April 2017 Persecution Magazine

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APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />


China’s<br />

Christians<br />

In the midst of a<br />

crackdown on China’s<br />

Christians, ICC<br />

examines the lives of<br />

Christians in China<br />

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Table of Contents<br />

In This Issue:<br />


3 | The Bridge<br />

Join ICC and other leaders, experts,<br />

and organizations as we host The<br />

Bridge conference, focused on North<br />

Korea on June 2 and 3 at Saddleback<br />

Church in southern California.<br />


16 | Imprisoned for Christ: ICC<br />

Working to Free Prisoners of Faith<br />

ICC’s advocacy department aids two<br />

Christians wrongfully imprisoned in<br />

Sudan and Turkey.<br />


20 | Believers in China<br />

ICC examines China’s fear of religion<br />

and how it affects Christians every day.<br />


24 | Egypt Disintegrating<br />

Currently, the people of Egypt,<br />

Christians in particular, grapple with<br />

an economic crisis, growing Salafist<br />

sentiment, and Islamic State militants.<br />



<strong>2017</strong>: NORTH KOREA: THE RELEASE OF THE BRIDE<br />


U.S. SENATOR<br />

(INVITED)<br />



POLICY DAY: MAY 24<br />













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4<br />

Regular Features<br />

4 Letter from the President<br />

A few words from ICC’s president, Jeff<br />

King, on finding the ultimate treasure.<br />

6 World News<br />

A snapshot of the persecution that<br />

impacts our brothers and sisters daily, in<br />

every corner of the world.<br />

10 Your Dollars at Work<br />

Learn how your gifts are providing<br />

comfort, relief, Bibles, education and<br />

vocational training to the persecuted.<br />

14 Volunteers<br />

Learn how members of ICC’s volunteer<br />

teams are making an impact in their<br />

communities for the persecuted.<br />


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APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />




<strong>2017</strong>: NORTH KOREA: THE RELEASE OF THE BRIDE<br />
















POLICY DAY: MAY 24<br />





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President’s Letter<br />

Finding<br />

The Treasure<br />

Years ago I was in China and I asked my handlers to arrange a<br />

meeting with pastors that had been imprisoned for ten or more<br />

years. These were giants of the faith but little known. I sat and<br />

discussed persecution with these leaders and one of my first<br />

questions was, “What would the Chinese Church would be like<br />

if there was no persecution?”<br />

They said it would be a mile wide but an inch deep (my paraphrase).<br />

Famous speakers would gather large crowds, but they<br />

would have no anointing and little knowledge of the Spirit. I<br />

asked them if they knew anything about the Western Church<br />

and they had no idea as they were simple pastors without international<br />

experience.<br />

The Church in the West is largely adrift. There are many reasons<br />

for this, but, from my vantage point, a core problem is that we<br />

live out Christianity without real cost. Witness Lee, the great<br />

Chinese pastor of the early twentieth century and devotee of the<br />

great Watchman Nee, eloquently described this problem:<br />

The biggest problem today is that it is hard to find<br />

any wounds or scars in most Christians. Most of<br />

us do not have any wounds, scars, marks of death,<br />

or experiences of the cross. Even though we have<br />

been saved and truly have Christ’s life in us, this<br />

life has no way to come out. The reason is not that<br />

our behavior is too poor or too good but that we are<br />

too whole and too impregnable. Because we have<br />

no wounds, Christ has no way to be released from<br />

within us.<br />

-Witness Lee, The Crucified Christ, Chapter 1<br />

While we may not have any wounds or scars, our persecuted<br />

brothers and sisters have them in abundance. These believers<br />

and especially the faces of the martyrs are always in front of<br />

me, Christians like Pastor Ohii, Tilman, Necati, Pastor Kevin<br />

and so many more.<br />

The Choice<br />

These martyrs, like so many others, were almost always given a<br />

Above: Witness Lee<br />

chance to live if they utteedr three little words, “I deny Jesus.”<br />

Do you ever wonder why they don’t do it?<br />

Locked away in secret prisons, in the midst of beatings, torture,<br />

or under unrelenting pressure, certain Christians are transformed.<br />

When stripped of all that the world values, including<br />

dignity, strength, relationship, power, and standing, they<br />

let go of the world and any hope in its false answers to life.<br />

Somewhere deep within themselves, they place all of their<br />

physical and psychic treasure on the sacrificial altar. They put<br />

all of their proverbial chips into the middle of the table and they<br />

wager everything on God. In losing “everything,” though, they<br />

become immensely wealthy and concurrently truly dangerous in<br />

the spiritual world.<br />

In Kenya, Pastor Kevin was on his way to church on Sunday<br />

morning when he got calls from his sheep that were being<br />

slaughtered. “They were under attack. I heard gunshots, people<br />

screaming, crying. It was like a horror movie. It was just like<br />

hell,” he said. His assistant pastor standing in his place was<br />

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President’s Letter<br />

killed at the lectern along with six others. Twelve others were<br />

wounded. Everyone else was, of course, traumatized. Pastor Kevin<br />

died and came to life that day. Listen to what he says. . .<br />

“After the attack, God inserted into me a spirit of courage. After<br />

your church gets shot up, you don’t fear anymore and you stop<br />

caring [about the danger]. We have been through a lot [but] we<br />

don’t fear anymore… There is nothing human beings can do to<br />

you.”<br />

Amazing right?<br />

Now here’s a little secret . . .In one way or another, this is what the<br />

Lord is doing in your life and mine!<br />

This process may be cathartic or it may be slow and gradual.<br />

Regardless of pace or tool, God is always working in gain and loss<br />

to get you to give up on this world and desire Him above all other<br />

treasures and relationships.<br />

All of our idols (that which we live for or through) and all of our<br />

crutches must fail. We must continue to toss them overboard one<br />

after the other, until we each find ourselves left with the one TRUE<br />

thing that we can live THROUGH, and live FOR.<br />

You can see the Lord’s heart on this in many passages such as<br />

Luke 14:26-27, Luke 14:33, Matthew 13:44-46, Luke 14:33, and<br />

Mark 10:17.<br />

You can see the Lord’s heart on this in many passages: If you don’t<br />

give up EVERYTHING you cannot be my disciples (Luke 14:26)!<br />

When a man discovered the treasure that is God, he went and sold<br />

everything he had to buy it (Matthew 13:44). What must I do to<br />

live forever? Go and give away everything that is most precious<br />

to you and follow me (Mark 10:17).<br />

Watchman Nee, the great Chinese Church leader of the early twentieth<br />

century, spoke about this process in one of my favorite books,<br />

“The Release of the Spirit.”<br />

Anyone who serves God will discover sooner or later<br />

that the great hindrance to his work is not others but<br />

himself. He will quickly detect that the greatest difficulty<br />

lies in his outward man, for it hinders him from<br />

using his spirit. The Lord employs two different ways<br />

to destroy our outward man; one is gradual, the other<br />

sudden. To some, the Lord gives a sudden destruction<br />

followed by a gradual one. It would seem the Lord<br />

usually spends several years upon us before He can<br />

accomplish this work of destruction.<br />

-Watchman Nee, Release of the Spirit<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

