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Praying for the Persecuted Church in Len...

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Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent - Azerbaijan

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Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent - Azerbaijan

Project(s): 03-979

Country/Region: Azerbaijan

Laws in Azerbaijan expressly prohibit the government from interfering in religious activities, yet strict controls are placed on all religious communities. Once a Christian region, Azerbaijan is now around 90% Muslim. However, the number of ethnic Azeri Christians has been increasing in recent years although, as converts from Islam, many of them face much hostility from family, community and authorities.

Azerbaijan-2
A mountain landscape in the Ismailli district of Azerbaijan
Churches must register in order to rent or own a meeting place. Without registration, they are likely to face raids, threats and harassment. In 2009, the Religion Law was amended twice, and each time it was made more restrictive. According to the new amendments, on 1 January 2010 all religious groups that have already gained state registration (i.e. legal permission to function) must re-register. Those groups that fail to meet the new stricter conditions become illegal and are then more vulnerable to harassment by the state.

In March 2009 a gathering of several adults and 12 children – who were present with their parents’ permission to hear Bible stories – was raided. The police removed the children to a separate room where they were questioned without lawyers or parents present. The adults were taken to the police station and fined for illegally teaching children to spread Christianity. The raid was widely shown on television stations, and the names and addresses of the adults detained were made public.

Religious literature is censored, and all incoming parcels containing books go to the post office in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. The recipient has to collect (in person) one copy of each title posted, take it to the State Committee for permission and take a letter back to the post office to claim the books.

Barnabas Aid projects in Azerbaijan include:

Azerbaijan General Fund (Ref. 03-979)
Please Pray:
  • Pray for greater religious liberty in this country, which is only 2% Christian.

  • Pray that the Lord will help Azeri Christians to stand strong in their new faith and that He will continue to grow His Church in this country.

  • Pray for church leaders such as Javid Shangarov, who was fined in September 2009 and faces deportation to Russia because he invited friends and neighbours to Christian events in his home.

  • Pray for Christians in Azerbaijan who experience pressure from local authorities, that they will be left alone to worship and witness freely.
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  • Cry out to the Lord for 33 Christians who have been sentenced to death in North Korea. The believers are thought to have been working alongside Kim Jeong-Wook, a South Korean missionary who was arrested in October 2013. Jeong-Wook has admitted trying to “create a network of house churches in North Korea” and was also said to be carrying Bibles and other Christian literature. His alleged associates are accused of trying to overthrow the government and of receiving a large sum of money for the construction of 500 house churches. Pray that these executions will not be carried out and that international pressure will be brought to bear on North Korea to release Kim Jeong-Wook and to cease its intense anti-Christian persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 3 hours ago

  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

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