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Prayer Focus Update - December 2018

5 December 2018


Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

1 Chronicles 16:10



Central African Republic – More than 40 slaughtered in attack on Christian mission

More than 40 people were killed in a militia attack on a Christian mission around 180 miles east of the capital city, Bangui, on 15 November. The attackers torched a church and forced 20,000 displaced persons who were sheltering nearby to flee into the bush.

The region is a stronghold of a Muslim militia called the Union of Peace, which developed out of the Seleka Islamist group that overthrew the government in 2012. The deployment of a UN international peace-keeping force and repeated negotiated ceasefires between the government and armed groups have had little impact on the violence on the ground.

A number of news outlets reported that the 15 November attack on civilians sheltering in the Christian mission was a “reprisal” for violence by anti-balaka militia – who misleadingly call themselves Christians, despite their actions being condemned by church leaders.

Bring to God those who lost loved ones in the attack and displaced people who have once again been forced to flee for their lives. Ask that the Lord’s unfailing love and strength will lead and guide them through uncertainty (Exodus 15:13). Pray that the King of Kings will overrule to re-establish stable governance in the CAR and bring about an end to violent attacks on Christians. Pray that they will always react to the violence they suffer with peace, love and forgiveness for their enemies. Pray that the anti-balaka fighters will give their lives to the Prince of Peace and learn to live by His teachings.



Myanmar – Chin Christians stripped of refugee status, may be forced to return to face persecution

A decision by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to revoke the refugee status of thousands of ethnic Chin (mainly Christian) refugees may force them to return to Buddhist-majority Myanmar where they risk discrimination and military attack.

The UNHCR have stated that “the conditions that would normally produce refugees no longer exist” in Chin State, Myanmar and have revoked the refugee status of some 25,000 Chin refugees in Malaysia and 3,000 in India. But Barnabas contacts report that ongoing fighting between the Myanmar Army and Muslim insurgents in Chin state has caused Christians to flee their villages in recent months. The Saudi Arabian-funded “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” is deliberately driving Chin people from their land to facilitate unimpeded access between the front line of their conflict with the Myanmar military and their own bases in Rakhine State and Bangladesh.

Pray that the UNHCR will reverse their decision and recognise the ongoing risks that Chin people face in Myanmar. Ask that the Holy Spirit will be with the thousands of Christian Chin refugees affected and that the Lord will provide for His people peaceful dwelling places and secure homes in undisturbed places of rest (Isaiah 32:18).



Laos – District governor orders Christian families to leave village or face jail

A regional governor in northern Laos, who claimed that Christianity is a “foreign religion”, gave 20 Christian families one month to leave their village or face jail.

Despite local church leaders pointing out that Christianity is not illegal in Laos, the governor insisted he would “not allow” believers in the area. The deadline for them to leave will expire in mid-December. In the face of the threat of imprisonment, five families have given up their faith, but Barnabas contacts reported that the rest are “holding strong”, adding, “The main thing we need now is prayer.”

Laos’ Communist government imposes tight restrictions on religious organisations, although Buddhists, who make up the majority of the population, enjoy comparative religious freedom in parts of the country. Local officials are typically highly suspicious of Christians, partly because of a perceived connection with the West.

Ask that the governor will reverse his unjust and illegal order of evacuation. Pray that the gentle boldness displayed by the Christian families and their determination to let their light shine before men (Matthew 5:16) even in the face of the threat of imprisonment will lead their persecutors to Christ.  Pray that the 15 families who have not denied Christ will remain firm in their faith and that the other five will return to Him.



Pakistan – Aasia Bibi released from prison to “safe place” in Islamabad

Aasia Bibi was released from prison on 7 November and flown to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. Although a number of international news outlets, including the BBC, initially reported that she and her family were being flown out of the country, the Pakistani government later confirmed she was in “a safe place in Pakistan”.

Continue to seek the Lord on behalf of Aasia Bibi and her family, that He will hide them in the shelter of His presence and keep them safe from those who conspire against them (Psalm 31:20 AMP). Pray for the protection of all Christians in Pakistan, that they may not become targets of those who want to kill Aasia Bibi but cannot find her.



Sudan – Christian converts from Islam arrested and tortured in Darfur

Sudanese officials raided a house church in South Darfur, Sudan on 13 October and arrested 13 Christians. Barnabas contacts reported they detained the eleven who were converts from Islam and “tortured them beating them a whole day and night and telling them you face death because you changed your religion”.

Ten of the eleven were released after reportedly being tortured into recanting their faith, but the pastor, Tajdeen Yousif, refused to deny Christ and was held for several more days before he was released. All the converts were required to report daily to authorities, but have gone into hiding for their safety, indicating that they in fact want to remain true to the Lord Jesus and therefore continue to be in danger.

Sudan is one of the few countries in the world where people have been executed for apostasy in modern times.

There is an openness to the Gospel among African Sudanese Muslims in Darfur who have suffered greatly in the war that has raged in Sudan since 2003. Christians in the mainly-Muslim region have been targeted by authorities and by Muslim extremists. In March 2018, a church pastor in Darfur was murdered along with his wife and two daughters after he refused to give in to pressure to stop preaching the Gospel.

Lift up the Sudanese Christian converts now in hiding and pray for their continued safety, that even though they live in the shadow of death they will not fear evil, knowing that the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23) is with them. Pray that Pastor Tajdeen’s determination to hold unswervingly to his faith (Hebrews 10:23) will lead his persecutors to come to know Christ and trigger the start of a transformation in the Darfur authorities’ perception of Christians.



Egypt – Seven killed in bus shooting targeting Christians

A terror attack on three buses carrying Egyptian Christians to a well-known Christian historical site left at least seven dead and 19 injured on 2 November. Six of the seven killed came from the same extended family. The attack was claimed by Islamic State, who also attacked a bus taking Christians to the same site in May 2017, when a total of 29 were murdered.

The latest attack was condemned by President al-Sisi, who spoke of his “sorrow for the martyrs” – a welcome recognition that the Christians were targeted because of their faith – and by Cairo’s historic al-Azhar University, the world’s leading Sunni academic institution. Al-Azhar condemned “the perpetrators of this cowardly act of terrorism”.

Pray that the Heavenly Father, who comforts all who mourn (Isaiah 61:2), will draw close to the loved ones of those martyred for Christ. Give thanks that President al-Sisi acknowledged that they had been targeted because of their faith; pray that the Egyptian government will act decisively so that Egypt’s Christians can live in safety and security.