Younan Abdullah was tragically killed while standing up for the rights of our brothers and sisters in Sudan to worship freely. He intervened after police confronted fellow Christians who were protesting peacefully against the illegal sell-off of the Evangelical School of Sudan in Omdurman. Younan was fatally stabbed at the scene.
A three-day protest at the school ended on April 3rd when police arrested all the male protesters. Soon afterwards, an armed group of about 20 people arrived and began beating the women. Several men from the nearby Bahri Evangelical Church, including Younan, rushed to the aid of the assaulted women. Two of the men who came to the rescue were stabbed while police reportedly stood by and watched. Although Younan soon succumbed to his injuries, the other wounded rescuer, Ayoub Kumama, was hospitalized for treatment.
Among their attackers were members of an illegal committee the government had imposed on the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, whose leadership also oversees the Omdurman school. Committee members had been illegally selling off church properties to businessmen for "redevelopment." The man whom police arrested on suspicion of stabbing Younan is believed to be one of the illegal committee members. To learn more about the persecution of believers in Sudan, click here.
Ask the Lord to comfort Younan's brokenhearted widow and their two young children, as well as others of their family and community -- including those of their church family. Pray that each of them will experience His love, strength and peace in meaningful ways as they come to terms with their sudden loss and grief. Intercede for the individual(s) responsible for the stabbing of these two honourable Christian men, that they may be convicted of their wrong-doing and be led to experience sincere repentance, forgiveness and salvation. Pray for Ayoub's continued recovery and for the healing of all who have been injured and traumatized by the assaults. May God's justice and righteousness prevail, serving as their Advocate in the illegal takeover of the church's rightful property.
The government in China's coastal Zhejiang Province recently ordered that surveillance equipment must be installed in churches, permitting officials to easily monitor church activities. While there are claims this is to be done as a necessary "safety" and "anti-terrorism" precaution, officials have taken into account whether or not these churches have previously resisted the cross demolitions during a province-wide campaign, stating that more agents will be sent to opposing sites where necessary. Previous reports on the demolition of church crosses are available here.
At the beginning of March, authorities in Zhejiang demanded that the province's Three-Self Churches install surveillance cameras, dispatching officials to forcibly set up the devices if the order meets with refusal. From March 21st to 24th, hundreds of police officers converged on Changlin Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, in order to carry out this task, beating any Christians who resisted their efforts.
A local Christian said the church members questioned why they needed additional surveillance since the Three-Self Churches are already heavily monitored and policed by the government. Some Christian women stationed themselves outside the church, fearing a possible church demolition, and were seized for their resistance until the cameras were set up. Officials also destroyed the church's reception desk and other parts of the building, including the church's gate.
On March 23rd, Shengai Church in Pingyang County, Wenzhou, issued a statement accusing the government of violating their privacy, disrupting the internal affairs of religious organizations, and breaking laws by installing the cameras. The church claimed the government had no legal basis for these actions, further stating that officials need to obtain permission of the church or they would otherwise be exercising an abuse of power and violating religious freedom.
Pray that the members of these churches will continue to make the most of every opportunity by faithfully attending church services, encouraging one another in the Christian faith, and corporately worshipping the Lord together so they can experience increased unity and strength. And rather than the surveillance cameras being used as a potential snare, may they effectively benefit all who are watching -- touching the hearts of the government officials and blessing them with the hope and truth of God's infallible Word. Additionally, as the pastors and church leaders deal with the governing authorities, may their speech be seasoned with wisdom and grace...that they may know how to appropriately respond to each one.
In the upcoming weeks, VOMC will be birthing the world premiere of a stage play that enacts incredible true stories of best-selling author Richard Wurmbrand (who wrote Tortured for Christ and several other insightful books), while also addressing Christian persecution around the world today. The stage play convincingly brings to life this world-renowned leader and late ministry founder whose portrayed character tells his transcendent tale from a transformative prison cell.
Award-winning playwright Dennis Hassell confesses, "In researching Richard Wurmbrand's story, I was surprised by joy. I discovered a man overflowing with hope and love -- and even humour. Amid the suffering, he found the supernatural. He found Christ...."
Dennis Hassell also performs the role of Richard Wurmbrand, in collaboration with director Tom Carson, a triple Dora Award nominee. This talented theatrical team is thrilled to be joined creatively by Emmy and Gemini Award-winning composer Tom Szczesniak in creating an original score. Videography and state-of-the-art lighting also unite in bringing audiences into the story.
After debuting in southern Ontario this April, Solitary Refinement will be commencing its nationwide tour across Canada in the fall. Please join us in praying that the Lord will mightily use this production to not only convey the realities, challenges, and inspiring moments experienced by those facing persecution for their faith but also as a means to present the life-transforming Gospel in an innovative and compelling way. For further information, and to view a theatrical trailer of this engaging production, please visit this page.