May 2017 Persecution Magazine

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MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Rejected<br />

Resilient<br />

Restored<br />

Remembering the youngest victims of<br />

persecution and how they endure (pg 18)<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Table of Contents<br />

In This Issue:<br />


16 | <strong>2017</strong> Bridge Conference<br />

Speaker Announcement<br />

Join ICC this June 2-3 for the annual<br />

conference on the persecuted Church.<br />


18 | “What Will You Remember<br />

Most?”<br />

Why serving the needs of persecuted<br />

Christian children across the world is<br />

so important.<br />


22 | Choi: The Accidental<br />

Defector<br />

A North Korean defector tells ICC<br />

how he accidentally defected from<br />

North Korea, and what he is doing to<br />

free the oppressed still at home.<br />


24 | Lee’s Story<br />

Escaping North Korea and finding<br />

Christ, Lee shares her powerful testimony<br />

with ICC.<br />


26 | How the US Can Help<br />

Rebuild Communities in Iraq<br />

ICC’s advocacy efforts push for relief<br />

and reconstruction for Christians in<br />

Iraq and Syria.<br />

Regular Features<br />

4<br />

16<br />

18<br />

4 Letter from the President<br />

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

King, on the last words of the martyrs.<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 Impact Report<br />

See this quarter’s statistics of how<br />

ICC’s funds are helping the persecuted<br />

across the globe.<br />

22<br />

25 26<br />

2 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


972<br />


HELPED<br />

Through Kids Care Fund<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



President’s Letter<br />

Greater<br />

Love Has. . .<br />

The following is adapted from a chapter of a soon-to–be-released book from ICC’s president, Jeff King, entitled, “Last Words of the<br />

Martyrs.”<br />

The initial reports of persecution I receive are news-oriented, often<br />

only the cold hard facts; who, what, when, and how. Drill down<br />

with me on any attack to the individuals affected, their loved ones,<br />

their community, and their churches and you will see and feel the<br />

massive personal tragedy that each long prison sentence or murder<br />

represents.<br />

Over the years, I’ve been able to speak directly to Christians<br />

affected by persecution and I get very personal updates from our<br />

field staff. These are extremely helpful for me to keep in front of<br />

me the true cost and emotional impact of persecution as it occurs.<br />

In March 2015, in Youhanabad, Pakistan, two suicide bombers<br />

simultaneously attacked two different churches with devastating<br />

effect. Nineteen were killed and another 80 were seriously wounded.<br />

One of my staff was just around the corner when the bombs went off<br />

and rushed to the scene with his camera and recorded the devastating<br />

impact of the attack. Frankly, it was a scene out of a horror movie.<br />

The bomb’s shrapnel did its intended job and shredded anything in its<br />

path, whether concrete or flesh.<br />

One of his pictures haunts me. A mother was holding the body of<br />

her dying son while her spared son sat next to her. Abishey, 10, lay<br />

on the ground, his lower extremities gone. His abdomen was opened<br />

up and he was bleeding out, barely conscious, and fading quickly.<br />

His mother was holding him with her face pointed to heaven, tears<br />

streaming down her face and she was crying out in a grief that you or<br />

I will probably never experience. The healthy son, his face also twisted<br />

by shock and grief, covered in tears, was looking left. The pain and<br />

incomprehension expressed were undeniable and heart-wrenching.<br />

Abishey died because he had left the church to buy candles to<br />

light during the prayer time. He was just outside the church when the<br />

bomb went off.<br />

One of the priests from the church told us that horror was enough<br />

to drive some of his people mad.<br />

In contrast to the horror I saw in that picture was the story of heroics,<br />

courage, and sacrifice, demonstrated by two brothers from the<br />

church, Akash and Sikander. The Christian community and churches<br />

had been rocked by several suicide bombings and these two brothers<br />

from the church volunteered to act as security at the church gate<br />

to prevent any suicide bomber from entering. Another of the church<br />

security volunteers told us what these brothers had done.<br />

“When the bomber tried to enter the church gate, Akash and<br />

Sikandar threw the metal door (of the gate) closed and it hit the<br />

bomber. He fell down, but got back up and tried to enter through the<br />

gate again, but Akash held him, holding down his arms, and pulled<br />

him away from the church.”<br />

Akash held the bomber while Sikander slammed the heavy church<br />

gate closed again when the bomber ignited his bomb. Sikander was<br />

restraining him when the bomb went off.<br />

The death and injury toll, while terrible, would have been incredible<br />

if the bomber had made it into the church.<br />

Radical Islamists celebrated this suicide bomber and all the others<br />

as martyrs for sacrificially killing so many “infidels” that fateful<br />

Sunday. Parents of suicide jihadists even comfort themselves with<br />

promises that their children received a martyr’s reward in eternity.<br />

The shock that the bombers must experience as they enter eternity<br />

often haunts me. I know they are murderers, but they are deceived<br />

and so sincere in their willingness to please Allah that they will<br />

extinguish their own lives and murder hundreds around them because<br />

their religion is telling them to oppose those who resist Islam. They<br />

didn’t just come up with this crazy idea but were taught this lie by<br />

Muhammad, Islam’s holy books, and his living adherents.<br />

So the bomber pays the ultimate price to gain paradise but after<br />

death awakes to reality and finds that everything he was taught about<br />

God was a lie and that he had been obeying Satan.<br />

Furthermore, he realizes that he has killed 19 innocents and that his<br />

fate is sealed; captured by Satan, he will be in torment for eternity.<br />

4 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


President’s Letter<br />


Of course, the real martyrs are not the killers, but the victims, especially<br />

Akash and Sikander. When Akash was killed, his soul was immediately<br />

taken to heaven where he received the crown of life, an eternal<br />

reward that will never perish, spoil, or fade. Akash’s mother spoke with<br />

ICC some time after the bombing and spoke to this point.<br />

“We [have] two feelings,” she said. “We are depressed because we<br />

have lost our son. But we are also proud of his sacrifice. He saved hundreds.<br />

I am happy that God has given him the crown of martyrdom.”<br />

Akash wasn’t a pastor, missionary, or saint. He was like you and me.<br />

He aspired to live like Jesus but probably failed miserably on a day-today<br />

basis. Yet, by laying down his life for others, he became Jesus to<br />

the many in St. John’s Church who lived that day because one deceived<br />

follower of Satan couldn’t get to them. Because of Akash’s sacrifice<br />

and death, they lived.<br />

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life<br />

for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NIV). While the suicide bombers died<br />

in the fire and violence of hate, Akash and the other security guard laid<br />

down their lives in one supreme act of selflessness and sacrifice.<br />


There’s a lot of propaganda coming from our government and echoed<br />

by uninformed sheep that Islam is a religion of peace. Most in the<br />

leadership of our government involved in fighting Islam know this isn’t<br />

true. Muhammad wasn’t peaceful. He personally led 35-70 raids where<br />

many were killed. He was preaching and evangelizing for a decade with<br />

only a few followers to show for it when he said that Allah gave him a<br />

new revelation. This revelation would radically change his religion and<br />

would cause the number of his followers to explode.<br />

What was this new revelation? He said Allah showed him that he<br />

could kill those who opposed him. He could also take their gold, their<br />

homes, their wives and their children and do anything he wished with<br />

them. He could make them his “wives” or sell them as slaves. This was<br />

Allah’s will that had just been revealed to him.<br />

Muhammad even had to urge his followers to attack and kill others<br />

since your average person doesn’t want to be involved in this<br />

kind of “worship.”<br />

“Fighting is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it<br />

may be that you dislike [something] that is good for you. Allah [knows<br />

best]” (Quran 2:216).<br />


The conundrum our leaders face is that they fear if they tell the<br />

truth and openly condemn Islam, it will only become more violent<br />

and millions more young Muslim men around the globe will stand<br />

up to defend their religion and flow into the ranks of Islamic terror.<br />

So they have come up with a very flawed and increasingly incongruous<br />

campaign to put a wedge between the moderates and radicals<br />

of Islam through sloganeering (“Islam is a religion of peace”).<br />

The only problem is that they are fighting against the holy books<br />

of Islam, Muhammad, as well as the Saudi and other Gulf states that<br />

have spent 200 billion dollars or more in the last 40 years radicalizing<br />

the world’s Muslims.<br />

When I get weary of the resulting massive flowing sewer of<br />

Islam’s victims, when the countless stories of planned mass<br />

and individual murder and violence weigh me down (and<br />

they do), I take refuge in the fact that those who died for<br />

Christ have stood before our Father and cried out to Him.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


