China: Disappearance of Attorney Zhang Kai

Sources: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, September 2015

In defense of the churches under attack, and China’s newly implemented religion law, prominent Beijing-based lawyer Zhang Kai announced in July of 2015 the formation of a group that consists of 30 Christian lawyers. The group is known as “Lawyers for Protection of the Cross.”

A few weeks ago, Chinese security forces conducted simultaneous night raids in Wenzhou, during which time they seized Zhang Kai, his assistant Liu Peng, and several Wenzhou pastors. According to Zhang’s employer, no one has been informed of the lawyer’s condition or whereabouts — not even his family.

Zhang reportedly has been charged with endangering state security and assembling a crowd to disrupt social order; charges that could possibly result in six months of secretive detention. Additionally, there are grave concerns for his safety.

Pray that the Lord will sustain, protect and bless Zhang Kai, Liu Peng and all the human rights’ lawyers and pastors who are presently imprisoned and under threat in China.

Pakistan: Court Clears Way for Family Visitation

Source: Christian Post, Assist News Service, September 2015

A Pakistani court has directed the Punjab provincial government and police to permit the faither of Asia Bibi visitation rights, a family lawyer recently announced. The directive comes two days after Soran Masih filed a petition in the Lahore High Court demanding access to his daughter. Prior to this, authorities had repeatedly blocked him from he prison, which is located in the central Pakistani City of Multan, following Asia’s conviction for blasphemy.

“Judge Muhammad Anwar ul Haq issued directives to the jail superintendent of Multan and the Home Department to let Soran Masih and his family members see Asia Bibi,” the lawyer explains. “We are thankful to the high court for (responding with) swift action to our petition.” As a result, Asia’s father and other close family members are now able to visit the imprisoned believer and further encourage her during this extremely trying time.

The Christian mother of five has been imprisoned since 2009 for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed — a charge Asia denies, claiming she was targeted after drinking water from a vessel used by Muslim farm workers. The fellow workers, who say it’s forbidden for a Christian to drink water from the same container, have accused Asia of blasphemy. Another appeal has been presented to the Supreme Court regarding her death sentence.

While we can praise God for the court’s recent decision to grant visitation rights to Asia’s family, please continue to pray that justice will tultimately prevail — along with a favourable outcome — regarding the blasphemy charges against her.

IRAN: Christian Released From Prison

Sources: World Watch Monitor, The Voice of the Martyrs USA, Middle East Concern, 19 August 2015

An Iranian Christian has been released from prison after a three-and-a-half-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime” and “acting against national security”.

Alireza Seyyedian, a Church of Iran member, was originally sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, 90 lashes and a fine, but his sentence was reduced in May 2013.

After his initial sentencing in March 2012, he attempted to flee across the Turkish border, but was caught and imprisoned.

Harsh conditions took their toll on Alireza’s health, with reports of him suffering insomnia, depression and stress related symptoms.

Around 90 Iranian Christians are still in prison.

Many people sent letters of encouragement to Alireza during his time in prison. To write to other Christians imprisoned for their faith, please visit www.prisonersoffaith.org

INDIA: Two Christians Beaten by Hindu Radicals

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA, 12 August 2015

Hindu radicals in India beat Pastor Augustine Jayraj and two other Christian men and had them arrested by local police on 23 July because of their Christian outreach to a village.

A group of 20 RSS members (a Hindu nationalist organisation) stopped the playing of the Jesus film partway through the video, locked the three men in a room and called police.

The men were beaten, arrested and charged with forced conversions.

  • Pray that the pastor and these Christian workers will be able to continue their ministry and will be spurred on to boldly preach the Gospel. Pray for their physical healing.
  • Pray the Christians in the area will not be discouraged but will act as valuable witnesses for the Gospel.
  • Pray for the RSS members and the police involved; may the Lord bring them to see the message of the Gospel is a free gift and not the result of coercion (Ephesians 2:8-9).

SYRIA: Islamic State Abducts Dozens of Christians

Source: World Watch Monitor, 8 July 2015

Islamic State (IS) militants have captured dozens of Christian families after seizing a strategically located town in the central Syrian province of Homs on Friday 7 August.  At least 230 people were kidnapped or detained, including dozens of Christians, some of whom were taken from the Dar Alyan monastery in Qaryatain, the town captured overnight after intense fighting with the Syrian army.

Among those seized were 45 women and 19 children, including 11 families, some of whom were on a list of persons suspected by the militant group of “collaborating with the regime.”  The families of hundreds of Christian and Muslim residents of Qaryatain have lost contact with them since the militants captured the area.  He fears that IS may also target other Christian population centres in Hawwarin and Sadad.

