FRONTLINE FAITH NEWS AND PRAYER INFORMATION ABOUT THE PERSECUTED CHURCH WORLDWIDE
Image: The entry gate to a Christian monastery 5km from the Islamic State front line, overlooking Mosul, Iraq.
W O R L D WATC H L I S T 2 016 E D I T I O N “Don’t tell my friend.” SECRET BELIEVERS Page 3
The cost to follow Jesus INSIDE ERITREA Page 4
The church & THE ISLAMIC STATE Page 6
Prayer GUIDE Page 12
World Watch List Over view A YEAR OF INCREASING PERSECUTION A church in Sudan (#9) after it was attacked and burnt down in October 2015.
Persecution is on the increase For the second year in a row, the Open Doors World Watch List (WWL) 2016 revealed an increase in the persecution of Christians around the world. The WWL looks at and measures the types of persecution believers experience from the government, community and even their own families. It also accounts for the restrictions Christians face in their private lives and their ability to meet and worship with other Christians. The causes for the increase in global persecution are many and complex. here is an overview of some of the countries that ranked highly and have scores that increased substantially. At the top of the list North Korea ranks number one on the WWL for the 14th consecutive year. Leader Kim Jong Un continues to try and stamp out organised religion which he views as a challenge to his power. Although North Korea tops the list, the major source of persecution identified in 35 of the 50 countries on the list is Islamic extremism. For this reason Iraq has been ranked #2 in the WWL. While much attention has been given to the self proclaimed caliphate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, there is also severe persecution in Africa from Islamic extremist
groups, including Boko Haram - which is considered the world’s most dangerous terrorist organisation1. For more information on Islamic extremism, and the church in the Middle East and Africa, see page 6. The "North Korea of Africa" In 2016 Eritrea rose to #3 on the WWL. Labelled by many as ‘the North Korea of Africa’, the small nation broke away from Ethiopia in 1991 in a bloody civil war. Since this time, President Afewerki has maintained a brutal and oppressive reign, imprisoning anyone considered to be a dissenter. Eritrea saw the largest score increase over the last year. In the top ten Afghanistan appears at #4 and has been battling a continued insurgency from the Taliban. Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya round out the top ten. Other forms of persecution, such as Hindu extremism in India, have also risen sharply. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has been criticised for largely ignoring violence towards religious minorities. Christians have suffered through forced conversion ceremonies. Reportedly, these ceremonies were on a scale of up to 400 people at a time, occurring near the city of Varanasi, regarded as the holiest city in Hinduism. India this year ranks at #17. 1. Global Terrorism Index 2015, Institute for Economics and Peace
For more World Watch List information, country profiles and resources, visit www.opendoorsmy.org 2 | Open Doors Malaysia | Frontline Faith, World Watch List 2016 Edition
Secret Believers SERVING THE SECRET CHURCH IN SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA. When asked about Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) in his country one pastor said, “I try not to get too close to them because I’m known to the authorities, but this is what I’ve heard…” “One of them comes into his office, locks the door, takes out his Bible, has his quiet time for 15 minutes, returns the Bible inside the drawer, unlocks his door, and carries on.” Believer = breaking the law South and Southeast Asia host some of the world’s largest Muslim populations. Converting to Christianity from Islam in some countries means breaking the law. Believers risk losing their citizenship, freedom, and even their life. Don't tell my friend... A missionary shared an incredible story. “I once stayed in a guest house and met with a young local man. After learning that I was a Christian, he shared that he too, was a believer. This local man was travelling with a friend, so he pleaded: ‘Please don’t tell my friend about this.’ Later, I caught his friend storing a Bible inside a drawer. He confessed: ‘I am Christ’s follower, but please don’t say anything to my friend.’ That day I met two friends who, out of fear and distrust, had no idea that they were both Christians!” www.opendoorsmy.org
Bringing believers together Christian converts keep their faith hidden and rarely attend church. They form small groups and worship quietly in homes. House churches ensure safety, but often disconnect secret believers from the larger body of Christ. To foster unity, Open Doors holds events that bring scattered believers together. Bibles and discipleship materials are also supplied. The only believer in a village Suratno*, an elderly MBB from Java, Indonesia, is grateful for the Bible he holds in his hands. He found faith in Christ when an evangelist visited his small shop. “When I received Isa (Jesus), I felt so calm and peaceful.” Disowned by his son when he found out about his commitment to Christ, Suratno is the only believer in his village. His Bible and evangelist mentor are Suratno’s only ‘church’. “My eyes are failing me, but I try to read a chapter from the New Testament every evening,” he said. For many MBBs who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, Christian books can be difficult to understand. Meeting the need, Open Doors distributes simplified Christian books with pictures. In 2014^, Open Doors distributed over 21,000 Bibles and Christian materials across Indonesia. *Names changed for security reasons. ^2015 figures released mid 2016.
