TURKEY: ERCAN SENGAL
When Ercan Sengul committed his life to Christ in the Muslim nation of Turkey, some saw it as turning his back on his heritage and nation. When he said that he would do anything for God, he had meant it then. But what about now?
Ercan sat in a dark, dank prison cell surrounded by cell mates. He had been arrested by local police who said that he’d “insulted Islam” by distributing
books for a Christian publisher.
Ercan cried out to God, begging to be rescued. He knew that he’d done nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to be there. “You said you’d do anything for me,” God whispered to Ercan’s heart. “Did you mean it?”
Broken before God, Ercan wept and worshipped. He told God in his heart, “I really meant it.” Ercan began to preach three hours each day in prison. He learned that God allowed him to be imprisoned to give him a new mission field! Ercan was in prison for thirty days until witnesses admitted that police had pressured them to sign statements, and the judge found no evidence of any crime.
The arrest has furthered Ercan’s witness. Since his release, many who shared his cell have visited his church, asking about the God who gave him peace while locked in prison. Ercan still joyfully gives out Christian books, knowing he could be arrested.
Most Christians would admit that suffering is not exactly what we have in mind when we say we want to be used by God. Sure, we want to live out our faith—but not to the point of persecution. We resent being overlooked for promotions at work or excluded from social events. We feel slighted. Cheated. Ripped off. However, we must be willing to prayerfully seek God in the midst of our desperation. The moment we do, we find prayer changes our perspective. We begin to see opportunities for growth. We receive hope. We find promise amid pain. Eventually we begin to discover our current situation, however unfair and undeserved, may be part of God’s plan after all. When we pray for God’s perspective on persecution, we find the courage to be obedient at all costs.
Taken from Voice of the Martyrs book Extreme Devotion:
Former Islamic teacher, 30-year-old Malik Higenyi, was beaten unconscious by relatives when he spoke publicly about his conversion last month.
His mother, Aimuna, aged 60, became a Christian after seeing how Malik was persecuted and learning about his faith. Family members also beat her badly.
Relatives raided their farm in Butaleja district on 8 December as Malik and Aimuna were trying to gather cassava without being seen. They had been forced to abandon the farm last month, after Malik was warned he’d be killed if he returned.
Malik managed to escape and presumed his attackers were unaware of his mother’s new faith. But news of Aimuna’s conversion had spread too: she was attacked and left with a broken hand and head injuries.
Source: Morning Star News
- Pray that God will provide for Malik, his wife and children, and for Aimuna, and bring them to a place of rest (Psalm 18:19).
- Thank God that police responded to the family’s cry for help and made several arrests. Pray that officials will take tough action against religiously motivated attacks, to deter further violence.
- Pray that God’s people in Muslim areas of east Uganda will draw close to Him and place their total trust in Him.
“Don’t do it,” Nicholas yelled as he saw the executioner lift his sword to kill another prisoner. “He’s done nothing to deserve this.” The man was about to be executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. Nicholas bravely grabbed the executioner’s sword before it penetrated the prisoner’s flesh.
“Have it your way Nicholas . . . I have many others to kill today.” The executioner spat as he walked away and resumed his duties elsewhere. Nicholas boldly spoke up for Christ at a difficult time in history. In the year 303, Emperor Diocletian began one of the most brutal persecutions
of Christians. So many Christians were killed that the executioners were exhausted and took turns at their work.
Nicholas was branded with hot irons. He survived terrible beatings from the guards. And he endured other torture as well—simply for refusing to deny that Jesus is the Son of God. How could he deny the one who was so real to him? Nicholas remained resolute in the midst of great injustice.
After being released from prison, he spent the rest of his life establishing orphanages and protecting poor children. He was committed to advancing the gospel of Christ in creative ways. Once, he even threw money wrapped in a stocking through the window of a home of two very poor girls so they would not be sold to a house of prostitution.
Many years after his death, Nicholas was affectionately called St. Nicholas. For many children, the night before Christmas is the most magical night of the year as they await a visit from Santa Claus, a caricature of St. Nicholas. The real life story behind St. Nicholas is much more heroic and loving than most children could even dream. Think about your own life’s story. Do people know the truth about your faith in Jesus Christ? Or do they merely know you as an affectionate and unusually moral person? Although Santa Claus is not real, St. Nicholas was and you must be too. You may not feel like a saint, but the world needs real examples of resolute Christians. What will you do today to live your faith in a real way?
Taken from Voice of the Martyrs book Extreme Devotion:
Tohar Haydarov was quietly released from prison in Uzbekistan on 8 November. He had served nearly seven years of his 10-year prison sentence and was released for good behaviour. He may face parole conditions, and authorities told him not to get in trouble or he would return to prison. Authorities had told him earlier this year that a parole in his case “would not happen.”
Tohar was imprisoned in 2010 for allegedly selling large qualities of drugs, although fellow church members say the charges were falsified, and he was accused only because of his Christian faith.
Fellow Christians told Forum 18 News, “We are thankful to everybody who prayed for him and sent letters to him while in prison.” They ask for continued prayer for him.
Tohar was one of the prisoners featured on VOM’s web site for Christian prisoners, www.PrisonerAlert.com. Christians from all over the world wrote letters to him at the prison where he was held, and also wrote to Uzbek government leaders on his behalf.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Give thanks to the Lord for this wonderful news for Tohar and his loved ones.
- Pray the Lord will guide and strengthen Tohar as he adjusts to life outside of prison.
- Pray the Holy Spirit will be at work in the hearts and mind of Tohar’s former prisoners and guards. Ask the Lord to give opportunities for Tohar to speak His testimony and use His witness for the Gospel.
On 14 and 17 October, mobs in two different villages of Kyrgyzstan’s western Jalal-Abad Region exhumed the body of deceased Protestant Kanygul Satybaldiyeva, a 76-year old member of Jesus Christ Protestant Church.
They objected to the burial of a non-Muslim in public village cemeteries. Police and National Security Committee (NSC) secret police officers, as well as local and regional officials, observed the exhumations but did nothing to stop them.
Amid contradictory official assertions of what they did with the body after the second exhumation, Satybaldiyeva’s family as of the evening of 19 October did not know where the body is.
“I pray that they did not throw away the body somewhere,” Satybaldiyeva’s daughter, Zhyldyz Azayeva, lamented. “I hope that we can soon find out where my mother’s body is.”
“I continue in my faith in Jesus Christ but I am afraid for my own life, for my 19-year old daughter and 80-year old father,” Azayeva added. “I would like to move out of the area, but cannot leave my father behind.”
“We just want peace and that we can peacefully practise our faith,” Pastor Nurgazy Babanazarov of the local Protestant community said. “I don’t know whether the Imams are provoking people. Whoever is organising this does it for one purpose, to humiliate in the eyes of society Kyrgyz who became Christian.”
Mob interference in the rights of families and communities to bury their deceased with the rites and in the cemetery of their choice is not the only violence individuals who are not from the dominant Muslim community can face because of their faith. Officials sometimes choose not to stop such violence nor to punish the perpetrators.
Source: Forum 18
- Please uphold the family at this destressing time. May the Lord minister to them in their grief and protect them from any who may wish to bring further harm.
- Pray the family will receive word regarding the current resting place, but regardless, may they rest and even rejoice in the knowledge that Kanygul Satybaldiyeva is with the Lord.
- Pray this incident may be used by the Lord to bring change in the community. Pray the Lord would grant wisdom to the authorities as well as mercy and compassion.