An Assemblies of God church on Zanzibar island continues to meet for worship and reach out to the community after suffering two attacks this year. In May, a mob of 300 broke into the church and burned musical instruments, chairs and the pulpit. The church's leader hid in his office, just off the sanctuary, during the attack. Just months earlier, radical Muslims threw a large homemade bomb into the church as 500 believers celebrated the New Year. The bomb did not detonate, but police experts said it could have destroyed the entire building and killed most of those inside if it had exploded. Despite these repeated attacks, the church continues to function effectively and would like to expand its training activities. Pray for the church's pastor, and pray that the congregation will remain faithful as they endure persecution.
Iran--House Church Leader Released from Prison
An Iranian house church leader arrested more than a year and a half ago was released on July 16, 2012. Noorollah Qabitizade, 48, was interrogated repeatedly and spent time in solitary confinement during his imprisonment. Qabitizade was arrested Dec. 24, 2010, along with 10 other Christian converts who had gathered for a Christmas Eve celebration at a home in Dezful. More than 60 Christians were arrested during the 2010 Christmas season. Officials tried to persuade Qabitizade to abandon his Christian faith, subjecting him to continual interrogation and torture. He was asked to sign a document stating that he would stop evangelizing and was asked to write a letter denouncing Christianity, but Qabitizade refused. During his trial in September 2011, he was again given an opportunity to renounce his faith. Thank the Lord that Noorollah Qabitizade was released, and pray for him and his family as he recovers.
North Korea--Gospel Balloons Released into North Korea
On July 5, four North Korean defectors now living in South Korea joined a VOM partner to release 10 gospel balloons into North Korea. The North Korean believers hope the balloons and their cargo will reach their hometowns in North Korea and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ there. Launching these balloons is a tangible way for North Koreans now living in South Korea to reach out to their homeland. The four North Korean Christians wrote their testimonies and included them among the 45,000 flyers delivered by the balloons. This was the fifth balloon launch by the VOM partner this year. Pray that the gospel messages carried by the balloons will bring hope to those who read them. Also pray that North Korea's new leader will bring about positive reform and grant more freedom to North Korean Christians.
Pray for a church that authorities have tried to shut down in a hostile part of Turkey. The church has suffered three firebomb attacks, and the pastor has received death threats. VOM supports the church and its pastor, who evangelizes in the city and surrounding areas.
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