Persecution at unprecedented levels

Published 12 September 2013  |  
AP
An Afghan man walks with bread as a roadside tea seller is seen in the background in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 26, 2009.

The Body of Christ is suffering so much violence and trauma these days that when it comes to choosing a focus for prayer, it is difficult to know where to start. For example on 30 August eleven Laos families (50 people) were expelled from their village and sent out into the bush for refusing to renounce Christ. On 1 September nine Catholics were massacred by Fulani Muslim gunmen in Nigeria's Kaduna State. On 4 September jihadists killed eight Syrian soldiers before seizing control of the Aramaic-speaking, Christian village of Maaloula in western Syria. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Central African Republic is one situation the world is ignoring which requires persistent, enduring prayer.

On 6 September the UN expressed alarm at the continuing violence in CAR, a French-speaking predominantly Christian state that has been seized by a coalition of local and foreign Arabic-speaking Islamic rebels. UN investigators report that whole villages have been burnt and abandoned. Massive displacement has resulted in widespread hunger and soaring rates of malaria -- a serious humanitarian crisis unfolding. Rebel leader and self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia cannot pay the Islamic militants who brought him to power, so he is content to let them fend for themselves, leaving them free to rape, kill and loot with impunity. Whilst Muslim villages are being spared, the Church is being targeted with all the religious hatred that the militants can muster. Pastor Gerald Bomana, the leader of an evangelical church in Bangui, was in his church office when it was thoroughly lo oted by a band of rebels. He was shocked and saddened to see his own neighbour amongst the looters. On 27 August between 5000 and 6000 civilians fled violence and sought refuge at the Bangui M'Poko International Airport which was being protected by 400 French troops. However, the French troops told them that protecting civilians was not part of their mandate. Eventually the displaced and traumatised civilians were 'evacuated' so that flights could resume.

Two other situations where known believers are being targeted require immediate, urgent prayer.

Afghanistan - India: In RLPB 221(30 July) prayer was requested for Afghan converts, in particular the Afghan Christian refugees in the growing Afghan Church in New Delhi, India. As reports emerge about the growth of Christianity among Afghans, Afghan MPs are issuing fresh calls for Islamic laws mandating death for apostates to be implemented. When MP Nazir Ahmad Hanafi recently raised the issue in the Afghan Parliament, parliamentary s peaker Abdul Rauf Rahimi ordered the country's national security services to take serious steps to stop the spread of Christianity. Furthermore, lawmaker Abdul Sattar Khawasi demanded that the Afghan government pressure the Indian authorities to provide a list of Afghans who have converted to Christianity there. We must pray for Pastor Obaid S Christ, the pastor of the 250-strong protestant Afghan Church in New Delhi. Not only is it reported he has received threats from the Afghan Embassy in New Delhi, but over ten consecutive nights around the end of August, Afghan media broadcast images of the pastor, calling for him to be killed.

Somalia: On 9 September Morning Star News reported on the martyrdom of Christian wife and mother Fatuma Isak Elmi (35). It also reported the kidnapping of 13-year-old Mustaf Hassan who has already lost two Christian relatives to al-Shabaab. Last year Mustaf's parents, Hassan Mohammed and Farhio Omar, were threatened because they were Christians. While t hey went into hiding, so Mustaf could continue his schooling he went to live with a Muslim relative in Marka District. On 3 September Mustaf was kidnapped by al-Shabaab while walking home from school. There has been no ransom demand, leading observers to suspect that al-Shabaab is trying to draw Mustaf's parents out of hiding.

Please pray specifically that -

our ever-present faithful God will comfort the hearts of persecuted and threatened believers everywhere, sustaining their faith and drawing them into prayer.

Christians in Central African Republic (CAR) will know that while they are being persecuted they are not being abandoned (2 Cor 4:9) -- not by God nor by the Church; may the Lord of Hosts intervene in CAR. 'When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. This I know, that God is for me.' (Psalm 56:3,9c ESV)

God will preserve, sustain and build his Afghan Church, protecting Afgh an believers, including those who are refugees, and providing all their needs. May our sovereign faithful God be a shield and strong fortress to Pastor Obaid in New Delhi and that all plots against him will fail. 'The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.' (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

God, who is both a compassionate Father and consuming fire, will intervene on behalf of Mustaf Hassan and his parents, Hassan Mohammed and Farhio Omar, and that this faithful family will be reunited; may those who seek to destroy the Church find themselves destroyed. (Isaiah 40:10,11)

'I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' (Matthew 16:18 ESV)

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