Worsening Situation in Central Asian City Where Pastors Were Arrested
Last week we reported that four Central Asian pastors were arrested during a secret meeting and six other believers present at the meeting were fined large sums. Please continue praying for the four pastors whose release was scheduled for Friday, May 5. And pray for those who are facing large fines of more than $850 USD each. They will be submitting an appeal for cassation to negotiate a lesser fine.
The situation for believers there is growing steadily worse. A group of police in black masks recently raided a wedding ceremony being conducted at the home of some believers. Not only did the police interrupt the ceremony, but they also detained twelve young people, took their cell-phones, and questioned all of them. The believers’ houses were searched and their computers confiscated. Police also searched the houses of their unbelieving neighbors, with the presumed motive of building animosity between the unbelievers and their Christians neighbors.
During the intense rounds of questioning, the police railed against the young believers for following Christ, saying, “You are not Christians, you are Muslims as you were born—you can’t do this.”
Two of the 12 young believers were female university students who were preparing to pass State exams and graduate from the university last week. The police called the university to inform them that the girls are “sectarian” ; they are now barred from the exams and may not obtain their degrees in spite of their excellent academic standings at the university.
Pray also for the young couple whose wedding the police raid interrupted. Women from the police department called the couple’s Muslim parents and tried to stop their wedding altogether. She asked bride’s parents not to let their daughter marry “sectarian” and the same with groom’s parents. Despite that interference, the bride and groom were married the next day. They still need our prayers—for these sad memories, for their fledgling marriage that is starting under difficult circumstances, for their relationships with their families, and for their faith—for God’s protection on them.
Pray for all of the Christians in that town. Since the arrest of the four pastors, many other believers have been summoned to police and security offices for questioning. Now policemen are preparing false criminal cases against some of those twelve young believers with the intention of imprisoning them, especially the three leaders who organized and led the wedding ceremony, and against the owner of the house in which the incident took place.
Father, we cry out to You on behalf of fellow believers in this Central Asian City where pressure on them by the authorities and by their families is increasing. Prayerfully, the pastors have been released by now, but we pray for much wisdom in the days and weeks to come as they straddle their desire to lead the group of Christians there in worship versus the pressure of authorities to stop them. And we pray for a good resolution regarding the fines. We lift before Your throne of grace this young, newly-married couple that You might turn the sadness of their wedding day into the joy of Your presence with them. And we pray for their families to turn their hearts toward You as they see Your hand of protection over their son and daughter, joined now in holy wedlock. We pray for the university women, that the school authorities will relent and allow them to complete their exams and receive their diplomas. Protect the others as well, Father. Grow their faith even through this persecution and give peace to their distraught minds. In the name of Jesus, who hears the cry of the oppressed and reaches down to rescue them from their oppression. Amen.