VOM-USA Prayer Update for November 25, 2011
The Voice of the Martyrs USA: www.persecution.com
West Bank—Christian Church Fears Shut Down by Palestinian Authority
Source: VOM Contacts
- John 10:10
- The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
The leaders of First Baptist Church in Bethlehem are becoming increasingly concerned by growing antagonism against them by the Palestinian Authority. First Baptist Church has operated in Muslim-dominated Bethlehem for more than 30 years, and its leaders are no strangers to persecution. The church has been bombed fourteen times and senior pastor Naim Khoury has been shot at several times. This community opposition seems small compared to what the thriving church of 300 now faces. The ruling Palestinian Authority is trying to shut down the church by refusing to recognize it. This position has severe consequences for church members: Parents can’t obtain birth certificates for babies, couples who want to marry cannot get a license, and church members have extreme difficulty in finding employment. Currently, about 70 percent of the congregation is unemployed. A member of a delegation who recently visited the church said, “The intent is obvious: to drive people away from churches in the very city that gave birth to the hope-filled, life-changing message of Jesus Christ.” Please pray for the leaders and members of First Baptist Church.
China—Beijing Church’s Standoff with Authorities in Reaches Week 32
Source: China Aid Association
- Lamentations 3:22
- Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
One of China’s largest house church groups continues to meet in an outdoor space for worship, in spite a months-long campaign by police to deter them. On Nov. 13, Shouwang Church of Beijing attempted to assemble its members for worship in an outdoor shopping plaza for the 32nd time in as many weeks. The standoff began after the unregistered church was repeatedly forced from indoor meeting spaces and began meeting outdoors in protest. According to information published by the church, at least 27 people headed for the service were arrested, either at the meeting spot or en route. One was sent home, but the remaining 26 believers were taken to 12 different police stations around the city. Fifteen of the arrested were released by midnight that night, while the rest were released slowly throughout the night. The last person was released 48 hours after being arrested. As always, church members waited outside police stations with food and clothing for the detained despite freezing winter temperatures. “We especially give thanks to our God for them; they witnessed the love of being members to each other in the body of Christ. We give thanks to our Lord, for he keeps us and protects us,” church leadership wrote in a statement. Thank God for the church’s faithfulness, and pray they will be able to meet freely soon.
Iran—Resolution Soon for Youcef Nadarkhani?
Sources: Compass Direct, VOM Sources
- 2 Timothy 4:7–9
- I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. Be diligent to come to me quickly;
Sources indicate that an Iranian court may make a final ruling in the case of house church pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Nadarkhani has spent the last 25 months imprisoned in Rasht, Iran, convicted of apostasy for leaving Islam. The standard penalty for this crime is death. A Rasht court was due to make a final decision on his case in September, but instead sent the case on to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. During his trial, the court gave Nadarkhani three opportunities to recant his faith, but he repeatedly refused. Sources close to Nadarkhani indicated that he has undergone physical and psychological torture and that authorities have continued to pressure him to recant. Pray for the upcoming verdict in his trial.