Intercessory Insights from the Isles

PART THREE ~ Christians under Pressure

Turning Information into Prayer

Highlighting World Events and Christian Initiatives

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Heroes of the Faith

Ever felt you need exceptional courage and tenacity to implement even the smallest changes in our own lives and churches? Then let’s pray today for those who are shouldering much larger burdens. There are Christians labouring in places like Iraq and other equally as dangerous countries to make Christ known and to run churches that are not prepared to accept low-level survival, but which want to be a bright light for Christ.

It is right that there has been world wide shock and horror at the revelation of American guards torturing Iraqi prisoners, even urging them to give up their faith in Islam. But let’s no for one moment forget the thousands of Christians who are even now suffering at the hands of extremists. Keep them high in your hearts in prayer. 


Christians under Pressure

Spend time praying for God's suffering people around the world. May His kingdom grow in each of these nations.



Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Heb. 13:2)

Eritrea ---)April 05 UPDATE ---




FRANCE (Urgent: January 2005)


Christians under Pressure

You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God,
And to rescue the oppressed of the earth.
Human opposition only enhances Your glory,
For You use it as a sword of judgement. (Psalm 76:9-10 NLT)
My enemies lay traps for me;
They make plans to ruin me.
They think up treacherous deeds all day long.
But I am deaf to all their threats.
I am silent before them as one who cannot speak…
I choose to hear nothing and I make no reply.
For I am waiting for You, O Lord;
You must answer for Me, O Lord, my God,
I prayed, "Don’t let my enemies gloat over me or rejoice at my downfall."
I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain . . .
Do not abandon me, Lord;
Do not stand at a distance, my God.
Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Saviour (Psalm 38: 12-17, 21-22 NLT)
So all Your loyal people should pray to You in times of need;
when a great flood of trouble comes rushing in, it will not reach them. 
You are my hiding-place; 
You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:6,7 TEV)

Urgent prayer for Vietnam: Summary

Vietnam follows the standard Communist system of controlling religion through 'official' state churches. Being outside this system, Vietnam's house churches are therefore illegal and suffer official systematic oppression and persecution. Many pastors, Catholic and Protestant, are in prison for being involved in the house church movement. In August 2003, Pastor Bui Van Ba, General Secretary of the Full Gospel House Church, was arrested and severely beaten, both in front of his family and later at the police station. His wife had collapsed with chest pains as police violently searched her home and assaulted believers who had met there for prayer. Pastor Ba was charged with 'interfering with an officer doing his duty' because he tried to take her to hospital.

Vietnam's house church leaders have put themselves at great risk by publicly protesting the situation. Please pray for Vietnam.

Full Story:
On Tuesday 13 January 2004, Pastor Bui Van Ba, General Secretary of the Full Gospel House Church in Vietnam, will stand trial in a People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City on a contrived charge of interfering with an officer doing his duty'. Under Vietnam's legal system, Pastor Ba's legal advisors are not permitted to help defend him. However, Christians in Vietnam are planning to attend the trial in large numbers. They have also urged members of Western consulates and embassies as well as foreign journalists to witness it - if they are permitted to attend.

The charge stems from Pastor Ba's concern to get his ailing wife, Mrs May, to hospital in the midst of a violent police raid on a prayer meeting in his home on 18 August 2003. Mrs May was knocked to the ground by the police as they invaded the house, later fainting with severe chest pains. When the police refused Pastor Ba's plea, the believers implored them to let him leave with his wife. At this, the police violently attacked Pastor Ba, restraining his children and beating him brutally. They had already assaulted Christians present and beaten Pastor Hanh's head into a concrete wall. Pastor Ba, Pastor Hanh and several of the believers were then taken to the police station. (Eventually one of the other believers was allowed to take Mrs May to the emergency ward of the hospital.)

At the police station Pastor Ba was chained to a post and beaten by police. He was then stripped and locked in a cell for 36 hours without food, water or a blanket. The seven believers arrested with the pastors were charged with administrative offences and released after being detained for 12 hours. The two pastors were released from prison on 19 August 2003 and placed under house arrest.

Leaders of the 21 house church organisations of the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship published a four-page 'letter of protest' which they addressed to foreign embassies, domestic and foreign mass media, and human rights organisations. They are calling for the dismissal of all charges against Pastor Ba, and for action to be taken against the police and security officials who attacked the pastor and other church attenders. These Christian leaders knew the risks they were taking, but their concern for justice for Pastor Ba overcame concern for their own safety.

