THE AID AGENCY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH www.barnabasfund.org
to help you pray for the persecuted church
SEPTEMBER 1 - 4 Thank you for your prayers for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, which make such a difference to them. We sometimes have to change or omit their names for security reasons, and we have only limited space to share their stories. But the Lord knows the people and places we are praying about. Thank you for your understanding. Please do not feel limited by the specific prayer requests, but pray as you feel led.
September Sunday 1 Christians in Syria continue to be targeted in the savage violence of the country’s civil war, which is now well into its third year. On 27 May, the Christian village of Dweir was brutally attacked, and nearly 40 of its residents, including women and children, were killed by opposition fighters. One of Barnabas’s partners said that two of his relatives were severely tortured; their bones were broken and their bodies set on fire before they were shot in the head. The villagers who escaped fled to Raman district, where Barnabas provided them with aid. Pray for an end to the senseless and cruel killing of Christians and that the Lord will heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Monday 2 Christian women and girls in Syria are particularly vulnerable to attack. In a recent tragic incident, a Christian teenager from al-Qusair was seized by Islamist rebels. One of 2
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the militants “married” Mariam (15) and raped her before repudiating her. The next day, she was forced to marry another fighter, who also raped and rejected her. The teenager was subjected to this terrifying ordeal by different men for 15 days, and eventually the militants killed her. The opposition fighters have been encouraged to rape non-Sunni Muslim women as part of their campaign. Pray that the Lord will be a strong defence for our sisters as they face these terrible dangers. Tuesday 3 “The poorest have no income because most of the factories were destroyed, so the daily workers have no work… They live in misery.” A church leader from the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo described to Barnabas the plight of a group of Christians from a very poor area who were forced to flee when all the houses and shops were looted and burned; they were staying in crowded conditions in school classrooms. Christians in Syria are having difficulty in providing for their families owing to displacement, unemployment and rising prices; even former professional people are now requesting charitable aid. Pray that their needs may be met, and for the restoration of peace and order in Aleppo.
Christians in Aleppo receive emergency aid from Barnabas
Wednesday 4 A Lebanese Christian in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to six years in prison
SEPTEMBER 5 - 8 and 300 lashes for helping a Saudi woman to convert to Christianity. A Saudi man was given a lesser sentence for aiding her to flee the country. The woman took refuge in Sweden and has refused to return home. Conversion from Islam is officially punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, and the small number of Saudi Christians have to practise their faith in extreme secrecy. The public practice of non-Muslim religions is prohibited by law. Women are also not allowed to leave the country without the permission of their male guardian. Pray that our Christian sister will be protected from reprisals following her conversion, and that the men who helped her will not be subjected to further ill-treatment. Thursday 5 The Christian minority in Indonesia suffers pressure, intimidation and violence at the hands of hard-line Muslim groups. The authorities often allow them to attack Christians with impunity and sometimes even collaborate with them. Yet in May, Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhonyo, accepted the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s World Statesman Award for advancing religious freedom, despite protests from Christians and other minority groups. Yudhonyo acknowledged the criticism of his record on protecting minorities and promoting tolerance, saying, “We need to work harder and more effectively to improve it.” Pray that the Indonesian government will follow through on his promise to safeguard Christians and other non-Muslims. Friday 6 Members of the Islamic Defenders Front, an extremist Islamic organisation, stormed a conference in East Java, Indonesia, on 11 June. The meeting was intended to improve relations between Christians and Muslims, but police had warned organisers against proceeding, because they judged the issues that it was addressing to be too sensitive. The extremists attacked
one of the event organisers at the front desk. After the incident, officers took no action against the aggressors but detained the organisers for several hours. Only a generation ago Indonesia was a model of good relationships between Muslims and Christians; pray that the current hostility of the Muslim majority towards Christians will diminish. Saturday 7 Pray for two Christian schools in Tegal and Pemalang, Central Java, Indonesia, after influential Islamic scholars issued a fatwa against them. The local Ulema Council has told Muslim parents not to send their children to the schools because they are haram (“forbidden”). The schools were already under threat of closure for refusing to comply with a government order to teach Islam. Yet some Christian schools are popular with Muslim parents because of the high quality of education they provide, and many parents have defended the two schools. Pray that the threat of closure will be lifted and that the schools will be free to provide a Christian education to their students. Sunday 8 Hundreds of Islamic extremists staged a two-day protest against the construction of a church building in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia. The congregation had been trying to obtain a building permit for nearly ten years, and this was finally granted to them in December 2012. But the Muslim protestors called for the authorities to freeze the application, claiming that a Christian building in a Muslim area would fuel sectarian conflict. Another church in Bekasi, Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church, has also faced opposition from Islamists and the authorities. It is very difficult BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
