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Iran (MNN) – While much of the world was anticipating the possibilities of the new year, Iranians were busy calling upon their government for change in widespread protests that continue today.
*Peter Smith was able to speak with strategically placed Christians in Iran about the situation that is unfolding.
He says, “About [seven] days ago inside Iran, what started as a riot towards the price increase of eggs — the price of eggs went up by 40 percent and so the people said, ‘Hey, that’s too much!’ — it has since turned into a political revolt. And what started in the city of Mashhad, which is the Shiite holy city on the coast near Afghanistan, has now spread to than 100 different cities inside Iran.”
The protests have grown in both scope and size, and what started as a small group of protesters has garnered international attention.
As of yesterday morning, Smith said, “What I’ve heard so far in the first six days is anywhere from 16-25 people have been killed. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who have been arrested.”
The Washington Post says that at least 20 people have been killed so far. Smith believes that one reason the world is lending an ear to these protests is to ask the question, “Is this going to lead to regime change, or is this something internally that the country needs to deal with?”
Either way, the people in the streets are calling for change—both in leadership and how the nation’s money is used.
Iran is certainly no stranger to political unrest. Smith recalls the Green Movement or Revolution of 2009 which was mostly fueled by the middle class, calling for a revote for the presidential elections. This movement, he explains, did not have outside support from other nations.
“This time, the revolt seems to be among the … poor people, people who live in the parts of the cities where the economics are not as good. And what they’re saying is, ‘look, if you really want to help bring regime change, we need help from the outside.”
In particular, he says they’re calling on the influential nations in Europe, and on the United States. It remains to be seen where this revolt will take Iran.
“Especially this week, I think, is very crucial because it’s either going to continue and get worse, or the Revolutionary Guard will come in and squelch it totally. And so, what the outside world does to influence any decision, I think the next two or three days are very critical.”
While Iran has a broad spectrum of issues, there is a story unfolding that brings hope. Despite the extreme opposition Christians face, the underground Church is growing in Iran. As we’ve mentioned recently, Iran is currently the fastest growing body of believers in the world. And they are just as concerned about what’s happening in Iran as their non-Christian neighbors.
Smith says on speaking with Church leaders, he learned of two things they’re focusing on in particular: “First of all, they’re asking for prayer — prayer to know how they should go out into the streets and do ministry among those who are doing the rioting. And secondly [what] they’re trying to figure out is, ‘long term, will we as a nation be free so that we can have freedom of religion? So we can meet openly in parks or in buildings without the threat of the Revolutionary Guard or others to come in and arrest us?”
This time of year is a particularly difficult time for believers. “For the last several years during Christmas time, the Iran government has used that as a platform to arrest large groups of Christians who gather for the Christmas holiday. And even again this year they did that in several major cities. And so yes, the house church movement inside Iran is very concerned about not just the revolution that might be taking place, but how that’s going to impact their church in their future.”
Will you pray for Iran? Ask God that if there is any change to come about from these protests, that he would bring a peaceful transition. Pray for national believers to have wisdom and courage in their outreach.
HELP stop the #profiteering by T-Moble that attacks your right to #pray for free! What can you do right now. SIGN and share this petition not only because it affects our mission’s prayer call for the persecuted, but your ability to join a prayer line without being charged a fee.
Prayer should never come with a cost.
The right to pray for free is under attack by T-Mobile. Despite its aggressive advertising campaign – including Super Bowl spots – positioning the company as the #Uncarrier for offering the “first unlimited subscription” void of surcharges, bogus fees and assorted taxes, the mobile conglomerate is waging a war on prayer. T-Mobile is blatantly, but surreptitiously charging an additional $0.01 per minute to customers who call prayer lines using free conference call services. One such service that has been affected is FreeConferenceCall.com, of which tens of thousands of prayer line callers have been affected by these charges and have taken to social media to voice their opinions about T-Mobile.
Many T-Mobile customers call into prayer lines multiple times a week to pray with others for long periods of time, resulting in hundreds of dollars a year added to their service plan costs. By forcing them to pay additional fees for these calls, T-Mobile is effectively cutting off a spiritual lifeline for its loyal customers who cannot afford these charges.
