Tuesday, October 29, 2013

RLPB 234. October Update, Incl. India, Iran, Syria, Brunei, Egypt, IDOP

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 234 | Wed 30 Oct 2013

Supporting International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2013: Sunday 3 Nov
See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR)

By Elizabeth Kendal

OCTOBER 2013 UPDATE -- During Oct we prayed concerning . . . 

* INDIA (RLPB 230), where the Hindu nationalist BJP has appointed Hindutva ideologue Nahendra Modi as its presidential candidate for the April-May 2014 elections.

see also: The Modi Operandi of Nahendra Modi (Religous Liberty Monitoring, 2 Oct 2013)

UPDATE: Indian political analyst R Jagannathan writes (17 October 2013), 'By all indications, the 2014 election is the BJP's to lose. Thanks to the Narendra Modi effect and the Congress's continued dalliance with desperate political and economic moves, the momentum is clearly in the BJP's favour . . . [and] the momentum is just beginning to build.' Jagannathan expects the BJP will 'comfortably notch up its highest tally ever . . . [and for] the seat tally for 2014 between Congress and BJP to be exactly reversed – with the BJP crossing 200 and the Congress falling to the low 100-plus levels.' [272 seats are required for a majority.] Hindutva is supposed to replace racial apartheid (i.e. the caste system) with religious apartheid (Hindu supremacy). In reality, India under the BJP would doubtless suffer a mixture of both, as caste is so deeply ingrained. The rise of political Hindutva is a very serious threat to Indian Christians.

* SYRIA, IRAN and the SHI'ITE CRESCENT (RLPB 231)

Saudi Arabia's plan to advance Sunni Arab interests by getting its ally, the USA, to shatter the Shi'ite Crescent has come unstuck. Sensing that Syria is becoming a hot-bed of Salafi jihadism, the US is seeking rapprochement with Iran, the only force in the region strong enough to tackle the jihadist threat. Without US backing, the Saudi regime's survival is tenuous. All its oil is in its Shi'ite-dominated Eastern Province, where Shi'ites have long suffered crippling discrimination and persecution. If Iran finds it can expand its influence with impunity, the Wahhabi-inspired, hate-mongering Saudi regime could find its days are numbered. It is urgent that Iran's belligerent, anti-Semitic clerical regime be removed and that Iran return to being a modern state, an ally of Israel and a friend of the West. May God hasten Iran's Christian awakening. Continue to pray for the region's gravely imperilled Christians.

PRAISE GOD that earlier this month the Syrian Arab Army broke through the rebel encirclement of Aleppo and supplies are making their way into areas long-besieged.

* KAZAKHSTAN and CENTRAL ASIA (RLBP 232), where religious repression is escalating.

* THE BIG PICTURE (RLPB 233; for IDOP 2013)


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

* BRUNEI: TO ENACT SHARIA CRIMINAL LAW

Commencing April 2014, Brunei will enact Sharia criminal law, including amputation, lashing, stoning and execution. The Sultan signed the bill on 22 October. As reported by the Jakarta Post, 'Hudud crimes cover areas including theft, illicit sexual relations, making unproven accusations of illicit sex, causing physical hurt, drinking intoxicants, apostasy, and acts contrary to Islamic belief.' The laws supposedly will apply only to Brunei's Muslims (about 65 percent of the population). However, wherever Hudud laws are enforced, Christians especially become extremely vulnerable to rape and other violent crimes. If they report rape they risk being punished for making 'false' claims as they will not be able to get four adult male Muslim eye witnesses required to corroborate their claim. The Sharia criminal penalty of death for apostasy will remove any pretence of religious liberty, making witness and conversion even more dangerous than it is already. Pray for the Church in Brunei.

