Friday, October 31, 2008

So what are you reading in October?

Taking almost three weeks off this month enabled me to spend some serious time reading this month.  I was able to polish off three excellent books:

mind The Mind of Jihad by Laurent Murawiec.  A fascinating study of the reasons and possible Gnostic origins that underlie the ideology of past and present day Islam and its concept of jihad.  Although the ideology of jihad is essentially Islamic, Murawiec also shows how today's militant Islamists have borrowed heavily from both the Nazis and Bolsheviks.  A dense but very helpful study into understanding the underlying reasons for the the brutality exhibited in such killings as the recent martyrdom of Mansuur Mohammed in Somalia.

discipleship_edgeDiscipleship on the Edge by Darrell W. Johnson. As the subtitle suggests, this book is an expository journey through the book of Revelation.  The author demonstrates, correctly, that Revelation is not a crystal ball of the future but a discipleship manual for  Christians under persecution at the end of the first century and throughout history.  In my teaching seminars around the world, I often ask participant which book of the Bible they find is the least comprehensible.  The answer is almost universally, the book of Revelation. I would have agreed.  It was a book I tended to avoid, having seen how it was abused when I was a young Christian growing as a teen up in the 1970's.

No longer.  This book awakened my love for this incredible piece of scripture.  I finally think that I am beginning to understand Revelation after having read this and the next book. (Note: we will probably be making this available through VOMC's online bookstore in December or January).

theology-revelation The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham.  An outstanding and surprisingly readable introduction to the theology of the book of Revelation.  Like Johnson, Bauckham shows how the key to understanding Revelation is to understand the original context to which the book was addressed; one of rising opposition to the church.  Both of these books will be foundational in my upcoming series of book on the biblical theology of persecution and discipleship which will take my earlier book, In the Shadow of the Cross and incorporate the research that I have done since its publication a few years ago.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be a blessing to Chinese Christian children this Christmas

cbThe Olympics called worldwide attention to the plight of Christians in China. Now the Olympics are over. But this Christmas, you can join VOMC in showing China’s Christians that they have not been forgotten by the body of Christ.

Through Operation Christmas Blessing, VOMC is hoping to provide 3,500 Christmas packages for China’s Christian children and their families. Each $20 package will include a school bag, pencils, pencil sharpener, pencil case, pencil crayons, ping pong paddles, small flashlight, Christmas colouring book, winter clothing, and candy. Imagine how a little girl living in a house church managed orphanage or the son of an arrested house church leader will feel when they receive one of these packages, knowing that Christians in Canada love and pray for them.

To take part in this special project, please click here to go to VOMC's secure online donation page and designate your donations to the Operation Christmas Blessing Fund.

To view a video about this year’s Operation Christmas
Blessing project, click here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Videos on the persecution in Orissa

The blogger responsible for made me aware of this recent report by Sky News, a UK news channel. He is a British Christian with an Indian background who shares our concern about the persecution facing Christians in Orissa.  Check out his blog; it is really quite helpful.

This is probably the best video report that I have yet seen on the situation in Orissa. Check it out and share it with others.

Also check out these short amateur videos of houses and vehicles being burned by a mob in Ghumusar Udayagiri, Kandhamal district in Orissa.

The Voice of the Martyrs has committed to sending aid to the Christians of Orissa.  Funds for legal assistance, relief aid, and rebuilding projects are being raised and sent through reliable channels to insure that the help gets to those in need.  You can join us through an online donation to our Relief and Development Fund. Together we can let our brothers and sisters know that they are not forgotten during these days of tribulation.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who is really silent?

media_monkeys A recent report on the persecution of Christians states in its introduction, "Nothing, it seems, escapes the media’s attention. But rarely if ever do we see anything on a matter that is crucial: the suffering that people endure for
their religious faith....The persecution of Christians in our world today amounts to a human rights disaster. It is a catastrophe that has been ignored by the media, almost as if a news black-out has been enforced."

This is a sentiment I hear expressed frequently.  At one time, I made such comments privately and publicly.  It did seem that Christian persecution just wasn't on the "radar screen" of most media outlets.  But during my recent vacation, I was reminded again how much this has changed in recent years.