SEPTEMBER 9 - 13 for Christians in Indonesia to obtain permission for church buildings. Pray that the congregation will be allowed to proceed with their building without further harassment, and that local hostility to Christians will cease. Monday 9 Christians in East Africa are facing increased pressure from Islam. Radical Islamist groups are carrying out attacks with growing frequency and ferocity, while Islamic mission is also being vigorously promoted. Give thanks for a residential Bible school in Burundi, supported by Barnabas, that is training lay leaders for pastoral work in newly planted churches; our funding has paid for food, medical expenses, pocket money and transport for ten students, and for staff salaries. Pray for these students as they begin their ministry, that the Lord will enable them to strengthen the Church to withstand the challenge of Islam. Tuesday 10 Pray for 15 people injured in a bomb attack on a church in Kenya on 9 June, as the shadow of anti-Christian violence grows across East Africa. The device was thrown into the church compound in Mrima village at the end of an open-air evangelistic event. A pastor was left in a critical condition with both his legs broken, and another church leader and a ten-year-old boy were also among the wounded. Police suspect that the attack was carried out by the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab, which is increasingly active in the country; churches and Christians have been particularly targeted. Ask the Lord to bind up the wounded and to give His people peace and strength as they face this menacing threat. Wednesday 11 Christians are increasingly under attack in Tanzania. On 2 June, a gang of radical Muslims broke into the home of Pastor 4
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Robert Ngai in Geita and attacked him with machetes. He suffered serious cuts to his hands and arms and required treatment in intensive care. Two nights before, another pastor in Geita, Daudi Nzumbi, was targeted. His dogs frightened off the attackers, but when he reported the incident to the police, the officer replied, “I cannot protect every pastor!” Ask that the Lord will be a wall of fire around His people in Tanzania (Zechariah 2:5) and will protect them from harm. Thursday 12 “He walked towards the [Islamist militants] on their pick-up raising a Bible in his hand and calling to stop shooting… [he] was shot dead by two fighters.” The murder of a church leader in the Central African Republic (CAR) on 13 April as he appealed for calm during a gun attack on a funeral procession has underlined the grave dangers currently faced by Christians in the failed state. Islamist militants seized control of CAR in March, and since then a number of Christians have been killed or wounded. One pastor said that the fighters were conducting “a reign of terror” against Christians and have a hit list of pastors and other church workers. Many Christians have fled their homes to the countryside. Pray for protection for the country’s Christians and that the Islamists will be unable to consolidate their power. Friday 13 Give thanks to the Lord that Barnabas Fund is able to help Eritrean Christian refugees who have suffered appalling treatment on their journey to freedom. Merhawi (17), a Christian fleeing persecution in his homeland, fell into the hands of people traffickers and was transferred from one group to another. The third group tortured him mercilessly and left him with permanent scarring all over his body; his family had to pay US$30,000 for his release. He managed to reach Cairo, where he was taken to the project that Barnabas supports there; our
SEPTEMBER 14- 17 partners arranged medical treatment for him and accommodated him in a safe house. Pray for Merhawi and other Eritrean refugees as they recover from their ordeal. Ask too that those held captive in Egypt or by traffickers will know God’s presence and power and will soon be released. Saturday 14 “We don’t need a church in the village; all we need is a Buddhist temple. Chase the Christian pastor from the village.” This threatening message was displayed on posters put up in the Kaluthara district of Sri Lanka in June. A church building in Angulana village was broken into and vandalised around the same time. In another anti-Christian incident on 23 June, a Buddhist monk assaulted a pastor with a coconut branch, and a mob then forced their way into his church and attacked the worshippers, injuring the pastor’s three-year-old son. Pray for the safety of Christian leaders and congregations in Sri Lanka and that they will persevere in their activities despite threats and violence. Sunday 15 Buddhist monks in the Hambanthota district of Sri Lanka have threatened pastors with death if they continue their activities. At a meeting of officials, police officers and Buddhist and Christian leaders on 10 May, the legality of the local churches was questioned and various accusations were levelled at the pastors by the monks. A week later the monks announced that they had already closed down a number of churches and demanded that those still functioning be shut. Church leaders protested that under Sri Lankan law they have the right to practise their faith anywhere and that they do not need to register. Give thanks that the authorities decided
not to take any action against the remaining churches at this stage and pray that the Lord will preserve a Christian witness in Hambanthota. Monday 16 While most opposition to Christians in Sri Lanka comes from Buddhists, they may also be attacked by Hindu extremists. On 16 June a group of Hindus armed with clubs, knives and swords raided a church service in Sugankerni, Batticaloa district. The mob entered the building and began shouting orders that the congregation should stop worshipping and the church close down. The pastor and a number of worshippers were injured, and some of them required hospital treatment; the church building was badly damaged. Pray for the church as it recovers from this distressing ordeal and that it will be protected from further attacks.
