Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 447 | Wed 26 Sep 2007
WELCOME to the 19 intercessors who have joined the list this month.
ERITREA, where over 2000 Christians are presently imprisoned in
appalling, inhumane conditions and tortured on account of their
faith. On 5 September a fourth believer was tortured to death.
PAPUA, INDONESIA, where Church leader Pastor Sofian Yoman has been
threatened at gunpoint outside his church by Indonesian soldiers
(TNI), police and intelligence agents because of his human rights
advocacy and his exposure of the Papuan genocide. Two young men
from the Maranatha Kingmi Protestant Church in Nabire were
recently murdered in separate incidents but with identical
injuries: deep knife wounds to the hands and feet and a smashed
skull. TNI violence, ethnic and religious hatred are ever
present, together with the threat of massacre and ethnic
cleansing to seize land and exploit resources. The threat to the
Church is serious as the Church is the primary voice for the
predominantly Christian indigenous Papuan people.
OTHER ISSUES FROM SEPTEMBER
* AZERBAIJAN: PASTOR APPEALS AGAINST IMPRISONMENT
Baptist pastor Zaur Balaev of the remote village of Aliabad, north-
western Azerbaijan, was arrested on Sunday 20 May when police
raided what they claimed was an 'illegal' religious service. The
police accused the slightly built pastor of violently attacking
five police officers. Despite numerous witnesses insisting this was
not true, Pastor Balaev was prosecuted and sentenced to two years
in prison. Forum 18 reports that his appeal is presently being
considered. Pray for justice, grace and strength for Pastor Balaev.
Azerbaijan is a religious fault-line country with Sunnis in the
north and Shiites in the south. Islamic fundamentalists are
infiltrating this Turkic, largely secular society and Christians
are caught up in the middle of government efforts to rein in
'extremism'. Pray for understanding and for religious liberty to be
* EGYPT: THE GREAT APOSTASY DEBATE
Islamic Sharia law mandates that when a parent converts to Islam
the children are automatically deemed Muslim and must be in the
custody of the Muslim parent. Mario and Andrew Medhat Ramsis are
young Coptic twins who were deemed Muslim when their estranged
father converted to Islam and married a Muslim woman. Their custody
case started on 3 September but was immediately adjourned. Their
lawyer, Naguib Gabriel, in the face of immense opposition, is
working to delay the case until after the 17 November retrial of a
group of Coptic 're-converts' (see RLP 441). He hopes that the boys
may be able to 're-convert' without being charged with apostasy and
can therefore stay with their Christian mother. Pray for justice,
for the safety of all concerned and that God will use the great
apostasy debate in Egypt to turn many hearts towards liberty and
* IRAQ: THE GIFT OF TIME?
A referendum on the status of oil-rich Kirkuk was due in November
this year. However its postponement until May 2008 has just been
announced. The referendum (or the lack of one) will be incendiary.
The issue of the status of Kirkuk is likely to trigger war in the
north of Iraq, which is home to most of Iraq's remnant and now
displaced Assyrian Christian population. Maybe this postponement is
a gift from God, a gift of time; perhaps it is an answer to prayer.
Pray that this time be not wasted and be used profitably to find a
solution to the burning issue of the looming genocide of the
Assyrians. For them a war in the north would be totally
catastrophic, especially as the borders with Turkey and Syria are
* LEBANON: ANOTHER CHRISTIAN POLITICIAN ASSASSINATED
Lebanon is existing in a state of 'cold civil war'. The stand off
between the 'March 14' faction (Sunni and Christian: pro-West, anti-
Syrian) and the 'March 8' opposition (Shi'ite and Christian:
Hezballah-led, pro-Syrian) has paralysed government. Since February
2005 seven anti-Syrian politicians and one anti-Syrian journalist
have been assassinated; six of them were Christian. On 19 September
2007 a Christian Maronite lawmaker, Antoine Ghanem (64), was
assassinated when a massive car bomb exploded killing Ghanem, his
driver, his bodyguard and at least six bystanders in a Christian
district of Beirut. Lebanon's parliament was supposed to be
electing a new president this week, but the vote has been postponed
until 23 October due to a Hezballah-led opposition boycott which
ensured that a quorum could not be formed. The sides are polarised
and there is concern that no candidate will be able to get the two-
thirds majority required, further entrenching division and fuelling
In 1944 Lebanon was majority Christian and supposedly a showcase of
Muslim-Christian harmony. Over recent decades hundreds of thousands
of Palestinians and around a million Syrians have been naturalised
and many thousands of Christians have emigrated. Today Lebanon is
more than two-thirds Muslim, mostly Shia. Hezballah, which refuses
to disarm, calls the shots. Pray that God will sanctify the Church -
the hope of Lebanon - and empower her as a prophetic voice, peace-
maker and healer.
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.
Previous RLPs may be viewed at
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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.
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