Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RLPB 216. June Update; Incl. Turkey, Syria, CAR, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania, Vietnam

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 216 | Wed 26 Jun 2013

By Elizabeth Kendal

ATTENTION Canberra, Australia.
Elizabeth Kendal: Symposium on the Persecution of Christians in the 21st Century -- Analysis of global trends and the Biblical response to a confronting reality.
Saturday 29 June 2013 from 7p.m. at the Canberra House of Prayer for All Nations, 28 Guilfoyle Street, Yarralumla. Supper included.
RSVP admin@cffreedom.org


JUNE 2013 UPDATE -- During June we prayed concerning . . . 

* TURKEY (RLPB 213), which is polarising along secular versus Sunni fundamentalist lines.

UPDATE: Turks who are objecting against Prime Minister Erdogan's dictatorial rule, along with his re-Islamisation and re-Ottomanisation of Turkey, are continuing their protests despite mass arrests and heavy-handed police responses. At organised mass rallies, PM Erdogan has described the pro-religious-freedom, pro-secular demonstrators as terrorists and hooligans who are being manipulated by foreign forces in a conspiracy led by Western media. Above all, the demonstrators are being accused of offending Islam. Pray for Turkey, particularly that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church in holy wisdom.

* SYRIA (RLPB 214), where the Syrian Arab Army, with support from Hezballah, has liberated the strategic town of al-Qaisar from rebel control. The battle for Aleppo looms, with many difficulties (particularly that of maintaining supply). In battles between Hezballah and Sunni jihadists, local Christians may well find they are wedged between competing foreign Islamists, none of whom have any regard for Syrian Christians. Pray for the Church in Syria.

'Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.'

(Psalm 57:1 ESV)

UPDATE: According to Stratfor Intelligence (21 June), the head of Free Syrian Army (FSA), Salim Idriss, anticipates that US weapons will 'change the balance of power on the ground'. As noted in previous RLPBs, the FSA is a Muslim Brotherhood force that regards the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusrah Front as an ally. Furthermore, thousands of FSA soldiers are defecting to al-Nusrah each month.  Imported weapons will not only further escalate and prolong the conflict, they will doubtless end up in the hands of al-Qaeda jihadists. Their agenda includes the total eradication of all traces of Christianity, the establishment of al-Qaeda bases and jihad against the West. Pray that God will intervene to advance his own glorious purposes. (Proverbs 19:21)

* PAPUA, INDONESIA (RLPB 215), where Javanese Muslim colonisation along with Islamisation and militarisation are slowly effecting the genocide of Papua's indigenous, mostly Protestant Christian Melanesians. Historically, Papua benefited from the coming of the  earlier Western pioneer missionaries and nation-builders. Now the West is ignoring the plight of the Papuans -- will it acknowledge its complicity in their genocide? (Proverbs 24:12)

JUNE 2013 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .

* CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR): THE LRA STRIKES
(Updating RLPBs 210 and 211)

On 13 June a band of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters attacked two villages in Bria, a mining region in central CAR. Six local people were killed and ten wounded as the LRA went on a desperate looting spree. The villagers fought back, killing four LRA. The LRA responded by launching a fresh attack in which they killed six more villagers, putting their decapitated heads on display as a warning. Meanwhile, the Muslim rebel coalition (known as Seleka), which seized control of CAR in March, is barely holding together. The fighters -- many of them foreigners -- are protesting about their living conditions. Consequently, fighting could erupt within the rebel ranks. The security situation for CAR's mostly Christian population remains dire. Multitudes have been displaced. Food and medical supplies are in short supply. More than a million people are in need of aid, including some 595,000 children under the age of five years old. Pray for the Church in CAR.

UPDATE: report from FIDES (26 June)
quote from a letter from the Bishops of the Central African Republic to the President of Transition, Michel Djotodia: "the zeal and determination with which the elements of Seleka have desecrated Christian places of worship and looted the wealth of the Christians, have shaken the foundations of our social cohesion".