This church building in Sri Lanka was badly damaged by Hindu extremists
Tuesday 17 Pray for Christians in Egypt in the aftermath of the ousting of Islamist president Mohammad Morsi on 3 July. Mass protests against Morsi’s dictatorial rule helped to persuade the Egyptian army to intervene and bring down the regime. The so-called “Arab Spring” of 2011 that removed former president Hosni Mubarak had been hailed as a new era of democracy and freedom, but Morsi’s presidency was BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
SEPTEMBER 18 - 21 characterised by a series of power grabs and apparent attempts to pave the way for an Islamic state. Pray that the current process of political change in Egypt will protect and enhance the rights of Egyptian Christians and lead to full religious freedom for them. Wednesday 18 Many Egyptian Christians supported the campaign against President Morsi, but as a vulnerable minority, they are an easy target for enraged Islamists seeking revenge. Attacks on Christians began within hours of Morsi’s ousting, with homes, businesses and churches being targeted in a number of areas. In one especially brutal incident, armed Muslims attacked the village of Nag Hassan, burning homes and shops belonging to Christians. Four Christians were killed and others injured, and many fled the village. Christians elsewhere faced threats and intimidation. Pray for all those affected by the anti-Christian unrest, and pray that the Lord will protect His people from further assaults at this troubled time. Thursday 19 The Islamist government of the overwhelmingly Muslim nation of Sudan are clamping down hard on Christians in what seems to be a concerted campaign. Church buildings are being demolished, Christian institutions closed, Christians arrested and deported and literature seized, and the government is attempting to track down Christian converts from Islam. Yet the chairman of the Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies has called on the authorities to take even tougher action against “Christianisation”. Ammar Saleh claimed that Christian missionaries were operating “boldly” and that 109 people had converted from Islam to Christianity in the capital, Khartoum. He said that the numbers were growing in a “continuous” and “scary” fashion. Pray for courage and boldness for the Christian minority in the face of 6
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this unrelenting hostility, and that they will still find ways to make Christ known in Sudan. Friday 20 Pray for Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev, a pastor in Kazakhstan, who was arrested on 17 May charged with “inflicting serious harm to health”. A church member’s mother had claimed that her daughter, Lyazzat Almenova, had suffered psychological harm after attending his church. Other members strongly refuted the allegation, and Lyazzat herself wrote to the prosecutor’s office protesting that she was healthy. But at the time of writing the authorities were continuing to hold the pastor, on the grounds that he is accused of a “serious crime”. The charge carries a penalty of between three and seven years’ imprisonment or other restrictions on freedom. Pray that the pastor will be cleared and that the church will withstand its continued harassment by the authorities.
An open-air service in a city park in Kyrgyzstan
Saturday 21 Lift up to the Lord two Christian evangelists supported by Barnabas who are proclaiming Christ in southern Kyrgyzstan. Bakir and Aigul, who are based in Uzgen, lead worship on Sundays and groups during the week. They hold discipleship classes for new converts and also visit local villages to share the Gospel. Christian converts from Islam in the region face
SEPTEMBER 22 - 26 great pressure from the Muslim community: when one Muslim couple became Christians, local mullahs maligned them at their place of work, and local Muslims accused the wife of forcing Christian literature upon them. Pray that Bakir and Aigul will be empowered by the Spirit to proclaim the word of God boldly, and that they may see much fruit from their labour. Sunday 22 “If you want to know about God, read the Quran,” said a judge in Turkmenistan to two Christians who were brought before the court after one of them was caught reading a Christian book at work. Church leader Narmurad Mominov and a female church member were fined more than two months’ average local wages and were forced to hand over all their Christian literature; they were told that reading such material is banned in Turkmenistan, where the authorities exercise tight control over Christian activities. Pray for greater freedom of religion and especially for a relaxation of the restrictions on Christian literature. Monday 23 Pray for Naziya Ziyatdinova, a 76-year-old Christian in Uzbekistan whose home was invaded by police officers on 14 March. The officers forced their way into the property and removed Naziya, who has Parkinson’s disease and struggles to walk, from her bed. They then confiscated her Bible and other Christian resources after having “turned everything in the house upside down”, according to local Christians. The courts ruled that the resources be destroyed and that Nadia, who survives on a meagre pension, be fined ten times the minimum monthly salary. She was told by court officials that
