Posted on 6th July 2012

 

 

Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

 

Iranian Christians thank us for our continued prayer for pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned since October 2009. In September 2010 the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province found him guilty of apostasy and sentenced him to death - a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2011.

 

It is understood that pastor Yousef was verbally informed on 4th July that he will face a new trial in September, on different charges. This has not been confirmed in writing, and Yousef has not been told of what any new charges would be. If new charges are brought, it is expected (based on the experience of most cases against Christians in Iran in recent months and years) that these would be non-specific political charges, such as “activities against the state” or against state security, rather than religious charges. Yousef has only limited legal support within Iran after a sentence given to his principal lawyer in July 2011 was upheld in April.

 

We regret to report that another believer, Farshid, has had a six-year jail sentence confirmed by an appeal court. Farshid was arrested on 26th December 2010 and formally convicted in April 2012. In a video released on YouTube in May, a prominent dissident who was held in the same cell as Farshid for some time gave positive testimony about Farshid’s attitude, conduct and service in prison, and the esteem in which he is held by fellow prisoners.

 

Other believers remain detained in Iran because of their Christian faith and activities. These include several arrested in raids on fellowships in late May (Hadi and Alireza in Neishabour, Vahid in Mashhad, Mehrdad in Tehran) and several arrested during similar raids in February (including a group of five in Shiraz and at least three in Kermanshah).

 

Iranian Christians rejoice that Yousef’s life has been spared thus far. They request our continued intercession that:

a.      Yousef’s death sentence will be revoked, his conviction overturned and any further charges against him dropped

b.      Yousef, his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort, presence and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon

c.       All believers in Iran facing trials because of their faith will know the Spirit’s guiding wisdom

d.      Farshid and other believers serving jail sentences will know the presence and peace of Jesus, remain strong in their faith and clear in their testimony and witness

e.      Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord’s enabling and guidance

f.        All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

 

 

May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organizations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

Latest Requests

  • Syria: third anniversary of abduction of Bishops

    Posted on 22nd April
     
    Syrian Christians request prayer for their country on the third anniversary of the abduction of two Bishops of Aleppo.
     
    On 22nd April 2013 Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Bishop Boulos Yaziji of the Greek Orthodox Church were stopped by armed militants while travelling north of Aleppo. The militants abducted the bishops and murdered their driver. A fourth Christian travelling with them escaped. They had been travelling to an area near the border with Turkey as part of negotiations for the release of two priests abducted on 9th February 2013. The fate and whereabouts of the bishops and priests remain unknown.
     
    Marking the anniversary, the Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch issued a joint statement [1] in which they appealed for the release of the bishops and called on the international community to take substantive action on their behalf.
     
    The Patriarchs describe the plight of the bishops as “a miniature of the great human suffering” inflicted on Syria. They categorically reject the notions that Christians should be considered as a “minority” and that Christians can be protected by facilitating emigration. They emphasise that Syrian Christians share the pain and uncertainty of their compatriots and, together with all Syrians of good will, are committed to working towards peace “based on co-existence, citizenship and moderate religious discourse”.
     
    The Patriarchs’ appeal comes as the latest round of peace talks in Geneva is faltering amid seemingly intractable political disagreement and escalating levels of violence in Syria. With Orthodox churches preparing to celebrate Easter (1st May), the Patriarchs note that Christians are “children of the Resurrection, and of Light”, and that their hope is ultimately in their risen Lord.
     
    Syrian Christians request prayer that:
    a. violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in every part of Syria
    b. all who remain abducted will know the Lord's strength and sustaining, and that they will be released soon
    c. those who are bereaved will know the comfort of Jesus, and the wounded and traumatised will know His healing and presence
    d. the needs of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced, either internally or abroad, will be adequately met
    e. those engaged in peace talks will prioritise the needs of the Syrian people and not their own agendas
    f.  all who are intent on violent means would know the Spirit's conviction of sin and respond to the Father's offer of new life through the work of the Son

    [1] the full statement is available at: www.antiochian.org/joint-statement-three-years-abduction-metropolitans-paul-and-youhanna
     
    May be circulated to general mailing lists and outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Turkey: US Christian released from detention

    Posted on 19th April 2016

    Christians in Turkey are very happy and thankful to God that evangelist David Byle has been released from an immigration facility in Istanbul after receiving a deportation order.

    As mentioned in a Middle East Concern prayer request on 11th April, David was arrested and taken to a police station after being summoned to the immigration centre regarding an extension to his residency in Istanbul. The Governor’s office then issued three orders against David: a 30-day observation order keeping him detained at the immigration centre, a deportation order and a re-entry ban.

    When the order to detain David at the immigration centre was examined by a judge on Thursday 14th April, the judge overturned it due to a lack of evidence and David was freed later that night. David’s lawyer is hopeful that the deportation order and re-entry ban will also be overturned through lack of evidence.

    At the immigration centre David had the opportunity to meet many refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan and a new door of ministry has apparently opened up. David asks us to pray that the director of the immigration centre, a committed Muslim, will be willing to allow David and others to provide the refugees with clothes to replace the ragged items they have worn since fleeing to Turkey.

