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KOREA: Accused as Criminals for Bible Distribution

KOREA: Accused as Criminals for Bible Distribution

The Bible remains essential to the church in North Korea today, and The Voice of the Martyrs Korea is determined to continue getting God’s Word into this closed nation through the use of various innovative methods. However, these efforts have recently become a point of contention with leaders of the South Korean government who are seeking to appease demands from the dictatorial government of Kim Jong Un in North Korea.

The co-founders of VOM Korea are presently facing possible criminal charges, as well as a review of the ministry’s status as a registered NGO. In a recently sent email, Rev Dr Eric Foley and his wife Dr Foley wrote, “We stand accused in our own country as criminals, and we do so alongside our North Korean Christian brothers and sisters.” The couple released a fascinating account about the “Bible Christians” of those earlier days and how they connect to the current situation in both North and South Korea.

When missionaries first arrived in Korea in the late 19th century, they discovered that the Gospel message had already preceded them. Koreans who had been assisting with Bible translation in China consequently came to faith in Christ. By smuggling portions of the New Testament into their homeland, they were also able to lead others to Christ. The resulting believers came to be known as “Bible Christians”.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs Korea

  • Please keep VOM Korea and staff covered in prayer as they navigate how to wisely deal with these present challenges while endeavouring to honour God.
  • Pray that the people of North Korea who have received the distributed Bibles will be touched by the Word, resulting in their eternal salvation.
  • Intercede for the governmental leaders of both North and South Korea that they would not only cease opposing the Gospel but also willingly embrace our Heavenly Father’s love to the point of becoming convicted of their need to accept His Son Jesus as their own personal Saviour.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

Emergency Relief for Displaced Christians in Burkina Faso

Emergency Relief for Displaced Christians in Burkina Faso

Christians in the north of this small African nation are suffering because of their faith. Many have been forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind.

Armed groups, including some aligned with al-Qaida and Islamic State, are waging a campaign of indiscriminate killing, beginning with occasional attacks that have intensified over time.

Some of the attacks have targeted Christians. There have been several attacks on churches during worship services with church leaders explicitly targeted. In many areas, churches now meet in secret. In some of the most recent attacks, terrorists asked villagers about their religion. Those who claimed to be Christian were killed immediately, while people of other faiths were unharmed. To date, more than one million Burkinabe have had to leave their homes because of terrorist attacks. Among them are more than 8,000 Christians.

Pastor Blaise and his wife had been serving the Lord for several years in their home village. After learning that jihadist groups were actively searching for them, they fled to a more populated area. They had been there for a few weeks when, one Sunday, while walking to church, they saw a group of jihadists killing the pastor and six church members outside the building. Church members who were already inside were trying to escape or hide. That day, Pastor Blaise and his wife left and found refuge in a small town, 350km from their home village.

In March this year, the government of Burkina Faso introduced restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Lockdown, curfew and quarantine measures were put into place until early May.

This coincided with the typical lean season, and left Pastor Blaise and his wife, along with other displaced Christians, in great need. Every year people suffer hunger during the lean season, but COVID-19 restrictions coupled with the huge numbers of displaced persons, meant that all food harvested after the previous rainy season was very quickly consumed. There was no possibility of obtaining more.

Answering the cry for help from our brothers and sisters in Christ, including Pastor Blaise and his wife, VOM worked with local contacts to provide emergency aid, food and essential hygiene products, which were distributed to those most in need.

Pastor Blaise said, “We are thankful to God who saved our lives. We are grateful to our brothers and sisters who helped us and supported us in this challenging time. Please, pray for God’s protection. Pray also for our brothers and sisters who could not run away and are still in danger.”

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

Christian Families Receive Emergency Aid

Christian Families Receive Emergency Aid

On 21 March, in a desperate move to curb surging COVID-19 cases, Pakistan imposed a nationwide lockdown. The enforced restrictions significantly affected the country’s poor and vulnerable communities, including the Christian minority.

Pakistani Christians, most often day labourers in the lowest paying jobs, were struggling financially before the pandemic. Then, because the restrictions meant they could no longer work, they faced the very real threat of starvation.

As much-needed aid was distributed throughout Pakistan, VOM received reports of Christians being pushed to the end of the queue or being denied assistance altogether.

