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Category: Friends In The West

Wife of Pastor Wang Yi released from jail in China after six months

Jiang Rong, the wife of pastor Wang Yi, was released from detention in China on 10 June, after six months in jail.

Her husband remains in “secret detention” on charges of “inciting to subvert state power”, according to the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Four other members of the church remain in detention.

Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong [Image source: Early Rain Covenant Church via Facebook]

The church said in a Facebook post on 11 June that Jiang Rong had been released on bail under surveillance to live at her brother’s house and was reunited with her young son, Shuya.

Jiang and her husband were arrested on 9 December 2018 along with about 100 other Early Rain Church members.

Chinese authorities continued their crackdown on the church on 24 February 2019, making 44 arrests including ten children and a two-month old baby. On the same day, Pastor Wang Yi’s elderly mother, Chen Yaxue, was savagely beaten by a police officer. Local reports said one officer grabbed her hair and kicked her, while another held her down, after she refused to reveal her PIN number to him at an ATM.

Barnabas Fund has launched a global initiative to pray for Pastor Wang Yi through its webpage: Christian Prisoners of Conscience.

Source: Barnabas Fund

Part of Christian School in Eastern Uganda Torn Down

Area Muslims opposing it issued threat.

Kabuna villagers in eastern Uganda discover school building containing three classrooms pulled down on June 2, 2019. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBIKenya (Morning Star News) – One of two buildings of a Christian primary school in eastern Uganda was demolished after local Muslims who opposed it threatened “tough action,” sources said.

One of the aims of the school is to provide education to formerly Muslim children whose parents have disowned them for putting their faith in Christ, said a school official whose name is withheld for security reasons. Among the 173 students from eight districts, 57 are converts from Islam, he said. Another seven children were Muslims who became Christians after they began attending the school.

Complaining that worship at night was disturbing them, area Muslims had written several letters to Kabuna educational officials, the Budaka District police commander and the Budaka Resident District Commissioner demanding closure of the school, he said.

“If you do not stop night prayers, then we are going to take tough action against the school,” read one anonymous letter to school officials a week before the June 2 demolition, he said.

“We suspect that the destruction is connected with the warnings that we had received previously,” the official told Morning Star News.

A watchman guarding the school dormitory said he heard the destruction taking place at about 2 a.m.

“Since the school is closed to the road, I thought it was an accident that had taken place, only to find out in the morning that three classroom had been destroyed, with the bricks lying in ruins and the whole entire three classrooms flat on the ground,” said the watchman, whose name is withheld for security reasons.

Two months ago area residents mobilized 35 Muslims from Kabuna, Kaperi, Macholi and Kotia villages to march to the school gate and throw stones at the buildings during classes, officials said. Budaka police arrived immediately and restored calm.

The June 2 demolition caused damages of about $4,500, including materials, chairs and chalkboards, the school official said.

“We need financial help to rebuild the classrooms and for security for the school,” he said. “Otherwise we risk losing children who have showed genuine conversion to the Christian faith from Islam.”

The attack is the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Source: Morning Star News

BreakPoint: Indian Christians on Edge: Big Win for Hindu Nationalists

Two weeks ago, Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term as India’s Prime Minister. His party, the BJP, won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections.

As Indian pundits – a word that is, by the way, of Indian origin – will tell you, if Modi and the BJP were the obvious winners, their political rivals, the Congress Party, were the big losers. But there’s another potential loser in these elections, one that should especially concern American Christians, and that’s Indian Christians.

To understand why, you need to understand Hindutva, which is the BJP’s governing ideology. It literally means “Hinduness,” and defines what it means to be an Indian in religious—to be specific, Hindu—terms. Hindutva regards Christianity and Islam as foreign religions, and therefore any Indian who claims to be a Christian or a Muslim is less than truly Indian. According to this ideology, Hinduism is central to what it means to be an Indian.

While most of the world mistakenly sees India as a land of Gandhi, gurus, and nonviolence, there’s nothing peaceful or tolerant about Hindutva. For instance, the man who assassinated Gandhi was an adherent of Hindutva who felt Gandhi had betrayed the Hindu community.

In the run-up to the election, one BJP candidate called Gandhi’s assassin “a patriot.” Though Modi denounced the comments, they are consistent with the principles of Hindutva. More concerning are the many examples of Hindutva-inspired persecution of Christians in India, especially in the five years since the BJP first came to power.

In the weeks before the election, there were reports of “food deprivation, beatings, and jail” directed at Christian converts in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

As Open Doors put it, “because radical Hindu nationalists view followers of Jesus as alien to the nation, all Christians in India are suffering persecution. Driven by a desire to cleanse their country from Islam and Christianity, nationalists do not shy away from using extensive violence to achieve their goals.”

Part of their campaign to cleanse India of Christians involves anti-conversion laws. At least six Indian states effectively prohibit conversions to Christianity. I say “effectively,” because Hindu nationalists there have found a way around the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Indian constitution. Any conversion that results from “force, allurement or fraudulent means” is illegal. Given the vagueness of these terms, Indian law empowers ideologically-driven local officials to view all conversions as guilty until proven innocent.

For all these reasons and more, India currently ranks tenth on Open Doors World Watch List—which is eleven spots higher than when the BJP first assumed power.

