By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulleting (RLPB) 238
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- ' . . . These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.' (Revelation 3:7 NIV)
NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE -- During November we prayed concerning . . .
* ERITREA (RLPB 235), where persecution continues with more mass imprisonments and deaths in custody; and from where refugees are fleeing at the rate of some 3000 a month.
* BURMA (RLPB 236), where the regime continues to wage war against the Christian Kachin, despite peace talks.
* CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR) (RLPB 237), where sectarian violence is escalating, leading observers to warn of the possibility of genocide.
CAR UPDATE (1): MAY GOD OPEN THE WAY FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION.
Writing in The Guardian (23 November) David Smith tells of Muslim rebels slitting the throat of a four-year-old child, razing whole villages, bludgeoning a young mother to death before leaving her crying toddler on the side of the road, throwing one young man to the crocodiles and torturing others. A Christian father whose sons were tortured told Smith: 'The Seleka are criminals. In the beginning, the relations between Christians and Muslims were good here but the Muslims followed the Seleka and now things have changed. The Christians feel betrayed by the Muslims and are starting to feel vengeance in their hearts. This is a very big challenge for the Church.' This challenge must be an issue for prayer. CAR needs peace -- but there will be no lasting peace without truth, justice and reconciliation. May God grace CAR with godly peacemakers.
CAR UPDATE (2): MAY GOD CLOSE THE DOOR ON SUDAN AND IRAN.
According to terrorism analyst Yossef Bodansky, Iran is funnelling weapons into CAR via Sudan as part of a plot by those two states to dominate Central and West Africa and exploit its resources. [See: Central African Republic (CAR): Violence linked to Sudan and Iran. Religious Liberty Monitoring (RLM), 20 Nov 2013.] News of Sudan and Iran involvement in CAR bodes ill for CAR's Christians. Anyone seeking to intervene in CAR will face, not a band of disparate rebels, but jihadist forces backed by Khartoum and Tehran -- desperate regimes fighting to secure the minerals and resources necessary for regime survival. (Pray Psalm 10)
CAR UPDATE (3): MAY GOD CLOSE THE DOOR ON KONY AND THE LRA.
Reports are circulating that the spirit-medium Joseph Kony, the head of the infamous Ugandan terror group the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), is on the verge of surrendering. These reports are without substance. To the contrary, like CAR's self-appointed president Michel Djotodia, Joseph Kony and the LRA are backed by Sudan. According to terrorism analyst Yossef Bodansky, Sudan intends to use the LRA as a proxy to destabilize CAR, South Sudan and Uganda so that Sudan's (and Iran's) interests in the region might be advanced (see above RLM link). UN special envoy Abou Moussa is deeply concerned that Djotodia has sent food, medicines and other supplies to LRA camps in CAR, supposedly in advance of an LRA surrender. Moussa advocates heightening pressure on Kony who is reportedly seriously ill. While many analysts presume Djotodia is being duped, it is not improbable that Djotodia is actually bolstering the LRA for use as a proxy to terrorize and kill Christians, destabilizing CAR in pursuit of his own interests, as well as those of Islam, Sudan and Iran. Uganda's New Vision reports that while LRA attacks have recently been reported in South Sudan and Central African Republic, and while Kony is still widely feared, 'defections have increased while the number of attacks is down'. PLEASE PRAY for mass defections of LRA 'soldiers', who are almost all kidnapped children, and for God to close the door on Joseph Kony.
NOVEMBER 2013 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .
* EGYPT: MAY GOD CLOSE THE DOOR ON ISLAMIC CRIMINALITY
Morning Star News (MSN) reports that three months after the Egyptian Army liberated Delga from militant Muslims, Islamists and criminals are terrorizing Christians there and across Upper Egypt. As was noted in RLPB 228 (17 Sep 2013) and the Religious Liberty Monitoring post of 18 September, the Egyptian Army's attack on Islamists in Delga (a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold) was a crackdown on Islamist dissent and it had nothing to do with protecting Christians. The Egyptian military serves its own interests! Today Mu slim criminals are extorting and persecuting Christians, demanding jizya (protection money sanctioned by the Qur'an in Sura 9:29). The police and military are not concerned that Islamists are kidnapping Christians, torturing them and demanding massive ransoms. Islamic criminals are discovering they are free to extort and persecute Christians with impunity -- as long as they do not challenge military rule. Christians are facing the return of dhimmitude, their status of being without rights under Islam. Egypt's Christians need our prayers.
