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NEPAL: Christians Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

NEPAL: Christians Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

Persecution in Nepal continues to be an increasing concern for the growing Christian population of the predominantly Hindu country.

Despite the 2015 constitution guaranteeing religious freedom, parliament passed a bill in 2017 criminalising conversion to Christianity. In 2018, the prime minister and other government officials publicly said anyone found changing their religion would be expelled from the country.

The Nepalese Christian community says that they are holding fast to the principle that Christ calls His followers to share their faith, but choosing to follow Him is an individual choice, not something to be forced on anyone. Nevertheless, this community is consistently accused of forcefully converting.

Pastor Hari Tamang has been falsely charged with trafficking children and attempted conversions after he had agreed to shelter children who would have otherwise been put on the street because their former shelter could not help them any longer. Years after the traffic charges were dropped, Tamang continues to fight the charges of attempted conversion of the children.

Similar cases to that of Pastor Tamang have become more common throughout Nepal as the growth of Christianity has skyrocketed. Advocacy organisations estimate that Christians now number between two and three million throughout Nepal, comprising a larger portion of the Nepalese population than ever before. Nepal’s churches number between 10,000 and 12,000 across the country.

The church also conducts a good deal of aid distribution in communities of need throughout Nepal, which raises the suspicions of local authorities and devout Hindus who see it as a ploy for conversions.

Regardless of this, the church continues their mission and remains adamant that no forced conversions are taking place, arguing that they are simply fulfilling the teachings of their faith in aiding and serving the poor. The free exercise of religion for Christians means doing exactly that.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Global Press Journal, The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Praise God for the growth of the church and their faithfulness in spreading the Gospel and bringing salvation and eternal hope to many.
  • Ask the Lord to continue using these believers to spread the Gospel, shielding their hearts against fear of opposition.
  • Ask for justice for Pastor Tamang, that the case will finally be resolved. Pray for the children in his care.

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ALGERIA: Court Upholds Church Closure Order

ALGERIA: Court Upholds Church Closure Order

The Spring of Life Church in Makouda is the second largest Protestant church in Algeria with about 700 members.

In October 2019, it was ordered to close, along with two other churches. The closures happened under Ordinance 06-03, which states that permission must be obtained before using a building for non-Muslim worship.

Since the ordinance was enacted in 2006, Algerian authorities have failed to respond to any application for permission. As a result, it became common practice to rent a building and then inform local authorities that it is being used as a place of worship. Starting in November 2017, however, authorities began acting on the ordinance by closing many churches.

In response to the closures, ten of the churches filed cases with the administrative courts. The Spring of Life Church recently received a court ruling upholding the order to close. The congregants of other closed churches are concerned that this may set a precedent for similar rules. There are also concerns that this may embolden governors to order more closures.

On the same day that the Spring of Life Church was closed, the Full Gospel of Tizi-Ouzou (the largest Protestant church in Algeria) was also forced to close.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Pray for church leaders as they seek to deal with these mounting challenges and determine how to carry on with the work of the Gospel.
  • Thank the Lord that no plan of man can come against Him and ask Him to continue to grow the church in Algeria.
  • Pray the country’s governing leaders and court officials will come to understand the importance of religious freedom.

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VIETNAM: Woman Burned After Refusing to Abandon Christian Faith

VIETNAM: Woman Burned After Refusing to Abandon Christian Faith

A 49-year-old woman was assaulted by local authorities after she refused to give up her Christian faith.

On 5 May, authorities visited Dinh and told her they would help her during the coronavirus pandemic if she would sign a statement giving up her faith. When she refused to sign the document, an official grabbed a kettle of boiling water from her kitchen and poured it all over Dinh’s legs.

Dinh was taken to the hospital, but since her family is very poor, they could not pay for her treatment. She had not been issued health insurance because she is a Christian.

VOM provided help. “I am so happy and thankful to God for your heart of love,” Dinh wrote. “Please remember me in your prayers.”

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Thank the Lord for the example of Dinh, who boldly stood firm despite the threats and subsequent injury.
  • Thank the Lord for the help and treatment she has received and pray she will be fully restored to health.
  • Pray her strong witness may be used by the Lord to embolden the faith of others and soften the hearts of the local authorities.

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PAKISTAN: Another Teenage Christian Girl Abducted

PAKISTAN: Another Teenage Christian Girl Abducted

Saneha Kinza Iqbal, a 15-year-old Christian girl, was abducted by Saeed Amanat, a 30-year-old Muslim man, on her way to church in Faisalabad, Pakistan.

The abduction reportedly took place on 22 July, however, Saneha’s family was only able to file a report with local police on 19 August because officers initially refused to cooperate with the Christian family.

Saneha’s family fears their daughter has been added to the extensive list of Christian girls who, after being abducted and forcibly converted to Islam, are forcibly married to Muslim men.

Saeed Amanat, Saneha’s abductor, is a security guard at the Allied Hospital in Faisalabad. On 2 June, Rukhsana Bibi, Saneha’s mother, injured her hip and was hospitalised at Allied Hospital. Saneha would often visit her mother at the hospital, allowing Amanat to meet and become familiar with Saneha.

On 22 July Saneha went to church for morning prayers but never returned. Her family asked neighbours if they had seen Saneha and some said she was seen in a car with strangers. Later, a neighbour confirmed that one of the men in the vehicle was Amanat.

Waseem Morris, Saneha’s brother, met with Amanat’s father in an attempt to have Saneha returned to the family. At first, Amanat’s father promised she would be returned, but several days later, Amanat’s father changed his mind.

After this refusal, Saneha’s family began receiving threatening phone calls. These phone calls, made by Amanat, threatened Saneha’s family if they made any attempts to have Saneha returned home.

According to a 2014 study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian community are abducted, forcefully married to their captor, and forcibly converted to Islam every year. The issue of religion is also often injected into cases of sexual assault to place religious minority victims at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.

Sources: Asia News, International Christian Concern

  • Intercede for Saneha and her family. Pray for favour as they deal with the authorities. Pray she will soon be restored to her family.
  • Pray that, in the meantime, the Lord would protect and preserve them and give them His peace and strength.
  • Pray the authorities in Pakistan will do more to protect Christian girls from kidnappers and will pursue justice for affected families. Ask the Lord to soften the heart of Amanat.

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CHINA: Christian Prisoner Update

CHINA: Christian Prisoner Update

In March 2017, police arrested Cao San-Qiang (John Cao), a Chinese pastor known for his work among Myanmar’s poor.

Authorities charged Pastor Cao with “organising illegal crossings of national borders” and in 2018, sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Pastor Cao is married to an American citizen and is a long-time resident of North Carolina. He served as a missionary in Myanmar’s Wa State, transforming the lives of more than 2,000 impoverished minority children by building 16 schools, and worked to fight poverty in the region.

Pastor John Cao was able to meet with his mother a few days ago. Because of the pandemic, his mother was only able to see him via video link. He told her he prays daily for his brothers and sisters in Christ and everything going on in the world. He reassured his mother that he does not have to do field work, and that he has time to read and interact with other inmates. Cao’s mother reported that he looked well.

Sources: The Voice of the Martyrs USA, ChinaAid

  • Thank the Lord for Cao’s good health and ask Him to continue to physically sustain Cao.
  • Ask God to use Cao as a witness for the Gospel to fellow prisoners, guards and the authorities.
  • Pray for Cao’s wife, Jamie Powell, and their sons, Benjamin and Amos. Pray they will not lose heart but continue to trust in the Lord’s timing and purposes.

Post your prayer in the comments below.