Towns like Qaryatain are key to IS because they are along the Damascus-Homs Highway, a route used to ferry supplies and fighters.  The Syrian army has launched a large-scale counter offensive to recapture the city, which lies in a region where some of Syria’s largest gas fields are located, but so far has made no significance advances.

Last February, the hard-line jihadists abducted at least 250 Assyrian Christians, many of whom were women and children, during raids on villages in north-eastern Syria. The fate of many of these civilians is unclear, as is that of a number of other priests who have gone missing and are believed to be held by the militants, according to Christian groups.

  • Pray to the Lord for the many who are being forcefully held by IS militants; ask the Lord to strengthen, protect and uphold them. Pray they will not despair but trust in Him.
  • Pray He will deliver them from their captors and reunite them with their loved ones.
  • Pray the suffering felt by so many may somehow be used by the Lord for good. Pray for members of Islamic State.

HOLY LAND: IS Militants Warn, “Leave of Risk Being Killed”

Source: Middle East Concern, July 2015

Leaflets distributed recently in East Jerusalem are warning Christians to leave the city before the end of Ramadan on 18 July or risk being killed. The leaflets are attributed to a group its own members refer to as the “Islamic State in Palestine.”

While Muslim and Christian religious leaders have been quick to condemn the leaflets, alarmed Christians residing in Jerusalem have requested prayer. As recently reported in one of our previously posted prayer alerts, there have been a number of recent incidents targeting Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City, as well as reports of mounting pressure on Palestinian Christians amid fears of local Muslims being radicalised.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Jerusalem who are increasingly concerned over the threats made by militants against their Christian community. 

PAKISTAN: Police Rescue Christian From ‘Mob Justice’

Source: World Watch Monitor, 8 July 2015

A Christian father of four was beaten, had his head shaved, his face blackened, and was dragged through his Pakistan village before he was rescued by police on 30 June.

Awais Qamar’s wife, Rukhsana, and two other family members also were beaten and had their faces blackened with soot by a mob angered by the fact that the family had been using a salvaged advertising banner as a mat to cover their floor. The banner, containing the emblems of various colleges, also included a short verse from the Koran: “My Lord, increase me in knowledge.”

It was about 9:30am, and a man in the local mosque had announced from its loudspeaker that Qamar, who is reportedly illiterate, had desecrated the Koran. Qamar was summoned to the village for “committing blasphemy.”

District Police Officer Sohail Zafar Chattha said police refused to file a First Information Report against the family partly because the state inspector general had given police orders to investigate blasphemy allegations personally before determining whether to file a report. “We will still not let the people go off scot free who triggered this tragedy in the first place and those who blackened the victims’ face and beat them,” he told World Watch Monitor.

Thank the Lord for the swift actions of the police; pray He will provide for the family and make a new home for them in a safe place.

NIGERIA: Five Killed in Suicide Bomb Attack on Church

Sources: various including Release partner, 6 July 2015

A young mother with a baby strapped on her back was one of five people killed in a suicide bomb attack on a church in northeast Nigeria yesterday. The bomber attacked worshippers at the Redeemed Church of God in Potiskum, Yobe state. Sources say the bomber was disguised as a worshipper.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in northern Nigeria who face continued violence from extremists.

MIDDLE EAST: Christians in Syria and Iraq Call for prayer

Sources: Middle East Concern; World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission, 9 July 2015

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq who are under mounting pressure from Islamist extremists. Recently an Iraqi Franciscan priest, Dhiya Aziz, was abducted by militants in Yacoubieh, Idlib province, in north-west Syria. The area is under the control of Jabhat an-Nusra, a group with links to al-Qaeda. Advances by Islamic State militants in the north-eastern Syrian city of Hasaka on 24 June led to further mass displacement, including of Assyrian Christian families, some of whom had sought refuge there in February.

Christian leaders in the Middle East are now calling for renewed and urgent prayers for peace. Some feel frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of support from the church in the West. Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad recently said, ‘We feel forgotten and isolated.’

Pray that Pastor Dhiya Aziz will be released soon. Pray to Almighty God that there will be an end to the violence and bloodshed in the Middle East.

UGANDA: Christian Doctor Poisoned by Islamists

Source: VOM USA, 28 May 2015

A Christian doctor has been hospitalised after being poisoned by Islamists in Uganda. The Islamists apparently were angry that the doctor had provided medical treatment to a pastor’s teenage daughter, whom they had attacked because the pastor ignored their warnings to stop worship services.

