Monday, January 8, 2018

Sent to Tanzania...

It's been almost three years since we've made a visit to Tanzania. The last time was in July of 2015 when the Mission Helper team was there. Pastor Nathanael Mayhew had served the CLC-Tanzania as our Part-Time Visiting Missionary for several years and was a part of the 2015 Mission Helper trip. The plan was for Pastor Mayhew to accompany me on this trip, but the Lord had other plans. Pastor Mayhew had an appendicitis recently that required surgery so he won't be able to make the trip. While it is disappointing that we won't be able to travel together, I'm also thankful that the appendicitis didn't happen on a bus somewhere in the middle of Tanzania. The Lord's plans are always best!

My flight leaves from Minneapolis today (1/8) around 3 pm. I'll route through Amsterdam again this trip but the layover isn't really long enough to get out of the airport and look around. Maybe on the way back. I'm leaving from MSP this time because my family and I were able to spend a few days with our new grandson who was received the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit through the water and word of baptism (Titus 3:4-5) yesterday.

I am excited to get back to Tanzania. The last time I was there was in 2012 when I led the Mission Helper Team to Tanzania. While I am there my schedule includes hosting a general pastoral conference for the pastors of the three districts of the CLC-TZ. I will also visit the three districts in Arusha, Moshi, and Mkanya and teach pastoral training lessons. The CLC-TZ also has contacts in Dar es Salaam that we are planning to visit. All of this will make for a busy three weeks.

 CLC-Tanzania Districts

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Prayer List - 28 DEC 2017

1.      Nepal – Sanju Bhitrakoti, Raju’s wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She has been admitted to the hospital twice over the past couple of months. Most recently she spent twelve days being treated with medication and an IV. They are expecting their baby on January 15.

2.      Tanzania – Pastor Nathanael Mayhew (CLC Bd of Missions secretary) and Missionary Ohlmann will be leaving for a three week visitation to Tanzania on January 8th. They will spend time visiting and training pastors in the Arusha, Moshi, and Makanya districts. There will also be hosting a general pastoral conference in Moshi. They will also visit new contacts in Dar es Salaam.

3.      D.R. Congo – The CCLC has purchased land for the Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute and has begun making bricks for the construction of a new building. This building will be built in phases over the next few years. This project will be partially funded through a grant from the CLC Mission Development Fund. Eventually the building will provide classrooms, library, offices, and dormitories for students preparing for the ministry. There are currently seven students enrolled in the three year program.

4.      Zambia – Pastor Ibrahim is considering the possibility of moving from Lusaka to Livingstone so that he can spend more time training the pastors and leaders there.

5.      India/Asia – The CLC-India, BELC-India, CLC-Myanmar, National Lutheran Church of Myanmar, and the Himalayan CLC of Nepal are all making preparations for the 2018 Joint Asia Pastoral Conference scheduled for early February. This conference will be held in Nellore where the BELC has a congregation. Pastor Tim Daub is making plans to attend as well. Missionary Ohlmann will be in India during this time and will also be privileged to attend.

6.      Myanmar – Part-Time Visiting Missionary David Koenig and Missionary Ohlmann are making plans to visit Myanmar in late February. Seminars will be held with both church bodies that we work with in Myanmar. The National Lutheran Church is located in Yangon on the South-East border and the CLC-Myanmar is located on the South-West border.

7.      Nepal – Following the Myanmar visit, Missionary Ohlmann will be in Nepal for a few weeks in early March to work with the pastors and leaders of the HCLCN.

8.      Individuals in Senegal, DR Congo, Haiti, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh continue formal Online Theological Studies correspondence courses.

9.      Missionary Ohlmann – will be traveling to Tanzania, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Haiti to work with pastors and leaders over the next few months. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Heading Home from Zambia

It's early Friday (12/15) morning as I wait through the night in the Amsterdam airport for my flight home. It's been a busy three weeks that concluded earlier this week a visit to the city of Kitwe near the north-central border with D.R. Congo, a bus ride back to Lusaka, a seminar for the Women and Sunday School Teachers in the Lusaka area, meetings, and an unfruitful attempt at securing a Missionary Visa for D.R. Congo. 