“this is a Muslim country and all of your Christian books including the Bible are outlawed”. Pray that Naziya will know the comfort of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) as she recovers from this cruel treatment. Tuesday 24 Sharofat Allamova, a Christian woman from Urgench in Uzbekistan, has been sentenced to 18 months of “corrective labour” following two raids on her home in January. She was convicted of “the illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious literature”; a number of pieces of Christian literature were seized during the raids. She will now have to do a low-paid job, such as street cleaning, labouring in a brick yard or cotton harvesting, and will have to hand over 20% of her paltry pay to the state. Pray that the Lord will give Sharofat the grace and courage to be a witness for Him even as she suffers this unjust sentence. Wednesday 25 Pray for Alexei Shchedrov, a Belarusian Christian who is facing jail because of his outreach to the homeless. Alexei (28), who turned his home into a shelter for the street community, has been accused of leading an unregistered religious organisation, because a prayer room at the site is used by local villagers as well as residents. He could face up to two years’ imprisonment. Alexei insists he is running a charity, not a religious group. He has been able to help almost 100 people since he opened up his home in December 2011. Give thanks for Aleksei’s heart for those less fortunate than himself, and ask the Lord to draw near to him as he faces being punished by the authorities for his compassion. Thursday 26 Three church leaders in Belarus were fined after gatherings of two unregistered house churches in Gomel were raided by the authorities. The first raid, which took place on BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
SEPTEMBER 27 - 29 24 February, was carried out on Pastor Nikolai’s church. The pastor was fined the equivalent of one month’s local wages. Then, on 14 April, a second house church was raided. Following this raid, Pastor Pyotr and Pastor Valentin were each fined 200,000 roubles (£15; US$23; €17). Pray that the Lord will strengthen the church leaders and their congregations in the aftermath of these traumatic raids. Friday 27 Pray for the UK and other Western governments as they respond to the threat of Islamic violence on their own streets. On 22 May, a British soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, was hacked to death in a London street by two Muslim men who claimed religious justification for their brutal action. In the aftermath, the government announced the creation of an extremism and radicalisation task force to address the spread of “poison” by Islamic hate preachers who incite violence. Many Muslim leaders have also called for this problem to be tackled in the mosques, Quranic schools and Muslim literature. Pray that those in authority will recognise and address the roots of such violence in Islamist ideology, and that it will not recur and escalate in the West. Saturday 28 Pray for Members of Parliament in the UK as they debate the labelling of halal food in October or November. (Halal goods and services are those that Islamic sharia allows Muslims to consume.) In June a representative of Barnabas Fund UK was given an opportunity to meet with some MPs and to call for the labelling of halal products and the provision of non-halal choices for consumers. Two of the MPs undertook to take the matter further and to present a bill to Parliament calling for proper labelling. Many Christians (and others) object to eating meat that has been slaughtered according to sharia regulations. Pray that legislators in the UK and elsewhere will ensure that no-one has to buy halal 8
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products unknowingly or because no alternatives are available. Sunday 29 “The pressure has become unbearable. [The authorities] constantly threaten the church leaders and their families with imprisonment, unexplained accidents, kidnapping and even with execution. We cannot go on like this.” A church in Tehran, the capital of Iran, has been under pressure to close for some time over its refusal to stop holding services in the Iranian national language, which are accessible to Muslims and converts from Islam. Then on 21 May the church was raided and the pastor,
Pastor Robert Aserian
Robert Aserian, was detained. Two days later security agents returned and told the caretaker to put up a sign saying that the church was closed. Give thanks that at the time of writing the pastor has been released on bail, and pray that the church will find ways to continue its ministry and mission.
SEPTEMBER 30 – OCTOBER 5 Monday 30 Pray for three converts from Islam in Iran who were arrested on 29 May. Mohammad-Reza Farid and Saeed Safi, both Afghans, were administrators of a Christian blog called “Our Salvation”, which had been blocked by Iranian cyber-police. When they met with Hamid-Reza Ghadiri at the latter’s house in Esfahan, the security forces mounted a violent raid on the premises and took all three into custody. Hundreds of Christians, mainly converts, have been arrested in recent years throughout the country, where apostasy from Islam can be punished by death. Pray for the safe release of our three brothers and all those detained.
