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Mary Mohammadi given suspended prison sentence and lashes

(Forum 18) Twenty-one-year-old Iranian Christian convert Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi has been sentenced to three months plus one day in prison, and ten lashes.

The sentence relates to Mary’s alleged participation in anti-government demonstrations following the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January.

The sentence is suspended for one year, and depends on her future conduct.

Mary has not appealed against the verdict, but commented:

“There was no evidence against me, so I ought to have been acquitted, but instead I was sentenced not only to imprisonment, but also flogging.

“And it should be mentioned that even before the verdict was handed down, I and my family were forced to endure all kinds of torture, none of which was sanctioned by law, and which ought to be considered crimes in themselves. So even if I would have been acquitted, it wouldn’t have been a real acquittal!”

“We have refrained from appealing against the verdict because the appeal courts have turned into confirmation courts!”

During Mary’s court hearing last week, the judge questioned her about her religious views, even though the charges were unrelated to her faith.

He cited no evidence against her, saying that her presence in the area where the rally was taking place was evidence in itself.

Mary’s hearing had previously been scheduled for 2 March, but was postponed due to coronavirus.

After her hearing was rescheduled, Mary tweeted that it would be a “crime against humanity” to send anyone to prison under the current circumstances.

Background

Mary has already spent six months in prison as a result of her participation in house-churches, for which she was convicted of “action against national security” and “propaganda against the system”.

In July last year she faced fresh criminal charges relating to her “improper” wearing of hijab. Those charges, which were eventually quashed, were brought against her after she initially went to police to complain of an assault.

Then in December, Mary was kicked out of her Tehran university, without explanation, on the eve of her English-language exams.

Just a few weeks later, on 12 January 2020, Mary was arrested as protests took place in Azadi Square.

There was no word about Mary’s whereabouts for a month, before it was confirmed that she was being held in Qarchak women’s prison, south of the Iranian capital Tehran.

After her arrest, Mary was forced to sit in a yard, for hours, in extremely cold weather and opposite the toilets, and not given any food for 24 hours.

She was beaten so badly – by male and female officers – that the bruises were visible for three weeks.

Mary was also strip-searched twice by female officers, who told her that if she refused to remove her clothes, they would rip them from her.

Mary is a rare example of a Christian activist still living in Iran. She launched a campaign last year called “Kahma”, fighting for the rights of all Christians – whether from Christian homes, or Christian converts – to be given the right to attend church.

UPDATE on Anita

We had asked you to pray for Anita, a Christian convert who was charge with promoting the underground church in Iran. Her hearing took place on April 15th. The Iranian court had recommended 6 years in prison, but we were encouraged that the judge, who is known to be harsh, had treated her kindly during the trial. After the hearing she was released to house arrest and told the judge would send his final verdict. Sadly, she received a verdict of 10 years in prison. Please pray for Anita and her attorney who will likely appeal the sentence.

Tonight on the Persecution Watch Prayer Call: India

 

(Voice of the Persecuted) Again, we want to lift up two persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice that this year will be the year where they will be set free. And also pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison.

India

Population: 1.7 billion, Christians 66.2 million

The level of violence and persecution against Christians—and other religious minorities—in India is vast and shocking. Led by radical Hindu nationalists, who seem to operate with impunity and little interference from local, regional or national governments, persecution against Christians in India has reached epidemic levels. A rise in far-right extremist groups—some of whom have links to armed radical groups—have clearly resulted in a sharp spike in violent incidents, and overall persecution against religious minorities. Radical Hindu nationalism in India is vocal, omnipresent and very violent, particularly against anyone who converts to Christianity from Hinduism. For these radicals, to be Indian is to be Hindu; therefore, to be Christian is to revoke your Indian identity.

More than 11,000 nongovernmental organizations have lost their licenses to accept foreign funds since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014.

 Seven states in India have anti-conversion laws on the books that criminalize conversion through allurement or other fraudulent means. However, the conversion laws are often abused by Hindu nationalist groups that oppose the existence of Christian missionaries or ministries in their communities.

Persecution 

Rural India can be a difficult place for recent converts to Christianity. Threats from radical Hindu nationalists, neighbors, and even family are a common part of the conversion experience in India’s unreached places.  Kasturi, a Christian woman from Tumhara village located in Odisha state, experienced these threats firsthand after she converted to Christianity in 2019. According to Kasturi, she converted to Christianity because the church community helped carry her daily burdens. This sense of community helped bring Kasturi a sense of peace.

