December, 2021, marked the ten-year anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s rule in North Korea. It was originally hoped that Kim might bring reform to the repressive communist nation, but instead authoritarian rule has persisted. Christians are among those who bear the brunt of North Korean tyranny. Any action, including praying or reading the Bible, that identifies a person as a Christian can lead to imprisonment, torture and abuse, not just for the believer, but for his or her entire family.
Pray that the Lord will strengthen His suffering people in North Korea, enabling them to endure their persecution and be faithful, if necessary, unto death.
Give thanks for answered prayer for the reversal of the June 2021 decision to nationalize the historic Edwardes College in Peshawar, Pakistan. In January 2022, the renowned Christian higher education institution was returned to Church of Pakistan control. Christians are thrilled that the Christian character of the college can now be restored, and expressed gratitude for the global Church’s prayer support. The Church now has 75% control over the institution and the guarantee that the Principal will be a Christian.
Pray that Edwardes College will shine as a beacon of excellence, and of the Christian faith, and ask for God’s wisdom and guidance for the Principal.
Our Father in heaven, we lift up to you Christian women and girls living in contexts of persecution and marginalization who are often doubly despised because of their faith, and because they are female. O Father of Compassion, please provide for their daily needs and shield them from harm. We pray especially for widows and their children who, in some countries, are so vulnerable without their husband’s earthly protection.
Give thanks to the Lord for sustaining the fatherless and the widow. We ask this in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 146:9).
The conflict in Ukraine is already having a knock-on effect on food supply around the world, especially in the poorer regions that have long suffered from food insecurity and famine. Russia exports more wheat than any other country in the world, while Ukraine is also one of the world’s largest exporters. The two countries are also leading exporters of other grains, seeds and vegetable oils, as well as much-needed fertilisers. Supplies of bread and other food are diminished in many African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Food prices are rising beyond the means of the poorest, among them many thousands of our brothers and sisters.
Pray that the Lord, who provides even for the birds (Job 38:41; Matthew 6:26), will provide for these needy people.
For the second year running, Christmas trees and decorations were on sale openly in Saudi Arabia last December, a significant change in a country where any public sign of following a non-Islamic religion used to be strongly forbidden. The majority of Christians in Saudi Arabia are expatriates from India and the Philippines. Indian Christians were thrilled to hold a big Christmas celebration at the Indian consulate in Jeddah, the first time they had done so (although Western expatriates — who are punished less severely than Asians — have been in the habit of celebrating Christmas in private compounds).
Ask the Lord that this softening of attitudes in Saudi Arabia will continue, and that the tiny community of Saudi Christians, at present compelled to be secret believers, will soon be able to enjoy freedom of worship.
About one in four people are at risk of severe hunger because of drought in Somalia, a land also ravaged by decades of war. Aid agencies estimated that, following three consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, about 4.6 million people will need food assistance by next month, May 2022. “It is an unprecedented disaster that is coming,” warned an international aid agency. Amongst the almost 100% Muslim population is a small Christian community of converts and their children. Many have been murdered for their decision to follow Christ, and all who remain are in severe danger. As they face this threat, on top of all the other challenges of life in Somalia, pray that the Lord Jesus will wonderfully fill them with hope, peace, joy, and love.
Ask that they will shine like stars in their society as they hold firmly to the word of life (Philippians 2:15-16).
Sri Lanka is facing an economic and agricultural crisis that the government is struggling to manage. A Sri Lankan Christian reports that the cost of living has increased, while many have lost jobs. Power outages occur every day and there is often no gas for cooking. Because of changes to the formula for the gas piped to homes, gas explosions have become more likely – at least two people have been killed in such explosions. The lack of fertiliser means that the country may run short of rice and vegetables.
Pray for the whole of Sri Lankan society, especially the small Christian minority, that God will supply all their needs.
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” (Isaiah 46:10). Sudan is in political turmoil and, at the time of writing it looks as if the period of military rule will be extended. Praise God that His purposes will stand and pray that His people in Sudan (about 3% of the population) will not be afraid but will trust in Him. After a generation of strict Islamic rule and persecution, the country began in 2020 to take steps towards equality, peace and freedom of religion.
Pray that calls for a return to a strict interpretation of Islam will be resisted, whatever shape government takes over the coming months.
Christians in north-east Syria face pressure from three sources: Turkish military airstrikes, the local Kurdish Muslim population and the terrorist violence of Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). The whole Syrian population is suffering as the economy stands on the brink of collapse, with nine out of ten people living in poverty. In the misery of the civil war’s aftermath, sanctions imposed by the US make reconstruction of war-damaged facilities impossible.
Pray that the Lord will have mercy on this country, which was for most of the 20th century a place of safety, stability and respect for Christians. May His people be a channel of blessing and hope to all around them.
Almighty God, we pray for converts to Christianity who endure violence and injustice because of their faith in You. Thank you that You know what each one is facing today. We pray in particular for Roksari Kanbari in Iran, who was still recovering from the trauma of intensive interrogation by state security agents and a jail sentence when she was summoned again to face the same charge, even at the age of 64. Be close to her, O Lord. Give her courage and perseverance. Be a rock and a fortress for Roksari and all converts who suffer for Jesus, in whose Name we pray.
