Persecution and Prayer Alert
"Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians
than praying together. Never do they love one another
so well as when they witness the outpouring
of each other's hearts in prayer."
~ Charles Finney
Source: VOM USA
|Christian girls like these are often at risk of
being kidnapped because of their faith.
Eman Morco Saroufim, a 39-year-old Christian mother of five children, was kidnapped from her village in Menia on September 3rd by an armed Muslim man.
Officials initially denied that Eman had been kidnapped, reporting that she had willingly left her family and converted to Islam. Thankfully, Eman was able to escape her captor on September 26th and has since publicly stated that she is a Christian and will never convert to Islam. However, she and her children remain under threat, as her abductor has threatened to kidnap her children if she does not return to him.
Sadly, this assault on Eman and her family is hardly an isolated case. Christian women and girls are often the targets of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam. (For more information on such attacks, please visit this page.)
While thanking the Lord for providing a way for Eman to escape her kidnapper, let us pray that our gracious God will continue to protect this victimized mother and her five children. May He heal Eman from any physical or emotional wounds resulting from her abduction and captivity. Please also pray that the officials involved in this case will pursue justice for our dear sister in Christ, working to ensure that the perpetrator is fairly punished for his crime. Additionally, pray that Eman's kidnapper will repent of his misdeeds and ultimately come to a saving faith through Jesus Christ. Mindful that there are many other girls and women in Egypt who have been the targets of similar assaults, let us ask the Lord to supernaturally sustain them and somehow enable them to return safely to their homes and families.
To post a prayer of love and concern for Eman and her family, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.
RECENT PRISONER UPDATES
Sources: Release International, VOM USA
On October 16th, Asia Bibi lost her appeal against a death sentence for blasphemy. Her attorneys now have 30 days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court in Islamabad -- a process that will likely take more years of waiting and agonizing endurance. During Asia's hearing at the Lahore High Court, nearly 2,000 Muslim teachers gathered outside while approximately 25 were present inside the courtroom, presumably to put pressure on the judges. When learning about the disappointing outcome of the trial, she pleaded with VOM contacts: "Please do something. It's been so long, and I want to be with my children."
Asia, a farm labourer from Punjab, has been in custody since 2009. She was arrested after an argument with Muslim farm workers who accused her of blaspheming against Islam's prophet Mohammed -- a charge she denies. Asia was given the death sentence in November of 2010 and has been on death row ever since. (To read previous prayer alerts about Asia, visit this page.)
Her high-profile case remains hugely controversial in Pakistan. The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his bodyguard in January of 2011 after showing support for Asia. Two months later, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was assassinated after voicing support for Asia and demanding reform of Pakistan's blasphemy laws. (For more information on the assassinations of these men, visit the following links: Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti.)
As Asia and her loved ones now contend with this devastating setback, pray that they will look to our loving Father for much-needed peace and perseverance. While continuing to pray that Asia will ultimately be released, ask God to provide her with encouragement as she presently continues to be detained in prison, separated from her husband and children who are longing for her return home. May the Lord grant wisdom and favour to Asia's lawyers as they file an appeal with the Supreme Court, prompting the appeal to be quickly processed in hopes of a favourable outcome. Finally, pray that God will use this challenging situation for His greater purposes, trusting in His promise to work all things together for the good of His children (Romans 8:28), while using the international exposure of Asia's case to bring many people in Pakistan and around the world to salvation.
To raise your voice on behalf of Asia by signing an online petition, please visit www.callformercy.com.
Sources: Release International, Forum 18 News Service
|Congregations in Kazakhstan need to receive
state permission to meet for worship.
Flickr / Martin Lopatka
Increasing numbers of Christians are being given short-term prison sentences for refusing to pay fines linked to their religious activity. Fines are now being regularly imposed for violating the country's harsh Religion Law, which includes distributing religious literature, talking to other people about religion, and meeting with others for worship without compulsory state registration or license. In addition, social projects run by religious groups are coming under increased scrutiny. Within the first 10 weeks of 2014 alone, 45 such fines were handed down. Generally, the fines equate to one or two months' average wages.
Recently, a believer named Nikolai Novikov faced prison for refusing to pay such a fine. He served five days in prison in West Kazakhstan Region, making him the 14th known individual to face jail time for refusing to pay a fine. His fine was due to his role in a congregation that has not sought state permission in order to meet for worship. During the month of July, another Christian, Anatoly Stakhnev, served 10 days of imprisonment in East Kazakhstan Region for refusing to pay a fine for the same charges.
In spite of ongoing pressure and intimidation, pray that Christians throughout this Central Asian country will resolve to follow Jesus despite the restrictive laws made by human authorities. Specifically, pray that God will bless Nikolai and Anatoly, and provide for their every need. May the faith of these two men be strengthened so they can continue to serve as 'lights' for Christ through their daily lives and unwavering witness. Please also pray that God will use these latest obstacles in Kazakhstan to refine and further empower His church so that His name will be greatly honoured and glorified.
For more information on Kazakhstan's persecuted church, our Country Report.