Persecution & Prayer Alert

"Doth not all nature around me praise God? If I were silent, I should be an exception to the universe. Doth not the thunder praise Him as it rolls like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not the mountains praise Him when the woods upon their summits wave in adoration? Doth not the lightning write His name in letters of fire? Hath not the whole earth a voice? And shall I, can I, silent be?"
~ Charles Spurgeon

China: Suspect Circumstances Lead to Activist's Death

Source(s): China Aid

Peng Ming -- Photo: ChinaAid
Peng Ming
Photo: ChinaAid

Family members are demanding an independently conducted autopsy following the mysterious death of an imprisoned Christian and veteran human rights activist. Peng Ming, a pro-democracy dissident, known for establishing the China Development Union and publishing a work offering suggestions to China's development model (referred to as The Fourth Monument), allegedly fainted on November 29th while watching television. Subsequently, he was rushed to hospital.

Prison officials phoned his brother, who had visited Peng just three days before, relaying the shocking news to him. By the time the notified brother reached the hospital, Peng had already been declared dead and transferred to a funeral home.

However, authorities did not issue a death certificate, leaving the cause of his death unclear. As a result, Peng's family members have demanded an autopsy by an "international, independent medical authority acceptable to the family," and stated that a similar procedure conducted by the Chinese government will not be considered conclusive.

Following the government's ban on the China Development Union, Peng was sentenced to 18 months of re-education through labour on a charge unrelated to his political activities. In August of 2000, he was released and fled to Thailand, where he was granted refugee status until he was resettled in the United States a year later. There, he was baptized at a San Francisco church in July 2002.

When Peng returned to Thailand in 2004 to visit his aging parents, Chinese special agents devised a plan to lure him into Burma and abduct him back to China. Once he arrived in his homeland, he was charged with organizing and leading a terrorist organization, kidnapping and possessing counterfeit money. As a result, Peng was given a life sentence. Officials are now warning his overseas family members not to attend the funeral. To learn more about the persecution of believers in China, see our country report.

Pray that God will greatly comfort Peng's grieving family, and that their request for an independent autopsy will be respectfully honoured. May the realization that Peng is now in the presence of our loving Lord -- and, therefore, no longer suffering -- bring them great hope and consolation. It is our desire that Peng's testimony will be mightily used by the Lord to extend His Kingdom and glorify His name throughout the world.

Uganda: Single Mother's Home Torn to the Ground

Source(s): Release International

Peninah Fatuma -- Photo: Morning Star News
Peninah Fatuma
Photo: Morning Star News

On Christmas Eve of 2016, Peninah and her three children stood helplessly by as they watched militants tear down their home -- all because they had turned to Christ. This single mother and her children live in an area of eastern Uganda where a decision to reject Islam can have treacherous consequences. The family is now left homeless.

Angered by Peninah's conversion, the militants had written several letters warning the mother that her days were numbered. The attack on her home in Pallisa came the day before masked men raided Pastor Erod's church in Obokora village, of the same district, on Christmas morning.

Hearing jihadist chants, Pastor Erod -- along with members of his congregation -- tried to escape through a back door but they were badly beaten. Five church members were left with serious injuries, including broken bones. The attack appears to be linked to the fact that a Muslim, who had given his life to Christ and received a miraculous healing at the church the previous night, excitedly told others about his new faith.

Pray that the Lord will provide a home and needed resources for Peninah and her children. Ask Him to protect this suffering family, and all others in Uganda who have shamelessly submitted their lives to Christ. In fact, may the enemy's attempt to thwart Christianity cause the number of believers to multiply exponentially despite the threat of persecution. Uphold the country's spiritual leaders, such as Pastor Erod, asking the Lord to renew their strength and re-ignite their passionate vision to reach the lost so they can effectively continue the important Kingdom work God has prepared in advance for them to accomplish (Ephesians 2:10).

Sudan: Pastor Recently Released!

Source(s): VOM USA

Rev. Kuwa Shamal -- Photo: World Watch Monitor
Rev. Kuwa Shamal
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Rev. Kuwa Shamal, one of four men detained in Sudan since December 2015, has recently been released. During a hearing on January 2nd, the judge ruled that there was not enough evidence against Pastor Kuwa, who had been charged along with three other men with "crimes against national security" in Khartoum. You may review a previously posted report on their situation by going to this page.

The trial for Rev. Hassan Abduraheem, Czech aid worker Petr Jasek, and a student by the name of Abdulmonem Abdumawla, was to commence on January 9th when defense lawyers are scheduled to present their cases. (To date, we have not received any news of the outcome which means their cases may still require further deliberation.) The three men are facing several criminal charges, including "waging war against the state" and "spying." If found guilty, these men could face the death penalty or life in prison.

Mr. Jasek, a former hospital administrator with 20 years of experience in the health field, has previously assisted VOM in providing care to persecuted Christians in Sudan and Nigeria, including medical care for Christians attacked by Boko Haram. In Mr. Jasek's first letter to his family, which was sent after his arrest in December 2015, he stated that "God holds the key to my cell; He will open the door in His timing."

After months of delays, multiple hearings have taken place in recent weeks. During a hearing on December 14th, Ali Omer, a Darfurian man who suffered burns during a demonstration, gave his testimony and was cross-examined. The detainees were attempting to help this man and were subsequently accused of promoting his case to defame the government. Defense lawyers reportedly believe the testimony has given the defense a significant boost in its case.

Thank you for joining us as we offer praise to God for the release of Pastor Kuwa, remaining mindful of our need to continue praying for favourable outcomes on behalf of the three other imprisoned believers.

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.