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IRAN: Prisoner Granted Medical Leave

IRAN: Prisoner Granted Medical Leave

Friends of Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran are pleased to report that Maryam has been allowed home on medical furlough.

Maryam, who was previously granted medical furlough for a range of health issues in June 2016, returned to Evin Prison, Tehran on 27 June to continue serving a four-year prison sentence on charges of “acting against national security”.  She then started a hunger strike on 5 July to demand her immediate and unconditional release in view of the inadequate treatment of her health issues. She ended the hunger strike at the request of her family at the beginning of August.

Maryam’s health deteriorated considerably during the hunger strike; her blood pressure dropped, she had pains and numbness in her feet and also suffered psychological problems as a consequence of her imprisonment.

Prison officials examined Maryam on 20 July and provided a medical report confirming the seriousness of her condition, but her demand for release was denied at that time by an Iranian court at the request of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.

Prison authorities allowed Maryam to go home on Sunday 28 August to receive medical treatment. It is hoped that on this occasion the medical furlough will be long enough for Maryam to receive adequate care.

Source: Middle East Concern

 Prayer Points

  • Pray Maryam will experience God’s healing presence and receive all the medical treatment she requires.
  • Pray that God will move the Iranian authorities and officials to act justly so that Maryam will be released unconditionally from prison.
  • Pray the Lord may be at work throughout Evin prison, strengthening the faith of those who love Him and revealing Himself to many others.

IRAN: Christians Arrested at Picnic

The families and friends of five Iranian Christians arrested during a picnic and fishing expedition are deeply concerned for their welfare and are requesting prayer.

On Friday 26 August Ramiel Bet Tamraz, Amin Nader Afshar, Hadi Askary, Mohamad Dehnay and Amir Sina Dashti went together with their wives to Firuzkuh, north of Tehran, to go fishing and have a picnic. At about 1:30pm, security officials from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) raided the picnic and separated the men from the women. Amin Nader Afshar asked to see the arrest warrant, which the officials did not produce, and Amin was then beaten.

The MOIS officials took the five men away and family members have been unable to obtain information about their whereabouts.

Ramiel Bet Tamraz is the son of Assyrian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz who was arrested on 26 December 2014 at a Christmas celebration at his home. Amin Nader Afshar was also arrested at the same time. Pastor Victor was charged verbally with “conducting evangelism,” “illegal house church activities” and “Bible printing and distribution”. He was released on bail on 1 March 2015. Amin had been released on bail in February 2015. They are both expecting to be summoned to court to face charges related to their Christian activity.

Family members see no reason for the arrests apart from the connection to the arrest of Pastor Victor and Amin (and one other) at the Christmas celebration in Pastor Victor’s home in 2014.

It is feared that the aim of the MOIS officials is to force confessions and to extract “evidence” against the victims of the 2014 Christmas arrests.

Source: Middle East Concern

Prayer Points

  • Pray those detained will know the presence, peace and provision of Jesus, will be able to answer their interrogators with wisdom, and will be released soon.
  • Pray they will remain strong in their faith and clear in their witness. Ask the Lord to strengthen them physically and spiritually to help them endure.
  • May the family members know the comfort, peace and presence of Jesus during this time.

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SYRIA: Churches Serve as Enemies Threaten

SYRIA: Churches Serve as Enemies Threaten

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, has said about the Battle for Aleppo: “This is beyond doubt one of the most devastating urban conflicts in modern times.”

Around 250,000 people remain trapped in Aleppo’s rebel-held east. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu describes them as “hostages,” unable to flee because the rebels have mined the humanitarian corridors and manned them with snipers. Meanwhile, more than a million citizens — including some 40,000 mostly Assyrian and Armenian Christians — remain in Aleppo’s government-held west.

Despite the dire situation, western Aleppo’s churches continue to serve and minister. The deputy director of the public assistance department at Aleppo’s Orthodox Sunday schools, Samir Samaan, reports that Aleppo’s Saint Elias Cathedral is caring for about 4,000 newly displaced families — half of them Muslim, half of them Christian. Similarly, Jesuit priest Ziad Hilal said the churches are working to feed those left in Aleppo, regardless of their religion. “We give about 7,500 meals every day,” he said.

“On one side things are dark, things are sad,” the church leader continued. “On the other hand, we see the activities of the church and how the people, especially the Christian associations, are helping. They are providing a sign of hope. Our mission is important there.” Another church leader described it as “a miracle,” noting that all the while, Christians in Aleppo are fasting and praying that “the will for peace” shall prevail “over the will for war.” May the light of Christ overcome the darkness so that many more Syrians will discover the way of God’s salvation.

Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin

Prayer Points

  • Intercede along with our brethren in Aleppo, asking that peace will come to this nation and that the Lord will use this time of great suffering to reveal Himself to many.
  • May the Lord provide for Aleppo’s churches, ensuring that they are equipped with the necessary funds, resources and workers to continue serving and ministering as lights in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16).
  • Pray the Lord may frustrate the plans of the wicked and bring an end to the violence and unrest. Pray for all those in authority in this nation.

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EGYPT: Copts Attacked

EGYPT: Copts Attacked

Eight Christian homes were attacked and an equal number of Copts were detained after Muslims in an Egyptian village went on a rampage following rumours of a house church being built.

The attack last week in Saft el-Khirsa (180km south of Cairo) trails more than a dozen others that have, over the past two months, made an already vulnerable community more nervous. Of those attacks, three have seen Copts injured and their properties vandalised in the wake of claims that churches were being secretly set up.

Egypt is yet to approve a common law granting churches the same building rights as mosques. Discussions to redress this imbalance have fruitlessly been going on since the 1970s.

In Saft el-Khirsa, Coptic homes and stores were pelted by angry crowds shouting, “We don’t want a church,” and “No god but Allah, Christians are the enemies of Allah,” according to local witnesses.

Saft el-Khirsa, a village of some 12,000, is home to 70 Christian families. In a situation repeated across the country, the village is not served by a church, while ten mosques serve the Muslim community.

After police eventually put an end to violence, eight Copts, including some whose properties were vandalised, were rounded up and taken to custody. Ten Muslim attackers were also arrested. When asked why they were detaining victims as well as perpetrators, police said it was a matter of ‘state security’.

 Source: World Watch Monitor

 Prayer Points

  • Pray this most recent attack will galvanise the authorities to make changes to ensure justice is upheld; pray for the release of all innocent parties.
  • Pray the Lord will shower His generous provision on all who have suffered loss.
  • Thank the Lord for the way He is working in Egypt despite the opposition; ask Him to further unify His church and encourage them to be bold in their witness.

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YEMEN: Christians Facing Increased Hardships

YEMEN: Christians Facing Increased Hardships

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.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the way he works through the witness of His people by the powerful example of Christ’s love for others.
  • Thank the Lord for the provision of food and other necessities; pray this small community may continue to be provided for and be generous with what they have.
  • Pray the Lord may pour out His Spirit on this nation to reveal Himself to many as He comforts and delivers people caught up in the unrest.

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