We Must Give Up On The World<br />

The believer has to let go of the world and brokenness is a great<br />

catalyst in that process. Whoever has wagered all they have on<br />

God returns to the world as an alien and they stand out as such.<br />

They have been set ablaze by God and become a light in the darkness.<br />

This is the secret to why the persecuted Church is pure and<br />

grows.<br />

My core problem is that I don’t have enough of Him inside me and<br />

what I do have is restrained from being released into the world due<br />

to my being impregnable.<br />

Our trials, though wholly unwelcomed, are used to work on both<br />

of these issues. I want to invite you to embrace your trials. Evil<br />

does not come from the Lord but He will use trials and evil to try<br />

and make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.<br />

So many of the persecuted have discovered this truth and are<br />

worthy of your time treasure and talent. Please serve them with us!<br />

Jeff King<br />

President, International Christian Concern<br />

www.persecution.org<br />

Adapted from a chapter of a soon-to–be-released book from ICC’s<br />

president, Jeff King: “Last Words of the Martyrs.”<br />

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News<br />

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“Local leaders<br />

often turn a<br />

blind eye to<br />

discrimination<br />

and harassment.”<br />

ICC Documents 361 Attacks on<br />

Christians in India in 2016<br />

1 | INDIA In 2016, ICC documented a total of 361 attacks<br />

against Christians in India, making 2016 one of the most<br />

trying years for India’s Christian community in recent<br />

years. In 2015, the Evangelical Fellowship of India<br />

recorded 177 incidents. This upsurge in attacks is both<br />

noteworthy and a cause for concern for local Christians<br />

and the international human rights community. The<br />

recorded attacks ranged from vandalism to social boycotts<br />

to violent physical assaults.<br />

Due to several factors, these attacks often go unreported<br />

by victims or witnesses; therefore, we can estimate that the<br />

actual number of incidents that took place last year is much<br />

higher. According to Dr. John Dayal, a human rights activist<br />

in India, it is possible that the number of attacks could be<br />

up to 10 times higher than what was recorded.<br />

The perpetrators in many of these attacks were radical<br />

Hindu nationalists who have enjoyed total impunity for their<br />

actions, encouraging further violence against the Christian<br />

minority. Each attack which goes unpunished emboldens<br />

new criminals to carry out more daring and audacious<br />

crimes. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister<br />

Narendra Modi rose to power in 2014, Christians have experienced<br />

a notable rise in attacks.<br />

Despite the fact that the Indian constitution protects the<br />

religious rights of all citizens, it is evident that this right is<br />

being selectively enforced by Indian authorities.<br />

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi<br />

Muslim Converts<br />

to Christianity,<br />

Martyred<br />


According to reports<br />

from Christian Aid<br />

Mission, a Muslim man<br />

in the Philippines converted<br />

to Christianity<br />

after hearing a presentation<br />

of the Gospel at<br />

his daughter’s wedding.<br />

The officiant at the<br />

wedding was a Gospelpreaching<br />

pastor and<br />

the groom’s father. It was<br />

by God’s grace that the<br />

father of the bride came<br />

to Christ during this<br />

message because he had<br />

previously engaged in<br />

attacking this very same<br />

pastor by tossing rocks<br />

at him and his church.<br />

Upon the man’s<br />

conversion, he began<br />

experiencing similar<br />

harassment at the<br />

hands of his Muslim<br />

relatives. As a final<br />

testament to his faith,<br />

the man was stabbed<br />

to death by local<br />

Muslims after refusing<br />

to stop sharing the<br />

Gospel. Once a persecutor,<br />

then a believer<br />

and now a martyr, his<br />

testimony is sure to<br />

survive him.<br />

Mexican Churches and Communities<br />

Deprived of Electricity<br />

3 | MEXICO Although widely unreported by the<br />

mainstream media, Christians in Mexico continue to<br />

face persecution for their faith, particularly in rural<br />

areas. While the Mexican constitution protects religious<br />

freedom, local leaders often turn a blind eye to<br />

discrimination and harassment.<br />

On January 22, local town leaders in Comitan de<br />

Dominguez, Chiapas, Mexico, cut off the power to<br />

a house church called “Templo Solo Cristo Salva.”<br />

According to the Coordinacion de Organizaciones<br />

Cristianas (COOC), the town leaders decided on this<br />

electrical cut a week prior during a town assembly<br />

meeting. However, the COOC also noted that the<br />

evangelical church members are not permitted to<br />

attend such meetings.<br />

Local residents have made official requests to<br />

the state government in an attempt to rectify the<br />

situation but, to date, there has been no definitive<br />

action. Thankfully, the federal government has taken<br />

measures to relieve such injustice by paying individual<br />

fines to help those affected by such incidents.<br />

Hopefully, this federal action will curb some of the<br />

deliberate targeting of religious minorities. While this<br />

is absolutely a step in the right direction, local leaders<br />

must also be willing to protect vulnerable minority<br />

groups in order to effect long-lasting change.<br />

Comitan de Dominguez, Chiapas, Mexico<br />

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The Reina nightclub in Istanbul where a gunman with ISIS connections killed 39 people on New Year’s Eve.<br />

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Turkey Nightclub<br />

Massacre<br />

4 | TURKEY On New Year’s Eve, a shooter stormed into a Turkish<br />

nightclub in Istanbul, killing at least 39 people and wounding many<br />

more. Shortly after, an ISIS-linked news group released a video claiming<br />

responsibility for the attack. Furthermore, they reported that the<br />

gunman specifically targeted Christians who were ‘celebrating their<br />

pagan feast.’ A suspect was taken into police custody shortly after the<br />

attack and has since confessed to the crime and made clear his original<br />

intent of killings Christians in the violent attack.<br />

Christian Converts Banned from Iranian Churches<br />

on Christmas<br />

5 | IRAN In Iran, both government officials and business owners are<br />

ever attempting to drive Christianity out of the country by enforcing<br />

restrictions on religious activities. This past year, many Muslim<br />

Iranians and Farsi-speaking Christians were prohibited from attending<br />

Christmas services because the regime feared further spread of<br />

Christianity. Despite these crackdowns and the general persecutionesque<br />

disposition of the Iranian government, the Word of God continues<br />

to rapidly spread throughout Iran.<br />

Nearly 900 Churches Destroyed by Boko Haram<br />

6 | NIGERIA Toward the end of January, the Christian Association of Nigeria<br />

(CAN) reported that Boko Haram has destroyed more than 900 churches in<br />

northeastern Nigeria to date. In their report, CAN urged the Nigerian government<br />

to assist these churches in the rebuilding process and take stronger action<br />

to prevent violence against religious minorities. Boko Haram has become notorious<br />

for suicide bombings, attacks on Christian homes and churches, and the<br />

infamous kidnapping of the 276 primarily Christian schoolgirls from Chibok.<br />

All of this violence falls under the umbrella effort to wipe out the influence of<br />

Christianity in the region.<br />

CAN’s report is a grim reminder that Boko Haram is holding fast to their<br />

promise made last year to specifically target Christians in their campaigns of<br />

violence. Until more action is taken, both moderate Muslims and Christians in<br />

Nigeria will remain vulnerable at the hands of Boko Haram.<br />

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The aftermath of a Boko Haram bombing.<br />


News<br />

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An entrance to the Christian neighborhood of Joseph<br />

Colony in Lahore, Pakistan.<br />

Court Acquits Suspects of Joseph Colony<br />

Attack<br />

1 | PAKISTAN On March 8, 2013, a mob of Muslim radicals<br />

attacked the primarily Christian neighborhood of Joseph<br />

Colony in Lahore, Pakistan. Reports estimate that as many<br />

as 3,000 Muslims participated in the violence. When the<br />

dust had settled, at least 150 Christian homes were burned<br />

to the ground, along with several businesses and a church.<br />

The backing for this onslaught followed a trail back to<br />

a blasphemy accusation against a local Christian named<br />

Sawan Masih. During an argument, a Muslim friend accused<br />

Masih of making derogatory comments about the prophet<br />

Muhammad. Shortly afterwards, the aforementioned violence<br />

broke out. Masih was then taken into custody, charged<br />

with blasphemy, and sentenced to death in 2014.<br />

Despite the swift legal action taken to condemn Masih,<br />

in January <strong>2017</strong>, nearly four years after the initial riots,<br />

a Pakistani court acquitted all 115 suspects accused of<br />

participating in the violent attacks. While widely available<br />

photo and video evidence proved their guilt, the<br />

court cited a lack of<br />

evidence as the reason<br />

for their acquittal.<br />

All charges, ranging<br />

from attempted murder<br />

to terrorism, were<br />

cleared, denying justice<br />

to the hundreds of<br />

families whose lives<br />

were upturned by this<br />

violence.<br />

The response to<br />

this mob violence has<br />

drawn criticism, even<br />

from within Pakistan’s<br />

own government. In<br />

one instance, a Supreme<br />

Court bench criticized<br />

Punjab officials for their<br />

apathy and inaction<br />

toward the Christian<br />

minorities in this case,<br />

though this produced<br />

few results in terms of<br />

proper due justice.<br />

This case is indicative<br />

of two major issues<br />

affecting Pakistan’s<br />

Christian community:<br />

the misuse of blasphemy<br />

accusations<br />

and the lack of government<br />

response to<br />

crimes directed at religious<br />

minorities. Unless<br />

the government takes<br />

more decisive action<br />

in defending its vulnerable<br />

Christian community,<br />

it seems unlikely<br />

that these families will<br />

receive justice.<br />

Soad Thabet, an elderly Coptic woman assaulted by three<br />

men who broke into her house.<br />

“The men stormed<br />

into her home,<br />

dragged her into<br />

the street, stripped<br />

her...and beat her.”<br />

Case Reopened Against Men Who<br />

Abused Elderly Coptic Woman<br />

2 | EGYPT Last June, Soad Thabet, an elderly Coptic<br />

woman, was assaulted by a group of three men who<br />

accused her son of having an extramarital affair with a<br />

Muslim woman. As the unconfirmed rumors about her<br />

son spread, the men stormed into her home, dragged her<br />

into the street, stripped her of her clothing within view<br />

of the public, and beat her. She and her husband had no<br />

option but to flee their village.<br />

In January, Egyptian authorities cleared the three<br />

accused men of their charges on account of a “lack of<br />

evidence.” Even though Thabet was able to identify her<br />

attackers and the president issued a public apology, the<br />

case was still dropped. Thabet and her family expressed<br />

their disappointment in this decision, as they felt let down<br />

by the Egyptian authorities and fearful that this case<br />

would set a precedent of impunity for future attacks.<br />

After Thabet’s legal team filed an appeal stating that<br />

witnesses involved with the incident changed their testimonies<br />

upon receiving threats, the case was recently<br />

reopened. At the time of writing, the case is still ongoing.<br />

Although there is a difficult road ahead to achieve<br />

justice for Thabet and her family, human rights activists<br />

view the reopening of this case as a significant step in<br />

the right direction.<br />

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Pastor Expelled from Sudan for Planting Churches<br />

