Wednesday, February 24, 2010

044. February Update; Incl. China, Hong Kong, Iraq, LRA, Uzbekistan,

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 044 | Wed 24 Feb 2010

FEBRUARY 2010 UPDATE -- During the month we prayed concerning . . .

IRAN, where 14 Christians are presently in prison on account of their faith.

INDIA, where persecution is relentless as Hindu militants advance their ideology, agenda and terror with impunity.

NORTH KOREA, where some 70,000 Christians are believed to be struggling to survive in concentration labour camps while as many as 40,000 live imperilled lives of severe hardship as secret, underground Christians. Pray that North Koreans who managed to escape over the frozen Tumen River during the winter will be found by missionaries and rescued in more ways than one.

'There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.' (Deuteronomy 33:26,27 ESV)

FEBRUARY 2010 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .


In 2004 the Hong Kong government enacted the Education (Amendment) Bill 2002, requiring schools receiving public funding to separate the school's management committee (SMC) from the school's sponsoring body (SB). The sponsoring body is not permitted to hold more than a 60 percent stake in the management committee. Churches will thus have reduced decision-making power in their own schools. On 3 February the Catholic Church lost its second legal challenge against the law. The Methodist and Anglican Churches have stated that they would rather give up their operating rights than set up such management committees. Also, it looks as though the government is planning to resurrect the anti-subversion law that was shelved in 2003 after mass protests. The security law would see groups that are banned in Beijing being automatically banned in Hong Kong. Religious, pro-democracy and human rights groups would be threatened.


On 9 February Malak Saad (25), a Coptic carpenter living in Teta in Menoufia Province, died after being shot by a Muslim policeman outside a Coptic meeting hall. The policeman was guarding the hall that police had recently seized after local Muslims spread a rumour that the Copts were planning to convert it into a church. After the shooting, the police sealed the village so that no reporters, rights advocates or independent investigators could get access. According to Saad's cousin, an eye witness, the policeman approached Saad and had words with him before taking out his gun and shooting him through the chest at close range. The Interior Ministry claims the Copt was killed accidentally when the policeman's gun inadvertently discharged as it was being cleaned.


Iraq's indigenous Assyrian and Chaldean Christians are being killed or else driven from their homeland. Five Christians were assassinated in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Province, Northern Iraq, in the week 14-20 February. On Sunday 14 February Chaldean Rayan Salem Elias was killed by armed militants outside his own home. On Monday Fatukhi Munir was killed outside his shop by drive-by shooters. On Tuesday militants shot two Assyrian Christian university students, killing Zia Toma (21) and wounding Ramsin Shmael (22). On Wednesday militants kidnapped and then killed Assyrian Christian student Wissam George (20). On Saturday police found the body of Syrian Orthodox Adnan al-Dahan (57) who had been kidnapped for ransom a week earlier. Please pray for our traumatised, threatened fellow-believers in Iraq.


Some 40 armed militants of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) stormed a Catholic Church in Central African Republic's southern city of Rafai on the evening of Friday 19 February. The militants ransacked the church and used machetes and clubs to attack those present, killing two and severely wounding 14. The militants then fled with 30 captives. The army is in pursuit. It was the third LRA attack in the region in less than two weeks. The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, a former Catholic, is a spirit medium. Whilst the LRA's roots are in northern Uganda, it receives backing from the Islamic regime in Khartoum, Sudan, which uses it as a proxy against the Christian peoples of South Sudan and their Christian allies. Pray for God to intervene.


The Uzbekistan government's primary goal is the status quo: peace and regime stability at any cost. Jihadist and revolutionary Islamic groups pose a serious threat to national security. To address this threat, the government represses all 'non-traditional' (new) and 'foreign' religious groups, a policy that ensures Protestant Christians get caught up in the same net as prospective Islamic terrorists. As both the Russian Orthodox and Muslim populations are hostile to Protestants, the government can maintain peace and score points by targeting Protestants. Repression, harassment, intimidation and persecution are escalating. In scenes reminiscent of the mid-late 1990s, foreign missionaries are being deported, fellowships are being raided and worshippers are being beaten. Several Baptist pastors and leaders have recently been charged with criminal offences such as drug possession and tax evasion. Please pray for the Church in Uzbekistan.


'So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven . . .' (Matthew 10:32a ESV)