“The IDPs are tired of running,” said an official from a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Chin State, as 5,000 people, already displaced, had to uproot themselves again and flee when the Myanmar army launched artillery strikes on villages and IDP camps in the mainly Christian region. The military government has blocked humanitarian aid from getting there. In Kayah State, which also has a large Christian population, the UN has warned of “mass deaths from starvation, disease and exposure” after “brutal, indiscriminate attacks” against civilians displaced many tens of thousands. Ask that the Lord, who can move the hearts of kings (Ezra 1:1), will cause those in power in Myanmar to stop persecuting their own people.
The highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19 has been surging through Myanmar’s Chin region, whose population is mainly Christian. In June 48 pastors died, followed by another nine in the first week of July. A church leader appealed for prayers for the end of the pandemic, violence, wars, poverty and hunger. Pray for all the sick and bereaved, especially those who have lost their pastor just at the time when they are in greatest need of spiritual comfort.
Four people died and at least eight were injured in a midnight attack on a church building in Loikaw, Kayah State, Myanmar on Sunday 23 May. The building was full of civilians, mainly women and children and elderly, taking shelter from the ongoing fighting. After the attack many people fled into the jungle. Join with Christians in Myanmar as they ask the Lord for justice and peace in their country, where Christians have been severely persecuted for many decades.
Three pastors from Kachin State, Myanmar, have been arrested for leading prayers for peace in their country, which has been wracked with conflict since a military coup on 1 February. The pastors were detained on 28 June in connection with a prayer service they had organised, and charged with incitement to cause fear and other offences, potentially resulting in three years’ imprisonment. The pastors are in their 60s and 70s. One has stomach and kidney problems and another is recovering from a stroke. Pray for strength to survive the rigours of prison and that they will soon be released if that is the Lord’s will.
Lord Jesus, who said, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest”, You know that many people are struggling and worn down by the long pandemic. Strengthen them and help them to find rest in You. Some of us have become weary in well doing, as we have kept giving and caring throughout these difficult times. Refresh us, so that we may continue helping others. Give us new joy in taking every opportunity to do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Matthew 11:28; Galatians 6:9-10)
Muslims in Mosiya village, eastern Malawi, have given an ultimatum to a church to vacate what they called “Muslim territory”. The church had angered the local Muslim community by not allowing Muslim girls attending the church school to wear a hijab. A letter from the Muslim community said, “We will use whatever means to force the church to move … especially if it fails to bow down to our command.” Mosiya is in a Muslim-majority area, although Malawi as a whole is about 77% Christian. Pray that a Christian presence and witness will continue in Mosiya despite these threats.
In a letter dated 1 June, the Uganda Joint Christian Council called on Janet Museveni, Minister for Education (and wife of the president), to eliminate a bias against Christian doctrine in the Religious Education Curriculum for schools. God the Father and God the Son are never mentioned. Instead God is equated with the Islamic deity Allah, and Jesus with Isa in the Quran. The result, say the UJCC, is that Christian children convert easily to Islam. Pray for wise and righteous decisions amongst those who set the curriculum in this mainly Christian country that children may learn clearly what Christianity and Islam believe and know the difference between them.
Abyei, in the north of South Sudan, has been described by a local Christian leader as “the hottest spot ever … because of Islamic encroachments followed by harassments, intimidations and attacks frequently carried out by Arab militias” loyal to the former Islamic government of (North) Sudan. At 5.30 a.m. on Sunday 16 May, an attack by Arab militiamen on the village of Dungob-Alei resulted in 13 dead villagers and eight wounded. Pray that the Christians of Abyei, who face such frequent violence, will keep their focus on Jesus “who endured such opposition from sinners” so that they will not grow weary or lose heart (Hebrews 12:3).
A tweet was issued earlier this year by the Atheists in Kenya Society, announcing that their Secretary, Mr Seth Mahiga, had resigned: “Seth’s reason for resigning is that he has found Jesus Christ and is no longer interested in promoting atheism in Kenya.” Praise our Lord who met with Saul when he was persecuting 1st century Christians (Acts 9:1-19) and now has met with Seth when he was trying to shake the faith of 21st century Christians. Pray that our brother Seth may go on to be used mightily to extend the Kingdom of his Lord and Saviour.
Amanuel Wondimu (17) was a devout Ethiopian Christian who spent most of his time at his local church, where he served as a deacon. But on 11 May he was arrested, beaten and paraded in public. Then he was shot in the head at a roundabout in Dembi Dollo town, Oromia region, with passing vehicles forcibly stopped by police so that their occupants could witness the killing. The authorities claimed that he was a member of the Oromo Liberation Army, but his family strenuously deny it. “The accusations against him are absurd,” said one. About 35 mourners at Amanuel’s funeral were detained by the police for some hours, including elderly people and Amanuel’s six-year-old sister. Other mourners were reportedly beaten. Pray for an end to the harassment of this family and for the Lord’s comfort for all who knew and loved Amanuel.
