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Radical Muslims Protest Sudan’s Abolishment of Apostasy, other Islamist Laws

Khartoum Mosque (Azri Alhaq)

(Morning Star News) – Radical Muslims in Sudan took to the streets today to protest the transitional government’s adoption of amendments to decriminalize apostasy and repeal other Islamist laws.

The apostasy law has been used for more than 30 years to persecute those who leave Islam. The government’s adoption this week of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act also allows non-Muslims to drink alcohol and abolishes public flogging as a criminal punishment.

“We [will] drop all the laws violating the human rights in Sudan,” Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari said.

Since the government announced plans for amendments to Sudanese law, Muslims took to social media to criticize the moves, terming them anti-Islamic and calling for massive demonstrations. Some called for “holy war” against the government for scrapping sharia (Islamic law) provisions.

On July 17, limited demonstrations took place in Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman to protest the amended laws.

“Sharia, sharia or we die,” protestors shouted. “Listen you, Hamdok, this is Khartoum not New York.”

Dozens of people reportedly gathered in the protests. Brandishing banners reading, “No to secularism,” they shouted, “God’s laws shall not be replaced.”

Abadalla Hamdok was appointed prime minister by an 11-member sovereign council of six civilians and five military leaders last year after President Omar al-Bashir was deposed in April 2019. Hamdok’s government has implemented several democratic initiatives.

The apostasy law was used in 2014 to condemn to flogging and death the then-pregnant, Christian mother Meriam Yahi Ibrahim on false allegations of leaving Islam. She was released from prison on June 23, 2014, less than two months after Morning Star News broke the story of false charges of apostasy against her that set off a firestorm of international protests.

Sudan’s amended laws also ban female genital mutilation and abolish its law requiring women to obtain permission from a male guardian to travel abroad with their children.

“While the full text of the legislation has not yet been made public, reports indicate that the apostasy law was replaced by an article that prohibits hate speech,” a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) statement reads. “However, the status of Sudan’s blasphemy law remains unclear.”

USCIRF Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava praised the amendments.

“We applaud the significant, historic steps Sudan is taking to safeguard the rights of women and girls and the freedom of religion or belief and urge, wide, immediate and effective implementation of these reforms,” Bhargava said in a statement. “We also urge Sudan to continue with necessary legislative reform, including repealing the country’s blasphemy law and ensuring that laws regulating hate speech comply with international human rights standards and do not impede freedom of religion or belief.”

Church leaders and other Christians termed the move as positive but said they were still waiting for the return of Christians assets confiscated under the prior Islamist regime.

“It is a good move, and I hope all will go well with these changes of laws,” the Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) told Morning Star News.

Apostasy was introduced in Sudan in 1983 as part of the sharia imposed by Col. Gaafar al-Nimeiry during his rule from 1969 to 1985, leading to civil war between the predominantly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 had expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years. Christians were expected to have greater voice under the new administration.

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, 2019 led by Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Bashir was ousted in April, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20, 2019 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list.

Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Sudan ranked 7th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Tonight on the Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call

(Voice of the Persecuted) 7/18/2020 – Prayer Warriors, join us on the prayer conference call tonight!

Faith upholds a Christian under all trials, by assuring him that every painful dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his need.

– John Newton

Dear Brothers and Sisters I welcome you tonight as the Lord leads through the Holy Spirit to Pray for the persecuted church and the global Harvest of souls.

We will continue to lift up persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice in Nigeria. Pray that they will be set free from Boko Haram captivity. And also Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison in China and for the release of Anita, a Christian convert recently sentenced to 6 years in prison for sharing the Gospel in Iran.

For His Glory

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Leader

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Tonight on the Persecution Watch Prayer Call: Uzbeskistan

Photo: Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia Commons

Uzbeskistan – Population: 32.8 million, Christian: 350,000

Dictatorial Paranoia

There are only 349,000 Christians in Uzbekistan – a tiny minority in a country of 32.8 million people. They make up just 1.1 per cent of the total population, the majority of whom are Muslims. No religious activities beyond state-run and state-controlled institutions are allowed. Under the authoritarian rule of the president, the government heavily restricts religious expression, outlawing all unsanctioned religious expression. This means any non-Orthodox Christian group is illegal—and even Orthodox groups can preach only in Russian since doing so in Uzbek is against the law.

Christians are viewed as a threat to the government, and Protestants in particular are frequently branded as ‘extremists’ because they practice their faith outside state-sanctioned structures. They are seen as followers of an alien sect that aims to destroy the current political system. For this reason, the state believes they need to be not only controlled, but if necessary, eradicated.

