Updates on the persecuted Church – 6 June 2023
Barnabas Fund, 7th June 2023 (excerpts)
- Five North Korean Christians were arrested as they attended a secret church service in a farmhouse at 5am on Sunday 30 April. Believers in prison or labour camps in North Korea are often singled out for especially harsh treatment and may well face death.
- Pakistani Christian Noman Masih was sentenced to death by a court in Punjab, on 30 May for alleged “blasphemy” against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam over images allegedly found on his mobile phone. Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws are often used to make false accusations to settle personal grudges. Pray also for protection and wisdom for Noman’s lawyers.
- The government of Egypt has licensed a further 216 churches and church-affiliated buildings. Give thanks for this latest batch of approvals and for the increased freedom given to His people in Egypt.
- The 10-year prison sentence of a Christian in Iran was reduced to two years on 24 May after a successful appeal. Pray that the day will come when there will be no punishment for practising Christianity in Iran.
- Islamist militants who kidnapped 40 worshippers from a church service in Kaduna State, Nigeria on 7 May freed their remaining 16 captives on Sunday 4 June. Pastor John Hayab, of the Christian Association of Nigeria, thanked the Muslim community in the area for their practical help following the kidnappings.
The foundations of the new storage centre are now laid but lack of labour has slowed the work considerably with Nepali and Vietnamese workers now recruited.
The Kenya project for July had to be cancelled at the last moment because of a lockdown in Kenya.
There have been the ongoing departures and returns of Daniel Centre residents – most of the young men are very restless at this stage of their lives.
There are currently in residence with two possible new arrivals on the horizon to bring the Centre up to capacity.
Adi has been very busy with summer students at TK1 and TK2, a summer camp in the mountains for 25 of the highest TK1 and TK2 achievers, make-up lessons weekly for 6 to 8 students who failed their high-school leaving exams in June, and ongoing uncertainty over the summer on EU funding.
Hugenote College doesn’t know when face-to-face teaching can restart. Fraser’s skills in online learning and technology are so appropriate at this time. He is completing more training materials for teaching staff to make better use of the online learning platform. Students throughout the partner colleges have to surmount challenges of electricity supply, infrastructure and finance to get available online resources.
Pray for Christ’s followers in prison with prisons now closed to visitors again. Pray their behaviour and attitudes will give hope and comfort to officials and other prisoners.
Dawn had a good meeting with Ashley about starting small groups to help people learn more about the Bible and God. Ashley’s heart is broken for the drug dealers and gangsters he knows from his old life. Groups are banned at the moment so we should put off starting until the regulations have been lifted.
Many people are being infected, hospitalised and dying with the new variant of covid19. May those who follow Jesus stand out by his strength and introduce others to Him.
Dawn still hasn’t heard back about her visa. Please pray it won’t be lost in the system.
Give thanks that Fraser now has the full text of all the NetAct journal articles, hopefully in time to publish the first issue before the end of September.
Edward Stoffels has found a place to live in Cape Town and, unbeknownst to him, his name was suggested for a caretaker’s job. Please continue to pray for him.
A local prison has just asked for a Restorative Justice course for 12-17 October. So there is pressure to find volunteers to provide lunches. Pray for the inmates who can take part and for the Hope Prison Ministry team. Pray that Dawn’s stamina will be built up between now and then.
Wednesday, 30th September, we submit our application to renew our visas. Please pray for no complications.
Pray that a parcel from the UK with books for a vulnerable young woman will not be delayed at Customs or lost.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, September 15, 2020
For decades, the Burmese government has prioritised military spending over health spending, leaving Burma in a very weak position to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The Burmese military (the Tatmadaw) has a long history of violent attacks on religious and ethnic minorities. Victims of Burmese military attacks – many of whom are Kachin or Chin Christians, and Rohingya Muslims – have been forced to flee their homes and have lost everything.
Adding to their sufferings, Burma’s government places restrictions on the aid they receive, and assistance from international donors is insufficient.
Local NGOs are working hard to support internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living camps and poor conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A temporary ceasefire is now in place across Burma but we need to pray that it would be extended to cover Rakhine and Chin states and lead to genuine peace throughout the country.
