During April we prayed for……

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 475 | Wed 23 Apr 2008

WELCOME to the 14 intercessors who have joined the list this month.



RUSSIA, where the children of Perestroika are being confronted by
escalating intolerance driven primarily by the Russian Orthodox
Church as it seeks to restore its religious hegemony and
political influence. (These were children and teenagers in the
mid-1980s to early 1990s when President Gorbachev introduced
openness and reform to the USSR.) While the children of
Perestroika found liberty, the grandchildren of Perestroika,
specifically those whose families are involved with Protestant
churches and missions, are finding persecution.



The Washington-based North Korea Freedom Coalition will hold its
annual North Korea Freedom Week from 26 April to 3 May (see
< http://www.nkfreedom.org/ >). The Coalition has declared Sunday 27
April an international day of prayer for North Korea. North Korea
is presently the world's worst abuser of religious liberty:
repression and suffering are extreme. Over the past 55 years the
local Korean chorus of prayer for North Korea has grown into a
global symphony and an intensive spiritual battle now rages for
this land that once saw such great revival it was dubbed 'the
Jerusalem of the East'. The regime of Kim jong-Il increases
openness and then, when it feels threatened, introduces new
repressive measures to counter it. Please pray in solidarity with
multitudes for North Korea this Sunday, knowing 'the battle is the
Lord's' (1 Samuel 17:27).


Lebanon, once a Christian majority state, was supposed to showcase
Christian-Muslim peaceful co-existence. Today as a Muslim-majority
state it is politically paralysed and on the brink of civil war.
Disagreements between the opposing 'March 14' (pro-West: Sunni,
Christian) and 'March 8' (pro-Syrian: Shi'ite, Christian and
Wahhabist) forces have kept the state without a president since
November 2007. Numerous anti-Syrian Christian politicians have been
assassinated over recent years. On Sunday 20 April, two members of
Lebanon's Christian Phalange party were assassinated at the opening
of a party headquarters in the eastern town of Zahle. Lebanon's
Christian minority is divided and gravely threatened. Pray for the
church in Lebanon.


Catholic priest Rev Father M X Karunaratnam died on Sunday 20 April
when his car was targeted by a road-side bomb in Ambalkulam in the
north which is held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Father Karunaratnam was also the chairman of the NorthEast
Secretariat on Human Rights. According to the LTTE, soldiers from
the Sri Lankan Army's Deep Penetration Unit perpetrated the
targeted killing. However, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara rejected this, saying that LTTE-controlled territory is
far too heavily guarded for government soldiers to be operating
there and the LTTE controls the road on which he was travelling.
Father Karunaratnam was well known, running prayer and counselling
rooms in the area. Once again, a Christian leader may have been
assassinated under the cover of conflict. Pray for the church in
Sri Lanka.


A crude bomb exploded on Sunday 13 April outside the Immaculate
Conception Metropolitan Cathedral in Zamboanga, South Philippines,
shattering the Cathedral's windows. Fortunately it detonated
prematurely about an hour before the 5 am Mass. Zamboanga City
police chief, Jonathan Perez, told Reuters news the suspects were
trying to plant bombs inside the Cathedral in time for the first
Mass but were forced to leave when people noticed them behaving
suspiciously. As they escaped they left the bomb under a van parked
inside the church compound and threw another into a coffee shop.
Police believe that militants from the Abu Sayyaf were responsible.
While no-one was injured, it has raised fears amongst Catholics in
Zamboanga. Pray for the Church in South Philippines.


Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement mandates nation-wide
elections in 2009. However, a census must first be taken to
determine how power and wealth are to be shared between north and
south. Religious and ethnic data will not be included in the census
and southerners displaced in the north are allegedly being
obstructed against returning south before the census. Tensions are
extremely high, especially in the oil-rich north-south border
region of Abyei. This resource-rich region is contested: both the
southern and northern governments want Abyei within their
territorial bounds. The census will be conducted between 22 April
and 6 May. Please pray for peace and justice in Sudan.


The Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) has made an unprecedented
appeal for prayer. Despite all the Church's peaceful, diplomatic
efforts, the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam continues to
interfere in Church matters, confiscate Church properties,
discriminate against Christians and refuse to dialogue seriously
with the Church. While confiscated properties are falling into
disrepair and being demolished, the government sows seeds of
division amongst ambitious and disgruntled pastors. Ethnic minority
Christians in the northern highlands suffer intensive persecution
(including torture) at the hands of local authorities. Christian
lawyer and religious liberty advocate Nguyen van Dai of the
ECV(North) remains in prison, along with numerous other political
and religious prisoners of conscience. Please join the Church in
Vietnam in its struggle by your prayers.

'I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of
the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.'
(The Apostle Paul, Romans 15:30 NIV)


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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.