3 | SUDAN On December 6, 2016, Sudanese authorities gave Christian pastor Koat Akot 72 hours to vacate the North African country. Akot was<br />

expelled from Sudan due to his involvement with evangelism and for planting three churches in the country. One of those churches has amassed<br />

approximately 500 members since its foundation. The government officials responsible for Akot’s expulsion reportedly confiscated several<br />

church-owned items from the congregation’s property during his interrogation. Akot was previously detained last November for leading worship.<br />

He was held for only one day, but had to report to authorities on a daily basis following his release. Pastor Akot is just one of the many Christian<br />

pastors facing persecution at the hand of the Sudanese government.<br />

A Chinese Bible.<br />

Six Women Detained for Holding Bible Study<br />

4 | CHINA In China’s Hubei province, six Christian women were<br />

recently taken into custody for hosting a Bible study in a house<br />

church. According to reports, officials accused the women of holding<br />

illegal religious gatherings, beating the six women and confiscating<br />

their property. The officers began to shove and beat the Christian<br />

men who tried to stop them. To date, family members of the detained<br />

have yet to receive official detention notices for their loved ones.<br />

This incident is unfortunately just one in a long string of targeted<br />

discrimination against religious groups at the hands of the Chinese<br />

government led by President Xi Jinping.<br />

Don and Ruth Ossewaarde.<br />

American Missionary’s Case to Russian Supreme Court<br />

5 | RUSSIA As previously reported, American missionary Don<br />

Ossewaarde was convicted last year under Russia’s newly implemented<br />

“Yarovaya” laws. These laws impose harsh restrictions on missionaries<br />

and their ability to evangelize in Russia. According to Christianity Today,<br />

32 have already been convicted under this law since its implementation.<br />

Ossewaarde was issued a fine of approximately $600 USD and has<br />

appealed his conviction all the way up to the Russian Supreme Court. The<br />

Supreme Court’s ruling will set an important precedent for Christian missionaries<br />

and ministries operating in Russia. This ruling is anticipated to<br />

make clear the Russian government’s attitude toward religious freedom.<br />

Compassion International Forced to Close in India<br />

6 | INDIA In 2016, the Indian government made revisions to its Foreign Contribution<br />

Regulation Act affecting international organizations that provide aid to the country.<br />

One major group that was affected by this change was a Christian child sponsorship<br />

organization, Compassion International. Although the organization has made multiple<br />

negotiation attempts with Indian officials and implored the US government to<br />

intervene, their attempts have been unsuccessful thus far.<br />

The CEO of Compassion International reported that this regulation will affect<br />

147,000 children in India who receive aid through the organization. Some experts<br />

speculate that Hindu nationalism is the reason why Christian groups are being<br />

forced out of the country, despite the numerous societal benefits that their work<br />

provides. It is unsettling to witness the Indian government let its religious ideology<br />

overshadow the needs of thousands upon thousands of children.<br />

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Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

ICC Helps Pass Most Important<br />

Religious Freedom Law in Nearly<br />

Two Decades<br />

Where Most Needed<br />

At 2:30 p.m. on December 14, in a vote<br />

that very few witnessed or took notice<br />

of, Congress passed what may be the most<br />

important bill on religious freedom in almost<br />

18 years. The new law, known as the Frank<br />

R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act,<br />

was passed in the very final hours of the 114th<br />

Congress and was the culmination of years of<br />

efforts by ICC and many other religious freedom<br />

advocates. The bill includes numerous<br />

important provisions, including a requirement<br />

that all US Foreign Service Officers (FSO)<br />

receive mandatory training on religious freedom.<br />

These officers, who serve in over 190<br />

countries around the world, are the frontline<br />

advocates of the United States. They promote<br />

American values across the globe and hold<br />

government officials in each country accountable<br />

for persecuting Christians and other religious<br />

groups. Prior to the Frank R. Wolf Act,<br />

training on religious freedom was optional for<br />

FSOs, and many did not participate.<br />

The bill also creates a new tool for the US<br />

to sanction groups that persecute Christians<br />

by allowing the president of the United States<br />

to designate “non-state actors” as “entities of<br />

particular concern.” This means that groups<br />

that aren’t a part of a government, like Boko<br />

Haram in Nigeria or the Bajrang Dal in<br />

India, can face economic sanctions and travel<br />

restrictions for persecuting people of faith.<br />

Before this law, only entire countries could<br />

be sanctioned, leaving many groups and individuals<br />

to escape notice for causing persecution.<br />

ICC may now directly recommend to<br />

the US government specific individuals for<br />

sanctioning if they have engaged in severe<br />

religious freedom violations.<br />

The bill also moves up the deadline for the<br />

State Department’s annual report on international<br />

religious freedom. It requires an<br />

analysis of US efforts to promote religious<br />

freedom, and pushes the president to closely<br />

review if countries are making improvements.<br />

All of this means that the United States will,<br />

by law, play an even greater role in speaking<br />

out on behalf of the persecuted. This is<br />

wonderful news for millions around the world<br />

who are often persecuted in complete secrecy.<br />

When the United States speaks up on their<br />

behalf, other countries often listen, and it can<br />

frequently mean the difference between freedom<br />

and captivity, or even life and death for<br />

those who are oppressed. The day the Frank<br />

R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act<br />

ICC President Jeff King with<br />

Congressman Frank Wolf.<br />

passed, two of the lead congressional offices<br />

involved took a moment to thank ICC and<br />

other groups who advocated for years to see<br />

the bill get through Congress. “Thank you for<br />

all of your help, your passion, and commitment<br />

to this noble cause. Without your assistance<br />

and persistent lobbying and persuasion,<br />

we would not have succeeded in getting this<br />

bill over the line,” said one office. “You all<br />

represent the very best of principled advocacy<br />

for a worthy cause. Thank you,” said another.<br />

Advocacy on behalf of the persecuted can<br />

be incredibly challenging, taking years of work<br />

behind-the-scenes without any guarantee of<br />

success. Yet occasionally, thanks to persistent<br />

prayer and support from our donors, the impossible<br />

can be accomplished. The Frank R. Wolf<br />

International Religious Freedom Act is one such<br />

accomplishment, and we believe countless lives<br />

will benefit from it for many years to come.<br />

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Assistance for Fulani Attack victims<br />

Hand of Hope<br />

Towards the end of 2016, Fulani militants carried out a series of consecutive attacks in different<br />

villages in Nigeria’s southern Kaduna state. The attacks specifically targeted Christian<br />

farmers and their families, many of whom were brutally slaughtered in the onslaughts. ICC<br />

reached out to several of these families in order to provide them with long-term assistance.<br />

ICC recently visited two internally displaced people (IDP) camps in the Kafachan area to speak<br />

with victims who fled their homes during and after the Fulani attacks. Thankfully, ICC was able to<br />

deliver a one-month supply of food and basic clothing to at least 110 families in two camps during<br />

the first trip. Additionally, we visited the four most affected villages in Chawai and were able to assist<br />

victims with food, clothing, fertilizer and irrigation water pumps that were previously destroyed by<br />

militants. At least 200 families benefitted from these gifts, all made possible by your donations.<br />

The interaction with these victims revealed other needs they have as Christians who are constantly persecuted.<br />

Let’s continue to pray for their provision and protection as ICC develops new projects to assist them.<br />

Medical Aid for Rachael Gikonyo<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

R<br />

achael Gikonyo survived the attack at Garissa University, Kenya, in 2015. She did not,<br />

however, walk away unscathed. Rachael was shot several times in the chest, legs, and back,<br />

leaving her in a wheelchair and in need of further medical assistance. She has visited with several<br />

physicians in both Kenya and India, but she needs surgery on her legs in order to walk again.<br />

