Saudi Arabia Jails House Church Christians (Exclusive)

Friday, April 15, 2011

(A BosNewsLife/Worthy News Special Investigation)

By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (Worthy News)-- Two Indian Christians of a thriving Pentecostal house church  in Saudi Arabia have been moved from pre-trial detention to a prison in the Saudi capital Ryadh where they are "forbidden to pray or read the Bible" and "suffer of a lack of food and medical attention," an elder of the church has told Worthy News and its news partner BosNewsLife.

Vasantha Sekhar Vara, 28, and Nese Yohan, 31, who are members of the "Rejoice in the Church of the Lord" congregation, were initially detained in January and received 45-days of "pre-trial detention" on charges of attempted Christian conversion, also known as "proselytizing", said the church elder speaking from Riyadh  in a telephone interview.

"They were later moved from the police station to [a notorious] central jail in Riyadh without a trial," he added.  He said it was not known when and if the trial will start.

The elder asked not to be identified as he is still involved in negotiating their release and Saudi security forces have raided his church.

"We were crying when we met each other in the prison facility last week," he said, his voice trembling. "They are forbidden to pray or read the Bible. Our brothers' head hair was shaved and they look very thin. They don't receive enough food. Yohan is coughing, perhaps because of Tuberculosis, but he is denied medical treatment. The world should know about their plight."


The church official said the two young men can barely sleep in the overcrowded jail. "They are the only known Christians there who are imprisoned for their faith. The other inmates are criminals."

In India, Vara’s pastor, Ajay Kuma Jeldi, said earlier in published remarks that Vara had told him by telephone that he had been pressured in prison to convert to Islam, but had refused. "If I have to die for my God, I will die for him here," Vara reportedly said.

Vara and Yohan were detained in January when they organized a Bible study group in one of the apartments where their 70-strong church of mainly Indian expat workers gathers, the elder confirmed.

"Saudi religious police and other police also confiscated Bibles and other christian literature as well as the church's sound installation and instruments, such as guitars, during the raid. They even broke furniture, suit cases, and painted what I believe were Koran verses on the walls" of the apartment where the church met, he added.


The elder said the two men's "families back in India are very concerned about our brothers."

Pentecostal church members are often referred to as "brothers" or "sisters" in reference to Biblical teaching that those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are children of God, the Heavenly Father.

The Indian embassy has not yet provided legal assistance and did not openly  pressure Saudi authorities to release the two Indian citizens, reportedly describing the case as an "internal religious affair."

The church has not been able to hire a lawyer, the church elder told Worthy News and BosNewsLife. "Our congregation is made up of workers who each have a small salary. There is simply no money to hire an expensive lawyer to defend out brothers in court."


Despite the difficulties and threats of more arrests, the church elder said his congregation continues worshiping in different locations, and even baptizes new believers. "We have to continue to praise the Lord, what else can we do? This is a lively church. There is also an interest among people of other religions to attend our services."

Rights groups say Saudi Arabia, a strict Islamic nation, has a long history of cracking down on Christians. In 2004, 28 Indian workers were reportedly arrested for practicing Christianity.  The charges were eventually dropped, but in 2010 brought up again leading to the deportation of one worker, while another person was arrested, according to rights investigators.

In another case, 16 Indian workers were allegedly arrested in February 2008, and then released after three days. In 2010, eight left the country of their own accord and three of the remaining eight were reportedly issued deportation orders and expelled.

A recent United States State Department report on religious freedom expressed concerns about the situation of religious minorities in the country.


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner said the public practice of non-Muslim religions remains prohibited, and that the Saudi government has not acted on pledges to rid textbooks of religious incitement.

"...There still continues to be in the Saudi textbooks, references, very  negative, stereotypical references to Christians, Jews and others, which regard as offensive," he told reporters following the presentation of the report in November.

Saudi authorities have denied human rights abuses and recently urged political activists not to repeat pro-democracy demonstrations that have engulfed other Arabic nations.