* IRAN: MAY GOD OPEN THE WAY TO THE TRANSFORMATION OF IRAN
On 3 November US citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini, whose wife and two young children are resident in the US, was transferred from Evin prison to Rajai Shahr Prison. Rajai Shahr houses Iran's most violent criminals and is a place where prisoners are routinely murdered by other prisoners. In mid-November, prison officials told Abedini's father that Saeed was not permitted any personal possessions, including blankets or prescription medications. At least 40 Iranian citizens are presently incarcerated because of their faith in Jesus or their Christian activities. One is the critically ill Pastor Behnam Irani (41), who also is married with two young children. On 22 November MSN reported the story of a young convert named Armin Davoodi. As a Muslim, Armin had repeatedly dreamed of a shepherd pointing him to the light. Eventually he shared this with a young female convert who explained his dream and introduced him to Jesus. Armin's witness led to imprisonment, torture and beatings. Though his parents paid a lot of money to have him released from prison, when he continued with his faith and witness, ultimately a relative betrayed him. Armin is now in hiding, where he reportedly continues to dream of the shepherd pointing to the light. Pray for Iran's suffering yet growing church.
* PAKISTANI REFUGEES: THE CASE OF RABEEL (Update to RLPB 226.)
MAY GOD OPEN DOORS FOR REFUGEES SEEKING SECURITY AND HEALING
As a high achieving university student from a high profile devout Christian family in Lahore, Rabeel (21) was targeted for forced conversion. In August 2012 Rabeel was betrayed by a Muslim friend who gave him into the hands of militants from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). They raped and tortured Rabeel over the course of three days before dumping him. They then pursued and threatened the whole family. Since fleeing Pakistan in January 2013, his family has been languishing in a refugee camp, waiting for the UNHCR to assess their claim. As time drags on it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain their finances. Pray that the UNHCR will deal with their claim before closing for the Christmas break. Pray for Christian refugees who, due to systematic discrimination and persecution, often do not have the documentation the UNHCR requires. May the LORD of justice and mercy intervene, be their advocate, and open the doors.
* SOMALIA: MAY GOD CLOSE THE DOOR ON AL-SHABAAB
Morning Star News (MSN) reported on 14 November that on 20 October gunmen carried out their threat to kill Abdikhani Hassan whom they accused of 'spreading wrong religion'. Hassan (35), a pharmacist in Dharkenley District, Mogadishu, was married with two young children. Al-Shabaab is suspected of being responsible. Pray that God will redeem the blood and suffering of Somalia's Christian martyrs. May hearts be softened and opened to receive the gospel.
* SYRIA: MAY GOD CLOSE THE DOOR ON ISLAMIC EXPANSION
Sadad is a Christian village in a desert region of Syria some 100km north-east of Damascus. A coalition of rebel forces invaded and occupied the town on 21 October, seizing control in an orgy of violence that can only be understood in the context of intensive religious hatred. Survivors told Human Rights Watch that the jihadists would not permit Christians to flee. Some 2,500 families managed to escape before the militants used the remaining 1,500 families as human shields and hostages. Jihadists even held individual Christians as human shields while fighting. According to the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, Mor Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, in addition to the 46 residents killed, 30 were injured and 10 are missing. Numerous mutilated bodies were dumped in wells. He says the whole village was completely looted and even the ancient manuscripts have gone from the churches. The Syrian Arab Army liberated the village on 28 October. The rebel operation -- in which a battalion of the Free Syria Army joined forces with al-Qaeda-linked groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) -- was labelled: the 'Battle of God's Doors Do Not Shut'. Indeed, God's open doors do not shut, but God does shut doors (Revelation 3:7) Pray that God will shut the door on all Islamic jihadists.
* SYRIA: MAY GOD CLOSE THE DOOR ON AL-QAEDA
Stratfor Intelligence reported on 23 November that al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels had seized the al-Omar oil field, the largest in eastern Syria. According to Stratfor, this would cut off Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's access to almost all local crude reserves and put nearly all of Syria's usable reserves in the hands of the al-Nusra Front and other Islamist units. Please bring this critical situation to the Lord our God, 'who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens' (Revelation 3:7 ESV).