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Bangladesh

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Barnabas Fund provides food parcels for needy Christians in Bangladesh

Believers in Bangladesh have been afforded greater religious freedom than their Christian brothers and sisters in most other Muslim-majority contexts. But last year an intensifying Islamist campaign began to threaten the position of the country’s Christians.

Violent protests by Islamists erupted in February 2013 following trials of Islamist leaders relating to war crimes connected with the 1971 War of Independence. The protestors demanded that Bangladesh become an Islamic state, and massive rallies were staged calling for the introduction of “blasphemy laws”. Similar legislation in Pakistan causes much suffering amongst the Christian community.

Anti-Christian violence by Islamists emboldened by the protests followed; Christian homes were torched and churches threatened. On 6 June, a mob of around 60 Islamic extremists raided a predominantly Christian village before moving on to a nearby seminary, where they battered down the doors and severely beat the rector and a number of students.

Although the secular government continued to affirm the country’s secular character and commitment to religious freedom, Islamists also made significant political gains in 2013. Mayoral elections in five cities were won by the opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), with support from Islamists. The BNP was expected to go on to win the general election of 5 January 2014, but they boycotted the poll, resulting in a hollow landslide victory for the sitting Awami League. Voting was marred by controversy and violence; a Christian man was killed, his village having previously been torched by Islamists to punish Christians for taking part in the election.  

Christians have a low social status in Bangladesh, where they make up just 1% of a population that is 90% Muslim, and so they are easy targets for attack by Islamic extremists. Several (including some evangelists) have been martyred in recent years. They wield little political power, and police can sometimes be slow to assist them. They may also experience discrimination in education and employment, and as a result, many Christian families are very poor.

 

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Daily prayer

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  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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