She has received medical attention but will need further medical care. Muslim extremists have issued death threats against the entire family.

VOM field workers ask that we pray for the doctor and for the pastor’s family. 

KENYA: Al Shabaab Leaflets Warn of More Attacks

Source: International Christian Concern, Christian Post, 20 May 2015

Somali Islamic terror group al Shabaab is dropping leaflets in Kenya warning of future attacks on Christian schools inside the country, similar to the massacre at Garissa University College that killed 148 people on 2 April.

Kenyan officials are beefing up security and investigating the origin of the leaflets.

Al Shabaab has clearly stated its goal in the past to force Kenya to stop its war on Somalia, but in the process has intentionally targeted Christians, waging horrific persecution that has terrorised eastern Kenya. 

SYRIA: Christians in Damascus Living in a Battle Zone

Source: VOM USA, 20 May 2015

Intense fighting between Islamic State militants and government forces erupted in Monday 4 May in Damascus and media outlets warned Christians living in the area to evacuate immediately.

Government forces are employing air assaults and armoured tanks to fight the militants, making it extremely dangerous for those living in the immediate area.

Last month, it was reported that IS had moved into a part of Damascus that is less than a mile from several Christian neighbourhoods.

A VOM contact whose family lives in the area requests prayer for believers there. ‘They can’t go anywhere at this point,’ he said. ‘Pray for the safety of our family and churches all over Damascus and Syria.’  

Pakistan: Pastor’s Life Threatened for Evangelising

Source: VOM USA, May 2015

After evangelizing Muslims and baptizing a former Islamic religious leader, a Pakistani pastor is now receiving death threats.

“Azhar” regularly shares the Gospel with his Muslim neighbours and has baptized a number of believers from similar backgrounds, including a former imam known as “Rashid.” Trouble started for the pastor after Rashid stopped attending the local mosque. Fellow Muslims tried to convince Rashid to return to Islam, but he wouldn’t. His relatives then labelled him as an apostate; a traitor to the faith. They issued death threats against Rashid, as well as his wife and children who had also become believers. After Rashid and his family fled the area, the convert’s angered relatives turned against Pastor Azhar.

The pastor was told to return Rashid to them or face death. The threats continued to escalate for several months until they found Pastor Azhar’s son and severely beat him. The relatives also informed militant groups of the pastor’s activities, and he is now constantly monitored by the fundamentalists’ widespread network. Like Rashid, Pastor Azhar had no choice but to flee the village to protect his family. Thankfully, VOM helped him relocate to a safer area. Though the pastor has changed cell phone numbers on numerous occasions, he still receives death threats. It is not certain how the militants continue to find his phone number.

Though Pastor Azhar has been forced to relocate, the threats have not discouraged his desire to minister to others. He continues to share the Gospel with Muslims and encourage new converts in their faith. “Thanks to God that He is still using us for His Kingdom,” he recently shared.
 

Thank the Lord for the powerful ways in which He is using His servants Azhar and Rashid among this community. 

 

Sudan: Church Leaders Face Possble Death Sentence

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, May 2014

Two South Sudanese church leaders are currently facing serious charges that could lead to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. The sever charges levied again Rev. Michael and Rev. Reith are the latest development in a series of repressive official actions targeting Christian in Sudan.

Rev. Michael and Rev. Reith were brought before a criminal court in Khartoum, Sudan, on May 4th. During the hearing, the clergymen were charged jointly with undermining the constitutional system, waging war against the state, disclosure and receipt of official information or documents, arousing feelings of discontent among regular forces, breach of public peace, and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs. Of the five charges, two carry the death penalty or life imprisonment in the event of a guilty verdict. A subsequent hearing has been set for May 14th.

Rev. Michael has been in detention since December of 2014, while Rev. Reith was detained since January of this year. Both were initially held by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) without charge, yet they were granted neither access to lawyers nor their families until March, when they were transferred to the custody of the Attorney General. It was while in the Attorney General’s custody that the two men were finally given access to legal representation and family visits.

Rev. Michael was arrested shortly after making a speech at a church involved in a land dispute with government-supported private investors. At the time of his arrest, NISS agents reportedly stated that they were offended by the pastor’s speech, which encouraged church members to continue standing firm through the trials they were experiencing. The Sudanese authorities have also attempted to illegally sell other properties belonging to the church.

Remember these two church leaders in your prayers, asking the Lord to give them strength and courage as they face the serious allegations.

