to learn more about it and how to specifically pray for them.  Our goal is to help other Christians become actively involved in praying for the persecuted church.

As a part of training for a ministry trip that I was preparing to go on we went through a simulation that we were in a communist country and had to find our home church.  There were “soldiers” asking us where we were going and we couldn’t tell them.  Knowing that our “lives” would be endangered if they found out that we were going to church.  When we found our home church, we had to read our Bibles via cell phone light, as to not make us suspicious.  We could hear other “churches” being discovered and hear girls screaming. It was so real, and yet still a simulation.  I realized that this is the life of many believers overseas they endanger their lives every day for the sake for Christ. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake”(1:29 ESV).

We realize that it’s easy to overlook our brothers and sisters in Christ outside of the United States because their languages and cultures are so different from ours; they’re distant from us and easy to forget about, but their lives are entwined with ours because we belong to Christ.  Paul wrote: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:12, 26 (ESV)

It might not seem like we’re connected to those suffering for the name of Christ, but we are one body through the unity of the Holy Spirit; we want to invite you to read the posts, pray for your fellow Christians, and visit the links, so you can begin to see what it’s like for them to live every day with the threat of persecution.  We pray that, through this, we can all grasp a little better how glorious our God is and how deserving He is of our service and our suffering.