11 12 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Philippines: Open Doors USA Asks for Prayers for Victims of Typhoon
Open Doors USA is urging prayers for the victims and families of a super typhoon which killed an estimated 10,000 in the central Philippines over the weekend. Thousands are also missing and injured. An estimated 9 million, with many of them made homeless, have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded,
“I urge all Christians in the West to pray for the victims of this horrific typhoon which has devastated many areas of the Philippines,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry. “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims. Pray that relief products such as medicine, food and water get to those who are suffering.”
Open Doors’ work in the southern Philippines – especially in Zamboanga in Mindanao province – over the years includes providing relief products and refuge for victims of an on-going conflict between government troops and Muslim rebels, training of church leaders, social-economic programs and literacy and discipleship ministries.
China Asks Church for Help with Social Care – from World Watch Monitor http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2013/10/2810598/
The Chinese government has welcomed the role of the Church in providing social care in the country.
China’s leaders are holding a meeting this week in Beijing to discuss the economic and political agenda for the next decade in which it seems the Church will play a vital role. “The government welcomes the support of the Church,” said government official Wang Xinhua at a recent Shanghai conference on the role of Christianity in China, sponsored by the Bible Society. “We lack the resources to meet all the needs that we face, so we need religious organizations in order to do so.”
Xinhua said that the “beliefs” and “love” of the Church were an “advantage” to society. He added that China’s charitable sector was facing “a crisis of confidence” due to corruption scandals, saying that the Church was a less corrupt partner compared to the government. Leading academic professor Choong Chee Pang told the conference: “Many social problems have their root causes in social injustice, the abuse of power, inequality, the widening gap between the rich and the poor due to mismanagement of the resources, corruption and bribery.” In an outspoken move, the professor said that, as the Church took up the challenge of providing social care across China, particularly among the elderly and poor, it must not lose its prophetic role.
“The Church needs to be a prophet and a servant,” he said. “This is not a problem in a free or democratic society, but in other societies it can be a sensitive issue. It is hard for the Chinese Church to play the role of a prophet especially with a critical voice.” Though it is the world’s second largest economy, China is facing a social care crisis, particularly in caring for an increasingly elderly population.
According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, by 2040 nearly 20 percent of China’s rural population will be over age 65.
Sudan: Christian Holds on to his Faith despite Persecution
In Sudan the atmosphere for Christians is becoming increasingly dangerous. Since the secession of South Sudan, the government in Khartoum has made it clear that the country is a Muslim state that will be governed by strict Islamic law (Sharia). The government of President Oman Hassan al-Bashir has made it clear that there is no room for Christians. However, contrary to the desire of the government and society at large, there are Christians in Sudan who are holding on to Christ at great cost.
Moses (not his real name), 31, was born to a successful Muslim businessman in Sudan. As a young man, he helped his father run the business. Sadly, the father died when he was 16 years old. Moses’ mother remarried after a short time. An uncle took in the young Moses. But he was not an honest man. He grabbed all of Moses’ father’s property. When Moses protested, the uncle sent him to a state-run school for “problematic” young people. Moses faced disciplining and Islamic instruction. He endured regular beatings and hard labor. After some time Moses escaped. He found refuge for a few years in a separate town where he made ends meet by doing menial jobs. Then he returned to Khartoum to live with his brother. But that did not last. When Moses and his brother had a disagreement about their late father’s property, Moses moved out.
One day in 2011, Moses walked past a church and noticed the cross. He unexpectedly felt “something stirring in him.” He entered the building on an impulse and was met by a church elder. They had a brief discussion about the Christian faith. This one conversation led to a number of follow-up meetings. After two years of discussion, Moses accepted Christ. The regular discussions turned into discipleship sessions.
Soon after this, Moses married a Muslim woman, Aida. She regularly joined Moses for church services at the local church and Moses sincerely hoped she would follow him to Christ. But it did not happen. At first, the couple did not tell any of their families about Moses’ Christian faith. They thought it best to keep it a secret. But in April, Aida told her mother. Aida’s mother was furious. She spread the word. When she told her sons, they immediately went to Moses’ house and burned it to the ground. Moses lost everything in the fire, including all of his documents.
Not surprisingly, Aida left Moses. She said she would only return if he renounced his Christian faith. When Moses’ in-laws informed his own relatives about his Christian faith, they also started pressuring him to return to Islam. Moses noticed that they started monitoring his activities and realized that he was in grave danger. But he was determined to hold on to Christ. So Moses decided to relocate once more. Like several times before, Moses has had to start all over again. But although he has been separated from his earthly family, God has provided a spiritual family for him. In Sudan, this is a blessing and a privilege not to be taken for granted.
Before secession, most of Sudan’s Christians were Southerners. When South Sudan chose independence, it caused a great, almost forced, exodus of Christians from northern Sudan. This has greatly diminished these congregations in Sudan. But thankfully there remains an indigenous local church, and by the grace of God, Moses found a spiritual home in his new town where he is being nurtured and discipled. Open Doors is supporting the small but courageous local Church in Sudan. Open Doors is strengthening efforts of the Church to minister to unbelievers in love and helping converts such as Moses to grow strong in the faith despite the many challenges they face for choosing Christ.
(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Open Doors USA website is www.OpenDoorsUSA.org).