Kitwe Visit...

Congregation in the Kitwe area meets in a rented school classroom 
Pastor Yumba, who is the president of the CCLC in D.R. Congo works along the Zambia/D.R. Congo border. He is also working to train a few pastors in the city of Kitwe. Since I was denied a visa to visit D.R. Congo arrangements were made to meet with Pastor Yumba and the pastors in Kitwe. There just happened to be a large regional soccer tournament being held in Kitwe the same time were there so the buses, streets, and hotels were packed. We attended a worship service on Sunday morning at the congregation of one of the pastors who Pastor Yumba is working with. We also had meetings to get updated information on the work of the CCLC D.R. Congo. Pastor Yumba has drafted a new letter asking the D.R. Congo consulate in the U.S. to grant me a visa so that I can visit in late spring of 2018. We'll see what happens! 

There has been a lot warfare  and fighting among rebels in the eastern part of DRC in recent months and there is currently a massive refugee crisis along their north-east and south-east borders with hundreds of children dying daily of starvation and disease. I talked to other travelers in Zambia who have also been denied visas to visit DRC. They speculate that DRC President/Dictator Kabila is trying to keep international observations at a minimum and this has led to a denial of visa applications from western countries. Here's a couple of news articles about the on-going crisis in DRC:

Seminar for Women and Sunday School Teachers in Lusaka area...

There were more than forty in attendance as we encouraged these women to raise up the children of their community in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is a challenge as many of the men in this particular are absent from their families. This particular congregation that Pastor Ibrahim has been working with is located in a very impoverished area of Lusaka that is built near a local dump and polluted lagoon. I was told that many of the men have turned to drugs and alcohol and so the women in this community are left to raise their children with very little support or encouragement from the fathers of the children. Education levels are very low and job opportunities are limited.

The two hour seminar focused on the encouragement that God's word provides when we remind one another of God's love for sinners like us and His faithfulness to His promises of grace and mercy. 

Please remember these women, families, husbands, and those who are called to serve them with God's saving word in your prayers.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sent to...Livingstone, Zambia - December 2017

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NKJV)

The last time I in Zambia was in July of 2015 with the Mission Helpers. One of the privileges we had on that trip was to meet a group of pastors and evangelists in the area that were interested in the work that the CLC was doing in Zambia along with Pastor Ibrahim. There were about twenty-four men who were loosely organized and working together to spread the Gospel in villages out in the bush. Pastor Ibrahim had met the leader of the group on one of his trips through the area on his way to visit a CLC contact in Zimbabwe. Livingstone is just a couple of kilometers away from the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Before independence, these two countries were a British colony called Rhodesia.

Pastor Sait was the pastor who organized and led this group of pastors. None of these men had been given the privilege of attending a Bible college or seminary. They all seemed rather eager to learn. So, in 2015 Pastor Ibrahim asked me if we could travel to Livingstone with the Mission Helpers and spend a couple of days meeting with these pastors. The first day we had twenty-four men in attendance. By the second day we were down to fourteen. These fourteen men expressed their agreement with what had been taught and their desire to continue training in Lutheran doctrine with the goal of becoming faithful preachers and teachers of the truth of God’s saving word. We were thankful for what the Lord had done in Livingstone and a recommendation for minimal funding  for travel and meeting expenses to the CLC Board of Missions was approved and a few months later a CLC-Zambia pastoral training center was established.

Fast forward about two years and things have changed quite a bit. What we thought was a well laid plan actually fell apart when Pastor Sait suddenly died about one year ago. Now there are only three from the original group that have continued in study with Pastor Ibrahim. In addition to these three men, five new men have joined in the studies. Of these eight men, six have successfully completed an adult instruction course and received certificates of completion at a special worship service held on December 3rd.  

