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Persecution Watch: Iranian Christians released from Prison / Suicide spikes in Japan

Evin Prison, Iran

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.”

Luke 10:2

In the love of Christ,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader

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.

Protestant Churches Continue to Be Destroyed Across China

(Bitter Winter) by Zhou XiaoluOn October 8, over 40 officials from the Public Security Bureau and the Caotang town government in Xi’an, the capital of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, destroyed a Three-Self church after expelling congregation members attempting to stop the demolition. One believer, in his 70s, was carried away because he had fainted seeing that the venue was about to be destroyed. The church was razed to the ground within two hours, with all its effects buried in ruins. Congregation members cry as their church is being demolished.

 

“The government demanded to demolish the church supposedly because of engineering works needed to fix the erosion of a nearby river,” a congregation member said. “But the distance between the church and the river is quite long. Officials never discussed with us the plans for the demolition; they simply arranged personnel to do it. Such actions are too brutal, totally unreasonable.”

On September 16, over 100 police officers and Maanshan city government officials in the eastern province of Anhui demolished a Three-Self church without informing its over 200 congregation members. Hired workers cut off the water and electricity supply to the church and forcibly carried away an elderly couple in charge of the church’s upkeep. The two believers were taken to a local hotel, where they were guarded by seven designated personnel.

“Officials told us that the church would be relocated but never mentioned anything about demolishing it,” a congregation member said helplessly. “Church account books and electric devices were all buried in the ruins.”

A Three-Self venue in Pingyu county administered by Zhumadian city in the central province of Henan was demolished in August after staying closed for two years ago. According to a county resident, the official reason for the demolition was that the land was needed to build water conservancy facilities. But no other buildings, except for the church, were demolished.

Congregation members put up a tent near the church ruins, waiting to settle the forced demolition issue with local officials.

In July, the Yutai county government in Jining, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Shandong, demolished a Three-Self church venue attended by believers from several villages. Officials claimed that the church was too close to the village committee building and that “believing in Jesus meant going against the Communist Party.”

In February, the Xinglou town government in Pizhou, a county-level city in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, demolished a Seventh-day Adventist house church venue after months of attacks against it. The police arrested the church director and some congregation members in October last year “for holding illegal gatherings” and seized the building and all valuables inside.

“It felt more heartbreaking than having my home destroyed,” a church member recalled, still haunted by the traumatic experience of seeing the venue demolished.

Two more house church venues in Pizhou were demolished for refusing to join the official Three-Self Church.

 

 

Persecution Watch: Prayers Answered—Pakistani Girl has been rescued!

12/8/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Prayer Warriors, last Tuesday, we prayed to the Lord to rescue Farah Shaheen , a 12 year old girl who was kidnapped, forcefully converted to Islam and married to a 45-year-old Muslim kidnapper, Khizar Hayat, in June 2020.

Authorities had told her father to be happy for her conversion. See report

Today we learn she has been rescued!

Police in Pakistan Find Christian Girl Chained in Kidnapper’s Home

We thank and praise the Lord our Father, for unswerving our prayers and the prayers of many. Glory to the King of all Kings!

“1 Praise the Lord.

Praise the name of the Lord;
praise him, you servants of the Lord,

you who minister in the house of the Lord,
in the courts of the house of our God.

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.

For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.

I know that the Lord is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.

Psalm 135:1-5

“13 Your name, Lord, endures forever,

your renown, Lord, through all generations.

14 For the Lord will vindicate his people

and have compassion on his servants.”

Psalm 135:13-14

We welcome you to come and join us to pray for the persecuted Church and the harvest on the Prayer Conference Call, tonight!

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.”

Luke 10:2

In the love of Christ,

Nadia and Merlaine, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderators

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.

Police in Pakistan Find Christian Girl Chained in Kidnapper’s Home

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Catholic family’s five-month search for their 12-year-old daughter who was kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a 45-year-old Muslim in Faisalabad, Pakistan, ended on Saturday (Dec. 5) when police found her chained in her abductor’s house, sources said.

