Persecution & Prayer Update - February 15, 2017 (Used with permission of VOM Canada)
INDIA: Pastor Found Slain in His Home Sources: Morning Star News, AsiaNews
The body of a pastor in southern India was found hanging in his home on January 20th, one week after a complaint had been filed about harassment from militant Hindu groups in his area. Gideon Periyaswamy, 43, was pastor of the Maknayeem Church in Adayachery village, Kanchipuram District. He was found in the early morning by two women coming to clean the building. Reports indicate that, while posed to look like a suicide, there are strong indications of murder, including a cut on his neck under the rope.
Initially the police would not open an investigation. However, after complaints from Pastor Gideon's family, the police are now promising a full and fair investigation. Protests throughout the state of Tamil Nadu are taking place in response to his death, demanding action against what is perceived to be the ongoing persecution of Christians.
Pastor Gideon had converted from Hinduism 25 years ago and led the church in Adayachery for more than 12 years. Local Hindu militants were unhappy about the church, opposing it because of its bold witness and outreach to lower caste people in the community. Despite the protests, Pastor Gideon had stated before his death: "I have no problems. If the Lord grants it to me, I will die a martyr for Christ; but His ministry will not end."
Please remember Pastor Gideon's family and the members of his church, as they mourn their sudden loss. Pray for the continued growth of Christianity in Adayachery and throughout India, as the country's persecuted believers rest in the assurance that Christ's church will indeed prevail (Matthew 16:18).
SUDAN: Church Leaders Fined in Ongoing Campaign Source: Middle East Concern
On February 8th, a court fined seven Christians between 2,500 and 5,000 Sudanese pounds (about $175 to $350 CAD) for resisting the confiscation of a school belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in the city of Omdurman. Eighteen other Christians were acquitted. This confiscation follows several other instances of property being seized or destroyed in towns and cities throughout Sudan.
According to a report by Middle East Concern, these problems involving the government took place after the denomination fired members of a committee responsible for church properties because of their fraudulent activities. The Sudanese government intervened and reinstated the members to their committee position, enabling them to sell the church properties to a businessman with close ties to the government. Similar actions were also forced on the Sudan Church of Christ through a government-imposed committee. Other recent reports of confiscation or destruction of church buildings in Omdurman can be viewed here.
Pray that the Lord's wisdom and guidance will be granted to the Christians of Sudan, as they deal with the government's impositions (Matthew 10:16). Uphold those who are struggling over the loss of their meeting places and, as a result, determining ways in which they can continue gathering together for worship services. Ask for God's divine intervention to take place on their behalf, and for His provision to be made known to the seven believers who were recently fined.
PRAISE REPORT - Pakistan: Asia Bibi Remains in Good Spirits Source: VOM Australia
Since her conviction for blasphemy in 2010, Asia Bibi has been in the prayers of thousands of Christians around the world. Convicted of insulting the prophet Mohammed, she faces a death penalty. All appeals to this point have been futile, despite pressure being applied from within Pakistan, as well by other governments and organizations internationally. For more information on Asia Bibi's case, we encourage you to review the Pakistan Country Report.
Even though Asia remains in prison, separated from family and friends, her lawyer reports that she is healthy and in good spirits. The lawyer is presently working on the date of a new hearing which will hopefully overturn her conviction. Please continue to pray for Asia's personal needs, as well as those of her family. Also pray that the legal system in Pakistan will be changed, the protests and threats of her militant accusers silenced, and for Asia to be safely released.
If you would like to post a prayer of praise or petition on behalf of our persecuted family around the globe, visit VOMC's prayer wall.