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).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

RLPB 362. Central African Republic (CAR): Church at risk from Fulani, Seleka & LRA

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 362 | Wed 22 Jun 2016

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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR): CHURCH AT RISK FROM FULANI, SELEKA & LRA
By Elizabeth Kendal

Seleka rebels/jihadists
CONTEXT: In March 2013 France and the West stood back and watched as Central African Republic (CAR) -- which is French-speaking and 76 percent Christian (mostly Protestant) -- fell to Seleka, an exceedingly well armed and funded alliance of mostly Arabic-speaking local and international Islamic jihadists. The conquest of the capital, Bangui, was but the climax of Seleka's jihadist advance southward that involved massive looting, destruction, killing and sexual violence against the mostly Christian population. Thousands were killed and around one million displaced. Many Muslims sided with the rebels against their Christian neighbours, shattering decades of peaceful co-existence. 
anti-balaka 
Local village defence militias (the 'anti-balaka') -- originally designed to protect villages from 'balaka' (machete) wielding criminals -- went on the defensive. Though identifying as 'Christian', the anti-balaka are in no way connected to the Church, which denounces their retaliatory violence. Only when anti-balaka militias started driving Seleka jihadists (and many other mostly-immigrant Muslims) out of Bangui, did French and UN peacekeepers intervene. The peace-deal signed in July 2014 was totally meaningless and unenforceable [see RLPB 279, (24 Sept 2014)], leaving the Islamic rebels free to re-organise in the north. Many suspect they plan to partition the country. Consequently, recent eruptions of violence in north-west CAR and in Bangui are cause for concern. 

NORTH-WEST CAR: In Ngaoundaye, about 500 km  north-west of Bangui, clashes between local anti-balaka militias and Fulani cattle herders backed by former Seleka rebels have claimed at least eleven lives. According to reports, well-armed former-Seleka and Fulani fighters recently attacked the north-western town of Ngaoundaye, killing six, after the local inhabitants refused to let the Fulani lead their cattle through the town. Peacekeepers have been deployed to the region. According to Fides newsagency, the Islamic rebels who attacked Ngaoundaye did not return to their base near Paoua, but withdrew to Kollo on the border with Chad, from where they issued an ultimatum -- pay protection money or expect another attack. Much of the population of Ngaoundaye is now hiding in the bush. According to a priest in the area, tensions are soaring and armed gangs are re-forming. The Church is appealing for more peacekeepers.

Bishop Nzapalainga in Bangui.
BANGUI: Tit-for-tat sectarian violence erupted in Bangui on Sunday 12 June and has escalated to claim several lives. On Sunday 19 June heavily armed Seleka rebels abducted six police officers as gunfire rang out around the capital. The Catholic archbishop of Bangui, Bishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga, has appealed for calm and for help.

SOUTH-EAST CAR -- THE LRA RISES: Founded in Uganda in the 1980s, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is an occultic militia aided and protected by Sudan's Islamist regime, which has long used it as a proxy against its Christian neighbours. Thriving on insecurity, the LRA will soon also benefit from the withdrawal of Ugandan forces from CAR. The withdrawal of Ugandan forces, announced on 10 June, will give the LRA virtual free reign in predominantly Christian CAR. Buoyed with renewed confidence, the LRA has dramatically escalated its attacks in recent months. This has specifically included kidnappings, with 252 abductions in the first three months of 2016, compared with 113 during all of 2015. It seems the LRA is replenishing its ranks. Last week the LRA kidnapped 29 people from two villages in south-east CAR. 

MAP (source: World Watch Monitor, July 2015)
edited to show locations of June 2016 clashes/crimes and the
alleged location of LRA leader, Joseph Kony.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT

* our sovereign God, the King of kings, will intervene to ensure that Central African Republic receives all the diplomatic, military and humanitarian assistance it needs to resist Islamic jihad, eradicate foreign militants and defeat the LRA, while liberating its captives.

'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)

* God our merciful and compassionate Father will hear and answer the prayers of his traumatised and fearful children; may he protect and deliver them from all the evil plots of men and the devil.

* the Spirit of God will work powerfully and effectively through all CAR's Christian leaders -- political, civic and religious -- giving them great spiritual wisdom and insight to know how to respond to their country's crisis; may all CAR's Christians, especially Christian leaders, commit themselves to prayer.

'Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.' (Psalm 20:7 ESV)

~ ~ ~ ~

REMINDER: Pray for Muslims during RAMADAN, 6 June to 5 July. See http://pray30days.org/

~ ~ ~ ~

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC CHURCH AT RISK FROM FULANI & LRA

Central African Republic (CAR) is French-speaking and 76 percent Christian. In March 2013 CAR was overrun by foreign-backed, Arabic-speaking Islamic rebels from the north. Thousands were killed and around one million displaced. Only when local non-Muslim militias started driving the rebels (and other Muslims) out of Bangui did France and the UN intervene. A meaningless peace deal was brokered which allowed the rebels to re-organise in the north. Clashes between local residents and rebel-backed Fulani Muslims have erupted in the north-west, while tit-for-tat religious clashes in Bangui have also escalated. Meanwhile, the occultic Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is rising in the east, replenishing its ranks through a dramatic escalation in kidnappings, ahead of the withdrawal of Ugandan troops. CAR's Christian leaders are appealing for calm and for help. Please pray.

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(Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat.

Her new book, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016) is now available through the publisher and will be available more widely in the coming weeks. Review copies can be requested from Wipf and Stock (USA/international) - OR if in Australia, through their distributor, Morning Star Publishing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

RLPB 361. Nigeria: Legislation will further Islamise Nigeria

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 361 | Wed 15 Jun 2016

Please forward this prayer bulletin widely, and encourage others to sign up to the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16 NIV)


NIGERIA: LEGISLATION WILL FURTHER ISLAMISE NIGERIA
By Elizabeth Kendal

It should come as no surprise that, just one year after the official swearing in of President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal parliament is considering two bills that, if passed, will further Islamise Nigeria. A former military dictator and coup plotter, Buhari had contested the presidency three times prior to the 2015 polls (2003, 2007 and 2011), each time on a pro-Sharia platform -- which was why he always lost as the majority of Nigerians do not want to live under Sharia Law. One reason why Buhari won the March 2015 presidential poll was that he dropped his pro-Sharia stance and took as his running-mate Yemi Osinbajo (55), a Pentecostal pastor from Nigeria's wealthiest and most popular Pentecostal Church. The Christian Association of Nigeria and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria threw their weight behind the secular, mostly Christian People's Democratic Party and its Christian candidate, Goodluck Jonathan. However, Osinbajo and the new-look Buhari successfully rallied southern Christian youths, helped along by pro-Buhari pastors who assured southern Christians that Nigeria simply cannot be Islamised as Nigerians are 'too educated' and 'too enlightened' for that!  [For background see RLPB 295 (4 Feb 2015).]

Armed Fulani cattle herder
A bill to establish grazing reserves for the Fulani in every state has successfully passed through second readings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. There is no indication that the government, so keen to advance Fulani cattle herding in the south, has any interest in advancing Christian agriculture in the north or even in protecting farmers -- often poor Christian peasants -- from the destruction caused by Fulani cattle grazing on their crops. The Grazing Reserves Bill envisages the uprooting of 'native communities' and would pave the way for the Buhari government to facilitate Muslim Fulani expansion deep into the Christian south. This is despite knowing that the Fulani have been thoroughly infiltrated by Boko Haram, which uses the Fulani as a means to Islamic expansion. Whilst a majority of northerners are in favour, a majority of southerners are against this extremely divisive and dangerous bill.

A bill proposing to amend the Nigerian constitution to expand the scope and jurisdiction of Nigeria's Islamic Sharia courts passed its second reading without debate on 19 May. At present, Sharia courts of appeal may handle only civil matters -- family, wills, donations and the like. Consequently, any appeal of a criminal case must be heard in a government-run secular court.

Sentenced in a Sharia court to death
by stoning, Amina Lawal's sentence
was subsequently overturned (2003);
 it would not have survived an appeal.  
This is precisely why Sharia penalties such as stoning, flogging, limb amputation and execution are not handed down in Nigeria's Sharia courts -- they would never survive an appeal. That will change if this bill passes. Moreover, Muslims will lose their liberty because apostasy and blasphemy are criminal offences according to Sharia. The bill's sponsor, Abdullahi Salame, an MP from the northern Sharia state of Sokoto, claims that Sharia actually protects Christians. But as is common knowledge, the opposite is true. Legitimising Islamic Sharia Law always fuels Islamic zeal, a consequence of which is violent persecution of Christians.

Most shocking of all is how this bill, which has been shrouded in secrecy, has been quietly and willingly waved through by weak-willed, apathetic and corrupted Christian lawmakers. The job of protesting has been left to students. On 7 June Christian and Muslim youths, under the aegis of the Coalition of Civil Society and Faith-Based Organisations (CCSFBO), rallied peacefully in Abuja to protest a bill they condemn as dangerously divisive and nothing but a blatant attempt to Islamise Nigeria. Quoting the Biblical prophet Amos, Nigerian journalist and commentator Nnamdi Okosieme warns, 'Woe to those who are at ease in Zion ...' (Amos 6:1 ESV). 'Christians,' he said, 'must speak up, they must shout and they must go down on their knees and pray away the looming danger.'


