Thursday, June 22, 2006, June 20th

Here are a few things going on in the rest of the world while we Americans b*tch and moan about this and that.

CHINA (China Aid Association)
CAA learned that a well-known disabled Chinese House church pastor was formally arrested May 26, 2006. Pastor Wang Zaiqing, 43, was accused of illegally printing and distributing Bibles and other Christian literature. On May 26, Pastor Wang's wife, Zhang Hongyan, received a formal arrest warrant which stated Pastor Wang was suspected of "being involved in illegal business practices." He had been printing and distributing Bibles and other Christian literature to fellow believers free of charge to meet the rapid growth of believers. Legal experts say this is the third such case in which the Chinese government used a criminal business related charge against a house church pastor. "It's totally unacceptable for the Chinese authorities to arrest this pious crippled pastor simply for printing Bibles," said Rev. Bob Fu of CAA. Last April, Pastor Wang's house was searched twice and a number of items confiscated, including Christian literature, hymnals, bank cards and an electronic piano. Pastor Wang, crippled since the age of five, became a Christian in 1993 and later became a very well-known house church planter and preacher in several provinces. Since April 28, Pastor Wang was taken from his home and declared under 'criminal detention' by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) of Huainan City.

In 2000, Abraham Bentar, a Muslim, came to faith in Jesus Christ. When he was baptized three years later, he told his pastor that he wanted to evangelize Muslims. Since then, Abraham has been actively involved in evangelism to Muslims in Tasikmalaya, West Java through his clothing business. According to sources in Indonesia, Abraham was talking to his Muslim brothers on March 7 when three men burst into his home and assaulted him. He was dragged out of his home where a mob joined in, severely beating him until police intervened. Abraham was then charged with attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. In May, Abraham appeared in court. His brothers were among those who testified that he had tried to convert them to Christianity. The judge sentenced him to four and a half years in prison. When contacts spoke with Abraham's wife, Kristowati, she asked for three Bibles for her husband so that he could share them with his six cellmates.

Baptist Pastor Yaroslav Senyushkevich was fined $856 U.S. on May 18 for leading unregistered religious activity. This is three times the average monthly salary in Kazakhstan. Pastor Senyushkevich, who leads a congregation in the capital Astana, was tried by the capital's inter-district administrative court and fined. The Council of Baptist Churches objected to official demands that they register their congregations with the government. Baptists claim the registration applications in some regions of Kazakhstan require extensive information, such as details of members' ethnicity, family status, religious education of congregational leaders, age, type of work and "the most acute problems worrying parishioners", as well as details of members' political affiliation. "Such registration is a web it's almost impossible to break free of," the Council said.

INDIA (Compass Direct)
The body of Prem Kumar, a 67-year-old preacher from the Church of South India, was found on June 8 in a forest in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh state. Local authorities denied any religious motive in his death, saying personal rivalry was the most likely reason for the murder. Kumar's son, however, said his father had no enemies and strongly suspected Hindu extremists. A young man had approached Pastor Kumar early that morning and requested he hold a prayer meeting in Rampur Thanda village the same day. Though suspicious, Kumar agreed. When he arrived at the pick-up point, strangers were waiting. Kumar phoned his son and asked him to call frequently. Kumar's cell phone went dead at about 11 a.m. When Kumar's body was discovered, his head was crushed beyond recognition, apparently with heavy stones, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported. A sub-inspector of the Kotagiri police station said the body was identified based on the description of the clothes worn by the preacher. Andhra Pradesh state is ruled by the Congress Party, with Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, a Christian, as the chief minister. Religious tensions have been high in the state, with Hindu extremists accusing Reddy of giving a free hand to Christian missionaries.

LAOS/NORTH KOREA (Compass Direct)
The 10 North Korean refugees and two South Korean activists arrested in Laos in May were released into the hands of South Korean embassy staff on Saturday, June 10. The communist authorities in Laos had arrested the 12 on May 31 as they attempted to reach safety in neighboring Thailand. Leaving North Korea without official permission is a serious crime. Those who return with a Bible or admit having contact with Christians in China face certain torture and imprisonment, and, in some extreme cases, execution.

What was the score on that Ghana-USA World Cup game again?

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