Suffering Christian Pastor in Iraq Prison May Be Released Pending Presidential Approval

Correction appended

Pastor Abdi Ali Hamzah might be released from Iraqi prison after Dr. Terry Law of World Compassion Ministries met with high-ranking government officials and petitioned for his freedom.

"We need a continued focus of prayer over the next week or so as we continue to go through the appeal process," Jason Law, vice president of Operations and the son of Dr. Terry Law, shared in an email with The Christian Post on Friday. "We have high expectations for his release soon."

Hamzah, also called Pastor Jamal, was arrested in July 2011 and was sentenced to five years in Iraqi prison, allegedly for being a spy to Iran. World Compassion says that those were false charges, however, and that the sentencing might have more to do with the pastor's evangelism – Pastor Jamal has risked his life going undercover to refugee villages and helping Dr. Law distribute $100,000-worth of food to people in Iraq.

Dr. Law has also ministered to people in the former Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea. He traveled to Iraq last weekend to campaign for the Iraqi pastor's release based on humanitarian grounds.

In a blog post detailing the meeting, World Compassion says Dr. Law met with Iraqi officials and spoke for 40 minutes about Pastor Jamal's medical condition, which is said to be serious with the Christian leader suffering from urgent health problems, including a tumor.

"He has been in prison for 18 months now, and before that we sent him to Jordan to have some gammanite surgery done," Jason Law told CP in a previous interview. "He had a tumor in his brain, and they believe that it is coming back. From our understanding, he is now in a prison hospital but is not really receiving the treatment and care that he needs."

The hopeful news, however, is that the sooner Pastor Jamal is released, the sooner he will be able to receive the medical attention that he needs.

"The official took an interest in Jamal's case and said he would do what he could to help Jamal obtain 'private amnesty' from his prison sentence," the blog says. "His response gave us great encouragement and hope that Pastor Jamal could be released."

The ministry noted, however, that the legal process leading up to his release will have to be taken step by step, but Dr. Law is committed to helping the imprisoned pastor all the way until his release. Such an amnesty will not be possible without the signature of President of the Kurdish Regional Government Massoud Barzani, and World Compassion is asking for prayers so that the case "receives favor in the sight of the President."

While visiting Pastor Jamal, Dr. Law added that the faith leader shared with him an inspiring story of how despite his medical problems, he has been able to continue sharing the Gospel and the message of Jesus Christ with people at the prison.

"We believe that despite the devil's intentions, God will continue to get the glory through this situation in Iraq," World Compassion Ministries concludes.

Correction: Friday, March 8, 2013:

A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that the signature of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was required for the release of Pastor Abdi Ali Hamzah. President of the Kurdish Regional Government Massoud Barzani, not Talabani, needs to give approval for the pastor's "private amnesty."

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