Date: October 27, 2021
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 621
OCTOBER 2021 UPDATE
By Elizabeth Kendal
* International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church: 7 November 2021.
See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR).
* Nepal: parliamentary elections, Friday 12 and 19 November.
* Chile: general elections (presidential, parliamentary and regional) Sunday 21 November.
DURING THIS PERIOD, WE PRAYED CONCERNING:
* NIGERIA [RLPB 618 (6 Oct)], where Boko Haram and its Fulani proxies have expanded and consolidated in eastern Niger State while wreaking havoc in southern Kaduna and Kogi, three regions which border the Federal Capital to the west, north and south respectively. It is a Christian crisis of monumental proportions. Please pray.
* INDONESIA [RLPB 619 (13 Oct)] after Muhammad Kece - a former Muslim cleric who converted and became a Christian apologist - was accused of blasphemy, arrested, and jailed. On his first night in prison, Kece was violently assaulted in his cell by a group of Islamists led by an Inspector General of Police.
UPDATE: CASE AGAINST MUHAMMAD KECE
The Attorney General's Office is gathering evidence for the criminal prosecution of Muhammad Kece. Kece is suspected of using his Christian apologetics YouTube channel to violate laws on (1) Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE), (2) hate speech in relation to SARA (ethnicity, religion, race and other) and (3) blasphemy. Please pray for Muhammad Kece (Matt 10:16-20), for his lawyers, and that God will redeem this situation for the awakening of many in Indonesia (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
* PAKISTAN [RLPB 620 (20 Oct)], after the 22-member Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions rejected draft legislation prepared by the Ministry of Human Rights. Though the draft Prohibition of Forced Conversion Act (2021) would have protected underage non-Muslim girls from forced conversion (usually done for the purpose of forced marriage), Islamist clerics, scholars and legislators condemned it as 'un-Islamic', contrary to the Quran and Sharia, and 'dangerous'. The bill now lapses and will not be presented to parliament. In Pakistan today, no Christian girl is safe. Lord have mercy! Please pray.
OCTOBER 2021 ROUND-UP - also this month:
* BURMA: CHIN CHURCHES BURNED; OPERATION ANAWRAHTA LOOMS
MORE CHIN CHURCHES BURNED: As was reported in RLPB 617 (29 Sep) and RLPB 602 (16 Jun), the Tatmadaw (Burmese military) is conducting 'sweeps' in Chin State - which is estimated to be at least 90 percent Christian - burning, killing and looting as they go. On 13 October Burmese troops attacked Rialto village, setting fire to everything, including the Baptist church. On 19 October they attacked Tlang Rau village, torching homes and occupying the Baptist church. Forced to flee into the forest, thousands more ethnic Chin are struggling to survive the rain, cold and hunger. Baptist Pastor Thawng told Fides news agency that the targeting of churches only proves the 'fanatic and anti-religious behaviour of the military'. Catholic priest Fr Noel Hran Tin Thang adds: 'In the general atmosphere of violence, we see attacks on Christian churches, but no destruction of Buddhist pagodas. Why?' Could it be that the junta intends not simply to 'clear' Chin State, but to repopulate it with ethnic Burman/Bama Buddhists?
OPERATION ANAWRAHTA LOOMS: According to veteran defence analyst, Anthony Davis, the Tatmadaw (Burmese military) is currently preparing for Operation Anawrahta (Asia Times, 19 Oct 2021). Troops (increasing from 30,000 to more than 120,000) and materiel (including attack helicopters and jets) are being moved into forward positions. Burma's dry season has just begun. As soon as the ground is dry enough, Operation Anawratha will commence. The main theatre will be Chin State (estimated to be more than 90 percent Christian), along with the Divisions of Sagaing and Magway in the mostly ethnic-Burman Irrawaddy valley heartland. The goal of Operation Anawrahta is to crush the ethnic Burman 'People's Defense Forces' (PDFs) that have proliferated throughout the heartland, along with those who support, train, supply and shelter them: in this case, the Chin. Davis expects the Tatmadaw will conduct 'sweeps' and major 'clearance operations' applying the strategy of the 'three alls': 'burn all, kill all, loot all'.
