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INDIA: Believers Forced to Pose “like Christ on the cross”

INDIA: Believers Forced to Pose “like Christ on the cross”

Believers in India were taunted, beaten and forced to pose “like Christ on the cross” in police custody when extremists accused them of “forced conversion”.

Pastor Indresh Kumar Gautam, aged 24, and four others were arrested after 30 Hindu extremists broke up their Sunday service in Pratapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh.

As extremists armed with sticks and rods threatened the congregation and started beating people, police officers who had come with the extremists looked on.

Later at the police station, a senior officer brutally beat the five detainees with a cane, insulting them and accusing them of trying to convert local people. He forced four of them to pose as if they were being crucified, because he wanted to see how it felt to “torture Jesus”. “Let’s see if your Jesus would come here to save you,” he mocked.

The Christians were released on bail after signing an affidavit promising not to engage in “conversion activities”; one said he was not a Christian. Pastor Indresh says he intends to take legal action.

Sources: Morning Star News, Release International

  • Ask God to heal all those who were beaten and tortured. Pray the Lord will give them the strength to remain steadfast.
  • Pray for the church in India, especially in eastern Uttar Pradesh where anti-Christian sentiment runs high.
  • Pray specifically for the police involved in the arrest and torture of the believers. Pray the Lord will grant wisdom and courage to Pastor Indresh.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

NORTH KOREA: Gospel Message Reaching Capital

NORTH KOREA: Gospel Message Reaching Capital

Memory cards loaded with videos explaining Jesus and Christianity are reaching citizens in Pyongyang.

A resident living in the country’s capital, where only the most loyal citizens are permitted to live, wrote an encouraging letter recently to Christian workers in the region. “The video clips that I watched were very shocking,” the person wrote. “It is true that I could not understand much, but I was inspired by them; they caused me to think about life and the faith. These videos are very dangerous. But learning about the faith is worth risking my life. After watching the videos, I now know why the North Korean regime is afraid of Christianity. I eagerly and earnestly look forward to seeing religious freedom one day in North Korea.”

Becoming a Christian is dangerous. If discovered, Christians are sent to concentration camps, where they are starved, overworked and tortured.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Pray for the writer of the letter and all other North Koreans who hear God’s Word. Pray that they will understand the Gospel and come to saving faith in Christ.
  • Pray for those who have counted the cost to follow the Lord in this nation. Pray for strength, encouragement and protection.
  • Pray the Lord will have mercy on Kim Jong Un and all ruling authorities in North Korea, to bring conviction, repentance and faith to many.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

PAKISTAN: Persecution of Christians Continues

PAKISTAN: Persecution of Christians Continues

Twenty-five Christians are in prison for blasphemy, six with death sentences. They include Shafqat and his wife, Shagufta. On 8 April the Christian couple will have their appeal heard by the Lahore Court of Appeal.

Sentenced to death in 2014, the court found them guilty of sending blasphemous texts to an Islamic cleric, even though their ‘confession’ was extracted under torture and both are illiterate. Catholic lawyer, Khalil Tahir Sandhu, will present the appeal.

Since the death of Christian farm labourer, Saleem Masih on 28 February, outraged Pakistanis have been using the hashtag #JusticeForSaleemMasih in outcry and to protest the abuse of Pakistan’s religious minorities.

Saleem died in Lahore’s General Hospital after being beaten and tortured by Muslims who accused the ‘filthy Christian’ of ‘polluting’ a well.

Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin

  • Pray for justice and liberty for Shafqat and Shagufta. May the Lord bless, guide and protect their lawyers, in particular, Khalil Tahir Sandhu.
  • Ask the Lord to comfort the family of Saleem. Pray that his death will not be in vain. Ask the Lord to use the outrage expressed to help ensure justice and bring about significant cultural change.
  • Pray the Lord will sustain, bless and continue to grow Pakistani’s vulnerable and persecuted Christian church.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

PAKISTAN: Christian Tortured to Death for Bathing in Muslims’ Well

PAKISTAN: Christian Tortured to Death for Bathing in Muslims’ Well

Saleem Masih, a 22-year-old Pakistani Christian, was severely tortured by a Muslim landlord in Pakistan’s Kasur District because he used the landlord’s tube-well to bathe. Three days later, on 28 February, Saleem died at Lahore General Hospital due to the severity of his injuries.

On 25 February, Saleem was working as a day labourer in an agricultural field owned by Sher Dogar in Bhagiyana village, located in the Kasur District. Early in the morning, after Saleem finished unloading chaff in the fields, he rinsed himself off in a nearby tube-well. When Dogar and other Muslims saw what Saleem was doing, they rushed over, pulled Saleem out of the water, and began to beat him.

