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CHINA: Protestant House Church Pastor Detained without Trial

CHINA: Protestant House Church Pastor Detained without Trial

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities arrested Pastor Hao Zhiwei in July 2019; however, she still awaits trial. Four months after Hao’s arrest, officials charged her with swindling 2.24 million yuan ($469,340) in church offerings. CCP authorities also accused two church staff members, Hong Ying and Wang Yuanxiang, of fraud but because they “confessed”, they warranted leniency. Prosecutors have not set a trial date for Hao.

“The case is set to have a far-reaching legal impact that could see other house church pastors like Hao come under more legal scrutiny on top of the existing administrative regulations over religious affairs,” Si Weijiang, Hao’s lawyer, said.

Hao’s trial was originally set for January and then apparently postponed until August but there is still no notice of when it will take place. The coronavirus pandemic has also caused delays.

Hao’s husband died two years ago, her two sons, aged 13 and 17, are without both parents.

According to Hao’s 17-year-old son, identifying himself as Paul, “The government is indefinitely postponing the trial as they continue to look for evidence so they can frame my mother by building a fraud case against her that never existed in the first place,” He said he was staying on campus at a university in eastern Zhejiang province but his brother lives at home in Ezhou with a part-time domestic helper.

After authorities arrested Hao and her two co-workers, they contracted to demolish the church to make way for expansion of a steel plant. To justify destroying the church, the local religious affairs department issued a notice in July last year stating that because the church was too close to a power plant, it had to be demolished. Amidst the separation from his mother and the church demolition, Paul stated that he and his brother are at peace. “We have faith in God that he will never give us a trial that we cannot bear.”

Si said Hao refuses to plead guilty and if convicted, faces a minimum of 10 years in prison. He expressed concern that a conviction could set a precedent for CCP authorities to use charges of financial irregularities to prosecute other house church leaders.

Sources: ChinaAid, South China Morning Post

  • Remember Hao, her sons and her fellow church members. Pray they will continue to rely on the Lord and His purposes and not lose heart.
  • Pray that God will sustain Hao while in prison and ask Him to provide her with spiritual enrichment while she endures. Ask God to hasten her trial and secure her release.
  • Pray for the authorities responsible; that they will not fear the Gospel but will submit to the Lord’s merciful and sovereign hand.

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LAOS: Christians Detained for Planning Christian Funeral

LAOS: Christians Detained for Planning Christian Funeral

Four Lao Christians have been in jail for more than three months in the country’s Khammouane province for planning a Christian funeral that is contrary to the local customs.

On 3 July, the four Christians travelled to Khammouane’s Phousath village to attend a funeral that was deemed by village authorities to have violated Lao customs and “divided community solidarity.” As a result, they were arrested before they could conduct the Christian ceremonies, said a Phousath village official.

The local villagers wanted to perform ceremonies for the deceased Christian “according to our culture handed down to us by our ancestors,” the official continued, “When someone dies, we help by making donations, sharing food, and asking [Buddhist] monks to come and pray at the home.”

“But [the Christians] wanted to do things that violate our traditional customs. They were preparing things that we felt were strange and wrong and do not understand, and so we acted in order to prevent them from happening,” he said.

While no trial has been held to prosecute these four Christians who are from different villages, the police investigation has been completed and no decision was made as to what happens to them next. Their wives and children are facing hardships due to the loss of income and uncertainty about the four men’s fate.

On 12 October, an official in the religious affairs department of the Lao central government reportedly stated that his department will now work with the Lao Front for National Construction and the Evangelical Church of Laos to win justice for the four imprisoned villagers.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Radio Free Asia

  • Pray for justice for these believers and for their swift release.
  • Pray this difficult time endured by these Christians and their families, may be used by God as a witness to the God-given faithfulness and strength of believers.
  • Pray for Christians in Laos who face opposition. That they will be encouraged and strengthened and will stand firm when tested.

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CHINA: Officials Raid Bible Study

CHINA: Officials Raid Bible Study

Police, state security officers, and ethnic and religious affairs bureau officials raided Guangzhou’s Bible Reformed Church. They accused Christians of “spreading evil religion”. 

Authorities interrupted a Bible study, which had more than 10 attendees, and took three Christians, including Minister Yang Jun, to the police station. Officials released two individuals that night but detained Minister Yang for a day. They alleged he had been “showing off and swindling”.

Pastor Huang Xiaoning appealed to authorities on behalf of Bible Reformed Church. He said government representatives “can come at any time and ‘enforce the law,… but our worship will never cease.”

Source: ChinaAid

  • Ask God to provide spiritual encouragement to those believers who are facing ongoing opposition, particularly evangelists and church leaders including Minister Yang and Pastor Huang.
  • Pray believers across China will not be fearful but will stand as a symbol of faith, courage and unity.
  • Praise the Lord for the extraordinary growth of the church in China over the past few decades.

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LAOS: Authorities Hold Church Leader Without Charge

LAOS: Authorities Hold Church Leader Without Charge

A church leader remains in prison while officials wait for an end to the “COVID-19 situation”.

Phong was arrested in early March after refusing police orders to renounce his faith. About 130 Christians live in Phong’s village, and police thought that arresting him would cure their Christian “problem”.

Phong’s wife said police are demanding that Christians turn in all Bibles, hymn books and other Christian materials and renounce their faith.

Although she was at first able to visit Phong in prison and take him food, no one is allowed to visit the prison now because of the coronavirus. The authorities told Phong’s wife that they are waiting for the “COVID-19 situation to be over before they charge her husband with a crime.”

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Pray for Phong and his family as they endure separation and uncertainty.
  • Ask the Lord to strengthen Phong physically and spiritually and supply all his needs.
  • Pray Phong will be provided with opportunities to share the Gospel, while in prison.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

PAKISTAN: Family Discord and Blasphemy

PAKISTAN: Family Discord and Blasphemy

A Christian man has been accused by two close family members of committing blasphemy, in what appears to be the first case of its kind in Pakistan. Anwar Masih was arrested on 2 June and charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy law 295-C. Both his wife and daughter have accused him of speaking against Islam.

Anwar’s wife, Kausar Parveen, and their daughter, Samreen, operated a beauty parlour in Lahore. According to reports, Samreen began an affair with a Muslim man and became pregnant. She has since converted to Islam and married the man. All of this happened without the knowledge of Anwar. Once this father found out, he was shocked and upset that the information had been withheld from him. In anger, he allegedly made comments about Islam, which Samreen recorded with her mobile phone. That recording has been turned over to police.

The police have detained Anwar; the mother and daughter have left the house and are hiding at an unknown place.

Nasir Saeed, Director for Centre of Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, stated, “This is another example of the misuse of the blasphemy laws where a daughter gets rid of her father – and a wife, her husband – simply because he cannot accept what they have done.” “It is sad as no matter whether it was pre-planned or not, the fact is that Masih will have to wait years and years to prove himself innocent and has no future. Even if the mother and daughter regret their decision, the family has broken, and it will never be the same again.”

Sources: UCA News, The Irish Catholic, Pakistan Christian Post

  • Intercede for this broken family. May God work in miraculous ways to restore these shattered relationships and minister His love and unity among them.
  • Pray for Anwar, that he will be strengthened in his faith and trust in the Lord during this time of great difficulty.
  • Intercede for the Pakistani authorities; pray the blasphemy laws will be examined and changed to prevent abuse.

Post your prayer in the comments below.