Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Iran: Missing convert located – 6th October 2021

Middle East Concern, Oct 4, 2021

Iranian Christians are thankful that Ayoub Poor-Rezazade has been released on bail.

Ayoub was arrested with two other Christian converts on 5 September. There had been no news from him or about him since 8 September, causing consternation, especially since his friends were released on 21 September and had no news of Ayoub’s whereabouts.

On 3 October, after submitting bail of 400 million tomans (about $15,000), Ayoub was released from Lakan Prison in Rasht. His friends had also submitted the same bail.

Ayoub had spent 10 days in custody of the Revolutionary Guard before being transferred to solitary confinement in Lakan Prison.

He had been separated from his friends to be interrogated about church finances.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Saudi Christian convert flees after persecution – October 6th 2021

Church in Chains, 23 September 2021 (excerpts)

“Adam”, a Saudi Arabian Christian in his late forties, converted from Islam 3 years ago, so dangerous for a Saudi that his real name cannot be used. Since then, he has endured constant persecution, to where he has reluctantly decided to leave Saudi to join his family abroad.

Accused of helping his wife’s sister “Eve” (also a Christian convert) to leave Saudi Arabia against her husband’s wishes, he has faced pressure from his family, especially Eve’s husband, who then brought a false charge against him of theft and had him beaten up.

He has faced four court cases and has been in prison several times, for a total of around four months.

From a Yemeni background, he spent most of his life in Saudi Arabia as a Muslim. When Eve became a Christian 3 years ago, her family asked Adam to convince her to return to Islam, unaware that he too was exploring Christianity. In great danger from her family as a convert, Adam helped Eve and her 2 children to flee the country.

On 5 May 2021, Adam’s wife “Hope” was contacted by her family who believed Adam would be sent to prison and it would be better for her to stay with them. They put her under pressure to divorce him, but eventually let her to go free. In July, Adam sent Hope and their younger son “Andrew” abroad for safety.

In August, a group of men beat Adam up on the order of his brother-in-law. He fell on iron and cut his leg very badly, with heavy loss of blood.  Treated in hospital, on his release he was put in prison for a night. Consequently, Adam decided to leave the country and join Hope and Andrew. An older son, “Matthew”, fled Saudi Arabia after helping Adam get Eve out of the country.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Absolute Denial of Religious Freedom – September 15th 2021

Church in Chains, 8 September 2021 (excerpts)

A new report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom describes the North Korean government’s religious freedom violations as an “absolute denial of religious freedom”.

The report was launched on 18 August and is based on interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators of religious freedom violations, the perpetrators being former North Korean government officials. The majority of interviewees had escaped from North Korea in 2019.

The investigators identified 68 cases of the state prosecuting individuals for their religion or belief or for their association with religious persons. Victims suffered human rights violations including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and the denial of life.

Its authors state: “The North Korean government poses an acute challenge to its citizens’ enjoyment of their right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief.”

They go on to say, “We find that the denial of religious freedom is absolute. Our findings establish that the persecution of individuals exercising their right to religious freedom in North Korea goes well beyond a government neglecting its duty to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief.

“It also extends beyond a government persecuting one or more social groups for their religion or belief. Rather, the situation that exists is one where the state enforces the absolute denial of religious belief through the active mobilisation of organs of the government.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Muslims open fire on Christians in Pakistan – September 15th 2021

Barnabas Fund, 13 September 2021 (excerpts)

Several Christians were injured in a shooting incident on 6 September in the Shera Kot district of Lahore, Pakistan.

A group of six or seven Muslims opened fire on the houses of Christian residents in the district at about 2.30 p.m.

Five Christian women, one of them pregnant, and one man were injured in the shooting. Three of the six are in a critical condition. The man, Asif Nawab, was returning home from work when an attacker opened fire, injuring him in both legs.

The attack stems from a dispute between a Christian named Asghar and a Muslim, Dilshad Doggar, according to local church minister, Pastor Adnan.

Dilshad Doggar, along with several armed young Muslims, moved towards Asghar’s house that afternoon. Asghar was not at home at the time and has not returned home since the incident. The attackers also fired at several Christians’ houses and at the church building.

The Shera Kot police registered a First Information Report in response to Asif Nawab’s complaint. 10 suspects were arrested and the 2 alleged main culprits are in the custody of the police as the matter is being investigated further.  The case has been filed under charges of attempted murder and rioting with use of deadly weapons.

Shera Kot is home to around 60 Christian families who are living among a larger community of Muslims. Since the incident Christians have stayed in their homes and police security has been provided for them.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Becoming Homeless for Christ – September 15th 2021

The Voice of the Martyrs, 9 September 2021 (excerpts)

Momina Namee, 30, grew up in a Muslim family and was pressured to marry a Muslim man while she was young.

Soon after they married, they had a son. But three years after their son’s birth, Momina’s husband suddenly fell ill and passed away. Devastated and a single mother, Momina struggled to get by as her husband had been the provider for the family.

One day, two Christian women met Momina on the street and shared the gospel with her. Momina told them that she was a Muslim, and the Christian women asked her address, visiting her often.

Eventually, Momina placed her faith in Christ and began attending a Christian church.

But when the Muslim woman who provided shelter to Momina found out about her newfound faith, she drove Momina and her son out of the house.

Momina was homeless, and her family and relatives stopped associating with her because of her faith in Christ. When Momina’s church leaders heard about her situation, they rented a home for her.