* EGYPT: COPTIC CHRISTIAN TEACHER FINED FOR 'BLASPHEMY'
On 11 June the Luxor Misdemeanour Court found Demiana Abdel-Nour (23), a Coptic Christian school teacher, guilty of 'insulting Islam' and fined her 100,000 Egyptian pounds. Three parents had complained that Miss Abdel-Nour allegedly showed disgust when she spoke of Islam in a religion class. The accusation led to Miss Abdel-Nour's arrest and imprisonment, against which Amnesty International protested. Miss Abdel-Nour was later released on 20,000 Egyptian pounds bail, pending further investigations. The school and the Ministry of Education had both investigated and found her innocent. Despite this, the Luxor court deemed her guilty in a ruling that went partly towards appeasing the Islamist protesters who were seeking much severer punishment. [Link includes picture.] This is the latest in a series of blasphemy charges to impact Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Pray for the Church in Egypt.

* KENYA: TERRORISM IN MOMBASA

Morning Star News reports that on 9 June assailants on a motorbike threw an explosive device into the Earthquake Miracle Ministries Church in Mrima village, in the coastal region of Mombasa. Fifteen worshippers were injured, many critically, including two pastors. Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia are suspects.

* NIGERIA: JIHAD CONTINUES

BORNO: On 13 June Boko Haram jihadists attacked four communities in Gwoza Hills, Borno. The jihadists descended on the villages with cries of 'Allahu Akbar' and torched four churches with explosives. They also stole grain and livestock. The militants seized Rev. Jacob Kwiza of COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria). Eye witnesses report that the militants slit his throat when he refused to renounce Christ and convert to Islam.

PLATEAU: Ethnic Fulani Muslims continue to attack villages in Wasa Local Government Area, south-east of Jos. In the latest attack, a Christian man was killed and four churches were torched on 18 June. Christian ministry is reported to be paralysed by the endless violence.

* SOMALIA: ANOTHER CONVERT EXECUTED

According to Morning Star News, al-Shabaab militants in Jamaame district, southern Somalia, had been monitoring Hassan Hurshe (28) since he returned with his family to Somalia from Kenya in 2010. Having concluded that Hassan had become a Christian, they seized him and executed him publicly in front of horrified onlookers. Hurshe had converted to Christianity in 2006, married in 2008 and fathered a baby boy in 2009. His family has since fled the area.

* TANZANIA: PASTORS ATTACKED IN GEITA

To ensure all meat sold in Tanzania is halal, only Muslims may be employed in the meat industry. Tensions are escalating, particularly in Geita in the north-west, as Christians resist both Islamisation and the Islamic monopoly. In February Pastor Mathayo Kachili of the Tanzania Assemblies of God Church was beheaded by Muslims rioting against Christians found slaughtering their own meat. [See RLM, 19 Feb 2013]. Furthermore, Tanzania's demographics are shifting: Tanzania may soon be majority Muslim, if it is not so already. In late May, attackers attempting to get to Pastor Daudi Nzumbi, who leads the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania  congregation in Geita, were driven off by his large dogs. On 2 June a Muslim mob broke into the home of Pastor Robert Ngai, who leads the Evangelical Assemblies of God church in Geita. He is in intensive care with deep machete wounds. This was definitely attempted murder. Pray for the Church in Tanzania.

* VIETNAM: EVANGELICAL PASTOR'S MURDER WHITEWASHED AS SUICIDE

Hoang Van Ngai (38) was an ethnic Hmong elder of Bui Tre Church in the legally recognised Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South). Ngai was arrested on 15 March in Dak Glong district, Dak Nong Province, South Vietnam, along with his older brother, Hoang Van Pa, his wife and sister-in-law, without an arrest warrant.  Hoang Van Pa says he could hear his brother screaming in pain as he was beaten and tortured through the night in the cell next door. By 17 March Hoang Van Ngai was dead. According to Hoang Van Pa, his brother was targeted because he had protested against corruption and abuses of power. Ngai refused to pay bribes, strenuously defending his church when the authorities demanded that he close it. As Morning Star News reported, the killing terrorised the Hmong community. When the Chairman of the People's Committee claimed that Ngai had killed himself, Ngai's family refused to accept it because Ngai's body was covered with evidence of torture and severe beatings. So the family submitted an urgent petition to the Dak Nong Chief of Police, contesting the claim. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (11 June), the authorities have now notified the family that their investigation shows Ngai did die from 'suicide by self-electrocution'. Religious liberty has declined markedly in Vietnam since its Communist Party realised it can persecute with impunity. Pray for the Church in Vietnam.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books 2012)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

