At least 107 people were killed in the Baghdad area on July 23 in a wave of coordinated bombings and shootings. Of the 19 towns affected, the worst hit was a Sunni neighborhood in which 41 people were killed. The attacks are thought to be the work of al-Qaida. “It has been a terrible day here in Baghdad,” said a VOM contact. “None of our people have been killed as far as we know, but there have been severe injuries. We are just trying to see how we can help people. We do not know how much worse it will get.” Sectarian violence is on the rise in Iraq amid growing political tensions. At least 237 people were killed during the month of June. “There have been further threats sent to us as Christians today,” the VOM contact said. “Thank you for your prayers. We need them.” Pray for Iraqi Christians as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Iran—Concerns Grow for Imprisoned Pastor Source: Present Truth Ministries, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release International
Imprisoned Iranian pastor Behnam Irani is gravely ill as a result of harsh treatment that he has endured in Karaj’s Ghezel Hesar Prison. The 41-year-old pastor, who leads the Church of Iran in Karaj, was convicted of crimes against humanity in January 2011 and sentenced to six years in prison. He reportedly has been beaten regularly by cellmates and prison authorities, and conditions in the prison have been difficult for him. Pastor Irani temporarily lost consciousness recently, and his health is said to be declining steadily. He suffers from a bleeding ulcer and colon complications, and he also has poor eyesight and trouble walking. His family fears that he may not survive much longer. According to reports, he was arrested while conducting a Bible study for young men who had recently become Christians. Pastor Irani, who has a wife and two children, had been arrested twice before in connection with house church activities. Pray for Pastor Irani’s family, and pray that he will be healed so he can continue his outreach.
Uzbekistan—Believer Charged for Teaching Religion Sources: Forum 18 News Service
A believer from Fergana faces up to three years in prison on a charge of illegally teaching religion. Yelena Kim was accused of violating the procedure for teaching religious doctrine after police and government officials raided her house church during an April 29 Sunday service. Although Yelena was in a different city at the time of the raid, she owns the home where the church meets for services. In a subsequent raid on her home, authorities seized printed materials, music, a photocopier and Bibles. Officials also filed complaints against her husband, Eduard Kim, and church member Losif Skaev. The two men will be called as witnesses against Yelena during her trial. When a judge asked Eduard who led the church and who taught the faith to those who join, Eduard replied, “The leader is Jesus Christ, and all the church members testify to others about God.” Yelena Kim has been fined for similar charges in the past. Pray that Yelena will be acquitted and that the church will be a shining light that draws others to Jesus.
Asia VOM Project
Pray for six children in a VOM-supported safe house. Five of the children are sons and daughters of tribal Christian families, and one child was expelled from her house by her unbelieving family. The children will attend school while living at the safe house.