Barnabas Aid - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .

Email:

Prayer Focus 02/09

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Prayer Focus 02/09

SRI LANKA - ANTI-CONVERSION LAW MAKES PROGRESS

PAKISTAN - CHRISTIANS ATTACKED AND CHURCH DAMAGED IN PUNJAB

KYRGYZSTAN - PRESIDENT SIGNS RESTRICTIVE NEW LAW ON RELIGION

CENTRAL AFRICA - ATTACKS BY LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY ON CHURCHES

CHINA - PASTOR "BIKE" ZHANG DRIVEN OUT OF BEIJING

ERITREA - RENEWAL OF GOVERNMENT CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHURCHES

BANGLADESH - ANSWERED PRAYER FOR DECEMBER ELECTIONS

 

SRI LANKA - ANTI-CONVERSION LAW MAKES PROGRESS

 

An anti-conversion bill that is making its way through Sri Lanka's parliament could be used to justify discrimination against the country's small Christian minority. Having been stuck in committee for more than two years owing to constitutional problems, the bill was brought to the Legislative Standing Committee twice within a month, and is now to be presented to Parliament. If passed by a simple majority vote, it will become law.

The "Prevention of Forcible Conversion Bill" was introduced by the Jathika Hela Urumaya party (JHU), a political grouping headed by Buddhist monks. It would outlaw conversions carried out by force, allurement, or other unethical means. But Christians fear that the law could be used to try to stop all evangelism and encourage harassment and violence against them. This has happened with similar laws in some states of India. The draft bill's wide definitions are open to highly individual interpretation, and could be a basis for false complaints and a tool for settling purely personal disputes. One pastor suggested that the law might be used to imprison pastors who share their faith and those who convert to Christianity from Buddhism and Hinduism, and that faith-based organisations would have to leave the country.

Strict Buddhists have long pressured the government to address the supposed "problem" of church growth in rural areas. They accuse Christian organisations of using aid to entice or coerce vulnerable people to change their religion and claim that such conversions jeopardise the nation's Buddhist identity. The JHU leader, Omalpe Sobhitha Thero, has been quoted as saying that the two greatest threats facing Sri Lanka are the Tamil Tigers and US-funded Christian missionaries.

Sri Lanka's constitution gives Buddhism "a foremost place", but it gives members of other faiths freedom to practise their religion. Christians make up only about 8% of the total population, and they have been subject to an increasing level of violence, harassment and intimidation in recent years.

• Pray that the bill will not pass in the Sri Lankan parliament, and that the legislators will take seriously their responsibility to safeguard religious freedom. Pray too for more tolerance of minorities on the part of the Buddhist majority in the country.

• Pray for the Church in Sri Lanka, that the Lord will strengthen it in the face of social and political pressure, and protect it from attacks.

Back to top


PAKISTAN - CHRISTIANS ATTACKED AND CHURCH DAMAGED IN PUNJAB

 

On 14 January a group of 70 Muslims broke into Christian homes in the village of Kot Lakha Singh, Punjab, beating eight Christians. They threw bricks at a small church building, forced their way inside, burned a copy of the Bible and damaged furniture. The church was closed after the attack. Muslim villagers then barred Christians from travelling through Muslim areas and from using the village shops.

Arshad Masih, one of the local Christians, was entering the village on a motorcycle when a group of teenagers blocked his way, dragged him off and beat him. "One woman had her teeth broken and another had her ribs severely damaged in the assault," said Arshad. "We never expected this."

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that the Muslims were angered by a recent personal dispute between a Christian family and a Muslim one. But the Christian family has left the area, and a Muslim HRCP representative acknowledged that the Christians who had been victimised were innocent. The Muslim family refused to cooperate with the HCRP fact-finding team.

• Pray for the Christians in Kot Lakha Singh, that God will give them patience and courage in their trials. Pray for the Muslim community there, that they will renounce their hostility against innocent Christians and allow them to use the village shops again.

• Give thanks for the fair response of the HRCP team, and pray that those responsible for the attack will be brought to justice.