Six men who completed one year of study with Pastor Ibrahim
These eight men are committed to continued study with Pastor Ibrahim and would very much like him to move to Livingstone so that classes could be held more than just four days a month. There is definitely a strong desire among these men to dedicate themselves to the study of God’s word to become faithful preachers of God’s saving word.

As mentioned earlier, Pastor Sait died rather suddenly with much suspicion of foul play. The evangelism work that Pastor Sait and the others had been doing in rural villages had born fruit in one particular village that didn’t have a Christian congregation. The stories and rumors are many, but the consistent details include a tribal chief wanting to give land to the CLC-Zambia so that Pastor Sait could build a church for the village. The other parts of the story have to do with another (rather unscrupulous) evangelist that had also begun to work in the village after Pastor Sait’s group had found some success. As the rumor goes, Pastor Sait and the tribal chief sat to visit with the man to try to get him to stop spreading lies about Pastor Sait and the others in an attempt to ruin their reputation. Not long after the meeting Pastor Sait suddenly collapsed and died. It is suspected that he was poisoned by the rival evangelist.

Upon the death of Pastor Sait, the group disbanded and stopped meeting for classes. A few of the men called Pastor Ibrahim and told him that they wanted to continue studying with him. And so, he began making the 8-9 hour one-way bus ride twice a month to bring the truth of God’s word to these men. One of the men, Kebby Chifofoma, was asked to take over the pastoral duties of the congregation that Pastor Sait had served. He along with several young men from the congregation are now the group of eight students that attend the classes. These men all serve in different capacities and have a desire to spread the Gospel and start new congregations in rural villages that don’t have the truth of God’s word. 

Steve Liswaniso (left) Pastor Ibrahim (right)
One particular young man named Steve Liswaniso spent all of his time with us while we were in Livingstone. He was very attentive everything that needed to be scheduled and taken care of for the classes, worship service, memorial service of Pastor Sait, and evangelism efforts. We don’t know exactly what the Lord has in store for this group of dedicated men, women, and children, but we trust that His word will not return to him void, just as He has promised.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:8–11, NKJV)

Public School where CLC-Zambia Congregation meets
The group currently meets in a public school classroom that is made available on the weekends. This is not ideal because every classroom is used by a church group on Sunday mornings for worship and it gets very chaotic and noisy as every group seems to be trying to out-do the others with the sound level of their speakers. The group would very much like to buy or build a church building that could serve the congregation and also provide a space for Ibrahim to stay (or live) and teach on his semi-monthly visits.
Pastor Ibrahim giving a test on the day's lessons
Please pray for this fledgling group of Christians, the men who have been called to serve them with the Gospel, and their evangelism efforts in villages where the Gospel is not present. Pray also for Pastor Ibrahim to give him the necessary dedication, wisdom, and commitment as he continues to train these individuals for the Gospel ministry and struggles with decision of whether to stay in Lusaka or move to Livingstone.

A little bit about Livingstone -- This city is located near the Zambezi river about three miles from Victoria Falls. It's also about four miles away from Zimbabwe border crossing. Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world and is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

Mosi-oa-Tunya from the air during the rainy season. photo credit unknown
Locally, it is referred to as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, which loosely translates to "thunderous smoke waters" because during the rainy season the mist that rises up from the base of the waterfall can be seen for miles and appears to be smoke rising out of the valley. It is an amazing sight. 

Victoria Falls near the end of the dry season. Photo taken by me on 03 DEC 2017
Dr. David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer of Africa, was the first European to see the falls and he named it after Queen Victoria. 
Statue of Dr. David Livingstone's first glimpse of Mosi-oa-Tunya in 1855

Monday, December 4, 2017

Prayer List...04 DEC 2017

CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List
04 DEC 2017
1.      Six pastor/evangelists/students in Livingstone, Zambia met for pastoral training on Dec. 1st and 2nd. They have been in studies with Pastor Ibrahim for the past two years. On Sunday, Dec. 3rd they received certificates of completion for the first phase of their instruction.

2.      The main leader in the Livingstone Zambia district recently died and there have been many struggles as a result. But it would appear that the Lord is using even this tragedy to strengthen His work in this area. More will be reported in an upcoming Spokesman article.