Christians face persecution from the state through the police, secret services and local authorities that monitor religious activities by various means like bugging homes, tapping phones, infiltrating groups and attending church services. Christians in unregistered churches suffer repeatedly from police raids, threats, arrests and fines.

The general Islamic culture makes life for converts to Christianity particularly difficult. The Islamic culture in Uzbekistan means believers from Muslim backgrounds bear the brunt of the persecution; they experience pressure and occasionally physical violence from their families and communities to force them to return to their former faith.

Despite all this, the number of Uzbek believers is growing. Some of the Uzbek Christians have developed a vision to reach out to the Uzbek people in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan and are active in those areas too. Many of the Uzbek Christians have faced opposition from the moment they left Islam but persevere in their faith in spite of their hardships.

Example: Pastor Oleg leads a church in Uzbekistan that is mainly made up of believers from Muslim backgrounds. He says, “We try to be very careful – we don’t meet in groups of more than three or four. We can see that the persecution is growing day by day and we are learning to live in the midst of it… Sometimes I feel so tired of all this pressure. As a Christian pastor in a Muslim country, I feel even more pressure than others. That’s because of responsibility for myself, for my family (my wife and three children) and also the responsibility for the members of my church. Sometimes this burden seems too heavy.”

  • Pray to the Lord that the eyes of the country’s leaders would be opened to the truth. As Uzbekistan has one of the harshest dictatorships in Central Asia. All forms of opposition and deviations from the norm (for example, Christianity) are attacked.
  • Pray believers have the strength to go through the process of obtaining registration for their church. Officially the country has religious freedom however, it is very hard to obtain registration for religious communities.
  • Pray for religious freedom as no religious activities beyond state-run and state-controlled institutions are allowed and unregistered churches face police raids, arrests and fines
  •  Pray with believers who have converted from Islam and experience isolation in their new faith, as well as the fear and pressure they experience knowing that their family’s discovery of their conversion could mean ridicule, persecution and even death.
  • Pray that believers would have courage and endurance in the face of persecution.
  • Pray for persecuted Christian minorities, that they would lovingly minister to Muslims and pray that many hearts would be opened to the truth of Christ.
  • Pray for the protection of NGOs, such as Open Doors, which provide “covert” support to Believers
  • Pray believers are bold in sharing the gospel, this in spite of the hostile environment
  • Pray to the Lord to supernaturally enlarge His church to continue to grow and that His hand of protection is over His believers.

Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice, pray that they will be set free. And also lift up pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison and ask for the release for Anita, a Christian convert recently sentenced to 6 years in prison for sharing the Gospel in Iran

You are invited to join us on Thursday, July 16 in a prayer call for the persecuted church.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Persecution Watch: Praying Encouragement for our Persecuted Family

7/14/2020 – (Voice of the Persecuted) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Phil. 2-1

Our brother Paul was a persecuted Christian.  His letter to the Philippians which is so full of joy and encouragement was written from a Roman prison.

My Lord Jesus, I pray for persecuted brothers and sisters, particularly those who are in prison. May they find encouragement from the presence of Jesus. May they realize that they belong to Christ.  May they realize that nothing can separate them from your presence. May your loving presence bring them much joy and encouragement. For I pray this in your precious blessed name for our persecuted family.  Amen.

Brothers and sisters if you are able please join us tonight as we pray for the persecuted church. Please join us as we pray encouragement on their behalf and whatever else God puts on our hearts. — Bro Blaine

Dear Prayer Warriors, the message above was one of many sent by our dear Brother Blaine Scogin, Founder of Persecution Watch, who is now Home into Glory. He was a loving brother to me.

Blaine was a kind and loving teacher, always encouraging me to persevere and trust in the Lord. To walk by Faith and not by sight, to have a deep love for the Church, the persecuted Brothers and Sisters and to share the Truth of Salvation.

We often talked about that glorious Day when the Lord will call us Home. How joyful I am for him. He knew in part then but now he knows it in full. Missing him, I think of the time that has passed and remember him. What a blessing, and a privilege it was to serve the Lord with him!

Adding verses Philippians 3:12-16

Pressing Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Lord willing, I look forward to praying with you tonight.

In Christ love,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Leader

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Churches Accused by Media Outlet as ‘Major Source’ of COVID-19

Dr. Ed Stetzer, the Billy Graham chair of church, mission, and evangelism at Wheaton College, appeared on Thursday’s afternoon edition of CBN’s Newswatch, to talk about the recent New York Times article claiming Sunday worship services are a “major source” of COVID-19 cases.

