International Christian Concern – PRAISE REPORT – Norwegian Government to Return Children Seized Over Concerns About Family’s Faith

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PRAISE REPORT | Norwegian Government to Return Children Seized Over Concerns About Family’s Faith

In November of 2015, the Barnevenet (Norway’s child services program) seized five children, including an infant, from their parents following concerns from a school principal regarding the “religious upbringing” and Christian beliefs of the family. While the infant was returned to his parents in April, the family has been fighting to secure the return of the other four children. On June 3, it was announced that an agreement had been settled and the family would finally be reunited.

Though persecution is on the rise, it isn’t stopping believers in Kazakhstan (Central Asia) from sharing their faith

English: Map of the Ethno-Linguistic groups of...

English: Map of the Ethno-Linguistic groups of central Asia.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click on photo to enlarge and for source.

From the Russian/Asian front. Mission News Network reports:

Kazachs consider evangelist worse than spies for bringing Kazakhs to Christ.

SGA serves Bible-preaching churches in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States by helping national pastors and churches reach their own people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. „There definitely has been an uptick in the level and intensity of persecution in these countries,” says Griffith.

„The worst persecution believers get would be in Turkmenistan andUzbekistan, but it certainly has been stepping up in Kazakhstan.” (Photo credit http://voiceofthepersecuted.wordpress.com)

Persecution Personified

Earlier this year, Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was imprisoned as part of a nationwide crack-down. He’s been arrested on trumped-up charges, denied medical attention, and imprisoned in a psychiatric asylum. Now, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), Kazakh officials are harassing members of Kashkumbaev’s Grace Protestant Church.

„You are worse than spies. You bring Kazakhs to Christ,” an officer reportedly told one of ICC’s sources.

In Eastern Kazakhstan, Baptist Pastor Pavel Leonov is facing up to a year in prison for refusing to pay a fine equal to two months’ income, according to Forum 18 News. Leonov is part of the Council of Churches Baptist, a group which refuses to register their fellowships with the government.

SGA works with churches of the Union of Evangelical Christians Baptist (UECB), a group registered with Kazakhstan’s government. But that doesn’t mean they don’t run into problems, Griffith notes. „They try to comply with registration laws,” he says. „They try to follow the law as closely as they can, and they still end up getting persecuted anyway.”

The Silver Lining

Though persecution is on the rise, it isn’t stopping believers in Central Asia from sharing their faith. „The churches remember what life was like under Communism,” Griffith states. „They know what it is to live and serve under persecution, and they’re certainly not going to stop proclaiming the Gospel because this seems to be stepping up again.”

Keep praying for persecuted Christians around the world. Pray specifically for believers in Central Asia. „Pray for these pastors who are encountering difficulty right now,” adds Griffith.

„For some reason, it just doesn’t seem to grab the attention of the news media, and it needs to,” says Griffith. „I mean, these are people that are actually being killed for their faith.”

You can read more of Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev’s story at http://voiceofthepersecuted.wordpress.com

Attacks on the rise against Christians and House Churches in China

Source http://www.religiontoday.com photo via http://www.persecution.org

Washington, D.C. (ICC) – A recent spate of attacks against Christians and house churches in China underlines the country’s relentless habit of persecuting Christians, even at the cost of its own reputation in the international community.

Christians Beaten in Hainan Province

On Aug. 14, a number of Christians in Lingao town, Lincheng county, Hainan Province, were violently beaten by urban management officers when they tried to prevent construction at a building site.

The Christians were looking forward to a church that was originally intended to be constructed at the site, but when local government secretly sold the site to developers, they were left floundering in the dark. As they protested the construction, the violence began and several children and elderly people were injured, with two women going into a coma as a result of the retaliation. When the Christians informed the police, they refused to address the attack.

House Church Pastor Abducted and Assaulted

Also on Aug. 13, Li Shuangping, leader of Linfen house church, was abducted and beaten by agents of the local government. Li was reportedly driving home when he was forced to stop because a young man, who appeared to be intoxicated, staggered into the path of his car. As soon as he stopped, a black sedan drove up next to him and three men got out of the car. Along with the „intoxicated” young man, the four of them dragged Li out of his car, forced him into the black sedan, blindfolded him and restrained him with a rope.

When one of the men drove the car, the other three held him down in the backseat and assaulted him, punching and kicking him in the head, neck and torso. As he was being beaten, they were launching all manner of threats against him and his family, asking whether he would like to die as a result of leading a house church. When the car finally stopped, he was thrown into a cornfield and left alone to find his way home. Li believes that the events of Aug. 13 were secretly ordered by the local government, to threaten him and other house church leaders and to suppress the house church movement.

Local Church Victimized by Repeated Vandalizing

On Aug. 3, in the wee hours of the morning, in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, unknown vandals sealed off the entrance to the Sunzhuang Christian church with tons of dirt, rock and debris that was piled up at the doorway, forcing the church shut. It is suspected that AR1933 vehicles, owned by the Henan province, were used to transport the debris and cut off access to the church. This was not the first time it has happened.

On July 24, the church had to face the same situation when the entrance was sealed off by a mountain of debris, until forklifts were dispatched from the Zhengzhou Bureau of Religious Affairs to clear away the rubble.

Despite receiving official recognition by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement when it gained approval to build a new church building, local government has made every effort to displace the Christians from the village, without the villagers’ consent or any legal permits. As demolition efforts began, the church has faced numerous setbacks, including loss of power and water, without any meaningful intervention from local authorities.

Christians are continually facing persecution, while local authorities remain passive, indifferent and even culpable at times. As Ryan Morgan, International Christian Concern’s regional manager for China, said, „Across China, Christians continue to face harassment, intimidation, assault and even abduction at the hands of local authorities who seem to have little concern of suffering consequences for their actions.”

Christians Detained and Intimidated by Local Authorities

On Aug. 22, the social networking site of a Chinese human rights lawyer reported that local officials in the city of Tongren, Guizhong Province, interrupted a house church gathering, detaining the preacher along with members who had organized the gathering. The Christians were released after hours of interrogation and harassment.

During the interrogation, officials demanded that the preacher join the Three-Self Patriotic church, the only state-recognized Protestant church in China, accused of being an instrument for the government that persecutes Christians outside of it.

The General Situation in China

An estimated 20 million people belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, while the majority of Christians are part of separate house churches that are frequently targeted by the state for persecution. The highest figure of Christians in China has been suggested to be 130 million, although the state prefers the official number of 67 million.

Although some Christians are free to express their faith in certain regions of the country, the overall picture of Christian persecution in China is only worsening. According to the annual report of ChinaAid, a Texas-based Christian non-profit organization, it examined 132 persecution cases involving 4,919 people, finding that incidents of persecution rose 41.9 percent from 2011. Additionally, the number of people sentenced in cases relating to religious persecution rose by 125 percent from 2011.

If left unchecked, religious freedom for Christians in China is set to decay even further, as local authorities continue to get away with determined acts of violence against innocent citizens. China needs to pay more attention to the outcry against its poor record of providing religious freedom to its citizens. As Ryan Morgan says, „We call on the central government in Beijing to immediately step in and prevent the grave abuses against religious minorities being reported on a weekly basis. How can China claim to allow religious freedom when worshiping with fellow citizens in your own home or unsanctioned church means risking a police raid? It is unconscionable.”

International Christian Concern is a Washington, D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides awareness, advocacy and assistance to the worldwide persecuted church.

 

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