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REMEMBER THE PRISONERS Lent Prayer Project

Issue 119

SPRING 2017


A glimpse through a window One of my favourite detective stories centres round a glimpse that the detective (Miss Marple) saw through the window of a passing train. She couldn’t see all that was happening but saw just enough to realise that a crime was being committed and off she went to investigate. In this magazine, we get a small glimpse of the reality of persecution around the world as we highlight six Christian prisoners in our annual Lent Prayer Project and ask you to pray for one each week. The information we have is just a small glimpse into their circumstances, leaving us wishing that we knew more. Like Miss Marple, I hope that you will be encouraged to follow up this glimpse by taking some action – in this case, by praying for the prisoner you’ve read about. This year, we have included a prayer diary which we hope you will find helpful, with a suggested prayer for you to use each day. See our Action Page (page 19) for some ideas for getting your church or group involved. Yours for the Persecuted,

In this issue of Church in Chains Pages 3 – 9 Pages 10 – 11 Pages 12 – 13 Pages 14 – 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19

Remember the Prisoners Children’s Pages – Pray for the Prisoners Updates – Pakistan/Egypt Updates – China/Turkey/India/Sri Lanka Working Together Iraq Project Update Money Matters Action Page – Get others involved

SOURCES: The main feature article on Christian prisoners was compiled with reference to numerous sources including BBC, China Aid, Christian Daily, Christian Today, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Forum 18, freealim.com, Guardian, International Business Times, Mohabat News, Open Doors, Release Eritrea, Release International, Reuters, Voice of America, Voice of the Martyrs, Xinjiang Yanjiu. COVER IMAGE: Top Row (left – right): Asia Bibi (Pakistan), Alimujiang Yimiti (China), Kim Dong Chul (North Korea) Bottom Row (left – right): Ebrahim Firouzi (Iran), Yklas Kabduakasov (Kazakhstan) Twen (Eritrea)


“Join me in my struggle by praying to God for me” (Romans 15 v 30) Paul’s letter to the church at Rome contains wonderful teaching about the love of God for humanity, about how God puts people right with Himself and how Christians should live to serve God. Like many of his letters, Paul ends with some personal news and requests. He is planning to travel to Jerusalem and on to Spain via Rome. He recognises that the way ahead is uncertain and dangerous and so he asks the church at Rome to “join” him in his struggle by praying to God for him. It’s a simple request but underlines the fundamental truth that Christians are part of a worldwide family and have responsibilities to care for each other. The request also underlines that the Christian life is a struggle and perhaps also suggests that prayer can be a struggle too. Paul relied on the Christians in Rome and other places to pray for him. The request was simple: “Join me... by praying.” In the following pages you will read profiles of six Christian prisoners – Asia Bibi in Pakistan, Alimujiang Yimiti in China, Kim Dong Chul in North Korea, Ebrahim Firouzi in Iran, Yklas Kabduakasov in Kazakhstan and Twen in Eritrea. Our hope and prayer is that you will join them in their struggle by praying for them during the six weeks of Lent. Here are some suggestions:

On your own • •

Beginning on the first Sunday of Lent (Sunday 5 March), use the daily prayer points in this magazine (starting on the page 4). Pick a special time and place each week to pray for that week’s prisoner.

With others • • •

Order an A3 poster to display in your church – use Response Form or email info@churchinchains.ie Ask your church leader to include a different prisoner in prayers at church each week during Lent. Get your small group to take part in the Lent Prayer Project – use Response Form to order extra copies of this magazine.

Lent Prayer Project

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Asia Bibi (Pakistan) Asia Bibi (51) is a Christian fruit picker from Punjab, northeast Pakistan. She has been in prison since June 2009, after Muslim women with whom she worked said water she fetched was unclean, and refused to drink it. Asia argued with them and they accused her of blasphemy. The local imam filed a blasphemy case against Asia, local men beat her and the police took her into custody. In November 2010, she was sentenced to death. In October 2014, Lahore High Court rejected Asia’s appeal and upheld the death sentence. In July 2015, the death sentence was suspended pending a full Pictured in prison appeal hearing at the Supreme Court in Islamabad – if Photo: Asia News that fails, Asia’s only hope is a presidential pardon. The Supreme Court appeal was due to be heard in October 2016, but was adjourned because one of the three judges recused himself. Another date was not set.