“And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their<br />

testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God.”<br />

- Revelation 20:4 (NLT)<br />

“ 9 I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred<br />

for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony.<br />

10<br />

They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy<br />

and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to<br />

this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?<br />

11<br />

Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were<br />

told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers<br />

and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had<br />

joined them.”<br />

- Revelation 6:9-11 (NLT)<br />

These are the last words of the martyrs we see in the Word and if this<br />

was the end of the story, I would take some comfort in the fact that they<br />

were heard and were to be rewarded from the ultimate source of justice<br />

but I would still be naturally left wanting.<br />

Our souls are wired to desire justice and we have been left wanting in<br />

our culture. One day, justice will be delivered completely and in full by<br />

our hero. He will save the day and all evil will be defeated and judged.<br />

All tears will be wiped away and death and evil will be swallowed up<br />

(Revelation 21:4).<br />

The most important last words for martyrs like Abishey, Akash, and<br />

Sikander, though, will not be the words they speak but rather the ones<br />

they will hear. . .<br />

“Well done, good and faithful servant … Come and share your<br />

master’s happiness!”<br />

- Matthew 25:23 (NIV).<br />

Jeff King<br />

President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

www.persecution.org<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />


News<br />

2<br />

7<br />

1<br />

3<br />

5<br />

6<br />

4<br />

Sudan Orders<br />

Church<br />

Demolitions<br />

Christians fleeing the violence in El-Arish.<br />

Christians Flee Sinai after<br />

Violent Attacks<br />

1 | EGYPT On February 22, the bodies of two Coptic<br />

Christian men were found behind a school in El-Arish,<br />

Egypt. Saad Hakim Hanna was found with a bullet wound<br />

to the head, while his son, Medhat, appears to have been<br />

burned alive. A local priest reported that three masked<br />

men showed up on the doorstep of the father and son’s<br />

home, before killing them and burning the house.<br />

Unfortunately, this is only one incident in a string of<br />

several attacks against Christians in El-Arish. A trader<br />

was killed in his shop in front of his wife and son. A veterinarian<br />

was shot in the head. A Christian plumber was<br />

shot multiple times in front of his wife and five children.<br />

The killings were revealed to be part of a militant hit list.<br />

In response to the violence, more than 150 Coptic families<br />

have fled the city in a state of panic, worried that their<br />

family may be next. These families are now rebuilding<br />

their lives from nothing as they attempt to protect their<br />

loved ones from execution.<br />

Pastor Wins Discrimination Lawsuit<br />

2 | UNITED STATES In early February, the State of<br />

Georgia agreed to pay Dr. Eric Walsh $225,000 to<br />

settle his religious discrimination lawsuit. Dr. Eric Walsh<br />

was hired in <strong>May</strong> 2014 as a district health director for<br />

Georgia’s Department of Public Health. One week after<br />

his hire, he was asked to submit sermons to his employers,<br />

which he had previously delivered during his time as<br />

a lay-pastor. Only two days later, he was fired.<br />

After Walsh lost his position, First Liberty Institute filed<br />

a lawsuit on his behalf against the Georgia Department of<br />

Public Health in a religious discrimination case, arguing<br />

that he was fired on account of his faith. After three years<br />

of legal battle, the matter was finally put to rest when the<br />

State of Georgia agreed to the settlement. Senior Counsel<br />

for First Liberty Institute, Jeremy Dys, stated, “This is a<br />

clear and resounding victory for religious freedom.”<br />

Thankfully, Walsh’s case came to a positive conclusion,<br />

but others in similar<br />

cases have not been<br />

so fortunate. While<br />

Christians in the United<br />

States certainly do not<br />

face persecution to the<br />

same degree as those<br />

in many other countries<br />

do, we must stand up<br />

for all Christians who<br />

are losing their rights<br />

to practice their faith<br />

freely, or religious freedom<br />

will slowly begin<br />

to chip away.<br />

3 | SUDAN It is no<br />

secret that the government<br />

of Sudan<br />

is seeking to keep<br />

Christians from freely<br />

practicing their<br />

faith. Through a<br />

series of imprisonments,<br />

church demolitions,<br />

and countless<br />

incidents of harassment,<br />

Sudan rightfully<br />

earned its designation<br />

as a Country of<br />

Particular Concern<br />

by the US State<br />

Department.<br />

Most recently,<br />

authorities in Sudan<br />

ordered the demolition<br />

of at least 25<br />

Christian church<br />

buildings near<br />

the capital city of<br />

Khartoum. The<br />

government issued<br />

a letter detailing the<br />

names and locations<br />

of the churches designated<br />

for destruction.<br />

While the letter noted<br />

that the churches<br />

were built on grounds<br />

designated for other<br />

purposes, local<br />

Christian leaders<br />

stated that mosques<br />

built in the same<br />

area didn’t face the<br />

same repercussions.<br />

The churches that<br />

were targeted cover<br />

a broad spectrum of<br />

Christian denominations<br />

and the majority<br />

are located in residential<br />

areas.<br />

6 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


China and Christianity<br />

Despite China’s persecution<br />

of Christians, it is expected to<br />

be the world’s ‘most Christian<br />

nation’ within 15 years.<br />

Christian Woman in China Accused of Cult Activity<br />

4 | CHINA A Christian woman from China, Tu Yan, has been accused of “using an evil cult to undermine law enforcement” for her involvement in<br />

ministry. She was initially arrested last October and continues to be detained, despite mass outcry from the public. Under the guise of a crackdown<br />

on cult activity, the Chinese government continues to persecute and imprison China’s growing Christian population.<br />

Christian in Coma After Mob Attack<br />

5 | INDIA In India, a Christian evangelist named Dr.<br />

Kusuma Anjeneya Swamy slipped into a coma shortly<br />

after being harassed by a group of Hindu radicals. Dr.<br />

Swamy was distributing New Testaments in a park,<br />

when he was surrounded by the group of radicals who<br />

were shouting violent threats. The mob then led Swamy<br />

to the police station where he endured further harassment<br />

from the authorities. Although there was no visible<br />

evidence of physical violence, Swamy suffered a brain<br />

hemorrhage and slipped into a coma shortly after leaving<br />

the police station.<br />

Since the rise to power of Prime Minister Narendra<br />

Modi (pictured) in 2014, Christians in India have experienced<br />

a sharp uptick in persecution due to the impunity<br />

that Hindu radicals enjoy.<br />

President Modi of the right-winged BJP party.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


