Saturday, March 9, 2013

Five Church of Iran Members to Face Trial on Political Charges

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) -- A Christian human rights organization has learned that the trial of five members of the Church of Iran denomination, who have been jailed since Oct. 12 2102, will begin at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, Fars Province, on March 10.

According to a news release from Christian human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Mohammad Roghangir, Surush Saraie, Eskandar Rezaie, Shahin Lahooti and Massoud Rezaie have been charged with disturbing public order, evangelizing, action against national security and an Internet activity against the system.

CSW said the five men were amongst seven people arrested on Oct. 12, during an evening raid by the security services on a house in Shiraz where a prayer service was underway. They were initially held in Plaque 100, the Intelligence Ministry's notorious detention center, before being transferred to Adel-Abad Prison, where they were detained separately from other prisoners.

In other news, CSW said according to Iranian media outlet Mohabat News, the trial of four Iranian Christians arrested on Feb. 8 2012, is currently underway in Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz.

They are charged with participating in house church services, evangelizing and promoting Christianity, having contact with foreign Christian ministries, distributing propaganda against the regime and disturbing national security

CSW said Mohabat News reported that Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (also known as Koroush), Vahid Hakkani, and Homayoun Shokouhi, who were also arrested at a house church gathering and detained in Adel-Abad Prison, have been brought in chains to several court appearances.

During their last appearance on Dec. 28 2012, the presiding judge announced he would issue a verdict after the end of Norouz Celebrations.

CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said in the news release, "Once again Iranian Christians face charges couched in political terms that in reality stem from their choice of faith and desire to exercise the right to worship in community with others, as guaranteed in article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is party."

He continued, "Furthermore, the men from the Church of Iran face an additional accusation of allegedly indulging in subversive internet activity, despite having been arrested at a prayer gathering. Bearing in mind that the shackling of prisoners is illegal under Iranian law, and that Iran is a signatory of the ICCPR, CSW urges the Iranian authorities to uphold the rule of law and to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief in its entirety, including the right of all of its citizens to manifest their belief in community with others."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

For further information, visit

Saeed's Orphanage in Iran, the Hidden Casualty of his Wrongful Imprisonment

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

IRAN (ANS) -- According to Matthew Clark, writing for The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) website (, not only is an American family without their husband and father, Iranian orphans are also being negatively impacted by the unlawful imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini.
Saeed was working to establish this orphanage to help children in need (Photo: ACJL)

"Pastor Saeed was arrested on one of his many trips in recent years to Iran where he was working to establish an orphanage to help children in need," said Clark.

"Now, because Saeed is wrongfully imprisoned, this orphanage can't open. The dozen children this orphanage was intended to house and care for are left without a home."

He went onto say that the "sad irony" is that Saeed actually had the permission of the Iranian government to establish this orphanage in Iran. He had been working directly with the Iranians ensure that his worked complied with Iranian law and was authorized. The purpose of this particular trip was to gain approval for the last board member for the orphanage.

These orphans are left without a home (Photo: ACLJ)
"Many children in Iran, as in all parts of the world, experience the devastation of being left without family to care for them," Clark added. "Pastor Saeed's passion was to ensure that children in his native country had the care they desperately need. That has now been put in jeopardy by Saeed's wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

"These children deserve better. Saeed deserves better."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional and human rights law, said that the action in late January by an Iranian court of convicting and sentencing American Pastor Saeed Abedini for his Christian faith is a "travesty that sadly underscores Iran's brazen violation of international law and a tragic reminder that Iran is one of the world's worst offenders of religious freedom."

According to ACLJ, in an unexpected development in Iran on Sunday, January 27, 2013, and without family present, Judge Pir-Abassi of Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court - known as the "hanging judge" - verbally convicted and sentenced Pastor Saeed to eight years in prison for threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches.

Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ, who represents Pastor Saeed's wife and children living in the U.S. says, "From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release. Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights. We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed."

Pastor Saeed and his attorney were permitted to attend just one day of his trial, which began January 21st. They were barred from attending and participating in further proceedings. During his imprisonment, Pastor Saeed has been beaten and tortured raising serious concerns about his medical condition.

Pastor Saeed's conviction and sentence in the Iranian Revolutionary Court had to be approved at the very top - The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had to sign off.

Pastor Saeed with his family during happier times (Photo: ACLJ)
The ACLJ represents Pastor Saeed's wife and children who reside in the U.S. In a statement from Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, after learning about the court's action, said: "The promise of his release was a lie. We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government. These false hopes amount to psychological torture. You don't want to trust them, but they build a glimmer of hope before the crushing blow. With today's development I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil."

ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow added: "Here's the troubling reality: we have a U.S. citizen, who has been beaten and tortured since his imprisonment last fall, now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the most brutal prisons in Iran. A harsh sentence in a notorious prison - likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime. Simply because of his Christian faith."

The ACLJ has been working with the U.S. Government and at the United Nations to generate support for Pastor Saeed. Both the White House and the U.S. State Department have condemned Iran and called for Pastor Saeed's release.
Pastor Saeed, 32, was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010 through marriage to his American wife. He and his wife, Naghmeh, have two children, a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. In 2008, Pastor Saeed became an ordained minister with the American Evangelistic Association. Naghmeh and the children reside in the western U.S. The Iranian government does not recognize his U.S. citizenship and for 3 years he travelled freely back and forth from Iran until this summer when he was put under house arrest. He was imprisoned in September of last year.

ACLJ is encouraging Christians from around the world to sign a petition to "Save Saeed" by going to: 

Update: Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Now Believed to be 'Alive and Well'

Several Ministries Confirm Contact with Beleagured Pastor After Internet Buzz

By Michael Ireland
Special Reporter, ASSIST News Service

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (ANS) -- Controversy which surrounded earlier news that Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is dead now seems to have abated with reports from several ministries with first-hand knowledge of the situation.

Yesterday, an Anglican vicar in Iraq said that Iranian Pastor Youssef Nadarkhani was dead. The vicar said reports and pictures existed of Nadarkhani's fate.

The news caused a buzz on the Internet and a flurry of postings to various Facebook accounts.

Today, Canon Andrew White, Vicar of St. George's Church in Baghdad, wrote on his Facebook page: "Dear Friends, As you will be aware there have been so many postings about pastor Yusif some say he has been killed others say that he is alive. The evidence that he is alive actually seem a lot stronger. I have therefore removed the many reports and pictures. Please just pray that he is alive and secure."

Earlier, reports of Nadarkhani's death were circulating on the Internet following a post Canon White made on his Facebook page yesterday (Thursday, March 7), at which time White said he was meeting with Muslim leaders today and came home to the news of Nadarkhani's death.

At the time this story first went to press, the news had not been independently confirmed or verified.

At that time, two independent ministries, both working in the region, said they had no working knowledge of the claim.

However, Jason DeMars of , told ANS late last evening, "Youcef is alive and he is doing fine."

DeMars, who is a spokesman for Present Truth Ministries, stated: "There are reports circulating that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been killed, but my sources report that he is alive and doing fine."

Two other ministries, the UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide ( ) and the US-based American Center for Law and Justice, (, both of which have championed Nadarkhani's cause, today refuted the death claim of Nadarkhani's death.

In a media release, CSW said: "Reports alleging that Pastor Nadarkhani had been hanged initially surfaced last week and have resurfaced today.

"Pictures purporting to show a man being hanged are being attributed as evidence of the pastor's death. However, the man in these pictures is not Pastor Nadarkhani, and CSW's sources have confirmed he is still alive."

CSW also confirmed the history of Nadarkani's case. It says that on September 8, 2012, a court in Rasht acquitted Pastor Nadarkhani of apostasy, but sentenced him to three years for evangelizing Muslims. Since he had already spent close to three years in Lakan Prison, the pastor was released after posting bail. He was returned to prison on December 25, 2012 on the orders of prison authorities, and released again on January 7, 2013.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, "While we are relieved to report that Pastor Nadarkhani is alive, we urge caution in circulating rumors which must be deeply distressing for his family, his congregation and for many around the world who continue to pray for him. Given their possible ramifications, it is vital that reports of such a serious nature are stringently verified before dissemination."

A spokesman for the ALCJ commented on Facebook: "Update on Nadarkhani: Our contacts inside Iran have now spoken with Youcef Nadarkhani. He is alive. Reports/rumors of his death that have been spreading online are false."

Representatives of the two ministries working in the region earlier said they had no news on Nadarkhani's situation. However, at least three sources have now refuted the claims of Nadarkhani's death.

Firouz Khandjani, member of the National Council of Church of Iran also stated: "I would confirm that Pastor Yousef is alive and well."

