Published: 10:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 02 December 2014
Prayer Focus 12/14
- Nigeria – 47 students killed at a Christian school; Christians forced to flee Mubi
- Kenya – Kenyan Christians targeted in revenge attacks after mosque raids
- Pakistan – Christian couple beaten and burned alive by Muslim mob
- Philippines – Rebels form an Islamic political party
- Egypt – Proposed Law to remove restrictions on church buildings
- India – Hindu extremists attack Christians gathered for "mediation meeting"
- Iraq – IS militants publish prices for Christian and Yazidi slaves
- Indonesia – New government set to extend religious freedom to all citizens
- Cuba – Pastor and wife harassed by authorities
- Christmas and New Year
“Nothing will be impossible with God”
Nigeria – 47 students killed at a Christian school; Christians forced to flee Mubi
Pray for the families of the 47 students who died in a suicide bomb attack at a Christian secondary school in the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, north-eastern Nigeria. The attack occurred on Monday 10 November, as the students were gathering for morning assembly.
The militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, is thought to be behind the attack, as the group has carried out many attacks on Christian targets and on schools that provide a Western-style of education. In a separate incident, Boko Haram took control of the predominantly Christian city of Mubi in Nigeria's Adamawa state on 29 October. Churches and Christian homes were burned down across the city, and Christians were tortured and killed. Boko Haram has renamed the city Madinatul Islam, meaning "City of Islam". Although the Nigerian military have regained control of Mubi, most of the residents who fled are still too afraid to return.
Pray that our Lord who is full of compassion (Psalm 116:5) will protect His Children from Boko Haram. Pray also that He will comfort those who have lost loved ones at the hands of Boko Haram.
Kenya – Kenyan Christians targeted in revenge attacks after mosque raids
Pray for the Christians in Kenya who fear for their lives after Al-Shabaab militants shot dead 28 believers on 22 November in a violent bus attack near the Somali border. At least three other Christians were also killed in a revenge rampage in the coastal city of Mombasa after police raided three mosques suspected of recruiting Islamic militants during the week commencing 17 November. A spokesperson for the Somalia-based Islamist group assumed responsibility for the atrocities, confirming that the deaths are payback for the police arrests and shooting during the raids.
Pray God's comfort for those who have been bereaved in these terrible attacks. Pray also that there will be an end to the violence of Al-Shabaab in Kenya.
Pakistan – Christian couple beaten and burned alive by Muslim mob
Lift up in prayer the horrified and grieving friends, community and family of Shehzad Masih and his wife Shama Bibi, who were recently killed by a Muslim mob after Shama had been accused of desecrating the Quran. Hearing that they were in danger of their lives, they went to the owner of the brick kiln where they worked as labourers to inform their bosses that they desperately needed to leave. They were promptly locked in a room in case they tried to escape without paying their debt. Very poor Christian brick kiln workers often have long-term debts to their Muslim employers, sometimes incurred generations earlier in times of unusually great hardship. Such debts prevent them from leaving their jobs.
Incited by the mullah of the local mosque, a group of roughly 600 Muslims came the next morning. The mob beat them severely with clubs and then burned them alive in a brick kiln furnace.
The incident occurred in a village near the town of Kot Radha Kishan, which is around 60 km south-west of Lahore. Local media reported that a co-worker saw Shama burn pages from the Quran and throw them in a rubbish bin; reports later emerged that she was illiterate and would not have known what pages she was burning, if the incident did take place.
Fifty individuals have been arrested in connection with the murders; police have registered a case against 660 villagers and are still looking for others who were involved.
Continue to pray for Pakistani Christians, as they are particularly vulnerable to false accusations by Muslims. Also pray that the Lord will bring the assailants to justice. Pray that the horror of this event will lead to lasting improvement for Pakistani Christians and that the Pakistani authorities will be determined to prevent such an incident ever happening again.
Philippines – Rebels form an Islamic political party
Lift up in prayer our Christian brothers and sisters in the Philippines, as the largest Islamic rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has announced that it will be forming a political party called the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJ).
The formation of the UBJ follows the historic peace treaty between the government of the Christian-majority Philippines and the MILF in January 2014. This agreement ended a decades-long Muslim insurgency for an independent Islamic state, in which Christians were targeted in violent campaigns.
The peace agreement also created a semi-independent Islamic region called "Bangsamoro" on Mindanao, the country's southernmost island; however, despite the move to create the UBJ party, violent incidents are still occurring in the south, where the majority of the country's Muslim population resides. Two believers died in a church bombing on 8 October.
Pray that the formation of the UBJ will bring peace to the Philippines without removing justice, equality and religious liberty. Pray also that Christians living in the south will not be subjected to sharia law and that the Lord who is a refuge will deliver His people from harm (Psalm 6:4).
