-- 'for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood . . .' (Ephesians 6:12f)
By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 216
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- ATTENTION Canberra, Australia.
Elizabeth Kendal: Symposium on the Persecution of Christians in the 21st Century
Analysis of global trends and the Biblical response to a confronting reality
JUNE 2013 UPDATE -- During June we prayed concerning . . .
* TURKEY (RLPB 213), which is polarizing along secular versus Sunni fundamentalist lines.
UPDATE: Turks who are objecting against Prime Minister Erdogan's dictatorial rule, along with his re-Islamization and re-Ottomanization of Turkey, are continuing their protests despite mass arrests and heavy-handed police responses. At organized mass rallies, PM Erdogan has described the pro-religious-freedom, pro-secular demonstrators as terrorists and hooligans who are being manipulated by foreign forces in a conspiracy led by Western media. Above all, the demonstrators are being accused of offending Islam. Pray for Turkey, particularly that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church in holy wisdom.
* SYRIA (RLPB 214), where the Syrian Arab Army, with support from Hezballah, has liberated the strategic town of al-Qaisar from rebel control. The battle for Aleppo looms, with many difficulties (particularly that of maintaining supply). In battles between Hezballah and Sunni jihadists, local Christians may well find they are wedged between competing foreign Islamists, none of whom have any regard for Syrian Christians. Pray for the Church in Syria.
'Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.'
(Psalm 57:1 ESV)
UPDATE: According to Stratfor Intelligence (21 June), the head of Free Syrian Army (FSA), Salim Idriss, anticipates that US weapons will 'change the balance of power on the ground'. As noted in previous RLPBs, the FSA is a Muslim Brotherhood force that regards the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusrah Front as an ally. Furthermore, thousands of FSA soldiers are defecting to al-Nusrah each month. Imported weapons will not only further escalate and prolong the conflict, they will doubtless end up in the hands of al-Qaeda jihadists. Their agenda includes the total eradication of all traces of Christianity, the establishment of al-Qaeda bases and jihad against the West. Pray that God will intervene to advance his own glorious purposes. (Proverbs 19:21)
* PAPUA, INDONESIA (RLPB 215), where Javanese Muslim colonization along with Islamization and militarization are slowly effecting the genocide of Papua's indigenous, mostly Protestant Christian Melanesians. Historically, Papua benefited from the coming of the earlier Western pioneer missionaries and nation-builders. Now the West is ignoring the plight of the Papuans -- will it acknowledge its complicity in their genocide? (Proverbs 24:12)
JUNE 2013 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .
On 13 June a band of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters attacked two villages in Bria, a mining region in central CAR. Six local people were killed and ten wounded as the LRA went on a desperate looting spree. The villagers fought back, killing four LRA. The LRA responded by launching a fresh attack in which they killed six more villagers, putting their decapitated heads on display as a warning. Meanwhile, the Muslim rebel coalition (known as Seleka), which seized control of CAR in March, is barely holding together. The fighters -- many of them foreigners -- are protesting about their living conditions. Consequently, fighting could erupt within the rebel ranks. The security situation for CAR's mostly Christian population remains dire. Multitudes have been displaced. Food and medical supplies are in short supply. More than a million people are in need of aid, including some 595,000 children under the age of five years old. Pray for the Church in CAR.
* EGYPT: COPTIC CHRISTIAN TEACHER FINED FOR 'BLASPHEMY'
On 11 June the Luxor Misdemeanour Court found Demiana Abdel-Nour (23), a Coptic Christian school teacher, guilty of 'insulting Islam' and fined her 100,000 Egyptian pounds. Three parents had complained that Miss Abdel-Nour allegedly showed disgust when she spoke of Islam in a religion class. The accusation led to Miss Abdel-Nour's arrest and imprisonment, against which Amnesty International protested. Miss Abdel-Nour was later released on 20,000 Egyptian pounds bail, pending further investigations. The school and the Ministry of Education had both investigated and found her innocent. Despite this, the Luxor court deemed her guilty in a ruling that went partly towards appeasing the Islamist protesters who were seeking much severer punishment. This is the latest in a series of blasphemy charges to impact Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Pray for the Church in Egypt.
