Persecution Podcast 156: Syria, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Indonesia and Israel
David and Dory share prayer updates for Syria, Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Indonesia. Afterward, Steven and Dr. Naim Khoury share their experiences as Christians in the Holy Land.
VOM partners in Syria were forced to abbreviate and cancel Easter celebrations due to fighting in the region. “We canceled the Good Friday service because of the fight,” wrote one partner, “and we did the whole service of Easter … in 40 minutes.” A mortar exploded on Good Friday in front of the building where this contact lives, killing one woman. Another exploded the following Monday, killing two others. Our partner had two hours of electricity on Wednesday after five days without. The fighting also cost this group around $10,000 in literature and rent when their apartment housing a small bookstore was destroyed by a bomb. “Any blessed news? Yes!” the partner wrote. “We are still here, thankful for the protection of our Lord. We had the blessed chance to distribute food packages to 60 families.” This contact also still has three active Bible classes in the region.
Islamists killed 10 members of one family on Feb. 21 in an evening attack near Jos. Five of those killed were children, ranging in age from 9 months to 5 years old. At about 8 p.m., around 40 armed militants entered the home of the Musa family near the entrance of Kogom Village. They broke down the doors of a home shared by four adult siblings and their families, then brutally killed everyone they encountered with machetes and automatic rifles. Two family members in their 20s, Habila Musa, and Regina, the wife of Jacob Musa, were the only survivors of the attack. Regina is deeply traumatized; the militants killed not only her husband but also her three children, ages 9 months old, 3 years old and 5 years old.
The leaders of two small Baptist churches in Azerbaijan have been fined for holding worship services and threatened with tougher penalties if they don’t stop. At a hearing on Good Friday, judges fined pastors Zaur Balayev and Hamid Shabanov 1,500 AZN ($1,900) each, according to contacts. The fines amount to more than a year’s salary for a laborer. Zaur Balayev spent nearly a year in prison for his Christian work in 2007–2008, and he is currently caring for his wife, who is ill with cancer. The fine for Hamid Shabanov was issued to his wife, Hinayat, in his place, since Hamid was out of the country. Hamid has also spent time in prison.
Pray for 110 orphans whose parents were killed by Muslim fundamentalists during the 1999–2002 jihad attacks. VOM provides school fees for the children.