* EGYPT: CHRISTIANS GUNNED DOWN AT A WEDDING

In suburban Cairo on 20 October, as families were gathering for the wedding of two young Christians, two men on a motorcycle drove up to the entrance of the church and sprayed the crowd outside with automatic rifle fire. At least four Christians were killed, including two young children, while 17 people were wounded, many critically. Also two children have been reported missing. The couple went ahead with their wedding later that evening, dressed in mourning black. Pray for Egypt's threatened Christians.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER (IDOP)
FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH (3 November)


PRAY FOR AWAKENINGS


In Egypt, Pakistan, Northern Nigeria and elsewhere where Christians are being murdered by Muslims, reports are emerging about local Muslims polarising. Some who have been radicalised are becoming more militant, while others who are appalled are increasingly demonstrating solidarity with Christians. The long-prayed-for awakening is under way, albeit at great cost in Christian lives. Likewise, many Muslims who have lived under extreme repression and with shocking violence in states such as Iran and Afghanistan are turning to Christ, mostly where they have taken refuge. In the 'free' world, the growth of ethnic churches consisting of Muslim converts is a definite and observable trend. Please keep praying for awakenings -- amongst all persecutors -- and that God will sustain his Persecuted Church.

'Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.'  (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV)

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

RLPB 233. Participating in Big Picture issues

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 233 | Wed 23 Oct 2013

Supporting International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2013: Sunday 3 Nov
See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR)

PARTICIPATING IN 'BIG PICTURE' ISSUES
-- a reflection, for Bible study and/or contemplation
by Elizabeth Kendal

Isaiah 2-4 is a self-contained 'tract'. In fact most commentators believe Isaiah probably published it as such before incorporating it into the 'preface' (chapters 1-5) of his book. Bracketed by promises of what will be (2:2-4 and 4:2-6), this 'tract' presents a confronting picture of the present reality. Having rejected God, Judah had become the opposite of what she was supposed to be (Isaiah 2:6-9). Instead of being a light to the world, she had become worldly and faithless. But the promises of God will stand! For God will 'shake' the earth and all humanity's idols will fail and be rejected and God alone, the only true Saviour, will be exalted (Isaiah 2:10-21 cf Hebrews 12:26-29). Then the nations will turn to the exalted Lord (Isaiah 2:2-3; Psalm 22:27; Habakkuk 2:14) and spiritual transformation will culminate in social transformation marked by peace (Isaiah 2:3-4).

But how? Is God literally going to 'shake' the earth? Will false idols literally fall down and drop, as through a sieve, into oblivion? Does the Church just have to 'hang on'? Or does the Church have a role to play in this cosmic reversal of fortunes?

The Church is in the midst of a spiritual battle whether she wants to be or not. This spiritual battle (akin to mopping up operations) is not a sideshow; it is integral to God's plan of redemption. Those who choose to sidestep this issue are not missing an optional element -- they are missing the Big Picture! God is at work and the Church -- a people cleansed by the blood of Christ, then filled with the Spirit of God; freed from slavery to sin and death and empowered to live as witnesses to truth -- is the primary instrument of his working! While the decisive battle was won on the cross and victory is assured, a spiritual counter- offensive will continue until all Christ's enemies are under his feet (1 Corimthians 15:25 cf Romans 16:20) and the Lord alone is exalted (Isaiah 2). Those with eyes to see will recognise that this process is occurring throughout the world as the Church keeps growing while false saviours keep failing.

God's enemies work overtly (through outward confrontation) and covertly (through inner struggle). Every believer who experiences overt persecution also experiences varying degrees of inner struggle. Even the 'valiant man' of Lamentations 3 (probably the prophet Jeremiah) confessed that his endurance had perished as had his hope in the Lord (Lamentations 3:18). The only way he could regain hope was to energise faith by remembering truth (Lamentations 3:21-24). All persecuted believers need our prayers in this, that the devil might have no victory over them (see John 14:26; 16:13-15). We will not know how many believers were sustained, enlightened and energised through our prayers until we reach glory and hear stories of how the Lord 'lifted my head' (Psalm 3:3) in answer to 'the prayers of many' (2 Corinthians 1:11).

Intercessory prayer for the persecuted Church is not an optional extra for special 'prayer warriors' or spiritually-minded human rights activists. It is an integral element of the spiritual battle that ensues from God's redemptive work. As such, it should be an integral element of Church life and worship. Though God uses many often surprising instruments and means as he answers our prayers, one thing remains constant: God always delivers by grace through faith. Despite rumours that prayer is passive, prayer is faith in action and pivotal to the course of any and every battle.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --


* God will awaken and revive his Church, filling her with a selfless love for the Body and a driving desire to see the Lord exalted and glorified; may the Church of the 21st century go down in history as a Church that turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) through a renewed commitment to faith-energised strategic prayer.

