Persecution Podcast 140: Syria, Kenya, Azerbaijan and Iraq
David and Dory share prayer updates for the countries of Syria, Kenya, Azerbaijan and Iraq.
Two members of the United Bible Society were kidnapped by radicals recently in Aleppo. The kidnappers demanded a $200,000 ransom, according to a VOM contact who is close to one of the men. One of the kidnapped men was released a few days later, but the other remains with his captors. In response to the kidnapping, another Syrian partner wrote, “The pressure on Christians started, and many of the Islamic groups are working hard to oblige the Christians to leave the country.” He also reported that many churches have been damaged in the fighting. “During the last year we had a number of churches destroyed,” he wrote. “[That has] never happened in Syria, even during the whole last hundred years.” Pray for wisdom for Syrian Christians, who must decide whether to flee or stay. Also pray for the safe and quick return of the Bible Society worker still being held for ransom.
A Nov. 4 grenade attack by the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab killed a police chaplain and wounded 11 worshipers at a church inside a Garissa police compound. Militants tossed the grenade onto the roof of the church at about 10 a.m. “Most of those injured are police officers because the church is inside an Administration Police camp,” a police officer said. Several other churches closed early that day, in fear of another attack. Gunmen attacked two other churches in Garissa last July, killing 18 and wounding 40, and a church in Nairobi was bombed in September. Pray for Christians in Kenya, who are increasingly targeted by extremists.
The home of a Baptist pastor who spent almost a year in prison was raided while he and his wife were abroad seeking treatment for her pancreatic cancer. Zaur Balaev was sentenced to two years in prison for holding “illegal religious meetings” in 2007. (Pastor Balaev was featured on www.prisoneralert.com so readers could write to him.) He was released in March 2008 during an amnesty, and VOM workers met Zaur as he left the prison. His wife was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the couple had traveled to Russia so that she could undergo surgery. They had planned to continue on to Germany for chemotherapy but were delayed by a lack of funds. While the couple was out of the country, officials raided a meeting being held at their home. Officers took photographs of the house and seized about 17 pieces of Christian literature, including New Testaments and notebooks. “They told us it is illegal to meet without registration,” one of the church members told Forum 18. Pray that God will comfort the Balaev family.
Pray for the recipients of Action Packs and Bibles in the Baghdad and Kirkuk areas. VOM is developing an in-country persecution network to help identify and serve persecuted Christians in Iraq.