Still waiting on news of any Hungarian government grant for the school in Kenya. Louisa, in her 20s, already having a very positive impact on the residents of the Daniel Centre and forming a very good team with Danny – good interaction with Alix and Daniel in particular.
Development at the Depot goes on, 3 of the 5 buildings there are already spoken for, one is possibly spoken for by a neighbouring business and the 5th is the slow remodelling. The local church has decided against taking the premises behind the Daniel Centre, about 2.5 km. from the depot site.
Cipri waits the results of a very exhaustive testing. The lads find it hard to believe they are not being ripped off when the Centre asks them to contribute more from their earnings to the Centre because of escalating energy costs.
Romeo, very stable at work, would like to move out but doesn’t earn enough yet. Daniel is in the same situation, has given up school for the time being and hopes to resume next year. Soreen is coming back to the Centre once again. Alix, the recent arrival, has a drug problem and will have to leave because of this. The other Alix who had moved out to rent and Istvan are both doing well.
Adi’s second-hand clothing shop is having to move to make way for various clubs but the Council has increased their support for Talita Kum to almost compensate for the loss. Adi still hopes to have some of the spare ground behind TK2 for a play area for the children and perhaps a football pitch.
Pakistani sentenced to death for “blasphemy”
Zafar Bhatti, a Pakistani Christian who was convicted of “blasphemy” in May 2017, was sentenced to death by Rawalpindi District Court on 3 January.
Bhatti, who has been fighting to clear his name since his arrest in 2012, appeared in court as part of an ongoing appeal against the life sentence he received when first convicted for allegedly sending texts insulting Muhammad on a phone that was not registered in his name.
The court, however, upheld the 2017 conviction, and further ruled that the proper sentence for “blasphemy” against Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, was death rather than life imprisonment.
The ruling is based on a 1991 constitutional court decision that the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment for “blasphemy” against Muhammad.
Laws outlawing insulting religion have existed in the region since 1860, were incorporated into Pakistan’s Penal Code in 1947 and were strengthened under the military government (1978-88, stating that any person who “defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet” is to be “punished with death or imprisonment for life”.
This, however, was followed by the 1991 court ruling that the only suitable punishment for “blasphemy” against Muhammad was death, a more lenient sentence of life imprisonment being “repugnant to the injunctions of Islam”.
Higher courts are, nevertheless, reluctant to uphold a death sentence, and no executions have ever been carried out.
Dawn speaks at St Nicholas church, Haxey in the morning service on Sunday. Pray for clarity and discernment.
NetACT are currently data-gathering on how to encourage partner colleges to use the Internet Portal more. Pray that accurate results would establish a clear course of action.
The best way may be for Fraser to make more site visits. If so, pray the logistics would work out (funding, visas etc).
Dawn’s flight back to South Africa leaves on January 19th. It’s been a valuable time of meeting family and friends to share some of the amazing things God does with those who are willing.
However, there might be a hitch. Dawn tested positive for Covid on January 1st; her fit to fly PCR test is January 17th. This second PCR could also be positive coming so soon after the infection. Please pray that whatever the result, she will be in the place God wants her to be.
Pray for strength in partings; having to leave family in the UK or Fraser having to cope longer on his own. Pray for James and Ruth beginning a new term in Oxford and Glasgow. Thank God for safety in travelling in past weeks and for what’s left to do.
Balazs is back from a very successful trip to Kenya. Balazs is now applying to the Hungarian government for a significant grant towards the development of the school there. Louisa, one of the volunteers there, is now full-time at the Daniel Centre as a counsellor.
Development at the Depot goes on, but very slowly. There is the possibility of a local church moving into the spare ground behind the Daniel Centre which could be a great encouragement to some of the residents.
Cipri’s problems have now been possibly diagnosed as physical rather than psychological but there have been no other significant changes among the young men at the Centre but plenty activity with the arrival of this year’s shoeboxes to deal with.
Adi continues to experience less sympathy and help from the new local council in Jimboliya and they have currently not renewed his contract for the building that houses his second-hand clothing shop.
There is no movement on the EU funding for TK3 and TK4.
Russian armed officers disrupt conference (excerpts)
Barnabas Fund, 14 December 2021
Several dozen officers from the Centre for Combating Extremism disrupted a Christian conference near Moscow, on 2 December, wearing bulletproof vests, armed with machine guns and confining attendees in the conference building for around ten hours.
Before being released the majority of attendees were charged with an “administrative offence” – thus violating “the rules and norms” of the Russian Federation – because the Christian ministry that had organised the event had been declared an “undesirable” foreign organisation.
Having entered the building, security officers aimed their guns at the attendees – including women and children – forcing them to lie face down on the floor. Some pastors in attendance were kicked as they lay on the floor, despite offering no resistance, and some sustained injuries.
Anybody who asked the reason for the intrusion was met with the answer “shut up” or “shut your mouth”.
“We, as citizens of Russia, are interested in the legality of our actions. We pray for and bless Russia – we want to serve for the good of our country. But such actions of ‘law enforcement officers’ armed to the teeth undermine the credibility of the authorities in the most monstrous way.