However, the day she was baptized she began to face aggressive abuse from her husband. According to Kasturi, her husband would verbally abuse her, call her demeaning names, curse her, and throw her out of the house for days at a time. During these times she would stay with her cousin, but would return to care for her children. On January 19, 2020, Kasturi went to a Sunday worship service while her husband was away. When she returned from the service, her husband was home and welcomed her with a brutal beating. After this incident, Kasturi’s husband told her he would not let her leave the house unless she renounced her Christian faith. In the end, Kasturi could not abandon her new found faith and the peace that it brought her.

  • Pray for the government leaders in India to change their attitudes and create room for religious freedom.
  • Pray for God’s protection over Christians who boldly evangelize in the growing number of states with anti-conversion laws. Pray they will be wise in their evangelism efforts.
  • Pray for protection over Christians converts from Hinduism who are forcefully pressure to recant their faith
  • Pray for the protection of all, not only Christian women and young girls from rape and violence.
  • Pray for changes in rules and regulations as the work of Christian non-profits has suffered from the fact that it has been made very difficult to receive financial support from abroad. Pray for changes in rules and regulations.
  • Pray to the Lord to give NGO’s favor in covert work to and minister and support Christians.
  • Pray people have freedom to access Christian materials online as almost everyone in the country now has Internet access and as a result Christians and others have more access to Christian materials.
  • Pray to the Lord to hold His hand of protection over the Christian media in India and uproot all efforts of Hindu hard-liners attacking the Christian media by accusing them of evangelism.
  • Pray for God’s protection over Christians who boldly evangelize in the growing number of states with anti-conversion laws. Pray they will be wise in their evangelism efforts.
  • Pray that believers remain joyful amid suffering and forgive their persecutors
  • Pray to the Lord to continue to add to the numbers of believers daily and that His Church, the community of the saints, will continue to experience extraordinary growth.

Many blessings,

Andy, Prayer Call Moderator for Persecution Watch

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

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. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. 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.

Heinous Attacks Against Christians in Nigeria under-reported

The coronavirus affecting Nigeria is dominating the headlines which has pushed news reports of Christians being slaughtered by Islamists even further to the back burner.

 April 16 – A Christian student was killed in an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state on Thursday night (April 16), a week after a pastor was slain at his church building residence in southern Nigeria, sources said. According to area residents, After his college in northwest Nigeria was closed due to the coronavirus, Sebastine Stephen was visiting his home in a suburb of the city of Kaduna, when armed Fulani attacked at about 11:30 p.m. , reported Morning Star News.

“Sebastine Stephen was shot when the armed Fulani herdsmen attacked Gbagyi Villa area in Chikun Local Government Area in the southern end of the city of Kaduna,” area resident Hosea Yusuf told Morning Star News. “Stephen raised alarm, warning residents about the invasion of our community as he was still outside at the time the herdsmen came to attack the community. The herdsmen instantly shot him and then proceeded to enter one of the houses close to them, where they kidnapped a couple.”

“The Fulani herdsmen were over 50 carrying sophisticated guns and shooting sporadically,” Chris Obodumu told Morning Star News. “After they killed the young man, Sebastine Stephen, they then broke into the house of Mr. Jack Nweke and abducted him with his wife, leaving behind their three children.” He said he feared the herdsmen may return to attack again. Gbagyi Villa community leader Martins Emmanuel said the herdsmen simultaneously attacked both Gbagyi Villa and the nearby area of Mararaban Rido.

April 14 – Six children and a pregnant woman were among nine people that Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed in north-central Nigeria 0n April 14, sources said.

About a dozen herdsmen armed with rifles and machetes raided Hura-Maiyanga village, in the Miango area of Kwall District in Plateau state’s Bassa County, shouting the jihadist slogan “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” sources said.

“They were armed with machetes and AK-47 rifles as they attacked us,” Hanatu John, a woman who survived the attack, told Morning Star News. “They attacked our village at about 8 p.m., and they were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ as they shot into our houses.” The assailants were speaking Fulfulde, the Fulani language, as they shot into homes, she said.

