Four Christians have been arrested following a raid on an underground church in Azerbaijan. About 30 Christian believers – men, women and children – were gathered for prayer in the pastor’s house when around 15 policemen came into the room and stopped the meeting, because it was ‘illegal’.
The police took the names and passport details of all those gathered, as well as compiling an inventory of all the literature in the house. Although 26 of those gathered for prayer were taken to the police station and detained, 22 were released. The other four believers – Pastor Agamamedov Mehman, Pastor Shabanov Gamid and his wife, and another member of the church, were held for longer.
Eventually they were released and warned not to gather for prayer or worship meetings. They were told that ‘each of you may pray to your Christ in your own house, but meetings are forbidden’. If they carried on meeting, they were warned that ‘you will be arrested again with more serious consequences than a fine’.
Although the case has not been decided, authorities have told them that 24 members – not just the arrested four – will be fined 1500 manat (about £675) for attending an ‘illegal religious meeting’. Their case was broadcast on Azerbaijani TV news, and the programme described them as criminals.
Please pray for these believers who now cannot hold meetings due to the strict police control. Please pray especially for Pastor Mehman who has health problems which have been exacerbated by the pressure and the arrest.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.