THE AID AGENCY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH www.barnabasfund.org
to help you pray for the persecuted church
NOVEMBER 1 - 3 Friday 1 November is the Barnabas Day of Prayer for the persecuted Church. As you lift our suffering brothers and sisters before the Lord on this special day and throughout these two months, remember that He knows the people and places we are praying about and that His Spirit intercedes for His people according to God’s will (Romans 8:27). However, we sometimes have to change or omit their names for security reasons. Thank you for your understanding.
November Friday 1 “Let history record that Maaloula is crying today.” This was the message from the Christians of Maaloula, Syria, after the village, a historic centre of Christianity, was captured by al-Qaeda-linked rebels in a siege in September. Residents were threatened, “Either you convert to Islam or you will be beheaded.” At least seven Christians were killed and around 15 kidnapped. The Islamists entered every Christian home and broke Christian symbols; churches were attacked and crosses on buildings destroyed. Maaloula, where Aramaic, the ancient language of Jesus, is still used, was left a ghost town, as most of its population of around 3,000 fled. On this Barnabas Day of Prayer for the persecuted Church, pray that the Lord will give the Syrian Church in particular the strength to withstand the onslaught it is facing. Saturday 2 “Wadi al Nasara was in deep deep sorrow to lose so many people in one day… I cried a lot seeing the photos of the innocent who were killed in cold blood.” A Barnabas Fund partner from Syria was speaking after at least 15 Christians were killed by armed militants in an 2
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The historic Christian village of Maaloula was captured by Islamists
attack in a mainly Christian area on 17 August. It was the first time that Christians had come under attack in the Wadi, and many had fled there to escape danger in other parts of Syria. Two of those killed were volunteers who helped to distribute aid from Barnabas to Christians in need. Pray for those bereaved in this tragic incident and that Christians in this supposedly safe area will be protected from further attacks. Sunday 3 Barnabas Fund has launched a petition calling on Western governments to take action on behalf of the endangered Christian minority in Syria. It calls on those in power to recognise the grave peril faced by Syrian Christians and the violence directed against them; to put the plight of Christians and other minorities at the forefront of humanitarian aid programmes; and to pursue outcomes in Syria that ensure freedom, equality and justice for all without discrimination. Pray that many people will sign the petition and that it will persuade the authorities to protect and help our brothers and sisters in their extreme distress. Pray too for wisdom and courage for them as they decide how to do this.
NOVEMBER 4 - 8 Monday 4 Continue to pray for Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini, who is suffering appalling abuse from the authorities during his imprisonment. He has been beaten and tortured and has suffered internal bleeding as a result; the pain has intensified to such a level that at one point it caused him to faint. For some time he was denied medical treatment; give thanks that more recently he has been allowed to see a hospital doctor. Saeed’s eight-year jail term for planting house churches in Iran has recently been upheld by an appeal court. Pray that the Iranian authorities will treat him humanely and that they will retract his unjust sentence. Tuesday 5 Christian prisoners in Iran may be subjected to mental as well as physical torture by interrogators and guards. Farshid Fathi, who was jailed for six years in 2012, told of his treatment in a recent letter: “I was told falsely that my wife had been arrested as well and that I needed to give my children’s custody to someone for a temporary period of time. I was also informed falsely that my dad had a heart attack and was hospitalised… It was all intended to put me under mental pressure.” In fact, Farshid’s wife and children have left Iran because of the harassment they were suffering from the authorities. Farshid is a pastor and a convert from Islam. Pray for the family in their enforced separation, and that Farshid will stand firm in his faith. Wednesday 6 In August Christians in Egypt suffered one of the worst days of targeted violence against them in modern history. Following the ousting of the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi at the beginning of July, attacks against them and their property began immediately. But after protests by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood were forcibly dispersed by the military authorities on 14 August, his supporters went on the rampage, torching more than 60
church buildings and many other Christian institutions. Countless homes, businesses and cars belonging to Christians were destroyed. Pray for strength for those still reeling from the effects of this devastating day, and for grace to forgive their persecutors. Thursday 7 Christians in the southern Egyptian provinces of Minya and Assuit have been very badly affected by the campaign of terror by supporters of former President Morsi. Both areas are Islamist strongholds and also have large Christian populations. For example, the town of Dalga in Minya was in Islamist hands from July to September; churches and other Christian property were vandalised, looted and torched, and up to 100 Christian families fled. Many of those who remained were forced to pay the humiliating Islamic jizya tax traditionally imposed by Muslims on Christians in “conquered” territory. Pray for protection for our brothers and sisters in Minya and Assuit, and that a full-scale Islamist insurgency will not erupt there. Friday 8 “Jessi was everything to us. Her killers didn’t know that Jessi was my life – my future. They killed our future.” The grieving father of Jessi Boulos (10), an only child, was speaking after his daughter was gunned down by Islamist militants as she was walking home from her Bible study class in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, on 8 August. Two weeks later, on 21 August, a young Christian, Wahid Jacob, was kidnapped in Assuit province. When his family could not pay the exorbitant ransom that was demanded, the kidnappers executed him and dumped his body in a field; there were signs that he had been tortured. Pray for comfort and peace for the families of these two young people, and for the loved ones of every individual casualty from the current turmoil in Egypt.
