Persecution and Prayer Alert, Voice of the Martyrs
IRAN: Asylum Rejected by Swedish Authorities
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Source: Mohabat News
According to two recent reports, Iranian Christian converts currently living in Sweden are now at risk of deportation following decisions made by the Swedish Immigration Board rejecting their asylum applications.
Due to harassment and persecution by the Islamic secret police, Majid and Hamid Khosravi, who both converted to Christianity approximately ten years ago, decided to leave the country of Iran and seek asylum in Sweden. Those on the Swedish Immigration Board were not convinced of the two young men’s Christian faith and the risk deportation could pose on their lives. (In Iran, converting from Islam to any religion is considered apostasy and, therefore, punishable by death.) Contrary to the board’s conclusion, the senior pastor of the Iranian church in Stockholm testifies that both of these young men had actively served on the worship team of the Persian-speaking church and were also contributors to Iranian Christian TV networks and websites.
Another Christian convert, Parvaneh Sarabadi, also faces deportation to Iran. Shortly after converting from Islam to Christianity about two years ago, her husband, who became a believer about the same time, was murdered by a relative working for the government’s Islamic regime. Forced to illegally leave the country due to severe harassment, sexual abuse and mental pressure, Parvaneh fled to Sweden where she, too, sought refuge. Despite confirmations from the church regarding her claim, and the support of several human rights advocacy groups, her application was turned down as well. To better understand the challenges facing Iranian believers, please go to the Iran Country Report.
Pray that our Almighty God will mediate on behalf of these suffering believers who are desperately seeking asylum, especially considering that they are at risk of further threat, torture and persecution. May He abundantly bless our Christian brothers, Majid and Hamid, as well as our dear sister Parvaneh, for demonstrating such steadfast faith. Please intercede for their protection and greatly needed strength throughout this time of tribulation. Also ask that God will enlighten the minds of all those in positions of authority and political power in both of these countries so they will govern justly over all of God’s people.
VIETNAM: New Government Policy Undermines Church Movement
Source: Religious Liberty Commission
Threatened by an increasing number of independent churches and religious communities, including the rapidly growing house church movement, Vietnam’s new government policy continues to control, restrict and penalize religious groups and their organized activities. Under Communist rule, Christians and their church leaders in Vietnam suffer harassment, arrest and imprisonment, all under ambiguous charges of threats to national security, public order, unity and national tradition.
Although January 1st ushered the unveiling of a new government policy (ND-92 is a revision of the former, less-detailed ND-22), this latest one is more restrictive, providing the government with additional legal tools for control and repression. By impeding the day-to-day functioning of church groups with even tighter reporting, registration and permission restrictions, there is the increased risk of diminishing the rapidly growing size and number of churches within its borders. Yet, despite the government’s latest and deliberate effort to suppress the spread of the Gospel, it has been proven historically that the growth of the Vietnamese church during times of persecution actually heightened. More information and past reports are available for review at the Vietnam Country Report.
Pray that the faith of these Vietnamese believers will become more fervent despite the government’s attempts to implement further restrictions and repression, bringing forth greater blessings to the church as a whole. In fact, may this time of persecution serve to be instrumental in the expansion of the Lord’s everlasting kingdom. In addition, may Vietnam’s governing officials, and those of legislating bodies throughout the world, recognize that with political leadership and power comes great responsibility and accountability to our Almighty God.
KAZAKHSTAN: Court Mandates the Destruction of Christian Literature
Source: Forum 18 News Service
A recent court decision orders that 121 books police confiscated from Vyacheslav Cherkasov, a Christian believer residing in the northern Akmola Region, are to be destroyed. On October 20, 2012, Vyacheslav was arrested for offering Christian literature to passersby while on a street in his town. It was reported by the court that the police officers who had arrested him were responding to an “anonymous call.” While at the scene, they seized a suitcase containing the Christian literature from his parked car. The printed materials included Bibles, children’s Bibles, and other books and leaflets on the Christian faith, primarily in the Kazakh language. As a result of the “offense,” Vyacheslav received a fine based on the average monthly wage. On the condition he loses his appeal, court executors will carry out the previously ordered destruction.
A justice ministry official in the capital of Astana explained that all the books, including the previously mentioned Bibles, will most likely be burned. The verdict, ordering the destruction of all the religious literature, distressed human rights defender Yevgeni Zhovtis of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. It seems that the country is using measures of censorship and the violations of freedom of religion or belief to further restrict and control society at large. To learn more about this Communist country, go to the Kazakhstan Country Report.
In Luke 4:18, Jesus announced that He came to set the captives free. Let’s stand on this promise as we intercede for those in Kazakhstan who are blinded from the truth of the Gospel and held in spiritual bondage, so they can truly experience the liberty and joy of His salvation. Also remember Vyacheslav whose sincere efforts to share the “Good News” with others have not gone unnoticed by God Himself. May the Lord recompense our Christian brother for his loss and abundantly reward him for his faithfulness.
IRAN: Wife of Pastor Saeed Testifies Before Human Rights Commission
Sources: CBN News, Fox News
On March 15th, Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini, tearfully presented the case of her imprisoned husband’s torture to a US congressional committee on human rights. “Saeed is a husband and an amazing father,” she explained during the hearing. “Our kids hold onto the hope of seeing their Daddy very soon.” Representing the American Center for Law and Justice, Chief Counsel Jordan Sekulow concluded: “This hearing represents a significant opportunity to elevate Pastor Saeed’s plight…and stand up for the human rights and religious freedom of those who are facing similar situations because of their faith.”
INDIA: Pastor Released After Years of Confinement
Source: Gospel for Asia
Following eight years of detainment due to false accusations, Pastor Samuel was joyfully released on March 13th. Although he was cleared of all the charges back in 2010, strikes and delayed court hearings had greatly hindered his release. Throughout this time, however, he continued ministering to the other prisoners. Thankfully, many of them made decisions for Christ as a result! Pastor Samuel’s family, including his wife and 8-year-old daughter, are rejoicing over his final return home. Pray that God will immensely bless this reunited family, while continuing the wonderful work of faith that has begun in the lives of the prisoners. For an historical overview of this country, go to the India Country Report.