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PAKISTAN: Released from Bondage

PAKISTAN: Released from Bondage

Due to poverty and lack of education, Christians in Pakistan often borrow money from brick kiln owners. They are then required to work, making bricks, to repay the loan. The size of the loan tends to be small, but the terms are designed to keep it growing indefinitely. The family, including children as young as five, are forced to work at the brick kiln to pay the debt.

VOM’s partner ministry Mercy Home is committed to helping these families and has secured the release of nine families from four brick kilns in the past year.

Mercy Home paid out each family’s total debt, securing their release. On release, each family was supported with rent and living expenses, job training and education.

One of the now free men, Manzoor was sold into slavery by a friend. A welder by trade, Manzoor fell ill, needed money for surgery and borrowed it from a friend – his friend then took him to a brick kiln owner and received the full amount. Manzoor, along with his family, were forced to work in an effort to pay off the debt until Mercy Home secured their release. Manzoor is now working as a farmer hoping to eventually return to his trade.

Source: VOM Contacts, The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Pray for the families forced into slavery and for Mercy Home as they work towards freeing many others caught in the same difficulty.
  • Ask the Lord to grow His church in Pakistan in number and in faithfulness. Pray for a spirit of unity and love.
  • Though the Christians in Pakistan are frequently poor and downtrodden; pray the believers will find their identity in Christ and be bold in their witness for Him.

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IRAN: Christian Convert Unconditionally Released from Prison

IRAN: Christian Convert Unconditionally Released from Prison

Iranian Christians are thankful that Rokhsareh (Mahrokh) Ghanbari has been released from prison.

Mahrokh was convicted of “propaganda against the system” after a hearing at Karaj Revolutionary Court on 27 July 2019 and sentenced to one year in prison. She was initially arrested shortly before Christmas 2018, when three agents from Iranian intelligence raided her home. She was detained for ten days and endured intense interrogation.

Mahrokh started serving her prison sentence at Kachui Prison, Karaj, on 14 October 2019. She was released temporarily as of 2 March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, after providing security. On 2 April prison authorities informed Mahrokh that she was no longer required to return to prison. It is expected that she will be able to reclaim the money put down as security.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran, around 85,000 prisoners have been released, including some Christians. However, Christians convicted on political charges, such as “acting against national security” have been refused release, along with other political prisoners.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Thank the Lord for Mahrokh’s early release. Pray that her testimony may strengthen other believers.
  • Pray she will be healed from any trauma associated with her detention and adjust well to normal life.
  • Pray for the Christians detained on political charges who face exposure to COVID-19 infection, that they will know God’s protection and consolation and will also be released

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INDIA: Former Orissa Prisoners Concerned About Finding Work

INDIA: Former Orissa Prisoners Concerned About Finding Work

Released from prison after more than 10 years of unjust incarceration, two of the men accused of murdering a Hindu leader, don’t know how they will now provide for their families.

Over the course of several months last year, all seven men originally accused of the murder were granted bail by India’s Supreme Court and released from prison. They had been in prison since 2008, when they were accused of killing a Hindu priest and sparking a massive riot that left 120 people dead in Kandhamal district, Odisha (formerly Orissa) state.

Recently, two of the former prisoners, Garnath Chalanseth and Bhaskar Sunamajhi, told a Christian worker they are unsure how they will be able to find jobs and support their families, since many in the area are still angry at them. Bhaskar told the Christian worker that he is afraid to go into the forest because of the risk of being attacked.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Ask the Lord, our provider to supply all seven men with work, to enable them to support their families.
  • Pray these men and their families may be granted favour by the members of their community, so they will be shown care and sympathy, as they deserve.
  • Ask the Lord to bring good from their many years of suffering.

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IRAN: Early Release for Three Christian Converts

IRAN: Early Release for Three Christian Converts

On 18 September 2018, Iranian intelligence agents raided the homes of Asghar, Mohammadreza and AT, arresting them and three others. Asghar was interrogated for three days, being kept blindfolded for most of the time. He was then transferred to Eghlid prison for a further eight days. He was released on bail after submitting a business licence as a guarantee.

Asghar, Mohammadreza and AT were summoned to a court hearing at Branch 101 of Eghlid Criminal Court on 18 April 2019 and charged with propaganda against the Islamic Republic. The judge refused to allow Asghar to speak, warning him he was being monitored and that he would have to agree to stop all Christian activities.

On 16 September 2019 the three men were summoned again to the same court. On 22 September the three were each sentenced to six-months in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran through promoting Zionist Christianity” in accordance with Article 500 of the penal code. The sentences were upheld on appeal.

All three Christians were detained in Eghlid Prison. They applied for a pardon and early release which has been granted after only two months of the six-month sentences. Asghar was freed on 2 February and the other two converts are due for release on 8 February. Asghar’s friend comments that such a pardon would be unlikely to be granted in the larger cities or for those Christians who, as is normally the case, are convicted on political or national security grounds.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Thank the Lord that these men have been granted early release and will be reunited with their families.
  • Pray their faith in the Lord Jesus will be strengthened through this experience.
  • Thank the Lord that the church in Iran continues to grow rapidly, in spite of opposition.

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NIGERIA: Release of Captured Students and Staff

NIGERIA: Release of Captured Students and Staff

The six students and two staff members of a Christian-run school in Kaduna state who were kidnapped on 3 October were released on 26 October.

Police claimed responsibility for the rescue, stating that they had “intercepted” the students and staff, and rescued them unhurt. Parents of the students, however, insist that the police did not carry out the rescue but that instead a ransom was paid resulting in their release. Police then picked up the victims after they had been set free.

Ohemu Fredrick, a spokesman for the parents, told reporters that the girls and teachers were tortured each time there was a phone call, so that their cries could be audibly heard. Throughout their captivity, they had been fed only rice mixed with palm oil.

Kidnapping for ransom has become a major source of income for terrorist groups that are seeking to advance their Islamic agenda and, in the process, often specifically target Christians.

Sources: Church in Chains, AllAfrica

  • Praise God for the safe release of these eight kidnapped individuals.
  • Pray for their continued emotional and physical recovery from the trauma they experienced in captivity, and that their concerned families will be able to recover as well.
  • Pray the authorities will bring the perpetrators to justice. Pray they will be brought out of darkness, into the light of God’s love and truth.

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