Secret Believers: Morocco

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Several secret Christians were arrested as they were eating together at a cafe in Morocco in early March.  Two younger men were released later the same day, and the older man was held for several days, but later released.  The families of the young men did not know they were believers, and one of the families expelled the son for his religious beliefs.

Police also visited several other homes that day.  The following day another believer was arrested, but he was also later released.

According to reports from Voice of the Martyrs, there is a great deal of tension in Morocco.  Pray for the believers there.  Pray that they will stand strong, and that God will work among the authorities to bring about greater religious freedom in that country.  Please also pray for protection for people whose names were given to the police.

Source:  Voice of the Martyrs Be-a-Voice Network bulletin.

Loving Heavenly Father,
You know how Your children are suffering in Morocco.  They must hide to stay safe–hiding even from their own families.  I pray for these young men who were arrested.  I thank you that they have all been released, and I pray that you will keep them safe from future harm.  Lord, I have no idea what it must be like for the young man who was expelled from his family.  I pray that Your family will more be more than enough for this devastating loss.  I pray that Your children will house him, feed him, clothe him, support him, accept him, and love him with all the love that You pour out through them.  I pray that You will strengthen all the believers in Morocco, that You will calm the tensions, and bring religious freedom to that country.  I pray for all the believers who have been identified to the authorities.  I pray that their names will be lost, erased, and they will be hidden from those who seek evil against them.  I pray that for every episode of persecution, thousands more people will come to know You through the testimony of those who are suffering.  Let freedom ring among your people of Morocco.  Blessings, peace, joy, and release be to my brothers and sisters in Northern Africa.
In the matchless name of Jesus, Amen!

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Day of the Sun: North Korea

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Yesterday North Korea launched a missile, hoping to put a satellite into space, as part of its 100 year celebration of the birth of Kim Il-Sung.  The missile exploded before leaving the atmosphere and fell into the sea.  Members of the world community, including the US and South Korea, had threatened to cut off food aid if the government launched the missile.

North Koreans are taught by their government, that their leader is god.  They are required to worship him, memorize his sayings, and do as he instructs.  This Sunday, April 15, 2012, the country will celebrate their annual Day of the Sun celebration, in honor of the founder of their religion, Kim Il-Sung.  Throughout the country, citizens, already suffering starvation and poverty, are required to paint their houses, clean up the streets, repair their fences, and fix everything to honor their leader.  They must pay for the expenses themselves.  In addition, many families must pay 20,000 won to the state to cover the costs of the festivities.  An average worker in North Korea receives 2,000 won per month in salary.  Roughly ten million people in the country are malnourished, many  living on grass and bark!

North Korea is the most hostile country in the world, to Christians, according to World Watch, of Open Doors, an organization that monitors persecution of Christians world-wide.  It’s estimated that about 25% of the Christians in that country are imprisoned in labor camps for refusing to worship their “Great Leader,” Kim Jong-Un.  They must bow to him, wear lapel pins honoring him, display his image in their homes, and obey him.  One of the church leaders working with Open Doors reported this regarding the current situation:
“All executives, citizens and even students are forced to attend meetings. Between December 30th and January 8th there have been thorough investigations to find anyone who has not participated sincerely or has not participated at all in the national mourning of the death of the leader. Therefore all criticism meetings and self-reflection classes are being closely watched and secret agents are seen everywhere. All these movements are to prevent any sort of individual dangerous elements who may not devote themselves to the ‘military first’ policy and protest against its current system. It seems like it is part of an extreme reign of terror just to create a terror atmosphere. It is very difficult to speak our minds, even to our friends and family. There is a good chance we will be arrested if we speak freely.”

Christian parents who teach their faith to their children are imprisoned, their children with them.  Many Christians in the country seek refuge by escaping into China, but they are repatriated when discovered.  Bibles are rare.  Often, while hiding in China, North Korean Christians will memorize a book of the Bible, to “bring back with them” to their brothers and sisters in their homeland.

What you can do:

  • Pray and fast for the country.  Pray for the leaders as well as the people.  Pray for those living in darkness and despair that the light of the good news of Jesus will change everything, including their leaders.
  • Sunday, April 15 is a Global Day of Prayer for North Korea.  Join together with Jesus’ followers everywhere to support our brothers and sisters in North Korea.
  • April 23-29 is North Korea Freedom Week.  Consider fasting and praying with believers around the world for freedom for these precious people.
  • Pray for imprisoned Christians and their families.
  • Pray for escaped Christians and their families.

Lord God, Maker of heaven and earth, You are the ruler of all nations.  You’ve said that no leadership is in place except what You have established.  You have a plan in place for the nation of North Korea.  We can’t understand it, but we believe that what You say is true.  Right now we are looking at things through a dark, discordant mirror, but one day we’ll see with clarity all that You are doing in this country that You love.  We pray for Your children who are imprisoned for their faith.  Encompass them completely–walk before them, beside them, and behind them.  Shelter them in Your mighty fortress.  Keep their hearts pure, filled with love for their enemies, blessing those who abuse them, praying for those who curse them.  Protect their children.  Keep them safe from the evil one.  Flood their lives with Light, refresh them with Your Healing Water, and feed them with Your Living Bread.  We pray for the lost children of North Korea.  Lord, don’t let the adversary blind them to the light of Your Truth.  Send Your Spirit like a refiner’s fire throughout the land of North Korea–set the prisoners free, release the captives, heal the broken, bring Your children back to You.  Protect your people during this “celebration”, and bring them all safely into the kingdom of the Son of Your Love.  In Jesus’ most powerful name, Amen!