The discovery came on the heels of the killing of a young woman in Rawalpindi, allegedly shot dead by her Muslim suitor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith and marry him.

Earlier this year the father of 12-year-old Farah Shaheen reported his daughter was kidnapped on June 25, forcibly converted to Islam and married against her will. Asif Masih said police refused his efforts to register a case against the suspect, Khizar Hayat.

Police finally registered a case against Hayat on Sept. 19, but officers reportedly remained reluctant to arrest him and recover the child. Under pressure from a court and the Punjab Province government, police on Saturday (Dec. 5) recovered the girl and produced her before a judge.

The investigating officer told the court that after a surprise raid on the house, police found Farah chained in a room. Hayat and his suspected accomplices escaped arrest, he claimed.

A police source told Morning Star News that the kidnappers subjected Farah to physical and mental torture.

“The dark marks on her ankles show that she was fettered for most of her time in captivity,” the source said.

The court has handed her to police custody, ordered an ossification test to determine her age and ordered registration of a case against six suspects, including Hayat, he said.

“It severely reprimanded the investigation officer of the case, Sub-Inspector Mehtab, for intentionally misreporting Farah’s age to be 17 in the inquiry report,” the source said.

The girl’s father, a single parent who works as a daily wage laborer, pleaded for custody of his daughter.

“I’m grateful to the government and the court for ensuring my daughter’s recovery, and I hope they will also punish the men who did this cruelty,” he told Morning Star News.

He added that the court should give custody of Farah to her family so that they can comfort the traumatized child.

Although intercourse with a girl below the age of 16 is statutory rape, in most cases a falsified conversion certificate and Islamic marriage certificate influences police to pardon kidnappers.

Christian Woman Killed

In Rawalpindi, Sonia Bibi on Nov. 30 was shot in the neck and killed while on her way to work. She was 24.

Her mother, Teresa Bibi, told Morning Star News that her daughter, the eldest of six siblings, was murdered by two Muslims after she refused to renounce her Christian faith and marry one of them.

She said that the main suspect, identified only as Shahzad, had been terrorizing her daughter for five months.

“He also sent his mother to our house for the marriage proposal,” she said. “We refused because we belong to different faiths.”

Shahzad continued to follow her daughter whenever she left home for work, often threatening to kill her if she did not change her faith and marry him, Bibi said. She said the other suspect, identified only as Faizan, used to accompany Shahzad in stalking Sonia.

Bibi said her daughter left their home for work at around 9:30 a.m., and about an hour later her employer informed the family that police had found her body on a roadside. Officers who discovered the corpse had discovered her employee card on her person and called her employer.

Police have arrested Faizan, while Shahzad is still on the run.

Sonia Bibi began supporting the family as a housemaid two years ago, after her mother injured her arm.

“She was our breadwinner, and I’m still unable to reconcile with the fact that she’s no more,” Teresa Bibi said.

National Commission for Minorities Member Albert David said that they had taken notice of the gruesome incident and would make all efforts to provide justice to the family.

“The girl’s father is a sanitary worker, and she was helping him in providing for the family,” David said. “The main accused is still at large, but his accomplice, Faizan, has surrendered to the police and is currently in custody. Police are grilling him for information.”

In October a committee formed by the National Commission for Minorities announced that it had finalized a draft law to curb forced conversions. The bill, however, will be finished only after consultations with provincial leaders and representatives of various religious, social and political groups.

Stopping Forced Conversion/Marriages

A key aide to the country’s minister on religious harmony recently announced that the government has taken notice of Christians’ concern over the increasing number of cases of forced conversions and underage marriages and ordered investigations on a “case-to-case” basis.