* the Holy Spirit will work powerfully in the world's darkest, most inaccessible corners -- in prisons, labour camps, caves, safe houses and war zones -- to protect, comfort and sustain his imperilled children; may the devil have no victory over them! 'And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.' (Romans 8:28 ESV)

* as the world slips deeper into chaos and failure, that God will awaken peoples and nations to the abject failure of their idols and to the truth of God's word, the wisdom of his ways and the wonder of his grace.

Please visit Critical Prayer Requests (CPR) to support the persecuted church through prayer.


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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PARTICIPATING IN 'BIG PICTURE' ISSUES


The Church is in the midst of a spiritual battle. While the decisive battle was won on the cross and victory is assured, a spiritual counter-offensive will continue until all Christ's enemies are under his feet and the Lord alone is exalted. Those who choose to sidestep this issue are not missing an optional element -- they are missing the Big Picture! God is at work and the Church is the instrument of his working. As such, intercessory prayer for the persecuted Church -- in prisons, labour camps, caves, safe houses and war zones -- is an integral element of the spiritual battle. Therefore it should be an integral element of Church life and worship. Prayer is not passive; prayer is faith in action. Visit http://CriticalPrayerRequests.blogspot.com  

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

RLPB 232. Kazakhstan; and Central Asia's complex reality

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 232 | Wed 16 Oct 2013

Supporting International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2013: Sunday 3 Nov
See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR)

KAZAKHSTAN; plus CENTRAL ASIA'S COMPLEX REALITY
By Elizabeth Kendal

Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev (aged 67 in October), a convert from Islam and pastor of Grace Church (Presbyterian) in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, was arrested in May 2013 after the mother of a church member accused him of making her adult daughter mentally ill. Charged with 'intentional inflicting of serious harm to health' -- essentially for praying for the sick -- Pastor Kashkumbayev was detained and sent for psychiatric assessment (see RLPB 223, 14 Aug 2013). Despite an international outcry, Pastor Kashkumbayev's detention in the Almaty City Psychological-Psychiatric Assessment Centre was twice extended. Other prisoners of conscience recently treated this way include the atheist blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksandr Kharlamov (63), charged with 'inciting religious hatred' for criticising religion, and Zinaida Mukhortova (56), a lawyer deemed delusional after she filed complaints against a regional governor.

Forum 18, closely monitoring the case, reports that Pastor Kashkumbayev was transferred back to Almaty's Investigation Prison in September. Then after being released to house arrest on 8 October, he was immediately re-arrested on charges of 'extremism'. If deemed guilty, the pastor will face seven years in prison. 'Expert analysis' of the activities of Grace Church has labelled books found at the church 'extremist' and in breach of the law against inciting religious hatred and social discord. The authorities regard evangelical witness to be just as much a threat to peace and social cohesion as jihadist or revolutionary Islam because it creates problems they would rather not have. For the authorities, it is easier to deal with the problem of unwanted minority Protestants than with the problem of majority religious intolerance.

If the troublesome, witnessing Christian is a foreigner, the usual action is deportation. Vyacheslav (Victor) Lim (37) was deported in August 2013 on the grounds he had attracted eight administrative offences in eight years: traffic infringements, late payment of tax, failing to report travel, insufficient fire safety and the like. All fines were paid immediately, even those Lim disputed. Lim was accused of conducting 'illegal missionary activity' because he had been leading a local congregation of the Grace Protestant Church (Baptist) in Borovoe, north of Astana. He had been a legal resident for eight years with a residence permit valid to 2020; his wife and two children who left Kazakhstan with him were all Kazakh citizens. Kazakh human rights activist, Yevgeny Zhovtis, considers Lim was deported for his religious activities. He described it as a 'typical religious case' and a 'misuse of justice'. Russian Orthodox priest Fr Sofrony (Pyotr Yevtikheyev) was deported from Almaty Region around the same time for reasons of 'national security'. A Russian citizen, Fr Sofrony had been a legal resident since 1991. He was the priest at St Sergy's Church in the village of Tuymebayev. He also ran an orphanage there that cared for around 110 children and an aged care facility that was home to some 120 elderly people.

THE COMPLEX REALITY OF CENTRAL ASIA

Central Asia (MAP) has real and serious problems. Soviet-imposed borders continue to be a major cause of ethnic tensions and peace is tenuous. Islamic jihadist and revolutionary groups agitating for an Islamic state pose a real and serious threat. Poor governance marked by widespread corruption, human rights abuses and indifference to suffering has turned many Muslims against the government and towards groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir which present Islam as the solution. Whilst the laws against 'extremism' and 'inciting religious hatred' were designed to target the Islamic threat, they are routinely abused to intimidate disgruntled Muslims and persecute witnessing Protestants. That the West is seen to be siding with jihadists further complicates the states' relationship with Protestants. Protestants in Uzbekistan have long suffered harassment, repression, arrests and the confiscation of property. Also as noted by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL, 4 October), the government in Kyrgyzstan has recently proposed tightening the administrative punishment (i.e. no trial necessary) for 'illegal missionary activity' and 'religious propaganda'. The proposed law would ban collecting tithes, the propagation of religion in educational facilities and religious conversions.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* intervene on behalf of Pastor Kashkumbayev and end the persecution of him and Grace Church; may the Lord have mercy on this family and this fellowship of believers; may justice be done.

* intervene for Pastor Lim and provide him and his family with everything they need, particularly a secure place of refuge and a divine appointment where they can witness to the Lord's goodness. 

* intervene in Kyrgyzstan to stop the highly repressive, punitive and retrograde amendments to the religion law; may the Holy Spirit infiltrate any debate about religious liberty and use it to open eyes, minds and hearts.

* raise up righteous, wise leaders in Central Asia who will address the real and serious issues of ethnic tension, Islamic jihadist and revolutionary movements, corruption, poverty and hardship while upholding religious liberty and confronting religious intolerance.  (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

* empower great and effectual Christian ministry and witness in Central Asia; may the Holy Spirit bring transforming revival to Central Asia. 'Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!' (Psalm 126:5 ESV)

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KAZAKHSTAN AND CENTRAL ASIA'S COMPLEX REALITY


Pastor Kashkumbayev (66) of Grace Church in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, was arrested in May 2013 for allegedly harming health, ostensibly by praying for the sick. He spent months detained in a psychiatric facility before being returned to prison in mid-September. On 8 October Kashkumbayev was released to house arrest only to be re-arrested immediately on charges of 'extremism'. If deemed guilty he faces seven years in prison alongside Islamic 'extremists'. Islamic jihadist and revolutionary movements are a real and serious threat in Central Asia.  Anti-terror and anti-incitement laws intended to target the Islamic threat are being abused to intimidate the desperate masses and persecute 'troublesome', witnessing Protestants. Kyrgyzstan is proposing a law to ban missionary activity, religious educational facilities and religious conversion.  Please pray for the Church in Central Asia.

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

RLPB 231. Syria, Iran and the Shi'ite Crescent

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 231| Wed 09 Oct 2013

Supporting International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2013: Sunday 3 Nov
See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR)

SYRIA, IRAN AND THE SHI'ITE CRESCENT
By Elizabeth Kendal

The war in Syria is complex and multi-faceted. For the region's religious minorities and all other pro-Assad Syrians it is all about surviving in a state that is secular and free. For the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist Sunnis, it is all about the restoration of Sunni power (as it was pre-World War 1). For Turkey's President Erdogan ('the Sultan'), it is about expanding Turkey's sphere of influence (as in Ottoman times). For Iran and Hezballah, it is about maintaining a strategic alliance: the Shi'ite crescent, which is essentially an arch of Iranian influence. For the USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is all about weakening grand-nemesis Iran by taking a massive piece out of the Shi'ite crescent. For the Arabs, it is also about restoring Syria to the Arab axis. For Russia, it is about a strategic alliance, Orthodox Christians and not empowering al-Qaeda and other jihadis. For al-Qaeda, it is about controlling territory and establishing bases. Furthermore, the war in Syria is also about which axis -- the US-Arab-Turkey axis or the Russia-Persia axis -- will control the flow of natural gas from the Persian Gulf to Europe via Syria. [US-Arab axis control would require regime change in Syria.] Indeed, the key element virtually in all of this is Arab, Sunni Syria's strategic alliance with Persian, Shi'ite Iran.

