Solidarity Ends

Long ago, I had a teacher named Mr. Quiring: a dignified, solemn gentleman, like one of the Old Testament patriarchs without a beard, who taught upper-level high school English classes. His bookish manner belied a wicked sense of humor, which manifested itself in unexpected and unusual ways.

Mr. Quiring once pelted his students with Snickers bars while bellowing “FEAST!” On another occasion, while explaining the infinitive form of verbs, he climbed onto a chair, leaped into the air and shouted, “To infinitives and beyond!” I will never forget the day he interrupted a discussion of ritual sacrifices in ancient Judaism to brandish a meat cleaver at me.

Besides his memorable jokes, I owe much to Mr. Quiring. He opened my eyes to the world of contemporary literature. Mr. Quiring also encouraged me to write a book for a contest, which won a college scholarship and motivated me to keep writing. Finally, it was Mr. Quiring who invited me to Solidarity and began to break my heart.

Solidarity was a weekly prayer meeting that met on Thursdays to focus on religious persecution. I was staggered to realize persecution isn’t a relic of bygone eras, but an ongoing tragedy. It is, in fact, a greater problem now than it has ever been.

In the years that followed, I started a prayer letter that highlighted persecution cases and offered suggestions on how to pray for the victims. I called the prayer letter Solidarity and sent it nearly every Thursday. Solidarity eventually transitioned from a prayer letter to a blog—this blog. A couple of years ago, I realized hardly anyone visited this blog, and so began updating it every two weeks instead of weekly.

For half a decade, Solidarity has existed in some form: a prayer letter, a blog, a fading hope that someone would care.

This week, after all these years, Solidarity ends.

I hate to let it go. The problem of persecution breaks my heart. I wanted to spread awareness and help people through this blog, but I can’t keep spending hours every two weeks researching, writing and maintaining a blog no one reads.

I desperately want to help victims of religious persecution, to stand in solidarity with them, but I can’t invest so much time and effort in a project that makes no difference. Good intentions help no one. If nobody glances at this blog, I can hardly justify keeping it.

My efforts seem to have failed, but I’m not bitter or angry. Solidarity was never a personal project. It was meant to be a ministry. It was meant to help people. I’m sad to see it end, and sorry it wasn’t very useful.

What next?

Solidarity may no longer exist as a blog, but I’ll use Twitter every Thursday to share a single persecution case and request for prayer for its victims. I’ll keep up with news about religious persecution, and I’ll keep praying.

God bless you all!

Solidarity #90

Update: Gao Zhisheng Still Missing

On January 16, Geng He, the wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (Solidarity #53), testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US House of Representatives. The purpose of the hearing was to “highlight the plight of prisoners of conscience around the world.” Gao, who became a Christian in 2005, was charged in December 2006 with “inciting subversion of state power.” He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released on five years’ probation. Gao disappeared into police custody in February 2009, reappearing in March 2010 and vanishing again in April 2010. The last time his family was able to visit him was on January 12, 2013—more than a year ago. All subsequent attempts to visit or contact him have been rebuffed. Gao’s wife and children are worried for his health, and his young son cannot remember his face or voice.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Gao Zhisheng. Pray for God to comfort and provide for his family. Pray for God’s grace toward everyone involved in Gao’s case, and for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in China.

(http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/01/wife-of-jailed-christian-human-rights.html; http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/01/rfa-no-news-of-gao-zhisheng-in-over.html)

Update: Kenneth Bae Meets Reporters, US Offers to Send Envoy

On January 20, Kenneth Bae, the Korean-American imprisoned in North Korea on charges of alleged state subversion (Solidarity #84), met with journalists in a press conference. Following this meeting, the US offered to send an envoy to Pyongyang to secure his release. Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. He was moved to a hospital during the summer due to poor health, and recently returned to prison. Bae stated during the press conference that he had committed acts against North Korea’s government—a statement possibly given under duress. A prior attempt in August 2013 to secure Bae’s release was called off by Pyongyang.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Kenneth Bae. Pray for God to comfort and provide for his family. Pray for economic recovery, religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in North Korea.

