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NEWSLETTER
Weekly Edition (21-Feb-2007)
"I am very thankful of God's grace and the prayers and letters from brothers and sisters all over the world. The suffering my wife and son had to endure is nothing compared to the martyred brothers and sisters in China. I will continue to stand up for this just cause for which I am called (to speak up for the persecuted)." - Brother Liu following his release from prison
Table of Contents
Vietnam
Paradox of Religious Freedom
While government officials extolled the freedom of religion in their country, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang tolerated the third demolition of his church building in 18 months. Authorities arrived on the morning of January 9, 2007 while several members of the house church met for prayer. Seventeen members suffered arrest and detention while demolition crews removed portions of the building.

The irony lies with Nguyen The Doanh, deputy chairman of the committee on religious affairs, stating, "We consider religious followers as companions, as all other social groups and strata, for building a strong Vietnam. We shall provide all necessary means (for them) to move along with the entire nation."


The deputy chairman’s comments were issued February 1, 2007 following the release of an 89 page “white paper” proving Vietnam embraces religion and considers religion an integral part of the nation.

Pastor Quang was released from prison in the General Amnesty of 2005 following 15 months of incarceration. For more information:

Mennonite World Conference Release

Vietnam Church Requests Prayer

Part of Church Center Torn Down

Fr Nguyen Van Ly was arrested on the evening of February 18th. Long an advocate for freedom in Vietnam including religious freedoms, Van Ly (59) has already over 10 years in prison. For all of the promises of freedom Vietnam should understand hat "actions speak louder than white papers".
Prayer Points
Pray for the churches and authorities in Vietnam. Pray for Pastor Quang, his family and the members of his house church.Pray for a bold witness for the Lord and perseverance in the faith.

Pray for Fr Nguyen Van Ly and two assistants who are now imprisoned. Pray God would protect them.
Uzbekistan
Update on Pastor Shestakov
The last ChristianMonitor newsletter reported on the detention of Pastor Dmitry Shestakov. On January 21st Pastor Dmitry Shestakov endured arrest in Adijan, Uzbekistan during a secret police raid of his church service. Police asked him to step outside and escorted the 37 year old Pastor to the local police station where he remains in detention.

Voice of the Martyrs Canada reports Local Christians have been allowed to bring Shestakov food and other necessities. They report that he is in good courage in spite of some health problems.

Forum 18 now reports Pastor Shestakov could face trial soon on three counts. Shestakov has been charged under three articles of the Criminal Code: Article 216 ("illegal organisation of social or religious organisations", which carries a maximum five year prison term), Article 156, part 2 ("inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred", which carries a prison term of between five and ten years) and Article 244-1, part 2 ("distributing materials containing ideas of religious extremism", which carries a maximum five year prison term). The charges could mean up to 20 years in prison if handed out concurrently.

Forum 18 also reports Pastor Rishat Garifulin, a visiting pastor from Kazakhstan, was arrested on February 8th when Christian literature was found in his possession. The pastor has not been seen or heard from since the arrest. Uzbekistan continues to isolate religious communities from outside contacts and increase pressures to control the Chuch.
Prayer Points
Pray for Pastor Shestakov and his family as they endure the trials of persecution for their commitment to preach the Gospel of Jesus. Pray authorities would pursue justice and truth with high regard.

Pray for Pastor Garifulin’s safety and well being. Pray the Lord to shelter and comfort him during this persecution.
China
China Continues to Attract Attention
Several news items highlight praise reports from China while others remind us of the need to keep China in our prayers.

With the release of a private survey, it was announced the number of Christian believers in China can be estimated at 40 million compared to official estimates of 16 million. The released survey stated Christians account for 12% of all believers in this communist nation. We may never know the exact number of believers in China rather we should note the growth of the Church in China. We praise the Lord for growth despite continued repression.

We give thanks for the release of Beijing house church activist Liu Fenggang following three years of imprisonment for "providing national intelligence to overseas organizations" by reporting a house church destruction to overseas Christian organizations. Details of his original arrest can be found with the following link: Christian Arrested for Leaking State Secrets

China has attracted the attention of human rights groups who spoke recently to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Human Rights in China (HRIC) stated, “Despite protections in domestic Chinese law and China's international human rights obligations, the situation continues to worsen for all religious practitioners or groups not sanctioned by the state. The current wave of control and repression against religious groups must be seen within the greater context of human rights violations, including those against ethnic minorities, human rights defenders, activists and ordinary petitioners.” This statement confirms ongoing repression of Christians in China who choose to remain outside of officially sanctioned religious groups.

Proof of the continued repression is contained in the AsiaNews report of local police conducting door to door searches for underground priests in the Province of Hebei, China. The purpose of the search is to force the underground leaders to submit to the official Patriotic Association. Several believers are in prison including the auxiliary bishop of the Xiwanzi diocese, Mgr Yao Liang, missing since his July 30th arrest. AsiaNews reported information they obtained included a plea from believers in the region stating, “Brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the Christian faith in China may be truly free!”

Finally, China Aid Association reported local police and the Religious Affairs Bureau raided a house church prayer meeting on February 8th in Jiangsu province, China. Christians were identified and had photographs taken. Those who did not cooperate were beaten and the leadership were threatened with arrest and physical harm if they did not cease meeting.
Prayer Points
Pray over the nation of China.

Pray for Christians in China both underground and those who are a part of the Three Self Church.
Global
Please Help Send Someone
In late spring of this year one of Christian Monitor’s staff members will embark on a missions trip to a communist country where persecution is an everyday occurrence. The purpose of this trip is to meet with a group of believers to bring words of encouragement and continued support in their evangelistic efforts. Following this trip there will be a meeting in South Korea with the Choi family to bring encouragement and a love offering to the family to assist in the difficult transition from prison to home. We have worked with Life Funds for North Korean Refugees and the family, to keep the story of Choi Yung-hun alive and in the thoughts and prayers of Christians around the world. For more information link to Still Forgotten

Christian Monitor does not accept gifts and operates on a volunteer basis. This staff member has been faithful in the responsibilities delegated and has spent long hours keeping the ministry of Christian Monitor functioning. We believe that many of our readers have a burden for the persecuted church and could participate in blessing our staff member, the underground church and the Choi family financially. Any additional funds will be used for Bible printing. Through a partner organization “get The Word Out” donations can be accounted for and coordinated.

If you can be a blessing please send your contribution to:

Get the Word Out
P.O. Box 692
Lawton, OK 73502-0692
Global
In Short.......
India continues to be the focus nation of Christian Monitor. Numerous persecutions are afflicting the body of believers in the Hindu dominated nation. Please read the articles on the website and keep India a top priority in prayer.

Testimony was presented to US officials regarding continued persecution in Burma. Chin and Kachin representatives testified to the brutal crackdown of Christians by the Burmese military intended to “wipe them out”.

Christians remain on edge in North Korea during celebrations of Kim Jung Il’s birthday. It is believed the leader of North Korea is concerned with the spread of Christianity and the belief that Christians will cause the downfall of his dictatorship. Pray for the saints of God in his repressive nation.

Praise God for the unexpected release of church leaders and aid workers in Eritrea. Praise Him for singer Helen Berhane who left Eritrea recently. Pray for her healing and restoration.

Continue to pray and remember those who suffer for their faith. Prayer is a selfless act benefiting persecuted Christians and those willing to pray. For more information visit www.christianmonitor.org.