Date:  May 25, 2022

RLPB 646. May Update, Inc. Hong Kong, Nigeria, Gulf of Guinea, India, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Uganda

by Elizabeth Kendal


* CHINA [RLPB 643 (4 May)], where new 'Measures for the Financial Management of Religious Sites', placing all church finances in the hands of the Communist Party will come into force on 1 June; and where state surveillance and social control grows ever more repressive by the day. Please pray.

UPDATE HONG KONG: On 11 May, police arrested Cardinal Joseph Zen (90) – bishop emeritus of Hong Kong and religious liberty champion – for his role as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, established in 2019 to help pro-democracy protesters pay their legal fees. He was released on bail later that day. Cardinal Zen and his four co-accused faced court on 24 May. Though initially arrested for ‘conspiracy to collude with foreign forces’ under the city’s national security law, all five of the fund’s former trustees and its secretary were instead charged with failing to register the fund as a society with police, a non-national security offence that can incur a fine for a first conviction. That said, many believe Beijing is preparing to crack down on religious liberty in Hong Kong. Please pray.

Bishop Zen 24may2022 UCA

Cardinal Zen, 24 May 2022.

Concerning Cardinal Zen, Benedict Rogers writes: ‘Just hours after appearing in court … Cardinal Zen was doing what he does each day: praying, preaching and celebrating the Eucharist.’ While the focus of the service was ‘China, Hong Kong and the Uyghurs, with typical generosity of spirit and reciprocity, Cardinal Zen devoted his prayers to the Church in Myanmar [Burma]…Such solidarity is beautiful.’ AMEN

* BURMA (Myanmar) [RLPB 644 (11 May)], where hundreds of thousands of Christian ethnic Chin, Kachin, Karenni and Karen are displaced - many in the jungle without adequate food, shelter or medical care - as the monsoon season sets in. It is a Christian crisis of monumental proportions. Praise God that the Free Burma Rangers was recently able to deliver aid and bring encouragement to some 800 mostly ethnic Karen stranded on the Burma side of the Thai-Burma border. That said, the need is enormous. Please pray and give generously (James 2:15-17).

'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me', (Jesus; from Matthew 25:31-46 ESV).

* NIGERIA [RLPB 654 (18 May)], where the horrific lynching of a Christian college student on campus by fellow students, in the far north-west city of Sokoto has sent shock-waves through the nation. Tensions are soaring and there is a risk that 'Islamic rage could spread like wildfire'.

- 'blasphemy' may become pretext for wide-scale attacks on Christians.

blasphemy fires may2022

Blasphemy fires

BORNO. Following the horrific 12 May lynching of Deborah Emmanuel in Sokoto (in Nigeria's far north-west), a Muslim woman in Borno (in Nigeria's far north-east) posted a comment on Facebook. She said Deborah 'will never rest in peace since she has decided to abuse the most important person in the history of mankind [Muhammad]. May worm(s) eat her up till the day of judgment.' In turn, a Christian graduate from the University of Maiduguri named Naomi Goni responded with a tweet deemed offensive to Muslims. Islamists accused Naomi of blasphemy, sparking a firestorm. As tensions soared and threats to Naomi's life multiplied on Facebook, police opted to detain Naomi for her own protection. On Tuesday 17 May, hundreds of Muslims protested in the streets of Maiduguri demanding that the police hand Naomi Goni over to them so they could kill her in accordance with Sharia [Islamic] Law. Fearful that the rioters might overrun the police station, the police handed Naomi over to military authorities in Maiduguri. Tensions are soaring. Please pray.

BAUCHI. On 20 May, after Friday prayers, Muslim men rioted in Katanga, in the north of Bauchi State (which is north of Plateau State in North-East Region) over allegations that a local Christian woman named Rhoda Jatau (40), a healthcare worker, had written a blasphemous on-line comment. The allegation sparked a firestorm. Muslims mounted a manhunt for the woman, intending to kill her. Fortunately for her sake, Rhoda had managed to flee the area ahead of the rioting. Six homes and seven shops belonging to Christians were burned in the pogrom, and about 20 people were injured, including a Pastor of an ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] church. Rhoda remains in hiding. Tensions are soaring. Please pray.

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me... (Psalm 77).

MAY 2022 ROUND-UP - also this month:

Update to RLPB 625, Sahel: Terror attacks in Togo and Burkina Faso, 23 Nov 2021.

sahel Gulf of Guinea showing Kpendjal Prefecture Savanes Region Togo

Regional map, showing location of Togo's Kpendjal Prefecture.

