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2008-07-24 12:23:23, CHINA -- House Church Leader and Family Evicted from Home

On July 2, Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers evicted prominent house church leader Pastor Hua Huiqi and his family from their home in Beijing, China.

According to China Aid Association (CAA), "Hua and his family were resting in their rental apartment when PSB officials led by Officer Yang Jian used a 10-pound hammer to break down the doors and locks of the apartment. Hua's brother was beaten by police officers and suffered severe damage to his eye. Hua and his family, including his 90-year-old father, were forced onto the street with their furniture. They are currently in search of a new home and are being hosted by a Christian family in Beijing."

According to CAA, "The Chinese government has expressed its intentions to either detain Hua until September 30, a date well after the Olympics, or to remove Hua and his family completely out of Beijing during the Games. The Chinese government had branded Hua and other human rights and religious activists as 'troublemakers' and is adamant about keeping such people from attending the games in August."

"We have predicted that things like this would happen ahead of the Beijing Olympics," said Todd Nettleton, Director of Media Development for The Voice of the Martyrs. "The Chinese government is determined that there will be no distractions and no embarrassment when the eyes of the world turn to Beijing next month. Our Christian brothers and sisters, like Brother Hua and his family, are not 'troublemakers,' as China's government says. They are simply Christian people who want the freedom to follow Christ according to their conscience."

This recent incident is the latest in a series of attacks, arrests and imprisonments Pastor Hua and his family have endured from the PSB. In January 2007, Hua and his 76-year-old mother, Shuang Shuying, were attacked and wounded by seven police officers while walking near a 2008 Olympic hotel site in Beijing. CAA reported, "They were kicked to the ground and later taken to the Olympic police station for questioning." Hua's mother was sentenced to two years in prison, while Hua served six months. In October, while under house arrest, Hua was repeatedly attacked and beaten by police at his home. CAA reported, "Hua was reading his Bible at his home despite police surrounding his house. He was sent to Beijing Tiantan Hospital because he lost consciousness after repeated beatings from the police."

Shuang Shuying remains in prison and is very ill. According to CAA she is being held in a medical center because her health has deteriorated. "The doctor said she is too weak to send to a formal prison because of heart problems, diabetes and other medical problems," CAA reported.VOM contacts say she is being held hostage by police in order to put pressure on Pastor Hua to reveal names and information of believers.

VOM encourages you to pray for believers in China. Pray for Hua's family who are living under intense persecution. Ask God to watch over his elderly parents who are great examples of faith and courage. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict the persecutors and draw them into the knowledge of Jesus Christ.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, Christians Abducted at Gunpoint by Muslim Extremists

PAKISTAN -- On June 21, 16 Christians were abducted by Muslim extremists when they gathered to pray in Academy Town, Peshawar, Pakistan.

According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts in Pakistan, "Salamat Masih and 30 of his family and close friends were gathered to pray and celebrate the birth of his daughter, when 12 Taliban [members] of the Lashka-e-Islam group broke into his house yelling and shouting. They held the believers at gunpoint. The Muslim house-owner, Haji Muhammad Saraj, was also present at the time to collect rent."

VOM contacts added, "With machine and automatic guns, they forcibly separated the men from the women and children. Slapping the Christian men, they commanded all 16men, including Pastor Zulifqar and Haji Muhammad Saraj, to get into the five waiting vehicles."

The 16 Christian men were held captive for an hour. "They were beaten and abused, and had all their money and mobile phones stolen from them. During this time, the Taliban attempted to persuade Pastor Zulifqar to convert to Islam, which he unquestionably refused. After sunset the Taliban took them to another place where they were kept in a cave until their release 10 hours later," VOM contacts reported.

There are 100 Christian families living in Academy Town, in an area that was formally a madrassa (Muslim school). VOM contacts added, "A local Muslim renovated the madrassa into smaller homes and rented them out to Christians. Three months ago, and then, again, a week prior to this incident, Haji Muhammad Saraj was confronted by the Islamic fundamentalist group Lashkar-e-Islam and received a verbal notice to evict all Christian families from the homes. Magal Baz, the leader of the terrorist group stated, 'Christians should not reside, pray, or celebrate in a place that was formerly a madrassa.'"

