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Christian Girl in Pakistan Testifies of Kidnapping, Rape

Pray for Pakistan

“One cannot even imagine the pain and horror these children of God have suffered…”

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A 15-year-old Christian girl told a court in Pakistan on Monday (June 6) that she was kidnapped and raped by the Muslim accused of abducting her and forcibly converting and marrying her. While most girls facing captors’ threats to harm them or their families are pressured into making false statements that they voluntarily married and converted to Islam, Saba Nadeem Masih of Faisalabad showed great bravery in truthfully sharing her ordeal before a judge, a human rights advocate said.

“Saba was in severe mental and physical trauma when the relatives of the accused produced her before police on May 31,” Faisalabad-based rights activist Lala Robin Daniel told Morning Star News.

“The recovery was made possible due to the pressure built by church leaders and rights activists by holding a daily protest from 7 p.m. till midnight.”

Photo: Saba Masih. (Twitter)

Saba, whose family is Roman Catholic, told Faisalabad Magistrate Bushra Anwar how 45-year-old Muhammad Yasir Hussain forced her into a rickshaw on May 20 in the Madina Town area of Faisalabad as she was going to work with her older sister, according to her recorded testimony.

“We were heading to work when the accused forcibly put me in a rickshaw after pushing away my sister,” Saba testified. “He then put something on my mouth due to which I fell unconscious.”

When she regained consciousness two days later, she was told that she was in Gujrat city, she said.

“He raped me for two days,” Saba said. “I kept crying and pleaded with him to let me talk to my parents, but he did not listen. After two days, the accused left me alone in the place where he was keeping me hostage.”

After protests, police initially slow to act began taking into custody for questioning at least 20 of Hussain’s relatives, Daniel said.

“This pressure resulted in Saba’s recovery, even though the primary accused is still at large,” he said.

The rights activist said Hussain was due to appear in court on Saturday (June 4) for confirmation of pre-arrest bail but did not show up. His bail was consequently cancelled, and police are now making raids for his arrest, Daniel said.

“Today’s development is very important because it exposes how these predators sexually exploit underage minority girls and then prepare forged documents of Islamic marriage and religious conversion to seek immunity for their crimes,” he said. “Saba’s statement proves that the Islamic Nikah [marriage] and conversion certificates submitted by the accused to the police are fake. He should now be charged with statutory rape and related offenses and made an example for all those who target minority girls for their evil designs.”

Hussain has been married three times but has no children from his wives, according to Saba’s father, Nadeem Masih. He previously told Morning Star News that Hussain’s family had defamed them in the area by claiming Saba had an affair with their son and had coaxed him into eloping.

In July 2021, 14-year-old Chashman Masih was kidnapped from her school in Faisalabad. The next day, her family received images by phone of an Islamic conversion letter, Islamic wedding certificate (Nikahnama) and an affidavit apparently signed by Chashman that she had willfully converted to Islam and married a Muslim man.

‘Scarred for Life’

Church leaders cite forced conversion as the biggest challenge for vulnerable minority communities of Pakistan, while rights groups blame inequality and marginalization for exploitation of minority groups.

“It’s very sad and tragic that a large number of teenage girls from both the minority Christian and Hindu communities continue to suffer sexual exploitation at the hands of these predators, but very few are able to pull such courage and share their trauma in public,” said Bishop Azad Marshall, president of the Anglican Church of Pakistan.

Marshall filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court in January 2021 seeking court intervention in the issue of rape of minority children who are forced to marry and convert to Islam. His petition and a subsequent appeal, however, were turned down with directions to bring a specific case.

In view of the court’s decision, Marshall provided legal aid to a poor Catholic couple who sought to challenge a Lahore High Court verdict allowing their 14-year-old daughter, Nayyab Gill, to remain in the custody of her Muslim “husband.” Filed in the Supreme Court in July 2021, his appeal has yet to be taken up by judges.

“Rape scars the victims for life, and in case of girls as young as 10, one cannot even imagine the pain and horror these children of God have suffered in the cover of religion,” Marshall told Morning Star News. “Enough is enough.”

He called on court and government officials to take notice of Saba’s testimony and immediately pass a bill already drafted against forced conversions.

“Additionally, the superior judiciary must direct its subordinate courts to act in accordance with the laws, especially in light of the recent judgment passed by Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court on child marriages,” he said.