My wife and I just returned from a 15 day cruise to Hawaii, courtesy of my parents.  For over eight of those days, we were were in the middle of the Pacific, far from land.  My only connection to the world was CNN (which was piped over the television in our cabin) and a four page summary of the New York Times.  Imagine my surprise and delight to read two separate stories during that time that had do to with the persecution facing Christians in India and Afghanistan.  Both stories reported the persecution fairly and sympathetically.

Returning home late Thursday night, I woke up the next morning and picked up the morning paper (as is my practice) and read a commentary on how Christians are persecuted in Egypt.  This morning, I read another persecution-related story about the testimony of a nun who was recently gang-raped in Orissa, India.  BBC covered this same story last night (last week, they produced an excellent video report on the persecution in Orissa).

Am I saying that the media couldn't do better?  Of course, they could.  But let's stop whining that the media rarely if ever reports on the persecution of Christians. It simply isn't so anymore. Having been in this kind of ministry full-time since 1997, I have seen a marked improvement.  Indeed, the secular media does a better job, in some cases, than religious media.  The silence of church leaders is probably the greater tragedy today. As a recent commentary by the St. Louis Jewish Light noted, recent media reports of persecution in India and Iraq did not contain a single statement of condemnation by Christian groups in the United States.  The same can be said of Canadian church leaders.

What we do need to do is to let the editors of those media outlets who do report on persecution know just how much we appreciate their covering of this important issue. We also need to let our church leaders know that we are disappointed with their silence.  Additionally, while it seems to me that the secular media has increased its coverage of persecution in the past couple of years, I have noted a marked decrease in the last couple of years in much of the Christian media. For example, only a few years ago many major Canadian Christian newspapers and magazines regularly carried at least one persecution story in each issue.  Such stories are increasingly rare.  We need to let these editors know that we expect better reporting from them.

My friends, we had better not complain about the secular media's silence when our own is even more perplexing and, quite frankly, inexcusable.

VOMC and online media

It is one thing to read about the stories of the triumphs and trials of the persecuted church. It is quite another to hear their actual voices and to see their faces!

Did you know that The Voice of the Martyrs has the largest collection of video reports and audio presentations on persecuted Christians on the Internet?  Ranging from one-minute reports called The Overcomers to our monthly 15-minute news feature The Persecution Report to reports on persecution gathered from around the world, The Voice of the Martyrs is committed to raising a voice worldwide for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Log on to our multimedia website Persecution.TV to view these one-of-a-kind videos.

ptvEvery month we also offer twelve new audio productions in our series Jesus Freaks. Take a few minutes to listen to these challenging and educational one-minute testimonies of men and women who, throughout history, have demonstrated an uncompromising faith in Christ. We think you will find them life-changing!

A number of these resources are also used by others on television, radio, and on the Internet:

  • Many broadcast The Persecution Report on their own website.
  • The online video edition of The Overcomers is available to TV stations on request in broadcast-quality video. 
  • The Jesus Freaks features are being broadcast on many radio stations across North America. 

Check to see if these programs are being broadcast in your area!

So what are you waiting for? Check out Persecution.TV right now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

As we face the coming storm

As the worldwide economic storm seems to grow ever darker, it seems to me that there are two, equally wrong, options that I could take as the CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs.

First, is to panic and act as if God does not exist.  Yes, we may have to face some cost-cutting measures.  Yes, we will need to expand our supporter base.  But decisions will be made carefully and with considerable prayer and deliberation.  We will not violate our values of integrity and faithfulness to God in the face of economic hardships and uncertainty.

The second danger would be to act as if it were "business as usual"  or crying "full steam ahead" and calling it faith. As I mentioned, keeping costs down and finding ways of increasing the number of those who receive our monthly newsletter will need to be priorities in the coming months or longer.  The way of wisdom is to know the times and act accordingly.  Acting in faith, yes.  But faith does not mean claiming promises that God has not made. 

One approach you will not see me take is the one exemplified in this cartoon.


As we look ahead, what can you do to stand with us? The needs of the persecuted will not stop and we will need to continue to stand with them in their time of need.  First, you can pray that we will have the wisdom to know God's priorities for us and how He wants to direct us in the days to come.  Second, if you have friends and neighbours whom you think might be interested in our ministry, let us know or encourage them to sign up for our free monthly newsletter.  Let them know that we will never pressure them to give to our mission, telephone them or send fundraising letters to them.  We simply let people know what is going on around the world with God's persecuted church.  We then show how Canadians are already getting involved in showing their love for their suffering family and their passion to see the world won for Christ regardless of the cost.  We leave it to God to do the rest.  God has honoured this approach in the past and as we all face an uncertain future, I am confident that He will continue to honour it.