The dilemma is this: while Assad is good for Christians, other religious minorities and non-fundamentalist Muslims, Iran -- indeed the whole Shi'ite crescent -- is openly hostile and belligerent towards Israel and the West. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni Arab monarchies are just as anti-Semitic and anti-West as is the Iranian regime -- they are just more duplicitous and more pragmatic. The 'election' of Rouhani indicates that Iran is now opting for strategic duplicity too.

Iran is a highly strategic nation, historically, geographically, linguistically and culturally. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 has brought nothing but suffering and shame to Iranians, especially for those who do not believe hard-line repressive Islam is compatible with their culture. Despair is evident in statistics, with the birth-rate below replacement, having plunged from 8.1 at the time of the revolution to 1.6 today. According to the UN's official statistics, around 2.2 percent of all adult Iranians are addicted to illicit drugs. This is the highest incidence of drug addiction in the world, and the real figure is doubtless much higher. Iran's suicide rate is also constantly climbing -- this, in a nation once lauded for its poets, cinematographers, artists and philosophers; a nation once allied to Israel and friendly with the West. Another vital statistic that is on the rise is the number of Iranians who are leaving Islam and embracing Christianity, both inside Iran and throughout the Iranian diaspora. The Lord is definitely doing something new -- a new exodus, a transformation (Isaiah 43:16-21).

Meanwhile, converts in Iran are imprisoned on charges of threatening national security. Despised as traitors, they are treated harshly. One such prisoner desperately needing prayer is Maryam Naghash Zargaran (35) (link includes photo). On 9 March 2013, after years of intimidation and harassment, Maryam was sentenced to four years imprisonment in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. Several years ago, Maryam had heart surgery and the stress of recent years has exacerbated her condition. Now in prison, she has suffered a heart attack. Maryam was transferred to hospital on 29 September and is said to be in a critical condition.

Back in Syria, the rebel and opposition forces are fracturing due to infighting. Whilst many Syrian rebels are defecting from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to the al-Qaeda-linked al Nusra Front, many others are defecting from the FSA to the government side, horrified at the prospect of Syria being over-run by international jihadis. Stratfor Intelligence reports that on Monday 7 October the Syrian Arab Army managed to break through the rebel siege of Aleppo to secure the at-risk, rebel-encircled, Safira defence factories, Syria's largest chemical weapons facility. The main road between Aleppo and Hama is now open and under government control.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* the Lord of Hosts will intervene to liberate Syria from those seeking to eliminate Christianity, impose Sharia Law and establish bases for terrorist operations and imperialistic Islamic jihad.

* God will supply all the needs of Syria's imperilled Christians and they will be sustained, comforted and encouraged; that the siege of Aleppo, which has brought so much suffering to so many Christians, will be over.

* the Lord of Hosts will intervene to liberate Iran from the cleric-led regime that persecutes the Church and suppresses the hope-restoring, life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ.

* the Holy Spirit will sustain, comfort and encourage all Iran's imperilled believers, especially Christian prisoners; may God bring peace, rest and healing to Maryam Naghash Zargaran. 'But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head.' (Psalm 3:3 ESV)

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SYRIA, IRAN AND THE SHI'ITE CRESCENT


The war in Syria is complex and multi-faceted and a key element is Syria's strategic alliance with Iran, the arch-nemesis of Israel, the US and the Sunni Arabs. Iran is a highly strategic nation, historically, geographically, linguistically and culturally. The Islamic Revolution there has created widespread despair. Whilst drug addiction and childlessness are soaring, so too is the number of Iranian converts to Christianity. God is at work. Meanwhile, in Syria the rebels are fracturing, with some defecting to al-Qaeda and others to the government, horrified at the prospect of Syria being over-run by foreign jihadis. The Syrian Army has broken through the rebel siege of Aleppo and opened the main road into Hama. May God deliver Syria and Iran from evil and build his Church.