At least 1,000 women from religious minorities, including Christians and Hindus, are forcibly converted and married annually in Pakistan, according to various rights groups. Although Pakistan officials have dismissed such reports as “rubbish and baseless,” activists assert actual numbers could be much higher as many cases go unreported.

According to the Center for Social Justice, 60 cases of questionable conversions were reported last year, with victims including 30 Christians and 30 Hindus. The highest number of 32 cases was reported in Sindh Province, 26 in Punjab Province and one each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.

The center reported that 70 percent of the victims were less than 18 years old, with 63 percent 14 years old or younger, while 8 percent were above 18 years old.

Pakistan ranked eighth on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country had the second-highest number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Nigeria, with 620 slain during the reporting period from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021. Pakistan had the fourth-highest number of churches attacked or closed, with 183, and overall.

Pakistan: ‘Attack on pastors illustrative of increasing pressure’, say Christians

A Pakistani pastor was killed and another wounded Sunday in an attack outside their church in northwestern Peshawar.

The two pastors were leaving the Shaheedan-e- all Saints’ Church where they had led the Sunday morning service when two men on a motorbike drove up to their car. They shot Rev. William Siraj in the head, killing him on the spot. His colleague, Rev. Patrick Naeem, was injured and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and a man-hunt for the two assassins is under way.

The attack took place outside a church that was established in memory of the twin suicide bombing of the All Saints’ Church in September 2013, in which 127 church members were killed and more than 250 injured. An offshoot of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, a Pakistani branch of the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Among those who died that day was the son-in-law of Rev. Siraj, who was killed yesterday. He had, since then, lived with and supported his widowed daughter. “He was a very humble and godly man, and we all respected and loved him. He loved us so much,” a visibly emotional church member told World Watch Monitor.

TV footage showed people carrying Siraj’s body from the car to a nearby house while chanting “Long live Jesus Christ”, according to Reuters.

‘Deliberate and planned’

The leader of the Church of Pakistan, a union of protestant churches in the country, Bishop Azad Marshall, condemned the killings in a tweet, calling for “justice and protection of Christians from the government of Pakistan”.

In a statement, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s chairperson, Hina Jilani, also demanded more steps for the protection of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan “whose right to life and security of person remains under constant threat,” she was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Although there had been no threats made to priests or the church in advance of Sunday’s attack, the way in which it was carried out “suggests a deliberate and planned attack; an act designed to intimidate, challenge and threaten those who offer rights, protection and freedoms to Christian minorities in Pakistan,” a local source, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, told WWM.

Attacks on Christian leaders, churches and individuals are nothing new in majority-Muslim Pakistan. The 2% minority faces religious freedom violations on several levels, from discrimination in education and the workplace to violent attacks.

The country’s blasphemy law is a tool that is regularly used, often to settle scores between individuals. The law is politically volatile as illustrated by threats and nationwide protests during the court case against Asia Bibi, the Catholic woman who was acquitted of blasphemy in 2019.

Increase in pressure after fall of Kabul

Peshawar is close to the border with Afghanistan, and since August the region has seen an uptick in attacks by the TTP, clearly emboldened by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, as reported by France24.

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan also caused an exodus of refugees, hoping to find safety in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan. “We have seen thousands of refugees coming to major Pakistani cities such as Peshawar and Quetta,” said a local source, who also wished to remain anonymous for security reasons. “The cities are unable to cope with such an influx and people are facing not just inflation, but homelessness and starvation also. Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in assassination attempts, families in Christian neighbourhoods who are being shot at, forced conversions and bombings. Today [Sunday, Jan. 30] was yet another example of this brand of violence.”

Pakistan is 8th on the Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian but as far as local Christians are concerned, it might as well be topping the list together owing to its proximity to Afghanistan, which is No. 1. This country rose to first place for the first time after having been in 2nd position after North Korea for many years.

“Pakistan’s religious landscape and the social degeneration that is taking place, cannot be isolated and distracted from that of Afghanistan,” the local source said. “Pakistan might show a moderate face; its heart is increasingly extremist and it wants to embrace a form of Islam where the Madrassa [Islamic school] is the way to get educated, with the Quran as the ultimate textbook.” In recent months the government has ordered public schools to implement religion-centred changes such as making afternoon prayers mandatory and reciting the Quran during morning assemblies.