When ICC heard about Rachael’s condition, we developed a two-phase project to help the<br />

Gikonyo family with her medical expenses and injuries.<br />

Due to the extensive nature of her injuries, Rachael accumulated a hefty medical bill, including<br />

medications, nursing care, physiotherapy, and further follow-up treatments for her recovery.<br />

ICC has teamed up with the Gikonyo family to tackle these mounting medical costs.<br />

Let’s continue to pray for Rachael’s condition and God’s provision for her and her family. It<br />

will not be an easy road to recovery, but God is providing a way.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


ICC Aids Prisoner’s Family in Pakistan<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

ver 20 people died on March 15, 2015, when twin suicide bombers attacked two separate<br />

O churches in Youhanabad, Pakistan, a Christian neighborhood often targeted in sectarian conflict.<br />

In retaliation, local Christians killed two Muslim suspects. Police then arrested roughly 43 Christian<br />

men, most of whom were innocent, for the murders. These Christian men were the breadwinners of<br />

their families who have lost access to basic necessities, including food.<br />

ICC was able to locate four of the innocent imprisoned men and their families to assist during<br />

this time. Shabana, the wife of one prisoner, told ICC, “The situation of my family after the arrest of<br />

my innocent husband is extremely miserable. It is very difficult for me to live without my husband,<br />

to pay school fee[s], and bear [the] expenses of my three children. Therefore, I sold out house stuff<br />

e.g. blankets, vessels, washing-machine etc. to feed my children.”<br />

Because of your generosity, in December 2016, ICC was able to respond by providing food and<br />

educational assistance for the families, including Shabana’s. Acknowledging ICC’s efforts, she<br />

said, “I am very thankful to ICC for extending [to] me all the winter stuff, food aid, and bearing<br />

schooling expenses of my three children. Sometimes my children go to bed without food; they<br />

have nothing to enjoy their childhood.” We intend to be there until their breadwinners return home.<br />


Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

ICC Helps Rebuild Two Churches Destroyed in India<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

In India, ICC has reported almost double the number of attacks in 2016 compared<br />

to 2015. From social boycotts to deadly assaults, Christians and other<br />

religious minorities struggle to survive in this country. Not only are Christians’<br />

livelihoods under threat, radicals also target Christian places of worship.<br />

Hindu radical forces successfully convinced government revenue officials<br />

to raze the Shalem Prayer House in Telangana. Because the church had no<br />

prior warning of the demolition, they lost everything inside. The church<br />

served as a house of worship for more than 100 Christians for 11 years. Pastor<br />

Raju explained, “Many of our believers are day laborers and can hardly meet<br />

their daily needs…We are not sure if we can build [the church] again.”<br />

ICC responded to the situation by purchasing new equipment for the<br />

church. While it may seem like a small gesture, the church’s congregation<br />

was incredibly grateful. “On behalf of the church, we really want to thank<br />

ICC for providing carpets, [an] amplifier and instruments, etc…Thank you<br />

very much for encouraging us through practical help.”<br />

The Christian community described how “many leaders and people came<br />

and sympathized, when the incident took place, but ICC was the only organization<br />

to come back and replace the broken items.” The new equipment has<br />

renewed members’ hope in God and strength to endure further persecution.<br />

The same Hindu radicals who attacked Shalem Prayer House also had a<br />

role in burning a church in Nagapattinam, India, destroying both the building<br />

and the equipment inside the church. The pastor remembered the attack<br />

vividly: “[My son called me and] he said, ‘Appa, the church is on fire.’ I was<br />

really shocked, broken and I was in tears. I immediately rushed to the spot<br />

and saw that really the church is on fire. I was not able to believe my eyes. I<br />

was speechless and I was still for some time.”<br />

In the midst of tragedy, God still showed up. The pastor’s daughter encouraged<br />

her father saying, “God is with us, Appa, do not cry. He will build His<br />

church more strongly.” We are excited to tell you that because of your donations,<br />

ICC was able to provide construction assistance, including cement,<br />

sand, iron rods, and bricks. Congregants are now “faithful and hopeful that,<br />

we will not stop and continue [until the] completion of the work. May God<br />

help us in doing that.”<br />

Christmas Gifts for<br />

Orphans<br />

Kids Care<br />

In 2008, radical Hindus launched anti-Christian riots across India which<br />

orphaned many Christian children. In response, ICC constructed a<br />

children’s home and adopted 14 of these orphans and has been providing<br />

them with food, shelter, education, medical assistance, and the Gospel.<br />

No children’s program would be complete without Christmas gifts.<br />

Last year, ICC was able to provide gifts for each individual child and<br />

worker. Each child received two new sets of clothing. The children’s<br />

home workers were also given new clothes. At the special request of the<br />

workers, a television was installed at the home. We were able to provide<br />

these gifts of encouragement because of our donors.<br />

We pray that this small token continues to exemplify the love of<br />

Christ to these children.<br />

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Education Assistance for<br />

Abducted Bauchi Girl<br />

Suffering Wives & Children<br />

In March 2016, a 13-year-old Christian girl was abducted on her way<br />

to school by a Muslim man in Bauchi State, Nigeria. The young victim<br />

was not only forced to deny her faith and convert to Islam, but also forced<br />

to marry her abductor. Fortunately, the young woman was recovered in<br />

May of 2016 with help from a network of Christian communities.<br />

These incidents are common in the Bauchi state area, though many<br />

go unreported, overlooked, or even condoned by the Muslim authorities.<br />

To protect themselves from retaliation, the aforementioned family<br />

decided to move from their home to a less Muslim-dominated<br />

area. Unfortunately, the family did not have the resources to supply<br />

their basic needs, including the continuation of the girl’s education.<br />

Thankfully, ICC was able to connect with the victim’s family and pastor<br />

to determine a solution in a safe environment.<br />

With God’s provision, ICC sponsored the enrollment of the young<br />

girl in a local boarding school. Additionally, ICC provided her with<br />

books, uniforms, and one year of tuition, so that she can continue where<br />

she left off before her abduction.<br />

We recently spoke with this same girl who had a message to send to<br />

our donors:<br />

“Say to all that I am very grateful to them. May God bless them and<br />

open more doors for them. I am looking forward to studying Mass<br />

Communication. I want to be a journalist. I want to be able to tell the<br />

world true stories of what is happening to people.”<br />

Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Food Aid in Muranga to<br />

