Tuesday, October 27, 2015

RLPB 333. October update. Incl, Bangladesh, Assyrians in Sweden, Syria, Germany, Indonesia (Aceh), Nigeria, Uganda

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 333 | Wed 28 Oct 2015

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By Elizabeth Kendal

31 Oct 2015 is the 498th anniversary of the German Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle, triggering the Protestant Reformation. Luther was protesting the church's corrupt and exploitative practice of selling indulgences. To empower the people and facilitate reformation, Luther translated the Bible into German, thereby making the truth accessible to ordinary people. Martin Luther did not intend to divide the church -- he hoped for reformation, not division. Today we protest wide-scale church indifference to persecution, noting that Christian solidarity in the face of escalating persecution not only saves lives, it is a powerful witness to the world. PRAY for reformation through a return to scripture. PRAY for spiritual unity (John 17:20-23) and brotherly love (John 13:34-35), that we might stand together around the cross.

OCTOBER 2015 UPDATE -- During October we prayed concerning . . .

* BANGLADESH (RLPB 330), where Islamic State (IS) claims to be making inroads amongst the radicalised masses, while a local group boasting links to IS have claimed responsibility for the murders of four local bloggers. After IS claimed responsibility for the assassination of two foreigners -- described as 'nationals of crusader coalition countries' -- a call to prayer was issued on the expectation that the Church could be targeted as well.

UPDATE: Within hours of RLPB 330 being published, news emerged that Bangladeshi pastor Luke Sarker (52) had narrowly survived an attempted beheading. Rescued by family and neighbours, Pastor Sarker sustained wounds to his neck that required stitching but were not life-threatening. Praise and thank God for his merciful intervention! On 24 October Bangladesh suffered its first terrorist attack on Shi'ites when terrorists infiltrated the Ashura procession in Dhaka's Mughal quarter and left improvised explosive devices in the Hossaini Dalan Shi'ite shrine. A teenage boy was killed and some 80 Shi'ite worshippers were wounded in the explosions. Though IS has claimed responsibility, the police and government continue to insist that IS has no presence or influence in Bangladesh. The situation is dangerous. Pray for the Church in Bangladesh.

* ASSYRIAN CAPTIVES (RLPB 331) held by Islamic State (IS) in Syria after videos emerged in early October of captives in Qaryatayn signing dhimma contracts and of three Assyrian captives from Hasakah being executed.

RELATED: ASSYRIAN CHRISTIANS THREATENED IN SWEDEN
Assyrian protest
Gothenburg, Sweden.
Of the 300 Swedish citizens believed to be fighting with IS, at least half of them come from one city: Gothenburg.  [As a comparison, some 250 Americans are fighting with IS, as are around 120 Australians.] Of the 10,000 Assyrians living in Sweden some 3000 live in Gothenburg. On 13 October (just days after the IS videos were released), Assyrians in Gothenburg woke to find threatening messages graffitied on the walls of Assyrian-owned businesses. Messages included 'Convert or Die' and 'The Caliphate is Here', along with the IS logo and/or the Arabic letter 'N' for Nazrani/Nazarene (a follower of Jesus the Nazarene) -- the same symbol IS used to identify the homes of Christians in Mosul in July 2014. Pray for the Assyrian community in Sweden.

* RUSSIA IN SYRIA (RLPB 332), noting that Russia's bombing raids and provision of air cover were helping the Syrian government drive back al-Qaeda-linked Jaysh al Fateh in the north and Islamic State around Damascus, the population of which has swelled from two million to ten million as Syrians have flooded in to find sanctuary from the rebels.

