Saeed Abedini Letter-Writing Campaign

The American Center for Law and Justice plans to send letters to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, requesting that he pressure Iran to release Pastor Saeed. General Ban Ki-moon will be meeting with the president of Iran in New York, so this is an opportune time to adamantly push for Saeed’s release.

You can sign a letter here: http://beheardproject.com/saeed#write

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Pastors Yat Michael Ruot & Peter Yein Reith RELEASED

Both Sudanese pastors have been released! Here is the full report: http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/breaking-christian-pastors-michael-and-peter-released

Mariam Ibraheem (who was on death row in Sudan for her faith) was released due to international pressure, and now pastors Yat Michael Ruot & Peter Yein Reith have also been released. Many thanks to those who signed the petitions, wrote letters, and special thanks to those who prayed!

Defense Presented

The defense has presented its case in the ongoing trial of pastors Michael and Peter in Sudan (but, for the record, their attorney didn’t have access to the pastors before the defense – a violation of international human rights laws.) Two respected witnesses were called to testify of the pastors’ innocence. Present at the trial were two representatives from Sudan’s Ministry of Justice, and other representatives from other Embassies, including a representative from the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, which is good. Closing arguments are expected on July 23rd, and a final decision is expected on August 5th. Please continue to pray.

Info from http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/pastors-michael-and-peter-present-their-defense-in-sudan

Reminder: Defense Tomorrow

This is just a reminder that the defense will present its case tomorrow, Tuesday, July 14th, in defense of pastors Michael and Peter. Please pray for wisdom for their attorney, as he hasn’t been able to meet with the pastors as much as he would’ve liked (to go over the defense and stuff.) Pray also that through the attorney’s defense, the Lord would show the Sudanese judge that these men are innocent. 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.

Also, prayers for peace, comfort, strength, and boldness for the attorney, the pastors, and their families, as this is understandably a stressful time. And most importantly, pray for the Lord’s will to be carried out in this situation.

Praise: Pastor Behnam Irani, Plus an Update on Asia Bibi

As we pray for the release of pastors Michael and Peter in Sudan, we can thank the Lord for the temporary release of Pastor Behnam Irani in Iran! Pastor Behnam has been able to spend time with his family for the first time in four and a half years. He’s been released for 15 days; he returns on the 19th of July. While his temporary release is a blessing, let us pray that this release becomes unconditionally permanent. He’s currently serving a six-year sentence.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, has been imprisoned for six years in Pakistan. She’s been on death row because of her faith for years; now, militants have put a bounty on her head, saying that even “if the court acquits her they will ensure the death sentence stands.” (http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/mother-of-five-on-death-row-with-bounty-on-her-head)  She’s appealed her sentence to Pakistan’s Supreme Court, but has yet to hear when her case will be heard. She’s suffering from internal bleeding, and consequently needs medical attention. Please pray for her health and for her immediate and unconditional release. Also pray that she and her family will be able to move to a safer country, away from those who want her dead.

Remember the Persecuted

Just read a story yesterday about a city in Iraq (Qaraqosh) being taken over by IS. IS was systematically going house to house to all the Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus. As of yesterday no child had, and so far all had consequently been beheaded. But not the parents. The UN has withdrawn and the missionaries are on their own. A particular missionary has asked for prayers, as he and his parish are determined to stick it out for the sake of the families – even if it means their own deaths. He is very afraid and has no idea how to even begin ministering to these families who have seen their children martyred. Yet he says he knows God has called him for some reason to be His voice and hands at this place and at this time. Even so, he is begging for prayers for courage to live out his vocation in such dire circumstances (and, like the children, accept martyrdom if he is called to do so.) Yesterday, IS was about 10 minutes from where the missionary team (Crisis Relief International) was working. At the moment, I don’t know any further details.

It’s incredible that children would choose martyrdom over denying Jesus. I hope that makes us all ask ourselves, “What if I was in that situation? Would I choose Jesus even if that meant death?” At the moment, we’re pretty safe here in America. But imagine what it would be like to know there’s a terrorist group where you live. To hear they’re just 10 minutes away. To have to flee for your life without even having time to pack any of your possessions. Or perhaps you receive no warning and the next thing you know IS is knocking down your door, demanding that you deny Jesus and convert to Islam or die.

It’s hard for us who live in free countries to imagine being persecuted for our faith. But we must stop and try our very best to imagine such a circumstance, for this is the only way we will even begin to understand what our Christian brothers and sisters are going through!

With this week’s blog, I ask each and every one of you to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East as they face IS. And IS isn’t just killing Christians – it’s killing anyone and everyone who won’t accept their extremely radical form of Islam. So please pray for everyone who faces the threat of IS daily. And pray that our brothers and sisters would be given the strength and the courage to never deny Jesus, even in the face of torture and death. Thank you.

Hebrews 13:3  Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV)