The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
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
* 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
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.
In a courageous and highly significant public event on 21
October some 2000 Protestants (with government permission)
rallied in Minsk for an end to religious repression. (Photos at
IRAQ, where criminal violence and Islamic terrorism against
Christians and Mandaeans is escalating dramatically amidst
* 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
* 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
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World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty
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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.