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Iranian Christian Converts Face Pressure At Home And Abroad

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Iran – Three new cases of persecution against Iranian Christians have been made known, two of whom face international pressures as well.

40-year-old Reza Zaeemi of Karaj is currently awaiting summons to begin his nine-month prison sentence on charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic by promoting evangelical Christianity”. The Iranian Christian convert was originally arrested in November 2020 and sentenced to 18 months, but an April 25 hearing reduced his sentence. He still however faces a two-year travel ban after his prison time. Reza Zaeemi’s case is similar to that of Hamed Ashoori, both only recently being made known to the public and sentenced in the same court.

Bijan Haghighi is an Iranian Christian convert who fled Iran several years ago but is now facing deportation from Turkey. He is currently in a camp awaiting his deportation and final appeal with the Supreme Court in Ankara after two failed appeals. Bijan faces deportation because of his alleged failure to check-in at the local police station for three consecutive months. Bijan and his family deny these claims, even requesting video footage to be checked for confirmation.

If Bijan is deported, he will likely face intense persecution in Iran and long-term imprisonment. His wife and 17-year-old paraplegic son would be left alone in Turkey. The family is currently in the process of applying for asylum in Turkey. Bijan had fled Iran with his family years ago, but when he learned that his lawyer and a couple assisting them were facing retaliation, he returned to Iran and submitted himself to serve his prison sentence.

The judge who sentenced him told Bijan in court, “We have no problem with those who inherit religion from their parents being in our country. But not those who leave Islam and join other religions. We have a problem with these people, and we must help them and guide them and prevent them from deviating in this way! They are being misled and they are misleading others!” When Bijan left Iran a second time in 2018, he was threatened to never return or face heavier sentences. Petitions and appeals have been made on behalf of Bijan saying, “Extradition of a political refugee to the country from which he or she fled is prohibited under Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

Bita Rezaee is currently seeking asylum with her 11-year-old son in Germany after six years of conflict with the Iranian authorities. Her case began in April 2015 when she was arrested by intelligence agents who stormed her house and placed her in prison for much of the next year. Bita is a Christian convert who had welcomed 12 girls into her home, between the ages of six and nine at the time. Iranian intelligence agents accused her of receiving help from foreign Christians to support her work, with the “aim of leading the girls away from Islam.” Bita faced continued psychological pressure with relentless interrogations. Bita was released several times, only to be placed back in prison again for several months until March 2016 when she was forced to sign a commitment to refrain from all work. For two years she continued to be harassed and interrogated. During one interrogation, she suffered an eye injury, at which point her father encouraged her to leave Iran. She has been in Germany for three years now, awaiting asylum status. Though she continues to lament the foster girls that she was forced to leave behind years ago.
Sources:persecution

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Mission group urges Christians to pray for release of missionary pilot, 2 volunteers imprisoned in Mozambique

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The U.S.-based ministry Mission Aviation Fellowship is urging Christians to pray for the release and safety of one of its pilots, Ryan Koher, and two South African volunteers who have been detained for nearly a month in Mozambique on suspicion of supporting insurgent activity.

Koher, 31, and two South Africans — 77-year-old W.J. du Plessis and 69-year-old Eric Dry — were detained in the coastal city of Inhambane on Nov. 4 while they were loading supplies into the aircraft to be taken to church-run orphanages in the Montepuez district in the troubled Cabo Delgado Province.

“I urge Christians around the world to pray for Ryan’s safety and swift release, and call on those in power both in Mozambique and here in the U.S. to do everything they can to resolve this wrongful detainment,” MAF President and CEO David Holsten said in a statement Friday.

While conducting the normal security scan at the airport, police asked about the supplies — vitamins, over-the-counter medications and food preservatives — Koher was to deliver for the orphanages and adult staff, the ministry said, adding that Koher is a pilot for its partner, Ambassador Aviation Ltd.

“None of the confiscated material belonged to Koher nor had it been loaded onto the airplane. AAL has been conducting these annual supply charter flights to the orphanages since 2014.”

The three men have been jailed on a still undetermined written charge, according to MAF.

While the three men were suspected to be supporting insurgency, “Ambassador Aviation has long sought to care for those who have been harmed by the insurgency, including evacuating innocent residents following a March 2021 insurgent attack.”