Several Iranian Christians remain in Iranian prisons and believers around the world are being urged to remain in prayer for their wellbeing and eventual release.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email  or visit

Suspected Murder of Iranian-Christian Asylum Seeker in Holland

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

HOLLAND (ANS) -- The body of a reportedly murdered Iranian asylum seeker from Oisterwijk in the Brabant District of Holland, has been found.

The Iranian asylum seeker who was reportedly murdered
According to a story by the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), the body was found on Feb. 18.

FCNN said according to Dutch TV, police have declined to name the victim for security and privacy reasons. No other information about the individual has been released.

FCNN said it is aware of the man's identity.

FCNN said eye witnesses reported seeing the 43-year-old Iranian between 8.30 and 9 p.m. leaving an area bus stop in southern Holland. He was carrying two heavy bags and going toward the refugee camp, about a 10 minute walk.

Less than 90 minutes later, around 10 p.m., his body was found on the pavement close to the camp.

FCNN said two days later the Dutch newspaper "Nederland Dagblad" 
announced that the alleged murder victim was a Christian convert with a Muslim background, and a frequent visitor at a church in the city of Noardburgum.

FCNN reported that a church member told a reporter the victim had been a regular visitor for 18 months, attending Sunday services and Bible studies.

FCNN said the victim had gone to church the afternoon he was killed. He said goodbye to friends there, because his asylum request had been accepted and he was about to be rehoused in another part of Holland.

FCNN commented, "The shocking news of this senseless murder has brought grief and sorrow to the local Christians, Iranian-Christian community, and asylum seekers across the country."

FCNN said Christians constitute a large percentage of the Iranians seeking asylum in Holland.

UN passes more sanctions again North Korea

North Korea (MNN) ― Following last month's nuclear test, North Korea is spewing new threats of a first-strike nuclear attack because it claims the United States is pushing to start a nuclear war against the country. This fiery rhetoric comes on the heels of the United Nation's approval of sweeping sanctions against the isolated nation.

Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says, "These sanctions I think do have an effect because they do involve some commercial things and banking things and financial things; yes, they do have an effect. Is it something that's going to really change the direction of North Korea? It's hard to picture that happening."

While the sanctions may be meaningless for real change in North Korea, it does signal some change, says Nettleton. "It shows that China is perhaps losing patience with the North Korean regime. So these sanctions, and the fact that China cooperated with them, may be sending them a message."

Nettleton says Christians continue to face incredible oppression in a nation that's considered the worst place on earth to be a Christian. "Christians are sort of singled out for the worst persecution or the worst situations in North Korea. One of the things I like to tell people is that everyone in North Korea is oppressed, but the Christians are singled out for the very worst oppression."

Nettleton also says, "If they know you're a Christian they've already arrested you. If you're a Christian and the government finds out about it, you are arrested. You're taken to a concentration camp."

About the only thing Christians can do is pray. "Pray for a change in government that treats all of its people better: not only the Christians, but all of the people of North Korea. That's hard to imagine, but obviously we serve a God who can do amazing things."

Voice of the Martyrs is doing everything possible to encourage secret Christians, and they do it in unique ways: "Balloon launches that float over into North Korea and come down. That's a significant way of getting the Gospel message [into North Korea]. Actually, last year we were able to deliver 50,000 New Testaments."

Life in Venezuela uncertain

(Cover photos by GloboVision. Story photo by David Seaton)

Venezuela (MNN) ― Venezuelans began seven days of public mourning on Tuesday night following the death of their president, 58-year-old Hugo Chavez, after a long battle with cancer.

His hand-picked successor, vice-president Nicolás Maduro, said Chavez would be given a state funeral in Caracas on Friday. In the meantime, Maduro will act as interim president and run for the office in the upcoming election in the next 30 days. The Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman says of Maduro, "He was very loyal to Hugo Chavez. We've seen a consolidation among left-leaning Latin American countries, so there is the belief that he will continue on in the same way that Hugo Chavez had."

Venezuela's constitution specifies that the speaker of the National Assembly should assume the interim presidency if a president can't be sworn in, but Chavez made his wishes known before he died. Government officials are following the plan he outlined at that time.

Maduro is also warming up to his role. He called out unnamed "enemies" he claimed were trying to undermine Venezuela's government in a speech Tuesday. Then, he expelled an American Air Force attaché at the U.S. embassy for spying. There's rumor that government officials blame the United States for the death of Chavez.