Please pray specifically for:
Justice to be done at Pastor Ba's trial and that the police and that the officials who acted criminally will be charged.

God to protect the courageous Christian leaders who have greatly risked their own safety by publicly protesting this injustice and drawing attention to abuse of religious liberty in Vietnam.

The Holy Spirit to burn within all suffering, grieving, frightened, imprisoned Vietnamese believers, counselling them (John 14:16), comforting them (2 Cor 1:3) and strengthening them (Isaiah 40:31).

That all the suffering connected with this case to be used by God and result in the eventual blessing of the Church in Vietnam.

Source: World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Prayer List 
see also

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Twelve Christians arrested in May 2003 are still under arrest and experiencing intense pressure to sign an affidavit renouncing their faith. When they refused, 21 key leaders were arrested and imprisoned. This has left their families destitute. Many of the mothers have no food and are reduced to having to hunt in the forest to feed their children.

Persecution against Montagnard (tribal) Christians in the central highlands is so severe that many are escaping en masse into neighbouring Cambodia. Many of them are suffering from malaria, and trying to survive on wild tubers and bamboo shots.


Ruth Weston reports how missionaries from Mbale (Uganda) have penetrated into Sudan, where the Christians are likewise experiencing intense poverty and pressure. Many are forced to live in caves and to live on wild roots. They consider Mbale to be well off in comparison; whereas we as westerners would find it severely poor.


The pressure in against the youngish widow Siham Qandah (whose plight we have featured before) remains intense. The authorities have decreed that her children (Rawan, 15, and Fadi, 13) should be taken from her and given to a Muslim guardian. She has asked for world-wide prayer so that she can maintain custody of the children and win her legal fight. ‘Without the hearts and prayers of Christians around the world for us, I would already have lost the children,’ says Siham. She has been finding the uncertainty immensely wearing, however. Several times she has turned up for court appearances only to have it postponed.

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Rouse yourself, O Lord, and defend me;
Rise up, my God and plead my cause. (Ps. 35:23)

We have reported before how 35 students were arrested, tortured and then locked up in stifling heat and in pitch darkness in container lorries, with no ventilation, and almost no food – all for the crime of owning a Bible. 27 teenage believers joined them the following day. They were told they would not be released unless they recanted their faith. We know of five who were released after signing documents to deny their faith. The fate of the other 57 is unknown.

It appears that well over 200 believers are now under arrest in Eritrea for their faith. Pray for all who are the victims of this horrific crackdown.

It is not enough to pray for the Lord to rouse Himself; we can also play our small part by writing to the President of Eritrea (Mr Isayas Aferwerki, President of Eritrea, PO Box 257, Eritrea) and to the Eritrean Embassy (96 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF). You might like to use the sample below as a model for your letter:

Expressing Concern about Religious Persecution:

Dear Sir,

With all our heart we want to support your government and to pray God's richest wisdom, blessing and protection on your beautiful country. It has come to our attention, however, that over two hundred Christian believers are currently in prison in Eritrea because of their faith in Christ Jesus. Section 4 of Article 19 of your constitution promises, that 'every person shall have the freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice.' We are extremely concerned for the plight of these prisoners and also for the fact that your government is not being true to its own constitution.

Furthermore, we have also heard that representatives of your government’s Religious Affairs Department are now insisting that religious groups should 'conform to local traditions' in order to enjoy legal status. This is not the same thing as religious freedom.

We would be most grateful if you could enable independent churches to be granted registration as soon as possible, and also to negotiate the release of all prisoners currently held in prison for their evangelical or Protestant beliefs.

Yours sincerely,

Update; late March 2004: The news continues grim from Eritrea. The Eritrean authorities started a new campaign last week - with police raiding the private homes of evangelical Christians, and arresting and jailing entire families caught secretly praying and reading the Bible together. In two separate arrests this time last week, families - including children - from the Rema Charismatic Church in the capital city, Asmara, were sent to jail.

34 men and 17 women were held under arrest at a military camp until 18 February, when the pastor, Mengse Tweldemedhane, was separated from the group and locked in an underground cell. That same day, all but four of the other believers were transferred to another military camp, where they remain incarcerated. These latest arrests bring to 373 the total number of believers known to be jailed in at least nine locations across Eritrea for attending "illegal" worship services, possessing Bibles or witnessing about their faith. Some have now been behind bars for almost two years and are subjected to severe torture

Intense suffering in Eritrea - April 05

Map showing location of EritreaThe beautiful country of Eritrea is in extreme need. A Task Force has been established to attempt to eliminate all evangelicals by the end of 2005.


