Persecution & Prayer Alert - May 4, 2017

PAKISTAN: Parliament Calls for Reform of Blasphemy Laws

Image: Justice scales and gavel

There have been fresh calls within Pakistan's Parliament to reform the nation's blasphemy laws. The resolution follows the mob-killing of a Muslim student on April 13th. Pakistan's top court is now investigating the murder of Mashal Khan who was attacked by his peers for allegedly promoting "blasphemous" content on social media. A total of 45 people have been detained in connection with the mob attack which prompted officials to close the entire campus out of fears for security.

Mashal, a journalism student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in northwest Pakistan, was a self-professed "humanist" and a strong advocate of women's rights and freedom of thought and speech. Although he had not been formally charged under the laws, it is thought that the attack followed rumours about the student's social media postings which were circulating at the university.

As a result of this tragedy, Pakistan's National Assembly passed a resolution condemning the lynching, describing it as "cold-blooded murder." They went on to express their determination to "ensure that strong safeguards may be inserted into the blasphemy law to prevent its abuse through such atrocities in the future."

This isn't the first time that the highly controversial laws have been condemned within Pakistan's Parliament. However, all such calls have faced strong opposition, with one senior politician being assassinated for speaking out on the matter. For more about persecution in Pakistan, click here.

Ask God to mightily intervene in Pakistan so that strong safeguards will indeed be implemented into the blasphemy law, along with strong deterrent penalties for those making such accusations. Pray that He will personally minister to Mashal's family and friends as they grieve over this tragic loss. Also prayerfully uphold the many others who are currently imprisoned for alleged blasphemy, including Asia Bibi and 16-year-old Nabeel Masih. May God preserve and bless His severely persecuted people, while pouring out His Spirit in amazing grace and awesome power so that multitudes in Pakistan will experience transformative revival.

Update on Asia Bibi: Asia's lawyer submitted a request to the Supreme Court asking for her trial to be brought forward to the first week of June. On April 26th, the request was turned down. As her lawyer explains, the authorities are afraid to release her, aware that massive outrage would erupt if she is freed. Islamic clerics have now renewed their call for Asia to be executed, claiming that incidents such as the lynching of Mashal Khan are merely the consequence of Muslim frustration over the delay in Asia's execution. Previous reports on Asia's case may be reviewed here.

SUDAN: Mob Attack of Guard's Residence

Guard’s wife and their three children. (Morning Star News)
Guard's wife and their three children
Photo: Morning Star News

Three weeks after an elder was killed in an attack on church property in Sudan's historical city of Omdurman, a mob accompanied by police ransacked the living quarters of the compound guard and arrested his family.

On April 24th, the mob demolished part of the room where the family lived, after first destroying its padlock at the compound of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church. The officers then took Mona Matta, wife of guard Azhari Tambra (who was not home at the time of the attack), and their three children -- ages six, four and two -- from their room at the church compound and detained them for 12 hours.

When Mona and the children, including one who is disabled, were taken away in a police van, they were accused of opposing authorities, lacking ownership papers, and betrayal of the country. Thankfully, they were later released with no charges filed against them. However, upon their return home, it was discovered that all their belongings had been destroyed. Officers then prevented them from re-entering their living quarters. The guard and his family are unsure where they will now take shelter.

While thankful for the release of Azhari's family from detainment, and the fact that no charges have been laid against them, we ask the Lord to provide a safe place for them to live. In fact, may He supply for this family's spiritual and practical needs in ways that exceed their expectations (Ephesians 3:20), demonstrating His loving kindness toward them. Pray that wisdom, patience and peace will be granted to Sudan's church leaders and members as they face the attempts of those trying to illegally confiscate church properties. Intercede on their behalf, asking for an end to the mounting pressure and that the Lord's justice will prevail.

MIDDLE EAST: ISIS Fighter Converts to Christianity

mideast shadow crossPastor Abraham had been threatened many times for boldly sharing his faith with Sunni Muslims who were crossing the border from Syria. But the threats toward his family were becoming increasingly frequent and more serious. For several months, he had been dealing with mounting internal fear. He knew of no better way to combat that fear than to pray and ask the Lord for strength.

One day, while working outside his house with an electrical saw, the blade suddenly popped off and caught him in the mouth. Had the blade hit him a few inches lower, it could have severed an artery in his neck. If it had been a few inches higher, it could have blinded him. As he stood in shock for a moment, he sensed God's Spirit impressing upon him: "I am in control of when your life will end. Stop being scared." At that moment, Abraham's fears were calmed.

In the same area that Abraham had been ministering, an ISIS fighter named Fadi was recruiting Muslims to fight for the terrorist group. When several people at the refugee camp told him about the Christian evangelist, Fadi was infuriated. The ISIS terrorist decided to personally kill Abraham.

When Fadi appeared, walking towards the Christian's home, Abraham was ready. The Lord had prepared the evangelist for this moment: "Speak to (Fadi) strongly and directly; don't be afraid," he was admonished. As Abraham began to speak the words God had put on his heart, Fadi began shaking uncontrollably. "I want salvation," the convicted terrorist earnestly pleaded. Abraham assuredly told him, "Jesus will forgive you of your sins." On hearing this, Fadi began to weep....

The evangelist prayed with Fadi, whose life was dramatically transformed after accepting Jesus as his Saviour that day. Four months ago, the former terrorist was baptized at Abraham's church where he continues to meet for discipleship. The new believer has since led his wife to the Lord, and is now boldly sharing his faith with others at the refugee camp.