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Prayers for August 23, 2005

August 23, 2005

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts…” (Romans 5:3-5)

From The Voice of the Martyrs
The Voice of the Martyrs Visit:

Pray for CHINA
On August 16th, beloved house-church pastor Allen Yuan was whisked from his earthly life into eternal life with Christ. In 1946, with the help of a Norwegian pastor, Allen Yuan started a church in a rented hall and every year saw some 20 to 50 people come to Christ and be baptized. In 1950, after Mao Tse-Tung came to power and began the communist regime, a number of church leaders met with Premier Zhou En Lai, and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) was born. It continues today as a government instrument that seeks to control religious life and inhibit evangelism. Allen Yuan was among 11 preachers who refused to join the TSPM; and in 1955, they were all put in prison. Allen Yuan, who was 46 at the time, was given a life sentence. He was sent to a labor camp near the Russian border, where it was very cold, the food was bad, and the work was hard; but during his 22-year sentence, he was never sick. In prison he had no Bible, and there were no other Protestant Christians. His wife suffered untold hardships in bringing up their children. After his release in 1979, he continued to be encouraged by Psalm 27 as he went through all kinds of difficulties and threats created by government officials and the police. (Click here)

Give thanks to God for the example of this faithful servant who is now in the presence of his Savior. Pray his life story will continue to inspire and encourage Christians all over the world. Pray the witness of Christians like Allen Yuan will draw authorities in China into a relationship with Christ.

Pray for IRAN
IRAN (Compass Direct)
Eleven months after Iranian police arrested Hamid Pourmand for converting to Christianity, authorities at Tehran’s Evin Prison continue to pressure the former Muslim to return to Islam. Pourmand faces at least two more years in jail for his conversion. He was acquitted of apostasy charges before an Islamic court in the southern port city of Bandar-i Bushehr in May, but he remains under verbal pressure from Tehran prison officials to recant his Christian faith. The lay pastor is serving a three-year military court sentence for “deceiving the Iranian armed forces” by allegedly concealing his conversion to Christianity 25 years ago. Iranian law forbids non-Muslims from holding positions as officers over Muslims in the armed forces. Pourmand has been allowed two official prison leaves since the end of June. “His family was very grateful for these days together,” said a source in touch with Pourmand’s family, which has no regular source of income apart from the support of various Christians.

Pray Pourmand will remain faithful under the constant pressure to return to Islam. Praise God that he was given some time with his family. Pray his witness of faith and love will lead others to Christ.

Pray for VIETNAM
VIETNAM (Compass Direct)
Last week Vietnamese prison authorities offered to release Mennonite pastor Nguyen Hong Quang if he would confess to a crime for which he is serving a three-year sentence. In March 2004, Rev. Quang confronted two plainclothes policemen who had harassed some of his workers, the basis of his conviction in November 2004 for “interfering with officers doing their duty.” On August 9th, authorities took Rev. Quang 155.3 miles to another prison to offer him freedom, but he refused to sign a declaration of guilt. Publicity over Rev. Quang’s case has embarrassed the Vietnamese government, as it is urgently trying to show the world a kinder face in its treatment of religious groups. (Click here)

Praise God for His faithful servant Rev. Quang, who refuses to deny his Lord and Savior. Pray his example will inspire many Christians to be bold in their faith. Pray this incident will be used as evidence to other world governments of Vietnam’s lack of religious freedom.

The Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) discussed a “problem” at their four-day national congress the last week of July. According to the Jakarta Post, the clerical delegation was concerned Christian preachers were converting Muslims “at an alarming rate.” They were “most disturbed” by “the phenomenon of the construction of churches.” Demonstrating the extent hard-liners have infiltrated and now control the MUI, the congress released an 11-point fatwa (edict) denouncing liberal interpretations of Islam, secularism and pluralism as un-Islamic, and promoting a hard-line, intolerant orthodox Islam that denies equality to women and non-Muslims. As Indonesia’s highest Islamic authority, the MUI is responsible for Muslim doctrine in the country. According to Jubilee Campaign, the MUI receives some 5 billion Rupees (nearly US$600,000) of government funding annually. Meanwhile, 35 churches have been closed in West Java since the MUI issued their fatwa, and Dr Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun remain imprisoned without bail in West Java on charges of “Christianization” of Muslim children. If convicted, the women (who altogether have eight children) face up to five years in prison, and Christians would subsequently be risking imprisonment when introducing Muslim minors to Christ.

Pray God will protect the three imprisoned Sunday school teachers and their children, giving them quiet comfort and wisdom as they prepare for their weekly appearance in court. Pray Indonesia’s pastors will be drawn closer to God and His spirit of unity with each other and their congregations. Pray God will use President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla as His instruments to preserve religious liberty in Indonesia.

On August 13th, Forum 18 News Service Central Asia Correspondent, Igor Rotar, was deported from Uzbekistan’s Tashkent Airport. According to his account, Rotar was detained for two days at the airport by representatives of Uzbek authorities who initially tried to force him to leave the country “voluntarily” at his own expense, thus avoiding an official deportation. Rotar said his detention began August 11th, when his name came up on a computer list of “undesirable” persons that was compiled by the Uzbek National Security Service secret police. At the airport he was isolated in an area where there was a telephone but he was not allowed to contact anyone, even the embassy of his own country, Russia. Uzbek law allows a detained foreigner the right to contact his embassy. When Rotar refused to leave voluntarily, he was given an official order that did not state the reason for his deportation but stated, “Entry to the Republic of Uzbekistan closed.” Forum 18 News Service stated, “The Uzbek government has thus unintentionally shown how religious freedom is an excellent ‘litmus test’ of the state of human rights in any society. It has also caused world attention to be focused once more on the very serious human rights abuses committed by the Uzbek government.”

Pray God will use this unfavorable publicity to lighten the Uzbek government’s restrictions on religious freedom in their country. Pray Jesus will reveal to Igor Rotar His plans for his future.Pray for all Uzbeks caught in the bondage of Islam with no knowledge of our merciful God.

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