Posts Tagged ‘Pray’
The following post originally appeared at Voice of the Martyrs. Let this report guide your prayers for Pastor Zhang, the members the church still imprisoned, and the rest of the church family suffering from threats and opposition. His trial is tomorrow, but be sure to pray today with the time change!
Three of the 12 Nanle County Christian Church members who have been imprisoned since mid-November 2013 have been released, but their pastor still faces a criminal trial on Feb. 12. The three women, Zhao Xiping, 47; Yang Miling, 40; and Sheyin Duanmu, 44, were released on Jan. 24 from Nanle County Detention Center.
Pastor Zhang Shaojie, 49, was arrested on Nov. 16 after a meeting with local government officials. About 20 people who protested the pastor’s arrest were detained or arrested in the following days.
The pastor now faces charges of “fraud” and “gathering a mob to disrupt public order.” Although he was allowed to see his attorney on Jan. 16, government officials have postponed his trial date of Jan. 28 to Feb. 12. Lawyers involved in the Nanle County case have been beaten and even threatened with having their credentials revoked. Local officials have also tried to prevent Zhang and other church members from hiring particular lawyers.
Pastor Zhang’s family and other church members have continued to face persecution from local government authorities. Zhang’s eldest daughter received harassing phone calls in which authorities threatened to “wipe out her entire family” for trying to contact higher authorities and report on the persecution of the church. Fearing for her life, she fled to another town with her husband and 10-month-old child.
Zhang’s youngest daughter was held in the detention center for a short period of time. The family’s Internet service was stopped and the tires on their vehicle were slashed in apparent attempts to prevent them from connecting with those outside the Nanle County area. The local government has also prohibited church members from worshiping at the church.
Among those still imprisoned is Wu Guishan, the 43-year-old husband of Zhao Xiping, one of the women just released from the detention center. The couple was detained in November because of their interaction with the church. They have two school-aged children. Their eldest daughter dropped out of school to try to locate Wu, who was taken by authorities when he tried to appeal his case. His location is currently unknown. The couple’s 15-year-old son was taken to an orphanage while his parents were imprisoned.
Posted on January 15th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
If you haven’t already seen, the 2014 World Watch List is out. With about twice as many Christian deaths due to persecution in 2013 as there were in 2014, watching where and how these violent trends grow is more important now than ever before. We ought to be well acquainted with the suffering of our brothers and sisters overseas so that we can better pray for and minister to them.
Sadly, North Korea’s prison camps and public executions earned it a number one spot for the 12th consecutive year. Syria, accounting for over 1,200 Christian deaths, continued it’s rapid climb from number 36 two years ago, coming in at number three in 2014. This is largely due to the ongoing civil war in which almost half of the fighting rebels come from Islamic extremist backgrounds. Overall, it’s hard to ignore the impact that Islamic extremism has had on the persecution of Christians. It is the main source of persecution in 36 of the top 50 countries ranked, as well as the reason that Bangladesh and Central African Republic were both newly added to the list.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the list. Remember the believers that live in these places and pray for them. Also, note that this is where the gospel is urgently needed… so pray for bold gospel proclamation resulting in the salvation of the persecutors.
This post originally appeared on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on the persecuted church and future Secret Church gatherings.
Posted on January 2nd, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
Last month, the issue of Christian persecution was brought before the UK House of Commons. To those of you who, like me, may initially find it puzzling that such a topic would be discussed and debated in the British Parliament, this sobering statistic will make it clear why: an estimated 200 million Christians will be persecuted this year, while around 500 million live in “dangerous neighborhoods.” In the words of Member of Parliament Bob Neill, specifically addressing persecution of Christians living in the Arab world (perhaps the most dangerous of “neighborhoods”), “It is legitimate, as a matter of policy, for us to seek to use our leverage to change that situation.” However the issue is addressed, it is here before us all as 2014 begins.
Thankfully, this global issue is catching the eye of more than just the British Parliament. Recently on BreakPoint, Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet discussed a new book by John Allen titled The Global War on Christians. In a short four-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) Metaxas and Stonestreet discussed a variety of topics covered in the book, ranging from the millions of Christians living in Muslim contexts, to Christian persecution from people with varied religious beliefs, to the rise of persecution in the West. If this short series doesn’t make you want to read Allen’s book, it will at least awaken your heart to the suffering of our brothers and sisters for whom persecution is far from myth or rumor.
And there are many who call persecution of Christians just that: myth and rumor. In reality, the notion that Christians aren’t persecuted or marginalized is the real myth. Timothy Shah (Fox News) recently showed this in an article that pinpointed some of the things that “cloud popular thinking” and make the general public blind to the hostility that Christians all over the world must endure on a daily basis.