• ASIA BIBI

Family Asia is married to Ashiq Masih and has two daughters, Isha (18) and Isham (17), who has an intellectual disability and walking difficulties. They have had to move several times to avoid attack. Latest news On 3 February 2017, Wilson Chowdhry (Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association) met the First Minister at Pakistan’s High Commission in London, who said Asia’s appeal hearing would be before the end of March 2017.

Prayer Diary Sunday

Pray that Asia’s Supreme Court appeal would be heard soon.

Monday

Pray for her acquittal and release.

Tuesday

Ask God to bless and encourage Ashiq, Isha and Isham.

Wednesday Pray that the family would be reunited in a safe location. Thursday

Pray for protection for Asia’s lawyers and the judges.

Friday

Ask for other Christians convicted of blasphemy to be acquitted.

Saturday

Pray for the blasphemy laws to be amended.

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Lent Prayer Project - Week 1


Alimujiang Yimiti (China) Alimujiang Yimiti (43) is a Uighur Christian from Xinjiang province in northwest China. He has been in prison since January 2008, when he was detained for “illegally providing state secrets to foreigners”, based on his speaking to Christians visiting from the USA. In August 2009, Alimujiang was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Those close to the case say the reason for his imprisonment is his faith and witness among the Uighur people. A former Muslim, Alimujiang became a Christian in 1995. He worked as an orchard manager and led a house church in Kashgar, and in the years prior to his arrest police repeatedly called him in for interrogation about his Christian activities.

ALIMUJIANG YIMITI Uighur church leader Photo: China Aid

Family Alimujiang is married to Guli Nuer and they have two sons aged 9 and 16. Guli Nuer was not allowed to visit Alimujiang for two years after his arrest, and their youngest son was four before he was allowed to visit. The boys have struggled in his absence, and Guli Nuer has suffered from depression. Latest news Alimujiang’s case may go to retrial following the removal of Xinjiang’s Communist Party Secretary in August 2016 amid an anti-corruption enquiry. In late 2015, a pardon was offered on the condition that Alimujiang admit to guilt. He refused, protesting his innocence and claiming that the sentence was the result of provincial government corruption.

Prayer Diary Sunday

Pray that Alimujiang would be released soon.

Monday

Ask God to keep him healthy and strong in his faith.

Tuesday

Pray for his two sons, who miss having a father at home.

Wednesday Ask God to encourage and strengthen Guli Nuer. Thursday

Pray for Alimujiang’s mother Wuxiuerhan.

Friday

Ask God for the provision of enough visiting permits for his family.

Saturday

Pray that God would bless and protect Uighur Christians.

Lent Prayer Project - Week 2

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Kim Dong Chul (North Korea) Kim Dong Chul (63), a missionary who was born in South Korea and is a naturalised US citizen, is serving a ten-year sentence in a North Korean labour camp for alleged “unpardonable espionage”. Kim moved to China in 1997 and since 2001 had been living in Yanji, 10 km from the North Korean border. He set up a hotel services company in Rason City (a special economic zone on the North Korean side of the border), and commuted daily. Kim was arrested in October 2015 in Rason City and was accused of stealing information and passing it to South Korea. In April 2016, the Supreme Court sentenced him to ten years’ hard labour.

KIM DONG CHUL At press conference Photo: AP

At a televised press conference in Pyongyang in March 2016, Kim apparently confessed that he was paid by South Korean intelligence officers. Forced confessions by foreign prisoners in North Korea are common. A North Korean defector recognised Kim on television as a missionary she had met in 2007 who had told her he was sending medical aid into North Korea. Family Kim has a wife and two daughters living in Yanji in China. They are not permitted to visit him in the labour camp. Latest news In June 2016, North Korea warned that freed US-South Korean missionary Kenneth Bae’s “babbling” about prison could jeopardise efforts to free detained Americans. Bae wrote a book and gives media interviews.