(http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-kenneth-bae-american-north-korea-pleads-for-help-20140120,0,1691045.story; http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/01/21/us-reportedly-offers-envoy-to-secure-release-detained-american/)

Herdsmen and Soldiers Murder 33 Nigerian Christians

On January 6, soldiers stationed to guard Shonong village in Nigeria’s Plateau state joined hundreds of Muslim Fulani herdsmen armed with guns and machetes in attacking the village and murdering 33 Christian villagers. On January 5, the day before, Fulani herdsmen reportedly killed a local Christian identified as Andrew Bature. After villagers retrieved Bature’s body on January 6, Fulani herdsman attacked Shonong village, burning houses and shooting villagers—including women, children and the elderly. Soldiers stationed to protect the village joined the attack, reportedly turning their guns on those fleeing. The village has been destroyed, with only three houses left standing. All 33 victims were members of the village’s Church of Christ in Nations congregation.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and families of the victims of the attack against Shonong village. Pray for God to heal and provide for those who were injured or lost their homes in the attack, and for the salvation of the attackers. Pray for peace, security, political stability and the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2014/01/soldiers-join-slaughter-of-christians-in-nigerian-village-survivors-say/)

33 Inmates Beaten in Pakistani Prison

On January 7, 33 Christian prisoners were reportedly beaten in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province. According to an anonymous inmate, prison officials selected Christian prisoners accused of complaining to their families of harassment at the jail and beat them with clubs. The source claimed 33 inmates received severe injuries, including fractures, and were taken to the prison hospital. A prison official, Assistant Superintendent Rana Latif, said 33 inmates had been isolated, but denied that they had been beaten and hospitalized with injuries.

Pray for the full healing of everyone injured in Kot Lakhpat Jail, and for the release of all inmates imprisoned unjustly. Pray for God’s grace toward everyone involved in the incident. Pray for peace, security and the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan.

(http://tribune.com.pk/story/657078/prisoners-clash-33-kot-lakhpat-inmates-isolated-after-clash/#.UtQ0pz00x7Q.facebook)

Jihadists Behead Syrian Christian

On January 8, Islamist militants beheaded Fadi Matanius Mattah, a 34-year-old Christian. Mattah and 29-year-old Firas Nader were on route from the Syrian diocese of Homs to the Christian village of Marmarita when their car was intercepted by five armed jihadists. Noticing the cross around Mattah’s neck, the militants beheaded him. They departed after stealing money and documents, leaving Nader for dead. Nader managed to reach the town of Almshtaeih and was then transferred to the hospital in Tartou. Christians were later able to recover Mattah’s body.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and family of Fadi Matanius Mattah. Pray for the full healing of Firas Nader, and for the salvation of his attackers. Pray for peace, security and the spread of the Gospel in Syria.

(http://www.fides.org/en/news/35048-ASIA_SYRIA_Young_Christian_killed_and_beheaded_by_jihadists#.Ut8ADBAo7IX)

Please pray for Alimujiang Yimiti, the imprisoned Chinese house church leader; Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy; Behnam Irani, the Iranian pastor imprisoned for apostasy who is suffering from a severe infection; Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor imprisoned for evangelistic activities; and their families.

God bless you all!

Solidarity #89

Update: Asia Bibi Still Imprisoned, Writes to Pope

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian imprisoned and sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy against Islam, still awaits the conclusion of her appeals process after four and a half years of imprisonment. Due to a backlog of cases, the Pakistani court will likely not be able to hear Asia’s appeal until 2015 (Solidarity #78). In a recent letter to Pope Francis, Asia shared her thankfulness for the churches that are praying for her, expressed her belief that only God can release her and described some of her ongoing difficulties. “This winter I am facing many problems: my cell has no heating and no suitable door for shelter from the bitter cold,” she wrote. “Also the security measures are not adequate, I do not have enough money for daily needs, and I am very far from Lahore so my family cannot help me.” Notwithstanding her problems, Asia offered Pope Francis her best wishes for the new year and affirmed her confidence that her freedom is possible through prayer.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Asia Bibi. Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for her family. Pray for an immediate end to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and for peace, security and the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan.