* KENYA: TERRORISM IN MOMBASA
Morning Star News reports that on 9 June assailants on a motorbike threw an explosive device into the Earthquake Miracle Ministries Church in Mrima village, in the coastal region of Mombasa. Fifteen worshippers were injured, many critically, including two pastors. Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia are suspects.
* NIGERIA: JIHAD CONTINUES
BORNO: On 13 June Boko Haram jihadists attacked four communities in Gwoza Hills, Borno. The jihadists descended on the villages with cries of 'Allahu Akbar' and torched four churches with explosives. They also stole grain and livestock. The militants seized Rev. Jacob Kwiza of COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria). Eye witnesses report that the militants slit his throat when he refused to renounce Christ and convert to Islam.
PLATEAU: Ethnic Fulani Muslims continue to attack villages in Wasa Local Government Area, south-east of Jos. In the latest attack, a Christian man was killed and four churches were torched on 18 June. Christian ministry is reported to be paralysed by the endless violence.
* SOMALIA: ANOTHER CONVERT EXECUTED
According to Morning Star News, al-Shabaab militants in Jamaame district, southern Somalia, had been monitoring Hassan Hurshe (28) since he returned with his family to Somalia from Kenya in 2010. Having concluded that Hassan had become a Christian, they seized him and executed him publicly in front of horrified onlookers. Hurshe had converted to Christianity in 2006, married in 2008 and fathered a baby boy in 2009. His family has since fled the area.
* TANZANIA: PASTORS ATTACKED IN GEITA
To ensure all meat sold in Tanzania is halal, only Muslims may be employed in the meat industry. Tensions are escalating, particularly in Geita in the north-west, as Christians resist both Islamization and the Islamic monopoly. In February Pastor Mathayo Kachili of the Tanzania Assemblies of God Church was beheaded by Muslims rioting against Christians found slaughtering their own meat. [See RLM, 19 Feb 2013]. Furthermore, Tanzania's demographics are shifting: Tanzania may soon be majority Muslim, if it is not so already. In late May, attackers attempting to get to Pastor Daudi Nzumbi, who leads the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania congregation in Geita, were driven off by his large dogs. On 2 June a Muslim mob broke into the home of Pastor Robert Ngai, who leads the Evangelical Assemblies of God church in Geita. He is in intensive care with deep machete wounds. This was definitely attempted murder. Pray for the Church in Tanzania.
* VIETNAM: EVANGELICAL PASTOR'S MURDER WHITEWASHED AS SUICIDE
Hoang Van Ngai (38) was an ethnic Hmong elder of Bui Tre Church in the legally recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South). Ngai was arrested on 15 March in Dak Glong district, Dak Nong Province, South Vietnam, along with his older brother, Hoang Van Pa, his wife and sister-in-law, without an arrest warrant. Hoang Van Pa says he could hear his brother screaming in pain as he was beaten and tortured through the night in the cell next door. By 17 March Hoang Van Ngai was dead. According to Hoang Van Pa, his brother was targeted because he had protested against corruption and abuses of power. Ngai refused to pay bribes, strenuously defending his church when the authorities demanded that he close it. As Morning Star News reported, the killing terrorized the Hmong community. When the Chairman of the People's Committee claimed that Ngai had killed himself, Ngai's family refused to accept it because Ngai's body was covered with evidence of torture and severe beatings. So the family submitted an urgent petition to the Dak Nong Chief of Police, contesting the claim. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (11 June), the authorities have now notified the family that their investigation shows Ngai did die from 'suicide by self-electrocution'. Religious liberty has declined markedly in Vietnam since its Communist Party realised it can persecute with impunity. Pray for the Church in Vietnam.