Back to top


KYRGYZSTAN - PRESIDENT SIGNS RESTRICTIVE NEW LAW ON RELIGION

 

Despite vigorous protests by human rights campaigners and many faith groups, in January President Kurmanbek Bakiev signed a restrictive new Religion Law. This has strict regulations about sharing one's faith, distributing religious literature and the involvement of children in "religious organisations". It also states that any organisation requires at least 200 members in order to register with the state. Without registration, religious communities are much more vulnerable to official sanctions. Under the previous legislation, only 10 members were needed for an organisation to get registration.

Christian leaders have expressed concern about the constitutional basis and probable effects of the new law. They regard the spreading of the Gospel as part of the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Kyrgyz constitution; one said, "We must as Christians bear witness to our faith." Officials and police have been known to ban unregistered religious communities from worshipping, and some of the churches fear that they will now be driven underground. Despite government claims that the law will not be applied retrospectively, leaders fear that the many smaller churches with fewer than 200 members will be victimised.

The president has promised a commission, including representatives from (unnamed) religious bodies, to consider the various appeals and "resolve them in the established way". At the same time it was stressed that the "leading religious confessions of the country" supported the law, a claim that raises doubts over the government's commitment to reforming it.

• Pray that the new law will not be enforced repressively, and in particular that smaller churches will not be banned from meeting. Pray too that the new commission will be widely representative of the country's Christian community, and that it will bring about meaningful and positive changes to the legislation.

• One Christian leader said, "The authorities are likely to take measures against us ... But we rely on the Lord and will remain faithful to Him." Praise God for the courage of Kyrgyz Christians, and ask Him to prosper their ministry and mission.

Back to top


CENTRAL AFRICA - ATTACKS BY LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY ON CHURCHES

 

An upsurge in violence by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is blighting a wide area of central Africa, comprising parts of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Although whole communities have been affected, many Christians and churches have been caught up in the terror.

In the South Sudanese region of Mundri LRA fighters abducted two ten-year-old boys, one of them the son of a lay preacher in a local church. When the father and another church member followed the LRA soldiers, they were captured, bound and brutally murdered in front of the boys, who were later found abandoned and traumatised in the bush.

In DRC a congregation was at worship on Christmas Day when it was attacked. At least 418 people were killed, 67 children abducted and 1,023 houses burnt down. Around 150 people are believed to have been murdered the next day at a concert organised by a church in Farajde City. On 26 December 45 people, mainly women and children, were hacked to death inside a church near Doruma, DRC. In Duru 75 people were killed and a church burned down. Then on 24 January, in a community 80 miles from Dungu, a church building filled with worshippers holding a prayer vigil was torched by the LRA.

Originally a Ugandan rebel movement, the LRA is now based in DRC. It was backed by the Islamic government of North Sudan. Peace negotiations broke down last year, provoking an offensive against the LRA by the Uganda, South Sudan and DRC governments. These latest mass killings appear to be a response.

• Pray for a restoration of peace and order in the areas affected by LRA violence, and especially that Christians and churches will be delivered from it.

• Pray for Christians who have lost loved ones and for churches that have seen their members massacred, that they may be comforted in their grief and receive grace to forgive their persecutors. Pray in particular for the two traumatised boys.

Back to top


CHINA - PASTOR "BIKE" ZHANG DRIVEN OUT OF BEIJING

 

On 16 January more than a dozen officers from the Chinese government's Public Security Bureau (PSB) escorted Pastor "Bike" Zhang Mingxuan from the home of another pastor in Beijing and put him on a bus to Henan province.

Pastor "Bike" had gone to the home of Pastor Hua Huiqi to visit Hua's father, Hua Zaichen, who is dying. Hua Zaichen's wife, Shuang Shuying, is 79 and currently in prison; the authorities refuse to allow her to see her husband. Pastor "Bike" was praying for the sick man when the PSB officials broke into the house.

This is the most recent in a series of hostile acts against Pastor "Bike" by the government. In October 2008 PSB officials attacked his family, beating up his son Zhang Jian and forcing his wife out of their flat. The pastor has recently received a payment from the PSB to cover Zhang Jian's medical bills, which is being seen as an indirect admission of guilt. When he was given the funds, PSB officers blamed him for causing "extremely bad publicity" for them! Now he and his family have been forbidden by the authorities to stay in Beijing.

