Pastor in Turkmenistan Sentenced to Four Years in Labor Camp
On October 21st, Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev was charged with swindling money and given a four-year prison sentence, which he must serve in the general regime labor camp in Seydi, Turkmenistan. In an11-page indictment Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev had allegedly extracted money from five church members, who testified against him. Other church members vigorously refuted the charges insisting that the whole case was fabricated to stop Ilmurad Nurliev’s Christian activities. If however, Ilmurad pays the amount of the alleged swindle, he may be eligible for a prisoner amnesty. In addition, Pastor Nurliev has been given ten days from the trial date to lodge an appeal. If the appeal is not successful, it is almost certain that Ilmurad will be sent to the Seydi labor camp.
Burma’s Ethnic Christians Fear Bleak Future after Election
Christians in Burma are concerned about the upcoming election (the first in 20 years). According to Compass News it is possible that afterwards, the military regime will try to “cleanse” the areas of Christianity in Turkmenistan. Most of the slightly more than two million Christians in Burma (also called Myanmar) reside along the country’s border with Thailand, China and India which falls under the military’s target zone.
The Burmese junta however is expected to remain at the helm of affairs after the election. The majority of people in Burma are not happy with the military’s USDP party, and military generals are expected to twist the results in its favor, said Htet Aung, chief election reporter at Irrawaddy.
A man who identified himself only as Pastor Joseph, who fled Burma as a child, referred to the junta’s clandestine campaign to wipe out Christians from the country. At least four years ago a secret memo circulated in Karen state, “The text, which opens with the line, ‘There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practiced,’ calls for anyone caught evangelizing to be imprisoned,” the British daily Telegraph reported Jan. 21, 2007. “It advises, ‘The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilize its weakness.'”
There is “utter confusion” among people, and they do not know if they should vote or not, said Aung Zaw, editor of Irrawaddy. While the second largest party, the National Unity Party, is pro-military, there are few pro-democracy and ethnic minority parties. “Many of the pro-democracy and ethnic minority candidates have little or no experience in politics,” Aung said. “All those who had some experience have been in jail as political prisoners for years.” For now, an uneasy calm prevails for Christians in the Thai-Burma border region.
Increase in Foreign Christian Workers Expelled from Arabian Peninsula
Throughout the Arabian Peninsula, there has been a recent increase of Christian workers who have either been threatened or deported. Often, no concrete reasons are given. In some cases, the foreign Christians involved have been working in the region for many years. In the past few months, Christian expats were deported from Qatar, Oman and Yemen. A wave of deportations of Christian expats has already been observed in the Maghreb (especially in Morocco, which started in 2009 and still continues). It’s remarkable that this trend does not only occur on a national but also on regional level and that it is currently happening simultaneously. It may be a method by local governments to resist possible foreign influence and keep in with Islamists who are pressuring for influence over the political system.
Update from the Field:
Tribal Believer Graduates from Open Doors’ Women’s Training Program
Like most tribal women in Central Vietnam, Thanh tills her own small piece of land in a remote village. She struggled with weakness and depression. Her children and husband were the only thoughts that kept her from committing suicide. One day, she stepped into a house church in her village and heard the pastor talking about Jesus Christ. “After hearing him, I felt hope was restored in my heart and when he called for people to come forward to receive Christ’s salvation, I immediately responded,” said Thanh. A former Buddhist, Thanh got rid of the ancestral altar that stood her living room. Thanh’ s transformation was fast-tracked when she joined an Open Doors Women’ s Training Program in 2008. This year, she graduated from the course along with 35 other women. According to Thanh, the greatest benefit she received from the program was her increased love and discipline in reading God’s word. Adding to her joy are her three grown up children, who are beginning to understand Thanh’ s faith. Although they have yet to believe in Christ, she continues to pray for them.Open Doors Women’ s Training Program for house churches this year has a total of 2,467 participants all over the country, including the central and the northern provinces.
Father, we pray for the Christians in Burma facing looming opposition and persecution. We ask that You protect and guide them through their hardship, and that after the election the military regime will protect Christians instead of targeting them. We also pray for Pastor Ilmurad to be granted prisoner amnesty, avoiding the Seydi labor camp. Please strengthen him and his wife, allow them to trust You through this time. Father we pray for the foreign Christian aid workers throughout the Arabian Peninsula and surrounds, and we ask for Your shield over them as they continue to carry out the work of the Gospel. Lastly Father, we praise You for the beautiful transformation that Thanh has experienced and we pray that her family and friends will come to a saving knowledge of Christ as well. We lift up to You all the women worldwide who have been transformed by Your love and grace. Father we love You!
Praying with you,
The Prayer Force Team