Eritrean Church Leader in Prison for 12 Years

haile naigzhi

As Jubilee Campaign has previously reported, Eritrea is one of the hardest places in the world to be a Christian due to intense persecution and its restrictive government. Church leader Haile Naigzhi is one of many church leaders who remains in prison today after being arrested 12 years ago in 2004.

In 2002, the Eritrean government outlawed all religions except Islam and the following Christian denominations: Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, and the Roman Catholic Church. Because of this, many non-denominational, Evangelical, and Pentecostal Christians have been arrested due to their faith, and many remain in prison with no knowledge of when or if they will ever be released.

Christians often are forced to flee for fear of persecution or arrest. This is what happened to Naigzhi’s wife and three children. After years of waiting and hoping Naigzhi would be released from his dungeon-like prison, his family was forced to leave the area in 2013 after receiving information that the government wanted to incarcerate them all.

They have now found asylum in an undisclosed place outside of Eritrea where they can openly practice their faith. The family has shown enormous resilience and faith in the Lord, but they still miss Naigzhi dearly and hope for his release.

Please keep Naigzhi and his family in your prayers. Here is also a list of other church leaders known to be imprisoned in Eritrea who need your intercessory prayers:

Abune Antonios- head of the Orthodox church.

Ogbamichael Teklehaimanot- pastor at Kale Hiwot Church

Kidane Weldou- pastor at Full Gospel Church

Kiflu Gebremeskel- founder of Southwest Full Gospel Church

Million Gebreselasie- pastor of Massawa Rhema Church

Futsum Gebrenegus- Orthodox priest

Gebremedhin Gebregiorsis- Orthodox priest

Tekleab Menghisteab- Orthodox priest

Join Jubilee Campaign in praying for Nguyen Van Dai

Jubilee Campaign is partnering with other organizations to pray for Nguyen Van Dai during this upcoming week, and send letters of support to his wife. Dai is a prominent Christian lawyer and religious freedom defender.

Dai was one of the first lawyers in Vietnam to take on cases involving violations against Christians. Incensed by stories of house churches raided by the police, Dai became committed to defending human rights – at great personal cost. As a result of his work on “sensitive” cases, he served a four year prison sentence for “spreading propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. He was released in 2011 and put under probation/house arrest, which ended in March 2015.

While under probation/house arrest, Dai was closely monitored by police and security agents. His home was attacked by people believed to be hired by the government, and on at least one occasion he was prevented from going to church. Then on 6 December 2015, Dai was badly beaten after being involved in a conference on human rights for Catholic citizens.

On 16 December 2015, Dai was again detained for “spreading propaganda”. His colleague, Ms. Le Thu Ha, was taken into custody on the same day. Both Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha are being held in prison in Hanoi.

If you are interested in sending a letter of encouragement to Dai’s wife, please reply to this email and we will send you her name and mailing address. Out of respect for Dai’s wife, we are asking for her mailing address to not be shared on any social media platforms. We also ask for you to avoid any political or anti-government remarks. Jubilee Campaign has also ordered postcards with pre-made messages to Dai’s wife. If you are interested in sending one of these postcards, please email us your mailing address and we will send you one right away.  You can write to:  jubilee@jubileecampaign.org

Please join us in praying for lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and for his family and colleagues.

Monday: Pray for Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, that justice will be done and he will be released and allowed to continue his work defending religious minorities and other victims of oppression.

Tuesday: Give thanks for Dai’s courage and for his faith in God despite difficult circumstances.

Wednesday: Pray for Dai’s young colleague, Le Thu Ha, aged 33, who is also in detention and is accused of serious crimes against the state.

Thursday: Give thanks for the growth of Christianity in Vietnam and the many thriving churches and missions in the country.

Friday: Pray for comfort and strength for the families of Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha, and for peace about the future.

Saturday: Give thanks for the international community’s attention to Dai’s case and a new understanding of the situation for religious groups in Vietnam.

Sunday: Pray for wisdom for lawyers and advocates in Vietnam who are working for religious freedom for Christians and other minorities.

Thousands of Nigerian Christians Killed; Jubilee Campaign Leads Protests

On April 1, Jubilee Campaign took part in a timely rally, outside of the White House protesting against massacres in Nigeria that have killed thousands of Christians. Our protest, which took place while Nigerian President Buhari was in Washington, D.C., demanded action from the Obama and Buhari administrations to stop the violence conducted by a Nigerian tribe called the Fulani whose primary livelihood is in cattle herding and who are mostly Muslim.  Victims of their violence have been agrarian Nigerians of indigenous tribes, who are predominantly Christian. In conjunction with this protest, Jubilee Campaign sent letters to President Obama and President Buhari outlining our concerns and requests. Because the US has great influence and strong relations with Nigeria, we requested to President Obama that he urge President Buhari to take action, and to President Buhari that he put an end to impunity in the violent raids which have killed thousands of innocent children, women, and men.

The Fulani herdsmen are a group of nomadic cattle herders who have affected northern and central Nigerian communities with their violent attacks that include murder, destruction of homes and crops, and land grabbing. Because the Fulani are herdsmen, they often overtake land and use it for their cattle grazing. Though the Fulani have had a history of violence, they have never conducted so many systematic and lethal attacks as has occurred in recent years.

During their attacks, groups of armed Fulani, often hundreds at a time, storm a village and either kill people with their machetes or guns or burn their homes trapping the families inside. Concerns have risen over the apparent rise in radicalization of the Fulani. Many survivors of attacks have reported that the attackers cry “Allahu Akhbar,” meaning “Allah is greater.” The group has also recently gained much more advanced weapons than they have had in the past, such as AK47s. Because of these developments, many locals speculate that the Fulani herdsmen are closely linked with Boko Haram.

