Tuesday, June 28, 2016

RLPB 363. June Update Incl. China, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Nepal

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 363 | Wed 29 Jun 2016

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JUNE 2016 ROUND-UP -- this month we prayed concerning ...

VIETNAM (RLPB 359), where the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) deems Christianity a problem and a threat to be managed by means of repression and persecution. Pastors, activists, bloggers and lawyers who speak out against CPV abuses are beaten and threatened; others are imprisoned. We prayed specifically for imprisoned Protestant Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh (45) and his wife Mrs Tran Thi Hong, as well as imprisoned Protestant human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his wife Mrs Vu Minh Khanh -- four courageous religious liberty advocates. For more details see Religious Liberty Monitoring (June 2016).

SUDAN (RLPB 360), where the Arab Islamist Government of Sudan (GoS) has plans to starve the Christian Nuba in what is their second genocide in a generation. With rains closing the roads and the GoS banning all delivery of humanitarian aid after yet another season of aerial bombardment, the Nuba are entering yet another season of food insecurity. May the LORD of all mercy and all power, provide the Nuba with all their needs. We also prayed for imprisoned Nuba pastors, the Reverends Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor and Kwa Shamaal. Pray Psalm 10 for Sudan.

NIGERIA (RLPB 361), where church leaders fear that two bills presently under consideration in the federal parliament, if passed, will further the Islamisation of Nigeria. One bill would establish grazing reserves for the Fulani, thereby facilitating Fulani expansion deep into the south, while the other bill would expand the scope and jurisdiction of Nigeria's Islamic Sharia courts. 'Christians must speak up,' urged Christian commentator Nnamdi Okosieme. 'They must shout and they must go down on their knees and pray away the looming danger.' Amen!

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (RLPB 362), where clashes between local residents and rebel-backed Fulani Muslims have unsettled the north-west; tit-for-tat religious clashes have escalated in the capital, Bangui; and the occultic Lord's Resistance Army is rising in the east. The Church is appealing for calm and for help.

'May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!' (Psalm 20:1,2 ESV)

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

* CHINA: UPDATE ON YANG MAODONG

Yang Maodong (also known by his pen-name Guo Feixiong) is a Christian human rights lawyer on hunger strike in prison in China. For the full background see RLPB 356 (11 May). Despite having lost about one-third of his body weight, Yang Maodong is refusing to end his hunger strike. Lawyer Zhang Lei saw Yang Maodong on 20 June and reported that he looked very weak. Gravely concerned for his health, advocates are appealing for Yang Maodong to be transferred to a different prison. Please pray that God will intervene to have Yang Maodong transferred to a safe environment and
ultimately be acquitted and released.

* EGYPT: ENFORCING DHIMMITUDE

Muslim mob outside house, 17 June
source WWM
ALEXANDRIA (north): After Friday prayers on 17 June a mob comprising hundreds of Muslims emerged from the mosque in Qaryat Al Bayda, 15km south of Alexandria, determined to prevent the construction of a church in their village. (There is no church in Al Bayda.) Naeem Aziz, who owns the building, insists he is merely building a house for his son – a visit from a local priest triggered rumours the building would be used as a church. In the ensuing pogrom, construction materials were destroyed, a number of Christians were beaten and some ten homes belonging to Copts were looted. The Coptic priest in the neighbouring village heard what was happening and rushed to the scene, only to be ambushed and attacked en route. Fortunately for him, some friendly Muslims intervened to save him. When the police eventually arrived at the property they arrested six Muslims (who were released almost immediately) and six Christians, including Naeem Aziz and his brother. Detained overnight, the Christians were released on bail the following day after being charged with holding prayers without permission and building without a permit. They will doubtless be forced to choose between 'reconciliation' or a trial. Either way, there will be no justice.

Mrs Thabet (68)
for more: see Wataninet
MINYA (south): On 20 May a mob of some 300 Muslims in Minya, Upper Egypt, set out to punish, expel or kill a Christian Coptic man rumoured to be in a relationship with a Muslim woman, something they both deny. Unable to find him (as he had fled) they seized his elderly mother, whom they stripped naked and violently dragged through the town. Numerous Coptic homes and businesses were looted and torched in the pogrom. This was not IS or al-Qaeda; this was Islam, this is dhimmitude. The victim, Ms Thabet, later released a statement in which she declared, 'I forgive them.' That is Christianity; that is amazing grace. Now the authorities should do what they are expected to do: guarantee security and pursue justice. Pray for the Church in Egypt.

* IRAN: UPDATE ON MARYAM

 An urgent prayer request was added to the end of RLPB 359 (1 June) for Iranian Christian prisoner, Maryam (Naseem) Naghash-Zargaran (36). Seriously ill, Maryam had commenced a hunger strike to protest the authority's refusal to allow her medical treatment. When Maryam was hospitalised on 6 June (on a large bond) we thanked God for his grace in answering the prayers of many. On 19 June the court ordered Maryam to return to prison. With Maryam still weak, unwell and receiving treatment, her family applied for an extension to her medical leave. The court refused and on 27 June Maryam was escorted back to Evin Prison. Pray that the Lord will uphold Maryam and intervene to bring justice and liberty.

* LEBANON: SYRIAN WAR HITS CHRISTIAN VILLAGE 

tanks patrol Al-Qaa
At around 4:30am on Monday 27 June four suicide bombers were making their way through the predominantly Christian village of Al-Qaa in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley when they were discovered by a local resident who shot one of them. The wounded terrorist triggered his explosive vest, after which the three other suicide bombers detonated themselves at intervals as soldiers and others arrived at the scene. The bombings, which killed five and wounded 15, occurred about 150m from a Lebanese customs border point on the road linking the Bekaa valley to the strategic Syrian town of al-Qusayr. That evening, as family members gathered outside St Elias Church to mourn the victims, two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade at the group before detonating suicide vests, wounding up to 20 people. This was pure punishment against the Christian community. While no group has claimed responsibility, Hezbollah-owned news agency Al-Manar blamed the Islamic State although this is far from certain as numerous 'rebel' groups are active in the Qalamoun Mountains along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam expressed his fear that this could be the start of a new wave of terrorist operations inside Lebanon. Pray for the Church in Lebanon.

* NEPAL: NEW ANTI-CONVERSION LAW CLAIMS FIRST VICTIMS

5 of the 8 Christians detained on 9 June,
and released 17 June.
Eight Christians were arrested in Dolakha District, 130km east of Kathmandu, on 9 June after being accused of converting others to Christianity. Amongst those arrested were the Christian principals of Mount Valley Boarding School and Modern Nepal School, as well as some of the staff of Teach for Nepal, a Christian volunteer organisation. They were arrested for handing out the book 'A Great Story' to 885 students. The Federation National Christian Nepal appealed directly to the Minister for Home Affairs, Shakti Bahadur Basnet, and on 17 June the seven men and one woman were released. Whilst the Church gives thanks for this mercy, the local politicians who reported the 'offence' to police are pressing for charges to be laid on the grounds that Article 26 (3) of the 2015 Nepalese Constitution (passed in September 2015) prohibits missionary activity. [See RLPB 321 (Aug 2015).]

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).