They persecuted me, they will persecute you

30 Jul

Just a daily brief from Voice of the Martyrs today.  Add to your prayer list:

From Pakistan:

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman who has been imprisoned for four years under that country’s blasphemy laws, has been moved to a prison that is much farther from her family, VOM has learned.

The transfer came a few days after Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, visited her in Sheikhupura jail, where she had been receiving treatment from the jail doctor. Asia, 41, has been sick, complaining of intense pain in her legs, shoulders and arms.

The transfer to Multan jail means that in order for her family to visit her, they will have to travel around five hours instead of only one hour. The extra travel raises security concerns for the family, as well as making it more difficult for them to monitor her health situation. Ashiq reports that their two young daughters are discouraged by the news of their mother’s transfer.

Asia was arrested June 19, 2009, after Muslim co-workers, began pressuring Asia to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam. Asia responded by telling her co-workers about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women that Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them, according to VOM sources.

Asia told the women that Jesus is alive, but Mohammad is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she told them.

Upon hearing this, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat her. Then some men came and locked her in a room. Police took her into custody and later charged her with blasphemy against the prophet Mohammad. Seventeen months later she was convicted and sentenced to death.

To date, no Christian in Pakistan has been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, but in several cases, extremists have murdered Christians after their release from prison.

Asia’s conviction and death sentence have brought international attention to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Christians have called for Asia’s release and repeal of the laws, while extremists in Pakistan continue to demand that she be executed.

Prior to her transfer, Asia had told her husband that she is regularly praying in jail for her release and asked VOM readers to pray with her.

Ashiq told his wife what their two little girls are praying for. “They said, ‘We are praying for those people who are helping us and who are trying to release our Mama,’” Ashiq told Asia.

Please pray for Asia Bibi. Pray for healing of her body, encouragement to her spirit and for her release from prison. Please pray also for Ashiq and their two daughters.

You can write letters of encouragement to Asia through www.PrisonerAlert.com. The site has been updated with her new prison address. Invite your friends to sign a petition to the Pakistani government on her behalf at www.CallForMercy.com.

Posted: June 28, 2013

From Iran:

Church members expecting to attend a church-wide meeting on the future of their Assemblies of God (AOG) church in Tehran, Iran, on May 26 encountered instead a note on the front door saying the church was closed. On May 19, church leaders announced to the congregation that they were under government pressure to close the church if they did not cease Farsi-language services. They told the church that the leadership would discuss a course of action and invited the congregation back on May 26 to hear the final decision.

But apparently government intervention forced their hand more quickly than expected. On Tuesday, May 21, Pastor Asserian, one of the AOG pastors, was arrested while conducting a prayer meeting at the church. According to VOM contacts, the next day Senior Pastor Soorik placed a note on the church door. The note read: “This church is closed due to major repairs. Please do not return!”

Door

VOM contacts report that authorities made their intentions clear to the church, stating, “Farsi services have to stop. We cannot allow this to go on. It is best if you close [the church] yourselves, so you can keep the building and continue to serve the Armenian congregation. It is only then that we can consider the release of your pastors.” (Four other AOG leaders from Ahwaz, Iran, were arrested May 1.)

The central AOG church is the largest official church in Tehran that still offers church services in Farsi. In 2009, the Tehran AOG was ordered to terminate their Farsi services and limit their church services to the Armenian language, a language spoken by less than two percent of the population. Church leaders refused. Farsi is Iran’s official language and is spoken by at least 53 percent of the people.

“It was clear to most of us that an end to all manifestations of Christian worship in Farsi was the outcome Iranian authorities were pursuing all along,” said a VOM contact.

Sources: VOM Contacts, Article 18

Posted: June 4, 2013
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