By Elizabeth Kendal
'What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?' Pilate asked. They all answered, 'Crucify him!' (Matthew 27:22 NIV) 'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.' (John 15:18)
SEPTEMBER 2011 UPDATE -- During September we prayed for . . .
NIGERIA (RLPB 124), where ethnic Muslims in the volatile ethnic-religious fault-line city of Jos have been raiding ethnic Christian communities at night, inflicting terror by slaughtering unarmed civilians in their beds, doubtless with the aim of triggering an exodus. This is nothing short of ethnic cleansing. Those who commit these night-time invasions -- which are like the night-time invasions that characterised the 1990s jihad in Algeria -- doubtless justify their actions from the Qur'an: 'How many a township have we destroyed! As a raid by night, or while they slept at noon, our terror came unto them.' (Sura 7:4.)
UPDATE: NIGERIAN JIHAD
TERROR IN KADUNA STATE. On Sunday 18 September some 20 Fulani herdsmen stormed a Christian farming community in Bitaro village, Jaba Local Government Area of southern Kaduna state about 1am as the villagers slept. Armed with machetes and knives, the Muslims killed two men (both husbands and fathers) and a 13-year-old girl and wounded at least 10. Though notified immediately, police arrived too late to apprehend the attackers. Soldiers have been deployed to guard the area.
TERROR IN NIGER STATE. About 8pm on Thursday 22 September suspected Boko Haram militants converged on shops owned by Christians in Madala. Demanding the Christians recite verses from the Qur'an, the militants shot and killed those who could not. Five Christian traders were murdered.
TERROR PLANNED FOR ABUJA. On Saturday 1 October Nigeria will celebrate 51 years of independence. Boko Haram has vowed to attack selected high profile targets in the federal capital.
SOMALIA (RLPB 125), a land of terror and martyrdom, where the al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group al-Shabaab is systematically eliminating Somalia's Christians.
IRAN (RLPB 126), where state belligerence and persecution are escalating.
UPDATE ON PASTOR YOUCEF NADARKHANI: The trial court has ruled that, whilst Youcef Nadarkhani was not a practising Muslim before his conversion to Christianity, he is an apostate because of his Muslim ancestry. The Supreme Court has given Youcef four opportunities to renounce Christ and return to Islam, once daily on 25, 26, 27 & 28 September. Youcef will be executed if he does not comply. [Watch Religious Liberty Monitoring for an update.]
SEPTEMBER 2011 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .
* ALGERIA: CHRISTIAN APPEALING FIVE-YEAR JAIL TERM
RLPB 110 (1 June 2011) reported the14 April arrest of Algerian Christian, Krimo Siaghi, on charges on illegal proselytism and insulting Muhammad. At his 25 May trial the judge imposed a severe five-year jail term along with a massive fine. Krimo's appeal will be heard on Thursday 29 September. Please pray. The verdict will indicate the degree to which the state is or is not prepared to protect religious liberty.
* INDONESIA: CHURCH SUICIDE BOMBING IN SOLO, CENTRAL JAVA
On Sunday 25 September the second worship service at the 700-strong Bethel Full Gospel Church (Gereja Bethel Injil Sepenuh) in Kepunton ended as usual at 11am. At the moment the believers started moving out a suicide bomber detonated his explosives by the main glass doors of the sanctuary. Twenty-two believers were injured -- eleven seriously and one has died in hospital. The bomber was reportedly a member of an Islamist militant cell in Cirebon, West Java. Security has been heightened and police will now screen all church visitors.
* KIRKUK, IRAQ: THREE CHRISTIANS KIDNAPPED
On 21 September, Muslim gunmen abducted three Christian men near Fakhira village, southern Kirkuk. The Christians were ambushed when returning home to Arfa, northern Kirkuk, from a regular hunting trip. The militants killed the Christians' hunting dogs and torched their car before taking them to an unknown location. Iraqi security forces are searching for them. As tensions mount in flash-point Kirkuk, Christians are becoming increasingly vulnerable to ethnic-religious hate crimes, Islamic terrorism and opportunistic criminality including kidnappings. Please pray for God's protection of Iraq's Christian remnant.
* KAZAKHSTAN: NEW LAW WILL HURT MINORITY PROTESTANTS
On 21 September Kazakhstan's Lower House passed the controversial Law on Religious Activity and Religious Associations. Foreign missionaries will now have to re-register annually and anybody who fails the 'theological examination' or is deemed to pose a threat to 'public peace' will be expelled. In a land without a history of religious liberty or tolerance, such a law could cripple Protestant missions as Protestantism is considered 'new' and 'foreign'. Furthermore the law requires churches to have 50 adult members to be registered as a legal 'local' entity. That will be a problem for many small Protestant fellowships as Protestants account for less than one percent of the population. Unregistered worship will be illegal. Also banned is religious observance -- in particular prayer -- in all state institutions. According to the government, the legislation is designed to 'protect the people of Kazakhstan from pseudo-religious movements and cults'. The Senate is expected to approve the law and President Nursultan Nazarbayev reportedly plans to sign it. Protestants are already facing escalating repression, with one Baptist pastor lamenting to Forum 18: 'A new wave of persecution has begun once more.' Please pray that God will grant Kazakhstan's Christian leaders courage, faith and divine wisdom to face the storm.
* SUDAN: WAR ESCALATES IN BLUE NILE
[Updating RLPB 124 (7 September) and Religious Liberty Monitoring 'Sudan: War spreads across "new south" into Blue Nile' (13 September)]. The Arab-supremacist Islamist Government of Sudan has been bombing the Blue Nile capital, Kurmuk. Humanitarian agencies have been targeted, including the office of Save the Children. Insecurity has forced the state's only hospital to close. Satellite Sentinel Project imagery reveals a massive mobilisation of Sudan Armed Forces -- including some 3000 troops along with tanks, artillery, and helicopters -- travelling south from Khartoum to Blue Nile. Everything indicates a major military invasion is imminent. Without international action to disable Khartoum, civil war will engulf the country and impact the whole region. Sudan and South Sudan are accusing each other of supporting the other's rebel forces. Tensions are high. Please pray for the Church in Sudan.
To receive the RLPB by email, write to firstname.lastname@example.org