 

Iran: Believers Sentenced to Additional Five-Year Prison Terms

Source: Mohabat News, May 2015

Two Christian men, Ebrahim Firouzi and Sevada Aghasar, were recently sentenced to prison because of their Christian faith. The two were charged with “action against national security through collusion and gathering.”

Ebrahim, a Christian convert from Islam, who is already serving another sentence in Rajaei-Shahr Prison, was handed an additional five-year prison term. Ebrahim was previously arrested in August of 2013. Prior to that, he had been convicted of several charges — including propaganda against the Islamic regime, evangelism, contact with anti-Islamic agents abroad, and founding a Christian website, for which he was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of exile.

Sevada, an Iranian-Armenian Christian who is presently free on bail, was sentenced to five years in prison. The Christian was temporarily released in March of 2014 after enduring six months in Evin Prison. Should the appeal court approve his sentence, Sevada will be returned to prison to serve this new jail term.

Pray that the church in Iran will continue to grow despite the harsh consequences many Christians face for loving and following Jesus.

 

Kenya: Militants Target Christians in Vicious Attack on University

Source: Morning Star News, World Evangelival Alliance, April 2015

Islamic militants targeted Christians in an attack that took place Garissa University College on the morning of 2 April, killing at least 147 people. According to the survivors of the attack, the assailants specifically killed Christians while leaving Muslims unharmed. Memebers of the Somali-based Al Shabaab terrorists groups, known allies of Al Qaeda, have claimed responsibility for the attack.

over the past two years, Al Shabaab militants have carried out several attack on Keyan soil in retaliation for Kenya’s military involvement in the Somali government’s fight against the insurgents.

 

  • Please bring the many distraught families affected by this terrible atrocity before our Lord in prayer, asking that they be greatly comforted through the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit. 
  • May the survivors and those mourning the loss of dear loved ones be granted the grace to forgive their persecutors. 
  • In keeping with God’s desire to reach the unsaved through His wonderful plan of salvation (John 3:16), let us pray that many members of Al Shabaab will repent and come to faith in Jesus.

Uganda: Christian Teenager Beaten and Disowned

Source: VOM USA, 5 March 2015

A teenager was recently beaten by her adoptive father when he discovered that Saidha and her sister had converted to Christianity. The girls, who live in the primarily Muslim village of Bwite, accepted Christ after hearing the Gospel message at an evangelistic meeting. When their adoptive father, Ali Sooka Abudalah, learned about their new faith, he beat Saidha with a club. Ali, the son of the localimam, had adopted Saidha and her sister after their biological father died several years ago.
Saidha’s face was left badly swollen after the heartless beating, requiring that she spend about a week in a medical clinic while being treated for her injuries. Ali then determined that since Saidha had decided to leave Islam, she could no longer be raised as one of his children. He took her to a church in the village and notified local authorities that he intended to leave her in the custody of a church leader. In an official document, Ali turned over custody of the girl to the pastor, adding that he does not “want to know or hear any matter concerning her because she confessed Christ as her personal Saviour.” The letter was signed on December 13th, 2014, by Ali, 12 witnesses and several other local officials.
A VOM worker visited Saidha a few weeks ago, after travelling several hours to reach her. Thankfully, the teen is presently being well cared for in the home of evangelist Muwanguzi Hassan, another convert from Islam to Christianity. Muwanguzi and his wife care for 17 other children who were also disowned by their families for the same reason. The couple is one of just four Christian families residing within their Muslim village.

A VOM worker visited Saidha a few weeks ago, after travelling several hours to reach her. Thankfully, the teen is presently being well cared for in the home of evangelist Muwanguzi Hassan, another convert from Islam to Christianity. Muwanguzi and his wife care for 17 other children who were also disowned by their families for the same reason. The couple is one of just four Christian families residing within their Muslim village.

  • Thank the Lord for the steadfast faith of Saidha! 

Libya: Abducted Egyptian Christians Beheaded by Militants

Source: VOM Canada, February 2015

The Christian community in Egypy is in mourning after 21 Egyptian Christians who had moved to Libya for employment were brutally murdered by members loyal to the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group. Those involved with ISIS posted a video on 15 February showing the savage decapitation of the victimised men. The video, titled ” A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross,” made it clear that the men were targeted because of their faith. Additionally, a caption in the video describes the victims as “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.”

Colombia: Praise Report from Russell Stendal

Source: VOM Canada, February 2015

“The Lord turned the tables at the last minute. The prosecution went on for hours and hours and I spoke for ten minutes. The judge believed me and told the prosecutor he had been wasting her time and threw out the case. I have been completely absolved.” – Russell

Russell Stendal, a long time friend of VOM who ministers along with his family in Colombia, was arrested on 18 February.