Following the 2013 bombings, in June 2014, Pakistan’s supreme court issued a list of instructions for the government to protect the country’s minorities, including the development of “appropriate curricula for primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education that promote religious harmony and tolerance.” However, 2020 research by the Lahore-based Centre for Social Justice showed that religious minorities continued to be either invisible or vilified in Pakistan’s school textbooks.

“Where does this leave minority children?” the local source said.  “The simple answer is this: in a queue for a visa, waiting to leave Pakistan and find hope and a future in a foreign land.”

Persecution Watch: Praying for Christians in Pakistan

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday February 3, 2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Pakistan: Population: 21.1 million, Christians 4.1million

In Pakistan, Christians are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against in every aspect of life. Church leaders can be arrested if they don’t abide by the authorities’ wishes. These arrests act as warnings to the Christian minority and intimidates them further. The COVID-19 crisis led to an increase of aid being provided to Christian day laborers only if they converted to Islam. Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws continue to be leveraged to accuse non-Muslims (or minority Muslim sects) of insulting the Prophet Mohammed or the Quran—even a false accusation can lead to mob violence. Additionally, a silent epidemic of kidnappings, forced marriages and forced conversion of Christian girls and women continue to take place in Pakistan.

“’Arzoo’ is a third-generation Pakistani Christian girl,” says one source who wishes not to be named. “She is one of many who go through the trauma of abduction and forced conversion annually. Christians in Pakistan are asking for prayer for the legal procedures and trial that lie ahead, for justice to be upheld and lives and families to be safeguarded.”

What has changed this year?

Persecution has remained steady in Pakistan this year. Violence against Christians for their faith continues to happen at extreme levels, but discrimination and pressure are daily realities for Christians throughout the country. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a campaign where hardline Islamists tied food aid to conversions, and Christian hospital workers were sent to COVID-19 wards with no protective gear, because they are viewed as expendable. Christians can be taunted for wearing a cross necklace, accusations of blasphemy can happen because of Facebook posts (and lead to violent mob reprisals) and anyone who converts from Islam is viewed as an apostate.

Since most Christians live in Punjab Province, many incidents of persecution, discrimination and intolerance occur there. However, next to Punjab, the province of Sindh is also notorious for being a hotspot for bonded labor, affecting many Christians as well. All Christians in Pakistan are potential victims of abuse and discrimination, but anyone caught converting from Islam bears the brunt of persecution in Pakistan. Even established churches come under pressure and surveillance from the government.

  • Pray for believers who are working dangerous and unsanitary jobs, that God will keep them healthy and safe, despite their working conditions.
  • Pray for any believers who are accused of blasphemy, that they would be kept safe and delivered from false accusations.
  • Pray for the entire Christian community of Pakistan, that they would be encouraged and kept from exhaustion and despair.
  • Pray for the government and religious leaders of Pakistan. Ask God to soften the hearts of people in charge, that they would extend an open hand to Pakistani Christians and allow different religions to peacefully worship and live out their faith in Pakistan.
  • Pray for the women and girls who are kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men
  • Pray for healing from the deep trauma they endure and ask God to deliver His people from the deep wounds of the enemy.  
  • Pray for impoverished believers and for those imprisoned for their faith.
  • Pray that blasphemy laws will be overturned, and religious freedom will flourish.
  • Pray that believers will understand who they are in Christ and be unashamed of the gospel.
  • Pray for the courage, wisdom and protection of believers when sharing the Good News.
  • Pray that NGOs will continue to support believers with sustenance and spiritually.
  • Pray for great Internet access and intriguing messages for Muslims, and supportive ones for Christians.

Again, we want to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord: 

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • 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.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

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

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

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 time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

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.

Praying for Believers in Pakistan

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Saturday January 8, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Pakistan is the world’s fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 227 million, and has the world’s second-largest Muslim population.

Pakistan gained independence in 1947.  In 1971, the exclave of East Pakistan seceded as the new country of Bangladesh after a nine-month-long civil war. It has the world’s sixth-largest standing armed forces, and constantly fights India over the border region of Kashmir.

graph: statista

It is designated as a major non-NATO ally by the United States-but often works against US interests in Afghanistan.

2.5% of the people call themselves Christian. Less than 1% are considered Evangelical, but the percentage is growing.

Fundamentalist Islam is also growing, especially near the long border with Afghanistan.  Many Taliban used to hide in Pakistan. Islamic violence has grown against minorities – Christian, Hindus, and smaller Muslim sects.

