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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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The Persecution & Prayer Alert
The Voice of the Martyrs, Canada
www.persecution.net

Persecuted Church

A weekly news digest on the Persecuted Church and how you can respond.

Tough times require tough faith. Find out more at www.persecution.net/newsletter.

Subscribe to the RSS feed at www.persecution.net/pnp.xml.
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In this week’s edition: Reports from Nigeria, India and Egypt, with updates from Pakistan and Sri Lanka
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1. Christians killed, property destroyed in Bauchi, Nigeria

At least 11 people were killed, over 1,500 displaced, and dozens of homes and churches burned during a weekend of violence in Bauchi state, Nigeria, according to a February 23 report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide. When a mosque was set on fire in the early hours of February 21, Muslims blamed Christians and began attacking believers and destroying their property. However, local Christians believe the mosque’s destruction was the work of Muslim militants seeking a pretext to attack Christians in retaliation for the loss of Muslim lives in Jos (see www.persecution.net/ng-2008-12-03.htm). According to local sources, some of the displaced believers have taken shelter in military barracks and are without sufficient food and water. Although a curfew was imposed in the area, attacks continued for several days and believers fear further violence.

Pray for lasting peace in Nigeria. Pray for healing for those injured and provision for those displaced. Pray that believers will be Christ-like in how they interact with their Muslim neighbours.

To find out more about how Christians are persecuted in Nigeria, go to www.persecution.net/nigeria.htm.
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2. Pastors arrested in Madhya Pradesh, India

Three pastors were arrested in recent weeks in Madhya Pradesh, India for their alleged involvement in selling a book offensive to Hindus at a January conference in Anuppur district. Two individuals were selling books entitled “Secularism and Hindutva” near the site of the three-day prayer conference. A group of Hindu militants purchased a copy, brought it to the local police station and filed a complaint against the conference’s organizer, Pastor Paulose. After explaining to police that he was unaware that the books were being sold, Pastor Paulose was reprimanded and released. However, on February 25 he was again arrested. At last report he was denied bail and was being held at the Chachai police station.

On February 19, two other pastors were arrested for “deliberate and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings” in connection with the complaint about the book. At last report, one was being held at the Shadol district jail while the other was freed on bail.

Pray for the release of the imprisoned pastors. Ask God to give them and other suffering believers in India grace, wisdom and endurance as they serve Him (1 Peter 5:10).

To learn more about Indian Christians under fire for their faith, visit www.persecution.net/india.htm.
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3. Egyptian convert to Christianity fighting for recognition of his faith

A convert to Christianity from Islam, Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary (56), is currently involved in a legal battle to obtain identification papers that recognize his Christian faith, according to a February 26 report from Compass Direct. More than 20 Islamic lawyers attended a February 22 hearing where they advocated that El-Gohary be convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death. The lawyers submitted memos that allegedly asserted that cases like El-Gohary’s were part of a U.S. Zionist attack on Islam in Egypt. The documents also claimed that Christianity is inferior to Islam and stated that Christians protect and defend converts from Islam at their own peril. Fearing an attack, El-Gohary did not attend the proceedings. He had attempted to obtain papers authorizing his attorney to act as his proxy representative in court but when he went to the registry office to sign the papers he was beaten by officials. El-Gohary has been attacked several times during his legal battle and he and his 14-year-old daughter have received death threats. At last report, he was in hiding.

El-Gohary’s fight for legal recognition of his Christian faith was sparked by his concern for his daughter, who will be issued her national identity card in approximately a year. Unless his documents are changed, she will be subject to Islamic law, which would include denying her the right to marry a Christian. At present, she has to attend Islamic classes at school despite her Christian faith.

Pray for safety and protection for El-Gohary and his daughter. Pray that Egyptian Christians will be allowed to express their true religious identity in a spiritually hostile environment.

For more information on the persecution of Christians in Egypt, go to www.persecution.net/egypt.htm.
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4. Update: Charges filed against kidnappers in Pakistan

The abductors of two Pakistani Christian sisters, Saba and Aneela (see www.persecution.net/pk-2008-10-29.htm), were charged on February 21 with kidnapping, trespassing and threatening the girls’ family, according to a February 26 report from Compass Direct. The charges come after the three kidnappers entered the property of the girls’ parents in late December and threatened to kill the family and burn down their house. In spite of the judge’s decision, at last report the local police had yet to arrest the three men.
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5. Update: Sri Lanka defers anti-conversion bill debate

VOMC was pleased to learn that the debate on a religious-conversion bill in Sri Lanka’s parliament (see www.persecution.net/lk-2009-01-21.htm) has been deferred amid opposition from Christians. According to UCANews, a parliamentary committee comprised of Christian parliamentarians and leaders of political parties examined the bill on February 18 and agreed that it could have serious consequences on religious activities, spark interreligious conflict and possibly violate the country’s constitution.