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL

* awaken, enlighten and embolden the Nigerian Church and Nigeria's Christian legislators, so that plots to further Islamise Nigeria will not proceed, but rather will backfire.

* subvert and defeat this plot to further Islamise Nigeria, redeeming it so that all freedom-loving Nigerians might start questioning the place of Islam and the role of Sharia Law in a secular democracy.

* redeem this situation as a means by which Nigeria's churches and Christians may be able to witness to the truth and wisdom of God as found in the Bible and through Jesus Christ.

'To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness ...' (Daniel 9:9 ESV, from Daniel's prayer for his people.)

~ ~ ~ ~

* REMINDER: Pray for Muslims during RAMADAN, 6 June to 5 July. See http://pray30days.org/ 

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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LEGISLATION WILL FURTHER ISLAMISE NIGERIA

One year after the official swearing in of President Muhammadu Buhari the government is considering two bills that, if passed, will further Islamise Nigeria. A bill to establish grazing reserves for the Fulani in every state would facilitate Muslim Fulani expansion deep into the Christian south. This is despite knowing the Fulani have been infiltrated by Boko Haram which uses the Fulani as a means to Islamic expansion. A bill proposing to amend the Nigerian constitution to expand the scope and jurisdiction of Nigeria's Islamic Sharia courts passed its second reading without debate on 19 May with apathetic and corrupted Christian lawmakers waving it through. Christian and Muslim students have protested in Abuja against the government's move to divide and Islamise Nigeria. Please pray for Nigeria and for her Church.

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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.

Her second book, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016) will be available in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

RLPB 360. Sudan: war and famine, impunity and funding

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 360 | Wed 08 Jun 2016

Please forward this prayer bulletin widely, and encourage others to sign up to the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16 NIV)
 

SUDAN: WAR AND FAMINE, IMPUNITY AND EU FUNDING
also, God answers prayer for Maryam (Iran)

By Elizabeth Kendal

Nuba refugees in Yida
('Erasing the Nuba,' CNN, Dec 2012)
The genocidal jihad of the Government of Sudan (GoS) against the Christian Nuba of South Kordofan has now entered its sixth year. As war rages, children die, farms burn and food runs out, the Nuba head south to seek refuge in Yida, in South Sudan's northern Unity State. When the rains come and the roads become impassable, those stranded in the Nuba Mountains -- which is officially off limits to humanitarian aid groups -- will experience serious food insecurity. The GoS is an expert at genocide -- killing both directly, and indirectly by engineering the conditions for famine. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 7500 Nuba refugees have arrived in Yida since the start of the year -- 3000 in May alone. Ninety percent of the refugees are women and children and one in ten children arrives alone.

Sudanese journalists with Nuba Reports believe that the reason the GoS launched its fighting so late in the season this year and relied so heavily on aerial bombardment has as much to with logistics as with strategy. Apparently the GoS has had difficulty paying its troops. As soldiers have deserted the battlefield due to lack of payment, the GoS has been forced to recruit fighters and jihadists from far and wide. But lack of funds might not be a problem for much longer because the GoS is about to get a massive injection of funds and assistance from the European Union.

Leaked minutes from a secret 23 March 2016 meeting of the ambassadors of the EU's 28 member states indicate that Sudan will benefit from a $45 million regional program to 'better manage migration'. Furthermore, on 5 April the EU Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development, Neven Mimica,  visited Sudan to announce that Khartoum will receive a $112 million aid package to 'address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement' in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. This comes despite the fact that Khartoum IS the root cause of irregular migration and forced displacement from these regions. The decision beggars belief.  [See Religious Liberty Monitoring (7 June) for more details.] Desperate for any action that will stem the migrant flow, it seems the EU will not let human rights get in the way. This will surely embolden the GoS, which will see it as a green light to escalate repression and persecution.

On 18 May fifteen bombs landed in the vicinity of a Catholic school in Heiban in the Nuba Mountains. Then on 26 May a GoS fighter jet launched a missile directly into the school compound. A Kenyan teacher was wounded and classrooms and a library suffered extensive damage. The only reason this did not result in a massacre of children (as intended) was because the children were not present as only teachers were there, correcting exams.
Pastor Kwa Samaal (MSN)

Meanwhile in Khartoum: on 22 May the GoS informed the head of UN's Sudan Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ivo Freijsen, that his annual stay permit would not be renewed. Freijsen had until 6 June to be out of the country. On 10 May imprisoned Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) vice-moderator, the Rev Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor [see RLPB 341 (26 Jan 2016)], was transferred from prison to a holding cell of a court for those facing crimes against the state. On 25 May Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) re-arrested Pastor Kwa Shamaal, SCOC's head of mission. Morning Star News (MSN) has been informed that Pastor Shamaal and the Rev Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor could face charges calling for the death penalty.