We are asking for your help to take action to prevent T-Mobile and any other greedy cellphone carriers who follow suit from gouging and targeting prayer customers with unnecessary and unfair costs. We strongly urge everyone interested in maintaining religious liberty to support the right of all people to pray together, free of costs and other barriers. Please call upon T-Mobile and any other corporations considering similar action to stop charging customers unfair, punitive and discriminatory fees that were designed to prevent faithful people of all religions from praying for free. Help the millions of individuals who utilize these services for prayer by signing and sharing this petition.
Location: Any location from your phone
When: Saturday July 29, 2017
Length of call: 12 Hours (Note: You’re not required to commit to 12 hours. Come on the call and pray as your time allows.)
Time of the Call:
9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Eastern time
8 a.m.-8 p.m. Central time
7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mountain time
6 a.m.-6 p.m. Pacific time
Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#
We believe prayer works. Stay on the call 5 minutes, 5 hours, or as long as you feel led. Your prayers make a huge difference in the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
Lord willing, I look forward to praying with you on the 12-hour call.
Your brother in Christ,
Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24
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(Agenzia Fides) The debate to amend the controversial “blasphemy law”, composed of the articles of the Penal Code that punish with life imprisonment or the death penalty insults against Islam has begun in the Pakistani Senate. It was Muslim Senator Farhatullah Baber, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party and representative of the Special Committee of the Pakistani Senate on human rights, to introduce the theme to look for ways to stop the abuse of the law.
The new attempt to discuss the matter in Parliament comes a decade after parliamentary Minocher Bhandara, a Zoroastrian, presented in 2007 a bill with amendments to the blasphemy law. The proposal was immediately blocked by the then Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Sher Afgan Niazi, for fear of offending the feelings of Muslims, appealing to the principle that “no law should contradict Islamic law”. (more…)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5
(Voice of the Persecuted) Since the time of the 1st century Church, persecution and suffering for bearing the cross for Christ has never stopped. In fact, it has increased drastically since death of the first martyr, Stephen.
Pakistan is notoriously famous as a breeding ground for radical terrorism. Sporadic targeting of Pakistani Christians has made life miserable for the innocent. Over the years, rising persecution has claimed thousands of lives and continues to hang as a sword of Damocles over those who practice their faith in one of the world’s most hostile environments. According to the 2017 World Watch List, Pakistan ranked above Syria and Iraq as the 4th worst place to live as a Christian.
Youhanabad, a Christian colony in Lahore, Pakistan, was attacked by the Taliban in 2015. Worshippers were killed after 2 suicide bombers struck at 2 churches crowded with hundreds of church attendees.
This attack dramatically changed the lives of one family who were forced to flee their home and stay in hiding.
The persecution against Adnan’s family began after the 2015 suicide attack in the Christian colony where they lived. They had attended an early church service that day when terror engulfed their community. A suicide bomber detonated near the Church which curtailed the lives of at least twenty Christians and wounded dozens of church attendees. In an interview with the family, Adnan told Voice of the Persecuted,
“When we heard the blast, I asked my family to keep themselves in hiding. Fearing it was very close to where we live, I went with my brother to check the situation. We saw fragments and traces of blast, even human flesh and body parts scattered all over the area. It was horrifying. We saw angry victims and their loved ones running after the accomplices of the bomber and were beating them to stop them from escaping. Eventually, they were caught and badly beaten by the deeply upset and agitated Christians.”
Next day, the scenario was an extremely opposite of what was expected. Based on the footage taken by the media, the victims’ family members who caught the terrorists (who succumbed to their injuries) and those visible at the time of incident were now considered perpetrators and criminals.
“My brother and I were one of those who were seen in the footage and thus my brother went into hiding. But later, he was arrested and even now is still in jail.” He further explained, “Taunted by this, I feared most for the safety of my wife and two sons who at that time were only 3 and 1 years old. My wife had to leave her job as a teacher and as did I, a security guard at the bank.”
With any hope of living free quickly fading, they believed there was no choice but escape to Thailand to save their lives. Filled with hope and the dream of no longer living in terror, they arrived in Bangkok to seek asylum in September 2015. They were excited to start to new life strong in their faith, openly as true Christians without fear. However, things were not easy as expected. Fear and the safety of their children had brought them to another oppressive situation in Bangkok. Adnan, his wife and children are one of thousands of Pakistani Christian families hoping to gain asylum and begin a peaceful life in freedom.
Adnan’s asylum case and the UNHCR asylum certificate he holds is not recognized by the Thai government. After their visa’s expired, he had to make ends meet by illegally finding a work in a factory. To support his family, Adnan had been left with no other option but to take temporary illegal work at a lesser wage with no insurance.