Prayer Diary Sunday

Ask God to keep Kim safe and well in labour camp.

Monday

Pray for successful negotiations for his release.

Tuesday

Pray for Kim’s wife and daughters.

Wednesday Ask God to give the family wisdom regarding the future. Thursday

Pray for safety for all Christians ministering to North Koreans.

Friday

Ask God to protect and encourage North Korean Christians.

Saturday

Pray that the regime would soften its attitude to Christianity.

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Lent Prayer Project - Week 3


Ebrahim Firouzi (Iran) Ebrahim Firouzi (31) is a former Muslim who has been arrested several times for his Christian activities. He has been in prison since March 2013 and is due for release in January 2020. Ebrahim was arrested in March 2013, interrogated, and in July 2013 was sentenced to one year in prison and two years’ exile in a remote border town on charges including propaganda against the Islamic regime, evangelism, contact with anti-Islamic agents abroad and running a Christian website.

EBRAHIM FIROUZI In August 2013, while on a short leave from prison, he Many arrests was arrested again and accused of spying. He was due Photo: Mohabat News for release in January 2015, but was retried in March 2015 for “acting against national security” and sentenced to five more years in prison. He is waiting for an appeal hearing. Ebrahim went on hunger strike in June 2015 to protest against being held with dangerous criminals. He ended it after five days, when the authorities promised to improve his conditions. Family Ebrahim’s elderly mother, who is visually impaired, appealed to government officials in 2016 to release her son. She is unable to attend court hearings or visit him in prison, and she and Ebrahim’s sister are struggling without their breadwinner. Latest news In 2015, Ebrahim developed acute chest pain. His condition deteriorated in 2016, with the authorities reportedly withholding treatment.

Prayer Diary Sunday

Ask God to protect Ebrahim in prison.

Monday

Pray for his release.

Tuesday

Ask God to encourage Ebrahim and bless his witness.

Wednesday Pray for good health and peace. Thursday

Pray for Ebrahim’s mother and sister and ask God to provide.

Friday

Ask God to protect and encourage the church in Iran.

Saturday

Pray that the authorities would stop arresting Christians.

Lent Prayer Project - Week 4

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Yklas Kabduakasov (Kazakhstan) Yklas Kabduakasov (55) is serving a two-year sentence in labour camp in Kazakhstan for sharing his faith with Muslims. Yklas, a former Muslim, was arrested in August 2015 and accused of “inciting religious discord” after four students invited him to their flat for religious discussions. It is believed the secret police had Yklas under surveillance and that they rented the flat, secretly filmed the meetings and used the footage as evidence. The secret police also searched his home and the Seventh • YKLAS KABDUAKASOV Day Adventist church he attends. Caught in a trap In November 2015, Yklas was sentenced to seven Photo: Mission Eurasia years’ restricted freedom, to be served at home. He appealed against the decision – as did the state prosecutor, who sought seven years’ imprisonment rather than restricted freedom. In December 2015, the judge increased the sentence to two years’ imprisonment in labour camp. Family Yklas and his wife Karlygash have eight children, from an adult son Alibek (a lawyer representing his father) to a toddler Daniil, born a month after Yklas’ arrest. The labour camp is 450 km from home, and visiting is very limited. Latest news It was thought that Yklas could be eligible for early release in October 2016, but this did not happen. He has considered appealing to the Supreme Court, but his family fears that the sentence could be increased.

Prayer Diary Sunday

Pray that Yklas would be released early.

Monday

Ask God to strengthen his faith and protect his health.

Tuesday

Ask God to bless and help Karlygash.

Wednesday Pray for Yklas’ eight children. Thursday

Pray for funds for legal fees and for his family.

Friday

Pray for safety for Yklas once released.

Saturday

Ask God to protect and encourage the church in Kazakhstan.