New Law<br />

Could Protect<br />

Christians<br />

6 | VIETNAM A<br />

recently ratified<br />

law in Vietnam,<br />

which will go into<br />

effect in 2018, could<br />

potentially protect<br />

Christian groups.<br />

The law will give<br />

religious organizations<br />

the opportunity<br />

to obtain legal status,<br />

which Christians<br />

hope will also give<br />

them legal protections.<br />

However, until<br />

the law is fully implemented,<br />

its impact<br />

remains unclear and<br />

there could be both<br />

positive and negative<br />

ramifications. Yet<br />

Christians are hopeful<br />

that this is a step<br />

forward for religious<br />

freedom in Vietnam.<br />

Congress Demands Release of<br />

Christian Pastor Held in Turkey<br />

7 | TURKEY On February 15, 78 members of<br />

Congress, including 37 senators, wrote a letter to the<br />

president of Turkey on behalf of Andrew Brunson,<br />

an American pastor imprisoned in Turkey who leads<br />

a church in the coastal city of Izmir. The bipartisan<br />

letter requested that Pastor Brunson be “immediately<br />

released and deported” on account of a lack of evidence<br />

in his case. The letter was sent four months<br />

after Brunson and his wife, Norine, were arrested<br />

after being accused of terrorist activities. Norine was<br />

released after 12 days of detention, but, at the time<br />

of writing, her husband remains in jail, despite the<br />

absence of evidence supporting his imprisonment.<br />

Andrew Brunson and wife, Norine.<br />


News<br />

3<br />

2<br />

6<br />

1<br />

5<br />

4<br />

“God changed<br />

the heart of the<br />

judge and he set<br />

me free.”<br />

Supreme Court of Pakistan. Wikimedia photo.<br />

Prosecutor Offers Imprisoned Christians<br />

Freedom if They Convert to Islam<br />

1 | PAKISTAN In March, ICC learned that a deputy district<br />

prosecutor in Pakistan was blackmailing 42 Christians<br />

who have been imprisoned since 2015. The prosecutor<br />

offered the Christians their freedom on one condition: that<br />

they abandon their Christian faith and convert to Islam.<br />

When this deal initially came to light, the prosecutor<br />

denied ever making such an offer. However, once it was<br />

revealed that the accused had video evidence of him making<br />

the offer, he changed his story. He then stated that he<br />

was simply offering them a choice. Worse still, this is not<br />

the first time that he has offered such a deal. The prosecutor’s<br />

office attempted to blackmail the Christians in the<br />

same way six months prior. However, the Christians clung<br />

tightly to their faith and refused the offer. According to a<br />

human rights activist involved in the case, one prisoner<br />

went so far as to say that he would rather be hanged than<br />

convert to Islam.<br />

Adding to the injustice of the case, many of the 42 men<br />

had been arbitrarily detained following a biased inves-<br />

tigation and shoddy<br />

police work. ICC has<br />

investigated and interviewed<br />

several people<br />

involved in this case<br />

and it is evident that<br />

there are several innocent<br />

people suffering<br />

in prison, solely<br />

because they are not<br />

a part of the Muslim<br />

majority.<br />

With a government<br />

bent on pushing their<br />

own religious agenda,<br />

Christians in Pakistan<br />

are often denied<br />

the justice that they<br />

deserve as authorities<br />

ignore the rule of<br />

law and overstep due<br />

process procedures.<br />

Prisoners should not<br />

have to fear whether<br />

or not they will receive<br />

an impartial investigation<br />

simply because of<br />

their religious identity.<br />

Unfortunately, as<br />

authorities continue<br />

to prioritize their religious<br />

beliefs above<br />

the law, religious<br />

minorities, including<br />

Christians, will continue<br />

to suffer the<br />

consequences.<br />

Syrian Man Gives Testimony of ISIS<br />

Kidnapping and Torture<br />

2 | SYRIA As ISIS continues its campaign of violence<br />

throughout the Middle East and beyond, personal stories<br />

of violence and abuse continue to pour out of the<br />

region. Meghrik (name changed for security) recently<br />

came forward with a testimony of such abuse.<br />

Meghrik was stopped by militants at a checkpoint<br />

while travelling by bus. Meghrik is a Christian name;<br />

however, he never professed to be a Christian or<br />

believe in the religion of his parents. Unfortunately<br />

for Meghrik, his name was enough to condemn him<br />

in the eyes of these ISIS militants and they forced him<br />

off the bus.<br />

An ISIS judge sentenced him to death and he was<br />

later told that he would be spared only if he converted<br />

to Islam. With a struggling faith, Meghrik called out<br />

to God in desperation. After ten days of death threats,<br />

torture, and forced conversion, he was finally released<br />

and permitted to return<br />

home. According to<br />

World Watch Monitor,<br />

Meghrik proclaimed,<br />

“God changed the<br />

heart of the judge and<br />

he set me free.” As<br />

statistics and news<br />

updates continue to<br />

flood our news stations,<br />

let us not forget<br />

to pray for the individual,<br />

such as Meghrik<br />

who reclaimed his<br />

faith in the most horrendous<br />

of circumstances.<br />

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MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Boko Haram Attacks Near Christian Town of Chibok<br />

3 | NIGERIA In February, Boko Haram carried out yet another attack near the Christian town of Chibok, Nigeria. The attack killed one and seriously<br />

injured another, a young boy whose hands were broken. Boko Haram has targeted Chibok several times in their violent campaign to rid<br />

the region of Christianity. In April 2014, Boko Haram militants carried out a mass kidnapping, abducting more than 270 primarily Christian<br />

schoolgirls, most of whom are still missing.<br />

Boko Haram militants in Nigeria<br />

60+ Churches Destroyed in Myanmar since 2011 Christian Teen Remains Imprisoned in Pakistan<br />

4 | MYANMAR According to reports from Christian Solidarity<br />

Worldwide, at least 66 churches have been burned down in Myanmar<br />

since 2011, in addition to hundreds of villages being destroyed. In<br />

2011, the Burma Army broke a longstanding ceasefire and more<br />

than 100,000 have been displaced by the ongoing conflict. Although<br />

their constitution promotes religious freedom, the government openly<br />

favors Buddhism, leaving religious minorities, including Christians,<br />

vulnerable to conflict in an already tense environment.<br />

5 | PAKISTAN In September 2016, Nabil Masih, a Christian teenager in<br />

Pakistan, was accused of blasphemy for “liking” a photo on Facebook<br />

that allegedly blasphemed against Islam. Masih’s supporters report that<br />

this is impossible because Masih is illiterate and does not use social<br />

media, suggesting that the account was fake. Although Masih maintains<br />

his innocence, reports suggest that police assaulted the teen until<br />

he confessed. At the time of writing, Masih has been denied bail and<br />

continues to suffer in prison.<br />

Iranian Christian Prisoners Go on Hunger Strike<br />

6 | IRAN Two Iranian Christians, Hadi Asgari and Amin Afshar, went on a<br />

hunger strike following six months of imprisonment without charge. The<br />

Christians are victims of the Iranian authorities’ all too common practice of<br />

indefinitely detaining prisoners of conscience without adequate medical care<br />

or legal attention. While the men suffer in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, their<br />

families have been rejected any attempt to learn more about their loved ones’<br />

cases. In previous cases, similar periods of confinement have caused prisoners<br />

lasting physical and emotional damage. Meanwhile, the accusers are granted<br />

more time to gather false evidence to condemn the already detained prisoners.<br />

Unfortunately, one of the prisoners fell seriously ill. Finally, after receiving<br />

promises of better medical aid and attention to their case, the men decided to<br />

end their strike.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Hadi Asgari (left) and Amin Afshar<br />


Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Education and Assistance after Al-Shabaab Attack<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

In 2014, al-Shabaab attacked the Joy in Jesus<br />

Church in Mombasa, Kenya, killing seven<br />

people, including a preacher, and leaving<br />

many more injured. The militants stormed<br />

into the church building through the back<br />

doors, shooting sporadically.<br />

Three families were particularly and permanently<br />

affected. Dennis Odongo, Austin<br />

Ouma and Diana Ouma were all severely<br />

injured during the gunfire. Each has been<br />

undergoing medical treatment for their injuries<br />

though none have been able to work<br />

since 2014.<br />

Florence Ochieng, whose husband was<br />

killed in the attack, worked diligently to keep<br />

the family’s motorbike business afloat, but<br />

sadly was unable to carry the load alone.<br />

The children in all of these families have<br />

been in and out of school in the last three<br />

years as their parents have been unable to<br />

maintain a sustainable source of income.<br />

These kids have been slighted in the worst<br />

way as their opportunity to be educated is<br />

slipping away.<br />

Thanks to your generous donations, we<br />

were able to step in and help these families<br />

both physically and financially. ICC<br />

funded a full year of school tuition for each<br />

of the children in these three families so<br />

they could continue their education without<br />

worry.<br />

“I would like to thank ICC greatly for<br />

paying my children’s school fees since this<br />

was the most stressing part to me as a single<br />

mother. It hasn’t been easy at all, but glory to<br />

God, He sent you people my way and I count<br />

this as a miracle,” Florence told ICC.<br />

While we have been able to provide educational<br />

assistance, the work is not done. These<br />

families need continued prayer and trust in<br />

God for healing, comfort, and provisions in<br />

the months and years to come.<br />

10 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Food Assistance<br />

in Koraput, India<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> is nothing new in the Koraput<br />

district of India. During the 2008<br />

Kandhamal riots, Christians faced severe communal<br />

violence which resulted in damaged<br />

houses, livestock, and crops. Some were also<br />

forcefully reconverted to Hinduism under dire<br />

circumstances, including severe beatings. The<br />

entire Christian communities of Talagumandi<br />

village of Narayanpatna block in Koraput<br />

were forced to reconvert or leave the village.<br />

Christians were strong-armed out of the<br />

village by Hindus, and, after eight years, have<br />

not been able to return home. Originally, all<br />

120 Christian families went to an internally<br />

displaced persons (IDP) camp. Over the years,<br />

all but 29 have moved elsewhere in the country.<br />

The remaining families, however, have no<br />

jobs or income and little food. ICC located the<br />

29 families, and with your help, funded a food<br />

aid package for each family. ICC will continue<br />

looking for ways to serve these families.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Wrongfully<br />