PLEASE PRAY TO OUR MERCIFUL AND HOLY GOD: O LORD,

* 'lift up your hand' and supply all the needs of the gravely imperilled Christians of the Nuba Mountains, including security, food out of season, humanitarian aid despite all the hurdles, as well as spiritual comfort and strength.

* 'lift up your hand' against the Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum, breaking its 'arm' (mechanism of action) and ushering in justice for the 'fatherless and oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.' (Pray Psalm 10)
Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim (MSN)

* 'lift up your hand' and intervene for Pastor Kwa Shamaal and Rev Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor. 'Incline your ear,' Lord, and hear the prayers of your gravely imperilled, suffering Church and all who intercede for her.

'Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted.' (Psalm 10:12 ESV)

* God Answers Prayer for Maryam (Iran)
Prayer went out around the world last week for Maryam (Naseem) Naghash Zargaran, an Iranian convert and prisoner for Christ who, though seriously ill, was being denied proper medical care. On Monday 6 June, Maryam was released on bond to receive medical treatment. Thank you, Lord, for the blessing granted through the prayers of many (2 Cor 1:11). Please continue to pray for Maryam.

~ ~ ~ ~

* REMINDER: Pray for Muslims during RAMADAN, 6 June to 5 July. See http://pray30days.org/ 

~ ~ ~ ~

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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SUDAN: WAR AND FAMINE, IMPUNITY AND EU FUNDING

The Government of Sudan's genocidal jihad against the Christian Nuba of South Kordofan has now entered its sixth year. Heavy aerial bombardment of residential and farming areas in the Nuba Mountains has forced thousands to flee. Those who remain, as the rain sets in, now closing roads, face serious food insecurity. An EU deal providing Khartoum with $112 million to help curb migration -- regardless of human rights -- will doubtless embolden the regime which will read the move as a green light to escalate war and persecution. In this context we learn that imprisoned Sudanese Church of Christ leaders, Kwa Shamaal and Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, may both be facing 'national security charges' carrying the death penalty. Please pray Psalm 10 for Sudan. Please pray for Sudan's oppressed and persecuted Christians.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat.

Elizabeth Kendal’s new book, After Saturday ComesSunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, is presently being published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, OR, USA) and will be available shortly. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

RLPB 359. Vietnam: serious suffering as persecution escalates

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 359 | Wed 01 Jun 2016

Please forward this prayer bulletin widely, and encourage others to sign up to the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16 NIV)


VIETNAM: SERIOUS SUFFERING AS PERSECUTION ESCALATES
plus – urgent prayer request from Iran.
By Elizabeth Kendal

Last week's RLPB 358 (24 May) requested prayer for Protestant Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh (45), his wife Tran Thi Hong and their children in Vietnam's Central Highlands province of Gai Lai. As an active evangelist and courageous religious liberty advocate, Pastor Chinh has long suffered persecution at the hands of Communist Party officials.
Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh (2011)
On numerous occasions since 2003 he has been beaten up, had his possessions confiscated and been temporarily detained. Routinely his family would be made homeless, and his chapel demolished. Arrested on 28 April 2011, Pastor Chinh was sentenced on 31 July 2012 in the Gia Lai People's Court to 11 years in prison for 'undermining national unity'. After his arrest he spent 20 months in solitary confinement in Gia Lai's T20 prison. In May 2012 he was assaulted by police while praying in his cell. In August 2013 he was beaten savagely in An Phuoc prison when guards incited prisoners to attack him. He has been assaulted by guards wielding batons, stun guns and pepper spray. He has been prohibited from praying in his prison cell and denied access to a Bible. Pastor Chinh has also been subjected to humiliating and traumatising Cultural Revolution-style criticism sessions which also work to fuel prison inmate hostility against him.