 

Little Sisters of the Poor win at Supreme Court against contraception mandate

In a 7-2 ruling on July 8, The Supreme Court of the United States upheld rules allowing employers to opt out of paying for birth control in their health care plans based on their religious beliefs. In the decision of Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion which Justices John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh joined. Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer concurred while Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (commonly referred to as ObamaCare) required employers to provide “preventive care” without “any cost sharing requirements” but, said Thomas, failed to specify what was meant by “preventive care.” Guidelines stated that health care plans must provide coverage for all FDA approved contraception. However, the Trump Administration later allowed for exemptions to the mandated contraception coverage for employers if those employers held moral or religious objections.

“By its terms, the ACA leaves the Guidelines’ content to the exclusive discretion of HRSA [Health Resources and Services Administration],” wrote Thomas. “Under a plain reading of the statute, then, we conclude that the ACA gives HRSA broad discretion to define preventive care and screenings and to create the religious and moral exemptions.” Read more

former vice president Joe Biden pledged on Wednesday to reinstate Obama-era policies that would require the Little Sisters of the Poor to ensure access to birth control and abortifacients for employees in violation of their religious beliefs.

Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made the promise July 8, following the Supreme Court decision in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the case Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, which upheld an exemption for the sisters from the “contraception mandate” which obliges employers to provide for contraceptive coverage for employees through their health care plans.

“If I am elected I will restore the Obama-Biden policy that existed before the [Supreme Court’s 2014] Hobby Lobby ruling: providing an exemption for houses of worship and an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious missions,” said Biden in a statement released by his campaign.  Read more

 

Christian Mother of Four in India Was Persecuted before Her Death

Site where body of Bajjo Bai Mandavi was found in Kondagaon District, Chhattisgarh state, India. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Tribal Hindus persecuted a widowed, Christian mother of four before her body was found severely mutilated in the wilderness near her village in Chhattisgarh, India, sources said.

The body of 40-year-old Bajjo Bai Mandavi was initially unrecognizable as it appeared to have been eaten by wild animals when it was found two miles into the wilderness near her native Kumud village, Kuye Mari, on May 29. She was last seen going into the wilderness of Kondagaon District to collect firewood on May 25.

The death threats, deprivation of water and shunning she had suffered at the hands of villagers who were upset that she left their blend of Hindu and traditional tribal rituals led family members and area Christian leaders to believe she was raped and killed before animals fed on her body, they said.

“There was no way to find out who the people were who raped my sister-in-law and then murdered her, so police and the authorities thought best to call it an attack by a wild animal,” a sobbing Bhajnath Mandavi, her brother-in-law, told Morning Star News.

Bhajnath Mandavi is the younger brother of Bhola Mandavi, who died of an illness four years ago, leaving Bajjo Bai Mandavi with children who are now 6, 8, 12 and 17.

Villagers had met four times to discuss action against her, area pastor Rupesh Kumar Salam told Morning Star News.

“She was threatened and asked to leave her faith and re-convert, but she boldly took a stand for her faith,” said Pastor Salam, who leads a church of about 120 people in nearby Kue Mari.

Bajjo Bai Mandavi had attended Sunday services there regularly with her children. In Kumud village, hers was one of just two Christian families among 21 other families.

The tribal Hindu families prohibited her from fetching water from the common village tap, forcing her to walk miles for it, Pastor Salam said.

“She bravely fought all the odds and refused to deny her faith even after she started to receive death threats from the Hindu extremist villagers,” Pastor Salam told Morning Star News. “Bajjo Bai became a Christian a little more than three years ago, and since then had faced severe opposition from the villagers.”

She regularly talked about the threats and shunning she and her children faced from the tribal Hindu villagers, he said.

“I always told her that we are praying for her and that everything will be fine – we could never imagine that she would face such brutality,” Pastor Salam said. “She was raped and then murdered by religious extremists for her Christian faith.”

Brother-in-law Mandavi said her own brother, who lives in her village, would not speak with her after she became a Christian three years ago.

“Nobody except one Christian family would speak to Bajjo Bai and her children,” he said.

An influential, tribal Hindu family in the village likely had a hand in the alleged rape and killing, said a source close to her family who requested anonymity.

“The villagers and all of us know who they are, but no action would be taken against them,” the source said. “They have a lot of money to enable them to keep themselves out of any trouble.”

If a homicide, it would be the third religiously motivated killing of a Christian in India within a few weeks. In Bari village, Jharkhand state, followers of tribal religion on June 7 abducted and killed Kande Munda. On the night of June 4 in Odisha state, followers of tribal religion abducted 16-year-old Sambaru Madkami for his faith before stabbing and stoning him to death.