UPDATE: The Syrian government is fighting two main enemies -- al-Qaeda (and its numerous affiliates, some US-armed and trained) and IS. It is also being forced to fight on multiple fronts. Committed as it is to regime change in Damascus -- no matter the cost -- the America-Turkey-Sunni Arab axis has dramatically escalated its support to 'rebels' (most of whom are aligned with al-Qaeda). Weapons are flooding in; in fact rebel use of US-made TOW anti-tank guided missiles has increased 850 percent since the Russian intervention began, causing serious problems for the Syrian government which happens to be the last line of defence for many millions of Syrians, including hundreds of thousands of Christians. Pray for East-West co-operation in the war against Islamic jihadists.   

ALEPPO CRISIS
Because the M5 Highway into Aleppo runs through Idlib, which is under the control of Turkey-Saudi backed, al-Qaeda-linked Jaysh al Fateh, the government has had to gain access to government-controlled western Aleppo via the Ethyra-Khanaser road approaching from the south-east. On Friday 23 October IS forces attacked that road, capturing at least ten government checkpoints and successfully severing the government's supply-line into Aleppo. This is a major catastrophe for government soldiers, Christians and other loyalists now besieged in the city. Pray for the Church in Aleppo, and that the road will be re-opened. Again, pray for East-West co-operation in the war against Islamic jihadists. 

'In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord ... I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old ... You are the God who works wonders ...' (from Psalm 77).

OCTOBER 2015 ROUND-UP -- also this month ...

* GERMANY: CONVERT BASHED IN MIGRANT CENTRE
A 24-year-old Iranian national has been seriously bashed in a migrant camp in Hamburg for his 'sin' of converting to Christianity. By the time other migrants managed to restrain the attacker -- an Afghan refugee armed with a telescopic baton -- the Iranian convert was unconscious and seriously injured. Pray for Christians in Europe's migrant centres. Pray for a change in policy and that Christians will be housed separately. Of course this would require the authorities to end their ideological and fear-driven denial and admit that Islam really does endanger Christians. 

* INDONESIA: CHURCHES ATTACKED IN ACEH

photo: World Watch Monitor
On 13 October a mob of some 700 Muslims attacked and torched a Protestant church in Aceh's southern-most district of Aceh Singkil. They had been incited by hard-liners from the Islamic Defenders Front who are demanding that as most of Aceh Singkil's 22 churches do not have permits, they should be torn down. Permits for houses of worship in Indonesia are granted by local religious harmony forums, which tend not to permit churches in Muslim-majority areas. With tensions soaring, the police picked up sledgehammers and axes and tore down at least three more churches, supposedly to 'preserve harmony'. All church members could do was watch and weep. The pastor of one church with over 100 members said they had applied for a permit repeatedly, but were always refused. Ten churches have been listed for closure; some will be dismantled. With text messages circulating calling for Christians to be hunted and churches to be burned, an estimated 8000 Christians have fled across the provincial border into north Sumatra. Some 1300 security personnel have been deployed to the area. Pray for the Church in Aceh.

* NIGERIA: REMEMBERING THE GIRLS
Unbeknown to worshippers, the three veiled girls who entered their Maiduguri mosque on 16 October were strapped with explosives. When their vests were detonated, the explosion ripped through the mosque killing 26 and wounding dozens. Boko Haram, now an Islamic State (IS) affiliate going by the name Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi, claimed responsibility. It was the second Boko Haram bombing using three girls in the space of three days. Global Stratfor Intelligence commented on Boko Haram's unprecedentedly high use of girls as suicide bombers, noting it had used 50 girls for this purpose so far this year. As Boko Haram comes under increased military stress it is returning to guerrilla tactics and terrorism. In this it is both exploiting its kidnapped girls (who have mostly been kidnapped from Christian communities) and relieving itself of burdensome captives. Pray for God to intervene to end this unmitigated evil. (See Isaiah 59:15b-19)

* UGANDA: INTENSE PERSECUTION CONTINUES
Morning Star News (MSN) reports that the mutilated body of Samson Nfunyeku, a long-time evangelist, apologist and convert from Islam, was found on 23 September not far from his home in Kalampete village, Kibuku District, Eastern Region. After Samson was killed, his brother, George Mwanika, also a convert to Christianity, started receiving death threats. On 19 October Muslims came to George's house, intending to kill him. George was not home, so they dragged his wife, Mamwikomba, out of the house threatening to kill her if she didn't divulged her husband's whereabouts. When George arrived home he found Mamwikomba unconscious in a pool of blood. Neighbours helped George rush her to hospital, but she was dead on arrival. Three of the couple's eight children were home at the time of the attack. The whole family is at risk. 'We really need prayers,' George told MSN.