(http://www.christiantoday.com/article/asia.bibi.writes.to.pope.francis.only.god.can.liberate.me/35263.htm)

China Abolishes Labor Camps!

On December 29, China’s parliament adopted resolutions easing its one-child policy and abolishing labor camps. The abolishment of laojiao, re-education through labor camps, takes effect immediately. The labor camp system empowered police to incarcerate petty criminals for up to four years without having to get an approval from a court. Members of Chinese house churches have been targeted for their religious activities and sent to labor camps, whose conditions were horrific (Solidarity #72). All inmates of labor camps were to be released beginning December 29 per the resolution, which added that penalties handed out previously would remain valid, apparently to prevent victims of labor camps from seeking legal redress.

Pray for God to hasten and facilitate the process of shutting down China’s forced labor camps. Pray for God to guide, heal, protect and provide for all freed labor camp inmates and their families. Pray for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in China.

(http://www.christianpost.com/news/china-eases-one-child-policy-abolishes-labor-camps-111664/)

Baghdad Christmas Bombings Kill 37, Injure 51

On December 25, three bombs killed 37 and injured 51 people in Baghdad, Iraq. At least 26 people died and 38 were injured by a bombing off near a church in the capital’s southern neighborhood of Dora; earlier, two bombs went off in a market in the Christian area of Athorien, killing 11 and wounding 21. The US Embassy in Iraq condemned the attacks: “The Christian community in Iraq has suffered deliberate and senseless targeting by terrorists for many years, as have many other innocent Iraqis.” The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people killed in Iraq in December to 441.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and families of those killed and injured by the Christmas bombings in Baghdad. Pray for the full physical, emotional and psychological healing of those injured, and for God’s grace toward the bombers. Pray for peace, security, political stability, economic recovery and the spread of the Gospel in Iraq.

(http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/25/22045360-37-killed-in-baghdad-bomb-blasts-amid-deliberate-and-senseless-targeting-of-christians)

12 Nigerian Christians Murdered

On December 28, militants opened fire on a bachelor party in the Christian village of Tashan-Alede in Nigeria, killing eight people; on December 29, militants attacked the neighboring village of Kwajffa and killed four people. The attackers in both incidents are suspected to be members of Boko Haram, the Islamist terror organization fighting for control of northern Nigeria and the establishment of sharia law.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and families of those killed in these attacks. Pray for the salvation of the attackers, and for the immediate dissolution of Boko Haram. Pray for peace, security, political stability and the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.

(http://www.persecution.org/2013/12/31/twelve-christians-brutally-murdered-by-boko-haram-militants-in-northern-nigeria/)

Iranian Christian Sentenced to Prison

Hossein Saketi Aramsari, a Farsi-speaking Iranian Christian convert who goes by the name Stephen, was recently sentenced by Karaj Revolutionary Court to one year of imprisonment for his evangelistic activities. Saketi was arrested on July 23, 2013 in Iran’s Golestan province. Following his arrest, he was repeatedly transferred between prisons. He was granted bail pending his sentence, but his family was reportedly prevented from posting bail for his conditional freedom.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Hossein Saketi Aramsari. Pray for all charges against him to be dropped, and for God to comfort, protect and provide for his family. Pray for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Iran.

(http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8005:revolutionary-court-sentenced-a-christian-convert-to-one-year-in-prison&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279)

Please pray for Gao Zhisheng, the missing Chinese Christian lawyer; Alimujiang Yimiti, the imprisoned Chinese house church leader; Behnam Irani, the Iranian pastor imprisoned for apostasy who is suffering from a severe infection; Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor imprisoned for evangelistic activities; and their families.

