|THE PARISH REGISTER
St. Andrews-Cheney Memorial Church
A Day of Prayer
The National Association of Evangelicals has called for an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday, Nov. 16, 1997. Who are the persecuted Christians for whom we are to pray? The following is a brief survey of countries where persecution is taking place. This does not include all of the countries where persecution is occurring.
Initially sensing a gradual improvement in China's response toward the house church, Christians in China since 1994 have experienced the worst persecution since the pre-Deng period in the late 1970's. Christians are arrested and beaten to death by Chinese police. More Christians are in prison or under some form of detention in China than in any other country. Both Evangelical Protestant house church groups and Roman Catholics have been named "a principal threat to political stability" in a "strike hard" campaign waged by the Central committee of China's Communist Party. In November of 1996, government authorities targeted the Chinese Catholic underground church for destruction. Due to this mandate, the Chinese house church leaders have either been put in prison or gone into hiding. In 1996, in separate incidents, three Chinese Christian leaders were beaten to death by Chinese authorities because of their religious activities. In just the first three months of 1997, over 100 house church leaders were arrested.
Egypt is the home of the Middle East's largest Christian community, numbering some five to ten million people. Although Egypt is regarded as fairly democratic country, democracy does not extend to Christians. The country's constitution still gives special authority to Islamic law. As a result, most Christians are second-class citizens, discriminated against in education and employment, denied political representation and obstructed from building and repairing churches. In January 1997, Egyptian army soldiers destroyed a Coptic Christian farm and center for disabled children near Cairo. In addition to government harassment and persecution, Christians are vulnerable to violent attacks by extremist groups. In February 1997, Muslim militants murdered 15 young Coptic Christians. The next month, nine more were among the 14 victims of a terrorist attack. Extremist groups also abduct and rape non-Muslim women and girls to force them to convert to Islam.
Since independence in 1958, Sudan has endured a seemingly endless civil war. When the National Islamic Front seized power in 1989, Sudan was wracked by a jihad against all who oppose the Muslims as well as Christians, animists and other non-Muslims. The resulting reign of government endorsed terror has resulted in the deaths of over 1.5 million and the forced displacement of over 5 million whose homes and villages have been burned and whose property has been confiscated. Food is denied those who will not convert to Islam. Christian families are broken up by abduction, imprisonment, torture and execution of men. Women and children are kidnapped, sold into slavery for as little as $15 and forced to work as slaves of concubines for the Muslim masters. Other children are sent to re-education camps for forced Islamization. Young boys undergo military-type training and become cannon fodder on the front lines of Sudan's civil war. It is accurate to say that the Sudanese government is committing genocide against the African Sudanese.
Virulent persecution of Christians is Iran began the day after the overthrow of the Shah by the Ayatollah Khomeini in the Islamic revolution. Churches were attacked, Christian property confiscated, Christians killed and missionaries required to leave the country. The prime targets of continuing persecution are the Protestant community, because they are active in evangelism among Muslims, and Muslim converts to Christianity, who are accused of apostasy from Islam. Both proselytism of Muslims and conversion are punishable by death. The Iranian government is seeking to destroy the church in Iran. Since the Islamic Revolution, seven leaders have been killed. Among them are Rev. Husasein Soodmand, who was hanged for apostasy. His body was wrapped and sent as a Christmas present to his blind widow as four children. In 1994, three leaders, Bishop Hiek Hovsepian-Mehr, Pastor Mehdi Dibaj and Bishop Tateos Michaellian, were kidnapped and murdered in the space of six months, almost certainly by government agents. Then in September 1996, another Iranian Christian, Mohammed Bagher Yusefi, joined the roll of martyrs.
Persecution of Christians is also taking place in Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan. Let us be in earnest prayer for out brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering and dying for the faith.
(Information supplied by the NAE)
Feast of St. Andrews
Bring a dish for dinner in the Parish Hall at 6:30 p.m. Evening Prayer will be read in the Chapel at 7:30 p.m. The offering will go to World Relief to help in the effort to combat world hunger.
Congratulations to Joan and Joe Arrigoni on the birth of their baby boy, Nathan Joseph, born on Sunday, September 28, 1997 at 10:21 p.m., weighing 8 lbs. 5 oz. Proud grandparents are Fran & Grant Chessman.
United Thanksgiving Service
The United Thanksgiving Service will be held at Faith Christian Reformed Church, 8383 W. 171st St., Tinley Park, IL., November 26, 1997 at 7:30 p.m.
Forgiveness is the
Missionary of The Month
Gerhard & Grace Meyer
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