Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Persecution: Nigeria, Arizona, Asia Bibi, Iran

NIGERIA - Coordinated attacks against Christian villages in Nigeria's Plateau State on July 9th left 58 people dead in "sophisticated attacks" on 13 villages near the city of Jos. Hundreds of Islamic terrorist Boko Haram fighters attacked, some in police uniforms and bulletproof vests. Police battled them back for hours losing two policemen, 14 civilians, killing 21 attackers while over 300 fled. Plateau State has seen increasing religious violence recently as Boko Haram has declared a war to annihilate Nigerian Christians. Source: WSJ

ARIZONA- Phoenix pastor Michael Salman was fined and sentenced to 60 days in jail for holding Bible studies in his home. He turned himself in July 9. He asked for prayers as he left his wife and six children to report to Maricopa County Jail. "I have spent time with my family this morning praying, crying and saying our goodbyes," he wrote on his Facebook page. "My heart is broken, but glory to God. Our God will take care of us and my family. Please pray for us! Until God opens the prison's door, I will be with you all in prayer and spirit." 

Salman, an ordained pastor and owner of a burger restaurant who hosted Bible studies for seven years on his 4.6-acre property, was found guilty of failing to comply with building, zoning, fire and safety codes applicable to churches. He was also fined $12,180 and given 3 years probation, forbidding him to have more than 12 people in his home. "They're cracking down on religious activities and religious use," he said, contending that the building used in his yard was not a church. "They're attacking what I as a Christian do in the privacy of my home." Source: Fox News Radio

PAKISTAN- Imprisoned Christian Asia Bibi was visited by her husband, Ashiq, on March 6, 2012. When Asia asked about her two young daughters, Ashiq told her that the children were healthy and doing well in school. She told him she despaired of ever being released. 

He said, "Yesterday when we had family prayer, I asked the children what they were praying for. They said, 'We are praying for those people who are helping us and who are trying to release our Mama.'” At that moment, Ashiq said he felt God's presence, and God spoke to him, “Don't be afraid, I am with you.'" 

In April, Asia was having a rough time emotionally, celebrating yet another Easter away from her family. She told her husband, Ashiq, “I am fine, but to be alone and away from my family is frustrating to me. I want to run away from this imprisonment.” 

Ashiq encouraged her, and said, “You have been steadfast in your faith so far; be patient and trust in God. He will surely guide you.” In June, Ashiq reported that Asia was feeling better. She said another group had brought her some food and clothes, and she was thankful for them and for all her prayer supporters. Source: Voice of the Martyrs

IRAN - Sunday July 8 marked the 1,000th day that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been illegally detained in prison in Iran. The US State Department issued a statement saying, “We note that July 8 marked 1,000 days Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has spent in an Iranian prison. Pastor Nadarkhani still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith, and we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately.”

At the reported intervention of the Russian Orthodox patriarch, a new trial date has been scheduled for Sept 8th. Youcef has not officially been notified of new charges nor whether the apostasy charges are pardoned. He may be charged with a lesser crime, but this is only unconfirmed speculation considering the erratic Iranian justice system always in question. We applaud the State Department for taking this stand. 

Pray for everyone involved in Youcef’s case, especially the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei and judiciary head Ayatollah Larijani. Ask the Lord to guide and direct their hearts, that they would see the truth and by it be set free.