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MEET TWO PEOPLE FROM ERITREA, THE THIRD MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRY FOR CHRISTIANS. Eritrea is a small country in the Horn of Africa. Open Doors contacts travelled to meet with Christians and find out why some people call this country, "the North Korea of Africa". Eritrea - #3 on the World Watch List 2016 Most people haven’t heard of Eritrea before. It’s not in the news much, but this year it’s the third most dangerous country for Christians in the world. It even outranks Syria and Saudi Arabia. ISRAEL
legs below my knees were almost paralysed. So when I was released from that tiny cell, people had to support me because I could not walk. After I was released from the small cell, I was still banned from medical help. They would MYANMAR tell me, “You have imprisoned yourself, you can just renounce your faith and sign, the key is in your hands, you can just renounce your faith and live free.” It is easy to sign a piece of paper and free yourself. But what is the meaning of following Jesus Christ? You cannot just follow Him in peaceful and good times. You have to follow Him in difficult and hard times too. There were times in the Bible when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have just knelt down, but they had a Lord to follow. They did not submit to Nebuchadnezzar, who told them to renounce their faith. God never abandoned them. Jesus Christ died and suffered for us. So why should I not do the same? I can tell you in the name of Christ even there, while in prison, I had already forgiven them [the persecutors]. My dream for Eritrea is for all those people to receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour. That alone is the priority. I have experienced the peace He gives you in those difficult times. In those horrific moments, I have felt His peace inside me. I want all of them to be saved and following Jesus Christ. Ezra - A pastor from Eritrea I am a pastor. I labour to bring the people of God to unity in Him. It was really very sudden when the authorities came and ordered me to close ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS (INDIA)
The World Watch List is not just numbers and figures, it represents those who have decided to follow Jesus no matter what the cost may be... So what is the cost in Eritrea? For Elihu and Ezra - extremely high. Elihu - Three years imprisoned underground I had no rights as a human being. The place where I was imprisoned the first three years was deep down in an underground area. The place was buried below the surface and you could not get any fresh air. The tiny cell was 4x4 metres. I managed to read and write gospel songs or any scripture that I could remember. But one day, they found them and they tied me up out in the sun for a month. The first five days, my hands and legs were tied together. So I could only sit looking up at the sun. I still have problems with my vision. Also, because of the heat, my shackles burned and scarred my wrists. Right after that, I was imprisoned in a 70cm cell for five months. I could only stand and had to sleep standing up. Because of that, my SWAZILAND
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Image: Believers gather for a church service in a refugee camp. Many Eritreans have fled their homes and now live in refugee camps.
the church. My reply was, â€œI cannot close it down because this is where the people of God meet to worship and pray.â€? So they closed it by force and took me to prison. There is nothing good in prison. It is very hard for me to even speak about my experiences. There is stress, beatings, sleepless nights. With all these things you see around you, your soul really goes through agony. When they took me to prison, for me personally, it was not that hard. But what made it especially tough on me was when I learned about the imprisonment of my pregnant wife because of me, and the fact they kept her in prison until she was about to give birth. That was really a test of my faith. There was also a time when all my family members begged me to denounce my faith in Christ because it was not accepted by the authorities. At that time, I asked the Lord what to do, and the Lord gave me enough grace and strength... like what He did for King David in 1 Samuel 30:6. There are many who oppose you when you follow Jesus. They want you to question the identity of Christ as a Saviour, but there will not be any moment in my life where I will doubt Him. He is the same today, tomorrow and forever. I will never be frightened to declare this truth about Him. Two things to say about those who persecute me: First, I want to pray the same prayer that Stephen prayed for his persecutors. I want to ask the Lord to forgive their sins because they do not know what www.opendoorsmy.org
"GOD USES US BELIEVERS TO BRING THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL TO THE UNSAVED PRISONERS." they are doing to me and others. Secondly, I will pray for them so that they will test what I have tested in Jesus and have eternal life in Him. When believers go to prison, you not only see bad things happen in prison, there are also many good things happening in prison. God uses us believers to bring the message of the gospel to the unsaved prisoners. I remember when another Christian brother and I were taken to prison, God gave us the opportunity to share the gospel with 10 prisoners and two policemen, and they all came to faith in Christ. It really was a miracle because these people never heard the message of the gospel before. Personally, I have decided to present my life as a sacrifice for the sake of Jesus, even if that is all that I can do at this time. One day, this life will come to an end. And there is an everlasting joy and life prepared for me in heaven. I value that more than what is happening to us in prison here on earth. How is Open Doors helping in Eritrea? Since the late 1990s, Open Doors has strengthened believers in Eritrea through partnering with the local church. This partnership includes discipleship support and practical assistance to persecuted Christians. Eritrean believers say they are strengthened and encouraged from knowing that Christians around the world are aware and praying for them.
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Islamic State, Boko Haram & the Church WILL THE CHURCH BE DESTROYED BY EXTREMISTS? ‘Islamic extremism’ was the main source of persecution in 70% of the countries on the World Watch List 2016 (WWL). We take a closer look at these countries and how local Christians are responding.
Islamic State & the church We’ve all heard of the Islamic State (IS). They now have control over an area almost eight times larger than Syria's neighbour, Lebanon. In mid-2014, IS dominated the headlines with a virtually unopposed march into the Nineveh plain, displacing 100,000 Christians in a single month. 1,300 IS soldiers took the ancient city of Mosul, where 60,000 local troops and police fled in three days. What would you take with you if you only had two hours to leave your house? Islamic State are medieval in their barbarism, and sophisticated in their ability to appeal to disaffected teenagers around the world. Christians are fleeing affected areas in their hundreds and thousands. The exodus of Christians from their ancient heartlands is accelerating. Iraq is at its highest ever point in the WWL at #2, and Syria is close behind at #5.
monopolised by the Middle East, but for the last two years more Christians were killed for their faith in Northern Nigeria than in any other country. In the WWL 2016, the conservative figure of Christian deaths in Nigeria is 4,028, out of a worldwide total of 7,100. This is partly due to an even more vicious Islamic extremist movement – Boko Haram. In fact the top six countries where most Christians were killed for their faith in the WWL 2016 reporting period were all sub-Saharan African countries: Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Cameroon. Christians are seeing an increase in pressure, even in Christian majority states such as Kenya (#16). Extremism has a subtle form as well as a violent face.
Islamic extremism in other areas? Islamic extremists ruling territory with an intolerant fist is not new, and countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are also highly ranked, at #9 and #14 respectively. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam (Mecca), is high on the list, not because of the same violence we see in Iraq and Syria, but rather due to a heavily restrictive government. Persecution is not just violence, but also oppression. Islamic extremism has another hub – SubSaharan Africa. The headlines always get
Image: A man guarding the door at a church service in Jos, Nigeria.
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Image: A Christian monastery 5km from the Islamic State.
