Barnabas Fund - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .

Email:

Prayer Focus 03/09

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Prayer Focus 03/09

NIGERIA - NINE CHRISTIANS KILLED IN BAUCHI PROVINCE

KAZAKHSTAN - PROPOSED LAW ON RELIGION DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

SAUDI - ARABIA CHRISTIAN BLOGGER ARRESTED

IRAQ - SECULAR PARTIES MAKE GAINS IN REGIONAL ELECTIONS

TURKEY - SCHOOL TEXTBOOK ENCOURAGES PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION

PAKISTAN - CHRISTIAN GIRL GANG-RAPED AT GUNPOINT

UZBEKISTAN - CHRISTIAN LITERATURE CONFISCATED IN RAID

 


NIGERIA - NINE CHRISTIANS KILLED IN BAUCHI PROVINCE

An outbreak of violence on 20 February between Muslims and Christians in Bauchi city, the capital of Bauchi state in Northern Nigeria, has left at least nine Christians dead. Six of them were shot and three killed with machetes. At least six churches, perhaps as many as 13, have been burnt down, as well as three mosques. For further details please see our recent press release (here).

• Please pray for the families of the murdered Christians and for the churches in the region, and ask that order will quickly be restored. Pray that Nigerian Christians will respond to violent attacks on them in a peaceable and Christ-like way.

Back to top


KAZAKHSTAN - PROPOSED LAW ON RELIGION DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

The Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan announced on 11 February that a draft law that would severely restrict freedom of religion and belief is unconstitutional. The head of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Yevgeni Zhovtis, has said this judgment implies that the current law on religion is also contrary to the constitution.

The Council cited Article 39 of the constitution, which forbids any restrictions of the rights and freedoms stipulated in certain other articles. These include Article 14, which states that "no-one shall be subject to any discrimination for reasons of origin, property status, occupation, sex, race, nationality, language, attitude towards religion, convictions, place of residence or any other circumstances", and Article 19, which requires that "everyone shall have the right to determine and indicate or not indicate his national, party and religious affiliation". The chair of the Council said that the draft law violated the equality of all citizens before the law by imposing different conditions for registration on faiths "previously unknown in Kazakhstan".

Zhovtis said that in response to this judgment the Kazakh Parliament should now abolish all current limitations on freedom of religion and belief, and specifically the ban on the unregistered dissemination of religious views. Officials encourage intolerance towards religious minorities and towards the free expression of thought and conscience. They frequently flout Kazakh law and violate citizens' rights.

Churches that refuse on principle to register with the authorities face the most serious forms of harassment. On 4 February one pastor was fined for unregistered religious activity, and his church was banned permanently. Previous bans have been imposed for no more than six months. The judge, however, welcomed the possibility that the current law on religion might now be reviewed, and said that the pastor should include this in his complaint against her decision.

The President now has up to one month to respond to the decision of the Council. He can challenge any aspect of it, but amendments can be effected only with the support of two-thirds of the Council members.

• Give thanks for the decision of the Constitutional Council. Please pray both that the new law will be revised or abandoned, and that the existing law will be amended to allow a greater measure of religious freedom.

• Pray for the pastor and congregation whose activities have been banned, that they may soon be able to meet for worship without harassment by the authorities.

Back to top


SAUDI - ARABIA CHRISTIAN BLOGGER ARRESTED

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have repeatedly detained a 28-year-old blogger, Hamoud Bin Saleh, for writing about his conversion from Islam to Christianity on his website.

Bin Saleh was originally arrested in January 2008 and held at a political prison in Riyadh, on the basis of his "opinions" and the announcement of his conversion on his blog. Officials detained him again on two subsequent occasions, and they also blocked the blog. He was released most recently in November 2008 at the time of an inter-faith meeting at the UN initiated by Saudi Arabia, perhaps in the interests of good public relations, but he was re-arrested immediately afterwards.

Although the Saudi government seems concerned to present itself as tolerant of non-Muslims, through its sponsorship of inter-faith dialogue, in practice it allows no freedom of religion, and Christians are subject to discrimination, harassment and abuse. Saudi law is based on sharia, and it prescribes the death sentence for apostates from Islam. In the summer of 2008 a member of the religious police burned his sister to death after she converted to Christianity. Bin Saleh is therefore in considerable danger, both in prison and outside it.

