Thousands of Armenian Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh flee “war crimes”; Eighteen charity workers arrested in Afghanistan for allegedly preaching Christianity; Iranian pastor begins 10-year prison sentence; Figures from Christian Association of Nigeria illustrate scale of anti-Christian violence in Kaduna State
- More than 13,000 ethnic Armenian Christians have fled Nagorno-Karabakh since Azerbaijan seized control of the enclave in a military offensive launched on 19 September 2023. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he expected thousands more people to follow because they fear “the danger of ethnic cleansing”. Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate of the Armenian Church of the UK and Ireland, said, “There are reports of mass killings, raping and torturing of people. A scene of war crimes is unfolding.” Pray for Christians facing war crimes and being forced to flee the land that has been their home for generations.
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- Afghanistan’s Taliban government has detained 18 charity workers (17 Afghans and one US citizen) for allegedly preaching Christianity. The workers were arrested from the office of Swiss charity International Assistance Mission (IAM) in Ghor Province, central Afghanistan, in early September. IAM, which has done humanitarian work in Afghanistan since 1966, is a Christian charity but provides aid to people of all religions. Pray that all the staff members will be released unharmed and that the authorities will be convinced of the vital contribution Christians are making to help Afghan people.
- Iranian-Armenian pastor Anooshavan Avedian, 61, reported to prison in Tehran, Iran, on 18 September to begin a 10-year sentence for engaging in “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam”. Anooshavan was sentenced in 2022 but did not receive the official summons to start serving his sentence until this month. At the conclusion of his prison term, Anooshavan faces a further 10 years’ “deprivation of social rights”. Ask that Pastor Anooshavan will experience God’s sustaining power as he begins this long sentence.
- Twenty-three pastors have been killed and more than 200 churches forcibly shut down because of anti-Christian violence within the past four years in Nigeria’s Kaduna State. These figures were revealed on 12 September by Pastor John Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Kaduna branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, at a meeting of church leaders with the State Commissioner of Police, to discuss ongoing insecurity in the state. The total number of Christians killed in Kaduna in this time is not known, but is likely to be hundreds. Pray for God’s protection over church leaders and churches in Kaduna State. Ask that Christians remain steadfast in their faith, in spite of the threat of violence against them.