'I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust." For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.' (Psalm 91:2-4 ESV)

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

RLPB 332. Russia in Syria

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 332 | Tues 20 Oct 2015

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IDOP 2015: Sunday 1 or 8 November
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RUSSIA IN SYRIA
By Elizabeth Kendal

Many hundreds of Sunni jihadist groups are fighting in Syria, but virtually all are aligned with either al-Qaeda (represented by al-Nusra) or Islamic State (IS). While al-Qaeda and IS diverge on strategy, they have the same goals -- to establish a Caliphate and attack the West -- and the same attitude towards Christians, who must convert, submit or die. While the 'young guns' of IS excel in spectacular theatrics, the 'old guard' of al-Qaeda excel in strategy. While IS attracts more youths, it is also far more vulnerable. Also, though al-Qaeda is rarely mentioned in the media these days (for political reasons), it is just as dangerous as ever. In February, when it became apparent that the Iran nuclear deal would empower Iran, regime-changers Turkey and Saudi Arabia began escalating their assistance to rebels, in the hope they could oust Syrian President Bashar al Assad before Iranian funds were unfrozen and sanctions lifted. Subsequently, five Sunni jihadist groups announced an alliance. Led by al-Qaeda's al-Nusra and backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the Jaysh al Fateh (Army of Conquest) coalition includes US-armed and trained jihadists formerly associated with the Free Syrian Army. By late March Jaysh al Fateh had captured the provincial capital of Idlib and was threatening the Alawite* heartland of Latakia. [RLPBs 305 (15 Apr) and 307 (27 Apr)]. 

[* 'Alawite': the Assad family belong to the Alawite sect of Islam. Previously known as Nusayri, the Alawites, like the Baha'i and Ahmadiyya, follow a later prophet. Historically they have been persecuted, subjugated and killed as heretics. Shi'ites accept them as Shi'ites purely for geo-strategic purposes.]

As Jaysh al Fateh advanced through Idlib into north-west Hama and launched rockets into Latakia, IS seized Palmyra and started expanding towards Damascus. On 12 August, with Islamic jihadists advancing on two critical fronts, we appealed for the Lord's intervention [RLPB 322 (12 Aug)]. As the situation continued to deteriorate we prayed concerning the Christian crisis and appealed again for the Lord's intervention [RLPB 326 (9 Sep)]: that Christians might have safe haven and that the schemes of the wicked would be thwarted.

Institute for the Study of War
click on map to enlarge
In 28 September Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the UN General Assembly. Putin noted that foreign support for illegal regime change along with the arming of terrorists has reaped nothing but disaster and insecurity. Consequently he appealed for co-operation in the fight against terrorism, which, as he noted, is a threat to everyone. (Russia particularly is at risk with an estimated 2000 'Chechens' fighting with IS and with al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria.)  On 30 September Russia started bombing Jaysh al Fateh positions in north-west Hama and Idlib. Aided by Russian air-cover, the Syrian army has been able to roll back Jaysh al Fateh, thereby securing sanctuary in Alawite-dominated Latakia (which is also home to many Christians and thousands of refugees) and Tartus (where Russia has long had a naval base).

Saved by Russia.
A Muslim woman in Damascus
shows her appreciation
outside the Russian Embassy.
Russia has also been bombing IS positions from Palmyra (central Homs) and Ghouta (eastern Damascus) to the commercial capital of Aleppo in the north. Friday 16 October saw the launch of a new Battle for Aleppo. Danger looms for Aleppo's remnant Armenians and Assyrians, for not only have Sunni rebel forces acquired much US-made heavy weaponry which they will be firing into government-held districts, but Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is on the ground in Aleppo leading an array of Shi'ite militias. Whilst the Alawite-dominated Syrian army has long protected Syrian Christians, how Iranian and Arab Shi'ite militias will respond to the Christians they come across is really unknown.

Meanwhile, the emir of al-Qaeda's al-Nusra, Abu Muhammad al Julani, has issued a video message [transcript] entitled 'The Russian Intervention -- The Last Arrow'. Referring to Russians as 'Eastern Crusaders', he called for mujahideen in the Caucasus (southern Russia) to match the killings in Syria: for every jihadi a Russian soldier; for every Syrian civilian a Russian civilian. He also called for greater jihadist unity in Syria and for an escalation in rocket attacks against Nusayri (Alawite) towns and villages. The conflict is sure to escalate. How bad it gets will doubtless depend on how long it takes the West to correctly identify the enemy.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY, ASKING GOD TO

* forge unity and co-operation in the fight against international Islamic jihad and the Islamic ascendancy and stop repeating the errors of the past; may we put aside the ambitions, interests and hatreds that since the mid-19th century have allowed Islam to play the West against the East. 

* shield, guide and provide for his existentially imperilled people as the Syrian conflict escalates and intensifies around them, praying especially at this time for remnant Armenian and Assyrian Christians in war-ravaged Aleppo.

'All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!' (Psalm 118:10-12 ESV)

* protect Russian Christians and Russian churches as jihadists respond to al-Qaeda's call for retaliation against the 'Eastern Crusader'.

Sanctify your Church, Lord. May we love one another as you have loved us (John 13:34). May our eyes be fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 2:2) and our trust be in Him (Psalm 56; Psalm 118).


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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RUSSIA IN SYRIA

The Syrian government has come under severe stress during 2015 as the al-Qaeda-led 'Jaysh al Fateh' rebel coalition has advanced into government strongholds in the north-west and as Islamic State (IS) has advanced towards Damascus. In July the government made a strategic retreat, abandoning the vast east to defend the main population centres at risk from al-Qaeda and IS. In September, as rockets rained down on Latakia (formerly Laodicea), and IS sat poised to fill any power vacuum in Damascus, Russia entered the fray, to defend its own assets and interests; to shore up sanctuary for Syria’s imperilled minorities; and to help the Syrian government in the fight against International Islamic jihad. In response, al-Qaeda has called for jihad against the 'Eastern Crusader', in Syria and Russia. Please pray for Christians at risk.

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

Her second book, ‘After Saturday Comes Sunday’: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, will be published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, OR, USA) in early 2016.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

RLPB 331. Syria: Plight of Assyrian Captives

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 331 | Wed 14 Oct 2015

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SYRIA: PLIGHT OF ASSYRIAN CAPTIVES
plus: Egypt and Bangladesh 
By Elizabeth Kendal

HASAKAH: On 23 February 2015 Islamic State (IS) jihadists conducted a pre-dawn raid on 35 Assyrian Christian villages along a 40km stretch of the Khabour River in Syria's north-eastern Hasakah Province. As some 3000 Assyrian Christians fled into the darkness, 253 were taken captive. [See RLPB 298 (25 Feb 2015)] Around 40 elderly and frail captives were subsequently released but the remainder, including women and children, have been in IS captivity ever since.

VIDEO 1: On 7 October IS released a video showing the execution of three Assyrian captives from Hasakah. The execution is dated 23 September 2015, Eid al-Adha (the Muslim 'Feast of Sacrifice').

source: AINA
The video shows three Assyrian men dressed in orange jumpsuits, kneeling before the camera. One by one the Assyrians introduce themselves: 'I am Christian Assyrian ...' followed by their name, date of birth and home village. Three jihadists then assume their positions, draw their handguns and shoot the Christian men through the back of the head. As the Assyrians fall forward dead, three more Assyrian men dressed in orange jumpsuits come into the frame. Kneeling between their dead Assyrian brothers and their executioners, these men introduce themselves in the same way: 'I am Christian Assyrian ...' followed by name, date of birth and home village. 'We are here and there are dozens of us,' says the third Assyrian. 'Our fate is the same as these,' he says as he points to the dead. 'If you do not take proper procedure for our release [pay the ransom estimated at $10 million] we realise the inevitable fate.'

HOMS: On 21 May 2015, soon after capturing UNESCO world heritage-listed Palmyra in Syria's central Homs Province, IS forces made an incursion into nearby Qaryatayn, kidnapping Jesuit priest Father Jacques Mourad and his companion, a deacon named Boutros. The men had been caring for hundreds of refugees in Qaryatayn's Mar Elian Monastery. [See RLPB 311 (27 May)] On Thursday 6 August 2015 IS captured Qaryatayn, taking some 230 residents captive, including around 150 Syrian Christians whose names were on an IS list of 'wanted' government supporters. [RLPB 322 (12 Aug)] IS has since demolished the fifth century Mar Elian Monastery. [RLPB 324 (26 Aug)]

VIDEO 2: IS has now released a video of its conquest of Qaryatayn. Entitled 'Fight until they pay the jizya pledging subservience to Muslim rule' ( a reference to Qur'an, Sura 9:29), the video shows the destruction of crosses and a meeting in which a group of Christians sign a dhimma contract.

Video - in Arabic
The contract stipulates that the Muslims are not to harm the Christians who secure right to life as second-class citizens, provided they submit to Islamic rule. The Christians must also comply with a list of classic Islamic demands including: they must pay jizya (protection money); refrain from public expressions of Christianity; respect all Muslims and never criticise Islam. The alternatives are conversion to Islam or death. Sources told Middle East Concern that Assyrian Christian Fahid Khazaal was martyred for his refusal to convert or submit. Visible among the Christians signing the dhimma contract is Father Jacques Mourad, although he was subsequently released in good health on 10 October. The circumstances of his release are unclear. The Christians seen signing the contract are doubtless the 'wanted' government supporters taken captive in May. Consequently, it is possible that IS already has plans to make examples of them. Lord have mercy!

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR

* the Assyrian captives -- some 200 from Hasakah and around 150 in Qaryatayn; may they fix their eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of their faith (Hebrews 12:2 ESV). May they know the powerful and glorious presence (Hebrew: miqdas, 'sanctuary') of the Lord as they walk by faith, think spiritually and fear only him [Isaiah 8:11-14; see chapter 3 in Turn Back the Battle].

'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.' (Lamentations 3:24 ESV)

* the Lord of Hosts to rise up and burst through his enemies (2 Samuel 5:17-25), intervening for his people's deliverance. 

* the imperilled Assyrian remnant scattered throughout Syria and Iraq, displaced Assyrians in Iraqi Kurdistan and the refugees in southern Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and the migrant centres of Europe; may the Lord protect and preserve them ahead of that promised day when he restores them to their land: 'Assyria the work of my hands.' (Isaiah 19:25).

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN WHOLE ARTICLE
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THE PLIGHT OF ASSYRIAN CAPTIVES IN SYRIA


Islamic State (IS) has released two new videos. The first shows three Assyrian Christian men from  more than 200 taken captive in north-eastern Hasakah Province in February. After these three are executed, three more appear and kneel behind the dead. They confirm IS is holding 'dozens of us' who will be killed if ransom (estimated at $10 million) is not paid. The second video shows Assyrian Christians taken captive during the August conquest of Qaryatayn in central Homs Province. They are signing a dhimma contract guaranteeing the Christians' right to life as second-class citizens, provided they pay jizya (protection money) and submit to Islam -- refraining from public Christianity, respecting Muslims and Islam. Fahid Khazaal was martyred for refusing to convert or submit. Please pray for Assyrian Christians and for Syria.