All this in mind, here are some reminders for us this January:
- Persecution is real. Let’s be prayerful. (Jam 5:13) (1 Thes 5:17)
- Persecution is growing. Let’s be watchful. (Matt 24:9-13) (Col 4:2)
- Persecution is temporary. Let’s be hopeful. (Rom 8:18)
- Persecution is sometimes a sign of gospel advance. Let’s be thankful. (Phil 1:12-13) (Matt 24:14)
- Persecution is part of our identity with Christ. Let’s be joyful. (Rom 8:16-17)
This post was originally published on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out of updates and information on the persecuted church as well as Secret Church simulcasts.
Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
For Christians all over the world, today is a day to celebrate the coming of our Savior. And most of us are free to do that openly. Right now, many are gathering together with loved-ones, singing songs about the coming of the Messiah, feasting, celebrating. In fact, for many of us Christians, taking advantage of this religious freedom doesn’t stop at personal worship in our homes or churches; Christmas is an opportunity for gospel proclamation. We “tell it on the mountain” as we strike up gospel conversations using our seasonal surroundings, from our front yard nativity scenes featuring baby Jesus to our “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers. However, there are many believers who pay a high price for associating with Jesus during Christmas.
Last Christmas in Nigeria, 36 Christians were killed between December 24 and December 30, 6 of those deaths occurring at the hands of gunmen during a Christmas Eve service. Christmas 2011 saw the death of 44 Christian Nigerians.
These tragic killings happened in a place where people are often murdered for following Jesus, but Nigeria is just one of many places where such atrocities occur. And most instances of persecution don’t end up in believers’ deaths. Sometimes worse, their persecutors often make their lives miserable. So they limp on, repeatedly counting the cost and, with joy, daily taking up their cross.
Today, let us pray for these dear brothers and sisters. Whether they find themselves homeless and outcast in the Middle East or face-to-face with violent opposition in places like Nigeria or the Central African Republic, they need our prayers for God’s strength in their lives.
Over 2,000 years ago, when thousands of baby boys were murdered at the hands of King Herod, it was made clear that suffering and death were not to be strangers to Christmas. After all, Christ was born in the manger to die on the cross. And as encouraging confirmation to our brothers and sisters suffering this Christmas, let us remember Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 15:20: “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” God fulfilled His glorious purposes through Christ’s suffering, and in Jesus, we can be sure that God will do the same for Christ’s followers.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us… And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:16-18, 28-29
This post can be found at the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on Secret Church and the persecuted believers around the world.
Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Ronnie Smith, chemistry teacher at the International School Benghazi in Libya, was shot and killed yesterday morning while going on a jog. He was a member of the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. Below is an open letter regarding this tragedy, posted to the church on Austin Stone’s website. Let us join them in grief and prayer as we are inspired to emulate the example of sacrificial service Ronnie gives us, to the glory of God among all nations.
It is with a very heavy heart that we write to you today about the loss of our dear brother Ronnie Smith. Ronnie was shot and killed in Benghazi while going for a morning jog. We don’t fully understand the motives of his attackers. He had been teaching chemistry at the International School Benghazi in Libya for the last year and a half.
Before moving to Benghazi, Ronnie was a member of the church staff at the Austin Stone. Ronnie, his wife Anita, and his son are dearly loved by our church family; many of us knew Ronnie and his family well. Ronnie and his family were planning to spend time before Christmas with us here in Austin. Anita and their son had returned to the U.S. and are safe with family. Ronnie, out of a sense of dedication, had stayed in Libya to be with his students through their midterm exams.
Ronnie and his family moved to Benghazi to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people. Ronnie loved Libya and was dedicated to his students to help them aspire to their dreams. Ronnie’s greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.
Ronnie was a brother in Christ and a faithful servant of this church for many years. Although we grieve because we have lost a friend, a husband, and a father, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has a greater purpose than we can imagine right now. Though we don’t fully understand right now, we place our full trust in the one who does until we see our friend again.
For right now, we ask you to:
- Pray for Anita, Hosea, and the rest of Anita and Ronnie’s family
- Grieve for the loss of our brother with the hope of Christ
- Trust that God’s will is perfect and His purposes are good
If you happen to be contacted by news media, please refer them to Dave Barrett, our Executive Pastor.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together…” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
“… follow me.” – Luke 9:23
Posted on November 13th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
From the Multiply blog: E-laine lives in the Philippines and has requested we pray for them in the tragic wake of Typhoon Haiyan. She specifically asked that we pray for Gracetoration Christian Fellowship in Coron, Palawan, Philippines, a church that has used Multiply as a tool in their disciple-making. Recently, we were able to ask her some questions to better guide our prayers.