In Uttar Pradesh state on May 28, villagers tried to kill pastor Dinesh Kumar in an ambush that left him unconscious.

Foul Play Dismissed

The remains of the semi-naked body were found in the wilderness by the driver of a passing tractor loaded with road construction material, Pastor Salam said.

The driver notified police, and Christians arrived at the site of the body with officers, he said.

The head of Kumud and four other area mountain villages, Gurcharan Bhandari, denied any foul play.

“She was probably killed by a wild animal,” Bhandari told Morning Star News.

Though he had not seen the police report, he said that it states that she was killed by a wild animal. Family members and church leaders also have not received a copy of the police report.

The village chief said an autopsy took place at the site where the body was discovered. Though neither he, victim family members or church leaders have received a copy of the autopsy report, Bhandari said it indicated that she was mauled to death by a wild animal.

The village chief said it was common for wild animals to attack humans in the wilderness but admitted that no such attack had ever taken place in the area where she was collecting firewood. He said the last attack took place three years ago in a far different part of the wilderness.

Bhandari said he suspects a bear might have killed her but could not explain why only her legs appeared to have been eaten.

Siya Yadav, who pastors a church in Keshkal 18 miles from Kumud, said he saw the body while driving his car after road construction forced him to a detour through the wilderness on May 28, but that he did not stop to look closer.

He visited the site later and said a wild animal possibly fed on the body after it lay in the wilderness for days.

“We could see that she died at one spot where the bundle of the sticks lay – there were evident marks that she was dragged by a wild animal to another spot and from there to the third spot,” Pastor Yadav told Morning Star News.

Search for Justice

Brother-in-law Bhajnath Mandavi said he is caring for the deceased’s two younger children. The 12-year-old child has been living with another relative 30 miles away for the past year, he said.

“I am still in shock. I do not know what the future of her four children will be,” said Mandavi, who was unable to attend his sister-in-law’s funeral due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The oldest son, a contract laborer in Tamil Nadu state, was also forced to miss the funeral due to travel restrictions, he said.

“The eldest son could not come home even at his mother’s death,” Mandavi said.

Bajjo Bai Mandavi had supported her family as a daily-wage laborer. A senior pastor and Christian leader in the area said converts to Christianity in India’s rural areas increasingly face the threats and shunning she suffered.

“Social boycott is very real,” Pastor Son Singh told Morning Star News. “It is practiced even against high-ranking government officials when they accept Christ, so what can we say about this woman who was just a poor person and also a widow?”

Chhattisgarh Christian Forum President Arun Pannalal said Bajjo Bai Mandavi’s death exemplifies violence against Christians that is routinely dismissed.

“This is a crime against a minority community, and the authorities are not doing anything about it,” Pannalal told Morning Star News. “The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum will move to the High Court if this matter is not taken seriously.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on April 28 urged the U.S. State Department to add India as a “Country of Particular Concern” to its list of nations with poor records of protecting religious freedom.

India is ranked 10th on the Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Tonight on Persecution Watch: Report of new crackdowns on Iranian Christians

In an organized operation Iranian security police arrested 12 Christian converts in different cities across the country.

On July 8th, Mohabat News reported that Iranian security officers have begun a new wave of arrests across the country to crackdown on Iranian Christians and especially targeting Christian converts.

Reports of this new campaign state that plain-clothed security officers raided a prayer gathering in a house church in Yaftabad region in Tehran, at 8pm on Tuesday June 30. At least 20 worshipers were in attendance at the time. Officers arrested a few of the congregants and thoroughly searched the house where they had gathered.

Article 18, an Iranian Christian advocacy group, verified the news and added, among the security officers were two female agents as well, which is not a common sight. Security authorities video recorded their raid and few rounds of questioning and arrests took place during the attack.

Eyewitnesses reported, after authorities turned off their video cameras they began mistreating and beating the house church congregation. At the end of this ordeal, authorities forced these Christians to sign a paper stating they were not subject to any kind of violence or mistreatment. During the raid security authorities arrested six Christians and confiscated all Bibles and cellphones belonging to the congregants.

The same day, Iranian authorities raided homes of a number of other Christians in Karaj and Tehran. The names of some of those arrested are Joseph Shahbazian, Reza N, Salar A, Mina Kh, Maryam Kh and Sonia. At least three other Christian converts, Farhad M, Arash and Farhad Kh were also arrested in Karaj. Some of these Christians have already received a bailing order for 50 Million Tomans (approx. $12,000 USD).

