Give thanks for the remarkable escape of the remaining twelve members of a group of 17 Christian missionaries and children (including a 10-month-old baby) abducted by an armed gang in Haiti. The workers from the US-based Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped on 16 October shortly after leaving an orphanage where they had ministered to the children. They successfully slipped away from their captors during the night of 15 December. The five other members of the group were previously released on separate occasions in November and December. Miraculously, the captive Christians were able to open a door that was kept closed and blocked, and make it out of the small room in which they were being held, without their guards noticing. Praise God for the missionaries’ deliverance and pray for their full recovery from the ordeal.
While some Christians in Afghanistan – first-generation converts and their children – were able to flee to neighbouring countries, many more were compelled to go into hiding as the Taliban swiftly overran the country in August 2021. Many of these Afghan believers are still trapped inside the country, in mortal danger from the Taliban, who had said that under their Islamist rule Christians must re-convert to Islam, leave the country, or be killed. The believers are constantly moving around within Afghanistan, from one house to another, fearing that even their relatives might betray them to the authorities. Please pray for the Lord’s protection for our Afghan brothers and sisters and that Barnabas contacts will continue to be able to get practical aid to them.
Finding places in which to gather for worship is an extremely tough challenge for Algeria’s Christians. Many church buildings have been closed and physically sealed on spurious administrative grounds. Three churches in the city of Oran were forced to close last year after draining legal battles. The three are among at least 20 churches forcibly closed since late 2017, most of which remain sealed. Ask the Lord to grant wisdom to His people as they lodge appeals against closures and that these buildings will once again be open for worship. Pray that where physical and legal barriers seem impossible to overcome, God’s people will trust Him to find a way.
In November 2021 church leaders in Armenia expressed deep concern about increased Azerbaijani aggression on the border between the two countries. It looked as if the Azerbaijani forces might try to seize more of Armenia’s territory, thus precipitating a full-scale war. Pray to the Lord who makes wars cease to the ends of the earth, asking for His protection for our Armenian brothers and sisters, and that any plans of Azerbaijan that threaten their peace and safety will come to nothing (Psalm 46:9).
Pray for God’s blessing on the income-generating projects which Barnabas is funding to help very poor Christians in Bangladesh support their families. Some families have received livestock such as goats, pigs, chickens, ducks or calves and some have been given start-up costs to establish a small village grocery shop. Ask that these micro-businesses will grow and thrive and that the Christians also will grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Father God, we pray that You will continue to protect Your people facing violence in many different parts of the world. Restrain the hands of the hostile governments, terrorists and even family members who would seek to do physical harm to Christian believers. Please sustain the faith of those who face such violence, that they may draw near to You in time of need. We pray in particular for those in Myanmar still grieving after the Myanmar army’s shooting and burning of 35 people in a Christian community on Christmas Eve 2021. Please grant those who mourn the peace that transcends all understanding. In Jesus’ Name we pray. (Philippians 4:7)
As converts from Islam, Fulani Christians are viewed as traitors by Muslim extremists and are especially likely to be targeted by the jihadists who are escalating their campaign of violence across Burkina Faso. Give thanks for the faithfulness of our Fulani brothers and sisters in the face of extreme danger that has forced so many to flee their homes and fields. Ask that they will have courage and perseverance knowing that God will meet all their needs according to the riches of His glory in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:19).
“God is love, God is love, God is love!” Honorine exclaimed when she saw the water shoot out of the bore-well in Madakar in the far north of Cameroon. Barnabas supporters have funded the digging of five wells and the drilling of five bore-wells in villages in this region, which suffers greatly from Boko Haram attacks. The water supply is vital for hundreds of Christians displaced by the violence, including many widows and orphans. Many people struggle to find drinking water, especially in such mountainous areas, often travelling miles, spending a whole day just to fill a 25-litre can of water. Lift up needy and persecuted Christians in the far north of Cameroon in prayer and ask that they will experience their heavenly Father’s provision and protection.
As government restrictions on Chinese Christians increase, and their access to the Scriptures becomes increasingly difficult, pray that the Holy Spirit will be at work amongst them, teaching them all things and reminding them of everything that Jesus has said to us (John 14:26). Praise God that when the Chinese Church was cut off from outside links in 1949 for many decades, it did not die but grew tremendously while enduring great persecution. Pray that our Lord will continue to build His Church in China.
On 4 January the Egyptian Cabinet committee overseeing the process of granting licences to churches approved the application of a further 141 churches. This was the 22nd batch of registrations and it brought the total number of licensed churches to 2,162 out of the 3,730 that applied following the repeal of Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings in 2016. Congregations are allowed to worship in unlicensed church buildings pending completion of the official process. Praise the Lord that Christians in Egypt have a period of respite from pressure, and can worship Him freely.
Our heavenly Father knows which of His children are today suffering in Eritrean prisons and labour camps, just because of their love for His Son Jesus Christ. Most people are held without charge or trial and have no way of knowing how long their detention in appalling conditions will last. Yet some have spoken of feeling happier in prison than before their arrest, when they were waiting and wondering all the time when their arrest would come.
Pray that during their harsh incarceration they will be able to fix their eyes on Jesus, draw comfort from His Spirit and be a channel of blessing to others.
Ethiopian children are dying of starvation in hospital in Mekelle, the capital of the predominantly Christian region of Tigray. Families who have trekked for days in the hope of finding food and refuge in the city tell of surviving on nothing but roots and leaves. These are the innocent victims of terrible conflict in the region, which has resulted in widespread displacement and hunger. Cry out to the Lord for an end to the violence. Pray that deliveries of humanitarian aid are given safe passage so that food reaches people in desperate need. Pray also for aid that Barnabas has sent to Christians who have fled from Tigray to other areas of Ethiopia.
Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your unfailing love for children and how You affirm that the Kingdom of God belongs to such as them. We pray especially for Christian children who have suffered much through persecution. We lift up 12-year-old Alina and her family from Iraq as she adjusts to life in the UK. Please bring her comfort following the loss of her mother, who was martyred, and after the months of hardship moving from country to country. Please draw near to Alina and other Christian children and establish them in their faith as they face such challenges. May they will grow in resilience and learn to trust You more and more. (Matthew 19:14)
“Every Sunday is a day of terror and trauma for Christians, especially those belonging to those small churches,” said a church leader in Madhya Pradesh, India. His words reflect the rising number of attacks against worship services and prayer meetings by extremists, often linked to false accusations against the Christians of unlawful conversions. Pray that the voices of moderate and peaceable elements in Indian society prevail over the hostility of the militants. Ask that Christians will be able to attend prayer and worship without fear, especially on the Lord’s day.
Praise almighty God for His protection of Christians in Indonesia over the Christmas period, a heightened time of risk from Islamist extremist attacks. Give thanks for the actions of the government of President Widodo in deploying almost 180,000 police officers to provide an earthly guard for churches and public places over Christmas and New Year (often wrongly perceived in non-Western countries as a Christian festival). Pray against the advance of Islamist extremism, asking the Lord to cause the terrorists to repent of their thoughts and actions.
In November 2021 an Iranian court in the south-western city of Dezful acquitted eight Christian converts accused of “propaganda activities in favour of anti-regime groups”. Esmaeil Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi Shangari, Masood Nabi, Alireza Varak-Shah, Hojat Lotfi Khalaf Juy, Mohammad Kayidgap, Mohsen Saadati Zadeh and Alireza Roshanaei Zadeh were all found not guilty. The judge ruled that “religious conversion” is not criminalised in Iran’s Islamic Penal Code. His verdict concluded that, while conversion from Islam was against Islamic law (sharia) and would be punished in the afterlife, it was not illegal according to Iranian law. Give thanks for this amazing decision and judicial ruling and pray that it will set a precedent for other court cases against Iranian Christians from a Muslim background.