3.      Pastor Ibrahim and I will be traveling back to Lusaka by bus tomorrow (12/5) where we will spend the next four days training pastors and doing evangelism and home visits in two different areas on the outskirts of Lusaka. Then we will travel to Kitwe, a city near the D.R. Congo border where we will meet with Pastor Yumba of the CLC in D.R. Congo.

4.      Before I return to the U.S. I will visit the D.R. Congo embassy in Lusaka with a letter from Pastor Yumba requesting a longer-term missionary visa. In recent years it has become quite difficult to obtain any type of visitor visa, making CLC visits impossible. The last CLC visit to D.R. Congo was in January of 2013 when Missionary Ude and his wife Vanessa visited. Pray that the Lord will bless this effort to secure the necessary visa.

5.      The CLC-India, BELC-India, CLC-Myanmar, National Lutheran Church of Myanmar, and the Himalayan CLC of Nepal are all making preparations for the 2018 Joint Asia Pastoral Conference scheduled for early February. Pastor Tim Daub is making plans to attend as well. I will also be in India during this time and will be privileged to attend.

6.      Part-Time Visiting Missionary David Koenig and I are making plans to visit Myanmar in late February. Seminars will be held with both church bodies that we work with in Myanmar. The National Lutheran Church is located in Yangon on the South-East border and the CLC-Myanmar is located on the South-West border.

7.      Following the Myanmar visit, I will be in Nepal for a few weeks in early March to work with the pastors and leaders of the HCLCN.

8.      Sanju Bhitrakoti – Raju’s wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She is doing much better. They are expecting their baby on January 15.

9.      Pastor Kham in Myanmar recently reported that they were successful in registering their church body with the local and state government and they are now in the process of registration with national government. They will register as the Church of the Lutheran Confession of Myanmar rather than the Zomi Lutheran Church (as they have been know) which only identifies them with the local Zomi tribe.

10.  Pastor John Hein and Pastor Em. Dave Koenig have recently returned from Liberia. Pray that the Lord will bless His word that has been taught and proclaimed. And thank Him for this new opportunity to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

11.  Individuals in Senegal, DR Congo, Haiti, and Bangladesh continue formal Online Theological Studies correspondence courses this month.

12.  Pastors from the Nigerian-CLC of the Lutheran Confession and MELC in Togo met last week. Pastor Kossi had some difficulties in his travels from Togo to Nigeria but the Lord protected and delivered him safely to the conference and home again. Thank the Lord for His protection of His servant in difficult circumstances.

13.  Progress has been made in preparing for Missionary Ohlmann and Pastor Mayhew’s visit to Tanzania in early 2018. It has been three years since the last CLC visitation to Tanzania and there is much work to be done. They will conduct pastoral training seminars and will also be investigating opportunities to reestablish organized efforts to train pastors.

14.  The MELC in Togo has just recently been approved by the Togo government to begin caring for orphans and providing for children in need in the impoverished portion of the city of Lome where the main congregation is located. Through Kinship sponsorship they are now caring for six orphans. They are also providing help with a weekly nutrition program, clothing, school supplies, and a weekly Bible school.

15.   The BELC in India continues to train new men for leadership roles as the opportunities to start new pastoral training districts increase.
16.   The CLC-India makes preparation for their Christmas outreach efforts. Pray that the recent anti-Christian rhetoric does not interfere with their plans to proclaim the birth of the Savior of the world.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Heading to Zambia...Nov. 27th

The Lord has granted a full recovery from a neck vertabrae fracture and it's finally time to get back to the Mission Field. I'll be flying out on Monday (11/27) for a three week visit to Zambia. This is the trip that had to be canceled back in August due to the neck injury. It's been a few years since we've had a visit to Zambia and it's well overdue. Much has been happening over the past few years. 

Pastor Ibrahim has been diligently working to train men to be faithful preachers of the Word in three districts of Zambia. The men have completed their initial training and have successfully passed the required written tests. I will review their work and administer an oral exam before certificates are distributed at special services in each district.

