About 40 local government officials watched as a bulldozer destroyed the unfinished church building of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in the Bekasi region on March 21. Officials ordered the destruction because the HKBP had no building permit. Although church leaders were in the process of applying for a permit, the church’s construction was strongly opposed by the mainly Muslim neighborhood. On March 21, the 600-strong congregation met to pray that the demolition would be stopped, and they pleaded with officials to rethink their decision. Local church leaders and rights campaigners insist that the demolition was illegal under the constitution, which guarantees freedom of worship. The church’s pastor, Torang Parulian Simanjuntak, said he intends to file a lawsuit against the Bekasi Regency’s administration. He also said the church will continue to meet near the demolished church.
Afghanistan—Christians Thankful for Answered Prayers Sources: International Prayer Council and the World Prayer Assembly
Christian workers in Afghanistan are praising God for several recent answers to prayer. Authorities recently stopped a group of Taliban fighters who were preparing to attack multiple sites. The Taliban had loaded a truck with eight tons of explosives, but it did not blow up. It was the largest truck bomb ever defused in the city and had the potential to destroy everything within a 5,000-foot radius. Five of the Taliban militants were killed and two were captured. The Christian workers also report that several Pashtun tribal leaders have told local Taliban members that the Taliban can no longer use their territory. The Christian workers ask for prayer that the Taliban networks will be broken, that there will be no spring offensive by the Taliban, that more tribal leaders will deny use of their lands to the Taliban and that local believers will grow in courage.
Iran—Another Young Convert Arrested Source: Mohabat News
On March 7, 28-year-old Ebrahim Firouzi was arrested on his way to work by plainclothes officers. No one in the young man’s family was notified of his arrest, and they were greatly concerned over his sudden disappearance. Observers see the arrest of this young convert as more evidence of the government’s campaign to suppress Christianity and pressure new believers. Pray for Ebrahim, who has just been transferred to Evin Prison.