Accused Pastor in<br />

Mali Assisted<br />

Underground Pastor<br />

The Muslim father of a converted Christian<br />

daughter falsely accused a Malian pastor<br />

of kidnapping and forcibly converting<br />

his minor daughter in 2016. The father also<br />

accused a local Christian counselor to the<br />

mayor of creating and signing a false identification<br />

card for the daughter to hide her age as<br />

a minor child.<br />

Following the false accusations, both<br />

the mayor’s counselor and the pastor were<br />

imprisoned. The counselor is on provisional<br />

release; however, both families are in need<br />

of food assistance as their breadwinners<br />

are unable to work. In response, ICC delivered<br />

several food assistance packages to the<br />

families of the counselor and the imprisoned<br />

pastor. These food packages included rice,<br />

milk powder, and oil. The families expressed<br />

gratitude for God’s faithfulness during this<br />

difficult time.<br />

Assistance for<br />

IDPs in Kaduna,<br />

Nigeria<br />

Hand of Hope<br />

Fulani militants attacked several villages<br />

in the Kaduna state of Nigeria from<br />

October 15-17, 2016. They destroyed crops,<br />

burned down hundreds of home, killed<br />

approximately 30 people, and injured 326.<br />

The attack forced 27,000 people to flee to<br />

Kafanchan or other neighboring communities<br />

for refuge.<br />

With your help, ICC has been able to<br />

bring immediate relief to some of the refugee<br />

families in the Kafanchan internally<br />

displaced persons (IDP) camp. The most<br />

immediate needs included food and clothing.<br />

ICC provided food packages for 110 families<br />

and clothing for each person in the family -<br />

approximately 1,035 people.<br />

The food packages will provide enough<br />

food for a month, while the clothing will<br />

protect individuals from the harsh elements.<br />

This is the direct result of your gifts!<br />


E<br />

arlier this year, ICC funded a persecution preparedness training<br />

program for rural pastors in the Nalgonda district of Telangana,<br />

India. The program taught 23 pastors proactive techniques to use<br />

against persecution and sustain their work.<br />

In the last two years, Telangana’s Christians have suffered more<br />

persecution than any other state in southern India. Local pastors and<br />

Christian workers have been assaulted by neighboring religious extremists<br />

on more than one occasion. Rural Christians are, unfortunately,<br />

uninformed about India’s religious freedom laws. This shortcoming has<br />

played a major role in the constant attacks because Christians do not<br />

know how to present their cases to the authorities.<br />

ICC’s training program assists these pastors in two ways. First, pastors<br />

learned how to advocate for themselves using the religious freedom<br />

law. Second, the training involved sensitizing the participants on the<br />

Indian penal codes and criminal procedure codes.<br />

Telangana Christian JAC, a human rights group, collaborated with<br />

ICC by coordinating with pastors in the area. They also hosted the<br />

training and provided lunch to the attendees. With six mainline denominations<br />

and several independent churches in attendance, pastors comprised<br />

the majority of the training participants.<br />

ICC requests prayer for the safety of all of the pastors, as they face<br />

the constant threat of persecution. In addition, pray that these pastors<br />

will be able to respond and report persecution as the first step of fighting<br />

for justice and religious freedom.<br />

Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

‘<strong>Persecution</strong> Preparedness<br />

Training’ in India<br />

Underground Pastor<br />

Business Development<br />

for Iraqi Christian<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

A<br />

t 16, Samer is the youngest in his family. Samer is also the<br />

breadwinner for his family since his father is in prison. His<br />

father used to be a technical manager at a Mosul dam, but the chief<br />

accountant became angry at the government for giving this position<br />

to a Christian. Consequently, the accountant attacked Samer’s father<br />

with a knife.<br />

In an act of self-defense, Samer’s father pushed back on the<br />

accountant, knocking him to the ground. The man hit his head on his<br />

way down, landing him in the hospital where he would later die of<br />

the injury. Samer’s father was arrested and has been imprisoned for<br />

the last six years.<br />

Samer’s family previously lived in Qeraqosh until ISIS’ attack in<br />

2014 forced them to flee. He took his family to Erbil, but had no way<br />

to support them.<br />

Samer wanted to start a barbershop; he even had a location. But<br />

he did not have the money to fund the startup costs. With help from<br />

your donations, ICC provided the materials necessary to start this<br />

small business, including dryers, clippers, scissors, and towels. With<br />

these essentials, he will be able to provide for himself and his family.<br />

“Thank you so much, it seems like we will be here...for a long time so<br />

it’s good to have a job here,” Samer said.<br />

12 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


PERSECU ION.org<br />


Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Jos IDP School in Nigeria<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

C<br />

hristian communities in Nigeria have long suffered the weight of terrorism. Boko Haram<br />

and others have displaced thousands of families, forcing them to flee into internally displaced<br />

persons (IDP) camps in the country. In Bukuru-Jos, hundreds of families are living far<br />

from their homes. Children and young adults have been slighted as their educations have been<br />

completely disrupted through this crisis.<br />

In January <strong>2017</strong>, ICC was able to establish and open a new school within the borders of the<br />

Jos IDP camp to ensure that children could continue their education. In addition to the school<br />

building, ICC provided textbooks and established curriculums for math, science, and English.<br />

Because of your donations, ICC purchased, delivered, and distributed the books and learning<br />

resources for teachers and 28 children living in the camp.<br />

Please keep these children and their families in your prayers as they have many emotional<br />

barriers to overcome in their new homes. Having been uprooted, these families must start<br />

over. Furthermore, pray for the children’s interest and enthusiasm in their educational and<br />

learning experience.<br />

Rebuilding After Taliban Attack<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

I<br />

n September 2016, the Pakistani Taliban attacked the Christian community in Peshawar,<br />

Pakistan. The attack left one Christian dead and nine homes damaged. Household goods<br />

were destroyed and families’ quality of life became severely limited. One family even<br />

expressed that everyone was “tense and worried for purchasing all the stuff again…”<br />

To best help this community, ICC first conducted a survey of the neighborhood to<br />

determine the level of damage and the types of goods most needed to help the victims<br />

return to normality.<br />

After the survey, ICC purchased the appropriate household items for each family. Some<br />

families received mattresses, washing machines, and an iron. Others needed sheets, clothes,<br />

and food aid. Blankets, cookware, and juicers were other items that ICC provided.<br />

The victims expressed their gratitude for the “extraordinary support” shown by ICC<br />

and believe that such support demonstrates the “real message of Christianity and fantastic<br />

method of preaching Gospel of Jesus Christ....” Continue to pray for Christians in Pakistan<br />

who experience daily persecution and attacks.<br />

Aiding Pastors in Indonesia<br />

Underground Pastor<br />

C<br />

hristians in Indonesia face persecution for their faith every day. Many church members take<br />

risks simply by attending church. The risks for pastors, however, are even greater. Two of<br />

the main issues underground pastors face in Indonesia are a lack of funds to support their families,<br />

and the risk of being attacked for sharing the Gospel in a conservative Islamic environment.<br />

This tension is no more obvious than on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. The risk is so real<br />

that the city where they work was once dubbed “The Missionary Graveyard.”<br />

In February <strong>2017</strong>, ICC traveled to Indonesia to meet with these pastors and hear their concerns.<br />

