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Syria: Priest feared abducted, other Christians released

December 30, 2015
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As violence continues in many parts of their country, Syrian Christians request continued prayer for peace and for all who suffer as a result of the ongoing conflict, including Christian communities affected by abductions.

On 23rd December a Franciscan Priest, Father Dhiya Aziz, disappeared after setting out from Lattakia to return to his parish in Yacoubieh, Idlib Governorate. The order to which Fr Dhiya is affiliated, The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, issued a communiqué on 28th December stating that contact with Fr Dhiya has been lost, his whereabouts are unknown and that it is assumed that he has been abducted. Fr Dhiya, who is Iraqi, was also abducted on 4th July 2015. On that occasion he was seized by militants in Yacoubieh and was released after five days.

On 25th December Assyrian sources reported that a further 25 Assyrian Christians had been released by Daesh (so-called “Islamic State”), 16 of whom are children. This follows the release of 25 Christians on 9th December and 47 during November. These were all among more than 230 Christians abducted in late February 2015 when Daesh captured around 35 predominantly Assyrian villages along the Khabour River in Hassaka Governorate. The recent releases follow negotiations over many months by church representatives. It is estimated that around 85 Christians from the Hassaka villages remain abducted. In addition, many Christians are understood to be among more than 200 civilians abducted by Daesh in August in al-Qaryatain, Homs Governorate, many of whom remain unaccounted for.

Several church leaders abducted in 2013 also remain unaccounted for. These include: Fr. Michel Kayyal (Armenian Catholic) and Fr. Maher Mahfouz (Greek  Orthodox), abducted in February 2013; Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim (Syriac Orthodox) and Bishop Boulos Yaziji (Greek Orthodox), abducted in April 2013; and Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio (Jesuit), abducted in July 2013.

Syrian Christians ask us to pray that:

  1. Fr. Dhiya will know the Lord’s presence and protection, and that he will be released soon
  2. all others abducted who remain unaccounted for will similarly know the Lord’s comfort and sustaining, and that they will be released soon
  3. those who have recently been released will know the Lord’s comfort, healing and restoration
  4. those displaced will know the Lord’s care and provision, and be able to return to their homes soon
  5. violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in Syria
  6. those responsible for the murder and abduction of innocent civilians will know the Spirit’s conviction of sin, seek the Father’s forgiveness and find new life in the Son.

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org


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SYRIA: Assyrian Christians Released

November 25, 2015
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Syrian Christians rejoice that several more Christian hostages have been released by Daesh (so-called “Islamic State”) this month, but request prayer for the many who remain in captivity.

On 24th November ten Assyrian Christians were released by Daesh (five women and five men). This follows the release on 9th November of 37 Christians (27 women and ten men). All those released were among more than 230 Christians abducted in late February 2015 when Daesh captured around 35 predominantly Assyrian villages along the Khabour River in Hassaka Governorate in north-east Syria. Their release follows negotiations over many months by church representatives. There is some lack of clarity about how many of those abducted in February remain unaccounted for – a leader within the Assyrian Church of the East has advised that the figure is around 135, while the Assyrian Human Rights Network claims that 158 are still missing. In addition, many Christians are understood to be among more than 200 civilians who were abducted by Daesh in al-Qaryatain in Homs Governorate in early August, many of whom remain unaccounted for.

Syrian Christians continue to request prayer for peace in their land and for all affected by the ongoing violence, including Christian communities. In recent weeks many have fled from the predominantly Syriac Orthodox town of Sadad in Homs Governorate, fearing a Daesh advance. In October 2013 Sadad was briefly overrun by militants from the al-Qaeda affiliate group Jabhat an-Nusra, who murdered at least 45 Christians and desecrated churches.

Syrian Christians ask us to pray that:

  1. those who have recently been released will know the Lord’s comfort, healing and provision
  2. all those who remain in captivity will find refuge in God, know His strength and protection, maintain a faithful witness to Christ, and be released soon
  3. those displaced from their homes will know the Lord’s care and provision, and be able to return soon
  4. violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in Syria
  5. those responsible for the murder and abduction of innocent civilians will know the Spirit’s conviction of sin, seek the Father’s forgiveness and find new life in the Son

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org

URL for this prayer request: http://meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/981-syria-assyrian-christians-released

 


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IRAN: Prisoner Released from Shiraz Prison

November 13, 2015
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Friends and relatives of Suroush Saraie are pleased to announce that he was released from prison Wednesday, 11th November.