Today is New Year’s Day in Ethiopia, called enkutatash (meaning “gift of jewels”). The last year has been a time of horror for Christians in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, with many slaughtered by the army of Ethiopia’s Marxist neighbour, Eritrea. Sexual violence, a scorched earth policy with destruction of health services and livelihoods, deliberate violation of church services, hunger used as a weapon of war – these are some of the things that Christians in Tigray have endured. By June nearly 90% of the population of Tigray were in need of food aid. Pray that the new year will be a happy and blessed one for them, bringing an end to their suffering.
Our Father in heaven, we cry out to You for Christians in Eritrea suffering for their faith. We ask that those imprisoned under the repressive regime will know Your presence powerfully as they draw near to You in prayer. We praise You that many of our brothers and sisters have chosen to sacrifice their liberty, and often health, by refusing to sign a document renouncing their faith. We pray that the severe limits on religious freedom will be relaxed, and that Christians will no longer feel compelled to seek refuge abroad. We bring our pleas to You in Jesus’ Name.
Praise God for an initiative by the government of Croatia to provide scholarships for young Christians from contexts of persecution in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to study at Croatian universities. In places where impoverished Christians are too poor to access tertiary education, many are offered scholarships from Islamic sources to study for free in Muslim-majority countries or at Islamic institutions; this can result in conversions to Islam. The Croatian government has been overwhelmed with applications; ask that God will guide as they select which young people will be awarded scholarships.
Today is the annual commemoration of the Greek Genocide, when Ottoman Turks strove to eliminate Greeks, along with other Christian minorities, from Asia Minor in the early 20th century. For Greeks, the worst atrocity was the “Great Fire of Smyrna”, lit by Turkish troops on 13 September 1922, which burned for ten days, leaving the port city in ashes. Many Greek and Armenian Christians died, while hundreds of thousands of newly homeless and terrified people were “surging back and forth on the blistering quay” trying to escape the flames. Pray to the Lord Jesus, the Living One, who told the first believers in Smyrna that they would suffer persecution for ten days but a crown of life awaited those who were faithful to the point of death (Revelation 2:8-11). Ask that the remembrance of this terrible persecution will prevent future atrocities.
There is a very active ministry to the deaf in Kyrgyzstan and many deaf Muslims have turned to the Lord. Typically the converts suffer persecution by relatives and friends. Pray that they will be able to withstand these experiences. The ministry is expanding and new fellowships for deaf believers are being formed in local churches, but more workers are needed, especially sign language interpreters. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers equipped with the specialist skills needed for this particular harvest field (Luke 10:2).
Issyk-kul is a huge saltwater lake, which is a major tourist attraction in Kyrgyzstan. The region is strongly Islamic and one of the worst parts of the country for anti-Christian persecution. A Christian camp site by the lake, used for ministry, is being targeted. In November 2020 some people tried to take it by force, but the police intervened. Now they are trying to get ownership through the courts. The first two hearings were won by the Christians, but their opponents have now filed a case with the Supreme Court as well as starting a second claim in the lowest court. The local Christian organisation which owns the camp site asks prayer that “God would give wisdom, strength and victory in this matter”.
Nine-year-old “Ivan” attended an 18-day judo training camp in the Issyk-kul region of Kyrgyzstan in June. He was the only Christian and the only ethnic Russian at the camp. For the first two days he was teased by the other boys about his faith and ethnicity. Then on day 3 they began beating him, and repeated the beating every day until the end of the camp. The coach did nothing to intervene, but forced Ivan to continue training despite injuries to his head. When he got home he had a black eye, headaches, was vomiting and reciting Quranic verses. Pray that Ivan will be fully restored from his ordeal and strengthened in his Christian faith.
After about six years of work, a new Religion Law was signed by the president of Uzbekistan on 5 July and came into force the next day. State sources promoted it as bringing an increase in religious liberty to this very strict country, but the difference is only slight and, while some restrictions have been lifted, others have been added. This is a disappointment for Christians because, under the current president, their situation had eased a little. Remembering that Jesus is ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5), pray that He will guide those in power in Uzbekistan to bring in greater freedoms. (Forum 18)
Heavenly Father, we remember our brothers and sisters facing acute poverty due to discrimination and oppression. We bring before you Christian brick-kiln labourers in Pakistan, many of them burdened with the impossible task of paying back loans taken out in times of dire need. We praise you for those labourers released from poverty and pray that many more will receive financial help to be freed from such bondage. Please intervene for Christians throughout the world denied employment opportunities because of their faith in You. We ask this in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Shahzad Masih (36), a Christian factory worker in Pakistan, died on 20 June from severe internal injuries resulting from a brutally violent indecent assault, which the dying man said had been perpetrated by two Muslim co-workers. Shahzad had only been working at the factory a few weeks. The two accused were arrested and charged with murder. Pray that justice will be served and for an end to the violent attacks on poor and defenceless Pakistani Christians.
