22 posts categorized “Prayer Requests”

April 11, 2014

EGYPT: Prayer Request

Each week VOM posts a new prayer need at www.iCommitToPray.com, the online prayer meeting for our persecuted brothers and sisters. This week's request is for the family of a young woman brutally killed by radical Muslims in Egypt:

68_MARYSAMEHGEORGESFAMILYMary Sameh George, a 25-year-old Christian who lived with her parents and sister in Cairo, was brutally attacked and killed on March 28 by pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators. As she does each Friday, Mary was on her way to deliver groceries and other necessities to a poor family in the Ein Shams area when she was stopped by a group of protesters. When protesters spotted her gold cross necklace, they dragged her out of her car and repeatedly stabbed and choked her to death. Her family was devastated when they learned of her murder; her fiancé's mother was so grief-stricken that she died shortly after learning of Mary's death.

Will you commit to pray for Mary's family as they grieve her loss? Add your voice online to pray for Mary, and invite your Christian friends to join in also.


March 18, 2014

A Secret Prayer Request

Believers in hostile and restricted nations must often pray and worship in secret. They risk their freedom, their physical and emotional well-being, and even their lives for sharing the gospel message with others in their families and those around them. They trust the words of Jesus when He said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

Your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are encouraged when they hear how you have been praying for them, and they depend on your steadfast prayers. We consistently hear how God is working in their lives and using them even while they take great risks; they find more courage and strength because of prayers of readers like you.

Our VOM contacts try to give us as many pertinent details as possible, but they also must do so with extreme caution. This week, we received a very sensitive and urgent prayer request. Our VOM contact wrote:

In an Arabic country, a passionate local believer was informed by his father and his tribe’s leadership that he and others who decided to follow Christ had one week to return to Islam. If they do not, the family and tribe have decided they will be killed. This believer has already suffered greatly for his witness. Moreover, several of his closest friends have also been targeted and persecuted terribly because of their faith. Please pray for this brother and the others affected by this tribe’s decision. May God give them courage and wisdom in knowing how to respond. And may He work powerfully on the hearts of those who plan this scheme.

Will you please join us in prayer for this brother in Christ and his fellow workers?

“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.


February 4, 2014

500+ Prayers Lifted for Chinese Christians

Last November VOM launched www.iCommitToPray.com, a web site designed to be an online prayer meeting for the persecuted church.

Each week a new request is posted, and visitors are invited to type in their prayers, so that others may join in with them and be encouraged by them, similar to the prayer meetings that might happen at your local church on Wednesday nights or Sunday nights or at some other point in the week.

Last week's prayer request was this:

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Zhang Shaojie

Pastor Zhang Shaojie, 49, and Yan Beibei, 23, were allowed to see their lawyers on Jan. 15, 2014, after two months in detention. They were among 12 Christians detained for their involvement with the Nanle County Christian Church in November and December 2013. Pastor Zhang, who has been charged with fraud and “gathering a mob to disrupt public order,” asked his lawyer to express his thanks to “all the people in the world who are paying attention to Nanle County Christian Church” and are remembering those in custody. One of the prisoners attempted suicide after being beaten by authorities. Pray for their resilience and faith, as many of them and their family members have been beaten.

More than 500 people, in 30+ countries, had posted prayers on behalf of these Chinese believers in the first four days after the request was posted.

Will you join with them? Go to www.iCommitToPray.com and read the requests, and lift your voice along with the thousands of other voices crying out to God on behalf of our persecuted family.

Register on the site to be alerted by email every time a new request is posted.

When we visit with persecuted Christians around the world and ask them how we can help, their first request is that we PRAY for them.

Will you commit to pray for the persecuted church?


January 21, 2014

Pray for Peace in Syria: Geneva II Conference Opens Jan. 22

Church leaders in Syria are calling for intercessory prayer as the Geneva II Conference begins on Jan. 22 in Switzerland. Representatives from both the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Western-backed political opposition are scheduled to meet for the first time in three years. Their goal is to find a peaceful way to end the conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 130,000 people and left millions more displaced. 

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Patriarch Gregory III Laham, the leader of the Greek Catholic Church, has called all Christians and Syrian citizens to “pray for true reconciliation in Geneva II” and has stated that "the key to the success of Geneva II is faith-based, human, cordial, national, and truly Syrian reconciliation."

