UPDATE: BENHAM IRANI IN GRAVE CONDITION, COURT HEARING SET FOR YOUCEF NADARKHANI
Benham Irani, a Iranian Christian pastor currently held in Ghezal Hesar prison (Solidarity #55), has developed a blood infection as a result of an ongoing intestinal complication. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), “As his health continues to deteriorate sharply, he is reportedly barely able to speak.” The CSW report added, “Without adequate medical care, his condition has continued to worsen, prompting concerns that he may have only weeks or months to live.” Pastor Irani may be sent to a hospital for surgery to remove part of his intestine. However, his family has not been informed about possible surgery or whether or not he has been hospitalized. Pastor Irani has so far been denied hospital treatment for severe bleeding due to stomach ulcers and complications with his colon. Another Iranian Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, remains in prison under a death sentence for apostasy. A written summons has confirmed a court hearing for Pastor Nadarkhani on September 8. The summons does not state the purpose of the hearing.
Pray for the quick and complete healing of Benham Irani, and for his immediate release. Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Youcef Nadarkhani. Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for their families, and for full religious freedom in Iran.
19 NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS KILLED IN CHURCH SHOOTING
On August 6, unidentified gunmen attacked Deeper Life Church in Otite, a town in Nigeria’s Kogi State, murdering 19 Christians. At the time of the attack, the church was holding an evening service. Boko Haram—a radical Islamist group responsible for past attacks against Nigerian Christians—is presumed responsible for the attack, which occurred two days after a video was posted to YouTube in which Abubakar Shekau, the suspected leader of Boko Haram, demanded the resignation and conversion from Christianity to Islam of Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president.
Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the families and friends of those killed in the attack. Pray for God to encourage, protect and guide President Goodluck Jonathan as he leads his country. Pray for the salvation of the attackers, and for peace, security and political stability in Nigeria.
BANGLADESHI CHRISTIAN CHILDREN MISSING
According to a report by International Christian Concern, 80 children from Christian homes in Bangladesh were taken under false pretenses by mullahs (Muslim clerics) to various madrasas (Islamic boarding schools), where they were locked up, physically abused and forced to study Islam. Eleven children have been rescued, but the whereabouts of the remaining 69 are unknown. In January and February, the parents of these children paid the equivalent of $250 USD to individuals promising to house and educate these children in nearby cities. Parents lost contact with their children almost immediately. After months of searching, they contacted Hotline Human Rights Trust in an effort to relocate their children. The rescued children claimed to have been physically abused when they refused to pray, read the Qur’an or learn Arabic. They also claimed to have been threatened with forcible circumcision. While 11 children have been safely relocated and put in contact with their families, the Hotline staff are still trying to locate the missing kids.
Pray for the health, safety and immediate rescue of the children held in madrasas against their will. Pray for God to save their captors, comfort their families and heal the children rescued from their captivity.
EGYPTIAN CHRISTIAN WOMEN AT RISK OF FORCED CONVERSIONS
Forced conversion of Egyptian Christian women to Islam is a severe and tragic problem that largely escapes the notice of the international community. Nadia Ghaly, a woman whose cousin was forced to marry a Muslim man and convert to Islam, has documented the problem in reports co-authored by Michelle Clark, an anti-trafficking activist. On July 30, the U.S. State Department acknowledged the problem in its annual Religious Freedom, yet downplayed its significance. The report described forcible conversions as “disputed,” asserting that while there were “occasional claims” of Muslim men forcing Egyptian Christian women (including girls younger than legal age) to convert to Islam, these accounts “often included inflammatory allegations and categorical denials of kidnapping and rape.” Based on their investigations into hundreds of cases—including cases involving rape, fraud, coercion and domestic servitude—Ghaly and Clark maintain that forced marriages and conversions are a serious threat to Egyptian Christian women.
Pray for the safety and fair treatment of Christians in Egypt. Pray for peace and political stability in Egypt.
PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS THREATENED
On August 8, Muslims in Pakistan’s Punjab province threatened to burn down the homes of Christians on a false charge of desecrating the flag of Pakistan. One of about 15 Christian families in the area washed the nation’s flag with the intention of flying it later in support of Iran’s Independence Day. Blown by the wind, the flag fell on the house of Muslim neighbors, who accused the Christian family of deliberately throwing it away. Further false accusations were made, including assertions that Christians had sat upon the flag and used it as a rug. After the incident was report in local mosques, threats were made to torch the homes of Christian families.
Pray for the safety of the threatened Christians and their property. Pray for God’s grace toward those making threats. Pray for peace and full religious freedom in Pakistan.
Please pray for Gao Zhisheng, the missing Chinese Christian lawyer; Alimujiang Yimiti, the imprisoned Chinese house church leader; Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy; and their families.
God bless you all!