Relief was mainly distributed by private foundations or religious welfare organisations. When Christians asked for aid, they were often told that the funds were from zakat (charitable donations as a religious duty in Islam) so only Muslims qualify for it.

In addition, the government announced a Rs 2.5 billion ($23 million) special Ramadan package for Muslims, but nothing was released for Christians during Lent and Easter.

VOM sent funds to our contacts to purchase items for distribution to Christian families. Many of the recipients were on the brink of starvation and, as our distribution partner reported, very grateful for the assistance.

From our distribution partner:
Sehar, a young Christian mother, contacted us in a desperate situation. Her husband was working as a painter on daily wages and, because of the lockdown, had lost his job. The family had no savings. The money he was earning was hardly enough to meet the family of four’s basic living expenses. The loss of the husband’s job meant there was no food. Sehar told us that her husband was not even paid for the work he had completed just before the lockdown. She and her husband were so grateful for receiving the emergency aid which provided food for themselves and their two children.

Sehar was also very pleased to receive a Bible. She can read and write, but due to the family’s poverty had been unable to buy a Bible of her own. With churches being closed during lockdown, it is so important to continue worship at home, and reading the Bible is an important part of worship.

We also provided Rita and Usman with much-needed aid. Rita, 22, is the youngest of her siblings. She has two sisters and one brother. Her mother died of cancer recently and her father died in 2012. With her two sisters married, Rita is living with her brother Usman. Before lockdown restrictions were enforced, Usman had been working as a labourer on daily wages. Once the restrictions began, he was no longer able to work. This meant there was no money for food for Usman or Rita. They were both extremely grateful for the food they received.

Rita was also very happy to receive a Bible. She said that it would be a good companion for her. Reading it in her spare time would allow her to learn more about her faith. She was also keen to share it with other Christian women in her area.

On 9 May, Pakistan began easing the nationwide lockdown in phases.

At the time, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that developing countries like Pakistan face the dilemma of whether to protect their people from COVID-19 or hunger. Ultimately, Pakistan expects to suffer a considerable human cost.

VOM partners in Pakistan believe that the need for aid will continue for some time, and we have committed to send further funds throughout 2020.

While Christian persecution is not new to Pakistan, it is disheartening to see that even during a global crisis, Christians continue to face discrimination.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

Providing Life-Changing Practical Help to Women in India

Providing Life-Changing Practical Help to Women in India

In 2008, hundreds of Christians in India were forced to convert to Hinduism as fanatic groups and lynch mobs terrorised villages issuing a stark ultimatum: convert or die.

The violent attacks left many dead and around 50,000 people homeless as churches and homes were burnt to the ground.

Since that time, persecution and violence against Christians in India has not faltered and continues routinely to this day in all parts of the country.

The government remains apathetic to the problem and these fanatic groups are the cause of widespread trouble.

Often most affected by persecution in India are the vulnerable. When men are killed, women are left on their own, unable to earn money to support their families. Widows, the elderly and children suffer and many are left orphaned.

Since 2008, many people have been become homeless, moving from village to village to try to earn a living. Other Christians are controlled by village leaders who will not provide proper identity certification, rendering it impossible for many to work, study and even leave town.

Women and girls are the most affected group, denied justice and basic assistance throughout their entire lives. Hundreds of Christian women are living without identification in appalling conditions, unable to earn an income while enduring discrimination for their faith daily.

Despite this, Christians remain faithful and strong in the Lord.

Last year, Voice of the Martyrs Australia reached out by offering a practical solution to the need and supplied a group of 25 Christian women with sewing machines.

Along with the sewing machines, these women were provided with five months of training. Through this, they became proficient in sewing and tailoring, and learnt how to train others.

After also receiving some working capital, each of these women is now working from home making garments for men, women and children. They then take their handiwork to a local church which distributes them for sale at markets and shops. This gives them a sustainable income source.

There is growing demand for these items and each of the women who received a sewing machine has been able to teach and train others around her, furthering the impact.

Soon enough, local villages and churches saw the success of this project and have reached out with their own proposals so they too can access these sewing machines.

There are plans in 2020 to distribute almost double the number of sewing machines across this region.