Just last Monday, an attack was reported in two villages, Dori and Mesuma. Local police have reported that at least 15 people were killed, while resident reports claim over 40 were killed. Though police officers tried to respond to the attack, they were unable to access the villages by vehicle due to poor road conditions. An unconfirmed report claims that the attack was conducted in response to a member of the Fulani herdsmen being stopped from raping one of the women in the community.

The violence that Nigerian communities are facing is startling. Amid continuing attacks, Jubilee Campaign is persistently taking up efforts to call for justice against perpetrators and the protection of victimized communities.

Please fervently pray for peace in Nigeria.

Read the letter that we sent to President Obama here.

 

Terrorist Attack in Pakistan Kills Scores on Easter Sunday

Pakistan bombing

Christians in Pakistan were met with tragedy on Easter Sunday. At least 72 people were killed including 29 children, and over 340 injured in a suicide blast at Gulshan Iqbal Park in Lahore. It is believed that that approximately 20 Christians were killed, and over 200 Christians injured.

Around the time of the blast, an estimated 3,000 people were at the park, many of which are believed to be Christians there in celebration following Easter services. The suicide bomber blew himself up at an exit gate of the park where many women and children were.

A spokesman of Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a group that is related to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed the group was responsible for the attack stating, “We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter.”

The attack has raised the issue of security. Many eyewitnesses claimed that there was no security at or around the park. Following the attacks the Punjab government announced there would be three days of mourning, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting to analyze the security situation.

The blast reaffirmed the State Department’s need to designate Pakistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC). CPC’s are countries that commit systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. The State Department is then required to provide the Secretary of State with specific policy options to address the violations. The past few years the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended Pakistan to be designated as a CPC, but it has yet to make State Department’s list.

Please join us in praying for all those affected by the attack in Pakistan. We pray that Pakistani Christians will not be discouraged in their faith, but have full confidence in the Lord during this time.

(The above picture was sent to us by The Zindagi TV Team. To learn more, visit https://lifeforpakistan.com/Media-Outreach)

 

“Living in North Korea is like Living in Another Universe”

On March 18, Jubilee Campaign attended a discussion panel hosted by the US Mission to the United Nations, where four North Korean women shared their testimonies of the atrocities that they faced in North Korea and during their journeys to escape. These women’s stories are similar to millions who live in North Korea.

Young-soon Kim spent 9 years in a political prison camp, along with her family. She found out after she was released that she had been imprisoned due to her friendship with a hidden mistress of Kim Jong-il. Of her entire family, only Ms. Kim and her son survived the camp, and still her son lives with crippling mental disabilities because of the scarring experiences and torture he faced in North Korea. Ms. Kim says, “If you really want to establish peace in the world, I think it’s as urgent as dealing with North Korea’s nuclear issue to resolve or get rid of all the political prison camps in North Korea.”

Lucia Jang’s first husband sold their son, without her knowing, to a wealthy North Korean family for a small amount of money and some bars of soap. Lucia later traveled back and forth to China to sell goods in order to provide for her starving parents. On one of her journeys she was taken and sold to a Chinese man who locked her in his house and continuously sexually abused her. She escaped his home and hid in a farm along the border where she fell in love with the farmers’ son. Chinese authorities caught her and sent her back to North Korea where she was imprisoned in a concentration camp for one year. After her release she fled back to China to be with her lover. There she became pregnant a second time, but she had to return to North Korea because the father’s family did not want the child. After returning, she was imprisoned again and authorities demanded that she abort the baby. Not wanting to lose a second child, she received help from her father and permanently escaped North Korea.

Hyeon-seo Lee is a young woman who describes living in North Korea like living in another universe. When she was a young girl, her house caught on fire. Without checking on his children, Ms. Lee’s father risked his life to run back in the house and save the portraits of Kim Jong-il. At the time, it was not surprising to Ms. Lee that her father would risk his life to save the dictator’s portraits. This is what any North Korean father would have done. If the portraits were not salvaged and left to burn, he would have faced punishment. It was only once Ms. Lee escaped North Korea that she realized North Koreans were brainwashed to care more about their leader than their children. Ms. Lee also recalled the harsh abuses women face not only in North Korea, but also in China where they are commonly trafficked as slaves or sent back to North Korea.

Now a young mom, Eun-ju Kim lived most of her life never thinking she would become a mother because she lived in constant fear that she wouldn’t live to see the next day. Her family was struck hard by a famine in the 1990s. In 1997, her father died from starvation. One day, in desperation her mother and sister left Eun-ju Kim at home to go find food. Days later, thinking she would die of hunger before her family returned, Ms. Kim wrote her will as a mere 11 year old. Fortunately, her mother came back that day, though empty handed. They were then forced to live homeless. In the winter, they fled to China to escape starvation, only to have their struggles of hunger be replaced with struggles of human trafficking. Chinese authorities sent Ms. Kim back to North Korea where she experienced horrifying treatment upon return. Describing North Korea, Ms. Kim says, “to them, you are not human.”

Ambassador Power of the US, Ambassador Oh of South Korea, Ambassador Yoshikawa of Japan and  Ambassador Wilson of the UK all voiced their concerns for North Korean women and citizens and gave a commitment to take action for the human rights of North Koreans.

Please pray for the millions suffering in North Korea and the world leaders who have committed to fight for justice.

View an editorial of the event published in the Washington Times here.