Suroush Saraie and Mohammad Roghangir were arrested on 5th July 2014 in Bandar Azali in northern Iran. They were taken to prison in Shiraz in order to serve sentences handed down in July 2013.

Suroush and Mohammad were among seven arrested in Shiraz when a prayer meeting was raided on 12th October 2012 as part of a wider campaign of intimidation by Iranian authorities against Christians and other religious minorities. Those arrested were affiliated with the self-styled ‘Church of Iran’ network.

In July 2013 those arrested were convicted of “action against national security” and “propaganda against the order of the system”. Suroush was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and Mohammad received a sentence of six years. In July 2014 they started serving their sentences in Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz. The others, who were sentenced to terms varying from one to five years, were also summoned to prison in Shiraz over the following months.

Suroush and his family rejoice at his release, but former prisoners often continue to experience hardship. In some cases released prisoners have been pressurised by security officials to become informers. Many former prisoners suffer psychological trauma and struggle to find employment.

Iranian Christians request our prayers that:

a  Suroush will quickly recover from his imprisonment and that he and his family will be strengthened in the Lord and adapt to normal family life

b.  those who remain in prison, including Mohammad and the others from Shiraz, will be comforted and released soon

c.  all prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity as beings created in the image of God

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

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org

URL for this prayer request: http://meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/978-iran-prisoner-released-in-shiraz


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Iran: Believers arrested

November 10, 2015
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Iranian Christians request prayer for at least fourteen believers from Muslim backgrounds who were arrested earlier this month in Varamin in Tehran Province. Relatives of those arrested have requested that this incident be made public and that as wide a prayer network as possible be engaged on behalf of the victims.

On November 1st security agents raided a house church in Varamin, south-east of Tehran, and arrested at least thirteen of those present, including Poorkaveh, Simmin, Bahram, Amin, Leyla, Zahra, Mehdi and Farzaneh, Shayan, Sara, Nazanin, Elnaz and Mohammad.

The following day another Christian connected with the house church was arrested at his home in Tehran.

Many of those arrested were formerly members of Emmanuel Protestant Church in Tehran, which was forced to stop its Farsi-language services in 2012, resulting in the formation of several informal house churches.

The present whereabouts of those arrested is unknown to family and friends, who are concerned for their safety. They request our prayers that:

  1. those arrested and detained will know God’s strength and love, that they will answer their interrogators with patience and wisdom, and that they will be released soon
  2. the families and friends of those detained will know the Lord’s strength, peace, protection and support
  3. all prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity as beings created in the image of God
  4. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org

URL for this prayer request: http://meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/974-iran-believers-arrested


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Iran: Christian released after 40 months in prison

July 1, 2015
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Middle East Concern is pleased to report that a Christian prisoner in Iran has been released. This is a wonderful answer to prayer requests made by MEC over the last three years.

Homayoun was arrested on 8th February 2012 in Shiraz as part of a raid on a house church. He and three others were sentenced to 3 years and 8 months in prison.

Homayoun was released on bail on 10th November 2014, but in January this year his bail conditions were cancelled and he was recalled to serve the remainder of his sentence, which was due to be completed in October 2015. The three other prisoners were released in December 2014 and January 2015.

In April Homayoun’s family were disturbed to find that they were unable to visit him or make contact as he had been transferred to a notorious punishment ward in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, possibly on account of his evangelistic activity in prison.

Homayoun was transferred back to the general ward on 1st June and released on Sunday 28th June.

Homayoun and his family thank all who have been praying for them and advocating for his transfer out of the punishment ward and for his early release.

Iranian Christians rejoice with Homayoun and his family, praising God for his release. They request our continued prayers for Homayoun and those who are still imprisoned on account of their Christian faith and activities.