Who will mourn for her?' Where can I find anyone to comfort you?"

(Nahum 3:7)

Please continue in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Eritrea: that they will not only survive this harsh crackdown that has been launched against them, but that the Lord may do something remarkable to bring many more into the kingdom of God.

A few days ago, Kidane Weldou, a leading evangelical pastor disappeared off the streets of Asmara, presumably detained by the Eritrean security forces. Kidane's family has not been informed of his whereabouts or the charges under which he is being held. Pray for Kidane, along with the hundreds of other Christians currently imprisoned in Eritrea, that they will persevere in their sufferings.

On 13 March, Eritrean security police arrested 16 Protestants for watching a Christian video together in a church member's home in the town of Adi-Kibe.

Ø      Although the evangelicals were not engaged in singing, praying or teaching activities, the 16 members of Kale Hiwot Church were all arrested and taken into custody at the local police station.

Ø      On 14 March, two older women in the group were released after paying fines of £5 each, and listening to "severe admonitions" from local security police, according to sources.

Ø      The other 14 remain jailed at the Adi-Kibe police station although no official charges have been filed against them.

Ø      As one of three new countries added to the US State Department's list of "countries of particular concern" last September for its flagrant violations of religious freedom, Eritrea is required to demonstrate its commitment to tolerance of all religions or face statutory sanctions.
We've been actively engaged with all three in working for improvements in religious freedom in those countries," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters on 15 March. "We've made some important progress."  Although Ereli gave no specifics, he stated, "We are close to arrangements that respond to issues raised in the report." He indicated that he expected "decisions to be finalised in the next few weeks."

Ø      Pray that these decisions, whatever they are, will be effective.

Persecution Denied
The small north-east African nation has publicly denied ever-increasing reports over the past three years of a harsh, government-instituted crackdown against members of its independent Protestant churches.

Ø      Eritrean Evangelicals worship the Lord under the constant threat of arrest as the government has recruited their neighbours to spy on them,

Ø      All places of worship not linked with the country's four officially recognised religions (Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran and Islamic) were ruled illegal by presidential decree in May 2002, and their adherents forbidden to worship in their homes.

Ø      Three prominent Protestant pastors have been held incommunicado since their arrest 10 months ago, with the Eritrean government refusing to file charges against them or bring them to court.

Ø      During the first 10 weeks of this year alone, a total of 230 Christians have been subjected to police arrest and imprisonment in 10 separate incidents confirmed in Asmara, Barentu, Adi-Tekelzan, Keren, and now Adi-Kibe.


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Well-armed Muslim militants have devastated Christian villages in Gombe State, Northern Nigeria. Since the introduction of Shariah law, Muslim militants have often attacked Christian regions.

In the northern state of Niger, five Christian women have been jailed for two years for 'prostitution.' In the state of Bauchi, likewise, all girls above the age of 16 have been given ninety days to marry or face arrest on charges of prostitution.


We have given the full story of the arrest of key Christian Rinaldy Damanik in a previous edition. Open Doors reports: ‘Despite evidence of witness intimidation and the presentation of false evidence, the Supreme Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, has rejected the appeal of the Rev Rinaldy Damanik, who was arrested on false charges of illegal weapons possession.’ Continue to uphold Rinaldy in prayer. The Lord is looking after him in prison, where the huge numbers of letters he is receiving, together with his dedicated and cheerful demeanour, are causing him to acquire a sort of celebrity status.

Nablus, West Bank

The Bible Society has reported that the Israeli army commandeered the Bible Centre in downtown Nablus as their control and operations unit. They proceeded to systematically destroy the entire shop and its Bibles and Christian books. Pray for the ministry of the Bible Society in the West Bank.


Ever since Ros and I ministered in Pakistan in the mid 1980's we have had a special heart for this country. Pressure on Christians has increase significantly since the introduction of Sharia law and the strong reaction against the Islamabad government's support for the United States' offensive against the Al-Qaeda movement.

The Pakistan Bible Society was the target for two explosions towards the end of January 2004. The blasts occurred just minutes apart and injured at least thirteen people. The first attack was the result of a grenade thrown from a moving motorbike into the Bible Shop’s front window. Minutes later, when police were arriving on the scene, a parked vehicle about 70 feet from the Bible Society exploded, injuring 12 people. The explosion flattened four cars and severely damaged another six. It is thought that the second attack was meant to harm large numbers of people in order to increase the press coverage.