How are you connected with Gracetoration Christian Fellowship in the Philippines?
The Pastor of this church, Pastor Paul Dignadice is a dear friend of our family. He used to pastor our church in Metro Manila, but the Lord touched his heart to go back to his homeland, which is Coron, Palawan. He organized a group called “Jesus’ Young Followers” – discipling young men and women who will give glory to God and will make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples. I have volunteered as a Youth Leader under Pastor Paul’s leadership for 5 years but I am based here in Metro Manila.
Jesus’ Young Followers Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jesus-Young-Followers/192509407536603. We post updates on this page too.
How can the church here assist you? Include some specific prayer requests.
a. Pastor Paul’s house and other workers’ houses has been hit really bad by the storm – pray for provisions as they rebuild; pray for comfort, Strength (spiritual, emotional, physical), wisdom, and more love for the Lord as they continue to become living testimonies of Jesus’ love.
b. The church lost its roofing, walls, windows… pray for them as the church rebuilds.
c. The members of this church are taking care of others before themselves-their needs-their houses. Pray that the Lord will continue to comfort them, give them strength as they go around trying to help others.
d. They need provisions to do these things. please pray for provisions as they try to help others with food, clothing, shelter and provisions for their own needs.
e. Names of Pastors/workers there: they need prayers as they lead the congregation in sharing Jesus to those who lost their homes, businesses, and other possessions.
i. Pastor Paul Dignadice and family: (Pastor Paul’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.dignadice?fref=ts)
ii. Pastor Boy Garcia and family: https://www.facebook.com/bhoy.kitgarcia?fref=ts
iii. Pastor Romy Cruz and family: https://www.facebook.com/raski13?fref=ts
You mentioned taking this opportunity to share Jesus’ love with others. How is Gracetoration Christian Fellowship doing this?
a. They opened the doors of their church to those who totally lost their homes. The church is being used as a “half-way” house right now.
b. They are going around and distributing food to those who do not have any.
I know they have more stories to tell… but im just asking for prayers for them as they face this difficult time.
c. Electricity has not been restored for the town– pray that they will get it back soon.
- – - – -
As you pray for E-laine, Pastor Paul, and his team, also pray about potentially giving financially to the relief effort and the enormous material need it’s attempting to meet. We recommend giving to Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse, and Baptist Global Response… all ministries that specialize in disaster relief and long-term development, and all ministries that are currently on the ground in the Philippines.
Posted on November 12th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
The following excerpt is taken from a Washington Post blog post.
Though months ago such a move was threatened as Iranian officials pressured Pastor Saeed to recant his faith in Christ and convert to Islam, the transfer, which occurred Sunday, was abrupt and unexplained.
Pastor Saeed’s family in Iran who had been regularly able to visit him once a week was told he had inexplicably been transferred and was denied the ability to see him.
This deeply disturbing development not only cuts him off from contact with his Iranian family but poses a severe danger to Pastor Saeed’s life.
One diplomat described Rajai Shahr Prison in these unmistakably grave terms:
“Rajai Shahr is the place where political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance, are stowed away. Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the press. In Rajaï Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don’t hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence.”
To read the entire post, click here.
For regular updates on Saeed Abedini, check out the Be Heard Project.
For this post and others on the persecuted church, as well as updates and information on Secret Church gatherings, check out the Secret Church blog.
Posted on October 11th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
All believers are called to make disciples, and this is why we gather for Multiply. However, the context in which making disciples occurs doesn’t always look the same. This reality could not be pictured more starkly than it is in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that exists between North and South Korea.
Recently, Francis and David got the opportunity to visit the DMZ, and they talk about this experience in the first video below. For most of the world, this is as close as you can come to North Korea and the immense amount of suffering taking place within. World Watch List lists North Korea as the most difficult country on earth to be a Christian. On the other hand, South Korea contains large numbers of professing Christians, though like the American context, the church there faces its own challenges, including materialism and shallow discipleship.
In the first video below, David and Francis urge us to love and pray for those just across the border in North Korea, waging spiritual battle on their behalf. In the second video, David leads us in a prayer that the gospel would go forth in this hostile and dark land.
Posted on October 10th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
An Afghan public official recently said, “Numerous Afghans have become Christians in India. This is an offense to Islamic laws, and according to the Quran, they need to be executed.” According to news sources, this is just the latest of numerous such statements, all calling for extreme measures in resisting and suppressing the spread of Christianity among Afghans.
