Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 457

Source: http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com

Date:  May 30, 2018

MAY 2018 UPDATE - this month we prayed concerning ...

* BURMA (Myanmar) (RLPB 453), where a campaign of ethnic-religious cleansing 
is underway in the north. Using aerial bombardment and ground forces, the 
Burmese Army is driving the Christian Kachin from Kachin State's most 
resource-rich regions. More than 15,000 Christian Kachin have been displaced 
since the beginning of this year. They join the more than 100,000 Kachin 
displaced since 2011. Pray for the Kachin and that God will intervene to 
bring peace to Burma.  

* CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR) (RLPBs 454 & 456), where Islamic militias 
continue to threaten this mostly Christian nation. In mid-April, UN 
peacekeepers moved against Islamic criminal gangs in the capital, Bangui. 
Islamic militias vowed revenge. On 1 May heavily-armed rioting Muslims 
attacked Bangui's Catholic Cathedral, killing 24 and wounding over 100 (RLPB 
454). On 13 May two French fighter jets conducted a show of force over the 
rebel-held front-line town of Kaga Bandoro to deter the Islamic militias 
which are regrouping there and threatening to 'march on Bangui' (RLPB 456). 
The state is on high alert. Pray for the Church in CAR and that God will 
intervene to bring peace.  

* RAMADAN (RLPB 455), in particular that Christians will be safe and that 
Muslims will be saved.  


MAY 2018 ROUND-UP - also this month ... 

* CHECHNYA, (South Russia): ISLAMIC STATE (IS) CLAIMS CHURCH ATTACK  

On Saturday 18 May four militants armed with guns, knives, axes and 
explosives and shouting 'Allahu Akbar' attempted to storm the Archangel 
Michael Russian Orthodox Church in central Grozny. Inside, some 15 believers 
were engaged in evening worship, while the priest's young children played 
happily outside. The church, which was established in the late 1800s, is 
located in the main tourist precinct, surrounded by shopping malls and cafes. 
Consequently, Chechen police were quickly on the scene. They shot and killed 
the four militants and rescued the church-goers and children. Unfortunately 
the militants had seized two hostages from the church before it was 
barricaded shut. One believer was killed in the attack and the other was 
critically wounded. Two police officers were killed and two wounded. IS has 
claimed responsibility. Pray for the Church in Chechnya and the wider North 
Caucasus region.  

* EGYPT: 'RECONCILIATION' LEADS TO CHURCH CLOSURE

On 14 April Muslims rioted in Beni Meinin, torching Coptic property and 
attacking the church. This eruption of Islamic resistance was in response to 
the government's proposal to legalise the village church. Police arrested 11 
Muslims and 9 Christians before demanding the village hold a 'reconciliation' 
session to end the matter [RLPB 452 (25 April)]. With their youths in prison 
(essentially as hostages), Muslim and Coptic clergy, village elders, local 
politicians and security officials from the village participated in a 
'reconciliation' session. It was agreed that all 20 arrested residents would 
relinquish their legal rights (meaning none can seek legal redress for arson, 
looting, assault and suchlike) and the church will remain closed until it is 
legalised. Subsequently, on 22 May the arrested Muslims and Christians were 
acquitted and released. Such 'reconciliation' only serves to guarantee 
impunity, escalate insecurity and perpetuate violent persecution.  

* INDIA: ANTI-CONVERSION LAW AS WEAPON

Uttarakhand State in northern India has become the seventh Indian state to 
approve an 'anti-conversion law'. Governor Krishna Kant Paul signed the 
ironically named 'Freedom of Religion' Bill into law on 18 April. The law 
will come into force as soon as the state government finalises the Bill's 
rules.   

On Sunday 29 April some 50 Christians were worshipping together in a house 
church in Danapur, Bihar State, when a mob of some 60 Hindu nationalists 
surrounded the house. The mob harassed, intimidated and threatened the 
believers while hurling foul abuse. They also called the police and accused 
the Christians of running a 'conversion racket'. The police arrested several 
of the Christians, of whom Rajni Pradhan and a couple, Subash and Sarah 
Kumar, remain incarcerated, accused of 'forcibly converting people'. At a 
hearing on 8 May, a judge rejected their plea for bail. Also on Sunday 29 
April, Hindu militants attacked the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in Baburia 
Khera, Uttar Pradesh State. They beat worshippers and threatened to kill the 
pastor, Kamlesh Kumar. To save her husband, Kumar's wife hid him in a locked 
room. Church member Ram Prasad (55) was beaten unconscious as he tried to 
shield other believers. A church member called police, but when they arrived 
the police berated the believers and advised them to 'flee from the church'; 
no arrests were made. Pray for the Church in India.  

