Right now, as I write this, there are 35 men and women sitting in a jail in Saudi Arabia for committing a “crime” that, not only is nonexistent in most countries, is not even on the books in Saudi Arabia. A little more than four months ago, these 35 men and women gathered together for a prayer meeting in a private residence and emerged to find the Saudi “religious police” waiting to arrest them.
They were accused of “illicit mingling” between genders, which as I mentioned, is not codified in Saudi law. But no one is really fooled by the official explanation. The fact is, the men and women arrested are Christians and they were arrested for having the audacity to hold a prayer meeting.
Since their arrest, they have faced everything from strip searches to violent interrogations. They have been accused of being “unbelievers” and pressured to convert to Islam. Worst of all, they do not know when or if they will be released. This completely flies in the face of official Saudi policy, which is supposedly to respect the private worship practices of all faiths.
Next week, ICC is going to Capitol Hill, the State Department, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in order to draw some attention to this case. Over the course of three straight days we will be meeting with at least two dozen congressional offices, explaining what took place, and asking for senators and congressmen to start exerting serious pressure on the Saudi Arabian government to respect basic human rights, like the right to worship according to the faith of your own choosing.
In the past, we have seen Christians set free after advocating on their behalf, so join us in prayer as we go to our nation’s leaders and speak up for the Christians who can’t.
Note: In our recent blog post we informed you about thirty-five Christians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for their faith in Christ. The believers, twenty-nine women and six men, have been in prison since December 15, 2011 for holding a private prayer meeting. This article gives you some updates on their situation and how God is using the lives of the prisoners to reach non-believers in the prison.
We have been closely following the situation of our imprisoned Christian brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia. These past two months of imprisonment have not been easy for them. Some of the prisoners are missing the spouses and children they left behind. They are suffering from the inhumane prison conditions, are not given clean water or healthy food, and are crammed together in small prison rooms with convicted murderers, thieves and other criminals.
Despite the challenges, our brothers and sisters see God’s hand working through their presence in the prison. They have continued to rely on God and seek out His presence in spite of the conditions they face. The women continued to pray together in their cells, gaining the attention of their fellow inmates; this is especially true for some of the prisoners with evil spirits. The prayers of the women have caused evil spirits to scream and eventually depart from the prisoners’ bodies. The prison guards have acknowledged this event and split the women up into separate cells to keep them from praying together. The faith of these Christians is evident of God’s presence in the prison.
The imprisonment of the prisoners reminds us of John 12:24 which says, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
“We are glad that the word of God has been fulfilled in our lives. The Lord has told us that, as his followers, we would be persecuted,” one prisoner said. “Please pray for us that we will be able to accomplish the will of God while we are here in prison.”
Details about the situation of the prisoners and efforts to release them are one of the topics in our upcoming newsletter. Please sign up to receive the newsletter.
It was December 15th, 2011 and a group of Christians were praying at a private home Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; it was part of their weekly prayer gathering. But that particular Thursday was different because it was the day Saudi Arabian officials discovered about the underground prayer gathering. At first, the security forces seemed to be friendly; they even let the Christians finish their prayers. Then they took the twenty-nine female and six male Christians to their office. The securities promised the Christians that they would release them after brief investigation. Unfortunately, the Christians still remain behind bars.
In a recent interview with the Voice of America’s Amharic language interview, one of the female Christian prisoners recounts the ordeal they went through simply because of their faith in Christ. The prisoner said:
They (the Saudi security officials) took us to their office at 2 am in the night. We spent the night in their office. Then in the morning, they put us in a very cold room. There is a restroom within that room and it is very stinky. There are insects in the room. In the night, they took us to a waiting room at Briman jail. When we arrived, they started to insult, harass and push us around. Then they started to search us. They took off all our clothes, including our underwear. Then they inserted their fingers into our genitals. They used the same hand glove to search about ten of us. Then they threw away our clothes and gave us pajamas to wear.
The plight of our brothers and sisters has continued. When ICC called them on February 7 to inquiry about their situation, a female prisoner spoke about Saudi officials pressuring the Christian prisoners to convert to Islam. The Saudis sent a preacher who gathered the prisoners and vilified Christianity and the Bible. The preacher told the Christians to convert to Islam because “Islam is the only true religion.” Despite such pressure the Christians refused compromising on their faith.
We at ICC have continued to raise our voice on behalf of our brothers and sisters. We are asking all concerned to sign this petition on behalf of the prisoners. We are also organizing a protest rally demanding the Saudis to release the Christians. The rally will be held on February 21st at 10 am in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy located at 601 New Hampshire Ave, NW Washington D.C. If you live in Washington D.C. area, please join us! The Bible clearly tells us that we are the same body of Christ and commands us to “remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering,” Hebrew 13:3. Also pray for our imprisoned brothers and sisters. Pray for their release and that they stay encouraged in their faith.