RLPB 215. Papua (Indonesia): from mission field to killing field

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 215 | Wed 19 Jun 2013

PAPUA (INDONESIA): FROM MISSION FIELD TO KILLING FIELD

By Elizabeth Kendal

In the 1950s, missionaries working with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) USA and Australia brought the Gospel to the central highlands of the then Dutch New Guinea (the western part of the island of New Guinea). Since then, Indonesia has invaded, occupied, annexed, Islamised, militarised and colonised the region. Today, the indigenous, predominantly Christian Melanesians of Papua are a suffering and dying people. Like so many persecuted minorities in strategic 'swing' states, Papuans find their appalling plight being covered up and whitewashed by powerful forces engaged in 'realpolitik', the amoral politics of money and power. As long as Indonesia is a geo-strategically important nation, it will not be in any government's 'interests' to do anything for the Papuans. However, our God is a God 'who pleads the cause of his people' and acts! (See Isaiah 51:21-23; Proverbs 22:22-23; and Lamentations 3:55-58).

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front Pepera (The United Front for the Struggle of the People of Papua). He is a political prisoner, one of the 'Jayapura Five' arrested in the violent military crackdown on the Third Papuan People's Congress in October 2011 (see RLPB 131, 26 Oct 2011). According to Bobii, 'The main means of annihilation are overt and covert military operations carried out by the Republic of Indonesia.' The extreme ethnic and religious hatred that many Javanese Muslim soldiers have for tribal Melanesian Christians fuels the most appalling human rights abuses. On the Internet, there is video of Indonesian soldiers torturing and brutally killing Papuans they abuse as 'kaffir' (infidels). Furthermore, the introduction of strong alcohol, worm-infested pork , AIDS-infected prostitutes and compulsory 'family planning' are all hastening the decline of the dispirited, indigenous population. On top of all this, Indonesia's policy of transmigration (encouraging Javanese Muslims to settle in the Christian regions of eastern Indonesia) ensures the indigenous Papuans' demographic demise. As Bobii notes, researchers at both Yale University, USA, and Sydney University, Australia, have concluded that what is happening in Papua is genocide. [For more on Papua see the RLM archive, label 'Papua'. Recommended: YALE report, and SYDNEY report)]

On 21 February 2013, after Indonesia refused to heed community appeals and stop building military outposts on a sacred burial site, Papua independence guerrilla fighters took up arms and resisted. Eight Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) soldiers and four non-Papuan civilians were killed in the clash. Thousands of Indonesian security forces subsequently flooded in to 'sweep' the communities around Puncak Jaya in the western central highlands. By 26 February at least 18 houses and five GIDI churches [Evangelical Church of Indonesia], two schools and a library in Tingginambut had been razed by the combined police and military forces. Thousands of Papuan civilians have fled into the bush. Evidence is emerging of massacres. Dozens of Papuan civilians are reported to have been plucked from their homes, schools, gardens and churches to be raped, tortured, mutilated, dismembered and decapitated. Despite photographic evidence, the Indonesian government is dismissing the reports of killings and disappearances as 'rumours' and propaganda. Yet according to credible reports (27 May), at least 41 Papuan civilians are dead (18 confirmed) with some 30 missing. Six of the dead were village chiefs and social leaders (including at least one pastor) who had been invited to attend the 9 April inauguration of new Papua Governor Lukas Enembe in Jayapura. They were intercepted, tortured and killed while returning home.

Oxford-based exile and activist, Benny Wenda, laments international ignorance. 'For the last 50 years we have struggled for freedom but nobody knows that West Papua is a prison, that we are slaves to the Indonesian military and that at least 500,000 men and women have been killed in a genocide,' he told the Daily Telegraph (12 June 2013) (Article includes video interview with Wenda.) Papuan Church leaders are deeply concerned about the escalating state violence.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* the Holy Spirit of God will revive and keep the Papuan Church from losing faith; may they call out to 'God who pleads the cause of his people' (from Isaiah 51:22 ESV). 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.' (Lamentations 3:24 ESV)

* the King of kings -- who sees all, hears all and knows all -- will take up the cause of his people and bring justice, liberty and peace to Papua. (See Isaiah 59:14-19.)