The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to pray for believers in Pakistan. Pray God protects them and provides for all their needs. Also pray their courageous testimonies will draw non- believers into fellowship with Him.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, Christians Remain Strong and Resolute Despite Muslims Closing Church

INDONESIA -- Recently, Muslims closed a church in Jatimula, Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia and blocked Christians from entering and holding services.

According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts in Indonesia, "Muslims blocked the alley leading to the church building. Pastor Anna and Huta Julu had to lead worship outside their church building and believers had to sit in the dirty alley to pray outside their church."

VOM contacts added, "The sign outside the church building stated, 'This church building is sealed,' and it was written on a letterhead belonging to the Tambun Selatan district of Bekasi local government."

This is the second time Muslims have closed the church in Bekasi. The church was first closed on September 10, 2005 when a mob of 100 Muslims nailed boards over doors and windows and prohibited believers from entering the building.

Despite the church's closure believers in Indonesia rejoice in suffering for Christ. In 2005, Huta Julu said, "...we peered between the boards to check for damage inside [the church]. Three of us stood outside in the darkness and prayed. We thanked God that He allowed this to happen to us. We were very encouraged because we knew the Apostles experienced the same thing. We are never disappointed for being Christians."

VOM has supported and encouraged believers in Indonesia and provides Christian books like Extreme Devotion to believers. Praise God for the unwavering faith of believers in Indonesia. Ask God to watch over Pastor Anna and Huta Julu as they continue to lead other believers in Indonesia. Pray for protection for believers as they couragesously live for Christ in the midst of hardships.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, Iranian Police Arrest 12 Christian Converts, Four Remain in Prison

IRAN -- On May 12, Iranian police arrested 12 known Muslim converts to Christianity and confiscated their books, computers and printers in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.

According to Compass Direct News, "The arrests began at 5 a.m. on May 11, when two couples were taken into custody before boarding their flights at the Shiraz International Airport and sent directly to jail. All four were subjected to hours of interrogation, questioning them solely 'just about their faith and house church activities.'"

Compass Direct News added that the detained Christians had been identified as: Homayon Shokohie Gholamzadeh, 48; his wife, Fariba Nazemiyan Pur, 40; Amir Hussein Bab Anari, 25; and his wife, Fatemeh Shenasa, 25. Although the two wives were released the same day, Anari was detained until May 14, and Gholamzadeh remains in jail.

"Two hours after the early arrests of May 11, police authorities invaded the home of Hamid Allaedin Hussein, 58, arresting him and his three adult children: Fatemah, 28; Muhammed Ali, 27; and Mojtaba, 21. All the family's books, CDs and computers were hauled off as well. Hussein, his daughter and one son were released later the same day, but son Mojtaba remains in prison," Compass Direct added.

According to Compass Direct News, "Two days later [May 13], local police picked up two more former Muslims involved in a separate house church in Shiraz, as the Christian converts were talking together in a city park. Both men, Mahmood Matin and a second man identified only as Arash, are still jailed. Still another arrest incident was reported last month in the northern city of Amol, in Mazandaran province near the Caspian Sea. Two of the arrested converts to Christianity, one a pregnant woman, are still imprisoned, with no news of their whereabouts."

In recent years, Iran's Shiite Muslim government has cracked down on Christians involved in the growing house church movement, often resulting in arrests, harassment and intimidation. Some arrested converts to Christianity have been physically and psychologically mistreated and held for extended periods of time.

The Voice of the Martyrs actively supports Christians in Iran. VOM encourages you to pray for these courageous believers who face challenges every day because of their faith in Jesus Christ.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, Christian Detained, Fined and Given a Suspended Prison Sentence

ALGERIA -- On April 29, a court in Djilfa, south of Algiers, charged a 33-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity with "printing, storing and distributing" illegal religious material. According to Compass Direct News, "An Algerian Christian detained five days for carrying a Bible and personal Bible study books was handed a 300-Euro (US $460) fine and a one-year suspended prison sentence."

