Home » Posts tagged 'persecuted for faith'
Tag Archives: persecuted for faith
Since September 26, 2012; close to 800 days; 27 months ago, American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned. Christmas has come and gone three times, and he’s missed children’s birthdays and other family celebrations. The Boise, Idaho, resident remains imprisoned by the Iranian government on charges related to his Christian faith.
Most recently a letter was shared by Saeed describing his resting place in Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran, as cramped and cold, he states, “My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep.” A letter that continues to explain his harsh treatment in one term “cold”, sharing that guards and other inmates are hostile towards him, in unnamed ways, because of his Christianity displayed by a paper cross. Although Saeed expresses loneliness being away from family, he is comforted and secure with not being alone. Through all of his circumstances Saeed continues to love and encourages us to do the same with these words, “We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead.”
Allow me to remind you of the fifth point of prayer, out of seven, we prayed for during the prayer vigil;
- The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Spiritual awakening in Iran. That many Muslims would come to know Jesus in Iran and the Middle East.
My friends, I propose to you that our prayers are being heard and answered. As we recap yesterday’s celebrations with photos of family and friends, our hearts are reminded of Saeed, his third Christmas without family. I am encourage to have compassion (Hebrews 10:34) for Saeed through God to continually pray for his safety and release, but a peace from God is given to know that Saeed is not forgotten, but doing the work of the Lord while in prison. And doing the work that has been laid on his heart long ago when Saeed started Saeed Ministries, Inc. Where its purpose is “to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world.” We find in Saeed Ministries their mission statement which includes,
Penetrate the dark regions of the enemy and win the lost, especially those in the Middle East region, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Satellite TV programs, evangelistic events, and being a support to those who are ministering in-country.
As we read in Saeed’s letter, his paper cross that has become such an offense to others is actually a tool used to penetrate the darkness of the enemy in Rajai Shahr Prison. So let us be encouraged and continue to support Saeed in prayer, as he continues to steadfastly represent Christ and be a vessel for the sharing of the Gospel in the Middle East.
I encourage you to continue to pray on, asking God to comfort Saeed (2 Cor. 1:3-4), his family, and support. Asking God to give Saeed immediate peace (Eph. 2:14; Phil 4:7), and that peace/Joy of Christ (1 Chronicles 16:27; Psalm 32:11; Colossians 1:11) be as radiant as the sun in Saeed’s cold and cramped confines. Through this joy, a penetration of God will be so obvious that inmates and guards will see and ask “What must I do to be saved” (Act 16:30) and souls saved. And through this, new missionaries are assigned and the Gospel is spread throughout Iran, the Middle East, (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1; Matthew 28:19) and Rajai Shahr Prison. Will you pray the same way?
As we pray, pray for your own and others spiritual growth, for your own mission field, we may not be in cramped and crowded confines physically, but we may be spiritually? Pray for each other, for our faith to grow (Hebrews 10:24). Use Saeed’s letter as encouragement, as he wrote, “In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness.” Remember as we draw close to God (James 4:8) God will draw close to us, and grow our faith, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 1:6-7 (ESV), “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” And in Colossians 2:19 (ESV), “and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”
by Dr. Jim Seward
An annual survey reported cases of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013 from the previous year. Syria had the highest number of deaths, more than the entire global total in 2012. In the list of killings, Syria was followed by Nigeria with 612 cases last year after 791 in 2012. Pakistan was third with 88, up from 15 in 2012. Egypt ranked fourth with 83 deaths after 19 the previous year.
“This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,” said Frans Veerman, head of research for Open Doors. Estimates by other groups put the figure as high as 8,000.
Christianity is the largest religion in the world with 2.2 billion followers, or 32 percent of the world population, according to a survey by the U.S.-based Pew Forum on religion and Public Life. But they are also the most persecuted.
Open Doors published the 2014 World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution. You can view the list here. Woefully, persecution is increasing in many of the countries on the list.
For the twelfth consecutive time, North Korea retained they’re spot as the most difficult country in the world to be a Christian. Christians found with Bibles or Christian related material are at risk of execution or life in the prison camps. Many have been separated from their loved ones never to be heard from again. Solely for their faith in Jesus Christ, up to 70,000 Christians have been imprisoned.
