What is Release International?
Between 40 and 50 years ago a Romanian Pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, was imprisoned for 14 years because he would not acknowledge the totalitarian government of Communist Romania to be supreme over God.
He was tortured in prison, and when released continued to preach the Christian gospel. He was later ransomed from Romania and travelled the world telling of the persecution of Christian prisoners for their faith – he formed ‘The Christian Mission to the Communist World’, which, after the collapse of Communism in many countries, expanded to become ‘Release International’, supporting many millions of Christians who are imprisoned and persecuted for their faith, in either Communist or Islamic countries.
What does Release do?
The areas of concern of Release are fivefold – Showing God’s compassion; Serving God’s church; Sharing God’s love; Spreading God’s word; Speaking as God’s advocates.
It is estimated that up to 250 million Christians are persecuted in some way or another for their faith every year. Release concentrates on some of the most notorious countries – North Korea, Indonesia, Northern Nigeria, Eritrea, Vietnam, Sudan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia and Afghanistan, but there are another 15 or so countries which are monitored and reports received of incidents of persecution and torture.
To address these concerns, Release supports individual needs of families where the main breadwinner is in prison; endeavours to help family members start up small businesses as well as developing local industry particularly for young women; supports local advocates in legal actions and prison visiting; and seeks to enable persecuted Christians escape from their captors and settle in free countries. In addition Release promotes regular petitions to heads of Governments and Ambassadors of countries where there is little evidence of freedom of religion – there is a current petition appealing to the Pakistan Government for the abolition of the blasphemy laws which are often used to imprison Christians.
Release publishes a free monthly magazine, called ‘Release’, monthly prayer leaflets and regular e-mails appealing for prayer for reported incidents in various countries – the latest highlighting incidents in India, Pakistan and Indonesia, where there are accounts of killing of Christians and demolishing church buildings.
For more information: www.releaseinternational.org
Christ Church representative: Andy Hird