Voice of the Martyrs

Global News Briefs

North Korea's famine grows

Current food shortages have made it harder for North Korea to remain isolated from the world. The average individual was receiving 100 grams, or about 350 calories of rice per day. People were supplementing that with roots, Ieaves and bark foraged from the countryside. UN officials say years of economic and agricultural mismanagement, compounded by the collapse of the former Soviet Union, have left the country unable to provide food for its people (The Australian, 20 March 1997).

Late last year VOM shipped a 40-foot container with 10 tonnes of corn to North Korea with the help of another organisation. Many Christian groups have joined in this effort of sending needed food items to this spiritually and physically hungry nation.

Pray that these shipments will overwhelm the North Korean communist government with the Iove of Christ and soften their hearts towards Christians.

Although there are a few church buildings open there, mainly to impress tourists, The Voice of the Martyrs continues to smuggle Bibles and aid to house churches in North Korea.

Visions of the cross

Many Muslims are becoming Christians in Eritrea and Ethiopia according to Servants Fellowship International. In one community in Ethiopia, some 300 to 400 Muslims -- including some mullahs -- received Christ after seeing a vision while praying at the local mosque.

"At first they thought it was the sunlight or shadows, but it wasn't," stated one observer. "It was a very real vision of the cross. They were convicted of sin and became Christians."
-- Pulse, March 1997

Government policy converts Chinese Muslims

Many Han Chinese have settled in Xinjiang Province as part of government policy. This has resulted in Muslims being converted to Christianity.

A Han Christian was working one day in his fields when a Muslim woman came to ask for help hecause her husband was sick. Her husband recovered from a long sickness after the Christians prayed. He became a Christian and shared with his friends who also converted to Christianity. Now they have joined the church and worship with the Han Chinese every week.
-- Pray for China, January/February 1997

Crackdown in Vietnam

Since last June, the Vietnamese government has turned up the pressure on the country's illegal house churches.

Thirteen known house church leaders are in jail, serving a minimum of 20 months each. In addition, authorities have begun raiding churches, arresting entire congregations for short periods. Also, fines are being increased.

"We must force all illegal churches to register under the Tinh Lanh churches," said an official of the Ministry of Socialism and Culture, "if not, we will destroy all of them. We should use every means to intimidate them until they join."
-- Pulse, March 1997

146 Chinese Christians beaten

Sister C. visited a city where a leading house church pastor asked if she possibly had any Study Bibles for them. The paster was overwhelmed when the answer was positive. Sister C. commented: "The longing is deep, and the need simply overwhelming."

Two of the evangelists in Sister C's house church group are presently in jail for preaching the Gospel. Once the police broke up a meeting where 146 attended. They beat them with rods and wires and forced several of them to stand bent over for more than 3-4 hours at a time. If they moved, they would be beaten. Some of the leaders were given three year prison terms.

In the midst of the harassment, persecution and many kinds of difficulties the Kingdom of God is continuing to spread in China at an unbelievable rate. This worries the communist authorities and they are trying to further control and restrict religious activities.

In response to the headline on an Asian journal, "God is back", one party official in Beijing explained. ..If God had the face of a seventy-year-old man, we wouldn't care if he was back; but he has the face of millions of twenty-year-olds, so we are very worried."
New Life League, Japan. February 1997.

A life given for Christ

In our November 1996 newsletter we reported the murder of Iranian pastor Mohammed Bagher Yusefi, also known as Pastor Ravanbakhsh. This 34 year old Muslim convert to Christianity was pastor of various churches in the 1980s and 1990s, all of which were closed and forced to go underground by Iran's Ministry of lslamic Guidance.

Pastor Ravanbakhsh also helped raise the two sons of Rev. Mehdi Dihaj who was killed after nine years in Iran's prisons.

Ravanbakhsh means "soul giver". He gave his body and soul for Christ. May this courageous soul-giver inspire each one of us to offer our all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs

Serving the persecuted Church, the mission works in over 50 countries. To help support the ministry, you may contact the Australian mission by email on:
[email protected]

or write to them:
The Voice of the Martyrs
PO Box 598
Penrith NSW 2751


For more information on Bible studies available, visit the Churchlink site on the World Wide Web at http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink. Enquiries to: [email protected]