- Iran – Christian political prisoners lose right to choose their own lawyer
- Nepal – Violent wave of church attacks
- Bangladesh – Mob burn down house church after pastor’s son falsely implicated in murder case
- Algeria – Three churches allowed to reopen after protest campaign
- Nigeria – Fifteen Christians killed in Fulani attack
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."
1 Chronicles 16:11
Iran – Christian political prisoners lose right to choose their own lawyer
Prisoners accused of political offences in Iran, including Christians, will no longer be able to choose their own lawyers. Instead, they will be represented in court by lawyers from a government-vetted list, a number of whom are notorious prosecutors, including a judge who has handed down hundreds of death sentences.
Iranian Christians from Muslim backgrounds are frequently detained under political charges and accused of crimes such as threatening state security. Such false allegations are used to punish and intimidate Christian converts. Although Iran does not have an independent judiciary, Christians accused of political charges have in the past been able to choose their own lawyers, who have occasionally been able to secure release on bail for accused believers.
Pray for the reversal of the changes to legal representation for Christians. Ask that the Lord who decrees justice (Psalm 7:6) will bring an end to Iran’s corrupt judiciary. Give thanks that non-Christian Iranian human rights lawyers are bravely protesting against the changes.
Nepal – Violent wave of church attacks
In a spate of violent attacks, four Nepali churches were targeted in May 2018. Attackers set fire to a church in eastern Nepal on 10 May, while a church in western Nepal was targeted on the same evening. Two days later, a church in Dhangadhi, in the west of the country, was bombed by an explosive device thrown into the building through a window. No Christians were reported injured. Local police insisted that the bombing was the work of Maoist groups, while church leaders suspect the attack was perpetrated by Hindu extremists. A few weeks before the bombing, a threat against churches had been published by Hindus in a local newspaper. The same night, a church in Kanchanpur in the far east of Nepal was set alight. No one was harmed, but church furniture and other items were destroyed in the blaze.
Elements of the Hindu majority continue to campaign for Nepal to return to being a Hindu Kingdom, as it was before 2008, when the country officially became a secular republic.
Ask for protection for Christians in Nepal and praise God that, to date, no believes have been hurt in the attacks on churches. Pray for a change of heart for Hindu extremists, that instead of seeing Nepal’s Christian minority – officially 1.5% of the population, but thought by church leaders to be closer to 5% – as a threat, they will accept them as true Nepalis.
Bangladesh – Mob burn down house church after pastor’s son falsely implicated in murder case
Pastor Albert Badol’s house in Gouripur, northern Bangladesh, was burned down by a Muslim mob on 1 June, after his 22-year-old son was falsely implicated in a local murder.
After police arrested the pastor’s son, a mob of local Muslims set fire to the pastor’s house and attempted to kill him. Although he managed to escape, his house was burned to the ground. The pastor’s wife and the wife of another of his sons were threatened but not harmed by the mob. The house also functioned as a meeting place for a 35-strong local congregation who do not have a church building.
Christians make up 1% of the population in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. The country’s constitution gives religious minorities the right to practise and share their faith, but Islam is the state religion.
Lift up Pastor Albert Badol’s family, especially his son, who is in prison facing a false murder charge. Seek the Lord that justice will prevail and pray that he will stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord (Exodus 14:13). Give thanks for Pastor Albert’s faith in the midst of trial: in a telephone call with Barnabas contacts he asked for prayer, but said that when the situation was more favourable he planned to build a church on the land his house was on “to witness to God’s grace and extend His Kingdom”.
Algeria – Three churches allowed to reopen after protest campaign
Three Algerian churches, which had been shut down by authorities, were allowed to reopen on 11 June 2018. Two churches in the north-western district of Oran had been closed in February after authorities claimed they did not have state approval, while a church in Ain Turk had been shut down since November 2017 over claims its bookshop had been used to “illegally print gospels and publications intended for evangelism”.
“This is a reopening without conditions. Praise the Lord,” said a Barnabas contact. “We are grateful for your unwavering support in prayer.”
Algerian authorities have ramped up pressure on Christians in recent months, launching a committee to carry out “safety inspections” of churches, and initiate police searches and prosecutions for carrying Bibles or Christian materials. The number of Algerian Christians is estimated to be in the high tens of thousands. Christians are free to worship, but church buildings must have official recognition, which can be difficult to obtain.
Thank the Lord that Algerian authorities have permitted the churches to reopen. Pray that this will not be a temporary measure, but will signal the end of the heightened pressure on Christians that began in November last year.
Nigeria – Fifteen Christians killed in Fulani attack
At least 15 Christians were killed in attacks by Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Benue state in the first week of June. On 4 June, two people were killed at Mbawa near Yelwata. Eight Christians attending a memorial service were killed and several others wounded during a night strike on the village of Tse Ishav, near Guma, at 3 a.m. on 6 June, reportedly by the same armed men. The neighbouring district of Logo was attacked later the same day, leaving five people dead across three council wards and many more injured. Two villages, Tse Ngojov and Tse Nyanmkyuma were razed to the ground.
Hundreds of Christians have already been killed in attacks this year, as nomadic Muslim Fulani herdsmen continue their campaign of violence against Christian farming communities.
Call on the Lord of Hosts to defend the cause of Christians in Nigeria and bring rest to their land (Jeremiah 50:34). Pray that Nigerian Christians will respond to the violence with the forgiveness and love of Christ and that politicians will answer pleas from Christian leaders not to give in to Fulani violence by handing over tracts of agrarian land for grazing.