Pandu Bandaranayake, the Minister of Religious Affairs, confirmed Christians have called for more clarity on some words in the bill and so, despite opposition from the Buddhist-led party, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), the bill will be re-examined by the Ministry’s religious consultative committee.

Continue to pray for Christians in Sri Lanka, as it is believed that this relief will be only temporary and that there will be considerable pressure by the JHU to bring back the bill virtually unchanged for debate.

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Persecuted ChurchPlease Sign

International Christian Concern is gathering signatures for a new petition, Protect Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka. The petition will be delivered to Jaliya Wickramasuriya, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States, to urge immediate action on an anti-conversion bill that will restrict religious freedom and could (due to its broad language) also restrict any form of humanitarian assistance from religious groups.

Similar measures in Indian states like Orissa have served to legitimize the persecution of Christians.

You can help and it only takes 2 minutes. Just follow the link below to sign the petition and your voice, combined with many others, will make a difference on this issue. We need you to stand up and make your voice heard – this issue is too important not too!

Review, print, or sign the petition here: http://www.persecution.org/suffering/petitions.php

China

China (MNN) ― China’s government-recognized church organizations say they are willing to support the country’s house churches by providing them with Bibles. Yet a recent scenario tells a completely different story.

Katherine Cason with China Aid Association shared this information about a case they’ve been following. “This story comes from a Christian house church leader named Mrs. Cheng Fengying. Her house was seized illegally. Her accusation is that the government, in collusion with the TSPM, has seized her house; not only that, but for a number of years, they persecuted her and her house church.”  For the rest of the article click here

India

Believers arrested on Hindu radicals complaint, Chickmagalur

Chickmagalur, 24 Feb 2009: Two women believers from a Church, Ravuru village, N.R. Pura Taluk in Chickmagalur district have been arrested on charges of alleged forceful conversion at 9:30 a.m. this morning. K.P. Mary (34) and Sangamma (49) were being visited by Panamma and her daughter Vasanthi, two new believers from the Jail Building Area. Hindu radical groups from the area spotted the women and lodged a complaint alleging forceful conversion in the N.R. Pura Police Station against Mary and Sangamma. They have been taken into custody and are still in the police station as GCIC is trying to get them released. read more

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Attacks on Christian places of worship are on the rise again this time the flash point being Kalutara with Buddhist monk-led mobs allegedly issuing death threats to pastors….

To read more go to:

New Petition for Sri Lanka Christians

Buddhist monks have once again introduced an anti-conversion bill to restrict conversions in Sri Lanka.

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Heritage Party), which is led by Buddhist monks, introduced the bill under the title “Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Bill” on Tuesday, January 6. The bill was first introduced in the Sri Lankan parliament in 2004, and was subsequently challenged in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the bill was valid except for two clauses, and since then the bill had remained in committee after being revised in accord with the Court’s ruling.

Reports indicate that the bill will be debated in parliament in February and is likely to pass. Though proponents claim that the bill would only restrict “fundamentalist” groups from using monetary rewards or coercive methods to convert people, the language is so broad that it would criminalize any form of humanitarian assistance from religious groups.

The bill is especially concerning because it is the culmination of a widespread pattern of violent attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka (see photo of a church in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo attacked in July 2008). Similar measures enacted in several Indian states such as Orissa have led to an increase in attacks on Christians. If this bill is passed, it would likely serve to legitimize anti-Christian persecution.

Here’s How You Can Help

#1 Pray: The first thing you can do to help is stop right now and ask the Lord to intervene.

#2 Next, review our petition. Sri Lankan officials are concerned about their relationship with the United States and other Western countries, so when the people shout, they will listen. We have also found that evil prefers to stay hidden and when we shine the light on it, it flees.

#3 Electronically sign the petition by clicking here.

#4 Print out the petition and take it to your church and have everyone you know sign it. Send it back to us so we can present it to the Sri Lankan Ambassador. Feel free to print out extra signature pages for large numbers of sign ups. When you have collected all your signatures, please mail the signature pages to :

ICC

PO Box 10277

Silver Spring, MD 20914-0277

or fax them to us (301-989-1709).

Please get them back to us by March 12.

#5 Forward this email to all your email contacts and ask them to do the same.

Sincerely in Christ,

Jeff King

President, ICC

International Christian Concern

P.O. Box 10277

Silver Spring, MD 20914-0277

Phone: (800) ICC-5441

Fax: (301) 989-1709

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