PRAYER FOR BURMA
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Break the arm [mechanism of action] of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:12,15,17,18 ESV)
Operation Anawrahta will be a major focus of the RLPB ministry in the months ahead.
Background: RLPB 590, 'Christian Crisis Looms', 24 March 2021.
* CHILE: CHURCHES BURNED AMIDST SOARING TENSIONS
A highly polarised Chilean electorate will go to the polls on 21 November to vote for a new president. In recent years, churches have been targeted in anti-government protests, both by urbanites protesting chronic poor governance and by indigenous peoples demanding self-determination. On 18 October 2019 anti-government protests erupted in the capital, Santiago. As violence escalated, a Catholic church was looted and vandalised, its statues beheaded and smashed in the street. On 18 October 2020 the first anniversary of the protests, two churches were torched in Santiago: the Church of the Assumption and the St Francis Borgia Church.
On the night of 18 October 2021 unidentified persons ransacked and torched the premises of the Bishopric of the Diocese of Talca, 255 km south of Santiago, in central Chile's Maule region. Central Chile is home to one of the Americas most enduring self-determination struggles and churches are repeatedly targeted. In the early hours of 12 October two churches were destroyed by fire in Tirúa Commune, Arauco Province, Biobίo region: the Nuevo Pacto Pentecostal Cristiano (New Covenant Pentecostal Christian) and a Catholic church. In June the Evangelical Army Mission church of Canete was torched in the same area. According to the president of the Regional Coordination of Evangelical Churches, Héctor Luengo, more than 60 churches have been burned in the past two years. As tensions soar ahead of the 21 November presidential election, the church is calling for calm and an end to the violence. Please pray.
* CHINA: BROTHER CHEN ARRESTED AGAIN
On 11 October authorities released Chen Wensheng from his sixth detention in 2021. A former drug addict, the now passionate evangelist was arrested early on Sunday 26 September and held for 15-days administrative detention in the Hengyang detention centre. Upon his release Chen wrote on WeChat, 'Hallelujah! Thank you, God, for your grace and presence. Thank you for your prayers. After being detained at Hengyang detention centre for 15 days, police officers and officials of the Unit[ed]-Front Department accompanied me home. They have left. Now I can go out to spread the Gospel again' (see: China Aid Association, 14 Oct). As noted in RLPB 585 (17 Feb 2021), brother Chen was 'one evangelist destined to fall foul of the [Chinese Communist Party's] new Administrative Measures. As was made evident in RLPB 608 (30 July 2021), Chen is not going to stop witnessing, meaning the arrests will continue with ever increasing pressure. Please pray.
* HAITI: PRAYING FOR DELIVERANCE
On Saturday 9 October the '400 Mawozo' criminal gang seized 16 Americans and a Canadian in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. The visiting missionaries from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries were snatched while travelling to the airport after visiting an orphanage. Among the captives are four children and an eight-month-old baby. Neatly groomed, wearing a royal blue 3-piece suit and sporting a large cross, gang-leader Wilson Joseph issued his demands via video on social media. The gangster demanded one million US dollars ransom per captive, adding, 'I swear by thunder that if I don't get what I'm asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans.' There have been at least 628 kidnappings in Haiti so far this year, three times last year's total. Please pray, not only for the captive missionaries, but that Haiti might be delivered of its spiritual darkness.
NOTE: Haiti is often credited as being 95 percent Christian (predominantly Catholic) but100 percent Voodoo. The main opposition comes from the small but growing evangelical Church. In April 2003 President Aristide made voodoo an official religion in Haiti declaring it to be 'an essential part of national identity'. [See: Boukman, Aristide, Voodoo and the Church, by Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 26 August 2003.]
(1) KARNATAKA ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO CONVERSIONS
In light of the fact that
Christian apologist Muhammad Kece
was formerly a Muslim cleric, and
Christian evangelist Chen Wensheng
was formerly a drug addict . . .
Please pray for Goolihatti Shakhar, that he might
one day be a former Hindu nationalist.
