Latest Requests

  • Sudan: pastor re-arrested

    Posted on 26th May

    On 18th January Middle East Concern reported the release of Pastor Kuwa Shamal of the Sudan Church of Christ. He was detained on 18th December and held for three days. After his release he was required to report to the security service (the NISS) on a daily basis until mid-January. After a reprieve of one month he was again told to report regularly to the NISS offices.

    Pastor Kuwa was re-arrested by the NISS on Tuesday 24th May . His case will be dealt with by the prosecutor together with a case against Pastor Hassan Abduraheem Taour and Abdulmonem Abdumawla Issa Abdumawla (a believer from a Muslim background from the Darfur area). The latter two are expected to face serious charges including espionage and undermining state security.

    Pastor Kuwa is one of several pastors from Sudan who had passports and communications devices confiscated by the NISS and were asked to report regularly to the NISS offices. They are being pressured to testify against the others who are due to be on trial. No date has been set for the trial, but it is expected to take place in the near future.

    Since July 2015 Middle East Concern has issued several prayer requests for the Evangelical Church in the Bahri area of Khartoum. Part of the land on which the church and its facilities are located was illegally sold to an investor by a committee instituted by the government. Subsequently part of the compound was demolished by court order. On Monday 23rd May the authorities informed the church that they planned to demolish further parts of the compound. However, a lawyer has obtained a court order to suspend demolition work until the appeals court has ruled in a case on the legality of the committee that sold the land.

    Sudanese Christians ask for prayer:
    a. that the detained church leaders will know the Lord's strength, comfort and wisdom during their ordeal
    b. for a fair judicial process, and that the charges against them will be dropped
    c. that other church leaders will know the Lord's peace in the face of the increasing pressure against them, and that intimidation and harassment of Christians will cease
    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 and outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     

     
  • Iran: three Christians detained in Rasht

    Posted on 17th May

    Iranian Christians request prayer for three Christians belonging to the self-styled “Church of Iran” network who were arrested on 13th May and remain in detention in Rasht.

    On 13th May security agents raided the home of Yousef Nadarkhani, a church leader who attracted international attention after he was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death in 2010. He was finally acquitted of apostasy charges, but sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for evangelising. He was eventually released on 7th December 2013.
     
    Yousef and his wife Tina were arrested along with Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Yousef and Tina were released later that day, but Yasser remains in detention.
     
    Related to these arrests, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammedreza Omidi were summoned to report to the security offices. Their homes were then raided and phones, computers and Christian literature were confiscated. Saheb and Mohammedreza were then detained and are thought to be held in Lakan prison near Rasht.
     
    Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza were all previously arrested in similar raids in February 2015. Mohammedreza was also one of four Christian converts sentenced in 2013 to receive 80 lashes for drinking communion wine and possessing a satellite receiver and dish.
     
    It is reported that the three detained men have been offered bail equivalent to US$3,000 each.
     
    These arrests are part of a larger systematic action on the part of Iranian authorities to harass Christian communities and put pressure on active Christians to leave Iran.

    Those close to Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza request prayer that:
    a. they will be released soon, and God will bring peace and comfort to them and their families
    b. no charges will be brought against the three men, and there will be no further action against Yousef and Tina
    c. God will strengthen and encourage faithful Christians in Iran to withstand the pressure to leave
    d. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

    Open sources used: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    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.

     
  • Algeria: church ordered to close

    Posted on 4th May

    Algerian Christians request prayer for a church in the south of Tizi Ouzou province which has been ordered to close.

    On 24th April the church leaders received a letter from the district authorities requiring the church to cease all religious activities on the grounds that they are in breach of a 2006 decree which regulates non-Muslim worship. This is the second time a church in this province has been ordered to close in the last two months.

    The letter cited a breach of section 5 of the decree, which states that use of a non-Muslim place of worship is subject to prior authorisation by the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups (overseen by the Ministry of Religious Affairs). The letter also claimed that the lease for the church building, rented on behalf of the Protestant Church of Algeria (L'Église Protestante d'Algérie / EPA), is not valid because the building is registered as residential premises. The letter ordered the church leaders to ensure that the building is used for residential purposes only.

    Because the National Commission does not actually meet and so never gives permission for buildings to be used as churches, most churches affiliated to the EPA rent buildings and inform local authorities that the buildings will be used as places of worship. One month before they received this closure order, the leaders of this particular church had informed local authorities that they intended to use the building they had rented as a place of worship. EPA leaders say that the closure order limits freedom of worship which is guaranteed in the Algerian constitution. The issue of permission for places of worship is one of several points in the 2006 decree which clearly restrict the religious freedom of non-Muslims and contradict not only the provisions of the country's new constitution but also Algeria's commitments to religious freedom under international law.

    Christians in Algeria ask for prayer:
    a. that the church's leaders will know the peace of Jesus, the wisdom of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they try to deal with this difficult situation
    b. that the closure order will be withdrawn, and that the church will be able to worship in the building without further hindrance
    c. that the law will be changed so that it ensures religious freedoms such as freedom to worship and freedom to evangelise
    d. that those responsible for the closure order will know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus

     

    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.

     

     
  • 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.