    Please join Middle East Concern in thanking the Lord for David’s release from the immigration centre and pray:
    a. that the deportation order and entry ban will also be overturned
    b. that the director of the immigration centre will allow David and others to bring help to the detainees
    c. that David's lawyer will continue to have wisdom to know how to contest the Governor's orders
    d. that God will overrule the injustice against David and make blessing come out of it

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Turkey: US Christian arrested and facing deportation

    Posted on 11th April 2016

    The US Christian David Byle has requested that we pray for his present situation as he is detained in a government facility in Istanbul pending deportation.

    On 6th April David was asked to go to the police immigration centre regarding an application for an extension to his residence permit. He was promptly arrested and taken to a police station in Fatih in Istanbul.

    After two days the Governor's office gave a deportation order on the grounds that David is a threat to public order. David was then taken to a hospital for a health check and detained in the Kumkapi immigration centre. He has also been given a ban forbidding him from entering Turkey and has a month-long observation order, effectively keeping him detained at the immigration centre. David's lawyer today submitted papers challenging these orders.

    Since 2010 David has consistently had problems obtaining residency in Turkey and at one stage in 2014 he was separated from his family for a period of several months after being banned from entering the country, while his wife and children remained in Istanbul.

    Some people surmise that David's arrest and pending deportation could be in response to developing security issues in Turkey. The Ministry of the Interior has recently issued security warnings to congregations and church leaders and it has been noted that terrorists have scouted some churches as potential targets.

    Please pray:
    a. that David will know God's peace at this difficult time and that the deportation order and entry ban will be overturned
    b. that God will help and strengthen David's wife Ulrike and their five children
    c. that David's lawyer will have wisdom to know how to contest the Governor's orders
    d. that embassies in Turkey will also address this treatment of a foreign Christian who has committed no crime, but is being treated as a criminal on account of evangelistic activities
    e. that the present situation in Turkey will become more secure and that terror attacks against churches and Christians will be discovered and prevented

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     

     
  • Turkey: State asks churches to take precautions against possible attacks

    Posted on 1st April 2016

     

    The Association of Turkish Protestant Churches (TeK) has requested prayer in response to warnings from the Turkish Ministry of the Interior about the possible risk of terror attacks and the need to maintain security during church meetings. As far as is known, this is a general precaution rather than in response to specific intelligence.
     
    The Ministry of the Interior has requested that churches ensure they have functioning CCTV and that police or security personnel are present during meetings. Since two incidents at St Stephanos Catholic Church in Istanbul in summer 2014, the Ministry has appointed police to protect congregations during church services throughout Turkey. However, some churches have chosen to dispense with this protection. Church leaders who wish to forego a police presence are obliged to declare this in writing.The Ministry also recommends that all attendees are searched on entering church.

    TeK is thankful that the Ministry is actively putting precautions in place to prevent terror attacks against the Protestant churches in Turkey. TeK is also advising churches on how best to handle security arrangements and is stressing the need to be alert in prayer.
     
    Please pray:
    a. thanking the Lord for the concern shown by the Ministry, and that security precautions are being taken by the Turkish state and police
    b. that those with bad intentions towards churches will be stopped as a result of the precautions
    c. that churches will be diligent in taking the advised precautions seriously and caring for those in attendance
    d. that people will not be dissuaded from attending churches because of the police presence
    e. that the state officials attending meetings will develop good relationships with the churches and have the opportunity of hearing the Good News and responding
    f. or the peace and protection of Turkey and the Turkish churches generally

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Turkey: state expropriation of Diyarbakir churches

    Posted on 31st March

    Christians in Diyarbakir, south east Turkey, have requested prayer as legal consultations take place about a state takeover of church buildings and other properties.

    Diyarbakir has been the centre of fighting between government forces and Kurdish fighters since a peace agreement broke down in June 2015. During most of this time, the small Christian communities of Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Turkish Christian converts have been unable to access their church buildings in the city centre.

    On 25th March 2016, the Turkish official government press[1] announced that 6,300 plots of land in the centre of Diyarbakir were to be expropriated by the Environment and Planning Ministry, including the properties of the Protestant Church, Surp Giragos Armenian Church, Surp Sarkis Chaldean Church, the Armenian Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the Virgin Mary. This was the result of a decision taken by the council of ministers, headed by President Erdogan, on 21st March 2016.

    The Director of Foundations, Adnan Ertem, has said that the church properties have been expropriated to protect the historical buildings, but the Christians in Diyarbakir have been left without anywhere to meet and no provision has been made for the return of the properties to the Christian communities.

    Although many other people and properties will be affected by the same state decree, the pastor of the Protestant Church, Ahmet Güvener, considers this to be an official bid to take over the church buildings which, he says, cannot be allowed.

    Please pray that:
    a)   God will give wisdom to church leaders and legal experts as they negotiate with the government
    b)   God will strengthen and encourage the small Christian community in Diyarbakir, which has already been deeply affected by the violence of the last 9 months
    c)   The churches will not lose the right to their buildings
    d)   Government officials involved will be supportive and respectful towards the local Christians regardless of tradition or ethnic background
    e)   The fighting in Diyarbakir will cease and that civil society will have an opportunity to recover

    [1] www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2016/03/20160325.pdf (pages 7-18)

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.