The Persecution & Prayer Alert
“Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great
|RUSSIA: “Anti-Sharing Beliefs” Law Commences
Source: Forum 18
The first known punishments of the “Anti-Sharing Beliefs” law have now been handed down under Russia’s new amendments which came into force on July 20th. Three of the four citizens known to have been charged so far under the new provisions are Christians: Ebenezer Tuah, Aleksandr Yakimov, and Donald Ossewaarde.
Christ Embassy leader Ebenezer Tuah, a Ghanaian citizen living in Russia on an educational visa, was fined on August 1st after police and government officials raided a sanatorium in the city where he was performing baptisms. According to the court verdict, the Christian leader “conducted religious rites and ceremonies, including religious gatherings, posted information about his beliefs on the Internet with the aim of propagandizing, and carried out missionary activity (in)…the city of Tver without the required documents and not in the conditions provided for by (the Religion Law).”
Aleksandr Yakimov leads the local New Generation Pentecostal community in Mari-Turek. On August 3rd, Aleksandr took part in an annual festival hosted by the village of Mari-Sholner. According to the district prosecutor’s office, he spoke from a stage that had a banner bearing the name of his church. On August 5th, officials charged Aleksandr with “conducting missionary activity in violation of (the Religion Law).”
On August 14th, an independent Baptist preacher, Donald Ossewaarde, a United States citizen who has lived in Oryol since 2005, was brought before a hastily-arranged hearing at the city’s Railway District Court. Donald was fined for holding religious services in his home and for allegedly advertising them on the bulletin boards of nearby housing blocks. He was charged the same day and given no time to summon his own lawyer.
President Vladimir Putin signed the “anti-sharing beliefs” amendments into law on July 6th as part of Russia’s “anti-terrorism” legislation. The section introducing new restrictions on “missionary” activity triggered protest from religious leaders and human rights activists. Mikhail Fedotov, Chair of the Presidential Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, complained to President Putin on July 1st. He told the president that the amendments “create unjustified and excessive restrictions on the freedom of conscience of believers of all religions, and encroach upon the fundamental constitutional principle of non-interference by the state….”
God’s Word states that “Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart” (Psalm 97:11) May the light demonstrated by His faithful servants in Russia shine so brightly that the people of their communities — including those opposing them — will recognize the glorious power of His Son Jesus operating in and through their lives. We pray that as a result of His manifested presence, many more will acknowledge Him as Saviour and Lord, and that spiritual revival will take place within this country in the time leading up to His imminent return.
|NIGERIA: Mass Riots Result in Tragic Loss
Sources: VOMC Contacts, Nigeria’s “Leadership” News
On August 21st, a Christian student of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in Talata Mafara, Zamfara State, had allegedly made a blasphemous statement. He was then beaten almost to the point of death by some angered Muslim students. A fellow Christian was able to rush him to the hospital with the help of a compassionate Muslim who volunteered the use of his car.
The following morning, a mob of militants gathered in the community, insisting that the Christian student be killed. They went around the school, burning down the Christian fellowship secretariats. Then they proceeded to town, destroying churches and threatening to kill any Christian who ever decides to return to Talata Mafara. Unfortunately, the mob later set ablaze the house where the victimized student had taken refuge, burning him and seven others to death.
President Muhammadu Buhari describes the killings that took place as barbaric and unacceptable: “I received news of the mob killings in Zamfara with great dismay…. I assure that the law will take its course. My prayers are with the families of the victims. Under my watch we will work to ensure that there is no place for violence in the name of religion, ethnicity, or in any guise whatsoever.” Other reports revealing the seriousness of Nigeria’s situation may be reviewed here.
May our loving God, who promises to be close to the brokenhearted, bring greatly needed consolation to all who have suffered loss during the riots. Especially uphold the families, friends and community members of those who’ve tragically lost their lives, praying that His peace, strength and comfort will sustain them in the midst of their grief. Ask for the Lord’s conviction to be upon the perpetrators so they will realize the seriousness of their hateful actions and their desperate need for His forgiveness and salvation. Also intercede on behalf of Nigeria’s president and others in governmental authority who need wisdom, guidance and help as they strategize effective ways to combat the violence and protect their citizens.
|RECENT PRISONER UPDATE|
|PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi’s October Appeal
Sources: CBN News, The Christian Post, International Christian Concern
Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, will fight for her freedom in court this October. Asia was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 after Muslim women told a cleric in a village of the eastern Punjab province that she had made “derogatory remarks” about the prophet.
Since her arrest in 2009, the international community has pressured Pakistan’s strict government, calling for Asia’s release and reforms to be made to the blasphemy laws. Although her appeal was scheduled for March 26th of this year, rising tensions and protests against it from Pakistan’s Muslim community delayed the hearing until October.
Asia has been sitting in prison for almost seven years, and reports have indicated that the health of the 51-year-old mother has been deteriorating. As the blasphemy law in Pakistan is often abused by Muslims to settle personal scores with Christians and other religious minorities, international religious freedom advocates have asserted that the charge against Asia is trumped up and have called for the Pakistani government to immediately release her. For previous reports on Asia’s ongoing case, click here.
Ask that the Lord will grant favour to Asia and her legal representatives as they mediate for justice and mercy on her behalf. May the court be impartial and not be swayed by prejudicial arguments or protests, nor respond in fear to opposing militants. Continue to pray for Asia’s health and protection, as well as the safety of her family and all who are trying to assist her. Intercede for the Pakistanis who are wishing her harm by wrongfully taking “justice” into their own hands. Pray that they would be under the conviction of the one true God who longs for His love and salvation to be experienced by all of humanity (John 3:16).
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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