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JULY 9, 2004

Iran : Pastor Released from Prison

Iranian pastor Khosroo Yusefi was released from prison in northern Iran July 7, six weeks after he was arrested with his wife and children who were released a week later. Yusefi and another Christian believer are the last to be released out of several dozen evangelical Christians arrested in May. The jailed Christians were ordered to stop meeting for worship and to “stop talking about Jesus.” Praise the Lord that Yusefi has been released and reunited with his family! Pray that Iranian Christians will continue to boldly “talk about Jesus.”

China : Chinese Woman Beaten to Death After Distributing Bibles

A 34 year old woman has been beaten to death by police after she was arrested for handing out Bibles. Police in Guizhou ’s Tongzi county arrested Jiang Zongxiu, a farmer, on June 18 on suspicion of “spreading rumors and inciting to disturb social order.” They had planned to detain her for 15 days, but Jiang died in police custody the afternoon she was arrested. Police later informed Jiang’s family she had died of a sudden illness and turned over her body to the family, but relatives saw she was covered with bruises and blood stains. Pray God will comfort Jiang’s mourning family. Pray that China ’s government will be hard-hit by negative international attention surrounding this case, and that those responsible for Jiang’s death will be brought to justice.

Jordan : Islamic Court Rejects Christian Girl’s Case

An Islamic court in Jordan has rejected Rawan Qandah’s lawsuit to cancel her Muslim uncle’s legal guardianship. The June 20 ruling was a setback for Christian widow Siham Qandah, whose estranged brother Abdullah al-Muhtadi has been trying for six years to take custody of her son and daughter to raise them as Muslims. Al-Muhtadi was suspected to have embezzled nearly $20,000 of the children’s U.N.-allocated trust fund, but Judge Mahmud Zghul ruled in his favor “because all withdrawals from the children’s trust account have been duly authorized by a judge, as required.” “This judge knows that if he rules against Siham’s brother, other judges will be in trouble”. Qandah and her children have gone into hiding while awaiting a judicial solution to the custody battle. The courts have blacklisted the children from leaving Jordan and international treaties prevent most nations from offering visas to them. Pray for the Qandah family to feel the Holy Spirit’s presence, and to not feel forsaken. Pray for their continued trust in the Lord. Pray that the custody battle will end quickly, leaving Siham with legal guardianship of her two children.

Turkmenistan : “Only Two Faiths are Allowed, Islam and Orthodoxy” says Police Chief

Abadan ‘s deputy police chief told Baptist Svetlana Gurkina that “in Turkmenistan only two faiths are allowed, Islam and Orthodoxy, while the rest are banned.” She was also subjected to crude remarks and threats to imprison her and confiscate her flat, if she continues to meet with Christians. Although criminal penalties for unregistered religious activity were formally lifted in May, the government refuses to lift the ban on unregistered religious activity in Baptist churches. Baptists have appealed to President Saparmurat Niyazov and government agencies to halt the ongoing persecution of Svetlana Gurkina. Pray that the church in Turkmenistan will continue to grow, despite opposition. Pray that President Niyazov will order the police to acknowledge the ban-lift, and permit Baptists to practice freely.