God bless you all!

Solidarity #88

Update: Saeed Abedini Suffers Deteriorating Health and Direct Threats

Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran, is reportedly suffering deteriorating health, repeated robbery and frequent threats upon his life. He was recently moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj (Solidarity #86). Rajai Shahr Prison holds dangerous inmates such as rapists and murderers, from whom Abedini’s living space is separated by only a curtain. He has been robbed repeatedly at knifepoint of his few necessities for personal hygiene, and awoken several times at night to find himself surrounded by men with knives. Abedini’s health has declined severely due to prison authorities withholding his doctor-prescribed medication; he is reportedly suffering symptoms of urinary tract infections in addition to stomach, joint and kidney pain. A hearing of the US Congress has been set for today, December 12, to discuss Abedini’s case.

Pray the health, safety and immediate release of Pastor Saeed Abedini. Pray for today’s congressional hearing to yield useful results in his case. Pray for God’s comfort toward his family and grace toward his persecutors. Pray for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Iran.

(http://aclj.org/iran/american-pastor-saeed-abedini-robbed-life-threatened-knifepoint-health-deteriorates-deadly-iranian-prison; http://www.christianpost.com/news/naghmeh-abedini-to-testify-at-new-congressional-hearing-on-persecution-of-pastor-saeed-abedini-110348/)

Prominent Egyptian Christian Convert Arrested, Likely Tortured

On December 4, 31-year-old Christian convert Bishoy Armia Boulous was arrested in Minya, Egypt. Boulous, known formally by his Muslim name Mohammed Hegazy, became known across Egypt when he decided in August 2007 to file a legal case to have his religion and name changed on his government-issued identification card—a move that created great controversy in Muslim-majority Egypt. Boulous is currently imprisoned pending an investigation into charges of inciting violence. Human rights activists fear for his safety. “There is no doubt that he will be tortured,” Mamdouh Nakhla, chairman of the Kalema Organization for Human Rights, said. “Those who have previously been in his place have been tortured—if not by the police, they are beaten by their fellow inmates.”

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Bishoy Armia Boulous. Pray for God’s grace toward everyone involved in his case. Pray for peace, full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Egypt.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/12/noted-convert-in-egypt-arrested-likely-tortured/)

Sudanese Christian Loses Citizenship, Imprisoned

Zawengel Abraham Mikael, a 41-year-old church deacon of Eritrean descent, has been jailed in Khartoum, Sudan for declining to leave the country after authorities revoked his Sudanese citizenship. Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) had previously required Mikael to report to their offices in Khartoum because of his religious activities. After informing him in May that his citizenship had been revoked, the NISS jailed him on October 26 for failing to leave Sudan. Mikael had applied to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for relocation to another country as a religious refugee; he was awaiting a decision at the time of his imprisonment. He is currently held without charges in Khartoum’s Kober Prison. Mikael, who holds no other citizenship and whose wife is Sudanese, has stated he has nowhere else to go.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Zawengel Abraham Mikael, and for God to protect and provide for his family. Pray for Mikael and his family to find asylum in a secure country. Pray for peace and the spread of the Gospel in Sudan.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/12/sudan-revokes-citizenship-of-christian-jails-him-for-failing-to-leave-country/)

Bible Translator Killed in Central African Republic

In early December of this year, Elisée Zama, a Bible translator in war-ravaged Central African Republic (CAR), was shot and killed as he attempted to escape increasing violence in Bangui. Zama served as a translator with ACATBA, a partner organization in CAR of Wycliffe Bible Translators. He was shot while transporting family members to the relative safety of a hospital compound. Zama is survived by a widow and three young children. Violence has intensified in CAR following a coup in March 2013, and the UN warned recently that the nation stands upon the brink of genocide.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and family of Elisée Zama. Pray for peace, security, political stability and the spread of the Gospel in Central African Republic.