Somalia ranks behind North Korea and is now #2 on the list. Converts are policed and for fear of persecution, must secretly worship ‘undergound’ keeping their faith hidden. They are also under attack by extremists of al-Shabaab, a terrorists group trying to force Sharia law in the country.
Violence against Christians in Syria has seriously increased moving them from #36 in 2012 to #3 on this year’s list. The report claims more Christians have been martyred(at least 1213) in Syria than any other country.
The cause of persecution against Christians in 36 of the 50 countries on the list, is said to be from Islamic extremism.
This year, Central African Republic #16, Sri Lanka #29 and Bangladesh #48 have all been added to the list. Violence in these nations surged against Christians. Extremism and the advancement of Sharia law again relating to the increase.
Open Doors says,
Though these facts and figures are absolutely devestating, we know that our hope is in Christ and that He his faithful to hear the prayers of His people, says.
Islamist extremism is the worst persecutor of the worldwide church.
Your prayers and VOICE for persecuted Christians are needed more than ever. Inform others, ask you pastor to pray weekly with the church for our Christian family suffering for their faith in Christ.
Thank you for your prayers and interest in those being persecuted!
Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali warned that Britain risks becoming actively ‘anti-Christian’ at a book launch in London last night, 7 October.
Bishop Nazir-Ali made the comments during a speech at the launch of Wilberforce Publications, a new Christian publishing house seeking to equip Christians to “face the challenges of the secular world”.
Drawing on his own experience of persecution, both personally and as President of OXTRAD, Bishop Nazir-Ali said that persecution “always begins with marginalization and discrimination in the workplace and in public life”. He added that Britain is in danger of becoming not just “unchristian” but “anti-Christian” unless the growing marginalisation of Christian faith in Britain is addressed.
The launch event marked the release of two books: Christians in the Firing Line, written by Dr Richard Scott and Belief and the Nation, written by John Scriven.
Dr Scott was disciplined by the General Medical Council for talking to a patient about his faith. His motivation for writing the book was to make known the challenges he and other Christians have faced in the workplace for manifesting their faith.
In his book he examines thirteen cases of Christians who have been “warned, blacklisted, suspended or dismissed for refusing to compromise their biblical principles”.
In the foreword to Christians in the Firing Line, Bishop Nazir-Ali states:
“We are made immediately aware of the price to be paid and the cost involved whether it is loss of employment, the threat of being struck off the registers of professional bodies or just unpopularity in the community or the media.
“… In my experience, the exclusion from employment or participation in public life, which the people in these cases have tasted, as well as discrimination because of belief, which they have also experienced, is often the beginning of persecution.”
In Belief and the Nation, lawyer John Scriven applies Christian thought to some of the most pressing contemporary issues. He outlines a Christian perspective in areas as diverse as globalisation, debt, family and freedom of expression.
In her foreword to the book, Christian Legal Centre CEO Andrea Minichiello Williams writes:
“In recent decades, we have seen significant social and economic breakdown, although the full effects of past policies may not yet be apparent. Confidence in moral knowledge has fragmented and there is a crisis of authority in politics and in our institutions.
“… Despite the challenges of public policy in a complex world, a Christian vision can transform people, communities and the nation.”
Jay Sekulow Talks with Sean Hannity and Authors of ‘Captive in Iran’ about Saeed and Persecution in Iran
ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, along with two Christian women coverts from Iran who were sentenced to death for spreading the gospel, joined Sean Hannity’s radio program to discuses the ongoing persecution of Christians in Iran and the rest of the world. These two brave women were arrested and imprisoned in Evin Prison – the same prison where Pastor Saeed is now being tortured, serving an eight-year sentence.
Maryam and Marziyeh, the two Christian converts who were imprisoned in Iran, also joined Jay Sekulow Live! and shared there experience at the hands of Iranian captors and their fight for freedom. Listen as they discuss with ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow how Pastor Saeed and others are persecuted for their faith by the brutal Islamic regime. Listen to the interviews here
You can learn more about their experience in their new book, Captive in Iran. A Remarkable True Story of hope and triumph amid the horror of Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison
Recently I returned from a ministry trip to India, but within thirty-six hours I was on the road again. This time my destination was a women’s retreat about ninety minutes from Atlanta, Georgia. I spoke in the evening, and the next morning the director of the retreat came to my cabin with two Iranian women she felt I would be interested in meeting. I was given the American version of their names: Marcie and Miriam.
