Persecuted Church

Discussion in 'Blogs & Columns' started by totallylovedbyGOD, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. totallylovedbyGOD

    Sep 22, 2015
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    "...fellowship with the Father and the Son
    is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy
    is greatest, when the cross is heaviest."

    ~ J.I. Packer

    MALI: Kidnapped Missionaries Appear in Video

    Sources: World Watch Monitor, Religious Liberty Bulletin


    On July 1st, a coalition of jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda released a video showing six foreign hostages, including three missionaries, just hours before France president Emmanuel Macron made his most recent visit to Mali, offering help in support of the African nation's anti-terrorist efforts in the Sahel region. The three missionaries who appeared in the video are from Colombia, Australia and Switzerland.

    A Colombian nun, Gloria Argoti, who is in her 60s, was kidnapped on February 7th when assailants broke into her convent in Karangasso, southern Mali. No news had previously emerged regarding her whereabouts, and no group has claimed responsibility for her abduction and detention. This is the first proof of life for the Colombian nun.

    An 82-year-old Australian surgeon, Ken Elliott, was kidnapped in January 2016, along with his wife Jocelyn, from the town of Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali. The couple were taken on the same day that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) killed 29 victims in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, including six Canadian Christians doing humanitarian work and an American missionary. Although Jocelyn was released a month later, her husband remains in detainment.

    On January 15th, al-Qaeda's Ansar al-Dine terrorist group kidnapped Swiss Christian missionary Beatrice Stockly from her home in Timbuktu, Mali. This is the second time in four years that Beatrice has been kidnapped by militants. After the group seized control of Timbuktu, she was accused of proselytizing Christianity, held for ten days, and warned that she would be executed if she tried to return to Timbuktu. Despite the threat, Beatrice returned to Timbuktu in 2013 after French troops liberated the city. In January 2016, AQIM released a video showing Beatrice in full Islamic dress with an English-speaking jihadi proposing a prisoner swap.

    Now a year later, another video was posted on social media showing a veiled Beatrice speaking in French, saying that she has been detained for 130 days but is in good health and has been treated well. She concluded by thanking her family and the Swiss government for all their efforts to secure her release. Additional background information on the kidnapping of Beatrice may be reviewed here.

    However, there was no reference to the pioneering American missionary who was missing since last October. Jeff Woodke, who worked for a branch of Youth With A Mission, was abducted by unknown assailants late in the evening of October 14th from the town of Abalak in northern Niger. So far, little is known about Jeff's condition or whereabouts, other than news that his captors were tracked to neighbouring Mali by Nigerien authorities. On July 11th, a video was released by Els Woodke, expressing her despair, as well as her desire to be in touch with her husband's kidnappers. A report on Jeff's abduction isavailable here.

    Ask the Lord to tangibly manifest His comforting presence among the kidnapped missionaries while they remain in captivity. Pray that the light of His love will flood their surroundings -- touching even the hearts of their captors -- while mediating for the believers' safe release. May the ministry of the Holy Spirit also console the families and friends of the missionaries, reminding them of God's promise to be a "very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). In addition, please pray for the protection of the country's other foreign mission workers so that needed humanitarian aid can continue assisting the suffering people of Mali.

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    CHINA: Imprisoned Chinese Pastor is "Barely Alive"

    Sources: China Aid, Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    Pastor Zhang Shaojie
    Photo: China Aid

    Pastor Zhang Shaojie of the Nanle Country Christian Church, in the Henan Province, is "barely alive" after suffering various forms of torture in prison, according to reports from his daughter. He is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence which officially began in 2014.

    His daughter Esther expresses concern that Pastor Zhang is suffering both mentally and physically as a result of meagre food rations and sleep deprivation. When his sister, Zhang Cuixia, visited on July 7th, she testified that her brother appeared fragile and was not allowed to discuss events outside of the prison. According to his sister, he looks "like a bag of bones," with dark discoloration encircling his eyes.

    During the sister's visit, government agents monitored her conversation with Pastor Zhang, limiting it to only talk about family members and praise of new policies under Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping. The siblings decided to subvert these restrictions, speaking highly of life inside and outside the prison, using their facial expressions to communicate the opposite.

    In December 2013, church members, lawyers and Christians visiting the family of detained Pastor Zhang were beaten, harassed and detained themselves by "hired thugs" who work for police and government agencies. For more information on Pastor Zhang's case, review VOMC's previous reports.

    In the face of such injustice and abuse, may Pastor Zhang be greatly strengthened and renewed -- spiritually, emotionally and physically -- as he awaits release (2 Corinthians 4:7-9). Pray additionally for his family, that they would receive ongoing strength and encouragement from above, despite having witnessed the long-suffering of their loved one, knowing that God is able to accomplish the impossible. Ask the Lord to also help the many other Christians in China who are in the midst of their own fiery battles, that they may stand firm and testify of His greatness so many more in their country will experience eternal salvation.

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    UNITED STATES: Young Teen's Legacy of Love and Courage

    Source: VOM USA

    Phil Parks
    Photo: VOM USA

    The life of 14-year-old Philip "Phil" Parks may have been cut short by cancer, but his bold faith, which only grew stronger as he confronted death, continues to help persecuted Christians today. During his battle with stage four glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive brain cancer, Phil used his God-given artistic talents to create greeting cards which he sold online. The front of the cards feature his drawing of a cardinal -- a symbol of hope during his battle with cancer.

    Days before he slipped into a coma (subsequently passing away on April 13th, 2016), Phil told his mother that he wanted the profits from his greeting cards to be used to further assist persecuted Christians in other countries. "He was thankful...because (his illness) enabled him to share Christ with more people," Phil's mother, Lydia, wrote in a letter to VOM. "He then told me that martyrs have suffered much more for their faith, and that he had it 'much easier.'"

    Phil shared this with his mother after being told his illness was terminal; news he received after enduring several surgeries, chemotherapy, and dozens of rounds of radiation therapy and cell treatment. Through it all, he held onto hope, joy, love and faith.

    Phil had long been inspired by the stories of enduring faith in the face of fear from our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Eight months before he passed away, Phil wrote his last letter to a persecuted Christian in prison. In the letter, Phil encouraged Farshid Fathi, who had been imprisoned in Iran, stating that he was praying for the incarcerated believer. Authorities released Farshid four months later, after spending nearly five years in prison.

    Even though Lydia misses her son terribly, she continues to remember his bold faith. May we, too, be encouraged by such a short but powerful legacy of love and courage, as revealed by Phil's dedicated life. Please prayerfully uphold this grieving family, asking the Lord to console them with the assurance that they will one day be joyfully reunited with Phil, who has gone on to heaven to receive his eternal reward.

    "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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    The Persecution & Prayer Alert is a ministry of:
    The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, P.O. Box 608, Streetsville, Ontario, L5M 2C1
    Tel. (905) 670-9721 Website:
  2. jonjovi
    I will be praying for the kidnapped missionaries, Pastor Zhang Shaojie, and Lydia.