Remembering Harold

It was with great sadness that I learned of Harold Ford's death while I was on vacation. Over the past 11 years, Harold was a man I greatly respected and loved and whom I will miss terribly.  I already felt his absence when he stepped down from being the mission's board chairman a few weeks before his death.  I knew the day was coming but VOMC just didn't "feel" right without him.

Harold was the first person I had any real contact with from the mission.  I remember well the first time I heard his voice.  I was sitting having a late supper after working all day as a truck driver for a local agricultural chemical company in Alberta.  The phone rang and I heard on the other end a gentle English-accented voice asking if it was possible for me to come to Ontario for an interview the following week.  To be honest, I ad completely forgotten about my application for a job at VOMC; several weeks had gone by and I assumed that they were not interested. 

I assured him that I would make it possible.  I quickly made arrangements (I think he was impressed that I booked a flight with a discount airline).  The interview went well and when he called me a few days later to inform me that the decision to invite me to become a part of VOMC was an unanimous board decision, I was delighted.  Two months later, we moved to Ontario.

Over the next several years, I learned that I could always count on Harold to give me an honest, straightforward opinion. I knew that he was committed to seeing our mission grow (which was my purpose for joining the mission initially).  We went through some rough spots as a mission from time to time, but Harold's support was unflagging.  To the very end, his concern was on what was good for the mission and its staff.  He ruffled the feathers of some with his straightforward approach. You didn't always agree with Harold, but you had to respect his passion for the work of The Voice of the Martyrs.  To try to get him to talk about himself was an effort in futility; he would inevitably yank the conversation way from his own needs to those of the mission.  This was true even near the end when we all knew that he was very sick.  He simply didn't feel the need to talk about it.

I wonder if he knew that he would not live to see the next board meeting, as he started the process of seeking his replacement and stepped down as he did?  It would be in character. 

We have lost one of our greatest supporters and friends as a mission.  May the Lord rise up others to take Harold's place.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sharing Christ's light in Iraq

Hundreds of Christian families have recently fled Mosul, Iraq, and those that have stayed behind have been threatened with violence. Some Christians have even paid for their faith in Jesus with their lives. In the many reports that we have received, a video posted by the Assyrian International News Agency particularly impacted me. This harrowing tale of a Christian family in Iraq demonstrates the immense need for God’s grace in this world. As ambassadors of Christ, we are called to be one in heart and mind with fellow believers, and we should feel compelled to pray for the Christians who are suffering in Iraq.

Acts 4:29-30 says, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." We are incredibly privileged to have a Father who knows and cares for our every need. Even in the bleakest situations when it seems there is no hope, God equips His servants to stand strong and be a light to others. A recent report from ASSIST News tells how Christianity is spreading in Iraq despite the terrible violence. Below is an excerpt about an Iraqi family who came to know the truth of the Good News:

Over the past few years I had heard more and more of these conversions, now I was seeing them firsthand and witnessing the revival taking place among the Middle Eastern populations and in particular, the Iraqis.

Story after story flowed from the young Christian Iraqis. I listened to the incredible story of Fatima, a young lady who came from a very strict Sunni Muslim family in Baghdad. During Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, Fatima's father was a prominent member of the infamous Baath party until someone gave him an Arabic New Testament one day.

After reading about the sacrifice Jesus Christ had made for the sins of the world, her father was convicted and prayed to know this Jesus as his Savior. For over a year, Fatima's father secretly read his Bible and began to pray for his wife and his daughters that they too would see Christ for themselves. Fatima shared that her mom and sisters noticed a drastic change in their father's life, but had no idea of what had happened. One day, Fatima saw her mother in their kitchen crying. When asked what was troubling her, she exclaimed that she had seen a vision of a man in bright white during the night claiming he was God! Fatima's father couldn't contain his newfound faith any longer. In a gush of joy and tears, her father shared his conversion with his entire family and invited them to accept this Jesus too. Fatima beamed as she recounted how God's spirit came into their house as they too accepted Christ in to their hearts.

