By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SPRINGFIELD, MO. (ANS) -- The Assemblies of God, along with other church organizations ministering in Iran and Nigeria, is experiencing increasing levels of persecution as authorities and extremists attempt to stamp out Christianity.
According to a story by Dan Van Veen for the Assemblies of God News (AG), in Iran, Central Assembly of God in Tehran had its summer campsite closed by authorities, who posted a notice on the campground gates warning of severe consequences should anyone try to enter. This action follows the official termination of Friday Farsi Language services, all Bible classes and any distribution of Christian literature by the church or its members.
The AG reported that Eurasia Regional Director Omar Beiler said, "The increasing pressures put on the AG churches in Iran in recent days is a cause for great concern. We are doing everything we can to help them, but they need God's intervention most of all."
In Nigeria, the AG said, extremists are demanding the adoption and enforcement of Sharia law and the establishment of a new Nigeria under those laws. Villages, churches, government institutions, and schools (especially Christian schools) are being violently attacked. So far in 2012, the Assemblies of God has lost more than 25 churches, with many members fleeing for their lives.
"Last week, more than 300 extremists attacked nine villages in Plateau state, killing and injuring hundreds of innocent men, women and children," said Randy Hurst, communications director for AG World Missions, speaking in the story.
He added, "Of these, one AG church was burned, four members killed, and many are hospitalized and displaced."
Mike McClaflin, regional director for Africa, said in the AG story, "These latest violent acts remind us that the Nigeria Assemblies of God needs our partnership in fervent prayer for their safety."
AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis also encouraged prayer for those experiencing severe persecution.
The Ag reported he said, "The World Missions Executive Committee is increasing our own personal prayers for the suffering church around the world and appealing to our broader constituency to seek the Lord on behalf of our brothers and sisters in places like Iran and Nigeria who are paying such a heavy price to faithfully follow Christ."
According to the story, AG General Superintendent George Wood, who met earlier this year with President Obama and asked him to have his administration speak forcefully against religious persecution, agreed that prayer is desperately needed. He also believes it is important for people to let their voices be heard.
"People should continue to contact their elected leaders in Congress and the executive branch and voice their concern that everything possible be done to speak out on the cause of religious freedom," Wood said.