**** PLAN TO PARTICIPATE IN IDOP - 12 / 19 NOVEMBER 2006 **** The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 401 - Wed 25 Oct 2006
WELCOME to the 18 intercessors who have joined the list this month.
DURING OCTOBER WE HAVE PRAYED FOR -
IRAN, where Christians are facing increased discrimination and persecution.
* UPDATE: Please continue to pray for Christian leaders, evangelists and ministers under the scrutiny of the Iranian secret police and Revolutionary Guard, including Reza Montazemi and Fereshteh Dibaj released on bail.
AFGHANISTAN, where the Taliban is resurgent and the religious police of the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are being re-instated. We continue to pray for the advancing storm of Islamisation to be swept away by showers of righteousness sent from the Lord.
'You heavens above, rain down righteousness, let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open up wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the Lord, have created it.' Isaiah 45:8
BELARUS, where 103 believers supportive of New Life church, Minsk, are hunger-striking to protest at religious repression.
* UPDATE: PROTESTANTS RALLY. Forum 18 has reported, 'Belarusian authorities may be preparing to reverse their position towards New Life church.' After President Lukashenka reportedly said the church needs assistance, a government official made 'a "strong recommendation" to New Life's Pastor, Vyacheslav Goncharenko, that the church try another appeal to the Higher Economic Court'. So the church has appealed but will still protest until its property is legally returned and they are officially free to worship there. Opposition leader Alysksandr Milinkevich has expressed great admiration for the hunger strikers' faith and courage. Please pray for a positive and quick outcome as the health of some of the hunger strikers is in decline.
IRAQ, where criminal violence and Islamic terrorism against Christians and Mandaeans is escalating dramatically amidst horrendous insecurity.
* UPDATE: APPEALS FOR SECURITY, REFUGE AND RESCUE. Over recent years Iraq's indigenous Christian Assyrian population has dropped from 1.4 million to 700,000. Numerous churches have been bombed and closed. Facing imminent genocide, the Mandaeans have seen their numbers fall from 35,000 to 5,000. All but four of their churches have been forcibly acquired by Muslims. Around 1.5 million Iraqis are internally displaced and about 1.6 million are refugees, mostly in Jordan and Syria. There are an estimated 800,000 Iraqis in Syria, arriving at a rate of 40,000 per month. Though Christians make up only 4 percent of Iraq's population, they comprise around 40 percent of all refugees.
Between 1941 and 1951 Iraq's 130,000-strong ancient Jewish population, which dominated Iraq's commerce and professions, was 'cleansed' from Iraq in a decade of violent anti-Semitism. In a clandestine operation in 1950 Israel's Mossad airlifted 115,000 imperilled Iraqi Jews to Israel. Will Iraq's Christians and Mandaeans find safety, refuge or rescue? Please pray.
OTHER SITUATIONS FOR PRAYER IN OCTOBER --------------------------------------
* ERITREA: TWO CHRISTIANS TORTURED TO DEATH
Compass Direct (CD) reports that Immanuel Andegergesh (23), Kibrom Firemichel (30) and 10 other Christians were arrested on 15 October as they worshipped in a house fellowship in Asmara. All were reportedly subjected to 'furious mistreatment'. Andegergesh and Firemichel died two days later in a military camp from torture wounds and severe dehydration. The fate of the other 10 believers is unknown. More than 1900 Christians are imprisoned for their faith in Eritrea.
* ETHIOPIA: MUSLIMS ATTACK CHRISTIANS DURING FESTIVAL
In early October Ethiopian and Somali Muslim fundamentalists in Dembi, western Ethiopia, attacked Christians celebrating their traditional Meskel ('cross') festival which marks the beginning of Spring. Dutch news agency Reformatorisch Dagblad reported 31 Christians were killed, dozens were taken hostage, five churches and hundreds of homes were burnt, five other churches were seized and converted to mosques, and some 3000 Christians were displaced and are now receiving emergency food aid through Samaritan's Purse. Please pray for God to protect Christians in the Horn of Africa as religious (and regional) tensions grow. Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked Islamists have declared jihad against Ethiopia. Christians in the Muslim-populated outer regions of Ethiopia are suffering rising Muslim hostility.
* INDIA: THE PERSECUTION FLOOD
On 3 October Hindu reporters attended a 1000-strong prayer meeting at the Abundant Life Church in Belahta, Uttar Pradesh, a state ruled by a coalition that includes the BJP. According to Compass Direct (CD) local Hindu media claimed the next day that 350 Hindus had been forcibly converted to Christianity in Belahta. Extremists accompanied by police then threatened the believers. On 6 October villagers stormed another branch of the Abundant Life Church in Lesuka, about 12km from Belahta, and beat four believers. Unable to get police protection the church cancelled its Sunday worship. Also in Uttar Pradesh in early October, hundreds of Hindu fanatics attacked and ransacked a shelter for widows and a school for poor children run by an American Christian couple whom the militants accused of proselytism and forced conversions.
On 4 October Hindu extremists in the western state of Orissa publicly humiliated, tortured and later abducted a Christian youth, Ranjan Dangua, allegedly to punish him for accepting Christianity. Hindu nationalists in Orissa continue to forcibly 'reconvert' tribal Christians to Hinduism with the sanction of the BJP, which rules Orissa as part of a coalition.
On 10 October in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, some 70 Hindu extremists attacked the annual convention of a Pentecostal church in Jabalpur. Police prevented the militants from storming the convention but the facility was vandalised and the militants have threatened to bomb the property.
On 10 October the state government in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh took over the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in Lundra and fired 17 of its employees. ICDS has been run since 1995 by Raigarh- Ambikapur Health Association (RAHA), a Catholic voluntary health service. RAHA told CD that the takeover was an act of sheer malice against the Christian community.
Due to false TV reports some 500 angry Hindu villagers stormed the Lourd Matha Seva Ashram home for the destitute in Karnataka state on 14 October. CD reports that eight Christian workers at the home were remanded in custody until October 28 while the residents were all moved to a government facility. Hindu radicals levelled fabricated charges such as trafficking in human organs, later disproved. Karnataka is ruled by a coalition that includes the BJP.
Please pray for India: for God to protect and bless his children and frustrate the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146
We usually provide a summary to use in bulletins unable to run the whole RLP. As a summary is not practicable with this monthly update posting we suggest using instead one or more of the above items.
Please send this RLP to others, with attribution to World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Prayer List < firstname.lastname@example.org > ----------------------------------------------------
The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty 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.
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