“Most families had already retired into houses to sleep when these Fulani gunmen came into the village and were shooting into houses. As the herdsmen shot at us, we all ran out from our houses into the surrounding bushes. Some of the herdsmen chased after us and shot at us, while others were burning down our houses.”

“Hura hamlet of Maiyanga village in Kwall District, Miango Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau state was invaded on the night of 14th by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, who surrounded the entire area and unleashed mayhem on the unsuspecting natives,” Mwantiri told Morning Star News by text message. “As a result, nine persons were gruesomely killed and two injured while 33 houses were completely torched by fire. Most of the persons killed were children.”

The ages of the children were 3, 6, two were 7, 15 and an unborn baby.  Over 250 persons, mostly women and children, have been displaced.

Miango resident Grace Gye sent a message to the Plateau state government on April 15, calling on state and federal governments “to protect the people and their property.” She questioned why Fulani herdsmen were moving about freely in spite of a lockdown in the face of the novel coronavirus.

The Rev. Ronku Aka, a former Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) pastor and now community leader of the Irigwe ethnic group, lamented incessant attacks on predominantly Christian communities.

“So many of my people have been killed over the years, including the attack of last night, In spite of promises from the government to my people, the herdsmen have continuously been attacking our communities.”

“I am begging the international community to come to the aid of our people! this killing is too much,” Aka told Zenger. “More than the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Fulanis are killing my people. Despite the lockdown,” Aka told Zenger News.

The attack on Maiyanga comes on the heels of attacks by herdsmen in the area last month. On March 31, Christians were killed at Ancha village; the next day three more Christians were slain in the predominantly Christian community of Nkiedow-hro village, and seven others were killed in Hukke village. On Jan. 14, 2018, armed herdsmen killed one Christian and wounded two others in an attack on Maiyanga village.

There is also a report shared on April 16 of Moses Gata, a resident from a targeted village, being abused by authorities after he criticized Nigerian police and military for withdrawing from a region where Muslim militants have killed at least 20 Christians.

“I blamed the security for withdrawal of soldiers at the checkpoints and hence the attacks when it was barely a week after the withdrawal,” Gata told Zenger News, explaining why he may have been targeted for retaliation.

“I also complained about the government inability to set up programs such as bringing relief materials to homeless people, rehabilitation program, resettlement program, reconstruction program of any sorts,” he said.

He claimed the captain told him, ’You’re going to respect the uniform from now on, aren’t you, little boy!’ as he hosed me down from head to toe in ice cold water.”  Gata said he was ordered to roll back and forth on the concrete porch of a temporary army barrack for close to two hours until he was rescued by an elected official who had heard from family about his predicament.

April 13 – Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria decapitated two Christians in Benue state.

According to residents, herdsmen ambushed two members of a Catholic church in  Ologba village at about 8 a.m. on Monday. “Oche Alaade and his friend who had visited the village were traveling out of the village on their way back to Obagaji town where they reside when they were ambushed by the Fulani herdsmen and their heads cut off,” area resident Louis Oguche told Morning Star News in a text message. Oyaje Sule, uncle of Oche Alaade, confirmed the killings in a statement issued to local press on Monday evening. The murders follow a herdsmen attack on two Christians the previous week who are receiving hospital treatment for their wounds, Sule said. Agatu, a predominantly Christian area in the north-central state of Benue, has been under siege by herdsmen in the past four years, with many Christians killed and displaced.

April 11 – A group of herdsmen in Plateau state on shot a Christian farmer dead.

Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 30-year-old Christian farmer Mabur Mallo Gwang in Maiduna village, Daffo District of Bokkos County, area residents said. Armed with guns and machetes, four armed herdsmen forced their way into the victim’s house attacked him. Neighbors fled into the nearby bushes when they heard the gunshots, The victim was a member of the local Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) congregation. Yusuf Machen, chairman of the Bokkos Local Government Council, confirmed the attack when contacted by Morning Star News. “We are deeply saddened about such incessant attacks on the communities in Bokkos Local Government Area,” Machen said.

Herdsmen have attacked Christian communities in Bokkos County over the past three years, as well as Christians in the counties of Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Jos South, Mangu and Riyom, residents told Morning Star News. In the Daffo area in the past two years, more than 40 Christians have been killed, 11 communities destroyed and more than 7,000 people displaced, they said.