“They abused and tortured [Saleem] for ‘polluting’ the Muslims’ water,” Waris Masih, Saleem’s uncle said. “They got aggressive because a ‘Choora’ (a derogatory term used to denote Pakistani Christians as unclean) dared to make their water unclean. They claimed this would make their entire crop filthy.”

According to multiple reports, Dogar and six other Muslims, including Muhammad Iqbal, Altaf, Ali Shehzad, Jabbar Arain, Mushtaq, and Haji Muhammad, dragged Saleem to Dogar’s cattle farm where they chained him down and tortured him for two hours. According to Saleem’s relatives, he was beaten with sticks and iron rods, struck with electric shocks, and rolled over by an iron rod, causing multiple fractures to his left arm and ribs.

At approximately 9am, Saleem’s father, Ghafoor Masih, was called by the police to Dogar’s cattle farm. There he discovered Saleem unconscious and bloodied due to the torture. Saleem’s father rushed him to the district hospital where he received initial treatment but was transferred to Lahore General Hospital due to the severity of his injuries. Saleem remained in a coma for three days until he died on 28 February.

Police registered a First Information Report against Dogar and the six others who participated in the attack, but none are currently in police custody. According to several local reports, police granted Dogar and the others pre-arrest bail and released them after briefly holding them in custody.

Sources: International Christian Concern, CLAAS-UK

  • Ask the Lord to bring comfort to Saleem’s loved ones as they come to terms with this tragedy. Pray they will experience His ministering presence.
  • Pray the local authorities will do all they can to ensure justice on behalf of Saleem, his family and the local Christian community.
  • Ask the Lord to bring courage to the Christian minority in Pakistan. Pray the Lord’s protection will be upon them.

Post your prayer in the comments below.


Ali’s Story

Ali’s Story

Life was tough for Ali even as a Muslim in Syria but when he was forced to flee seven years ago, he found Christ.

Ali was living in a town in Syria where known terrorists with links to Islamic State were also residing; in fact, he had even rejected their invitation to join them.

One day, a bomb went off in his town, injuring him and many others.

When he was in hospital recovering from his injuries, the government, who were investigating the bombing, considered everyone in the town a terrorist – even those who were innocent.

When he was released from the hospital, Ali was immediately arrested by the secret police and sent to jail.
Jail in Syria was a horrific experience for Ali.

“I was beaten every single day and subjected to all kinds of torture just to get me to confess that I was a terrorist. I was tied up, given electric shocks and hung upside down daily,” he recalls.

Every day he expected to die, as many people were killed.

By chance, another man with the same name was imprisoned. This man happened to be the son of an army general and was to be released. Due to an error, officials mistakenly released Ali instead and after 14 months in jail, he was freed.

Islamic State found out that Ali had been released and were plotting to kill him. “No one was released from jail unless they worked for the secret police and, also because I rejected them, they were after me.”

The prison authorities soon discovered their error, but Ali acted quickly and fled the country. He first flew to Lebanon with his mother and sister before moving to Jordan to live.

After living in Jordan for a few years, Ali married, and his wife soon became pregnant but tragically she died in childbirth. Ali was left a widower with a newborn son.

At this time Ali was still a devout Muslim, reciting the Koran daily. One day, he noticed something new – that the Koran mentioned the prophet named Jesus more than it mentioned Mohammed.

“I noticed that this character was different, he wasn’t just a normal prophet, he acted different and spoke of bringing peace,” Ali says.

He met with a known Christian pastor, who had been helping him, and asked him for a Bible.

“I wanted to know about Christians,” he says. “In Islam and in mosques they talk about Christians as if they are bad people. But when I came to Jordan these bad people were the only ones to help me, the only ones to feed me, the only ones who encouraged me. These ‘bad people’ were actually good people.”

Ali began to read the Bible and gave his life to Jesus. He soon joined the church and began ministry.
Sadly, his difficulties didn’t end there.

The Muslim company that he worked for discovered he had converted to Christianity and made his life difficult before framing him for stealing money and firing him. They also told other companies not to hire him.

Ali hasn’t had permanent work for six months and he still suffers the physical effects from his time in prison, but cannot afford adequate medical care. He is serving the Lord, ministering to Muslims through the Koran and the Bible.

The local pastor who led Ali to the Lord continues to help him and says he would love to see Ali in full-time ministry. He believes he has a gift to help other Muslims find Christ.

VOM will continue to help refugees in Jordan.

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