Pray that Momina will be able to provide for her and her son as she rebuilds her life. Pray that she can be a faithful witness to Christ to her family and pray that they will come to faith in Him.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Lethal Trap for Convert to Christianity – September 1st 2021

Morning Star News, 26 August 2021 (excerpts)

Muslim relatives of a former Islamic teacher in Uganda who became a Christian set a trap for him last month, hiring killers to bury him alive in a large ant mound, sources said.

Saban Sajabi, 32, had gained repute as an itinerant sheikh, teaching Islam in various mosques and schools in eastern Uganda, before an uncle led him to faith in Christ in 2015.

He received further threats after marrying Sarah Birungi, a Christian, in 2016.

Birungi said that Sajabi on July 14 received a telephone call saying the uncle who led him to Christ, Shadrach Hasakya, was suffering a serious illness.

“We left Jinja immediately, leaving behind our children ages 6 and 2 under the care of the house girl,” she said.

Arriving at about 8 p.m., they were warmly greeted by motorcyle taxi drivers who offered to take them to Hasakya’s home in Kabula, Birungi said.

They paid for one motorcyclist each to take them to the uncle’s home, and upon reaching a swamp the one carrying Sajabi said he had run out of fuel, she said.

“Immediately two motorcycles arrived carrying three men each.  They started beating my husband and then dragged him to a nearby anthill, dug into it and pushed his head inside, and he breathed his last.”

“What you have witnessed happening to your husband today is for the disobedience of your husband not heeding the advice given by the family that he should return to Islam, since Islam cannot tolerate infidels,” one of the assailants told her, Birungi said.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Rewards for reporting “illegal religious activities” – September 1st 2021

Barnabas Fund, 19 August 2021 (excerpts)

Qiqihar, the second largest city in China’s Heilongjiang province, on 9 August joined an increasing number of cities, districts, and county governments to offer cash rewards to anyone who reports to the authorities on “illegal religious activities”.

Whistle-blowers could pocket between 500 yuan (£56, $77, €65) and 1,000 yuan (£112, $154, €132) for informing on private house gatherings, preaching, the distribution of printed religious works, audio-visual products outside churches, unqualified religious personnel, and illicit foreign infiltration.

Residents of Qiqihar are being told the new rewards scheme will ensure a “harmonious” religious landscape

The measures aim to “strengthen the control of illegal religious activities in the district and prevent any Covid-19 cluster resulting from religious gatherings”, according to a statement from the Work Department of Qiqihar.

The goal was to mobilise the public to help ensure a “harmonious and stable religious landscape”. Reports could be made through phone calls, emails, and letters.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Romania marks Day of Violence against Christians – September 1st 2021

Barnabas Fund, 20 August 2021 (excerpts)

Romania celebrated a national day to commemorate Christian martyrs and victims of violence on 16 August.

The date was selected to coincide with commemoration of Constantin Brâncoveanu, Prince of Wallachia, who was captured and tortured by the Ottomans in 1714. Along with his four sons, he was martyred when he refused to renounce his faith in Christ on 16 August that year.

This National Day seeks to present the importance of Christianity in Romania’s history and the continued widespread persecution of Christians around the world to the general public, especially young people.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2018 revealed Romania to be the most religious nation in Europe, based on four factors: the importance people ascribe to religion in their lives, regular attendance of religious services, frequency of personal prayer, and certainty of belief in God.

Christians are harassed in more countries than the followers of any other religion (145 according to a 2020 study, also by the Pew Research Center).

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Naser speaks from Evin prison in Iran – August 18th 2021

Church in Chains, 10 August 2021 (excerpts)

On 3 August Christian convert Naser Gol-Tapeh celebrated his 60th birthday behind bars. Naser, in poor health, has been serving a ten-year prison sentence for “acting against national security through the formation and establishment of an illegal church organisation in his home” since January 2018.  His three appeals for a retrial have been denied, and his appeal for parole after serving over one third of his sentence has also been denied.

Naser recently spoke in an audio message from prison in which he reflected on persecution, forgiveness, and justice. He said he bore no grudge against those who sent him to prison and asks for God’s forgiveness and blessing upon them.

Naser also said that it is quite clear to him that he is being imprisoned because he is a follower of Jesus. He mentioned that Jesus forewarned his followers about persecution and stated in John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Buddhist extremists attack Bangladeshi Christians – August 18th 2021

Barnabas Fund, 2 August 2021, 2021 (excerpts)

The inhabitants of a Christian village in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, were forced to flee after suffering threats and two violent attacks from Buddhist radicals.

The villagers, who converted from Buddhism 16 years ago, were attacked after they refused to re-convert and demolish their church building.

The Buddhists attacked both members of the church and the building, breaking a cross, tearing down part of a wall, and damaging the roof.

The assistant pastor, Tubel Adetion, explained, “We were Buddhists and we met Jesus Christ in 2005. In January of this year, we built the church. Every day we gathered and prayed, but the local Buddhist majority didn’t like it.”

On 12 July Buddhist radicals warned the 50 Christian villagers to demolish the church within three days.

Three days later the Buddhists returned, attacked the villagers and church building, and ordered them to re-convert to Buddhism within seven days.

On 22 July the extremists returned once again, launching another violent assault against the Christian village. They also warned the villagers of further consequences if they reported the incident to police or local media.