Displaying items by tag: Asia
A new wave of Christian persecution began after two Muslim men were arrested and charged under the new anti-conversion law. Hindu nationalists, including BJP members, claimed they had been involved in forceful conversion of 1,000 people. Using the arrests as an opportunity for political gain, BJP politicians publicly warned against illegal conversions of Hindus to non-Hindu faiths. Since then, International Christian Concern has documented at least thirty Christians in Uttar Pradesh being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists. In each of these incidents, perpetrators justified their attacks by falsely accusing their Christian victims of engaging in fraudulent conversions. ‘This is a grave situation for Christians in the state,’ a church leader, requesting anonymity, said. ‘There is zero response from the Yogi administration, which empowers the attackers to do more. The attacks are perpetrated by the hardcore Hindutva activists who are supported by politicians.’
Most of Jordan's population have not heard a good gospel message. Ways of changing this include literature, media ministry, friendship evangelism, development programmes, home meetings and camps. Pray for a sensitive witness to Muslims and protection of converts amid persecution. Pray also that the growing number of Muslim-background believers have the legal right to convert from Islam. Palestinians are a majority in Jordan. Many are second- or third- generation residents after leaving their traditional homeland. Some integrate into Jordanian life; others suffer from disillusionment, bitterness, and frustration which only the Man of Calvary can heal. Due to the Gulf Wars a million Iraqis also fled to Jordan. Years later, nearly half of these are unable or unwilling to return home. Christian work among them produces a good response. Jordanian churches have effective and widespread ministry to these refugees but need to be granted permission to educate them.
The UN reported the number of Afghan civilians killed or hurt has sharply increased since the Western coalition began pulling out of the country. A total of 1,659 civilians were killed and 3,254 injured in the first half of 2021, a 47% increase from the same period in 2020. The actual numbers may be even higher, considering that the UN only records casualties it is able to verify independently. Out of those killed or maimed, 46% were women and children. The Taliban and other militants were responsible for 64% of civilian casualties, while 25% were attributed to pro-government forces and 11% to ‘crossfire’ between warring parties. An alarming trend of growing death toll since May reveals the highest number since the UN began keeping records in 2009. If this violence is not stemmed, an unprecedented number of civilians will perish or be maimed this year.
At least 33 people have died in the ‘heaviest rainfall in a millennium’ in central China. The torrential floods paralysed several cities, causing millions of pounds in damage. Vast swathes of Zhengzhou city are under several feet of water. Cars float down streets and 200,000 people fled flooding in Henan province, home to China’s agricultural industry. The subway flooded, trapping passengers inside carriages as water levels rose. Platforms were submerged and commuters clung to railings to keep their heads above the fast-flowing deluge as air was running out. Train services across the province have been suspended, highways remain closed, and flights cancelled. At least two dams in Inner Mongolia have collapsed. Other dams that enclose China’s reservoirs are threatening to fail. Rescue workers are evacuating residents from Hefei, and a hospital with 7,000+ beds lost power, with staff racing to relocate hundreds of critically ill patients. More rain is expected in the coming days.
The director of the Olympics opening ceremony was dismissed for making jokes in the 1990s about the Holocaust. Earlier this week, a composer quit the ceremony team after it emerged he had bullied classmates with disabilities at school. In March the Olympics' creative chief quit after suggesting that plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe could appear as an ‘Olympig’. In February the head of the organising committee had to step down after he made inappropriate remarks about women. The scandals have increased massive unease about the Games. A recent poll found 55% of Japanese were opposed to holding the Games, fearing it could become a coronavirus super-spreader event. Already, organisers are dealing with rising Covid cases. Dozens involved in the Games, including officials and athletes, have tested positive. An increase in cases among Japan's population - only a third of whom have been vaccinated - has led to a state of emergency being declared for the duration of the Games.
Praise God for an operation this week that brought a young family, including four children, out of bonded labour. One of IJM’s partners discovered an 11-year-old forced to work at a sheep farm and then, by interviewing him, learned that the whole family was in bondage at a nearby brick kiln. Many families like theirs are being left vulnerable due to Covid-19 and a lack of dignified work.
Mecca: the holiest city in Islam, reputedly the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad and the destination for Muslims on the sacred hajj pilgrimage. This year, the hajj is from 17 to 22 July. Although the pilgrimage has Covid limitations, Mecca is still preparing for 60,000 pilgrims. The city of Mecca has 1.5 million residents. You have to be a Muslim to get in the city limits. Entering Mecca as a non-Muslim could result in fines, deportation, or worse. How could anyone there hear the Good News that they have a Saviour who loves them? How could the Gospel possibly reach such a closed city? The Holy Spirit and prayer are not limited by borders or bans.
As all eyes turn to Tokyo for the Olympics and Paralympics, Japanese Christians are inviting the global Church to unite for one million hours of prayer for the spiritual transformation of their nation. An international prayer movement (Japan1Million) is led by the Japan international Sports Partnership and the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association. Their partnership is driven by a vision to see the Church in Japan grow to ten million people by 2024. Working towards that vision, they had hoped to reach a million Japanese people during their Olympic outreach year. Covid closed those doors, but one door remained open; the door to prayer. With less than 1% of its population of 126 million attending church, the Japanese are the world’s second largest unreached people group. Most people in Japan have not been to church, read the Bible or encountered any Christians. Committed prayer is needed for a significant spiritual breakthrough.
Recently three Baptist pastors from Kachin state were detained and charged with organising prayers for peace. The pastors are now facing three years in jail because of a penal code which criminalises causing fear, spreading false news, and agitating for criminal offenses against government employees. They were praying that the fighting between the Burmese military and the pro-democracy forces in Kachin state, which has intensified recently, would cease. It is reported that the pastors, who are elderly and in poor health, were sent to a prison on 29 June to await their court hearing on 12 July. Their imprisonment was met with an outcry from Christians in the country. Many are using social media to publish prayers and pleas for their release. Other church attacks and arrests have occurred elsewhere throughout the country.
China Aid, which provides legal aid to Christians in China, recently tweeted, ‘New Cultural Revolution starts. Government tells students’ parents and teachers to hunt all religious books, antagonistic books and overseas books. Everyone is mandated!’ CBN News said the communist government does not want any disruptions for the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February. ‘They really fear there could be protests, a pro-democracy movement going, leading up to and during the Olympics. So this sends a message to the parents: “Look, no outside influence. We don't want any collusion with foreigners here”, because they know that foreigners are pro-democracy. They are indoctrinating students, and also sending a message to the adults.’ Pray for the world to recognise false religion when they see communist party flags in pulpits.