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China: How Long Will Liberty Be Resisted?

November 16, 2005

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 353 - Wed 16 Nov 2005

PRAYER NEEDS THIS WEEK IN CHINA AND INDIA

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CHINA: HOW LONG WILL LIBERTY BE RESISTED?
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The printing of Bibles and religious literature in China must be
approved by the Religious Affairs Bureau. Even then they can only
be purchased through registered Patriotic churches, which are under
the headship, direction and supervision of the Chinese Communist
Party (CCP). The number of Bibles available for sale each year is
capped, creating a serious shortage. What\'s more, because the
Patriotic churches are located only in the larger cities, the
\'legal\' Bibles are simply out of reach, both financially and
geographically, to rural Christians.

Pastor Cai Zhuohua (34) printed Bibles and Christian literature for
free distribution within his six Beijing house-churches. He was
caught and arrested along with three family members in September
2004. On 4 November 2005, the government ordered the Chinese law
firm defending Cai to be suspended for 12 months. On Tuesday 8
November 2005, the Haidian District People\'s Court in Beijing
sentenced Cai Zhuohua, his wife Xiao Yunfei (33) and her brother
Xiao Gaowen (37) to prison terms of three years, two years and 18
months respectively. Cai and his wife have a five-year-old son!
Even though Cai gave away the Bibles and literature and was not
running a business, he was found guilty of \'illegal business
practices\', conveniently making this an economic, not a religious
crime. A constant stream of house-church pastors, evangelists and
believers flow through China\'s prisons and re-education-through-
labour camps.

Injustice and severe persecution at the hands of the CCP will
remain until China enacts genuine religious freedom. President Hu
Jintao has recently been travelling around Western Europe promoting
China as a powerful but friendly player on the world stage. However
he has not been able to dodge challenges to China\'s human rights
record. At a dinner in Germany to honour President Hu, Juergen
Ruettgers, an MP in Angela Merkel\'s Christian Democratic Union,
said before 200 guests he was \'convinced that human rights and
political liberty, along with prosperity, are today more than ever
the irreplaceable foundations for stability and unity\'. US
President George W Bush arrives in Beijing to meet with President
Hu on 19 November. Bush has said he will be pressing Hu about
religious liberty and that he will look for an opportunity to
engage in Christian worship with Chinese citizens.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:

* the many hundreds of Chinese Christians imprisoned for their
faith, separated from loved ones, tortured, beaten, and
exploited; may their wounds be healed, their hearts comforted,
their hope encouraged, their needs met, and their souls restored
by the ever-present Counsellor, the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 23:4)

* God to work in and/or through President Hu Jintao and other
figures with authority and influence, to bring religious liberty
to China, so believers may live in peace and dignity and the
Church may be free for mission, service and worship. (1 Timothy
2: 1-4) \'Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the
Lord that man gets justice.\' Proverbs 29:26

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INDIA: SUNDAY 20 NOVEMBER HINDU DEADLINE TO CONVERT
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Whilst India\'s Hindu supremacists have lost political power at the
federal level, they still govern in several states, and their
militant and cultural wings continue to fight Christianity across
the nation. In the northern state of Chattisgarh on 10 November
2005, Pastor Masih Das Rai was conducting a baptism ceremony for
nine new believers. However, one of the baptism candidates was
actually a \'spy\'. After declining to travel to the site with the
other believers, he arrived late with a group of Hindu militants
who beat the believers and handed them to police for allegedly
breaching the Freedom of Religion Act by supposedly forcibly
converting Hindus to Christianity. Pastor Rai is now in
Baloadabazar Jail, Chattisgarh.

On 4 November 2005, Hindu extremists attacked Pastor Feroz Masih
(62) in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. This state is
only 0.09 percent Christian, and only 15 of its 95 people groups
have congregations of believers. Masih, a former Hindu, and his
son, Ramesh, lead a local chapter of the Believers\' Church in
India. The Masihs\' home has been stoned and they have received
death threats. As Pastor Masih was travelling to visit and comfort
a grieving member, he was attacked and so severely beaten he had to
be hospitalised with internal injuries. Even though the assailants
are known, no one has been arrested. His attackers forced him to
sign a document agreeing to participate in a ceremony planned for
Sunday 20 November when all 60 members of his church would be
converted back to Hinduism. Ramesh Masih told Compass Direct, \'They
also warned him that he, along with all the believers, would be
burned alive if they refused to reconvert.\' The Masihs have written
to the authorities requesting protection, as they will resist any
attempts by Hindu extremists to forcibly convert anyone. Please
pray for this vulnerable little fellowship.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:

* State anti-conversion laws to be banned as unconstitutional.

* God to sharpen the conscience of those in authority and use the
Congress-led federal government to make justice, the rule of law
and security effective across India.

* God to grant Feroz and Ramesh Masih his wisdom and strength, and
surround the Believers\' Church that meets in their house with
heavenly forces; may he deliver them from terror and violence,
increase their faith, and reveal his power, justice and
compassion.

\'Do not call a conspiracy everything that these people call a
conspiracy; do not fear what they fear and do not dread it. The
Lord Almighty is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are
to dread, and he will be a sanctuary...\' (Isaiah 8:13,14a -
sanctuary: the place God dwells in all his holiness.)

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We regret it was not practicable this week to provide a summary to
use in bulletins unable to run the whole RLP. We suggest you could
use the last paragraph from either the China or India article.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.