We chatted for a moment, and then, knowing they were both from a Muslim nation, I asked them each to share how they had come to place their faith in Jesus Christ. I wasn’t prepared for the thrilling blessing they began to pour out upon me as they shared their personal journeys of faith. They hadn’t been just saved from sin. They hadn’t just converted to the Christian religion. They were both in love with Jesus! For the next hour or so, they shared with me why—it was a love forged in the fires of pain and persecution.
Toward the end of our time together, with tears streaming down their lovely faces, they made a comment that haunts me still: They said it had been easier for them to experience God’s peace and presence and power inside Evin Prison than on the outside in America. Evin Prison! The prison in Tehran that has a worse reputation than Alcatraz or Angola in the United States. A place that causes even the strongest to shudder. How could that be?
Because I had a plane to catch, there was no time to find out why they would make such a comment. Or to hear some of their experiences inside Evin Prison. Or how they had known God there. Or how their faith had not only survived the experience, but thrived in it! So several weeks later, when I received a letter from them asking for permission to send me the manuscript of their new book for the purpose of writing the foreword, I quickly agreed. I couldn’t wait to plunge into the details of their experience. And I was not disappointed.
As I read, I was held spellbound page after page, story after story. But what impacted me most was not the words they used to describe life behind prison walls, but what I read between the lines. I was, and still am, blown away by their boldness, their strength, their steadfastness, and their unwavering declaration of Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the risen Lord and King. They lovingly and fearlessly presented Him to broken women who responded with tearful desperation, to manipulative women who tried to use them for their own purposes, to hostile officials and guards who had the power to torture, to judges who could have released them earlier if they had just been willing to compromise their faith.
Inside the dark hell of Evin Prison, Marcie and Miriam turned on the Light! Their love for the least, their kindness to the meanest, their gentleness to the roughest, their willingness to serve in the dirtiest place imaginable is truly a stunningly clear reflection of the Jesus they love, as well as evidence of His presence inside those walls. He didn’t just carry them through somehow— He carried them through triumphantly!
And I wondered . . . has God brought them here, to America, to share their remarkable stories in order to prepare His people for what’s coming? So we will know that our God is faithful and true, wherever we find ourselves? Because we all have our prison experiences, don’t we? Prisons of physical pain, of financial ruin, of emotional brokenness, of spousal abuse, of marital betrayal . . .
Captive in Iran has strengthened my faith. Read it, and I believe you will be strengthened in yours, also. -Anne Graham Lotz
About the Authors
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh were born into Muslim families in Iran. They both became Christians as young adults and met while studying theology in Turkey in 2005. Deciding to work together, they returned to Iran and began sharing their faith. In 2009, Maryam and Marziyeh were arrested in Tehran for promoting Christianity—a capital crime in Iran. The official charges against them were apostasy, anti-government activity, and blasphemy, for which they were sentenced to execution by hanging. They spent 259 days in Evin, perhaps the world’s most notorious prison, as many around the world prayed for their release. Following international pressure and after months of interrogation and abuse, they were freed in November 2009 and subsequently cleared of all charges. They now live in the United States.
Information on how to write to friends of the authors that are still in Evin Prison
Here is how to address letters of encouragement to the friends of Maryam and Marziyeh still imprisoned in Evin for being Christians:
Islamic Republic of Iran
Farshid Fathi Malayeri
Islamic Republic of Iran
Important information about what to say, and what not to say
We encourage you to pray for and write a personal letter of encouragement to Saeed and Farshid. You can personalize the letter by sending a family photo. Younger children may participate by sending a drawing, encouraging these men in their times of trial.
When writing your letters or cards, please do not state anything negative about the Iranian government. Do not mention any specific names, foreign organizations or churches that are supporting the efforts to free Christian prisoners. While it is safe for prisoners to receive encouraging letters, naming a person, an organization or church or criticizing the Iranian government could potentially place these Christians in more harm.
For more information about Captive in Iran please visit HERE