Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RLPB 178. September Update. Incl. Pakistan, Film Riots, UN, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 178 | Wed 26 Sep 2012

By Elizabeth Kendal

It was for the 'sick' / sinners that Jesus came, not for the 'well' / righteous (Mark 2:15-17). And it is by his stripes that we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). Pray that these troubled lands will know spiritual awakening; that the LORD may come with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2). All the while keep praying for the Church, that she might not only endure, but through Christ, overcome (John 16:33).

SEPTEMBER 2012 UPDATE -- During September we prayed concerning . . . 

* A SAUDI CONVERT named Maryam (RLPB 175), who had fled the kingdom for liberty and sanctuary in the West. According to the Saudi Gazette, Interpol has been enlisted to help track down the 'girl' who Saudi authorities claim is a victim of traffickers.  A Lebanese Christian man (50) is accused of 'coercing' Maryam (28) into Christianity, while a Saudi man is accused of helping 'smuggle' her out of the kingdom. They were due to face court on 15 September. No update is available.

* RIMSHA MASIH & YOUCEF NADARKHANI (RLPB 176), who both walked 'free' from prison on the weekend of 8-9 September, yet remain seriously imperilled.

UPDATE: Rimsha's case has been referred to a juvenile court; the next hearing is set for 1 October.  Though Rimsha will doubtless be exonerated, due primarily to her age and mental capacity, her life is still gravely endangered. Pray for her. Pray also for Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother of five, who languishes in jail, sentenced to death for insulting Islam. Two Pakistani politicians have been assassinated while trying to defend her.

* THE FILM RIOTS (RLPB 177), which are being used to justify calls for international criminalisation of criticism of Islam.


On Friday 21 September a mob of several hundred Muslims attacked St Paul's Lutheran Church in Mardan city, some 60km north-west of Peshawar, as they returned from a rally against the film 'Innocence of Muslims'. Security had been provided, but it could not hold off the attackers who had come armed with kerosene and guns. The Muslims broke into the church, desecrated the altar and tore up Bibles and prayer books. They then set fire to the property, holding off fire-fighters so that the 82-year-old church, its adjoining school, library, computer lab and four clergy homes, along with several cars and motorcycles, were all totally razed. The Muslim mob also beat and hospitalised Zeeshan Chand, the 17-year-old son of a pastor. Islamic belligerence is escalating and Christians are understandably fearful.

The 67th sitting of the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) is under way in New York. High on the agenda is whether the right to freedom of speech includes the right to criticise religion (specifically Islam). The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), along with its allies and lackeys, are arguing that violent Islamic rioting is the unfortunate yet unavoidable consequence of 'defamation' of Islam. Once 'defamation' or criticism of Islam is re-branded as incitement (already criminal), the OIC and its supporters will insist that legal instruments and protocols be established so that UN Resolution 16/18 can be implemented and those who 'defame' or criticise Islam can be arrested and punished. [UN Resolution16/18, which equates 'defamation' with incitement, was passed in the UN Human Rights Council in March 2011.] All the while the OIC will insist that this is not to protect Islam from criticism, but to protect the world from Islamic violence.

World leaders must reject this blame-the-victim, schoolyard-bully reasoning, for it will lead simply to the Islamisation of human rights. The Qur'an says that if we do not forbid what Islam forbids, then Muslims are ordered to fight us until we do (Sura 9:29). It also states that we shall all submit, if not willingly, then by force (Sura 13:15).

According to Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) several Arab writers have stepped up to criticise harshly the uncivilised behaviour of the rioting mobs, blaming Arab and Muslim society for this backwardness. One Arab writer asked, 'How would Christian society respond [to an offensive image]? What would its discourse [in response to such an offence] be like? [The image] would likely evoke cold and mocking responses. The Christian intellectual would smile and launch a scathing criticism within Christian society . . .  How can we convince the Western citizen that this religion [Islam] is respectable, when all he sees is extremism and terrorism?' Pray that Muslims will seek and find the truth that will set them free.

With the highly offensive, blasphemous art of Andres Serrano due to go on display in New York from 27 September, pray that Christians will respond rightly with exemplary God-honouring, Christ-glorifying, Spirit-led answers.

'But I [Jesus] say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you' (Matthew 5:44 NKJV).

'. . . always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.' (1 Peter 3:15b,16 ESV)

SEPTEMBER 2012 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .

On Sunday evening 16 September a bomb hidden in a bag exploded at the door of the Chaldean Catholic cathedral in Kirkuk. Fortunately nobody was injured and only material damage was sustained. The following Saturday some 150 Christian youths held a day of prayer and fasting where they asked the Lord for peace in Kirkuk and across Iraq. The Chaldean archbishop, Msgr Louis Sako, commended the youths, noting that the church in Iraq may be afflicted, but it is not crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8). At the end of the day, other believers joined the youths in a celebration of the Lord's Supper. Pray for the Church in Iraq.


GOOD NEWS -- The Nigerian military Joint Task Force (JTF) has had some significant successes against Boko Haram. On Monday 17 September, in a joint operation in Kano with State Security Services (SSS), Boko Haram's spokesman and media coordinator, Abu Qaqa, was killed and two senior leaders were captured. The next day the JTF seized control of Boko Haram's command and control centre in Kano. The heavily booby-trapped hideout was full of bomb-making equipment, weapons, motorbikes, computer equipment, a generator and numerous Islamic religious books. On 20 September the JTF reported it had killed two senior Boko Haram militants in Maiduguri and uncovered a well-equipped operations base and a substantial weapons cache that included 39 primed Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). On 23 September, after a gun battle in Damaturu, a JTF operation culminated in the death of 35 militants, the arrest of 60, and the recovery of a large cache of weapons. On 25 September one senior Boko  Haram leader was killed and 156 militants arrested in a JTF operation in Adamawa. A huge weapons cache was recovered, including some 300 IEDs. Please thank God and continue to pray for a breakthrough against Boko Haram.

BAD NEWS -- On Sunday night 2 September Boko Haram militants, armed with explosives and petrol bombs, torched the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Marte, 140km north of Maiduguri. At 9am on Sunday 23 September a suicide bomber drove to St John's Catholic Church in Bauchi intending to detonate his explosives inside the church grounds. However, all cars and worshippers were being screened for security at barricades well outside the church perimeter. Realising he would not gain access to the church the bomber rammed his car directly into the queue of worshippers and detonated, killing a woman and an eight-year-old boy, and wounding a further 48 people. Please continue to uphold the Nigerian Church in prayer. This is very much a spiritual battle.


GOOD NEWS -- Kenya, Somali and African Union troops are making great gains against al Shabaab. A battle is presently raging for the stronghold of Kismayo. Please continue to pray for a breakthrough against al Shabaab.

BAD NEWS -- The battle has displaced many thousands of Somali civilians; it has also forced al Shabaab to retreat north towards Gedo, where the Somali, Kenya and Ethiopia borders meet.
This could lead to an escalation in terrorism and revenge killings, particularly over the border in Mandera, Kenya. Also, Kenyan Christian aid workers Janet Kanga, Martin Kioko and Abdinoor Boru remain in captivity (see RLPB 174). The three were serving with International Aid Services when they were taken hostage on 11 July 2012. Pray for God to sustain, protect and deliver them.  Pray for the remnant Church in war-ravaged Somalia.