(Voice of the Persecuted) You’re invited to join us on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch. Join us tonight as we welcome our special guest, Lisa Stepanian, who will be sharing about Armenian Christians.
By Lisa Beth for (Voice of the Persecuted) Since winning their war against Artsakh in 2020 and seizing much territory, Azerbaijan continues its strategic aggression upon the Republic of Artsakh, employing a blockade of the land since December 12, 2022. This military blockade of the Lachin Corridor has shut down the transport of food, medicine, and other supplies while cutting off the electricity and oil pipeline supply. Cutoff from the mainland Armenia, residents of Artsakh no longer have access to family and contacts, nor do they have any access to vital hospital procedures available in Armenia.
Why Artsakh Matters
Armenians have inhabited Artsakh for thousands of years. In 301 AD, when Armenia declared Christianity their national religion, Artsakh became a launching ground for missionaries. Churches and schools flourished as the Christian culture matured in this agricultural region. While many of the ancient churches were destroyed over the centuries, some continue to stand today as testimony of God’s faithfulness and His followers steadfastness.
Artsakh and mainland Armenia have survived decades of persecution and massacres, culminating into the Armenian Genocide of 1915, when Turkey systematically slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians and seized all of Western Armenia. After the devastating earthquake in 1988, Turkey and Azerbaijan united to completely control Armenia with a landlocked blockade, crippling the country for five years. “The Invisible War”, coined by the media, depleted the land of all natural resources and crushed the economy. Only US sanctions, after passing Section 907 of Freedom Support Act, curtailed this blockade as the legislation prohibited any kind of aid to Azerbaijan while they continued their aggressive actions.
After powerful lobbying, the Senate adopted an amendment, allowing waiver of this vital legislation in 2001 and the waived status is in effect today.
Undergirded by Turkey in 2020, Azerbaijan embarked on war with Artsakh with sophisticated weaponry and military technology supplied by Israel. Thousands of Armenians were killed and much of the Armenian land was captured.
Today, Azerbaijan employs this stranglehold while Russia is entrenched with the Ukrainian war and while Armenia’s allies in Europe are now utterly dependent upon Azeri oil. Arm and arm with Turkey, ominous swords sharpen over the region with seeming impunity. This continuous violation of human rights is prelude to complete ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Aliyev not only threatening, but also preparing a genocide of Armenians in Artsakh – PM Pashinyan – Public Radio of Armenia (armradio.am)
Aliyev: This year is Armenia’s ‘last chance’ (news.am)
A month ago, CBN interviewed Gev Iskajyan, the executive director of ANC-Artsakh, who is sounding the alarm about the ongoing crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, a small, landlocked region between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Iskajyan warned the situation could devolve into genocide of the Armenian Christians living there.
Since December 12th, 2022
The blockade of Artsakh remains uninterrupted. While occasional emergency supplies did reach Artsakhi residents through the International Red Cross, deprivation is rampant. Over these past four months, several allied countries, including the United States, have proclaimed objections and indignations however, without sanction or recourse against Azerbaijan. In February 2023, the United Nations International Court of Justice ordered that Azerbaijan end the blockade of the Lachin Corridor. However, there are no ramifications even as Azerbaijan refuses to comply. In fact, Azerbaijan continues to move forward with violence on Artsakh borders, shooting at farmers in the fields.
Azerbaijan waits for Artsakh to surrender, or else.
Urgent Prayer Points
- Pray for the lifting of this blockade: Beseech the Lord to move in the hearts of authorities to take action.
- Pray for the surrounding enemies: May the Lord grip their hearts with conviction and godly sorrow for their unprovoked aggression and hatred. May the Azeris come to repentance.
- Pray for the church leaders and believers of Artsakh: May the Lord continue to strengthen and encourage them. May the Holy Spirit pour down upon them and refresh their hearts anew with God’s word.
- Pray for powerful prayer meetings, for continued trust in the Lord, and protection against hatred in their hearts.
- Pray for healing upon the Armenians: The Armenians in Artsakh still suffer great loss from the 2020 war. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones, homes, and health. Many need emotional healing.
- Pray for the disabled, the elderly and the sick, such as cancer patients, who are deprived of medical procedures and surgery.
- Pray for a wall of fire around Artsakh: May the Lord supernaturally protect the borders of Artsakh.
- Pray that this time of tribulation and suffering serves to refine Armenians’ faith, that they may stand strong for Christ and, most important, be a light and a beacon for the Islamic countries surrounding them.
Again, we want to lift-up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, a prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- For Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, as he and his family are adjusting from his release from prison, that they may know what God’s will is for them now. Pray for the trauma they had to endure. UPDATE: According to Article 18, once sentenced to death for his “apostasy” has been “pardoned” and released after nearly five years in Tehran’s Evin Prison, but told Nadarkhani that he still faces flogging (30 lashes) and two years’ exile 2,000km from his home. Read the report here
- UPDATE (March 17, 2023): Ryan Koher, a pilot for the U.S.-based ministry Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), and two of the ministry’s South African volunteers were released from a Mozambican prison Tuesday afternoon, the organization announced. The trio had been held at a high-security prison inside the southeastern African country for four months. Their release is a provisional one and they are required to remain in the country, while their case is still ongoing, according to MAF. Koher is said to be “doing well” following his release and has spoken multiple times with his wife, Annabel, and his two sons since his release, the ministry said. Source
- 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38
The Lord’s servant,
Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call Leader
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What is Persecution Watch?
moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are 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 are new to the call and cannot 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!
God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.
Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
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