April 10 – In southern Nigeria’s Delta state, church members identified two armed men who came to the church building the night of April 10 and shot and stabbed pastor Stephen Akpor as Fulani herdsmen. He was 55.

Pastor Akpor, whose residence was on the church premises, was praying and counseling members of his church in Ibusa at about 8:30 p.m. at Breakthrough Cathedral, a local fellowship of the Celestial Church of Christ, church leaders told Morning Star News via text messages. “Two herdsmen came to a branch of our church, Celestial Church at Ibusa in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta state, where they shot him as he was praying and counseling five members in the church,” a senior leader of the church, Isaiah George, church, told Morning Star News.

Pastor Akpor reportedly retreated to his room before the assailants shot him through a window. The pastor’s wife was inside the building at the time, but she and the other church members escaped unhurt, George said. “The herdsmen shot the pastor several times and then stabbed him to death,” he said.

Another church leader, Peter Lotobi, said he received a phone call at the time of the herdsmen attack and immediately contacted police. “By the time the police got to the church, the herdsmen had already killed the pastor and retreated from the church premises,” Lotobi told Morning Star News. “His corpse was removed and taken by the police to the mortuary of General Hospital, Ibusa.” Pastor Akpor reportedly is survived by five children along with his wife.

Attacks by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen, most of them in the north-central part of the country, have drifted to southern Nigerian states as far back as 2016. Recently Muslim Fulani herdsmen in southern communities have reportedly taken over farmlands.

March 22 – Herdsmen attacked Div-Nzaav village in Kwande County as Christians were about to begin worship in the village church. “The Fulanis attacked us on Sunday; they shot and killed Tarfa Simon, while Ngusonon Kighir, a woman and member of our community, was cut with a machete,” Amande said in a text message to Morning Star News.

The attacked members of the Universal Reformed Christian Church (Nongu u Kristu u i Ser u sha Tar, or NKST) who escaped fled to Jato-Aka village, he added. “The herdsmen also kidnapped two Christian women from the village who were rescued a few days after the attack,” Amande said. “These attacks against us by the herdsmen have become incessant for several years.”

March 5 – Herdsmen also attacked Mbanyiar village in Guma County at about 2 a.m., residents said. Oliver Tyoor Chado of Mbanyiar said the herdsmen kidnapped his wife and destroyed houses, food and animals belonging to Christians.

“The herdsmen, who were about a dozen, were armed with AK-47 rifles,” Chado told Morning Star News. “My wife and two other members of our village were kidnapped and taken away by the herdsmen; but they were eventually rescued by security agents after they were tortured by the herdsmen.” He said displaced Christians have fled to Daudu town.

March 6 – In Guma County, seven NKST members were killed when Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked villagers at a funeral wake in Chongu village, sources said. Chongu resident Zaki Usuah he and others were holding a wake at about 11 p.m. when the Fulani herdsmen attacked. “The wake was for one of our deceased elders in our church, NKST church, who was to be buried the following morning at Chongu,” Usuah said. “Suddenly we heard sounds of gun shots all around us. Those killed in the attack include Chikwa, Taza Abuur, Tarnum Yanum and four others.”

March 3 – In Abaji village three weeks earlier, also in Kwande County, armed herdsmen stormed the area in droves, residents said. They attacked at about 10 a.m on March 3, according to area resident Aloysius Yaga.

“Eight of our people were killed, and six others were kidnapped by the herdsmen during the attack,” Yaga told Morning Star News by text message. “The herdsmen shot indiscriminately at us and injured many others through machete cuts. I narrowly escaped being killed.”

March 2 – In northwestern Nigeria, Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Niger state on March 24 killed at least 20 people in two predominantly Christian villages and on March 2 kidnapped eight Christians in raids on a mission station, sources said.

The attacks on the villages of Galkogo and Zumba, killing more than 20 people, displaced 3,000 people, area residents told Morning Star News.

In Niger state’s Shiroro County, Fulani herdsmen raided a school in Maruba run by Calvary Ministries (CAPRO), kidnapping four missionaries, two volunteer staff members, another staff member and one student, according to Niyi Gbade, the ministry’s national director. Ask God to release them unharmed now,” Gbade told Morning Star News in a text message. The school’s head teacher was shot and received hospital treatment, he said. “Pray for the remaining missionaries on the base, that they will not be kidnapped, and that those being held should be released from any form of captivity,” Gbade said.

