Archive for November, 2007

40 House Church Leaders Detained in China

Posted in China with tags , , , on November 29, 2007 by Mike

chinese_bible.jpgBosNewsLife is reporting that about 40 leaders of one of the largest house church groups in China have been arrested.

US-based China Aid Association (CAA), which has close contacts with the Christians, told BosNewsLife that officials of the ‘China Gospel Fellowship’ (CGF) house church group were detained by Chinese security forces in Henan province on November 18 during a Bible study meeting in Peichang village in the area of Fanhu town.

It said officials of the local Public Security Bureau, one of China’s main law enforcement agencies, detained the church leaders. While 21 have since been released 19 others remained behind bars Wednesday, November 28, CAA added.

LIVING EXPENSES

“Family members of the 19 detainees were notified by police to send blankets and 360 yuan ($50) for 15 days living expenses,” CAA said. Among those detained is CGF founder Pastor Shen Yiping, the group added.

CAA said it also established that another pastor, identified as Liu Huiwen, was sentenced to 18 months of prison by Gansu Dongxiang Nationality Autonomous County People’s Court last month for distributing Christian materials among Muslims.

“Liu was detained on April 28, [this year] after distributing flyers at a funeral and was arrested on May 31. The bill of indictment from Dongxiang County Procuratorate charges that defendant Liu Huiwen committed the crime of publishing a discriminating work and insulting people of ethnic minorities when he distributed a flyer called ‘A Letter to Our Muslim Friends’,” CAA said.

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Celebration of 50 million Bibles in China

Posted in China with tags , , , on November 27, 2007 by Mike

Episcopal Life Online is reporting that celebrations are being planned for the 50 millionth Bible having been printed in China.

“After the cultural revolution of 1966 to 1976, many Chinese Christians are doing their best to take the chance to read the Bible,” Qiu Zhonghui, general secretary of the Amity Foundation, told Ecumenical News International on November 27.

The celebrations planned in the city of Nanjing for December 8 will mark the production on September 11, 2007 of the 50 millionth Bible by the Amity Printing Company, the only company allowed to print Bibles in mainland China.

Zhang Liwei, the Amity Foundation’s associate general secretary, told ENI the events would “celebrate the miracle that God makes it possible in China to print these millions of copies of the Bible for Chinese Christians.”

Beijing loosened restrictions on Christians in the 1970s following the end of the cultural revolution, after the death of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China.

Nevertheless, the Chinese government still tightly controls Christianity in the country.

North Korean Survivor Facing Trial in China

Posted in China, North Korea with tags , , , , on November 25, 2007 by Mike

Michelle Vu from The Christian Post is reporting that a man who escaped North Korea is facing trial in China for helping other North Korean refugees.

Yoo Sang-joon was arrested near the Chinese-Mongolian border while trying to rescue other North Koreans from danger in China, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

According to the group, activists in South Korea consider Yoo’s case unique because of his tragic background and “redemptive sacrificial motivation.”

“We are naturally deeply concerned for Mr. Yoo. It would be abhorrent if, after suffering such a terrible tragedy with the death of his son as he tried to escape from China, the Chinese authorities would punish him for seeking to save others from a similar fate,” said CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.

Yoo’s motivation for helping North Korean refugees reportedly stems from his own tragic personal story. After his wife and youngest son died in the North Korean famine, the weakened Yoo – realizing that he and his remaining son would likely suffer the same fate – had decided to flee to China.

Unable to travel together, his son Chul Min, 10, attempted to escape across the Mongolian border. However, unfamiliar with the inhospitable terrain, he wandered for 26 hours and – suffering from dehydration and weakened from the famine – died before crossing the border, according to CSW.

Hindu Extremists Attack Christian Family

Posted in India with tags , , , , , on November 21, 2007 by Mike

International Christian Concern is reporting that some Hindu extremists in India instigated some youths to attack a Christian family for not celebrating a Hindu holiday.

According to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), extremists of the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu council or VHP), gave liquor to Hindu youths and compelled them to launch an attack on the family of a Christian, Pritam Arse, on November 9 in the Raubanda slum area near Durg Railway Station in Chhattisgarh state’s Durg district. Arse is a member of a church belonging to the Living Grace Ministries.

