Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 221 | Wed 31 Jul 2013
By Elizabeth Kendal
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-4 ESV)
JULY 2013 UPDATE -- During July we prayed concerning . . .
* MALAYSIA (RLPB 217), where children were put at risk of forced conversion by a draft law that had been submitted directly to Parliament, by-passing the Cabinet where certainly it would have been rejected by non-Muslim members. Doubtless the government hoped it would be approved without scrutiny. PRAISE GOD, the plot failed and the ruling Barisan Nasional was forced to withdraw the Bill so it could be scrutinised by the Cabinet.
UPDATE: THE STRUGGLE FOR CHILDREN CONTINUES
On Thursday 25 July a Malaysian High Court quashed the religious conversion of three children who had been converted to Islam in a Sharia Court in 2009 by their convert father, in their absence and without the consent of their Hindu mother. Justice Lee Swee Seng declared the religious conversions 'unlawful' and 'unconstitutional'. But the four-year legal battle is still not over. The husband, K Patmanathan (now known as Mohammad Ridzuan Abdullah), will appeal the ruling (unless he is found to be in contempt of court). Pray that the court will uphold the rights of children not to be converted to Islam at the whim of a convert parent. [In Islam, conversion is essentially a legal and not a spiritual matter.]
* EGYPT (RLPB 218), where the military had ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a military coup staged under the cover of anti-Morsi protests. This triggered a violent backlash against anti-Morsi forces, particularly the Coptic Church.
UPDATE: The military is pursuing its own interests while deflecting blame onto anti-Morsi protesters. Recently they called for anti-Morsi forces to come out into the streets and provide the military with a mandate to crack down on 'terrorism', i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood. Now the military is using lethal force against Muslim Brotherhood protesters, claiming a mandate from the pro-secular forces. Is the military really trying to set Egypt on a path to civil war? Pray for the Church in Egypt.
* PAKISTAN (RLPB 219) where Muslims in the sectarian hot-spot of Gojra have accused Christians of sending blasphemous text messages by mobile phone. Instead of applying the law, the police and the court are only interested in appeasing belligerent Muslims and clerics. Pray for the Church in Pakistan.
* IRAN (RLPB 220), where persecution -- including the closing of Farsi-speaking fellowships and the imprisonment of converts from Islam -- is continuing under the new president, Hassan Rouhani. Pray for Iran's Christian prisoners.
JULY 2013 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .
* CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR): 'DO NOT FORGET US'
A letter from a local believer in Bangui has been forwarded to RLPB. The writer describes the situation as like 'enduring Calvary', adding that it is only 'by the grace of God that we survive'. The picture is one of utter devastation, rampant hunger and widespread terror. 'From what we are currently experiencing we have the impression that it is Islam -- at the expense of Christianity -- that is in the process of settling in our secular country.' [Full text of the letter.] The Catholic Church's Peace and Justice Commission likewise laments the wanton destruction, rampant looting and extreme violence, stating: 'It seems Beelzebub, chief of all demons, now inhabits the hearts of certain daughters and sons of this country.' The Secretary-General of the Central African Republic's Catholic Bishops' Conference, Mgr Doumalo, told CatholicHerald.co.uk that Christians face continual danger and uncertainty. 'This is why we're asking the world not to forget us,' he said.
* ERITREA: SYSTEMATIC PERSECUTION OF PROTESTANT YOUTHS
In Eritrea, the law requires all citizens between the ages of 18 and 40 to perform national service, comprising 6 months military training and 12 months deployment. It is not uncommon for the deployment to be extended and for conscripts to be exploited as slave labour. Cruelty, including torture, is widespread. To address the problem of evasion, in 2003 the government ruled that the final year of secondary school be undertaken at the Sawa Military Training Camp (SMTC). Amnesty International reports that some of these students are under 18, with some as young as 15. A student must complete this military service to graduate. Every year reports emerge of Protestant Christian students suffering violent persecution in SMTC. On 25 July Morning Star News reported that 39 school students in SMTC had been excluded from graduation. They were being subjected to beatings and forced hard labour with insufficient food and water, as well as being threatened with prison, simply because they refuse to 'renounce Christ'. Pray for the Church in Eritrea, particularly for these youths.
* INDIA: AFGHAN CHURCH GROWS AMIDST STRUGGLES
Christian converts started fleeing Afghanistan around 2005 as the Taliban gained strength. In May 2009 a Kabul-based television network, Noorin TV, broadcast images taken of a worship and a baptismal service in a Kabul secret house church. A member of the Afghan parliament subsequently called for apostates to be executed. An estimated 100 Afghan Christian converts fled to India in the following months. Afghan converts are still arriving in India, with some 40 up to July this year. The Afghan Church of New Delhi has from 200 to 250 Afghan converts, refugees who have fled religious persecution in Afghanistan. Whilst they are relatively safe now, as Afghans they suffer discrimination in Indian society, as well as hostility from Afghan Muslims who despise them as apostates. Pray that God will bless, protect, provide for and build his Afghan Church in India.
* INDIA: PERSECUTION ESCALATING IN MADHYA PRADESH
Madhya Pradesh (in central India) is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It has long had a law requiring that those who convert to anything other than Hinduism must notify the authorities. [Hindu nationalists do not regard conversion to Hinduism as conversion, but as 'ghar vaspi': i.e. 'homecoming' or reversion.] On 10 July the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly voted to increase the repression by passing a bill that requires converts and clergy to obtain permission from the authorities prior to conversion. An application form providing names of converts, as well as the date and venue of any conversion ceremony (baptism), must be submitted to the district magistrate one month prior to conversion. Once a request is submitted, the police may investigate. If the prospective converts are minors, women or members of Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes (Dalits), the legislation stipulates a jail term of up to four years and/or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees (US$1,680). The law is unconstitutional, breaching the citizen's rights to privacy and freedom of religion. India's BJP-led states are enacting laws that are unconstitutional knowing the Federal Government is unwilling or unable to defend the constitutional rights of citizens. Pray for God's intervention in India.
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)