The opportunities to assist in spreading the Gospel in Zambia are a wonderful example of how the Lord has worked in ways that we would never have expected. 

I'll give you a brief history of the CLC's involvement with this work in Zambia.

Seven years ago Pastor Ibrahim was living in his home nation of Tanzania where he was nearing completion of seminary training at the CLC affiliated St. Peter Seminary in Himo. When the seminary was forced to close, Ibrahim was just one semester away from graduation. With things in temporary turmoil and no congregation to serve, he wasn't sure what the Lord had in mind for him. He had been a public school teacher and head-master, but he was sure that the Lord wanted him to dedicate himself to full-time ministry work. It was at this time that a friend who had moved to Lusaka, Zambia called him and asked him to come to Lusaka and start a church where he and his family could learn the truth of God's word. So he went. He started a congregation with just a few individuals. 

In the past seven years the Lord has opened doors of opportunity for Pastor Ibrahim to train pastors in three different areas of Zambia. He is working with men in the Lusaka area and in areas near the Zimbabwe and Tanzania borders. 

Eleven men have completed their initial training and are now ready for their oral review when I am there. 

Here's a link to a Lutheran Spokesman article that I wrote a couple of years ago with a few more details:    

Thursday, November 16, 2017

CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List...Nov. 16, 2017

I’ve been keeping a mental prayer list for quite a while. But this week I decided to type it up and share it on this blog. I’m prayerfully hoping that this will achieve a few goals in service to the Kingdom of God and for His honor and glory...
  • Keep me and others mindful of the importance of praying for each other and the work of God’s Kingdom.
  • Keep an ongoing list of what’s “currently” going on in the CLC mission fields.
  • Keep the privilege of being about this work front and center for me and others.
  • Keep these petitions and thanksgivings before the throne of the One who is always faithful.
CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List:
1.  Sanju Bhitrakoti – was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She spent several days in the hospital. She is now home on bed rest. Baby is due in early January. 
2.  Political unrest in Zimbabwe as the military has taken over control. 
3.  Pastor John Hein and Pastor Em. Dave Koenig are working in Liberia. They will be there from November 8-26. 
4.  Thanksgiving for newly declared fellowship with pastors and believers in Liberia. 
5.  Individuals in Senegal, DR Congo, Haiti, and Bangladesh have begun formal Online Theological Studies correspondence courses this month. 
6.  Pastor Jeremiah Roody (Haiti), whose wife gave birth to their first child, a son named Zamar Jeremiah, born on November 14th. He and his wife have been with family in the Dominican Republic for the past few weeks so the baby would be born in a good hospital. 
7.  The eleven pastors/students in Zambia who are preparing for their final exams after three years of instruction from Pastor Ibrahim. They have succesfully complted a written exam and will go through an oral examination when I 'm there in December. 
8.  Raju and the Himalayan Bible Institute students in Nepal as they prepare for their November class schedule. (The students in Nepal meet one week (six days) of each month for 12 hours each day for pastoral training. They return to their home congregations and work with the local pastor during the other three weeks of the month) 
9.  David Reim, pastor of our CLC Mission congregation in Vernon, BC, Canada had a heart attack a week ago. He received immediate care at a local hospital where they treated a blocked artery with a stent. He is home resting and recovering for the next several weeks. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness in protecting His servant’s life. 
10.Pastors from the Nigerian-CLC of the Lutheran Confession and MELC in Togo will meet at the NCLC headquarters in Efa, Nigeria for the 2017 West Africa Pastoral Conference and 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Pray for safe travels and that the Lord will bless their time together in His word. 
11.Preparations for Pastor Mayhew and my visit to Tanzania in early 2018. It has been three years since the last CLC visitation to Tanzania and there is much work to be done. We will conduct pastoral training seminars and will also be investigating opportunities to reestablish organized efforts to train pastors.
12.Pastor Liberty Atawa in Zimbabwe as this nation is involved in political turmoil after the military takeover of the country's infrastructure. Pastor Atawa continues to receive Theological training via email correspondence courses. There has been no visits to Zimbabwe since 2010. We are hoping another visit can be scheduled soon.
13.The MELC in Togo has just recently been approved by the Togo government to begin caring for orphans and providing for children in need in the impoverished portion of the city of Lome where the main congregation is located. Through Kinship sponsorship they are now caring for five orphans. They are also providing help with a weekly nutrition program, clothing, school supplies, and a weekly Bible school. 
14.Pastor Olvera in Mexico is beginning effort to formally train three men to assist him in spreading the Gospel as the Lord opens doors of opportunity.
15.The BELC in India continues to train new men for leadership roles as the opportunities to start new pastoral training districts increase. 
16.The CLC-India makes preparation for their Christmas outreach efforts. Pray that the recent anti-Christian rhetoric does not interfere with their to proclaim the birth of the Savior of the world.
17. One of the orphans in Myanmar recently had appendicitis and had to have surgery. Thank the Lord that Kinship was able to offer some financial assistance. Pray for a full recovery and no complications.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pray for Christians in Chin State, Myanmar