Islamic extremists have been exploiting a crisis in the coastal province of Cabo Delgado. A civil war started in 2017 over the area rich with gas, rubies, graphite, gold and other natural resources. Protesters demonstrated against what they say is profits going to an elite in the ruling Frelimo Party, with few jobs for local residents.

In the mostly Muslim region of Cabo Delgado in the otherwise Christian-majority country, Islamic extremists kidnap women and force boys to become child soldiers, The Washington Post reported in October.

“In 2017, jihadist insurgents began in the Cabo-Delgado province, winning over some locals due to the fact that they gave back resources to villagers from the government, and killed no one,” the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported. “This did not last, however, as IS started setting fire to Christian villages, and killing those who lived there.”

A lawyer from AAL the U.S. Embassy are engaged in the situation, MAF said, adding, however, that Embassy officials were denied access to Koher at a prison in Inhambane. Koher was later moved to the Machava High Security Prison near Maputo.

“Ryan is a caring and gentle individual,” Holsten said. “Over the last couple of years, he and his wife have worked hard to learn the language and culture of Mozambique to better serve those who rely on our service. Understandably, this situation has been very challenging for the family. We fully believe in Ryan’s innocence, and we are all praying that this issue will be resolved very soon with the charges dismissed and Ryan released.”
Sources:Christian Post

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Do Christians Really Donate More? Bible’s Stunning Impact on Charitable Giving Revealed in Fascinating New Study

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As the debate over the impact of Christianity on charitable behavior forges on, a new study reveals Scripturally-engaged Americans are “far more likely than others to donate to charity.”

In fact, the majority of these individuals — people who interact consistently with Scripture and allow it to shape their lives and relationships — report giving to such causes, according to the eighth chapter of “The State of the Bible” report.

“Americans who are engaged with the Bible gave $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021,” a statement from the American Bible Society read. “And … Practicing Christians, those who are actively living out their faith, are much more likely to give.”

The results are pretty stunning when comparing people engaged in the Bible with those who are disengaged as well as the so-called Moveable Middle, a group falling between those dynamics.

Bible-engaged Americans gave a total of $145 billion to charities in 2021, amounting to about $2,907 per household. The same figure for the Bible disengaged was just $924.

To underscore the monumental nature of that giving, consider that Scripturally engaged Americans account for just 19% of adults yet give 44% of every dollar donated.

The finer details point to the fascinating nature of this group’s generosity.

“People who are Scripture-engaged gave six-times as much to churches as those in the Movable Middle and 13-times as much as those who are Bible-disengaged,” a statement explained. “When it comes to non-church giving, Scripture-engaged Americans gave 9% more than the Bible-disengaged and 165% more than the Movable Middle.”

Giving among active believers is, thus, much higher than for other cohorts.

Dr. John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, said his organization’s research continues to show “a strong correlation between charitable giving and human flourishing.” This is particularly relevant among Christians surveyed in the annual report.

“Engaging with the Bible and actively living out our faith doesn’t simply mean reading the words in the pages of Scripture — rather, it is a transformation of the heart that inspires us to love and live well,” Plake said.

The results for this chapter of the “State of the Bible” were collected from 2,598 phone and online responses from American adults in January 2022.

Atheists will often decry the Bible and its contents, yet study after study shows the strong benefits faith offers individuals and, in turn, the culture at large.

As Faithwire reported, an earlier chapter from the “State of the Bible” report showed “Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.” Read more about the Bible’s significant impact on the faithful here.
Sources:faithwire

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PASTOR JACOB MATHEW – 57 MEMORIAL SERVICE 12/02/2022

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For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We walk by faith, and not by sight! Pastor Jacob Mathew (57 ) has been promoted to his eternal home and went to be with Jesus on 11/24/2022 . He served as the assistant Pastor of the Mizpah Church of God. Pullad. He lived a life that exampled Jesus Christ, a life of servitude,faith,and love. He will be missed by his family, his wife Shiney,daughter Jesna Jacob and son Joel Jacob.

We kindly request for prayers at this time for the family. He is Survived by his mother, Thankamma Mathew, sister Mary Mathew, and brother Paul Mathew and family.


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