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NOVEMBER 9 - 12 Saturday 9 “They told me I must cooperate with them in giving them the names of Muslims who have changed their religion… they asked me about the whereabouts of my friend, who was a Muslim and became a Christian.” A Christian from the Nuba Mountains who fled Sudan earlier this year has revealed how the authorities are trying to track down converts from Islam. Security officers arrested him, seized his computer and mobile phone and threatened to kill him if he did not divulge names. Apostasy is punishable by death in Sudan, and although this penalty is hardly ever enforced, converts face arrest and imprisonment. Pray that the Lord will keep them safe from those who want to hurt them. Sunday 10 Give thanks to the Lord for His blessing on Barnabas Fund’s Exodus mission to rescue vulnerable Christians from Sudan. Since the launch of this major operation in 2012, we have so far airlifted or bussed nearly 5,000 Christians to South Sudan, where they can begin a new life free from the oppression and hostility they have endured for years in the overwhelmingly Muslim North. Another, 3,000 are due to go in late November. The Christians have been staying in primitive tented camps on the outskirts of Khartoum for years, in constant danger from the aggressively Islamist government, which is seeking to eradicate the Christian presence in Sudan. Give thanks that through the generosity of our supporters we have exceeded our original target of 2,000 people, and pray for these believers as they settle into their new home.
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Monday 11 Pray for a congregation in northern India whose church building was destroyed before it was even fully constructed. Building work at Pastor Tanvir’s church had only recently resumed after opposition had held it up for two years. Only the roof remained to be completed when a 1,000-strong mob destroyed the building and beat the pastor and church members on 25 August. The villagers were angered by false rumours that the Christians had committed culturally insensitive actions. Pray that the tensions in the area will be calmed and that God will change the hearts of those who oppose the church, so that this beleaguered congregation can construct their building and worship in it in peace.
A church building destroyed by antiChristian violence in India (Source: Gospel for Asia)
Tuesday 12 “I came to church in the morning with my whole family for prayers and worship but returned home with no-one. My mum took her last breath in my arms; my dad and sister died.” Christian teenager Shalom Nazir’s life was torn apart on 22 September by a suicide bombing at All Saints Church in Peshawar. More than 80 people were killed and around 130 wounded, many of them children. The attack was the deadliest ever carried out against Pakistan’s Christian minority; responsibility was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, who said that Christians
NOVEMBER 13 - 17 were “the enemies of Islam”. Pray for those bereaved in this appalling incident, that they will have hope in their grief (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Pray too for improved security for Pakistan’s churches. Wednesday 13 A Christian couple from Pakistan are facing the possibility of the death penalty after being accused of sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim man. Police in Gojra said that Shafqat Masih had admitted to using a SIM card registered in his wife Shagufta’s name to send text messages defiling the name of Muhammad, a crime that carries the death penalty under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. A local Christian rights group said that the couple had been framed and that Shafqat’s confession was forced. Pray that the truth will come to light in this case, and that Shafqat and Shagufta will know the peace of the Lord, which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7), despite their dire circumstances. Ask the Lord also to comfort and provide for the couple’s four children at this time.
Friday 15 Islamist militants who seized control of the Central African Republic (CAR) in March have been rampaging through the country on a killing, looting and raping spree. They are targeting Christian areas, and in August at least 15 Christians were killed in attacks on Christian villages. Witnesses reported that the fighters threw the bodies of those they had killed, including a five-month-old baby, in a river. Around 1,000 people were displaced from the 14 villages affected. A senior Christian leader was also arrested for openly criticising the new regime in a sermon in the capital, Bangui. Pray that the violence of the militants will be restrained and for the establishing of a wise and just government in CAR.
