Iran Sentences 18 Christians to Prison for their Faith

It is being reported by the Christian Post that Iran’s revolutionary court is believed to have sentenced 18 Christian converts to prison for their faith in a new crackdown on Christianity in the Islamic Republic, a report said.

Fox News noted that the charges include evangelism, propaganda against the regime, and creating house churches to practice their faith. It added that the total sentences come close to 24 years, but it’s not known how many years each individual received, due to the lack of transparency in Iran’s judicial system.

“The cruelty of Iran’s dictatorial leaders knows no limits,” said Saba Farzan, the German-Iranian executive director of Foreign Policy Circle, a strategy think tank in Berlin.

A number of the imprisoned Christians were arrested in 2013, and sentenced in accordance with Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, which penalizes threats to Iran’s clerical leaders.

Morad Mokhtari, an Iranian convert to Christianity who fled the Islamic Republic in 2006, added: “Iranian religious authorities prefer that they [converts to Christianity] leave Iran because the authorities can’t control them,” Mokhatari said. “Just their name is evangelism. Imagine someone says he’s a Christian and has a Muslim name.”

Christians in Iran make up a tiny minority of the 78 million-strong population, and often face persecution from the government. Watchdog group Open Doors lists the country at No. 7 on its World Watch List of nations where Christians are most heavily targeted for their faith.

Open Doors points out on its website that almost all Christian activity in Iran is considered illegal, “especially when it occurs in Persian languages — from evangelism to Bible training, to publishing Scripture and Christian books or preaching in Farsi.”

It added: “In 2014, at least 75 Christians were arrested. More Christians were sentenced to prison and pressure on those detained increased, including physical and mental abuse.”

Iran’s human rights record has faced great scrutiny, especially in light of a historic nuclear deal it reached earlier this year with the U.S. and other Western nations, which promises to lift international sanctions on Iran in exchange for restricting its nuclear program.

The American Center for Law and Justice and other groups have said that the deal should not be finalized until Iran shows clear signs it is willing to improve its treatment of Christians — and release the American Christians it currently holds in its prisons, including pastor Saeed Abedini.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirt, R-Ill., has added in a statement: “The Iranian regime’s systematic persecution of Christians, as well as Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, dissenting Shiite Muslims, and other religious minorities, is getting worse not better,” Kirt said.

“This is a direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to de-link demands for improvements in religious freedom and human rights in Iran from the nuclear negotiations.”

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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Statement on the Murder of the Coptic Christians by IS

I am sure that, like me, you were appalled at the killing of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by IS.

The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference,  the Revd Ken Howcroft and Ms Gill Dascombe, have issued this statement in response to the murder of 21 Coptic Christians by Islamic State in Libya:

“We deplore the horrific killing of 21 Coptic Christians who had travelled to Libya for work. These people were taken hostage and killed because of their faith as Islamic State and affiliated groups seek to divide communities through the most corrupt and brutal methods imaginable. The majority of IS victims in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere have been Muslim. This demonstrates that we face a battle against a perverted ideology that people of all faiths who value tolerance will want to oppose.

“Our most effective response must be to redouble our efforts to meet with people of all faiths and share with each other those insights that enable us to achieve understanding, overcome difference and celebrate our common values. Today our prayers are for the families and communities affected by this appalling atrocity and for our sisters and brothers in the Coptic Church community who are hurting at this time.”

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Please join with me in praying for the families of the Coptic Christians, killed by IS, as they must be devastated in their collective grief.

God Bless all these grieving families

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Niger:- Rioters Vow to Burn Last Churcch

Niger

Rioters vow to burn last church

Rioters have vowed to destroy the last church building in Zinder, Niger’s second largest city. “We hear the protesters are full of anger because they have burned eight churches in Zinder, but not this one,” says Pastor Sanoussi, who leads the remaining church.

The other churches were destroyed last month in the violent backlash to the Charlie Hebdo cartoon; at least three Christians were killed, two women were raped, 68 churches and Christian institutions destroyed and 43 homes burnt down in the Niger violence.

Please Pray:

  • Thank God for pastors like Sanoussi who are caring for their flocks during these difficult times. Ask God to give them strength and comfort as they comfort others.
  • For healing for those who are bereaved or recovering from physical attacks
  • For protection for God’s people in Niger
  • For God to change the hearts of those who are planning further attacks.

Believers stand strong

“Until now, the atmosphere in Niger between people of different tribes and faiths has been cordial, so the Christians are shocked by the events,” an Open Doors worker says. Niger is close to the extreme north of Nigeria, where the militant Islamist group Boko Haram are active, often spilling over the border into Niger.

Open Doors has been working to prepare believers for persecution through our Standing Strong Through The Storm course. One worker says: “It has prepared many of the believers to stand strong and be vigorous about their faith even in the midst of persecution.”

Another said: “We were comforted with the Word of God that shows we will be persecuted but that we should bless the Muslims. The Lord loves them and we also have to love them.”

Say ‘Yes’ to your persecuted church family in Niger

Open Doors has been able to provide emergency relief, support to help families and churches rebuild, training and micro-loans for Christians whose shops were destroyed, and trauma counselling for rape victims. We were working in Niger before these attacks happened, our workers were on the ground as the attacks broke out, and we intend to be there for as long as our help is needed.

None of this would be possible without your support. If you haven’t already, please consider committing to support your persecuted church family by taking the Step of Yes.

With many thanks for your prayers.

From the Open Doors Prayer Team

For further information please visit:-

http://opendoorsuk.org/

 

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Kenya: Christians Killed, Churches closed

A church in Kenya has been forced to close after 11 of its members were executed by militants.

St Andrew’s Anglican Church is in Mandera, on Kenya’s border with Somalia. On December 2nd this year militants killed 36 quarry workers, nine of whom were members of the church.

A week earlier, two church members were among 28 people killed during an attack on a bus. Both attacks were the work of Al-Shabaab, the Somalia based terrorist group, and in both cases, the attackers separated Muslims from non-Muslims. Those who could not recite a Muslim prayer were executed!

“We have closed the Church,” church leader Elijah Kinyua told Open Doors, “We will decide later on whether or not to re-open. But for now things are not good on the ground. Please pray for us.”

Please pray:-

For courage and protection for Christians in the Mandera area in Kenya

and

For wisdom for Kenya’s leaders in dealing with Al-Shabaab.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey