Wednesday, April 1, 2020

RLPB 543. Easter Devotion (1); plus, Prayer for Mozambique

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 543 | Wed 1 Apr 2020
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EASTER DEVOTION (1); plus PRAYER FOR MOZAMBIQUE
by Elizabeth Kendal

PRAYER FUEL: FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE

'Behold,' declares the LORD, idols are useless; they cannot speak or guide you in the right direction. Likewise idolaters, have no answers: 'Behold, they are all a delusion ...' (from Isaiah 41:21-29). On the other hand … 'Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations ... he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth ... I will make [my servant] as a light for the nations that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.' (excerpts from Isaiah 42:1-4 and 49:5-7 ESV).

Unlike the Judeans, who made idols of wood and metal, modern humanity makes idols of money, political systems, and humanity itself. In these, men and women put their faith and hopes. But like the idols of old, today's idols are useless and without answers - 'they are all a delusion'. On the other hand, God's servant - the Lord Jesus Christ - does speak truth, has sovereign power and will bring forth justice; that is, he will establish God's truth in the earth; he will put things right. Furthermore, because God has made him as a light for the world - a light which 'darkness has not overcome' (John 1:4-5) - salvation will reach to the ends of the earth!

Today, as we approach Easter under the shadow of plague, pandemic and persecution, let us remember: Jesus, God's servant, was obedient unto death. Consequently, the nations will see justice and salvation will extend to the ends of the earth. God has ordained it, Christ has secured it and now the Spirit is faithfully bringing it to pass. Nothing can get in the way of God's will - not plague, not pandemic and not persecution. And so, dear intercessor, our hope is not diminished! So pray in faith, with the energy that comes from hope and the passion that comes from love for the Church, for the world and for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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MOZAMBIQUE: JIHADIST THREAT ESCALATES


The Swahili Coast
Cabo Delgado is Mozambique's northern-most coastal province and the southern-most reach of the Swahili Coast. Sahil is the Arabic word for 'coast', and the Swahili Coast is the coastal strip where, since the 8th Century, Africans and Arabs have mixed to create a unique Swahili ('people of the coast') identity and culture. While Mozambique is roughly 46.5 percent Christian, 32 percent ethno-religionist and 18.6 percent Muslim, Cabo Delgado is 58 percent Muslim. An Islamic insurgency has simmered in the region since October 2017. The insurgency has its roots in ethnic-religious tension dating back to the civil war (1977-1992), local grievance and, more recently, Wahhabi radicalisation of Muslims. [A full analysis will be posted to Religious Liberty Monitoring before the end of the month.] As jihadists inflicted ever more brutal terror throughout the Cabo Delgado countryside, international jihadist organisations al-Qaeda and Islamic State started to take notice, eager to get a foothold in East Africa. The crisis has displaced at least 100,000 people and cut hungry farmers off from their fields and livelihoods.

ISCAP in Quissanga, 25 March 2020
source: Stratfor, 31 March (subscription)
On Monday 23 March jihadists conducted their most audacious and sophisticated terror attack to date. They invaded one of Cabo Delgado's largest towns, the strategic port town of Mocimboa da Praia, entering before dawn from land and sea. The jihadists fought, burned property, released prisoners, looted food and weapons 'sufficient for two battalions' and ultimately raised their black flag over police headquarters. Mozambiquan security forces were simply overwhelmed. The jihadists controlled the streets all day until military reinforcements arrived and the jihadists fled 'leaving behind a trail of blood, bodies, and missing persons'. Islamic State Central Africa Province has claimed responsibility. On Tuesday 24 March, jihadists attacked the village of Mussomero, abducting civilians. On Wednesday 25 March they attacked the town of Quissanga, killing police and looting arms and ammunition.

Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa
Analysts surmise the day-long seizure of Mocimboa da Praia could mark a turning point in the insurgency. It comes just as Mozambiquan President Filipe Nyusi declares a state of emergency for the month of April, aimed at curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. [See: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Persecuted Church, (RLM).] Catholic Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa, who is based in Pemba, the provincial capital, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, 'They [the militants] left a message that they would be returning. The people are afraid. If they can attack Mocimboa, which is the largest town in the region, then the people of Palma, Mueda and Macomia have reason to feel themselves in danger ... Nevertheless,' he said, 'the Catholic Church will continue to stay close to the people ...' Based in South Africa, InContext International reports that, throughout the attack, Christians in Mocimboa da Praia sent messages requesting prayer as they hid to avoid detection. 'A pastor and her family evaded the attack and together with three other Christian families found safety elsewhere - they, all 21 of them, are sheltering in one home.' The roots of this crisis run deep and wide through a country that is beset with problems; there will be no 'quick fix'. But, as noted by InContext, 'It's in these challenging circumstances where the true Gospel can shine the brightest.' Please pray.

PLEASE PRAY THAT OUR ALMIGHTY GOD WILL

* grace President Filipe Nyusi and his government with humility, wisdom, insight and fortitude as they seek solutions to the crisis of escalating terrorism in the midst of the pandemic.

* intervene in Mozambique to protect and sustain his Church and preserve religious liberty; may every wicked plot aimed at shattering peace, shredding security and dividing communities be thwarted.

* continue to build his Church in Mozambique so that, as darkness deepens, the light of Christ might shine brightly through a revived, growing and energised, hope-filled Church. (For Mozambique: Isaiah 42:1-4)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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MOZAMBIQUE: JIHADIST THREAT ESCALATES

Mozambique has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency in its northern-most coastal province of Cabo Delgado. On 23 March, in their most sophisticated attack to date, jihadists overwhelmed security forces and seized control of the strategic port town of Mocimboa da Praia, which they held all day until military reinforcements arrived and the jihadists fled 'leaving behind a trail of blood, bodies, and missing persons'. Islamic State Central Africa Province has claimed responsibility. According to Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa, the jihadists left vowing they would return. InContext International reports that during the attack, Christians in Mocimboa da Praia sent out messages requesting prayer. The escalation in terror comes as President Filipe Nyusi declares a state of emergency aimed at curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Please pray.

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Ramadan commences 23-24 April
RLPB recommends: 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World
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Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF) and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: 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).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com