One of the main issues they face is that the community immediately becomes suspicious<br />

when the pastors arrive without a valid “reason,” and begin to question them regarding their<br />

presence in the community.<br />

To help address this issue and provide a “cover story” for these underground pastors, ICC<br />

funded a small business project to give underground pastors small goods to sell while they evangelize.<br />

Working under the cover of “small business owners” gives pastors access to communities<br />

without suspicion. With your help, ICC is also working on expanding a broader network to<br />

provide similar assistance to underground pastors throughout Indonesia.<br />


Impact Report<br />


NEEDED<br />



and CHILDREN<br />





low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

2016 Q4 2016 Q4 2016 Q4<br />


• After years of relentless advocacy efforts,<br />

ICC’s hard work culminated with the<br />

unanimous passage of the Frank R. Wolf<br />

International Religious Freedom Act in<br />

December 2016. This act has been hailed<br />

as the most important religious freedom act<br />

in nearly 20 years. Among other provisions,<br />

it requires all US Foreign Service Officers<br />

to receive mandatory training on religious<br />

freedom. It also gives the US the ability to<br />

sanction non-governmental groups, such as<br />

ISIS or Boko Haram, for religious freedom<br />

violations, designating them as “entities of<br />

particular concern.” Previously, it was only<br />

possible to sanction entire countries.<br />

• At the end of 2016, ICC launched an intensive<br />

campaign on behalf of persecuted North Korean<br />

Christians. Our advocacy efforts included a<br />

petition calling on China to cease the deportation<br />

of refugees back to North Korea where<br />

they face death or torture. We also focused<br />

on Korean Christians in two of our monthly<br />

magazines. We interviewed and featured<br />

almost 20 defectors and North Korea experts.<br />

Additionally, the <strong>2017</strong> Bridge Conference<br />

will focus on the prison state of North Korea.<br />

• In November 2016, ICC travelled to northern<br />

Nigeria to interview victims of recent Fulani<br />

attacks, verify attacks, and begin the planning<br />

process of how to effectively alleviate the<br />

victims’ suffering.<br />

• Last year, Christians celebrating the Easter<br />

holiday in a public park were attacked by<br />

a suicide bomber in Lahore, Pakistan.<br />

Twenty-one Christians were killed in this<br />

attack and 40 more were injured, leaving<br />

many families without a breadwinner.<br />

In addition to providing immediate aid,<br />

ICC has helped several families affected<br />

by this attack set up small businesses so<br />

that they do not have to worry about daily<br />

expenses.<br />

• Following a deadly al-Shabaab attack in<br />

Kenya, a Christian woman was left widowed,<br />

with the responsibility of caring<br />

for her five children alone. After paying<br />

for her husband’s funeral, the woman was<br />

low on finances and in need of immediate<br />

assistance. ICC provided her with enough<br />

food to feed her family for a month while<br />

they grieve their devastating loss.<br />

• In April 2014, more than 270 primarily<br />

Christian schoolgirls were abducted in<br />

Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram. Since<br />

the abduction, ICC has worked closely<br />

with the Chibok community, providing<br />

long-term assistance and encouragement<br />

to those affected by the attack. Most<br />

recently, ICC provided several of the<br />

victims’ families with food packages and<br />

medical care as they struggle to establish<br />

a new life.<br />

• As ISIS carried out a campaign of violence<br />

throughout the Middle East, countless<br />

Christians were forced to relocate,<br />

losing both their homes and their<br />

livelihoods. One such man became so<br />

depressed because of the displacement<br />

that his son was forced to find a way<br />

to support the family. ICC provided the<br />

equipment needed for him to start a car<br />

wash business. He now has the tools<br />

necessary to financially support his entire<br />

family and hopes to one day continue his<br />

education.<br />

• Christians in Egypt are often denied<br />

many of the educational and occupational<br />

opportunities that their Muslim counterparts<br />

receive, forcing them into the lower<br />

rungs of society. In order to break this<br />

cycle, ICC opened a Hope House in Egypt<br />

to offer after-school education (computers<br />

and English) for Christian kids. These<br />

students receive language and computer<br />

training, which will help them obtain jobs<br />

more easily upon graduation.<br />

• In 2016, a church in Tamil Nadu, India,<br />

was set on fire, severely damaging<br />

the building and other materials. In<br />

response, ICC provided the church<br />

with the necessary construction materials<br />

for them to rebuild their church<br />

building.<br />

14 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Impact Report<br />






BIBLES<br />


low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

2016 Q4 2016 Q4 2016 Q4<br />


• In 2008, children throughout Orissa,<br />

India, were left orphaned due to a massive<br />

outbreak of violent, anti-Christian<br />

riots. In response, ICC started an<br />

orphanage to care for these children with<br />

food, clothing, medical care, shelter, discipleship,<br />

the best education. This past<br />

Christmas, ICC provided the children<br />

with gifts, new clothing, and a television<br />

for the orphanage.<br />

• In 2014, two suicide bombers devastated<br />

Pakistan’s Christian community by<br />

attacking All Saints Church in Peshawar.<br />

When the dust settled, more than 130<br />

people were killed in the attacks. Among<br />

the most vulnerable of victims were children<br />

who lost both parents or lost their<br />

family’s breadwinner. In response, ICC<br />

continues to supported these children on<br />

a regular basis by providing them with<br />

the resources necessary to obtain a quality<br />

education.<br />

• In Upper Egypt, Christian children are<br />

often denied the educational resources<br />

that they need in order to thrive in<br />

adulthood. In order to help put them<br />

on the path to success, ICC provides<br />

necessities such as food, medical care,<br />

school supplies and, most importantly,<br />

the Gospel.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


• ICC provides monthly financial assistance<br />

to several pastors in Somalia in order to<br />

help them further the Kingdom and provide<br />

for their churches in this incredibly<br />

dangerous nation. Without this support,<br />

these pastors would be forced to take on<br />

one or more jobs which would severely<br />

curtail their spiritual work.<br />

• In 2016, a pastor in India was attacked by<br />

a group of Hindu radicals while returning<br />

home from leading worship. Pastor Rao<br />

survived the attack, but lost his hearing.<br />

Doctors recommended a costly ear<br />

surgery that he could not afford on the<br />

limited income of a rural minister. After<br />

Pastor Rao was forced to borrow the funds<br />

to pay for the surgery, ICC repaid his<br />

debt, relieving him of the heavy financial<br />

burden and enabling him to continue the<br />

work of the ministry.<br />

• Christians in Pakistan, particularly Muslimbackground<br />

believers (MBBs), must operate<br />

with extreme caution as they share the<br />

Gospel with their communities. One MBB<br />

works with a team of fellow evangelists to<br />

distribute Christian literature in their community.<br />

As a result, they have been beaten<br />

and have received several violent threats.<br />

ICC provides this evangelist with monthly<br />

support as he continues this important, yet<br />

dangerous, work of street evangelism.<br />

• In Madhya Pradesh, India, pastors and<br />

churches are often attacked. Due to the<br />

poverty that Christian pastors in the<br />

region face, they often cannot afford to<br />

replace the destroyed materials. Thanks<br />

to the help of generous donors, ICC was<br />

able to provide more than 200 Bibles to<br />

eight pastors in the area to distribute in<br />

their communities.<br />

• Muslims in Zanzibar are turning to<br />

Christ at an incredible rate thanks to<br />

the faithful work of Christian pastors<br />

sharing the Gospel across the island.<br />

Unfortunately, financial difficulties<br />

prevent many from distributing the<br />

written Word of God. ICC assisted<br />

with this need by providing six pastors<br />

with a stockpile of Bibles to distribute<br />

in their communities and build<br />

disciples.<br />

• With the rise of the house church<br />

movement in China, there is an increasing<br />

demand for the Gospel. ICC provides<br />

DVD kits that we call “church<br />

in a box” to communities throughout<br />

China. Thousands of these DVDs<br />

have been distributed and include a<br />

Chinese Bible, worship songs, the<br />

JESUS Film, and other resources in<br />

order to support these believers as they<br />

grow in their faith.<br />





TED CRUZ<br />

US SENATOR & 2016<br />






ED ROYCE<br />







ICC’S<br />



POLICY DAY: MAY 24<br />





16 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


ATE<br />