Thank you for your prayers!

PAKISTAN: Woman Succumbs to Injuries from Church Bomb Attack

Source: Voice of the Martyrs Canada, January 2015

A Christian woman who suffered serious injuries resulting from a bomb attack at her church has tragicallypassed away. Farah Javed died as a result of an infection on 11 January almost 16 months after one of the deadliest attacks against Christians in the country’s history. The All Saints Church building in Peshawar was struck by two suicide bombers on 22 September 2013, leaving more than 80 dead and another 150 wounded. Farah was permanently paralyzed as a result of the assault, and sadly battled many medical complications in the months leading up to her death. Farah’s mother and siblings are understandably having a difficult time, especially as the young woman’s father also recently passed away in March of 2014.

 

  • Let us bring this grieving family to God’s throne of grace, asking Him to grant His mercy in their time of need (Hebrews 4:16). 

 VIETNAM: Pastor Attacked in Broad Daylight

Source: Voice of the Martyrs Australia, 21 January 2015

On Sunday, 18 January at around 4:30pm, Pastor Quang and his associate pastor were attacked by five men only 500 metres from his Bible college.

The attack occurred without provocation as the two pastors were set upon by five assailants who used bricks and rocks to batter their heads. When they collapsed to the ground from the initial attack the perpetrators proceeded to kick their bodies relentlessly.

Both pastors were taken to the emergency hospital to be treated and Pastor Quang, who suffered the more serious injuries, was afterwards taken to the local hospital for further treatment and observation.

Pastor Quang sustained a broken nose, broken ribs, facial injuries including injuries to his teeth and jaw. Presently he is in severe pain and has been vomiting during his time at the hospital.

VOM Australia has sent medical funds to cover treatment costs. Police have made no arrests.

  • Pray the Lord will completely heal and fully restore the two pastors.
  • Ask Him to strengthen their resolve to fully commit themselves to the work of the Lord and not be fearful.
  • Pray for the perpetrators, that the Lord would have mercy on them, to convict them and bring them to repentance.

Egypt: Convert Wins Partial Appeal, Yet Remains Imprisoned

Sources: Morningstar News, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, January 2015

A convert to Christianity who was sentenced to five years in prison for documenting attacks on believers has won a partial victory on appeal, but must remain in jail because of prior blasphemy charges.

On 28 December, an appeals judge found 31-year-old Bishoy Armia Boulous (previously known as Mohammed Hegazy) not guilty on a charge of spreading information meant to “cause harm or damage to the public interest” and not guilty on the closely related charge of spreading false news “bound to weaken” Egypt’s “prestige” or harm the “country’s national interests.” Bishoy, however, was found guilty of an unidentified charge (likely that of inciting sectarian strife) and sentenced to one year in prison.

Since Bishoy has already spent more than a year in prison while waiting for his trial and appeal to take place, technically, he should have been granted release at the conclusion of the recent hearing. Instead, Bishoy has been held without an opportunity to post bail because of the blasphemy charges filed against him five years ago by two Islamist lawyers. His attorneys believe the state, in effect, has taken an active role in punishing Bishoy for his conversion by holding him on charges past their statutory limit and, as mentioned, doing so without any possibility of bail. Sources have also reported that Bishoy has endured abuse while imprisoned, including verbal and physical assaults and times of solitary confinement.

  • Despite this disappointing news, please pray that Bishoy will remain confident in his Saviour and Lord, knowing that true freedom is only found in Him.

Iraq: Hard Choices in Mosul

Source: VOM USA, 1 August 2014

The eyes of the world turned last month to the northern plains of Iraq, to a city where Jonah first delivered Jehovah’s message thousands of years ago. Today the story of Nineveh (now called Mosul) isn’t of a messenger of Jehovah going into Nineveh, but of thousands of Jehovah’s followers being forced out of the city. The IS (Islamic State) told Christians if they don’t leave Mosul their alternatives are subjugation to Islam or being forced to follow a different god—Allah. Or they will be killed.

The Christians that fled the city—it is reported that the remaining 200 Christian families left prior to an IS-imposed deadline of July 19—left behind all of their possessions, as demanded by the radical Muslims. Those who tried to carry more than the clothes on their backs were robbed at IS checkpoints on their way out of the city.

The cross on the Cathedral of Mar Afram in Mosul—the Archbisopric of the Syriac Orthodox Church—was pulled down and replaced by loudspeakers to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer. Middle East Concern, a VOM partner ministry, reports: “A few Christians remain in Mosul, including some elderly or infirm who were not able to leave. In some cases, Christians are being shielded by Muslim neighbors. There are [also] credible reports that some have been compelled by the IS to convert to Islam by reciting the Islamic declaration of faith before a Sharia court.”

