Persecution and Prayer Alert
"'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,' says the Lord,
'thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.'"
~ Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
Source: Far East Broadcasting Company, VOM source
|A broadcast tower in Slavyansk was completely destroyed.
Four young Christian workers were recently captured by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine and brutally beaten to death. According to a ministry affiliate, they were killed simply for being Christians. "These young men were faithful Christians who cared about evangelizing their countrymen by using personal witnessing, as well as media," he reported. "We are deeply saddened and shocked."
In addition to this horrific tragedy, a Christian broadcast tower in Slavyansk was shot down and completely destroyed. The tower, which was located in the midst of the fighting, had been off air. FEBC is still broadcasting in Western Ukraine, reaching millions, and is looking for a new location to resume broadcasting to the residents of Eastern Ukraine.
"We are doing everything we can to give hope to people in a seemingly hopeless situation,” explains a FEBC representative. “But more than ever, we are desperate for your prayers and for God to move in the lives of the people of Ukraine. Please pray for those who continue to serve and risk their lives every day to see the Gospel go forth. Pray for peace in Russia and Ukraine."
As many now grieve the sudden loss of these four young men, pray that God will surround each one with His peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). May other Christians in this area not be discouraged but instead emboldened to share the Good News with those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Also, pray that He will provide for FEBC's needs so ministry broadcasts can resume in Eastern Ukraine, serving as a catalyst of lasting peace in these two countries.
To post a prayer of love and support for those mourning the loss of these brothers in Christ, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.
RECENT PRISONER UPDATES
Sources: VOM USA, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Last month, we requested urgent prayer for "Amir," a young Christian man sentenced to death after being caught with a load of Bibles. In Iran, publishing, importing or reprinting Bibles or Christian literature is illegal. We are pleased to report that a judge has rescheduled Amir's August 12th sentencing date. Although the trial has been delayed, the 32-year-old's family remains very concerned. (To read our previous prayer alert about Amir, visit our website.)
Elsewhere in the country, Matthias Haghnejad, a pastor, has been charged with "Moharebeh," meaning "enmity against God." A crime of this nature is potentially punishable by death. Matthias was arrested on July 5th at his home, along with two others. There are fears that this charge may begin a new trend of oppression against all converts to Christianity, including those currently charged with national security crimes. (For more information on Matthias' arrest, go to this page.)
Firstly, let us thank the Lord that Amir's sentencing trial has been postponed. Please join his family and friends in praying that the charges against him will be dropped and he will be free to return home. Similarly, intercede on behalf of Matthias and his friends, asking God to make a way for their acquittal and release from detention. In the meantime, pray that the faith of all these mentioned believers will be strengthened, giving them the courage needed to stand firm despite the threat of death. Also pray that through their testimonies, many other prisoners will hear about Jesus and, as a result, accept His gift of salvation.
To learn how you can encourage other Iranian believers who are presently imprisoned for their faith, visit VOM's letter-writing site at www.PrisonerAlert.com.
Sources: China Aid, VOM USA
Gao Zhisheng, a Christian human rights lawyer who has faced ongoing persecution from authorities, was released from prison on August 7th. However, despite the joyful news, this faithful Christian advocate is suffering severe consequences due to his time in detention. Gao was first arrested in 2009, then released briefly in 2010, before disappearing shortly thereafter. In 2011, state media reported that he had been jailed again for violating probation rules. (For more information on Gao's imprisonment, visit our website.)
Since December of 2011, Gao was held in a small cell with minimal light. Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him, and he was not allowed any access to reading materials or television. Each day, he was given a single piece of bread and cabbage to eat, resulting in the loss of about 50 pounds and many teeth due to malnutrition. It is also believed that he was repeatedly physically tortured. According to the released believer's international lawyer, Gao "has been utterly destroyed." He can barely talk, and only in very short sentences; most of the time, he mutters and is unintelligible. Not surprisingly, for it is believed that he is suffering from a broad range of physical and mental health issues due to the mistreatment he experienced during imprisonment. Even so, this tortured believer has not been allowed to see a doctor since his release.
While expressing gratitude to the Lord for Gao's release from prison, let us also ask Him to be very near to this dear brother in Christ in the midst of his present sufferings. Pray that Gao will soon have access to medical professionals who will adequately address his physical and mental condition. Ultimately, may God supernaturally touch this believer's ailing body and mind, bringing restoration, wholeness and the ability to fully enjoy the fact that he is now reunited with his family. Also remember Gao's loved ones, as they undoubtedly face new challenges in caring for his immediate needs. May the Chinese authorities be held accountable for their severe mistreatment of this innocent Christian man, resulting in the humane and just treatment of all believers and other vulnerable members of the country's minority groups.
For more information about China's persecuted church, please visit our website.