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China bans 1,000-member Shouwang church in Beijing, demands members vow not to attend

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An influential house church in Beijing was shut down Saturday after 20 government and police officials raided Bible classes at two different locations, changed the locks and demanded congregants vow never to worship as a congregation again.

China’s crackdown against underground house churches continued last Saturday with the forced closure of Beijing’s Shouwang Church.

Shouwang Church is one of the most prominent among thousands of unregistered house churches in the city and is said to be attended by over 1,000 people.

As the congregation has suffered through years of challenges and persecution at the hands of the government for refusing to join the state-sanctioned church, it was accused of refusing to register with the government as a “social organization.”

But according to the nonprofit run by prominent Chinese human rights leader Bob Fu, the church had previously submitted an application to the Haidian District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau in 2006 but was rejected because founding Pastor Jin Tianming was not officially ordained by the state.

Christians attending the Bible classes had planned to meet around 1 p.m. but instead were taken by policy to a nearby school where they were held for hours, questioned and told that the church had been shut down.

The nonprofit NGO International Christian Concern reports that another group of Christians affiliated with the church were detained from another location and also taken to the school. Officials reportedly switched out the locks at both locations of the raids.

The number of Christians detained by police for hours before being released is believed to be between 20 and 30, reports.

According to ICC, officials read out a document formally banning Shouwang Church and demanded that those in attendance sign a letter vowing that they will no longer attend the church. However, the detainees reportedly refused.

Additionally, authorities were said to have demanded that Pastor Zhang Xiaofeng sign a document admitting that the church conducted activities as an organization without registering with the government.

The closing of Shouwang Church comes after authorities made headlines last September for banning Beijing’s largest house church, Zion Church, and confiscating “illegal promotional materials.”

Zion Church had previously rejected requests from government authorities to install closed-circuit cameras. Officials in Beijing argued that the church had held events without registering.

Shouwang Church in the past has been forced to meet in outdoor locations as government pressure made it difficult for the congregation to secure rented or purchased space. As previously reported, the church’s founding pastor was placed under house arrest in 2011 and many church members were arrested after the church began worshiping outdoors after its eviction from a building.

Last July, at least 34 house churches in Beijing signed a joint statement to China’s Communist Party officials decrying what they called an ongoing and worsening crackdown against believers.

“The normal religious lives of believers have been violated and obstructed, causing serious emotional harm and damage to their sense of patriotism, as well as causing social conflict,” the statement read.

Beijing churches are not alone in facing persecution as dozens upon dozens of members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu have been arrested for worshiping after government officials closed the church last December.

China ranks as the 27th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. This ranking reflects the increasing implementation of regulations on religion in China that are now “much harsher across the country.”

During his trip to Hong Kong earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, said he believes the Chinese government “is at war with faith.”

“It’s a war they will not win,” Brownback declared during a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club. “The Chinese Communist Party must hear the cry of its people for religious freedom.”

The former Kansas governor and U.S. senator criticized the Chinese government’s treatment of Christians as well as its imprisonment of as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in internment camps.

ICC Regional Manager Gina Goh stated in a press release that China’s disregard of religious freedom “is deplorable.”

“Christians outside of the state-sanctioned churches can no longer worship without fearing of harassment, detention, or even imprisonment,” Goh stressed. “Even official churches face increasing pressure to exalt the Communist Party over God. The international community should continue to press China over its human rights abuses until it is willing to make positive change.”

China Aid’s Fu had previously warned members of Congress that religious freedom in China has reached the “worst level that has not been seen since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution by Chairman Mao in the 1960s.”

He also warned about a five-year plan to make Christianity more compatible with socialism. That plan, he says, features a “rewrite” of the Bible to “reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism.”

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ഇനി മുതൽ 20 ഭാഷകളില്‍ ഓഡിയോ ആൻഡ് ടെക്സ്റ്റ് ബൈബിള്‍

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ഇനി മുതൽ മൊബൈല്‍ ആപ്ലിക്കേഷനിലൂടെ 20 ഭാഷകളില്‍ ഓഡിയോ ആൻഡ് ടെക്സ്റ്റ് ബൈബിള്‍ ലഭ്യമാകും.