Iraq, a country which has been riven with violence and instability for many years, has yet to form a new government five months after parliamentary elections. On 8 February the new parliament was due to choose a president, who would in turn appoint a new prime minister. But this has yet to happen, and Iraq is left without a functioning government. The election results in October 2021 led to violent clashes that left two dead and more than 125 injured. Pray that the process of forming the new government proceeds peacefully, and that the new government will take effective steps to protect Iraq’s beleaguered Christian community and ensure their equal treatment with the Muslim majority.
Kazakhstan started the year with a wave of violent protests and riots. At the time of writing the unrest has died down, but the violence resulted in at least 164 deaths. Protests began on 2 January over rising fuel prices, but rapidly expanded into wider anti-government demonstrations. Russian troops were called into the country to help restore peace but soon withdrew.
Pray for Christians in Kazakhstan that they will be kept safe amidst the turmoil and political instability, and that they will be salt and light in their society.
Lamu County, Kenya is a mainly Muslim area, bordering Somalia and the vast Somali grazing lands of Kenya’s Garissa county. An enclave inside Lamu, inhabited by Christians of the Kikuyu tribe, was attacked in early January, with about six people killed. The perpetrators were thought to be from the Somali Islamist terrorist group, Al Shabaab, as well as local Islamists. Favour from the central government of Kenya has created great jealousy by others in Lamu against the Kikuyu Christians. Pray for all who mourn loved ones murdered in this attack, which was apparently designed to instil fear, and ask that, with God’s help, they may set an example of true forgiveness, as they forgive their attackers (Matthew 6:14).
Lord Jesus Christ, we pray today for Afghan Christians who have fled overland into neighbouring countries to escape the Taliban who are seeking to kill them because they love and follow You. Thank You for their faith that endures despite many dangers. May they be comforted knowing that You also fled the danger of death as an infant with Your parents, and suffered rejection and abuse in Your earthly life. We pray that these brave Afghan believers may soon be granted permission to settle permanently in safer countries, where converts from Islam are not persecuted or despised but welcomed as Your people.
Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul area draws many visitors to its huge saltwater lake, but this beautiful region is also strongly Islamic and one of the worst parts of the Central Asian country for anti-Christian persecution. When the pandemic stopped tourists coming in 2020, the economy of Issyk-Kul was devastated. Work dwindled and prices climbed. Through the local churches, Barnabas has helped hundreds of the poorest Christian families with basic food, fodder for their animals or coal for heating, during the freezing winter months.
Pray that that they will continue strong in the Lord and that the Lord will add to their number as more Muslims turn to Him.
It is now more than two years since Laos passed its “Law on the Evangelical Church” giving Christians the right to conduct services, preach throughout the country and maintain contacts with believers in other countries, but these freedoms are not well protected by local authorities in the more remote parts of the country. At the same time, a 2017 decree prohibiting “associations” from disturbing the “social order” or “national harmony” is sometimes used to persecute Christians. Pray that the non-Christian majority in Laos may see Christians as a positive influence in society, welcome their presence, and allow them to practise their faith freely.
The Libyan Ministry of the Interior warned its citizens in December not to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s Eve (often believed by Muslims to be a Christian festival). Restaurants and cafes were threatened with closure if they marked New Year’s Eve and the police seized Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes that were on sale in shops. Until recent years, many Libyan Muslims celebrated New Year’s Eve and Christian expatriates were able to celebrate Christmas. Pray for grace, peace and hope for Christians in Libya as restrictions grow; most of the Christians are migrant workers and refugees, but there are a small number of Libyan converts from Islam.
On 15 December French forces withdrew from the city of Timbuktu in central Mali, part of the ongoing withdrawal of the French military from this troubled Sahel nation. The French-led campaign against Islamist terrorists in Mali and the surrounding countries is due to finish by August 2022. The Malian government, which came to power in a military coup in August 2020, had its term in office extended for up to five years by an interim parliament on 21 February.
