Asia Bibi is a Christian mother of two from Pakistan who has been in prison for more than three years waiting for her appeal against the death sentence.
Watch this video for more information about her story.
Write a Letter to Asia Bibi
You can write a letter to encourage Asia Bibi and let her know that Christians in Australia are praying for her and her family. Voice of the Martyrs has prepared a letter writing template which you can download, print and complete.
Youth Leaders: This is a fantastic activity to help your youth group remember the persecuted church. Please encourage your youth to pray for Asia Bibi and write letters to encourage her.
Thank you for being bound with them!
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison in Iran and reunited with his family.
In November 2010, Pastor Youcef was found guilty of apostasy and sentenced to death.
During his imprisonment, prison authorities used various methods, including medication, to convert Youcef back to Islam. But he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
After two years of prayer and international advocacy, Pastor Youcef was released on Saturday 8 September and greeted by his family at the prison.
— Jordan Sekulow (@JordanSekulow) September 8, 2012
— Jordan Sekulow (@JordanSekulow) September 8, 2012
— Jordan Sekulow (@JordanSekulow) September 8, 2012
After his release, Youcef said,
Thank you to everyone that has supported me with you prayers.
Praise God for this incredible answer to prayer! Please continue to pray for Youcef and his family as his life is still in danger.
Muslim extremists attempted to kill a pastor supported by Voice of the Martyrs and his family earlier this month in Nigeria.
At least seven gunmen entered Pastor Audu D Gadzama’s church on 10 August, intending to kill the pastor, his wife and his three children.
One gunman shot Pastor Audu’s 24-year-old son, Thomas, in the leg.
When he heard the gunshot, Pastor Audu ran outside and the gunmen fired at him as well but missed.
The gunmen, assuming both their targets were dead after seeing the men fall to the ground, then entered the house to search for the key to the church.
They forced Pastor Audu’s wife and other two children to lie on the ground as they set fire to the house and church. The family was able to escape and hide in the bushes as the gunmen fired into the air while shouting, “Allahu Akbar!”
The Christians remained in hiding through the night, and the next morning took Thomas to a hospital. The family is now living with another pastor in the area.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs
- Please pray for the safety of this family.
- Pray for wisdom for Pastor Audu and other church leaders in Nigeria.
- Pray that Nigerian Christians will be able to forgive and love their persecutors.
Pastor Behnam Irani is currently serving a five-year prison sentence in Iran.
His crime? Holding house church services and leading Muslims to Christ. Because of these “illegal” activities, he is considered a threat to national security.
Pastor Behnam’s Family and Ministry
Behnam Irani is 41 years old. He is married to Christine and has a daughter, Rebecca, 10, and a son, Adriel, 3.
He became a pastor in 2002, 10 years after becoming a Christian.
He has been arrested and tried for crimes against national security twice, in December 2006 and April 2010.
Persecution and Imprisonment
After his first arrest in December 2006, Pastor Behnam was given a five-year suspended prison sentence. He was not required to go to prison.
On 14 April 2010, officers from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (VEVAK) raided a house church service, assaulted Pastor Behnam and took him into custody. Other church members were interrogated by the officers who also confiscated Bibles, Christian literature and DVDs.
Pastor Behnam was imprisoned for two months before being released on bail in June 2010.
On 31 May 2011, a warrant was issued for Pastor Behnam’s arrest. He turned himself in and began serving a one year sentence. Shortly before his release, Pastor Behnam was informed that he was required to serve five years in prison from his previous sentence.
Pastor Behnam is Sick in Prison
There are recent reports that Pastor Behnam is very sick in prison. He is regularly beaten by prisoners under orders from the prison authorities and has recently been vomiting blood. It is believed that he may have Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
VEVAK (considered a terrorist organisation by the United States) is denying Pastor Behnam access to medical care. Instead of executing him for apostasy (rejecting Islam), it appears that the authorities are happy for Pastor Behnam to die slowly in prison.
It is urgent that we pray for Pastor Behnam Irani and his family. Please take a few minutes right now to pray for him. Also, please encourage your youth group or church to pray for him and for other persecuted Christians in Iran.
- Pray that Pastor Behnam will be allowed access to medical care and that the Lord will restore his health.
- Pray that Pastor Behnam will continue to be unashamed of the Gospel and will take every opportunity to share the love of God with his fellow-prisoners.
- Pray that God will comfort Pastor Behnam’s wife and children and that they will continue to trust the Lord.
A teenager in Tanzania was recently sentenced to two years in prison after being accused of desecrating the Koran.
Eva Abdullah, 17, converted from Islam to Christianity three years ago. Her parents disowned her after her conversion and a group of Islamic radicals in her hometown of Bagamoyo tried to persuade her to renounce her Christian faith. When she refused, they falsely accused her of desecrating a Koran.
Many Christian leaders were afraid to defend Eva because of Muslim dominance in the district.
On 26 July 2012, Eva was sentenced to two years in prison by a judge who was allegedly bribed by the Islamic militants.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs
- Ask God to strengthen Eva’s faith during her imprisonment.
- Pray that justice will be done and that Eva will be released.
- Pray that the Lord will give Eva opportunities to share her faith in prison.
- Pray that God will use Eva’s testimony to strengthen the faith of believers all over Tanzania.
A teenage girl in Laos is being persecuted by her family for converting to Christianity. The family of 17-year-old Phum has burned her Bible and hymnbook, forbidden her to attend church and even threatened her life in attempts to persuade her to recant her faith.