Herdsmen also raided Global Glorious Mission in Gofa, Shiroro County, on March 22, forcing missionaries and students to flee into bushes, according to a mission press statement last month. “The Fulani herdsmen entered, ransacked and looted our Gofa field of Shiroro LGA, Niger and environs,” the statement read. “Some of the brethren have gone back in the night, and some returning this morning. Please stand with us in prayer for God’s intervention over this menace.”

In the past year, armed Fulani herdsmen have carried out a series of raids on Christian communities in the northwest, sending people fleeing to camps for the displaced.

On Jan. 30, (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. The warning was issued in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’

Dr. Samson Ayokunle, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President said, “Christians have become an endangered species in their own country. “Nigeria is under a siege orchestrated by the murderous bloodthirsty and criminally-minded Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani terrorist herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers.” He also called the government to account for its inaction in the face of the escalating conflict and the culture of impunity in Nigeria.

sources here, here and here

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

URGENT Prayer Request 3/19/2020

 

We were informed one of the persecuted Christians that Voice of the Persecuted is caring for abroad is very sick and may have the COVID-19 virus. Please pray for Neda to be healed and keep praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters, worldwide. 🙏

May the Lord bless, protect and give you peace so you can encourage others and shine His light during these trying times.

The Voice of the Persecuted Team

 

Tonight on Persecution Watch (Feb. 22, 2020)

Dear Prayer Warriors, 800,00 Syrians have fled in three months. Christians have been abducted and attacked in the largest Bangladesh refugee camp. Gunmen killed a pastor and 23 others in an attack near a church in Burkina Faso. We will continue to lift up our dear precious Leah Sharibu and Alice, who are continuing to suffer as captives of the Islamic Boko Haram group in Nigeria. Also for Pastor Wang Yi from China, who has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for boldly sharing the love of God.

In the midst of it all, where there seems to be no way, we know our hope is in the Lord. We do not despair for we do not worship the creation but the Creator, the Lord of all, the King of all kings.

* Jesus prayer for God to be glorified (John 17:1-5)
* Jesus prays for His disciples (John 17:6-19)
* Jesus prays for all believers (John 17:20-26)

* “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
* “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34)
* “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26 ESV)

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:41-42

Jesus’ prayer after entering Jerusalem
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)

Tonight on Persecution Watch, we will pray in the Spirit to our Abba Father! Lord willing, we are look forward to praying with you on the prayer conference call.

In Christ love,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

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. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. 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 and join the team!

Court in Pakistan Validates Forced Conversion, Marriage of Christian Girl to Muslim

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A high court ruling in Pakistan validating the marriage and forced conversion to Islam of a 14-year-old Christian girl has heightened fears that it will encourage others to commit such crimes, sources said.

The High Court in Sindh Province on Feb. 3 dismissed a petition to have the marriage and forced conversion of a Catholic girl overturned, ruling that both were valid since a girl under sharia (Islamic law) can marry after her first menstrual cycle.

Huma Younus was taken from her home in Karachi’s Zia Colony on Oct. 10 while her parents were away and was forced to marry the man who abducted her, identified as Abdul Jabbar of Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab Province, her attorney said.

“The hearing on Feb. 3 lasted only five minutes,” the family’s attorney, Tabassum Yousaf, told Morning Star News. “The court, in just a few words citing the sharia, has justified the violation of the girl’s body since she has already had her first period.”

Yousaf added that the family was prohibited from seeing Huma because police said her life would be at risk if she was brought to the courtroom.

He said the family challenged Huma’s marriage and forced conversion under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013, which declares marrying a person under 18 years old an offense punishable by up to three years in prison.

Although the Sindh government takes credit for becoming Pakistan’s first elected assembly to pass a bill on child marriage in April 2014, the law is still poorly implemented, sources said.

Yousaf said he submitted Huma’s baptismal and school documents in court that proved she was 14 years old, but nevertheless Sindh High Court judges Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah ruled that the marriage was valid based on her menstrual cycle.

The legal battle has been going on for months with constant delays and excuses cited so as not to present the underage girl in court, sources said.

The family has filed an appeal to the Court of Justice in Sindh Province, and Yousaf said a hearing is scheduled for March 4. Police will thus have more time for medical tests to determine Huma’s age, he said.

