Persecution News
October 23, 2001

“If one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27).

Government troops said Tuesday they have cornered Muslim guerrillas who are holding two American missionaries in dense jungle in the southern Philippines and have appealed to the rebels to surrender, the Associated Press reported.
The fighting comes a day after the Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead Martin and Gracia Burnham of Wichita, Kan., and Martin Burnham appealed to the military to stop its assault in a call from the rebels to a Philippine radio station.
Col. Francisco Gudani said his soldiers spotted the Burnhams Tuesday among the trapped rebels on the island of Basilan. He issued a radio appeal for the rebels to surrender.
``There is heavy fighting right now in Basilan and we have visual contact with the enemies,'' Gudani said. ``The Burnham couple are with the gunmen whom soldiers are now fighting in the hinterlands.''
At least 11 Abu Sayyaf guerrillas have been killed and two soldiers wounded in the fighting, military officials said. The guerrillas have escaped similar assaults in the past. Col. Francisco Gudani said his men could see the rebels, who are holding missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham of Wichita, Kan., on the southern island of Basilan. At least 11 guerrillas were killed and two soldiers were wounded in the fighting, the military said. Mr. Burnham made an "on-air" appearance on the radio over the weekend, before the fighting began. He was able to give birthday greetings to his daughter. Martin also indicated that they were doing as well as can be expected. They were tired and weary of the environment and some constant moving that's been taking place.
A recent report quotes rebel leaders as saying they're kill the missionaries if the Philippine military doesn't stop its offensive. Ross refutes that claim. "Our reading of the transcripts we see no death threat on the part of the Sayyaf group toward (the) Burnhams. Abu Sabaya at one point say that they are safe with him and that the threat really is from military engagements." Ross is asking Christians to pray for the Burnhams safety as military action continues.

Gunmen abducted an Italian priest after an evening Mass in the southern Philippines on Wednesday, police and the military said.
According to the Associated Press, the Rev. Giuseppi Piarantoni, a missionary in his mid-40s, was seized in the town of Dimataling shortly before 7 p.m., police said, without providing more details. Police said they were in pursuit of the kidnappers.
The military said eight men kidnapped the priest from a church in the small town. No group claimed responsibility, but police said they suspect the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf, which is thought to have links to terror suspect Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.
On Wednesday, soldiers said they trapped an Abu Sayyaf unit holding two Americans in dense jungle and appealed to them to surrender.

Southern Baptist missionaries forced to relocate because of terrorist threats against Americans and Christians worldwide are seeking God's wisdom about how to get the gospel to the people groups they serve. "There are two meanings to the word 'retreat,'" said Avery Willis, International Missions Board official. "One is 'to withdraw from the battle.' The other describes a spiritual retreat - a time to step back -- in order to return to the battle and be more effective," according to Baptist Press News.
Willis recently visited relocated missionaries and advised that many are using their retreat time to regroup and strategize about how to continue work among their people group ... Sometimes the move is to another country, and sometimes it is simply from rural areas to cities. "We've got missionaries who are frustrated that they have to move out of their place of service at this moment ... No one wants to leave," he said.
"They recognize that they will have to do things in a different way in many locations. But they are focused on the same strategy – reaching every people group, giving every person a chance to hear, understand and respond to the gospel," Willis said.