All of this may come as a surprise given what we often hear or read about India in mainstream media outlets. For example, a recent discussion of the Indian election on a New York Times podcast explained the threat to Indian Muslims, but made no mention of the persecution of Indian Christians.

To be fair, India does have the second-largest Muslim population in the world, and the most visible religious conflict there falls along Hindu-Muslim lines. Still, there are more than 30 million Christians in India, and there’s some reason to believe that this number may be significantly understated. Muslims aren’t the only targets of Hindu extremism. Indian Christians are rightly concerned about what Modi’s triumph means for them.

We should be concerned as well. After all, contrary to Hindutva ideology, Christianity is no European import. It existed in India before Paul reached Rome. Some churches in southern India even worship in an offshoot of Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.

We must pray for our Indian brethren, asking God to preserve the faith in a subcontinent where it is every bit as native as that which seeks to drive it out.

Source: Breakpoint

Series of Attacks Leaves India’s Christians Concerned About the BJP’s Re-election

By ICC’s India Correspondent

06/13/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – A series of persecution incidents have raised concerns for many Indian Christians following the re-election of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since the BJP claimed a landslide victory in India’s national election, International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented at least seven attacks against Christians in just two weeks.

“I expected things to be difficult,” Pastor Roop Sen, a pastor from Lalgunj, Uttar Pradesh, told ICC. “But I never thought it would be so soon. Policemen picked me up from my home and took me to the police station on May 30. I asked them about the reason for my arrest. They told me that someone, likely a Hindu radical, had submitted a complaint that I was involved in forced conversions.”

This is not the first time that Pastor Sen has been targeted by Hindu radicals. Three years ago, in 2016, he was brutally beaten by Hindu radicals.

However, Pastor Sen feels that Christians are now more vulnerable under BJP rule. “Anybody can file a complaint against me or any other Christians and an arrest will immediately follow without proper evidence to back the accusation,” Pastor Sen explained.

Pastor Sen leads a congregation of 150 Christians and has served as a pastor in Lalgunj for more than 10 years. After the arrest on May 30, Pastor Sen was able to secure bail because the charges against him were yet to be finalized. However, he is worried about what charges will be finalized and what the consequences of those charges will be.

“Anybody can file a complaint against me or any other Christians and an arrest will immediately follow without proper evidence to back the accusation.”

“One of my church members named Saggudas was denied access to the village water well,” Pastor Mohan Kumar from Yeshu Bachata Hai Church in Janakipur, Bihar told ICC in the days following the BJP’s victory. “We fetched water for Saggudas and his family from neighboring villages for 10 days. When the village leaders realized the Christians had found a way to get water, they brutally beat up Saggudas and his family, leaving them with bruises and internal injuries.”

“I have been ministering in Janakipur since 2017 and I can attest to the fact that local Christians have endured endless challenges,” Pastor Kumar explained. “However, the intensity has grown recently. I am not sure if it is directly connected to the election results, but things are getting worse.”

In another incident, three pastors in the Azamgarh Distirct of Uttar Pradesh were arrested on May 30 while leading Christian meetings where more than 2,000 Christians had gathered for prayer. Local police justified the arrests by saying that the organizers had not sought the proper permissions to hold the meeting.

Pastor Philip, an evangelist from Delhi and one of the three arrested, said that the police deliberately used vague sections of the law in order to disrupt the prayer service. “This has happened routinely and now that the BJP has come back to power, I suspect that things might get even worse,” Pastor Philip told ICC.

Attacks on Christians and their places of worship skyrocketed in the first five years of BJP rule. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) the number of violent attacks on Christians more than doubled.

This fact and the series of incidents that have already been reported in the first weeks of the BJP’s second term in power has many Indian Christians concerned. Will the next five years of BJP rule be the same as the first? Will attacks on India’s Christians continue to escalate? These are the questions many Indian Christians find themselves asking in the early days of the BJP’s second term in power.

Source: International Christian Concern (persecution.org)

Christians flee homes as Islamist terrorists murder 29 in Burkina Faso in twin attacks

Christians are fleeing for their lives in northern Burkina Faso after twin attacks by Islamist extremists on 9 and 10 June left at least 29 people dead, according to Barnabas Fund contacts.

Nineteen people were murdered in the town of Arbinda on Sunday 9 June and reports are coming in of a further ten slaughtered in nearby Namentenga province the next day.

“There is no Christian anymore in this town [Arbinda],” said a Barnabas Fund contact. He added that 19 people were killed and that the entire population of Christians had fled for their safety.

He said, “It’s proven that they were looking for Christians. Families who hide Christians are killed. Arbinda had now lost in total no less than 100 people within six months.”

“Several dozen armed men carried out an attack on the district of Arbinda, shooting several people dead,” an official told local news sources.

Local Barnabas Fund contacts said that 82 pastors and 1,145 Christians, of 151 households, were fleeing from different locations in northern Burkina Faso.

The latest attacks are the fifth and sixth in just the past six weeks. The four previous atrocities left a total of 20 dead.

The Islamist militants’ murderous rampage began on 28 April in Silgadji, when gunman rounded up a pastor, his son and four of his congregation and demanded they deny their Christian faith and convert to Islam. When they refused they were executed one-by-one.

After Sunday’s killings, our contact urged prayer. “I know you are praying for the nations in difficulties including Burkina Faso. And please continue to do so,” he told us.

From Barnabas Fund contacts

Source: Barnabas Fund