NetACT hope to have the first issue of their African Theological Journal for Church and Society online by early September.
The NetACT office staff are discussing how to capitalise on the enthusiasm raised by the Barnabas Fund conference on Online Theological Education a couple of weeks ago. Pray that attendees will see how to creatively use what they learned. Fraser meets with the Hugenote College admin to discuss how to progress with their online learning platform.
Recently Boko Haram threats have greatly increased in severity and detail in Nigeria. Pray for the Nigerians who facilitate InReach: that Boko Haram would not find them, that their evil schemes would be thwarted and that they would encounter Jesus in a powerful and life-changing way.
As ministry inside the prisons is not permitted at the moment, Dawn has contacted a local initiative giving the unemployed opportunities and opening their eyes to the value they have in God’s sight. From first impressions it could be a good fit.
Our internet access has been very poor for a while but give thanks that the internet is working properly again.
Morning Star News, 11 May 2020
Animists in central India last week told five Christian families they would lose their harvest lands unless they returned to their tribal religion. The Christians had forbidden an animist leader to perform tribal worship on their land.
The village leaders told the Christians, ‘You are not partaking in our tribal rituals, and so we cannot allow you to profit from your agricultural lands.’
The Christians said, “We follow our faith but have never been a burden on this village or to our kinsmen – you cannot snatch away our lands.”
Even before they spoke any word further, the elders began beating two of the Christians, and a mob of 60 people soon gathered around them clamouring for them to renounce their faith in Christ.
The tribal animists had threatened to expel the Christian families and seize their land for more than a year.
Saving Forgotten Lives
Barnabas Fund, 13th May 2020
Thanks to the generous giving of our supporters, Barnabas Fund has sent £766,706 of life-saving aid to Christians in 24 countries, in desperate situations due to the lockdown.
Many low-paid daily-wage earners have lost their meagre incomes and are locked down without food. We have sent food aid for more than 250,000 Christians.
Many live in conditions where it is impossible to keep a safe distance to avoid infection. We have provided hygiene products for more than 14,000 Christians.
Pastors supported by the Sunday offerings of their congregations are suddenly destitute when people can no longer gather for worship. We have sent support to more than 6,400 church leaders.
On top of this, locust swarms are multiplying in East Africa and Pakistan and anti-Christian violence continues in many contexts.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 7 May 2020
For the past 17 years CSW, along with other NGOs, have organised a protest vigil outside the Eritrean Embassy in London in May to mark the anniversary of the Eritrean government’s outlawing of religious practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox Christian denominations or Sunni Islam in May 2002, and the campaign of arrests, which at its peak saw at least 3000 Christians of all denominations detained arbitrarily.
CSW has now joined 23 other NGOs in signing an open letter to member and observer states of the United Nations Human Right Council, calling for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
The Special Rapporteur’s reports are a key means of monitoring the human rights situation in Eritrea, where officials are deemed to have committed violations amounting to crimes against humanity since 1991. However, the Eritrean government has refused to cooperate with successive mandate holders, and the country’s human rights situation continues to deteriorate. The current mandate is due to expire at the 44th session of the HRC, which is currently scheduled to begin in June 2020.
Open Doors, 11 May 2020
“Do you want your family, or do you want your new faith?” 10 years ago, Kabil knew he had to choose Jesus. Nothing can equal the life that Jesus gave to me.”
When Kabil first became a Christian, his family were not particularly hostile. A few years later, however, things got worse. Kabil has not seen his mother since then and is only rarely in contact with his brothers and sisters.
Shortly after he decided to follow Christ, Kabil was give the role of Bible teacher in his church – and noticed that what they were lacking was discipleship training.
“After we started offering the Open Doors Discipleship course, we noticed changes among our brothers. We saw that they were staying in the church.”
The course has been transformative in Kabil’s church. “I think that if this training did not exist, the church would not last over time.”
Currently, there are about 350 attendants in different churches, including many whose faith has to be kept secret from their families.
Kabil sees blessing in the midst of persecution. “I would say that persecution is never fatal to the church; actually, it is a blessing.”