Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 353 - Wed 16 Nov 2005
PRAYER NEEDS THIS WEEK IN CHINA AND INDIA
----------------------------------------- CHINA: HOW LONG WILL LIBERTY BE RESISTED? -----------------------------------------
The printing of Bibles and religious literature in China must be approved by the Religious Affairs Bureau. Even then they can only be purchased through registered Patriotic churches, which are under the headship, direction and supervision of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The number of Bibles available for sale each year is capped, creating a serious shortage. What's more, because the Patriotic churches are located only in the larger cities, the 'legal' Bibles are simply out of reach, both financially and geographically, to rural Christians.
Pastor Cai Zhuohua (34) printed Bibles and Christian literature for free distribution within his six Beijing house-churches. He was caught and arrested along with three family members in September 2004. On 4 November 2005, the government ordered the Chinese law firm defending Cai to be suspended for 12 months. On Tuesday 8 November 2005, the Haidian District People's Court in Beijing sentenced Cai Zhuohua, his wife Xiao Yunfei (33) and her brother Xiao Gaowen (37) to prison terms of three years, two years and 18 months respectively. Cai and his wife have a five-year-old son! Even though Cai gave away the Bibles and literature and was not running a business, he was found guilty of 'illegal business practices', conveniently making this an economic, not a religious crime. A constant stream of house-church pastors, evangelists and believers flow through China's prisons and re-education-through- labour camps.
Injustice and severe persecution at the hands of the CCP will remain until China enacts genuine religious freedom. President Hu Jintao has recently been travelling around Western Europe promoting China as a powerful but friendly player on the world stage. However he has not been able to dodge challenges to China's human rights record. At a dinner in Germany to honour President Hu, Juergen Ruettgers, an MP in Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, said before 200 guests he was 'convinced that human rights and political liberty, along with prosperity, are today more than ever the irreplaceable foundations for stability and unity'. US President George W Bush arrives in Beijing to meet with President Hu on 19 November. Bush has said he will be pressing Hu about religious liberty and that he will look for an opportunity to engage in Christian worship with Chinese citizens.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:
* the many hundreds of Chinese Christians imprisoned for their faith, separated from loved ones, tortured, beaten, and exploited; may their wounds be healed, their hearts comforted, their hope encouraged, their needs met, and their souls restored by the ever-present Counsellor, the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 23:4)
* God to work in and/or through President Hu Jintao and other figures with authority and influence, to bring religious liberty to China, so believers may live in peace and dignity and the Church may be free for mission, service and worship. (1 Timothy 2: 1-4) 'Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that man gets justice.' Proverbs 29:26
--------------------------------------------------- INDIA: SUNDAY 20 NOVEMBER HINDU DEADLINE TO CONVERT ---------------------------------------------------
Whilst India's Hindu supremacists have lost political power at the federal level, they still govern in several states, and their militant and cultural wings continue to fight Christianity across the nation. In the northern state of Chattisgarh on 10 November 2005, Pastor Masih Das Rai was conducting a baptism ceremony for nine new believers. However, one of the baptism candidates was actually a 'spy'. After declining to travel to the site with the other believers, he arrived late with a group of Hindu militants who beat the believers and handed them to police for allegedly breaching the Freedom of Religion Act by supposedly forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. Pastor Rai is now in Baloadabazar Jail, Chattisgarh.
On 4 November 2005, Hindu extremists attacked Pastor Feroz Masih (62) in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. This state is only 0.09 percent Christian, and only 15 of its 95 people groups have congregations of believers. Masih, a former Hindu, and his son, Ramesh, lead a local chapter of the Believers' Church in India. The Masihs' home has been stoned and they have received death threats. As Pastor Masih was travelling to visit and comfort a grieving member, he was attacked and so severely beaten he had to be hospitalised with internal injuries. Even though the assailants are known, no one has been arrested. His attackers forced him to sign a document agreeing to participate in a ceremony planned for Sunday 20 November when all 60 members of his church would be converted back to Hinduism. Ramesh Masih told Compass Direct, 'They also warned him that he, along with all the believers, would be burned alive if they refused to reconvert.' The Masihs have written to the authorities requesting protection, as they will resist any attempts by Hindu extremists to forcibly convert anyone. Please pray for this vulnerable little fellowship. PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:
* State anti-conversion laws to be banned as unconstitutional.
* God to sharpen the conscience of those in authority and use the Congress-led federal government to make justice, the rule of law and security effective across India.
* God to grant Feroz and Ramesh Masih his wisdom and strength, and surround the Believers' Church that meets in their house with heavenly forces; may he deliver them from terror and violence, increase their faith, and reveal his power, justice and compassion.
'Do not call a conspiracy everything that these people call a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary...' (Isaiah 8:13,14a - sanctuary: the place God dwells in all his holiness.)
We regret it was not practicable this week to provide a summary to use in bulletins unable to run the whole RLP. We suggest you could use the last paragraph from either the China or India article.
Please send this RLP to others, with attribution to World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Prayer List <[email protected]> ----------------------------------------------------
The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC. Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.
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