ഫാ. ജോസുകുട്ടി മഠത്തിപ്പറമ്പില്‍ എസ്ഡിബിക്കും ഇലോയിറ്റ് ഇന്നവേഷന്‍സ് സിഇഒ തോംസണ്‍ ഫിലിപ്പുമാണ് ഇതിനു പിന്നിൽ.

കോണ്‍ഫറന്‍സ് ഓഫ് കാത്തലിക് ബിഷപ്‌സ് ഓഫ് ഇന്ത്യ (സിസിബിഐ) യുടെ ക്രിയേറ്റീവ് ബൈബിള്‍ മിനിസ്ട്രി അവാര്‍ഡ് ഇവർക്ക് ലഭിച്ചു.

സലേഷ്യന്‍ സമൂഹാംഗമായ ഫാ. ജോസുകുട്ടി രൂപകല്പന ചെയ്ത ‘ഹോളി ബൈബിള്‍ ഇന്‍ ടങ്‌സ്’ (Holy Bible In Tounges) എന്ന മൊബൈല്‍ ആപ്ലിക്കേഷന്‍ എറണാകുളം കേന്ദ്രമായി പ്രവര്‍ത്തിക്കുന്ന തോംസണ്‍ ഫിലിപ്പിന്റെ നേതൃത്വത്തില്‍ ഇലോയിറ്റ് ഇന്നവേഷന്‍സ് ആണ് വികസിപ്പിച്ചെടുത്തത്.

ബംഗളൂരുവിലെ എൻബിസിഎൽസിയിൽ നടന്ന ചടങ്ങിൽ സുൽത്താൻപേട്ട് ബിഷപ്പും സിസിബിഐ കമ്മീഷൻ ഫോർ ബൈബിളിൻ്റെ ചെയർമാനുമായ ഡോ. ആന്റണിസാമി പീറ്റർ അബിർ പുരസ്‌കാരം സമ്മാനിച്ചു. ഹിന്ദി, മലയാളം, കന്നഡ തുടങ്ങിയ ഇന്ത്യയിലെ പ്രമുഖ ഭാഷകളോടൊപ്പം വടക്കുകിഴക്കന്‍ സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളിലെ നിരവധി ഗോത്ര ഭാഷകളിലും ആഫ്രിക്കന്‍ ഭൂഖണ്ഡത്തിലെ മലഗച്ച ഭാഷയിലും ബൈബിള്‍ റെക്കോര്‍ഡ് ചെയ്തു ആന്‍ഡ്രോയഡിലും ആപ്പിള്‍ അപ്ലിക്കേഷന്‍സിലും ലഭ്യമാക്കിയിട്ടുണ്ട്.

കോട്ടയം അതിരൂപതാംഗമായ ഫാ. ജോസുകുട്ടി മഠത്തിപ്പറമ്പില്‍ കല്ലറ പഴയപ്പള്ളി (സെന്റ് തോമസ് ക്‌നാനായ കത്തോലിക്ക) ഇടവകയിലെ മഠത്തിപറമ്പില്‍ തോമസ്‌-ഗ്രേസികുട്ടി ദമ്പതികളുടെ മകനാണ്. കഴിഞ്ഞ 15 വര്‍ഷമായി വടക്കുകിഴക്കന്‍ സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളില്‍ മിഷനറിയായ ഫാ. ജോസുകുട്ടി സലേഷ്യന്‍ സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ ദിമപുര്‍ പ്രൊവിന്‍സ് അംഗവും ഇറ്റാനഗര്‍ (അരുണാചല്‍പ്രദേശ്) ഡോണ്‍ബോസ്‌കോ കോളജ് അധ്യാപകനുമാണ്.

ഇലോയിറ്റ് ഇന്നവേഷന്‍സ് എന്ന കമ്പനി സൗജന്യമായിട്ടാണ് ഇതിന്റെ ഡിസൈനും സാങ്കേതിക സഹായങ്ങളും ചെയ്തത്. ഗൂഗിൾ പ്ലേ സ്റ്റോറിലും ആപ്പിൾ ആപ്പ് സ്റ്റോറിലും ലഭിക്കുന്ന ഈ ആപ്പിൽ മലയാളം, ഇംഗ്ലീഷ്, ഹിന്ദി, കന്നഡ, ആസാമീസ് തുടങ്ങിയ ഇരുപതു ഭാഷകളില്‍ ബൈബിള്‍ ലഭ്യമാണ്.

പ്ലേ സ്റ്റോർ ലിങ്ക്

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eloitinnovation.theholybibleintongues
Sources:marianvibes

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Priests attacked at Catholic mission in east India

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Priests at a Catholic mission in eastern India were brutally attacked by a gang of thieves who also entered the nearby staff quarters and threatened and looted women teachers at gunpoint.

The incident occurred on April 10 at Bagdehi mission station, which houses St. Arnold Primary School run by the Society of Divine Word (SVD), in Odisha state’s Jharsuguda district.

“The thieves attacked the priests with curtain rods and chairs,” said Father Anuranjan Bilung, provincial superior of the eastern province of the congregation. “They took away mobile phones and destroyed them, then tied the priests’ hands and legs with ropes and locked them in a room.”

The armed gang of about a dozen men entered the mission campus at 9.30 p.m. It continued to terrorize the priests, the teaching staff, and their families well past midnight before decamping with 100,000 Indian rupees (US$1,212) and valuables, including gold ornaments and mobile phones.

“Eight teachers were locked in one room,” Bilung told to News on April 12. The priest said that, luckily, the thieves did not do any physical harm to the women teachers.

The thieves kept asking where the priests resided and then took hold of a helper at gunpoint and asked her to show them their residence, which was about 50 meters away from the school and staff quarters.

“They threatened to kill her daughter if she failed to show them where the priests lived,” Bilung said.

After their attackers left, one of the priests who hid his mobile phone managed to contact an employee of the school who stayed outside the campus. They were rescued after some time and rushed to the nearby Church-run dispensary to get first aid.

“They are still in trauma and need rest,” Bilung said.

A police team arrived and recorded the statements of the priests, the teachers and other staff members. Bilung said the thieves appeared to have planned the crime well and “executed it with precision.”

The priest did not rule out the possibility of someone familiar with the campus being involved in the attack.
Sources:christiansworldnews

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Persecuted Christian Receives Aid to Keep Children in School

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Somalia— Halima and her children, Sahra, Ahmed, and Yasir, are part of a community of Somali believers in Mombasa who face persecution from multiple sources.

After Halima became a Christian in 2012, she kept her faith secret for five years. Following her baptism in 2017, her husband Osman and other family members discovered that she had left Islam. Osman divorced Halima, forcing her to relocate to another part of Mombasa with her children.

Despite living discreetly, Halima’s Christian activities were uncovered, resulting in harassment by her former community and local authorities. In May 2023, their home was targeted twice by Muslim assailants, though they were unsuccessful in breaching the premises. These attackers accused Halima of leading Muslims astray and labeled her a “Christian crusader.” Additionally, local Muslim police officers falsely accused her children of being involved in nighttime gangs.

The combination of unemployment, ongoing harassment, and fear of reprisals from her ex-husband left Halima struggling to provide for her children. Consequently, her children were forced to drop out of school earlier this year due to unpaid fees. Halima’s only wish was to be able to re-enroll her children in school and secure their education.

ICC learned about Halima’s case in October 2023. We helped her obtain the funds she needed to send her children back to school.

“My children had no hope of continuing with school for this year,” Halima said. “I had struggled the whole of 2023 to keep them in school, and I was not prepared for 2024. I kept trusting God, and He surely came through for me. ICC visited us and did two projects for the MBBs (Muslim Background Believers) and a third project for my children. They are all now in school, and everything is paid for. We rarely get someone who understands our plight as underground Christians, but you have shown that you care and love the body of Christ in all circumstances.”

Halima has asked that Christians continue to pray for the underground believers experiencing persecution in Somalia. She asks that people pray that more Somali Muslims come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and become part of the global body of Christ, as she once did.
Sources:persecution

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