THE PARISH REGISTER
St. Andrews-Cheney Memorial Church
September 1997

 

The Church Worldwide

[The following articles were taken from the May/June edition of Leadership Alert published by the National Association of Evangelicals.]

Persecuted Christian Chinese Family Free in USA
Bob and Heidi Fu - known in China as Fu Xi Qiu and Cai Bo Chun - arrived safely in the United States on June 28. Upon their arrival, the Fus faxed this message from Dulles airport to NAE's Don Argue: "We really want to express our deep gratitude to you and all your staff members who have worked so hard to help us in the past eight months."

Since the Fus did not possess legal citizenship papers to live in Hong Kong, their Christian friends around the world feared for their safety and freedom as China resumed sovereignty in Hong Kong.

The Fus were once detained for weeks in China for teaching student Bible studies on college campuses and for their involvement in training house church pastors. They fled China after being detained in the spring of 1996 for involvement in Christian activities, including the printing and distribution of Christian literature.

NAE raised the issue of the Fus' freedom to a high enough level so that the couple, their two-month old baby and another Christian worker, Zheng Longfei, won the right to come to the U.S. as refugees. NAE's World Relief is helping them resettle in this country with support of Christian friends and churches.

NAE staff advocate for people persecuted for their religion, and in this instance, asked U.S. government officials to grant the Fus refugee status to move to the United States. Because of NAE's involvement on the State Department's Advisory Committee on Religious Liberty, chaired by Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck, NAE was able to play an instrumental role in persuading the Administration to secure the family's release. See the "Statement of Conscience concerning worldwide Religious Persecution" available on NAE's website [www.nae.net].

Rebuilding Burned Churches: More Help Needed for Congregations
Churches leaders from across America gathered June 9 in Washington, D.C. to hear updates on efforts to rebuild African-American churches burned in acts of arson and racism since 1995.

While many churches have been restored, 300 continue to need help in reconstruction, Don Argue, president of NAE, and Clarence Hilliard, of the National Black Evangelical Association (NBEA), learned.

Seven churches have requested more than $220,000 in supplies, technical support and volunteers from World Relief, NAE's disaster response arm. NAE, NBEA and World Relief have been working together for the past year to help rebuild churches. Argue adds, "I appeal to all to continue supporting this effort with time, money and prayer."

For details on how your church or denomination can help, call World Relief at 1 800 535-5433.

Crackdowns on Christianity Continue Worldwide
Persecution of Christians is increasing and becoming a frighteningly familiar way of life for believers around the world.

Just last month, according to a Religious News Service report, Russian leaders announced restrictions against religious activity outside the state-recognized church - requiring both parents to approve of a child's decision to convert.

That's why this year's second annual International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church, scheduled for Nov. 16, is so crucial.

"Christianity is on the rise. We are going to see an increase in persecution in areas where people don't want it to grow," explains Rev. Steve Haas, who is spearheading the International Day of Prayer.

In some countries, like China, there are ever-increasing reports of Christian leaders being jailed or in hiding: "The church is severely underground in China," Haas reports. "Out of the 1.2 billion people in China, 50 million are Christian and the church is growing in an unheard of way."

Contacts with the church inside China have reported increased crackdowns on the house church movement, he adds.

"Sudan continues to be the hot country," Haas continues. In an attempt to spread radical Islam throughout the country, believers throughout southern Sudan are threatened.

It was reported that soldiers, most unpaid by the government, have invaded Christian enclaves, enslaving children, raping women, killing men, and looting entire villages.

"These children often are sold into slavery for as little as $15," Haas adds.

Evangelicals in the United States hear these stories and, as Haas typifies the normal response, "We are at a loss as to what to do. The message of persecuted Christians is so horrific and removed from our own experience...news too easily creates paralysis vs. appropriate advocacy and prayer."

What Can We Do?
The day of prayer for the persecuted church affords Christians the opportunity to take proactive steps to help persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. On Sept. 28, Christians will begin to pray for the persecuted church worldwide.

Then, in the United States, these days of prayer will culminate with a final day of prayer on Sunday Nov. 16, marking the struggle of persecuted believers around the globe.

Action we can take together...
IDOP Coordinator Steve Haas asks denomination and church leaders to:

1) Get informed - helping parishioners mobilize prayers based on information vs. emotion. One good source on the internet to check for information is: ww.persecutedchurch.org

2) Pray - Chinese prisoners have said, "don't try to get us out of prison, but don't fail to pray for us."

3) Appropriately advocate - Write congressmen; talk about the issue in Bible studies, provide discipleship in the theology of suffering.

Other ways to advocate for persecuted Christians:

  • Befriend refugees in your own community - those who have been forced to flee their homelands because of their beliefs. You can sponsor a refugee through NAE's World Relief by calling 1 800 535-5433.
  • Participate in NAE's "Letters to China Campaign," advocating for imprisoned Christians. For information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Letters to China, NAE Office for Governmental Affairs, 1023 15th St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005.

Freedom of Worship & Ministry Threatened in Russia
A new law passed by the Russian parliament threatens to deprive most Protestant religious organizations and citizens of their legal rights and to close down many Western missions in Russia. On July 4, the Communist-dominated Federation Council approved a law on religion passed by the Russian Duma. If signed into law by President Boris Yeltsin, this statute would severely restrict the religious activities of its citizens and foreign missionaries.

The only religions to gain from the new law would be those recognized by the Parliament as having historical or cultural significance: Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. All religious groups must re-register with the government or face closure. However, religious groups registered after 1982 - even those affiliated with the favored Orthodox, Islamic, Judaism and Buddhist faiths - are not allowed to re-register and would lose most of their current legal rights.

Foreign missionaries would only be able to come to Russia at the invitation of organizations that existed in 1982 or earlier. With the possible exception of members of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, virtually all Protestants groups would be adversely affected by this law.

During the last seven years of freedom, thousands of new church and parachurch ministries have begun in Russia. Russian Christians are urging American Christians to join them in prayer that religious freedom would be preserved in Russia.

Church and missions leaders are encouraging American Christians to:

  • Pray that religious freedom would be preserved in Russia.
  • Contact representatives in the House and Senate by calling 1 202 224-3121, asking them to join the letter to President Yeltsin being circulated by U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).
  • Call the White House at 1 202 456-1111 and ask that the President continue efforts to persuade Russia not to adopt this law.
  • Contact President Yeltsin with copies to U.S. officials stating the hope that he will reject the Law on Freedom of Conscience adopted on July 4, 1997, by the Russian Duma.
            President Boris Yeltsin,
            c/o Presidential Administration
            Staraya Ploschad, D. 4
            Moscow, Russia 103132

Letters and calls to the Congress and White House will also be helpful throughout the summer and early fall, if President Yeltsin rejects the law in its present form.


 

In Memoriam

Carleene V. Olander, age 93, passed away on July 9, 1997. She was the wife of the late Arthur Olander and mother of Norma Florek, Betty Elliott, Gail Wright and Ken Olander. Mrs. Olander was a life long member of this parish, but was living in Anaheim, CA at the time of her death. Our prayers and sympathies are extended to her family.


Missionary of The Month

Sue Brodish
Christian Kindergarten
Siebenburgener Weg 16
34613 Schwalmstedt-1
GERMANY

4th Annual
Spaghetti Dinner
October 18, 1997
5pm - 7pm

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