In this article I will draw to your attention many snippets of persecution and points for prayer from around the world. Most of this information comes from the ReligiousLibertyPrayerBulletin of 20 April 2022.
A Christianconvert, RahmatRostamipour was arrested after a dozen plainclothes agents from the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) raided his house, confiscating several Bibles, the family’s phones, ID cards, a number of books, and some tablets used by the couple’s children for school.
Rahmat’s wife, Azar, was summoned and interrogated the following day.
The couple have not been formally charged, but during Azar’s questioning she was informally accused of “propaganda against the regime through involvement in house-church activities”. Iranian authorities consider house-church gatherings outside their sphere of control as “illegal”.
On 6 AprilleadersoftheAouchicheChurch - a 300-member Protestant church in the port city of Bejaïa, in Bejaïa Province, Kabylia Region - were ordered to cease operations effective immediately, as per an administrative closure order issued by the Wali (Governor) on 21 March.
The Aouchiche Church becomes the 17th EPA church closed by order of the authorities since 2017.
At least twelve Christians have been convicted on faith-related charges, including blasphemy and proselytism, receiving prison sentences between six months and five years. The government is increasing its targeting of churches and individual Christians.
When unprecedented protests broke out in Cuba in July 2021 - initially in response to the country's economic crises, but increasingly against the Communist Party's misrule - the authorities responded with a brutal crackdown. Peaceful protesters were beaten in the streets and hundreds were arrested.
While most were subsequently released, Reverend Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo was not. A month after his arrest, Pastor Lorenzo was transferred to Boniato Maximum Security Prison where, asChristianSolidarityWorldwide (CSW) reports (12 April), 'he and the other men in the group of transferees ... were handed over to a group of prisoners who beat and sexually assaulted them. The pastor survived the organised attack and was not sexually assaulted himself, but described it as 'one of the most terrifying and terrible experiences of his life.'
He was later informed that he had been sentenced to eight years in jail on charges of 'public disorder', 'criminal incitement', 'disrespect' and 'assault'. His wife has only been permitted a few brief visits.
InJune 2014 IslamicStateofIraqandSham (greaterSyria) stormed and seized Mosul, the capital of Iraq's Nineveh Province, forcing around 1000 Christian families to flee for their lives. After declaring their Caliphate, Islamic State proceeded to ethnically cleanse and occupy the Nineveh Plains, forcing around 100,000 Assyrians to flee alongside withdrawing Kurdish forces, into Iraqi Kurdistan.
Demolished by IS in 2014, the now rebuilt St Kyriakos Chaldean Catholic Church in Batnaya (north of Mosul) opened its doors this Easter for the first time in eight years. More than 500 attended the Saturday Easter Vigil. ParishdeaconPastorBasimtoldAid to the Church in Need: 'We had worked so hard to get to this stage and the place was so full there were people in the aisles.'
InQaraqosh/Bakhdida (eastofMosul), anestimated 20,000 Assyrian Christians joined the 10 April Palm Sunday procession. However, as Iraqi priest Naim Shoshandy explained, despite the moving images from Palm Sunday in Qaraqosh, Christians in Iraq are still not safe.
The greatest threat remains systemic discrimination, violent persecution, and land grabbing, as Iraqi Arab (Sunni), Kurdish (Sunni) and Shabak (Shi'ite) Muslims, and Iranian paramilitaries exploit Assyrian weakness with impunity.
On Palm Sunday 10 April a huge contingent of armed Fulani Muslims stormed ten unsuspecting, mixed but predominantly Christian, ethnicBeromcommunitiesinPlateauState's historically peaceful Kanam Local Government Area (LGA). According to a reportinNigeria'sDailyTrust (13 April), the attackers arrived at around 11am, on at least 70 motorcycles - each of which carried a driver and at least one shooter.
The terrorists blocked entry/exit points and destroyed telecommunications masts before unleashing their killing spree, targeting men, which continued unhindered until around 3pm. Women and children were left alive, albeit traumatised and vulnerable.
The TTP is based in Pakistan's north-west tribal areas, but also has sanctuary over the border in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. After numerous Pakistani police and soldiers were killed in a string of TTP attacks, thePakistanigovernmentrespondedon 16 Aprilby sending military helicopters to attack TTP safe havens in Afghanistan's Kunar and Khost Provinces.
Atleast 36 peoplewerekilled, including 20 children. The Afghan Taliban, which has never accepted the Durand Line (the British drawn Af-Pak border) is furious. With terrorism escalating in Pakistan's north-west - particularinPeshawarandKhybertribaldistrict(between Peshawar and the Afghan border) - the exposed and vulnerable Christians of Peshawar desperately need our prayers.
OnPalmSunday 10 April, threeIslamicextremists attacked a church in Hajj Abd Allah, a town on the Blue Nile 250 km south-east of Khartoum in Gezira State, destroying property and beating Pastor Estefanos/Stephanou and three women. Allfourrequiredmedicaltreatment.
MorningStarNewsreportsthaton 25 April, 'Judge Awad Ibrahim Kury, a Muslim, found Pastor Stephanou Adil Kujo and [the lead attacker] Ibrahim Kodi guilty of disturbing the peace under Article 69 of Sudan's 1991 penal code and sentenced them to one month in jail beginning April 25.' The Christians' attorney, Shanabo Awad, said the pastor's sentence is unfair and will be appealed.
On a different issue, Al-Monitor reports that former president Omar al-Bashir's now banned National Congress Party (NCP) is being revived, which will bring an end to the tenuous democracy that has been fought so hard for.
They need our prayers
Make this passage from Colossians chapter 2, verses 6 and 7 (TPT) your prayer for these saints : In the same way you received Jesus our Lord and Messiah by faith, continue your journey of faith, progressing further into your union with him! Your spiritual roots go deeply into his life as you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched by your devotion to him! (overflowing with thankfulness – NIV).
Aira Chilcott is a retired secondary school teacher with lots of science andtheology under her belt. Aira is a panellist and editor for PSI and indulges inreading, bushwalking and volunteering at a nature reserve. Aira is married to Billand they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html