Saturday 16 On 16-17 June Muslims attacked Christian property in the N’zerekore region of Guinea, where Christians are a small minority. Within 24 hours eleven church buildings had been destroyed and many Christian homes torched and looted, including at least six pastors’ houses. Fearing a revenge attack, the Muslims sent their families to a local military camp, but Thursday 14 Pray for Dalit Christians in India, when Christians fled there too they were turned who are continuing to suffer the consequences away and had to scatter into the forest. As a of official injustice. Dalits, who are a historically result the Christians missed out on an emergency disadvantaged group at the very bottom of the distribution of food at the camp. Barnabas caste system, are now awarded certain economic, is providing relief to 75 Christians who lost educational and social benefits to redress this everything they owned in the attacks. Pray that imbalance. But unlike their Hindu, Buddhist and the affected families will be able to rebuild their Sikh counterparts, Christian and Muslim Dalits lives and for the restoration of order in the region. have not been given “Scheduled Caste” status, so they have to endure the effects of centuries of Sunday 17 “Local communities disadvantage unaided. Give thanks that the chief have understood the importance minister of Tamil Nadu state, Ms J Jayalalitha, of sending their children to school has written to India’s prime minister to urge him with the hope that they will be the to address this “ongoing injustice”. Pray that this leaders of the next generation.” A cause will be taken up at the highest levels and Barnabas partner in South Sudan that Christian and Muslim Dalits will soon benefit was commenting on the success of from the same support that others receive. three Barnabas-supported Christian BARNABAS PRAYER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
NOVEMBER 18 - 21 schools in rural areas where parents are very poor. The schools provide Christian children with knowledge and skills they can use when they grow up to rebuild churches and communities that were shattered by the long civil war with the former North Sudan. They also equip the children to make a financial contribution to their families and improve their quality of life. Pray that the schools will continue to make a difference to the lives of impoverished Christians and that the children will grow up to be strong men and women of God. Monday 18 Pray for Christians in Kenya, who are increasingly vulnerable to attacks from the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab. On 21 September, militants armed with grenades and rifles attacked the popular Westgate shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi. Many people were taken hostage; at least 62 were killed and more than 170 injured. The attackers separated Muslims from non-Muslims, for example by demanding that the prisoners recite the Muslim confession of faith, so that they could kill the nonMuslims. Al-Shabaab has carried its violence into Kenya in retaliation for Kenyan military operations against them in Somalia; churches have also been attacked and Christian leaders targeted. Pray that the Kenyan authorities will succeed in countering the threat posed to the Christian community by violent Islamism. Tuesday 19 Pray for a young Christian mother in Somalia who has been kidnapped and sexually abused by masked men suspected to belong to al-Shabaab. Shamsa Enow Hussein (28) was abducted outside her home in Bulo Marer on 5 August. Her husband, Mohamed Isse Osman, 6
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heard his wife and two young children screaming as he approached the house. His wife was able to send him a text message that night urging him to leave and saying that the attackers had abused her sexually. He took the children to another town but has received text messages from the kidnappers threatening that they will come for him too. Apostasy from Islam is punishable by death in Somalia, and al-Shabaab enforces the penalty extra-judicially. Pray for Shamsa’s release and for the Lord to defend all Christian converts in Somalia. Wednesday 20 Cry out to the Lord for Afghan converts to Christianity, who face murderous hostility even from their own members of parliament. In July, one Afghan MP drew attention to the evangelistic work being done by the Afghan church in Delhi (India) and said that the Afghan government should press the Indian authorities to provide a list of Afghan converts so they could be punished if they returned home. Another MP called for all converts to be hanged to stop the flow of conversions in India. The media launched a vitriolic campaign against them, showing pictures of Afghan converts and the leader of the Delhi church, calling for his execution. Pray for the safety of all Afghans who have left Islam to follow Christ, both inside and outside the country. Thursday 21 A pastor from Kazakhstan who is being detained for “inflicting serious harm to health” has appealed to the UN for protection against psychiatric abuse by the authorities. Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev has been held in custody since May following a complaint by a church member’s mother that her daughter had suffered psychological harm after attending his church. The daughter has protested that she is healthy and the pastor is innocent, but the authorities have continued to hold him and have even transferred him to a psychiatric assessment
NOVEMBER 22 - 25 centre, where he believes he may be injected with substances to make him insane. Pray that he will be released unharmed and that the Kazakh authorities may be called to account for their ill-treatment of him. Friday 22 The 63 Christians in a Central Asian village were forbidden by their hostile Muslim neighbours from using the communal wells. But with a grant from Barnabas they were able to build their own well to provide water for drinking and agriculture. The Muslim neighbours were surprised that the Christians then allowed them to use the water from their well for free. Our partner wrote, “Now they see that Christians are not enemies. So they change their mind about Christians.” The village elders and local authorities now have a more positive attitude to the church, and persecution has decreased. Praise God with these Christians for the impact of this project upon their lives, and pray that they will continue to find favour with the people in their village (Acts 2:47).