Compass reported this conviction was the latest in numerous detentions and court cases against Algerian Christians. "Since January, police and provincial officials have ordered the closure of up to half of the country's estimated 50 Protestant congregations," Compass Direct said.

The 33-year-old Algerian Christian converted from Islam to Christianity eight years ago. On April 25, he was stopped at a police road block while riding in a shared taxi. Compass Direct added, "Officials took the convert into custody upon finding a Bible and several religious study books in his luggage. Police appear to have previous knowledge of the Christian's connections. Officers refused to let the convert call friends to let them know of his detention, naming a church member in Tiaret whom they claimed he would contact."

The Voice of the Martyrs actively supports and assists persecuted Christians in Algeria. Pray believers in Algeria will remain faithful despite persecution. Ask God to protect and give courage to this Algerian Christian who is standing for Christ.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, Thousands Killed in Cyclone

BURMA (MYANMAR) -- Thousands of people have died as a result of the recent cyclone in Burma. According to media reports, the military government has been resisting assistance from countries around the world. On May 12, the United States government was finally able to deliver its first relief supplies to Burma, as the United Nations urged the reclusive nation to open its doors to foreign experts who can help up to 2 million cyclone victims facing disease and starvation.

Christians in Burma are working to assist survivors of the cyclone. A believer told The Voice of the Martyrs, "I believe that as we bring relief assets to the orphanages and churches with whom we are partners, we will not only be helping them, but also providing them with the necessary resources to impact their immediate communities with the tangible love of Jesus. In the end, I believe that the church will shine in this dark hour and that the Kingdom of God will be advanced in this nation."

In Burma Christian persecution exists in every province. Believers risk arrest, detention, corrupt court proceedings, jail, fines, confiscations, threats, destruction of property, and occasional martyrdom. Persecution comes predominately from the military junta, and also from the majority Theravada Buddhists. Family persecution is also a reality, as it is in many countries. Tribal groups who are strong in their various ethnic spirit beliefs persecute converts to Christ, as well. The Karen group is probably the most severely persecuted group in Myanmar today, and they are in hiding along the Thai-Burma border.

The Voice of the Martyrs has actively supported Christians in Burma. VOM has funded, printed and distributed Bibles, and provided training for pastors. Training VOM has also provided funds to purchase motorcycles, which a group of ministers use for ministry purposes.

Pray the Holy Spirit will comfort and minister to the families of the deceased. Ask God to use this disaster to draw nonbelievers into fellowship with Him, and for Christians to share the love and comfort of Christ with their neighbors.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, Pastor Released from Prison

INDONESIA -- On April 27, Pastor Abraham Bentar was released from prison. According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts in Indonesia, "Pastor Bentar was released two days ago, because he had served two-thirds of his sentence, so he could be paroled."

VOM rejoices with Pastor Bentar's family on his release. The Voice of the Martyrs featured Pastor Bentar on the Christian prisoner Web site, www.prisoneralert.com. According to VOM contacts,"Pastor Bentar's wife received more than 10,000 letters and photographs from families around the world who were praying for them. The family is thankful for the support they received and rejoice in the pastor's release."

On March 9, 2006 Pastor Bentar was visiting relatives in West Java when he was attacked by a group of Muslims who beat him severely. They rolled over his van and helped themselves to its contents, including the new clothing merchandise. As the melee continued they were joined by other Muslims and began shouting, "Burn him!" They set fire to his van before police arrived just in time to rescue him.

Originally, he was detained in the Tasikmalaya police station for security reasons, but was later charged with blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. At his trial he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years and then transferred to the local prison in Tasikmalaya.

The Voice of the Martyrs encourages American Christians to continue praying for protection and wisdom for Pastor Bentar as he returns home to his family and congregation.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, PHILIPPINES -- Attacker Shoots Two Pastors, Wife; One Pastor Killed

On April 15, Pastor Vic Vicera, his wife, Beth; and Pastor were shot at when an unknown assailant stormed Pastor Vicera's home in Mindanao, Philippines, and started shooting. Pastor Vicera was killed in the attack.