Mandera Victim Families<br />

Hand of Hope<br />

O<br />

n October 6, 2016, al-Shabaab militants carried out a brutal attack<br />

targeting Christians in the town of Mandera, Kenya. At least<br />

six Christians were killed in the attack. The town is located near the<br />

Somali border and includes a vast community of Christians who live<br />

under constant threat. The families left behind after the October attack<br />

not only suffered the pain of losing loved ones, but also their primary<br />

breadwinners. Last November, ICC sent a representative in Kenya to<br />

find out more about the details of the attack and provide these families<br />

with food assistance and spiritual support.<br />

David Chege, one of the six victims killed during the attack, used to<br />

work as a barber to support his family. ICC was able to deliver a onemonth<br />

food supply to his parents and brothers, who were still mourning<br />

the loss of David.<br />

John Ndegwa had previously survived an attack by al-Shabaab in<br />

2014, but was unfortunately killed during this last one. He used to<br />

work as a stone cutter to provide for his parents and siblings also, who<br />

are now forced to find different means to support themselves. ICC was<br />

also able to deliver a one-month supply of food to these victims and is<br />

currently looking into long-term solutions for both families.<br />


Volunteers<br />

Sierra Leone Pastor Teaches<br />

Students to be a Voice for<br />

the Voiceless<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong><br />

Conference<br />

Volunteers<br />

ICC volunteers serve across the globe,<br />

raising awareness by bringing attention<br />

to the suffering of persecuted Christians<br />

around the world. Pastor Vandi is one such<br />

volunteer serving in Sierra Leone. He works<br />

in this country by raising prayer support in<br />

schools across his community.<br />

Pastor Vandi and his ministry, Soldiers of<br />

Jesus Christ Network Sierra Leone, work<br />

alongside students, teaching the scriptures<br />

and spreading the Gospel. The ministry has<br />

a central focus on teaching students “what<br />

it means for them to endure and become<br />

a voice for the voiceless.” Each day at<br />

lunch, Pastor Vandi shares the Gospel and<br />

presents updates about persecution to the<br />

students. They then gather as a team to<br />

pray together.<br />

Pastor Vandi reports that the students have<br />

welcomed this ministry with open arms. In<br />

these schools, “students are now very much<br />

active in spreading the Gospel and transforming<br />

lives of students passing through<br />

oppression at home and in the school community.”<br />

He explains how this has reduced<br />

the amount of persecution, harassment, and<br />

stigmatization within the schools.<br />

“The pain of the persecuted can never be<br />

distant since we are called to be one Body<br />

in Christ Jesus,” Vandi told ICC. “There<br />

should be no schism in the body.” Rather,<br />

we are called to serve one another and build<br />

each other up in faith. This is why Pastor<br />

Vandi does what he does.<br />

Instead of prioritizing his own needs,<br />

Pastor Vandi is one of many volunteers fulfilling<br />

the mission laid out in Hebrews 13:3:<br />

“Continue to remember those in prison as<br />

if you were together with them in prison,<br />

and those who are mistreated as if you<br />

yourselves were suffering.” By bringing<br />

attention to their suffering and educating<br />

today’s youth on such issues, we can bring<br />

reassurance to our persecuted brother and<br />

sisters around the world. Think about the<br />

ways you could impact your community for<br />

the persecuted.<br />

“Whatever you did<br />

for one of the least<br />

of these brothers of<br />

mine, you did for Me.”<br />

– MATTHEW 25:40 (NIV)<br />

Last July, volunteers from all walks of<br />

life offered their assistance to help with<br />

ICC’s first annual Bridge conference. The<br />

response was incredible. Without the help<br />

of these volunteers, this conference would<br />

not have operated so smoothly or received<br />

as much attention as it did.<br />

Local volunteers helped with logistics at<br />

the actual event by helping with set-up,<br />

registration, distribution of materials, and<br />

more. Other volunteers helped get the word<br />

out about this event by promoting it in<br />

their churches, raising awareness on social<br />

media, and simply spreading the word among<br />

friends and family. Lastly and most importantly,<br />

volunteers around the world took on<br />

the invaluable task of covering this conference<br />

in prayer.<br />

As ICC prepares for the second annual<br />

Bridge conference in June, your support is<br />

both welcomed and encouraged. Whether<br />

you live locally in southern California<br />

or wish to support this conference from<br />

afar, your help is greatly appreciated.<br />

To find out more about how you can get<br />

involved with the Bridge, contact ICC’s<br />

Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@persecution.org.<br />

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Looking for a Way to Make a Difference in the World? Join Our Team of Volunteers!<br />

For those wishing to make difference on behalf of the persecuted Church, many are not sure how to get started. Many around the world are wanting<br />

to make a difference on behalf of the persecuted Church, but not everyone knows how to get started. Volunteers across the globe are making a<br />

difference within their own communities as members of ICC’s five volunteer teams: Advocacy, Awareness, Office, Prayer, and Special Projects. By<br />

standing up for the persecuted in countless different ways, ICC’s volunteers have played a crucial role in connecting the global Church by bridging<br />

the gap between the persecuted and the Western Church. It only takes one person to make a difference – are you willing to make the call?<br />

Multilingual Volunteers<br />

Because ICC has an international reach, many of our supporters<br />

do not live in areas where English is the native language.<br />

Therefore, the need for informational materials in other languages<br />

is common. Several bilingual ICC volunteers are working to bridge<br />

this gap. By translating ICC’s informational materials, including<br />

news releases, prayer requests, and newsletter articles, these volunteers<br />

are helping to spread awareness about persecution in communities<br />

that may otherwise go unreached. These volunteers play<br />

an essential role in creating a bridge between the Western and the<br />

persecuted Church as part of ICC’s Awareness team.<br />

Prayer for the Persecuted<br />

The landscape of persecution is one that is always changing.<br />

Yet one constant in this world is the need for prayer.<br />

Christians living in dangerous regions of the world come to ICC<br />

on a regular basis, asking for prayer above all else. Thankfully,<br />

ICC has a team of volunteers designed to meet exactly that<br />

need. Whether leading prayer groups, distributing prayer<br />

resources, or simply setting aside a period of time each day to<br />

pray for the persecuted, these faithful volunteers are making a<br />

difference and reminding their brothers and sisters in Christ that<br />

they are not alone.<br />

Volunteer Teams<br />

1 Advocacy Fight for justice for the persecuted through petitions, Congress<br />

calls, and more.<br />

2 Awareness Raise your voice through speaking in churches, writing, and<br />

social media.<br />

3 Office Lighten the load of ICC’s staff by helping with administrative assignments.<br />

4 Prayer Intercede for our brothers and sisters in Christ both individually and<br />

as a church.<br />

5 Special Projects Volunteer on your own schedule through one-time projects.<br />

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Interested in Serving?<br />

Online Apply on our website at:<br />

http://www.persecution.org/how-you-canhelp/volunteer<br />

or send an email to<br />

volunteer@persecution.org<br />

Phone Want more information? Feel free<br />

to call us at (301) 585-5915.<br />


Profile<br />

Imprisoned for Christ:<br />

ICC Working to Free Prisoners of Faith<br />

An illustration of<br />

Andrew Brunson<br />

that ran on<br />

christianpost.com<br />

“Remember those<br />

who are in prison, as<br />

though in prison with<br />

them, and those who<br />

are mistreated, since<br />

you also are in the<br />

body.”<br />

- Hebrews 13:3 ESV<br />

By Nate Lance & Isaac Six<br />

Imagine that you are suddenly arrested for a crime that you<br />

didn’t commit. Before you know it, you’re being shoved<br />

into a cold, dark prison cell packed with drug addicts,<br />

thieves, and murderers. You are thousands of miles away<br />

from friends and family and no one lets you make a phone<br />

call. They say you’ve committed crimes against the state,<br />

but you know that the real reason you’ve just been imprisoned<br />

overseas is because you followed faithfully after<br />

Christ.<br />

This scenario was the reality for two imprisoned Christian<br />

leaders. Andrew Brunson, an American pastor in Turkey, and Petr<br />

Jasek, a Czech national and Christian aid worker in Sudan, were both<br />

recently imprisoned abroad for their work. For months, ICC’s advocacy<br />

team has been hard at work raising the cases of both of these Christians<br />

with high-level US government officials, doing our absolute best to<br />

secure their release.<br />

Petr Jasek<br />

Sudan has a long-standing and well known preference for imprisoning<br />

political opponents and Christians. Their latest crackdown on<br />

Christians included the arrest of Petr Jasek and two Sudanese men,<br />

16 PERSECU ION.org<br />

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“In December, ICC initiated a multi-faith letter signed<br />

by over 40 like-minded religious freedom and faithbased<br />

organizations to the president of Sudan...”<br />

Reverend Hassan Abduraheem and Mr. Abdumonem<br />

Abdumawla in 2016.<br />

The Sudanese government has laughably tried to<br />

frame these Christian workers with providing aid to<br />

rebel groups, committing crimes against the state,<br />

and a myriad of other charges. After over a year in a<br />

Sudanese jail, the government sentenced Jasek to 20<br />

years in prison on January 29, <strong>2017</strong>. The two Sudanese<br />

Christians each received 12-year sentences.<br />

These charges are undoubtedly politically and religiously<br />

motivated. Since the separation of South Sudan<br />

from Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist<br />

government have intensified their persecution of religious<br />

minorities. It is clear that Jasek and the others were<br />

imprisoned because of their beliefs and for their aid to<br />

Christian communities, not because they have any connections<br />

to the false charges levied at them by Sudan’s<br />

“kangaroo court.”<br />

In December, ICC initiated a multi-faith letter signed<br />

by over 40 like-minded religious freedom and faithbased<br />

organizations to the president of Sudan, requesting<br />

Jasek’s freedom and reminding the president of<br />

his country’s past commitments to upholding basic<br />

religious freedom.<br />

Petr Jasek was released after 445 days of imprisonment<br />

and returned home. His two Sudanese co-workers,<br />

Pastor Abduraheem and Mr. Abdumawla, remain<br />

imprisoned to serve their 12-year sentences.<br />

Andrew Brunson<br />

In October 2016, Andrew Brunson and his wife were<br />

called into a local Turkish police station for questioning.<br />

They expected to discuss their application for residence<br />

visas. Instead, police accused them of being involved<br />

in a terrorist organization and arrested them. Brunson’s<br />

wife, Norine, was released within a week, but Brunson<br />

remains in a Turkish prison.<br />

Since the coming to power of President Erdogan in<br />

Turkey in 2003, the Turkish government has become<br />

increasingly hostile to Christians and others in Turkey.<br />

A failed attempt to overthrow the government in August<br />

2016, only made matters worse. Unfortunately, it seems<br />

that Andrew Brunson, who has been serving the people<br />

of Turkey for over 20 years, has been targeted as a result.<br />

After his arrest, Brunson was barred from legal representation<br />

or even a visit from US embassy officials,<br />

a clear violation of Brunson’s rights. To make matters<br />

worse, his eyeglasses and Bible were taken from him,<br />

and for a time, his wife was not allowed to visit him.<br />

After engagement with a number of congressional offic-<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Above: Petr Jasek with a boy in a community in Sudan where he did aid work<br />

until his arrest and 20-year sentence.<br />

Below: Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor, with wife Norine, ministered<br />

in Turkey for 23 years before he was arrested Oct. 7, 2016.<br />


“For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise<br />

his own people who are prisoners.” - Psalm 69:33 ESV<br />

Above: Khartoum is Sudan’s modern capitol and second largest city, home to over five million people. Petr Jasek and two Sudanese<br />

associates were imprisoned in a detention center in Khartoum. Flickr creative commons photo by user Christopher Michel.<br />