Most of the Christians described in these sad news reports are part of the historical Christian community in northern Iraq, primarily Syriac Orthodox or Catholics who are considered by Muslims to be “Christian” because they were born in Christian families.

There is another group of Christians in northern Iraq too: those that were born into Muslim families but have consciously made the choice to reject Islam and follow Jesus. It is important to understand that these believers do NOT have a choice to pay a tax and save their lives. These converts are, in the eyes of IS, apostates. If IS fighters learned of their faith, they would give these believers two choices: return to Islam or be killed.

VOM is ministering to both groups of believers. Already VOM is caring for 2,000 displaced Christians who have fled Mosul; it is likely that number will increase. We are also working with Christian converts in the region who risk their very lives to witness of the love of Jesus to Muslims—even radical and violent ones.

As we look through the eyes of TV cameras into this volatile region, may we be reminded daily to pray for our brothers and sisters suffering such hardship and violence. And as we pray for them, let us also pray for their persecutors, that some of those hunting believers today will become believers themselves in the days and months to come.

Sudan: Meriam arrives in Italy

Source: BBC, The Independent, The Telegraph, 25 July 2014

    • Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahia Ibrahim and her family arrived safely in Italy yesterday en route for the US.The 27-year-old, who was spared a death sentence for apostasy in June, landed in Rome on an Italian Government aircraft, after intense diplomatic efforts to help her leave Sudan.She was accompanied by her husband, Daniel, who has US citizenship, and their two-month-old baby Maya, who was born in custody, and son Martin, who is 18 months old.

      Meriam was sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’ on the basis that her estranged father is a Muslim, even though she was raised as a Christian by her mother. Meriam was also convicted of ‘adultery’ simply because her husband is a Christian.

      She was acquitted by an appeals court – but prevented from leaving Sudan when officials cited ‘irregularities’ with her travel documents. The family had been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum since her release from jail. She had reportedly received death threats.

      Nepal: Pastor Chhedar Bhote Released!

      Source: Prisoneralert.com, July 2014

      On Thursday 17  July, a court declared Chhedar not guilty on the charge of eating beef. Continue to pray for him and his family.
      Pastor Chhedar Bhote Lhomi was arrested for eating beef and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The 37-year-old pastor and his wife were ministering in a remote part of Nepal among Tibetan people. They established a church there which met regularly.

       

      Iraq: IRAQ: Christians Forced to Flee Upon Threat of Death

      Sources: Middle East Concern, Release International, CNN, July 2014

      Christians in Iraq, and especially those from the city of Mosul, are enduring yet more hardship and persecution because of their faith. The militant group called the “Islamic State” (previously known as ISIS), which is presently in control of Mosul, summoned Christian leaders to a meeting on 17 July to notify them of Islamic rules that are to be applied to non-Muslims. When the Christian leaders did not attend this meeting, it was announced that the remaining believers in the city should leave, pay a “protection” tax, or face execution. The Christians were also ordered to leave all of their property behind.

      The ultimatum was initially set for noon on 18 July, but was then extended by 24 hours. Earlier, the Islamic State (IS) sought the takeover of houses belonging to members of minority communities by marking them with the phrase “property of the Islamic State” — including homes that were still inhabited by families. Christian houses were marked with the letter “N” for “Nazarite.”

      It is believed that most Christian families have now fled from Mosul, many to areas of northern Iraq under Kurdish control. Some fleeing families were reportedly stopped at checkpoints manned by IS militants who ruthlessly confiscated their personal belongings, including money, jewelry and mobile phones.

      The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M. Warda, said of this upsetting news: “Christians have lost their trust in the land and in the future. Since 2003, two-thirds of the Christians have left the country. June was the first month in 1,600 years in which Mosul did not celebrate any mass. The attack on Christians has been immense.

      Sudan: Meriam Ibrahim Rearrested

      Source: VOM USA sources, 25 June 2014
      Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old Christian woman who was sentenced to death for apostasy and then cleared, was rearrested yesterday, in the airport as she tried to leave the country. Forty members of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service detained Meriam, her husband and two children as they arrived at the airport, on June 24.

      Meriam was charged with using false travel documents, though she was using emergency documents issued to her by South Sudan. According to one source, those are the documents the U.S. gave her.

      Sudan authorities said Meriam should have obtained proper documents from Sudan using her Muslim name.