“No one, whether a person or a group, would be allowed to exploit minor children in the name of religion,” Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said at a Nov. 30 press conference after a meeting of leaders of the two mainline Protestant and Catholic churches in Pakistan. “We have found out that a majority of such cases are an outcome of sexual exploitation and have no relation with Islam. Our religion forbids forced conversions, and all people using religion to cover their crimes will be brought to justice.”

The president of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, Bishop Azad Marshall, said at the press conference that girls are suffering physical, mental and emotional trauma as a result of abductions and forced conversion/marriage. The recent cases of Farah, 13-year-old Arzoo Raja of Karachi and 14-year-old Maira Shahbaz of Faisalabad, were highlighted in the media but represent the tip of the iceberg, he said.

“There are many other cases that go unreported due to societal pressure and fear of reprisal by the accused,” he said, adding that current laws are not being fully enforced.

Catholic Archbishop of Lahore Sebastian Shaw echoed his Protestant counterpart’s remarks, saying the rising number of incidents was spreading fear in the minority community.

“An administrative and policy intervention on an urgent basis is necessary to protect the rights of religious minorities, especially of women and children,” he said, adding that the government should strengthen institutional protection of minority rights by undertaking legal, policy and administrative measures against forced conversions.

The Center for Social Justice reports that 162 questionable conversions have appeared in the media since 2013. About 52 percent of allegedly forced conversions occurred in Punjab Province and 44 percent in Sindh Province, while 1.23 percent each were reported in the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa areas. One case was reported from Balochistan Province.

The data shows that 54.3 percent of the girls and women were Hindu, 44.4 percent were Christian and 0.62 percent belonged to Sikh and Kalash communities.

More than 46.3 percent of the victims of forced conversion were minors – with 32.7 percent between the ages of 11 and 15 – while only 16.7 percent of the victims were above 18 years old, though lower courts did not always verify those ages through records of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and schools.

Pakistan ranked fifth on the Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, and on Nov. 28, 2018, the United States added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom.

VOP Note: Keep praying for this young girl to soon be returned to her family and for recovery of all she has suffered.

Pakistan: Muslim man shoots and kills Christian woman for refusing to marry him

 

Forced marriage (100, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons)

In a report sent to Voice of the Persecuted, it shares the heartbreaking news of a Christian woman, Sonia, 24, from Rawalpindi who was fatally shot in the head by Muhammad Shahzad, a Muslim man, for refusing to marry him.

Sonia’s father Allah Rakha Masih, who works as a janitor, said that 13 years ago he moved to Rawalpindi with his two daughters, Sonia, and Nazish, 18, who worked as housekeepers and were a great financial help for the family.

Sonia and Nazish usually went to work together but on the morning of November 30, the day Sonia was killed, she left Nazish at the entrance of the Air Force Colony, where they lived in a rented house, and headed to Behria Town, where she was working.

As she was crossing the G.T. highway, Shahzad shot her in the head and killed her.

Masih said that Shahzad is Muslim and runs a photography studio in the town. For the last 4-5 months he was following and harassing Sonia. He had even proposed to Sonia, but even after her refusal he continued following her and insisting that she marry him.

Sonia kept telling Shahzad that it was not possible as she was a Christian and he was Muslim. She told him they came from two different religions and it was not acceptable in society, but he didn’t agree and kept on threatening Sonia and eventually killed her on 30 November.

Masih said that Shahzad even sent his parents to their home to convince them to agree to the marriage. “But I told them that it is not possible as we are Christian and you are Muslim,” Masih explained. He added: “We are Christians from generations, and Sonia was a “true Christian and strong in her faith and she has been killed for following her Christian faith.”

The police have registered a case against Shahzad, but he is still at large.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said that in the recent year a record number of forced conversion and forced marriage cases have been recorded.

He added: “Although the Pakistani media for some reason, maybe intentionally, or because of instructions from the government, has failed to publish all these cases, thanks to social media platforms for keeping us and the world informed about the ongoing situation of forced conversion, kidnapping and rape cases of young Christian girls.”