Above: Petr Jasek and an associate in<br />

Sudan.<br />

Above: A protest held on behalf of Jasek<br />

calling for his immediate release by Sudanese<br />

President Omar al-Bashir.<br />

Above: The entrance to Al Huda Prison<br />

in Khartoum where Petr was held until<br />

his release after 445 days. Two of Jasek’s<br />

Sudanese associates remain imprisoned.<br />

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es, the US Commission on International<br />

Religious Freedom, and the US State<br />

Department regarding this case, there<br />

have been some improvements. Brunson<br />

now has his glasses, Bible, and his wife<br />

is sometimes allowed visits. US embassy<br />

staff has also visited him and we know that<br />

Andrew’s imprisonment has been raised at<br />

very high levels by the US government.<br />

In addition, as this article was going<br />

to print, a US congressional letter initiated<br />

and promoted by ICC on behalf<br />

of Brunson had just been completed.<br />

At time of writing, 31 senators and 35<br />

representatives had signed the letter to<br />

President Erdogan, calling for Brunson’s<br />

quick release. President Trump’s staff<br />

have also been briefed on the case. Our<br />

hope and prayer is that overwhelming<br />

congressional and public attention<br />

will encourage President Erdogan and<br />

Turkey’s government to release Brunson<br />

and return him to his family. Brunson’s<br />

daughter, Jacqueline, is engaged, but has<br />

delayed her wedding until the day her<br />

father can walk her down the aisle.<br />

We ask that you pray for these prisoners,<br />

their families, and their loved<br />

ones, but also pray that the leaders of<br />

Turkey and Sudan would release them.<br />

Proverbs 21:1 tells us, “The king’s heart<br />

is a stream of water in the hand of the<br />

Lord; he turns it wherever he will”<br />

(ESV). Please pray that He would shape<br />

the hearts of those in power in Sudan<br />

and Turkey so they may set these men<br />

free and truly begin to embrace religious<br />

freedom in their country.<br />

Above: Izmir is Turkey’s third most populated metropolis and home to the<br />

Brunsons. Andrew remains in prison near Izmir.<br />

Above: Andrew and Norine Brunson have lived in Turkey for the past 23 years.<br />

