Morning Star News, November 15, 2020
Authorities in Cuba have demolished a church building and are blocking other churches from re-opening after the lifting of pandemic restrictions.
“Today the government is blocking the re-opening of some of our temples, which we closed due to the pandemic, based on the argument that they’re illegal, when 90 percent of our churches are illegal because they don’t offer us a pathway for making them legal,” Pastor Julio C. Sánchez said.
The church obtained legal status, and thus the right to negotiate with officials, before the onset of the regime of Fidel Castro in 1959 halted legalizing new churches.
“The reality is that this is part of a government campaign against the church, because we have made a front against its agenda of establishing gender ideology and other laws openly contrary to Christian principles.”
Accusations against evangelicals in state-controlled media are constant and growing, portraying them as extremist, homophobic, anti-development and used by anti-government groups, he added.
To demolish the sanctuary, police who arrived early in the morning had to remove more than 30 Christians who had gathered there to pray and did not hesitate to use violence.
Bangladeshi Christians in peaceful protest
Barnabas Fund, 10 November 2020
Bangladeshi Christians, and other minority groups, took to the streets of Dhaka in a 500-strong peaceful protest march on 7 November against relentless Islamist extremist attacks on minority communities.
At least 17 people from ethnic and religious minority communities were killed between March and September this year, with attacks continuing throughout the Covid crisis.
The protesters say that the Islamist attacks against minority communities ‘‘hurt religious feelings’’, and minority leaders claimed that “the government failed to protect them’’.
A placard stating, ‘‘Stop Using Facebook for Community Attack” highlighted the role of social media in persecution-related incidents.
The 1% Christian minority has typically enjoyed greater religious freedom in Bangladesh than in other Muslim-majority countries but violence against Christians, particularly in rural areas, has been growing, with those active in evangelism and converts from Islam particularly targeted.
Jacksons – November Update 2
Give thanks for the effect last week’s Restorative Justice for Parolees course has already had. Many who said at the start that they had things sorted out admitted by the end of the week that they had learned a lot. Pray that they will act upon the effect of their actions on others.
One man returned stolen goods to a woman and apologised, admitting to the group that it had been very difficult but he felt as if a weight was off him. We had talked about victims and he just couldn’t sleep for thinking about what he’d done and the pain caused and was glad to be able to make it right.
Another participant brought a bag mobile phones he had robbed from people on a train four years earlier but now wanted to give back. The course is unashamedly based on Christian principles.
Fraser is working out possible avenues to get a NetACT group account with a major online theological e-book supplier – a long way out of Fraser’s comfort zone!
A huge backlog of official paperwork in the church we attend in Wellington must be regularised before a full-time minister can be called. A lot of the work falls to Fraser.
Barnabas Fund, 10 November 2020
Islamic militants turned a village football pitch in northern Mozambique into an execution ground where they beheaded more than 50 people between Friday, 6 November and Sunday, 8 November.
In one attack, gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar” stormed into Nanjaba village on 6 November, firing weapons and setting homes alight. Two villagers were beheaded and several women were abducted.
Christians who refuse to deny Christ are amongst the victims. The attacks are amongst the worst seen, in recent years. Desperate people are flooding in to the Christian mission stations for protection.
More than 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 left homeless in the region since 2017. The militant Islamist organisation, known locally as Al Shabaab (not the Somali-based group), is linked to Islamic State and has effectively gained control of an area of Cabo Delgado.
Finding jobs are more difficult with Covid-19 now at 10,000 new cases a day. Alix has had one anger counselling online session. Cipri has found a job but needs more health testing first. André should start soon.
Istvan’s return to the Centre is on hold till he displays more motivation. Daniel is doing well. Marian is making progress with a loan approval for flat of his own.
The re-development of Blythswood’s depot now awaits final approval from the local mayor.
Schools are still closed, a full lockdown is possible in Cluj.
Adi’s drivers are now clear of Covid-19 and back at work.
Adi is uncharacteristically demoralised at the moment because of a bureaucratic impasse in re-licensing TK1 and TK2 which could undermine their application for EU funds for running costs for TKs 1-4 submitted last August.
World Watch Monitor, October 19, 2020
The disproportionate presence of ethnic Fulani among Islamist militants wreaking havoc in the Sahel and West Africa has led to a stigmatisation of the Fulani generally, says a Protestant pastor from Burkina Faso.
In April security forces went into Djibo, a town in the northern part of Burkina Faso and killed 31 unarmed Fulani men. The men were rounded up after their IDs had been checked.
