The Persecution & Prayer Alert
“In the midst of darkness there is light.
|IRAN: Christian Prisoner on Medical Furlough
Source: Middle East Concern
Friends and family of Maryam Naghash Zargaran, a believer who has been imprisoned in Iran for almost three years, are relieved over the recent news of her temporary release so she can receive the urgent medical care she needs.
Maryam’s condition had deteriorated even more since she began a hunger strike on May 27th to protest the lack of adequate medical treatment in prison. Along with a history of heart problems, she has also been suffering from severe headaches, nausea, and pain in her ears.
Although prison authorities recognized the severity of her condition and the need for treatment, the prosecutor’s office had previously refused to allow her leave from prison for required medical care at a hospital. It has been reported that fellow prisoners in her ward at Evin prison in Tehran showed their support for Maryam by forgoing their family visits on May 29th as a form of protest.
Maryam is a believer from a Muslim background. In 2013, the young Christian woman was sentenced to four years in prison after being arrested in connection with her work at a Christian orphanage and charged with “acting against national security.” Her lawyer’s request for a retrial was refused. For other prayer alert reports, as well as informative video documentaries, go to the Iran Country Report.
We join Maryam’s friends and family in a prayer of thanksgiving that she has finally been granted leave from prison and allowed to go to hospital for proper treatment. Ask the Lord to work through this medical care, restoring her to good health and well-being. May it also be made possible for her to be freed from serving the full prison term so she can fully recover. In the interim, we pray that the authorities and other prisoners will act kindly towards Maryam and each other…and that the light of Christ will permeate every part of Evin prison.
|INDIA: Ill-Treated Believers Driven from Homes
Sources: Release International, Morningstar News
Children were among the 28 Christians who were beaten and driven from their homes twice within a two-day period. Local Hindu extremists in Katholi village had summoned four families to a public meeting — demanding that they recant their faith — but the families refused. In the first attack, six believers were badly injured and needed medical treatment. When they returned to Katholi the next day, they were subjected again to further physical assault.
The perpetrators justified the attacks by claiming their “gods were angry” that their neighbours had become Christians. After the police intervened and the assailants agreed not to attack again, the families were able to return to their homes.
Meanwhile, about 80 kilometres away in Sukma village, other Hindu extremists subjected two Christians to a two-hour “purification” ritual in which one of them was burned as fire-heated coins were forcibly placed on his tongue. He also suffered burns to his back, shoulders, knees and feet. When the two Christians still refused to deny Christ, they were fined as well.
In India’s central Chhattisgarh state, there were 49 reported incidents of organized attacks on Christians between January and April of this year alone. More about persecution in this country is available at the India Country Report.
Please pray for the peace and protection of Christians throughout Chhattisgarh state, particularly for families in the villages of Katholi and Sukma. May the governing officials in India do more to uphold the religious rights of all citizens so these faithful believers will be able to practise their faith freely. Ask the Lord to change the hearts of those who have inflicted these injuries, helping them to understand the error of their ways and, ultimately, drawing them to faith in Him.
|FINLAND: Immigrants Turn to Christianity
Source: Evangelical Focus
Over the past several months, churches in Finland have faced a surprising new experience as hundreds of Muslim immigrants arrived at their doors with questions about the Christian faith. Interest has been greatest among arrivals from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, reports Marja-Liisa Laihia, a specialist on immigrant issues for the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Finland received almost 30,000 new Muslim immigrants during the widely reported influx of immigration into Europe in the fall of 2015. Since that time, one pastor who speaks Arabic as his mother tongue has baptized 18 Iraqi Muslims in the Helsinki area. He provides a baptismal course, which totals approximately 45 to 50 hours in length, and notes there are more people hoping to join the classes than he has the capacity to teach.
Due to the ravaging terror and upheaval caused by militant groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, many Muslims are questioning Islam. Now that these immigrants are living in a foreign country where religious freedom is granted, they are able to learn more about Christianity. While some families may readily accept the conversion, others opt to disown the baptized member.
In a survey by the Christian newspaper, Uusi Tie (Finland), senior pastors were asked how many Muslim asylum seekers had been baptized among those who came to Finland in the fall of 2015. There were 128 responses and, within these churches, a total of 117 Muslims had been baptized. Although the survey focussed on the Lutheran church, for the purpose of comparison, 17 Pentecostal churches were also approached. Of the 13 churches that responded, a total of 108 Muslims had been baptized.
We rejoice over the fact that these Muslim immigrants feel free to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour now that they are living in a new country. May they be effective witnesses to their family members and others who have not yet taken this step of faith. Intercede also for the many Christians who remain in countries where persecution is prevalent; mindful to pray for a safe passage on behalf of those who are even at this moment attempting to flee violent areas in search of refuge and religious freedom.
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.
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