(http://blog.godreports.com/2013/12/bible-translator-killed-in-central-african-republic/)

Indian Christian Boy Murdered, Police Fail to Investigate

On November 18, the body of a seven-year-old boy, Anugrag Gemethi, was found in a pond in India’s Rajasthan state. The boy’s face was mutilated beyond recognition, there were burn marks on his stomach, his toes were chopped off and one hand and arm were deeply slashed. An autopsy report stated drowning was the cause of death and, except for mention of “animal bites,” claimed the body was otherwise “normal.” Anugrag’s father, Harish Gemethi, claimed police failed to investigate his son’s death properly. “For the 10 years I have been a Christian, some local Hindu extremists have threatened to kill me and harm my family countless times—the last threat I received was earlier this month, before my son was killed,” Harish said. “I have repeatedly mentioned the names of these people who constantly threatened to take my life and my family in connection to my son’s death to the police, but sadly they are not paying heed to my suggestions.”

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and family of Anugrag Gemethi. Pray for a fair investigation of the murder, and for the salvation of Anugrag’s murders and the police involved in his case. Pray for peace, economic recovery and the spread of the Gospel in India.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/11/police-in-india-slow-to-investigate-torture-killing-of-christian-boy/)

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; Behnam Irani, the Iranian pastor imprisoned for apostasy who is suffering from a severe infection; and their families.

God bless you all!

Solidarity #87

Update: Iranian Christian Prisoner’s Health Failing

Vahid Hakkani, one of several Iranian Christians arrested and sentenced for their religious activities (Solidarity #85), is suffering severe health problems worsened by his imprisonment. Despite the initial objections of his judge, Hakkani was eventually transferred to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for severe hemorrhoids and internal bleeding. His hospital leave, which required an extremely heavy bail, will not be counted toward his prison sentence.

Pray for the full recovery and immediate release of Vahid Hakkani. Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of his fellow Iranian Christians imprisoned for religious activities: Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei and Homayoun Shokouhi. Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for their families. Pray for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Iran.

(http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7771:christian-converts-health-condition-critical-in-prison&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279)

Central African Republic on the Brink of Genocide

The Central African Republic (CAR) stands “on the verge of genocide,” engulfed in violence that has been described as “the worst crisis most people have never heard of.” Thousands of people have reportedly been slaughtered by soldiers and militants or killed by diseases such as malaria. Survivors have shared horrific stories: a mother beaten to death, a young child’s throat cut, a young man bound and thrown to crocodiles, and more. The US estimates that the violence in the CAR has displaced nearly 400,000 people. The situation in the CAR, though dire, is reportedly not yet a genocide due to its haphazard nature. “It’s still early enough to avert a crisis in this country,” Lewis Mudge, a Human Rights Watch researcher, said. “It’s not a genocide and it’s not a civil war but it’s certainly trending in that direction.”

Pray for healing, peace, security, economic recovery, political stability and the spread of the Gospel in the Central African Republic. Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for those who have been displaced or lost loved ones. Pray for God’s grace toward the militants and criminals responsible for the crisis in the CAR.

(http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/22/central-african-republic-verge-of-genocide)

South Korean Missionary Detained in North Korea

Earlier in November, North Korea announced the capture of a South Korean “spy” whom an activist has identified as Kim Jeong-Wook, a 50-year-old evangelist who for seven years provided food and shelter to North Koreans in China’s northeastern border city of Dandong. Kim reportedly entered North Korea early last month to establish the whereabouts of North Korean refugees who had been arrested by Chinese authorities and repatriated. Early this year, Kim used his own money and donations to open a small noodle factory to help feed hungry North Koreans in China. North Korea is notorious for its brutal treatment of citizens, widespread poverty and absolute lack of religious freedom.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Kim Jeong-Wook. Pray for God to protect and provide for the refugees whom he tried to help. Pray for peace, economic recovery, full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in North Korea.

