Published: 09:52 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 30 July 2010
Prayer Focus 08/10
- INDONESIA - BEKASI MUSLIMS URGED TO PREPARE FOR WAR AGAINST “CHRISTIANISATION”
- EGYPT - CONVERT FROM ISLAM SURVIVES ATTEMPTED MURDER
- CAUCASUS, RUSSIA - CHRISTIAN PASTOR ASSASSINATED
- KYRGYZSTAN - NEW CONSTITUTION OFFERS HOPE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
- PAKISTAN - CHRISTIAN BROTHERS MURDERED
- INDIA – CHRISTIAN ORPHANAGE AND BIBLE STUDY CENTRE CLOSED DOWN
- NIGERIA – MORE ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS
- TURKEY – 1,700 YEAR OLD CHURCH DEFACED
INDONESIA - BEKASI MUSLIMS URGED TO PREPARE FOR WAR AGAINST “CHRISTIANISATION”
Nine members of different Islamic organisations in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, have joined together to plan a roadshow that aims to persuade mosques in the city to prepare for the possibility of “war” against “Christianisation”. The group, which was formed on 27 June, the last day of the Bekasi Islamic Congress, is recommending that each mosque should have its own armed militia and that the Bekasi municipality should introduce some sharia-compliant policies. The Regional Leader of the Indonesian Muslim Forum, Bernard Abdul Jabbar, said, “They will guard the Islamic faith and preach the right path to the people.”
One week later, on 3 July, a banner showing a Christian man with a noose around his neck was hung outside a mosque in Bekasi with the words: “This man deserves the death penalty!”
Andreas Sanau, 29 (the man shown on the banner), and Henry Sutanto have been accused by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) of organising mass baptisms. The accusations came after 14 buses full of people arrived on 30 June at the home of Sutanto, the President of the Mahanaim Foundation, a Christian organisation that helps the poor.
The Foundation stated that they had no intention of carrying out baptisms. But according to Murhali Barda, the local leader of the FPI (a radical Islamic group known for violence against religious minorities, especially Christians), “Sutanto must be killed; he wants a mass baptism.”
Barda says he has joined the roadshow group because “...we want to strike fear in the hearts of Christians who behave in such a way. If they refuse to stop what they’re doing, we’re ready to fight.”
- Pray for our brothers and sisters in Bekasi as they face increasing pressure, especially in light of the proposed roadshow.
- Pray for Andreas and Henry, that the Lord will protect them from further harassment and that they will stand strong in their faith at this time.
EGYPT - CONVERT FROM ISLAM SURVIVES ATTEMPTED MURDER
A Christian convert was attacked outside his home on Sunday 5 July in Egypt. The victim, Maher el-Gohary, reports that one of the men shouted the Islamic cry of “Allah is Great” during the attack, while stabbing him with a dagger. The attackers called him an infidel and cursed his Christian faith. He says, “They were aiming at my neck to behead me.” El-Gohary fell to the ground covered in blood, and he maintains that, had it not been for the action of passers-by, he would probably have succumbed to his injuries.
Maher el-Gohary had been a Christian for 36 years, but his conversion was first brought to public attention in May 2009 when he tried to have the religion on his ID card changed to reflect his faith. (See Prayer Focus Update May 2009 and June 2009.) Shortly after his conversion became public, Maher and his 15-year-old daughter Dina, who is also a Christian, were forced into hiding, and they have had to move home as often as once or twice a month to avoid being discovered. This is not the first attempt on his life since his conversion became public.
- Thank God for the firmness of Maher and Dina’s Christian faith, despite the numerous attacks and obstacles they have encountered. Pray for their protection.
- Pray for all those in Egypt who are fighting for the right to be recognised as Christians, that the Lord will grant them peace and protection.
CAUCASUS, RUSSIA - CHRISTIAN PASTOR ASSASSINATED
Christian leader Artur Suleimanov (49) has died after being shot in the head as he was leaving his church in Dagestan, a strongly Islamic republic of the Russian Federation.
A gunman approached and opened fire as Mr Suleimanov got into a car outside Hosanna House of Prayer in Makhachkala on 15 July. He was apparently singled out for assassination, most likely because he was a convert from Islam who was very active in outreach to Muslims. He was taken to hospital but died from his wounds an hour later. He leaves behind a wife, Zina, and five children, the youngest of whom is twelve.
Mr Suleimanov’s church is one of the largest Protestant churches in Dagestan. Barnabas Aid’s co-ordinator for the Former Soviet Union met Pastor Suleimanov a number of times and says he was “a wonderful Christian brother, and his shocking death is a devastating loss for the Dagestan church... We see his murder as an attempt to put further pressure on Christian converts in Dagestan.”
The Church faces harassment and intimidation from various groups in Dagestan, where the population is 98% Muslim and there is much lawlessness and violence.
- Pray that Pastor Suleimanov’s family and congregation will find comfort in the Lord and that He will uphold them in their grief.
- Pray that the murderer and all those behind this attack will be brought to justice, and that they will come to faith in the Lord Jesus.
- Pray for protection over the Church in Dagestan, and pray that the Christians will not be intimidated by this act of violence.
KYRGYZSTAN - NEW CONSTITUTION OFFERS HOPE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
A new constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by the people of Kyrgyzstan offers hope for greater religious freedom following the passing of a repressive Religion Law last year.
