Note: over the past few days we have informed you about the 35 Christians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for praying at a private home. Here is the latest update about their situation:
Our brothers and sisters continue suffering under harsh conditions in Saudi Arabian prisons. I recently talked to one of the prisoners who recounted to me that the Saudis are endangering their lives by placing convicted murderers in their prison cells. The Christian prisoner said, “The convicted murders could hurt us and we are concerned about our safety. Please continue pressuring the Saudis to release us.” The prisoner also said that two of the female Christians are still in pain due to the forceful strip search when they were jailed three months ago.
Please continue praying for the release of the prisoners and for God to give them grace to endure the hardship during this trying time.
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.