Displaying items by tag: Asia
We prayed recently for the capture of terrorists in Indonesiawho killed four Christians. See ‘When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks’ (Qur’an 47:4). Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long wrestled with extremist militancy and terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades. After President Suharto’s fall in 1998, Indonesian Muslims who had travelled to join the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s returned to Indonesia and formed various militant groups and launched multiple terrorist attacks. IS has capitalised on Indonesia’s Islamist networks to boost its recruitment efforts and carry out attacks in the country. IS propaganda is singling out Indonesian Muslims for recruitment.
Since the military junta seized power in Myanmar in February's coup, violent resistance against the regime has been intensifying. Young people across the country have begun taking up arms to join the fight against their own army. Some of them have been getting military training from the separatist Karen National Defence Organisation, which operates near the Thai border. Myanmar’s military launched air strikes on a village and outpost near the Thai border in April. Thailand will provide humanitarian aid but stressed it is not taking a side in the conflict. The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) are one of the biggest adversaries of Myanmar's military. Myanmar soldiers have murdered, burnt villages, forced labour, tortured and systematically raped women and girls. They have also suffered many losses to KNU guerrillas. Other guerrilla forces, in the north and the west, are also supportive of the anti-junta coalition. See also
Cyclone Yaas has hit the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal. Nearly two million people were evacuated from West Bengal prior to its arrival. Yaas is the second powerful cyclone to hit India in just over a week, bringing tidal surges with waves higher than rooftops and gusts above 95 mph. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, two airports were closed, and train services were cancelled ahead of the storm. West Bengal reported 20,000 mud houses and temporary shelters damaged or destroyed. Last week Cyclone Tauktae resulted in mass evacuations and over 150 deaths. Both Yaas and Tauktae halted Covid prevention efforts, as mass evacuations took precedence. Odisha officials said they had suspended testing, vaccinations, and a door-to-door health survey in three districts. The coastguards have deployed ships and hovercraft along the coast to execute the relief operation.
A Christian journalist in Bethlehem said the unrest between Israel and Gaza is a ‘spiritual battle’. In Genesis God tells the Jews, ‘I will give you this land’. Muslims believe that ‘a Messiah is coming soon and will free Jerusalem and give Israel and Palestine to them’. In his opinion this is making for a spiritual battle in the Holy Land - a view partly echoed by a Canon of St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem, Rev David Longe. ‘I think it's quite clear that elements within each of the warring factions will see it as a spiritual battle, because they will actually look to Scripture to give them the grounding for the reasons why these actions are happening.’ Rev Longe is desperately concerned for both sides in the violence, and believes it is vital for people across the world to continue to pray for peace in the region.
The Uzbeks traditionally were semi-nomadic shepherds. Today they farm or live and work in towns and cities. Most Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims but not orthodox. Many traditional beliefs have been mingled with Islamic practices. The younger generation are either atheists or non-religious. Uzbeks with access to the Gospel live in cities. Most rural villages are without Gospel witness, and Islamic fundamentalists living in the former Soviet regions have begun calling for strict application of Islamic law, as practised in Afghanistan. Now is the time to reach communities with the message of the Cross. Much intercession is needed for this to happen. Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of Uzbek Muslims towards Christians. Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to mission agencies focusing on the Uzbeks. Ask the Lord to send additional long-term labourers to live among them and share the love of Christ with them.
Tauktae, the strongest storm on record to hit India, killed over 40 people after it made landfall on 17 May. Branches of the air force and navy are scouring the sea to rescue personnel from oil rigs and vessels that were in the path of the cyclone. One barge sank with 261 people: 188 were rescued, 26 died, and 47 are missing. Other barges ran aground. Deaths were caused by lightning strikes, collapsed buildings, falling trees, floods and fallen live electricity poles in Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Goa. The cyclone caused winds of 125 mph when it made landfall. As Tauktae battered the west coast, another cyclone is likely to hit the east coast. A low-pressure area is very likely to form over the north Andaman Sea and the adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal around 22 May, with the potential to intensify into a cyclone.
Parents with Covid, unable to look after their children and living in Gaza, have problems bigger than childcare arrangements. One such couple sent their children to their grandparents' apartment, then two days later the worst violence in years erupted on their doorstep between Israel's military and Palestinian militant group Hamas. Rockets and mortars flew everywhere. The couple have no access to health services, despite their worrying symptoms, and they are struggling with the separation from their children as Israeli airstrikes pound nearby. Less than 2% of Gaza's population had received a dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of April, and thousands are evacuating to shelters, the above couple included. Medical staff and humanitarian agencies are worried the enclave could be hit by a third wave of Covid-19 as dozens of schools are transformed into shelters. The health ministry believes the wave has already started, with 30% of people being tested proving positive and over 100 in intensive care units.
Sirens blare, the ground shakes and many now spend the night in bomb shelters as rockets launched in Gaza rain down nonstop. Clashes between Israel and Hamas puts them on the brink of full-blown war. Previously Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) only fired rockets into southern Israel. Now they are sending dozens of rockets into the heart of Jerusalem. In response, Israel launched a military campaign in the Gaza Strip, demolishing Hamas news outlets, targeting Hamas headquarters, and killing PIJ and Hamas commanders. Hamas and PIJ have fired 1,000+ rockets at Tel Aviv and central Israel. The international airport has had to relocate to Eilat. Israel signed normalisation agreements with Arab states last year including the UAE, which has called on Israel to stop the violence and respect ‘the Holy al-Aqsa Mosque.’ Tensions began when Israeli police cracked down on Palestinians protesting at the mosque - followed by Hamas’s call to bomb Tel Aviv and kill Jews.
Armenian-Lebanese Vicken Euljekjian, a civilian prisoner of war captured when Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh and seized new territory, has been indicted on three counts: participation as a mercenary in a military conflict, committing terrorism, and illegally crossing into Azerbaijan. These charges are falsely leveled against Euljekjian. They are part of the joint attempt by Azerbaijan and Turkey to justify their genocidal actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2020, with the support of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries. The brutality of the invasion demonstrated an intent of ethnic-religious cleansing towards Karabakh’s Armenian Christian community, whose presence in the region predates the Islamic Turkish presence.
Until 2001 women’s rights in Afghanistan were severely curtailed. Barred from education and work, they were only allowed to leave a house covered head to foot and with a male relative escort. In the last twenty years women have returned to the classroom and workplace and can drive automobiles. Under the Taliban these actions were moral offenses and punished by flogging and stoning. When US troops withdraw many are concerned that the Taliban will roll back any gains women have made. Lawmakers are concerned that Afghanistan may once again become a refuge for extremists, and ‘women in Afghanistan may again be targets of violence’. Pray for lawmakers to refuse to turn back the clock to the previous austere restrictions imposed by the Taliban regime, and for husbands and fathers to stand up for the rights of their wives and daughters. See also