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Lent Prayer Project - Week 5


Twen (Eritrea) Twen (34) has been in prison in Eritrea for twelve years because of her Christian faith. She has suffered beatings and torture, and has never been charged or tried. Twen spent time imprisoned in a shipping container with gospel singer Helen Berhane, nursed Helen when she was very ill and even took punishment for her. She leads and cares for the other women prisoners. Twen was arrested in January 2005 at an underground church prayer meeting and was sent to Mai Sirwa Prison. In 2006, she was moved to one of Eritrea’s harshest prisons, • TWEN 12 years in prison Wi’a, on the Red Sea coast. Hundreds of prisoners died Photo: Release Eritrea there as a result of extreme heat and appalling sanitary conditions, and it was eventually closed by government order. Twen was moved to Me’etr prison in the remote northwest. It is run like a labour camp, and prisoners must work very hard. Food is inadequate and the climate is harsh (very hot and dry most of the year). Family Twen’s parents live in the capital, Asmara. Me’etr prison is in the middle of nowhere, with no transport links, and her family cannot visit. Latest news Twen remains in prison because she refuses to renounce her faith. She and twelve other long-term Christian women prisoners have been told that if they renounce their faith they will be released, but all steadfastly refuse.

Prayer Diary Sunday

Ask God to protect and encourage Twen.

Monday

Pray for her release.

Tuesday

Pray for other long-term prisoners, struggling with faith and health.

Wednesday Pray for prisoners’ families, especially those with children. Thursday

Pray for protection for the underground church.

Friday

Ask God for new church leaders, as many are in prison or have fled.

Saturday

Pray that the government would end its repressive policies.

Lent Prayer Project - Week 6

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HEY KIDS – Let’s Pray Asia Bibi (Pakistan) Asia Bibi (51) is a Christian fruit picker who has been in prison since 2009, after Muslim women working with her said she insulted the Prophet Mohammed. Asia was accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. The death sentence was suspended in 2015. Asia is waiting for her appeal to be heard in the Supreme Court. No date has been set, but she hopes her lawyers will prove she’s innocent. Dear God, please keep Asia safe in prison and encourage her. We ask for Asia’s Supreme Court appeal to be heard soon, and we ask for her to be released. Amen

Alimujiang Yimiti (China) Alimujiang Yimiti (43) lives in Xinjiang province, northwest China. He has been in prison since January 2008 and is serving a 15-year sentence because of his Christian work. Alimujiang was a Muslim before he became a Christian in 1995. He worked as an orchard manager and led a house church, and the police often questioned him about his Christian work. His wife Guli Nuer and sons (9 and 16) miss him very much. Dear God, please bless Alimujiang in prison. Keep him healthy, encourage his faith and help his wife and sons who miss him so much. Please may he be released soon. Amen

Kim Dong Chul (North Korea) Kim Dong Chul (63) is a missionary from South Korea who lived in America for many years before moving to China. He and his wife and two daughters lived near the border with North Korea. He ran a business over the border, in Rason City, where he was arrested in October 2015. He was accused of spying, and in April 2016 he was sentenced to ten years in a North Korean labour camp. Dear God, we ask for the release of Kim Dong Chul. Please bless his wife and daughters, and please protect all North Korean Christians who have been sent to labour camp for their faith. Amen


For Christian Prisoners Ebrahim Firouzi (Iran) Ebrahim Firouzi (31) is an Iranian who left Islam to become a Christian. He has been in prison since March 2013 and is due for release in January 2020. He was accused of evangelism, running a Christian website and acting against national security. Prison conditions are very tough, and Ebrahim has been having chest pains. His elderly mother, who is partially blind, needs his support. She can’t visit him in prison. Dear God, please keep Ebrahim safe in prison and heal his chest pains. We pray for him to be released, and ask you to encourage and help his mother. Amen

