Displaying items by tag: Christian persecution
On 25th January, Rwanda's military fired at a Congolese fighter jet that had violated their airspace for the third time recently. The DRC called the shooting ‘an act of war.’ This incident comes a week before Pope Francis is to make the first papal visit to Kinshasa since 1985. The Pope plans to shine a spotlight on the bloodshed of the conflict in eastern DRC, one of the world's most resource-rich yet conflict-ridden regions. On 15th January an improvised explosive device ripped through the congregation at a baptismal service conducted by a blind pastor. It severed limbs and killed at least 17 people. This attack in North Kivu province is just the latest terrorist outrage in the DRC by the Allied Democratic Forces, one of the most dangerous of dozens of armed groups in eastern DRC. As well as physical injuries, terrorist violence has left DRC Christians suffering serious emotional trauma.
A disturbing new video by Global Christian Relief shows a violent attack on Sacred Heart Church in Edka village, Narayanpur on January 2nd. The mob of purportedly 1,000 extremists used rocks, iron rods, and wooden sticks. The mob was protesting against 'illegal' conversions and construction of churches,’ Global Christian Relief stated in an explainer. One witness said the situation is dire, with Christians being targeted and attacked. The latest incident is part of ongoing tensions between indigenous animist followers and Christians. The witness added that the church was destroyed, ‘They are going to attack our other institutions,’ the individual warned. Father Devasia, priest of Sacred Heart Church confirmed the damage to the church was profound and, ‘A tense situation prevails here. Police attempting to stop the violence were injured.’ Christians have also been driven out of their homes by extremists.
On 12th January the Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report, detailing key findings for religious persecution issues in Iraq. Iraqi religious minorities have been fighting for normalcy since the ISIS invasion a decade ago. Despite their efforts, tens of thousands of Christians are still displaced and unable to return to their homes as ISIS is still carrying out attacks periodically, causing fear among citizens about returning to their hometowns formally controlled by ISIS. Also, the Popular Mobilization Forces often block roadways making it increasingly difficult and dangerous to return to the Nineveh plains. Also continued airstrikes in northern Iraq by the Turkish military are disproportionately affecting religious minorities, making it unsafe to return to their communities. Turkey has made little effort to protect civilians during these airstrikes, despite calls from the communities for such consideration. Pray for provision for all the families that have been displaced.
‘There is no time to wait, this is genocide’, said Dr Sukhudyan, describing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked enclave between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Deadly battles between Armenians and Azerbaijanis have previously raged there. Armenia is the world's first official Christian country, and 120,000 Christians live in the enclave. The road to it was protected by Russian peacekeepers, but on 12 December Azerbaijani protesters blocked it, preventing food, medicine, and other basic transport in or out. Now this ongoing dispute - in light of the past genocidal horrors - has human rights groups deeply concerned about what is to come. The minister of state for Nagorno-Karabakh said this is probably the prelude to an Azerbaijani armed attack, and if Russia does not step in, Armenia is not strong enough to stop them conquering the region. There will be massacres, with the oldest churches in the world possibly destroyed.
The war in Ukraine and the poor global economy have enabled dictators, regimes, and terrorists to take advantage of the situation while the world’s attention was distracted. This will worsen in 2023, to the detriment of Christians. Ask God to protect China’s Christians as the crackdown on house churches accelerates. Pray for all the minorities in Myanmar, where the 2021 political coup has led to many attacks and bombings of churches. The internally displaced use churches as shelters. Iran has also taken the opportunity to crack down on churches, Christians, and Muslim-background believers this year. Pray for Christian arrests and torture to diminish in 2023. Indian Christians need our prayers for an end to the anti-conversion laws being enforced in Hindu communities. Afghanistan has no national income and no natural resources, and all assets are frozen worldwide. Christianity is illegal. Those forced to stay or needing support to find safe havens need God's protection.
On 26 December intelligence agents raided Pastor Matthias house church during Christmas celebrations. Matthias and two other converts were arrested and transferred to Lakan Prison in Rasht. On 3 January Matthias’ wife Anna was summoned to intelligence offices, arrested, and also transferred to Rasht. Matthias was jailed in January 2022 for a six-year sentence on national security charges, saying that he was an enemy of the state. Although detained in prison, he was allowed regular leave, and continued to minister in the local house church. Friends are concerned about Anna’s health in detention as she has back problems. They request prayer that God will strengthen and encourage them, and that their teenage daughter will be adequately cared for while her parents are in prison. Criminal charges will not be brought against Matthias and Anna or the two other converts arrested at the Christmas gathering.
Officials in Algeria are making it increasingly difficult for missionaries to evangelise or challenge Islam in any capacity. Algeria’s government-issued ordinances and restrictions on non-Muslim organisations attempting to attract Muslims to Christ are enforced with animosity, hefty fines, and the very real possibility of between three and five years in prison. Algeria’s population is 99% Sunni Muslim. The laws against blasphemy, proselytisation, and worship make ministry work extremely difficult and can come at a high price. They criminalise any individual offending the Prophet or belittling the precepts of Islam through writing, artwork, speaking, or other mediums. Laws regulating worship keep Christians confined to approved worship spaces made purposely in places difficult to attend regularly. Pray that church leaders will be strong and wise while enduring hardship, and for opportunities to distribute Bibles throughout the country, especially in the south.
Asking permission to preach was necessary for Leonardo. Not asking could result in death from Colombian guerrillas or paramilitaries. Pastors are obstacles to guerrillas’ political ambitions, as young Christians are no longer attracted to their violent lifestyles. One Sunday gangs stopped him outside the church saying, ‘Today no church preaching!’ So with a speaker and microphone he preached outdoors to young boys. Very quickly his outdoor church grew to 70 adults and 53 children. Most had never heard the gospel, but they soon found faith in Christ and were baptised. Now Leonardo is training several others to preach. It is dangerous to share the gospel so openly, but he knows God is with him.
There's been another win for the Christian Legal Centre as Hatun Tash was awarded £10,000 and given an apology by the Met Police over two arrests that took place at Speakers' Corner, the home of free speech. The evangelist frequently witnesses to Muslims and in July 2021 was brutally stabbed, with no one yet charged. The apology concerns two other incidents, when Hatun was arrested despite her peaceful behaviour. Her story was covered in the Times on October 21st See
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted (IDOP) is Sunday, November 6. It is observed every year around All Saints’ Day when the Church traditionally remembers the saints of the Church, many of whom suffered torture and martyrdom for Jesus. IDOP recognizes those who have paid the ultimate price for their faith in Christ and reminds us that many are still paying that price today. This is a special time for us to pray for those who are persevering in the face of hardship, letting them know they are not forgotten and we are praying for them. Prayer Alert intercessors are invited to be a part of this special day by scheduling a few minutes to pray for Afghans, Ukrainians and the many others now arriving into new countries, and those still waiting to re-settle. For most Ukrainian’s this will be seen as a temporary re-settlement. Pray for converts to Christianity in the Muslim world, who have been threatened and abandoned by their families because of their faith in Jesus Christ.