KOREA (LiNK)<br />









PERSECU ION.org<br />



“What<br />

Will You<br />

Remember<br />

Most?”<br />

Why serving the needs of persecuted Christian<br />

children across the world is so important.<br />

By William Stark<br />

18 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


For the past five years, I have<br />

had the unique opportunity<br />

of serving the persecuted<br />

Church around the world.<br />

This service has, quite<br />

literally, taken me across<br />

the globe. From the rural<br />

jungles of Bangladesh to<br />

the urban chaos of Cairo,<br />

the ocean of memories I<br />

have will stick with me for the rest of my life.<br />

Often, I am asked by friends and family,<br />

“What will you remember most?”<br />

When I actually take the time to think about<br />

it, there are memories that are more vivid than<br />

others. Possibly because these memories are<br />

more cherished. Among the first memories<br />

to come to mind are the many projects I have<br />

been a part of that focused on serving the<br />

needs of children affected by persecution.<br />

Often, when people think about persecuted<br />

Christians, they tend to focus on the immediate<br />

victim – those directly affected. The<br />

parishioner killed in a church bombing. The<br />

evangelist beaten for bringing the Gospel to<br />

a closed village. The pastor imprisoned for<br />

leading a community considered illegal by<br />

their government. Unfortunately, the children,<br />

whose lives depend on those parishioners,<br />

evangelists, and pastors, are often overlooked,<br />

making them the unseen, but no less affected,<br />

victims of persecution.<br />

I remember this vividly in the days and<br />

weeks following the bombing of All Saints<br />

Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2013. As<br />

many organizations, churches, and individuals<br />

rushed to provide medical assistance and<br />

other forms of initial support to the Christians<br />

injured or families who had a member killed<br />

in the bombing, few were looking to the needs<br />

of the Christian children whose parents were<br />

affected in the bombing.<br />

In light of this, ICC committed to providing<br />

primary and secondary education for those<br />

children whose parents were either killed<br />

or handicapped in the bombing. This vital<br />

program, which is going into its fourth year,<br />

not only helped stabilize over 30 Christian<br />

families, it also helped ensure that the persecution<br />

did not have a generational effect on<br />

the Christian community of Peshawar.<br />

When I visited the Christian community<br />

of Peshawar a few years after the bombing,<br />

I remember being pulled aside by one of the<br />

city’s church leaders. He pointed to one of<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



Feature Article<br />

“ It is only because<br />

of the support you<br />

are giving that will<br />

allow these children<br />

to pursue these<br />

dreams.”<br />


“My father was the main breadwinner for the<br />

family, so with his death we were unsure how<br />

we would continue my education.”<br />

the students in our program and said, “You<br />

see that child there? She wants to become a<br />

doctor.” He pointed at another student. “You<br />

see that child there? He wants to become an<br />

accountant. It is only because of the support<br />

you are giving that will allow these children<br />

to pursue these dreams.”<br />

Can you imagine the impact that had on<br />

me? The honor, the incredible sense of humility,<br />

and the sense of responsibility that came<br />

with that heartfelt expression is to be shared<br />

with you, our donor.<br />

For I am only the feet or hands of you, our<br />

partner, that delivers your aid to the victims.<br />

Without us working together after the blast,<br />

these kids would have had to drop out of<br />

school. So instead of a doctor, accountant, or<br />

educated Christian professional, we would<br />

have had kids who would have dropped out of<br />

school and become common laborers.<br />

I recently caught up with the one of the<br />

students this church leader pointed out to me.<br />

Joyce William is a bright 18-year-old girl<br />

who lost her father, older brother, and sister<br />

in the All Saints Church bombing. Joyce’s<br />

mother was also badly injured and she still<br />

has not fully recovered. Although Joyce has<br />

graduated from ICC’s education program,<br />

she still remembers the vital support that ICC<br />

provided her and her family.<br />

“After the bomb blast, what was left of<br />

our family was (facing disaster),” Joyce<br />

explained. “My father was the main breadwinner<br />

for the family, so with his death we<br />

were unsure how we would continue my<br />

education. In the midst of all these challenges,<br />

ICC supported us and helped with financial<br />

support and provided for my school<br />

fees and other expenses,” Joyce continued.<br />

“ICC also arranged programs to help with<br />

the psychological effects of the blast for the<br />

children affected.”<br />

“After graduating from ICC’s program,<br />

I was able to gain admission at Edwards<br />

College in Peshawar where I am now a student,”<br />

Joyce reported. “I am currently studying<br />

in the medical program and am planning<br />

to take the medical exams so I can become a<br />

doctor.”<br />

Across the world, I have witnessed similar<br />

stories of tragedy and perseverance from the<br />

children of the persecuted. I have always<br />

found that, somehow, children have a unique<br />

ability to bounce back from persecution if<br />

simply given the opportunity and resources.<br />

In Nigeria, I remember arriving at a camp<br />

where Christians displaced by Boko Haram<br />

had been living for nearly two years. As we<br />

drove to the camp, the camp manager painted<br />

me a grim picture as to the camp’s conditions<br />

and those living there.<br />

When we arrived, the excitement and joy<br />

I witnessed, especially from among the children<br />

living in the camp, felt completely opposite<br />

from what I was expecting. As I entered<br />

20 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


ICC Kids<br />

Care<br />

Top Left<br />

Internally displaced<br />

children in Nigeria<br />

will receive a<br />

chance at an<br />

education thanks<br />

to ICC’s donors.<br />

Top Right<br />

ICC proudly<br />

supports young<br />

Pakistani students<br />

who lost family<br />

members in the<br />

2015 Youhanabad<br />

bombings.<br />

Bottom Left<br />

A Pakistani girl<br />

works on her<br />

homework. Her<br />

family was severely<br />

affected by the<br />

2015 Youhanabad<br />

bombings.<br />

Bottom Right<br />

A young girl living<br />

internally displaced<br />

in Nigeria. Her<br />

family fled their<br />

home when radical<br />

militias stormed<br />

their village.<br />

“I have found that, somehow, children have a unique ability to bounce<br />

back from persecution if simply given the opportunity and resources.”<br />

the camp, all the children, literally hundreds,<br />

lined up to greet us.<br />

In spite of living in an internally displaced<br />

persons (IDP) camp and being out<br />

of school for years, these children still had<br />

dreams for the future. The persecution they<br />

were experiencing had not taken their sense<br />

of hope in the future. When the camp manager<br />

asked Alheri, a young Christian child<br />

in the camp, what he wanted to do when<br />

he grew up, Alheri shouted, “I want to be<br />

a pilot! I want to drive a plane in the air!”<br />

Since our initial contact with this IDP<br />

camp, ICC has established a school for the<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


kids still living there. This way, children like<br />

Alheri have the opportunity to pursue their<br />

dreams of building a brighter future for themselves<br />

and their community.<br />

This is where the importance of working<br />

with these “unseen victims” of persecution<br />

really comes forward. These children,<br />

although often not the direct victims of<br />

persecution, are the future of their communities.<br />

One day, they will take on roles of<br />

leadership and will likely still face many of<br />

the same challenges faced by their parents<br />

because of their faith.<br />

It would truly be a tragedy if we only<br />

focused on serving the present needs without<br />

keeping an eye to the future. Ultimately, this<br />

would allow persecution to have a compounding<br />

and devastating generational effect on<br />

Christian communities across the world.<br />

For me at least, this is one reason why<br />

I am not only willing, but excited, to<br />

travel to countries like Pakistan, Nigeria,<br />

Afghanistan, Iraq, and the many other places<br />

Christians are persecuted. The memories<br />

I make today, especially while working with<br />

these Christian children, I hope will one<br />

day be the beginning of a brighter future for<br />

them and their communities.<br />


Interview<br />

Choi Jung Oon: The Accid<br />

A North Korean<br />

defector tells ICC<br />

how he accidentally<br />

defected from North<br />

Korea, and what he<br />

is doing to free the<br />

oppressed still at<br />

home.<br />

By Daniel Harris<br />

Choi Jung Oon talks with ICC staff at his organization’s office in Seoul, South Korea.<br />

