Displaying items by tag: Christian persecution
In 2017 Fulani militants seized a Christian mother’s land and burned down her house, forcing her and her family to move closer to the city for safety. Loss of their farmland forced the family of seven into deep poverty, living and sleeping in one room. On 8 August Fulani militants attempted to rape her 16-year-old daughter while they were out walking. A missionary visited the family after the attack and the mother said, ‘They told us to stop, then they beat me as I tried to stop them from raping my daughter.’ She showed the deep gash in her arm she received from the militants, and said God used her to protect her daughter from public disgrace and shame, which is how victims of rape are viewed in their society. ‘I have nothing to say but thank God. Please tell Christians to pray for us. Pray that we will return to our village one day. Life is too expensive in the city.’
When our brothers and sisters are displaced because of their faith in Christ, we can support them through prayer. As we pray, we open our hearts to their needs and grow deeper in fellowship with them. Pray for the Lord to meet all their needs. (Philippians 4:19) Pray for their healing from physical and emotional trauma. (Psalm 147:3) Pray for them to be able to love and forgive their persecutors. (Matthew 5:44) Pray for persecutors to repent and trust in Christ. (Luke 15:10) Christians in Burma, China, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Vietnam are persecuted by their governments and religious freedom is violated. Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, the Central African Republic, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Sudan, and Turkey are countries whose governments allow or engage in ‘severe violations of religious freedom.’. Take time to pray for Christians in these nations.
Ashfaq Masih is a Christian falsely accused of ‘blasphemy’ and sentenced to death by hanging. He said, ‘Muhammad Irfan came to my shop for wheel balancing for his motorbike. I balanced the wheel and asked for my amount of labour as settled between us. Muhammad Irfan refused to give me money and said he was a follower of Peer Fakhir (a Sufi spiritual guide) and don't ask for money from me. A false FIR (First Incident Report) was made against me. I told the real story to a police officer but he did not record my version but conducted an investigation ex-parte. I neither uttered any derogatory word against Prophet Muhammad nor can think about it.’ The Muslim judge presiding over the case, said that it could not be believed that a Muslim will spin a story in this regard, describing the evidence of Masih's defense team as ‘not believable’. Masih’s is the third death sentence for blasphemy since January.
Hundreds of prisoners escaped from the Kuje medium-security prison near Abuja due to an attack attributed to Boko Haram. Equipped with explosives, the attackers freed 600 of the 994 inmates and only about half of the escaped prisoners have been found. A large number of captured Boko Haram fighters were released in the attack. Armed extremist groups have been gaining power in Nigeria, with a lack of effective opposition from security forces and government officials. Boko Haram has maintained an insurgency in Northern Nigeria for thirteen years and displaced over 2.4 million people through violent attacks and threats. They have murdered tens of thousands of Christians and forcibly converted many others. Please pray for the end of their attacks, and for the Lord to soften the hearts of militants.
Police officers walked into a church Bible class and took into custody Pastor Kabashi Idris of the African Inland Church and evangelist Yacoub Ishakh of the Independent Baptist Church. They were charged with violating public order under Article 77 of Sudan’s penal code, and then released. A radical Muslim neighbour had filed a case against them, prompting the police to arrest them. He had told police his children were singing the songs of the Christians and feared they might convert to Christianity. His house is near the church and last month he filed a complaint that the church was disturbing the peace by worshipping in song. A guilty verdict could result in a three-month prison sentence, a fine, or both, and the court could issue an order to cease worship services.
Patras Masih was 18 when he was accused of sharing a photo posted on Facebook deemed insulting to Muhammad. This triggered protests by a violent Islamic extremist group who sent hundreds of Christian families fleeing from their homes in Lahore. That was four years ago and the courts still do not want to hear his case because of the involvement of the extremist Muslims. Patras’s lawyer said that the prejudice and discrimination he and his defence team have faced from trial and superior courts is unprecedented in her experience. In the last four years her team has filed five bail petitions in the Lahore High Court, including one last month, and one in the Supreme Court, all without success. Meanwhile on 8 June a court sentenced two brothers to death despite the absence of hard evidence. The unjust persecution of Christians via Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is worsening. See
Christians in Egypt are typically treated as second-class citizens, so many believers are attacked. One was Sara. She was walking along a street without wearing a veil, which distinguished her as a Christian, and she was praying. Suddenly she felt a sharp object hit her body. ‘Dirty Christian, die!’ she heard a man shouting as her legs began to tremble and she fell to the ground. Sara miraculously survived. She has forgiven her attacker and regularly prays for him. ‘I hope that God will touch his heart,’ she says.
Iran's proxy militias have caused the decline of Christians in many regions by adopting ‘forced immigration’. In Lebanon Hezbollah targets missionaries, impedes conversions, imposes strict dress codes and alcohol bans, and limits mixed sexes in public, in what have been dubbed ‘mini-Tehrans.’ A sizeable amount of land owned by Christians has been taken over by Hezbollah through eviction. In Iraq, initially employed to resist American forces, the Shiite Mahdi Army has changed the demography, Making Baghdad 'Christian-free' was high on its agenda when they morphed into IS. Iran had influence in Syria through the Assad family (Alawite Sunni). After the uprising Iran restructured the Syrian Army and created several militias within the Shia Liberation Army. It saved the Assad regime, killing 600,000 people, displacing 6.5 million internally, and forcing 6.6 million to flee Syria. In Yemen the Houthis have invested considerable effort into ending the Christian presence in the territories under their control.
Church leaders are common targets for violations of rights in Uzbekistan. They are fined for meeting illegally, possession of religious literature, having Christian songs on their smartphones and more. They can be detained, denied exit visas, and put under house arrest: all tactics to cause a ripple effect of fear and anxiety throughout their congregations. Pastors and lay leaders of unregistered churches are insulted, beaten and humiliated. Some men will be denied promotion at work, while others may lose their job altogether. When a church does try to officially register, persecution increases. Adam tried unsuccessfully to register with the government. Then the police demanded he renounce his faith because he had asked for registration. Ask God to encourage, equip and empower believers facing pressure and persecution. May hostility against them soften. Grant leaders wisdom and discernment when they navigate state restrictions. Keep them in good health and spirits.
Zafar Bhatti, Pakistan’s longest serving blasphemy convict (he has been in prison for ten years) had his life sentence increased to hanging in January 2022 - even though every piece of physical and electronic evidence suggests his innocence. His conviction was based on an unsubstantiated report made by police in the early stages of their investigation, when he was beaten into a false confession. He could be killed any day, and is being denied bail on health grounds despite substantial health concerns. Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are evidently being used as a tool for discrimination against a Christian pastor. Staff gave him tablets for diabetes which caused pain and vomit with traces of blood. Doctors changed his medicine and the side-effects stopped. But now (14 May) he has a huge swelling in his left leg, from his feet to the top of his thigh. British Asian Christian Association (BACA) is supporting Zafar and his wife while they suffer the ignominy of this unfounded blasphemy conviction.