Yklas Kabduakasov (Kazakstan) Yklas Kabduakasov (55) lives in Kazakhstan and is serving a two-year sentence in labour camp for sharing the gospel with Muslims. Yklas used to be a Muslim, and when he became a Christian he started telling people about Jesus. The secret police began watching him, secretly filmed his conversations about Christianity and arrested him in August 2015. Yklas and his wife Karlygash have eight children. The labour camp is 450 km from home so it’s difficult to visit. Dear God, please bless and encourage Yklas in prison, and look after Karlygash and their children as they wait for him to come home. Please protect Yklas after his release. Amen

Twen (Eritrea) Twen (34) has been in prison in Eritrea for twelve years. She was arrested in January 2005 at a secret prayer meeting (forbidden by the government) and has been badly treated in several prisons. For the past seven years, Twen has been in Me’etr prison in the remote northwest, where it’s very hot and dry. It’s run like a labour camp – prisoners have to work very hard – and there isn’t enough food. Dear God, please protect Twen in prison and give her hope. We pray for her release, and we ask you to bring an end to the government’s persecution of Christians. Amen


Pakistan’s parliament to examine blasphemy law d a t e s

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In January, Senator Farhatullah Babar, a member of the Pakistani Senate (upper house of parliament), proposed that the Senate’s Human Rights Committee debate how to prevent the country’s blasphemy laws being applied unfairly. Senator Babar said it would be the first time in decades that any parliamentary body had considered a formal proposal to stop the abuse of the blasphemy laws. Another committee member, Nasreen Jalil, said: “We hope that the debate will be able to open people’s minds and do something good for the people.”

The committee plans to consider a proposal making it binding to investigate complaints before registering a case, to ensure “genuine blasphemy” had been committed and the law was not being used to settle scores. The committee also plans to debate whether life • FARHATULLAH BABAR imprisonment is an adequate punishment, instead of Photo: Dawn the mandatory death penalty. However, the proposal has met with great hostility from political and religious leaders. Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar stated that that there would be no change in the blasphemy law, emphasising that Pakistan was created on the basis of Islam and in the name of Allah and the Prophet Mohammed. Meanwhile, Christians continue to be arrested under the blasphemy laws. Babu Shahbaz Masih (40, pictured), a Christian from Kamaha village, Lahore, was arrested on 30 December, accused of desecrating pages of the Quran. His brother said that the allegations were baseless and aimed at “teaching a lesson” to the local Christian community for refusing to allow a water treatment plant on church land. Mukhtar Masih (70), a Christian from Gujranwala, Punjab Province, was arrested on 28 January, accused of writing two letters containing derogatory remarks about the Quran and the prophet Mohammed. Police took his family into custody. The family was later released but Mukhtar remained in custody. (Al Jazeera, Christians in Pakistan, Morning Star News, Reuters)

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Updates


29 Coptic Christians killed in Cairo attack On Sunday 11 December 2016, a suicide bomber killed 23 people and injured about 60 in an attack on Boutrossiya church, also known as the Church of St Peter and St Paul, attached to St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. Six more Christians died in the days that followed. At about 10 am, near the end of Mass, a 12 kg TNT bomb exploded among the back pews on the right side of the building, where women and children traditionally sit (men sit on the left). All • FUNERAL OF VICTIMS but three of the victims were women Led by Pope Tawadros and children. Photo: SAT-7 The church building and crypt were badly damaged. Part of the ceiling caved in, doors and walls cracked, windows shattered and the iconostasis and pews were destroyed. The main cathedral was undamaged. After the explosion many Copts expressed anger, saying President Sisi’s government had failed to protect them. By Sunday evening, several hundred protesters had gathered, joined in solidarity by a group of Muslim clerics. President Sisi condemned the bombing and declared three days of national mourning. The bomber was identified as Mahmoud Shafiq Mohammed Mustafa (22), an Islamist from Fayoum. Three of his accomplices were arrested. On 13 December, Islamic State claimed responsibility, although the Egyptian Ministry of Interior accused members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood living in Qatar of plotting the bombing. President Sisi ordered the Armed Forces’ engineering unit to repair the church building, and the work was completed on 30 December. Marble columns and stone walls have been left pockmarked by shrapnel and partly scorched, in memory of the bombing and the Christians who died for their faith. On 31 December, Boutrossiya Church held the Kiahk Praises (services held during the Coptic month of Kiahk, leading up to Christmas on 7 January), and at dawn on Sunday 1 January, Coptic Pope Tawadros II presided over New Year Mass, after which he joined victims’ families for breakfast in the church hall. (Ahram, Egyptian Streets, Middle East Concern, Watani, World Watch Monitor)

Updates

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CHINA: Yang Hua given 2 ½ year sentence On 5 January 2017, a court in central Guizhou province announced that house church pastor Yang Hua (39) had been sentenced to two years and six months in prison. He has been in custody since 9 December 2015, when he was detained after resisting the authorities’ attempts to confiscate a computer hard drive during a raid on Huoshi (Living Stone) Church. He was held incommunicado for more than a month, his wife only receiving news on 22 January 2016, when the authorities announced his arrest on the charge of “divulging state secrets”. Pastor Yang’s lawyers say the prosecutors appointed by the government tortured him in prison and threatened his family in order to extort a confession. His wife Wang Hongwu reports that the church bank account has been frozen and police are guarding the building so the church is unable to hold regular services but has had to divide into smaller groups for worship. She also reports that her husband is constantly sick in prison. (China Aid)

TURKEY: US pastor held in prison since October On 29 December, a Turkish court rejected an appeal for the release of American pastor Rev Andrew Brunson (49). He and his wife Norine were detained in Izmir on 7 October, under order of the Turkish Interior Ministry that they be deported within 15 days as they posed “a threat to national security”. Norine was released on 19 October, but Andrew was held without formal charges until 9 December, when he was brought to court for questioning. The court accused him of “membership in an armed terrorist organisation” (the Gülen movement, an organisation blamed by the Turkish government for last July’s failed coup) and sent him to prison. Andrew is pastor of the Izmir Dirilis (Resurrection) Church, which he and Norine have led for 23 years. In April 2016, they applied to renew their residence visas, but received no response until 7 October, when they were summoned to report with their passports to a local police station, and were taken into custody. (Christianity Today, Middle East Concern, World Watch Monitor)

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Updates


INDIA: Evangelist critically ill after threats Indian evangelist Dr K. A. Swamy (47) suffered a brain haemorrhage after being threatened by Hindu extremists. Dr Swamy is a professor of engineering and volunteers with the Gideons. On 21 January 2017, he was distributing Bibles in Hyderabad, capital of Telangana state, when a group of extremists surrounded him and threatened to kill him and his family. They shouted at Dr Swamy for “doing religious promotion”, forced him into their vehicle and threatened, “You must not do this anywhere in this country… All your family and children will go in fire.” The extremists took Dr Swamy to the police station, where he spent the day in custody. A local Gideons leader helped to secure his release, and another Christian collected him, but he collapsed in the car. He had been fit and healthy. Following emergency brain surgery, Dr Swamy remained in a critical condition. The Telangana state government has promised to cover his medical expenses. (Morning Star News, World Watch Monitor)

SRI LANKA: Buddhist mob destroys church building On 5 January 2017, a mob led by a Buddhist monk destroyed Kithu Sevana prayer centre in northwest Sri Lanka, leaving the Christian community with nowhere to meet. Church leader Kamal Wasantha said, “They came with wooden sticks, iron bars and knives and destroyed everything.” The church at the prayer centre had been growing quickly and attracted attention because all its members were converts from other faiths. Wasantha, a local farmer who is a former Buddhist, said some people in the village would not tolerate Buddhists becoming Christians. Visiting pastors conduct services at the prayer centre on Fridays and Sundays. One visiting pastor said, “It was never attacked before, only verbal threats.” Another said, “They threatened the leader of the church and said if they go to the police, they’ll kill the entire family, and then they burned the church down.” The pastors said the monk had threatened them on 1 January, after which they filed a complaint at the police station. (Asia News, Mission Network News, World Watch Monitor)

