Posted on 11th January 2013

 

 

Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

 

On 31st December we requested prayer for Pastor Vruir Avanessian who was detained by security agents during a raid on a gathering of believers on 27th December.

 

We are pleased to report that Pastor Vruir was released from Evin prison in Tehran yesterday (10th January). Property title deeds were submitted as bail, and he is awaiting a summons to a court hearing. The date of the hearing is not yet known and the charges he will face remain unspecified.

 

Recall that he was detained when 15 security agents interrupted a Christmas celebration attended by approximately 50 believers, most of whom were from Muslim backgrounds (Pastor Vruir himself is of Armenian descent). All were required to complete a detailed pre-prepared questionnaire. Among details collected were contact details, email and social media ID and password information, and details of how they had come to accept Christianity. Mobile phones were confiscated and they were advised that they would be summoned individually for further questionning.

 

There was serious concern for Pastor Vruir’s health because he requires regular dialysis for a chronic kidney disease. We are pleased to report that he did receive regular medical treatment whilst detained.

 

At least 20 other believers are known to remain detained in Iran because of their Christian faith or activities. These include Pastor Farshid, held in Evin prison since December 2010, and Pastor Behnam, held in Ghezal Hesar prison, Karaj, since May 2011. Behnam is not receiving the medical treatment necessary for a serious health issue. Pastor Saeed, a dual Iranian-American national held in Evin prison since 26th September 2012, has been informed that his case will be assigned to a Revolutionary Court judge who is notorious for his harsh sentences. No date has yet been set for Saeed’s court hearing

 

Those supporting Pastor Vruir and his family praise God for his conditional release and thank us for our prayers. Iranian Christians request our continued prayer that:

a.      Pastor Vruir will know the peace and presence of Jesus, quickly return to normal living, and that all charges against him will be dropped

b.      The others present at the Christmas gathering will know the peace of Jesus, that the investigations will be dropped and they will face no further legal proceedings

c.       Farshid, Behnam, Saeed and all others who remain detained for their faith will know the peace and presence of Jesus, that they will be released soon, and that all charges against them will be dropped

d.      Christians throughout Iran will know the Spirit’s wisdom, especially concerning when and where to meet for worship

e.      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

  • Jerusalem: threats against Christians

    Posted on 30th June 2015
     
    Greetings in the name of Jesus.
     
    Christians in Jerusalem have expressed concern over Islamist threats to the Christian community and have requested prayer.
     
    On Thursday 25th June leaflets were distributed in East Jerusalem by a group calling itself “Islamic State in Palestine”. The leaflets bore the black flag used by Daesh (Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham). The message in the leaflets warned that if Christians do not leave Jerusalem before the end of Ramadan on 18th July they may be killed. Threats were also made against Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority.

    Religious leaders in the Muslim and Christian communities of Jerusalem were quick to condemn the leaflets and threats. The Director General of Caritas in Jerusalem,  Fr Raed Abusahliah, has said the incident has caused alarm among some Christians and demonstrates the vulnerability of the Christian community in Jerusalem.
     
    In recent months there have been a number of disturbing incidents affecting Christians in Jerusalem's Old City. On 5th  May Muslim youths attacked the homes of Christians and caused damage to the Ethiopian Patriarchate in Old Jerusalem, removing the cross from the building and writing anti-Christian graffiti.
     
    There are increasing reports of activity under the banner of “Islamic State” among Palestinians. At the beginning of May a consignment of 120 rings bearing the “Islamic State” insignia, sent from Turkey and destined for Ramallah, was discovered at Ben Gurion Airport and confiscated. Israeli intelligence officials noted that, although this was a minor incident, the consignment indicated a degree of affiliation to “Islamic State” within Palestinian communities.
     
    Sheikh Issam Ameera, an imam at the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, recently posted online a video of a sermon entitled "The Islamic State is the keeper of religion and state", in which he indicated that Muslims must constantly be at war with the "polytheist enemy", a reference to Christians and Jews.
     
    Christians in Jerusalem request our prayers that:
    a. the authorities will bring to justice those responsible for distribution of the threatening leaflets
    b. the Christian community in Jerusalem will not be fearful and will respond wisely to provocations
    c. the leaders of the different religious communities in Jerusalem will work together for the peace of the city and avoid inflammatory comments or provocative behaviour
    d. “Islamic State” will not gain a strong foothold among Muslim Palestinians
     
    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 25th June 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus.

     

    Christians in Sudan request our continued prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing today, 25th June.

