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CHINA: Christian Prisoner Update

CHINA: Christian Prisoner Update

In March 2017, police arrested Cao San-Qiang (John Cao), a Chinese pastor known for his work among Myanmar’s poor.

Authorities charged Pastor Cao with “organising illegal crossings of national borders” and in 2018, sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Pastor Cao is married to an American citizen and is a long-time resident of North Carolina. He served as a missionary in Myanmar’s Wa State, transforming the lives of more than 2,000 impoverished minority children by building 16 schools, and worked to fight poverty in the region.

Pastor John Cao was able to meet with his mother a few days ago. Because of the pandemic, his mother was only able to see him via video link. He told her he prays daily for his brothers and sisters in Christ and everything going on in the world. He reassured his mother that he does not have to do field work, and that he has time to read and interact with other inmates. Cao’s mother reported that he looked well.

Sources: The Voice of the Martyrs USA, ChinaAid

  • Thank the Lord for Cao’s good health and ask Him to continue to physically sustain Cao.
  • Ask God to use Cao as a witness for the Gospel to fellow prisoners, guards and the authorities.
  • Pray for Cao’s wife, Jamie Powell, and their sons, Benjamin and Amos. Pray they will not lose heart but continue to trust in the Lord’s timing and purposes.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

PAKISTAN: Man Charged with Blasphemy

PAKISTAN: Man Charged with Blasphemy

A Christian man was beaten and charged with blasphemy on 5 August, following comments made on his Facebook account about the Islamic celebration of Lailat al Miraj.

The celebration involves eating sacrificial meat. In response, Sohail Masih allegedly posted: “It is not possible that the blood of goats and bulls can wash away sins. The incident of Miraj is based on a lie.” The post came to the attention of a mosque leader, who claimed that “Muslims were extremely hurt” by the comment.

As news of the post spread, a group gathered and began to beat Sohail. Police intervened, taking him to the police station. When the crowds heard that charges had not yet been laid against him, they began to attack the station until the accused was charged with blasphemy.

With the help of police, Sohail’s wife Shunila, and their two young daughters, escaped to another city where they are being protected, since mobs threatened to burn down their house.

Investigations into the incident raise disturbing questions. Those who know Sohail, a salesman at a small shop, say that he cannot write and does not know how to share a post on his phone. It is believed someone may have maliciously shared the picture using his account while he was helping a customer. His wife acknowledges that he has seen the post but has not shared it, nor would he do such a thing.

Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws have been frequently abused, often to attack Christians and sometimes to obtain personal gain in business disputes.

Sources: CLAAS, Pakistan Christian Post, UCA News

  • Please remember Sohail in your prayers, along with his wife, young daughters, parents and others who are facing backlash because of this incident.
  • Pray that the truth will be revealed and justice will ultimately prevail.
  • Intercede for Pakistan’s governmental and judicial leaders, that they will be willing to make changes to these laws to prevent abuse.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

IRAN: Christian Prisoners Contract COVID-19

IRAN: Christian Prisoners Contract COVID-19

Concerns are rising over news that at least 12 prisoners in Ward 8 of Evin Prison in Tehran, tested positive for COVID-19.

Christian convert Yasser Mossayebzadeh is one of the 12 and is now reportedly gravely ill. Two other converts, Saheb Fadaee and Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, did not test positive but are beginning to show symptoms. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and convert Youhan Omidi are at risk.

Prisoners in Ward 8 recently staged a sit-in to protest the poor living conditions that are putting them at risk of the virus. Rooms are overcrowded with few opportunities for social distancing, and the prison does not give the prisoners quality access to hygiene. It is estimated that there are at least another 10 Christian prisoners of conscience being held in other wards with no reports of their health status.

As the pandemic reached its peak in March, Iran released around 100,000 prisoners, six of them Christian, as authorities began to fear the spread of the virus within the overcrowded prisons. Despite this, the prisons are now overcrowded once more and there are even more Christian prisoners of conscience than there were before the pandemic.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Ask the Lord to protect these prisoners from the virus. Pray the authorities will treat them with mercy and compassion.
  • Pray the Lord will use this time of uncertainty and suffering to draw them closer to Him.
  • Pray that believers in prison will have an opportunity to witness to the certainty they have in God, to those around them who do not know Him.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

ERITREA: Thirty Christians Arrested at Wedding

ERITREA: Thirty Christians Arrested at Wedding

Eritrean authorities continued their crackdown on unregistered religious groups when 30 guests were arrested at a wedding ceremony in late June. These Christians were arrested in the capital city of Asmara, joining 15 others who were previously arrested in April and sent to a prison camp.

The government of Eritrea is known as one of the most oppressive in the world, notorious for its arbitrary arrests and detention of people – without a trial. Last year alone, between May and August, more than 330 Christians were arrested.

Since religious restrictions were instituted in 2002, only four religious groups are legally allowed by the government: Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Sunni Islam. Membership in any other group is strictly prohibited, and even members of these legally recognised groups are not necessarily immune from harassment.

Sources: Release Eritrea, Barnabas Fund

  • Remember the hundreds of believers presently imprisoned in Eritrea; some of them already having endured many years of inhumane treatment in terrible conditions.
  • Pray that these prisoners and their families will be provided with inner strength as they undergo such severe trials.
  • Pray those in authority will come to respect the rights of all citizens, including the freedom to worship.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

EGYPT: “The Lord Jesus Has Chosen You…”

EGYPT: “The Lord Jesus Has Chosen You…”

A young man was beaten, held captive and later disinherited after becoming interested in Christianity.

Ahmed was 16 when he found a scrap of paper on his bus seat that said, “The Lord Jesus has chosen you for Him.” This piqued his curiosity and set him on a journey of seeking Jesus.

When his family found Christian books in his room, they beat him and brought in an imam to try to change his mind. Later, they decided to send him to Saudi Arabia, where his father owned a factory. There he was imprisoned in a small room for seven years before his family allowed him to return to Egypt and then married him to a cousin.

In Egypt, Ahmed was able to access Christian media on the internet, and his faith grew. However, his family cut him off and removed his inheritance rights to his father’s business fortune.

Last year, Ahmed started a small restaurant business to support himself, but when the neighbours found out he was a Christian, they burned it down.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Uphold Ahmed, pray he will continue to look to the author and perfecter of his faith. Pray he will grow in love for God and faithfulness to Him, even in times of trial.
  • Join with Ahmed in praying for his family, that they too may recognise Jesus as their God and be brought to repentance.
  • Pray for Ahmed and others who suffer at the hands of family members, that they will receive much love and care from their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Post your prayer in the comments below.