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

  • Sudan: Update on pastors on trial

    Posted on 19th May 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace. 


    On 13th May MEC requested prayer for two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum, Pastor Michael Yat (49) and Pastor Peter Yen Reith (36).

    Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) on 14th December 2014 and 11th January 2015 respectively. They have been charged with a range of criminal offences. These include crimes against the State which are punishable by death, a life sentence or lesser detention and confiscation of property.

    A court hearing took place today (19th May) from 10am to 3pm local time.

    A representative from the NISS was present and the prosecutor began to make his case. The prosecutor did not finish and will continue to present his evidence at the next hearing. Afterwards the defence lawyer will have an opportunity to present his case.

    The defence lawyer believes there is no real evidence against the two pastors for any of the charges. He also believes that the sole reason for the court case is the two pastors' exercise of their Christian faith.

    The next hearing is scheduled for 31st May 2015.

    Christians in Sudan ask us to pray:
    a. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection
    b. that the next hearing will be held as scheduled and that all charges will be dropped
    c. that church leaders across Sudan will know the Lord's guiding wisdom in the face of the continuing pressures against them
    d. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him 

     

    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.

     
  • Sudan: Update on pastors on trial

    Posted on 14th May 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus. 

     

    Yesterday (13th May) we requested prayer for two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum, Pastor Michael Yat (49) and Pastor Peter Yen Reith. 

     

    The court hearing took place this morning. Since the prosecutor could not produce his witness from Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the judge postponed the hearing until 19th May 2015. He ordered the prosecutor to produce his witnesses at that hearing. 

     

    Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December 2014  and 11th January 2015 respectively. They have been charged with a range of criminal offences. These include crimes against the State which are punishable by death, life sentence or lesser detention and confiscation of property

     

    Christians in Sudan ask us to continue to pray: 

    a. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection 

    b. that the next hearing will be held as scheduled and that all charges will be dropped 

    c. that church leaders across Sudan will know the Lord's guiding wisdom in the face of the continuing pressures against them 

    d. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

     

    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.

     
  • Yemen: Aden church destroyed in bombing raid

    Posted on 13th May 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

     

    Church leaders in the Arabian Peninsula have requested prayer for the country of Yemen, including its Christian communities, following the destruction of a church building in Aden amid the current warfare.

     

    Catholic church leaders report that the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the al-Ma'ala area of Aden was destroyed in an aerial bombing raid during the night of 11th May. The adjoining priest's residence was also destroyed. The priest was not present at the time of the airstrike. The church building, constructed in 1960, is one of very few church buildings in Yemen (all of them in Aden) that have been permitted to host services for the expatriate Christian community. Christian gatherings also take place in private locations.

     

    In recent weeks airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia have targeted Houthi rebels, the Zaydi Shi'a group that has seized control of much of the country. It is understood that the church was hit during a raid targeting Houthi positions. The current conflict has led to a deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

     

    Church leaders request our prayers that:
    a.  peace and justice will be restored in Yemen
    b.  humanitarian aid will reach all who are in need
    c.  the small remaining expatriate Christian community in Yemen will know the Father's comfort and strength, and the Son's close presence
    d. all Christians in Yemen will know the Spirit's guidance in every aspect of their life and witness

     

    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.

     
  • Sudan: Pastors on trial

    Posted on 13th May 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus.

     

    Christians in Sudan request our prayers for two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum.

     

    On 14th December Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained Pastor Michael Yat (49) in Khartoum at the end of a church service. The church, Bahri Evangelical Church, has been repeatedly harassed by the authorities in recent months. Pastor Yat is a minister in the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC).

     

    On 11th January the NISS detained a second pastor from the SSPEC, Pastor Peter Yen Reith (36). He was detained after attending a prayer meeting in Khartoum.

     

    Both pastors were detained incommunicado until 1st March, when their case was referred to the Prosecutor for State Security (rather than an attorney-general who deals with normal criminal cases).

     

    On 4th May there was a procedural hearing, at which charges were declared. The pastors are charged under Sudan's Criminal Act of 1991 with the following offences: responsibility for joint criminal acts (Article 21 of the Act); undermining the constitutional system or endangering the unity and independence of the country (Article 50); waging war against the State (51); espionage (53); unlawfully obtaining or disclosing information or official documents (55); agitating hatred (64); disturbing the peace (69); and blasphemy (125).

     

    Articles 50, 51 and 53 are crimes against the State, punishable by a life sentence, the death penalty, or lesser detention and confiscation of property. Article 55 is also a crime against the State and may be punished by two years' imprisonment and/or a fine. Articles 64 and 69 may be punished by a two-year jail sentence. Article 125 is punishable with a one-year jail sentence, a fine or 40 lashes.

     

    The next court hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow, 14th May.

     

    Christians in Sudan ask us to pray:
    a. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection
    b. that tomorrow's hearing will go well and that all charges will be dropped
    c. that church leaders across Sudan will know the Lord's guiding wisdom in the face of the continuing pressures against them
    d. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

     

    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.

     
  • Syria: Murder and abduction of Christians, Idlib

    Posted on 1st April 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Lamb of God.

     

    Syrian Christians have requested prayer following the killing and abduction of Christians in the provincial capital of Idlib, North West Syria.

     

    On 28th March a coalition of extremist militias, led by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, seized control of the city from pro-government forces. The take-over of the city has been accompanied by violence against minority communities, including Christians.

     

    Two Christians, a father and a son, were reportedly murdered because they owned a shop that sold alcohol. In addition, a Greek Orthodox priest, Father Ibrahim Farah, has been abducted along with a small number of congregants from his church. It has been claimed that they are to be tried in an Islamic court established by the extremists. No details of charges or demands have yet emerged, beyond reports that Christians have been ordered to pay the 'jizya' tax or leave Idlib.

     

    Idlib's Christian community once numbered several hundred, but the majority had left prior to the recent offensive. Father Ibrahim had refused to leave.

     

    There are tensions within the coalition now in control of Idlib. One source claims that this includes differences over the treatment of Christians, with members of Ahrar ash-Sham opposing the more hard-line approach of Jabhat al-Nusra. However, both groups are known to be hostile to religious minorities and to be working to establish a Sunni Islamist theocracy in Syria.

     

    There remains uncertainty about the situation of around 200 Assyrian Christians abducted in late February by Daesh ('Islamic State') militants in Hassaka province, North East Syria. A total of 23 are known to have been released; it is assumed that the others remain in captivity.

     

    Syrian Christians ask us to pray that:

    a.  The families of those murdered will know the Lord's comfort and peace as they mourn

    b.  Those abducted in Idlib, together with those abducted in Hassaka and elsewhere, will know his presence and protection, and will be released soon

    c.  Those displaced from their homes will know the Lord's care and provision, and will be able to return soon

    d.  Violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in Syria

    e. Those responsible for the murders and abductions will know the Spirit's conviction of sin, seek the Father's forgiveness and find new life in the Son 

     

    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.