Jim's Random Thoughts and Pictures

Iran: believers being detained

March 6, 2012
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Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following the latest series of arrests of believers which have occurred in several cities, including Ahvaz, Shiraz, Kermanshah and Isfahan. Some were released within a few days but others remain detained.

On 22nd February at least six were detained in coordinated raids In Isfahan, including an Anglican Minister, Pastor Hikmat. A 78-year old female member of another Anglican congregation was released after three days in detention. At least five remain detained.

On 21st February 13 people were reportedly detained in a raid on a house church in Kermanshah. Nine were released the following day and one more on 28th February. Three remain detained. Also in Kermanshah, a believer who was arrested on 17th March 2011 and released on bail on 9th July 2011 has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for actions against national security by the Revolutionary Court. He has begun serving this sentence.

On 8th February eight house church members were detained in coordinated raids in Shiraz. They remain detained. Among others still detained because of their Christian faith or activities are Noorallah, Farshid, Behnam, Mehdi, Fariborz, Ehsan and Davoud. Elsewhere, several released on bail await possible court hearings.

Also still detained is Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani. Reports circulating last month suggesting that Yousef’s execution order had been signed have not been confirmed and are considered to have been unfounded. There remains uncertainty about his situation, though as of 3rd March he was confirmed still to be alive.

 Christians supporting this family request our prayers that:

a.  Each of those detained for their faith will know the presence and peace of Jesus

b.  Those detained will be released soon and restored to their families

c.  Others facing court hearings will be acquitted, or the charges against them dropped, and the bail money will be returned

d.  Believers across Iran will know the Lord’s wisdom and protection in meeting together, and will be enabled to live without fear

e.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

Open sources used: FCNN, Mohabat News

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Website: www.meconcern.org

 


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Iran: some believers released on bail, others remain detained

February 23, 2012
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We are pleased to report that several believers detained in Iran have been released on bail.

Maasis Mosesian, an elder of the Assemblies of God church in Tehran who was arrested on 8th February, was released on bail on 16th February.

Farhad and Naser, who were among four detained when the AoG church in Ahvaz was raided on 23rd December 2011, were released on bail on 21st February. Recall that Farhad’s wife, Shahnaz, was released on bail on 1st January. Davoud remains detained. Property title deeds were submitted as bail for Shahnaz, Farhad and Naser.

Previously we mentioned concerns about Farhad’s health, as needed medication was refused. We have received news that although he was not physically mistreated in prison, he does suffer, both physically and emotionally, from the effects of his detention.

Some recent reports regarding Yousef Nadarkhani suggest that an order for his execution may have been issued. At present there is no confirmation of such reports, but verification efforts are continuing. Recall that Yousef was arrested in October 2009 and is awaiting confirmation of a death sentence for apostasy which was upheld in provincial court hearings in September 2011. He remains detained.

Others who remain detained in Iran because of their Christian faith include Noorallah (detained since December 2010), Farshid (detained since December 2010, awaiting a verdict following a court hearing on 5th February), Behnam (detained since May 2011), Mehdi (detained since September 2011), Fariborz and Ehsan (both detained since November 2011) and up to seven believers in Shiraz (detained since 8th February). Many others previously released on bail are still awaiting possible court hearings.

Iranian Christians supporting these believers request our prayers that:

a.    Maasis, Farhad and Naser will know the presence of Jesus as they adjust to normal life.

b.    All charges against them, and others released on bail, will be dropped, and the bail money and title deeds returned

c.    Yousef will know the presence and peace of Jesus, his life will be spared and he will be reunited with his family soon

d.    Davoud, Noorallah, Farshid, Bahnam, Mehdi, Fairborz, Ehsan and a number of believers in Shiraz will know the presence, peace and protection of Jesus, and be released soon

e.    All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

Open sources used: FCNN, Mohabat News

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Website: www.meconcern.org


Egypt: sectarian incident partially resolved

February 21, 2012
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Egyptian Christians have called for prayer for an on-going situation in the village of Kobry-el-Sharbat near Alexandria.

The troubles began following a rumor that a Christian man had illicit photographs and a video clip of a Muslim lady. On 27th and 30th January there were violent clashes, with a Muslim mob burning several Christian-owned homes and businesses. On 1st February a “village tribunal” of local Muslim leaders issued a decree ordering eight Christian families to leave and that their property be sold under the oversight of a local Muslim leader. If this decree was not complied with, then all 62 Christian families living in the village would be forcibly expelled.