This well, funded by Barnabas, has made a huge difference to the Christians in a Central Asian village
Saturday 23 Pray for two congregations in West Java, Indonesia, whose church buildings have been shut up by the authorities for several years. Members of GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor
and Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi staged a protest in front of the State Palace in Jakarta on 1 September, calling on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take up their cause. GKI Yasmin has been locked out of its building since 2008, while Filadelfia’s building was sealed off by the authorities in 2010. The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of both churches, but local authorities have refused to comply. Pray for justice for these two congregations and that they may be left alone to worship the Lord in peace. Sunday 24 Pray for a church in Papua, Indonesia, who were raided by the security forces after a service on 4 August. Claiming to be conducting an operation against arms trafficking, they broke down the front door and searched the building but found nothing. An officer ordered one of the Christians to open a locked room; then a soldier, impatient at waiting for the key, kicked down the door. The mainly Christian Melanesians of Papua suffer frequent and severe abuse at the hands of the Indonesian military. Pray for the congregation as they recover from this ordeal and for strength for Christians in Papua to endure in the face of persecution. Monday 25 The Communist authorities in Vietnam continue to oppress the country’s Christians. On 4 September police used live ammunition, grenades and electric batons to crush a protest in Nghe An province by hundreds of Christians calling for the release of two church members. Ngo Van Khoi and Nguyen Van Hai had been detained without charge since June; they were said to have disturbed public order, but BARNABAS PRAYER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
NOVEMBER 26 - 30 police gave no details of any specific incidents. Dozens of protestors sustained serious injuries to the head, hand, stomach and neck. Pray for their full recovery and for the release of the two Christian men. Tuesday 26 A convert to Christianity in Vietnam was given an electric shock to the eye in custody after his brother beat him and had him arrested because of his faith. The man and his family turned to Christ in April this year and faced hostility at once: the local authorities told him that he could no longer live in his village and barred him from buying essential goods such as food and clothing. He was detained for two days and ordered to pay a fine of around £150 for his release. Pray for our new brother in Christ, that he may be strengthened in his faith, give glory to God and be firmly convinced of His promises (Romans 4:20-21). Wednesday 27 North Korea is perhaps the worst place in the world to follow Christ. It is illegal to be a Christian or to take part in any Christian activity, and some 70,000 Christians are currently languishing in brutal labour camps, where they are tortured and worked to death. The authorities even use Christian children to inform on their parents, knowingly or unknowingly. One class of schoolchildren were told that some of their parents had Bibles and to find them and bring them to school. Those who did so were cheered and applauded, but when one little girl got home afterwards, she found her parents had been sent to a concentration camp, and they never returned. Pray that the Lord will shine the light of the Gospel into the darkness of North Korea and strengthen His suffering people. Thursday 28 Christians in Bolivia are facing a restrictive new law that, in the words of a Christian organisation, “denies us the right to be a church”. 8
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The National Association of Evangelicals of Bolivia has challenged the law as unconstitutional and has organised mass protests against it. The legislation requires all churches to adopt a standard administrative structure that many believe deprives them of the freedom to follow their own convictions. It also forces congregations to carry out their activities within the animist worldview sponsored by the government. Pray that the law will be repealed and that the churches of Bolivia can maintain their Christian integrity without being penalised. Friday 29 Pray for the small Christian minority in Turkey as Islamist campaigners work to erase the evidence of the country’s Christian past. Earlier this year they won a legal battle for an ancient church in Trabzon to be converted into a mosque. It had originally been taken over by Muslims in the 16th century, but since 1964 it had been used as a museum. After the court’s decision, the Christian-themed mosaics and paintings in the building were covered with carpets, shutters and tents. Ask the Lord to give boldness to His people to proclaim and live for Him in the face of aggressive attempts to assert Turkey’s Muslim identity. Saturday 30 “My husband is a friend, and I’m already missing him. But what can I do but thank God for his life? I pray that through his death those who killed him will get to know Jesus as their saviour.” These moving words were spoken by the pregnant widow of a young Nigerian man, Pam Gyang, who was among five Christians murdered in a roadside ditch on 29 August. Muslim gunmen stopped their minibus near Jos in Plateau state and ordered all the passengers out. They found out who among them were Christians, forced them to lie down and opened fire on them. The gunmen were reportedly a mixed band of Islamic extremist mercenaries and ethnic Fulani
DECEMBER 1 - 4 herdsmen. Pray that the bereaved families may know God’s love at this traumatic time and that the widow’s prayer for the attackers will be answered.
