Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
VOM Calls for Continued Prayer for Kidnapped South Korean Christians
UPDATE: On August 13, two of the 23 South Koreans kidnapped by the Taliban in mid-July, were freed in rural Afghanistan. According to media reports, the two women were handed over to international Red Cross officials. The Voice of the Martyrs is calling on believers around the world to continue praying for the protection and release of the 19 remaining Korean aid workers still being held by the Taliban. Please also remember the families of the two men in the group who were killed previously. Ask that the Holy Spirit convict the hearts of the Taliban and the testimony of these believers draws others into fellowship with Christ. Psalm 91, Joshua 1:9
Two-Year Imprisonment for Baptist Pastor – Forum 18 News
UPDATE: On August 8, Baptist Pastor Zaur Balaev was sentenced to two years in prison by a court in the Northwestern Regional Center of Zakatala, Azerbaijan. According to Forum 18 News Service, Balaev was convicted of using violence against a state representative. He was accused of holding "illegal meetings under the guise of religious activity without concrete authority and registration." Forum 18 News reported, "He also was accused of attracting young people to worship services and playing loud music at services. Azerbaijan's authorities have changed their accusations since Balaev has been held. Police initially claimed Balaev set a dog on police during a raid on a Sunday worship service. After more than 50 people signed a written statement testifying to Balaev's innocence, the references to the dog disappeared from the authorities' claims. Instead, Balaev was accused of attacking five policemen and damaging a police car door." He was convicted under Article 315, Part 1 of the Criminal Code, which punishes the application of or threat of application of violence, including to a state representative when he or she is carrying out official duties. It carries a maximum sentence of three years. Pray for Pastor Balaev and his family while he is in prison. Ask God to encourage believers in Azerbaijan and for the Holy Spirit to convict the authorities that brought these charges. Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 54:17
Christians Experiencing Hardship After Red Mosque Attack, Christian Attacked – VOM Sources
The Voice of the Martyrs has received information that Christians are experiencing increased hardships after the attacks at the Red Mosque last month. In an unrelated incident in July, a VOM contact, who is a Muslim convert; was attacked by three strangers while he was sleeping in a hotel room. Attackers tried to kill him, but God saved his life. He sustained some wounds to his body and they are healing. Pray this believer is protected from future attacks. Ask God to protect believers in Pakistan as they continue sharing the gospel, despite immense challenges. 1 Corinthians 15:57
Pastor Threatened; Pastor and Wife Assaulted, Imprisoned and Later Released – VOM Sources
- KASHMIR – On July 29, five men from the Molvis Al-Hadis Mosque in Baramulla threatened Pastor Bashir Masih, and other believers preparing for Sunday worship. According to The Voice of the Martyrs' contacts in India, "The five men threatened the believers and instructed them to vacate the house, which is also used as a house church, within a month since it is located near a mosque." In the past, Muslim extremists have assaulted Pastor Masih's disabled son and Muslim village authorities have allowed extremists to block drinking water to Pastor Masih's home. Pastor Masih was a Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2005. His house church, Shalom Prayer House, was started in 2005. Pray for Pastor Masih's family and Christians in India who remain steadfast in their faith, despite persecution. Hebrews 13:5-6
- KARTANAKA – August 10, Pastor Victor and his wife Glory were released after spending a month in prison. On July 9, the couple was assaulted by a Hindu extremist while they were distributing tracts in the Bijapur District, Karnataka. They were later arrested. According to The Voice of the Martyrs' contacts in India, a grocery store owner invited the pastor and his wife to his home and while they were talking, a man entered the home and attacked them. VOM contacts report, "When the man entered the home, he saw gospel tracts and began cursing at the pastor and slapped him. The grocery owner joined the assault and dragged the pastor out of the home and put him on a rickshaw and took him to the police. The Hindu extremist registered a complaint against the couple for inciting religious disharmony." The couple was arrested under section 296 A of the Indian Penal Code. Pray for Pastor Victor and his family and ask God to protect Christians in India. 2 Timothy 1:7
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Grief is a demanding guest in an old man's house. Let sorrow settle in, and in time it no longer feels like home. His daughters had the hospital bed removed and restored Ruth's room as it used to be, warm and inviting, not sad, so it looks as if she's just away on a long trip. It was Billy's habit, through all their decades of work and travel, to call her every evening at about 5. These days, as twilight rolls around, he finds himself wanting to pick up the phone and call her and then remembering that he can't. "Sometimes I'll be preoccupied with something, and suddenly I'll be reminded of her for some reason," he says, "and I'll find myself almost overwhelmed." One way he copes, he says, is by thanking God for the years they had together. "They are over now --but God was good in giving us to each other, and I want to be grateful for those memories and not suppress them." He has pulled out some of his favorite pictures of Ruth and put them on his desk to remind himself.
We asked him whether, with all our advanced medical technology, we perhaps fear death and fight it too much. "I think we often do," he said. "I'm convinced that in some cases we aren't so much prolonging life but prolonging death." Over his long life he has endured some serious medical crises; he now has Parkinson's disease and prostate cancer and a shunt to drain excess water from his brain. "I'm thankful for the incredible advances in medicine that have taken place during my lifetime. I almost certainly wouldn't still be here if it weren't for them," he says. "And I believe God has given them to us because he loves us and wants what is best for us, both in this life and the next. But death is a reality common to us all, and for me as a Christian it isn't something to be feared, because I know what lies ahead for me beyond the grave."