In June, 2012, officials from the United States, Russia, and other major powers met in Geneva and agreed on what is known as the Geneva Communiqué, which is meant to serve as a road map for the “transitional government” in Syria. However, numerous difficulties continue to arise as there are conflicts as to who truly represents the Syrians opposed to the current government as well as which countries should be invited. U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon withdrew an invitation to Iran to attend the Jan. 22 meeting after the Syrian opposition threatened to boycott the conference if Iran, who backs Assad’s government, attends.

The World Council of Churches issued a statement on Jan. 17 which was compiled by the participants of a two-day meeting, including Syrian church leaders, which urged all delegates to the Geneva II peace conference to pursue an immediate end to all armed conflict. Additionally, they called for all parties to release kidnapped persons, and finally, they urged the UN Security Council to implement measures to end the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Syria.

Kidnapping is a common tactic being employed by a variety of radical groups opposed to the Syrian government, including factions of radical Muslims. In some cases, the groups have not identified themselves. In others, demands have been made of the release of detained Syrians being held by the government. Amongst those missing and detained are three priests, two bishops, and at least 12 nuns and three young orphans under their care from Ma’aloula (some sources say 13 nuns). Fr. Michel and Fr. Maher have been missing since Feb. 9, 2013. Fr. Paolo has been missing since early August, 2013. The Metropolitan bishops, Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulous Yazigi have been held since April 22, 2013. The nuns have been held since December, 2013.

Syria_MapReligiously motivated persecution of Christians has also occurred during the Syrian conflict. On Jan. 8, two Christians were ambushed by militants who shot at their vehicle as they were travelling outside of Homs. Fadi was killed, and upon seeing the cross he was wearing, he was decapitated. Firas was left for dead, but he was able to escape with his life.

VOM is helping to equip and encourage Christians who continue to work in Syria despite the dangers. In addition to providing material assistance to those Christians who have been impacted by the war, VOM also works with church partners in Syria to distribute New Testaments, Bibles and study Bibles.

Please join Christians around the world in praying for Syria. VOM has received reports that an increased number of Muslims have come to know Christ in the midst of the conflict. Ask God to continue to embolden Christians, empowering them to be courageous witnesses during this time.

Sources: Middle East Concern, U.N.

“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.


December 18, 2013

Christmas Prayers for Iran

On Dec. 2, Rasoul Abdollahi, a Christian convert from Islam, was moved to Ward 350 of Evin prison in Iran. While it is unclear whether he was held elsewhere immediately before this or whether he was at home on temporary bail, he is now in Evin serving a three-year sentence for “collusion against the government and evangelism.” 

Rasoul’s prison sentence stems from a raid conducted by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in December, 2010. In an organized attempt to stop Christians from meeting together, authorities stormed a Christmas celebration on Dec. 26 and arrested 22 Christians, including Rasoul and the group’s pastor, Farshid Fathi, whose story is featured on The Voice of the Martyr’s Prisoner Alert Web site.

After ten of the Christians were intensely questioned and forced to sign an agreement stating that they would refrain from Christian activities, they were finally released. With the exception of Farshid, the other 11 people arrested, including Rasoul, were released by April, 2011.

In Iran authorities use temporary bail as a tactic to keep those previously arrested in a constant state of uncertainty. Those on bail can be recalled to face further interrogation or longer prison sentences. Prisoners can also be held without being charged or sentenced and many wait months before knowing what the official charges are or how long they will face in prison.

Pastor Farshid was never released, even though authorities took a large sum of bail money from his family, who were hoping to have him return home. Instead, he was held in solitary confinement for over a year. On March 5, 2012, Farshid was charged with “acting against national security through membership of a Christian organization, collection of funds, propaganda against the Islamic Regime by helping spread Christianity in the country,” and sentenced to six years in prison. He is also currently being held in Ward 350 of Evin prison.  

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Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife, Shahnaz Jayzan.

A year after the raids of December, 2010, authorities raided another Christmas celebration on Dec. 23, 2011. This time, it was an Assemblies of God church in Ahvaz. Everyone at the service was arrested, including children. Several hours later, authorities released all but four Christians, including Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh, his wife, Shahnaz Jayzan and two church ministers, Davoud Alijani and Naser Zamen-Dezfuli. Each of their stories are also included on Prisoner Alert.

After being released on bail by Feb. 21, 2012, the four were sentenced to one year in prison in October, 2012. They were called to a court hearing in May, 2013 when each was arrested. Davoud was sent to Karoon prison in Ahvaz, and the other three were sent to Sepidar prison, located in Ahwaz.