On 21 September MP Goolihatti Shekhar, of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), addressed Karnataka's legislature appealing for anti-conversions laws to put an end to the 'rampant religious conversions' plaguing the state. He told of the embarrassment caused to his family by the conversion of his own mother who had stopped wearing vermilion on her forehead, abandoned idol worship and downloaded a Christian song as her ringtone [see: RLPB 617 (29 Sept)]. The BJP-led state government agreed and, on 13 October, ordered an investigation into all churches, ministers and missionaries. The Chief Justice of Karnataka will hear a Public Interest Litigation challenging the motive and purpose behind the exercise. Church in Chains reports (21 Oct) that on 11 October, Shekhar's mother participated in [very possibly under duress] a Ghar Wapsi ('homecoming') ceremony and returned to Hinduism. On 25 October, thousands of Christians participated in a peaceful rally to protest escalating persecution and the proposed anti-conversion law. Please pray.
(2) UTTAR PRADESH: PASTORS ARRESTED
On 10 October seven pastors were arrested during a prayer meeting in Northern India's Uttar Pradesh. Despite being charged with 'unlawful assembly', it is believed the pastors have been accused of violating the state's draconian anti-conversion law. Police also detained some 50 believers in attendance at the prayer meeting. They did not, however, arrest anyone from the fanatical Hindu mob that attacked the prayer house. Furthermore, the police detained two Catholic nuns who were waiting at a bus stop near the prayer house despite their not being involved in the prayer meeting. The pastors intervened and the nuns were released, while the lay believers were detained until later that evening. Three female pastors were released on bail on 13 October. Pastor Dinanath Jaiswal told UCA news (14 Oct) that the three women had been traumatised by their ordeal. Pastor Abraham Shakil told UCA: 'We are scared as [fanatical Hindu nationalists] can attack us any time and put the blame on us. The police and political leadership side with the attackers. Many pastors have stopped conducting prayer services.' Please pray.
* LEBANON: SECTARIAN TENSIONS IGNITE AGAIN
On 14 October supporters of the Shi'ite movements, Amal and Hezbollah, took to the streets, demanding the removal of Tarek Bitar, head of Beirut's criminal court and the judge in charge of the investigation into the August 2020 explosion at the port of Beirut. They want him removed because he has ordered the detention of numerous officials, including Ali Hassan Khalil, a former finance minister and high official of the Shiite Amal Party, a close ally of Hezbollah. The black-clad Shi'ite protesters descended on the 'Green Line' - the road between the Christian neighbourhood of Ain al-Remmaneh and the Amal stronghold of Chiyah. Gun fights erupted as Shi'ite protesters claimed to have been targeted by Christian snipers. The Christian party 'Lebanese Forces' rejected the claim, insisting that some Christians had been forced to defend their properties from Shi'ite invaders. The clashes - the worst in years - left six people dead and 30 wounded. By Friday 15 October, calm had been restored. Shi'ite agitators last stormed Ain al-Remmaneh in June 2020, angry that Hezbollah had been asked to disarm [see: RLPB 556 (1 July 2020)]. Ain al-Remmaneh has long been a hot-spot for Muslim-Christian clashes. The clashes demonstrate how delicate is the sectarian situation in Lebanon. Please pray.
* SUDAN: HOPES OF 'NEW SUDAN' CRUSHED IN MILITARY COUP
UPDATE to RLPB 516, Divine help needed if 'New Sudan' is to be realised, 21 Aug 2019.
After a week of massive pro-military and then pro-government rival demonstrations, the Sudanese military has seized power in Khartoum. Security forces arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok early on 25 October. Other members of the civilian government have also been arrested. Military head, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, announced on state TV that he had declared a state of emergency and was dissolving the transitional government. Thousands of Sudanese poured onto the streets to protest the theft of their 'revolution'. At least seven people have been killed and 80 wounded in the protests, most from gunshot wounds as military forces fired into the crowds. Army and paramilitary forces have closed major roads and are patrolling the cities. Internet access has been cut. Members of the Sudanese Professionals Association are planning to strike. The Forces for Freedom and Change has split into factions. Stratfor Intelligence (26 Oct) warns that the military takeover could trigger months of unrest. Many fear that fighting could erupt throughout the periphery, including in the Nuba Mountains [see: RLPB 567 (15 Sep 2020)]. Please pray.