Woman in Uganda Beaten Unconscious for Attending Church Service

September 26, 2016 | Posted in Persecution | By

arabic letter n 300NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in Uganda beat his wife unconscious for attending a church service on Sept. 18, sources said.

Hussein Kasolo had recently married Fatuma Baluka, 21-year-old daughter of an Islamic leader in a predominantly Muslim village, undisclosed for security reasons, in Eastern Uganda’s Budaka District.

“When I arrived home, my husband shouted at me as an ‘infidel,’ and then and there started hitting me with a metallic object,” Baluka told Morning Star News. “I fell down, only to find myself in a hospital bed.”

Neighbors said they arrived and rescued Baluka, who was bleeding from head and leg injuries as her husband continued to hit her.

“We found Baluka unconscious, and we were able to overpower the husband’s brutal attack,” a resident who requested anonymity told Morning Star News.

They took her to a Budaka District hospital, where she remained until Thursday (Sept. 22).

“I have become an enemy to my husband, and my parents will not receive me either just for attending the church,” she said. “I feel disowned and helpless.”

She had visited the undisclosed, area church with a female friend. The church pastor, whose name also is withheld for security reasons, said she has become a Christian.

“She was among those who were prayed for in the church service, and on Thursday she mentioned to me that the very Sunday when she was prayed for, she felt convicted in her heart that she was a sinful lady, and that immediately a heavy burden rolled away,” the pastor said. “She is now being discipled to be rooted in the Christian faith.”

Baluka has taken refuge at a site away from her home, he said, adding that she needs prayer for emotional and physical healing.

About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one to another, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.

© 2016 Morning Star News. Reprinted with permission.  


Christians massacred in Central African Republic

September 20, 2016 | Posted in Persecution | By

300-bangui-central-africa-repuby Morning Star News/East Africa correspondent

NAIROBI, Kenya, (BP) — Muslim militants slaughtered 26 civilians in a predominantly Christian village in the Central African Republic on Friday (Sept. 16), the worst violence in the embattled country in months, sources said.

Rebels from the former Seleka group attacked the village of Ndomete, about 220 miles north of the capital city of Bangui, at 8 p.m. and went door-to-door killing Christians, a source in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo told Morning Star News.

Fighting between Seleka, officially disbanded in 2013, and Christian “anti-Balaka” militias has increased in the past year, but government and U.N. officials said Friday’s attack targeted civilians. Violence between Muslim and Christian militias hit nearby Kaga-Bandoro, where the Central African Republic’s U.N. peacekeeping mission reportedly quelled the violence over the weekend, but an area Christian leader cast doubt on the country’s ability to bring order.

“If the government is not going to beef up the security, then we are going to defend ourselves,” he said. “We shall not keep quiet as our brothers are dying.”

Hostility between Muslims and Christians worsened in 2013, when Seleka deposed then-President Francois Bozize and installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim. Djotodia announced the disbanding of Seleka in September 2013, but the rebels have since rampaged throughout the country, killing Christians and political enemies, leading to the formation of Christian militias to counter them.

Human Rights Watch has documented executions, rape and looting by ex-Seleka fighters. On May 28, 2014, rebels killed 11 people in a grenade and shooting attack at the Church of Fatima in Bangui.

In February former prime minister Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected president, bringing hope that political and religious conflict would subside, but rebel and militia fighters are still active outside the capital.

Morning Star News is a California-based independent news service focusing on the persecution of Christians worldwide. Used by permission.


Late-night churches reach Chinese restaurant crews

September 14, 2016 | Posted in NAMB | By

by Emily Rojas/Biblical Recorder

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (BP) — Sundays at 11 p.m. after a long day’s work, Chinese restaurant workers in Rocky Mount, N.C., meet at Sunset Avenue Baptist Church to worship the Lord.

The congregation is one of many for Chinese restaurant workers in small cities across the U.S. through Friends of International Restaurant Employees (FIRE), a ministry of Chinese American church planter Kewen Dong. Holding worship meetings late at night allows restaurant workers to attend.

“There are 1 million Chinese restaurant workers living in the United States,” Dong said. “Many of them live in small cities … and in these cities, they don’t have a Chinese community, and also, they don’t have any Chinese church. And these people live in very, very isolated conditions.”

Dong entered the ministry after he felt God closing the door on his medical career and leading him to open a Chinese buffet restaurant in 1999, some 35 years after he dedicated himself to the Lord. In his new career, Dong would visit with the restaurant employees, learning about their lives and their hardships. He began to feel God moving his heart to care for these people.

It was because of this experience, Dong said, that he began to realize where God was leading him in his future work — to plant churches among Chinese restaurant workers and share God’s Word with them.

In 2006, Dong began a late-night worship service for restaurant workers in Virginia Beach, Va. Four years later, God led him to North Carolina to partner with a Baptist church in Elizabeth City in another outreach to Chinese restaurant workers. His calling to Rocky Mount came in 2013. In North Carolina alone, FIRE has started a monthly Bible study in Greensboro and has begun church-planting efforts in Fayetteville, Cary and Aberdeen.

Through the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), Dong has provided his churches in North Carolina with resources, including Bibles and other tools to better know the Lord.

Though Dong has traveled far with the Lord, he knows that he still has a journey ahead of him. He feels called by the Lord to continue to reach Chinese restaurant workers in other states in the American Southeast, a place where there are few efforts to reach Chinese people with the Gospel.