(http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/south-korean-spy-detained-in-north-korea-is-missionary-says-colleague)

Pakistani Church Guard Killed

On November 19, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Atta Ullah, a police constable guarding a Pentecostal church in Peshawar, Pakistan. Although there were no worshipers inside the church, Ullah was attacked while on guard at a gate and killed. His attackers fled after taking his rifle. This was the second attack on the Assembly of God Church this year. In September, another church in Peshawar was attacked by suicide bombers in a blast that killed at least 75 people (Solidarity #83).

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and family of Atta Ullah. Pray for the salvation of his murderers, and for the safety of God’s people in Peshawar. Pray for peace, security, full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan.

(http://www.worthynews.com/12673-policeman-guarding-peshawar-church-killed-on-duty)

Christian Flees Iranian Authorities

Armin Davoodi, a convert from Islam to Christianity, is currently in hiding from Iranian authorities. A former drug addict, Davoodi met a Christian woman at a rehabilitation center in Tehran, and eventually converted to Christianity and began evangelizing. Iran’s secret police reportedly received a tip about Davoodi’s religious activities and arrested him on false charges of drug dealing. He was beaten and tortured; since then, he has reportedly suffered debilitating headaches. Following his conditional release, Davoodi could not reclaim his previous job at a rehab center and found work at another rehab center outside Tehran. His discrete attempts at evangelization drew the attention of the police. He has since remained in hiding. Police regularly harass his family, attempting to persuade them to make Davoodi turn himself in.

Pray for the health, safety and continued freedom of Armin Davoodi. Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for his family. Pray for peace, full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Iran.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/11/convert-from-islam-flees-iranian-authorities-torture-threats/)

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; Behnam Irani, the Iranian pastor imprisoned for apostasy who is suffering from a severe infection; Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor imprisoned for evangelistic activities; and their families.

God bless you all!

Solidarity #86

Update: Saeed Abedini Transferred to Brutal Iranian Prison

Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran (Solidarity #83), was recently moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj: an abrupt, unexplained transfer that puts Pastor Abedini at extreme risk. In 2005, Loes Bijnen, a Dutch Diplomat from the embassy in Tehran, described Rajai Shahr Prison: “Going to Karaj is a severe punishment . . . In Rajai Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don’t hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence.” Pastor Abedini is currently not allowed visitors. His wife Naghmeh gave the following statement: “The news of Saeed’s transfer to this prison is most difficult to bear. I am devastated and I do not know what to tell my children. I am more concerned now about his safety than at any other time during his imprisonment.”

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Saeed Abedini. Pray for all charges against him to be dropped, and for his safe return to his family. Pray for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Iran.

(http://aclj.org/iran/american-pastor-saeed-transferred-brutal-iranian-prison-life-in-danger-president-obama-must-step-in; http://www.persecution.org/2013/11/08/american-pastor-abedinis-transfer-to-new-prison-a-death-sentence/)

Update: Pakistani Christian Fugitive Surrenders to Police

On November 6, Adnan Masih, a young Pakistani evangelist accused of blasphemy (Solidarity #85), surrendered to police due to serious threats from Islamic extremists. The 26-year-old Christian was reportedly very frightened when he agreed to surrender. “The hapless man knew he did not have any option—the odds were against us, and Masih knew we could do nothing else except seek refuge in courts,” said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. “My heart grieved when I handed him into police custody. I’m determined to prove his innocence, because I believe that he has been wrongly accused.” Adnan was accused of blasphemy against Islam, a crime punishable by Pakistani law, after he scribbled corrections to statements about Jesus and the Bible in an Islamic book. His wife and two young daughters have sought refuge in another town for their security.

Pray for God to protect and provide for Adnan Masih, his brother Irfan Masih and their families. Pray for God’s grace toward everyone involved in Adnan’s case. Pray for security, full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan, and for an immediate end to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/11/fearing-assassination-christian-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan-turns-himself-in/)

North Korea Publicly Executes 80 Citizens

On November 3, as many as 80 people were publicly executed in seven cities across North Korea—many for trivial offenses such as watching South Korean movies or owning a Bible. In the city of Wonsan, eight people with bags over their heads were tied to stakes and machine-gunned to death. Wonsan authorities gathered a crowd of 10,000 people, including children, at Shinpoong Stadium and forced them to watch the killings. Relatives of the execution victims implicated in their alleged crimes were sent to prison camps.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and families of those executed in North Korea. Pray for the salvation of those responsible for the executions and the psychological healing of those forced to watch. Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of all North Koreans unjustly imprisoned. Pray for economic recovery, religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in North Korea.

(http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/11/12/north-korea-publicly-executes-80-for-crimes-like-watching-films-owning-bible/)

Syrian Journalist Reports Atrocities against Christians

On November 8, award-winning Swedish-Syrian journalist Nuri Kino gave a presentation at a conference on religious persecution in which he highlighted the atrocities committed against Syrian Christians. “Syria. We are dying over there,” he announced. “We are being raped, persecuted and tortured. And our homes and land are being occupied.” Citing examples, Kino reported frequent murders of Christians by jihadists: attacks which have displaced many more Christians and spread fear throughout the country.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for Syrian Christians whose loved ones have been slain or kidnapped by Islamist extremists, and for Christians who have been displaced. Pray for God’s grace toward those responsible for these attacks. Pray for peace, security, healing and the spread of the Gospel in Syria.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/11/nuri-kino-tax-money-for-massacres-in-syria/)

Kazakh Pastor Imprisoned and Tortured

Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev, a Christian pastor, has been wrongfully imprisoned and tortured by the government of Kazakhstan for his religious activities. Originally arrested on the charge of lacing a recent convert’s Communion wine with hallucinogens, Pastor Kashkumbayev was released only to be almost immediately re-arrested on charges of propagating terrorism. At the time of the report, he had been imprisoned without a hearing for 182 days. The 67-year-old pastor is reportedly in poor health and regularly subjected to abuse.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev. Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for his family, and for God’s grace toward everyone involved in his case. Pray for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Kazakhstan.

(http://www.persecution.org/2013/11/08/innocent-pastor-imprisoned-and-tortured-by-u-s-ally/)

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; Behnam Irani, the Iranian pastor imprisoned for apostasy who is suffering from a severe infection; and their families.

God bless you all!

Solidarity #85

Update: Sentence Upheld for Iranian Christian Prisoners

On October 12, an Iranian appeals court upheld the sentences of six Christians arrested for their religious activities (Solidarity #76). Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani and Homayoun Shokouhi were sentenced to three years and eight months in prison; Hossein and Shokouhi received an additional eight months. Two more Iranian Christians, Shokouhi’s wife Fariba Nazemina and her 17-year-old son Nima Shokouhi, each received a two-year suspended prison sentence; they were later released on bail. These latest rulings are final and cannot be appealed.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani and Homayoun Shokouhi, and for the health and safety of Fariba Nazemina and Nima Shokouhi. Pray for all charges against them to be dropped. Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for their families, and for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Iran.

(http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7641:appeals-court-upholds-christian-prisoners-prison-sentence&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279)

Attack on Egyptian Christian Wedding Kills Five

On October 20, a drive-by machine-gun attack on an Egyptian Coptic Christian wedding killed four guests, including two children: eight-year-old Mariam Ashraf Mesiha, 12-year-old Mariam Nabil Fahmy Azer, 46-year-old Samir Fahmy Azer and 62-year-old Camilia Helmy Attyia, the mother of the groom. A Muslim bystander, 17-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim Mahmoud, was also killed. The attack, which occurred before the wedding, was carried out by two men on a motorcycle. Hours later, the bride and groom were married, dressed in mourning black, in a ceremony attended by three people. Seventeen people were wounded, including two children, and two children were reported missing. One of the wounded was Mariam Nabil Fahmy Azer’s mother, 30-year-old Howida Refaat Azer. Her 40-year-old husband, Nabil Fahmy Azer, is so traumatized that his relatives at the time of the report refrained from telling him about his daughter’s death for fear of compromising his health and mental stability.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and families of Mariam Ashraf Mesiha, Mariam Nabil Fahmy Azer, Samir Fahmy Azer, Camilia Helmy Attyia and Mohammed Ibrahim Mahmoud. Pray for the complete healing of those injured in the attack, and for the salvation of the attackers and Muslim bystanders. Pray for peace, security and the spread of the Gospel in Egypt.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/10/traumatized-survivors-of-wedding-attack-in-egypt-look-to-god/)