* NEPAL: CHURCHES ATTACKED, 'EVANGELISTS' ARRESTED Five churches were 
attacked in Nepal during May. St Joseph's Catholic Church in Kohalpur, in 
Nepal's western Banke District, was torched in the early hours of 5 May; the 
interior was 'entirely destroyed'. On the night of 9 May Hebron Church in 
Hilihang Rural Municipality, in the eastern district of Panchthar, was partly 
damaged after being set on fire. On the night of 10 May Emmanuel Church in 
Doti, in the country's far west, was set on fire; the church sustained 
significant damage. On 11 May Emmanuel Church in Kanchanpur was set on fire, 
resulting in significant structural damage. Then on the evening of 13 May 
Mahima Church in Dhangadhi city, western Nepal, was partly destroyed when an 
unidentified assailant threw an improvised explosive device through a window. 
 Fortunately, nobody was killed in the attacks. Police seem determined to 
blame Maoists, even though Christians have been receiving threats from a 
Hindu nationalist group. The geographically dispersed attacks were so similar 
that analysts suspect the perpetrators were part of a Hindu nationalist 
online community and that the attacks arose from online incitement. 

Furthermore, two Nepali believers were arrested on 9 May for singing 
Christian songs in public. Four others were subsequently arrested from their 
homes. Charged with evangelism (prohibited in Nepal since 2015), the six 
faced court on 17 May where they were remanded to spend a further seven days 
in prison.  

* NIGERIA: CHRISTIANS APPEAL - 'END THE KILLINGS'

On 22 May a funeral was held in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, for 19 
Christians (including two priests) who were massacred on 24 April by Fulani 
gunmen who surrounded their grass-roofed church in Aya Mbalom village and 
opened fire. It was the second mass funeral for Christian victims of Fulani 
violence in Benue this year [see RLPB 442 (14 Feb 2018)]. According to Benue 
State Governor, Sam Ortom, 492 people have been killed in Benue State alone 
so far this year (which equals 100 per month). On the day of the funeral, 
rallies were held in various Nigerian cities where Christians urged the 
government (in the words of Cardinal John Onaiyekan) to 'end the killings'. 
Bishops spoke of 'massacres', 'ethnic cleansing' and described people living 
in 'palpable fear'. Pressure is mounting on President Buhari, a Fulani Muslim 
from the north.  

At 12:30am on Monday 28 May Fulani gunmen attacked Sacred Heart Minor 
Seminary in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State. Students were wounded and 
cars destroyed. The rector, Father Emmanuel Atsue, told Catholic media: 'They 
shot and injured one of the priests, Father Cornelius Pobah, in the leg, 
[and] beat up Father Stephen Bakari.' It seems Father Pobah was targeted 
because he had refused to allow Fulani herdsmen to graze their cattle inside 
the seminary grounds. The fact that nobody was killed could imply that the 
Fulani were issuing a warning and that this is far from over.  

* PHILIPPINES: BOMB EXPLODES OUTSIDE MINDANAO CHURCH

On Sunday 29 April in Koronadal City in South Cotabato, Mindanao, two 
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were detonated in the city. The first IED 
exploded at noon, just outside the Christ the King Cathedral along Rizal 
Street, injuring three. The other IED was found in a trash can two kilometres 
away and detonated by police. Two suspects have since been arrested. Pray for 
the Church in the southern Philippines.  

* TURKEY: PASTOR FACES COURT A SECOND TIME

Update to RLPB 452 (25 April): American hostage of the Turkish regime, Pastor 
Andrew Brunson returned to court on 7 May. His lawyer Cem Halavurt protested 
the use of 'secret witnesses', noting that their outlandish accusations were 
presented without a shred of evidence. At the close of the 10-hour hearing, 
Brunson (50) was led back to his cell in a maximum-security prison. The next 
hearing is set for 18 July. World Watch Monitor has a detailed report on the 
7 May hearing, while an article by Mindy Belz in World Magazine provides 
further insight, including a powerful, encouraging and deeply moving account 
of how our merciful God intervened for Brunson in the courtroom in answer to 
specific prayer. Both articles are highly recommended. [See blog for links.] 
Please continue to pray that God will uphold Andrew Brunson and intervene for 
his release. Pray for the Church in rapidly-changing Turkey.  

Also, for those who are interested: On 29 May 1453, the Byzantine 
[Greek-speaking Christian] capital Constantinople fell to Ottoman forces. 
Now, every 29 May, the Turkish government celebrates 'Conquest Day'. This 
year President Erdogan released a short but grandiose film, rich in 
computer-generated imagery, which links the conquest of Constantinople with 
the defeat of the ANZACs at Gallipoli (1915) and the rise of neo-Ottoman, 
imperialist, 'Sultan' Erdogan today. [See blog for link.]  

* ZANZIBAR, (Tanzania): CHURCH UNDER PRESSURE

A church in Kisauni, in mostly-Muslim semi-autonomous Zanzibar, has been 
facing pressure from local Muslims unhappy about its presence. When Muslims 
lobbied for the church to be closed, local authorities complied and issued 
the church with a notice. The church, which belongs to the Pentecostal 
Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa, is resisting and worshipping as usual. On 
Sunday 6 May plain-clothed police officers walked into the morning worship 
service and arrested the preacher, Bishop Daniel Kwileba Kwiyeya. Believers 
tried to intervene, but to no avail. The bishop's distressed daughter also 
tried to intervene and was taken away with her father. The distressed 
believers returned to the sanctuary to pray for Bishop Kwiyeya and his 
daughter. The pair were released later that day; no charges were laid. 
Tensions remain; please pray.  

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