Archive for July, 2013

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 220 | Wed 24 Jul 2013

July 26th, 2013
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On Tuesday 16 July 2013 eight Iranian converts from Islam were sentenced to between one and six years imprisonment. They had been arrested at a house church prayer meeting in October 2012 and were found guilty of ‘action against the national security’ and ‘propaganda against the system’. Robert Asserian, pastor of the now-closed Assemblies of God church in Tehran, was arrested on 21 May and released on bail on 2 July, on the condition that he ‘remain silent’. Mostafa Bordbar, imprisoned in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, is awaiting trial on charges of participating in a house church, an illegal gathering. Faith can be extremely costly in Iran, with long prison sentences and crippling amounts required for bail. Please pray for the Church in Iran.

For full report click here

UPDATE: PAKISTAN (updating RLPB 219).

In Gojra on 20 July Christians Shafqat Masih (43) and his wife Shagufta (40) were arrested after a local Muslim accused them of sending a blasphemous text message. Their relatives have fled and it is not clear who is caring for the couple’s four children aged 5 to 11 years. Shafqat insists that the police coerced him into making a confession and maintains that the accusation is false. The similarities to last week’s case are blatant. Morning Star News comments: ‘Accusations of blasphemous text messages could be a dangerous trend, as obtaining and activating SIM cards using someone else’s national identity card is not difficult in Pakistan. Such evidence is hard to challenge in court, leaving people of all faiths at risk of being falsely convicted of blasphemy.’ Please pray for the Church in Pakistan.


Luke 17:1-10

July 26th, 2013
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We have been following Jesus in the book of Luke as he journeys to Jerusalem with his disciples.

 We have stopped to answer the question that began back much earlier: Who will participate in the Kingdom?

 This is the final teaching from this section and it repeats Jesus’ consistent message to his disciples: They are not to be like the Pharisees.

 That’s quite a statement because the Pharisees were seen as the true religious ones. They were the pious and upright keepers of the Israel’s covenant with God.

 If they are not up to standard what hope did anyone else have? Especially all the marginal followers of Jesus.

 We remember back in Luke12:1 the earlier warning to “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”

 As we have seen in the narrative, it appears that Jesus speaks at one time to his disciples and then to the Pharisees, in earshot of each other. Jesus is like the main actor moving from one group to the other , but able to be overhead by each group.

 This indicates that he is open to the possibility that the Pharisees will hear the word and respond in obedience, but also that he is equally aware that his disciples , if they are to be his disciples, need to grow and change.

 So as we go through these scriptures in Luke 17 over several weeks the unifying theme, in what may at first appear to be just a thrown together set of unconnected sayings, actually form a critical comment on the commitments and behaviours identified with the Pharisees in Luke.

 The Pharisees can be described as having a lack of regard for “the little ones” and sinners in their midst, a faithlessness as defined as not in harmony with God’s purposes, and a concern for recognition and status.

 In other word the leaven of the Pharisees lifts us up above others, disconnecting us from those we think are our inferiors whether spiritually or socially or economically.

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Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 219 | Wed 17 Jul 2013

July 17th, 2013
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Sajjad Masih (29) and his friend, Ruma Masih, two Christians from Punjab, have been falsely accused of blasphemy. On 13 July Sajjad (detained since December 2011) was sentenced to life in prison, despite a total absence of evidence and a retraction from the complainant who confessed to being coerced into filing a false claim. Ruma now lives in the UK.

The actions of the Gojra police and the judgment of the Gojra court were not determined by law, but by belligerent Muslims and clerics in Gojra. First they forced the court to convict Sajjad and then made the police charge Ruma. Pakistan has issued an Interpol Red Notice against Ruma, so she might be arrested in the UK as a fugitive. Please pray for Pakistan and its imperilled Christians.

For full report click here.

UPDATE: EGYPT (updating RLPB 218).

There has been another assassination in North Sinai. Christian businessman Magdy Lamei had been kidnapped by Islamic militants in Sheikh Zuwayed on Saturday 6 July. This was the same day a Coptic priest was assassinated in neighbouring al-Arish. Lamei’s bound and decapitated body was found dumped in the street on 11 July. He had been an active Christian who ministered in the church and regularly opened his home for prayers. Christians are fleeing from North Sinai.