Tuesday, January 26, 2021

RLPB 582. Jan 2021 Catch up. Inc. Australia, CAR, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 582 | Wed 27 Jan 2021
RLPB is published weekly to facilitate strategic intercessory prayer.

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JANUARY 2021 CATCH UP
by Elizabeth Kendal

'So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.' (Matthew 10:32-33 ESV)


* AUSTRALIA: VICTORIA'S 'ANTI-CONVERSION' LAW
- the church of LGBTIQ+'s war against 'apostasy'

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews:
No conversions here!
When the Victorian parliament returns on 2 February, one of the first issues to be decided will be the fate of the government's unprecedented and far-reaching Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020. According to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the Bill will ensure that 'cruel and bigoted practices' that 'seek to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity will be stamped out across Victoria'. The law will make it a criminal offence for doctors, psychiatrists, churches or even parents to engage in such practices or 'therapies' - be they formal (e.g. counselling) or informal (e.g. prayer) with an LGBTIQ+ person - even if they have been specifically requested. The Bill empowers the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to investigate reports of 'conversion and suppression (conversion) practices'. Criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison will apply. Please pray.

For more information see:
Victoria, Australia: The Church of LGBTQ+’s War Against ‘Apostasy’
Religious Liberty Monitoring, 27 Jan 2021 

* CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR): STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED
- a Christian Crisis of monumental proportions.

On 19 December, just eight days ahead of general elections, a rebel coalition comprising six of CAR's most powerful rebel militias launched an offensive to prevent the re-election of President Faustin-Archange Touadera. Having failed in that objective, the rebel advance now seems focused on escalating pressure on the government ahead of negotiations. To that end, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) - whose previously waring member militias already control a full two-thirds of the country - has seized control of several major towns and transport corridors. More than 100,000 people have fled their homes. On 13 January CPC rebels launched co-ordinated attacks on the northern and western outskirts of the capital, Bangui, using rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, and mortars. With the support of UN, Rwandan and Russian troops, CAR government forces managed to defend the city and repel the rebels. However, Bangui remains imperilled and besieged. On 21 January, with food and medicine shortages looming and the price of goods soaring, the CAR government declared a 15-day state of emergency. Please pray.

* INDIA, UTTAR PRADESH: JAILED FOR UNLAWFUL CONVERSION

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister,
Yogi Adityanath:
No conversions here! 

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 came into effect on 27 November 2020. The law stipulates that before any conversion can take place, both the 'person seeking to convert' and the 'religious converter', must apply for permission from the District Magistrate (DM). The DM will then conduct a police enquiry into the intention, purpose and cause of the proposed conversion. If the DM deems the conversion unlawful, then criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison will apply. The Hindu reported on 18 January that of 17 cases lodged so far, 14 pertain to Muslim men who had entered relationships with Hindu women; and three pertain to 'alleged allurement to convert to Christianity'. On 19 December four aid workers (two of whom were not Christians) were arrested in Surajpur while delivering food aid for a Christian charity. On 20 December three Christians were arrested in relation to a prayer meeting in Azamgarh and on 3 January five Christians were arrested in relation to an outdoor prayer service in Shahjahanpur. Please pray.

* MEXICO: PERSECUTED FOR REFUSING TO SACRIFICE

In Mexico, 'Traditional Catholicism' refers to a Catholic-pagan syncretistic religion wherein practitioners perform Aztec and Mayan sacrifices to images of Jesus and Catholic saints, behind which are 'a whole pantheon of ancient Mayan gods'. 'Traditional Catholics' - who are often from indigenous communities - retain the animist belief that the gods/spirits must be kept appeased and that failure to offer sacrifice will result in disaster such as illness, crop failure etc. Protestant Christians who refuse to sacrifice are routinely persecuted and expelled from these communities. On Sunday 10 January Traditional Catholics from the indigenous Mayan Tzotzil tribe attacked evangelical families in the Mitziton community near the city of San Cristobal de las Casas in the highlands of Chiapas, southern Mexico, where such persecution is common. They seized and jailed evangelicals Alejandro Jimenez Jimenez and Miguel Jimenez Heredia, and destroyed the homes of five evangelical families (comprising 30 people). Please pray.

* NIGERIA: TERROR FOR CHRISTMAS (AGAIN)

TVC News Nigeria

Residents of several majority-Christian villages in Nigeria's northeast received terror for Christmas (again), courtesy of Islamic State affiliate, Boko Haram. Furthermore, because such terror is actually routine, residents are now too afraid to go into their fields, meaning farming has ceased and famine looms, making it 'a terror that keeps on taking'. The following attacks occurred not far from the Sambisa Forest where Abubakar Shekau has his base [RLPB 562 (12 Aug 2020)].

On Christmas Eve Boko Haram (BH) militants invaded Pemi village, about 20km southeast of Chibok in Borno State. At least seven people were killed and another seven abducted, including an evangelist named Bulus Yakura. The terrorists also burnt a dispensary, several houses and a church belonging to the Evangelical Church of the Brethren (EYN). In a simultaneous attack, terrorists invaded Garkida (the birthplace of EYN) which lies about 80km southwest of Chibok, 40km southeast of Bui, just over the border in Adamawa State. According to a 28 December statement from EYN, three churches were set ablaze - EYN Ghung, EYN Sangere and the recently rebuilt Living Faith Church Garkida - while five people were killed and five people remain missing. The terrorists looted pharmaceuticals from the hospital and food from the stores; construction facilities along the Bui Rd were also torched. Rather then celebrate Christmas in Garkida, the residents (many of whom sustained injuries) fled to the hills.

screenshot
(courtesy Morning Star News)

On 29 December Islamic State's AMAQ News agency released a short video showing the execution of five abducted Christians. Kneeling and dressed in orange jumpsuits, each captive was ordered to say their name and confirm that they are Christian. After the spokesman delivering his address, and explained that, 'This is a warning to Christians ...' the five executioners lifted their weapons and shot each of the Christians through the head. NOTE: 12 months earlier, on Christmas Day 2019, Boko Haram/ISWAP videoed the beheading of 11 Christians in much the same area, calling it a message to Christians all over the world [RLPB 534 (29 Jan 2020)]. But are Christians all over the world taking any notice? The Church in Nigeria needs our prayers. Please pray!

* PAKISTAN: PERSECUTION PLUS IMPUNITY EQUALS GROSS INSECURITY

top: Sajida and Abida.
below: their shattered families. 
source: UCA,
photo courtesy Khalid Shehzad

click on collage to enlarge
On 4 January, in Punjab Province, police in Lahore informed Mushtaq Masih that they had found the bodies of his wife, Sajida Mushtaq (28, a mother of four) and her sister, Abida Qaiser (26, married, mother of one). The sisters had been missing since 26 November. Their badly decomposed bodies were found bound and stuffed into sacks dumped in an area drainage ditch. Masih told Morning Star News that as Christians, Sajida and Abida were often harassed at the pharmaceutical factory where they worked. In fact, Sajida had confided to a relative that both she and Abida were being pressured to convert to Islam and marry their supervisors, Muslims Muhammad Mumtaz and Naeem Butt. Naeem has since confessed that the two men abducted, detained, raped and murdered the women. Please pray for justice - for an end to impunity - and that the Lord would comfort and sustain the grieving families.

* UGANDA: PERSECUTION ESCALATES IN MUSLIM-MAJORITY DISTRICTS

Uganda is divided into four administrative regions and 134 self-governing districts. Though Uganda is majority Christian (85 percent) and religious freedom guaranteed in the constitution, Christians who live in majority-Muslim districts exist as religious minorities in increasingly hostile de facto Islamic mini-states. As the political situation in Uganda continues to deteriorate, persecution with impunity will doubtless continue to escalate. [See: 'Uganda Analysis', RLM, 8 May 2017.]

On Sunday 27 December, after learning that a Muslim imam and his wife (unnamed for security reasons) had converted to Christianity, mosque leaders in Kibuku District incited a Muslim mob to beat Pastor Moses Nabwana and his wife, Lovisa Naura (a mother of eight), and partially demolish their church building. The Muslim converts had only recently joined the church which had already relocated them to a safe-house. Pastor Nabwana and Lovisa were hospitalised with multiple injuries: soft tissue injuries and broken bones. It is not the first time this ministry couple has been violently assaulted. Please pray.

Mansitula Buliro
(courtesy Morning Star News)

On 13 January Muslim woman Mansitula Buliro (45, mother of seven and 13 weeks pregnant) was preparing for evening prayers with her husband in Pallisa District when she saw a bright light and heard the name 'Yeshua' ('Jesus' in Aramaic). When she told her husband, he beat her. That night Buliro had another vision in which Jesus spoke to her saying, 'Peace be upon you - today I have chosen you to be mine.' The next day Buliro visited a Christian neighbour who counselled and prayed with her as she put her faith in Christ. When Buliro's husband found out, he took a knife to her mouth and declared her henceforth divorced and expelled from the home. Neighbours came to the rescue and took the bleeding and traumatised Buliro to hospital where she subsequently suffered a miscarriage. Please pray.

'The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.' (Revelation 3:5 ESV).

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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