Pam Gyang, a young Nigerian Christian murdered by Islamists in a roadside ditch (Source: Morning Star News)
December Sunday 1 “The number of Christians killed may be as high as 70, as corpses of Christians killed while fleeing these attacked villages still litter the bushes.” A regional church leader in Nigeria’s Plateau state was speaking after ten days of antiChristian violence drove thousands of believers from their villages. The attacks, in the Langtang Local Government Area, erupted on 27 June and left over a hundred houses in ashes. The Wase area was also badly affected by violence in June and July; seven Christians were killed and church buildings in four villages destroyed. Islamic extremist groups are believed to be stoking up tensions over property disputes
to incite Fulani Muslims to attack Christian areas. Pray for protection for Christians and that the security forces will succeed in ending the violence. Monday 2 Pray for Christians in Northern Nigeria, who are being targeted by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in its deadly campaign to establish an Islamic state. Christian girls are being abducted, kept in the homes of Muslim leaders and coerced into renouncing their faith; the police appear helpless to stop these incidents. The group had threatened to kidnap Christian women as part of “new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam” and force them out of the area. Churches are frequently attacked and individual Christians murdered. Ask the Lord to strengthen His people to withstand this grievous assault and to maintain a presence for the Church in the region. Tuesday 3 Praise the Lord for a Barnabassupported project in Senegal that is restoring security and dignity to twelve Christian converts from Islam and their families. When Muslims become Christians, they are often rejected by their communities and left without financial support. But Barnabas has helped these converts to establish small businesses; they have been trained in business management and are repaying their loans in instalments. They now feel useful to their families and society; they can give to their churches and train young Christians; and they also use their workplaces as a mission field. Pray that they may continue to grow in faith and for many more Muslims in Senegal to believe in the Lord Jesus. Wednesday 4 Christians in Pakistan are still vulnerable to false accusations of blasphemy even in the wake of the Rimsha Masih case, BARNABAS PRAYER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
DECEMBER 5 - 8 in which a vulnerable young Christian girl was acquitted after it emerged that she had been falsely accused. The imam who was accused of planting burnt pages of the Quran to frame Rimsha was cleared of doing so on 17 August. Although several witnesses claimed to have seen Khalid Jadoon Chishti planting the pages, they later retracted their statements after they were threatened with retribution by Islamic extremists. Pray that justice will be done in this case, and that its outcome will not cause those who might falsely accuse Christians to think that they can do so with impunity. Thursday 5 The family of Adnan Masih, a Pakistani Christian teenager who died in police custody after allegedly being tortured, have been warned by senior officers that they will face severe consequences if they continue to press charges against the officers involved. An internal inquiry has cleared the officers of accusations of torture and of causing Adnan’s death. Ask the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) to draw near to Adnan’s family as they endure not only the loss of their loved one, but also obstructions and threats as they try to find out what happened to him in his final days. Friday 6 Lift up to the Lord the Christian community in Shah Bagh Colony, Lahore, who were attacked by a mob of around 30 armed Muslims on 28 July. The assailants descended on the area following a dispute over a cable TV connection. The Muslim operator had been forcing Christian residents to pay an extra charge, and local Christian Babu Younis was beaten by the operator’s assistant when he threatened to remove the booster, which is on his property. An hour later a group of Muslims arrived and began shooting at residents and throwing bricks at their houses, injuring several Christians. Pray that every Christian affected by this senseless 10
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violence will know the peace of the Lord as they recover from the incident, and that He will protect this vulnerable community from further attack. Saturday 7 The authorities in Pakistan often need only the slightest pretext to impose heavy penalties on Christians who are falsely accused of blasphemy. Sajjad Masih Gill (28), from Pakpatan in Punjab province, was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly sending text messages defiling the name of Muhammad, even though there was no evidence against him and the complainant had withdrawn the allegation. Sajjad, who was also fined 200,000 Rupees (£1,260; US$1,950), was subjected to beatings and torture by the police. Pray that God will be Sajjad’s refuge and his strength (Psalm 46:1) as he faces the devastating and unjust sentence before him, and ask that this miscarriage of justice will be redressed.