In the early hours of Wednesday 11 May, around 60 gunmen on motorbikes crossed from eastern Burkina Faso into TOGO and attacked the Kpékpakandi military base, in Togo's northern Kpendjal Prefecture. Taken by surprise, the base was quickly overrun. A fierce firefight ensued, lasting several hours. Togolese troops from a nearby base rushed to provide support, only to hit an improvised explosive device (IED) planted strategically on the road. Eventually, the jihadists ended the assault and fled back over the border with their dead. The highly sophisticated attack claimed the lives of eight Togolese soldiers and left 13 wounded. It was the first fatal terror attack to hit Togo since analysts warned that Islamic jihadists in the Sahel were seeking to 'expand south into the countries of the Gulf of Guinea: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin, all of which border Burkina Faso' [RLPB 625 (23 Nov 2021)]. No group has claimed responsibility, but analysts suspect the militants were aligned with Al-Qaeda's Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM). In neighbouring GHANA, the Minister of National Security warned the nation: 'There is good reason to believe that the terrorists operating within the region have Ghana as a target...' Security has been increased at all places of worship. Religious leaders and managers of public spaces have been urged to be vigilant and take extra measures to ensure the safety of their people. Please pray.

- democracy fails to deliver, so the BJP opts for dictatorship.

Karnataka, in India's south-west, had been considering enacting anti-conversion legislation since at least September 2021 when MP Goolihatti Shekhar, of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), appealed for a law to stop the 'rampant religious conversions' plaguing the state [RLPB 621 (26 Oct 2021)]. The Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021 was passed by the state legislative assembly (lower house) on 23 December 2021. However, the BJP failed to muster enough support in the legislative council (upper house; where BJP is one short of a majority), whose approval is required for any law to come into force. Unwilling to accept defeat or rise to the challenge of further debate, the BJP-led government opted to adopt non-democratic means. On 12 May, Karnataka's BJP-led government enacted the anti-conversion law by ordinance with the signature of the state governor.

The law prescribes imprisonment of three to five years along with a fine ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 Indian rupees (US$330-1,330) for conversion due to 'force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by promise of marriage'. Anyone wanting to change religion will have to file a declaration before government authorities at least 30 days in advance, citing the reasons for their decision. The law prohibits 'mass conversions', defined as 'where two or more persons are converted'; while 'reconversion' to an 'immediate previous religion … shall not be deemed to be a conversion under this Act'.

As Father Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit human rights activist notes, the law violates Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees the freedom to profess, practise and propagate religion to all citizens. 'The law can now punish a Christian or a Muslim for a simple humanitarian act like providing alms or other help such as free education to a child from a poor Hindu family, calling it an attempt to convert,' he said. Please pray.

- for teaching Christianity to Persian converts.

Avedian resizedjpg

Anooshavan Avedian (courtesy Article 18)

On 5 May Article 18 reported that Armenian-Iranian Anooshavan Avedian (60) had been sentenced to ten years in prison followed by ten years of deprivation of social rights (e.g. employment) for his church activities. The judge found Anooshavan guilty of 'propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam' (i.e. teaching Christianity to Persians, who are supposed to be Muslims). It is an extraordinarily harsh sentence, doubtless designed as a deterrent. Anooshavan was arrested along with Persian converts Abbas Souri (45) and Maryam Mohammadi (46) at a house-church gathering in Narmak, North Tehran, in August 2020. Others present at the gathering were forced to sign commitments to refrain from engaging in Christian activities. The three were eventually bailed after submitting property deeds. They were sentenced on 10 & 11 April 2022. The two Persian converts received harsh, albeit non-custodial punishments, including fines, ten years of deprivation of social rights, as well as two-year bans on travel abroad and two years of exile from their home province of Tehran or any adjacent province. They are also obliged to report regularly to offices of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). All three Christians will appeal. Please pray.