The Dangerous Decision to Follow Christ
Phum became a Christian after attending church with a friend. Impassioned to learn more about Christ, Phum studied her Bible and attended church every week.
Knowing that her family would disapprove — especially her older brother, who works for the Lao Patriotic party — she tried to hide where she went each Sunday.
After about two months, Phum’s family noticed her weekly disappearances. When they asked her where she was going, Phum told them she had become a Christian.
They accused her of being a traitor to her country and of following a foreign religion. To escape her family’s condemnation, Phum would retreat to her room, wrap a blanket around herself and read softly from the Bible.
Persecuted by her Family
Phum continued to attend church, but her family tried to prevent her from practicing her faith. Her father gave her house chores every Sunday, and her brother hit her with a wooden stick when she tried to walk out the front door.
One Sunday, Phum’s family confronted her and demanded that she stop attending church. When they threatened to throw away her hymnbook and Bible, Phum reluctantly complied with their demands. She couldn’t face losing her most precious possessions.
After missing worship services for two weeks, Phum walked the several miles to her church leader’s house and tearfully apologized for not attending church.
Despite complying with her family’s demands, they continued to scold her daily, and her brother burned her Bible and hymnbook. He told Phum that if she ever attended church again, she would be kicked out of the house, sent to jail or killed.
The family intentionally works in distant fields every Sunday so there is no chance for Phum to sneak away to church. She is still prevented from attending church and greatly misses her church family and Bible.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Pray that God will soften the hearts of Phum’s family to the Gospel.
- Pray that Phum will continue to love her family despite persecution.
- Pray that Phum will be given a new Bible and be allowed to go to church.
- Pray that Phum will stand firm in her faith and continue to live wholeheartedly for the Lord.
The Boko Haram Islamic sect has claimed responsibility for bombing three churches in Kaduna state, Nigeria, on 17 June. This is the third consecutive Sunday that church services in the country have ended in bloodshed.
An attacker crashed a car into a barricade at an Evangelical Church Winning All building, detonating a bomb that killed at least 24 people and wounded about 125.
Moments later, extremists bombed the Christ the King Catholic Church building in Zaria, killing another dozen people.
Not long after, the Shalom Church building in Kaduna city was bombed, killing at least 10.
Retaliatory attacks reportedly killed several others.
Boko Haram has killed at least 560 people this year, according to the Associated Press. The Islamist sect has targeted churches, state offices, law enforcement sites and some moderate mosques in its effort to destabilise the government and impose a strict version of Shariah (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria.
Source: Compass Direct News
- Pray that the violence will stop and that Christians will seek peace and reconciliation.
- Pray that God will grant leaders and law enforcement officers with wisdom and integrity.
- Pray that God will give Christians the strength and compassion to love those who are persecuting them.
- Pray that persecution will result in increased boldness among believers in Nigeria.
An Egpytian court has sentenced 12 Coptic Christians to life imprisonment while releasing eight accused Muslims in the same case.
The Speed Bump Fight
The events of the case start on 18 April 2011 when a Muslim minibus driver complained that a speed bump in front of a Coptic Christian’s home was damaging cars.
The fight that broke out led to the death of two Muslims, injury to four Coptic Christians, and the destruction of Coptic-owned homes and businesses.
On 21 May 2012, twelve Copts were sentenced to life imprisonment while the eight accused Muslims were all released without charge.
Cries of shock and sadness could be heard from the Coptic families, while the Muslim side broke into jubilation and shouts of Allahu Akbar (Allah is great).
Many human rights groups have criticsed the verdict as being “unbelievable” and “extremely harsh” towards the Copts.
Source: International Christian Concern
- Pray that the Egyptian state allows a fair retrial, pray for justice for all involved.
- Ask the Lord to minister to those in prison and not let them despair.
- Pray for the protection of the Coptic community.
- Pray for those in authority in Egypt.
At least 20 police officers, including the local chief of police, took part in a raid on a Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Gyanja in Azerbaijan on 12 May 2012.
Searching for Foreigners and Children
During the raid, police first searched for foreigners. After finding none present, they began checking whether all the approximately 50 children present had written permission from both parents to be there.
Police found 14 of the children did not have written permission. Church members have said that the children and their parents were attending the church for the first time.
Officers questioned church members and their children for several hours. They then drew up an official record and warned those they questioned that prosecutions would follow, with fines, because children were present without proper written parental permission.
At least one congregation member has been fined without being tried by a court.
A harsh Religion Law was adopted by Azerbaijan in 2009 with new offenses and punishments that many in the international community say are vague and dangerous. There are limitations on conscientious objection, the distribution of literature, and the criticism of other religions.
Source: Forum 18 News Service
- Please pray that Christians in Azerbaijan will rely on the spirit of power given to them through Jesus, and that they will be bold and loving despite the difficulties they face (2 Timothy 1:7-12).
- Pray that God will enable Christian parents in Azerbaijan to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to Christ so that their children will be encouraged to walk closely with the Lord as they grow up (Deuteronomy 11:18-20).
Stephen is a young man from Myanmar where many Christians are facing persecution from the government and their communities. He is full of faith, with an incredible vision to see God bring thousands of Burmese to Christ!
You can sponsor an underground Bible college student like Stephen for only $10 a week.
Help Thirteen Three support Christian students in Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia today!
Read more of Stephen’s story here.