Eventually, more and more people became aware of Fatima's family's conversion to Christ. The persecution became so severe from the fundamentalist Islamic Sunni community that they were forced to leave their home and move to a safer place in Baghdad. Even so, Fatima's family rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the Lord and continue to grow in their faith and Christian witness. Later that afternoon, I met Fatima's father, mother and her two sisters and brother. All of them are shining examples of God's love for the Muslim world and they attend one of the fastest growing fellowships in Baghdad. They continue to share their faith openly with Muslims and anyone who will hear.

In the midst of uncertainty and fear, we know that God holds fast to His children. In Deuteronomy 31:6, we are reminded to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Let us continue standing with our family in Iraq, praying that they will know God’s nearness in the face of persecution.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Farewell to a friend: Long-time VOMC Board Chairman Harold Ford passes away

(The below information comes from Harold’s family and VOMC staff)

On October 15th 2008, at 10:15 a.m., at Toronto East General Hospital, Harold went peacefully to be with his Saviour. Harold was born in Surrey, England, but moved to Canada as a young engineer in 1954 and fully embraced being a Canadian. He loved the outdoors: gardening, camping and kayaking and recorded his adventures on film - his other love. Harold was strict and disciplined, but his sense of truth and fairness tempered every decision. Harold was generous and considerate and saw each individual person he came in contact with as important, from his family to a stranger met by chance. He would listen and advise as needed.

A long-standing church member for over 40 years, Harold dedicated his life to learning more about Jesus, sharing His love and salvation with others, and actively serving in his church community. From repairing church buildings to helping mend damaged lives, Harold did his part – lovingly, but firmly.

Harold also served as a board member for The Voice of the Martyrs Canada for over a quarter of a century, including 15 years as chairman. Former VOMC Executive Director Klaas Brobbel had this to say about the passing of his long time friend: “Harold Ford will be remembered by my wife Nellie and me as a dear brother in Christ who stood with us to help the Persecuted Church with words and with deeds. After reading In God’s Underground by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand in the early 1970s, Harold contacted us and began a life-long association with our mission, first as a board member and later as its chairman. Due to health reasons he resigned from that position only five weeks ago. His expertise and strength in dealing with complicated issues helped us though many rough spots and enabled us to continue with our work caring for persecuted Christians. While Harold’s work on earth is done, a new job is awaiting him which will carry on into eternity and without the human frailty we all are subjected to. May God bless his dear wife, Barbara, and his family as they look beyond the grave knowing that Harold has received the crown of life that will not be taken from him.”

Harold leaves behind his wife, Barbara; his five children - Susan (Ben Laird), Duane (Lesli Shew), Claire (Vincent Labarre), John and Yvonne; his seven grandchildren - Kathleen, Rachel, Eric, Nicholas-David, Jenna, Olivier-Mathieu and Karley; and countless other people whose lives will continue his legacy. He also leaves behind in England his brother Alec (Heather), his nephew Peter (Sarah), his great-nephew Sam, and his brother-in-law Thomas B. Todd. A celebration of his life will be held next week at Scarborough Baptist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to The Voice of the Martyrs (click here). Online condolences may be left at

The Service to celebrate the life and legacy of Harold E Ford will be held On Monday, October 20, 2008 at 7:00 PM at Scarborough Baptist Church, 1597 Kingston Rd., Toronto. Phone: 416-698-1973.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Egyptian sisters under fire for professing Christianity

VOMC recently received a report from Compass Direct about two sisters in Egypt who have faced arrests because they profess Christ as their Lord even though their legal religious status is Muslim.

Shadia Nagui Ibrahim and Bahia El-Sisi have both been charged with jail sentences because of their claims to be Christian. In November 2007, Shadia was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released two months later. On September 23, Bahia was also sentenced to three years in prison on the charge of “forging” her marriage certificate when she stated her religion as Christian. Both sisters’ legal religion was automatically changed from Christian to Muslim when their father converted to Islam in 1962.

If Bahia’s identity as a Muslim stands, her religious status could potentially necessitate that her husband, who is also a Christian, would have to convert to Islam or their marriage would be considered null. Her children, too, would have to be registered as Muslims in accordance with Egyptian law. Since Shadia’s case has not yet been finalized, Bahia’s legal situation could negatively impact Shadia and her family.

