Wednesday, October 28, 2009

028. October Update; incl. LRA, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Maldives

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 028 | Wed 28 Oct 2009

OCTOBER 2009 UPDATE -- During the month we prayed concerning . . .

THE LRA (The Lord's Resistance Army), a guerrilla force made up of hard-core fighters and kidnapped, terrorised children. The LRA is led by spirit medium Joseph Kony who claims to be guided by the Holy Spirit even though his spiritism is occultic and obscenely violent. The racist, Islamic dictatorship in Khartoum supports and supplies the LRA to be its proxy militia to attack its opposition in Darfur, Christian Southern Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic.

* UPDATE: On 21 October a band of LRA soldiers attacked a camp for displaced Darfuris in Western Bahr al-Ghazal, Southern Sudan. They killed five (including three Southern Sudanese police), wounded many and abducted dozens. Southern Sudanese forces (SPLA) have since managed to rescue 46 Darfuri abductees. The LRA continues to terrorise the region and Kony keeps eluding all efforts to capture or kill him. Kony has been out-manoeuvring the armies of Africa for more than 20 years. According to Lt- Gen. Nhail Deng Nttial, the Minister for SPLA Affairs in the Government of Southern Sudan, 'the LRA seems to be expanding the scope of its murderous activities with alarming rapidity'. Pray that the Sovereign Lord will intervene.


PAKISTAN, where Christians are more vulnerable than ever due to the war between the government and the al-Qaeda-Taliban alliance. Punjabi Islamists seeking to inflame Islamic zeal and recruit jihadis are increasingly targeting Christian communities.

* UPDATE: On 17 October the government launched an offensive against al-Qaeda-Taliban bases in Waziristan (a tribal agency on the AfPak border, north-west Pakistan). The jihadists responded by escalating their terrorist attacks against 'soft targets' like schools. From 2004 to 2008, the military has made four attempts to regain control of Waziristan, but has failed on each occasion, surrendering with 'peace deals' that involve compensation and ceding territory which have significantly advanced al-Qaeda-Taliban power. One thing that can be guaranteed is that the military offensive will result in a large displacement of highly trained jihadists, with many finding sanctuary in militant cells across the nation.

International Christian Concern reported on 16 October that pastors, churches and Christian institutions in Sargodha, Punjab, have received letters from Taliban affiliates warning that, if they do not convert to Islam or submit to Islamic rule and pay jizya (protection money/tax), they would be killed, their property and homes would be burnt to ashes and their women would be treated as sex slaves. And they themselves 'would be responsible for this' said the letter.


UNITED KINGDOM, where Islamisation in advancing and religious freedom -- at least for Christians -- is fading fast.


OCTOBER 2009 ROUND-UP -- Also this month . . .

* IRAN: TWO CHRISTIAN WOMEN versus APOSTAPHOBIC REGIME

Maryam Rustampoor (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad (30) have been incarcerated in Tehran's Evin prison since their March 2009 arrest. Despite severe hardship and failing health, the two Christian women are boldly refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam. On 7 October they were acquitted of the charge of 'anti-state activity' but the serious charges of 'propagation of Christianity' and 'apostasy' remain. Evin Prison is notorious for its shocking conditions and brutality. In totalitarian states like Iran, political prisoners (which includes religious prisoners) are considered to be the worst of all, lower and more dangerous than the worst common criminals. As such, they face the harshest treatment. These women need our prayers. Pray for the Church in Iran.


* IRAQ: 'CHRISTIANS HAVE IT HARD' IN BAGHDAD

St George's Anglican Church stands somewhat as a symbol of Christianity in Baghdad: targeted, struck repeatedly, surviving, still standing but only just -- a remnant defying the odds for the sake of the city. On Sunday 25 October, two massive explosions ripped through three government buildings in Baghdad, killing more than 150 and wounding over 600. St George's Church also was heavily damaged and is now virtually ruined. The massive bomb went off at 10.30am but the service was scheduled for the afternoon when the regular congregation of some 500 Iraqi Christians would have been worshipping. 'Christians do have it hard,' the pastor Canon Andrew White said, adding that last year 93 members of his church were killed, including 11 of the 13 converts he baptised.


* MALDIVES: DEMOCRACY BUT NO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Maldives successfully transformed into a democracy in November 2008. Mohamed Nasheed (42) -- a former prisoner of conscience and torture victim known as a reformist -- was sworn in as President after winning a second round of polling. However, to secure victory, Nasheed's coalition formed a political alliance with the Islamic fundamentalist Adhaalath party. Adhaalath now controls the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. On 7 October Maldivian authorities deported a South African, Robert Willeman, who had been found with Dhivehi language Christian material: six video CDs, six books, 17 leaflets and one Bible. Despite democracy, Maldives is still not free.