He further said that this is not the first case of this nature but there have been several cases in the past like Asma Yaqoob, 24, from Sialkot who died in a Lahore hospital on 22 April 2018 after suffering 80% burns following an attack by a Muslim man, Rizwan Gujar.

He tried to force Asma to marry him but Asma told him he was Muslim and she was Christian, and her faith didn’t allow her to marry somebody outside of her religion, but if converted to Christianity it may be possible.

But Rizwan wanted Asma to convert to Islam. When he lost all hope, one night he bought petrol and poured some on the ground and said that if none of us can convert then let us die together. He said in his statement to the police that he lit the match only to threaten her, but the match fell, she caught on fire and he fled from the scene. Although Rizwan was arrested and put in prison, Asma’s parents cannot get their daughter back.

In another case a Christian girl, Binish Paul, 18, from Karachi was thrown from a 2nd story building by Muslim man Taheer Abbas for refusing to convert to Islam and marry him.  Binish sustained severe fractures to her legs and spine.

Mr Saeed said: “There are dozens of examples of such brutal acts of violence against Christians girls, normally they are asked to convert and marry them (Muslim men) and when the Christian girls refuse they are kidnapped, forcefully converted to Islam, and married to the men.

“It is sad as the government of Pakistan is aware of this problem but is not taking any action to stop this ongoing persecution of Christians and Hindu girls.

“What worries most is the attitude of the police and the courts’ decisions in such cases. The police side with the kidnappers and courts, and instead of following the law decide cases in favor of Muslim perpetrators.

“They give the custody of underage Christian and Hindu girls to their kidnaper as we have seen with Farah and well-known case of Maira Shahbaz, who escaped her abductor and is now in hiding from her abductor because she knows that Pakistani laws cannot protect her because of her Christian faith.”

 

Persecution Watch: Praying for Christian Under Attack

12/05/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to pray with us tonight on the Prayer Conference Call.

“10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

Dear Prayer Warriors, tonight we will lift up Christians in Nigeria and India who are facing relentless attacks. Please read reports below.

Christians Killed in Central and Southwestern Nigeria

Christians in Hiding after Brutal Mob Attack in Central India

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.”

Luke 10:2

In the love of Christ,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call 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.

Christians in Hiding after Brutal Mob Attack in Central India

In Chhattisgarh state, India, Madkam Sanni was attacked with a sickle and Madvi Muka sustained serious head wounds. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – Several families are in hiding after tribal animists in Chhattisgarh state, India threatened to kill them for reporting a mob attack to police last week that sent 21 Christians to hospitals, sources said.

Armed with bamboo sticks, iron rods, bows and arrows and iron sickles, the large mob at 1 a.m. on Nov. 25 attacked a home and adjoining church hall in Chingrwaram village, Sukma District, where Christians had celebrated a child dedication the previous evening. Some 20-25 friends and family were sleeping in the home and another 25-30 in the church hall when the villagers, many of them drunk, attacked while accusing the Christians of converting people and celebrating with loud music.

“They beat up the children as well as the women who were cooking food outside,” said Laxman Mandavi, a 21-year-old survivor of the assault. “While the children were beaten up with hands and feet, the others were shot at with arrows and beaten up with iron rods.”

The assailants shot Mandavi’s father, the 50-year-old homeowner Madvi Muka, with arrows, leaving him wounded, and attacked Madkam Sanni with a sickle that left deep cuts between her fingers and fractured her hand, Mandavi said.

“It was complete mayhem, and people were running to save their lives,” another victim, 24-year-old Laxshu Madkam, told Morning Star News. “I received two cuts on my back. My motorbike was broken. The attackers also broke 10 more motorbikes. They pulled the petrol pipes out of 20 more bikes and let the fuel flow.”

Mandavi said that four of the assailants entered a room where they found a young Christian woman and attempted to rape her.

“The attackers surrounded an unmarried sister and tore her clothes attempting to rape her,” he told Morning Star News. “When she started screaming loudly, they dragged her outside and beat her black and blue. She sustained severe internal injuries.”

Mandavi said the assailants destroyed all grain in the storehouse, damaged the house and belongings inside it and scattered the food that was being prepared for the guests’ breakfast.

“They also alleged that we were converting people and influencing them to turn them to our faith,” he said.

Pastor Musaki Kosa, who leads the church that meets at the home, had attended the dedication along with about 80 others (COVID-19 restrictions in the area allow gatherings of up to 100 people). Like most of the nearly 50 people who were staying overnight at the home and church hall, he was asleep when the mob attacked.

“I was able to slip away just in time and hid myself behind the bushes at the edge of the field,” he said. “I was able to see the attack going on from there. They beat up people in a heartless and cruel way.”

Many of the guests escaped to the jungle to save their lives, including Mandavi.

“I heard noise from outside, and suddenly people came in the house – they were saying, ‘We will kill Madvi [his father] and Laxman [Mandavi] today,’” Mandavi said. “When I heard that they are planning to murder us, I slipped away through the back door. I ran to the jungle and stayed there for the rest of the night. I was alone and scared.”

Mandavi said his father had been receiving threats from villagers for two months.

“They planned to attack us, and nearly two months ago had even threatened that they will beat us,” he said. “We know and recognize everyone who attacked us. Our relationship with them has been cordial historically, but we suspect that outsiders have provoked them against us.”

The assault continued until after dawn.

“The attack went for a long time,” Pastor Kosa said. “It seemed like it would not end.”

Some survivors said they ran to the nearest Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp and asked for help, but CRPF soldiers refused to go with them, stating that it was night-time.

“The CRPF men said that, ‘Unless we get orders from our seniors, we cannot act,’” Mandavi said. “We made innumerable calls to the local police station, to personal mobile numbers, to the emergency numbers, but nobody answered our calls. Most of the personal numbers were turned off, and they did not come until 8 in the morning.”

Assuming it was safe to return, some guests who had fled returned to the church hall at about 6 a.m., only to walk into an ambush, Mandavi said.

“A few of us went back to see how things were, and others accompanied them,” he said. “They did not know that the attackers were waiting for whoever came back. All who went back to see the situation were roughed up very badly.”

A Christian who had not been at the prior evening’s dedication celebration, Madvi Madka, was among those who visited the church hall the next morning.

“Madvi Madka was beaten up so severely that his ribs have been broken, and he is unable to breathe properly,” Mandavi said. “His hand is broken, and he is hurt in the chest as well. He was taken to the hospital in a critical condition.”

Pastor Kosa said many sustained internal injuries and bruises, including at least 10 Christians with head injuries. Madi Chuki suffered a hip injury, and Muchaki Ungi injuries to his ribs and hands, he said.

“Nobody was spared,” Pastor Kosa said. “Christians were beaten ruthlessly to the extent that blood started to ooze out of the bodies.”

Police arrived at 8 a.m., after the assailants had fled, and called for ambulances, survivors said. Officers sent 21 injured Christians to different hospitals according to the nature of their injuries, though many did not receive even first aid, Pastor Kosa said. By evening of Nov. 25, hospitals had admitted 14 of them for treatment while seven were given first aid and discharged, he said.

Four of the most seriously injured were sent to Zila District Hospital Sukma, and two of those were further referred for hospital treatment in Jagdalpur, 62 miles away, he said. The two patients in Jagdalpur were discharged on Sunday (Nov. 29), though still in much pain, he said.

Several patients treated at the government hospital told Morning Star News their treatment was inadequate, as staff refused to take X-rays in spite of their serious injuries. They continued to remain in severe pain, they told Morning Star News through a translator.

