Saeed Released; Four More Need Prayer

 

First off, a praise: Saeed Abedini has been released!

Four other Christians are facing a trial. According to Present Truth Ministries,

“Four Christians will stand trial for their faith on February 1, 2016 in the Ahwaz Khuzestan Provence Revolutionary Court in Iran; Pastor Amin Khaki, brother Daniel (Hossein) Barounzadeh, brother Mohammad Bahrami, and brother Rahman Bahmani.

TL: Rahman Bahmani, TR: Mohammad Bahrami, BL: Daniel (Hossein) Barounzadeh, BR: Amin Khaki

They were arrested during a picnic in southern Iran near the city of Danial-e Shoush. While they were holding their picnic, Iran’s secret police arrived in plain clothes with guns drawn. They attacked and injured brother Rahman Bahmani during the incident. They were held without communication and without charges for months, even being transferred from one prison to another. Despite the persecution they are facing, these brethren are standing strong in their faith.

The trial that is being held is actually a re-trial, upon appeal, after having been convicted and sentenced for spreading Christianity in Iran. The previous verdict contained details regarding the interrogations of several believers.

In the court verdict, it reveals the testimony of brother Hossein Barounzadeh. “I was born in a Muslim family and believed in Islam as I practiced it and converted to Christianity in 2005.” The verdict states, “When he was questioned if he knew that he would be considered as an apostate after he converted to Christianity, he said he knew it. When he was asked why he made his faith public, he states, ‘I was neither lying nor hurting anyone.’ When the authorities told him about his charge about advertising against the Islamic Republic, he said, ‘I did it for my own salvation…I don’t believe that Christ is merely a prophet, He is my Savior…’ During the questioning in VEVAK’s secret facility, he said, ‘I was converted through a satellite channel known as “Nejat TV”, and after that, I attended church services in Karaj (12 times).’ The verdict also states that ‘…he confessed to holding services for himself and other Muslim born people in house churches in Shoush and giving out books and CD’s.’”

The verdict goes on to say, regarding brother Rahman Bahmani, “I was converted four years ago and attended church services in Karaj, Shoush, Ahvaz and Turkey. I changed a lot. I wasn’t a good man before, and when my wife saw the changes in me, she also converted to Christianity. When people asked me how my life had changed, I tell them that Jesus healed me.”

Imagine yourself being interrogated for your faith. Imagine how you would answer such questions by an interrogator that could beat you, torture you, harm your family or even kill you. Please, do not neglect to pray for and spread the word about these believers who will stand trial very soon in Iran.”

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Pastors Yat Michael Ruot & Peter Yein Reith: July 8, 2015 Update

From http://beheardproject.com/sudan
From http://beheardproject.com/sudan

UPDATE JULY 8, 2015: As I reported yesterday (below), the Sudanese judge has ruled there is enough evidence to charge the pastors, and two of those charges carry the death penalty. The ACLJ has “launched a massive letter-writing campaign to Sudan’s new Minister of Justice demanding Sudan follow international law, ensure that these persecuted pastors can properly prepare a defense, and that the case be dismissed for a lack of evidence. The more letters we send to him, the higher the international pressure. The higher the international pressure, the more likely Pastors Michael and Peter will find justice and freedom. It’s worked before and it can work again.” (http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/aclj-launches-letter-writing-campaign-to-save-pastors-in-sudan) You can write a letter to Sudan’s Minister of Justice (a letter has already been written, you simply sign your name) at http://beheardproject.com/sudan#write. You can add your name to the petition at http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign.


UPDATE JULY 7, 2015: The judge has ruled that there is sufficient evidence to charge the pastors with the offenses, unfortunately. The next step is for the defense to make its case on Tuesday, July 14. The defense will have to counter the “evidence” against the pastors by providing evidence of their innocence. After the defense has presented its case, the Sudanese court will look at all the evidence, and either drop the charges or convict the pastors. After the pastors’ court hearing, “the attorney requested access with his clients—a right that is guaranteed both under Sudanese law and international law—but the judge only had authority to grant him visitation at the court.” (ACLJ) The pastors’ attorney was only given 10-15 minutes at the court to prepare his defense. The attorney has also been denied access to the pastors in prison, making it very difficult to work with them on their defense. This is a violation of Sudan’s constitution, so the attorney will be appealing this matter to the prison authorities on Sunday, July 12. You can read a full update here: http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/sudanese-judge-finds-sufficient-evidence-convict-christian-pastors-defense-next-trial As always, please continue to pray and add your names to the petition to free these two innocent pastors: http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign.


UPDATE JUNE 30, 2015: According to the ACLJ, the prosecution rested its case this last Thursday, June 25. While the prosecution did call its last witness, this witness (like the others) didn’t offer any new evidence against the pastors. The pastors were allowed to visit with their wives at the court. While both pastors are no longer shackled or in solitary confinement, they are still separated. On July 2nd, both pastors will take the stand so that the judge can ask them about the allegations. According to the ACLJ, “Under Sudanese law, if the judge concludes there is a lack of evidence on all charges, he must dismiss the complaint and discharge the pastors from custody.  If, however, the judge finds sufficient evidence on any or all of the charges levied against them, the defense will put on its case to overcome the presumption of guilt present from the prosecution’s evidence.” Please continue to pray and add your names to the petition to free these two innocent pastors: http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign


UPDATE JUNE 18, 2015: The prosecution has been unable to present witnesses who could help bring any additional evidence against the pastors, so that’s good news. The bad news is the trial has been postponed (again) to the 25th of June, to give the prosecution (the government) time to present the remaining two witnesses (three remaining witnesses were promised, but only one presented.) While the trial continues, the pastors are in solitary confinement, shackled at the ankles. Their families and even their attorney aren’t allowed to visit them. Please pray for strength and peace for the pastors, their families, and the attorney. Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those who are being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. (NLT)


UPDATE June 5, 2015: Pastors Yat and Peter have been moved to a high security prison, and their trial has been postponed to the 15th of June (so that Sudan’s Islamist National Intelligence and Security Service has more time to produce “evidence”.) This isn’t good news, but God can do anything. Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (NLT) Please continue to pray for these pastors, their families, and their congregations, and also for those who are bringing the trumped-up charges against them. The more people who sign the petition, the greater the international outcry: http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign


May 28, 2015: Just heard about these two imprisoned pastors. According to aclj.org:

Two Christian pastors face a possible death sentence because of their Christian faith. In just a matter of days, Pastors Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith are set to face a trial in Sudan on trumped-up charges.  They could hang for their faith. Both pastors, originally from South Sudan, were arrested by Sudan’s Islamist government five months ago. The two pastors disappeared amidst a government crackdown against Christianity.  Pastor Ruot was arrested on December 21, 2014, and his friend, Pastor Reith, was arrested a few weeks later, on January 11, 2015, after inquiring about his friend’s disappearance. Lisa Daftari of Fox News reports:

Two Christian pastors from South Sudan who traveled north to Sudan and were arrested on charges of spying could face the death penalty when their trial begins next week, according to their attorneys. Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith, both Presbyterian pastors from the breakaway Christian nation of South Sudan, are being held by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services on charges of undermining the constitution and espionage. Their supporters say their arrest and pending trial is just the latest effort by the militant Islamist government in Khartoum to stamp out Christianity. . . . The pair also was charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs,” which call for imprisonment. The trial was set to begin Tuesday, but was postponed to May 31.

Even worse, Sudan’s “NISS officials have demanded $12,000 from the Church for the release of the pastors . . . .” This is nothing more than cold-blooded extortion to profit from the threat of execution of these Christians pastors. In just a few days they will face a jihadist sham trial on trump-up charges by an Islamist government focused on persecuting Christians.  Sudan is trying to make a statement. This is just the latest example of the Sudanese Islamist government’s targeted persecution of Christians. This is not the first time the Sudanese judicial system has been used as a weapon to exterminate Christians. Last year, Sudan sentenced Christian mom Meriam Ibrahim to hang for her Christian faith.  After weeks of tireless advocacy by the ACLJ and other global advocates for persecuted Christians, she was set free. Sudan will listen to international pressure.  Because hundreds of thousands of people from all across the world spoke out, demanding her freedom, Meriam Ibrahim is now safe and free with her family in America. Yet the persecution continues. As Lisa Daftari reports, “Marginalization of Christians has dramatically increased since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.”  Her report also explains, Sudan’s NISS intelligence forces, led by hard-line Islamists, persecute the country’s Christians and use Shariah law to extort Christians and churches. The 2015 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommends that Sudan continue to be categorized as a “Country of Particular Concern” by the State Department, as it has been since 1999, for its ongoing and systemic human rights abuses against Christians. At the ACLJ, we are again mobilizing our international resources, demanding that Sudan release these innocent pastors You have spoken out before and saved lives. We need you to join us again. Time is running out for Pastors Ruot and Reith. Be heard now before it’s too late. Sign the petition at BeHeardProject.com.

I would add that you please pray for these imprisoned pastors and their families in this obviously difficult and scary time. Pray for release, but most importantly pray that they would not waiver in their faith. God released Meriam Ibrahim; He can release these pastors if it’s His will.