Tuesday 1 Pray for relief from anti-Christian persecution in Iran following the election of a new president on 14 June. The victorious candidate, Hassan Rouhani, is reckoned to be a moderate, at least by comparison with his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has said that he will uphold justice and civil rights across the country, raising some hope of greater religious freedom and that Christians imprisoned for practising their faith may be released. But the president has limited powers, and ultimate authority in Iran rests with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who appears intent on destroying all trace of Christianity from the country. Pray that God will bring about positive political change. Wednesday 2 Pray for Christian families in two villages in Laos who have been driven from their homes because of opposition to their faith. Earlier this year, as tensions ran high in Keang Khean, in Luang Prabang province, the village chief asked all the Christians to leave immediately. And the 18 members of three Christian families have been given official notice to leave Sanam
village after suffering persecution for two years. Village and district officials frequently harass Christians, especially recent converts, and threaten them with eviction; sometimes these threats are carried out. Pray that the Lord will provide for the needs of His suffering people and that they will be left in peace to practise their faith. Thursday 3 The Vietnamese authorities have ruled that a church leader who died in police custody committed suicide by electrocuting himself. Hoang Van Ngai was detained for allegedly “destroying the forest”, and was severely beaten by police. His family believe that he was arrested and killed for standing up to corrupt officials; he had previously defended the rights of his church when it was threatened with closure. Pray for Ngai’s family as they mourn his death and hope for justice. Ask that the truth about his death will come to light. Friday 4 Praise God that the government in Vietnam has intervened on behalf of persecuted Christians! Four Christian families were resettled by the authorities following a campaign of violence by their animist neighbours. The attackers beat the believers after trashing their belongings, damaging their homes beyond use and destroying their crops. The Christians were forced to flee into the forest for their own safety. Now they will be able to start afresh in a new village. Give thanks to God, who meets all His people’s needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), for this rare move by the authorities. The Vietnamese authorities are often very hostile to Christians. Saturday 5 Lift up to the Lord eight Christians from an unregistered church in Vietnam, who have been jailed for “undermining national unity”. The church members were sentenced to between three and eleven years in prison after BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
OCTOBER 6 - 8 being accused of working with an illegal group to establish an independent state for Vietnam’s persecuted indigenous ethnic minorities. The Communist government often uses such charges to suppress religious freedom. It is particularly hostile to unregistered churches, which are considered a threat to the regime. Pray for these Christians as they begin their sentences, and ask the Lord to draw near to them and bless them as they suffer in His name.
issued an order to close down Pastor Zhang’s church, but he refused to sign it; they also tried to pressure him into joining one of the statecontrolled churches. Pray that the Lord will strengthen Pastor Zhang and other house-church leaders to remain loyal to Christ in the face of threats from the authorities, and for greater religious freedom in China.
Sunday 6 Continue to pray for the leaders of unregistered churches (“house churches”) in China, who suffer much harassment and
Monday 7 Pray for Christians in India as they continue to face danger at the hands of extreme Hindu nationalists. On 4 June, seven pastors were severely injured in an attack on a prayer meeting by a group of around 50 Hindus. The assailants, who were armed with sticks and rods, broke into a church building in Telugu, Hyderabad, where 20 pastors had gathered to pray. They accused the pastors of forcibly converting people to Christianity and dragged some of them into the street, where they assaulted them brutally and left several of them unconscious. Pray that the authorities will bring those responsible to justice and that they will uphold religious freedom for Christians in India.
Chinese house-church leader Zhang Yinan was arrested in June (Source: ChinaAid)
persecution for their Christian activities. In a recent incident, a well-known pastor, Zhang Yinan, was arrested on 3 June in a raid on his church. More than ten security officers burst into a church meeting and took everyone present to the police station; they also seized some of the church’s property. The police 10
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Tuesday 8 Converts from Hinduism to Christianity in India are at particular risk of hostility from the majority Hindu community. Earlier this year, two convert families were driven out of their homes in Orissa state after they stopped participating in local Hindu practices. Villagers planned a strategy to attack the families of Mohan Soren and Rabi Narayan Marandi: a mob broke into Mohan’s home and stole valuables and food, and then they seized Rabi and beat him severely. The police, who often fail to intervene when Christians are persecuted, took no action against the villagers and instead told the two Christian men to make an offering at the Hindu temple. Pray that Mohan and Rabi will stand firm in their
OCTOBER 9 - 13 new faith and that the Lord will provide for their families. Wednesday 9 A mob of around 60 Muslim extremists attacked the mainly Christian village of Tivipara and Bagja in Bangladesh on 6 June, plundering the residents’ livestock and other possessions. They then moved on to nearby Bolakipur, where they battered down the doors of a Christian seminary and severely beat the rector and some of the students. The previous day, two church leaders from Tumilia were beaten and robbed. The small minority of Christians in Bangladesh were already vulnerable to violence from the Muslim majority, and a recent uprising by Islamist protestors and electoral gains by Islamist politicians ahead of general elections in six months’ time have endangered their position still further. Pray that God will keep them from harm and watch over their lives (Psalm 121:7). Thursday 10 Pray that the Lord will grant justice to the family of Pakistani Christian Adnan Masih, who died in police custody after allegedly being severely tortured for six days. The 18-yearold was arrested on 4 June in connection with the case of a young Muslim woman who had gone missing. Despite failing to produce any evidence against Adnan, police officers tried to force him to confess to being involved in her disappearance. His body was hanged in a bathroom, and police claimed that he had committed suicide. The case provoked outrage within the Christian community. All officers were subsequently exonerated and Adnan’s family threatened with severe consequences if they did not withdraw charges. Pray that they will know the Lord’s comfort and peace. Friday 11 Continue to lift up to the Lord Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother on death row in Pakistan over a false blasphemy accusation. She has been
behind bars for over four years and is awaiting an appeal against her death sentence. This is not expected to take place until 2015 owing to a large backlog of cases. Pray that Aasia will have patience and peace as she awaits justice. Give thanks that Rimsha Masih, a young Pakistani Christian girl falsely accused of blasphemy in a highly controversial case last year, is now safe in Canada. She left Pakistan with her parents and four siblings on 14 March. The family had received death threats from Islamic extremists. Saturday 12 Pray for Christians in West Africa, who are increasingly vulnerable as Islamist militancy spreads in an unprecedented way. After a double suicide bombing in Niger, which was the first attack of its kind in the country, the president of Ghana warned that no country in West Africa is safe from the threat of Islamist violence. Christians are particular targets for such attacks. Our brothers and sisters have long been the victims of violence by radical Muslims in Northern and Middle Belt Nigeria, and also suffered greatly in the insurgency in Mali. Pray that the Lord will protect vulnerable Christian communities in West Africa. Ask Him also to speak to the hearts of the discontented young men whom Islamists attempt to recruit, so that they will not follow the same violent path. Sunday 13 The year of Islamist rule in Egypt saw a disturbing number of “blasphemy” cases against Christians. Victims of the repressive Defamation of Religion law included Makram Diab, a school secretary jailed following a dispute with a Muslim colleague; Gamal Abdou Massoud, imprisoned for three years for posting cartoons deemed insulting to Islam on his Facebook page; Demiana Ebeid Abdelnour, BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
OCTOBER 14 - 17 a 24-year-old teacher, arrested in May over allegations that she had defamed Islam during a lesson; and Romani Murad Saad, a lawyer given a year in prison with hard labour for allegedly disparaging Islam during a discussion at a lawyers’ meeting. Pray that all the Christians detained under this law will soon be released, and that the new government will guarantee freedom of expression for all Egypt’s citizens. Monday 14 The period of Islamist dominance of Egyptian politics also saw an increase in violent attacks on the Christian minority. For example, a Christian father-of-three was killed and a Christian teenager left in a coma in a furious attack by Muslims on a church building in Alexandria on 17 May. Witnesses said that Sedky Sherif (36) was covered in wounds, while Mina Milad Saber (19) needed brain surgery after being seriously injured. In a separate incident four days earlier, a Muslim mob rampaged through the village of Menbal, looting and destroying businesses and vandalising the church building. Pray for the restoration of order in Egypt and for effective protection of the country’s Christians by the security forces. Tuesday 15 “The Lord put into the heart of brothers and sisters we have never seen such a love to help us. May God bless those who contributed.” A church leader in Chad was expressing his gratitude for relief funded by Barnabas for Christian flood victims. Our partners delivered corn, mosquito nets and hygiene materials to hundreds of Christian families displaced by the heavy rains that devastated large parts of southern Chad in 2012. They have also helped to re-roof and rebuild damaged houses and church buildings. Give thanks for 12
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the difference this help has made to Christians who were left in need when government help was targeted to Muslims. Pray too for Christians throughout Chad, who can suffer marginalisation and discrimination because of their faith.