     

    At today's hearing the prosecution produced one person who gave testimony, but brought no new evidence against the pastors. The next hearing is due to be on 2nd July. At that hearing the judge will allow the two pastors to speak and he can question them. Afterwards he will decide whether to drop the case against them (if he believes there is no bases to the charges), or whether to allow the case to continue.

     

    Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December and 11th January 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.

     

    On 4th June the pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison, where they are held in separate cells. Kober Prison administrators have denied the pastors access to their families and lawyer. The defence lawyer has been informed that the pastors were transferred because Western visitors took photographs of them, and because an interview they gave was broadcast by a Christian media organisation.

     

    Please pray:

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

    b. that all charges against them will be dropped

    c. that church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord's wisdom in the face of increasing 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: pastors trial update

    Posted on 18th June 2015

    Greetings in the name of Jesus.

    Christians in Sudan request our prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing today, 18th June.

    At today's hearing the prosecution produced one person who gave testimony, but brought no new evidence against the pastors. The next hearing is due to be on 25th June. The prosecution said they have two more witnesses to give testimony.

    In the legal process the next step is for the judge to make a preliminary ruling on whether he believes there is any basis for the charges against the two pastors. If there is no basis, he will drop the charges and the case will be finished. Otherwise he will allow the case to proceed to trial.

    The defence lawyer believes the judge will make this ruling at the next hearing due on 25th June and, although there is not really any evidence against the pastors, the lawyer expects that the judge will allow the case to proceed to trial.

    Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December and 11th January 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.

    On 4th June the pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison, where they are held in separate cells. Kober Prison administrators have denied the pastors access to their families and lawyer. The defence lawyer has been informed that the pastors were transferred because Western visitors took photographs of them, and because an interview they gave was broadcast by a Christian media organisation.

    Please pray:
    a. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection
    b. that all charges against them will be dropped
    c. that church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord's wisdom in the face of increasing 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: No new evidence against pastors

    Posted on 16th June 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace.

     

    Christians in Sudan request our prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing on 15th June.

     

    According to their lawyer, prosecutors failed to produce any new evidence, as officials from Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) repeated statements they had made earlier in the trial.

     

    The lawyer was also able to present his defence to the court. The next hearing is scheduled for  Thursday 18th June.

     

    Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December and 11th January 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.

     

    On 4th June the pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison, where they are held in separate cells. Kober Prison administrators have denied the pastors access to their families and lawyer. The lawyer has been informed that the pastors were transferred because Western visitors took photographs of them, and because an interview they gave was broadcast by a Christian media organisation.

     

    Please pray:
    a. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection
    b. that all charges against them will be dropped
    c. that church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord's wisdom in the face of increasing 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.

     

     
  • Iraq: one year since Daesh capture of Mosul

    Posted on 15th June 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the eternal Rock.

    Iraqi Christians have requested prayer for their country, as they continue to suffer the consequences of the seizure of Mosul last June.

    A year ago Daesh (so-called 'Islamic State') captured the Mosul area and gave Christians three choices: convert to Islam; abandon their property and leave the city; or be killed.

    Daesh later attacked Christian villages and towns in surrounding areas of the Nineveh Plain, the ancestral home of thousands of Christians and other minority groups. Christians were forced to leave, and fled to Kurdish-controlled areas and neighbouring countries.

    Most of them are living in difficult conditions in temporary settlements and refugee camps. Many are considering leaving Iraq. Some have been abducted by Daesh, and it is not known what has happened to them.

    Many have lost homes, property, belongings and, sadly, any hope for the future in Iraq - despite everything, many church leaders are trying to do what they can to improve the situation, encouraging Christians to stay and urging Iraqi politicians to seek a solution which will safeguard the Christian presence in the country.

    Many churches, monasteries and ancient holy places in the Mosul area have been confiscated and used for other purposes by Daesh. There has been widespread desecration and looting of furniture and paintings, and demolition of church crosses and gravestones. Precious ancient manuscripts have been burned.

    Military action to recapture the Mosul area has not been prioritised. There is no consensus about what should be done to improve security or to help Christians remain in Iraq.

    Please pray:
    a. that all areas captured by Daesh will be liberated soon, and that Christians will be able to return to their home areas
    b. that a peaceful and just political solution will be found, whereby Christians will be free to live and worship in Iraq
    c. that Iraqi Christians forced to flee their home areas will be able to witness to God's love in the places where they have sought refuge
    d. that Christians abducted by Daesh will be released
    e. for peace and justice in Iraq

     

    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.