Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was released Saturday, Sept. 8, after a trial where he was found guilty of evangelizing Muslims. Youcef was not charged with apostasy, or leaving Islam. He was sentenced to three years, which he’s already served. Youcef is free, praise God!
The work is not over!
In a sense, Pastor Youcef became the poster child for the persecuted church. For reasons unknown, the usually quiet media picked-up Youcef’s story, shared it nationwide, and many of us learned for the first time, that Christians are truly being murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is that thousands of Christians (some yearly estimates exceed 150,000) are murdered annually for their Christian faith.
Hundreds of thousands more are beaten, abused, banished from their communities, and/or arrested and jailed.
What’s our response?
We Must Pray
If you are a Christian, you are a part of the body called the church. Therefore, if the church is being persecuted anywhere, you too are being persecuted. Do you understand that? Far too often we sit around lamenting how the church is suffering overseas. We utter things like, “We’ve been spared for now, but the ways things are going, it won’t be long before they start arresting and killing us.”
That’s nonsense. Oh, not the part about the time not being long before those atrocities occur in the USA (we’ve already see it happening on a smaller scale), but that we have been spared from the persecution.
If our brothers and sisters are struggling anywhere, in compassion, we suffer as well. If we’re not, then we don’t fully understand the dynamic and holistic qualities of Christ’s church. In whole, we are His bride. As a starting point, we must pray for her.
I visited the Voice of the Martyrs website and (without their permission), copied [onto the blog] just a few of the Christians who have been arrested for their faith. Each of their names is linked back to the VOM prisoner alert page where you can learn more about these folks in particular and the persecuted church in general. There, you can also sign up for their newsletter and emails and learn how you can become prayerfully involved. Remember, God is powerful and He manifests Himself through prayer!
Just do it.
Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me (Romans 15:30)
Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” ~ Corrie ten Boom
On Feb. 19, 2007, Father Nguyen Van Ly was arrested in Hue, Vietnam for distributing material “harmful to the state.” In March, he was sentenced to eight years in prison. He has issued statements criticizing the government’s confiscation of church property, lack of seminary training and the influence of the state in church teachings and has been a powerful advocate for Christian freedom.
On March 15, 2010, Father Nguyen was released on medical parole after he suffered three debilitating strokes. He spent 16 months convalescing before the government demanded he return to complete his sentence.
Seriously ill and weak, Father Nguyen was rearrested on July 25, 2011.
Behnam Irani, a 41-year-old pastor from Karaj, Iran, was convicted of crimes against national security in January 2011 and sentenced to one year in prison. After voluntarily surrendering to authorities on May 31 to begin his sentence, he learned that he would be forced to serve five years in connection with a previous conviction.
Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS) raided Irani’s house church on April 14, 2010, and assaulted him before taking him into custody. Although he was released on bail two months after his arrest, he later received the one-year prison sentence.
When Irani voluntarily began serving his sentence in May 2011, he was prepared to spend one year in prison. But he received a letter in October stating that he must now serve five years from his previous sentence.
On March 9, 2010, a criminal court in Uzbekistan sentenced 27-year-old Tohar Haydarov to 10 years in prison for the “Illegal sale of narcotic or psychotropic substances in large quantities,” according to Forum 18 News Service. Members of the Baptist church in Uzbekistan insist that the charges are fabricated and that Haydarov’s sentence was punishment for his religious activity. It is unclear why Haydarov received a 10-year sentence.
On Jan. 11, 2010, Imran Ghafur Masih was sentenced to life in prison and fined 100,000 rupees ($1,155 U.S.), according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. His family has appealed the decision to the Pakistan High Court and is awaiting a hearing date.
On July 1, 2009, Pakistani police arrested Imran Ghafur in Punjab province after Muslims accused him of burning pages of the Quran. While cleaning his brother’s retail shop, Imran removed the trash he had collected, intending to burn some of it. While burning the trash, pages of an Islamic book flew into the fire and burned. Imran’s neighbor, Haji Liaqat, saw the burned pages of the Islamic book and alerted other Muslims in the area. “Haji Liaqat saw the burned pages, and he aggressively told all resident people and travelers that Imran burnt the pages of a Quran also,” a VOM contact said. “He was telling everybody that Imran Ghafur is burning the Quran … he should be killed.”
Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old Pakistani woman from the village of Ittanwali, was arrested by police on Friday, June 19, 2009. Asia (also called Asia Noreen) is the wife of 50-year-old Ashiq Masih, and their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of 1,500 families…There was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them Jesus is alive, but Mohammad is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”
Upon hearing this, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from the mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey. Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan.
Seventeen months after Asia’s arrest, she was convicted of violating subsection C of Pakistan’s 295 blasphemy law – blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad – and was sentenced to death.
In September 2007 Chinese government officials closed Alimujiang Yimiti’s business and accused him of using it as a cover up for “preaching Christianity among people of Uyghur ethnicity.” He was later arrested in January 2008 and accused of “subversion of the national government and endangering national security,” a crime punishable by death.
In Feb. 2011, the Higher People’s Court of Xinjiang notified Alimujiang, who is serving his sentence, that they upheld the original sentence of 15 years of imprisonment in the reconsideration.
Learn more about Voice of the Martyrs website HERE.
- Pakistani Christian demand probe in all cases lodged under blasphemy (mumbailaity.wordpress.com)
- Iranian Pastor Freed From Death Row, But Worries Persist About His Safety (cnsnews.com)
- Nadarkhani Released, but Iranian Christians Still Persecuted (commentarymagazine.com)
- Iran: Pray for Pastor Behnam Irani, others (genebrooks.blogspot.com)
- Pakistan court delays blasphemy case hearing (amyloutarry.wordpress.com)
- Police: Muslim cleric framed girl in Pakistan blasphemy case (edition.cnn.com)
- Muslim Cleric Burns Qu’ran, Frames Girl (ayannanahmias.com)
- Shiva Nazar Ahari entered Evin prison to serve 4-year sentence (sabzgush.wordpress.com)
- Vietnam: Priests Protest Church Attacks (eurasiareview.com)
You you agree that Christians should be praying consistently for the persecuted church, then you should share the link to this blog or the VOM link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, email, or other means. It really is that important.