(Image courtesy of Russian Ministries)
Azerbaijan (MNN) ― Azerbaijan's government has struck another blow to the Greater Grace Protestant Church. According to Russian Ministries, the court of appeal in Baku, Azerbaijan has upheld the lower court's decision to liquidate the evangelical church, thereby making any and all church activities illegal. Pray that the Lord protects His people in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan holds its position in the world's 25 Most Persecuted countries with a highly-restrictive Religion Law and multiple amendments. One of this law's requirements is re-registration for religious institutions; even those that have been established for nearly 20 years, like the Greater Grace Protestant Church, have to re-register with the Azerbaijani government. For an unknown reason, the Azerbaijani court denied the church's re-registration process four months ago and then moved to liquidate the evangelical establishment.
Although the church could still perform all its actions following the court's decision in April, any church activities are now considered illegal, and violators could face sentencing. Even if believers met in small groups to pray, their actions could now incur fines or jail sentences of up to four years.
This comes as the most recent in a series of strikes against the church in Azerbaijan. In June 2011, restrictive laws were passed calling for additional requirements for registration. Last fall, restrictions increased against anyone who produced or distributed religious literature. Earlier this month, censorship tightened on religious materials.
To counteract the increasing persecution, Russian Ministries has created a petition to stop the oppression of religious freedom in Azerbaijan. Click here to sign the petition, or find the link on the Mission Network News Facebook page.
Your prayers are needed to protect believers in the days to come. Cover Azerbaijani believers with prayers for safety and protection during these times, and ask God to deliver them from evil.