Right: Norine Brunson stands below Izmir’s<br />

Harmandanli Detention Centre, where her<br />

husband has been held since October 20,<br />

2016. World Watch Monitor photo.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />




IN CHINA<br />

ICC examines China’s fear of religion and<br />

how it affects Christians every day.<br />

By Amy Penn<br />

20 PERSECU ION.org<br />

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Sheshan Basilica<br />

The Basilica is a<br />

prominent church in<br />

Shanghai, China. Flickr<br />

Creative Commons image<br />

by user Maxime Guilbot.<br />

Religion frightens the<br />

Marxist leaders of<br />

China. It is a force that<br />

unifies people outside<br />

of state control and<br />

looms as a potential<br />

threat to their mafialike<br />

wielding of power.<br />

They have reason<br />

to fear. Not from<br />

Christianity, but rather from the populace as<br />

they seem to be trapped. If they give away<br />

too much freedom, many of them would<br />

spend years in prison for human rights abuses,<br />

embezzlement, and murder as the Chinese<br />

State is one of the most murderous governments<br />

in history.<br />

While most Christians have some awareness<br />

of the macro-level issue of Chinese<br />

persecution of the Church, we rarely have the<br />

opportunity to hear from individuals about<br />

their day-to-day experiences as Christians<br />

living in China. ICC recently had a chance<br />

to speak with the wives of two imprisoned<br />

Christians and human rights activists. They<br />

explained the broader context of Chinese<br />

persecution and also shared their personal<br />

experiences with persecution on a daily basis.<br />

Sinicization of Christianity<br />

Historically, persecution in China has demonstrated<br />

an ebb and flow trend. During<br />

Mao’s reign, for example, Christians were<br />

horribly persecuted. Later, as China tried to<br />

modernize under Deng, persecution decreased<br />

in a way that allowed church growth. In fact,<br />

until 2008, there was moderate freedom to<br />

worship.<br />

While in the big picture, the Chinese government<br />

has become less repressive, they are<br />

being led presently by a belligerent hardliner.<br />

They are in a crackdown phase and intolerant<br />

of human rights lawyers, as well as churches<br />

and their crosses in the public eye.<br />

Any institution that can rally large numbers<br />

of people is naturally understood as a threat.<br />

China only wants one thing to unite its people<br />

– state ideology.<br />

In 2015, China Aid reported that there<br />

was an 11 percent increase in persecution<br />

cases from 2014 and 709 percent increase<br />

from 2008.<br />

State officials have tried to control the<br />

Church while maintaining a semblance of religious<br />

freedom with state-approved churches<br />

called the Three Self Patriotic Movement<br />

(TSPM). TSPM churches must submit sermons<br />

for approval from government authorities.<br />

Their services can be, and often are,<br />

monitored by the religion department of the<br />

Chinese government.<br />


Feature Article<br />

TSPM ministers must be approved by the<br />

state and are often individuals indoctrinated<br />

with pro-government ideology. The Chinese<br />

government is slyly attempting to balance out<br />

international expectations of religious freedom<br />

with the security of a controlled, prostate,<br />

religious experience for its religious<br />

citizens. They call this “sinicization” – the<br />

creation of Chinese-centric doctrines, ideologies,<br />

and beliefs.<br />

Two Witnesses<br />

Being a Christian in China can be dangerous<br />

but, what does it look like at the individual<br />

level? What does it really mean to be a<br />

Christian in China?<br />

Jiang Tianyong is both a Christian and<br />

human rights activist. He is also missing.<br />

His wife, Jin, fears that the government has<br />

detained him and is torturing him in prison<br />

somewhere. On November 21, 2016, Jiang<br />

was traveling to Beijing to meet a friend.<br />

He entered the train station, texted his friend<br />

that he was boarding, but he never arrived at<br />

Beijing. Nobody knows where he is or what<br />

has happened to him.<br />

Unfortunately, this fear of detainment is not<br />

new. Jin told us how the government continually<br />

detained, beat, and harassed her husband<br />

because of his faith and activism. State officials<br />

even disbarred him from practicing law<br />

because of his human rights work and faith.<br />

When life in China became too dangerous,<br />

Jiang sent Jin and his daughter to the US. Jin<br />

recalled how government agents followed her<br />

while she went to the grocery store or how<br />

authorities locked her out of her own home,<br />

gluing the door shut so she couldn’t get in. They<br />

tracked her as she tried to go about her daily life.<br />

When prominent foreign visitors came to<br />

China, Jin remembered the mandatory house<br />

arrests and how her husband would conveniently<br />

disappear for the duration of the visit.<br />

Today, she continues to wait for word on<br />

her husband. Is he alive? Is he detained? Is he<br />

being tortured? Is he eating? Is he sleeping?<br />

Since she and her daughter left in 2013,<br />

Jin knows that her husband has furthered the<br />

Gospel and helped many others underground.<br />

Such work comes at a cost, however. “He<br />

live[d] as if he [was] homeless. He has had to<br />

move almost daily. And there is no normalcy<br />

in his eating habits. He is always running and<br />

escaping from the police.”<br />

The state saw Jiang as a threat to the government<br />

and Chinese culture because he dared<br />

rally around an ideology and belief other than<br />

the Chinese state. Now he’s missing. The<br />

consequences of following Christ in China are<br />

severe as ever.<br />

Tang and his wife, Wang, also know what<br />

it’s like to be persecuted for their faith. Before<br />

he became a Christian and a human rights<br />

activist, Tang studied chemistry. After reading<br />

“Stream in the Desert,” he became a Christian<br />

and soon, “his faith strengthened his pursuit<br />

for justice…The Bible [became] the foundation<br />

of his faith and pursuit.”<br />

Swallowed<br />

In 2014, the government tried to silence<br />

Tang. They charged him with subversion<br />

and sentenced him to five years in prison.<br />

Government officials now allow Wang to visit<br />

her husband once a month, but she cannot be<br />

alone with him. Five or six guards supervise<br />

their short meetings and can end visitation<br />

rights if anything ‘inappropriate’ is said.<br />

Wang related how government authorities<br />

deny Tang the right to have a Bible in prison<br />

and how he lives under horrific conditions.<br />

“[The] condition in prison is terrible- no matter<br />

it is food, environment or medical resource.<br />

Twenty, 30-ish people are packed in one dark<br />

cell. There’s no real outdoor exercises whatsoever<br />

but only staying in a room with a sunroof.<br />

Prisoners that live under these conditions suffer<br />

greatly and can die from infection or suffer<br />

mental consequences.” Tang’s faith didn’t just<br />

get him in trouble; Wang suffers too. She has<br />

been harassed, tracked, and detained for five<br />

months. She even lost her job. Wang cannot<br />

rely on anyone or anything but God.<br />

Jiang and Tang are just two caught in the<br />

middle of the Chinese government’s attempt<br />

to silence faith and justice. Even if the government<br />

releases them, neither will ever be the<br />

same. Li Chunfu never was.<br />

Ruined<br />

In 2015, Chinese authorities arrested and<br />

detained over 300 human rights lawyers. The<br />

authorities held some for extensive periods,<br />

among which was Li. After 18 months of<br />

detention, the government released Li on bail.<br />

No one will ever know what happened to him<br />

during the year and a half of detention and his<br />

family could never have prepared for what<br />

they saw when he came home.<br />

Emaciated and exhausted, Li was very frail<br />

and seemed to have aged years. But even more<br />

alarming was his mental state. Once released,<br />

Li rejected his wife’s embrace. When she<br />

would make phone calls, he would cry out for<br />

her to put the phone down, accusing her of<br />

conspiring with the government against him.<br />

His family and other activists believe that Li<br />

is suffering from some degree of schizophrenia<br />

from torture and extensive mental stress.<br />

Unfortunately, we may never know for sure<br />

since the Chinese government refuses to give<br />

insight to Li’s condition.<br />

ICC works to get Bibles into<br />

the hands of hungry believers<br />

throughout Southeast Asia.<br />

Jiang, Tang, and Li are faces of Chinese<br />

persecution. They live out their lives in the<br />

shadows, hiding from further incarceration<br />

and ill will. Religious freedom does not exist<br />

in China. Human rights activists and Christian<br />

leaders live in a constant state of fear or as<br />

prey waiting to be devoured. Their futures<br />

are unsure, their families are unsafe, but their<br />

determination for the Gospel and justice is<br />

unfaltering.<br />

Up Next<br />

China’s future is hardly looking up. New<br />

and developing legislation is making it harder<br />

for Christians to live out their faith freely. For<br />

example, in China it is illegal to be involved<br />

in a cult or participate in cult activities.<br />

Unfortunately, the definition of a ‘cult’ is<br />

highly subjective and government officials can<br />

accuse anyone of participation in such activi-<br />

22 PERSECU ION.org<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />


ICC’s Interview with<br />

Jiang Tianyong<br />

On November 21, 2016 in China’s<br />

Hunan Province, Jiang Tianyong was<br />

on his way to meet the family of an<br />

imprisoned human rights activist. As<br />

a human rights activist and Christian,<br />

Jiang felt compelled to assist this family<br />

in any possible way. After entering a<br />

train station, Jiang texted his friend that<br />

he was boarding a train to Beijing. He<br />

never made it.<br />

On December 9, 2016 Jiang’s wife, Jin,<br />

told ICC about her husband’s life as a<br />

Christian in China. “In the past three<br />

years…my husband has not had a normal<br />

living condition. He lives as if he is<br />

homeless. He has had to move almost<br />

daily. And there is no normalcy in his<br />

eating habits. He is always running and<br />

escaping from the police.”<br />

Heroically and yet tragically, Jiang had<br />

the chance to leave all his struggles<br />

behind in 2013 and escape to the US<br />

with his family, but he chose to stay<br />

behind and help his country.<br />

“He felt like he could do more to help<br />

those who are vulnerable and need<br />

legal defense.” Jin told ICC.<br />

ties so long as it proves beneficial.<br />

While China does not generally consider<br />

Christianity to be a cult, government officials<br />

will often use charges of cult activity<br />

against individuals. Often, Christians do not<br />

understand what a cult actually is or how their<br />

actions fall into this category. Recent legislation<br />

has further empowered government officials<br />

to utilize the cult accusation status. ‘Cult’<br />

members accused of proselytizing government<br />

officials, children, or foreign groups can now<br />

be imprisoned under the new law.<br />

With many Chinese churches and pastors<br />

working with foreign mission offices, this new<br />

change will prove exceptionally problematic<br />

and dangerous.<br />

Further legislative changes include amendments<br />

requiring that religious work “be<br />

[involved with] politics…be politically clearheaded…be<br />

strict in discipline and…dare<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