Casey John Chalk wrote in his book “The Persecuted: True Stories of Courageous Christians Living Their Faith in Muslim Lands” – anti-Christian riots, kidnappings, bombings, murders, theft, and destruction of property have become common experiences for Pakistani Christians. There is a trend – the prevalence of the abduction, rape, and forced marriage of Christian girls to their rapists, about 1,000 annually. The girls are forced to convert to Islam, which makes their coerced marriages legal under Sharia-influenced legal codes.

Please pray:

  • Pakistan’s government would squelch the Fundamentalist Islam movement, sharia law, and see it as a competitor to the government.
  • Pakistan’s government would protect the lives of minorities and succeed in stopping terrorism and violence within the country.
  • The Taliban would not control Northwest Pakistan.

Some Christian castes are so poor, that young women are often hired as servants then sexually assaulted.  Christian girls are sometimes kidnapped and converted to Islam, then are forcefully married to Muslim men.

Pray that Christian women would be:

  • Safe from sexual assault.
  • Not be kidnapped.
  • Not be forced into marriage.
  • Not be forced to become Muslim.

The government has increasingly become more Islamic since the ‘80s, and non-Muslims are often kept out of government postings and education.

  • Pray that Christians would have employment and educational opportunities.

“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”  Mark 13:11

The country has an anti-blasphemy law that imposed death penalty or life in prison. This is often used to falsely accuse people for other reasons, or to start mob-violence.  

  • Pray for the accused to be led by the Spirit in their defense.
  • Pray for boldness in sharing the Gospel, and forgiveness for past pains from Muslims.

The church is hurt by poverty, illiteracy, corruption, and substance abuse.  

  • Pray for spiritual maturity, and for God to grant holiness.
  • Pray persecution would bring the church together.
  • Pray against leadership struggles and divisions, or leaders using their position to seek wealth.

In the past, donors from outside the country had built church buildings, Bible schools and Christian ministries, but foreign support has been dropping.  

  • Pray that the Pakistani church will learn how to expand the Kingdom of God with their own finances.

Many Pakistani Christians love their country, despite persecution.  

  • Pray for wisdom on how they can bless their nation.

Many Pakistani Christians have little education, but those who do get an education often leave the country.  

  • Pray for the Pakistani church to continue to have educated members.
  • Pray for more leadership training for Christians.

Christians from Muslim background – there are deadly punishments for those called apostates.  Most churches are from ethnic Christians or previously Hindus. 

  • Pray for Christians from Muslim background
  • To be protected from their family, neighbors, religious mobs, and the police.
  • To find Christian leaders that know their special needs.

We will also remember and pray for these dear ones:

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • 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.

Michael Laird, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

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

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

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 time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

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.

Praying for the Persecuted in Pakistan

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Saturday 13, November 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Let us pray once again for Pakistan.  The Word tells us to keep praying, keep asking and keep seeking.  We will not be weary of coming to the just Judge with our petitions.

The population of Pakistan is about 200 million, with about 4 million identifying themselves as Christians.

This country is over 95% Muslim. The source of persecution is mainly from Islam.  Converts from Islam face a very high level of persecution.  Many Christian girls and young women have been abducted and forced into an oppressive marriage.  Blasphemy laws have been a tool of oppression, using it to unfairly target Christians.  Churches are sometimes attacked with little or no repercussions. Christians are considered second class citizens and are discriminated against in society, especially regarding employment, and also education.

  • Pray that Pakistani Christians will not be discouraged; that they would feel the presence of God and know that this is not their home.
  • Pray for fellowship with other believers, as iron sharpens iron.  Let them be in unity.
  • Pray for access to the Word through whatever means:  written Bibles, story tellers, internet, broadcasts.
  • Pray for the protection of girls and young women to not be abducted.
  • Pray for those in forced marriages to be protected from violence; pray would keep the Lord in their hearts; give them much wisdom on how they could be able to communicate secretly with other believers and/or read the Word.
  • Pray for angelic protection over the churches.
  • Pray for pastors:  for protection, wisdom, be able to disciple, encourage and teach other believers; pray as well for their families.
  • Pray for new believers:  against intense pressure to recant their faith, protection against murder and other violence, against spirit of rejection; for shelter if and when they are thrown out of their homes.
  • Pray Evangelists would be raised up; Christians would continue to boldly proclaim the Good News with wisdom and clarity.
  • Pray the Lord would give Christians special gifts that would make room for them and improve their economic status.
  • Pray for their health and divine healing when not having access to medical care and living in unsanitary conditions.
  • Pray for blasphemy laws be eliminated.
  • Pray for justice in the courts and for victims not to be prosecuted as perpetrators; pray for the release of those in prison for the Word.
  • Pray the Lord would build His kingdom in Pakistan.

