INDIA: Judicial System Resolves Missionary's Murder
Fourteen years after Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burnt to death by a mob, two suspects have been arrested in Odisha's (formerly known as Orissa) Keonjhar district.
Long-sought fugitives Ghanshyam Mahanta and Ramjan Mahanta were arrested on 17 May during a raid by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials and the Keonjhar police. A third individual has still not been located.
Graham Staines and his sons, Philip and Timothy, were burnt to death on 22 January 1999 – by a mob led by Bajrang Dal activist Dara Singh. Graham and his sons were asleep in their station wagon in front of a church in Manoharpur village in Keonjhar, about 400km northwest of Bhubaneswar.
In 2003, a CBI court in Bhubaneswar initially sentenced Dara Singh with the death penalty and the others to life imprisonment. In 2005, the Odisha high court commuted the activist leader’s death sentence to life imprisonment.
Sources: Assist News Service, The Hindustan Times, Voice of the Martyrs
Please pray: That the Lord will continue to nurture the seeds of the Gospel that have been sown through this family's strong Christian witness and the forgiveness extended by Graham's surviving wife Gladys and their daughter Esther. For all those who oppose the Gospel in India.
SIERRA LEONNE: 150 New Christians Baptised
A VOM worker reports that 150 new believers were baptised recently in the village of Kaboreh, and 80 of them are converts from Islam.
VOM has provided bicycles, motorbikes, megaphones and Bibles to Christian leaders in this village, and they have seen many of their former persecutors come to faith in Christ.
Among the new converts are four village chiefs, all of whom were formerly Muslim. As a result of their conversions, the few remaining Muslims have said they will no longer obey them.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs USA
Please pray: That these new believers will trust in Christ despite facing pressure to return to Islam. For the continued protection of evangelists in Sierra Leone. For continued church growth.
IRAN: Largest Persian Speaking Church in Tehran Closed
The Central Assemblies of God church in Tehran was closed last Thursday, 23 May, due to pressure from Iranian security authorities.
The main reason for closure of the church is that the Iranian security authorities wanted to limit the church service to just the Armenian language and prevent any Farsi services.
In another incident on 21 May, security authorities arrested Pastor Robert Asseriyan in the middle of a church service and transferred him to an unknown location. Asseriyan is one of the leaders of the Assemblies church in Tehran.
According to Mohabat News, for some time the Central Assembly of God, and other churches affiliated with it, have been under pressure to cancel their Farsi language services. For their church services to continue, they were told that all services be held in Armenian.
Iran’s Islamic regime has had anti-Christian plans for a long time. They include pressuring pastors and church leaders to prevent Farsi speakers from entering their churches, arresting members of the congregation and pastors and closing churches. House churches have also been raided, and new Christian converts have been arrested and terrorised.
Sources: Assist News Service, Mohabat News
Please pray: For Robert Asseriyan, may he know the Lord’s presence and peace. Pray for his release. For all those who are in prison in Iran for their Christian faith. That the Lord will give church leaders in Iran wisdom to know how to best encourage their congregation and to deal with the authorities.