Very early this past Saturday, I was startled awake with a compelling need to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East. I began to pray for a dear friend of mine who preaches the holy Gospel in areas controlled by radical Islamists. He continues to preach notwithstanding the dangers to him and his family (and to the Christians he visits). He preaches in areas where there are no church buildings, as he meets with Christians in their homes. I prayed for other evangelists who go into some of the most dangerous areas of the Middle East to proclaim the Lordship and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. I further prayed for another friend of mine who is the headmaster of a Christian school in the Middle East. Many of the school’s students come from Moslem families, but are drawn to the high standards of education at the school. I prayed also for the teachers and other workers at the school who labor with him. I prayed for the pastors and Christian believers in Iran who suffer daily persecution. I also prayed for Pastors Saeed Abedini and Farshid Fathi, and the other Christian believers, who suffer in the hell of Iranian prisons. I prayed for the 13 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns and the three other orphanage workers kidnapped in Syria. I prayed for their health and safety (the eldest nun is nearly 90 years old, and the youngest kidnapped orphanage worker is in her mid-teens). I prayed that they would be released soon from their brutal captivity at the hands of the Syrian rebels. I prayed for the more than eighty Christians kidnapped for ransom in Minya, Egypt, since the 2011 revolution (Minya is an Upper Egypt province with a high percentage of Coptic Christians). I also prayed for the clergy and priests who care for their terrified flocks throughout the Middle East, including the priest and two bishops kidnapped by the Syrian rebels. I prayed for Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi and the Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim who were kidnapped last year. Then, I also prayed for 27-year-old Father Michael Kayyal of the Armenian Catholic Church in Aleppo, who was abducted last February while riding a bus after Islamists saw his clerical garb. I prayed for Greek Orthodox priest, Father Maher Mahfouz, who was kidnapped around the same time. On these pages, I have written about the martyrdom of Syrian Orthodox parish priest Father Fadi Haddad who was kidnapped in December 2013 after he left his church to negotiate the release of one of his kidnapped parishioners. One week later, Fr. Haddad’s mutilated corpse was found by the roadside, with his eyes gouged out. A young man named Yohannes (his last name has not been released to protect his family) was summarily executed. An Islamist gunman stopped a bus to Aleppo, Syria, on which Yohannes was riding. The Islamist checked the background of each passenger. When the Islamists saw the Armenian surname of Yohannes, he was searched more thoroughly. After finding that Yohannes was wearing a cross around his neck, one of the Islamists shot point blank at his cross. He died instantly. And so I prayed for the family of Yohannes. I also prayed for 18-year-old Gabriel, who fled with his family last year from his town after his father was murdered for the “crime” of having a crucifix hanging from his car’s rear-view mirror. The son said: “After the funeral, the threats against our family and other Christians increased. The terrorists called us and said that it was time to disappear; we had that choice, or we would be killed.” I also prayed for Christians who have been brutally targeted by the “courts” of the “Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant,” the name the American-allied al-Nusra Brigade and other Islamist rebels use in reference to the Syrian territory under their control.
As you see, there are many to pray for. The above describes only a fraction of those who suffer as each Christian family in the Middle East can tell its own horrors. I hope you will join me in praying for these dear saints much loved by our Lord. After all, we are admonished in Hebrews 13:3 to “remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” If you wish to comment below on others we can pray for, please do so.