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VOM News and Prayer Update: August 29

August 29, 2006

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galations 6:2)

CHINA
(Compass Direct)
On August 17th, Chinese authorities released Zan Aizong, a journalist who reported the Hangzhou City police using force to demolish an unregistered church building and beating hundreds of believers on July 29th. Zan, the former China Ocean News Zhejiang Province bureau chief, was arrested on August 11th for “spreading rumors and disturbing social order.” Two days before his arrest, Zan received a notice from his employer that he was “no more suitable for the job.” As a journalist, Zan said in a telephone interview on August 20th, “my responsibility is to report the truth, even though it means losing my job.” According to Yu Jie, a founder of the Beijing Church of Ark, Zan was recently baptized in a house church in Hanzhou. Yu believes Zan’s experience in jail will only make him identify more with the plight of the believers.

Give thanks to God for Zan’s release. Pray the Lord will provide a job for him and allow him to continue his ministry of countering the lies of the enemy. Pray Jesus will use Zan’s increased compassion for suffering Christians to bring relief to many believers.

INDIA
(VOM sources)
Official sources reported that on August 20th, one person was killed and five others injured when unidentified persons fired at a congregation in Churachandpur district of Manipu. Evening services were being held in the Evangelical Baptist Church in Vengnuom area when some armed persons in combat dress came in a vehicle and started firing in the direction of the church. The incident happened when armed persons in a van were challenged by armed miscreants near the church. Immediately after they were challenged, the occupants of the van, whom local residents suspect to be security forces in mufti, emerged from the vehicle and started indiscriminate firing towards the church which was filled with people. One believer died at the spot, while another succumbed to his injuries at the district hospital. Four others were injured. In addition, one man was hurt when he was knocked down by someone evacuating the injured on a scooter.

That same day, Pastor Jwala was conducting a morning worship service in Sheopur near Jhalsy when a group of radicals with a local leader entered the meeting with hockey sticks and mercilessly attacked Pastor Jwala and members of the congregation. After the brutal attacks, they were taken to the police station where pastor Jwala was booked under the Anti Conversion Law. Bail was not granted to the victims.

Pray God will comfort with His deep peace those who mourn for the dead. Pray the Lord Jesus will touch the injured with His healing power. Pray the Christians will be faithful witnesses of the love and forgiveness of their enemies, leading them to repentance and salvation.

MALAYSIA
(ASSIST News Service)
Lina Joy (42), who was born Azlina Jailani to Malay parents, converted from Islam to Christianity when she was 26. Since Malaysian law requires a Muslim’s religious matters to be decided in a Sharia (Islamic) Court, Lina had to get a certificate from the Sharia Court to show she had permission to convert to Christianity. As long as Lina is officially identified as a Muslim she is legally compelled to marry a Muslim man in a Muslim ceremony and be subject to Islamic Laws, including Islamic family law. Lina has been fighting for her rights. Two earlier court cases were dismissed, so her counsel is now challenging the decision in the Federal Court. The Federal Court ruling will clarify whether the religious freedom of Malaysia’s Muslims is determined by the Constitution (which gives liberty) or Sharia (which denies it). The decision is still pending. As all Malays (50 percent of the population) are defined by the Constitution as Muslim, religious freedom is thereby denied them from birth on racial grounds.

Meanwhile, in the northern state of Kelantan, state-funded Islamic missionaries are receiving financial incentives to convert tribal Orang Asli people to Islam. Islamic missionaries who agree to live and work among them will receive free housing, a monthly allowance of 1,000 ringgit (US$270) and a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Those who marry tribal women will be given 10,000 ringgit (US$2,700).

Pray God will give Prime Minister Badawi the courage to stand for justice and religious liberty. Pray the Holy Spirit will move in the hearts of the judges to enable Lina Joy and all Malaysians to enjoy freedom to live under God’s law without interference. Pray Malaysian Christians will be filled with supernatural love for those who oppose them, allowing them to see the One who loves them and longs to draw them close to Himself.

PAKISTAN
(Compass Direct)
In an attempted land-grab, Muslim attackers have terrorized a predominantly Christian village in Pakistan’s Punjab province over the past two weeks and demolished its church. Three Christian men were hospitalized with serious hatchet wounds from an initial August 7th attack on a village 20 miles southwest of Lahore. The Muslim aggressors, led by Yaqoob Maher, came from a neighboring village. Another critically injured Christian, Bashir Masih, was abducted and remains missing since a second assault on the village on August 12th, when he tried to stop armed attackers from stealing his cattle. When Christian villagers tried to file an official complaint against the assailants, Sharaqpur police instead filed an official complaint against 10 of the villagers, accusing the Christians of “opening fire” on Maher.

Pray the power of the Holy Spirit will give these villagers boldness and zeal for the Lord, not allowing the Muslims to have victory over their minds. Pray the Lord will keep Bashir Masih safe and quickly return him to his village. Pray for the Muslims whose eyes have been blinded by the enemy of their souls.

UZBEKISTAN
(Forum 18)
Uzbekistan intends to impose massive fines and jail people and the leaders of their religious communities for sharing their beliefs outside places of worship. The proposals were made at an August 4th meeting of religious leaders, called by the state Religious Affairs Committee. Those attending the meeting were representatives of state-registered religious organizations, including the Spiritual Administration of Muslims in Uzbekistan, the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Central Asia, the Catholic Church in Tashkent, the Jewish community, the Baptist Union and the Full Gospel Church. All unregistered religious activity is illegal in Uzbekistan. The state Religious Affairs Committee told the religious leaders that they and their clergy must stop their members and those who regularly attend places of worship from sharing their beliefs with anyone outside their churches. The fine for sharing their beliefs would be between 200 and 600 times the minimum monthly salary. Persistent proselytizing would impose jail sentences between three and eight years on them and their religious leaders. Leaders of religious communities are fearful of openly attacking the proposals because of the danger of reprisals against their communities by the authorities. There is currently a crackdown on religious believers of many faiths taking place in Uzbekistan.

Pray all Christians will be emboldened to obey God rather than man. Pray their witness will confound the authorities as they see the power of Jesus through the life of His followers. Pray our merciful God will bless thousands of people in Uzbekistan with every spiritual blessing in the knowledge of Christ their Savior.

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