“Madvi Madka was being taken to Lankapur in Odisha state to a private hospital for treatment on Dec. 2 and had even reached Malkangiri, Odisha, but the police inspector called us and insisted that he be called back and treated at the government hospital only,” Pastor Kosa told Morning Star News. “Now we are bringing him back. We do not know what to do. The injured are too scared to go to the government hospital for treatment.”

Portrayed as a ‘Brawl’

Madvi Bhima, brother of Madvi Muka, filed a First Information Report (FIR) on Nov. 25 against 16 identified assailants, and police registered a case under penal code sections for rioting, unlawful assembly, obscene acts, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.

Attorney Amit Manwatkar, a volunteer for the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission, said police applied weak sections of the law, diminishing the seriousness of the attacks.

“A religiously motivated violent incident has been shown as a common brawl,” Manwatkar told Morning Star News.

Christians submitted a complaint to the district collector, superintendent of police and the local police station on Friday (Nov. 27) and met Sub-Inspector Ishwar Dhruv on Tuesday (Dec. 1) to express their fears of returning to the village.

Dhruv said officers arrested 16 people on Nov. 25-26 and released them on bail.

“In the present time, considering COVID, nobody is ready to keep them in jail,” Dhruv told Morning Star News. “We had not kept them in jail but had kept them in a secret place. We had got orders from above for the same.”

Special forces were deployed in the village for three days after the attacks, and he is patrolling the area every day, he said.

Dhruv denied that the assailants attempted to rape a Christian woman.

“Just because they are saying it, does not mean that the allegation is true,” he told Morning Star News. “They have to prove what they say.”

He also denied that injuries were serious.

“No ribs have been broken,” Dhruv said. “Ask them to show us the medical reports. We will add the relevant section in the FIR if such things have happened.”

District and police officials planned a meeting in the village for Wednesday (Dec. 2) to establish calm between the Christians and the tribal villagers. Eight of the attacked Christians went to the village to present their injuries before the administration along with medical reports, Pastor Kosa said.

“We got some X-Rays done from private laboratories and sent the reports with the Christians who have gone for the meeting,” he said.

Attorney Manwatkar said the villagers threatened to kill the Christians after they filed the police complaint, so about 25 Christians have taken refuge in Pastor Kosa’s house in another town, including the injured and their families.

“When we came to know about the need, we quickly contacted a local store and arranged for rations for 25 people to help them with food and daily needs,” Manwatkar said.

Other Christians have fled and taken refuge in the homes of brethren outside of the village. At this writing only four Christian families remained in Chingrwaram village, Pastor Kosa said.

He said he was grateful for the help received from the Evangelical Fellowship of India.

“They have helped with food expenses and other needs of the victims,” the pastor said.

Attacks Downplayed

Police appear keen to show that the attack resulted from a quarrel over the supposedly loud music at the dedication celebration, sources said.

Downplaying the attack, police officials have called it a clash in which only four people were injured. In the same vein, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh state has issued a plea “not to communalize the violence.”

There are other factors that indicate the attacks were religiously motivated “communal” violence. The assailants also attacked a Christian couple who were not even present at the dedication, breaking into their home, ransacking it and beating them, sources said.

The assailants beat another Christian who had gone to his field on the morning of Nov. 25 and was not present at the previous night’s function. The attackers searched for him and thrashed him, telling him they were beating him because he attends church, Mandavi said.

“There was another celebration on the same day in an adjoining village,” Mandavi said. “They had employed a DJ and were playing loud music throughout the night. We could hear the loud music all through the night as we were hiding in the jungle. The attackers seemed not disturbed at all by their loud music, but they attacked children [at the site of the dedication] who were playing songs from a single small speaker. It was an attack on us because of our faith and not because of sound.”

The village has only 15 homes that are Christian.

Trend of Violence

Attacks on Christians in Chhattisgarh and have become more frequent and intense.

The Rev. Vijayesh Lal of the Evangelical Fellowship of India said that in the previous two years Chhattisgarh was not in the top five states where Christians were targeted.