On 16th February a fact-finding commission established by the recently elected National Assembly ruled that the village tribunal’s decree was illegal, the eight families’ property should be restored to them, the government should pay compensation for all damaged property, and the police should endeavor to identify and prosecute those responsible for violent attacks. The commission stressed that all residents’ legal rights must be respected, and that this was not incompatible with Islamic Shari’a law.

The commission affirmed that there is no evidence to support the rumors. The Christian man accused had been detained but was released on 15th February, as was the Muslim accused of starting the rumor.

Village residents were told to immediately welcome back three of the Christian families. The return of those closely related to the Christian accused by the rumor was deferred to a judicial review.

The fact-finding commission comprised two Christians, two moderate Muslims and a Salafi member of parliament who was involved in the village tribunal. They met with representatives of the evicted families, all members of the tribunal and two priests.

Egyptian Christians request our prayers that:

a.  The commission’s ruling will be effectively and promptly implemented

b.  All Christian families will be able to return

c.  True reconciliation will occur amongst all residents of the village

d.  The commission’s ruling will set a precedent that ends impunity for sectarian violence against Christians and other religious minorities

e.  All national, provincial and local authorities will uphold the legal rights of all Egyptians, and the National Assembly will promote effective measures to address sectarian violence

f.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

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Website: www.meconcern.org

URL of this prayer request: http://www.meconcern.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=488:egypt-sectarian-incident-partially-resolved&catid=7:prayer-requests&Itemid=12

 


Iran: further arrests and church service closures

February 14, 2012
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Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following further pressure in recent days on officially registered churches and on house churches.

On Wednesday 8th February, Maasis Mosesian, an elder of the Assemblies of God church in Tehran, was arrested at his workplace. He is understood to be detained in Gohardasht, about 20km west of Tehran. No reasons have been given for his arrest. Maasis is Armenian and is married with two children. Recall that three members of the Assemblies of God church in Ahvaz, south-west Iran, remain detained.

Two other churches in Tehran, Emmanuel Protestant Church and St Peter Evangelical Church, have been ordered to cease holding Farsi language services on Fridays. The pastors were given notification of this order last week by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and announced the order to their congregations on Friday 10th.

This decision means that there are now no Farsi language services on Fridays in any officially registered church in Tehran. The Friday services of the Assemblies of God Church were ordered to stop in October 2009. As Friday is the main week-end day, it is difficult for church members to attend services on other days.

Some members of the Emmanuel and St Peter churches have come under individual pressure. For example, some long-standing members have lost their jobs after the authorities placed pressure on their employers.

These churches are among the small number of officially registered churches that principally serve the Armenian and Assyrian communities of Iran. Most activities are conducted in the Armenian and Assyrian languages. The order to stop Farsi services is consistent with the authorities’ policy of restricting Christian activities to these traditional communities.

House churches, which have no official recognition and principally serve believers from Muslim backgrounds (BMBs), continue to be under great pressure. According to Mohabat News, ten BMBs were arrested in a raid on a house church in Shiraz on 8th February. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Iranian Christians request our prayers that:

a.  Maasis will know the peace and presence of Jesus, and be released soon

b.  Likewise for all other believers detained for their faith in Jesus

c.  The decision will be reversed and Farsi-language services allowed to recommence on Fridays

d.  Church leaders will be guided in how to respond

e.  Those wishing to worship in Farsi will be able to do so

f.  Those that have lost their jobs will find alternative employment

g.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

Open sources used: FCNN, Mohabat News

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Website: www.meconcern.org

URL of this prayer request: http://www.meconcern.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=486:iran-further-arrests-and-church-service-closures&catid=7:prayer-requests&Itemid=12


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Iran: update on Christians detained following raid on a church service

February 9, 2012
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In December we requested prayers following a raid on an officially recognized church in Ahvaz during a service on 23rd December. Three remain detained, namely the church’s pastor, Farhad, and two other church members, Davoud and Naser. Farhad’s wife, Shahnaz, was detained but released on 1st January.

There is mounting concern for Farhad’s health. He had been receiving medical treatment shortly before being detained. In jail, he has been denied access to a doctor and has been unable to continue his medication.

Shahnaz was released when a property title-deed was deposited as bail. However, there are no known charges against her, nor against Farhad, Davoud and Naser.

Recall that many attendees of the service were detained briefly. Mobile phones were confiscated, as was the church’s audio-visual equipment and Christian literature.