Will the rise in extremists destroy the church? Has God abandoned these countries? Over the last months we have collected many stories from Christians in the Middle East. A Christian brother from Northern Iraq who was a very wealthy businessman, owning three booming businesses, a large amount of property and on top of that, a nice government salary, lost all his property in three hours. What does he say? “ISIS is a lesson from God to us as church: not to put our fortune here on earth, but to put our fortune with God!” A pastor from Baghdad voices this in another way, “The crisis around ISIS has taught us to discover our own identity as a church. It was a wake-up call. I hope that the influx of Muslims in Europe [and across the world] will wake up the people to also start searching again for their own identity.” At a point where Christians face the biggest amount of persecution in the modern age, could God be doing something even bigger? A displaced church leader in Iraq says, “The church will never disappear, though it looks like it. When Jesus died, everyone was thinking that it was over. But He rose from the dead and the church started to grow. The church in Iraq has been facing persecution for over 2000 years. It might look as if we will be gone, but we will rise from this crisis.” www.opendoorsmy.org
Image: A displaced Iraqi family living in the monastery.
In more and more places we discover that churches become true churches, places of hope and compassion. Priests share with us that they have learnt to become true priests again. Pastors have learnt to bring Bible teaching in a fresh way as they show true care for their sheep. Churches have been transformed because of the influx of believers with a Muslim background. Churches have been pushed out of their comfort zone. That brings horrible suffering, yes, but it also brings growth. An Open Doors contact working in Syria shares, “We are one of the very few organisations still operating in Syria. That is not because of our impressive efforts, but only because, in a very special way, we were given access to an extensive network within the country long before the crisis manifested itself. We cannot walk away from the responsibility that we have received. Providing aid to displaced Christians in Syria can only take place through local churches; there are no other responsible methods. The church in Syria is willing to take on this task, and it is up to us to serve them.” Extremism does not make the church disappear, it transforms the church. It's our privilege to be able to help strengthen the persecuted church as they continue in the midst of fear and brokenness, by the strength of Jesus.
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SIXTY SECOND STORIES BEHIND THE WORLD WATCH LIST FACTS AND FIGURES ARE FACES... Behind each number and ranking are brothers and sisters in Christ. People are always asking us for stories to share from the persecuted church. Here are three stories you can share in less than one minute.
WORLD WATCH LIST FACTS 24,000 families By the end of 2015, Open Doors was feeding over 24,000 families across Syria (#5) and Iraq (#2) through local churches and partners. #43 Indonesia Indonesia has the highest Muslim population in the world, followed by Pakistan (#6), India (#17) and Bangladesh (#35). The top nine countries for 2016 all have a higher individual score than North Korea had just a decade ago. #25 Brunei The government has banned Christmas. Any celebration or decorations are illegal for fear of evangelistic activities. Persecution increases In six countries the level of persecution risen substantially, with an increase of over seven points. Eritrea (+10), Pakistan (+8), Tajikistan (+8), Afghanistan (+7), Azerbaijan (+7) and Kuwait (+7).
“JESUS PROMISES TO BE WITH ME IN MY FEAR.” - A recovering alcoholic being helped by pastors in Pakistan.
Bringing Jesus to those in the darkest places. This image is of an alcoholic crying out to Jesus for help in a church in Pakistan. Being illiterate, he had spent a large part of his life sweeping roads, and drinking cheap alcohol. When asked what he was praying for, his eyes filled with tears and he said, “...I was praying for help so I don’t hurt my body, my soul and my family any more. When I came to church I thought I would be shunned, but Pastor Rahmat hugged me and said he will pray with us and come visit us.” #6 Pakistan Pakistan is a country ravaged by terrorism, illiteracy and high rates of drug and alcohol addiction. Following Jesus means immense risk to your family, your job, and your freedom. On top of this, there are broken people in need. Every Christian in Pakistan is in need of strength and courage.