Guardian Consent Needed

The girl’s parents were informed via text message that Huma had converted to Islam and had married Jabbar “of her free will,” sources said.

Since forced conversions are not illegal in Pakistan, her attorney said he believed the case hinged on Huma’s age.

Prominent Supreme Court Advocate Saiful Malook told Morning Star News that even though sharia allows marriage of a minor girl if she has her first period, the marriage has to be validated by the girl’s guardian.

“In no way can any court of law endorse an underage marriage unless it is supported by the girl’s guardian,” Malook said. “Marriage is governed by the Contract Act, wherein no minor can enter into a contract or agreement without the explicit approval of her guardian. In this particular case, the court must take into account whether the girl’s legal guardian has consented to her marriage even if it’s judging the act under the sharia.”

He added that a 14-year-old minor cannot be deemed mature enough to change her religion by her own will, considering the fact that she could have been coerced or blackmailed into renouncing her faith. Huma reportedly filed an affidavit declaring that she married of her own free will, but Yousaf has said that such an affidavit can’t be filed legally until she obtains an identity card at age 18.

The high court must order Huma to record a statement in the courtroom, Malook said.

“If the police are not producing the girl before the court on various pretenses, the court should be wise enough to see through the police’s mala fide and hand the custody of the minor back to her parents,” he said.

Malook, who represented Pakistan’s most high-profile blasphemy convict, Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi, before the Supreme Court and won her freedom, said that abducting for the purpose of forced conversion and underage marriage is a major problem in Pakistan. He added that legislation effective in curbing the practice is long overdue.

Christian rights activists believe that the ruling of the Sindh High Court will encourage more perpetrators of such crimes to hide behind sharia. Pakistan Center of Law of Justice Executive Director Napoleon Qayyum told Morning Star News that the high court’s ruling would result in a surge in cases of forced conversion and underage marriages of Christian girls.

“Another Christian girl aged 14 was recently abducted and gang-raped by some Muslim youths in Bihar Colony area of Lahore,” Qayyum said. “The victim is a student of grade nine and was abducted by four or five boys on her way to a local tuition center on Jan. 16, 2020. The abductors not only raped her but also obtained her signatures and thumb impressions on some papers.”

Police were able to recover her on Jan. 19, but Qayyum said he fears the suspects will use her signed documents to produce a fake marriage certificate and religion conversion letter in a bid to escape abduction and rape charges.

“This is common modus operandi of Muslims to confuse the court and avoid justice,” he said.

In nearly all such cases, he said, the rapists threaten to harm the girls’ families if they reveal the truth.

“Moreover, the girls are also forced to give false statements in court that they have changed their religion of free will and had married of their own choice,” Qayyum said. “Girls belonging to minority communities often succumb to pressure and consideration for their family’s security, which has further emboldened the men belonging to the majority faith.”

Most victims of forced conversion and marriage in Pakistan are reportedly Christian and Hindu girls and women forced to marry Muslim men who are much older than them. According to the Centre for Social Justice, at least 159 such cases were reported between 2013 and 2019.

The Sindh legislature in 2016 passed a law outlawing forcible conversions and conversions before the age of 18 but, under pressure from Islamic extremist groups, the governor declined to sign it. Each year about 1,000 Christian and Hindu women in Pakistan are forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to their abductors or rapists, according to the National Commission of Justice and Peace and the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Pakistan ranked fifth on Christian support organization 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.

Photo: Huma Younas, 14, was abducted and forced to convert to Islam, her parents say. (Morning Star News courtesy of family)

Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call (Feb. 6, 2020): Nigeria

2 weeks of prayer/2 years of captivity. Photo courtesy of the Leah Foundation

(Voice of the Persecuted) The Leah Foundation is calling attention to February 19th, which marks two years that Leah Sharibu will be held in captivity by the Boko Haram. Leah’s family is asking Christians across the globe to pray for Leah each day for two weeks beginning Feb. 5th through Feb. 19th.

