Persecution & Prayer Alert - February 23, 2017

EGYPT: Teen Sentenced to 15 Years

Fadi's case was heard at the juvenile court in Banha. (World Watch Monitor)
Fadi's case was heard at the juvenile court in Banha.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

A 15-year-old Christian boy has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexual assault, even though forensic reports showed no evidence of a crime. His mother says her son, Fadi, is innocent and was targeted because their militant Muslim neighbours, whose eight-year-old son was the alleged victim, "don't like Christians."

Fadi's lawyer, Naguib Gabriel, who is head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, was "surprised" at the verdict and the extensive length of the sentence because Fadi "didn't commit any crime." In June of last year, the results of a forensic examination of the eight-year-old boy showed no evidence of sexual activity.

Fadi's case was brought to the juvenile court in Banha, the capital of the Qalyubia Governorate, in November 2016. After several hearings, he was pronounced guilty on January 28th, 2017. Fadi's mother, Hanaa, told sources that after receiving the forensic report she thought their ordeal was over, only to be "shocked" to learn the charges against her son remained.

"If Fadi was a murderer, the sentence wouldn't be this long," announced their representing lawyer. "He is a child and didn't commit any crime. The judge's verdict wasn't related to law, but faith. He said he was not convinced about the forensic report and believed the allegation." Fadi's family are appealing against the verdict. Their appeal will begin on March 7th, 2017. To learn more about the persecution of Christians in Egypt, check our country report.

Thank you for praying on behalf of Fadi and his family, as well as the lawyer mediating on behalf of this case during the appeal process. May God strengthen their faith, helping them to trust Him with the outcome. Pray that they will be comforted in knowing that regardless of the court's response to their appeal, He will somehow use these circumstances for greater good -- sovereignly working out His higher plans for their lives and His ministry of salvation in the lives of Fadi's accusers.

IRAN: Punished for Delayed Medical Leave

Maryam Naghash Zargaran (Open Doors)
Maryam Naghash Zargaran
Photo: Open Doors

Iranian Christian Maryam Naghash Zargaran returned to Evin Prison on December 5th, 2016 after medical parole -- only to be told on arrival that her overall sentence term had been extended by an additional 45 days. Prison officials punished her for not returning on time.

After being granted a five-day leave, which was extended by a court ruling, Maryam's plea for conditional release was rejected. The young woman's health remains a serious concern despite various periods of medical leave. For previous reports on Maryam's situation, click here.

Please pray that God would strengthen and heal Maryam -- physically as well as spiritually. May He surround her with His love, comfort and peace in the midst of a very difficult and dark place during her remaining prison term. Similar to the case of the Biblical character Joseph, may she receive mercy, kindness and favour from the prison officials and also the prisoners. May the Lord's light shine brightly in Evin Prison -- and through Maryam's life -- revealing His truth, righteousness and powerful transforming love.

NIGERIA: Attack Survivor Serves God

Nankpak Kumzwam (VOM Australia)
Nankpak Kumzwam

Eight-year-old Nankpak Kumzwam watched his mother lie face down on the ground as a screaming Islamic militant ran towards them with a machete. Her cheek was already stained with dried blood from a gunshot wound, and she looked physically and emotionally exhausted. The family had slept on the ground the previous two nights while fleeing marauding rioters, and they just received the heartbreaking news that the rioters had killed Nankpak's father.

When Nankpak regained consciousness after the machete attack, he instinctively knew his mother, sister and brother were now also dead. Bleeding from machete wounds and the gunshot wound he had suffered the day before, the child hiked through the bush to find help, eventually arriving at a friend's house.

After receiving treatment, Nankpak moved in with an uncle until VOM workers helped enroll him at a boarding school located in a safe area. The ministry supports numerous persecuted believers in northern Nigeria by providing them medical care, food, living expenses, education, vocational training and spiritual encouragement.

Nankpak, who has now completed high school, hopes to become a doctor so he can care for persecuted Christians. He is ready to serve wherever God calls him. "I don't really need to be afraid," Nankpak affirms. "I was the only person who was able to escape. I believe God has a reason."

Nankpak thinks often of his family, and especially misses his mentoring father. "Many times he went from one place to another, speaking the Word of God," Nankpak recalls of his father's dedication to the Lord's work. "Whenever he was at home, we spent much time discussing the Word of God." The young man's father also taught his children to live peacefully among Muslims. "He always told us to love one another...and to share the Good News." Nankpak hopes those who hear his story will be mindful to pray for persecuted Christians.