      “I just spoke to one of the lawyers with them in prison, and they said the family is fine,” said Hardwired Executive Tina Ramirez in an email to VOM. “Her lawyers have sent a bail petition to the attorney general that failed, and they just sent another.”

      Meriam’s legal team is working to free the family as soon as possible. They plan to travel to the United States.

      IRAQ: Displaced Christians Desperately Seek Prayer

      Sources: Release International, The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, 12 June 2014

      As a ruthless militant group sweeps across the country and leaves devastation in its wake, Christians are urgently seeking prayer for their homeland. Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), an extremely violent offshoot of al-Qaeda, have gained full control of Mosul.

      Historically known as Nineveh, the city is the traditional heartland of Iraq’s church. The vast majority of Christians there, up to 1,000 families, are said to have joined the exodus of around half a million residents fleeing the desolation. The army has also reportedly fled.

      According to Canon Andrew White, a partner of VOMC, the situation is extremely volatile. “Things are so bad now in Iraq; the worst they have ever been. Most of our people come from Nineveh and still see that as their home. Now the Christian centre of Iraq has been totally ransacked. The tanks are moving into the Christian villages, destroying them and causing total carnage.”

      The concerned ministerial leader further explains that ISIS has “totally taken control, destroyed all government departments, allowed all prisoners out of the prisons, killed countless numbers of people….” The resulting devastation is heartbreaking, for he adds, “There are bodies all over the streets.”

      Hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis have fled to Kurdistan to escape this humanitarian crisis.

      KENYA: Urgent prayer request for Mpeketoni Christians

      Sources: Morning Star News, 19 June 2014

      Pastors have requested prayer for churches in the mainly Christian coastal town of Mpeketoni after it was attacked by militants on Sunday night.

      Suspected Al-Shabaab extremists singled out Christian males in their five-hour onslaught on the east Kenyan town. They killed more than 57 people, most of them Christian in what has been described as one of the country’s worst extremist attacks. Sources said the attackers reportedly went door-to-door asking residents their religion and killed them if they answered ‘Christian’.

      All churches in the area were affected. Sources say six children of church pastors were among the dead.

      Al-Shabaab reportedly took responsibility for the attack, saying it was to avenge Kenya’s military involvement in neighbouring Somalia where it is heading up efforts to oust the extremist group. Mpeketoni is not far from the Somali border.

      VIETNAM: Bible School Raided, Students and Pastors Beaten

      Sources: VOM Canada Ministry Partners, VOM Australia

      At 11 pm on 9 June, several hundred people — including police, government officials, civil defense authorities and hired thugs — raided the Mennonite Bible School in Binh Duong province.

      After breaking through the gate, the assailants began ransacking the buildings, pelting hundreds of stones onto the roof and damaging several doors. They also rounded up and beat 47 students and 29 pastors, some of whom were attending a pastor’s retreat at the Bible school. Police also brutally attacked the school’s principal, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang. More than 20 were injured in the attack and were prevented from seeking medical help.

      The attackers finally dispersed about two hours later. Despite the intimidation, Pastor Quang is determined to continue the work of the Bible school.

      SRI LANKA – Christians hospitalised and threatened by villagers

      Source: Release partners, 11 June 2014

      A pastor and three members of his congregation were hospitalised after a mob attacked a Christian home in Sri Lanka’s Mannar district.The Christians had gathered at a home in Madu village for a meeting with police to discuss threats made to Christians who had attended a prayer meeting there the previous day.

      As the Christians waited for police, some 150 villagers surrounded the house, and started to abuse them. Some 40 people then stormed the house, beating the pastor unconscious and assaulting other Christians. Police arrived only when the mob fled.

      Meanwhile, in Kandy district, a Christian woman was hospitalised for two days after being brutally attacked by a mob as she prayed for a family. She was later charged with ‘forced conversion’.

      The 25-strong mob including five Buddhist monks raided the house in Waththegama, beat the Christians present and dragged the woman, a Christian worker, to the village temple. There, she was drenched with water, verbally abused, partially strangled and threatened with death if she entered the village again.

      • Pray that God will heal and restore those who have been injured or traumatised by recent attacks.
      • Pray for the church in Sri Lanka where persecution is on the increase. Pray that Christians will stand firm in their faith.

       

      Nigeria: Hundreds of Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram

      Source: Open Doors, CNN, The Toronto Star, 8 May 2014

      The predominantly Christian enclave of Chibok in Borno State has been thrown into chaos over the abduction of girls from a secondary school. While many of the schoolgirls (who range in age from 16 to 20) belong to different churches in the area, there were also some innocent Muslim students in attendance at the school during the incident.