• Pray for Hamoud Bin Saleh, that he will persevere in his faith in Christ despite the persecution that he is suffering. Pray that he will soon be released, that the authorities will stop harassing him, and that God will protect him from private reprisals.

• Pray that the Saudi government's desire for good relations with other countries will lead it to acknowledge the existence of religious minorities, and to grant them a measure of freedom. Pray that it will renounce the death sentence for apostasy from Islam.

Back to top


IRAQ - SECULAR PARTIES MAKE GAINS IN REGIONAL ELECTIONS

In what is potentially a good outcome for Christians in Iraq, the regional elections of 31 January produced significant gains for secular parties, and especially for religious parties that had adopted a more secular stance.

Voters in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces rejected alliances of overtly religious groups in favour of lists that promised security, better services and strong central government. The most prominent secular alliance, led by a former premier, made strong progress in several provinces. The leaders of several Islamic coalitions - including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - tried hard to keep their faith out of their campaigns, and their lists enjoyed the biggest victories.

The Iraqi electorate is believed to be disenchanted with the religious parties because of their association with the worst years of sectarian violence in the country. Clashes between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims have ravaged the country, and the religious parties elected in 2005 have failed to provide adequate services or security for the population.

The churches of Iraq have suffered grievously in the years of unrest, with many Christians forced to flee from their homes and take refuge in other countries. The defeat of explicitly Islamic parties, and particularly of Islamists, holds some promise of greater stability, equality and protection for them. At present Christians have only three guaranteed seats out of 440 on the Regional Councils.

• Give thanks for God's overruling in the elections, and that the strongly Islamic parties lost ground to others. Pray that this trend will continue.

• Pray for the new provincial governments, that they will succeed in restoring order in their areas, and in providing better security and services for their people.

• Pray for Iraq's Christian community, that the Lord will sustain it in the current unstable conditions, and that better governance will allow it to flourish once again.

Back to top


TURKEY - SCHOOL TEXTBOOK ENCOURAGES PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION

The Ministry of Education in Turkey has introduced a new textbook into its schools that encourages discrimination against the country's small Christian community. The book is aimed at 13-year-olds, and is published by Devlet [State] Books.

The text alleges that mission work destroys national and cultural values by converting people to other religions, and that it is therefore a threat to the country's unity. Missionaries are accused of using natural disasters, such as earthquakes, to serve their own interests. The book warns children of such people's (supposedly) subversive aims, and it offers advice on how to recognise their activities.

A representative of an inter-church alliance said, "To the Turkish state and society, the words 'missionary activity' encapsulate not only the work of foreign missionaries, but all Christian activity in the country. The state and various groups have for years, through endless disinformation, spread the belief that Turkish Christians are part of a secret foreign plot to destroy Turkey. This is the same mindset that has led to numerous attacks on our churches by young people who are convinced that we are CIA agents or similar."

The constitution of Turkey grants freedom of religion to individuals, but the Christian minority frequently complains of ingrained prejudice against it. Sometimes this prejudice spills over into violence.

• Pray for the Christians in Turkey, that God may give them patience in the face of discrimination, and grace to challenge the negative view of them in society at large.

• Pray too for the young people using the new textbook, that they may have discernment to sift truth from falsehood, and grow up to live in peace with their Christian neighbours.

Back to top


PAKISTAN - CHRISTIAN GIRL GANG-RAPED AT GUNPOINT

On 7 February an impoverished 13-year-old Christian girl in the Punjab province of Pakistan was gang-raped at gunpoint by five Islamic extremists.

The incident happened in a village in the Sangla Hill region, as the girl went to put out some rubbish. Two men kidnapped her and took her by force to their nearby farmhouse, where three others were waiting. After being assaulted by them for several hours she was in a critical condition. Eventually her family tracked her down and knocked at the farmhouse, but the men escaped through the back door.

At the request of a Christian lawyer, a judge ordered a medical examination, which confirmed that the girl had been molested. But although a case was registered against the alleged rapists, twelve days after the attack no-one had been detained.

Violent assaults by Muslim men on Christian girls and women in Pakistan are sadly frequent. Last month two Christian girls were freed by police after they were kidnapped, sold as sex slaves and forcibly converted to Islam. Sangla Hill has been the scene of several attacks on churches and other Christian institutions in recent years.

