05 15 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Ramadan 2014: Open Doors USA Offering Prayer Resources
Ramadan is a highly-anticipated time of the year for most of those adhering to the Islamic faith. During the month-long celebration Muslims remember the first revelations of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as re-examine their own lives.
Most Muslims fast in the daylight hours during Ramadan. This year Ramadan will take place June 28-July 27.
This time set aside for Muslims can also be an opportunity for Christians in the West to not only pray for believers in Muslim-dominated countries, but also for the entire Islamic world. As a result, Open Doors USA is launching a prayer campaign during the month of Ramadan.
Each day Open Doors will urge Christians to be “one” with persecuted believers by praying with them and using Scripture. There will also be information provided about these Muslim-dominated countries from Open Doors’ 2014 World Watch List, which highlights the countries where Christians face the most severe persecution.
Open Doors USA Director of Ministries Michele Miller states: “Love, joy and peace are some of the ‘fruit’ found in Galatians 5:22-23. During the month of Ramadan, the most holy month on the Muslim calendar, Open Doors is calling for Christians in the West to pray for the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ to be evident in Christians around the world.
“For 30 days, join in praying for Muslims to encounter Christ and for God’s holiness to pierce the spiritual darkness.”
On July 10, for instance, the focus of prayer will be that God will give increased forbearance to Christians living in Muslim countries.
“‘Must we accept persecution or must we retaliate? We are tired of forgiving just to be attacked again. It is time to defend the honor of God. What must we do?’ asked a brother in Indonesia. Lord, help Christians living in Islamic nations to not seek revenge, but instead to ‘turn the other cheek’ through the power of Your Spirit.”
Open Doors is offering free prayer resources for believers to join in praying for persecuted Christians during Ramadan. You can sign up for these daily updates by going to http://lp.opendoorsusa.org/ramadan/2014/
Mexico: Acteal Prisoner Antonio Perez Released after 17 Years
In 1997, 45 people were killed in what became known as the Acteal Massacre. The majority of the arrests consisted of innocent peasants who had been falsely charged with the murders. Of the 98 men who had been arrested, 30 were known to be evangelical Christians.
This conflict has remained unresolved for 17 years. Over time, the authorities began to acknowledge the innocence of the group of Christian men, and the majority has now been released. Up until a few weeks ago, only a total of six remained in prison.
On April 30, 2014, the case defender, Dr. Maximiliano Cardenas, contacted Open Doors with the news that one more prisoner had been released – Antonio Perez.
Antonio’s faith and reliance on God carried him though his 17 years imprisonment in Mexico’s Ca Hueva and El Amate prisons. Antonio was in his thirties when he was arrested. Up until this point, he had been working as pastor of a church founded by his father, ministering alongside his father and brothers.
In time, Antonio recognized his arrest as an opportunity to continue his pastoral work within the prison. He explained to an Open Doors field worker that, by the grace of God, he was able to remind his fellow prisoners of God’s goodness. “I always knew the Lord needed me inside the prison to take care of his sheep,” he shared.
Join Open Doors in praising the Lord for Antonio’s release. Please continue to pray for him and his family, as they are now waiting for the government to provide them and 24 other Acteal prisoners a new place to live. Pray that he adjusts quickly to his new life outside of prison and that he will continue to share God’s love with the people around him. Please also continue to pray for the five remaining Acteal prisoners.
Iraq: Hundreds of Christians Fleeing Mosul after Jihadist Takeover
Hundreds of Christian families have been fleeing the Iraqi city Mosul since Monday morning. Many Christians are fleeing with only what they can carry to the relatively safe Kurdish region or the Christian Nineveh district.
Christians are leaving the city because on Monday gunmen of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), in Iraq known as Daash, a jihadist militant group, took control of major parts of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq.
A representative for Open Doors in Iraq says that in the monastery of Mar Mattai some 200 families found shelter and in a monastery in Alqosh about 50 families. Several schools in mainly Christian villages opened the doors for the Christian families.
“If this continues, Mosul soon will be emptied of Christians,” the spokesman says. “This could be the last migration of Christians from Mosul.”
Until yesterday an estimated 1,000 Christian families still lived in Mosul.
Militants last night also for a few hours took control of the Governor building in the center of Mosul. According to IraqiNews.com, the governor of Nineveh has left the province.
In addition to Christians, many others are fleeing. The national news agency NINA in Iraq reports that “thousands of families” are leaving.
Daash is controlling several areas in Iraq and lately the gunmen are nearing the borders of the Kurdish region in Iraq where many Christians during the last decade have found a relatively safe refuge from the violence in the rest of Iraq, ranked No. 4 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. The militants of the group are feared because they don’t hesitate to kill people from minority groups.