April 29, 2016 marked another critical ordeal for the family. While on the job, the father of two was hit by a fork lift that severly damaged his ankle. Doctors told Adnan that he needed a series of major surgeries which required a large sum of money.
His wife asked for help from practically everyone and even begged the factory owner for mercy and to support the medical expense of her husband’s severe injury. The factory owner paid a portion of the cost for surgeries, but the rest had to be borrowed from the factory owner and other non- asylum seeking individuals.
Gradually, Adnan has begun to walk with the help of crutches, but to this date cannot walk properly. He and his family are burdened by the loan for the surgeries, and trying support basic survival needs for themselves and their children. It’s indeed hard with no recourse but to beg for help. Still, their is little to eat as support trickles in.
The family has appealed to the international Christian community to pray for and uplift them morally, spiritually and financially. Our correspondent told us the father’s spirit is still high despite all the troubles in his life. Adnan recalls one bible verse from Roman 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This verse gives him great hope and the courage to face another day.
Let us continue to remember and pray for this beleaguered family. Let us share our blessings and shine the light and love of Christ on them. Voice of the Persecuted is seeking sponsors to bring hope to our brothers and sisters suffering in Thailand. Unfortunately, we are unable to care for all the families on our waiting list. If you would like to sponsor a persecuted Christian family suffering through the asylum process, please set up a regular monthly payment and add in note section when donating, Pakistani Christians in Thailand. One-time gifts to this relief project is also welcome and greatly appreciated.
Example: A gift of $100 cover monthly food expenses and a portion of their room rent.
Please consider sponsoring Adnan and his family by adding his name to the note. Your gift of support blesses them with hope and means more than you could ever imagine.
- For persecuted Christian families suffering in Thailand.
- For the children will never again have go to bed hungry.
- Pray for sponsors who can help them survive.
- Pray for the Thai government to have a change of heart.
- That the UNHCR will expedite their interviews so they may go to a welcoming nation with the opportunity to provide for themselves, worship freely and live in peace.
- Pray for the Lord to bless them with joy, to strengthen their faith and to feel His loving presence surround them.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Donations are always desperately needed.
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
Note: Voice of the Persecuted encourages Christians to refrain from violence at all costs.
This URGENT prayer request was sent to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) by an Indonesian Christian.
There’s a very urgent prayer need for hundreds and thousands of Christians in Indonesia during these times. Also especially for Friday 4 November 2016. I would like to humbly ask your willingness to send your prayers to God in this regard.
A little background: Indonesia is a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. About 87% of the population is muslim. The rest are people from other religions. The country is permeated with corruption right through the entire system. The military generals are powerful and often have the final say. The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. In 2014, something extraordinary happened. A former governor of a remote province was elected to be the new governor of the Jakarta, the capital city. It was extraordinary because he is a non-Mulsim, not from a military background and he is ethnic (Chinese origin).
He is very direct, extremely brave, looks after the poor, intelligent and above all he is a child of God. He believes in Jesus, reads and studies his bible everyday and finds it to be his source of strength. Since then, things started to change in Jakarta. He fought against corruption, raised the standard of living and did many many other initiatives. The people love him. But in doing so, he attracted many enemies. His enemies have tried anything from death threats, put him on trial of all kinds of accusations and even openly cast black magic spells on him. But all these have failed to bring him down because he relies on God’s protection. His name is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (aka Ahok).
[the protest begins approx 12:30pm-1:00am EST] Thousands of Muslims will flood Jakarta and they aim to bring him down. The social media has photos of Muslims working house to house in the past few days trying to pinpoint where the christian homes are in order to prepare themselves with a list of targets. In 1998, a similar thing happened and thousands of homes were burned, churches destroyed, people dragged outside of their homes, raped and killed by a swarm of thousands.
Please pray for: 1. God to forgive the Muslims because most of them do not know what they are doing is wrong. 2. God to protect his churches and believers throughout Jakarta and Indonesia as the threat has extended to cover the entire nation. Pray that no-one be raped, tortured or killed. 3. God to protect the Chinese minority that in the past usually becomes target of raping and killing during such mass violence. 4. God to break down the power of the devil that blinds the Muslims from the truth. 5. God to protect Ahok and his family 6. God to give Ahok wisdom as he did Daniel in the face of great threat 7. God to protect the president (Jokowi) who is trying to maintain order. Pray that Jokowi may be given power to calm the Muslim leaders and to maintain peace and order because the Muslim leaders have specifically threatened the government to stand back tomorrow.