* the Lord of Hosts will intervene against those who have cruel intent; by frustrating their schemes (Psalm 141:10; 146:9) and by visiting them with transforming amazing grace (Galatians 1:23).


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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PAPUA (INDONESIA) -- FROM MISSION FIELD TO KILLING FIELD


Mission Aviation Fellowship opened up the central highlands of former Dutch New Guinea (later Irian Jaya / Papua) to pioneering missionaries in the 1950s. Since the 1960s, Indonesia has invaded, occupied, annexed, Islamised, militarised and colonised the region. Today the predominantly Christian indigenous Melanesians are a suffering and dying people desperately needing God's intervention to prevent genocide. In the latest military operation, thousands of Indonesian forces have been 'sweeping' Pancuk Jaya in the western central highlands, razing homes, schools, churches and gardens while torturing, mutilating and killing Papuan civilians. As of 27 May, 41 people are reported dead and some 30 missing. Thousands have fled into the bush. The Indonesian government is dismissing the reports as 'rumour' and propaganda. Please pray for the gravely threatened Papuan Church.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

RLPB 214. Syria: The Battle for Aleppo

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 214 | Wed 12 June 2013

SYRIA: THE BATTLE FOR ALEPPO
By Elizabeth Kendal

The Iranian-backed, Lebanese Shi'ite terrorist organisation, Hezballah, has officially entered the Syrian conflict. In a televised speech on 25 May, Hezballah leader Hassan Nasrallah wooed Sunni Arabs by provocatively, strategically and typically framing the conflict as a struggle between the 'Western Zionist agenda' and the Syrian 'resistance' that refuses to accept the West's dictates. According to this framework -- which emphasises geo-politics over sectarianism -- Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been drawn into a US-NATO-Israel axis plot, rather than the US and NATO being drawn into a Saudi-Qatar-Sunni Arab axis plot. The difference is subtle but critical, aimed at encouraging Sunni Arabs to reject sectarianism and join the 'resistance'.

On 5 June the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), supported by Hezballah, liberated the strategic city of Qusair which lies close to the border with Lebanon, in Syria's central province of Homs. Under rebel control for over a year Qusair had been home to 30,000 residents, including some 3,000 Christians. Today the city is a ghost-town, utterly ruined. Homes have been reduced to rubble while churches and monasteries have been desecrated, vandalised, looted and defaced with sectarian slogans. Qusair is integral to maintaining supplies. 'We've cut a major umbilical cord of the opposition,' boasted Homs governor, Ahmad Munir Mohammad, a Sunni Muslim and government loyalist. According to General Yahya Suleiman (SAA), 'Whoever controls Qusair controls the centre of the country, and whoever controls the centre of the country controls all of Syria.'

The battle now moves to Aleppo, a city of nearly three million people, including a sizeable Christian minority and with large Armenian and Greek communities. The battle for Aleppo has been deadlocked for close to 12 months. Christians have suffered immense hardship due to the rebel blockade of government-held areas -- food, medicines and fuel are all scarce and costly. Leaving the house is fraught with risk. On Sunday 9 June foreign jihadists in Aleppo executed a boy whom they accused of blasphemy. Mohammad Qatta (15), a coffee-seller, had refused to give a 'customer' a free coffee, reportedly saying, 'Even if Muhammad comes down, I will not give it as [a] debt.' After beating and lashing the boy for hours, the rebels returned him to the street where they executed him in front of a crowd that included his distraught parents. Since the beginning of May, some 3000 Free Syrian Army fighters have defected to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusrah Front which is leading an alliance of local and foreign jihadist groups and has raised its black flag in Aleppo's Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood. According to fresh data compiled by Western-sponsored activists and organisations and relayed to NATO, the jihadist ascendency has led many Sunnis to abandon the rebellion. According to the data, 70 percent of Syrians now support the Assad regime, 20 percent are maintaining neutrality while only 10 percent are still expressing support for the rebels.

