Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 471 |
WELCOME to the intercessors who have joined the list this month.
IRAQ, where Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho (65) of the Chaldean
Church in Mosul had been kidnapped by Islamic terrorists after
an Easter celebration in Mosul's Holy Spirit Cathedral. His
three companions/bodyguards were murdered during the ambush.
* UPDATE: Archbishop Rahho's body was found on 13 March, buried in
a shallow grave. According to the kidnappers, Archbishop Rahho
was very sick and he died the day he was kidnapped (29
February). This was a very deliberate and symbolic attack and
while the terrorists might think they have removed the church's
head, they have not. May the Holy Spirit fix the eyes of all
Mosul's Christians on the Church's true head -- the risen,
living Christ (Ephesians 4:15,16). Please pray that God will
raise up new leaders, great faith and fresh hope amongst Iraq's
besieged Christian remnant.
SRI LANKA, where anti-Christian violence has been escalating once
* UPDATE: Mrs Shiromi Edirisinghe (31), the widow of Pastor Neil
Edirisinghe, is recovering in answer to prayer. She was
critically injured in the 17 February shooting that killed her
husband (see RLP 469). The Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka
reports that Shiromi was recently able to come off the hospital
ventilator and has also started to eat again. She is being
readied for further surgery to remove a bullet lodged
uncomfortably close to her spine. Also her left leg is
immobilised and she is unable to use her left arm due to a bullet
wound that has not healed. Please pray for God's merciful touch
to bring healing to Shiromi's body and comfort, peace and courage
to her grieving heart. Pray also for blessings upon their young
now fatherless son. 'A father to the fatherless, a defender of
widows, is God in his holy dwelling.' (Psalm 68:5 NIV)
OTHER ISSUES DURING MARCH:
* ALGERIA: CHURCHES GREATLY PRESSURED
As noted in RLP 466 (20 February) the Algerian government has been
responding to pressure from Islamic forces to enforce its March
2006 religion law to stop missionary work and conversions from
Islam. So repression of the Protestant Church has been escalating.
Furthermore, Muslim local authorities are exploiting the situation
to advance their own agendas against churches. In early March,
local authorities in the Kabyle region ordered two large and active
Protestant churches to close. Whilst that order has since been
rescinded by a higher government authority, there is an intensive
spiritual battle in Algeria needing constant prayer, requesting
wisdom for the government, enlightenment for the people, and grace,
wisdom and faithfulness for the churches.
* AZERBAIJAN: PASTOR RELEASED FROM PRISON
Anneta Vyssotskaia reports that a few days before Easter many
Christians were thrilled to learn that their prayers for Baptist
Pastor Zaur Balayev (44) had been answered. Pastor Zaur was
arrested in May 2007 during a Sunday service in Aliabad and
sentenced to two years' imprisonment on the fabricated accusation
he violently resisted arrest. He was released on 19 March 2008
under the President's Amnesty Law to mark the Navruz celebration.
Pastor Balayev was specifically cited for prayer in the
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2007 material
(Russian edition) and Christians across the world prayed for him.
Baptist Christians in different countries organised a campaign in
support of him. Now God has answered the prayers of many (2
Corinthians 1:11). Please continue to pray for the Christian
minority in this 97 percent Muslim country.
* INDIA: SEVERE PERSECUTION PERSISTS
On Resurrection Sunday 23 March, Hindu mobs invaded two worship
services in Bangalore (the 'silicon valley of India') in the south-
west and beat the pastors and congregants. On 20 March the Hindu
nationalist government in Rajasthan (north-west India) passed a
new, more stringent anti-conversion bill extending punishment to
those 'contemplating' converting others, though this excludes 're-
conversion' to Hinduism. Hindu extremists in the northern state of
Himachal Pradesh have been waging a fierce, forced 're-conversion'
campaign against local Christians. In Maharashtra (central India)
Sister Mercy Tuscano and Sister Philomena D'Mello, two nuns working
to spread awareness of AIDS, were recently assaulted violently and
indecently and dragged by the hair by Hindu militants accusing them
of converting tribals. A local girl, Sonali Naik (16), was also
attacked when she tried to save the nuns. Meanwhile Christians in
Orissa (east India), driven from their homes in anti-Christian
pogroms over Christmas, are slowly returning to the ruins of their
homes and farms. Please pray for India.
* PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, ISRAEL: BOMB TARGETS MESSIANIC PASTOR
Ami Ortiz (15), son of Pastor and Mrs David and Leah Ortiz of
Ariel, Samaria / West Bank (Palestinian-Administered Territory,
Israel), was critically injured on Good Friday by a bomb that was
hidden in a Purim package delivered to the Ortiz home. The
powerful, professionally-made, shrapnel-filled bomb left Ami
fighting for his life, with his body badly burned, lacerated and
punctured by shrapnel. David Ortiz has been pastoring a small
Messianic congregation in Ariel and witnessing openly to West Bank
Arab Muslims for many years. Please pray for healing. And as
prayers from across the world focus on Ariel, may the Holy Spirit
bless the city with a revival that brings repentance and then peace
as the two (Jew and Muslim) are made one through Jesus Christ.
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.
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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.
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