Updates

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Praying in Dublin For the past 30 years, Church in Chains has run a monthly prayer meeting in Dublin city centre. The group meets at 8pm on the first Friday of every month at Grace Baptist Church on Pearse Street (corner of Tara Street). We begin with a time of praise led by Bert-Jan Van Embden using the distinctive tones of the dulcimer followed by a short Bible meditation shared by one of the group. The main prayer focus of the evening is then outlined (usually one country and often accompanied by Powerpoint slides or video) and is followed by prayer. Later, a news update gives the latest news from other countries, again followed by prayer. The meeting ends at 9.30pm and is followed by tea and biscuits (prepared by one of the group members). We’d love to see new members and you can be assured of a warm welcome. Just drop in on the first Friday of the month or contact the Church in Chains office to find out more (01-282 5393).

Thank You Norah

In January, Norah Lynch stepped down as a trustee of Church in Chains. Norah had served as secretary of the trustees for the past six years and we want to thank her for her diligent service. Norah plans to continue her support for the persecuted through the Dublin Prayer Group and in other ways.

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Working Together

The Great 2017 Match-Up One of our supporters has had a great idea to encourage more people to join those who give monthly by standing order. The generous donor has offered to match new standing orders of â‚Ź25 or more per month for the rest of 2017 (the matching will finish at the end of 2017). The offer applies to standing orders set up before the end of March 2017. More information on our website or by ticking the box on the Response Form.


Helping Iraq’s Christian refugees Since last autumn, the Iraqi army, supported by Kurdish soldiers and US air power, has driven Islamic State militants out of much of the territory that it seized in northern Iraq in 2014. Excitement soared among the tens of thousands of displaced Christians living as refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan as news broke that their home villages and towns had been liberated. The battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second city, has been ongoing for several months with Islamic State militants fighting fiercely against the advance of coalition troops. However, the prospect of the displaced Christians returning to their homes in the near future is slim due to the destruction wreaked in their towns and villages and also to the lack of any security guarantees. Therefore, agencies helping Christian refugees living in Iraqi Kurdistan are facing the task of continuing to meet basic needs while also liaising with regional Christian leaders about the future. Church in Chains partner, Steadfast Global, continues to work with a local partner to help Christian refugees. Malcolm MacLeod of Steadfast Global paid another visit to the region in October with a medical team running mobile clinics and dealing with general medical issues. He also participated in the second Dohuk summit along with local church leaders, community leaders and international NGOs which discussed ways to progress a plan to build housing in a safe area for the Christian refugees. This plan has since stalled due to a lack of agreement on the right way to proceed. Steadfast Global once again organised its “Christmas Blessing” project, in which gift bags were supplied to refugee families, crammed full of a variety of seasonal food, baking ingredients, some extra treats and a small toy for each child in the family. During Christmas week Steadfast Global provided milk for some of the Christian refugees – such a basic need indicates the continuing impoverished conditions of the families being supported. In 2016, Church in Chains sent €17,138 to support Steadfast Global’s work in Iraq.

Working Together

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2016 Overseas Gifts During 2016, Church in Chains distributed the following overseas grants, totalling over €50,000 (consisting of designated gifts from supporters, grants from churches and trusts, proceeds from fund-raising events and allocations from our General Fund). The largest distribution was €17,138 to Iraq (see page 17). Money was also distributed to partner organisations working in the following countries:

IRAN €10,895

NIGERIA €8,955

ERITREA €5,859

Elam Ministries – to provide funding for the ongoing printing and distribution of New Testaments and Persian Bibles (not freely available in Iran).

Stefanos Foundation – to support internally displaced Christians and to provide medical care and trauma counselling to Christian victims of terrorist attacks.

Release Eritrea – to assist the families of Christian prisoners and also to help former prisoners by providing training in skills to enable them to earn a living.