The Middle East nation of over 26 million people is officially 100 percent Muslim, but as in other Arabic countries, there have been reports of a growing interest in Christianity in Saudi Araba, where many foreigners are Christians.

In 2009, BosNewsLife already cited Netherlands-based Arabische Wereld Zending, or 'Arabic World Mission,' as saying that Christians have set up an underground church in Mecca, viewed by Muslims as the "holiest city in Islam", while tens of thousands of other Saudi Christians are worshiping via the Internet.


8 thoughts on “Saudi Arabia Jails House Church Christians (Exclusive)

  1. I am a prison warden in California.

    I am going to refuse to feed our muslim prisoners, and take away their korans, and not allow them to pray, and if I can, I'll find some pig's blood to spray on these guys every day - starting tonight, unless the Christians being held in Saudi Arabia get food, medical treatment, and are treated humanely, meaning they are free to worship.

    I encourage all prison wardens in the free world to do the same in response to this injustice.

    • Dear Jesus I thank you for Jed who is willing to show his support of these Indian Christians. I pray that you will cause those opposing people to recognise that people have a right to their own belief and to allow that.

    • Dear Jesus, Thank you for Jed and all those who are willing to act to help these Indian Christians. I pray that you will cause those opposing people to recognise that individuals have a right to their belief and not to fear that. Amen

  2. Heavenly Father, I pray for these detained church members. I ask that you would show them that, even though they are forbidden to pray out loud at this time, they can still pray , still talk to you, in their hearts. They can't be stopped from that. I ask that you would set your angels around them, and send yor Holy Spirit to comfort them. I ask that their oppressors be convicted strongly, and that they would be strongly encouraged to repent of their wrongdoings, and give their hearts to you. To God be the glory, in Jesus' name, AMEN.

  3. I myself have seen Jesus, December, 1996. as a vapor started forming in the ceiling of the operating room as My first child was being born. The vapor thickened into clouds, and the clouds rolled extremely fast into the ceiling area. Just as the clouds stopped the movement, I could clearly see my Lord, Jesus Christ standing on top of the clouds with his hands held out to me the whole time the operation was taking place. Dear Lord Jesus, please, just as you visited Paul (Saul) on the Damascus road, and me and many others, please visit the guards that watch over these brother's and any sister's of ours in Christ that the gurard might be transformed as Paul was and that they may turn thier hearts compassionately to the human dignity of these people to feed and take good care of them, that are imprissioned under thier care. We also have muslims that attend our classes in the jail we visit here and we treat the muslim with human dignity and they are well cared for. I minister in the jail and they are not starved, they are allowed to worship and sing praies. God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth ACTS 17:26 (strongs concordance #5037, #4160, #1537, #1520, #129, #3956, #1484, #444, #2730, #1909, #3956, #4383, #1093) Every one of us bleed red blood, we should Love God and the men and women he created. Ye are #2075 of #1537 [your] father #3962 the devil #1228, and #2532 the lusts #1939 of your #5216 father #3962 ye will #2309 do #4160. He #1565 was #2258 a murderer #443 from #575 the beginning #746, and #2532 abode #2476 not #3756 in #1722 the truth #225, because #3754 there is #2076 no #3756 truth #225 in 1722 him 846. When 3752 he speaketh 2980 a lie 5579, he speaketh 2980 of 1537 his own 2398: for #3754 he is #2076 a liar #5583, and #2532 the father #3962 of it #846. Jesus comes that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Lord Jesus please visit and comfort those of your children that are imprisioned around the world for your names sake comfort them and let them know you have not forgotten, nor will you forsake them ever, even unto the ends of the world. Please also comfort thier families and help them to stay strong in thier faith in You. May the God bless all those that bless and take care of even one of the least of your children Father.

  4. So odd. they fear letting their people choose freely to believe or what to believe, or not to believe, yet they demand that other nations allow them to try to convert others to Islam. 
    I am glad that others are endangering their lives in order to teach these people the evils of Islam. 

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