Praise God for answered prayer for Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagufta Kausar. The Pakistani Christian couple had been sentenced to death in April 2014 for “blasphemy” in relation to text messages which it was impossible for them to have sent as they are both illiterate. Now they have been acquitted in an appeal hearing at the Lahore High Court. Pray for their protection from zealous Muslims who would still seek to harm them, sincerely believing that this would please Allah.
Pray for Aasia Bibi and her family, who have settled in a safe country after she spent nearly eight years on death row in Pakistan, falsely accused of “blasphemy”. Every day Aasia thanks God for her freedom. She asks prayer for her disabled daughter Esha, who is now getting treatment that she could not have in Pakistan, for her and her family’s security, and for all suffering in prison in Pakistan that they will be given their freedom too. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Barnabas Fund has contributed towards the cost of a house for the family.
Edwardes College in Peshawar, north-west Pakistan, was founded by the Church Missionary Society in 1900 and has been Christian-run ever since – until Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on 3 June 2021 that the management of the school must be handed over to the local government. Pakistani Christians were deeply unhappy. In 1972 most educational institutions in Pakistan were nationalised. In 2004 President Musharraf ordered the conditional re-privatisation of educational institutions that had belonged to the minorities, although fewer than half the Christian ones have actually been returned to them. Edwardes College continued to be Christian-run throughout. Although there is no earthly power higher than the Supreme Court to appeal to, pray to the God of justice that the decision will be reversed. “Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18)
Kinnari is a Pakistani Christian widow with two children to support. Her brother used to help the family financially, but then he lost his factory job because of Covid-19. She has a brain tumour which has already made her blind in one eye and now she is losing the sight in her other eye. Kinnari is one of many hundreds of Pakistani Christian families that Barnabas is helping with food aid. “I do not know what the future holds for me and my family,” said Kinnari, “but I am so thankful to Barnabas Fund for their generosity in sending the help from thousands of miles away. I believe that I am not alone and people of God are standing with me.” Praise God for Kinnari’s example of trusting in God, and the peace it brings her as she views her circumstances with the eye of faith. Pray that her words will inspire believers around the world.
After two decades, the US has withdrawn the last of its troops from Afghanistan. As the US troops left, Taliban fighters expanded their area of control in rural areas, re-imposing their ultra-strict form of sharia as they went. By mid-July the Taliban already claimed to control 85% of the country. As converts from Islam, Afghan Christians will be even more vulnerable under Taliban rule than under the Afghan government. If they are discovered they will be given the choice: convert, leave or be killed. Pray that the Lord will be their shield and their fortress, and that, in the midst of danger, they may affirm like David, “My heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7-8)
We cry out to You, Lord, for the troubled land of Mozambique. We lift up to you the far north of the country, labelled the “land of fear” because of the terror and instability caused by Islamist violence. We pray for those whose loved ones have been killed and for three-quarters of a million people who have fled the violence and are now facing severe hunger as a consequence. Please provide for the physical and spiritual needs of Christians and others severely affected by the trauma and enable Your people to bring their fears to You. We ask this in Jesus’ Name.
Two women were injured when a bomb exploded inside a church in Beni, in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on Sunday 27 June, one of three blasts that took place in the city over the weekend. The makeshift device exploded just before a service attended by many children and their parents was due to begin. This area of the DRC was placed under a “state of siege” on 6 May by President Felix Tshisekedi because of rising violence from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an extremist Islamist group which has been launching attacks in the area for two decades. Although earthly powers seem helpless to stop the violence, pray to our heavenly King that He may “defend the afflicted among the people” (Psalm 72:4).
In the midst of a celebration of new spiritual life and resurrection came physical death and destruction. Fifteen Christians were killed when armed men attacked a baptism ceremony in the village of Adjarara, northern Burkina Faso, on 18 May. It occurred in an area where international and regional armed forces are actively trying to stop jihadi violence. Recalling that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, pray that He will bring good out of this tragedy (Romans 8:28).
The majority of Niger’s small Christian population live in the Tillabéri region, near the border with Mali and Burkina Faso. On 12 May “a horde of terrorists who came on motorcycles” attacked the village of Fantio in Tillabéri. They killed five people, wounded two and vandalised a church building. As the centre of global Islamist violence shifts from the Middle East to West Africa, and formerly peaceful countries like Niger become places of conflict, pray that our brothers and sisters will find that the Lord is the stability of their times (Isaiah 33:6 ESV).
With the slaughter of Christians in parts of North and Middle Belt Nigeria unabated and largely unpunished, keep praying about Barnabas Fund’s Open Letter calling for action to stop the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at which we hoped it would be raised has been postponed again, because of Covid-19. At the time of writing no new date has been set, but our times are in God’s hands, and more waiting means more opportunity to pray. Pray that when the Heads of Government finally meet they will act with wise diplomatic pressure and effective policies to bring about change.