In addition, three other Christians, Sohrab A, Ebrahim and Yaser, were also arrested on the same day in Malayer, Hamedan Province. All three were temporarily released the following Thursday after each posted a 30 Million Tomans (Approx. $7,000 USD) bail.

Credible sources in Tehran told Mohabat News, a Christian woman by the name of Maliheh Nazari was also arrested in Western Tehran.

Ever Increasing Pressure on Iranian Christians

This new wave of crackdown on Iranian Christians is happening as the country is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus continues to spread in Iranian prisons where poor hygiene accelerates virus spread. The danger of catching COVID-19 in Iranian prisons is so high that Iranian Judicial System decided to temporarily release around 80 thousand prisoners to avoid mass infection.

The regime continues to violate the human rights of its citizens at a time when the people are already suffering as a result of widespread mismanagement and embezzlement among top ranking authorities in addition to economic pressure caused by international sanctions on the country.

Iranian political and religious dissidents are usually arrested under false accusations such as propaganda against the Islamic regime or receiving support from Israel. These dissidents are often used as a scapegoat for the problems that plague the country.

The Islamic regime uses media propaganda to win over public support before each crackdown campaigns against political and religious dissidents. As expected before this new wave of attacks, the regime began a media propaganda campaign to shed a negative light on Iranian Christians.

Last week, Yahya Yasrebi, an Iranian professor of Islamic Philosophy stated, “gravitation of our youth towards Christianity is not as a result of their pursuit for truth, but rather it’s out of frustration, mortal needs and stupidity”.

Likely, the number of arrests reported in this crackdown campaign are much lower as families of Christians who are arrested are always warned not to publicize the arrest and threatened that it will result in worsening of their situation.

Dear Prayer Warriors, Marziyeh Amirizadeh and Maryam Rostampour, two women who were born into Muslim families who went on to lead house churches and evangelized to Muslims, are examples of converts who have been arrested for their faith.

The women spent a total of 259 days in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in 2009. Since departing from Iran in 2010, they have often shared their experiences as converts.

“We know firsthand how difficult it is for those who attend house churches because they risk their lives to attend house churches,” Amirizadeh said at an event in February hosted by the Family Research Council. “Any time if the government find out, they can raid the gathering, arrest people, torture them and confiscate their property.”

Open Doors reported that 169 Christians were arrested in Iran during the organization’s 2019 reporting period — Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2019.

According to Iran Human Rights Monitor, the Iran Revolutionary Court in southern Iran sentenced last month seven Iranian Christian converts for the alleged crime of “spreading propaganda against the state.” The converts were sentenced to prison, exile, a financial penalty, and a ban on work and social activities.

In addition to being one of the world’s largest state sponsors of terrorism, Iran is also listed by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for tolerating and engaging in systemic and severe violations of religious freedom.

Iran ranks as the 9th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors 2020 World Watch List. Converts from Islam in Iran often face persecution from the government and face the threat of arrest for attending an underground church. It is illegal to hold church services or produce Christian literature in Farsi, the main language.

Pray for the believers in Iran who have been arrested

  • Ask God to calm their fears, that they would know that they’re not alone and that the worldwide Church is standing with them. Pray that they would be treated well and for quick release to be back home with their families.
  • We continue to pray for Anita, an Iranian convert also arrested by the Iranian Regime. We have learned from Voice of the Persecuted that her original 10-year sentence was lowered to 6 years. Her attorney has appealed the lengthy prison term with the hope of lowering it to 1 year. At present, she has not yet been called back to the prison and is still under house arrest. Pray she will be released without serving the prison sentence and for her faith to remain strong.

Please also remember:

  • Leah Sharibu and Alice, captives of Boko Haram, to be set free.
  • Pray that Pastor Wang Yi in China will be able to minister to inmates and that soon he will be released from prison. Pray for his family and for the Church that God gave him to lead.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I read a beautifully illustrated story a Victory!

“The Eagle does not fight the snake on the ground.
It picks it up into the sky and changes the battle ground, and then it releases the snake into the sky.
The snake has no stamina, no power and no balance in the air. It is useless, weak and vulnerable unlike on the ground where it is powerful wise and deadly.
Take your fight into the spiritual realm by praying and when you are in the spiritual realm God takes over your battles.
Do not fight the enemy in his comfort zone, change the battle grounds like the Eagle and let God take charge through your earnest prayer.
You will be assured of clean victory.
Pray without ceasing.”

If Holy Spirit is leading you please join us tonight as we pray on the Persecution Watch prayer conference call for the persecuted church and the global harvest of souls.

Your Sister in Christ Love,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Leader

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

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