Persecution & Prayer Alert

"If we want to be followers of Jesus who stand firm in service to Him, we must abide in Him. We must be rooted in the character and Word of God. We must cling to that relationship, growing closer to Him, experiencing more of who He is, and discovering what it means to walk with Him in faith. As our intimacy with God grows, His strength empowers us to obey and endure faithfully, regardless of the cost."
~ From the book, "I Am N."
Inspiring Stories of Christians Facing Persecution

Pakistan: Perpetrators Sentenced for Brick Kiln Murders

Source(s): Morning Star News, CLAAS

Shama and Shahzad

On November 25th, a court in Lahore handed the death sentence to five people who were responsible for the torturing and killing of an impoverished young Christian couple in 2014 over allegations of burning the Quran. Eight others involved in the attack were sentenced to two years in prison.

After militant Muslim leaders incited violence via mosque loudspeakers, a frenzied mob consisting of hundreds of villagers were caught up in the assaults, during which time, Shahzad Masih, 26, and his wife, Shama, 24, were thrown into a burning brick kiln. At the time of her death, Shama was five months pregnant. A previous report on this case is available at this page.

Although more than 50 people had initially been charged in the deaths of the young couple, most of them were acquitted after family members recorded statements denying the presence of the accused at the scene. Sources also believe that the state later lost interest in the case, allowing several of those directly involved in the attack to walk away free by manipulating gaps in the Pakistani legal system.  

Even still, the incident has caused an outrage in both national and international media -- civil society in general -- prompting the Pakistani government to take the unprecedented step of becoming the complainant in the case. "The conviction of five people by the court is no small feat," states the attorney who represented the victims' family. "I hope this verdict would be seen as a stern warning against any such violence against minorities in the future." For more cases relating to Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws, visit the Pakistan Country Report.

While thankful that God has used the public outcry of people around the world to bring attention to the plight of minorities suffering under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, we are mindful of our need to intercede for the perpetrators. May the Lord not only touch the hearts of those convicted in this case with His love and mercy but also the many others who participated in the mob violence, bringing each of them to repentance and salvation (John 3:16). Pray that His comfort, provision and blessing be upon the couple's four orphaned children, so they will grow strong in both physical stature and character, and encouraged to embrace the faith of their beloved parents.

Algeria: Imprisoned Christian Facing Threats

Source(s): Morning Star News, Middle East Concern

Slimane Bouhafs
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Slimane Bouhafs, a Muslim-background Christian, is reportedly facing threats of violence in an Algerian prison. Members of his family are worried about his health, which has faltered due to lack of medical care, and have expressed concern over the threats he has recently received from fellow prisoners.

The 49-year-old believer was arrested on July 31st for posting a message on Facebook allegedly characterizing Islam as a lie. (An earlier report on Slimane's arrest may be reviewed here.) Militant Muslims within the prison have threatened to beat Slimane because he objected to the views of an imam who publicly insulted Christians and Christianity.

"Slimane was defending Christianity, calling for more religious freedom and freedom of speech, which provoked the attempted attack," reports an analyst for Middle East Concern. Aware of the planned attack, an inmate warned the prison guards who subsequently separated Slimane from his would-be assailants. For more information on persecution in Algeria, visit our country report at our Algeria Country Report.

Please pray that Slimane's health will be fully restored. Ask the Lord to keep him safe from danger and put a stop to any further threats -- in the meanwhile, strengthening his resolve to continue standing firm and defending the faith he holds so dear. May the Holy Spirit work mightily in the hearts and lives of the prisoners (and prison workers as well), revealing to them the reality of our Risen Lord Jesus who is longing to be their Saviour too.

Iran: Christians Permitted "Conditional" Release

Source(s): World Watch Monitor

ir azeris518 wwm
Bahram, Yusif and Eldar (left to right)
Photo: Middle East Concern via World Watch Monitor

In an act of mercy, the Iranian government allowed three Azerbaijani Christians, accused of missionary activity and anti-government propaganda, to return to their homeland on November 6th, after more than four months in prison.  

Eldar Gurbanov, Yusif Farhadov, Bahram Nasibov, along with an arrested Iranian believer, Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh, were pleased with the government's decision to grant them freedom from prison. Having been released about a week prior on bail, the Azerbaijanis returned to their home country where they were happily reunited with their families.

Eldar, Yusif, Bahram and Naser were arrested on June 24th when security agents raided a wedding party they had attended in Tehran (read more). For two months, the three Azerbaijani men were kept incommunicado in solitary confinement where they were continually interrogated, yet denied consular assistance and legal counsel.  

The men's families and friends are still calling on Iranian authorities to acquit the recently released believers of all charges. They hope "the Iranian regime will treat all prisoners with dignity and justice" and that "people will no longer be penalized on the account of their faith or religious activities."

If you would like to post a prayer of praise or petition on behalf of our persecuted family around the globe, visit VOMC's prayer wall.