October 27, 2017 by Janelle P in 

Out of the eight major ethnic-nationalities in Myanmar, the Chin tribe is the only one that has embraced Christianity. Ninety percent of the Chins are believers, and they take pride in being the only Christian tribe in Myanmar.
The gospel spread among the Chin in the 19th century, due to the work of Western missionaries. For decades, their religious identity within a state-sanctioned Buddhist context, has caused them to endure forced labor, rape and violence at the hands of the Burmese army, the Tatmadaw. Countless times, the Chin people have been abused and pressured to recant their Christian faith.
When Prime Minister U Nu of Myanmar declared Theravada Buddhism the state religion in the 1960s, the Tatmadaw began trampling on the Chin Christians’ right to worship. Thousands of Chin took up arms in protest. The Burmese government still views them as agents of the West, deviants to the country’s goal of Buddhist unification.
Despite the end of military rule and the Burmese government’s transition to a democracy in 2011, the Chin remain overlooked – deprived of many modern conveniences, and still victimized for being a religious minority.
Chin pastors say that by 2020, everybody in the country must be Buddhist.Muan,* a local pastor shared with Open Doors, “Recently, the officials built a Buddhist temple beside our church. We were forced to contribute stones to build it. Officially, we are never allowed to build a church. We must resort to bribing local officials.”
All citizens are required to attend mandatory village meetings that conflict with their Sunday worship services. They believe that it is an attempt by the government to distract church members and continually decrease church attendance. “From my village, it takes two days to walk to the public meeting,” a pastor shared. “It’s difficult, but we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t go. Everyone is afraid of not going because we might receive a red mark on our government papers. Those papers are our lifeline.”
The Chin State is also the poorest region in Myanmar. According to UNICEF, 73% of Chin State residents live below the poverty line. “Extreme poverty is a major problem in our area,” says another pastor. “Poverty drives mothers to marry off their daughters to insurgents who are, of course, not believers.”
Open Doors continues to reach out to the Chin tribe; reminding them that God is sovereign despite persecution and poverty, and training them in areas such as marriage and family life, biblical discipleship, church growth and administration, biblical stewardship, livelihood and financial literacy. Open Doors works to assure them that believers around the world love, remember and pray for them.
Phyo,* a pastor for 17 years shared, “I didn’t know how to study the Bible. I never applied it to myself. I only applied it to others. After I started coming to this training, I realized that I must be the first to apply the Word. Now, I am able to guide others.” 
“Whenever we pray, everything is so formal,” Phyo continues. “After the service, we go home and that’s it. When the Open Doors worker came, she taught us to pray while washing the dishes or cleaning the house. We are doing that now. I encourage the church to pray while they travel, while they work, and while they do other things.”
Thanga* says the Lay Leaders Training has changed their lives for the better, “If we didn’t have this training, we would have been totally destroyed. We were already destroying ourselves. Now, we have hope.”
Myanmar is ranked #28 on the World Watch List, and believers here are faced with the daily challenges of living in the land of Buddhists. Those around them are worshipping false idols, and they know they have the true source of life, found in Jesus Christ.
Visit our World Watch List | Myanmar to learn more about what believers are facing today and continue to pray with us for the Chin tribe and other Christians living in Myanmar.
*Names changed for security reasons 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pray for Persecuted Christians...