“After all, now, judging by everything that happened, armed people will be able to break into any Christian congregation under the guise of it being an ‘undesirable organisation’ and mock believers, including women and children.”
Give thanks that Hylma could have a Christmas/end of year celebration in both Maximum and Medium A today. Pray for the effect on the men of the cake, squash, toothpaste and flannels that people outside have been willing to contribute, and that what they’ve learned over the year will draw them closer to Jesus. Thank God for Hylma, in her mid-70s, her love and enthusiasm for ministering to incarcerated men.
The presentation for Jurgens (NetACT founder) went well. Pray for Fraser as he takes time off from day-to-day work over December to get on with one or two projects.
Our church in South Africa has an Elders’ Meeting on Thursday about issues raised over the past month. Pray that those hurt by various issues can put that to one side.
Pray also that neither Dawn, nor Ruth nor anyone they meet will catch any variety of Covid in Scotland and England during the coming week.
Pray that Dawn clearly communicates the amazing things God does and can do with ordinary, willing lives – at the Inverness East church lunch time prayer meeting on Wednesday, Highland International Church on Sunday morning and Zoom meetings for Drumnadrochit at 19:30 on Thursday and Dingwall Castle Street on Sunday night.
On Monday she and Ruth return to Glasgow before heading back to Lincolnshire on Wednesday. Then we’ll have a break from sending out weekly prayer notes until January.
Christian Journalist arrested in Nigeria
Barnabas Fund, 22 November 2021
A Nigerian Christian journalist faces prolonged imprisonment following his reporting of attacks against mainly Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt and critical assessment of the government’s response.
Luka Binniyat was charged under the Cybercrimes Act with transmitting electronically information known “to be false”.
He has persistently challenged the narratives of the Kaduna State government on the issues of security and the killings in southern Kaduna.
The charge relates to his story on 29 October, “In Nigeria, Police Decry Massacres as ‘Wicked’ But Make No Arrests”, quoting Senator Danjuma Laah, who criticised Kaduna’s Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan for concealing facts concerning a “genocide against Christians in the southern Kaduna State”.
He has “written a lot about the plight of the people under the persistent attacks by Islamist Fulani militia groups and challenged Kaduna State government narratives on issues of security and killings in southern Kaduna”.
Binniyat “has remained resolute in challenging the information put out by the Kaduna State government”. If convicted, he could face a 3-year prison sentence.
Attacks on Christian communities in Kaduna State have been numerous. In his report, he was critical of police for failing to make arrests after gunmen killed 35 people in 2 separate attacks on churches on 26 September.
Pray for everyone in South Africa affected by the covid virus because of new travel restrictions, especially by divisions caused by strong feelings over whether the vaccinations are a good or an evil. Pray that people will still love whilst disagreeing over some things.
Pray for Fraser as he works on the presentation for Jurgens (the NetACT founder)’s farewell on Thursday. Videos and messages for the presentation are only now trickling in.
Continue to pray for Zebulun church in the drug-rife area of Wellington. Any materials for secondary school age work you don’t need could be very helpful if Dawn can take it back with her in January. Please get in touch if you have any.
James and Ruth are coming at the weekend for Dawn’s Mum’s 80th birthday. Pray for a good reunion and journeys.
Pray for Gareth in Medium A. The Head of Drakenstein Correctional Centre isn’t signing off on a well-arranged plan for a video call to his parents in England for the 2019 Restorative Justice course he participated in. Pray the problem will be revealed and overcome and that Gareth will honour God in his continued disappointment. Also for the Drakenstein inmates to live out Jesus’ love, whatever the circumstances.
Dawn speaks at Epworth Baptist Church on Sunday.
No news this month as Balazs is in Kenya for the month of November, working on their Kenya project.
No news this month as Balazs is in Kenya for the month of November, working on their Kenya project.
Myanmar military shell Shan church a second time
Barnabas Fund, 12 November 2021
The Myanmar military attacked a church building in Pekhon Township, southern Shan State on 9 November, for the second time. There were no reported casualties, but windows and pews were damaged by artillery fire.
A previous attack on the church in June 2021 forced several internally displaced persons to flee into the forest, resulting in the death of a new-born baby from exposure.
Christians across Myanmar are the victims of violence and persecution which has intensified since the February 2021 military coup
The shelling is part of a spate of attacks against churches and other Christian sites in Shan State, which according to the most recent census is 10% Christian.
The same anti-Christian atrocities occur in other parts of Buddhist-majority Myanmar, including Christian-majority Chin, Kachin and Karen states and Kayah State, which also has a large Christian presence, mainly among the ethnic-Karenni population.
In October 2021, they shelled the town of Thantlang, Chin State, causing fires that destroyed or damaged more than 160 homes and three church buildings.
On 10 November a UN Security Council statement, drafted by the UK, called for an end to attacks on civilians. “The Members of the Security Council expressed deep concern at further recent violence across Myanmar,” read the statement. “They called for an immediate cessation of violence and to ensure the safety of civilians.”