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

RLPB 230. India: BJP pursues votes in Uttar Pradesh

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 230 | Wed 02 Oct 2013

Supporting International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2013: Sunday 3 November
See Critical Prayer Requests

INDIA: BJP PURSUES VOTES IN UTTAR PRADESH
By Elizabeth Kendal

Though 74 percent Hindu, India is officially a secular nation. High-caste Hindus are challenging this and are determined to preserve the power and privilege guaranteed them through the systematic racism of the Hindu 'caste' system. They are striving to secure majority power at the federal level so they can change the constitution and declare India a Hindu State. Traditionally they have created fear-mongering by demonising Muslims and Christians as threats to national security. They aim to dragnet the Hindu vote by offering Hindu nationalism as the solution to the existential dangers within -- separatism and terrorism -- and without -- cultural invasion. They persuade traditionally-animist, indigenous tribal Indians to convert to Hinduism and join the 'Hindu mainstream' to help fight the enemy. India's 172.5 million, often reactionary Muslims (the largest Muslim minority in the world), are being wooed today for their vote and Christians alone are being demonised. During its two terms (10 years) in power, the Congress Party led United Progressive Alliance government has done nothing at all to counter Hindu nationalist propaganda. Consequently, sectarianism and violent persecution has escalated on its watch.

On 13 September a Hindu nationalist mob in the south-western state of Karnataka ambushed Sannamma (50), a Christian woman. After beating her to the ground and kicking her, they dragged her to a nearby Hindu temple where they poured water over her, forcibly applied a red dot to her forehead and tried to coerce her to convert back to Hinduism. Under great duress, Sannamma (a believer for eight years) signed a document stating that she and her husband, Shidda Naik (members of The Glorious Church), would not spread the Christian message. In an attack that lasted six hours they then dragged her out of the temple and marched her around the village, slapping and abusing her continuously. Eventually her sister-in-law rescued her. Though hospitalised with internal injuries, Sannamma told Morning Star News, 'What I am suffering is nothing compared to what my Lord Jesus has suffered. I will love him forever for giving me a new life.' Appalling attacks like this are commonplace in India, occurring on a daily basis. If anyone is ever charged, it is usually the Christian.

India's next federal election will be held during April-May 2014. In mid-September the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Nahendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. To shift attention away from his image as a sectarian figure and rabid Hindu nationalist, Modi is exploiting Gujarat's massive development and marketing himself as India's most successful pro-business administrator -- an economic 'saviour' who will lift all Indians out of poverty. At a BJP rally in Gujarat on 17 September some 40,000 Muslims were persuaded to join the party. At a rally in New Delhi on Sunday 29 September the charismatic Modi spoke to a crowd of more than 200,000 who responded to his lofty promises with 'frenzied' excitement. It was, writes Sanjay Singh, 'a public rally, the likes of which it had not seen in many decades.'

From 1 October to mid-November Modi will be campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, India's strategic heartland and the home of Hinduism. Nine mega-rallies are being planned. The population of this northern state is 80.6 percent Hindu, 18.5 percent Muslim and around 0.1 percent Christian. It is India's most populous state, accounting for a massive 80 parliamentary seats. Writing in The Australian (18 September) Amanda Hodge expresses the prevailing view: 'After the Congress Party-led government's disastrous second term -- five years marred by corruption on a grand scale, parliamentary paralysis and sharp economic decline -- the BJP should sail into power.'


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* protect, bless and sustain his precious Church in the face of militant Hindu nationalism, praying especially for Christians in Uttar Pradesh as Nahendra Modi campaigns there over the next six weeks. 'Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings' (Psalm 17:8 ESV)

* expose lies and malicious intentions, so that Indians are not seduced by offers of economic advancement to vote for a party that will perpetuate the systematic racism of caste and enslave them as second class citizens. 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' (John 1:5 ESV)

* raise up honourable leaders who will lead India with integrity and wisdom, doing what God calls leaders to do: 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.' (Proverbs 31:8,9 NIV)

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IN INDIA, BJP PURSUES VOTES IN UTTAR PRADESH


Despite holding power for 10 years, the Congress Party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has done absolutely nothing to counter the Hindu nationalist propaganda driving the violent persecution of Christians in India. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Nahendra Modi to be its prime ministerial candidate in the April-May 2014 federal general elections. A high-caste hard-line Hindu supremacist, Modi is campaigning on a pro-development platform, capitalising on Gujarat's massive development and on the Congress Party government's failures. Many analysts believe the BJP is well on track to win the 2014 elections. For the next six weeks, Modi will lead rallies in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Pray that Indians will not be deceived. Please pray for Christians in UP as Hindu nationalist zeal flourishes.

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