A pastor in Chad outside his home, rebuilt with help from Barnabas
Wednesday 16 Christians in Iraq continue to be the victims of violent attacks. On 24 June, Christian-owned shops and businesses in Baghdad were among the targets in a series of explosions. An employee of one food store in the Karrada neighbourhood died in a car bombing; two other members of staff were wounded. The following day, masked men opened fire on a church building in the Ameen Thania district; two security guards were seriously injured. This was the 73rd such building to be attacked or bombed in the country since the US-led invasion in 2003. Pray for safety for our Christian brothers and sisters, and that the authorities will succeed in establishing peace and order in Iraq. Thursday 17 Lift up to the Lord the family of Iraqi Christian Salem Dawood Coca, who was found dead on 8 July. The 63-year-old from Batnaya in the north had been kidnapped on 27 May. The captors had contacted his family, describing him as a “Christian infidel”, but had not demanded a ransom. Salem’s truck
OCTOBER 18 - 22 was booby-trapped with explosives, and it is thought that his kidnappers had tried to force him to carry out a suicide bombing but he had refused. His body was found in the vehicle. The Christian community in Iraq has suffered targeted kidnappings and killings by Islamic extremists since the 2003 US-led invasion. Pray that their persecutors will relent and that Christians will be allowed to go about their lives in peace. Friday 18 Give thanks to the Lord that thousands of Christians who were driven out of their homes in the Syrian town of al-Qusair have been able to return after government forces recaptured it from the opposition. They had been prompted to flee in June 2012 after a message from the minarets gave them six days to get out of town. But they have returned to a scene of near-total destruction; many of them have lost everything, and their homes and churches are severely damaged or in ruins. One church building was defaced with the chilling statement: “The religion of our master will be victorious against all tyrants.” Pray that the tide of war will not flow over al-Qusair again and that the Christians there will be able to rebuild their lives. Saturday 19 Pray that the Islamists fighting on the opposition side in the Syrian civil war will not emerge victorious. The UN has warned that the rebel forces are becoming increasingly radicalised and that the majority have an Islamist agenda. Despite this alarming development, Western powers have been increasing their support for the opposition and are moving towards supplying them with arms. The EU has lifted its arms embargo, and the White House has announced plans to send weapons, though these have been stalled by the congressional intelligence committees. The consequences of an Islamist takeover for the country’s Christians could be devastating. Pray that this will not happen and
that the new state that emerges from the war will give equal freedoms to all its citizens. Sunday 20 “Providing food and meeting the basic needs of people brought joy into their heart and a big smile on their faces.” Displaced from their homes in late 2012 by a longrunning civil war that has racked the Democratic Republic of the Congo, thousands of Christians were left starving and desperate. But with help from Barnabas, one of our partners provided hundreds of families with food and hygiene articles and arranged for many of them to receive medical treatment. Praise God that this aid brought them relief in their distress, and pray that they may soon be able to return home and rebuild their plundered villages. Monday 21 Islamist militants brutally murdered a retired Christian minister and attacked four church buildings in the Northern Nigerian state of Borno on 13 June. Fighters suspected of belonging to the violent Islamist group Boko Haram climbed the Gwoza Hills carrying explosives, and, after chanting “Allahu Akhbar” (“Allah is great”), they bombed the four buildings in Hwa’a, Kunde, Gathahure and Gjigga. Jacob Kwiza was picking mangoes at his father’s orchard in Hwa’a when the militants tried to force him to renounce Christ. He defied their threats, and they slit his throat. The fighters also pillaged grain and livestock from the villages. Pray that the Lord will comfort Jacob’s family and friends in their grief and enable the community to rebuild after this traumatic ordeal. Tuesday 22 “The Islamists want … to Islamise Nigeria by all means, including violence, through BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
OCTOBER 23 - 26 legislative processes involving the establishment of a sharia federal system. That is their goal and they will not compromise.” A Christian leader in Nigeria was commenting on the government’s military initiative, launched in May, against the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Adeniyi Ojutiku said that the group would just retreat for a while and then regroup, and that military intervention does not address the root causes of Islamic terrorism. Pray that the authorities will find effective ways to counter the threat of Boko Haram, and for greater security for Christians in Nigeria; nearly 1,000 were killed there in 2012. Wednesday 23 Christian converts from Islam in Somalia continue to live in mortal danger from the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab. On 7 June, Hassan Hurshe (28), who converted to Christianity in 2006, was shot in the head in front of a crowd in the town of Jilib. Until 2010 he had been living in Kenya, but it is thought that al-Shabaab had been monitoring him since his return to Somalia. Hassan leaves a widow and young son, who have fled the area with his parents. Give thanks that those who die in the Lord are blessed (Revelation 14:13), and pray that He will comfort Hassan’s grieving family. Thursday 24 Pray for around 160 Christians in the Philippines who were forced to flee their villages after coming under attack from Muslim extremists on 1 June. Four villages on the island of Mindanao were targeted by about 300 armed men, who fired mortars at them. The Christians had to leave most of their possessions behind, and some were left without their regular medication and became ill. If they returned, they ran the risk of having their homes torched or even being killed. A militant Muslim group, the MIRF, has been fighting to establish an independent Islamic state on Mindanao, and part of the island has been designated an autonomous region to be 14
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ruled by sharia. Pray for the safety of Christians in Mindanao, and that their freedom to worship and witness to the Lord will not be restricted. Friday 25 Pray for Kachin Christian children in Burma (Myanmar) who have lived for two years in the midst of a brutal military campaign against their people. Since 2011 the Kachin, a mainly Christian ethnic group, have been subjected to ruthless religious and ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Burmese army. Their children are especially vulnerable: many of them have lost one or both parents in the violence or have had to escape into the jungle without any food or extra clothes. A recent grant from Barnabas has provided aid to some of the children, including food, blankets, raincoats and shoes. Pray that the Lord will meet their needs and that they may find rest and hope in God (Psalm 62:5).