On Dec. 4, 2013, just two weeks prior to the end of their year term, the pastor, Farhad, and church minister, Naser, were released. Farhad’s wife and Davoud are still serving their terms and have been in jail over 220 days. It is hoped that they will also be released in the coming weeks.

At least 40 Christians are currently being held in prisons throughout Iran, many of them arrested  during Christmas services in 2010 and 2011.

Knowing that Iranian believers who celebrate Christmas are at risk of having their churches raided, how will you pray for Christians this Christmas season?

“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.


December 3, 2013

Pray for the Persecuted Church All Year Long

"Every time you kneel down and pray for Vietnam, you are working with us in Vietnam."

— Vietnamese pastor with more than 30 years of ministry experience

Prayer continues to be one of the main requests we receive from our persecuted brothers and sisters. Agreeing with them in prayer for their faithful witness for Christ in spite of the hardships and persecution they face brings us into fellowship with them. 2014calendar

“After going through what I went through, seeing other Christians go through suffering, having other Christians encourage me and pray for me, it all brought me closer to Christ.”

— Awuna Sunday, injured in a bomb attack at a Nigerian church

The Voice of the Martyrs’ 2014 Prayer Calendar is an excellent tool to help us remember our persecuted family in prayer each day throughout the year. Each day features a prayer request from one of the hostile or restricted nations where Christians face harassment and persecution for their faith.

The calendars also make an outstanding gift to help your Christian friends join with you in prayer for the persecuted church, and quantity discounts mean you can order multiple copies for less than $1.50 each. Give one to your pastor, to members of your Sunday School class and to other Christian friends.

Click here to order your 2014 VOM Prayer Calendar.


October 21, 2013

IDOP: Less Than Two Weeks Away

With less than two weeks to go before this year’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) on November 3, is your church planning to “Remember them that are in bonds” (Hebrews 13:3) on this significant Sunday?

The Voice of the Martyrs has created a short film to invite and inspire your church to pray for our persecuted family around the world. This year’s film focuses on Christians in Northern Nigeria, and was shot on location in that nation with help from Christians there.

 

VOM will send you—FREE of charge—a DVD of this powerful film to share with your church congregation or Sunday School class. You can also purchase additional resources to remind your church to pray for persecuted Christians, not only on IDOP Sunday but throughout the year.

Order today in order to insure delivery in time for November 3.


October 3, 2013

IDOP: One month to go

One month from today—November 3—marks the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). On this special Sunday thousands of churches, literally from around the world, take time to “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also” (Hebrews 13:3).

Some churches will commit the entire day to our persecuted brothers and sisters. And many will have a special time of prayer for persecuted Christians around the world. VOM has prepared a special video to be shown in churches to remind viewers of the importance of praying for our persecuted family.

In conjunction with IDOP Sunday VOM is launching www.ICommitToPray.com, a new website that will be updated weekly with a prayer request from among our persecuted brothers and sisters. After reading the prayer request each week, you will be able to post prayers specifically for that need, as well as encouraging your friends to join you in praying for the persecuted church.

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Our hope is that http://www.ICommitToPray.com will develop into a global community of Christian believers who choose to take a public stand alongside our persecuted brothers and sisters through prayer!

Go to www.ICommitToPray.com and sign up for the weekly prayer alerts. The first alert will be sent November 3, IDOP Sunday. Commit yourself to join with other believers around the world in praying for those who suffer for the name of Christ.


June 19, 2013

Radical Prayer

We are very familiar with the normal reasons to pray: to worship God, to intercede on behalf of others, and to petition God when we desire something from him. For our prayer to be radical it must go beyond the normal reasons and move into a higher or deeper realm. It needs to be seen as a weapon against evil and for good. It becomes intentionally audacious, going into spiritual battle with powers and forces which we cannot see but whose destructive presence we can sense. When we thrust forward in the power of the Spirit, we will meet opposition of some form in our spiritual lives and perhaps in our work or ministry. VOMClassroom

The primary occasion for our radical prayer is to pray against the status quo. We believe things can change, that God can change them. We are not fatalists who just accept everything that is as God’s perfect will. We are not satisfied with injustice, oppression, and persecution and we pray for God to intercede. We pray for our enemies, for hostile people who resist the gospel, and for restrictive and hostile governments that desire to discourage and destroy the church. We may suffer hostility and persecution but we do not believe that this is necessarily a permanent situation. Evil seems to prevail and spiritual darkness seems to dominate but we believe God can move the hearts of people, can change the attitudes and spirits of those who resist the gospel, and can bring persecutors to Christ.

