January 21, 2019

VOM Weekly Prayer Update-05/27/2011

China–Government Imposes New Regulations on “Illegal” House Churches

The pastors of some of China’s house churches are facing new restrictions, according to VOM workers. The pastors must provide police with weekly reports detailing their whereabouts and how many people attend their meetings. If pastors travel outside their city, they must report their plans, and they are restricted to short trips. If the pastors fail to report and police are unable to contact them, they are arrested. VOM workers say these regulations primarily target large house churches that organize under a specific name, advertise and meet publicly. House churches, which operate outside the official state church, are illegal under Chinese law. But because of the house church movement’s rapid growth in recent years, the government is struggling to deal with these churches. Pray for the house churches in China, especially those that have been targeted by these new regulations, and ask God to grant their leaders wisdom.

Chiapas–Evicted Christians to Return to Community

Thirty-two Christians in Chiapas, Mexico, say they are ready to return to the community where their neighbors torched their homes and stole their livestock. The group fled the area in January 2010 after being forcibly evicted by a mob of 200. The Christians had been worshiping in a believer’s home for almost a year because the same mob had destroyed their church. Members of the community were unhappy that the Christians would not contribute to or participate in religious drinking festivals held in their town. The Christians filed a court case requesting compensation for their burned homes, but they have seen no progress since the government loaned them the use of a large home in another city. The 32 believers have decided they will return to their community on June 15, with or without government help. “It is time to go home,” they say, “and win the others to Christ, whatever the cost.” Pray for these Christians and others who have been run out of their communities because of their Christian faith.

Azerbaijan–Fines and “Preventative Talks” for Praise Church

Two Christians from the Praise Church in the city of Sumgait were fined for attending an “illegal” meeting on Sunday, May 15. Elchin and Afar Pashaev were fined $190 under Azerbaijan’s Code of Administrative Offenses for attending a religious meeting at a location other than the Praise Church’s registered address. About 40 church members had gathered at the “Blue Lake” restaurant for their Sunday meeting, but it was interrupted by the police raid at about 11:30 a.m. “Police wrote down the names of all those present; then all were taken by bus to the police station,” a Christian told Forum 18 News. Only Elchin and his wife, Afar, were fined, but the Interior Ministry reported that police conducted “preventative talks” with other church members. In recent years, state control of religious activity has sharply increased in Azerbaijan. Amendments to the religion law in 2009 established penalties for religious activities not specifically authorized by the state. Pray for the church in Azerbaijan.

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