Two Christian women, Rhonda and Manjeet, have been mentoring a woman named Sitara, who is the only believer in her village in India. Sitara, a Christian convert from Islam, wants to share the gospel despite the risk of persecution by neighbors. After traveling two hours by bus to meet with Sitara for Bible study, prayer, and encouragement, Rhonda and Manjeet gave her a VOM-sponsored micro SD card loaded with a Bible and other lessons in her language. The women were able to use it as they met with one of Sitara’s neighbors who is interested in hearing more about Jesus. Please pray for Rhonda and Manjeet as they continue to share the gospel and distribute discipleship tools to new Christians like Sitara. Also pray for Sitara as she shares her new faith in Jesus with others in her village.
Pray for Asia Bibi, Still Imprisoned for Christian Faith
Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi remains in prison after being convicted of blasphemy more than seven years ago. Although the Pakistani Supreme Court overturned her death sentence last year, no further progress has been made in her case. Asia Bibi’s husband and two daughters are eager for her release, and they themselves remain under threat of attack by Muslim militants. Please pray for justice in Asia Bibi’s legal case.
Pray for Christians Facing Hardships amid Civil War
The civil war in Yemen has created a humanitarian crisis, leaving the Christian minority vulnerable to increased persecution by various militant groups. A mission group is delivering food and water supplies to a small community of Christian families who have no source of income, and nearby Muslim families have seen the love and unity among believers. Please pray that these believers will continue to be witnesses of Christ’s love despite the many challenges they face and that they will stand strong in the face of persecution.
Jailed Iranian Christian Seriously Ill
Prayer Alert, July 26th
Our Iranian sister Maryam has gone on hunger strike again but security officials are still refusing to release her so she can receive proper treatment.
Please pray for Maryam Naghash Zargaran whose health has deteriorated sharply in the three weeks since she’s been on hunger strike. Her blood pressure is now very low and she has symptoms of possible early multiple sclerosis.
She is demanding her immediate release and protesting at the inadequate treatment she’s received for serious health issues while she’s been in Tehran’s Evin Prison. A judge refused her request – under pressure from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.
Maryam has been on hunger strike before, prior to being allowed out of her cell for three weeks last month to receive hospital treatment. But she was back behind bars on June 27, before her treatment was complete.
She’s serving a four-year sentence for ‘acting against national security’ – apparently because of her work on an orphanage with former prisoner of faith, Pastor Saeed Abedini.
Prison officials who gave Maryam a medical examination last week confirmed her condition is serious.
A new law that goes into effect on July 20 could result in stiff fines for Christians who evangelize in Russia. The law, approved by the State Duma, will make it unlawful for Christians to share their beliefs with others in their homes, online or anywhere outside a registered church building. While the law is intended to prevent acts of terrorism, Christians fear that they could be linked to terrorism simply by sharing their faith with someone through an email or in a public place. The penalty for breaking the new law is the equivalent of six weeks’ wages for an individual and more than twenty times that for an organization. Pray for members of unregistered churches, and pray that the Duma will amend the new law in response to public outcry.
A violent guerrilla group summoned nine Colombian pastors to a July 8 meeting after the pastors refused to pay “protection money” in June.On July 7, the National Liberation Army (ELN) sent a note ordering the pastors to attend a meeting across the border in Venezuela, where the group operates with impunity. Many feared that the ELN might execute the pastors for refusing to pay the 2 million pesos (about 700 U.S. dollars). The pastors ask for prayer as they continue to face harassment from ELN members who have placed new restrictions on their churches. The guerrillas have forbidden the construction of new church buildings, and Christians are no longer allowed to meet in individual homes for worship or study. Additionally, any new pastors must be from the local region, and no one from outside the ELN-controlled region is allowed to visit the Christians there. ELN members also expect the pastors to help them financially from time to time because they are suffering from food shortages and a transportation strike. The pastors were so grateful for your prayers in June. Please pray that the pastors and other believers will continue sharing the gospel despite these challenges.
War and instability throughout the Middle East have created opportunities for Christians there to reach out to displaced believers as well those of other faiths. Two Christian women have been meeting regularly with a Muslim woman named “Fatima,” who fled Syria with her two young children when the fighting began. Fatima’s husband left her, and she struggles financially. Please pray for Christians in the Middle East who share the love of Christ with refugees and internally displaced people.
Our Brother in Iran Needs Your Prayers
Prayer Alert, July 18th
Please pray for our brother Ebrahim in Iran who has been beaten up by prison guards.
Ebrahim Firouzi is behind bars for his faith in Rajai Shahr Prison, where his fellow inmates are potentially dangerous criminals.
On Wednesday, he refused to go to court for an appeal hearing, believing that his presence was not needed. Prison guards responded by beating him and taking him to court by force. In fact, one of the judges did not appear so the appeal was postponed until November.
Ebrahim has a Muslim background and has been behind bars since August 2013 – apparently because of his evangelism. Though originally due for release in January 2015, in April of that year he was sentenced to a further five years in jail.
Last year he went on hunger strike to protest against prison conditions. Even so, in March, he sent the following message to people like you who are holding him up in prayer: ‘We sometimes have to sacrifice our freedom to live in God’s love, so I can’t think only about myself when there are so many believers suffering persecution.’
Pastor Yang Hua, who has been held for more than six months on charges of “divulging state secrets,” has recently received a series of threats from prison officials. Pastor Yang told his lawyer that prosecutors had threatened his life and those of his wife and sons, inflicted physical harm and demanded his cooperation. In a recent letter to his wife, Pastor Yang encouraged her to trust God’s plan and continue doing His will as she raises their two sons alone. Yang and his lawyer are filing a lawsuit against the officials. Please pray for Yang Hua and his family.
Pray for Ali, Who Continues to Serve in his Country
The challenges of ministering in a highly restricted country had led “Ali” to sell his house and possessions, with the intent of seeking refugee status in the West. After meeting with other Christian leaders for training in another country, however, he reconsidered his plan. One topic discussed at the meeting was the decision of whether to continue ministering in a difficult situation or to leave for the West. After a discussion of Matthew 28, including Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations and His promise to be with His followers to the end, Ali decided to return to his country and persevere through whatever challenges he might face. Ali’s wife, who had not wanted to leave, was excited about his decision. Please pray for Ali and his family as well as the other Christian leaders who attended the training.
Pray for Christians Risking their Lives
On April 17, gunmen attacked a group of Christian workers who were on their way to distribute VOM-sponsored Bibles. Although the attackers beat one team member and threatened to shoot their driver, all of the workers survived the attack and were able to complete the Bible distributions. The team of workers visited 11 churches in remote villages and towns, distributing Bibles and study guides to more than 700 people. Many Christians cried with joy as they received copies of God’s Word for the first time. In addition to distributing Bibles, one worker shared his testimony and many people came to faith in Christ. Please pray for the Christian workers and those who received the Bibles.
A family of Khmu Christians have been forced to leave their village after receiving threats from a village leader. On May 12, “Havika” told VOM contacts that the village leader had threatened him and his family because five other Khmu families in the village had come to Christ. The village leader apparently believes that the other families will abandon their new Christian faith if Havika and his family leave. Please pray that Havika and his family, as well as the new believers, will remain strong in their faith.
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