Kanchana
“From 2008 to 2018, I experienced much persecution. Because I didn’t want to deny my faith, I was forced to move from place to place. I was unable to earn a steady income but I was also unable to receive any government aid or medical help. I couldn’t manage the needs of myself and my family.

“Before I received the sewing machine, I would collect firewood in the jungle to sell at the markets. I would move the wood all day and I was not happy in this job.

“When I came to Lokebadi in 2019, I applied for one of the sewing machines and when I received one I began to sew my own clothes. Soon, I brought three young ladies who didn’t have any training to teach them how to stitch and they began to help and we produced clothes together to sell.

“It gave me great joy to share this with them and to build their faith in the Lord. I am so glad that even in difficult times, I found help and I am able to help other persecuted women too. God has brought such happiness to all of us.”

Sujanti
Sujanti is originally from a small village in Gunjibadi. In 2008, she lost everything and spent her days roaming from village to village.

Sujanti said she was always down and had no peace in her life due to her suffering. While she worked hard every day, she could not afford medical care or education for her children and worried for them constantly.

In 2019, she was given the opportunity to apply for a sewing machine. After receiving it, she trained in tailoring and learnt how to stitch children’s garments. Before long she was able to sell her wares at the market to earn
an income.

Sujanti has also reached out to others, helping three young women by training them. They now make children’s clothes together, earning a steady income that they never thought possible. It has brought great joy to their lives.

Sujanti was especially happy that she can now give back to her own church since she has been blessed.

Nilondri
In 2008, during the time of great persecution, Nilondri lost all of her family members. She had no income and found herself on the streets for over 10 years, constantly wondering when her next meal would be.

In 2019, she had a chance to enrol herself in the sewing machine project. This encouraged her so much and she began learning to stitch materials for women and children.

Soon enough, when her work was consistent, she started helping two widow believers who were also without an income. She gave them the opportunity to train themselves on her sewing machine and now, along with her, they are earning an income together.

She is so thankful for her sewing machine as she no longer worries about finances.

Lilima
After the 2008 attacks and ongoing harassment, Lilima lost all her property and sources of income. Due to the ongoing persecution she was often chased and would flee from place to place.

She eventually found refuge in Lokebadi.

This is when she says the Lord opened a way for her. She, like the other women, began training and received her own sewing machine. Once she began selling clothes at the markets, she took on three young ladies with no experience and trained them.

Lilima has been instrumental in bringing hope and joy to the lives of these women.

“I am so happy that the dear Lord gave me a source of earning. More than this, I am happy I was able to help three other friends. It is my joy to see them smiling.”

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

 

Jay’s story – Counting it all Joy

Jay’s story – Counting it all Joy

Raised in a strict Muslim family, Jay’s dream was to preach Islam everywhere he went, that is until he met a Christian woman and found Jesus.

Born in Malaysia, Jay was raised and educated in Islamic law. Many of his family were Muslim evangelists; his brother was an Imam at the local mosque and Jay was set to go down the same path.

Jay decided he would share his Muslim faith with Christians and in doing so, he met Aeni, a Christian woman.

Jay said it was a turning point in his life and, through Aeni, he learnt about the “love and gentleness of the Lord”. Even though they had their challenges, the two married and Aeni never stopped praying for Jay. In 2019 he accepted Jesus and was baptised.

Soon after, Jay’s family discovered he had become a Christian and cut all ties with him. They turned the local community against him and lodged a report with local authorities. In Malaysia, it is illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity.

Thankfully, Jay and Aeni managed to escape to another town about four hours from their home, but life isn’t easy. They are now living in a small house in the jungle with a three-month-old baby. Due to persecution and the recent pandemic, Jay has struggled to find work.

The only way they survive is by selling at the local market the small amount of fruit and vegetables they grow. Local Christians haven’t been able to help them as they will also be arrested if they assist.

Despite this, Jay and Aeni remain faithful to the Lord, praying daily for their families.

“The more we pray, the more we experience the peace of God,” Jay said.

Last year, Voice of the Martyrs Australia partners connected with Jay and have begun discipling him and his family. He has since opened his home for fellowship and has started to share his faith with others.

VOM Australia has also been able to provide food and support for Jay and his family when needed.

Jay has a desire to grow in the Lord and serve Him always. “I count it all joy to know Jesus, I give thanks in everything,” he said.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.