At least ten others remain detained in Iran because of their Christian faith. These include Noorallah (arrested in December 2010 and understood to be held in the same prison as Farhad, Davoud and Naser), Farshid (also arrested in December 2010), and Behnam (arrested in May 2011). Yousef Nadarkhani (arrested in October 2009) also remains detained, awaiting a written verdict after his death sentence for apostasy was upheld in provincial court hearings in September 2011. Many others have been released on bail and are awaiting possible court hearings.

Iranian Christians request our prayers that:

a.  Farhad, Davoud and Naser will know the presence and peace and healing of Jesus, and be acquitted and released soon

b.  Likewise for Noorallah, Farshid, Behnam, Yousef and other detained believers

c.  Shahnaz and other family members of detainees will know the Father’s strength

d.  Those released on bail would be acquitted of all false and unjust charges

e.  All church members will know the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance, especially concerning meeting together for worship

f.  Confiscated property and bail money and title deeds would be returned

g.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

Open source used: Mohabat

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Website: www.meconcern.org


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Iran: four Christians detained following raid on a church service

December 26, 2011
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Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following a raid on an officially recognized church in Ahvaz during a service on Friday 23rd December. All attendees, including children, were reportedly detained. All mobiles were confiscated, as was the church’s audio-visual equipment and Christian literature. Most were released within a few hours. However, the church’s pastor (Farhad), his wife (Shahnaz) and two other church members (David and Naser) remain detained. Their whereabouts are unknown.

We are pleased to report that another Iranian Christian, Shahla Rahmati, was released on 20th December having been cleared of all charges against her. She had been detained since 9th March.

Iranian Christians request our prayers that:

a.  Farhad, Shahnaz, David and Naser will know the presence and peace of Jesus, and be released soon

b.  All church members will know the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance, especially concerning meeting together for worship

c.  All confiscated property would be returned

d.  Shahla would know the Father’s love and healing as she adjusts to normal life

e.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

 Open source used: Elam, FCNN

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Website: www.meconcern.org


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Iran: fears of increased pressure on Christians

December 21, 2011
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Iranian Christian leaders have called for prayer for Christians in Iran over the Christmas and New Year period. Pressure continues on Christians, and especially those from Muslim backgrounds, and there are fears that these pressures may intensify in the coming days.

These fears stem partly from the waves of arrests last Christmas and New Year, and also the previous year, in which several dozen believers were detained. Two of those arrested in late December 2010, Farshid and Noorallah, remain in prison.

In addition, several government officials and senior clerics have made public threats against Christians in recent weeks. For example, Mohabat News quotes the Information Minister, Heydar Moslehi, in a speech in November at a Muslim Seminary, as saying, “The house churches are a threat to the youth and the Ministry of Intelligence has already started a serious effort to oppose this movement.”

There is continuing concern about a number of Christians who remain detained. Several have been subjected to harsh treatment and interrogation. Some of those detained, and many of those released during 2011, are awaiting hearings that are often not scheduled for months, compounding uncertainty and anxiety. In most cases in which bail payments have been made, these payments, including property title deeds, remain in the possession of the authorities.

Iranian Christians request our prayers that:

a.  Christians throughout Iran will know Jesus’ presence and peace at this time, and His strengthening in whatever pressures they face

b.  The authorities will not act against Christians, and not take further unjust action against Christians

c.  Those detained will be released soon

d.  Those awaiting hearings or verdicts will be formally cleared and bail payments returned

e.  Christians throughout Iran will be firm in their faith and clear in their testimony

f.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

Open sources used: Mohabat News

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Website: www.meconcern.org


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Turkey: updates on trial of murderers of Christians and on Monastery legal cases

December 21, 2011
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ImageLast week we requested prayer concerning the long-running legal case following the murders of three Christians (Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske) at the Zirve Christian publishing house in Malatya, Eastern Turkey, in April 2007. Five men, aged 19 and 20 at the time, were arrested at the scene and were charged with the murder. Their trial opened in November 2007 and became complicated as a result of efforts to identify those behind the perpetrators.

At the hearing on 16th December no verdicts were issued, contrary to the lawyers’ expectations. However, a witness testified that he had had knowledge of a plot to murder the publishing house staff and informed the authorities one week prior to the attack.

The next hearing is scheduled for 17th February 2012.

Under Turkish law, those accused will be exonerated if they have not been formally convicted and sentenced within five years. Therefore, delays beyond April 2012 may lead to the perpetrators being released.