Please pray that:

  1. Homayoun will recover quickly from the trauma of his imprisonment, experience healing and adjust to normal family life
  2. those awaiting a court hearing or an appeal will know the Lord’s presence, comfort and peace, and that the Lord will guide the judges in their decisions
  3. those serving their sentences will be encouraged and strengthened in their faith and experience the love of God and the presence of Christ
  4. the intimidation of Christians in Iran will not result in fear, but instead that faith will be strengthened and a clear witness maintained
  5. all prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity, as beings created in the image of God, and that those imprisoned unjustly on account of their faith in Jesus will be released soon
  6. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org

URL for this prayer request: http://meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/909-iran-christian-released-after-40-months-in-prison


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More Prayer Requested for Pastors Jailed in Sudan

June 25, 2015
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Christians in Sudan request our continued prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing today, 25th June.

At today’s hearing the prosecution produced one person who gave testimony, but brought no new evidence against the pastors. The next hearing is due to be on 2nd July. At that hearing the judge will allow the two pastors to speak and he can question them. Afterwards he will decide whether to drop the case against them (if he believes there is no bases to the charges), or whether to allow the case to continue.

Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December and 11th January respectively. They have been charged with a range of criminal offences. These include crimes against the state which are punishable by death, a life sentence or lesser detention and confiscation of property.

On 4th June the pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison, where they are held in separate cells. Kober Prison administrators have denied the pastors access to their families and lawyer. The defence lawyer has been informed that the pastors were transferred because Western visitors took photographs of them, and because an interview they gave was broadcast by a Christian media organisation.

Please pray:

  1. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord’s peace and protection
  2. that all charges against them will be dropped
  3. that church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord’s wisdom in the face of increasing pressures against them
  4. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org

URL for this prayer request: http://www.meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/902-sudan-update-on-pastors-on-trial-25th-june


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Sundan: No New Evidence Against Pastors

June 16, 2015
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Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace,

Christians in Sudan request our prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing on 15th June.

According to their lawyer, prosecutors failed to produce any new evidence, as officials from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) repeated statements they had made earlier in the trial.

The lawyer was also able to present his defence to the court. The next hearing is scheduled for  Thursday 18th June.

Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December and 11th January respectively. They have been charged with a range of criminal offences. These include crimes against the state which are punishable by death, a life sentence or lesser detention and confiscation of property.

On 4th June the pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison, where they are held in separate cells. Kober Prison administrators have denied the pastors access to their families and lawyer. The lawyer has been informed that the pastors were transferred because Western visitors took photographs of them, and because an interview they gave was broadcast by a Christian media organisation.

Please pray:

  1. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord’s peace and protection
  2. that all charges against them will be dropped
  3. that church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord’s wisdom in the face of increasing pressures against them
  4. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org

URL for this prayer request: http://www.meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/894-sudan-no-new-evidence-against-pastors


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Please Pray for Yemen!

May 13, 2015
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Church leaders in the Arabian Peninsula have requested prayer for the country of Yemen, including its Christian communities, following the destruction of a church building in Aden amid the current warfare.

Catholic church leaders report that the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the al-Ma’ala area of Aden was destroyed in an aerial bombing raid during the night of 11th May. The adjoining priest’s residence was also destroyed. The priest was not present at the time of the airstrike. The church building, constructed in 1960, is one of very few church buildings in Yemen (all of them in Aden) that have been permitted to host services for the expatriate Christian community. Christian gatherings also take place in private locations.

In recent weeks airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia have targeted Houthi rebels, the Zaydi Shi’a group that has seized control of much of the country. It is understood that the church was hit during a raid targeting Houthi positions. The current conflict has led to a deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Church leaders request our prayers that:

a. peace and justice will be restored in Yemen

b. humanitarian aid will reach all who are in need

c.  the small remaining expatriate Christian community in Yemen will know the Father’s comfort and strength, and the Son’s close presence

d. all Christians in Yemen will know the Spirit’s guidance in every aspect of their life and witness

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Middle East Concern

www.meconcern.org

URL for this prayer request: http://meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/874-yemen-aden-church-destroyed-in-bombing-raid


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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


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About author

Middle-aged father of three with one awesome daughter-in-law and one awesome son-in-law , and one very special grandson, with a great job and a wonderful wife. We have lived in Central Indiana for over 18 years and love it.

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