At the time of writing, many Afghan Christians are fleeing their homeland, trying to escape to a safe location. Pray that the Lord will soften the hearts of Western governments to give them a secure and permanent home, out of reach of the Taliban. Pray also that they will be kept safe as they enter countries neighbouring Afghanistan which themselves could be difficult and dangerous for the Christians, given that they are all converts from Islam, along with their children.
Since 10 August 1950, Indian Dalits (the lowest level of the Hindu caste system) have been helped to rise from their poverty by affirmative action such as quotas in education and jobs. Originally these advantages were only available to Hindu Dalits but later the order was amended to include Sikh and Buddhist Dalits. However, Christian and Muslim Dalits are still not eligible for such help, despite their frequent calls to be included and a series of legal petitions. In January 2020 the Supreme Court agreed to examine a petition filed by the National Council of Christian Dalits requesting that Dalit quotas should be made “religion neutral”. Pray that they will agree to this suggestion, which would help both Christians and Muslims.
“At this moment, our ‘Hope is Built on Nothing Less’: Jesus is the only answer for Sri Lanka,” said a senior pastor in the tea plantations where many poor Christians work. He referred to economic uncertainties, unemployment causing “inexpressible burdens”, Covid deaths in most churches, rising Covid infections, hunger and trauma. Lockdown has taken a severe toll on the nation, especially day labourers. New agricultural laws are resulting in lower yields for farmers, exacerbating the food crisis. A Sri Lankan Christian doctor wrote of middle-income families coming to her hospital pleading for just one meal. Pray that in the midst of this terrible crisis, Sri Lankan Christians will find hope and strength in Jesus and will be a channel of blessing to all around them.
The inhabitants of a Christian village in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts were forced to flee after suffering threats and two violent attacks from Buddhist radicals in July. The villagers, who converted from Buddhism 16 years ago, were attacked after they refused to return to Buddhism and demolish the church building they had constructed in January 2021. When Christians did not comply, the radicals attacked the church building themselves as well as some of the church members. “The radicals told us to destroy the church, but we will not,” said Tubel, assistant pastor of the group of about 50 Christians. “If we have to sacrifice our lives, we will. They threaten us to return to our old religion, but we will not return. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. We will die for Him.” Thank the LORD for the faith of these Christians and pray that he will lead them to green pastures and quiet waters where they can live in peace and safety (Psalm 23:2).
Pastor Bharat was praying with three other Christians in a private home in the village of Tichkiya, Madhya Pradesh state, India, when a group of extremists broke in. They accused Bharat of trying to convert tribal people to Christianity by unlawful means, attacked him and vandalised the house. Madhya Pradesh is one of the Indian states that forbids conversion by fraud, force or allurement. Pray for Pastor Bharat as he recovers from his injuries that he will be strengthened in both body and spirit, and ready to continue sharing the Gospel freely.
Muqadas (16) and her younger sister were at home in Shorkot, Pakistan helping their grandmother do the household chores on Monday morning 9 August when three Muslim men with pistols kicked the door open, grabbed Muqadas and dragged her away as she struggled and screamed. Three days later papers were dropped into the family’s yard showing that, on the very day of her abduction, Muqadas had converted to Islam and married Muhammad Azeem Malik, her abductor. (Clearly this had happened against her will.) Such cases are all too common for Christian families in Pakistan, the only unusual thing in this one being that there were many witnesses who saw the abduction happen. Pray that Muqadas, described as a “God-fearing” Christian, may be sustained by her faith while in captivity and that the police will exert themselves to rescue her.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the faithful witness of Christians persecuted for their faith in You around the world. Please grant them perseverance in the face of trial and strengthen them to stand firm, in the full armour of God, against all attacks. Enable them to shine brightly, giving light to all, whatever oppression and dangers they face, whether official government policy, ostracism within the community or terrorist violence. Protect them as they seek to serve You. We make our requests in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 6:10-17, Matthew 5:14-16)
Four Christian businessmen from the Tree of Life Technology Co. Ltd in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China have been sent to prison for selling audio Bibles. They were arrested in July 2020, their trial was held in December 2020 and their convictions were announced on 16 July 2021. The sentences range from 15 months to six years, and the men have also been fined amounts up to 200,000 yuan (£22,200; $30,900; €26,300). The audio Bibles are popular amongst elderly rural Christians with poor eyesight. Pray for our brothers Fu, Deng, Feng and Han that they will know the Lord’s presence with them in prison today and continue to be used by Him for His purposes.
On 9 August the Chinese city of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province joined the increasing number of cities, districts and counties in China which are offering cash rewards to anyone who reports to the authorities on “illegal religious activities”. Rewards are available for informing on religious gatherings in private homes, preaching, distribution of printed religious material or audio-visual products outside of church premises, unqualified people taking on religious roles and foreign involvement. Although the authorities cited Covid-19 as the reason, the move appears really to be part of the ongoing crackdown against Christians in China. Pray that Christians will not be fearful, but will be encouraged by remembering that Jesus, who was Himself betrayed to the authorities, understands their situation.
