Children detained in Iran

January 5, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Iranian ChristiansIran, January 03, 2012: The Iranian authorities raided a Christmas service in Ahwaz on 23 December, detaining everyone in the church, including the children. The youngsters were said to be severely distressed by the incident, during which the security agents had their faces covered.

The entire congregation from the long-established, official church was herded onto two buses; the majority were interrogated and threatened, and eventually released once their personal details had been recorded. Four – the senior pastor and his wife, and two other church leaders – were held in custody. The pastor’s wife has since been released, but the whereabouts and condition of the other three remains unknown.

Christmas services disrupted in China

An unofficial Christmas Day service staged in a public square in Langzhong city, China, was broken up by around 20-30 police officers who fired tear gas at worshippers, detaining three of them.

Elsewhere in China, more than 30 members of Shouwang Church, which has been staging outdoor services in Beijing since April, were detained by police for taking part in a public Christmas gathering.

And a meeting of around 50 members from unregistered churches (“house churches”) to plan their Christmas gathering in Dongyang, Zhejiang Province, was raided. Four people were detained, including the pastor, who, along with his son, was beaten.  

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas, said:

Once again, for many Christians around the world, the Christmas season has been a time not of peace and joy but of violence and hostility. Please pray for our brothers and sisters who have been attacked, and especially for the Christians of Northern Nigeria, who were threatened by Boko Haram on Sunday that they must leave by Wednesday. Boko Haram’s track record of violence makes it all too likely that they will follow up this threat with a religious cleansing of the North. Please pray urgently for the protection of Christians in Northern Nigeria at this time.

Please Pray

That Christians in Nigeria will be protected from the unceasing and brutal violence of Boko Haram, which they have had to endure for so long. Pray in particular that Boko Haram will not follow up their threat with religious cleansing in the North after their deadline expires on Wednesday.
That the Lord will bring healing and comfort to Ugandan pastor Umar Mulinde.
That all those injured and distressed by anti-Christian attacks over Christmas will know the Lord Jesus as their “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6b).
That those still being held in detention in Iran and China will soon be released.

– barnabas team

Russia protests give courage to Christians

Project Hope gift boxes

Project Hope gift boxes

Russia, January 04, 2012: Russian leaders are facing a dilemma. Do they try to quash protestors, or do they just let them go? Three weeks ago, thousands of people took to the streets of Russia protesting what they called “rigged” parliamentary elections. 100,000 people repeated that on Christmas Eve. Yet, another demonstration took place New Years Day, but this time they were met by hundreds of police in full riot gear. At least 60 demonstrators were detained.

Wally Kulakoff with Russian Ministries says, “They marched against politics, against the economy, against fraud. What we have today is a group of middle-classed young people who are dissatisfied with the direction Russia is going.”

The latest string of protests are in response to what demonstrators call ballot stuffing and vote rigging by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. Many inside Russia believe the protests will continue after the holidays are over in a few weeks.

Despite the latest uncertainty, Kulakoff seems encouraged by what’s happening in the nation–not that the demonstrations are taking place, but for another reason. “If the government allows such protests, then the government will continue to allow the evangelical church to hold evangelistic campaigns. The Russian Evangelical Church was afraid to do this. These demonstrations have given them hope and have given them an idea that they can be a part of the process.”

When communism fell, many evangelicals were poor and isolated from society. Today, that’s different. “The evangelical group is now the middle class of society. We have a middle class of society. We have middle class young people who are educated. We’ve got lawyers, people in medicine, people in the arts, we’ve got people in politics. They want to be part of the process,” says Kulakoff.

The most recent unrest, says Kulakoff, is a great reminder for Christians around the world to pray for Russia and the problems that nation is facing both politically and more importantly, spiritually.

Kulakoff is especially asking for prayer for their Project Hope Christmas gift outreach which will come to an end around January 7th, which is Orthodox Christmas in Russia. Russian Ministries had hoped to distribute 50,000 gifts this year. But, Kulakoff says, “We’re anticipating an increase of about 10,000. We hope that 60,000 children can be reached. And, we need help today. A gift box is $25, which includes a pictorial New Testament or a [written] New Testament.”

– mnn

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