We will also remember these dear ones:

Leah Sharibu and Alice that they will be set free from Boko Haram captivity.

  • 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. She was the only Christian in the group
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped during the Rann attack on March 1, 2018. She was a nurse working with Unicef and is a mother of two.
  • Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison, for his family, the children, and the church in China. Pastor Wang Yi who is currently serving his prison sentence.
  • Anita an Iranian Christian, persecuted by the Islamic regime seeking asylum.
  • Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, for his release and his family as their persecution continues. At present he is serving his six-year sentence. 

Valerie, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

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

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

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 time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

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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Muslim Gunmen in Pakistan Wound at least Four Christians

Pregnant woman said to be among those injured.

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Muslims in an area of Lahore, Pakistan on Monday (Sept. 6) fired high-powered weapons at the homes of Christians, wounding a pregnant woman and at least three other people, sources said.

A wounded Christian resident in the Shamsabad locality of Lahore’s Sherakot area, Asif Masih, said he heard shouts followed by bursts of gunfire from fully automatic assault rifles after he returned home from work that afternoon.

“When I was telling my kids to get inside, I saw a group of heavily armed men firing indiscriminately at a church located on the street,” Masih told Morning Star News. “They then trained their weapons on the homes of neighboring Christians and fired volleys of bullets at them.”

Gunmen eyeing him opened fire on him, wounding him in both thighs, he said.

“I barely managed to drag myself into my house and locked the gate, but they did not stop firing,” Masih said. “I could hear them shouting that they would not spare Christians living in the area and would also burn down our church.”

The assailants, identified as Dilshad Dogar, Butt Gas Wala and Chand Khencha, fired hundreds of bullets from Kalashnikov (AK-47) rifles and other weapons into homes in the area where more than 300 Christian families live, he said. Bullets pierced the gates of several homes, wounding three women identified as Nirma Bibi, Maria Kashif and Samina, and other Christians, he said.

“One of the injured women is six months pregnant,” Masih said. “She was hit in the leg by one of the several bullets fired at their gate, but fortunately her family members were able to secure her inside.”

Many people called the police emergency helpline after the shooting started at 2:30 p.m., but officers did not arrive until 8 p.m., he said, adding that local police have been lax in prosecuting the suspects as they were influential people. Masih was one of the complainants in the case against the gunmen.

“Our entire street has been riddled with bullets, and people have been injured, but the police have not included the sections related to terrorism in the FIR [First Information Report],” he said. “Moreover, I had stated in my application to the police that the accused had continuously threatened to burn the church and harm us, but even these facts were missing in the formal FIR.”

Registered the day after the attack, the FIR states that it arose out of a dispute between a Christian, Asghar Masih, and Dogar. Asif Masih denied the police version, saying officers were trying to protect the suspects.

“Ask them why Dogar and his accomplices opened fire on the homes of Christians and injured innocent people like us if they had just a personal dispute with an individual?” he said. “The police have been protecting the accused since day one because they are Muslims, and we are poor Christians.”

Attorney Javed Gill, a senior leader of the Christian Lawyers Association of Pakistan, said there were conflicting reports about the motives for the shooting.

“Several residents have claimed that the accused were opposed to the presence of a church in the locality and had been pressuring them to stop worship there, while some are saying that the incident was an outcome of a dispute over a girl,” Gill told Morning Star News. “Nonetheless, even if it was a dispute between two people, how can anyone justify the targeting of the entire Christian neighborhood with automatic weapons?”

Several hundred bullets were fired from various illegal weapons resulting in injuries, yet police failed to include Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act in the FIR, which would have made the attack a non-bailable offense, he said. Gill said police were also unable to explain why they did not intervene timely while gunmen were shooting innocent people and damaging property.

“Thank God no one lost their life in the gruesome attack, but the manner in which the accused acted shows that they would not have desisted from murdering any person who came in their way,” he said.

Police Response

Muhammad Azeem, station house officer of the Sherakot police station, declined to comment on whether officers were protecting the suspects and could not explain why they were delayed in reaching the site.