Maizi Christian Music High School in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China aims to equip young people with musical skills, especially piano, so they can serve in church worship teams. On 4 September the school’s principal, Mr Xu, was arrested early in the morning. Then at 8.30 a.m. over 30 officials raided the school, detaining the students (who are all under the age of 18) and confiscating pianos, computers and documents. The students were released after 24 hours, but at the time of writing no one had seen or heard from Mr Xu and teachers were to be interrogated one by one. The school staff asked prayer for the safety of Mr Xu and all the teachers, for a good lawyer to represent the school, for the return of the school’s property, that it will be able to re-open and that “the Holy Spirit comforts, strengthens and helps the students to be strong and courageous; that He helps them live for God”.
“We are heavy with the pain, mourning and lack of food of our brothers and sisters,” wrote a Vietnamese church leader in September, which at that point was five months into its fourth Covid-19 wave. Lockdowns had prevented people from cultivating their fields, jobs in the cities had disappeared, and people were desperately short of necessities, even rice. In one denomination alone, at least 200 congregations had members who were sick with Covid or had died, and 33 pastors were infected. These figures are significant in a country where Christians are poor and, in some areas, persecuted. Pray that the joy of the Lord will be the strength of Vietnamese Christians in their time of trial.
Aceh is the most Islamic province of Indonesia, and the only one ruled by sharia. In 2015 the local authorities demolished nine of the ten church buildings in Singkil District of Aceh. Thousands of Christians have been worshipping in makeshift shelters ever since. Christian protests to the local authorities have had no results, so, about three months ago, Aceh Christians protested to the central government in the capital Jakarta. The issue is now being considered by Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, the Religious Affairs Minister. Pray that he will decide to intervene and help the Christians of Aceh.
Muhammad Kace is an Indonesian Christian from a Muslim background, who was arrested in August in Bali on blasphemy and disinformation charges. The accusations related to a sermon video he had posted on YouTube in which he made statements about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. While in custody, he was severely beaten all over his body, and human faeces were smeared on his face. His lawyers have prepared a case against the police but Muslim public opinion supports his abusers. Pray that the case against him will be dropped and he will be released.
Our Lord Jesus, we call on You to further Your Kingdom in Indonesia. We thank You for the government’s resolve to maintain peace in a religiously divided country, and for the police’s successes in combating Islamic extremism. Thank You that, even in the midst of adversity, many from Muslim backgrounds are choosing to follow Christ, and we ask for more to trust in You for salvation. We pray that Christians will experience Your strength in the struggle to be granted permits to build churches, or even to have their rental agreements renewed. May they be encouraged that no one can shut a door that You have opened. (Revelation 3:8)
Southern Madagascar has had two droughts back-to-back, plus locusts, sandstorms and an outbreak of fall armyworm that have caused terrible damage to the crops. The number of people living in famine-like conditions was predicted to be at least 28,000 by last month, when the annual “lean season” starts and crops are planted. Many have sold everything they own, including pots and pans, so now they cannot cook even if they have food. The price of clean water has increased tenfold and people are therefore drinking unsafe water, exposing them to disease. Ask the LORD, who sent rain when Samaria had a severe famine (1 Kings 18:1-2,45), to send rain on southern Madagascar. Pray that the many Christians there will bring hope and comfort to the whole population.
Christian leaders in Uganda are encouraged by the response of the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament when they explained to him that having Islamic courts (kadhi courts) written into the Ugandan constitution alongside secular courts makes Islam in effect the state religion of this mainly Christian country. Pray that the Ugandan authorities will have wisdom and courage to return Uganda to the “level playing field” for all faiths evidently intended by Article 7 of the constitution, which says: “Uganda shall not adopt a State religion.”
Praise God that one more of the “Chibok girls” has been reunited with her parents. Ruth Ngladar Pogu made contact with the authorities in late July, seven years after being abducted from her school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria by Boko Haram Islamist militants along with more than 270 other girls, most of them Christians. About 160 of them have escaped, been rescued or released. Pray for all those who remain in captivity as well as many other kidnap victims held by Boko Haram and similar Nigerian organisations, that the flame of Christian faith in their hearts will not be extinguished no matter what the Islamists do to them.
“My advice to Christians in Nigeria is that we should know the world has reached the point that Christians are being hunted and killed because they say we are infidels. We should unite and call on God. He will answer us.” These were the words of Pastor Adamu Musa after an attack by Fulani extremists on small villages in a Christian area of the Irigwe chiefdom in Nigeria’s Plateau State during the night of 31 July-1 August. Seven people were killed and 275 houses burned down. Pastor Adamu himself was shot during the attack but not fatally. Join your prayers with those of Nigerian believers for an end to the anti-Christian violence.
Please pray for protection for Afghan Christians, in huge danger now that the Taliban controls virtually every part of their homeland. Many have been unable to leave the country and are in hiding, not living in their own homes, or staying in any place for long, as the Taliban are searching for them and will probably execute any they find. Pray also for God’s guidance for Barnabas Fund and our partners on the ground as we channel aid of various kinds to our Afghan brothers and sisters.