Further prayer has also been requested for another long-running series of legal cases. We last requested prayer concerning the St. Gabriel Monastery, eastern Turkey, in March 2011. The monastery faces five court cases concerning, among other matters, a land-ownership dispute with the Turkish Treasury. The next hearing in one of the cases is scheduled for 12th January 2012. In another of the cases, an appeal was submitted to the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year but no hearings have yet been scheduled.

 Turkish Christians request our continued prayers that:

a.  Family members and friends of the Malatya victims will continue to know the peace of Jesus as the trial process continues

b.  Justice will be done concerning the perpetrators, and that all those behind them will be identified

c.  All those who aided or perpetrated the murders would have a deep conviction about what they have done, and understand the depths of Jesus’ forgiveness

d.  The true ownership of all areas of land surrounding St. Gabriel Monastery will be accurately identified

e.  All Christians involved will know the Spirit’s enabling, equipping and assisting as they persevere in their efforts to promote justice

f.  All judges, other officials, lawyers and journalists involved will hear the gospel of Jesus, and be drawn to the Father’s love, forgiveness and acceptance.

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Web site: www.meconcern.org


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Iraq: concerns for safety of Christians over Christmas and New Year

December 20, 2011
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  Iraqi Christian leaders are calling for our prayers during the Christmas and New Year period. Some fear that there will be sectarian attacks during this period, especially as the country adapts to the changed security situation following the formal withdrawal of US military forces.

A number of recent incidents, in which Christians were the victims of violence, have contributed to these fears. In these incidents, whilst Christians were the victims, the precise motives of the attackers are not clear. Typically, violence in Iraq has numerous causes, including economic interests, tribal rivalries, settling of long-standing scores and religious motives.

On 13th December a Christian couple was shot dead in Mosul whilst driving. Their two young daughters, though with them at the time, were not physically injured. On 12th December a 29-year-old man was kidnapped from his family’s store in Erbil, capital of the area administered by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). He was released in a military operation after three days in captivity. On 2nd December there were attacks on a range of businesses, many of them Christian-owned, in Dohuk province within the KRG region. The attacks were perpetrated by extremist Muslims following inflammatory messages in a mosque. The businesses attacked included alcohol stores, hair salons, massage parlours and casinos. The security services acted to prevent further attacks in some locations.

In previous years, Christmas services have been cancelled in some parts of Iraq, or have been restricted to the hours of daylight, because of security concerns.

Iraqi Christians request our prayers that:

a.  Church and other community leaders will be wise in the timing of services during the Christmas and New Year period

b.  Those affected by recent incidents will know the healing touch and comforting presence of Jesus

c.  The authorities will act decisively to provide due protection

d.  Peace, stability, justice and the clear rule of law will be established throughout the country.

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Website: www.meconcern.org


Turkey: Update on trial of murderers of Christians

December 17, 2011
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Over recent years we have requested prayer following the murders of three Christians (Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske) at the Zirve Christian publishing house in Malatya, Eastern Turkey, in April 2007. Five men, aged 19 and 20 at the time, were arrested at the scene, were charged with the murders, and have been held in custody ever since. Their trial opened in November 2007 and became complicated as a result of efforts to identify those behind the perpetrators.

A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, 16th December. Some understand that verdicts and sentences might be issued at this hearing.

Under Turkish law, those accused cannot be detained for more than five years if they have not been formally convicted and sentenced. Therefore, some fear that delays beyond April 2012 will lead to the perpetrators being released.

Recall that in March 2011 the chairman of the panel of three judges was promoted to a higher court, thereby ending his participation in this trial. There were concerns that the judge replacing him would take time to become familiar with the complexities of the case, which might cause further delays. Hearings since then have been brief with no significant developments.

Turkish Christians request our continued prayers that:

a.  Family members and friends of the Malatya victims will continue to know the peace of Jesus as the trial process continues

b.  Justice will be done concerning the perpetrators, and that all those behind them will be identified

c.  There would be renewed international attention towards the Malatya trial

d.  All those who aided or perpetrated the murders would have a deep conviction about what they have done, and understand the depths of Jesus’ forgiveness

e.  The judges, other officials, lawyers and journalists involved will hear the gospel of Jesus, feel the Spirit’s conviction of sin and be drawn to the Father’s love, forgiveness and acceptance

f.  All Christians involved will know the Spirit’s enabling, equipping and assisting as they persevere in their efforts to promote justice

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Web site: www.meconcern.org


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About author

Middle-aged father of three and one awesome daughter-in-law, with a great job and a wonderful wife. We have lived in Central Indiana for over 14 years and love it.

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