Catholics and Protestants, who have quietly practiced their faith for decades, are worried they could be singled out for harassment or attack by a misguided sense of vengeance, as reported by Fox News from Islamabad, Pakistan. "Generally the relationship between Christians and Muslims is good here," says the Rev. Irshad John, acting vicar of St. Thomas Anglican Church in Islamabad. "But when these kinds of things happen, a few extremist, fundamentalist elements become angry ... and that's a danger."
John explains, "We live in fear of retaliation, not from what may happen in Afghanistan, but also what may happen to Muslims in the U.S. ... we fear extremists here will take it out on us." Yet, John, who ministers to a thriving congregation of more than 800, proudly says his flock has kept its faith. Catholics and Protestants make up about half of Pakistan's religious minorities, according to John, putting their number at a bit less than 2 million.
The church itself is bright and modern, constructed almost entirely of red brick in the early 1990s. But there is no mistaking the unique culture of Pakistani society at St. Thomas. At the Sunday 9:15 a.m. service, hundreds of parishioners left their shoes at the front door, as they would at a mosque. The congregation was partially segregated by gender, with most women sitting on one side of the aisle, and more men on the other. Several dozen people in the front rows knelt on the ground throughout the service, another common sight in mosques. The messages from the congregation and the pulpit were, not surprisingly, about faith, healing and forgiveness.

The trial of eight foreign aid workers accused of promoting Christianity in Afghanistan resumed in Kabul on Oct. 14. However, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maulawi Noor Mohammad Saqib had yet to appear in the court, and it was not clear how the trial would proceed in Kabul, which has been under attack for several days by U.S. forces.
Two Australians, two Americans and four Germans have been held in a detention center for more than two months, as reported in The Courier-Mail, and of Australia. The eight - all working for German-based Shelter Now International (SNI) - were arrested in early August on charges of promoting Christianity in the deeply Islamic country.
The lawyer for the eight, Pakistani Atif Ali Khan, had presented his written defense in Arabic. The charges, which they have denied, can carry the death penalty, but Khan said he was optimistic the judge would show compassion if they were convicted. Judge Saqib has promised the trial will be fair, despite the U.S. raids, although other Taliban officials had said previously that Kabul would consider releasing them if "U.S. aggression" stopped. There has been no word of the fate of 16 Afghan SNI staff arrested at the same time as the eight Western workers.

The Associated Press
Published: Oct 18, 2001
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) - A gunman shot and wounded an American aid worker and his 7-year-old daughter on a beach near the Mauritanian capital, police said.
Government officials ruled out any political motivation for the shootings Wednesday night. Police said the beach, a little over a mile west of Nouakchott, was frequented by robbers and was known to be dangerous. The assailant fled, and police made no arrests.
Norman Ray, director of the U.S. aid group World Vision in Mauritania, and his daughter were treated at a clinic in the capital. Doctors said the injuries were not life-threatening.
Mauritania, a largely Muslim nation on Africa's western coast, has been peaceful since the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.
(FOTC editor’s note—World Vision is a Christian organization. Thank God Mauritania has been peaceful and that no incidents of persecution have been reported.)

(International)--Our next story focuses on the global atmosphere greeting what should be a joyous occasion for a missions agency. Instead, for FARMS international , international tensions have moved a 40th anniversary celebration into more serious territory.
FARMS International's Joseph Richter says their work may keep the doors open even if Muslim solidarity strengthens. "Our program is more vital today than ever, and many places of the world are just not open to normal mission activity. These small loans help poor Christians meet their own needs as well as the needs of their churches through their tithings and offerings." Richter adds that their workers have felt the impact already.
He asks believers to pray. "Our programs are also helping in some of the most troubled spots in this world. We're encouraged because the believers there are showing great courage even though the pressures of persecution are intense right now."

PERSECUTION NEWS is a non-regular periodic service of Foot of the Cross Publications. Articles are copied from various sources, including Newsweek, Australian Broadcasting Corp, Compass Direct, Religious News Today and FridayFax and others as noted with each article. Persecution News is published for the sole purpose of disseminating information about persecution of Christians around the world for the purpose of prayer, and subscriptions are free.

The INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH (IDOP) is upon us! On Sunday November 4, 2001, thousands of churches throughout the world will be remembering, praying for and calling public attention to the persecuted Christians by participating in IDOP activities on that day, and for weeks beforehand.
Last year, many Christians hung mini Christmas lights, made by imprisoned Christians in China, on their front window and lit them for the world to see as a show of support for the persecuted brethren. You might even write to your local paper saying that you are going to do this and why.