SYRIA €3,206

PAKISTAN €3,000

IRELAND €1,000

€2,956 to support a Christian doctor in Aleppo (via Team Hope/Barnabas Fund).

Release International – to assist Christian victims of violence, provide training for pastors living under threat and also to support Christian converts from Islam.

This money was given to a ministry working to assist Christian asylum seekers coming from countries where their lives are under threat.

€250 to assist Syrian Christian refugees in neighbouring countries (Asia Link).

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Money Matters


Get others involved If you receive this magazine regularly, it’s likely that you pray for persecuted Christians and support the work that Church in Chains does. That’s great, but how many other people in your church/fellowship/group also pray for the persecuted? If you think back to how you first began, it was probably because someone gave you a magazine or invited somebody from Church in Chains to speak at your church or group. Will you help us to raise awareness about persecuted Christians? This issue of Church in Chains magazine is an ideal opportunity to share with others. Here are two easy things you could do.

Put up a poster

Church in Chains has designed an A3 size poster that gives brief details about each of the six Christian prisoners profiled in this magazine. The poster is available free of charge from the Church in Chains office – could you put one up where your church or group meets?

Order extra magazines

Church in Chains has printed extra copies of this magazine so you can share them with others. Could you ask your church or group leader if you could say a few words about the Lent Prayer Project and have copies available for people to take away? Order as many copies as you think you can use.

Like to do more?

Become a local representative for Church in Chains in your church or group. You could do you could do any (or all) of the following:

• • •

Distribute the quarterly Church in Chains magazine in your church or group. Encourage your church leader to promote the Lent Prayer Project (perhaps by praying for a different prisoner each Sunday during Lent). Encourage your church leader to mark the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (in November).

If you have more time you could start a prayer group, organise a fundraising event, encourage others to take part in postcard and letter writing campaigns or give a short talk to your group/church.

To order posters and magazines Use the Response Form or email info@churchinchains.ie

Action Page

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An independent Irish charity that encourages prayer and action in support of persecuted Christians worldwide.

PRAYER NETWORK DUBLIN CITY First Friday night of the month at Grace Bible Fellowship, Pearse St. Contact David Turner 01-282 5393 MIDLANDS REGION Rotates between Athlone, Ballinasloe, Banagher, Birr, Longford, Mullingar, Roscommon, Tullamore. Contact Seรกn ร“ Cluaid 090-647 5410 CORWILLIS Olive Sturgeon 047 55137 DUNDALK Kevin Marley 085 7405004 GALWAY Frank McMurray 091 755 360

TRUSTEES Pamela Coulter David Franklin (Chair) Davood Mahmoodnezhd

GREYSTONES Miriam Beattie 01 687 3183 WESTPORT 098 27110 Roy Rohu WEXFORD Mary Gill 087 785 7671

Jim McGing Keith Talbot (Treasurer)

PANEL OF REFERENCE Bishop Ken Clarke Pastor Vincent Gannon Rev Nigel Mackey

GIVING

Church in Chains is entirely supported by voluntary donations. Gifts are used to pay for all the necessary expenses, including salaries, associated with our campaigning work and to distribute grants to overseas partners in China, Eritrea, India, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey. Cheques etc should be made payable to Church in Chains. Bank Details: IBAN : IE22 IPBS 9906 1020 1759 05 BIC : IPBSIE2D Details about standing orders, legacies and tax-efficient giving available on request.

CHURCH IN CHAINS PO Box 10447, Glenageary, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Church in Chains is a member of Aontas, Evangelical Alliance Ireland, The Wheel and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade NGO Standing Committee on Human Rights.

T 01-282 5393 E info@churchinchains.ie W www.churchinchains.ie

Registered charity in Ireland (CHY 15443).

Director: David Turner

Church in Chains magazine is published four times a year and is edited by David Turner and Virginia Chipperfield.

Church in Chains Magazine (Spring 2017)  

This issue features our Lent Prayer Project and tells the stories of Asia Bibi (Pakistan), Alimujiang Yimiti (China), Kim Dong Chul (North K...

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