Update to RLPB 632, Christians in Peshawar Gravely Imperilled, 9 Feb 2022

On Sunday 15 May Islamic terrorists assassinated two Sikh businessmen in Bata Tal bazaar in Sarband on the southern outskirts of Peshawar. The killers used the same modus operandi as those who assassinated Reverend William Siraj on Sunday 30 January [RLPB 632 (9 Feb)]: two men on a motorbike (a driver and a shooter) shot and killed their targets in broad daylight before speeding away. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has claimed responsibility. One day earlier, on Saturday 15 May, an ISKP commander and a would-be suicide bomber were killed during a Counter-Terrorism Department raid on their base in the Wali Abad area of Pishtakhara, on the southern outskirts of Peshawar. Pakistan media reports (Dawn, 15 May): 'A highly placed official told Dawn that the terrorists were planning to hit a church in the provincial capital [Peshawar]. 'The police have already issued a threat alert about a possible attack on a church in Peshawar,' the official said while requesting anonymity. Praise God for this intervention and please continue to pray for Pakistan's exposed and imperilled Church, in particular the Church in vulnerable Peshawar.


Hamouda Tia Kafi (34) and Nada Hamad Shukralah (25) of Al Bageir, Al Jazirah state, were Muslims when they married in 2016. However, in 2018, after Hamouda converted and became a follower of Jesus, his wife's family sought and won a sharia court decision to dissolve their marriage. In April 2019 Sudan's military exploited popular protests and ousted Islamist dictator Omar al-Bashir in a military coup. A struggle for the heart and soul of Sudan ensued [RLPB 502 (15 May 2019)]. Subsequently a civilian-led transitional government enacted reforms aimed in part at de-Islamising Sudan. In July 2020 laws were amended to remove a whole raft of Sharia-based provisions. Public flogging was abolished and apostasy was decriminalised [see RLPB 559 (22 July 2020)]. Subsequently, in 2021, Hamouda's wife, Nada converted to Christianity and returned to her husband with their two children. Furious, Nada's brother accused the couple of adultery based on Sudan's 1991 Sharia-based criminal law. Hamouda and Nada were arrested on 17 August 2021 and subsequently bailed. On 25 October 2021 Sudan's Islamist military ousted the reformist, civilian-led transitional government and seized power in a military coup [RLPB 621 (27 Oct 2021)]. Hamouda and Nada's trial has now commenced. If found guilty, the couple - who are members of a Baptist church - could be sentenced to 100 lashes and a year in exile. The next hearing is scheduled for 7 June. Please pray.


regions of uganda map MBALE

Map showing location of Mbale.
Kibuku is around 40km west of Mbale.

MBALE DISTRICT. Bishop Amon Sadiiki - a former Muslim, now convert Christian pastor, apologist and evangelist - had been debating Muslims in an open-air evangelistic event in Mbale for four days during Ramadan when, on 28 April, eleven Muslims converted to become followers of Jesus Christ. As he was leaving Mbale at about 8 pm, two Christian organisers of the event insisted they escort the bishop home as many Muslims appeared quite agitated. After setting off on their motorcycles, they soon realised they were being pursued by two other motorcycles carrying Muslims brandishing knives and shouting 'Allahu Akbar' [Allah is greater]. The Muslims ambushing the bishop launched into a frenzied knife attack. The bishop's escorts - Peter and Moses - called for help, which came mercifully from the nearby Christian-founded Mugiti High School. By the time he was rescued, the bishop had suffered serious injuries to his stomach, head and legs, and was losing a lot of blood. Clinging to life, Bishop Sadiiki was hospitalised in a private clinic in Mbale. Days later, on 3 May, Muslims attacked the bishop's son Frank Amon Sadiiki (21) as he travelled home from visiting his father in hospital. Frank was ambushed and struck on the legs with a bladed weapon before an oncoming vehicle scared away the attackers. Bishop Sadiiki told Morning Star News that he and his family were unsafe and in need of prayer. Please pray.

KIBUKU DISTRICT. On Friday morning 6 May, a team of believers from the Malakachomo Revival Church of God visited the home of local Islamic leader Sheikh Musyoya Anasi after learning that his wife was terribly ill. For the past two years Sheikh Anasi's wife had been suffering from an inflamed breast and acute pain in her throat that left her unable to swallow dry food. After prayer for healing, the breast inflammation eased and Anasi's wife rose, asked for food, and ate some cooked bananas. Anani said, 'These miracles led me and my wife to give our lives to Jesus as Lord and Saviour.' However, some Muslims reported the conversions to the mosque. Later that day, after Friday prayers, a mob of Muslims armed with clubs and machetes marched towards the church shouting 'Allahu Akbar' [Allah is greater]. They burned the church and the home of Pastor Wilberforce Naaya, demolishing them entirely. Though several Muslims were arrested, Christian security remains tenuous. Please pray.