It can be very easy to become weary when opposition seems relentless. It’s as true today in countries like Iran as it was for the early Christians. Pray for the Church of Iran, as several members who were arrested in recent weeks have been released, allegedly following payment of significant bail amounts. However, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad has been charged with “acting against national security”. He remains in prison along with Shahrooz Eslamdous. Please pray for strength and protection for all those in prison for their faith, and for their families, that they will stand strong in the Lord.
Please pray for the church in Cuba where a new constitution was expected to pass last week, by referendum, which further weakens freedom of religion. There was likely to be a significant ‘no’ vote, but local sources are expecting a major crackdown on freedom of belief after the referendum. There have been answers to prayer in that meetings between Communist officials and church leaders were unexpectedly cancelled. These meetings had previously been used to intimidate congregations. Thank God for the Cuban church leaders standing firm in the face of pressure, and for protection and strength for the church leaders and human rights defenders in Cuba.
The re-election of President Mohammadu Buhari in Nigeria was marred by many irregularities in the electoral process. Videos circulating depict voter suppression, assault by security forces, ballot boxes seized and burnt, and electoral officials held hostage in the south, while organised mass stamping of ballot papers occurred in the north. At least 39 people died in electoral violence. The opposition presidential candidate is challenging the results in court. Hours after President Buhari’s success, Fulani militia attacked Karamai, killing 16 people and destroying the local church. Please pray as the results are challenged in court, for those bereaved in the attacks and for divine protection of other vulnerable areas.
Having executed Hauwa, one of the three female hostages taken in March, Boko Haram have stated that the remaining healthcare worker, Alice Ngaddah, and 15-year old Leah Sharibu, will remain slaves for the rest of their lives. Please pray that justice will come for Alice and Leah, and that the Lord will uphold them in their sufferings. Pray also for their families and for comfort for the family of Hauwa. Pray that the Nigerian government will do everything in its power to secure the release of Leah and Alice.
Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian mother of five who has been sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy (insulting the Prophet Mohammed). She has been imprisoned on death row since 2009. If convicted, she will become the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. If she is acquitted, then it’s likely that there will be retaliation against the Christian community. Her final appeal in Pakistan’s Supreme Court took place on 8th October. CSW have yet to receive news of the verdict. Please pray that the charges will be dropped, and that God’s spirit of peace will reign over Pakistan during the coming weeks.
Ten years ago, the Christians of Kandhamal District in Odisha State, India, became the centre of terrible anti-Christian violence. Over 100 people were killed, with 56,000 more forced to flee their homes. Now, almost a decade later, CSW are still praying to see justice done for the survivors. There have been hardly any convictions and not a single person imprisoned. In May this year, lawyers were told that compensation totalling about £1.7m will be disbursed to 14 survivors of the violence. Let’s pray that all the survivors will receive the justice they need to heal and move on, and for the peace and healing of God’s presence with them.
An American pastor, Andrew Brunson, was arrested in October 2016 in Turkey and accused of having links to the Gulen movement, the organisation deemed responsible for the attempted military coup in July 2016, and to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. If convicted, Pastor Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison. Please pray that he will be released, and the charges dropped. Pray also For God’s powerful presence to protect the many journalists, human rights workers, activists and other members of civil society who are in prison in Turkey.
On 25th June, an Iranian man, facing spurious charges, was released after a court hearing. Mohammadil Yassaghi was arrested on 10 April and accused of ‘spreading propaganda against the establishment’. A 52-year-old father of three, Mr. Yassaghi is a member of the Church of Iran: the same as Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, and three others, whose extremely harsh sentences were recently upheld. His arrest and the sentences of his fellow Church members are part of an ongoing official campaign of harassment of Christians. Our prayers are a powerful lifeline for these Christians. Please pray for strength and courage for our brothers in Iran.
Who are Christian Solidarity?
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) works in over 20 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, defending everyone’s right to freedom of religion or belief. Three quarters of the world’s population lives in countries with severe restrictions on their religious freedom – in fact, it’s one of the most widely-violated human rights in the world. We think this is unacceptable. We’re working to change it. Our vision is of a world where everyone is free to choose their beliefs – to hold and practise any religion they like, or none at all.
Find out more on the Christian Solidarity Worldwide website (click here)