Concerns have been raised for the safety of Christians in Tajikistan as, for the first time since 1937, a national census has included a question about religion. It is believed that the census results, which are due to be published later this year, may make it easier for believers to be identified. Tajikistan is more than 90% Muslim, and one of the most religiously conservative of the Central Asian states. Christian congregations are already subject to government surveillance, including inspections of churches, while converts are at particular risk of violence and death.
Pray that the census results will not make it easier for extremists, whether in government or in the community, to persecute the Church.
At the time of writing Turkey is facing an economic crisis, with inflation running at its highest level since 2001, the Turkish lira dropping in value, and public opinion turning against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The risk of political turmoil or crisis is great, particularly as, with presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2023, Erdoğan seems to be seeking to strengthen his grip on power while opposition forces work to undermine him.
Pray that in the midst of uncertainty Turkey’s small and beleaguered Christian community will be kept in perfect peace as they steadfastly trust in the Lord (Isaiah 26:3).
Elections held in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in January were won by the ruling National Unity Party (UBP) with an increased number of seats but still not quite an outright majority. With 24 of the 50 seats in the TRNC’s parliament, the UPB have formed a coalition with two smaller parties, the Rebirth Party and the Democratic Party. The UBP is closely allied to President Erdoğan of Turkey, and all three governing parties are sympathetic to Turkish interests. The TRNC, a breakaway state recognised only by Turkey, is beset by economic woes and has been hard hit by Covid-19. The population is estimated at 99% Muslim.
Pray for the oppressed Christian community of the TRNC, asking that, if it is His will, the new government will look more kindly on the Christians.
In Muslim-majority Turkmenistan there are just 20 registered church buildings (places where it is legal for Christians to gather for worship). In recent years no new churches have gained registration, meaning that many congregations are operating unlawfully when they meet for worship. Yet Barnabas Fund contacts report that, though the registration process is restrictive and onerous – for example, the requirement that churches must have a minimum of 50 members before applying – often it is “the churches that do not seek or are afraid to apply for registration”.
Please pray that pastors will be more courageous and active in this matter.
As we remember today our Lord’s death on the cross for our sins let us pause to give thanks for those who have laid down their lives for Him. Thank the Lord for the life of Nitish Kumar, a teenage convert in Bihar, India, who died in September 2021 from injuries sustained as the victim of an acid attack carried out by radical nationalists after he refused to stop holding prayer meetings.
Pray that relatives and friends left behind by Nitish and other heroes of our faith will draw strength from remembering their example and draw comfort from knowing that their loved ones now wear a martyr’s crown in heaven.
Praise our healing Saviour Jesus Christ for the dedication of Christian doctors, nurses and volunteers who have cared for hundreds of seriously ill Covid patients in their own homes in Uzbekistan, where hospitals have struggled to cope. Team members have put aside the danger of infection to themselves to treat patients severely ill with breathing difficulties, often providing them with oxygen concentrators, some funded by Barnabas supporters. Thanks to the team’s voluntary efforts, the lives of many Christians and Muslims were saved.
Christ is risen! Alleluia! Lord Jesus, we celebrate Your triumph over death today and acknowledge You as the risen Lord of life. Thank You that You are our living hope because You have conquered the power of the enemy and are now seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us. We rejoice that hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit He has given us.
We pray that our persecuted brothers and sisters suffering for Your Name’s sake will be strengthened by this living hope. We ask this in Your Name and for Your glory. (Romans 8:34, 5:5)
At this time, with the continuing effects of Covid-19, global insecurity, wars and rumours of wars, and the many natural disasters hitting our planet, some of which have had devastating effects on vulnerable Christians, pray to the Lord who holds the nations in His hands that His resurrection power will turn people and their leaders to peace and stability. Pray that they will beat their swords into ploughshares and will not train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4).
Ask that He will extend His Kingdom and will comfort His people and give them hope.
Recent months have seen a wave of anti-Christian persecution in various parts of India with extremists disrupting church meetings, burning Christian literature, attacking schools and assaulting worshippers. Yet faithful Christians continue to worship and witness, and non-Christians continue to be drawn to Christ.
Pray for the strengthening of our brothers and sisters across India and that the Church will continue to grow both in states where there is much persecution and in those where there is freedom and safety.
A recent survey in Karnataka state, India, looked into complaints of forced conversions to Christianity. But the survey was abandoned after officials spoke to 46 Christian families who had converted to Christianity and found no evidence of coercion to convert to Christianity. The administrative officer said that the families were “in a much better place now and believe the new faith is the reason for their wellbeing”. Praise God for the vibrant witness of our brothers and sisters in Karnataka and ask that they will continue to experience His encouragement in their walk with Him.
Pray that attempts to introduce or tighten anti-conversion legislation across India will be defeated.
