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Persecution Watch: Iranian Christians released from Prison / Suicide spikes in Japan
12/12/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) “15 Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15-16
Two Iranian Christians acquitted after imprisonment
Iran (MNN) — Two Iranian Christians have seen their prison sentences (a combined 10 years) overturned in the courts. Both were arrested during a raid of a house church in Tehran in 2018. Authorities charged them with “acting against national security.”
Iran has recently been condemned by the United Nations for human rights violations, a report the country has rejected. This mostly related to allegations of abuse during the November protests last year.
Daniel Hoffman of Middle East Concern says it’s hard to know why these two sentences were overturned, while many other Iranian Christians continue to languish in prison. “It’s always difficult to know exactly why certain governments do certain things. Of course, Iran has been called out over human rights abuses for quite a long time now. So it’s difficult to know what exactly was the reason why this happened. But we know from the past that the Iranian government is concerned about its image in the international community.”
Christians still in prison — The two Christians stated they loved their country and were simply gathering for a legal house church meeting. Still many Christians using the same arguments in court have not seen their sentences overturned.
Hoffman says the release brings welcome news, but we must continue to pray for Iranian Christians still in prison. “Sometimes they are mistreated by either their captors or by other prisoners. And of course, there is still very much the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well, which has spread through some of the prisons in Iran. So prayer for their physical well-being and protection is definitely appreciated. And of course, we can pray for justice to be done in their situation and for them to be released and reunited with their loved ones.”
Pray these prisoners will know they are not forgotten, and that Jesus will comfort them.
And rejoice over these two prisoners that have been released. Pray they would continue bearing witness to the love and peace of Jesus.
Dear Prayer Warriors, let us praise the Lord!
” 1 Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His mercy is everlasting.
2 Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the Lord,
Or can proclaim all His praise?” Psalm 106:1-2
“Let love of the brothers and sisters continue.” Hebrews 13:1
Suicide killing more people in Japan than COVID-19
(MNN) — While other countries battle rising COVID-19 cases, Japan is seeing a different kind of spike – suicides.
More people in Japan have died by suicide in 2020 than from COVID-19. In fact, their suicide numbers in October alone outnumbered the nation’s total COVID-19 deaths in the first 11 months of the year.
One of the reasons for the rise in suicides is because Japan has a very group-oriented culture. Belonging to a group – whether it’s a family, a workplace, or some kind of community – and functioning within that group is incredibly important.
Pandemic shutdowns and solitary quarantines can cut individuals off from their group identity. As a result, many Japanese people are dealing with severe depression and anxiety.
Takeshi Takazawa with Asian Access says even online tools like social media and Zoom aren’t the same. “I’m talking with you now even though we’re miles apart, but this is a little bit different from face-to-face group talking [and] processing, and that is challenging for us and especially younger people who need heavy connection.”
Many single young people in Japan travel to Tokyo to work. Throughout the year, they make frequent visits to their families back home, but the pandemic has changed that too.
Takazawa says, “They’re told by their homeland family, ‘Please don’t come back. Don’t bring the pandemic. It’ll be bad. Grandma and Grandpa need to be protected so don’t come back.’”
It’s also hard for college students. “Many of the freshmen, they never went to campus. They never met anybody even though they entered school. Then all they see is a screen… They join a club or team but they practice separately.”
What Japan needs is hope – the kind found in Jesus. According to The Joshua Project, 97 percent of the Japanese population is unreached with the Gospel.
Pray for the people of Japan to find their hope and belonging in Christ alone.
We will also continue to pray for:
· Leah Sharibu and Alice that they will be set free from Boko Haram captivity
On Jul 08, 2020 · Leah Sharibu was kidnapped along with 109 other students on February 19, 2018 when Boko Haram attacked a boarding school in the city of Dapchi, Maiduguri Diocese, in north-eastern Nigeria. A month later, some of the girls died in captivity and all the others were released, except Leah.
· Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison, for his family, the children, and the church in China
On December 28 the police raided the Early Rain Church and arrested Pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, and ten elders of the well-known 750-member church for holding “illegal” services. Some 100 believers were detained, questioned, and later released. Pastor Wang’s wife was also released. Pastor Wang remained in detention.
· For Anita, an Iranian Christian, persecuted by the Islamic regime.
· For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues
Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at the age of 19 and leads a 400-member house church in Rasht, Iran. Since 2006, Iranian authorities have consistently harassed and detained Pastor Nadarkhani and his family. In 2010, the authorities sentenced him to death for apostasy before acquitting him in 2012. Pastor Nadarkhani was tried again in 2017 on false charges of “acting against national security” and promoting “Zionist Christianity,” for which he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. By July 2018, plainclothes agents raided Pastor Nadarkhani’s home to execute the sentence, beating and apprehending him and using a taser gun on one of his sons. He is now incarcerated at the notorious Evin prison near Tehran.
· For the harvest
“2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
In the love of Christ,
Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader
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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!
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