More than 4000 Hezballah fighters are reportedly in Aleppo to support the SAA. Their first aim will be the lifting of rebel-imposed sieges. The battle for Aleppo will be a protracted house to house conflict with many casualties. In Lebanon, the largest Christian party (the Free Patriotic Movement) is in a formal alliance with Hezballah. Theoretically therefore, it should be in Hezballah's interests to respect the lives and rights of Syrian Christians. However, the reality is that the ever-pragmatic Hezballah has no love for Christians but exploits them as vote cattle and human shields. Hezballah's participation could well help end the conflict's stalemate by tipping the balance of power in favour of the Syrian government. But whenever victory comes through the assistance of foreign armies, sovereignty suffers.

For Syrian Christians there will be no 'good' outcome in the short to medium term: only terrible (genocide at the hands of Sunni jihadists) or less terrible (domination by the clerical regime in Tehran and terrorist Hezballah). However, as the enduring, 'plodding', pioneer missionary William Carey noted: 'The future is as bright as the promises of God.' (Habakkuk 2:14)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* Syrian Christians will look to the Lord, particularly the many thousands of Christian families besieged in Aleppo; may the Holy Spirit draw them close to their Almighty Father and remind them of the love of Christ, comforting, encouraging and fortifying them in their faith for the extremely testing times ahead.

'Therefore [because our struggle is not against flesh and blood (v12)] take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. . . In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one' (Ephesians 6:13,16 ESV).

* as the decisive battle for Aleppo takes its course, God will shelter and preserve all his precious faithful people, whether they are displaced, hunkered down in their homes or being held captive by rebels.

'Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, 
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfils his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.   Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!'

(Psalm 57:1-3 ESV)

* God in his great mercy and grace will intervene in Syria to advance his purposes for the sake of the Church and glory of his Holy Name.

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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THE BATTLE FOR ALEPPO, SYRIA


On 5 June the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), supported by the Lebanese Hezballah, liberated the strategic city of Qusair near the Lebanon border in Syria's central province of Homs. Qusair, which had been under rebel control for over a year, had been home to more than 3000 Christians, some of whom are now trickling back. The battle now moves to Aleppo, a city of nearly three million people, with a sizeable Christian minority. Rebels in Aleppo recently executed a 15-year-old boy they accused of blasphemy. Since 1 May, some 3000 Free Syrian Army [rebel] fighters have defected to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusrah Front which has raised its flag in Aleppo.   The battle for Aleppo will be protracted with many casualties. Please pray for Syria and for the Church, especially in Aleppo.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

RLPB 213. Turkey: at the crossroads?

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 213 | Wed 05 Jun 2013

TURKEY: AT THE CROSSROADS?

By Elizabeth Kendal

The 'Great Schism' of 1054 left the church divided into Western (Latin / Roman) and Eastern (Greek / Byzantine) branches. As imperialist Ottoman Islamic forces advanced northwards, the Eastern Church found itself on the front-line of Islamic jihad. In 1095, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I appealed to Pope Urban II for help to defend Constantinople (the magnificent capital of the Byzantine Empire), re-conquer Asia Minor and liberate Jerusalem. The First Crusade was launched. In 1204, however,  Western crusaders got sidetracked while en route to the Fourth Crusade. Instead of liberating the Holy Land, they sacked and looted Constantinople, weakening the city irredeemably. Abandoned by the West, Constantinople fell to invading Ottoman forces on 29 May 1453.  After a period of killing and looting, the Christian remnant was subjugated and Constantinople -- the centre of Eastern Christianity for over 1000 years -- became the base from which the 21-year-old Ottoman Emperor Fatih Sultan Mehmed II -- 'The Conqueror' -- would launch his jihad into Europe.