Like Mohammed Hegazy, Shadia and Bahia have suffered because of religious restriction in Egypt. But even though Egypt’s government may claim to rule over the faith of its citizens, Christians like Shadia, Bahia, and Mohammed demonstrate that no power can usurp faith in Jesus Christ. Continue to pray for Christians in Egypt who face pressure because of their religious convictions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Africa through the eyes of a child

My “what I’m reading now” list is currently full of books assigned to me as part of the MFA program I’m finishing off. I do, however, have a book on my "to read" list that I thought may be of interest to those reading this blog: a short story collection entitled Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan, a Nigerian Jesuit priest.

Just reading a few reviews and interviews has been enough to reveal some appealing characteristics of Akpan's collection. For one, each of the five stories is set in different African country--Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Benin. Although it is not a book explicitly about religious tension, at least two of the stories apparently have to do with conflict between Christians and Muslims. Akpan also (and inevitably) deals with the tribal conflicts in these countries, which I am also very interested in learning more about, as it I think an understanding of such dynamics is essential to have when dealing with persecution reports we receive from these countries.

Also, I was intrigued to learn that every story is told from the perspective of a child. For many writers (myself included), navigating fictional terrain through a child narrator can be a difficult task. In any story, the balance of innocence and experience, knowledge and naiveté is not easily achieved; you don’t want to give your young narrator an unrealistic degree of understanding (or even vocabulary), but neither do you want to undermine the powers of perception and insight that the young can possess. I can only imagine the struggles Akpan faced in dealing with subjects such as child prostitution, genocide and poverty through the eyes of a child.

From the sounds of it, Akpan does not shy away from graphic details or disturbing scenes when bringing war-torn Africa to life on the page. And yet, nearly every review I’ve read notes that the book's power lies in its sense of hope, beauty and compassion, not its images of violence or pain. This, I believe, is the very impact for which the fiction writer grappling with the subject of Christian persecution should strive.

If you’d like to know more about Akpan, you can listen to a radio interview he gave a few months ago, in which he discusses his experience writing Say You’re One of Them, including his decision to write from a child’s point of view. I very much look forward to crossing the collection off of my "to-read" list soon—and would love to hear from anyone who already has.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Costly acts and eternal results

These words from Christian writer Luci Shaw’s book The Crime of Living Cautiously caught my eye as I was reflecting on our brothers and sisters in Orissa, India, where Hindu militant violence has raged on into its seventh week:

"When we gird up our loins for costly acts of obedience to Jesus, we remember that it was he who told us to “count the cost. But…even the cross does not confer a guaranteed benefit. We have to risk giving away our love as Jesus did. We won’t always be able to predict the results or benefits of sacrifice. The outcome of risky sacrifice, in temporal terms, is often kept secret in the mind of God rather than being revealed to us. All too often we do not see its results in our own lifetime."

In particular this quote made me think of those in India who have been martyred for their faith. These brothers and sisters are gone. Their bodies have been beaten by the tragedy of temporal time. Maybe they left this earth as mobs swarmed about them, buildings burned, and the cries of frightened children filled their ears. Perhaps they were killed before they had much time to consider how the surrender of their life, specifically, would impact the expansion of the Lord’s kingdom—or even affect the spread of the gospel in their local community. This not to assume, though, that the clarity of cross’s calling was not with these believers, no matter how panicked, chaotic or confused their last moments were. It could be, in fact, that their last costly acts of obedience were the result of them coming to understand true faithfulness for the first time.

What a comfort it is to remember that these believers now know, totally and completely, the magnitude of martyrdom in the context of the Lord’s kingdom! How amazing it is to think that can now “count the cost” in temporal and eternal terms. And who of us can deny that their sacrifices speak to the kind of faith we are all called to have: that of cross-bearing disciples who are willing to risk our very lives for righteousness’ sake?

