Saturday, September 05, 2009

Fom Barnabas Fund - prayer for Iran and Nigeria

Maryam Rustampoor (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (30) were arrested in March 2009 for converting to Christianity from Islam, and have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for six months. They have endured solitary confinement and hours of interrogations, but still they proclaim their love for the Lord Jesus.

The two women were summoned to appear in court on Sunday 9 August. The chief interrogator had recommended a verdict of "apostasy", which potentially carries a death sentence in Iran, but no verdict was actually given. The women were instead subjected to intense questioning by the deputy prosecutor, who told them repeatedly that they had to renounce their Christian faith verbally and in writing. Maryam and Marzieh refused, saying, "We love Jesus." They were told to return to prison and think about their options and to come back when they were ready to comply, but Maryam and Marzieh replied "We have already done our thinking." They are determined to stand firm no matter what happens, saying, "If we come out of prison we want to do so with honour."

Both women have been unwell during their ordeal and have lost a lot of weight. Marzieh desperately needs medical attention as she is suffering from a problem with her spine, an infected tooth and intense headaches. Prison officials have told her that the prison has proper medical equipment, but so far no treatment has been provided.

• Pray that Maryam and Marzieh continue to stand firm in their faith in the Lord Jesus and that He will keep them mentally and physically strong.

• Pray that the women will be released and allowed to live freely as Christians without further harassment.
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At least twelve churches have been burned down and a number of Christians killed in anti-Christian violence in northern Nigeria. The coordinated attacks began on 26 July in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, and spread across the country to Yobe state, Bauchi state and Kano state. Islamic militants targeted Christians and the local police, setting fire to churches and homes of local Christians, as well as a police station, a prison and a customs post. Five police officers and twelve Christians have been confirmed dead, including at least two pastors. Curfews were imposed to ease the violence and security forces were instructed to clamp down on the militants, who belonged to the Boko Haram sect. Barnabas Fund is sending help to the Christian victims.

Perhaps the most shocking element of the recent violence in Nigeria was the brutal murders of the Christian pastors. When asked to convert to Islam, they refused, and were beheaded on the instruction of the sect leader, Mohammed Yusuf. One of them, Sabo Yakubu, was the pastor of a congregation in Maiduguri. The father of seven was hacked to death with a machete. Another Christian leader, George Orjih, preached to Yusuf about Christ before his martyrdom. He was described as a fearless and hardworking man. A fellow kidnap victim, who was later released, reported that "while we were lying there, tied up, George turned to me and said 'if you survive, tell my brothers that I died well, and am living with Christ. And if we all die, we know that we die for the Lord.'"

One eye-witness says that Orjih was singing and praying all through the ordeal and encouraging the believers not to give up, even unto death. "It was his words of encouragement that kept us till the time we were released."

• Pray that the Nigerian security forces will bring peace and stability to northern Nigeria and ensure freedom and justice for its Christian minority.

• Pray that the Lord Jesus will comfort the families of those killed in the attack; pray especially for the loved ones and congregations of the Christian pastors who were murdered. They have been urged to emulate the pastors, who died because of their refusal to betray their faith. (Rev 7:9-15)

• Pray for Christians in Nigeria whose churches have been burnt down, that they will have both the means and the permission to rebuild.

• Pray that Christians will react to the violence in a Christ-like way and not retaliate, and that this will speak powerfully to the Muslim majority.'

We lived near Maidugiri 74-75 and I helped train one man now a pastor there .

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We found your blog post about Maryam and Marzieh so we knew you were also concerned about the situation. We wanted to let you know about a movement and site that we have launched in effort to get these girls out.

We have spent a lot of time seeking wisdom and have sat down with everyone from state department officials to one of the Judiciary Ayatollahs and have been told one thing: the best thing to do right now is to shed some light on these girls’ story.

Join us in helping the cause at


The FreeThemm Team