      Members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, entered the school building on the night of April 14th. Pretending to be soldiers, the militants assured the girls they were protecting them as they ushered at least 270 victims out of the building and into vehicles. The girls were then driven deep into the nearby forest. Since then, approximately 40 have managed to escape, but the whereabouts of the others remain unknown. There are fears that the girls may have been taken across the borders into Cameroon and Chad. There are also reports that some have already been given away in marriage. On May 5th, the leader of Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that he will sell the girls.

      • Pray that God, who is surely holding His precious daughters in His hands, will provide a way for them to be returned to their families.
      • May the many distraught family members and friends, who are eagerly awaiting news of their abducted children, rest in God’s assurance of love and care during this time.
      • Please also pray for the Boko Haram militants who perpetrated this heinous crime, that they too may hear the “Good News” of Jesus and come to faith in Him.
      • Let us also intercede on behalf of the authorities involved, that they will work diligently to safely return these girls to their loved ones.

Libya: Egyptian Christians Abducted by Militants

Sources: Release International, Morning Star News, VOM Australia, January 2015

A Libyan militant group affiliated with ISIS abducted 13 Egyptian Christians on 3 January– the third such attack on Egyptian believers in the span of two weeks.
In the early hours of the morning, gunmen from what they themselves refer to as the “Islamic State of Tripoli” raided a housing complex in the coastal city of Sirte and kidnapped the 13 believers, who were specifically selected because of their Christian faith. All of those abducted happen to be closely related family members who are originally from Minya, Upper Egypt. They had reportedly come to Libya to work in construction.

One of the missing men’s relatives shared of his grief: “The feeling of depression and worry and sadness is indescribable. But if it’s God’s will for them to be martyrs for the name of Christ like the apostles, (serving as) a witness to the kidnappers, we pray God will provide grace, peace and acceptance of His will.”

Previously, on 30 December, seven Christians were kidnapped as they attempted to drive back to Egypt on the road that passes through Sirte. Just days prior to this incident, on December 23rd, a Christian couple had been shot and killed at their home in the city; their teenage daughter was kidnapped and later tragically murdered.

Libya has increasingly become lawless as rival militias vie for power. In particular, the city of Sirte is renowned as a stronghold for these Islamic militant groups.

India: Christian Couple Forced to Perform Hindu Ritual

Sources: VOM USA, World Watch Monitor, September 2014

Kollol and his family

In the month of June, 15 radical Hindus attacked a Christian couple during a prayer meeting in their home. “Kollol” and his wife were beaten and then dragged to a Hindu temple where they were forced to undergo a ritual “cleansing.” During the ritual, the Hindus poured water on them to symbolize outward cleansing and dabbed red powder on their foreheads to mark them as devout Hindus. When the assailants force-fed the couple with food sacrificed to idols, Kollol’s two teenage daughters began to protest. The young women were then beaten as well, to the point that they and their parents all required treatment at a hospital. Community members later evicted the family from the village, threatening to kill them if they returned.

The attack against this family is just one incident in an ongoing trend of violence against Christians. Since late May, when the country’s new prime minister was sworn in, there have been more than 600 attacks on minority Christians and Muslims. The new governing party, Bharatiya Janata Party (or BJP), is well known for espousing Hindu nationalism.

Cameroon: Churches Struggle to Cope as Refugees Flee Neighbouring Nigeria

Source: World Watch Monitor, September 2014

Thousands of Nigerians, many of them Christians, have fled their home country for northern Cameroon in the wake of ongoing violence by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram. Yet, even beyond the borders of their homeland, these Nigerian believers are far from safe. In the village of Cherif Moussary, an assault from militants left a church ransacked and the residence of the pastor burned down. Many of the Christian families were also stripped of virtually all their possessions. A similar act of destruction was reported at Mouldougoua village. At Assighassia, which was occupied for days by militants before the army arrived, two church elders were beheaded. Meanwhile, in Djibrilli village, a pastor was kidnapped, threatened and asked about his faith by militants before being released the following day.

In the midst of these gruesome attacks, churches in Cameroon are working to assist both Nigerian refugees and internally displaced people (IDP). “The action of our churches has initially consisted of providing the refugees and IDPs with food, shelter and medicines. But now, the capacity of our churches is overwhelmed, as their number has increased up to threefold,” a church leader explained of the situation. “Every week we welcome new waves of refugees coming from all sides. More than 9,600 displaced people were recorded in two weeks. Some are welcomed within church compounds and others in the UN…refugee camp.”

Source : http://www.persecution.co.nz/

 

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