After police issued a 1 million rupees (£9,460) reward, they arrested a suspect and confiscated a large amount of explosives this past weekend. The suspect, 25-year-old Shamim Ahmed, is a member of the 'Lashkar-eJhangvi' group that is banned in the area by Pakistani officials.

Since September 2001,.seven attacks on churches and Christian organisations have resulted in 42 deaths and 101 injuries. Pray:

For protection for believers and Christian groups in Pakistan.

Pray for healing and comfort for those caught in the Karachi bombings.

For pastors and church leaders as they minister to their people at this time.

Pray against a spirit of fear in the Church, that every brother and sister will keep their eyes fixed on the Lord.

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Open Doors report that many Christians are coming under intense persecution from extremist Hindus. Pray for them to find comfort in their Saviour, remembering that He is "familiar with suffering".

Pray especially for frightened believers in Uttar Pradesh, that they will know the Lord's peace and strength and remain steadfast in the faith.

Pray against corruption and partiality within the local police and authorities in India's troubled states, that officials will work with integrity and justice, and that the gospel may continue to advance.

Mission Network News considers that tribalism in India could ultimately change the make-up of government, evangelism and the country itself.
HBI Global Partners is based in India. HBI's Bobby Gupta says tribalism is
becoming so strong that, "I think this next election will probably be our
last that would be able to hold up to a multi-party leadership. After that,
the nation is going to struggle with trying to find unity."
Gupta is expecting an uprising of a people group numbering about 300-million the Dalits. Since the government hasn't listened to their concerns, many believe they will oppose any government that's over them.
That could cause a ripple effect throughout the nation. Gupta says, "You're
going to see more and more individual, state driven organizations that says that, 'we want to be in control and we're tried of being exploited.'"
Tribalism is also going to force Christians in India to rethink their evangelism and church planting strategy. Gupta says, "The day has to come that every church we have are pastured by the people we are reaching out to. If they're not, there will come a day when those people will be forcing us out of those locations so that their identity will not be lost." Gupta believes globalization has ushered in the fear of people losing their national or tribal identity.
"The more I think about it, the more need there is for people to contextualize the leadership, the methodology that we use for evangelism, and the terms that we use to communicate the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," says Gupta. He adds, "We've got to begin to think
in terms of how we develop our strategies around that."
Pray that they, along with other churches and missions, may get this strategy right, and that the work of evangelism may proceed apace despite all the dangers and instability.

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Bolivia Open Doors have asked us to pray for our brothers and sisters in Chucarasi, a remote village in the Bolivian Andes.

The trouble began in Chucarasi during the annual 'Carnaval' festival in late February, 2004. As is the norm, animist villagers observed the holiday with veneration of Christo-pagan icons, ritual dances and excessive drinking - ancient customs designed to appease the local deities.

Families of the 'Church of God' in Chucarasi declined to take part in the 'Carnaval' and instead spent the day tending their fields. Two days later, a severe hailstorm struck, damaging the village crops and fuelling the animists' fears that evil spirits were punishing the community for the evangelicals' refusal to take part in the festivities.

The following night (28 February), an angry mob attacked church elder Fortunato Bernal, leaving him unconscious. Word of the attack reached the other believers who were meeting to pray in their small chapel. Fearing more violence, the brothers and sisters withdrew to a nearby mountain peak to continue their prayer vigil.

Witnesses say that around midnight, the irate mob - carrying axes and bars - arrived at the church. Finding the building empty, they destroyed Bibles, smashed the pulpit and pews, then dismantled the windows, doors, roof and walls of the building. The believers returned from their vigil to find a pile of rubble where their chapel had stood just hours before.

Let's join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Chucarasi:
- Lift the believers in prayer, especially brother Fortunato, following this vicious attack.
- Thank the Lord for protecting the other church members from the angry mob.
- Pray that each of the believers will know God's faithfulness, strength and protection in the coming weeks and months.
- Let's pray
that many of the persecutors will come to repentance and faith in Jesus.

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President Niyazov has recently signed a new law of religion which is going to put believers in his country under great pressure. Under the new decree all unregistered religious activity is outlawed, and Christians caught meeting together may be punished by a year’s ‘corrective labour.’ As a show of power in his idolatrous regime, President Niyazov’s golden statue stands high above the country’s capital city. As the self-styled ‘Father of all Turkmen’ he demands that every citizen must pay their allegiance to him each morning or face the consequences. Where have we heard this language before?

Clampdown in Uzbekistan (Article added: 1/5/04)

Whilst celebrating the ‘success’ stories of incorporating Estonia Lithuania and Latvia into the European community, independence has not brought freedom in Uzbekistan, where the autocratic President is as firmly in control as he was in Communist times.