A former inhabitant of the village told Radio France Internationale the security forces “go to the villages where these people grew up and look for their relatives. The relatives don’t support terrorism, they are living in their villages. But they detain these people who they see as complicit in terrorism”.
“There is not a very good view of the Fulani,” said Adama, himself Fulani and a pastor in central Burkina Faso who asked not to be identified by his real name for security reasons.
“They are regarded as militants taking part in jihadi attacks, causing trouble in the Sahel region. But that is not all that there is to it. Not all Fulani are terrorists and not all terrorists are Fulani. We, the Fulani, are also the image of God and one first needs to see that”.
Barnabas Fund, 26 October 2020
After a five-month break during the Covid-19 crisis, the committee overseeing the licensing of churches in Egypt approved 100 new registrations when they met again on 19 October.
The new batch is made up of 45 churches and 55 affiliated service buildings. The Cabinet-affiliated committee, headed by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, last met in May when it granted 70 licences.
This, the 17th batch of licences to be approved, brings the number of churches granted official recognition to 1,738 out of the original 3,730 that applied for registration.
A total of 1,992 churches are still waiting to be granted licences under the Law for Building and Restoring Churches, introduced in September 2016.
A number of churches were already registered before the new law was brought in. It is illegal for Christians to worship in an unlicensed church building in Egypt, but until the committee began work in early 2017 it was extremely difficult to obtain a licence.
Sri Lankan pastor threatened by police and monks
Barnabas Fund, 26 October 2020
A Sri Lankan pastor has been forced to stop his ministry after being threatened and intimidated by police and Buddhist monks.
Police visited the pastor on the morning of 18 October and ordered him to report immediately to the local police station.
Obeying the instructions, the pastor went to the police station where he was taken to an office crowded with monks, who issued a series of threats against him. The monks also had the church attendance list in their possession.
The church has endured similar intimidation tactics over the previous five years and prayers are requested for the church, the pastor and his congregation.
Christians make up eight percent of the population of Sri Lanka, but face frequent persecution and local opposition, which is often led by Buddhist monks.
In February 2020, three Christians needed hospital treatment after they were ambushed and attacked by a 50-strong extremist mob, led by three Buddhist monks.
NetACT has to decide whether to spread a grant from a major Christian charity in America across all their partner colleges or concentrate on a few colleges which have realistic project proposals in place. Donald Garvie in Jos has asked Fraser to help with hosting and setting up their online catalogue. Fraser is also exploring the possibility of getting a NetACT group account with one of the major online theological e-book suppliers.
Dawn finally got back into prison and had to lead the sessions at short notice. Fewer are allowed to the Bible studies but it means we can have more of a discussion than a class. The last 9 months have been tough but covid19 never took hold in Drakenstein. It can’t be a coincidence that many have been praying. There was a hunger amongst inmates for the “spiritual workers” to be allowed back in.
The prison staff are looking worn down. Pray for them, especially the chaplains Mr van Dyck and Mr Pekeur.
30 candidates have to be whittled down to about 18 for the Parolees Restorative Justice course. Pray for insight and discernment for the Hope Prison Ministry staff, that any incipient weak spots will be identified swiftly and dealt with in a God-honouring manner and that the participants will be committed to the week and arrive on time each day.
In November 2017, the Western Cape was suffering from a severe drought. There was a lot of prayer. Now the reservoirs are full. It’s important to connect the dots and give thanks!
Forum 18, 21October 2020
Violence against people taking part in the ongoing protests, public events to pray for Belarus and for violence by the regime to end have increased.
For example, Catholics organising and participating in prayer events in the street in Minsk and other towns have been and continue to be accused and. The same charges are also brought against people organising and participating in peaceful political protests against the regime. Many Protestants participate in such protests.
Regime officials are hostile towards followers of beliefs they see as a threat and the regime maintains a network of KGB secret police and religious affairs officials to ensure compliance.
Restrictions include: restrictions on who can hold meetings for worship and where they can be held; difficulty of opening places of worship, and excessive charges for confiscated places of worship still owned by the state; strict controls on foreign citizens who exercise their freedom of religion and belief; prior compulsory censorship of religious literature; arbitrary and unpredictable denials of religious broadcasting; and obstruction of the freedom of religion and belief of death-row prisoners and their families.
As one Belarusian Protestant commented, “they have created conditions so you can’t live by the law. We would need to close half our churches in order to operate technically in accordance with the law”.