“We have arrested three men while raids are being conducted to arrest the other accused,” he said, sidestepping the question about the delay.

He also had no comment on why anti-terrorism sections were not included in the FIR when high-powered weapons resulted in injuries and kept panic-stricken people locked in their homes.

Asked why police failed to include in the FIR the anti-Christian comments the suspects made as stated by the complainants, Azeem said only that the case was registered on Tuesday (Sept. 7), “because we wanted to get to the bottom of the issue.” He said preliminary investigation showed the shooting was rooted in a personal dispute, but “further investigation will reveal the facts.”

“They [Christians] are our brothers, and we will protect them from any element who wants to disrupt peace in the area,” he said. “The incident has been noticed by the government, and all efforts are being made to bring the culprits to justice. It is not a religious issue as is being projected by the Christians.”

The U.S. State Department in December re-designated Pakistan among nine other “Countries of Particular Concern” for severe violations of religious freedom. Previously Pakistan had been added to the list on Nov. 28, 2018.

Pakistan ranked fifth on the Open Doors 2021 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Photo: Asif Masih was shot when Muslim gunmen attacked Lahore, Pakistan’s Sherakot area on Sept. 6, 2021. (Morning Star News)

Pakistan: Another Christian woman accused of blasphemy for forwarding a text

In a report shared with Voice of the Persecuted, Shagufta Kiran, a Christian woman from Islamabad, has been accused of blasphemy for simply forwarding a message. Shagufta was arrested on July 29 by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and still in their custody under investigation.

Shagufta’s husband, Rafique Maish, told the Pak Christian News (PCN) that armed police raided their home and arrested his wife and two sons accusing them of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy law by forwarding a WhatsApp post which included blasphemous content.

He said: “They harassed my family and took possession of our telephones, computer and other valuable items. The police were armed with firearms instructed us not to move and to keep our hands up. They arrested Shagufta and my two sons without prior information or an arrest warrant.

“They took my wife and sons to the police station, charged Shagufta under 295-A and 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy but later on freed my sons.”

He said that they fled Islamabad because of fear and threats and have moved somewhere they feel safer.

Rafique further shared that Shagufta was arrested because she was a member of a WhatsApp group where someone allegedly shared a blasphemous message, which Shagufta forwarded to other persons without reading and knowing the consequences.

“Shagufta knew nothing about the post, she was not even the author of the post in question but was accused of passing it on,” Rafique explained.

Nasir Saeed, Director of the CLAAS-UK expressed his concern over the ongoing misuse and abused of the blasphemy law against poor and illiterate members of the religious minorities.

He said: “This is not the first time that someone has been charged for sharing a post on the social media, but there are several examples like Patras and Sajid and a young boy Nabeel who was recently granted bail, but the case against him is ongoing and he must prove himself innocent. Meanwhile the police have failed to find and arrest the authors of such posts.

“Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar have recently been released after seven years of blasphemy charges and have safely reached the Netherlands.

Their case was another which broadly followed the pattern of the case of Asia Bibi, who was acquitted by Supreme Court in 2018 but not everyone is lucky like them. Several are languishing in prison for years, but nobody speaks about them.

 “I don’t know how many years it will take for Shagufta Kiran to prove herself innocent.”

The European Union parliament has adopted a resolution in April for Shagufta and Shafqat Emmanuel, demanding that Pakistan allow space for religious freedom and urged the EU authorities to review the GSP Plus status for Pakistan.

Death Threats Force Christian to Abandon Job Promotion

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Riaz Gill was working in his office at one of Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest government hospitals last week when a group of Muslim doctors stormed in and attacked him.

“How can a Chuhra and Bhangi dare to work on the same level as us?” the assailants said, using the pejorative terms for Christians as they dragged the middle-aged Gill out of his office, kicking and beating him.

Serving in the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) as office superintendent for the last six years, Gill had been promoted as deputy director on April 8. Death threats from his colleagues against him and his family had already forced him to resign his new post the week before and return to his former job, but the attacking doctors appeared to want him gone from the hospital altogether.

On Wednesday (June 23), Dr. Usman Zafar, anesthetist Sikandar Hayat and their aides entered Gill’s office and began manhandling him and breaking office furniture, said Gill, a member of the Church of Pakistan.