The big question now is: will there be a huge change? Not likely. "Chavism" is expected to reign on. Musselman explains, "He's a guy that does hold to the socialist ideology. We don't expect things to change drastically for the evangelical Church when it comes to evangelism and freedom to gather."
From what Venezuelan Christians report, Musselman says in the 14 years he was in office, "Chavez may have had his points of trying to help the poor and some of those things which we say are great. But ultimately, he didn't deliver on everything that he promised. Some would say the country is a lot worse."

The "worse" Musselman is referring to is the loss of freedoms. "When you start preaching the Bible--that there's one King and one Kingdom (the Kingdom of God), and not the government of a dictator (as we see with Hugo Chavez), the Christians run into difficulty."

Soon, that turned into a kind of subtle oppression. Musselman spoke with a prominent church leader in Venezuela: Nelson Castro (no relation to Cuba's Fidel Castro), a former colonel who served with Hugo Chavez, confirms the undercurrents. "There has been that pressure turned on them, in terms of them getting radio stations licenses, to be able to spread the Gospel, to be able to expand the Church and a lot of what was happening he said, was very much parallel to what had happened in Cuba under Fidel Castro."

In 2009, the human rights situation in Venezuela was beginning to deteriorate. There were reports that the regime was considering confiscating churches, schools, and other religious buildings. That same year, Venezuela was added to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Watch List.

Three years later, the country remains on the list along with Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia. and Somalia. According to the USCIRF, "The Watch List provides advance warning of negative trends that could develop into severe violations of religious freedom, thereby providing policymakers with the opportunity to engage early and increasing the likelihood of preventing or diminishing the violations."

From the USCIRF report segments involving Venezuela, the report added more rights violations including:

*the government's failure to investigate and hold accountable perpetrators of attacks on religious leaders and houses of worship,
*rhetoric from President Hugo Chavez, government officials, state media, and pro -Chavez media directed at certain faith-based communities.

"Definitely, the Church has been in defensive mode under Chavez, and it has been getting more intense over the past few years," notes Musselman, while at the same time acknowledging that the Constitution of Venezuela provides for freedom of religion, and there are no official restrictions on religious practice.

Religious groups are required to register with the Directorate of Justice and Religion (DJR) in the Ministry of Interior and Justice, and so far, no groups were refused registration in the past few years.

Still, Musselman goes on to say, the actions of Chavez created a hostile ministry environment. "If things had continued to progress the way that things had been under Hugo Chavez, it would become more and more difficult getting better jobs and education, because anybody that was not for him was against him."

By law, Venezuela will hold elections in the next 30 days. So far, there isn't a candidate strong enough to challenge the government frontrunner. In light of that, Musselman urges believers to "pray that the church leaders [and] Christians that are serious about evangelizing and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ would continue to remain devoted to the Lord, (that) they would not be intimidated."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Open Doors receives prestigious Milestone Award at National Religious Broadcasters Convention

USA (ODM/MNN) ― Open Doors received the prestigious Milestone Award at the National Religious Broadcasters banquet at the Gaylord Opryland and Convention Center Tuesday night.

The Milestone Award is given annually to ministries which have more than 50 years of continuous exceptional ministry in Christian outreach and broadcasting. Open Doors is celebrating 58 years of serving persecuted believers in restricted countries around the world.

Over the course of many years, that commitment never wavered. In a recent interview, Open Doors founder Brother Andrew and the author of the best-selling autobiography "God's Smuggler," says, "The most important motivation is that God sends you. He says, "Go and live among them as a Christian, even if it is costly to you, because without the message of Jesus, they will be lost. We have not made a very big effort yet there because there is a very small minority of missionaries living--up until now--in Muslim countries."

The world is an ever-changing place, and Open Doors has changed right along with it. Brother Andrew noted, "In Communism, if you were caught you were probably thrown out of the country. They would probably confiscate your visa and your Bibles. At worst, you got a prison sentence."

Yet in today's world, the balance of power has shifted, and so has the risk. "With the Islamic countries, if you get caught for doing the same thing that we used to do in the communist countries, you don't get sent to prison, you get killed. You just disappear."

Noting the small numbers of missionaries working in Muslim countries, Brother Andrew adds, "It's just finding out the right tone to reach them, because everyone needs Jesus. But how do we present Christ in a society that, on the surface, is so terribly hostile to the Christian message?"

He admits that's hard to do when most Muslims regard anyone from the West as a Christian. "They see the Western people as alcoholics, fornicators, and idolaters. They don't have a good impression of the western world, and now, of course, what they see in a number of countries is the military."

Figuring out how to deliver the most important story in the world in a relevant way has changed dramatically in the last half century. Today, that story can be shared electronically, via television or on mobile platforms.