Arse and his family members, including his wife and grown-up children, were praying inside their house when they heard fire crackers going off on their veranda. When they went out, more than 20 youths beat up Arse’s eldest son Ravi Arse, taunting, “So, you don’t celebrate Diwali?”

On Diwali, which fell on November 9 this year, Hindus light candles, put up decoration lights on their homes, and burn crackers, besides worshiping the goddess Lakshmi, the god of money.

North Korean Christians Arrested–status unknown

Posted in North Korea with tags , , , , , , on November 20, 2007 by Mike

Voice of the Martyrs is reporting that a number of people that the government of North Korea had arrested in September for spying are in fact Christians.

The security service spokesman at the press conference, Li Su Gil, said that those arrested “carried out the missions by means of diverse espionage equipment.” He did not name any of those arrested.

VOM has identified the following North Korean Christians who have disappeared and are believed to have been arrested by government authorities:

Onseong, North Hamgyong Province:

Chul Huh, male

Chun-Il Jang, male, 39

Young-Su Jin, male, 32

Myung-Chul Kim, male, 36

Nam-Suk Kang, male, 48

Young-Yae Lee, female, 37

Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province:

San-Ho Kang, male, 36

Cheongjin, North Hamgyong Province:

Mi-Hae Park, female, 30

Suk-Chun Suh, male, 29

These North Korean Christians had started a portrait photography studio to help support themselves, and had registered their businesses with appropriate government authorities. According to VOM sources working in North Korea, they were not involved in espionage activities. It is believed that equipment taken by the government was in fact photography equipment used in their portrait work.

“Following Jesus Christ is considered treason in North Korea, where the government mandates that worship is reserved for deceased dictator Kim Il Sung and his son, the current dictator, Kim Jong Il,” said Todd Nettleton, spokesperson for VOM. “The Voice of the Martyrs is proud to stand with Christ’s followers in North Korea, and deeply concerned for the well-being of our brothers and sisters there. We call on the North Korean government to release these Christian believers, who were involved in legitimate business activities to support themselves and their families.”

VOM sources do not know the whereabouts of the arrested believers. It is possible that they have already been tried and executed.

EU Condemns Persecution of Christians

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2007 by Mike

The Catholic News Agency is reporting that the European Union has passed a resolution that condemns the persecution of Christians around the world.

The measure, which has the support of the Socialist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and others, condemns all acts of violence against Christian communities especially in Africa and Asia, and it calls on the countries in question “to provide the necessary guarantees for religious freedom and the security of Christian communities.”

In addition to mentioning several cases of persecution of Christians in Pakistan, Gaza, Turkey, China, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq and Syria, the measure “deplores the kidnapping of Father Giancarlo Gossi in the Philippines, strongly condemns the murder of journalist Hrant Dink and of Father Andrea Santoro in Turkey, as well as underscores the problems of freedom of expression in China and repression in Vietnam.

Christianity Poisonous?

Posted in America, Overseas with tags , , , , on November 18, 2007 by Mike

Chuck Colson has an excellent article in The Christian Post today that refutes the notion that Christianity has only contributed negative things to society throughout history, a notion championed by Christopher Hitchens in his book, “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”. Colson points to the issue of slavery and Christianity’s role at the forefront of the abolitionist movements in history.

Sociologist Rodney Stark writes about the Church’s embrace around the third century of what he calls “a universalistic conception of humanity.” This conception “[liberated] social relations between the sexes and within the family” and “greatly modulated class differences . . . ” As Stark put it, “more than rhetoric was involved when slave and noble greeted one another as brothers in Christ.”

Given this liberating ideal, it was only a matter of time before Christians sought to eradicate slavery entirely.

It is true that Christians have not always lived up to the moral teachings of the faith: The record of the Church is not without blemish. But it is also true that when Christians kept and traded slaves, they were going against the teachings of their own religion. The theological question had long been settled.

Read the rest of Colson’s article. And go out and buy the DVD of Amazing Grace.