The following comes from the Open Doors USA website. This is an organization that serves to bring attention to Christian Persecution around the world.


June 30, 2017 by Sarah Cunningham in 

Christians in India Facing More Danger Than Ever Before
If you’ve been following the faith-based media headlines, you’ve likely heard about new challenges facing Christians in India. But understanding today’s events can be difficult without first understanding some history.
Below is a quick primer to understanding the current situation and how it impacts Christians.
What is behind the recent hostility toward Christians in India?
There is a fundamentalist Hindu political party in India called the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP. Earlier this year, they won the majority of seats in the state legislature in Uttar Pradesh, the most populated region of India.
As they gained influence, the BJP began passing anti-Christian legislation.
How did this party come into power?
In India, some parties have long been concerned about dwindling allegiance to Hinduism. A few years ago, for example, the senior leader of the World Hindu Council announced a new goal: to make the country 100% Hindu. “Currently there are 82% Hindus in India, and we don’t want this number to be halved,” he said, “We won’t tolerate Hindus becoming a minority in the country.”
The BJP, then, is well positioned to place restrictions on Christians.
What kinds of things are the BJP doing to stop Christianity from spreading?
In the past, the BJP supported extremist groups that attacked Christians in incidents such as the 2007-2008 riots where Hindu militants torched houses and churches, killing 91 Christians and wounding 18,000 others. 60,000 Christians were left homeless.
In 2013, 100 churches or worship gatherings were attacked and acts of violence were committed against 4,000 Christians.
Perhaps just as alarming as the attacks is that when India’s now Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was asked about Christian persecution, he responded,  “I have never heard of such incidents taking place.”
Since gaining majority influence, the BJP has pledged to introduce national legislation to restrict “missionary” activity and halt evangelism efforts.
In 2016, the All India Christian Council recorded an almost 20% increase in attacks against Christians, reporting a 40% rise in violence against Christians. They also found killings of Christians had doubled.
Churches have been vandalized, bombed, and set on fire, and church leaders have been beaten and threatened—all with the hope of forcing Christians to renounce their faith in Jesus.
How does this affect Christian organizations working in India?
Since 2014, when Prime Minister Modi took office, the government revoked the license of more than 11,000 non-governmental organizations that were accepting international funds. Western foundations, such as George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and the National Endowment for Democracy are no longer permitted to transfer funds without prior authorization from Indian officials. And India’s largest single donor, the Christian organization Compassion International, for instance, has been banned for engaging in religious conversion. This will result in a loss of $45 million dollars a year that supported church-affiliated service centers and distributed aid to communities.
How does the ruling party impact Open Doors’ ministry specifically?
Open Doors is on the ground in India providing—among other things—training, discipleship, education, vital relief aid, and follow-up services to victims.
In the first 4 months of 2017, Open Doors partners in lndia’s local churches have reported 316 persecution incidents. Christians have been socially ostracized, expelled from their villages, and brutally beaten. Extremists have even attacked church members with large sticks and swords, seemingly demonstrating no fear of legal ramifications.
In many cases, the extremists openly declare that Christians have no right to preach or attempt to convert people in a Hindu country.
These events have caused Open Doors to name India as 15th on this year’s World Watch List 2017 which identifies the top countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith.
How can I pray for Christians in India?
Pray for Indian believers who experience both violent persecution and intense cultural pressure to return to Hinduism. Christians are in need of support and relief as they are constantly pressured, and sometimes attacked, in efforts to force them to return to their previous Hindu beliefs. Ask God to protect those who are actively involved in preaching, evangelism, and outreach as they are at risk of being attacked by radical Hindu extremists.