In 1975 a boat of South<br />

Korean fishermen was<br />

abducted by North<br />

Korea. The fishermen,<br />

along with their<br />

captain, were taken to<br />

North Korea and forced<br />

to integrate into North<br />

Korean society. In a<br />

single day, the course of<br />

their lives was radically changed.<br />

Swallowed up by North Korea,<br />

their families never heard from<br />

them again.<br />

Fast forward to 2006, Choi<br />

Jung Oon, a former military officer<br />

and a government official<br />

in North Korea, was informed<br />

by the North Korean government<br />

that his funding was to be cut and<br />

he would have to find alternative<br />

means to pay his employees.<br />

To compensate, he began<br />

taking trips to China for trade.<br />

On his tenth trip into China, he<br />

heard about a woman who was<br />

offering $10,000 to anyone who<br />

could find her father and bring<br />

him back home. She said she<br />

was the daughter of the captain<br />

of the abducted ship. She had<br />

no pictures. She didn’t know<br />

where he was…all she had was a<br />

name: Choi Wook Il. Armed with<br />

only a name and a desire to earn<br />

$10,000, Choi Jung Oon began<br />

travelling through North Korea<br />

looking for the captain. It took<br />

him three months, but he found<br />

him. He was married to a North<br />

Korean woman and had children.<br />

His wife was essentially a North<br />

22 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


ental Defector<br />

In that moment everything changed for Choi Jung Oon. He went to<br />

sleep as a government official and woke up a fugitive. Choi had no<br />

choice but to defect.<br />

Korean spy tasked with reporting<br />

on his every movement.<br />

Choi pleaded with the captain’s<br />

wife and promised he would<br />

bring the captain back if she<br />

would let him visit his daughter<br />

in China. She conceded.<br />

Choi and the captain set off<br />

westward, crossing into China<br />

on Christmas day in 2006. But<br />

when they saw the captain’s<br />

daughter for the first time, it<br />

was not his daughter at all…it<br />

was his wife. Thirty-one years<br />

had passed without a word. The<br />

captain was 36 the day he disappeared;<br />

he was now 67.<br />

Choi told ICC, “Watching their<br />

meeting was so hard.” He said they<br />

wept so much, “they cried like<br />

animals…it was not the sound of<br />

people.” Choi stood there watching,<br />

and for the first time he wondered<br />

what kind of country could do this<br />

to someone. For the first time in<br />

his life he questioned what he and<br />

his country stood for. That night, as<br />

they slept, the captain and his wife snuck away.<br />

They ran straight to the South Korean embassy.<br />

When they arrived, they published a press release<br />

detailing his 31 years in captivity, how he escaped,<br />

and who helped him escape. They named names,<br />

including Choi Jung Oon.<br />

In that moment, everything changed for<br />

Choi Jung Oon. He went to sleep as a government<br />

official and woke up a fugitive. He could<br />

never go back, as the North Korean government<br />

was furious and executed everyone<br />

even remotely connected to the escape. By<br />

8:00 a.m., even the border guards had been<br />

executed. Choi had no choice but to defect. He<br />

found a way to call his family and they begged<br />

him to not try to come home.<br />

As for many North Korean defectors, it<br />

took Choi more than a year to make his way to<br />

South Korea. Defectors making their way to<br />

South Korea must dodge Chinese policemen<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Part of the Korean Demilitarized Zone<br />

