PAKISTANI TEENAGER IN BLASPHEMY ROW

Simon* is a very poor Christian who scrapes together a living by collecting items for recycling and who now finds himself caught up in a blasphemy row – and he’s only 16. 

The teenager from Punjab, Pakistan, has been attacked, tortured and arrested in a row that has sparked uproar in his village in Gujranwala district.

Please ask God to keep Simon and his family safe.

Release contacts in Pakistan say the row followed a dispute with another recycler who was not happy that Simon was gathering paper and bottles near the same religious monument as him. When burnt scraps of a Koran were allegedly found at the site last month, Simon got the blame.

Soon after Simon was arrested, a large mob broke into the police station and abducted him. They threatened to kill him and tortured him until local police called for back-up to bring the situation under control. Due to local unrest, Simon was twice transferred to other police stations. He is now being held in jail.

*We’ve changed Simon’s name for security reasons.

  • Please pray for justice for Simon and his family: like many of Pakistan’s Christians, they are very poor and Simon’s father labours for Muslim landowners. Pray Simon will be released soon.
  • Ask God to fill Simon with His peace and teach him how to trust his almighty Father through this ordeal.
  • Pray that Pakistan’s authorities will do more to prevent abuse of the country’s widely misused blasphemy laws. Pray too that they will yield to international demands for legal reform.

(Source: Release contacts)

Eritrean Mother of Three Dies in Desert Prison

Our sister Fikadu has died in an Eritrean prison camp within three months of her arrest.

Her three children do not have their father to care for them either: he was detained with Fikadu, along with every single member of their church, as our partners working in Eritreareported in May.

Fikadu was detained during a mass arrest in Adiquala, part of an ongoing crackdown on evangelical Christians across Eritrea. By last week, she had died.

Please ask God to comfort Fikadu’s children and her husband.

The crackdown on Eritrea’s Christians continues. A total of 210 believers have been detained since April, mostly in raids on their own homes. In the first week of August, 23 Christians were arrested in Asmara. In July, 16 teenage girls on national service were detained in the same camp as Fikadu – as were other Christians and relatives who tried to visit them.

There have been reports of female prisoners having their hair shaved off. One woman arrested in June in Nefasit has reportedly become ‘mentally ill’ due to harsh prison conditions. The cause of Fikadu Debesay’s death is unknown but Metkel Abiet, the desert camp where she was held, is known for its extreme temperatures.

  • Ask our heavenly Father to comfort Fikadu’s children and her husband, and reassure them of His unfailing love.
  • Pray for the release of all 210 Christians detained since April – and the many other Christians behind bars in Eritrea. Some pastors have been detained indefinitely.
  • Lift up the Eritrean authorities in prayer, and ask God to touch their hearts. Pray for an end to their restrictive policies.
  • Join our Pray173 prayer campaign to help bring freedom for long-term prisoners of faith in Eritrea.

(Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS ON HIGH ALERT AMID BOMB THREATS

Our Christian family in Egypt has been warned to expect further attacks by Islamist extremists. They’re in urgent need of our prayers.

Intelligence reports have raised fears of a fresh wave of violence specifically targeting believers travelling to summer camps by bus. Officials have asked church leaders to cancel camps and conferences outside church buildings until at least the end of the month.

Please pray for our Egyptian brothers and sisters at this time of heightened threat.

Egyptian intelligence wrote to church leaders this week warning that Islamic State suicide bombers were planning to attack buses taking Christians to conferences. Hundreds of thousands of Christians of all ages attend such conferences at this time of year.

As one Release partner says, the move to cancel conferences ‘just adds to the oppression Christians experience in Egypt’.

The threat remains real, however. In Alexandria, a church guard was attacked with a knife last weekend.

  • Pray that our brothers and sisters will find ways to enjoy fellowship and discipleship if they are forced to abandon plans to attend conferences and camps.
  • Pray that God will teach our Egyptian family how to trust Him completely and remain steadfast in their faith, so He will keep them in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
  • Ask God to heal Mina, the church guard injured in Alexandria.
  • Ask God to grant wisdom to those in authority in Egypt, as they try to tackle extremism. Pray the Government will do more to protect and reassure Christians.

(Sources: Middle East Concern, Release partners)

 

UPDATES

Please pray for our Iranian brothers Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammad Reza Omidi. They have just been given ten-year prison sentences for their involvement in house churches. Mohammad has also been sentenced to two years’ exile in Borazjan, southern Iran, far from his family in Rasht. The three men have still to hear the outcome of their appeal against a sentence of 80 lashes for drinking communion wine. (Source: Middle East Concern)

Thank God that Algerian Christian Slimane Bouhafs has received a partial pardon and has had his three-year sentence for blasphemy reduced by 16 months. He was imprisoned last September in connection with a Facebook post. The presidential pardon on Algeria’s national day (July 5) was given to several prisoners for good behaviour. His family have again requested his release on health grounds. (Source: Middle East Concern)

Petr Jasek Recounts Prison Ordeal

Petr Jasek Recounts Prison Ordeal

A Czech national who was captured and imprisoned with brutal ISIS militants recently shared the story of his harrowing ordeal and how God gave Him strength and renewed his purpose.