A suicide bomber attacked a crowded restaurant in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo on Christmas Day. The bomber tried to enter the crowded restaurant, where many people had gathered to celebrate Christmas, but was stopped by security guards. He therefore detonated himself at the entrance, killing at least six other people including two children. Over 20 were injured. It is thought the bomber came from an Islamist group called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Pray that other members of the ADF, considered the deadliest militia in the region, will meet with the Prince of Peace and next Christmas will be worshipping Him as Lord and Saviour, not trying to destroy His followers.
Give thanks for answered prayers with the release of two more students kidnapped from Bethel Baptist High School in Nigeria. At the time of writing just one student is still being held out of the 121 young people who were abducted by an armed gang that stormed the school in Kaduna State in the early hours of 5 July 2021.
Pray for the swift release of this last student. Praise God for the inspirational example of the school’s head boy (aged 17), who was released in November after becoming seriously ill. He had refused earlier offers of release, stating he would not go free while any other student was still being held.
Give thanks for the life and ministry of lay pastor William Siraj, shot dead by a Muslim gunman in Pakistan on Sunday 30 January. The attack happened as he was driven home from Sunday morning service at a small church near Peshawar where he had ministered for more than 20 years. Pray for the family and all who mourn our faithful brother and ask that they be assured he has received the Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10). William was the older brother of Barnabas Fund’s Pakistan coordinator, Wilson Saraj.
Pray for physical, emotional and spiritual healing for the church’s senior pastor, Patrick Naeem, who was driving the car and was wounded in the attack.
Father God, we give You thanks that there is increasing official recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the remembrance of which is observed by Armenians around the world today. Thank You that an increasing number of governments are officially recognising as genocide the violence which killed 3.75 million Armenian and other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire. Please take our human efforts, that may seem to us small and weak and futile and use them powerfully to prevent such terrible tragedy ever occurring again.
We pray this in the Name of the Lord Jesus.
At least 28 people were killed and 57 houses burned down in an attack by Islamist extremists against the Christian community of Yith Pabol, Aweil East county, South Sudan, in early January. Bishop Joseph Mamer Manot said on 6 January that “massive displacement has happened, and the humanitarian situation is alarming as food and other property have been burned down into ashes, leaving survivors with no shelters, no food and no safe drinking water”. The incident was one of many attacks against South Sudanese Christians by Arab Muslims from the Republic of Sudan, along the disputed border between the two countries.
Ask that the Lord will comfort those who grieve and provide for those who have lost so much, as well as bringing peace to this troubled land.
Church leaders in Pakistan condemned the killing in Sialkot, Punjab of a Sri Lankan factory manager who was accused of “blasphemy”. On 3 December, Priyantha Kumara – a Buddhist – was beaten and tortured to death by an angry mob of Muslims, who then set his body on fire. “We are feeling helpless in front of ignorant and religious fanatics,” said Akmal Bhatti, a Christian and chairman of Minorities Alliance Pakistan. “The survival of Pakistan depends on making its citizens humane and peaceful,” he added. The appalling incident led to widespread outrage, including from Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Pray that these tragic circumstances will lead to greater protections for Christians and other religious minorities.
Zafar Bhatti, a Pakistani Christian who was convicted of “blasphemy” in May 2017, was sentenced to death by Rawalpindi District Court on 3 January 2022. Bhatti, who has been fighting to clear his name since his arrest in 2012, appeared in court as part of an ongoing appeal against the life sentence he received when first convicted. The court, however, upheld the 2017 conviction, and further ruled that the proper sentence for “blasphemy” against Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, was death rather than life imprisonment.
Pray that a planned appeal against both the death sentence and the original conviction will succeed.
“Without Barnabas, my children and I would live on the streets and starve,” said Senegalese widow Mariétou, a Christian convert from Islam. Her husband, also a convert, died of Covid, leaving her with no means to support her children. Her parents refused to help unless the family became Muslim again.
Pray that all converts around the world, especially convert widows like Mariétou who are so vulnerable to discrimination and persecution, will know God as their ever-present help and strength (Psalm 46:1). Mariétou was one of 12 convert widows, in similar situations, whom Barnabas helped to set up in their own small businesses and become self-reliant
An estimated 2.28 billion people are facing food insecurity in 2022 owing to a lack of reliable access to food in many parts of the world. The main reasons before the pandemic were conflict, economic downturns and environmental disasters. While famine is an issue that affects all people, persecuted and impoverished Christians are often among the first to suffer.
Beseech almighty God to give the hungry daily bread (Matthew 6:11) and ask for His protection for those who work tirelessly to feed people in desperate need.
“We especially want to thank the Barnabas Fund for their continued support, in Jesus’ Name.” These were the words of a community health worker in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, after Barnabas Fund partners distributed ePap porridge to the desperately needy Christian community in November 2021. The distribution is part of Barnabas Fund’s food.gives initiative, in which food is being sent to malnourished Christians. In January 2022 18 tonnes of ePap was delivered to Christians in Madagascar, while the first container of dry food from our warehouse in Swindon arrived safely in Pakistan. Give thanks to the Lord that He is providing for His hungry children, and pray that He will use food.gives to help many more around the world.