Of course, this all takes resources and a whole lot of prayer. The more sophisticated Gospel approaches are being met by equally savvy distractions. Brother Andrew says it's important to know what the marching orders are. "Get informed, and then pray intelligently because that is how we ought to pray. We must know what we pray for to be persistent in prayer, and remind God of His own promise; then God will remind us of our own responsibility.... That's a great Christian life!"

Everything Open Doors ministry produces is a call to action. In most cases, it's a call to mobilize prayer warriors. To be effective in today's cultures, explains Brother Andrew, the troops must be willing to change.

"Open our heart to see what God sees and to love what God loves, because there are no terrorists. There are only people for whom Jesus died. So the change should first come with us, and we look at them with different eyes."

That mindset was communicated by Sealy Yates, Open Doors International Founding Chairman, who accepted the award on behalf of Open Doors.

"On behalf of Open Doors and Brother Andrew (Open Doors founder), it is an honor to accept the Milestone Award from the National Religious Broadcasters," said Yates. "It is also a privilege for me to be here on behalf of all those living under persecution because they have chosen to live their lives with their faith in Jesus Christ...those who cannot be here themselves. I would like to thank NRB for their recognition of all those who are faithfully serving and who have served with Open Doors in serving the suffering Church around the world for more than five decades.

"The Lord has blessed Open Doors since Brother Andrew first delivered Bibles behind the Iron Curtain in 1955. Today, Open Doors continues to sustain and strengthen Christians living in hostile environments so they can live out and share the Gospel. I thank the Lord for all those who have supported and prayed for our persecuted brothers and sisters over the years."

NRB President/CEO Dr. Frank Wright stated: "For nearly six decades, Open Doors has faithfully served the persecuted church through theological training, community development, and distribution of Bibles, training materials, and other Christian materials. The ministry has also done a phenomenal job in raising awareness of suffering Christians around the world and in mobilizing the church in the West to pray. Only God knows the full impact of this tremendous ministry."

A total of 10 ministries received the award during NRB's 70th annual convention.

'Really Awesome' Kim Jong Un Parties with Dennis Rodman as North Korean Christians Die

"Rodman must function on a continuum stretching from clueless to cruel to celebrate with such a tyrant as his people languish behind bars."

-- Faith J.H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Director

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Former NBA star Dennis Rodman's praises for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un during a basketball exhibition in the isolated country are commanding attention for their personal endorsement of Kim's rule. But while many are decrying Rodman's words as outrageous, North Korea's treatment of its Christian population is even more so, according to a recent report by a human rights watchdog.

Of an estimated 200,000 prisoners in North Korea, 70,000 of them are Christians, according to a recent report authored by the human rights watchdog Open Doors. For the 11th consecutive year, North Korea tops Open Doors' list of the worst countries for its brutal treatment of Christians.

"[Kim's] a good guy. He's my friend," Rodman shared on ABC's Sunday morning "This Week" broadcast following his return from the Hermit Kingdom. Rodman and Kim shared dinner and drinks following the exhibition game, where later Rodman told local media that Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, "were great leaders, and he's such a proud man."

"He's proud, his country likes him -- not like him, love him, love him," Rodman said. "Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."

IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:

"From incarcerating Christians and political prisoners in gulags to executing those caught fleeing over the Chinese border; North Korea's despotic rulers have consistently held the title of worst oppressors in the world.

"Rodman's party antics with the North Korean dictator seem scripted for the parody cartoon 'Adventures of Kim Jong Un.' Rodman must function on a continuum stretching from clueless to cruel to celebrate with such a tyrant as his people languish behind bars.

"Rodman says Kim Jong Un's people love him? What choice do they have? If you don't show your 'love' by wearing a Kim Jong Un pin on your clothing, three generations of your family get sent to prison camp!

"North Korea's despotic rulers have consistently held the title of worst oppressors in the world.

"A nation's internal record of respect for human rights is the single most reliable predictor of that nation's external intentions and integrity."

Christian Newswire

Tensions serve to unite the Body of Christ in Egypt

Egypt (MNN) ― There's been an uptick in tensions between Egypt's Muslims and Christ-followers.

The alleged conversion of a 36-year old Muslim teacher lies at the heart of recent unrest. She's been missing for several days and was reportedly seen outside a church in southern Egypt with a Christian friend.

When police used force against hundreds of Muslims trying to overtake the church last week, the crowds pushed back - resulting in over 10 injured officials.