Mostafa, a convert from Islam imprisoned in Iran (Source: Mohabat News)
Sunday 8 Pray that the Lord will uphold His servant MohammadHadi Bordbar, known as Mostafa, an Iranian convert from Islam who has been sent to prison for ten years. Although he was charged with crimes against national security, court documents reveal that his Christian activities were the authorities’
DECEMBER 9 - 13 real concern. They refer to his confession in court of his conversion to Christianity and distribution of thousands of Gospels, and also to his baptism, involvement with house churches and possession of Christian literature. Give thanks for Mostafa’s courage in professing and sharing his faith openly, and pray that even his imprisonment will serve to advance the Gospel (Philippians 1:1214). Pray too for his safe release. Monday 9 Pray that recent political change in Iran will benefit the country’s Christians, especially its vulnerable converts from Islam. The new president, Hassan Rouhani, has spoken out in favour of civil rights reform and pledged to make every effort to free political prisoners. In a speech to Islamic clergy in July, he also called on the government to stop meddling in people’s private lives. Give thanks that two Christian converts from Islam, Maryam Jaiili and Mitra Rahmati, were released on 18 September along with some political prisoners, but many converts continue to suffer arbitrary arrest, imprisonment or exile because of their faith. Pray that the authorities will further relax this anti-Christian persecution and grant freedom of religion to converts from Islam. Tuesday 10 Church leaders in Syria are extremely vulnerable to kidnap and violence. A prominent Italian church leader, Paolo Dall’Oglio, was kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Raqqa on 29 July. He had apparently gone to meet with commanders of an Islamist brigade to negotiate peace between different factions and to appeal for the release of activists kidnapped by the group. What has happened to him since is uncertain. Ask God to keep the long-standing peace activist safe, and pray that he will be released.
Wednesday 11 “In this context of violence, privation, desolation, suffering and despair, we continue, as Christian humanitarian committees … through our presence, our resistance, our support, our aid and our solidarity to be there for the people, a glimmer of hope in the darkness that surrounds us.” This moving statement by a Barnabas Fund partner in Aleppo, Syria, gives only a small indication of the heartache and hardship that he and his counterparts around the country are facing as they courageously serve God’s suffering people there. They are tirelessly distributing aid from Barnabas to needy Christian families, often at great personal risk. Lift them up to the Lord, claiming the promises of Psalm 29:11 for them: “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Thursday 12 As Christians in Syria endure targeted violence against them by Islamists and desperate humanitarian conditions, their children are suffering particularly acutely. Give thanks that Barnabas Fund is able to reach out to Christian children in Syria. Our child sponsorship programme is enabling us to provide needy children with the food and basics they need to survive, but we still need many more sponsors in order to reach our target of 2,000 children. Please pray for Christian children, many of whom are showing signs of being severely traumatised by the horrors they have witnessed, and ask God to protect and uphold them. Friday 13 “Today we are trying to protect our children from all kinds of questionable religious doctrines.” This claim, which appeared in an article published in Uzbekistan, is part of a campaign against Christian children’s ministries in the country. A Christian children’s camp was raided in Mironkul in Samarkand region on 23 July, and all present, including young children, were subjected to hours of questioning. BARNABAS PRAYER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
DECEMBER 14 - 17 Christian resources were confiscated, and the camp’s organisers may now have to face legal proceedings. Another ministry, in Tashkent, is facing a legal battle with the authorities, whose claim that the land it uses for children’s camps was bought illegally is their latest move in a campaign of harassment. Pray that the Lord will bless the children and those who minister to them in Uzbekistan even in the face of such harassment. Saturday 14 Lift up to the Lord Sardorbek Nurmetov, a Christian man from Uzbekistan who was violently assaulted by a police chief and, instead of receiving protection when he lodged a complaint, was himself charged with an offence. Sardobek was stopped by the police chief on 14 June and taken to a police station, where a portable data drive containing Christian materials was confiscated from him. The officer then beat him about the head with a thick book, punched him and kicked him. Sardobek was taken to his home, where other Christian resources and his laptop were seized. Pray that the Lord will heal Sardobek and bind up his wounds (Psalm 147:3), and that the charges against him will be dropped. Sunday 15 A children’s summer camp in the town of Mary in Turkmenistan was raided by police on 5 July. Police officers, medical personnel and other officials swooped down on the event, organised by a church on its own premises, and questioned the children. They then called the parents and demanded that the children be collected immediately. One of the officials took extensive video footage of the children and the building. Church leaders were later fined for holding an unregistered religious meeting and failure to 12