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“ THIS PASTOR HAS 20 CHILDREN: THREE OF HIS OWN, AND THE REST FROM OTHER PASTORS WHO HAVE DISAPPEARED.”
“ TILL GOD TAKES US ‘HOME.’” - A couple in their 60s who have been sharing the gospel to unreached people groups for decades.
- A pastor from Laos speaking about his friend.
Taking in orphaned children. These are the words of a pastor from Laos, as he held up a photo of his friend.
Choosing to stay and reach out no matter what. This image is of a couple in their 60s. They have been sharing the gospel to unreached people groups for decades.
Pastor Mai, from the Hmong church, was told by his neighbours that they did not want a Christian in their village, but he continued to hold meetings in his home. Soon afterwards, he disappeared, his body was found in the forest three days later. He left a wife and four children. Other pastors look after the children of the ‘disappeared’.
During this time, they have experienced the dangers and hardships of following Jesus in dark places. Not only have they endured persecution including multiple death threats, but the husband has had seven heart attacks and his wife six surgeries. They are continuing their ministry until God takes them ‘home’.
#29 Laos Laos has a vibrant yet small church. A church that demonstrates the reality that the church is a family, and when one member suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor 12:26). Pastors are in much need of strength and support.
#43 Indonesia Open Doors organises prayer events where mission workers share their experiences, struggles, and pray with one another.
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“Our mission is called ‘Open Doors’ because we believe any door is open, anytime and anywhere.” - Brother Andrew, founder
Open Doors exists to strengthen persecuted Christians. In over 60 of the most dangerous countries to follow Jesus, we work with the local church to provide strength, support and encouragement to Christians. The three main ways we do this are:
We supply Bibles and Christian literature to more than 2 million persecuted Christians every year.
Each year, we train over 300,000 persecuted Christians in church leadership and discipleship.
We support livelihoods and bring practical support to over 200,000 persecuted Christians every year.
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WE NEED YOUR HELP The World Watch List has confirmed that after an unprecedented year of persecution, persecution has not only increased, but has spread.
the gospel often spreads more in the face of persecution. Will you join with us in standing with these believers today?
The Islamic State is continuing to spread, with more terrorist groups swearing allegiance to them. But they are not the only source of increased persecution. In Nigeria the number of Christian deaths nearly doubled.
Give Your generous gifts allow Open Doors to continue supporting persecuted Christians around the world. Every gift makes a difference!
With the sharp increase in persecution, the need has increased. More Christians are being displaced. More are in need of having their homes rebuilt. More Christians are in need of vital support.
WORLD WATCH LIST RANKINGS 2006 & 2016
9 200 6
Saudi Arabia (68)
North Korea (92)
North Korea (82)
Even though this has proven to be the worst time for persecuted Christians, we are not without hope because we know
How to give To make your donation, make out your cheque to ‘Odmal Services Berhad’, or make a deposit to ‘Maybank 512464101917 (Odmal Services Berhad)’. Send us a copy of the bank-in slip for accountability.
Persecution is increasing For the last decade, persecution has increased every year. Each year, countries are given a score based on a range of factors to determine their rank. In 2006, North Korea had a score of 82 points, while in 2016 it has a score of 92. While North Korea maintained its top spot, www.opendoorsmy.org
others have started catching up. In 2006, the #2 country on the list was Saudi Arabia with a score of 68 points, a difference of 14 points. In 2016, the #2 country on the list is Iraq with a score of 90 points. In fact, countries #2 – #7 are all closing to within five points of North Korea.
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PRAYER GUIDE JULY 2016
Friday, 8 July – Palestinian Territories Pray for the Christians in Gaza that, despite the difficult circumstances, their faith will remain strong and their trust in God unshaken. Pray especially for the leaders who carry responsibility and who have to deal with so many challenges.
Friday, 1 July – Maldives Most people think of the Maldives as a holiday destination and not a country with persecution. Pray for Christians to be moved to pray for the country.