While the divide dates back to biblical times, Egypt's Christians and Muslims have been increasingly at-odds since Mubarak fell from power two years ago. National instability adds another layer of anxiety.

"Things are going down and there's no real vision, and the people in Egypt are very angry. It's very bad," says Mike*, a representative ofIN Network in Egypt. He says many Egyptians who voted for Morsi this summer have now turned against him.

"[Morsi] gave a big promise, and said that he had a great plan to change things in Egypt to move the economy and…he gave many promises," Mike says. "But now it's about 6 months since he took over and the people find out that he didn't have a plan.

"He's not qualified to lead the country, and there's no stability. The people are depressed and it's a big disaster."
How's it affecting the Church?

"Because of the pressure and because they are not sure about the future, there is a spirit of prayer arising in all the churches," he explains. He says it's also serving to bring churches into a new spirit of unity.

"The churches are going to a new season," says Mike. "We've never experienced this before, so we need to train the leaders of the churches."

That's exactly what IN Network is doing: equipping pastors to reach an ever-changing Egypt. For three to five days, hundreds of church leaders are equipped with training and the skills they need to reach their communities for Christ.
Mike says they also put a curriculum together for Sunday School teachers who work with kids between the ages of 4 and 11.

"Many families are very poor, are not able to take care of their kids," explains Mike. "So we train Sunday School teachers how to reach the children, how to help poor children and even how to support some of their needs."

The training is given free to church leaders, but it costs IN Network approximately $15 per attendant to provide this type of resource. President of IN Network USA Rody Rodenhaver says they hope to raise $5000 to cover their training needs for the next two years.

Can you help? Click here .

"Egypt is a very important country, and whatever happens in Egypt, it affects the whole Arab world," says Mike, "so please pray for wisdom to the leaders, pray for stability in the government, and pray for resources, so the people do not suffer more than this."

Pakistan Karachi Bomb Blast Kills Dozens

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

NY Times Photo
KARACHI, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- At least 45 people have been killed by a bomb explosion in the Pakistani city of Karachi, police say.

According to a story by the BBC, the blast in the mainly Shia Muslim area of Abbas Town destroyed several buildings and set others on fire. Some reports spoke of a second explosion.

There's no word yet on who planted the bomb, which went off near a mosque as worshipers left evening prayers.

The BBC said Pakistan's Shia minority are the target of frequent sectarian attacks from Sunni militant groups.

The explosion sent a huge column of smoke into the sky above Karachi and caused a power cut in part of the city.

Police are investigating whether it was a suicide attack.

The BBC said rescuers have been struggling to reach people trapped under the rubble. Residents have been using car headlights to help the search for survivors, local media reports said.

Around 150 people were wounded by the explosion, officials said.

"I was watching television when I heard an explosion and my flat (apartment) was badly shaken," the BBC said Karachi resident Mariam Bibi told Reuters news agency.

"I saw people burning to death and crying with pain. I saw children lying in pools of their own blood and women running around shouting for their children and loved ones," she added.

Rescue work was delayed as some residents fired guns into the air in anger at the carnage, reports say.

Sectarian divide

The BBC reported that Pakistan's main political and religious leaders rushed to condemn the attack - the latest to target the Shia minority.

Nearly 200 people were killed in two separate bombings targeting the Shia community in the south-western city of Quetta in January and February.

The BBC said some relatives of the victims there initially refused to bury their dead in protest at what they said was the failure of the authorities to protect their community from attack.

According to the BBC, no group has yet admitted to carrying out the Karachi bombing, but correspondents say suspicion is likely to fall on Sunni militant groups.

Groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi regard Shia Muslims as heretics and have stepped up attacks in recent years.

The BBC reported they are thought to have set several training camps for militants and police seizures have shown they have access to large quantities of weapons and explosives, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad said.

The BBC said some activists called 2012 the worst year in living memory for attacks on Pakistan's Shia community.

But already this year bombings in the south-western of Quetta alone have killed nearly 200 people.

Last month, the BBC reported, Pakistan's Supreme Court called on the authorities to devise a strategy to protect Shia Muslims more effectively, given the increase in attacks.

The BBC said Karachi - Pakistan's biggest city and commercial capital - has a long history of violence.

As well as a sectarian divide between Sunni and Shia, that city has also seen conflict between different ethnic communities - Pashtuns from north-west Pakistan, Mohajirs (immigrants from India following the Partition) and Sindhis.