PAKISTAN: Christians Devastated by Death of Preacher Source: Release International
Friends of a popular Pakistani preacher who was killed by a hit-and-run driver believe he may have been murdered because of his conversion from Islam. Rashid Mehmood, 33, came from a rich, influential Muslim family but turned to Christ in 2005. Though he trained as a lawyer, he decided to become a pastor and preach the Gospel, despite strong opposition from his relatives.
On December 26th, 2013, Rashid was a passenger on a motorbike driven by his pastor friend when a car began to chase them, and then deliberately struck the motorbike. Rashid suffered serious head injuries and died later in hospital after undergoing surgery.
Two days before his death, Rashid had preached about Jesus being the only true and living God and the embodiment of God’s love, quoting from the Quran at several points. According to sources, Rashid was a role model for other Christians with a Muslim background and his death “broke people’s hearts.”
Pray that the truth surrounding this situation will become known. As many now grieve Rashid’s loss, pray that they will be comforted by the Spirit’s sure presence. May Rashid’s passion for sharing the Gospel continue among other believers from Muslim backgrounds. Just as God reached out to Saul, a ruthless persecutor, may He also draw to Himself those who opposed Rashid (Acts 9:1-19). Finally, please remember to pray for Pakistan’s leaders, as they are currently considering the implementation of a mandatory death sentence for blasphemy. Pray that this law will not come to pass, but instead may religious freedom be respected for all.
To learn more about the trials Christians face for their faith in Pakistan, visit our Pakistan Country Report at http://www.persecution.net/pakistan.htm.
NIGERIA: Christians Targeted by Militants in Ruthless Attacks
Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Morning Star News
Boko Haram militants recently targeted Christians two times in less than a week in Madagali Local Government Area, Adamawa State. Adamawa is one of three northeastern states in which the Nigerian government declared a military state of emergency in May of last year.
Approximately 45 people were murdered on January 26th when assailants armed with guns and explosives launched an attack on a church in Wada Chakawa village. The militants killed a police inspector and sergeant who were guarding the building, before barring the doors and killing anyone attempting to escape through the windows. Others were held hostage for several hours. “We were all scattered by the attackers, and…those who were not able to escape were taken hostage, especially women, children and the elderly,” a church member shared. The militants went on to burn down several houses in the area.
Just days later, on the evening of January 31st, Boko Haram gunmen attacked a church in Sabon Garin Yamdula village. Storming the building, the assailants killed 11 believers, including the church’s pastor who died later in hospital. They also attempted to set the church ablaze, but were thwarted by local youths. At last report, two Christians were reported to be missing.
In the aftermath of these gruesome attacks, please bring those grieving the loss of loved ones to the Lord in prayer. May they look to Christ for strength each day, grace to forgive their attackers, and boldness to continue serving Him despite the risks. Also pray for the members of Boko Haram who perpetrated these attacks. May they lay down their weapons and their hate, and turn in faith to Jesus Christ. Pray that, as suffering overflows in this nation, our Christian family will look with longing and expectation to the day when there will be no more death, sorrow or pain (Revelation 21:4).
To post a prayer of support for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall at http://www.persecution.net/prayerwall.
NEPAL: Church Leader’s Home Burned Down
Source: VOM USA
A church leader living among the Brahmin, the Hindu upper caste, recently lost his home and belongings when villagers burned down his home. While “Karuna’s” primary job is to visit and encourage believers in the area, he has also led many Hindus to Christ, angering those in the village. On several occasions, villagers threatened to kill Karuna, his wife and their two children if he continued to evangelize.
In early January, the villagers burned Karuna’s home while he and his family were away fellowshipping with other Christians. They also repeated their threat to kill him if he continues preaching the Gospel.
Pray that Karuna and his family will be encouraged in their faith and continue to be strong witnesses for Christ. Thank the Lord that VOM USA is supporting Karuna and his family during this time. Intercede on behalf of the villagers who feel threatened by Karuna’s evangelism. May they come to know the God that Karuna professes and seek to live wholeheartedly for Him.
For more information about the persecuted church in Nepal, please visit http://www.persecution.net/nepal.htm.
RECENT PRISONER UPDATES
IRAN: Shahnaz Jayzan Released from Prison Source: Mohabat News
Shahnaz Jayzan, an Iranian Christian arrested in December of 2011, was released from prison on January 28th. Shahnaz was imprisoned along with Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, Davoud Alijani and her husband, Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh. The three men were earlier freed after spending over 200 days in jail. (For more on their release from prison, please visit http://www.persecution.net/ir-2014-01-23.htm.)
Shahnaz’s release was conditional, and she is required to report to the Revolutionary Court of Ahwaz every four months. According to sources, Shahnaz and Pastor Farhad are not permitted to hold church services or visit Christians in Khuzestan province. Also, they were told they should leave Ahwaz, their hometown.
Thank God that Shahnaz has also been released from prison. Pray that she and her husband will continue to serve God faithfully, despite the limitations placed on them by authorities. Also remember in prayer the many other Iranian believers who remain imprisoned. Ask God to grant them endurance, and pray also that they will soon be released.
You can impact and encourage imprisoned Christians in Iran by writing letters, reminding them that they are not forgotten. For our complete list of prisoners’ addresses, please visit our website at http://www.persecution.net/write.htm.
The Persecution & Prayer Alert is a ministry of:
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Tel. (905) 670.9721. Website: http://www.persecution.net