“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”
– Ephesians 3.16
Dear Christian Friends
We received some good news from our co-workers in Gaza this week. We asked you to pray last week about the seizure of Gaza Baptist Church by Fatah who wanted to use it as a watch point and a sniper nest against armed members of the governing Islamist party, Hamas.
Give thanks with us as Rev Dr Hanna Massad, the church’s pastor, told Open Doors this week that the armed men left late last week.
You may recall that Rev Dr Massad had cancelled the services for the previous Sunday, 4 February, because of street fighting in Gaza City. However, the church was able to hold morning and evening services this Sunday (11 February).
Pastor Hanna said the building suffered three broken windows, and the church’s door was smashed in by the Fatah men when they entered the building.
Fatah and Hamas appeared to work out a power-sharing agreement in Mecca to end months of bloodshed, but Gaza’s peace remains fragile as there have been delays in forming the new coalition government due to arguments over ministerial appointments. So Pastor Hanna requests ongoing prayer:
“We are afraid they will come back if things get bad,” he said. “I think people feel much better, but they’re still watching, waiting.”
Uzbekistan‘s religious authorities admitted publicly for the first time this week that an Uzbek Christian pastor was arrested last month and now faces criminal charges.
Dmitry Shestakov, aged 37, was arrested in a raid on his registered Full Gospel Church in Andijan during Sunday worship services on 21 January.
Pastor Shestakov was not allowed to read the accusations against him until 3 February however, and no trial date has yet been set.
Authorities consider him to be a religious terrorist and have charged him with operating an illegal religious organisation, inciting religious hatred and distributing materials promoting religious extremism.
If convicted on these criminal charges, he faces maximum sentences from five to 10 years in prison for each separate offence.
He is being held in solitary confinement and his wife Marina is very afraid, saying, “Maybe they have begun to torture him, to beat him, to use the gas mask on him.
“We know many stories when people just disappear forever. Police in Uzbekistan can put a lot of charges on you, or plant drugs.”
The chief prosecutor has told her: “He is a dangerous criminal. We forbid you to visit him.”
You can read more details and see a photo of Dmitry on our website at: http://www.opendoorsuk.org.uk/news/news_archives/001842.php
Please pray with us that:
* Christians in Gaza will continue to be protected from harm and that political peace will soon be a reality in their lives
* Dimitry will be kept safe from harm, strengthened by the Holy Spirit and released without a guilty verdict
* The Lord will strengthen and sustain Marina and their children and the members of their church
* Uzbekistan authorities will stop persecuting Christians and seeking to cover it up.
Thank you for your support and for praying with us.
PS: You can keep informed for intercession by visiting our Recent Reports page online: http://www.opendoorsuk.org.uk/news/news_recent.php. It is normally updated several times a week.
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