12 3 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
China: Church Protests against Arrest of 23 Members – From World Watch Monitor http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2013/11/2855544/
A church in eastern China has written a letter to the Chinese government, demanding permission to stage a protest against the detention of 23 members of its congregation. The Nanle County Church in Puyang, Henan province, which comes under the “official” state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), claims the majority of those detained, including the church’s leader, Fan Ruiling, “have not received a criminal charge, nor any written notice, nor have their families been told where they are detained.”
Four other church leaders – Zhang Shaojie, Zhao Guoli, Wu Guishan and Zhang Cuixia – were arrested. The church says their whereabouts is “unknown and no one knows whether they are alive or dead.”
Communist authorities have often clashed with members of unofficial, or “house,” churches, with demolitions of houses of worship and beatings of parishioners. But it is unusual for authorities to crack down on a state-sanctioned church such as Nanle County Church. The arrests took place on Nov. 16 and 17 after a third group of church members had visited Beijing to protest against incidents related to church property.
Following the arrests, the church complained that government officials have stalked the church premises and harassed its members. It also claims that lawyers have been prevented from meeting those arrested. Nanle County Church says those arrested on “fabricated criminal charges” have been tortured and that their arrests amount to “religious persecution.”
Uzbekistan: Christian Arrested, Beaten
Please pray for the situation with “brother C,” who was detained by police in a city in Uzbekistan. He was stopped at the train station and after searching him, police found a flash card with Christian e-books, MP3s and other Christian materials in one of his pockets. He was brought to the police office where “brother C” was beaten by the local police chief. “Brother C” is a member of a nonregistered local Christian fellowship. After the beating, “brother C” started feeling dizzy and nauseated. Obviously, he had a serious concussion. When “brother C” asked for health care and assistance, police representatives denied the request. Instead, police members went to his home where they started an illegal search. They confiscated his computer, three Christian books and a DVD. After police left, “brother C” went to the hospital for help.
Police tried to “hush” the illegal detention and inhuman beating of “brother C” and sent him to court. The court fined ‘brother C” $500. In addition, the court also decided to confiscate the books, computer and the flash card. “Brother C” is writing a complaint to the Supreme Court regarding the illegal actions of the police, which caused harm to his health. Pray for the health of “brother C” and that the peace of God would comfort his heart.
Indonesia: Christian Woman Insulted, Mocked in Workplace
This is Sarah’s (real name protected due to security reasons) life every day. She is the only believer in her workplace in Aceh, Indonesia. Her difficult position at her office, compounded by news about the situation of churches in Aceh, brings pressures that are sometimes too much to bear for her. “I was born here in Aceh,” says Sarah, “Being a believer in this province means you have to be prepared for discrimination. Even as a student, I was the only believer in my class. Being mocked or insulted was a daily occurrence, but my friends did not do more than that. Thank God.”
After Sarah completed her law degree, she found a job in Aceh. Her experiences as the only believer in her school helped her to adjust at work easily and quickly. But the situation in her office became more difficult in 2012 when 17 churches were closed in Aceh Singkil and two church workers were arrested. Sarah feels that her co-workers’ attitude toward her changed. “They are good in front of me, expressing their disagreement about the church closures,” she says. “But behind my back, they mock me and they even support the government’s decision (about the church closures).”
The 29-year-old believer shares that the increasing pressures not only come from non-believers, but also from churches in Aceh. To the rest of Aceh, this communicates disunity and fighting between local churches. Aceh local government has issued permits to only four denominations: HKBP (Batak Protestant Church), GPIB (Western Indonesia Protestant Church), the Catholic Church, and the Methodist Church. Other denominations have applied for permits, but so far they have been denied.
“Many churches from other groups ask my help so that they can get a permit,” Sarah discloses. “When I refuse to help, they say that I do not care about my fellow believers. I try to make them understand that I do not have the power to change the government’s decision. I feel frustrated sometimes.” Despite the problems she encounters with co-workers and churches in Aceh, she hopes fervently that more Muslim Acehnese will come to Christ.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that adheres to strict Shariah laws. It has a special police force that ensures these Islamic laws and regulations are kept to the letter. For followers of Christ, to live in Aceh is risky, frustrating and challenging.
(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).