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comply with sanitary norms, charges that they strongly reject. Pray for the children who were caught up in this repressive act, that the Lord will comfort them. Pray too that the church will be protected from further harassment. Monday 16 Muslim protestors took to the streets in a Muslim-majority area of West Java, Indonesia, on 28 August to demand the removal of a new local authority chief because she is a Christian. Susan Jasmine Zulkifli was appointed the sub-district head of Lenteng Agung by Joko Widodo, Governor of Java, in June. The extremists claimed that she is not fit for the post
Susan Jasmine Zulkifli (left) (Source: The Asian School for Change)
because she cannot take part in Muslim religious ceremonies or prayers, even though many of her staff are Muslims and could attend in her place. Give thanks that the Muslim governor has resisted the pressure to move her to another area and for her gracious response to the demonstrations. Pray that the protestors will accept Christians and Muslims working together in government. Tuesday 17 Two handmade petrol bombs were thrown into the compound of a Christian
DECEMBER 18 - 21 school in Jakarta on 6 August amid rising tensions as Muslims marked the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. The devices were hurled into the grounds over an outer wall by someone on a motorcycle. More than 140,000 police officers were deployed to protect other sensitive targets. Give thanks that no-one was hurt in this incident and that the authorities took the threat of Muslim violence seriously, but pray for protection for Christian buildings in Indonesia, which are easy targets for extremists. Wednesday 18 Pray for a dedicated group of 38 church planters in Indonesia who serve the Lord in a difficult and hostile context with help from Barnabas. Economic conditions in some rural areas are very poor, and they begin their ministry with few church members to help them. But give thanks to the Lord that their churches have been firmly established and that most of them have grown numerically; one church baptised 21 Muslim-background believers in 2012-13. Some local Christians show remarkable commitment; one 103-year-old woman usually comes to church on the back of the leader’s motorcycle! Pray for the church planters as they train others in ministry and that the churches may eventually become self-supporting. Thursday 19 On 29 and 31 July more than 70 men from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters descended on two Christian villages in Cotabato on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Village leader Reynaldo Aloro was caught and killed, and the attackers ransacked villagers’ homes and pillaged their property, taking their food, clothes and farm animals. The Islamic splinter group has been launching attacks in Mindanao in an attempt to derail peace talks between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting a war for an independent Islamic state.
Pray that the villagers will be able to rebuild their shattered community and for their assailants to be brought to justice. Friday 20 Continue to pray for the mainly Christian Kachin people of Burma, who have been subjected to a brutal campaign of repression by the Burmese army for the past two years. Despite the signing of a tentative peace deal in May, reports of violence and cruelty are continuing to emerge. In a recent incident, the military invaded a Kachin village; they tortured two of its leaders and sexually assaulted and raped some of the young women, afterwards turning them loose in the jungle with no clothes. The entire population of some villages have been arrested and taken away by boat. Barnabas is supporting thousands of Kachin Christians, especially children, in displaced people’s camps with emergency relief. Pray for protection for our vulnerable Kachin brothers and sisters and that an effective agreement will be reached to stop the attacks. Saturday 21 Our brothers and sisters in Madhya Pradesh, India, are already under pressure from anti-conversion laws that are used to prevent legitimate Christian evangelism and to make it difficult for Hindus to convert to minority religions. Now the laws are being strengthened; both converts and ministers will need to give notice of any conversion ceremony (for example, a baptism) at least one month before it takes place. Those who fail to comply could face a fine and up to three years’ imprisonment. Lift up to the Lord Christian workers and new Christians in Madhya Pradesh, and in the other four Indian states where anti-conversion laws are currently in force. Pray that the amendment to the law in Madhya Pradesh, which needs the state governor’s signature before it can be enforced, will not come into effect. BARNABAS PRAYER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
DECEMBER 22 - 26 Sunday 22 Pray for the family and community of the Rev. Jaisankar, who died in suspicious circumstances in India after going missing on 11 July. Although the police said that the church leader fell into a river and was dragged away by the current, the Global Council of Indian Christians believes that he was murdered, both because his body showed signs of violence, and because Christians in Orissa face intense hostility. Ask the Lord to comfort the pastor’s grieving family and friends in their distress, and pray that justice will be done for them. Monday 23 Christians in Karnataka state, India, often face great hostility from Hindu extremists. A Christian man named Somasherkarwas was attacked on 3 August by militant Hindus, who threatened him and his wife and falsely accused them of forcibly converting people. Then the Rev. Paramajyothi was dragged out of his church building by Hindu ultranationalists on 11 August. The attackers stripped and beat the pastor, causing him several injuries. On 18 August, a group of Hindu extremists stormed the home of Ms Doddamma, another Christian; when she and her daughter refused to return to Hinduism, the assailants violently beat them and destroyed their home. Ask the Lord to heal the mental and physical wounds that our brothers and sisters suffered in these brutal attacks and to protect them from further violence. Tuesday 24 Christian women in India are very vulnerable to pressure from those who disapprove of their faith in Jesus Christ. Pray for healing and peace for a pastor’s mother in Jaipur, Rajasthan, who was threatened by Hindu extremists on 13 August. The Rev. Vishaal Behl’s mother was 14
