“(God) sees the perils that are in our path that we cannot
|CHINA: Released Lawyer Under Surveillance
Sources: ChinaAid, South China Morning Post
Security officials have been noticed near the home of Christian lawyer Zhang Kai, and they appear determined to put him back behind bars. Zhang was released from detention this March after being held eight months for representing Zhejiang churches in opposition to the government’s forceful removal of their crosses. More about the cross removal campaign can be found here.
In February, while still in detention, Zhang participated in a televised interview where he seemed to criticize fellow lawyers who had been arrested during China’s recent crackdown on human rights activists. Then, on August 30th, a statement retracting that criticism appeared on Zhang’s social media feed. It said he had been forced to smear his fellow lawyers, including Zhou Shifeng, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for “subversion.” (A report on Zhang’s arrest is available at this page.)
“It was a forced act out of fear and I’m retracting all of my comments,” the statement said. Zhang’s social media account has since been deleted. Now Public Security Bureau officials are monitoring his home.
Pray that Zhang Kai will know God as his “fortress, rock and deliverer” (Psalm 18:2). May he experience the Lord’s perfect peace and protection. Please intercede for all who are affected by this crackdown on China’s churches, including the lawyers trying to represent them. Ask God to touch the hearts of the governing officials involved so that they may also seek the truth of the Gospel and receive His gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
|IRAQ: Family Longs for Return of Kidnapped Child
Sources: World Watch Monitor, Open Doors Australia and New Zealand
During a “medical check-up” in the northeastern Iraqi town of Qaraqosh, ISIS militants took notice of Ayda Abada’s three-year-old daughter Christine. Suddenly they snatched the child out of her mother’s arms and gave the crying girl to a bearded fighter. This story was previously reported in a VOMC-produced video documentary which can be found here.
Two years later, Christine is still missing. Her distraught loved ones, who now live in an Erbil camp for displaced people, continue to suffer sleepless nights and unimaginable fears over her welfare. On the wall of their cabin, they have placed a low-resolution photo of Christine that her brother happened to find on Facebook. The photo had been taken during the time Christine was away from the family.
Christine’s mother, Ayda, forces herself to smile when she speaks. Yet her eyes convey a deep sadness that goes beyond expressed words. “We heard that Christine is living with one of the Christian women kidnapped by ISIS. The woman was forced into ‘marriage’ with an ISIS fighter and somehow managed to take our Christine under her care.”
Ayda’s days are filled with uncertainty. “Sometimes I fear that my Christine (will) grow older without me and that I will never see her again.” She looks down to fight a tear, but this heartbroken mother doesn’t want to give up hope. As long as her daughter is in Mosul, Ayda and the rest of the family will not leave Iraq. She will not rest until her little girl is safely back in her arms. “Without her, it’s like part of our heart is missing. We are not complete without her.”
Please uphold Ayda and her family during this time of uncertainty. Pray that each member will experience God’s comfort and encouragement, knowing that He is able to lovingly watch over little Christine. May those holding the child hostage sense a strong conviction to safely return Christine to her family. In fact, let’s remember all of the Middle Eastern children/loved ones who have been wrongfully abducted by militants, praying that the estranged families will be miraculously reunited — giving God praise for His divine intervention. Intercede for the abductors, that they will discover the reality and love of Jesus and, as a result, turn from their sinful ways.
|UZBEKISTAN: Pastoral Family Granted Asylum
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
Pastor Dmitry Shestakov and his family fled Uzbekistan three years ago after he had endured four years in a labour camp and, subsequently, received numerous death threats. The family’s journey to freedom officially ended on August 30th with their arrival in the United States where they were granted asylum.
Nearly ten years ago, authorities had arrested the pastor after raiding the Full Gospel Church in Andijan. Uzbekistan’s Religious Affairs Committee claimed Dmitry was not an authorized leader of any officially recognized religious organization. Labelled an “imposter,” he was sent to a prison camp more than 640 kilometres from his home. The distance made it difficult for his wife Marina and their three daughters — Maria, Alexandra and Vera — to visit him. (A previously posted report on Dmitry’s arrest may be reviewed here.)
Following Dmitry’s release on January 21st, 2011 (exactly four years since he entered prison), the government continued to monitor him closely, requiring him to obtain written permission in order to leave his house. After two years of living under these restrictions and receiving death threats, Dmitry finally moved his family to Ukraine where the United Nations Human Rights Council granted them refugee status.
Today, Dmitry and Marina, along with their youngest two daughters, Alexandra, 20, and Vera, 16, are starting a new life in the United States. Their eldest daughter, Maria, 22, will remain in Ukraine with her husband.
We are thankful to the Lord for providing Dmitry and his family safe passage to their new home. May He now lead them to a church where they can continue to grow in their faith and serve Him within a community of fellow believers. Pray that the testimony of the suffering experienced by Dmitry, his wife and daughters will be used to encourage believers in the West to also live out their faith with unwavering commitment and courage.
If you would like to post a prayer of praise or petition on behalf of our persecuted family around the globe, visit VOMC’s prayer wall.
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