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Also --

EGYPT: Officials raided the Egypt office of Christian satellite TV broadcaster SAT-7 on 10 October, seizing cameras, computers and other equipment. Office Director Mr Farid Samir was questioned in the police station for over six hours. The charges against the office are baseless as all SAT-7's registration and licences are in good order. The Prosecutor must now determine whether the case should proceed to trial. This could take up to two weeks. Please pray for this vital ministry. 

BANGLADESH UPDATE: Just hours after last week's Prayer Bulletin on Bangladesh was posted, news emerged that a Bangladeshi pastor had just survived an attempted beheading thanks to courageous family members and neighbours who fought off the attackers. Though the injuries to Rev Luke Sarker's neck required stitching, they are not life-threatening. The Lord is merciful. Please cover Bangladesh in prayer.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).
http://www.turnbackthebattle.com/thebook.html

Her second book, ‘After Saturday Comes Sunday’: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, will be published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, OR, USA) in early 2016.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

RLPB 330. Bangladesh: danger looms for church. PLUS, Germany: serious plight of Christian refugees.



Text Box: Attachments areaReligious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 330 | Wed 07 Oct 2015

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IDOP 2015: Sunday 1 or 8 November
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BANGLADESH: DANGER LOOMS FOR CHURCH
(includes update)
-- also Serious Plight of Christian Refugees in Germany.
By Elizabeth Kendal

In 1947, India was partitioned and Pakistan was established as a homeland for Muslims. In 1971, Bengali-dominated secular-leaning East Pakistan secured independence from Punjabi- and Pashto-dominated Islamic-leaning West Pakistan in a Liberation War that cost Bangladeshis up to three million lives. While Pakistan subsequently Islamised, Bangladesh progressed as a secular democracy. The population being 90 percent Muslim, Bangladesh was never going to be immune from the global trend of Islamic radicalisation. Since the 1980s, masses of Muslims have been radicalised through Bangladesh's vast networks of mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools).  On 7 Oct 2001 the US commenced post 9/11 bombing raids on Afghanistan from bases in Pakistan. Fundamentalist clerics portrayed the war as a War on Islam, fuelling rage. When Bangladeshis went to the polls later that month, they threw out the secular government and voted in the pro-Pakistan, pro-Islam, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), to rule in coalition with some very radical Islamic groups. The result has been polarisation as secularists struggle against a rising tide of Islamic zeal.

In August this year a pro-secular, anti-Islamist Bangladeshi blogger was hacked to death. It was the fourth such attack in six months. Ansar Bangla (also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team), a banned terrorist organisation that is alleged to have links to Islamic State, has claimed responsibility. On Monday 28 September an Italian aid worker, Cesare Tavella, was assassinated in Dhaka's diplomatic precinct. This veterinary surgeon had been working with the Dutch church-run charity OCCI, which works to improve hygiene and alleviate poverty and food insecurity in rural Bangladesh. Then on Saturday 3 October, Japanese farmer Kunio Hoshi (coincidentally, a recent convert to Islam) was assassinated in Mahiganj Village, Rangpur District, in northern Bangladesh. The assassinations were virtually identical in that the victim was shot multiple times at close range by two gunmen who were then whisked away by a third person on a motorbike. Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for both assassinations, warning, 'There will continue to be a series of ongoing security operations against nationals of crusader coalition countries . . . they will not have safety of a livelihood in Muslim lands.'