The outcome of our acts may not be revealed to us in whole on earth. The necessity of sacrifice in the Christian walk, however, is most certainly not secret or hidden; God’s Word makes it unmistakably clear. Furthermore, we need only to hear the testimonies of persecuted believers to see that steadfast faithfulness bears fruit that is both tangible on earth and vital for eternity—even if the sweetness of its victory cannot be tasted in full until our Lord comes again.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Church raided in Shandong, China

China Aid Association (CAA) reported this week that the City Glory Gospel Church in Yantai, Shandong province was raided by authorities on the morning of September 20. Three believers were interrogated and church property, including Christian literature, was confiscated. Below is an excerpt from one church member’s firsthand account of the experience:

Shandong Church Member Account of Persecution

Posted Oct 01 2008

Facts and How the Incident Happened
September 28, 2008

We are members of a house church in Yantai, Shandong province (City Glory Gospel Church) and our church was founded in May 2007. From the beginning of 2008, we began to rent the meeting room on the fourth floor of the guest house of Bureau of Machinery of Yantai. Currently, we have about 60 people on every Sunday. We planned to hold special gatherings on September 20 and September 21, 2008 (Saturday and Sunday) as we would invite Pastor Liu and his wife from Bread of Life Church of Taipei to give us a sermon on how to pray, group training and parent-child relationships, etc.

At 9:30 on the morning of September 20, 2008, about 20 law enforcement officers in plain clothes broke into the meeting room without permission. Section Chief Sun Jing from Yantai Municipal Bureau of Religion and Director Sun Liping from Zhifu District Bureau of Religion showed their identifications. Other people include deputy director of the Municipal Bureau of Religion, people from the Public Security Bureau and Bureau of Security. Four of them were holding camcorders and cameras. They said that they had been tipped that people from outside the area were conducting training here. Without our permission, they took out the hard disk of my notebook computer and copied all the content there. They also registered all the people who were attending the gathering. After the registration, they demanded that we immediately leave the site.

Pastor Liu, his wife and I were taken to a different room for an interrogation that lasted over two hours. The two levels of people from bureaus of religion interrogated us, made a written record and signed the documents. Another person from the Public Security Bureau who never showed his/her identification asked me about matters concerning the invitation of the Taiwanese pastor. The interrogation was also recorded in the written form and signed. They demanded that Pastor Liu and his wife must not have contact with me. They later left Yantai peacefully…

You can read the rest of this account and the full CAA report here.

Pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen his faithful in China to act as salt and light to those around them—even those who seek to do them harm and stop them from gathering together to worship Christ.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Going on vacation

Starting tomorrow, I am heading off on vacation until October 24th. Most importantly (to my wife especially) I will not be taking my laptop with us (which is really the only way to get me to really relax). Hence, I will not be blogging or checking emails until I get back. Adele and Erin (when she returns from her honeymoon next week), and Jim will be responsible to keep the blog site active and the Persecution & Prayer Alert going out every Wednesday. I am confident that they will do the great job they normally do.

So, take care and see you in a few weeks.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Three more killed in Orissa

Compass Direct and others are reporting that at least two more Christians were killed yesterday in Orissa state’s Kandhamal district.  A third man succumbed to axe injuries on Wednesday (Oct. 1).  While orissa-mapsome of the details are still unclear, the two men were apparently killed as they were dragged out of their home at  night, shot and then cut to pieces.  After killing the two men, the assailants then massacred cattle belonging to village Christians and burned Christian-owned houses.

Compass Direct reports that a local news reporter Lalit Jena told them that the attacks – which have continued unabated for the past five week involve women first ransacking the Christian homes.

“The modus operandi of the tribal mob is such that women go first and attack the Christian houses,” he said. “They ransack and rob the household’s gold and other jewelry, TVs and all that is precious. The men then follow and burn the houses. Lately it has been reported that now they are fighting among themselves for the booty.”

Jena told Compass that tribal peoples who lived in poverty before the violence now have obtained many head of cattle, including goats and cows, within a short span, as well as household goods.

“They may have no electricity in their villages, but one can see lots of television sets, nearly all of it looted from the Christians,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Indian Prime Minister denounced the attacks on Christians in Orissa as "acts of national shame."

The Voice of the Martyrs has committed to sending aid to the Christians of Orissa.  Funds for legal assistance, relief aid, and rebuilding projects are being raised and sent through reliable channels to insure that the help gets to those in need.  You can join us through an online donation to our Relief and Development Fund. Together we can let our brothers and sisters know that they are not forgotten during these days of tribulation.

