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NIGERIA: Urgent Prayer Needed for Evangelist and Disciple

NIGERIA: Urgent Prayer Needed for Evangelist and Disciple

Ibrahim, a Christian evangelist in Nigeria, introduced Fatima and her Fulani Muslim parents to Jesus. Her parents resisted, but Fatima grew to love hearing about Jesus and soon became a secret believer.

At 17, Fatima’s parents withdrew her from school. They had arranged for her to be married to a much older man. Devastated, Fatima refused saying that she wanted to follow Jesus and she knew her husband to be, would not allow it. Her parents became furious. They gave her the choice marry him or be killed as a heretic.

Fatima escaped home to look for Ibrahim and to beg for his help. He took her to a pastor who brought her safely to a VOM partner ministry which offers refuge, care and training. For months, Fatima studied Christian teaching and vocational training at the ministry centre.

Her parents soon realised that Ibrahim helped her escape and they approached the Human Rights Commission to have him arrested on child trafficking charges. The pastor who helped Fatima learned of the arrest and urged Fatima to return and testify.

The commission assured her that as she was now 18, her testimony would guarantee Ibrahim’s freedom and she could stay with the pastor’s family for the duration of the trial.

All members of the state Human Rights Tribunal are Muslim, appointed by the Islamic clans in control. When Fatima reported to the commission, they handed her over to her parents.

As a result, Ibrahim’s trial was held without Fatima’s testimony, it lasted less than an hour and he was found guilty of attempted child trafficking and sentenced to three years’ prison. He remains in prison in Maiduguri. Ibrahim’s appeal is coming up soon.

Fatima remains imprisoned at her parent’s home. She continues to be strong in her faith.

Source: Christian Faith Ministries Nigeria (VOM partner)

  • Join with us in praying that the unjust trial decision will be overturned and that Ibrahim will be released.
  • Pray that in the meantime, Ibrahim will be used by the Lord as a powerful witness to fellow prisoners, guards and the authorities.
  • Ask the Lord to give Fatima strength, wisdom and protection. Pray for the salvation of her family members.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

TAJIKISTAN: Fines for Bible Translation

TAJIKISTAN: Fines for Bible Translation

Over the past six months, the leaders of four different churches in Tajikistan have received huge fines because they were part of a plan to create a new Tajik translation of the Bible.

According to some Tajik Christians, the current translations available in their language use archaic words and sometimes the translation is unclear. In response to the need, these churches arranged to have a new translation made through Linguatec, a translation company.

According to Linguatec representatives, they were visited by the State Committee for Religious Affairs (SCRA) and questioned about the work they were doing. The state committee then issued a warning that the translators must receive permission before translating any religious texts. After assuring the committee of their willingness to abide by all regulations in the future, no penalties were levied. For the churches, however, the SCRA was not as tolerant. Each of the four churches was fined between $1,200 and $1,800, amounts equivalent to the combined average monthly salaries of five to eight Tajik labourers.

In reference to the situation, one local Christian explains: “The authorities do not want Tajik churches, which is why they pressure them with fines and other punishments. They want to make us weary and stop.” Christianity is considered a “foreign element” in this predominantly Muslim nation.

Source: Forum 18

  • Pray God’s wisdom will be granted to the Christian leaders as they deal with challenges imposed on them by governmental agencies.
  • Pray God’s financial provision will be made available to the churches that have been penalised.
  • Pray those who oppose the work of God will be enlightened to the truth of His Word and respond.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

IRAN: Term of Exile Increased for Christian Convert

IRAN: Term of Exile Increased for Christian Convert

Iranian Christians request prayer for Christian convert Ebrahim Firouzi who has had his period of exile extended by eleven months.

In November 2019, after completing a five-year prison sentence on charges of “acting against national security”, Ebrahim started serving a two-year period of exile in Sarbaz, near the border with Pakistan in relation to a one-year prison sentence received in 2014 for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”.

In December 2019 Ebrahim requested leave from Sarbaz to sort out family affairs in Hamedan. After waiting several days and receiving no response, he went ahead with his trip.

On 12 March, Ebrahim was notified that his exile had been extended by eight months for violating its terms, and an additional three months for failing to appear for a daily check-in. Ebrahim has been given no opportunity to appeal the decision.

The notification included false information about Ebrahim’s case, claiming he had been convicted of “cyber-spying” (a charge he never faced) and “propaganda against Islam” (a charge of which he was acquitted).

In a statement given to Articles 18, Ebrahim said, “The court has given a final verdict, without giving me an opportunity to explain or to defend myself, and uses charges against me which are either unrelated, or I’ve been acquitted of. Therefore, I have decided to take this matter to the media, to demand an explanation, and make my voice heard, as this is an example of a miscarriage of justice by the Iranian judiciary.”

Shortly after Ebrahim started the term of exile, he gave an interview about how he came to faith and his experience in prison. The English version can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdh8kQYUUFk&feature=youtu.be

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Pray that Ebrahim will not be discouraged by the decision to extend his term of exile in Sarbaz.
  • Pray the publicity of the case will highlight judicial inconsistencies in the decision and bring change.
  • Pray the Lord will make the period of exile in Sarbaz a time of blessing for Ebrahim and use him to bless others.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

IRAN: Second Prison Sentence for Iranian Convert

IRAN: Second Prison Sentence for Iranian Convert

Family and friends request prayer after Christian convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was given a second prison sentence – two years for “membership of a group hostile to the regime” in addition to an existing three year sentence.

Ismaeil (65) was arrested in Shiraz on 25 January 2019 and charged initially with “propaganda against the state and insulting the sacred Iranian establishment.” At a hearing on 22 October, the judge further accused Ismaeil of apostasy and increased bail demands from 10 million to 100 million tomans ($13,500). The apostasy charge was dropped at a later hearing in November.

Following a hearing on 8 January at Branch 105 of the Civil Court in Shiraz, Ismaeil was found guilty of “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs” in relation to a message he had forwarded poking fun at the ruling clerics and sentenced to three years in prison under Article 513 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Then on 27 February Ismaeil appeared before another court to face charges of “membership of a group hostile to the regime” (“evangelical Zionism” according to the court document). Evidence was apparently submitted from a report by the intelligence branch of the Iranian Military, but its substance is unclear. Following the hearing, Ismaeil was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment under Article 499 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Ismaeil has twenty days to appeal the sentence.

Iranian Christians are disappointed at the harshness of the second sentence, clearly directed against Ismaeil’s Christian faith.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Ask God to strengthen and encourage Ismaeil and give him and his family a peace which passes understanding. Pray they will not lose heart but trust in the Lord’s timing and purposes.
  • Pray the three-year prison sentence and the two-year prison sentence will be successfully appealed.
  • Pray that God will strengthen His church in Iran, may it continue to grow.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

CHINA: Shandong Authorities Ban Online Preaching

CHINA: Shandong Authorities Ban Online Preaching

Authorities in China’s Shandong province have banned online preaching and ordered the eradication of non-official churches.

Shandong’s two state-run Christian organisations, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council, released a statement on 23 February. In it, they claimed “supervision departments” ordered all online preaching cease and churches that gather in secret be eliminated.

In addition, it suggests officials should “guide” Christians “in other ways, with the caveat of not gathering together!”

The notice does not specify what these other ways include.

Source: ChinaAid

  • Pray the Chinese believers will not be discouraged. Pray they will take strength from the Lord and His Word.
  • Pray the church will continue to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29) and not stop meeting nor sharing the Gospel with others.
  • Ask God to work in the hearts of the authorities in China. May He draw many to himself.

Post your prayer in the comments below.