A few years ago we published details of Florence Joseph’s experiences of where the church is up to in Uzbekistan spiritually. The general consensus is that Uzbekistan is shutting down. Ministries are closing, and freedom is being repressed. To put this in a wider context, just as California is regarded as ‘hinge’ state in America, so Uzbekistan is seen as a crucial benchmark for Central Asia. Where it goes others tend to follow. The economy is still straightjacketed by outdated Soviet tactics, and the people are growing weary of the repression. Wahhabi Islamists are waiting and wanting to rise up, but are heavily repressed by the regime.

Craig Murray is probably Britain’s most unusual – certainly most outspoken – ambassador. In a major article dedicated to him in The Times (1/4/04) he describes how he about a dozen people a week turn up at his door having had their teeth kicked out or their fingernails ripped out.

So far as Murray is concerned, Uzbekistan is a long way short of a functioning democracy, and shows no sign of moving in the right direction. All major political parties are banned, and parliament itself is not subject to any democracy election process. Entirely against the wishes of the Foreign Office he has the courage to speak up – loudly – against the abysmal human rights record of the ruling authorities in Uzbekistan.  He claims that many of the nearly ten thousand political and religious prisoners in Uzbekistan have been wrongfully accused and should not be there. He also believes that the intense repression, combined with the inequality of wealth and absence of reform, will create the very thing the regime is most trying to quash: the rise of Islamic fundamentalist.

So why does the West remain silent? Because President Karimov is seen as a key supporter of America in the War against Terror. Murray warns,

‘No government has the right to use the war against terrorism as an excuse for persecuting those with a deep personal commitment to the Islamic religion and who pursue their views by peaceful means.’

The result? The Foreign Office has charged Murray with 18 charges of misconduct. What does this message have to say about western standards?

Pray for the power of God to come to Uzbekistan; for the innocent to be protected, and for many to come to know God in a life-changing personal way.  Only a small minority of the Muslim population have heard the gospel meaningfully explained to them. Pray blessing on those who already know Him.

There is considerable persecution of believers in Uzbekistan. The number of Uzbeks who know the Lord is small, however with well under a hundred known fellowships. Most of the Christians in the land are of immigrant minorities, many of whom have been leaving. Cooperation (rather than suspicion) between key indigenous leaders is in critically short supply, and is an area that needs particular prayer.

All this is set against a backdrop whereby anyone engaged in open evangelism can receive a three-year prison term. (Some of those who have been imprisoned are doing an excellent job in winning prisoners for the Lord). Christians are under pressure to betray fellow believers to the authorities. May the Lord strengthen the hearts of His people in Uzbekistan, and increase His work there.

There is currently limited radio input into Uzbekistan. A number of Christian films have been made, but Christian literature is in desperately short supply. (Do bear in mind the proscriptions on producing it).

For those who want to take this country deeper into the hearts, the question of water is all important. Uzbekistan is the world’s third largest producer of cotton: but this is a crop that requires costly irrigation. Soil conditions have deteriorated, and the Aral Sea has shrunk alarmingly. As in Syria Turkey and Israel, water shortages are going to come more and more to the fore in years to come.  Pray for the water of life to flow in Uzbekistan!


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There are so many other countries where believers are under pressure, but facing them brave. To name but a few: India, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Mexico, Colombia, Egypt and, of course, Iran and Iraq. God is at work amongst groups of believers in all these countries.

May the Lord strengthen His people in each of these and other countries in need, including the most persecuted of all: North Korea.

FRANCE (posted 19-1-05)

Urgent prayer request from Elim HQ

Rev Geoff Feasey and Chris Jones are in Paris right now meeting with our Elim folk there.  They have asked for special prayer for the following.

On Wednesday 19th January and Friday 28th January 2005, Paris.

Elim church representatives are in Court. The local government is trying to chase the church from its current place of worship. This is happening to many other Protestant churches in Paris and in many other places across France. The local authorities have had a policy for some time that is anti-Christian and they desire to see churches closed down. They are being successful and many are being shut.

In addition to pressure from local authorities they are also reporting aggressive and very anti-church and anti-Christian problems from another religious source.

Whilst the details of the Court case are quite complicated, the basic aim is to see the church closed down completely. Please pray:

1) that this will not be successful

2) for wisdom for the church leaders and their lawyers

3) that this attempt to stifle freedom of worship will not succeed.

As the first Court case has been taking place today (Wednesday 19 Jan 05), the need for prayer is urgent.

Thank you for your prayers.




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