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IRAN: Four Christian Converts Serve Five-Year Prison Sentences

IRAN: Four Christian Converts Serve Five-Year Prison Sentences

Iranian Christians request prayer for four Christian converts and their families after the men presented themselves at Evin Prison on 2 June to begin serving five-year sentences.

Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian and Mohammed Vafadar obeyed a summons issued on 28 May. They had been released on bail last July.

They were among nine Christian converts belonging to the Church of Iran who were arrested over a four-week period at the beginning of 2019. They were accused of endangering state security and promoting Zionism. Following a disagreement with the judge over the choice of a defence lawyer, the other five men were immediately transferred to Evin prison, as they were unable to meet extortionate bail demands of about $200,000 each.

In October 2019, all nine were convicted of “acting against national security” and each sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The sentences were upheld on appeal in February 2020.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Pray God will grant His peace to those who recently started serving their prison sentences and encourage them greatly.
  • Ask God to comfort the families of all Christians in prison, providing for their needs and encouraging them to trust in Him during this difficult time.
  • Thank the Lord for the remarkable church growth in Iran and pray the believers will be bold in their witness for Him.

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CHINA: Pastor Wang Yi Sentenced to Nine Years

CHINA: Pastor Wang Yi Sentenced to Nine Years

In what is believed to be the longest sentence against a house church leader in more than a decade, Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church was sentenced to nine years in prison for “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations”. The charges for business operations relate to the printing and distribution of Christian books by the church.

Pastor Wang’s trial was secretly held on 26 December and the verdict was announced on 30 December. Along with the lengthy prison sentence, he was also fined over $10,000 and denied all political rights for three years. “This is a pure case of unjust religious persecution against a peaceful preacher of a Chinese reformed church,” reports Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid.

As for many of the remaining members of the Early Rain Covenant Church (those who have not been imprisoned), governing authorities recently mandated that they meet with security officials five times a day. Despite the stringent stipulations and heavy oppression, members of the church continue to faithfully meet together, seeking to serve God any way they can.

Sources: ChinaAid, Early Rain Covenant Church, Christianity Today

  • Prayerfully uphold Pastor Wang, his wife and family as they contend with the implications of this verdict.
  • Pray that justice will still prevail and that this sentence will be overturned.
  • Pray for the members of the Early Rain Covenant Church as they seek ways to continue reaching out with the Gospel message in their community.

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IRAN: Nine Christians Sentenced to Five Year Imprisonment

IRAN: Nine Christians Sentenced to Five Year Imprisonment

Earlier this week, nine Iranian Christians were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security” for their participation in a home church in Rasht.

Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, Khalil Dehkanpour, Hossein (Elisha) Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafada, Shahrooz Eslamdous, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi and Behnam Akhlaghi were accused at their preliminary hearings of “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism”.

The presiding judge, Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, would not allow the lawyer of five of the defendants to represent them on these charges. When those five defendants rejected the lawyer provided by the court, they were sent to Iran’s Evin Prison to await further hearings.

The verdict, pronounced on 13 October, saw each receive five years in prison. These nine Christians have said that they will appeal their sentences.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Middle East Concern

  • Pray the Lord will strengthen and sustain these believers and their families.
  • Pray the Lord will provide them opportunities to witness for Him, even in prison.
  • Thank the Lord for the way He is growing His church in Iran and that no plans of the authorities can stop the work of the Holy Spirit.

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IRAN: Upcoming Appeal Hearing

IRAN: Upcoming Appeal Hearing

Iranian Christians request prayer for an upcoming appeal hearing, scheduled for 3 September, at which the sentences given to six Iranian Christian believers will be reviewed.

The hearing will combine three long-standing and related cases. The first case involves Assyrian Pastor Victor bet Tamraz and Persian Christian converts Amin Nader Afshari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi, who were arrested at a Christmas celebration in December 2014. The second case also involves Amin Nader Afshari, who was re-arrested in August 2016 along with Hadi Asgari, and Ramiel bet Tamraz (Pastor Victor’s son) and two others. The third case involves Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, (Pastor Victor’s wife), summoned by the authorities in June 2017.

Pastor Victor was sentenced in July 2017 to ten years imprisonment for “acting against national security”. Amin, Hadi and Kavian also received prison sentences of between ten and fifteen years on similar charges. Shamiram was sentenced in January 2018 to five years imprisonment for “acting against national security”, and “acting against the regime by organising small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies.” In July 2018, Ramiel was sentenced to four months imprisonment for “spreading Christian propaganda”.

At an appeal hearing in Shamiram’s case on 19 February, the judge, Ahmed Zargar, decided to combine her case with the two other cases.

It is noteworthy that the sentences given to Pastor Victor, Amin, Hadi and Kavian were issued by Judge Ahmadzadeh of Tehran Revolutionary Court, who was subsequently suspended from duty after being investigated in relation to allegations of corruption.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Pray that Pastor Victor, Shamiram, Ramiel, Amin, Kavian and Hadi will know the Lord’s peace and guiding wisdom.
  • Pray that justice will be upheld in the hearing for all defendants, and that they will be acquitted of all charges against them.
  • Ask the Lord to strengthen and encourage all Iranian Christians who are falsely accused of acts against national security simply because of their Christian faith and activities.

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INDONESIA: Prison Sentences for Church Bombings

INDONESIA: Prison Sentences for Church Bombings

A married couple has been convicted and sentenced for their part in the bombing of three churches in Surabaya in May 2018. Agus Satrio Widodo received a sentence of eight years, and his wife Damayanti received 40 months after a court found them guilty of “aiding criminal acts of terrorism,” as well as criminal conspiracy.

The couple were sentenced in connection with a series of suicide bomb attacks on 13 May 2018. Six members of the same family targeted three churches in the port city of Surabaya during their early morning services. Two brothers, ages 16 and 18, rode motorcycles up to the first church to detonate their bombs. Five minutes later, their father exploded a car bomb on the grounds of the second church. Their mother blew herself up, along with her young daughters, at a third church. At least 14 people died in the attacks.

The family who carried out the attack had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria. Agus Satrio Widodo was the suspected leader of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, a militant group associated with ISIS terrorists. In total, more than 300 kilograms of explosives were discovered in the aftermath of the attack. Widodo and his wife were found to be hiding some of the explosives.

Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Barnabas Fund, Benar News

  • Pray for the repentance and salvation of this couple; may they come to understand the forgiveness, hope and peace that can only be attained through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that Indonesian authorities will remain vigilant in preventing such attacks from occurring in the future.
  • Pray for the church members who have had to cope with loss and injury. Pray their faith will be strengthened.

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