Saturday, 9 July – Comoros Many converts are the only believers in their families. Pray that the Lord will grant them wisdom and protection as they share their faith with their families.
Saturday, 2 July – Maldives Sharing Jesus with a Maldivian Muslim will definitely result in persecution. Pray that Jesus would reveal himself to people through dreams and visions.
Sunday, 10 July – Brunei Churches are struggling to find leaders in the next generation as most Christians will leave the country if they get the chance. Pray for bold candidates to be found.
Sunday, 3 July – Bangladesh Pray that those who have completed SSTS** training would be finding it useful and continuing to grow in their faith even while facing persecution.
Monday, 11 July – Brunei Many young Christians fall away due to compulsory Islamic education in schools and forced conversion at marriage. Pray for the native church to stand strong.
Monday, 4 July – Bangladesh Many feel pressure to conform to cultural traditions and practices over the gospel. Pray the church would be able to exist within the culture, without compromising the message.
Tuesday, 12 July – Mexico Children from Christian families who have fled persecution and violence often miss out on proper schooling. Pray for the volunteers trying to help run classes.
Tuesday, 5 July – Bangladesh Pray for funding issues. Money coming into the country is often held up due to anti-terrorism legislation. Pray this would not impact Open Doors’ programmes.
Wednesday, 13 July – Colombia Open Doors has several training courses scheduled inside of guerrilla held areas. Pray these would run smoothly and people would come to learn more about God.
Wednesday, 6 July – Indonesia Currently there is research around forced conversions to Islam being conducted. Pray this is handled sensitively and does not bring about more issues for local believers. Thursday, 7 July – Indonesia Pray for secret believers as their acceptance of Christ often welcomes persecution into their lives. Pray they would be able to continue to follow Jesus.
Thursday, 14 July – Colombia Pray for Pastor Javier* who moved his family again recently to hide from criminal gangs. Pray for God’s protection over them as they continue to shine as a light in darkness. Friday, 15 July – Cuba Pray that pressure from the government on the church would continue to ease. Pray that recent changes would loosen restrictions on worship even more.
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Saturday, 16 July – Kenya In north eastern and coastal Kenya, Muslim youths are being radicalised in great numbers. Pray that the church across East Africa will receive opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to these youths. Sunday, 17 July – Africa Pray for the African continent, it is predicted in the next 25 years it will become the main theatre of persecution for Christians. Pray for Open Doors as the ministry prepares to meet needs as they arise. Monday, 18 July – Uganda 11 year old Hadija became a Christian four years ago, and was beaten and excluded from her family. Praise God that she is now being cared for by Mellina. Pray that her family would come to faith in Jesus. Tuesday, 19 July – Nigeria Many women have been kidnapped by Boko Haram~, they are intimidated and live under horrific conditions. Pray for women still being held by the group to be comforted. Wednesday, 20 July – Nigeria Pray for God to intervene with Fulani herdsmen trying to claim land belonging to Christians. Pray that Christians would be loving in their response. Thursday, 21 July – Nigeria Many Muslims rioted in Jos after an unfavourable election outcome. Many Christians were killed and property damaged. Pray for Christian communities to be comforted. Friday, 22 July – Nigeria Mercy is a young believer who escaped from Boko Haram~ after being kidnapped. Pray that Mercy will experience comfort and healing in a new season of life. Saturday, 23 July – Nigeria Pray for trauma training in Northern Nigeria. Pray for comfort and strength for all who attend. www.opendoorsmy.org
Sunday, 24 July – Eritrea Pray for pastors to be courageous even when facing imprisonment. Many accept that they must go into prison for the sake of the gospel but it is still difficult. Monday, 25 July – Eritrea “Christians can no longer meet in large groups, so they secretly meet in pairs or in threes to pray and encourage one another,” says one pastor. Pray for God’s wisdom as they try to continue meeting together. Tuesday, 26 July – Sudan Several churches have been closed in the capital, Khartoum. Pray that this spiritual stronghold of Islam would be broken and Christians would be accepted in their society. Wednesday, 27 July – Sudan Pray for peace in the Nuba region, well over a million people have been displaced as a result of ongoing conflicts. Pray for Christians to end the fighting through forgiveness. Thursday, 28 July – Central African Republic Continue praying for victims of attacks in CAR, many are struggling to adapt to life with disabilities as a result. Pray that God would provide for their needs in this time. Friday, 29 July – Democratic Republic Of Congo Mado* is ostracised in her community as a result of being kidnapped by Islamic extremists. Pray that her spiritual family would be welcoming and show her the love of Christ. Saturday, 30 July – Democratic Republic Of Congo Islamic Extremism and violent persecution is on the rise in Democratic Republic of Congo. Pray for wisdom for church leaders as they seek to continue spreading the gospel. Sunday, 31 July – China Arthur* is an MBB##. He is consumed with a lawsuit involving his sister, who is not a Christian. Pray for a resolution and restoration for his family.