The rapid victory of the Taliban, which astonished onlookers, has given a huge boost to radical Islamists worldwide. Their confidence has greatly increased and, humanly speaking, it can be expected that they will redouble their efforts to establish emirates and other forms of Islamic state wherever they can across the world. This will heighten the risk to Christians in those areas. But our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords is in ultimate control. Pray that His heavenly horses and chariots of fire will defend His people (2 Kings 6:17).
Sovereign Lord, we lift up our Christian brothers and sisters in Afghanistan remaining in the country after the Taliban takeover. We ask for Your Divine guidance for them to live under a government which believes it is right to impose a death sentence on any Muslim-background convert. Please grant them protection and wisdom to know how to live as children of light under such oppression. We pray that if any are called to give their lives for Christ they will be filled with the peace, joy and presence of their Lord and our Lord, in whose Name we pray.
Praise God for answered prayer in strongly Islamic Somaliland. A group of six Christians were released from detention on 5 August after charges against them were dropped. Those released included Mohamed, Hamdi and their baby, arrested in January, and others arrested in February. They had been charged with a variety of offences including apostasy from Islam and spreading Christianity as well as inciting others to commit public-order offences. Pray that there will be no backlash from society against the tiny Christian community of Somaliland.
Islam is the official religion of Somaliland, and its constitution prohibits conversion from Islam to another religion and bans the propagation of any religion except Islam. All laws must comply with the general principles of sharia. A committee of the Somaliland Senate recently called for the application of sharia in cases of apostasy from Islam. The Shafi’i school of sharia, which traditionally predominated in this region, specifies death for any sane adult who leaves Islam. Most of the Christians of Somaliland are converts from Islam, so the Senate committee’s recommendation would put their lives in severe danger. Pray that it will not be implemented.
Fifteen Eritrean Christians have been re-arrested in their homes and taken to the Mai Serwa maximum security prison in Asmara. All had spent years in prison already until released in September 2020. Their age range is from late 20s to 60s and the majority are men. The arrests followed the detention in July of two pastors in their 70s, who are being held at a police station. It is thought that about 160 Eritrean Christians are now in prison. Pray that their faith will keep them from fearing the anger of earthly authorities, and that they will persevere, because they see Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27).
Because of her Christian faith, Twen Theodros spent 16 years in prison in Eritrea where she had a tremendous ministry to other women prisoners. Now she is out of prison but finds herself at the age of 38 without her own family, home and job, which she would have normally had by this age. She is described as “full of faith and grace” but unsure what to do now with her life. Pray that the Lord will make clear to our brave sister what His plans and purposes are for her now.
Tunisia’s Ministry of Religion has a Muslim section, headed by an imam, and a Jewish section, headed by a rabbi, but nothing for Christians, even though they are more numerous than Jews in this 98% Muslim nation. The Christian community is mainly expatriates, especially from Africa, but there are some Tunisian converts from Islam and their children. The converts are stigmatised by the majority society and they are often rejected by their relatives. Pray that lonely and marginalised converts will be comforted by the words of their Saviour: “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13)
The Islamist political party that had led Morocco for a decade was crushingly defeated in a parliamentary election on 8 September, losing all but 12 of its 125 seats. The party with the largest number of seats in parliament is now the National Rally of Independents and King Mohammed VI has appointed its leader Aziz Akhannouch as Prime Minister. Pray that the new government will work for greater religious liberty in Morocco so that Moroccan Christians can meet openly to worship the Lord. Pray also that the king’s heart will be inclined in this direction, for the Moroccan parliament has limited powers and he makes many of the key decisions.
Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You for Your church in Algeria that stands firm amidst persecution and injustice. We ask for church buildings that have been closed and physically sealed on spurious administrative grounds to be reopened. Please grant success and wisdom to Your people lodging appeals against closures. May they conduct themselves with grace and honour You with their testimony. We thank You that Your Word is never restricted and pray that You will enable Your people to meet, despite the restrictions, and know the joy of seeing adverse circumstances turn out for good to those who love You. (2 Timothy 2:9, Romans 8:28)
More than 35 residents of Yelwan Zangam, a Christian community in Nigeria’s Plateau State, died in an attack by gunmen that began on the evening of 24 August. Many houses and vehicles were set on fire and some people died in the house where they had taken cover from the shooting. A bridge leading to the neighbouring community was destroyed so that the residents of Yelwan Zangam could not escape and law enforcement personnel could not arrive. The Christians saw this as a religiously motivated attack and suspected that ethnic Fulani militants were the perpetrators. Pray that the survivors of this terrible attack will stand firm in the faith, be courageous and strong, doing everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
Praise God for answered prayer in Nigeria as 85 children kidnapped from a Christian boarding school in Kaduna State have been released in four groups in July, August and September. A few others have managed to escape. Some of them “came back home very sick and weak”, said Pastor John Hayab of the Christian Association of Nigeria. He expressed concern for the health of the children still held, especially given that it was the rainy season. He called on Christians to continue to pray for the release of the 21 in captivity, and to pray for peace in Kaduna State and Nigeria as a whole, saying that God’s intervention is needed regarding the security challenges facing the country. Pray also for the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of all the children – those freed and those still held.