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On March 10, the first court hearing was held for five Christians of Muslim background who face charges relating to public order, national security and evangelism. The five believers, all from Shiraz, were arrested in October during an evening raid on a prayer service in a house. They have been detained and kept apart from other prisoners since their arrest. Another imprisoned Iranian believer, Pastor Behnam Irani, remains very ill. He has been imprisoned in Karaj since May 2011. In addition to intestinal problems, he is now suffering from a herniated disc and is unable to walk. Despite his deteriorating health and weight loss, he has been denied proper medical assistance. He has also suffered from beatings and has been under physical and psychological pressure. Pray that God will grant peace to the five facing trial and strength to Pastor Behnam Irani.
Nepal—Maoists Force Evangelist to Leave Village Source: VOM Sources
Maoists in Nepal recently accused an evangelist of defiling the harmony of society and ordered him to leave his village within seven days. Before telling him to leave, the communist Maoists asked the family to give up their Christian faith. They threatened to kill the evangelist and stayed with him for seven days before finally ordering him and his family, including two children, to leave the village. The evangelist had planted a church that had grown to more than 75 members in his rural Nepali village. A VOM field worker helped the family move into temporary housing while they look for a more permanent home. “It was very challenging to bring them here,” he said, “[but] thanks to our living God who helped us arrive very safe.” He said the family will plant a new church elsewhere after taking several days of rest. Pray for the family as they adjust to this change, and pray that God will guide their next steps.
Sudan—Government Detains Christians Sources: International Christian Concern, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
The Sudanese government has detained at least 55 Christians, including church leaders, for more than two weeks without filing charges against them. The group, which has no political affiliations, has been falsely accused of receiving money from foreign countries, including Israel. Last year, the government began targeting Christians who work in volunteer organizations, resulting in the deportation of at least 100 foreign workers, and a number of Sudanese Christians have been detained for questioning. Sudan’s president has repeatedly stated that Sudan will be 100 percent Islamic. Pray for the release of the 55 Christians.
Pray for the project workers who help facilitate family visits for Christian prisoners in Vietnam. This year, at least 60 women will travel to visit their husbands, who are imprisoned for their faith in northern Vietnam. The women will bring food, medicine and clothing to their husbands to help sustain them for the next year. Prisoners are allowed to see their families only once per year.