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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!