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PRAYER GUIDE AUGUST 2016 Monday, 1 August – China Alimjan* was a church leader before being sent to prison in 2009. Pray for him and his wife Gulnur* as she looks after their two children alone. Tuesday, 2 August – China Bermet* was forced to flee her village after converting from Islam. She has since returned to share the gospel. Pray for Bermet* to have strength to show love to her Muslim neighbours. Wednesday, 3 August – Southern Philippines Praise God that the passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law^^ was denied, pray though that this will not further provoke extremists into violent resistance. Thursday, 4 August – Southern Philippines Pray for Christians living in predominately Muslim areas, tensions are often high and there is a campaign by local Muslims at the moment to bring people back to Islam. Friday, 5 August – Vietnam “It is better to die in the jungle in Cambodia than to suffer persecution in Vietnam,” said one believer fleeing persecution. Pray the situation would improve for minority Christians. Saturday, 6 August – Vietnam Recently, two house churches in North Vietnam were raided. Bibles were confiscated and the pastor was beaten. Pray that these believers would be able to obtain a permit for a legal gathering. Sunday, 7 August – Vietnam Praise God for the rapid spread of the gospel in Vietnam among minority groups. Pray for new pastors and church leaders to rise up to meet this need.
Monday, 8 August – Laos Teo’s* national identification papers were taken from him because of his faith, without it he cannot be employed. Pray for Teo to be able to support himself as he shares the good news. Tuesday, 9 August – Laos Many secret believers in small villages still practice animal sacrifice so they are not discovered. Pray for peace in the hearts of these believers as they face expulsion if their faith is discovered. Wednesday, 10 August – Myanmar In spite of opposition, and laws preventing conversion without approval, the church is growing. Praise God for successful local mission workers, pray for ongoing strength. Thursday, 11 August – Myanmar Pray for seven Rohingya MBB## families who have been expelled from a refugee camp. Ministry workers are trying to get access to provide assistance. Friday, 12 August – Myanmar New laws introducing religious classes make it more difficult to change religion. Pray this would not be a stumbling block to the gospel. Saturday, 13 August – Sri Lanka Only Buddhism is taught in schools meaning that even Christian students must participate. Pray that Christian teachers and ministry workers would be allowed to provide an alternative. Sunday, 14 August – Sri Lanka The legal system in Sri Lanka is complicated, making legal opposition to the persecution of Christians difficult. Pray God would resolve legal action against Christians. Monday, 15 August – Sri Lanka Pray for the increasing number of Sri Lankan pastors who, despite threats against them, travel from village to village to tell the good news. Tuesday, 16 August – Bhutan Many new
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believers find it hard to let go of a lifetime of Buddhist teachings. Pray that God would provide strength and perseverance to new believers. Wednesday, 17 August – Central Asia^ Pray for three sisters who are facing persecution from their brother. Pray that he would see God at work in their lives and come to repentance. Thursday, 18 August – Central Asia^ Pray for Naida* whose husband, Amir*, is abusive towards her for her faith. Pray she will be able to stay strong in this difficult time, pray for other women in Central Asia in similar circumstances. Friday, 19 August – Central Asia^ Pray for Adeel* who was arrested recently for preaching. He was released with a fine of $200 and had his laptop confiscated. Pray this will not curb his zeal for Christ. Saturday, 20 August – Central Asia^ Pray for Sadia* who, after being persecuted for years by her husband Arslan*, has seen her children also accept Christ. Pray for their