Mrs Hong after beating source
14 April 2016
Pastor Chinh's wife, Mrs. Tran Thi Hong, is also targeted for constant persecution for, like her husband, she too is a courageous religious liberty advocate. On 30 March 2016 local regime officials forcefully prevented Mrs. Hong from attending her scheduled meeting with a US delegation led by David Saperstein, Ambassador At Large on International Religious Freedom. The meeting only went ahead after Mrs Hong managed to inform Mr Saperstein that she had been ambushed, seized and escorted back home. At this point, Mr Saperstein intervened. Subsequently, however, on the morning of 14 April, officials abducted Mrs Hong from her home and took her to the office of the People's Committee of Hoa Lu Ward, where she was interrogated and beaten by plainclothes agents for three hours, leaving her with injuries to her head, knees, legs, hands and feet. As noted in RLPB 358, Mrs Hong was detained and violently interrogated three times in May. On the third occasion (13 May), her distressed 18-year-old son was also violently assaulted. On 27 and 28 May, Mrs Hong was again forcefully dragged to the police station for interrogation.

In Washington, 10 May 2016
testimony (pdf)
The news of the violent persecution of Mrs Hong comes as Mrs Vu Minh Khanh, wife of imprisoned Protestant Christian religious liberty advocate Nguyen Van Dai, travels in the West to raise awareness of her husband's plight. Nguyen Van Dai has been detained without charge since 16 December [see RLPB 354 (27 April)]. Dai has not been permitted to see his wife or his lawyers, leaving Mrs Khanh unsure where her husband is and what condition he is in. What we know of the persecution of Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and that of his wife Mrs. Tran Thi Hong helps us imagine the plight Nguyen Van Dai and the fate that awaits Mrs Vu Minh Khanh on her return to Vietnam.

Furthermore, on 5 May Pastor Dang Ba Nham and his wife, along with church elder Hoang Ngoc Hung and new believer Mrs Phan Thi Thanh Huyen, gathered on a roadside in Vinh City, Nghe An Province (north central coast). All belong to the Vietnam Good News Mission Church. As Pastor Nham prayed a blessing over Mrs Huyen's property, a large pickup truck with red military plates veered across the road and drove directly into the small group. Pastor Nham (56), who had faced strong opposition to his evangelistic ministry, died at the scene. New believer Mrs Huyen, whose conversion triggered strong opposition from her relatives, died of her injuries the following day. Pastor Nham's wife and church elder Hoang Ngoc Hung have undergone complex surgeries for critical injuries. According to Morning Star News (MSN), both are fighting for their lives. Local sources also told MSN that during Pastor Nham's funeral, when the speaker asked, 'Who will take his place?' some 30 young people stood in response. This was despite nobody believing this 'accident' was an accident -- Communist Party officials routinely stage 'accidents' by which 'trouble-makers' are eliminated.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL

* intervene for imprisoned Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, his persecuted and wounded wife Mrs Tran Thi Hong and their family; for Christian advocate Nguyen Van Dai (imprisoned without charge), his wife Mrs Vu Minh Khanh and their family. '... let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.' (Amos 5:24 ESV)

* bring comfort to the Vietnam Good News Mission Church in Vinh City, as members grieve the loss of a pastor-evangelist and a new believer; may our merciful God speak healing into the bodies of church elder Hoang Ngoc Hung and Pastor Nham's wife as they struggle to survive horrendous injuries and loss.

'I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.' (Psalm 30:1-2 ESV)

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST FROM IRAN
Maryam (Naseem) Naghash Zargaran is an Iranian convert and prisoner for Christ who suffers from congenital heart disease [see RLPB 366 (18 Nov 2015), includes picture]. Middle East Concern reports that Maryam recently started suffering pain in her ears, accompanied by severe headaches. Refused medical attention, Maryam commenced a hunger strike on 27 May. She is seriously ill. Her fellow prisoners are supporting her by forgoing family visits until Maryam receives proper medical care. The ascendant regime in Tehran has no need of Maryam. She needs divine intervention. PLEASE PRAY.

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* REMINDER: Pray for Muslims during RAMADAN, 6 June to 5 July.
See http://pray30days.org/ 

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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SERIOUS SUFFERING AS PERSECUTION ESCALATES IN VIETNAM

Arrested in April 2011, Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh (45), an evangelist and courageous  religious liberty advocate, was sentenced in July 2012 to 11 years imprisonment for 'undermining national unity'. His wife, Tran Thi Hong, also a courageous religious liberty advocate, continues suffering violent persecution from Communist Party officials. Arrested in December 2015, Christian religious liberty advocate Nguyen Van Dai remains detained without charge, denied access to his wife and lawyers. His wife, Vu Minh Khanh, is risking much to raise awareness of his plight. On 5 May a pastor and a new member of a church in Vinh City were killed and the pastor's wife and a church elder were critically wounded when a military vehicle 'accidentally' drove into them on a footpath. Please pray for Vietnam and its Christians.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat.


Elizabeth Kendal’s new book, After Saturday ComesSunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, is presently being published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, OR, USA) and will be available shortly.