“We will fix you for good today…We will see how you continue to work at this hospital,” the doctors said as they dragged him on the floor, kicked and beat him, according to Gill.

“They cursed and abused me and said they would first drag my body in the entire hospital and then burn me alive,” Gill said. “I kept shouting for help, but no one came forward to rescue me from them.”

Two armed Sindh Rangers and a constable of the Karachi Police were also present and witnessed the incident, but they just looked on, he said. Eventually hospital security staff rescued him and pushed the assailants out of the office.

The doctors then attacked the office of JPMC Medical Director Seemin Jamali, but she was able to lock the door from inside just in time, Gill said.

“Frustrated by their failure to storm her office, the doctors started hurling abuses at her from the outside and threatened her, saying to terminate my services otherwise they would teach her a lesson too,” Gill said.

No one from the hospital called police, he said. After Gill twice called the police emergency helpline, officers arrived and rescued Dr. Jamali, he said.

“It seems that the entire Muslim staff had turned against me and were protecting the attackers,” he added.

Since his promotion, leaders of the doctors’ union had threatened and harassed him daily, telling him to give up his new position, he said. Gill, his wife and five children, and his elderly mother live in a residence allotted by the government on the hospital premises.

“They started sending armed gangsters to my home as well as office and threatened that they will kill me and my family if I don’t resign,” he told Morning Star News. “They also started a vitriolic social media campaign against me and filed a writ petition in the high court against my promotion.”

Compelled to Resign

The harassment and threats against him and his family became so serious that on June 16 he was compelled to resign his post as deputy director, Gill said.

He filed a complaint against Zafar, Hayat and others with Saddar Police, but it was registered after a delay of two days, and no arrests had been made at this writing.

Despite CCTV evidence of the entire incident and footage aired by several mainstream TV channels that day, police are still slow to take action against the assailants, Gill said.

“They have clearly been influenced by the doctors, and my pleas for safety and protection for myself and my family are being given a cold shoulder,” he said. “I’ve already filed a formal letter for withdrawal of my promotion as deputy director, what else do they want from me now? They are continuing to harass me and my family, but no one is paying attention to our persecution.”

Gill said that he had informed law enforcement agencies and the appropriate government offices, including the Sindh chief minister’s office, of the threats to his life, but there has been no response so far.

“I am an honest and hardworking man,” he said. “The promotion was given to me on the basis of merit, but I never thought that my progress would be judged on the basis of my Christian faith.”

Repeated attempts to contact Jamali for comment went unanswered.

Rash of Persecution Cases

Many Christians – who make up about 2 percent of Pakistan’s population – are children of converts to Christianity from the downtrodden “untouchable” Hindu tribal caste. This “untouchable” caste status is at the root of such attacks and several blasphemy charges against Christians.

Although Article 27 (1) of Pakistan’s Constitution forbids discrimination on grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth, there have been several cases of persecution against Christians, especially those working in the health sector.

On April 9, two Christian nurses complying with a supervisor’s orders to remove stickers at a government hospital were arrested in Faisalabad after a Muslim employee attacked one of them with a knife over the removal of a sticker bearing Koranic verses.

Nurse Mariam Lal and student nurse Navish Arooj were charged under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes against “defiling the Koran” after an Islamist mob demanded “death to blasphemers” inside Civil Hospital, their attorney said. Conviction under Section 295-B is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine.

The two Roman Catholic nurses are in judicial custody while their families have gone into hiding out of fear of Islamist mobs.

On Jan. 28, Tabeeta Gill, a nurse at a Karachi hospital and a gospel singer, was slapped, beaten and locked in a room by a violent mob after a Muslim co-worker baselessly accused her of blaspheming Islam. Police initially cleared her of denigrating Muhammad but later succumbed to pressure of an Islamist mob and charged her with insulting Islam’s prophet, punishable by death under Section 295-C.

False accusations of blaspheming Islam in Pakistan are common, often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. The highly inflammatory accusations have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders and mass protests. Currently, 26 Christians are in prison due to blasphemy charges. They are defendants in 22 blasphemy cases at various levels of the judicial process.

The U.S. State Department in December re-designated Pakistan among nine other “Countries of Particular Concern” for severe violations of religious freedom. Previously Pakistan had been added to the list on Nov. 28, 2018.

Pakistan ranked fifth on Open Doors 2021 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Photo: Police deployed at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center day of attacks in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 23, 2021. (Morning Star News screenshot)

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