The government of Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina is rejecting claims that IS has made inroads into Bangladesh, preferring to blame her political opposition in the BNP. This is even though in September 2014 a British man of Bangladeshi origin was arrested in Dhaka and charged with recruiting Bangladeshis for IS. More IS recruiters have been arrested this year, including Sakhawatul Kabir, who was subsequently identified as the IS regional commander of operations in Bangladesh. Released in February 2015, issue 7 of Dabiq (the official IS magazine) includes an article lambasting Japanese policy and exhorting 'soldiers and patrons of the Khilafah everywhere' to target 'Japanese citizens and interests -- wherever they may be found.' If IS is indeed seeking to recruit and raise its profile in Bangladesh, then danger looms for the Church. Just as 'nationals of crusader coalition countries' are easy targets because they are easily identifiable, the same is true of Christians. Christians are already known to the radicalised masses, who despise them as infidels, kafir (unclean) and apostates deserving death; and they gather together in homes and easily identifiable churches. We must be vigilant in prayer for the Church in Bangladesh.

UPDATE 
It has just been reported that a Protestant Bangladeshi pastor has narrowly survived an attempted beheading. On Monday 5 Oct, three Muslims visited the home of Rev. Luke Sarker (52), pastor of Faith Bible Church in the district of Pabna, in the country’s northwest. Two men came into the house under the pretext of wanting to convert to Christianity; the third man remained outside on his motorbike. Once settled, one of the men locked the door; then they attacked. Rev Sarker screamed, help came quickly and the attackers fled. Rev Sarker received non-life-threatening cuts to his neck requiring stitching. It seems to me [E Kendal] that the attackers were amateurs -- i.e. new local recruits, not experienced jihadists -- possibly responding to an IS request for the head of a pastor/missionary. [Report by Morning Star News, 11 Oct 2015]
Please cover Bangladesh in prayer.
  
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT

* the Lord of hosts will surround and protect his precious people. 'Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.' (Psalm 17:8-9 ESV)

* the rule of law will prevail in Bangladesh; may there be unity -- as distinct from politicisation or appeasement -- in the face of escalating Islamic violence and threat. Pray for Prime Minister (Ms) Sheikh Hasina (Awami League) and for the Opposition leader (Ms) Khaleda Zia (BNP), 'the warring widows'.

* the God of salvation, the hope of all the earth, will intervene in Bangladesh to 'still ... the tumult of the peoples.' (Psalm 65:5-8)

'By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth ... who stills ... the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.' (from Psalm 65:5-8 ESV)

Also 
SERIOUS PLIGHT OF CHRISTIAN REFUGEES IN GERMANY

Migrant flood (photo: Der Spiegel)
With up to 10,000 mostly Muslim migrants arriving each day, police are warning that tensions are soaring in Germany's massively over-crowded migrant centres. Islamic Law is being enforced, while violence and rape are endemic, much of it driven by racial and religious hatred and a culture of violence. Christian refugees, who are particularly vulnerable, are being abused and threatened. The head of the German police union wants migrants separated according to race and faith before someone is killed. The German government is resisting, wedded as it is to the idea of a multicultural utopia. While some politicians insist that distinguishing between migrants would go against Germany's values, others write it off as a logistical impossibility. PLEASE PRAY for a change in policy, and that God will intervene on behalf of his people.

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN WHOLE ARTICLE
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BANGLADESH: DANGER LOOMS FOR CHURCH

Bangladeshi society is polarised and at war with itself. Islamic zeal is soaring among masses of Muslims who have been radicalised since the 1980s. Secular Bengalis are struggling to maintain their fading rights and a veneer of security. Persecution is escalating. Bloggers who criticised Islam and advocated secularism have been murdered by a group with ties to Islamic State (IS), which is recruiting and seeking a foothold in Bangladesh. IS has claimed responsibility for the recent assassinations of an Italian aid worker in Dhaka and a Japanese farmer in the north, warning it is targeting 'nationals of crusader coalition countries'. If IS is indeed seeking to recruit and raise its profile in Bangladesh, this seriously elevates the risk to the Church. Please pray for Bangladesh and its Church.

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