Tuesday, November 8, 2011

133. International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church; plus Nigeria

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 133 | Wed 09 Nov 2011

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER (IDOP) FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

By Elizabeth Kendal

The security of Christians is deteriorating. In countries where Christians have long suffered discrimination and persecution, violence is escalating. Anti-Christian forces have been advancing for decades, gaining momentum through the radicalisation of the masses. Christians who were once at risk from militants are increasingly at risk from their own neighbours. As religious hardliners gain political influence, hateful and criminal elements discover that they can persecute, kill and loot Christians with impunity. In Egypt, Pakistan and parts of India the situation is absolutely critical.

Furthermore, terrorism is increasing. In Iraq and Somalia, al-Qaeda affiliates are training jihadists for local and international jihad. Amidst this, the Assyrian-Chaldean Christians indigenous to Iraq are facing genocide while the Church in Somalia is being systematically eradicated. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Margreb (AQIM) will doubtless benefit greatly from the so-called 'Arab Spring': in particular the rise of Islam, the decline in security and the looting of Libya's arms caches.

Unfortunately, as the West discards its biblical foundations to facilitate 'culture change' -- the transition from 'Judeo-Christian' to 'post-Christian' (non-Christian) -- it becomes just like the rest of the world: harsh, with less respect for human life and hostile towards the Gospel. A civilisation that ceases to respect religious liberty at home is not going to defend it abroad. Already, supposedly rights-affirming Western governments have demonstrated that they are quite prepared to sacrifice principles -- even whole Christian people groups -- in exchange for geo-strategic gains or lucrative contracts. Severely persecuted Christians in highly strategic or resource-rich states routinely find themselves abandoned. This is the sad reality for example for the Kachin in Burma (Myanmar), the Papuans in eastern Indonesia, the minority Protestants in Central Asia, and the Assyrian-Chaldeans of Iraq. So whilst the West has long been a powerful advocate of religious liberty, increasingly as culture changes and influence wanes (through loss of economic leverage) this is less the case.

It is imperative that as the security situation for Christians deteriorates, we come to terms with the reality that the West cannot save the Church; neither can the UN (which is now dominated by non-free states) or the EU (which is cursed with confusion just like the original tower of Babel) or NATO (which has done more to advance Islam than Islam itself) or 'democracy' (which is doing a wonderful job of empowering anti-Christian forces throughout the world) or any other creation of arrogant, independent humanity.

PRAISE GOD there is another reality: the LORD of hosts is for us and able to save! But he 'waits' (holds back / tarries expectantly) for us, so that we will 'wait' (hold back / tarry expectantly) for him (Isaiah 30:18). What he seeks is faith -- that we would look to HIM and pray -- that he might answer our prayers and reveal to all that he alone is the LORD (Isaiah 37:20). Such prayers are not desperate wishful thinking but expressions of expectant faith anchored in the promises of God.

Prayer is thus the highest form of advocacy. On her knees, the Church is the most powerful body on earth, for through her petitions, the hosts of the Lord of hosts are unleashed to change the course of history. Please join with us on 13 November to pray for the Persecuted Church.

A Prayer for IDOP

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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PRAYING FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

The security of Christians is deteriorating. Violent persecution is escalating, as is terrorism. As the West discards its biblical foundations to undergo 'culture change', religious freedom loses its reason to exist and disappears with the 'old order', traded away for 'peace'. Strategic agreements, lucrative contracts and access to resources are paramount. As persecution escalates globally, we must come to terms with the reality that the world cannot save the Church. Prayer is thus the best and highest form of advocacy. On her knees, the Church is the most powerful body on earth for, through her petitions, the hosts of the Lord of hosts are unleashed to change the course of history. Please join in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on 13 November 2011.

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* NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM HITS NINE CHURCHES

On Friday 4 November al-Qaeda affiliate Boko Haram launched attacks in Damaturu and Potiskum (Yobe State) and in Maiduguri (Borno State). The death toll from the co-ordinated bombings (including suicide bombings) and gun battles presently stands at 150 and is expected to rise. Nine churches were targeted, along with mosques, a bank, an anti-terrorist court, police stations and army posts. In Damaturu's mostly Christian New Jerusalem district, six churches were bombed. According to one resident, 'The whole city is traumatised.' Nigeria's The Nation reported on 7 November, 'In spite [of] their churches being burnt, Christians in Damaturu yesterday defied the security panic and held their Sunday service in [the] open air at the premises of their burnt churches.' According to Boko Haram spokesman Abul-Qaqa, 'More attacks are on the way.' Please pray for the Church in Nigeria.

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