This most recent statement, made by Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, specifically referred to Christian conversions in India, a country that has become a sort of haven for 200-250 Afghan Christians living in Delhi. Afghan Christians who fled to Delhi were originally welcomed and assisted by the Delhi Bible Fellowship, but due to the safety concerns that came with their presence, the Afghan believers have since established their own separate church – the Afghan Church of New Delhi.
To make matters worse, India is not obligated to grant asylum to our Afghan brothers and sisters. This often makes simple tasks like buying a SIM card or renting a room precarious. This predicament probably weighs heavily on Afghan believers, because, as evidenced by Hanafi’s statement, the Afghan government isn’t oblivious to what’s happening in New Delhi. Many members of parliament are outraged that Afghan Christians in India are sharing the gospel with other Afghan visitors or residents. To them, any threat of conversion is a threat to Afghan culture. As a result, the Afghan National Security Committee is investigating the situation further.
All this simply goes to show that the Afghan government is staunchly committed to Islamic law and actively opposed to Christian conversion. This obviously has huge implications for Christians in Afghanistan as well as abroad; our prayers ought to reflect these implications.
- … for Afghan Christians to be both bold and wise as they live out their faith in an extremely hostile environment.
- … for Afghans abroad to come to know the Lord and grow strong in their faith, unashamed of the gospel and intentional in their declaration of it.
- … for the church abroad to to support the Afghan church wherever it may be – Afghanistan, India, the US, or anywhere in between.
- … for missionaries in Afghanistan to act wisely as they faithfully share the Word and encourage Afghan believers.
- … for Christ to be exalted by Afghan Christians in Afghanistan and in all nations.
This post originally appeared on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on Secret Church gatherings and the persecuted church.
Posted on October 1st, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
The following report was originally published as an Open Doors prayer update. Be encouraged by the grace our God has shown to our brothers and sisters in Syria. Thank God that he continually intends for good what men intend for evil (Gen 50:20), and at the same time, pray for continued zeal and faithfulness in the Syrian church.
No one who watches the news reports on Syria would expect to meet a Syrian pastor almost bursting with joy and optimism in these times. Yet, that is exactly what happened when our local partner of Open Doors (OD) met with one of the Syrian pastors involved in the Open Doors relief work in Syria.
“In all my years as a pastor, I have not seen ministry in Syria with this intensity,” the pastor from the Western Syrian city of Tartus enthusiastically exclaimed. “Don’t misunderstand me—no matter how you look at it, the war is horrific and evil in every way possible. Yet, in parallel, the church is being changed and transformed.” In the midst of the horrors of civil war, God is doing a mighty work in Syria. “This crisis has brought revival no one could dream of,” remarked one Syrian believer. Another added, “It’s like the book of Acts all over again!”
Remarking on the church’s expanding ability to reach into the community, the Tartus pastor’s church says, “We have reached geographic areas that we have never dreamed of before. The number of families and homes we’ve reached, entered and engaged with is incredible. They are people from all religious groups and denominations. It is not that they don’t care that we’re Christians. They really appreciate who we are.”
Where serving was once confined to the pastor and a handful of people in the church, “now the whole congregation is on fire and all are participating in the ministry—of their own volition. This is not the situation in my church only. This is the situation of an increasing number of churches.”
The barriers between churches from different denominations have also broken down. From an evangelical denomination, this pastor previously had no contact with the traditional churches. “Our relationship with the historical churches is improving. I’m now in direct contact with two priests—a Maronite and a Syrian Orthodox. We meet and coordinate together regularly.” An Evangelical Christian who was once skeptical about the traditional churches adds, “There is no such thing as nominal Christians in this situation; hearts are turning to God.”
Relationships are, according to the pastor, also being strengthened within the wider evangelical church. “In fact, we have plans for a sort of roundtable meeting where we share about what we’re doing and find ways to complement each other’s work—rather than duplicate efforts.”
The pastor reports that Facebook has become an important contact point with Syrians throughout the Arab World who are looking for ways to help their fellow Syrians. As a result, Syrians in the diaspora are contributing to hardship cases that need medical assistance.
“Today the genuine and practical care that the people are seeing in our ministry is transforming people’s view of us as Christians,” notes the pastor. “Those who did not want to have anything with us before now trust us.” Government officials are also pleased with how the church is helping the people. “In the church I see the increase in voluntary spirit. For instance, in our church, we are now preparing for remedial classes at the church for the children of Internally Displaced People (18 years and below) who missed out on their school so we can help them get back on board. We also start offering health care at the church with volunteering doctors.”
This Open Doors prayer update was originally reposted on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on Secret Church gatherings and the persecuted church.
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