Nigeria

Population: 196 million, Christians 91 million

Extremist attacks and religious oppression! Christians in the northern region and in the Middle Belt suffer from violence perpetrated by Islamic extremist groups such as militant Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram. Such violence often results in loss of life, physical injury, as well as loss of property. As a result of the violence, Christians are also being dispossessed of their land and means of livelihood—and Christians with a Muslim background also face rejection from their own families

In some northern states, increasing numbers of Christians are dressing like Muslims to make their faith less obvious and reduce the chances of attack. Young Christians in these states are frequently denied access to higher education, and Christians have been asked to give up their faith in order to obtain work. Applications for permits to build churches are ignored.

The situation is especially difficult for converts from Islam to Christianity. They usually are assisted in underground locations for fear of being persecuted or even killed. In the north they often have to flee their homes and even the state. This is far less likely to occur in the south.

February 2019 in Gusau, Zamfara State: Bandits abducted and killed an Anglican priest from the Diocese of Sokoto. His wife and children were also abducted and their whereabouts are unknown.

In April 2019 in Madagali, Adamawa State: At about 5:40 p.m., Boko Haram fighters invaded predominantly Christian Kuda community in Madagali Local Government Area (LGA) of Adamawa State. Over 30 houses were set on fire and 23 people were killed, 20 of whom were Christians. Residents left the village to seek refuge in Gulak and other relatively safer parts of Adamawa State.

August 2019 in Lau LGA, Taraba State: A conflict between a radical Fulani herder and a farmer was the trigger for attacks and reprisal acts that continued for weeks and resulted in 65 deaths (most of them Christians) and 18 burned villages (with 15 churches, two elementary schools and a health centers destroyed). Security forces that were deployed in the area did not intervene; on the contrary, in June 2019 many youths were arrested during protests against the violence and inaction of the local authorities.

· Pray to the Lord to protect believers from violence by militant Islamic groups in the north which often ends in loss of life and physical injury as well as loss of property.

· Pray for those dealing with the effects of recent violence against them. Please pray for the Lord’s provision in in all their physical and spiritual needs.

· Thousands of women remain in Boko Haram captivity. Pray for their liberation.

· Pray for those who have been freed or managed to escape to receive proper physical and emotional care. Please pray for the Lord’s provision in in all their physical and spiritual needs.

· Pray for the women and girls who escaped or were the set free after recanting their faith. The trauma, the remorse and guilt for denying the Lord, the inability to forgive themselves causes to them to have suicidal thoughts or to try to kill themselves. Pray that the Lord will connect them with Christian counselors.

· Pray for the women and girls who escaped or were the set free that their families can overcome their cultural prejudices and welcome and care from them.

· Pray for the Christian women and girls who escaped or were the set free can keep their baby.  [Authorities want to take these children  and place with Muslims, because the child was fathered by a Muslim and therefore is a Muslim]

· Pray to the Lord that Christians living in the southern part of the country, in an environment in which their religious freedom is respected, will become more caring for their brothers and sisters from the North.

· Pray for greater engagement from the Church in South with the Church in northern parts of the country.

·  Pray the Nigerian church will be able to withstand pressure to give up the faith and have the grace to respond to their challenges in a way that glorifies Christ.

· Pray to the Lord that the believers will have courage, wisdom and boldness to reach out to Muslim neighbors.

· Pray to the Lord to give NGOs favor that they will be able to provide much needed spiritual and other support to believers.

· Pray that the Lord will strengthen His Church and that it will continue to grow in spite of the hostile environment.

Again, we want to lift up two persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice that this year will be the year where they will be set free. And also pray for pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison.

Many blessings,

Andy and Nadia Dybvik, Prayer Call Moderators, Persecuted Watch

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

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. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. 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 and join the team!

Pray with us for the Persecuted on the Prayer Conference Call tonight

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Saints, remember our brothers and sisters in their imprisonment and afflictions tonight. Let us remember them as they follow Christ in places where it is not safe to be a believer. With the news of the serious virus outbreak in China, we will be lifting our Chinese brothers and sisters to the Lord for protection from illness and a determination to share the Gospel of Christ with the lost. We will continue to pray for Leah Sharibu, who has been a captive of the Boko Haram for nearly two years. We will also pray for Iranian women who have been a big part in starting underground churches in Iran. We invite you to join us in prayer on the Persecution Watch call as we advance His kingdom purposes by praying for the persecuted church and calling out for the global harvest of souls. See the prayer call details below.

In Christ love,

Nadia Dybvik and Merlaine Smokes, Prayer Call Moderators for Persecuted Watch

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

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!

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