Tehran Church Faces Closure after Pastor's Arrest
Iranian authorities are presenting churches of Armenian or Assyrian heritage with an impossible choice: cancel services in the Farsi language or face permanent closure. On May 21, Pastor Robert Asseriyan was arrested, just two days after his church refused to cancel Farsi services. He is being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
There are a few countries on the World Watch List that we can’t share stories from. Even if we were to use different names, the Christian population is so small, that the story could easily be traced back to the individual. For their security, we are providing a different way to pray for the country this week.
Here are the top 10 things to know about what life is like for Christians in Mauritania:
- Mauritania has been under military rule for more than 30 years, with only a short democratic interruption in 2007. Promises to bring democracy back to the country have only resulted in rigged elections.
- Mauritania is one of the world’s poorest countries. One third of the children are malnourished, and when there is enough food, it is often too expensive for the poor to afford.
- During the winter of 2010/2011 several articles in the local media portrayed the “foreign” activities in Mauritania, including the names and the organizations deemed most guilty of Christianization. In early July 2011, some prominent Imams published their request to the Mauritanian parliament to protect the Mauritanian people from hearing the Gospel and to reject every Christian organization by a fight to have every attempt of sharing the Gospel in Mauritania curtailed.
- The main persecution dynamic in Mauritania is ‘Islamic extremism’ which has become more visible demonstrating the growing influence of Salafism.
- The first locals coming to Jesus were reported in the 90s. Mauritanian believers are few (with estimates ranging from around 150 all the way to 700).
- Many Christians don’t know the Ten Commandments and their ethics are influenced by the Muslim environment. It seems that the lack of biblical knowledge creates ethic problems. Other difficult obstacles for the church are its poverty and the illiteracy.
- The Church is divided in many groups. Some of them are united in networks but many believers are alone in their villages. In the countryside, Mauritanian leaders notice an interest for the faith issues and the Bible. The testimonies of the believers arrested and tortured in 2009 have encouraged more local believers to share about Jesus in the country.
- Pressure on Muslim Background Believers from family, tribe members and leaders of local mosques, is very high. There is some freedom for expat churches, but even for expats residing in the country, it is complicated. It remains completely impossible for Mauritanian Christians to register their churches, so they must meet in secret.
- There are many barriers such as low literacy rates, no Scriptures completed in Hassaniya Arabic, only a few local radio broadcasts from Senegal, and laws that forbid Mauritanians from hearing the gospel or believing in Jesus.
- Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb is monitoring Christian activity.
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Kazakhstan Pastor in Prison
Pastor Kashkumbaev is currently in detention for causing "grievous physical harm to the members of the congregation.” Accused of serving a hallucinogenic narcotic, Pastor Kashkumbaev says that the “drink” used as a non-alcoholic version of communion was made from a common red tea. Please join in prayer for our brother in detention as he seeks justice in the midst of false accusation.
June, Not a Good Month for Christians in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka saw six cases of religious persecution in the month of June alone, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL). In one incident five Buddhist monks and some 30 locals surrounded a pastor's home and hurled threats at him. "They demanded that the worship services be discontinued," said NCEASL. The assaulted pastor says that he continues to receive threats almost on a daily basis.
Single women have become the latest target of Eritrea's widespread arrest campaign against Evangelical Christians. In two separate incidents over the past two weeks authorities arrested fourteen single Christian women for continuing religious activities outside of the "approved" religious institutions.
Another Christian interned in an Eritrean prison died on July 5. Yosief Kebedom Gelai (41), a recently converted single Christian man, had a history of illness, but the harsh treatment at a secret Mendefera incarceration center seriously aggravated the effects of the disease. Yosief is the 24th reported death connected to punishment for religious activities outside of the government sanctioned religious institutions.
In Pakistan; the Taliban are harassing, blackmailing, and persecuting the Christians, of all denominations, especially Catholics and Pentecostals.
They are threatening Christians to give then money and if they don't give them money, they tear up their churches, even going inside one church while a service was going on and becoming very violent, tearing up the church.
Christians are frightened and are leaving and moving to live somewhere else.
They also have threatened individuals at their homes. Every month becomes more dangerous for Christians in Pakistan. Please pray for them.