1,000 Young Adults Show Up for Conference in Aleppo, Syria
“I was astounded by the number of people showing up with no fear for their life. Yet they took the risk and showed up by faith,” a bishop of the Armenian church said after a meeting for young adults in Aleppo. In Aleppo the situation is hazardous. Only a few days before the training, Open Doors received information of a believer who shared that, “Aleppo is surrounded by the free Syrian army and cut off of all support for a few days now. They cannot get food in and people are becoming more fearful as they are surrounded. They are expecting a big attack any minute.” Despite these circumstances, about 1,000 people attended the meeting, organized in cooperation with a local partner of Open Doors. Around 850 young men and women turned out. Another 200 came but there was no place for them in the church and had to be turned away due to security concerns. Among the young adults were several priests, nuns and bishops from the Roman, Chaldean, Syriac and Armenian churches in Aleppo. Some of them also participated in sharing encouraging words. An Open Doors fieldworker shared that the feedback afterwards was powerful. One said he discovered that, “we are the hope of the church through our prayer and presence.” Another visitor explained that she “realized that they are the hope and God can use them; we have a purpose to bring the church and country back to life.” The meeting focused on what is the church and how to live your faith in the church and how to testify of Jesus during the civil war. The Open Doors fieldworker reported: “Regardless of fear, threats and bombs all around… yes, the meeting took place.” Syria is ranked No. 13 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List.
Court Case Hangs over Indonesian Pastor- World Watch Monitor
An Indonesian pastor remains in a tortured psychological state as a legal case against him lingers on.
Palti Panjaitan, who runs the HKBP Filadelfia church in the village of Jejalen Jaya, east of Bekasi, was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve last year. The pastor has always maintained that he did not assault Abdul Aziz Bin Naimun and was in fact the subject of intimidation and death threats by his accuser. However, some eight months after the incident, the case goes on and the pastor was deemed too psychologically fragile to attend his latest hearing last month. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRA) wrote a letter to the Indonesian national police on August 22 imploring them to drop all charges against the pastor and questioning the logic of the local police. The AHRC stated the case against Panjaitan was “fabricated” and “lacking evidence.” With no evidence to support the case against Rev. Panjaitan, we are questioning the legal and moral reasoning of your officers at Bekasi District Police in being so persistent in this case,” AHRC wrote. Indonesia is ranked No. 45 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List.
Christian Arrested, Detained in Algeria
A Christian man, Sofiane , from the Algerian city of Biskra, was arrested on Friday by the National Gendarmerie at a check point near the city of Biskra, according to a member of the Protestant church of Algeria (EPA). Sofiane, married and father of one child, came with a shared taxi from the city of Oran when he was arrested by members of the Gendarmerie. He was taken to Biskra for questioning. Also, according to the source, “the police raided his family home and took his laptop and other personal items. The Christian community in Algeria, including EPA-officials, is concerned because of the news of the arrest of one of its members and because the man is still in custody. “When Sofiane’s wife went to the police station to find out more about her husband, they said that they couldn’t give more information,” according to the source. Algeria is ranked No. 29 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List.
(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected]).