Wednesday, January 26, 2011

092. January Update. Incl. Afghanistan, Eritrea, Laos, Lebanon, Somalia, Tunisia

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 092 | Wed 26 Jan 2011

By Elizabeth Kendal

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV)

JANUARY 2011 UPDATE -- During January we prayed for . . .

VICTIMS OF TERROR, after dozens of Christians were killed and well over 100 wounded in terror attacks targeting Christian districts and churches in Northern Nigeria, Iraq and Egypt over the Christmas - New Year period.

* UPDATE: Sectarian violence continues to plague Jos, Nigeria. Armed Muslim gangs have attacked Farin Lamba in Riyom Local Government Area and Fan in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, five times in the last two weeks. The death toll stands at 34. According to reports, some of the attackers have been dressed in military fatigues, including body armour. Meanwhile in Mosul, Northern Iraq, gunmen burst into the surgery of the prominent cardiologist Dr Nuyia Youssif Nuyia on 15 January and shot him at point blank range. Dr Nuyia, a devout Chaldean Catholic and father of four, survives with serious injuries. Violence also continues to plague Egypt. On 11 January a policeman shouted 'Allahu Akbar' before shooting six identifiable Coptic Christians travelling together on a train between Assiut and Cairo. In a move to reduce Coptic fears, the government has sentenced to death the perpetrator of the Nag Hammadi church massacre. Still, one Egyptian Christian described the environment like being in a room full of gas waiting for someone to light a match.

* PRAISE GOD: On 25 January Al Arabiya reported that Egyptian security forces had arrested 19 would-be suicide bombers who were ready to launch attacks on places of worship nationwide. Police also seized weapons and documents belonging to al-Qaeda, including plans and maps for places of worship in southern Egypt and Alexandria. Please thank the Lord and pray that he will continue to frustrate the ways of the wicked (Psalm 146:9).

IRAN, where at least 70 Christians, mostly converts from Islam, have been arrested in a government crackdown on apostasy and Protestant fellowships.

* UPDATE: The Ministry of Islamic Guidance arrested Pastor Vahik Abrahamian and his wife Sonia Keshish-Avanesian (both in their 40s) and Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo Teymouri (both new Christians in their early 30s) on 4 September 2010. Having been warned that any public statement would elicit severe consequences, their families initially kept quiet. However, since these couples have now suffered four months of imprisonment with 'intense physical abuse and psychological pressure', their families have decided to go public with an appeal for prayer. Please honour this courageous act of faith by praying for Iran's imprisoned Christians and for God to demonstrate his supremacy over the regime of President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

CENTRAL ASIA, where harassment and persecution is escalating as authoritarian regimes repress anything that could threaten the status quo.

JANUARY 2011 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .

* AFGHANISTAN: FORTHCOMING APOSTASY TRIAL

The trial of Said Musa, an Afghan Christian charged with apostasy (rejecting Islam), is expected to commence next week if the case against him can be finalised by then. According to Article 3 of Afghanistan's 2004 constitution (approved and lauded by the Islam-appeasing West), Sharia (Islamic) law is the supreme guide. According to Sharia, apostasy is punishable by death. Please be in prayer for Said Musa, for his testimony, and for all who will hear it. (Matthew 10:19,20)

* ERITREA: OVER 100 CHRISTIANS ARRESTED SINCE NEW YEAR'S EVE

International Christian Concern reports that Eritrean security officials have recently arrested more than 100 Christians. On New Year's Eve the entire 41-member congregation of Philadelphia Church in Asmara was taken into custody for questioning, with some reportedly being beaten. On 9 January, 35 worshippers were arrested as they prayed together. The regime of President Isaias Afewerki is one of the most violently abusive in the world. More than 3000, mostly Protestant Christians of all ages, are imprisoned for their faith in Eritrea. Conditions are inhumane and torture is routine.

* LAOS: THREE CHURCH LEADERS ARRESTED

On 4 January Lao officials arrested 11 Christians (including children) at gunpoint, accusing them of holding a 'secret meeting', a political crime. Compass Direct reports that eight have been released but three church leaders -- Pastor Wanna, Chanlai and Kan -- remain behind bars in Khammouan Provincial Prison. The 11 believers had gathered with permission from village authorities to celebrate Christmas together over a meal at Pastor Wanna's home. Prison conditions are inhumane and torture is routine.

* LEBANON: HEZBALLAH'S 'CREEPING COUP' COMPLETE


Hezballah established its military supremacy in May 2008 when it laid siege to Beirut in a violent blitzkrieg. After Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Sunni-dominated, US and Saudi-backed 'March 14 Forces' narrowly won the elections in June 2009, they appeased Hezballah by forming a National Unity government and awarding Hezballah key cabinet portfolios. When PM Hariri refused to disavow the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigating the February 2005 assassination of PM Rafik Hariri (his father), Hezballah and its allies walked out of the government on 12 January 2011, forcing its collapse. On 18 January, as the STL handed over its indictment (believed to implicate Hezballah), black-clad Hezballah militants fanned out across several Beirut neighbourhoods in a show of force. On 25 January the parliament voted to install the Hezballah-backed candidate, Najib Mikati, as Prime Minister. Hezballah's 'creeping coup' is complete. As noted by Michel Aoun, a Christian leader and key ally of Hezballah, 'The country is moving from one stage to another, from one approach to another.' Hariri supporters have rioted in the streets of Beirut and Lebanon is on the brink of internal warfare. Pray for the Church in Lebanon, particularly that Christians will seek security in Christ who is faithful and supreme, and not in the shade of treacherous powers that stand condemned.

* SOMALIA: CHRISTIAN MOTHER OF FOUR MARTYRED

Early on 6 January al Shabaab Islamic militants arrested Asha Mberwa (36), a Christian mother of four children aged 4-12, outside her home in Warbhigly village on the outskirts of Mogadishu. At 5:15 pm on 7 January, they executed her for apostasy (rejection of Islam), publically cutting her throat in front of village witnesses. Her husband, who was not at home at the time, has fled to an unknown location, while a 'good Samaritan' in Mogadishu is caring for their distraught and traumatised children. Please pray for Somalia's besieged and imperilled Christian community, and that God will demonstrate his supremacy over al-Shabaab.

* TUNISIA: POLITICAL LIBERTY OPENS THE DOOR FOR POLITICAL ISLAM


Just like all secular Arab dictators, Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali respected religious freedom and enforced secularism while brutally repressing all political opposition, especially fundamentalist political Islam. In 1989, when the Islamist party al-Nahada became the second largest political party in Tunisia with 17 percent of the vote, Ben Ali banned the group, jailed its followers and sent its leader, Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi, into exile.

Whilst Islamists have in no way driven the recent popular uprising, they will certainly benefit from its effects. Salah Jourchi, a Tunisian expert on Islamic movements, comments, 'The Islamist movement was the most oppressed of all the opposition movements under Ben Ali. Its followers are also much greater in number than those of the secular opposition.' Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi will return soon to Tunisia from London. According to the Arab daily, Asharq Alawsat, many other exiled Tunisian Islamists are likewise preparing to return. Furthermore, dozens of convicted Islamists have reportedly 'escaped' from Tunisian prisons since the overthrow of President Ben Ali. A battle for Tunisia may be about to begin. Pray for the Church in Tunisia, that religious liberty will survive and that free Tunisians will resist the dictators of Islam.