to be responsible.” In other words, religion<br />

must be politically correct and sinicized. It<br />

is unclear how Chinese officials will judge<br />

churches to be politically clearheaded and<br />

responsible, although registration with China’s<br />

state church is likely.<br />

‘Unprecedented suppression’ is expected<br />

in China under the new political and legislative<br />

climate. The combination of legal<br />

changes, increased arrests and church closures,<br />

and the change in cult status legislation<br />

creates new and more severe challenges<br />

for the Chinese Church.<br />

Despite all of this, Christian aid organizations<br />

are estimating that China will have the<br />

largest Christian population in the world by<br />

2030. To a certain degree, it matters not what<br />

the Chinese government does; the Church is<br />

sure to flourish even under, or because of, the<br />

harshest of persecution.<br />

ICC’s Interview with<br />

Chris Smith<br />

“I am a strong believer. I believe in the<br />

importance of working with Evangelicals<br />

and across the spectrum of Christianity<br />

and other faiths.” Rep. Chris Smith said<br />

in an interview with ICC.<br />

Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey<br />

has worked closely with ICC in order to<br />

promote human rights and religious<br />

freedom across the globe. Whether it’s<br />

Chinese human rights violations or the<br />

brutalities of ISIS, Congressman Smith<br />

not only feels the burden of the suffering<br />

people around the world, but also<br />

works to rectify these mistreatments.<br />

As a testament to his conviction, Smith<br />

regularly travels to persecuted countries,<br />

meeting with Christian families to<br />

hear firsthand accounts of their struggle,<br />

and looking for more opportunities<br />

to provide assistance State-side.<br />


Egypt<br />

Disintegrating<br />

Currently, the people of Egypt, Christians in particular, grapple<br />

with an economic crisis, growing Salafist sentiment, and Islamic<br />

State militants. For a people acclimated to the spirit of revolution,<br />

we may see yet another uprising in Egypt.<br />

By Sandra Elliot<br />

“<br />

Our church has been built<br />

on the blood of martyrs.”<br />

–Fr. Boulos, Cairo, Egypt.<br />

On December 11,<br />

2016, Mahmoud Mostafa<br />

strapped on an explosive<br />

vest under his church<br />

clothes. At 9:50 exactly,<br />

Mostafa detonated his<br />

vest in the women and<br />

children’s seating section of St. Mark’s Cathedral in<br />

Cairo, Egypt. The resulting carnage was severe.<br />

Twenty-nine people lost their lives because of the<br />

bombing that day in the worst single attack against<br />

Christians in modern Egyptian history.<br />

These numbers, though, don’t tell the human story<br />

of loss, heartbreak, and heroism. At ICC, we are ever<br />

filtering through terrorism and sectarian attacks. We<br />

find that it is most important to keep the personal<br />

loss of victims at the forefront of our work. Below<br />

are snippets from just a few of the victims we interviewed<br />

from the Cairo church bombing of 2016.<br />

The Church Defender, Nabil<br />

Habib, 48<br />

Nabil Habib was a proud man. He loved his work<br />

and he swore to defend his church until the day he<br />

died. His wife, Nadia, hated it when Nabil would<br />

speak of martyrdom.<br />

24 PERSECU ION.org<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />


St. Peter and St. Paul’s<br />

Church<br />

On Dec. 11, 2016, a suicide<br />

bomber killed a total of 29 people<br />

and injured 47 others. This<br />

was the largest church attack in<br />

Egypt in recent history and ISIS<br />

claimed responsibility. Wikimedia<br />

Creative Commons image.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



Feature Article<br />

The aftermath of the<br />

bombing in St. Peter<br />

and St. Paul’s Church<br />

on Dec. 11, 2016. Coptic<br />

Orthodox Media Center<br />

photo.<br />

“He dreamed to be a martyr and his dream<br />

came true,” she told ICC.<br />

Nabil was the church guard at St. Mark’s<br />

cathedral for 20 years and his family of five<br />

lived on the church compound. On December<br />

11, someone saw Nabil running towards the<br />

suicide bomber just as he detonated himself in<br />

the St. Marks hall. Nabil’s daughter, Marian<br />

found him buried under the rubble of the<br />

destroyed hall.<br />

“My father died 18 days before my birthday,”<br />

Marian told ICC. “On my birthday, my<br />

father used to wake me up in the morning and<br />

sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, kiss me and give<br />

me a present…”<br />

Marian’s birthday passed this year without<br />

her father’s wakeup call or touch. His children<br />

and wife feel his absence deeply. Nadia, only<br />

33, must now raise her three children by herself.<br />

“Life is very hard without [Nabil]…,” she<br />

explained to ICC. “Life is very long and I cannot<br />

bear it alone. I hoped [he]…would be with us.”<br />

She Loved the Children,<br />

Samia Kheer, 36<br />

Mohsen Tanius remembers his wife’s last<br />

day: “On Sunday morning, at 4:00 a.m. she<br />

woke me up and said to me, ‘Don’t be lazy,<br />

let’s go to church.’”<br />

Part of her enthusiasm for church came<br />

from her love of the children that she worked<br />

with. Before moving to Cairo, Samia worked<br />

with special needs kids in upper Egypt. It was<br />

always difficult for Mohsen to understand his<br />

wife’s commitment to such children, but he<br />

admired it all the same.<br />

“She was always saying they [special<br />

needs kids] were angels and very intelligent,”<br />

Mohsen told ICC. “She loved them so much.”<br />

Samia and Mohsen weren’t supposed to<br />

be at St. Mark’s Cathedral on December 11.<br />

In fact, the couple was going to Anba Royce<br />

Church in Abassia when Samia noticed the<br />

St. Mark’s doors open. She insisted they go in<br />

and say the Lord’s Prayer before continuing on<br />

their way to the cathedral at Abbasia.<br />

“She sat down on the third bench in the right<br />

side of the church and I sat down on the third<br />

bench on the left side of the church.” Mohsen<br />

explained, “Some time passed and I looked<br />

to her to ask if we could leave, but I saw her<br />

focusing on prayer and her eyes were looking<br />

to heaven.”<br />

At 9:50 a.m., the ISIS suicide bomber<br />

detonated his vest in the right wing of the<br />

cathedral, causing the roof to cave in. At the<br />

sound of the blast, Mohsen rushed to where<br />

his wife once sat.<br />

“I found her lying [still], her eyes still looking<br />

to heaven but not moving,” he recalled.<br />

“She had passed away.”<br />

Samia leaves her husband and her inspiring<br />

legacy of love behind. She was devoted<br />

to her work in the children’s ministry, writing<br />

songs and plays for the Sunday school classes<br />

for various congregations. Many in Egypt’s<br />

church body feel her loss.<br />

The Brides of Christ<br />

On December 12, wooden coffins lined the<br />

walls of the Virgin Mary Church. On each, a<br />

cross was painted to celebrate the martyr laying<br />

inside. Nahla stood between two coffins,<br />

one hand on each. It felt so unfair to have lost<br />

so much.<br />

“I see now that it was a grace from the Lord<br />

to take my two daughters together, as they<br />

loved each other very much,” she recently<br />

explained to ICC. “It would be very difficult if<br />

one of them left and the other stayed. This is<br />

still very hard to me to say.”<br />

The night before Nahla lost her children,<br />

the three stayed up late drinking tea and shar-<br />

26 PERSECU ION.org<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />


ing jokes. The two sisters agreed before bed<br />

that their mother needed rest and should skip<br />

the next morning’s mass. The girls had been<br />

attending St. Marks their whole lives, so they<br />

hardly missed a service.<br />

“My two daughters were linked to each<br />

other, they were together everywhere,” their<br />

father, Fahim Helmy, remembered. “Now they<br />

are together in the same place, in heaven<br />

enjoying the Lord Jesus Christ and that is the<br />

only thing which comforts us. They are the<br />

brides of Christ.”<br />

What’s Next<br />

These are just a few stories of persecuted<br />

Christians in Egypt. Not only are Christians<br />

persecuted with suicide attacks, but they face<br />

social and economic persecution.<br />

Discriminatory persecution can often be less<br />

obvious, though it still affects a wide population<br />

in Egypt.<br />

Egypt is currently grappling with a massive<br />

economic crisis and currency collapse.<br />

Christians in particular are bearing the weight<br />

of suffering through marginalization and discrimination<br />

in education and the workforce.<br />

Such discrimination has forced countless<br />

Egyptian men to journey to Libya in search of<br />

work. This travel is dangerous.<br />

“Now they are<br />

together in the same<br />

place, in heaven<br />

enjoying the Lord<br />

Jesus Christ and that<br />

is the only thing which<br />

comforts us. They are<br />

the brides of Christ.”<br />



The 21 Martyrs<br />

You’ve heard the story and the fates of<br />

these men before. Twenty-one Christians<br />

lined up in orange jumpsuits. ISIS militants<br />

in military garb. The Christians<br />

knelt, then the militants slit their throats.<br />

The world was horrified, but moved on<br />

with their lives while families were left to<br />

suffer the loss alone.<br />

So, what now? What is the future of this<br />

nation? Currently, the citizens of Egypt and<br />

Christians in particular are grappling with<br />

an economic crisis, growing radical sentiment<br />

and Islamic State militants.<br />

For a people acclimated to the spirit of<br />

revolution, we may see yet another uprising<br />

in Egypt. With inflation rising exponentially,<br />

foreign reserves failing, and gas prices<br />

increasing, social tension and fanaticism<br />

is on the rise and social upheaval leaves<br />

Christians in a very vulnerable position.<br />

Please pray for these brothers and<br />

sisters as they suffer innumerable abuses<br />

in unstable circumstances. Fear is<br />

woven into the fabric of life for Egyptian<br />

Christians and they need our support now<br />

more than ever.<br />

Challenges in Egypt<br />

Security camera footage captures the dust<br />

cloud moments after the bomb went off in St.<br />

Peter and St. Paul’s Church on Dec. 11, 2016.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Egypt’s failing economy has contributed<br />

to marginalization and discrimination.<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> is not confined to economic<br />

or discriminatory measures, but these are<br />

some of the ways in which Christians bear<br />

an uneven weight in Egypt.<br />

We must understand that, in Egypt,<br />

economics and radicalism are connected.<br />

To put it plainly, financial desperation<br />

in Islam often results in the<br />

growth of fanatic sentiment. This puts<br />

Christians at risk. We have seen an<br />

increase in religiously motivated attacks<br />

in many rural parts of Egypt as well<br />

as in Cairo. While President al-Sisi<br />

has promised to support the Christian<br />

minority and has made many wonderful<br />

pronouncements, little has changed and,<br />

in fact, radicals have a free hand with<br />

the Christian community.<br />

Christians are more vulnerable than<br />

ever as the economic crisis and the sectarian<br />

drift are pushing them to further to<br />

the edge of society.<br />

With no official protection, Christians<br />

are a likely scapegoat for the growing<br />

dissatisfaction in Egyptian culture and<br />

economics.<br />

ISIS seems to be floundering. With<br />

security forces in Iraq and Syria liberating<br />

more of the militant occupied territories,<br />

we are seeing a new strategy emerge<br />

from the group: suicide bombings.<br />

The Islamic State has, for the most part,<br />

occupied itself with territorial expansion<br />

and ethnic cleansing in the last three<br />

years. So why the sudden change in strategy?<br />

Certain scholars argue that terrorist<br />

organizations will employ suicide tactics<br />

as a response to territorial loss as a last<br />

resort. With liberating armies continuing<br />

to push militants out of Iraq and Syria,<br />

the umbrella organization is resorting to<br />

a desperate power play. Suicide bombings<br />

are particularly sinister in nature<br />

and the carnage is extensive, making this<br />

terror strategy very effective in instilling<br />

widespread panic.<br />

Attacks like we’ve seen in Belgium,<br />

France and Turkey are ISIS’ desperate<br />

attempts to inflict damage. They are no<br />

longer confined to an established territory.<br />

While we shouldn’t fool ourselves<br />

into thinking them defeated, ISIS new<br />

strategic approach to terrorism may also<br />

be their final strategy.<br />


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