• Please pray for the Christian girl who was attacked, that God will heal and comfort her following her traumatic experience. Pray that her attackers will be brought to justice.

• Pray for the Lord's protection on Christian women and girls throughout Pakistan, and that the police will make it a priority to assist those who have been kidnapped.

Back to top


UZBEKISTAN - CHRISTIAN LITERATURE CONFISCATED IN RAID

In the first months of 2009 the Uzbek authorities have been confiscating Christian literature across the country. They are also considering whether to bring administrative or even criminal charges against those found in possession of it.

On 1 February the district police in Tashkent raided the flat of Alla Saakyants, mother-in-law of Marat Litvinchuk, a state-employed electrician. They confiscated his 67 Christian books, 223 CDs and DVDs of Christian films and sermons, and a computer hard disk. A police inspector involved in the raid said that it was for the purpose of passport control, which Uzbek law permits "anywhere and anytime". But he added that the police also need to check if Christian books and other material have been authorised by the state Religious Affairs Committee. If Litvinchuk's are not, criminal charges may be brought against him and his family.

An unnamed source from Tashkent claims that nine days later the secret police called the senior manager of the State Property Maintenance Agency and demanded that he fire Litvinchuk. The electrician was compelled to write a letter "voluntarily" resigning from his post. The manager has denied any knowledge of why Litvinchuk left his job.

The Religious Affairs Committee is responsible for the censorship and "expert assessment" of all religious literature in Uzbekistan. Its work is part of a powerful network of state controls on all religious activities.

• Pray for Marat Litvinchuk, that he may be able to find another job. Pray that his property will be returned to him, and that he will be able to nurture his faith without further harassment from the authorities.

• Pray for a relaxation of the stringent restrictions on Christian life in Uzbekistan, that the light of the Gospel may shine brightly in the darkness of that nation.

Back to top

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Prayer Focus 03/09

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Partner with Barnabas

partner-box.jpg

Our magazine - Barnabas aid

Barnabas aid magazine

Other articles

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Pray for eight Cameroonian missionaries who have been harshly reminded of the cost of sharing the Gospel in their country during a training seminar to equip them for ministry. Barnabas had helped to fund a series of seminars, and on the final day of the last seminar they heard that Jean-Marcel Kesvere, another Cameroonian missionary, who had been planning to attend the seminar with his wife, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram and that his body had been found earlier that day. Give thanks for the response of the missionaries, who expressed their willingness to suffer similarly for Christ, and pray that their work will bear much fruit (John 12:24). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

    • Please pray for Christians in northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram is terrorising people, especially Christians and security forces, just as in neighbouring Nigeria. The Islamist militants openly declare themselves to be Boko Haram, and issue threats by letter, including to pastors telling them they must leave. Two pastors were killed in the village of Assigashia on the night of 25-26 August, hich has caused great distress and consternation. The Cameroonian Christians ask for prayer that God will bring peace and security, that the kidnapped will be released, that believers will stand firm despite being targeted, that God will comfort the traumatised, and that church leaders will know how to prepare their people for persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Oct 2014 00:00

    • “The cathedral in Damaturu now has only about 40 members instead of 450 members. The church in Potiskum now has only about 15 members instead of 500 members… the southern part of [Yobe state] is still very dangerous and most of the churches here have closed down.” A senior church leader in Nigeria wrote to Barnabas Fund in August about the impact on the Church of Boko Haram’s violence. Nevertheless Christians were still holding worship services every Sunday, discipling the young people and even commissioning pastors. Praise God for such perseverance, and pray that a Christian presence and witness may remain in north-east Nigeria. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Pray for a pastor in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania whose home was attacked on 17 May; two of his children were injured. When he went to report the incident to the police, he was falsely accused of raping a young woman who had left Islam to follow Christ. The pastor had taken her into his home, along with four other converts, after she was thrown out by her family; it was they who made the accusation against him. He has faced much opposition because of his fruitful outreach to Muslims, and several failed attempts have been made to frame him with false accusations. Pray that the sovereign Lord will help him and that he will not be disgraced (Isaiah 50:7-9). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Oct 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Fund 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Fund & Barnabas Aid are registered trade marks