Updates on the persecuted Church – 10 May 2023

11 May 2023

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More than 50 killed in Indian anti-Christian violence; Christian couple released from Iranian prison; Two “Chibok girls” rescued; Twenty-five worshippers held by terrorists in Kaduna State, Nigeria; Christian wedding photographer and Muslim couple accused of “blasphemy” in Pakistan; Six Muslim-background believers face death for apostasy in Libya

A church building is set on fire by extremists in Manipur, India

  • More than 50 people from the Christian-majority Kuki tribal group have been killed in anti-Christian violence that has raged in Manipur, India, since 4 May. An estimated 114 church buildings have been burned down across the state, while there have been targeted attacks on around 67 Kuki villages. Several thousand Christians have been displaced by the violence. “Please pray for immediate restoration of peace for all and relief for all those who are affected,” said a church leader in the region. Join with our brothers and sisters in praying for peace. Ask the Lord to comfort the bereaved, provide for those who have been displaced, and prevent violence from spreading to neighbouring states.  
  • Iranian Christian converts Homayoun Zhaveh, 64, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 45, were acquitted and released from prison on 9 May. They were serving terms of two and eight years, respectively, for their involvement in a “house church”. Homayoun, who has advanced Parkinson’s disease, and Sara, his main carer, had been in prison since August 2022. The appeal court judge ruled that there was “no evidence” that Homayoun and Sara had acted against national security. He added that the law did not recognise as criminal activity the participation in home groups to promote Christianity. Praise the Lord for answered prayer in the acquittal of Homayoun and Sara. Pray that they will recover fully from their ordeal, and that Homayoun receives the treatment he needs. Pray that Christians detained on similar charges in Iran will also be released.
  • Two of the 276 “Chibok girls” abducted by Boko Haram Islamist terrorists in April 2014 were rescued by the Nigerian military on 21 April 2023. Hauwa Maltha and Esther Marcus, both 26, were each forced to marry Boko Haram fighters three times during their captivity. Hauwa has four children – she was eight months pregnant with the fourth at the time she was found, and he has since been safely delivered. Esther had a one-year old baby with her when she was found. Give thanks for the rescue of Hauwa and Esther. Pray that both of these young women will recover from their lengthy and traumatic ordeal, asking also for the Lord’s blessing upon their young children. Pray also for more than 100 “Chibok girls” who have not returned home.
  • Terrorists on Sunday 7 May abducted more than 40 people from Bege Baptist Church in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria. Fifteen people escaped in the aftermath, and it is believed that 25 are still being held captive. Thank the Lord for those who escaped unharmed, and pray that the others will also be freed.
  • A Christian wedding photographer and the Muslim couple who hired him have been accused of “blasphemy” in the Pakpattan District of Punjab, Pakistan. Khurram Yousaf, 40, was asked to take photos of the newlywed couple at the Shrine of Baba Fariduddin, a Muslim site, on 30 April, but was accused of desecrating the site by a member of the shrine’s management who reported the incident to the police. Khurram is now in hiding. The incident came less than two weeks after a Christian woman and a Muslim man were accused of “blasphemy” at a school in Punjab. Pray for our brother and the Muslim couple, that they and their families will not face any mob violence and that the accusations against them will not be pursued by the authorities.
  • Six Libyan Christians who were arrested separately earlier this year are facing the death penalty as apostates for having converted from Islam and allegedly proselytising others in the Muslim-majority country. One of the six is a 22-year-old woman who released a video explaining her conversion to Christianity at the age of 15. A seventh Muslim-background believer is thought to still be on death row after being sentenced to death for apostasy in September 2022. Pray that the Lord will sustain our brothers and sisters as they suffer for their faith, and ask that the death sentence will not be carried out.

Related Countries

India, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan