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Persecuted Church1. Violence against Christians in Sri Lanka

On March 25, a pastor and church worker were attacked by a man armed with a machete, according to a March 27 report from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka. The armed man barged into the Vineyard Community Church in the city of Pannala, North Western Province and slashed the men. Both believers sustained serious injuries. Local church members suspect the assailant previously burned the church’s electricity meter and attacked the caretaker. At last report, no arrest had been made.

During the past three months, members of the Assembly of God church in the town of Bulathkohupitiya, Sabaragamuwa Province have faced threats and intimidation from local villagers and Buddhist monks. The congregation is also being monitored. A petition for the church’s closure has reportedly been sent to the Ministry of Religious Affairs. As a result of the tension, many church members have been unable to meet together for worship.

Ask God to strengthen and heal those injured. Pray that suffering Christians in Sri Lanka will stand strong in faith and not give in to fear. Pray that their faithfulness will be a light that draws others to Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16).

For more information on the persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka, go to www.persecution.net/srilanka.htm.
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2. Orphanage burned, believers attacked in India

An orphanage in Bargarh district, Orissa, India that was torched by Hindu militants last August (see www.persecution.net/in-2008-08-27.htm) was burned to the ground a second time on March 20, according to a March 27 report from AsiaNews. The orphanage was placed under police surveillance following the August attack, during which a young teacher was thrown into the building and burned alive. However, police were not on site on the night the orphanage was set ablaze.

In the city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, a group of believers was attacked on March 27, according to All India Christian Council. Pastor Pramodam Joshua, his wife, his son and seven other church members were gathered in a believers’ home when three youths approached the owner of the building and threatened him for allowing the prayer service. Two youths confronted the Christians while they were traveling home and demanded to know why they were converting Hindus. Pastor Joshua and at least two other believers were beaten and injured.

Pray for lasting peace and stability in India. Ask God to heal the injured believers. Pray that God will embolden Indian Christians to be Christ-like examples to their persecutors.

To learn more about India’s suffering Christians, go to www.persecution.net/india.htm.
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3. Five Christians expelled from Morocco

Five female Christians, four Spanish and one German, were recently expelled from Morocco on accusations of “proselytizing” Muslims. According to a March 31 report from Compass Direct, the women were among a group of tourists who were arrested by police while gathered for Bible study in the city of Casablanca on March 28. Officials seized Christian material, including Arabic books and videos. The believers were questioned by police and detained until the early hours of the next day. The women, who were deemed missionaries by the government, were deported to Spain.

Pray for true religious freedom in Morocco. Ask God to give wisdom to these believers as to how to continue serving Him. Pray for the church as it continues to establish itself within Moroccan society (1 Timothy 3:15).

Find out more about the persecution Christians face in Morocco at www.persecution.net/morocco.htm.
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4. Update: Three Iranian converts sentenced

On March 10, a court in the Iranian city of Shiraz handed three converts to Christianity from Islam eight-month suspended prison sentences with five years probation, according to a March 31 report from Compass Direct. As part of the sentence, Seyed Allaedin Hussein, Homayoon Shokouhi and Seyed Amir Hussein Bob-Annari were ordered to discontinue their Christian activities. The judge warned the men, who were first arrested in May 2008 (see www.persecution.net/ir-2008-05-28.htm), that he will enforce their prison sentences and try them as “apostates” if they violate terms of their probation, which include a ban on contacting one another.
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5. Update: President signs restrictive religion law in Tajikistan

Tajikistan’s President, Emomali Rahmon, has signed a repressive new religion law that was first sent to parliament for approval in mid-November (see www.persecution.net/tj-2009-03-18.htm). The legislation, which violates the country’s constitution and international human rights obligations, has been harshly criticized by many human rights groups, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
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6. VOMC Persecuted Church Prayer Conference this weekend!

Don’t miss VOMC’s upcoming Persecuted Church Prayer Conference in Edmonton, Alberta this Saturday, April 4. Hear the testimony of guest speaker Mr. Kim, a man who served in the North Korean military until he came to know Christ and escaped to China. Learn more about the work of The Voice of the Martyrs in Korea from VOMC co-workers, Eric Foley and Ahn Hyun Sook. Be blessed through the music and worship led by violinist Trevor Dick. VOMC CEO, Glenn Penner, and Greg Musselman will also report on how the mission is serving the Persecuted Church worldwide. Find out more by phoning our office at 1.888.298.6423 or by checking out our conference brochure at www.persecution.net/download/2009confbroch.pdf.

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