Please pray…… Please pass this on to others so they too can pray….
Read this news article related to the situation surrounding the today’s protest in Jakarta. Indonesian Christians are very concerned for what they see happening in their nation. Be their VOICE! Share this report and encourage others to pray with you.
(Voice of the Persecuted) received an update on American Christians, Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine’s situation as of late Friday, October 21. Turkish officials arrested and detained the couple on October 7 in the coastal city of Izmir on grounds of conducting activities constituted as “national security risks”.
Norine and Andrew have been living in Turkey for 23 years, running a church with the full knowledge of the local authorities. They were summoned to the police department on Friday, October 7, for what they assumed would be questions about their recent residency application. Upon their arrival they were presented with a letter from Ankara labeling them a threat to national security and ordering their deportation. They were immediately detained, their phones were confiscated, and they were completely isolated from the outside world.
The authorities denied repeated requests from their lawyers, the US State Department, and friends to see them or communicate with them in any way. They were explicitly forbidden from having a Bible, and were not allowed to receive books or any change of clothes. Andrew’s glasses and watch were taken away. They were told that their government had forgotten about them and that “hopefully” they would be deported, suggesting that they might simply disappear and never be heard from again.
Norine was released after 12 days (Oct. 19) and verbally told that all charges against her were dropped, but her lawyer has told her that is almost certainly not true given that nothing was put in writing. She was allowed to see Andrew for half an hour on October 20, but was denied any access on October 21. Apart from Norine, Andrew has had no contact with the outside world since October 7.
Norine and Andrew explicitly waived their right to protest the deportation, and yet there has been no deportation to date. The right to legal counsel is guaranteed under Turkish law, and the right of the US State Department to visit detained US citizens is guaranteed by 36(1)(c) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which Turkey has ratified. Both of these rights have clearly been violated.
At this point, the priority is to get Norine and Andrew safely out of Turkey, something entirely in keeping with the deportation order. Norine’s current visa expires on November 10, and though she might be forced to leave at any time, she really does not want to leave the country without Andrew. Norine is also concerned that her husband might be transferred from the current immigration center to a prison. Prison in that environment is entirely different from prison in the United States, and often includes people disappearing and without ever being heard from again.
There are far more serious charges supposedly brought against them, but none of it in writing, and none of it with any semblance of transparency or accountability. Those charges cannot be discussed openly, but Norine indicates that it’s difficult to overstate how dangerous the situation is.
The new objective is to see Norine and Andrew safely released from Turkey. They are willing and ready to comply with the deportation order, and yet the authorities continue to hold Andrew. Very little progress has been made through normal channels, so we will now start pressing the issue through Congress, through the media, and through the Turkish embassy.
It is time to press Turkey for Norine and Andrew’s rights to be restored. If the objective was to deport them, why detain them and deny them rights guaranteed under both Turkish and international law? Where are they being held and why have the charges not been stated in writing? Why hold them in isolation and confiscate things like Andrew’s glasses?
As always, your continued prayers are much appreciated, and we know that God will cause good to come from this.
ACT NOW by
PRAYING and sharing this urgent prayer request:
- Pray that Andrew would be released from detention
- Pray that the authorities would not discriminate against Christians in Turkey;
- Pray for religious freedom in Turkey.
(11/11/16 UPDATE:) At this time, due to ongoing negotiations, we are only sharing that Turkish authorities have released Norine Brunson. We request that prayer and fasting continue for her husband, Andrew who is still being detained. The Brunsons have been residents of Turkey for the past 20 years. Pastor Andrew Brunson had been leading the Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant congregation averaging 30 to 40 worshipers, in Turkey. We will share further updates, including how you can get involved if further action becomes necessary.
As always, your continued love, concern and prayers are much appreciated. We know that God will cause good to come from this. Andrew’s wife, Norine told Voice of the Persecuted that she is tremendously blessed to hear that a large network of prayer warriors are lifting her and husband in prayer, each day.
“Amazing. Humbling. Please pass on our gratefulness,” she added.
Your prayers are such an encouragement and make a difference to those suffering for Christ. Please continue to press in for this couple and their family.
- Pray for Andrew and peace for his wife, Norine.
- Pray the authorities would not discriminate against Christians in Turkey.
- Pray for religious freedom in Turkey.