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Myanmar, Burma

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Barnabas provided Kachin refugees with emergency aid, including shoes for
1,000 needy children

The Burmese army is continuing to pursue its agenda of intimidation and violence against ethnic minority groups, the majority of whom are Christians. In Kachin state, soldiers are kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing Christians, apparently with impunity. This is despite a peace deal negotiated between the Burmese government and representatives of the predominantly Christian people group in May 2013, which it was hoped would bring an end to two years of intense suffering endured by our brothers and sisters.

Believers from the Kachin and other mainly Christian ethnic minority groups are persecuted for both their ethnicity and their faith, and continue to suffer great oppression despite Burma’s recent moves towards political reform. In Kachin state, at least 64 women and girls have been raped, 66 churches and 200 villages have been destroyed and nearly 100,000 people have been displaced since July 2011, when the army broke a 17-year ceasefire. Two Kachin people were killed by the army just two weeks after the peace deal was agreed. Then, in early September 2013, women and girls were kidnapped and gang-raped by soldiers who attacked their village. Other villagers, including a church leader, were also kidnapped and were tortured.

Throughout Burma, the authorities have continued to disrupt Christian gatherings, restrict the publication of Christian literature and prevent the construction or repair of church buildings. The government actively promotes conversion to Buddhism. Christians are sometimes forced to help build and maintain Buddhist pagodas and monasteries or to destroy church buildings. In some remote areas, children of very poor Christian families are targeted by special schools, known as Na Ta La, which offer them free food and education as well as government jobs when they graduate. At the schools, they are prevented from practising their faith and are forced to shave their heads in accordance with the teachings of Buddhism. They may be beaten or threatened with military conscription if they resist.

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    • Father God, we pray for Meriam Ibrahim and her family in Sudan as they face a very uncertain future. We thank You that Meriam was cleared on appeal of the charges of adultery and apostasy that were laid against her and that she was spared from flogging and execution. But we pray that the new charges of forgery and false information relating to her travel documents will also be dismissed and that the family will be free to leave Sudan and begin a new life elsewhere. We pray that You will keep her safe in the meantime from those who have threatened her with death. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • “Saudi Arabia remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.” In its annual report for 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted the extraordinary restrictions faced by Christians and other non-Muslims in one of the most rigid and hardline Islamic states in the world. No churches exist in Saudi Arabia because of an Islamic tradition that Muhammad said there should be only one religion in the Arabian peninsula. Pray for peace and perseverance for the small number of Saudi converts and the many expatriate Christians practising their faith in this repressive context, and ask that the authorities will yield to international pressure to introduce greater religious freedom. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

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