Giti Hakimpour: Iran

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Iranian officials continue their efforts to stop the growth of Christianity in Iran.  They are attempting to stamp out the house church movement, and to halt the growing tide of converts to Christianity.  Authorities enter the houses of suspected Christians early in the morning, arresting them, and taking them off to various places, some simply disappearing.

Giti Hakimpour was arrested at 6 o’clock in the morning on February 22, 2012 when she was awakened by security forces breaking into her apartment in Esfahan.  She was interrogated for three hours before being arrested.  Her passport, the deed to her house, and her bank account numbers were all confiscated.  She was detained for 3 days at the Esfahan Intelligence Office.  Interrogators gave her a temporary release because of her age (she is 78), and a recent surgery.

Four others were arrested that same day, and are still being detained:
Hekmat Salimi,
Maryam Del-aram,
Shahnaz Zarifi, and
Shahram Ghaedi.

Source:  Voice of the Martyrs

God of all creation,
These are Your children, arrested for loving You by men You love, but who don’t know You.  We pray for the authorities in Iran, from the top to the bottom.  You created them, Father, and they have a role to play in Your universe.  I pray that You will reveal Yourself to each one of them personally, uniquely, individually.  Open their eyes to the light of the gospel.  Open their ears to Your calling voice.  Rip out their hearts of stone, and give them hearts of tender mercy, and enlighten their minds to Your truth.  You’ve done it countless times before, and You will do it countless times again.  In the name of Jesus, continue your work of mighty redemption among these lost men and women.

I thank You, that where persecution exists, Your Glory shines.  Fiery struggles lead us to You, and I pray that Your Light will shine through Your children in the middle of their terrible circumstances like a light house calling the lost to safe harbor.  I thank You for the miracles You give Your incarcerated children–shining light, cell walls glistening like diamonds, transferring them from physical suffering to the spiritual world of Your kingdom.  Be their fortress in the fortress.  Be their strength in their weakness.  Be their deliverer in their captivity.  Let Your praises ring from the cell blocks of prisons around the world, and live there with your people in vital union, united together with each one of them.  In Jesus’ name and for the sake of his suffering on our behalf, Amen.

Savan Masih: Pakistan

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Thursday evening, Savan Masih, a sweeper in Pakistan, was drinking with his friend, Shahid Imran, in Shahid’s barber shop, something they do regularly.  The next day, Friday, Shahid accused Savan of blaspheming the prophet Mohammed, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan (although that sentence has never been carried out).  The accusation was broadcast from a mosque and soon more than 2,000 people entered the Christian section of Lahore, threatening to burn down the houses if the Christians didn’t leave the city.  Many left.

On Saturday, more than 3,000 Muslims arrived in the Christian section, and looted and burned down more than 150 homes.  They beat people who had not fled, including the elderly and children.  Thankfully, no deaths have been reported.  One of the houses burned was that of Masih, where he lived with his parents and his 3 children.  He has been arrested on charges of blasphemy.

The rest of the weekend, Christians protested in cities throughout Pakistan.  Sixty people were injured, including some police, who shot into the air and used batons to try to disperse the crowds.  The Punjab Law Ministers warned Christians not to take the law into their own hands, and on Monday Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that the police had failed to protect the people during Saturday’s riot.  “We live in constant fear of being accused of blasphemy,” one resident told World Watch Monitor. “One day they will get us for blasphemy,” said another Christian worker. “They always say we should stop teaching people about God’s ways and freedom, and if we do not they will come looking for us and make up a case against us.”  Christians have been living in the area since Pakistan and India were partitioned in 1947.  “We live here because God has called us to minister and reach those who have never been able to read or write,” said a teacher who lives in the area. “Many of our students and the people we work with have been abused and have faced persecution in so many different ways.”  Christians are the largest minority group in Pakistan, with more than 18 million people.

On Monday, the National Assembly condemned the attack on the Christian community.  Those who have lost their houses have been offered 500,000 rupees (about $5,000 US) to rebuild their homes.

What you can do:
Pray for the Christians of Pakistan
Pray for the country to rework the blasphemy laws
Write to your representatives to express your concern over the conditions in Pakistan
Pray for those are are imprisoned for false accusations.
Pray for Savan and his family
Pray for the Christians who lost their homes
Donate money to support persecuted Christians:

       Voice of the Martyrs
       Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement
       Open Doors

Father God,
We lift up these people who are trapped in a system that routinely uses false accusations of blasphemy to settle personal scores.  We remember Asia Bibi who has been imprisoned for four years, accused by her neighbor of drinking water from a communal cup and so contaminating it for the Muslims, Shamim Bibi, who is waiting to hear the verdict on her current trial where 2 out of the 3 “witnesses” deny hearing Shamim say anything blasphemous, and Rimsha Masih, vindicated by her trial after a local imam planted “evidence” in her backpack.   All these women have been falsely accused, and their lives, along with their family’s lives, have been shattered.  Once again, a long time friend has made an accusation, which was broadcast to the public with no evidence to support the charge, and 150 families are now without homes, many families are in hiding, and the entire Christian community lives in fear.  Father, these things ought not to be.  We ask You to intervene on behalf of Your children in Pakistan.  Work in the hearts of the leaders to rethink and rework the current blasphemy laws.  We pray for Savan who is now in prison.  Strengthen him, flood him with Your presence, and make his way clear for him.  Vindicate him.  Support his family, Lord.  He has 3 children who need him–be a Father to them.  He has elderly parents who are now responsible for his children, and they have no place to live.  Provide for them, Father.  Protect them.  Display Your power in each one of their lives.  Prepare all your people around the world for the persecution that is crashing down on them.  Prepare us, Lord, to stand firm, no matter what.  For Your sake, and the glory of Jesus, Amen.

Sources:  Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement
Open Doors