On July 25, Andrew Brunson, an American citizen who has lived and ministered in Turkey for over 20 years, was released from prison and moved to house arrest, where he awaits his October 12 hearing. This is a promising step, but he still remains accused of the false charges of endangering Turkey’s national security, and he faces a potential 35-year prison sentence. Please continue to pray for God to be glorified through this situation.
At Pastor Andrew Brunson’s trial in Turkey July 18, the judge denied him release and returned him to prison. Andrew is being held on the false charges of endangering national security. His next hearing is scheduled for October 12, which will be two years from the time he was initially arrested.
Brunson had served faithfully as a pastor for 23 years in Turkey prior to his arrest in 2016, and he has become a political pawn that the Turkish government is using for their purposes. In spite of the major disappointment of Wednesday’s outcome, Brunson is looking at the bigger picture:
"There is no concrete evidence against me. The disciples of Jesus suffered in his name, now it is my turn. I am an innocent man on all these charges. I reject them. I know why I am here. I am here to suffer in Jesus's name."
Please continue to pray for special grace for Pastor Brunson, as well as for his wife, Norine.
Although Nepal is a majority Hindu nation, the government declares the country to be a secular state. Yet in late 2017, the government passed an anti-conversion law which criminalizes conversions from one religion to another. Like India and Pakistan, Nepal is using the anti-conversion law to jail Christians, who make up 2% of the population. Even having a Bible can be used as evidence of attempting to convert Hindus.
In 2016 four Christians were imprisoned and charged with “witchcraft” when their prayers for a severely mentally ill woman resulted in God’s healing. This past May, five churches were bombed and burned. Please pray for God to give grace to believers in Nepal as they increasingly suffer for the Gospel’s sake.
The Muslim nation of Tajikistan has recently amended its religion law to assert total control over all religious matters. Churches must fill out detailed questionnaires about their activities and also include a list of the foreign organizations from which they receive funding. Cameras are to be installed in churches, so the government can monitor the people and the preaching.
In July of 2017 Bakhrom Khomatov, a 42-year-old Protestant pastor, was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly “singing extremist songs in church” and inciting “religious hatred.” The secret police also designated his Christian books as “extremist material” and disbanded the church. His wife, Gulnora, has suffered health issues since her husband’s arrest. Please pray for God’s special grace for Pastor Khomatov and Gulnora so that they will shine as lights for Christ in the darkness.
We praise the Lord we can share the good news that Professor Kim Hak Song, a Christian Korean-American, was one of the three prisoners released from North Korea yesterday! We rejoice that he appears to be in good health and are grateful for your intercessions on his behalf. Please continue to pray for the thousands of North Korean Christians who are still in slave labor camps. Read our previous update here.
Pastor Andrew Brunson’s second hearing was May 7 for the two crimes he has been accused of - aiding terrorist organizations and attempting to “Christianize” the people of Turkey. Following is how his wife, Norine, characterized her husband’s testimony at that trial.
I know many of you will have seen in the news that Andrew's imprisonment continues. Again, the Spirit of the Lord was on him to speak the truth clearly and have a good testimony during the 10 hour hearing. So glory to God and thank you for your prayers!
Unfortunately, the judge has postponed the trial until July 18 and has sent Pastor Andrew back to prison. Please continue to pray for God to be glorified and for special grace and courage to be given to Andrew and his wife.
Photo Courtesy of World Witness
The government of Somalia claims that all Somalis are Muslim because its constitution makes Sunni Islam the state religion. The radical Islamic terrorist group Al Shabaab is waging a campaign against Somalis who are secret Christians, executing them by beheading. In addition, just being a Christian woman invites abuse. One report documents that daily six women are raped or forced into arranged marriages because of their faith. Please pray for Gospel light to shine in Somalia and for Christians, isolated and in great need of fellowship and discipleship, to persevere in following Jesus.
UPDATE on April 2018 Persecution Update
Pastor Andrew Brunson’s April 16 trial did not go well. After Pastor Brunson denied the terrorism charges brought against him, he was ordered back to prison. His trial is postponed until May 7. The entire process has taken a major toll on him physically and emotionally. Please pray for a special measure of God’s grace for him and his wife, Norine. Please also pray for God to turn the hearts of the judges to righteousness.
Andrew Brunson, who is from North Carolina, served as a pastor in Turkey for 23 years, most recently at Izmir Resurrection Church. In October of 2016, he was arrested on the false charge of membership in a terrorist organization. The majority of Pastor Andrew’s time in prison has been spent in isolation at a maximum security facility.
Pastor Andrew’s trial date has been set for April 16, and the Turkish government is pressing for a 35-year prison sentence. Please intercede for God to give grace and boldness to Pastor Andrew so that God will be glorified at the trial. "I am in prison not for anything I have done wrong, but because of who I am – a Christian pastor. . . . Yet I believe this to be true: it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ, as many have before me.” --Pastor Andrew Brunson
Photo courtesy of World Witness
In Laos, one of the few communist nations left in the world, Christians comprise only about 3% of the population. Laotian believers (most of whom abandon Buddhism or animism in order to follow Jesus) suffer great harassment and rejection from both their families and the government. Pastor Shu fled his village after a relative who was angry at the Gospel message attempted to murder him. Two older teenage girls, Nani and Nha Phong, were tied up for four days by their father for professing Christ and rejecting animism. After releasing them, their father continued to pressure them to return to animism. They were later arrested but were able to escape to another village. Please pray that our Laotian brothers and sisters will glorify God in their sufferings as they are persecuted for Christ’s sake.