Displaying items by tag: Asia
The city of Taiz has 2.4 million people, living in tragedy resulting from the two-year war. The city is important geographically, as it lies between the southern provinces, controlled by Hadi’s forces, and the northern provinces which are controlled by former President Saleh’s forces and the Houthis. Also, its southwestern coast overlooks the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait, which sees one-third of the oil trade every day. Taiz has become central to the Yemen conflict, and militants are increasingly interested in controlling it. It has become a city ravaged by war and the Houthi blockade. Disease and malnutrition threaten people’s lives. Public employees’ salaries are cut, it is difficult to get relief aid to the displaced and afflicted, and living conditions are going downhill. People have fled to temporary settlements or camps, without access to sanitation or basic needs.
Behind the facade of a ‘tropical paradise’ are tragic realities: the highest divorce rate in the world, rising crime, widespread child abuse, pervasive drug use and over 200 young people joining IS. All citizens are required to be Muslim. There are no churches, and there is no official access to God’s Word. The Gospel of Luke and Acts are currently available in Dhivehi, but are not permitted to enter the country. No mission work or Christian literature has ever been legally allowed within the islands. Widespread traditional beliefs in spirits combined with Islam leave many almost entirely untouched by the Gospel, trapped in fear and without access to Jesus. Pray for miraculous opportunities for Maldivians to hear the Gospel, and that the government's attempts to silence it may instead raise up a Maldivian church.
A prayer leader writes: ‘Many were praying for safety and no attacks during the Easter days. NL was a medical student who got involved with Daesh in Hyderabad and married a terrorist. Three days before Easter they went to Lahore, intending to bomb a big church, but a relative informed the police, saying she was acting strangely. The police followed this lead, and there was a shootout with the couple. The husband was killed, but NL was taken alive. The church was safe. Also on a more spiritual theme, at the medical school in Hyderabad one girl who had attended our prayer seminars decided to start a 24/7 prayer group in Hyderabad with medical students attending. It has become so strong that women from the outside asked to join, and it now has 150+ members.’
Pastor Paul, director of Bibles for Mideast, writes: ‘My risen Lord Jesus Christ has saved my life once again, and I praise and thank God for His unspeakable grace! Certainly, I am not worthy of it. The Assembly of Loving God Church of Bibles for Mideast started praying and fasting from 13 March to 2 April. As that period ended, over three thousand former Muslims were baptised in our churches in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Lord enabled me to baptise many people during this time. Then three weeks later, when I was changing after an early-morning baptism, militants began stoning our group. Although we were injured, God protected us from much worse.’
Yazidis revere the Bible and Qu’ran; much of their centuries-old religion is oral. Thirty-six Yazidis are free after nearly three years’ captivity by IS. They are in UN centres in Dohuk, in Kurdish northern Iraq. It is unclear whether they escaped or were freed; the UN wouldn’t give more information to avoid jeopardising future releases. IS killed and enslaved thousands of Yazidis after seizing the Sinjar area in 2014. Kurdish forces regained control in 2015, but many Yazidis were held captive by IS elsewhere as the group took over large swathes of northern Iraq. The 36 survivors - men, women and children - are being reunited with family members and offered care and medical and psychological aid. The women and children are being cared for at dedicated service points, and will be referred for more specialised treatment. A spokesperson said, ‘What these women and girls have endured is unimaginable.’
‘Our International Board meeting will take place from 27 to 30 April, in the Middle East. Our board members and the directors of our national offices in the UK, Holland, Germany, Australia, and the USA will meet. Please pray for wisdom, discernment and unity in all the decisions they have to make, and for a strengthening of the vision to gain access to many unreached people groups in the countries we work. From 30 April to 6 May, all our team members will meet for our annual conference. Please pray for safe travel, and that everybody will be strengthened and encouraged and equipped afresh for our work and ministry. This is a very important time for our teams, and God always ministers to us as individuals and as an organisation. Pray also for all those who will come to speak and minister to our team members.’
Ethnic Persians are born Muslim. It is illegal to run Christian activities in Farsi, the national language. Despite this, Christians from a Muslim background make up the largest group of Christians in Iran. A few years ago International Freedom of Religion or Belief reported, ‘There was cautious optimism when Hassan Rouhani became president that his influence would soften harsh policies toward religious and ethnic minorities. Sadly, his moderate language has not translated into any meaningful improvement.’ Since he is aiming for another term in office, many believe that next month’s elections pose an ultimate vote of confidence. Pray for political changes in Iran that will allow for freedom of religion. A Persian who leaves Islam can be sentenced to death if male, and life imprisonment if female. For many Muslim families, it is a disgrace when a family member converts. Pray for protection and provision for Christians who have been cursed and disowned by their families. See also:
The United Nations voted late last week to place Saudi Arabia on the Commission on the Status of Women for a four-year term beginning in 2018, despite that country’s appalling record on the treatment of women. The director of the Geneva-based UN Watch expressed his outrage: ‘Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief.’ Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf. Men control a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia even bans women from driving cars. The most recent human rights report notes that despite being allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015, the state of women’s rights in the kingdom remains generally abysmal. In 2015, Saudi Arabia reduced a Sri Lankan woman’s sentence for adultery from execution by stoning to three years in prison.
Donald Trump said the US would consider any lever, diplomatic, economic or military, to forestall North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and tweeted, ‘North Korea is looking for trouble.’ But experts say Pyongyang’s latest missile launch has underlined the futility of his efforts to bully Kim Jong-un into abandoning his nuclear ambitions. ‘There is a problem with playing the military threat card with North Korea because they are inclined to call the bluff,’ said John Delury, a North Korea expert in Seoul. ‘I’m not saying they tested because of the threats. But bringing a naval strike group doesn’t help if your goal is to put off a test. If anything you are increasing the odds.’ Delury added that sabre-rattling rhetoric and erratic use of force would only strengthen Kim’s determination to develop a nuclear deterrent to spare him the fate of Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi.
Half of Turkey is celebrating a win in a national referendum, the rest demand a recount. President Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory and sweeping new powers as head of government, head of state and head of the ruling party. He will have power to appoint cabinet ministers, propose budgets, appoint judicial bodies and issue decrees without safe counterweight mechanisms that exist in democratic countries such as the USA. The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) cited voting irregularities, including using unstamped ballot papers. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the referendum had an ‘unlevel playing field’, as the ‘Yes’ campaign had unlimited media advertising, while the ‘No’ campaign was allowed virtually none. There was misuse of state resources by the ‘Yes’ campaign organisers, and obstruction of ‘No’ campaign events. Big cities did not back Erdogan or his changes. The win has caused both celebrations and protests across the country. See also: