Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Watch

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IRAN: Christian Prisoner: We Celebrate Christmas in Prison!

Farshid Fathi was arrested on 26 December 2010 in Tehran. He was eventually tried in January 2012 and sentenced to six years in prison for “acting against national security through membership of a Christian organisation, collection of funds and propaganda against the Islamic Regime by helping spread Christianity in the country”. The Revolutionary Court Judge, Mr Salavati signed his sentence.

Pastor Farshid Fathi is spending his third year in Evin prison without ever being given a leave permit. According to Iranian law, prisoners have the right to a number of leave permits each year.

Read below a message of encouragement, first published on Facebook and addressed to those praying for him.

Dear brothers and sisters,
We are celebrating Christmas in prison with honour and unexplainable joy in Christ.
2013 is going to end and we are very thankful to the Lord for everything we were given this year. I had called 2013 ‘the year of revelation’. Now I am very excited because I am calling 2014 ‘the year of God’s presence’.
God calls us to walk before him and be blameless, as he said to Abraham. So far, walking before him is very sweet and so exciting. It is filled with great endurance, afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, sleepless nights, hunger, purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God. So my dear brothers and sisters, if you read this, be ready for a very exciting journey in 2014.
Thank you so much for remembering me in your prayers after 1,100 days.
With blessings in Christ,
Your brother,
Farshid

Sources: Mohabat News, VOM Sources

Prayer Points

  • Praise the Lord! He has given Farshid an extraordinary faith and a great joy, in the midst of difficult circumstances.
  • Pray the Lord will use Farshid’s love of Jesus to strengthen the faith of believers all over the world and draw others to Himself, including Farshid’s fellow prisoners and guards.
  • Pray for Farshid’s release, in God’s perfect timing. Pray for his family as they wait for this day.

Click here to write to Farshid and other Christians in prison for their faith.

NIGERIA: Christians Killed as Extremists Confirm ‘Religious War’

Twelve Christians were killed in extremist attacks on two villages in Nigeria’s northern Borno state – just as Boko Haram confirmed that Christians remain a target for its violence.

On 28 December, eight people were killed when suspected Boko Haram extremists opened fire on a pre-wedding party in Tashan-Alede. The following day, four people died in an attack on neighbouring Kwajffa village.

These attacks came as Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, speaking on a video obtained by Associated Press, defined the group’s struggle as ‘a religious war’. ‘We are fighting Jonathan, we are fighting Christians,’ he said. This has prompted claims that the group is now trying to gain favour with Muslims angered by the fact its casualties have included many Muslims.

Meanwhile, central Plateau state has seen further violence against Christians at the hands of suspected Fulani militants. Gunmen stormed the Church of Christ in All Nations at Maiakworigold Maikatako village on New Year’s Eve, killing three people and wounding 16 others.

Sources: Release International, AP, ICC, Nigerian Tribune

Prayer Points

  • Pray that God will comfort and heal all those who mourn in Nigeria. Pray that Christians in that nation will know that Jesus is the cornerstone of life (1 Peter 2:6), their rock and firm foundation.
  • Pray for a real breakthrough in efforts to end the bloodshed in Nigeria this year. Pray for courage, political will and determination on behalf of the country’s officials.
  • Pray for Muslims all over Nigeria who currently oppose the Lord and His church. Ask the Lord to have mercy on them and draw many into His Kingdom.

EGYPT: Christian Reportedly Shot by Muslim Brotherhood Protesters, then Refused Treatment

A Coptic Christian man died on New Year’s Eve from a gunshot wound to the head after three hospitals in Cairo are reported to have turned him away.

Ihab Ghattas, 23, was shot outside Mar Girgis (St George’s) Church in the Ain Shams area of Cairo after celebrating mass. The Maspero Youth Union (MYU), a Coptic activist group, claims he was shot by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood following a protest outside the church by the Islamist group.

In a statement released on New Year’s Day, the MYU claimed that Ghattas died because of ‘negligence’ on the part of the hospitals which refused to treat him.

Mideast Christian News (MCN) reports that Ghattas was denied access to one hospital because it was deemed not to be an emergency and another due to a lack of beds. The third hospital refused to treat him due to the absence of an intensive care unit, according to the MYU.

A fourth hospital, St Peter’s in Heliopolis, admitted him but he died soon afterwards. The MYU said that by this stage he had been ‘bleeding for three hours’. The group has called for an investigation.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters were reported by MCN to have fired birdshot at St George’s Church, after which a group of young people from the church, including Ghattas, had joined police in defending it. Other protests reportedly took place across the country, but police used tear gas to disperse them.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will comfort the family and friends of Ihab and help them to rely ever more on Him during their time of grief.
  • Pray the lord will grant strength, wisdom and benevolence to the Egyptian authorities as well as a desire to do all they can to protect persecuted minorities.
  • Ask the Lord to be at work during the continuing unrest to strengthen His church in Egypt.
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