Pray for wise and just rule in Mali, with peace, stability and equality. Ask that the Lord will protect the small minority of Christians, only about 2% of the mainly Muslim population, who suffer persecution despite Mali’s secular constitution.
Lift up to the Lord the small but growing number of Christians in Mauritania, an African nation once reputed to be the only country on earth with no known indigenous believers. Give thanks that Christian groups were able to provide aid to needy people during the Covid crisis, which demonstrated the love of Christ and lessened hostility towards believers. Pray that the Muslim majority will be inspired by the steadfast faith of Mauritanian Christians and that more will turn to Him, despite the great dangers that converts face in this country where the law lays down a mandatory death sentence for apostasy from Islam.
A pastor in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, was abducted and decapitated by Islamist extremists on 15 December. The Islamists ordered the pastor’s widow to carry his head in a sack to a district police station and report the murder. Pray that the Lord will comfort our sister in her grief and terrible distress after this experience. The incident was yet another act of brutality in a region that has suffered the most shocking violence in the last few years, while under the control of the Islamist organisation Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama. A combination of Mozambican, Rwandan and South African forces started to drive the Islamists back in the latter part of 2021.
Pray for an end to violence in northern Mozambique.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we lift up to You all those You have called as pastors and evangelists, who share Your Word and the Gospel of Your Son in dark and difficult circumstances, who build up believers and bring others to the joy of salvation. We ask that the Holy Spirit will attend them, giving their words power and sustaining their faith in spite of the troubles and dangers they face. Please continue to work mightily through the ministry of Your servants, extending “a kingdom that will never be destroyed” but will “endure for ever”. We pray this in Christ’s Name. (Daniel 2:44)
Violence by the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) against Christians and others shows no signs of ceasing. In Christian-majority Chin State, the military repeatedly shelled the town of Thantlang between late October and late December last year, destroying seven church buildings in four attacks. The persistent attacks on church buildings, after the population had fled the town and bringing the attackers no apparent military advantage, seems to show the hatred of the Tatmadaw towards Christians and other religious minorities in this Buddhist-majority country. Ask the Lord, for whom nothing is impossible, to change this hatred into love.
At the end of 2021, nine Christians in Hindu-majority Nepal were facing charges under that country’s anti-conversion law. The law came into force in 2018, making it illegal to attempt to convert a follower of a religion “being practised since ancient times”. This is interpreted as a religion passed down through at least three generations, thus protecting Hindus and Buddhists but excluding most Nepali Christians, who are either first- or second-generation believers. The law also bans “hurting religious sentiment”, a vague wording that makes almost any public Christian activity potentially illegal.
Pray that the charges against the nine Christians will be dropped. Pray also that Christianity, which has grown from almost nothing in the last 70 years, will cease to be seen as a new and alien religion in Nepal.
Niger is a very poor country, in recent years hovering near or at the bottom of the Human Development Index. The Christian community is estimated at only 0.4% of the population. Most of the churches are in Tillabéri, which is part of the “tri-border” region where Niger meets Mali and Burkina Faso. In the tri-border region there is so much jihadi violence that more moderate Muslims have created a militia to defend themselves. Many on both sides of the conflict have died. Pray that the Lord will be a shield and shelter for the Christians in Tillabéri and enable them to be peacemakers. Thank the Lord for the Nigerien government’s commitment to religious freedom.
Give thanks for the release of more than 60 Christians abducted from Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji in the Chikun Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State, Nigeria, on 3 December. During the attack on the church two Christians were killed and one injured. On the same day, also in Chikun LGA, some 200 to 300 Fulani extremist gunmen invaded the community of Ungwan Gimbiya, a few kilometres from Kakau Daji, killing two people and abducting more than 50 villagers. Attacks on Christian communities in Kaduna State are numerous. Pray that believers in Kaduna State and across the troubled North and Middle Belt of the country will stand firm in their faith and will have grace to forgive their attackers.