CBN News reports that Petr Jasek grew up in Czechoslovakia under Communist rule. As a child, his parents were persecuted for their faith. As an adult, Petr followed God’s call to serve with Voice of the Martyrs in Sudan.

While there, Petr was arrested and charged with being a spy. He was given a 20-year prison sentence and imprisoned with ISIS extremists.

“One of the ISIS members was a Libyan guy who at the age of 12 was a personal guard for Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora and later on when he returned to Libya he was one of the murderers who slaughtered the 20 Egyptians on the Libyan shore,” Petr shared.

“He took out a fishing string, quite a strong fishing string from his pocket and he was showing how he could kill a person within a few seconds with this fishing string. He told me if I was an American or Russian that he would break my neck immediately and kill me.”

Petr was subjected to beatings and name-calling from the extremists, but God gave him the strength to stand by his faith.

After a few months of being imprisoned, Petr began to realize that God still had a plan and was making good come out of this horrific situation.

He ended up leading some fellow prisoners to Christ. “And I suddenly started to realize that there is a purpose, the Lord has a purpose for me to be in prison to share the Gospel with those people,” Petr explained.

After 14 months of being in prison, Petr was released. He credits the Czech government for negotiating his release, and also expressed gratitude to the many believers who prayed for him.

“When you come through this situation you realize that everything you have is the grace of God and it is on His strength that it is in prison, it is not your own strength that you can survive. Being humble and being faithful to the last moment, this is the moment when we can be more than conquerors when we go through difficult situations because of our faith in Jesus Christ,” Petr said.

 

BY VERONICA NEFFINGER AT WWW.CROSSWALK.COM

Indian Christians beaten then banned from meeting

Indian Christians beaten then banned from meeting

Christians in eastern India were beaten and abused and instead of receiving justice were given an order to stop worshipping.

Hindu women raided Pastor Samuel Karjee’s church in Odisha, dragged outside the 12 Christians present and handed them over to a 300-strong mob. The crowd beat them with sticks, kicked and insulted them. Police resolved the issue by closing down the church.

Please pray for justice for our brothers and sisters in Abasing village.

A 24-year-old Christian, Rajata, suffered serious internal injuries and is still receiving hospital treatment. The casualties included 13-year-old Madhusmita who was punched in the stomach. The Christians’ Bibles and devotionals were snatched.

Police did arrest 25 Hindus – and five injured Christians. They were all set free after police and Hindus reached an ‘agreement’ which amounts to a ban on church services. Four Christian detainees were bullied into signing it, despite having had no say in its wording.

Under the ‘agreement’, Christians are allowed to worship only on their own at home. Christian ‘events’ can be held only with advance permission from the police. Any further disturbances will be dealt with by local police, not the courts.

There have been no worship services in Abasing since the June 18 attack, says Pastor Samuel. ‘I can’t tell you how dry and barren we feel,’ he says. ‘Our hearts yearn to pray and worship together.’

  • Lift up in prayer our brother, Pastor Samuel, and his fellow believers in Abasing. Ask God to comfort, protect and strengthen them.
  • Pray that God will touch the hearts of individual police officers in the Abasing area and convict them of the need to uphold religious liberties.
  • Continue to pray for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Government: pray that they will take firm action to stamp out growing intolerance and persecution. There has been a sharp rise in attacks on Christians since Hindu nationalists tightened their grip on power in March elections.

(Source: Morning Star News)

Children left without parents as Eritrea arrests continue

Children left without parents as Eritrea arrests continue

The Eritrean government started a fresh crackdown against Christians in May 2017 and it is continuing. What makes this persecution different is that whole families are now being arrested and whereas in the past most were picked up at Bible studies or Christian services now believers are being arrested at their homes.

Security officials accompanied by an Orthodox priest are turning up at homes and questioning people over their religious affiliation. All except Muslims, Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran are liable for arrest.

So far about 160 Christians have been arrested, including families with children. In the capital Asmara 49 people were arrested from Enda Korea during a wedding celebration. Christians in the northern Red Sea region have also been rounded up.

According to our partner, 12 children, one as young as two months, are now in prison with their parents in Adi Quala. One Christian who tried to ask about the Adi Quala prisoners was also arrested.

Unbelievably more than 30 children have been left without parents or guardians and the security police are monitoring them to make sure they do not get support from the Christian community.

Christians are also being detained and sent to the desert island of Nakhura in the Red Sea, where weather conditions are extreme.

Please pray now for all those who have been affected by these arrests, especially for the children in prison and those left to fend for themselves.

Pray for an end to this cruel treatment of believers.

Join our Pray 173 Prayer Campaign to help bring freedom for long-term prisoners of faith in Eritrea.