The document gained the backing of more than 90% of the vote in a referendum held on 27 June, when the turnout was nearly 70%. It was held just two weeks after violent ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan that left hundreds dead. (See Prayer Focus Update July 2010.) Kyrgyz Christians became targets in the conflict as they sought to help their Uzbek brothers and sisters flee the violence. The referendum went ahead even though many of the 400,000 people, mainly ethnic Uzbeks, who had been forced to leave had not returned.
The Constitution paves the way for greater freedom of religion in Kyrgyzstan under interim president Roza Otunbayeva. She established a provisional government after an uprising in April that led to the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
Though it remains to be seen if the government will uphold these rights in practice, the new constitution offers hope for Kyrgyz Christians after the previous parliament unanimously approved a restrictive Religion Law in January 2009. Until this date, Kyrgyzstan had been for Christians the least restrictive of all the Central Asian republics. There have been encouraging signals from the interim government that the Religion Law will be reformed. On 15 April this year government spokesman Kanybek Imanaliyev said, “We want to establish freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We will reform the Constitution, the laws as necessary and the Religion Law.”
- Pray that the Lord will sustain and guide all those who serve Him in Kyrgyzstan, and pray that this new constitution will bring about greater religious freedom, and that the Religion Law will be reformed to become more liberal.
PAKISTAN - CHRISTIAN BROTHERS MURDERED
Brothers Rashid Emmanuel (30), a pastor, and Sajid Emmanuel (27), a graduate student, were shot dead on 19 July as they left the court house in Faisalabad where they had appeared in connection with charges of “blasphemy”. The brothers had been detained earlier in the month, accused of producing a handwritten pamphlet defiling Muhammad, but a report from a handwriting expert found that the writing on the pamphlet did not match that of either of the accused.
Following their murder, local Christians took to the streets in protest over the incident, prompting calls from mosques for Muslims to come out to “fight rampaging” Christians. Shops were looted, and vehicles and homes were vandalised in the Emmanuel brothers’ neighbourhood of Daud Nagar, with at least ten people reported injured.
A mob of thousands of Muslim protestors in the majority-Christian part of Faisalabad where the brothers lived had demanded the death sentence for them on 10 and 11 July, forcing many families to flee for their safety. But rumours spread on 18 July that the brothers would be found innocent and released.
- Pray for the Emmanuel family, especially Rashid’s wife of just seven months, as they grieve the shocking deaths of the two brothers.
- Pray that the Lord will protect believers in Faisalabad in this latest wave of anti-Christian violence and that, in light of this tragedy, the Pakistan government will come under further pressure to repeal the blasphemy law.
- For the gunmen to be brought to justice and for peace between the Muslim and Christian communities.
INDIA - CHRISTIAN ORPHANAGE AND BIBLE STUDY CENTRE CLOSED DOWN
The authorities have sealed a building belonging to Mission India in Bari, in the Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh, claiming that it belongs to outsiders.
The building, which was used as a Bible study centre and an orphanage, was closed down on 5 June by government officials, who claimed that no land in the area could be owned by people who are not indigenous. (Such laws are in force in certain parts of India.) But Mission India assert that they purchased the land in 2005 and that the building was constructed in 2007.
In July 2008 a complaint by Hindu extremists was lodged against Mission India, accusing them of forcible conversion and demanding the closure of the building. Since then, the Christian workers have been verbally abused because of their faith and threatened with death if they do not vacate the site.
At the time of writing, the Christians are looking for a place to rent which will at least accommodate the 10 orphans.
- Pray for the Christians who have lost the use of this building. Pray that a home will soon be found for the orphans, who are now homeless.
- Pray that our brothers and sisters in Christ will stand firm in their faith despite religious tension and adversity, that religious freedom will be upheld, and that the authorities will protect Christians throughout the country.
NIGERIA - MORE ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS
Following the violence in Jos, Plateau State, in January and March 2010, we are receiving reports that Christians in Nigeria have again come under attack. On the evening of 3 July the village of Kizachi Dawai Chawai in Kaduna State was attacked by several Muslims. Five people were killed and five Christian homes destroyed.
In another incident, three Christians are feared dead in the Ganawuri community, near Jos, after Muslim attackers armed with guns and machetes descended on the village. Several of the attackers were arrested.
- Please pray for Christians in these two states as they endure daily fear for their lives in the face of such frequent and horrific violence.
- Pray for our brothers and sisters all across this troubled nation; pray that God will make His face to shine upon His people and that they may exhibit His love and forgiveness even in times of persecution and violence.
TURKEY - 1,700 YEAR OLD CHURCH DEFACED
An ancient church building in Nusaybin, dating from 313 AD, has been defaced with anti-Christian and pro-Islamic slogans. The building, which is undergoing restoration, was surrounded by a wire fence, which the attackers tore down to enter the grounds. They then daubed aggressive messages in paint on the stone walls.
The mayor of Nusaybin and members of the town council visited the church after the incident and denounced the vandalism. The mayor said, “If the police respect all cultures, they should quickly solve this case and prosecute the offenders... [this] Church is an asset to people of all religions who belong to this community.”
- Thank the Lord for the support that the authorities are giving to the church, and pray that the police will bring the perpetrators of this vandalism to justice.
- Pray for brothers and sisters in Turkey, that their buildings will be protected from further attacks of this kind, and that Christians and Muslims may live together in peace.
- Pray that the Christian heritage of Turkey will become better known and appreciated by this 99% Muslim nation and that this will be reflected in a more positive attitude to Christian believers in Turkey today.
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