and North Korean spies, all the while bribing<br />

officers or hiring agents to get them into South<br />

Korea...all without a job and without knowing<br />

the local language. To be caught means automatic<br />

repatriation to North Korea where they<br />

will face torture at a minimum, long imprisonment,<br />

or execution.<br />

With the help of an agent, Choi reached<br />

South Korea on December 31, 2007. After<br />

being interrogated to make sure he was not a<br />

North Korean spy, he found a job as a reporter.<br />

He worked as hard as he could to save his<br />

money and hire agents to sneak his family out<br />

of North Korea, one-by-one. In 2011, he had<br />

snuck out every family member except his<br />

youngest brother. Because Choi had written an<br />

article that incensed the North Korean government,<br />

his baby brother was executed.<br />

The death of his brother still haunts him<br />

today. It is what drives Choi to do the work<br />

he does. Now, Choi works for<br />

a radio station that beams news<br />

into North Korea about the outside<br />

world and the truth about<br />

the North Korean regime.<br />

They tell North Koreans that<br />

there is hope outside of North<br />

Korea and the truth about what<br />

their country is doing. They<br />

broadcast North Korean songs<br />

rewritten with words from the<br />

Gospel. As a side project, Choi<br />

works to smuggle USB sticks<br />

filled with news, media, or<br />

the Bible into North Korea.<br />

It is a dangerous task with<br />

people risking their lives at<br />

night to cross the border. But<br />

Choi is one of the most active<br />

and passionate leaders in the<br />

fight against the North Korean<br />

regime.<br />

Life for Choi after the<br />

escape has not been easy.<br />

North Korean spies are<br />

everywhere and it is difficult<br />

to know who to trust. Some<br />

defectors who ICC met with have had as<br />

many as eight attempts on their life since<br />

escaping North Korea. In 2012, North<br />

Korea sent a spy to befriend Choi and kill<br />

him. They told the spy that they would execute<br />

her son if she did not follow through<br />

with it. Luckily, she was identified and<br />

captured before she could get to him. For<br />

Choi, and for many defectors, the sad truth<br />

remains that they may never truly escape<br />

the reaches of North Korea’s cruelty.<br />

ICC is working to support Choi’s work.<br />

We are also inviting Choi to speak at The<br />

Bridge Conference at Saddleback Church<br />

on June 2-3. We hope you will join us<br />

in supporting the work Choi is doing to<br />

change North Korea and to help the persecuted<br />

and the oppressed. To find out<br />

more about the conference, go to www.<br />

thepersecutionconference.org.<br />


Interview<br />

Lee’s Story:<br />

Escaping North Korea<br />

and Finding Christ<br />

By Sandra Elliot<br />

Over the last 20<br />

years, ICC staffers<br />

have had the privilege<br />

of listening<br />

to the first-hand<br />

testimonies of persecuted<br />

Christians<br />

around the world.<br />

Widowed mothers,<br />

fatherless<br />

children, and underground pastors are just a<br />

few of the interviewees we have spoken with.<br />

Recently, while visiting the persecuted in<br />

Southeast Asia, we sat down to hear the heroic,<br />

and often horrific, stories of North Korean<br />

defectors who escaped their hellish lives in<br />

the prison state.<br />

Lee and her mother, JungAe, are two defectors<br />

who we met in South Korea this year.<br />

It was 1999 when North Korean officials<br />

discovered that JungAe had illegally maintained<br />

contact with relatives in South Korea.<br />

JungAe had seen her family split as a child<br />

during the Korean War, with half staying<br />

in North Korea and the rest claiming South<br />

Korea as home. In 1999, JungAe and Lee<br />

knew they had to flee North Korea for their<br />

own safety, despite knowing they would have<br />

to leave Lee’s brother behind. While Lee’s<br />

father had already died, her brother was still<br />

enlisted in the North Korean army.<br />

At just 17 years old, Lee crossed the border<br />

into China to restart her life in a new world.<br />

After three years of living in daily fear of<br />

repatriation, the two decided they must go further<br />

to find permanent safety. They had heard<br />

that, if they make it, South Korea would grant<br />

them immediate citizenship.<br />

Communicating through a translator, Lee<br />

explained how dangerous it is for multiple<br />

people to travel to South Korea from China.<br />

They decided it would be safer for Lee to<br />

travel first, then JungAe would follow. As<br />

with many North Korean defectors, Lee and<br />

her mother connected with a non-governmental<br />

organization (NGO) during their years in<br />

China. The group armed her with a fake passport<br />

and sent her by ship to her newer, safer<br />

home in South Korea.<br />

She arrived within days and was welcomed<br />

with citizenship and enrollment at a local<br />

university. She was 19 when her life finally<br />

began to look normal.<br />

Unfortunately, good fortune would not last<br />

long.<br />

“I had never prayed until my mother was<br />

caught,” Lee told ICC. Her only experience<br />

with prayer were scenes from a Korean War<br />

documentary depicting American soldiers<br />

on their knees before an unseen God. It<br />

“I had never<br />

prayed until<br />

my mother was<br />

caught.”<br />

seemed the right thing to do when facing<br />

impossible odds.<br />

JungAe was surely facing impossible odds.<br />

Police tracked her down and repatriated her<br />

outside of the South Korean embassy the<br />

same day she was set to leave China. She was<br />

picked up along with another North Korean<br />

defector, a young woman named Sarah.<br />

According to Lee, Sarah never should<br />

have been caught. The young woman actually<br />

turned around to help Lee’s mother<br />

when she could have easily escaped the<br />

authorities’ notice.<br />

Sarah and JungAe had a cordial relationship<br />

before they were arrested. Sarah was an<br />

outspoken Christian evangelist living with<br />

Chinese missionaries in the area. JungAe was<br />

just a woman she had shared the Gospel with.<br />

It didn’t make sense for Sarah to sacrifice herself<br />

for such a stranger. But she did.<br />

Upon re-entry, both women were sent away<br />

to a prison camp. Officials send people to<br />

the Korean gulags, as prison camps are often<br />

called, to die. Slowly. It was here that JungAe<br />

learned how to pray. Much like her daughter<br />

did when faced with the impossible, JungAe<br />

turned to this unknown God for help. She<br />

watched Sarah do it every day from their cell,<br />

so she learned the mannerisms and adopted<br />

the habit.<br />

Both JungAe and Sarah were severely beaten<br />

by prison guards. Age and gender offered<br />

no mercy to their cause. Throughout the time<br />

spent in the North Korean gulag, JungAe<br />

watched as Sarah proudly proclaimed her<br />

24 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


“It didn’t make<br />

sense for Sarah<br />

to sacrifice<br />

herself for such<br />

a stranger. But<br />

she did.”<br />

faith and refused to deny her Savior, though<br />

tortured. Sarah would eventually pay the ultimate<br />

price for her boldness in this camp, but<br />

she never revealed that JungAe had become a<br />

new believer.<br />

Back in South Korea, Lee found refuge in<br />

a church group and came to know the Lord<br />

through their love and support. They never<br />

stopped praying for JungAe, as they understood<br />

what North Korean prisoners suffered.<br />

Lee had no idea that her mother was finding<br />

comfort in the same God so far away.<br />

With help from those around her, Lee transferred<br />

funds to secure her mother’s release and<br />

safe passage into South Korea.<br />

“Money would not have been enough to free<br />

my mom,” she reminisced, “but God was at<br />

work the whole time.”<br />

The two were finally reunited in South<br />

Korea, embracing one another and their newfound<br />

faith together. Lee now works with an<br />

organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation<br />

of North Koreans in South Korea.<br />

“I want to help people like me.”<br />

While together again, Lee and JungAe still<br />

bear the scars of their story, one being the<br />

heartbreak of leaving Lee’s brother behind.<br />

They learned that he was sentenced to a gulag<br />

several years previously, but they have no idea<br />

if he is alive or dead. They can only hope and<br />

pray as they did for one another. They have<br />

hope because of Christ, but they carry a burden<br />

most of us will never understand.<br />

Lee Han Byeol escaped North Korea with her mother in 1999.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



Feature Article<br />

How the US Can Help Rebuil<br />

Displaced Iraqi Children<br />

In 2015, ICC traveled to Iraq<br />

to help with aid distribution<br />

and project development.<br />

ICC Advocacy: Our efforts to push<br />

for relief and reconstruction for<br />

Christians in Iraq and Syria.<br />

By Sandra Elliot<br />

On March 14, <strong>2017</strong>,<br />

Congress passed<br />

House Resolution<br />

75 which declared<br />

the Islamic State<br />

in Iraq and Syria<br />

(ISIS) as responsible<br />

for genocide<br />

against religious<br />

minorities, namely<br />

Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims. Days<br />

later, the State Department released a concurring<br />

statement highlighting the atrocities of<br />

the group and once again leveling the ‘crime<br />

of all crimes’ against them.<br />

By nature, the term ‘genocide’ merits the<br />

most immediate and extensive response. This<br />

is why the US has been so hesitant to use it<br />

in the past. Yet, even now, over a year since<br />

we tagged the greatest crime to the actions of<br />

ISIS, the most vulnerable victims continue to<br />

suffer unnecessarily because they lack access<br />

to proper aid and assistance. We have labeled<br />

the perpetrator and named the crime; yet, as<br />

a country, we have done little for the victims.<br />

The situation in Iraq is desperate as displaced<br />

persons, Christians in particular, struggle<br />

with the daunting decision of emigration<br />

or rehabilitation. For three years, they have<br />

lived homeless, jobless, and, often, hopeless.<br />

The Islamic State committed unspeakable<br />

atrocities against women and children, while<br />

executing fathers and recruiting brothers into<br />

forced service.<br />

Three million people have been displaced in<br />

the conflict. Kurdistan and much of Baghdad<br />

have become landing places for these people<br />

over the last few years, while millions of others<br />

have fled altogether. Still, a year after the<br />

26 PERSECU ION.org<br />

MAY <strong>2017</strong><br />


d Communities in Iraq<br />

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria<br />

Pastor Edward Awabdeh on Capitol Hill<br />

HR 390<br />

“provide[s]<br />

emergency<br />

relief to victims<br />

of genocide,<br />

crimes against<br />

humanity, and<br />

war crimes in<br />

Iraq and Syria,<br />

and provide[s]<br />

accountability<br />

for perpetrators<br />

of these crimes,<br />

and for other<br />

purposes.”<br />

declaration of genocide, minimal has been<br />

done on behalf of these populations.<br />

International Christian Concern has aided<br />

thousands of families in their time as internally<br />

displaced persons (IDPs). We have<br />

built homes, provided heaters and coats<br />

for winter, and provided microfinancing to<br />

establish small businesses to provide sustainable<br />

incomes. But it’s not enough. Individual<br />

projects will not solve the wider issue at<br />

hand.<br />

In March, ICC launched an advocacy<br />

tour on behalf of these suffering believers,<br />

pushing for a new House resolution that<br />

“provide[s] emergency relief to victims of<br />

genocide, crimes against humanity, and war<br />

crimes in Iraq and Syria, and provide[s]<br />

accountability for perpetrators of these<br />

crimes, and for other purposes.”<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


This two-fold resolution serves both the<br />

immediate and long-term needs of Christian<br />

communities in Syria and Iraq. Emergency<br />

relief will service the pressing physical necessities<br />

of IDPs and others, while accountability<br />

for the perpetrators will ensure punishment<br />

for those responsible and state-wide recognition<br />

of the atrocities committed.<br />

Accountability is more than just a blame<br />

game; it is justice for the victims and a sense<br />

of future security for the displaced. By outlining<br />

the specifics of a wrongdoing and trying it<br />

accordingly on the world stage, you reaffirm<br />

the suffering of the victims, while at the same<br />

time dissuading future perpetrators from carrying<br />

out their crimes.<br />

As a guest on our tour, we invited Pastor<br />

Edward Awabdeh, the president of the<br />

Evangelical Alliance Church of Syria and<br />

Lebanon, to share his testimony on Capitol<br />

Hill. Pastor Edward has led his congregation<br />

and denomination in Syria through six<br />

years of civil war, never once entertaining the<br />

thought of leaving.<br />

His work is one of many that we are<br />

proud and excited to support, but we are<br />

also working toward a greater solution - to<br />

see the US government step up its care for<br />

Christian victims.<br />

ICC will continue to provide relief aid to our<br />

brothers and sisters in Iraq, but we will also<br />

continue to advocate for a bigger and more<br />

permanent solution to the crisis at hand.<br />

Would you consider giving to the persecuted<br />

in Iraq and Syria? If so, you can<br />

note ‘Iraq/Syria’ on your check or credit<br />

card donation.<br />


You Can Help Today!<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



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