We would also encourage you to express your concerns to:

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Room No. 152,
South Block,
New Delhi, 110001
(O) Tel : +91-11-23012312
(O) Fax: +91-11-23016857

Smt. Pratibha Patil
Hon'ble President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi, 110001
(O) Tel: +91-11-23017290
(O) Fax: +91-11-23017824

Shri Navin Patnaik
Chief Minister of Orissa
Naveen Nivas,
Aerodrome Road,
Pin-751001 (Orissa)
(O) Tel: +91-0674-2531100, 2535100, 2531500
(O) Fax: +91-0674-2400100 
(R) Tel: +91-0674-2590299, 2591099,2590844,2591100,2590833

Friday, October 03, 2008

Follow Persecuted Church weblog

There are two new ways to follow postings on the Persecuted Church blog. 

The first is Twitter, a simple service that allows users to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?  We will also be using Twitter to post prayer requests and simple news when away from the office, since we can send messages to Twitter via a mobile phone.  In order to use Twitter you will need one of these things: an internet connection or a mobile phone. Following someone on Twitter simply means receiving their Twitter updates on your phone, IM, or just on the web. It's up to you.

The second is for those of you with a Blogger account.  You can stay updated with this blog with the Reading List that Blogger has added to the Dashboard. The "Blogs I’m Following" tab automatically shows the latest posts from all the blogs you follow. Check out this feature.

Of course, you can also subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog or get your updates by email (see the right hand column). 

I hope you find this blog interesting and helpful. We keep trying...

We still remember

nl-oct08 In the early years of The Voice of the Martyrs (when we were still called Jesus to the Communist World), countless Christians suffered abuse at the hands of communist authorities in places like the Soviet Union. And just as we continue to do today, we told their stories of faith and courage, of God’s gracious care of His people, and how Christians in Canada could stand with them in their afflictions.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s, religious freedom was established in a number of these formerly communist countries. In others, like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the persecution of Christians has continued. Many of those who suffered under the communists are still alive and are now elderly and in poor health because of their earlier ordeals. For their faithfulness, we still owe them our gratitude and respect. They should still be remembered.

In the October edition of The Voice of the Newsletter, I share the testimonies of two faithful Christians I met last May in western Ukraine by the names of Anastasia Lenko and Hanna Kokotska.  

The Voice of the Martyrs currently helps support 35 pensioners like Hanna and Anastasia. All are elderly and many are ailing.  Life has not been easy for them, as many of them were sentenced to time in labour camps by the communists or have lived in abject poverty for most of their lives because of their dedication to Christ.  We have recently committed to increase our support of them to $50/month.  While this does not seem like much, it is a considerable help to them.  We have also set aside funds for emergency needs, such as the repair of Anastasia’s home or renovating the entry way to Hanna’s apartment.  Your partnership with us helps these dear elderly saints know that we remember them and continue to appreciate the sacrifices they have made for Christ. Find out more by subscribing to our newsletter today.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Should pastors publicly endorse political candidates?

Mark Galli is one of my favourite Christians writers. I don't always agree with him, but I do like how he thinks a lot of the time.  Today he posted a blog on Christianity Today entitled "Tempted by Politics."  While he writes from an American perspective to a U.S. audience, the issues are also relevant to our own upcoming federal election here in Canada in two weeks.  Here's how he starts:

Every pastor in America is just dying to tell their congregations how to vote. It happens every election season, but particularly during the presidential quadrennial. This yearning to lobby one's flock doesn't surprise me — it tempted me when I was a pastor.

What did surprise me was a report that said 31 pastors in 22 states this past Sunday endorsed a candidate from their pulpits. The nationwide event was orchestrated by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, (ADF), which thinks churches should be able to take partisan stands without losing their tax exemption. The legal group hopes the sermons will prompt IRS reaction. In turn, the ADF will take the IRS to court and argue for a ruling that will abolish restrictions on church political speech.

Frankly, I hope they lose....

To continue reading, go to Christianity Today Online.  Then come back and tell me what you think.  Should pastors publicly endorse political candidates?

VOMC staff updates

I wanted to update you on the comings and goings of our staff here at The Voice of the Martyrs. As many of you know, Erin Hesselink joined us in early August as our staff writer, replacing Bernie Daniel who accepted a teaching position in Edmonton. We are pleased to announce that Erin is getting married tomorrow to Ben Vandenberg.

Also, we welcome back Sandra Frempong, who has been away since February on maternity leave. We have missed her cheerful voice and presence around the office.

Please remember both of these dear sisters as they face these new changes in their lives. We are glad that they are part of our team.