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Holy Land

_images_files/content/article_files/Lent_Prayer/2013/4X3/holy-land_4X3.jpg
Children at a Barnabas-funded
Christian school in Bethlehem

The land where Jesus Christ himself lived on earth is not an easy place to be a Christian. Competing claims to the territory mean that it has long been a site of violent uprisings and instability. Believers in the Holy Land may experience hostility both from ultra-Orthodox Jews and from Palestinian Muslims.

Christians make up just 2% of the population of Israel, and are sometimes made to feel unwelcome by ultra-Orthodox Jews. At least 17 Christian sites have been vandalised in the last three years; two were daubed with slogans insulting Jesus Christ. Church leaders, nuns and seminary students in Jerusalem’s Old City are almost daily subjected to abuse by ultra-Orthodox youths. Messianic Jews are particularly vulnerable to harassment.

Around 52,000 Christians live in the Palestinian territories. Christians in Gaza, who are thought to number only about a thousand, have been under Hamas’ Islamist yoke since 2007. Whilst they are officially tolerated, they are subject to discrimination and threats by Muslim extremist vigilante groups. And Christian schools in Gaza are now vulnerable to closure, since Hamas banned co-educational institutions in 2013.

Conditions in the West Bank are also difficult, mainly owing to continued economic decline and societal discrimination against Christians. In the 1950s, 90% of Bethlehem’s population were Christian, but today, the Christian population is estimated at only 30%. The economy of Bethlehem is heavily dependent on the tourist trade, but after the second Palestinian intifada (uprising) began in 2000, tourist numbers dropped. Many Christians were employed in the tourist trade and therefore lost their jobs.

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    • Almighty God, we call to You for relief for Christians in the Gwoza area of Borno state in Northern Nigeria, as they face repeated violent attacks by Boko Haram militants. We pray for comfort for the relatives and friends of the hundreds who have been killed, and for the thousands who have been forced from their homes and seen them torched. We ask for Your special protection on Christians as they gather to worship You. We pray for the Nigerian authorities to re-establish control of the area, so that the displaced Christians may be safe from further attacks and free to rebuild their shattered communities. We pray too for their persecutors to come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 8 hours ago

    • “This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution. Allah says we should finish them when we get them.” The leader of the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram was speaking in a video that reasserted their agenda and addressed “the people of the world”, saying, “Either you are with us Mujahedeen or you are with the Christians.” The translation of the video was released as scores of people were killed in suicide bombings in May, including at least 118 in a double attack in Jos, Plateau state on 20 May. Pray that Boko Haram’s murderous campaign to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria will not succeed. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Pray for Bible school students in Vietnam who were subjected to a terrifying night-time raid by police and hired thugs. On 9 June, officers swooped from adjacent rooftops into the church compound that houses the school, while vehicle-loads of people were brought to the site to vandalise the building with bricks, stones and sticks. The students were beaten, punched and kicked before being taken away for interrogation; 20 were left in need of medical attention but were prevented from leaving to find it. Thugs continued to attack the compound over the next ten nights. Pray for the students as they recover from this brutal assault and that they will stand firm in their faith in the face of intimidation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Aug 2014 00:00

    • In an earlier incident in Saisomboon village, three teenage Christian girls were disqualified from taking their final school examinations because of their faith. The village chief said that in following Christianity, Noi (15), Net (15) and Nut (14) had forfeited their right to education. Five families from the village have now converted to Christianity. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom expressed the view that the authorities were trying to find every possible way “to stop the spread of Christian religious freedom in the area”. Pray that the girls will be allowed to complete their education and that opposition to the Christians in the village will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Five Christians have been charged with murder in Laos after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity and later died. Mrs Chan, from Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province, had been ill for two years when she approached the church. Her health improved for a short time, and she and her eight grown-up children came to faith in Christ. The sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial ceremony, but the authorities forbade this unless they renounced their faith, which they refused to do. When Christians in the area protested, five were arrested and subsequently charged with Mrs Chan’s murder. Pray that the God of justice will have compassion on His people (Isaiah 30:18) and ensure their acquittal from this false accusation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

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