“However, this year, 2020, things have changed,” he told Morning Star News. “In our half-yearly report highlighting atrocities on Christians, Chhattisgarh was at No. 2, following Uttar Pradesh, with 24 incidents. Attacks on Christians in the state especially in the Bastar area have been increasing.”

A fact-finding team of social and rights activists visited the Bastar region, which includes Sukma District, in October and concluded that attacks against Christians have increased there. Led by prominent activist Medha Patkar, the team included members of the Chhattisgarh Citizens for Joint Action Committee and the National Alliance of Peoples Movement.

National magazine Caravan in June highlighted persecution of Christians in Chhatttisgarh, describing how they have been pressured to reconvert to Hinduism and tribal religion.

“This trend is worrying, and if the government does not step in and protect religious minorities, uphold the law, and punish the offenders, it would be too late to prevent a large-scale attack against Christians in the state, particularly in the Bastar area,” Arun Pannalal, president of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, told Morning Star News. “Hindu, right-wing, fundamentalist organizations are behind this.”

Christians constitute 1.92 percent of the total population of the state, according to the 2011 Census.

India ranked 10th on 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 been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in Malaysia

Malaysia: Population: 32.4 million, Christian 2.9 million

12/3/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) Every ethnic Malay is expected to be Muslim. Whoever deviates from this is viewed as not just going against the Constitution, but also against society at large, their family and their neighborhood. Roman Catholics and Methodists are watched by the authorities and non-governmental organizations, but non-traditional Protestant groups are more often targeted, as these tend to be more active in testifying about their faith.

Christians from Muslim backgrounds often hide their faith and meet in secret. If discovered, they could face rejection from their family, or be forced to divorce their spouse. Occasionally they may be sent to a re-education camp, or simply disappear.

The fate of Pastor Raymond Koh, abducted in February 2017, is still not clear and the country’s human rights commission in its final report declared that the Special Branch of the police was involved in the abduction. This reality sent chills into the Christian community.

Churches are monitored by the government, and it is illegal to share the gospel with Malay Muslims.

All children in state-run nursery and elementary schools are required to attend Islamic education. In state schools, Muslim pupils (including Christians with a Muslim background) are required to attend Islamic classes. At the university level, Islamic courses are also mandated.

In February 2017, Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight. The country’s Human Rights Commission has attempted to investigate this incident but has been prevented from freely proceeding with their investigation.

  • Pray for a change to the constitution as it defines ethnic Malays as Muslims. For this reason, Malays do not have religious liberty to leave Islam and those who practice other religions are forbidden from sharing their faith among Malay Muslims. Pray for change in Malaysia.
  • Pray against the Islam gaining more ground in both numbers and political power.
  • Pray against the numerous radical Muslim groups and their never-ending push for sharia law.
  • Pray for protection over secret gatherings of believers from Muslim backgrounds. Pray these times of fellowship would be encouraging and unifying.
  • Pray for new converts who are often kicked out of their homes, isolated from their families and communities, and sent to Islamic re-education camps. Pray for strength and courage.
  • Pray for unity among Christians and Christian churches.
  • Pray for godly leadership within Christian communities.
  • Pray for more ministry to young people as the generation gap widens and many churches consist of older people.
  • Pray for more Christian workers as many of the smaller. Churches have no trained pastor.
  • Pray for more Bibles and Christian literature in the Malay language which has been banned by the government.
  • Pray that the Lord will protect and further the work of all the NGOs
  • Pray for continued grace to be upon Susannah Koh and the family. Pray for endurance in the continual search for answers and justice.
  • Pray to the Lord that He will continue to grow His church and overthrow the radical Muslim movements.

Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for:

  • Leah Sharibu and Alice, prisoners of Boko Haram. Pray that they will be set free.
  • Pray pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert persecuted for her faith in Iran.

You are invited to join us on Thursday, December 3rd in a prayer call for the persecuted church.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call 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.

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