Eritrean Government Arrests 150 Christians

Eritrean security forces recently raided a prayer meeting and arrested 150 Christians in Maitemenai, a suburb north of Asmara. The gathering was reportedly under the auspices of an underground fellowship known as Hiyaw Amlak (Living God), which is part of a wider network of fellowships in operation throughout the country since 2002, when the Eritrean government banned all churches not belonging to officially sanctioned religious groups. The whereabouts of the prisoners have been officially disclosed.

Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of the 150 Christians arrested near Asmara. Pray for God’s grace toward the authorities responsible for their arrest. Pray for the health, safety and immediate release of all Eritreans imprisoned for their faith, and for full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Eritrea.

(http://www.asmarino.com/press-releases/1898-the-government-of-eritrea-arrests-150-christians-found-praying-together-)

Two Kenyan Pastors Murdered

On October 19, Pastor Charles Matole of Vikwantani Redeemed Gospel Church in Mombasa, Kenya, was shot to death in the church building. When Matole failed to return home late at night after his customary time of prayer, his wife Claris called other church leaders and went with them to the church to find him dead from a gunshot wound to the back of his head. On October 20, Pastor Ebrahim Kidata of East African Pentecostal Church was killed in Kilifi, north of Mombasa. He appeared to have been strangled and left in some bushes. His motorcycle, which he had been riding, was stolen.

Pray for God to comfort, protect and provide for the friends and families of Charles Matole and Ebrahim Kidata. Pray for God’s grace toward their murderers. Pray for security and the spread of the Gospel in Kenya.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/10/two-pastors-killed-in-kenyas-coastal-area/)

Two Pakistani Christians in Hiding

Police and an Islamist group in Lahore, Pakistan are searching for 26-year-old Adnan Masih, an evangelist and tutor accused of blasphemy for correcting misconceptions about Christianity in a Muslim book. Adnan, who has a master’s in English and a seminary education, highlighted several false statements about Jesus and the Bible in an Islamic book titled I Asked the Bible Why Qur’ans Were Burnt (in Urdu, Mein ney Bible sey poocha Qur’an kyun jaley) and corrected them with verses from the Bible. A blasphemy case was filed against him the next day for allegedly outraging religious feelings, defiling the Qur’an and defaming Muhammad. Masih, married and a father of two young girls, went into hiding for fear of being killed by the extremist group Jamaat ud Dawa or the Pakistani judicial system, which makes blasphemy against Islam’s prophet punishable by death. Adnan’s brother Irfan Masih has also gone into hiding. Abid Mehmood, the owner of the book amended by Adnan, stated, “Irfan has never been disrespectful to Islam, but he is the brother of a blasphemer and must suffer for his action.”

Pray for God to protect and provide for Adnan Masih, Irfan Masih and their families. Pray for the salvation of Abid Mehmood and everyone involved in the search for Adnan and Irfan. Pray for security, full religious freedom and the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan, and for an immediate end to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

(http://morningstarnews.org/2013/10/police-islamic-extremists-in-pakistan-hunt-for-christian-accused-of-blasphemy/)

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; Behnam Irani, the Iranian pastor imprisoned for apostasy who is suffering from a severe infection; Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor imprisoned for evangelistic activities; and their families.

God bless you all!