Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 362 - Wed 25 Jan 2006
WELCOME to the intercessors who have joined the list this month.
'And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'
Jesus, Matthew 28:20b
DURING JANUARY WE HAVE PRAYED FOR -
CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST, who suffer as persecuted minorities
within an increasingly intolerant Muslim society.
* UPDATE: As this prayer bulletin is being written, the Arabs of
the Palestinian-controlled territories are voting for a
132-member parliament. Hamas, a terrorist organisation whose
charter calls for the destruction of Israel, is contesting the
elections on a platform of 'change and reform'. With Hamas
expected to make significant gains, Palestinian Christians and
women fear the imposition of a hardline Islamist agenda. In
December 2005 the leader of the Hamas contingent at the municipal
council of Bethlehem, Hassam El-Masalmeh, told The Wall Street
Journal that Hamas intends to re-institute the 'jizya', a tax
mandated by the Qur'an (sura 9:29) to be imposed on non-Muslims
who have chosen not to convert to Islam and must now pay for
their right to life. (Jizya is a form of systematic religious
humiliation, persecution and extortion). Please pray for
RUSSIA, where 'non-traditional' religious groups are suffering
under a revival of religious nationalism. Pray persistently for
reformation and revival in the Russia Orthodox Church, and that
evangelicals will continue to 'reflect the Lord's glory' to the
nation. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
UZBEKISTAN, where persecution of the Church by state authorities
and Muslims has escalated severely in recent years, resulting in
heightened repression, church closures and violent systematic and
vigilante attacks. Pray for God to protect, sustain and use the
Uzbek Church for his glory and for the transformation of the
OTHER ISSUES IN JANUARY
* INDIA: HINDU NATIONALISTS ADVANCE IN DANGS DISTRICT
(A full RLP will be devoted to this issue in early February, but
it is so serious that urgent prayer is needed now, before the
event - EK.) 'The Lord... frustrates the ways of the wicked'.
Hindu nationalists are preparing to stage a massive Hindu festival
in Dangs district, southern Gujarat (northwest India). This Shabri
Kumbh Mela festival from 11-13 February is aimed at Hinduising the
tribal population of Dangs. The main outcomes of the Shabri Kumbh
Mela will be: the creation of new mythology that Hinduises Dangs;
the creation of a site in Dangs for Hindu pilgrimage and tourism;
massive 're-conversions' (coerced conversions) to Hinduism and
Hindutva (Hindu nationalism); the destruction and Hinduisation of
tribal culture; stirring up intense hatred against Christians with
the real prospect of violence against them; shattering tribal
solidarity; and devastation of the delicate, 'protected' forest
environment. Hindu militants are distributing vicious anti-
Christian propaganda and (according to one report) fixing flags to
Christian homes so they can be identified. A central slogan for the
event is 'Hindu Jago, Christi Bhagao' (Hindus arise, throw out the
Christians). One investigative team recently reported, 'We could
see the fear written on the face of most of the Christians we met.'
Please pray for God's intervention.
* EGYPT: SURGE IN ISLAMIC HOSTILITY
In October 2005 there was serious Islamic anti-Christian violence
in Alexandria, and in November 2005 the Muslim Brotherhood made
huge electoral gains in Egypt's parliamentary elections. On 18
January 2006, indigenous Coptic Christians in the town of el-
Udaysaat (500km south of Cairo, near Luxor) held an all-night
prayer service in Saint Mary Church to observe the eve of Epiphany.
According to Compass Direct, Egyptian authorities closed the church
in 1971, but the community recently began to remodel the building
and had applied for permission to use it for prayer. Early on 19
January, a huge mob of Muslims, complaining they could hear prayers
from the building, armed themselves and gathered en masse to
attack. Flaming torches were thrown into the prayer meeting. At
least 14 were injured (including four police), some seriously. One
Christian, Kamaal Shaker Maglaa (42), died of his injuries and a
Coptic boy (13) is reported to have died of a heart attack during
the violence. Thirty people, both Christians and Muslims, have been
arrested. Pray for peace and justice, and for God to protect,
preserve and bless Egypt's persecuted Christians.
* SRI LANKA: PERSECUTION CONTINUES
Buddhist nationalists and anti-evangelical forces continue to
persecute the Church in Sri Lanka. On 21 January a mob of around 20
armed Buddhist militants invaded the home of the pastor of the AoG
Church in Alpitiya (Galle District). Fortunately he was not there,
but the militants left an ultimatum with his wife, threatening to
destroy his home and belongings if he does not stop his Christian
activities. On Sunday 22 January, the Alpitiya church service was
held under police protection. Also on Sunday 22 January, a mob of
some 500 people led by around 20 Buddhist monks and a Catholic
priest confronted the congregation of the AoG Church in Bolaththa,
Ganemulla (Gampaha District). The protesters carried placards and
shouted threats demanding that the services be stopped. The mob has
threatened to return on Sunday 29 January. On 23 January the
pastor's house was stoned and windows were broken. Pray that those
in authority will uphold security, justice and religious liberty.
Pray for the Church in Sri Lanka.
We usually provide a summary to use in bulletins unable to run
the whole RLP. As that is not practicable with these monthly
update postings we suggest the use of any one of the above
items, which are about the same length as a summary.
Previous RLPs may be viewed at http://www.evangelicalalliance.org.au/rlc/
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World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty
Prayer List <[email protected]
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.