According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts, "Pastor Vic and his wife, Beth, and Pastor Noli were having a conversation early that evening. They were talking about their plans to minister in a Muslim tribal area, when suddenly the killer came in and started firing at them."

VOM contacts added, "Pastor Vic got four gunshots, two at the upper part of the knees that went through his navel and two shots to the lower part of his knees, the bullets remained in his stomach. Beth, his wife, got two gunshots, one in her palm and one in her leg. Pastor Saturnino got one shot in his leg; the bullet went through his leg." Pastor Vic was killed, and Beth and Saturnino are being treated by doctors.

Even though VOM contacts could not confirm the reason for the attack, they reported that Pastor Vic lived among Muslims who wanted him to join Islam, but he refused. "Earlier in the week, my wife and I went to their [Pastor Vic's] house and talked about the ministry. Their house is surrounded by Muslim houses. I heard before that there were Muslims wanting Pastor Vic to join the Islam faith, but he refused. [At] this time we still don't know those responsible for his death, but some said that Muslims are responsible," a VOM contact said.

The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to pray for believers in the Philippines who face persecution because of their faith. Pray especially for the family and congregation of Pastor Vicera, who have lost a father and pastor. Ask God to heal Pastor Vicera's wife, Beth, and Pastor Saturnino who were injured in the attack. Pray the testimonies of these faithful believers will draw their persecutors into fellowship with Christ.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, Forty-six Christians Arrested, Two Remain in Detention

Forty-six Christians Arrested, Two Remain in Detention

CHINA -- China Aid Association reports that the Chinese Communist government recently launched a strategic campaign against house churches in Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

As a result of this campaign, 46 Christians were arrested by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials on April 13, during a Bible class and worship service in Kashi city, Xinjiang province.

CAA reported, "Forty-six house church Christians were holding Bible class and worship in the home of Mr. Ding Zhichun, when PSB officials intruded into Ding's home and arrested all of them. Forty-four Christians were released after the trial day, following a 50 Yuan deposit to the PSB by the family members."

CAA added, "The Christians were mandated to confess their illegal Sunday worship activities and study the government's handbook on Religious Policy. They were also required to return and recite the policy to officials within one week."

The Voice of the Martyrs supports and stands with Christians in China and encourages you to pray for believers who are living under immense pressure. Ask God to encourage and minister to the two still being held by the police. Pray their testimony will draw nonbelievers into fellowship with Christ.


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2008-07-24 12:23:23, CHINA -- UPDATE- Christian Bookstore Owner Released from Prison

Praise God! On February 19, Zhou Heng, a well-known house church leader and manager of Yayi Christian Book Room in China, was released from prison. According to China Aid Association (CAA), Heng was released from prison after a court determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

CAA released a letter from Heng expressing gratitude to believers around the world who prayed and cared for his family while he was in prison. "I heartfully thank you for the care and prayers for me during the time I was arrested and put in prison for receiving a shipment of Bibles. I thank you for the love and the help you offered for my family," Heng said.

He added, "I am now recuperating at home. Although I am physically weak, my heart is filled with peace and light from the Holy Spirit. Let us, in Christ, continue to focus on the Father's kingdom and righteousness. Let us thank, praise and worship the great, almighty and loving God."

Heng was arrested in August 2007, when he was collecting Bibles, reportedly donated by South Korean churches. The Bibles were intended for distribution to local believers free of charge. However, the Chinese government only allows officially sanctioned (state) churches to print and distribute a limited number of Bibles each year.

During his imprisonment, Heng was reportedly severely beaten by inmates and prison guards. The Voice of the Martyrs rejoices at Zhou Heng's release from prison and encourages believers to pray for Christians in China. VOM actively supports Christians in China through Christmas Care Packs and with Christian literature like the Gospel storybook, He lived Among Us. Pray for the Holy Spirit to encourage and protect believers as persecution increases in China.


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