protection and for Arslan’s eyes to be opened. Sunday, 21 August – Tajikistan Pray for Indira*, when she first accepted Christ her husband did not mind, but as she started evangelising he has started persecuting her. Pray for her safety. Monday, 22 August – Persian Speaking World Pray for Persians who have become believers since leaving their country. It would be very dangerous to return and this can often mean they will not see their families again. Tuesday, 23 August – Persian Speaking World Many people have come to Christ over the past few years through Christian satellite TV broadcasts. Pray the teams who make these programmes would be encouraged as they do so. Wednesday, 24 August – Iraq It has been 13 years since Saddam Hussein was www.opendoorsmy.org
removed from power and the situation has not improved. Pray that God would guide a change toward peace in Iraq. Thursday, 25 August – Iraq Pray for the church leaders who are tirelessly working to ensure the gospel does not leave Iraq. Pray God would renew their hope and grant them joy in Him. Friday, 26 August – Iraq Children and parents are shattered by the experiences they have endured. Pray for a good education for the next generation of Iraqis. Saturday, 27 August – Syria Many Syrians have lost everything in the war, only divine intervention can restore people and rebuild society. Pray that God would use the church in this. Sunday, 28 August – Syria Many young people have been leaving the country in large numbers, leaving churches without future leaders. Pray young Christians will be bold in their witness. Monday, 29 August – Syria Many Muslims are finding it easier to go to church after seeing the actions of Christians in this crisis. Pray for fruitfulness in the ongoing ministry among these people. Tuesday, 30 August – Lebanon Many churches in Lebanon are grateful for the diligent service of their youth. Pray that God would mature young believers into lifelong servants of God. Wednesday, 31 August – Lebanon Pray for new believers in Lebanon, as it is one of the few places in the Middle East where there is more freedom to become a Christian. Pray they will mature in their faith and continue to reach out to others. * Name has been changed for security purposes # IS – The self-proclaimed Islamic State ^ Country name withheld for security ^^ Bangsamoro Basic Law, local Sharia law **SSTS – Standing Strong Through the Storm, Open Doors persecution preparedness training ##MBB – Muslim Background Believer ~ Boko Haram – an Islamic extremist group
Frontline Faith, World Watch List 2016 Edition | Open Doors Malaysia | 15
Image: A young refugee boy in an unfinished building in northern Iraq where he and his family have lived since IS invaded their city.
THE NEED HAS NEVER BEEN GREATER... This edition is all about the World Watch List (WWL), one of the most important elements of our ministry. The WWL is an indexed list of the top 50 countries in the world where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The WWL is used by media agencies right across the world when reporting on the situations Christians face. One of the most alarming trends of the last 10 years is the fact that North Korea has remained the #1 country on the WWL. However in 2006 North Korea scored 82/100, placing it more than 15 points ahead of its closest rival (Saudi Arabia, with a score of 68). If we jump forward a decade to 2016, we see that the top seven countries are all within five points of North Korea. The intensity of
persecution has only increased! Brother Andrew, who recently celebrated his 88th birthday, said, “The need for this ministry has never been greater. The question before us today is not, ‘What can we do?’ - it’s, ‘What should we do?’ because we’re getting so many requests that we can no longer say yes to them all.” This is a very powerful and sobering statement to hear from a man who has always done everything he can to strengthen the persecuted church.
“THE NEED FOR THIS MINISTRY HAS NEVER BEEN GREATER” - BROTHER ANDREW
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