The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.
This week, we’re delighted to share some good news! It’s always a pleasure to be able to share positive developments with you: I hope that you’re as encouraged by this news as we are!
Our first bit of good news is about about Pastor Nadarkhani, who was arrested along with his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, and fellow church member Yasser Mosayebzadeh on 13 May during a raid on his home. Two other people, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi, were also arrested. We’re pleased to report that Pastor Nadarkhani and his wife were released immediately and Yasser Mosayebzadeh and Sahed Fadaie were released after making excessive bail payments.
However, judges had initially refused to accept Mr Omidi’s bail payment, saying that he faced additional charges. He was eventually released on 7 June and informed he would be “summoned again.”
Staying with Iran, we also have an update on Maryam Naghash Zargaran an Iranian Christian woman who is serving a four-year prison sentence. Maryam has severe health problems that were made worse by her time in prison – we’re relieved to tell you that she’s been released on furlough for treatment.
Finally, we are pleased to report that the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) has determined that crimes against humanity have been committed in a “widespread and systematic manner“ by Eritrean officials since 1991; and is urging a swift international response to bring an end to these violations and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Together with our partner Human Rights Concern-Eritrea (HRCE), CSW campaigned for the creation of the COIE and the extension of its mandate to include an investigation into crimes against humanity.
We have also been working to bring the human rights violations in Eritrea to the attention of the world for many years, so this verdict is a fantastic answer to prayer!
As usual, you can find your digital edition of this week’s Prayer Diary below.
In summary, please pray:
- Thanking God for the release of Pastor Nadarkhani and Tina Pandide Nadarkhani and for the conditional release of Yasser Mosayebzadeh, Sahed Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi;
- That the Iranian authorities would drop all charges against Mr Mosayebzadeh, Mr Fadaie and Mr Omidi;
- For God’s protection for Mr Omidi as he remains in prison;
- For Maryam Naghash Zargaran’s health to improve;
Thanking God for the the COIE report of– and praying it would mark the beginning of effective international action to secure justice for victims of crimes against humanity.
Please join me in praying for all the millions of Christians throughout the world who are suffering great abuse and torture on a daily basis because they have faith and trust in the Lord our God.
Praise be the Lord
With many prayerful blessings
A life of hard labour: A pastor’s sentence
Lim Hyeun-soo, a Korean-Canadian pastor from Toronto, has been sentenced to a life of hard labour for numerous charges – including attempting to overthrow the government and establish a religious state in North Korea.
“Pastors like Lim, who have seen so much of how North Korea treats its prisoners, cannot easily be released,” said an Open Doors field worker. “I don’t see Lim returning home anytime soon.”
Pastor Lim, aged 60, has travelled to North Korea over 100 times to do humanitarian work. Though he was not involved in the country’s underground churches, the harsh sentencing has come after several of months of crackdowns on Christians by the North Korean regime.
“A case like this does outrage the North Korean government,” says the Open Doors field worker. “North Korean believers could be dealt with even more harshly if they are exposed.”
Conditions in the camps
Sources in North Korea have confirmed that, in the recent crackdowns, Christians have been murdered and others have been incarcerated in prisons and labour camps. In both detention facilities, people are starved, tortured and the death rate is extremely high.
“I was locked up for years,” said a North Korean refugee. “I will never forget the prisoners who were too weak to continue their work. The guards would pick them up and put them on an automatic belt that threw them in a large oven while the prisoners were still alive.”
Christianity in North Korea
Christianity is seen as a threat to the North Korean regime: they believe Christians spy for the enemy, meet in secret and, at most, only give lip service to the North Korean government. Such disloyalty deserves severe punishment.
Despite this tragic arrest and others, the church has survived almost 70 years of severe persecution. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians still secretly profess their faith.
If you receive the Open Doors Magazine, please look out for some inspiring letters written by North Korean pastors in the next mailing.
For more information about Open Doors and the many Christians who are being persecuted in many countries throughout the world please go to:-
Please join me in praying that our Father God blesses mightily all the Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Him and to give them the strength to endure all the atrocities perpetrated against them.
In Jesus name
RESPONDING TO ‘ISLAMIC STATE’
Even in the face of the fiercest attacks, the church in Syria has continued to stand. Robert, Open Doors co-ordinator for Syria and Iraq, says: “We observe a new development best described as an ‘internally displaced church’. Every now and then we discover complete parishes adrift. Islamic State confiscated their church building, demolished their valuables, and burned their Bibles.
“Despite this, the priest and his deacons continue holding services. Functions are fulfilled and prayers ascend to God. All tangible elements of the church have disappeared, yet the church as the Body of Christ still functions.”
‘WHO WOULD HELP IF THE CHURCH DOESN’T HELP?’
The church is a vital lifeline for thousands of people in Syria. Pastor Samuel says: “If we did not help the suffering families who have no income, how would they survive? Who would help if the church doesn’t help?”
Open Doors is providing food and other essential items to almost 10,000 families – around 50,000 people – every month through local partners like Pastor Samuel. This is only possible thanks to the faithful prayers and generosity of people like you. A gift of £71 today can provide an emergency food parcel to feed a family of five in Syria for a month.
|With many thanks for your prayers.
Elections began yesterday
Christians in Egypt are asking for prayer for the nation’s parliamentary elections, a process that will begin tomorrow, 17 October, and last for some weeks. It is due to be Egypt’s final transition from military rule.
The years since the Arab Spring in 2011 have not been easy for Christians in Egypt. One believer, Yusuf*, says: “For reasons unknown to us, God allowed the Muslim Brotherhood and all their affiliated Islamic radical groups to take over the country… For Christians and moderate Muslims, fear of the state was replaced with fear of radical Muslims.”
Although stability in Egypt has been restored considerably since the early days of the Arab Spring, there are concerns that extremists may wish to disrupt the elections. Please join our Egyptian brothers and sisters in prayer for their nation.
Pressure refines Egyptian church
The increased pressure on Christians in recent years has caused many to leave. Yusuf says: “The accelerating pressure on the church and individual Christians was hard for many Christians to take and this resulted in a significant wave of emigration of Christians.”
This pressure continues, as demonstrated by the raid on the offices of SAT-7, the Arabic Christian TV channel, on 10 October.
However, Yusuf believes God has used the situation in Egypt for good. “While many left what seemed a sinking ship, others came together. The increasing pressure on the church ignited a spirit of prayer and unity among Christians from different denominations.”
Your support changing lives
Thanks to the prayers and support of brothers and sisters like you, Open Doors works through local partners to provide vocational training, literacy programmes, discipleship training and Bible distribution, amongst other projects. Sonia took part in an Open Doors-sponsored literacy programme, and now she teaches others: “I can help others become empowered to change their lives as I did,” she says.
Many thanks for your continued prayers
With many peaceful blessings
Sunlight filtered through a hole in the ceiling onto the back of a teenaged boy who had too many chores to do. The boy, Digvastra, longed to be at church, joining the saints for Sunday worship, but his father had given him a long list of chores to complete by sunset.
Digvastra’s father, Hemendu, had decided he could stamp out his son’s new faith by preventing him from going to church.
Son’s New Faith Provokes Father’s Anger—and Eventual Curiosity
When Digvastra had put his trust in Jesus and had started going to the local church meetings, Hemendu became furious. He chided Digvastra, telling him not to go out on Sunday mornings, but Digvastra would sneak out. Then Hemendu decided to start giving Digvastra a long list of chores each Sunday morning to stop his son from attending church. Digvastra, still a teenager, honoured his father by doing as he was told.
Chandira and Yahvi, two Gospel for Asia-supported women missionaries who had shared Christ’s love with Digvastra, befriended Digvastra’s family and had opportunities to tell Hemendu about Jesus. Gradually, Hemendu’s heart grew curious about the new faith, but he was not yet willing to risk the scorn his neighbours and relatives would heap on him for believing in Jesus.
Prayer Answered Through Practical Gift
Digvastra kept praying to God to speak to his father, and Chandira and Yahvi prayed about a way to bless Digvastra’s family and show Christ’s love to them. The two missionaries felt the Lord was leading them to give the family a gift in their next Christmas gift distribution, but there was one problem: They didn’t know what to give them.
Then, one day, Digvastra shared a prayer request with Yahvi and Chandira. He explained that the roof of his family’s house had a hole and needed a major repair. Digvastra knew his family desperately needed financial provision to fix the leaky roof.
Amazed by and grateful for God’s clear direction, Yahvi and Chandira knew what to do. They put in a request to their leaders, and when the day of the Christmas gift distribution came, they were able to give Digvastra some tin roofing sheets!
Gift Overwhelms Son and Father Alike
Overcome by God’s love and goodness, Digvastra could find no words to express his gratitude for the gift that his family had desperately needed.
That night, Digvastra told his father, “The Lord has been helping us in so many ways and has not only known our needs but has provided us with our needs. How can you still harden your heart? … The Lord is good to us. He has changed my life.”
“God is good to us, and I know that, but it is hard for me. … I need time,” Hemendu replied.
Even though Hemendu still wasn’t ready to put his trust in Jesus, the gift—a gift that would protect his family from inclement weather for years—impacted him. He was grateful to God for knowing his family’s needs and using the Church to meet those needs. Hemendu’s attitude toward Jesus and His followers completely changed. Instead of opposing his son’s faith, Hemendu became supportive. Digvastra can now spend his Sunday mornings worshipping with the local congregation instead of doing chores.
“I am thankful to you for teaching and showing the right path to my son,” Hemendu told Yahvi and Chandira one day. “I can see that his life is transformed, and I am happy as a father to know that my son has chosen the right thing.”
For more information about Gospel for Asia please go to:-
With many peaceful blessings