***** PLAN TO PARTICIPATE IN IDOP: 9 / 16 NOVEMBER 2008 *****
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
For resources, visit http://www.idop.org
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 501 | Tue 21 Oct 2008
WELCOME to the intercessors who have joined the list this month.
'The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary they have divine power to demolish
strongholds.' 2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV
LAOS, where persecution is intense and Christians -- including
youths -- are dispossessed and even imprisoned and tortured for
refusing to renounce their 'foreign religion'.
EGYPT, where religious tensions are escalating and violence
against the indigenous Coptic Christian community is becoming
more intense. The government's preference for 'reconciliation
sessions' (where the Copts forfeit their rights and drop all
charges in exchange for 'peace') rather than law, justice and
reparation is only fuelling the situation by emboldening
belligerent Muslims. Pray for God to 'reveal himself to the
Egyptians' as promised in Isaiah 19.
IRAQ, where, after serious threats and 12 assassinations in two
weeks, some 750 Christian families totalling 3,750 individuals
had fled for their lives between 4 and 12 October to seek refuge
with relatives or in churches and monasteries in various
Christian-majority towns across Nineveh. Iraq's Christians are
under siege, facing genocide, and running out of places to go.
* UPDATE: CHRISTIAN FLIGHT CONTINUES Iraq's Ministry of
Displacement and Migration reported last week that a further 600
families have fled Mosul due to threats, intimidation and
attacks, bringing the total number of displaced Christians to
around 9,360 from some 1,560 families. On 20 October Nineveh
Deputy Governor Khasro Goran said the number has since risen to
2,000 families, based on the most recent figures from Nineveh's
office of Immigration and Displaced Persons. The UN High
Commissioner for Refugees comments that this amounts to about
half the Christian population of Mosul. Most of those displaced
have found refuge in churches. There is an urgent need for
humanitarian assistance. Only God can work the miracle that will
preserve this community for the future worship of the Lord in
Iraq as promised in Isaiah 19.
OTHER ISSUES DURING OCTOBER
* AFGHANISTAN: ANOTHER CHRISTIAN AID WORK ASSASSINATED
On Monday 20 October Taliban 'mujahideen' shot and killed Gayle
Williams (34, from London) as she walked to work in Kabul. Miss
Williams becomes the 29th aid worker to be murdered in Afghanistan
by the Taliban this year. In August, three women working with the
New York-based International Rescue Committee were ambushed and
murdered by the Taliban for being part of 'the foreign invader
forces'. The Taliban claimed responsibility for Gayle Williams'
murder saying that their investigations revealed that 'this woman
came to Afghanistan to teach Christianity to the people of
Afghanistan', so the Taliban leadership 'issued a decree to kill
this woman'. Miss Williams had been in Afghanistan for two years
assisting mentally disabled Afghans with the British-registered
charity 'Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises'
(SERVE) which has been working with Afghan refugees since 1980.
SERVE's chairman, Mike Lyth, dismissed the Taliban's claims to have
targeted Miss Williams for religious revenge as 'opportunistic'. He
said that while the charity is motivated by Christianity, it does
not actively proselytise. Pray for a witness to be preserved in
Afghanistan that the church may grow.
* INDIA: KANDHAMAL GENOCIDE PROGRESSES UNCHECKED
As if it weren't enough that 180 churches and 4,500 homes had been
destroyed creating 50,000 Christian refugees, Christians in
Kandhamal's relief camps are even being prevented from meeting for
prayer and are being pressured to go home. Fr Ajay Singh reports
the displaced are given one blanket per family, the relief camps
have no sanitation, counselling services are not permitted and the
emotional health -- particularly that of the women -- is
'deteriorating rapidly'. Meanwhile, according to AsiaNews and the
Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a campaign to 'cleanse
the land' is under way with Hindutva outfits physically removing
all evidence of a past Christian presence. Efforts to forcibly
convert Christians to Hinduism under threat of death have gathered
The situation in the states of Orissa and Karnataka is very tense.
The Central Government appears paralysed while the BJP state
governments continue to blame Christians and justify the Hindutva
outfits that 'respond' with extreme violence and the full knowledge
they are guaranteed impunity. The situation is extremely serious
and unlikely to improve significantly in the seven months before
the May 2009 general elections as the Hindutva forces escalate
their efforts to advance Hindutva for political gain.
* IRAN: CONCERN FOR RELEASED CONVERTS' SAFETY
On 25 September Iranian authorities released from prison the two
Iranian converts to Christianity for whom we prayed in RLP 491 (13
August). Mahmood Matin (52) and Arash Bandari (44) had been in
prison since their 5 May arrest on suspicion of apostasy. Whilst
their release is welcomed, religious liberty monitors are greatly
concerned for their safety. Also Adnkronos International reports:
'According to unofficial sources, 43 "converts" are jailed in Iran,
almost all of them arrested in the past year.'
* VIETNAM: TENSIONS INTENSIFY
While Catholics continue to gather for public vigils in Hanoi to
pray for the return of confiscated properties, the Communist Party-
controlled media is escalating its attacks on the church and on the
Hanoi Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet. The government has
threatened to take legal action against church leaders and remove
the Archbishop from his position. The cost of dissent can be high.
Two Vietnamese journalists and two policemen were recently
imprisoned for exposing a major government corruption scandal that
involved high-level officials in the Ministry of Transport
embezzling 1.8 million dollars for illegal gambling. Not only is
the government keen to deflect attention away from itself and its
corruption, but journalists keen to display their fidelity to the
Party know to do so by attacking the Catholics. The stand-off
between the Catholics and the Government is intensifying. Please
pray for 'truth, justice and charity' (Archbishop Kiet).
We usually provide a summary to use in news-sheets unable to
run the whole of an RLP. As a summary is not practicable with
this monthly update posting we suggest one or more of the above
items be used instead.
Please remember in your prayers the WEA Religious Liberty
Commission meeting in Thailand on Friday 24 October. The WEA
General Assembly will follow from 25 - 30 October.
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
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issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.