May 29 is celebrated annually in Turkey as Conquest Day. This year Turks celebrated 560 years of Turkish rule in Constantinople / Istanbul. In an article for Huffington Post (29 May 2013), Drs Elizabeth H Prodromou and Alexandros K Kyrou report: 'Visitors to Istanbul on May 29th [2013] could hardly mistake the nationalist message of the city draped in Turkish flags for as far as the eye could see, and under the current Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, secular nationalism has been augmented with a religious message about the fall of Constantinople as a sign of Islam's triumph over Christianity.' Erdogan has even proposed that Conquest Day be declared a national holiday and the historic Byzantine Christian Cathedral of Hagia Sophia -- presently a museum -- be converted into a functioning mosque. As Prodromou and Kyrou note, '[T]he fall of Constantinople on 29 May in 1453 began an unrelenting, centuries-long pattern of persecution and discrimination against the city's Christian population.' Like most Christians, they regard the 'erasure of Christians from Constantinople . . . [as] one of the tragedies of history'. Later, Ataturk modernised and Westernised Turkey (1923-38), but only after he had ethnically cleansed it of its Christian peoples: Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians. Since then, massacres, systematic discrimination and persecution have caused Turkey's Christian remnant to decline to a mere 0.2 percent. As one church leader described them, they are 'an endangered species'. As far as Prodromou and Kyrou are concerned, 'The siege of Constantinople continues today, 560 years after the fall on 29 May, 1453.'

But not everybody in Istanbul was partying on 29 May, with some setting up camp in Taksim Square's Gezi Park in defiance of government orders. Police stormed the camp on 30 May and returned on 31 May with water cannons, tear gas and barricades. The local confrontation has since morphed into nation-wide protests and riots by Turks who are sick of PM Erdogan's corrupt and arrogant dictatorial rule and heavy-handedness. They are also unhappy about his re-Islamisation and re-Ottomanisation of Turkey (photo gallery). Derided as 'the Sultan' by pro-secular Turks and 'the Caliph' by Syria's al-Assad, Erdogan is supremely confident that he is popular and powerful enough to ride out any storm. He plans to run for the presidency in the 2014 elections, after he has amended the constitution to bolster presidential powers. He has already gutted the military and silenced dissent. Yes, Turkey's prisons are full -- of generals, lawyers, writers, comedians and artists!
(See: Erdogan, Ergenekon, Europe and the Islamisation of Turkey,
by Elizabeth Kendal for RLM, 3 Oct 2012.)

According to Pew Institute (April 2013), only 12 percent of Turks want to live in an Islamic State with Sharia Law. Erdogan's legitimacy rests on his ability to deliver stability and prosperity -- not Islamisation. However, by aligning Turkey with the US-Saudi-Qatar Sunni axis against Assad in Syria (contrary to the will of the people who took to the streets demanding neutrality), Erdogan has seriously damaged Turkey's relations with its two main trading partners, Russia and Iran. Furthermore, the brutality of the present crackdown on protesters is generating more opposition. It is even possible that the military, which has been seen handing out gas masks to the protesters to protect them from tear gas and taking the injured to hospital, may not remain loyal to the government.

Turkey is at a crossroads. Could this be an opening for change that will be more than skin deep? Might Islamisation be halted? Might liberty and equality become a reality? Pray for Turkey through these days, weeks and months of turmoil and questioning, for the sake of the gospel and the long-suffering remnant Church.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* God will raise up Turkish leaders who will reject Islamisation and dictatorship and lead Turkey with wisdom, integrity and fairness. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

* the Holy Spirit will give Turkey's Christian leaders -- bishops, pastors, lay and ethnic -- great discernment and wisdom as they seek to guide the Church through the present crisis, '. . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being'. (From Paul's prayer for the church in Ephesus (western Turkey); Ephesians 3:16 ESV.)

* God, who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (from Ephesians 3:20,21) will 'remember' Turkey, evangelised by Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos and multitudes of faithful servants and martyrs through the ages to the present day; may this land come to know the love and mercy of God as he answers prayer and pours out his Holy Spirit in grace to awaken and transform.

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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TURKEY AT THE CROSSROADS?


On 29 May 1453 Constantinople fell to invading Ottoman forces. So the city at the centre of Eastern Christianity for 1000 years became the base from which Ottoman Emperor Fatih Sultan Mehmed II would launch his jihad into Europe. Ataturk modernised and Westernised Turkey (1923-38), but only after he had ethnically cleansed it of its Christian Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians. Since then, massacres, systematic discrimination and persecution have caused Turkey's Christian remnant to decline to a mere 0.2 percent of the population. As one church leader described them, they are 'an endangered species'. Turkey's recent re-Islamisation  under Prime Minister Erdogan has caused its pro-secular masses to grow restless. They have now erupted in protest. Turkey is at a crossroads. May God guide his Church and bring awakening to Turkey.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)