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alone in her house when four men forced their way in. The intruders threatened to kill her and cut her into pieces if she did not convert to Hinduism, and they beat her when she refused to tell them where her son and daughter-in-law were. Pray also for Lakshmi Priya, a 23-year-old Christian from Hyderabad who was kidnapped by her Hindu parents, who are opposed to her conversion, in order to stop her from pursuing full-time Christian service. Ask the Lord to protect her and uphold her in her faith. Wednesday 25 As we celebrate today the birth of the Word made flesh who has revealed God the Father to us (John 1:14, 18), pray for His persecuted people around the world. Ask that as they share in Christ’s sufferings they may also experience God’s consolation through Him (2 Corinthians 1:5) and may rejoice in the hope of sharing His glory (Romans 8:17). Pray that He will watch over them as they gather today to celebrate His birth and that they may experience God’s favour and peace (Luke 2:14) in the face of their trials. Persecuted Christians can be especially vulnerable to attack at Christmas; pray for protection for them. Thursday 26 Christians and other minorities in Sri Lanka are falling victim to a vicious hate campaign waged by Buddhist nationalists. An aggressive Sinhalese Buddhist movement is increasingly asserting its supremacy in the country and inciting violence against nonBuddhists. This includes physical assaults on church leaders and members, death threats, forced displacement, destruction of churches and damage to property. The authorities are also moving against churches; many have been ordered to stop their activities, and the government is considering legislation against those not recognised by the Religious Affairs Ministry. Pray for continued religious freedom in
DECEMBER 27 - 30 Sri Lanka, and that the churches will be strong witnesses to Christ among those who persecute them.
in their time of need. Pray for the strengthening of relations between Christians and moderate Muslims in Egypt.
Friday 27 Christians in Egypt have been widely blamed by Islamists for the military takeover. An article on the Muslim Brotherhood’s website called its followers to believe that Christians “openly and secretly led the process of opposition to the Islamic stream and this stream’s rise to power”. In Minya province, Christian properties were marked with a black X to identify them for attack, while Muslim ones were given a red X for protection. But although the Christian community was strongly opposed to Islamism, it lacked the numbers and political influence to bring down the government. Pray that this unjust scapegoating will stop being used to fuel contempt for Christians and violence against them.
Sunday 29 The Islamist government of Tunisia has run into trouble after the final draft constitution presented in June was revealed to contain limitations on religious freedom and other key human rights. The text failed to satisfy the secular opposition, which has also seen two of its prominent politicians murdered this year by Islamist militants. Emboldened by the coup in Egypt, secularists have taken to the streets, demanding that the Islamist Ennahda government should step aside and make way for a caretaker administration. Pray that the tumultuous political changes in Tunisia will enhance the freedom and ensure the protection of the country’s small number of indigenous Christians as well as provide for the human rights of all citizens.
Egyptian Christians pray in their burnedout church in Minya (Source: Maspero Youth Union)
Saturday 28 On 27 July Molotov cocktails were thrown at two churches in Minya province in southern Egypt. The Islamist assailants then tried to break into the buildings, but their progress was blocked as Muslim young people joined local Christians in protecting them. Two other churches had been raided in the area three weeks earlier, and Muslims and Christians had come together to guard the sites. Thank God that many Muslims in Egypt are opposed to Islamism and that some have stood by their Christian neighbours
Monday 30 Lift up to the Lord Christians in Saudi Arabia as they suffer under a rigid, authoritarian and hardline Muslim regime. The public practice of non-Muslim religions is prohibited, even for expatriate Christians, whose private meetings are sometimes raided by the religious police. Apostasy from Islam is officially punishable by death, and the small number of Saudi Christians have to practise their faith in extreme secrecy. Restrictions on behaviour are ruthlessly enforced, in line with the government’s strict and puritanical interpretation of sharia. Pray for the dispelling of hatred and contempt for Christians and for greater religious freedom in the country. BARNABAS PRAYER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
DECEMBER 31 Tuesday 31 Christian minorities can be especially vulnerable at Western New Year, as many people in the non-Western world believe it is a Christian festival. Give thanks that New Year 2013 passed without major anti-Christian incidents, and pray for protection for our brothers and sisters as the year draws to its close. Ask for
the Lord’s special blessing on Christians in Syria, Egypt and other countries where they have been severely persecuted in 2013, and ask that He will enable them to stand their ground in evil times (Ephesians 6:13). Pray too that the New Year will bring them relief from their sufferings.
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