We pray for the lost, for those who have never heard the gospel, those who have heard and are deliberating in their hearts, and for those who are actively working against the gospel. Prayer is a powerful weapon. While the world uses propaganda, harassment, coercion, and lobbying, God’s people use what the world considers to be a weak and benign approach. We exhibit (hopefully) humility and prayer. These are our tools and weapons. The world asks: “How can you fight against guns, swords, courts, and hostile people with a few words breathed to God?”

Prayer is more than words. It reaches to the God who is more powerful than all forces and powers, both spiritual and material. Our questions to the world might be: “Why would you use guns or swords against God? Why would you fight a war with God that you could not possibly win?”

Radical prayer is based on radical belief. We believe that there a living God who is all-powerful and who, through the life and work of his Son Jesus Christ, has already conquered death and sin. He will ultimately prevail. The travail we go through now will not prevail. There is legitimate hope that God will make justice and righteousness prevail. 

On www.VOMClassroom.com there is a class on Intercessory Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We can join in the spiritual battle and give aid to those who suffer on behalf of their witness for Christ. If we are radically serious, we will get into the fray.

 

Roy Stults, PhD, is the Online Workshop Coordinator and Educational Services Coordinator for The Voice of the Martyrs. He graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (BA and MA), Nazarene Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Doctor of Missiology), and The University of Manchester (England) with a PhD (theology). A Vietnam veteran, Dr. Stults served as a missionary for 19 years and pastored U.S. churches for eight years. Prior to joining VOM, he was a Professor of Religion at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.


March 21, 2013

Moving Toward Muslims: The Only Intercessor

Kris kept a little notebook on hand. The Name Notebook. On her trip through several Muslim countries, she met dozens of people. At a salon, Kris took the names of the beauticians she met. From bathroom cleaners to teenagers sitting beside her in a coffee shop, if she got to know them personally, she asked their names and wrote them down in the Name Notebook. Why? To pray for them.

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As believers, we have many people praying for us: perhaps Bible study leaders, parents, and friends from church. But most Muslims don’t have that privilege. If you know a Muslim by name, have you ever considered that you may be the only praying Christian in his life? Perhaps no one else but you is bringing him before our Father God, interceding for him in prayer.

If Jesus has made you right with God, you are particularly poised to intercede for Muslims in a powerful and effective way (James 5:16). Petition, prayer, intercession and praise in the name of Jesus draws on the authority of His Name as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Don’t know how to begin praying? Like Kris, you could record the name of any Muslim you meet and begin to pray for his salvation. Or, if you meet a Muslim, you could pray with him right then and there! First ask his permission then pray aloud a simple prayer of blessing upon him, his business, or his family. 

Or maybe your new friend has an immediate need, like Abdullah did. I met Abdullah on his way home to visit an ailing sister. After listening with concern, I asked for his sister’s name. Sara. “I will pray for Sara to be well.” I went on to explain, “Jesus the Messiah has power and authority to heal our bodies as well as our hearts.”

Perhaps you don’t know any Muslims personally? Then pray through the Middle East news, naming specific Muslim dignitaries, authors and artists. Or pray through VOM’s newsletter. As you come upon the name of a Muslim persecutor, or someone’s hostile family member, could you find it in your heart to pray for him? First repent of any hatred you might be harboring (Psalm 66:18) and then pray for his salvation.

I heard of a man who walks around a mosque in his city once a week, interceding for the Muslims who worship there. He prays for Jesus to reveal himself in an undeniable way in their lives. Quietly and simply, with no banners or megaphones, he asks the Lord for a harvest of souls among Muslims in his city.

There are many ways to go about praying for Muslims. You might even start a Name Notebook like Kris. However you pray, know a unique privilege is yours: you could be the first believer to truly intercede on a Muslim’s behalf.

Your turn: What creative ways have you discovered for intercession? Are there specific Muslim friends you pray for regularly? Please share in the comments.

"Anna" blogs about friendship, culture, and Kingdom-living from her home in the Middle East. She loves Jesus and wants to see Him cherished by her neighbors and people everywhere. Anna will be posting on the Persecution Blog each month. Feel free to ask questions or suggest future topics in the comments section for this post. Anna is a pseudonym, and all names in her posts are changed for security reasons.