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MIDDLE EAST: “Thousands Coming to Christ!”

MIDDLE EAST: “Thousands Coming to Christ!”

An encouraging message from Arabic broadcasters in the Middle East….
Despite the mass exodus of many Christians, the church is far from empty in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and other parts of the Middle East. God has been very faithful. There are strong Christian believers remaining, and tremendous growth is taking place in the lives of new believers who were Muslims.

The presence of the church is vitally important. People are desperate and see very little hope, but the fact that there still is a church gives them encouragement and hope.

Historically, Middle Eastern Christians have made significant contributions for the good of society, especially in Syria and Iraq, going all the way back to the first century. Their contributions include working in the areas of health, literacy and the translation of the Bible into Arabic. They were among the first to introduce charitable works and work with missionaries and NGO workers. They are often recognised as the most honest when it comes to business and trade. In the future, Christians will be vital to maintain diversity and ensure sustainable peace and lasting stability in the Middle East.

We are in regular contact with our FM stations in Iraq and have talked with many people who have family in the Middle East. Some of our Middle Eastern broadcasters have shared testimonies with us (which they hear directly from listeners when visiting there). They are sharing exciting news of what God is doing in the Middle East. There are thousands upon thousands coming to Christ. May the Lord be praised and worshipped with great honour! He is worthy!

Source: Voice of the Martyrs Canada

 Prayer Points

  • Praise our Lord God who uses strife and unrest to bring good by revealing Himself to many (Genesis 50:20).
  • Commit to the Lord those who are working in the Middle East to share the Gospel including pastors, evangelists, aid workers and those involved in Christian broadcasting.
  • Pray many Christians who have left will have the opportunity to return to their homes and help to rebuild.
SYRIA: Pray for Christians in Aleppo, City Ravaged by War

SYRIA: Pray for Christians in Aleppo, City Ravaged by War

Christians in Aleppo are asking for prayers for their city, which has been destroyed by the civil war.

A VOM contact reports, “Currently, it is a ghost city, no life and complete destruction. Pray this city will have life again and the church will play a part in bringing Christ into the oppressed homes.” Pray that the young men who have been taken to fight in the war can return home to rebuild their families. Pray also for children in Syria who have not been able to go to school and who have suffered numerous losses, and that the church will be equipped to help these children recover. Christians have also asked for prayer that believers who once lived in Aleppo will begin to return.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

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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IRAN: Pastor Charged with National Security Crimes

IRAN: Pastor Charged with National Security Crimes

Yousef Nadarkhani, the Church of Iran pastor acquitted of apostasy in 2012, has been charged with “acting against national security.”

Pastor Nadarkhani was summoned to the 13th Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht on 24 July, where he was charged and released, but was given a week to raise 100 million Touman (approximately $43,000) in bail or face arrest. He was also accused of being Zionist and informed that he had no right to evangelise.

On 13 May, the pastor and his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, were arrested after Iranian Security Service (VEVAK) officers raided their home in Rasht as part of a series of raids targeting approximately ten Christian households. While they were released immediately, three members of their congregation, Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan), Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie, were detained in Lakan Prison near Rasht and released after posting bail. The three men are yet to be informed of the charges levelled against them.

Pastor Nadarkhani was initially arrested in 2009 after going to his children’s school to question the Muslim monopoly of religious education for children, which he felt was unconstitutional. He was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death in 2010, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011. On 8 September 2012, he was released from prison following his acquittal on apostasy charges, but was found guilty on charges of evangelising. The pastor was recalled to prison on 25 December 2012 to complete the remainder of his three-year sentence, and was released once again on 7 December 2013.

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will uphold Pastor Nadarkhani, his family and his church during this time of uncertainty and distress. May the Lord give them a peace which passes all understanding and a willingness to trust Him.
  • Pray the charges against Pastor Nadarkhani, Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie will be dismissed.
  • Pray the government of Iran will uphold its obligations to respect the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief as outlined in its own constitution.

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Pray for Belgium, Pray for the World

Pray for Belgium, Pray for the World

The recent terror attacks in Brussels once again reiterated in our hearts and minds the danger of radical Islam to the Western world. It was a shock for many and raises questions about how a public place such as an airport; which is supposed to be the forefront of security measures, can succumb to these acts of violence. How can we live in peace when there are terror threats which can strike anywhere and at any time?

Once again the Belgians and the rest of the Western world are asking these questions, trying to make sense of it all.

Living with the threat of this kind of violence is a daily reality for many of our fellow Christians in Syria, Iraq and also in Nigeria where Boko Haram has taken hold. Perhaps the biggest question on everybody’s mind is; how can we stop this never ending cycle of violence?

Jesus said to the Apostle Peter in Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” This is Jesus essentially saying, violence begets violence. Jesus told us as Christians, to love our enemies and those who persecute us. He understood that the only way to break the cycle of violence is to overcome evil with good. There are many Christians who have been martyred following this principle but there are also many more Muslims who have turned to Christ and found peace because they saw examples of Christ’s love either from the Bible itself or from the fearless believers who shared and died for it.

In our February 2016 newsletter, there was a story about a Muslim coming to Christ because of the Islamic State’s violence towards Christians.  “I was Muslim and now I’m seeing,” the man told Joseph, a local pastor. “From the date IS came to Mosul, I started reading the Koran. I wanted to tell the people, ‘IS is not true Islam.’ I read the Koran daily for four hours, five hours. I wanted to defend my religion, but I discovered IS is the true Islam.”

Pastor Joseph’s act of listening and being Christ-like paved way for the Muslim to come to know Jesus. He has seen large numbers of Muslim youth leave Islam after learning how the Koran inspired IS and its slaughter of Christians.

Christ is what will melt hardened hearts, end terrorism and ultimately bring peace for all.

As you think and ponder about the recent events in Belgium, you may wish to use these prayer points as a guide to help you and your church group pray.

  • Please pray for all the victims and their families, that they may find solace and strength in God and friends.
  • Pray for the government: for wisdom when they respond, not from panic and anxiety, so they will not take disproportionate measures.
  • Pray for all emergency services and security services, for police and investigators, that they may expose even more roots of terror networks.
  • Pray for God’s peace and protection over this country.
  • Pray that the mind-set will be reversed that people will see that a society without a God-of-love derails and has no defence against an attack of such dark hate.
  • Pray that God will change this evil for good, and that the difference between light and darkness will be clearer.
  • Pray that the churches and Christians will find open doors in people to testify of a good and saving God, that they will be able to show acts of peace and love.
  • Pray that – just as in Syria – many Muslims will turn to Christ as their Saviour.

 

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