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The Voice of the Martyrs

"Remember those who are in
prison, as though in prison with
them, and those who are mistreated,
since you also are in the body."
~ Hebrews 13:3 ESV

SYRIA: Car Bomb Attack on Church

Sources: Middle East Concern, AsiaNews, Voice of America

Bomb attack on Syrian-Orthodox church in Qamishli - Photo: Voice of America
Photo: Voice of America

On July 11th, the Syrian-Orthodox church in Qamishli was the target of a car bomb attack. Although there were no known fatalities, at least eleven people were injured. Cars and buildings in the area, including the church facility, sustained serious damages. According to one source, the injuries would have been far worse had the attack happened 30 minutes earlier when the vespers (evening prayers) had ended.

Blame has been placed on the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group but, at last report, there has been no official claim of responsibility. While American-backed forces declared victory over ISIS in March, local cells continue to pose a threat to the local population. For more information on persecution in Syria, go to our country report.

Praise God that this recent bombing attack did not cause any fatalities nor worse damages. Pray for the rebuilding efforts of these targeted church members, asking the Lord to provide the means for restoration and to encourage them throughout the process. Also intercede for Syria's governing authorities as they seek to establish adequate defenses for their citizens' safety and attempt to resolve this bombing case. May those responsible for the attack be brought to justice and realize their need for the forgiveness and grace of God.

CUBA: Defenders of Religious Freedom Blocked from Meetings

Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Morning Star News

Alain Toledano Valiente - Photo: Facebook / Alain Toledano Valiente
Alain Toledano Valiente
Photo: Facebook / Alain Toledano Valiente

The United States Department of State has been hosting a Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom event in Washington, D.C. from July 16th to 18th. Representatives from around the world have gathered together to discuss this major issue. For some representatives from Cuba, however, attendance was blocked by the Cuban government.

Ricardo Fernandez Izaguirre, an independent journalist and outspoken advocate for religious freedom in the country, was detained on July 12th and has not been heard from since. Attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful, and his cell phone appears to be disconnected. The reason for his detention is unknown.

While two church leaders were attempting to board flights for the meetings, they were informed by customs officials that they are restricted from leaving the country. Moises de Prada serves as superintendent of the Assemblies of God churches in Cuba, while Alida Leon Baez is president of the Evangelical League of Cuba. Both are founding members of the newly established Cuban Evangelical Alliance.

According to a statement from Rev. Baez, Cuban law restricts travel only against those subject to criminal proceedings or for national security reasons. Just prior to this, both of these leaders had travelled outside the country without any problems. Another church leader blocked from leaving the county while attempting to go through customs was Alain Toledano Valiente, who openly condemned the Cuban regime on social media following his detention. In fact, he was featured in one of our previously posted news stories in 2016, shortly after his church building was demolished (see this report).

Two weeks ago, when Dariel Llanes from the Western Convention Baptist Church of Cuba was attempting to renew his passport in order to attend the Washington meetings, officials refused the renewal.

Pray for the nation of Cuba, asking that the work of God will spread throughout this island, despite opposition from governmental forces. May those who have been restricted from leaving the country be at liberty to effectively proclaim the Gospel in their nation as representatives of the Lord Himself...the honourably addressed "King of kings" of Scripture. Pray that the meetings in Washington will result in meaningful action and a beneficial outcome.


CHINA: Pastor Cao Faces a "Paper Trial"

Sources: ChinaAid, Church in Chains

John Cao - Photo: Ben Cao via ChinaAid
John Cao
Photo: Ben Cao via ChinaAid

American pastor John Cao and his co-worker, Jing Ruxia, were detained in 2017 after being accused of "organizing illegal border crossings" between Myanmar and China (see our previous report). Pastor Cao was sentenced to seven years in prison and Jing to one year. Although the accused pastor has appealed the sentence, the hearing has been pushed back several times.

Last week, the hearing was scheduled for August 22nd. However, Pastor Cao's lawyer received notice on July 12th that there will be no hearing after all; instead, the lawyers must submit any arguments on paper by July 17th. The court would then consider the arguments and render a decision. ChinaAid founder Bob Fu has condemned the process as a "sham" and a "trial session on paper only."

Pastor John Cao, known by the name of Cao Sanqiang in China, is able to receive letters from fellow believers around the world. As he reads English well, please consider writing him a letter of encouragement -- assuring him of your prayers -- to the following address:

Cao Sanqiang
The Detention Center of Menglian County
Pu'er City, Yunan Province, China

Before sending, please carefully read the listed guidelines for writing letters which can be found at

Thank you for upholding Pastor Cao during the difficult time of his incarceration. Pray that the appeal will be successful and that he will be able to resume his ministry to the Wa people along the Myanmar/China border, as well as the members of his church in North Carolina. As the Holy Spirit mediates on his behalf, may the hearts of China's judicial and governmental leaders be touched by God's divine presence and love. Since they are members of His beloved creation, He longs to have a meaningful relationship with each of them too!

If you would like to post a prayer of praise or petition on behalf of our persecuted family around the globe, visit VOMC's prayer wall.

The Persecution & Prayer Alert is a ministry of:
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, P.O. Box 608, Streetsville, Ontario, L5M 2C1
Tel. (905) 670-9721 Website:

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