Kachin children at a displaced people’s camp in Burma
Saturday 26 Praise God that a tentative peace deal has been reached to end the conflict in Kachin state. On 30 May the government and Kachin representatives agreed to a ceasefire and to political talks on the future of the Kachin, who want more rights and autonomy after years of oppression. The army’s campaign has displaced
OCTOBER 27 - 31 nearly 100,000 people; at least 66 churches have been burned down and around 200 villages destroyed. Pray that the peace plan will be successfully implemented; at least two Kachin people have been killed by the army since the deal was signed. Pray that the Kachin will soon be free to worship the Lord without fear (Luke 1:74). Sunday 27 In a move that could see Christian ministers thrown into prison, the Hindu nationalist government in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is trying to strengthen its anti-conversion law. Such laws are in force in six states; on paper they forbid conversions by “force”, “fraud” or “allurement”, but in practice they are often used to threaten legitimate evangelism by Christians. The proposed amendment requires ministers to notify the authorities of people’s intention to convert at least a month in advance and to provide their names and addresses; those who fail to comply could be punished with a fine and up to three years in jail. Pray that this amendment will not be passed and that church leaders will not be made to suffer for sharing their faith with Hindus. Monday 28 “The hidden agenda of the BJP was to give political support to the militant Hindutva, and is the main reason behind the attacks against Christians and other minorities in the state.” In a more positive development in India, a Hindu nationalist party that supports extremists who attack and harass Christians lost control of Karnataka state in May. The BJP vote was splintered by two breakaway parties, allowing the Congress party to gain a majority. Karnataka
is notorious for anti-Christian violence and recorded the highest number of attacks in 201112. Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said that the BJP’s defeat sent a great message ahead of general elections next year. Pray that the political promotion of Hindu nationalism will be checked throughout India and that Christians will be free to practise their faith without intimidation. Tuesday 29 Pray for two Afghan evangelists who were attacked on 21 June by five Muslims while they were sharing the Gospel in New Delhi, India. Part of a ministry team that is reaching out to Afghans in India, they were physically assaulted in Central Market, Lajpat Nagar. Team members had been receiving threats that were intended to stop their work. Pray that the evangelists will recover from this incident. Many Afghan converts from Islam have fled to India seeking to escape from persecution in their homeland; pray that they may find the Lord to be a sanctuary for them there (Ezekiel 11:16). Wednesday 30 Praise God that Pakistani pastor Karma Patras has been acquitted of blasphemy. He was accused after a sermon he had given last October angered Muslims. Karma’s comments about the death of Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice, negating the need for animal sacrifices, were taken as an insult to the impending Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Adha, in which Muslims offer a cow, bull, ram or camel. His accuser withdrew charges on 14 June. Pray for Karma’s five sons and their families, who were forced to leave their village after his arrest; they were warned by local Muslims that they would be captured and set on fire if they did not go. Thursday 31 In May, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) won the country’s general election, making him prime minister BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
OCTOBER 31 for the third time. During campaigning, he promised that his party would give equal rights to minorities, including Christians. But the PML-N has previously been implicated in acts of violence against Christians, and during his previous periods in government Sharif played a significant role in strengthening the country’s controversial
“blasphemy laws”, which are often used against Christians and other minorities. Pray that Sharif will be true to his election promise and promote equality for Pakistani Christians. They suffer severe discrimination, which keeps most of them in a state of grinding poverty.
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BARNABAS PRAYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
A bi-monthly diary of daily prayer points for the persecuted Church around the world. It is part of the Barnabas Aid magazine, but can also...