Posts Tagged ‘Azerbaijan’


 Lezgin People

Do you know your alphabet? If you ask an elderly Lezgin woman, she might ask you, “Which one?” Originally Lezghi was written in an Arabic script. Under communism, a Latin script was introduced, later to be replaced by a Russian Cyrillic script in an effort to Russify the people.

Traditionally they are an agrarian and pastoral people. They are well known for the textiles that their women weave. Some Lezgins work in food processing while others work seasonally making jewelry or weapons. Nonetheless, unemployment among them is as high as 60 percent! This is not likely to change even if they had their own independent Muslim state.

Very few Lezgins are followers of Christ. The vast majority are Sunni Muslims whose religion has a lot of pre-Islamic beliefs and practices. That is changing, however, as young people become secularized and Lezgin clans continue to decline in influence as people leave the mountains for Caspian Sea coast towns in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. As a consequence, they are being exposed to Shi’ite Islam in Azerbaijan; and a number are becoming bilingual in the language of Azerbaijan.

Pray for distribution and use of the JESUS Film and for gospel radio in Lezghi. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives so that they yearn to know the One who is Alpha and Omega. Pray for local fellowships of believers. Pray for Christian development workers or businessmen to establish employment opportunities among the Lezgin people.-TP View article…



Ansari of India

People Name: Ansari

Country Name: India

Population: 9,630,000

Primary Language: Urdu

Primary Religion: Islam

% Evangelical: 0.00

Status: Unreached


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Persecuted ChurchAzerbaijan to further restrict religious freedom

Russian Ministries hopes to launch a Schools Without Walls ministry in Azerbaijan despite the persecution.

Azerbaijan (MNN) ― Azerbaijan’s wide-ranging religious literature censorship system has started to affect evangelical leaders in the country.

Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba was just in the country and says, “Two Baptist pastors were traveling between neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan — authorities confiscated Azerbaijani Bibles.”

According to Forum 18 News, an official of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations said, “Our society doesn’t need books that don’t suit our laws and our beliefs.” He claimed that unspecified religious literature could cause unspecified “social harm and possibly inter-religious and inter-ethnic violence.”

Rakhuba says an amendment allowing strict censorship will be heading for a referendum this month. He says believers may face raids reminiscent of the Cold War if the censorship issue continues. “Local police will be searching homes of evangelical leaders, and they will take all their Christian literature away from them.”

This will mean little, says Rakhuba. “Basically there is a dictatorship in Azerbaijan,” he says.

Russian Ministries works to empower the national evangelical church. They intend to do that despite the persecution. “We’re very much considering and praying and evaluating our resources to see how we can start our School Without Walls program for the next academic year in the fall.”

School without Walls is a program that helps train next generation church leaders, and Rakhuba says their work must continue. “The church is not scared. The church is growing. The church needs a lot more support to continue their ministry in the circumstances like that.”

Support comes in the form of prayer and dollars. Rakhuba says financial support is wide ranging. “The church needs support for training resources, to have more Bibles, to have more Christian literature. All of this is not allowed there, but they know how to smuggle it to Azerbaijan and make it available.”

Pray that God will stop the literature censorship. If that isn’t stopped, pray that God would allow the training to continue and the literature to get into the hands of Christians who need it View article…

Anti-conversion bill coming to India’s Karnataka? View article…

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The Persecution & Prayer Alert

1. House church leaders arrested in Henan province, China

At least 60 house church leaders, including two South Korean pastors, were arrested while attending a seminar in Wolong district, Henan province, on February 11, according to a February 16 report from ChinaAid. Approximately 30 police disrupted the meeting, arrested the Christians and confiscated phones, books and money. Authorities forced the believers to register and pay a fine. Some of the elderly believers were then released. Police from the home provinces of the church leaders were summoned to Henan to escort the Christians to local detention facilities. The South Korean pastors were expelled from China on February 14 for “engaging in illegal religious activities” and have been banned from entering the country for five years. On February 16, two more house church leaders were released after authorities received calls from foreign journalists. At the time of the report, four leaders remained in detention.