• Pray for Pastor "Bike" and his family, that the government's campaign of harassment against them will cease. Give thanks for his perseverance in ministry despite the hardships that he is enduring.

• Pray for Hua Zaichen and Shuang Shuying, that the authorities will relent and allow them to meet. Pray too for Shuang's safe release.

Back to top


ERITREA - RENEWAL OF GOVERNMENT CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHURCHES

 

The Eritrean government has renewed its campaign for the eradication of a network of churches that operates many schools and orphanages and has been active in development work. This is part of a much larger attack on Christians in and around the capital, Asmara.

In October 2008 soldiers came to the village of Deki-Zeru, where the churches run a primary school. They rounded up all the teachers and the other Christians and took them away to prison. Four of the detainees, including an 80-year-old man and his wife, are still in custody, and have been transferred to an isolated prison. No-one has been allowed to visit them. When the teachers were released they were all dismissed from their posts. The government has assigned replacement teachers to the school, in effect taking it under state control.

In another incident, 52 Christian women and girls were arrested in Asmara during a prayer meeting. The churches own the only church building in the area, and it has been closed since 2002. The Christians are believed to have been gathering for prayer in the vicinity when they were detained.

• Pray for the churches that have been specially targeted in this campaign, that they may be able to continue their ministry of education and care.

• Pray that the Lord will watch over those Christians who are still under arrest, and that although they are "in chains for Christ", their suffering may advance the Gospel. (Philippians 1:12-13)

Back to top


BANGLADESH - ANSWERED PRAYER FOR DECEMBER ELECTIONS

 

In our last Prayer Focus Update we asked for prayer for the Bangladesh elections on 29 December, specifically that the Islamic parties that had pledged to enact a blasphemy law would not gain the power to do so. We are delighted to report that the coalition including the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) party, the largest Islamic party in the country, was comprehensively defeated, and all the main leaders of JI lost their seats.

• Give thanks to God for the election result. Pray that the new government will take positive steps to improve religious liberty in Bangladesh, and to protect the small Christian community.

Back to top

 

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Prayer Focus 02/09

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Partner with Barnabas

partner-box.jpg

Our magazine - Barnabas aid

Barnabas aid magazine

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Five Christians have been charged with murder in Laos after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity and later died. Mrs Chan, from Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province, had been ill for two years when she approached the church. Her health improved for a short time, and she and her eight grown-up children came to faith in Christ. The sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial ceremony, but the authorities forbade this unless they renounced their faith, which they refused to do. When Christians in the area protested, five were arrested and subsequently charged with Mrs Chan’s murder. Pray that the God of justice will have compassion on His people (Isaiah 30:18) and ensure their acquittal from this false accusation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 19 hours ago

    • A Christian from Loynam village in the Savannakhet province of Laos was arrested on the morning of 29 May and tied to a post before being imprisoned. Two weeks earlier, police and village security officers had gone to Mr Sort’s home and threatened him with eviction from the village and confiscation of all his property if he did not give up his faith. He refused, despite repeated attempts to coerce him. The village chief then seized around £300 of Mr Sort’s money. Give thanks that our brother, who has been a Christian for less than two years, has stood firm in his faith, and ask the Lord to renew his courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Iraqi Christians are losing even previously safe havens under the relentless assault of ISIS. On 25 June, the militant group attacked the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, driving its mainly Christian population of around 40,000 to flee. Many Christians from Mosul had gone there after the fall of their own city earlier in the month. Kurdish forces were able to repel ISIS from the town, allowing some people to return to their homes for the time being, but their security remains extremely precarious. Pray that the ISIS advance will be stopped and that the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the captured territory. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

    • The militant jihadist group ISIS launched a terrifying attack on Mosul, the second city of Iraq, on 6 June. They seized weapons, freed prisoners and looted and torched church buildings. Three days later, police came to senior church leaders there and advised the Christian community to leave. They fled immediately, leaving everything behind as they sought refuge in the Nineveh valley. The following day Mosul fell to the rebels. Barnabas sent emergency aid to support the Christians in their desperate need. The militants then advanced south, prompting Christians also to leave the city of Kirkuk. Pray for provision and protection for our displaced brothers and sisters and that they will find safety in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Aug 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Aid 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Aid is a registered trade mark