Dong’s road to the U.S. wasn’t easy. During his early years in China, the government forced him to leave his family and become a farmer. During that time, he faced hardship and experienced the Lord’s provision, gaining a personal knowledge of the Lord and vowing to follow wherever He would lead. Soon after, Dong was selected by the government to study at a university and pursue medical degrees. He continued to seek God’s will and glorify Him, even while living in communist China.

“As I look back … I see how God has been with me all along the way,” Dong said, expressing confidence that God will continue to guide him in the years to come.

For more information on the NCMO, visit ncmissionsoffering.org.

Emily Rojas is a communications specialist with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.


Russian anti-evangelism law ends a ministry

September 2, 2016 | Posted in Persecution | By

Ruth and Donald Ossewaarde

Ruth and Donald Ossewaarde

by Diana Chandler

ORYOL, Russia (BP) — Missionaries Donald and Ruth Ossewaarde always suspected their Gospel ministry in Oryol, Russia, wouldn’t last when they began in 2002, he told Baptist Press by telephone from his home in the central Russian town of 320,000.

But he had not expected to be among the first people arrested under Russia’s new law prohibiting organizations from evangelizing outside church walls and without a government permit.

Two weeks after police interrupted Ossewaarde’s Sunday morning Bible study in his home with 15 students, arrested him and fined him 40,000 rubles, about $600, the Independent Baptist missionary said he will leave the country amid veiled threats against his life, even though he has appealed the charges against him.

“I really think that the political situation in Russia has reached a point where they are going to, one way or the other, they’re going to get rid of me,” he told BP. “So I really decided to end my operations here. It’s sad because there are people here that really enjoy what we do. It’s a big part of their life.”

Ossewaarde has conducted street evangelism, distributed printed materials and held weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings in his home. He has ended those outreaches, is awaiting a court date for his appeal, is trying to sell his apartment and house, and is making plans to return to the U.S.

“I’m very sad,” he said. “This is a dream that I’ve been living for 22 years since the first time I visited in 1994. It took a year or two for me to realize God was calling me to come over permanently, because I had just been making visits. In 1996 I realized this was my calling.”

As an Independent Baptist, he travelled the U.S. for several years to raise financial support among churches for the mission before moving to Ukraine in 1999 and Oryol, Russia, three years later.

“This has been my life, what I’ve lived for,” he said. “I guess we expected from the beginning that this wasn’t going to last. I guess we were surprised that it lasted as long as it did. But now it just seems like the window and the door of opportunity is finally closing.”

He has referred his Bible study participants and others to the Russian Baptist Church.

“But still,” he said of the Christians, “they’re just devastated.”

Ossewaarde was arrested Aug. 14 and forced to attend a hearing in the city’s Railway District Court that same day, with the representation of a court-appointed attorney who advised him to accept the verdict, pay the fine and leave the city, because anything might happen to him and his family, according to a press release on Ossewaarde’s website.

His wife has already returned to Illinois, where their home congregation Faith (Independent) Baptist Church is located in Bourbonnais.

“I didn’t feel that she was safe [here] after … I had a thinly veiled threat against myself and my wife so I just figured it was time for her to go home,” he said. “I want to complete the appeal process. If I can successfully challenge this it will make it easier on other missionaries that would probably otherwise be prosecuted.”

Ossewaarde was charged under Article 5.26, Part 5 of the new religion law for holding religious services in his home, advertising services on bulletin boards in nearby neighborhoods, and failing to give authorities written notification when he began his religious activities. He has hired private attorneys.

“What we have in our favor … is the way they wrote the law is very ineffective in accomplishing what they wanted to accomplish,” Ossewaarde said, clarifying that the law passed July 20 limits missionary activity by religious organizations in particular, and he operates independently of any group. “They wanted to make all missionary activity illegal. The law as written doesn’t apply to me, and that’s why I believe that we will win this appeal. But long term, obviously they can write another law that says missionary activity is just plain outlawed. I certainly consider myself a missionary.”

Five others had been arrested under the law as of Aug. 22, Forum 18 reported, including another Baptist who was fined 5,000 rubles; a Hare Krishna, acquitted; a Protestant, fined 50,000 rubles; a Pentecostal, who was to appear in court Aug. 29, and a Seventh-day Adventist, who was awaiting a trial date.

Ossewaarde had enjoyed religious freedom before the new law, although the Russian Orthodox Church held a religious monopoly of sorts.

“All other religious movements are looked at as foreign and suspicious and I’ve heard people say to each other that if you go to a foreign religion meeting that you’re not patriotic,” he said. “Anybody other than an Orthodox Christian is referred to as a sectarian or cultist. Up until recently, we had complete freedom to be able to distribute literature, talk to people on the street. We were even able to put literature in mail boxes.”

Ossewaarde first evangelized in Russia during a 1994 visit there after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“The first time I came over with a group of evangelists and pastors, we had two weeks of meetings and we just had thousands of people that responded to the Gospel invitations and it was very exciting back in those days,” he said. “We just thought there was going to be a great revival. It was going to sweep across Russia. And Russia and America were going to become great friends and it was just going to be a wonderful thing. And that great promise that we all hoped for just didn’t come to pass.”

Russia is now stressed economically, and political leaders blame America for the decline, Ossewaarde said.

“It’s a constant stream every day of anti-American and anti-foreign propaganda,” he said. “For them to go after a foreigner like me is good propaganda.”

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.