Pray for the release of those detained. Pray that Christians in China will continue to stand firm in their faith in the face of opposition (Acts 5:29).

To learn more about those suffering for Christ’s sake in China, go to www.persecution.net/china.htm.
2. Danish Christians deported from Belarus

Two Danish citizens, Erling Laursen and Rolf Bergen, have been ordered to leave Belarus on charges of expressing “ideas of a religious nature,” according to a February 11 report from Forum 18. On February 6, the men attended a prayer service at the Living Faith Church in the city of Gomel. During the service, when the congregation was praying, the pastor noticed a young man recording the event on his cellular phone. The next day, Laursen and Bergen were arrested by local officials while attending another service at the church. Police showed the men the video footage as evidence of their “illegal activity” and a deportation order was drawn up, barring the men from the country for one year. Bergen left Belarus on February 11 and, at last report, Laursen was scheduled to leave on February 19. The deportation brings to 31 the number of foreign citizens barred from Belarus in recent years for their religious activity.

Ask the Lord to embolden these believers as they face opposition for following Him. Pray that God will continue to raise faithful and committed Christians to build His church in Belarus (Matthew 9:36-38).

For more information on the persecution of Christians in Belarus, go to www.persecution.net/belarus.htm.

3. Christian bookshop vandalized in Turkey

A Christian bookshop in the southern city of Adana, Turkey was vandalized twice in recent weeks, according to a February 17 report from Compass Direct. On February 7, the front door of the Soz Kitapevi bookshop was smashed and the security camera destroyed. The damages were repaired, but the building was again attacked on February 12 by two unidentified youths who destroyed the glass door and windows and damaged the door frame. At last report, police were attempting to identify the culprits using the store’s security camera. Although the shop is generally accepted by its Muslim neighbours, the employees have faced some threats in the past. Last November, a man accused the shop of working with the CIA to harm Muslims.

Pray that the attacks on this bookshop will stop. Pray that the bookshop will continue to be a light for Muslims in this community.

To find out more about the plight of Turkish Christians, go to www.persecution.net/turkey.htm.

4. Update: Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council rejects draft religion law

On February 11, Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council declared a recently proposed religion law (see www.persecution.net/kz-2009-01-14.htm) unconstitutional. The Council’s decision was based on the law’s violation of several constitutional articles, including Article 14.2 which states “no one shall be subject to any discrimination for reasons of origin, social, property status, occupation, sex, race, nationality, language, attitude towards religion, convictions, place of residence or any other circumstances.” President Nursultan Nazarbaev has one month to respond to the Council’s decision. Any changes he proposes to the law must be supported by a minimum of two-thirds of the Council to take effect.

5. Update: Azeri pastor convicted

Pastor Hamid Shabanov, who was arrested in late June for allegedly possessing an illegal weapon (see www.persecution.net/az-2008-11-12.htm for more details), has been convicted and sentenced to two years of corrective labour. According to a February 12 report from Forum 18, Shabanov and local Christians are determined to continue the fight to clear his name.

6. From Behind the Wire: VOMC Persecuted Church Prayer Conferences

Don’t miss VOMC’s upcoming Persecuted Church Prayer Conferences in Mississauga, Ontario on March 28 and Edmonton, Alberta on April 4. This year’s conferences will focus on our brothers and sisters in North Korea. Hear the testimony of guest speaker Mr. Kim, a man who served in the North Korean military until he came to know Christ and escaped to China. Learn more about the work of The Voice of the Martyrs in Korea from VOMC co-workers, Eric Foley and Ahn Hyun Sook. Be blessed through the music and worship led by violinist Trevor Dick. VOMC CEO, Glenn Penner, and Greg Musselman will also report on how the mission is serving the Persecuted Church worldwide. For more information, please phone our office at 1.888.298.6423 or check out our conference brochure at www.persecution.net/download/2009confbroch.pdf.

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Persecuted ChurchGood News in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan (MNN) ― Christians across Azerbaijan live under the threat of government harassment. The country’s religion laws can be harsh, imposing severe penalties on violators. Many church leaders encounter legal problems and jail time.

Take, for example, the recent case of Pastor Hamid Shabanov, charged with allegedly holding an illegal weapon — an accusation strongly refuted by his congregation. Authorities transferred Shabanov from prison to house arrest shortly after a November 5th hearing at the Zakatala District Court in northwestern Azerbaijan. After multiple delays, Forum 18 indicates the trial is scheduled to resume November 17.

Shabanov’s difficulties are not unusual. The government forbids expatriate Christians to engage in what they call “religious propaganda,” and there are severe restrictions on distribution of literature for “nontraditional” religious groups. Read more

Egypt: Two Coptic boys, forced to live with father convert-to-Islam,  vow hunger strike to the death if not allowed to return to mother

I was reading the October edition of the Arabic newspaper, Sawt al-Muhajir (“Voice of the Immigrant” Y9N62) which regularly reports the abuses non-Muslims, mostly Christians, suffer living in the Islamic world. I found an update to a story we had originally posted here. According to that report, an Egyptian Christian intentionally converted to Islam simply so he could divorce his wife and remarry another, presumably Muslim, woman.

The problem, however, is that, upon converting to Islam, and despite Article 20 of Egyptian law, “which grants custody of children to their mothers until the age of 15, and a fatwa (religious ruling) from Egypt’s most respected Islamic scholar, Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, giving her custody,” the court granted the man custody of their two Coptic boys, Andrew and Mario. As the mother’s lawyer observed: “This decision was dangerous because it was not taken in accordance with Egyptian law but according to sharia [Islamic] law.”

The update I read in the Arabic paper yesterday stated that, though the mother (Gaballah) has been fervently trying to seek help, international and otherwise, in getting back her sons, the Egyptian (rather, sharia) ruling still stands. More troubling still, the boys, who desperately want to return to their mother, have made a pact that, if the ruling is not turned, they will go on a starvation strike, to the death.  View article…

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Two Christian Sisters Killed in Mosul

Two Christian sisters were killed this morning in the Al Qahira section in Mosul, Iraq, by Islamic terrorists for just being Christians. View article…


Orissa Bishops Warn State Leader of  “Master Plan” to Wipe Out Christianity

Denouncing what they called a “master plan” to wipe out Christianity, the bishops of India’s troubled Orissa region have written a letter to the state’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik concerning the persecution of Christians at the hands of Hindu… View article…


Hope and rest comes to harassed church leaders in Azerbaijan

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Arab World

Christians Are Being Persecuted in Most Arab Countries

Today MEMRI has an article that I’d like you to read in its entirety –   Columnist: Muslims Are Harming Christian Culture

“However, the string of murders and expulsions of Christians, which has been going on for several months, is by far the most grievous – [and] it [must be taken as] a warning that hostility and crimes against minorities may spread to the neighboring countries [as well].
“Christians are being persecuted not only in Iraq, but in most Arab countries, regardless of their numbers there. They are subjected to every possible kind of discrimination, as well as expulsion. The problem is that it is not only Arab officials who are remaining silent [in the face of these crimes] – [they do so] because their primitive mentality is centered on the cult of the ruler – but, alarmingly, so are Arab intellectuals, the elites, non-government organizations, and leaders of the private sector. All these groups look on at these unprecedented [acts of] folly without apprehending the danger with which these crimes are fraught.

“Statistics show that in 2005 the number of Christians in Iraq was as high as 800,000. By early 2008, it had dropped by half, [indicating] that 50 percent of Iraqi Christians had been expelled from their homes and lands.

“Today, this problem is also rampant in Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, and Palestine – and while the situation may be slightly different in Palestine, the trend is the same.

“Let us be honest with ourselves and courageously say out loud that Palestinian Christians are taking many severe blows, yet are suffering in silence so as not to attract attention. I do not refer here to the suffering caused by the occupation… but to actions of the past 20 years at least – that is, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967 – involving the confiscation of Christian property, especially in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Al-Birah.

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