Pray for the Egyptian Parliament as they consider removing the crippling restrictions on the building of churches in Egypt.
Under current Egyptian law, the construction of new churches is heavily restricted, and even renovation or the simplest repairs require high level permission which is slow and difficult to obtain. On 16 October Egypt's Minister of Transitional Justice, Ibrahim Henaidi, announced that a committee comprising of church representatives and government officials will be formed to discuss the bill before it is presented to parliament.
According to Article 64 of Egypt's new constitution, which was passed in January of this year, followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism are granted "absolute" freedom of belief and religious practice, and under this new constitution, parliament is required in its first session to "issue a law aimed at regulating construction and restoration of churches in a way that ensures that Christians perform their religious rites freely".
Continue to pray for Christians in Egypt as the Egyptian government goes through this time of transition. Pray that God will protect his Church and that the Egyptian government will continue to promote religious freedom.
India – Hindu extremists attack Christians gathered for "mediation meeting"
Petition our Heavenly Father on behalf of twelve Indian Christians who were assaulted by a group of Hindu extremists in the Bastar district of India's Chhattisgarh state on 25 October. The believers were attacked by around 50 assailants armed with knives, sticks and axes, and eleven of the victims were hospitalized.
The Christians were among a group of roughly 40 believers who were meeting together in Madota village for what was supposed to be a mediation meeting to resolve rising tensions with the local Hindu community. Local officials had called the meeting in order to settle differences after months of conflict over recent controversial legislation in Bastar district that bans all non-Hindu religious activity. However, upon arriving for the meeting, there was no one from the district administration to greet them – instead, the group of Christians were assaulted. Since the legislation was introduced, there has been a spike in anti-Christian attacks in the area.
Pray that the Lord will heal those Christians who were attacked and that the assailants will be brought to justice.
Iraq – IS militants publish prices for Christian and Yazidi slaves
Cry out to the Lord on behalf of women and children who have been enslaved by Islamic State (IS) militants.
Recently, IS issued a document that catalogued the prices captured Christian and Yazidi women and children are to be sold for as slaves in Iraq (from £27/ €34/ $43 for the oldest to £107/ €136/ $170 for the youngest). The document explains that IS has decided to control the prices of the slaves due to a "significant decrease" in the market selling "women and spoils of war". IS has vowed to execute anyone who does not abide by the price controls it has imposed, and individuals are not authorised to purchase more than three – unless the buyers are foreigners such as Turks, Syrians and citizens of the Gulf Arab states.
When IS captured large swathes of Iraqi territory earlier this year, they began to enforce a strict interpretation of sharia law, which allows Muslims to take human beings as slaves as part of their war booty in the context of jihad.
Continue to pray that God will protect the slaves and that they may be freed.
Indonesia – New government set to extend religious freedom to all citizens
Give thanks to the Lord that Indonesia's new government plans to restore religious freedom to all minorities. With less than a month in their position, the President and the Ministers for Religious and Home Affairs, are taking steps to ensure equality and protection for religious minorities in this country which has the largest Muslim population in the world.
Religious Affairs Minister, Lukman Hakim, has announced that a new law is to be introduced within six months to protect minorities from attack and to ensure that all citizens have the same rights. He also promised a change in regulations to make it easier for minority groups to obtain permits for building places of worship.
Praise God for Joko Widodo, the new Indonesian president, and his administration who are spear-heading the campaign for religious equality. Pray that the promised law will indeed be passed and that it will be implemented at local level.
Cuba – Pastor and wife harassed by authorities
Pray for Yozxis Marcheco Suarez, the wife of a Cuban pastor and religious freedom activist, who was arrested on 16 October and told to stop having contact with "counter-revolutionary elements".
Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez was arrested in the town of Remedios in the province of Villa Clara and was threatened with imprisonment. Yoaxis' husband, Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, had received similar threats days earlier; he was informed that he may face criminal charges if he does not cut his alleged "counter-revolutionary" links. He was also told to stop giving radio broadcasts.
Both Pastor Barroso and his wife have been pressured into signing an Official Warning, a document that can be used as justification for future arrests and criminal charges. Neither has signed the paper, and the church leader has said that he will not be deterred from his activities.
Pray that God will bless and protect the work of Yozxis Marcheco Suarez and Rev Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso. Pray also that Cuban Christians will be granted true freedom of religion.
The Christmas and New Year period is often a time of extra violence against Christians. (The Western New Year on 1 January is considered by many non-Christians to be a Christian festival and hence Christians are targeted as during other special Christian celebrations.) Pray God's protection over His people in the coming weeks.
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