by Elizabeth Kendal
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MARCH 2017 UPDATE -- this month we prayed concerning ...
* EGYPT (RLPB 396), after 'Islamic State in Egypt' threatened Coptic Christians in North Sinai and called for IS sympathisers to report the whereabouts of Copts. Seven Copts were murdered in a matter of weeks, triggering an exodus of Copts from the Sinai.
UPDATE: According to the spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, Rev Boulos Halim, an estimated 310 Coptic families were uprooted during the crisis in late February and early March; other sources report higher figures. Whilst around 200 families have settled in Ismailia (on the Suez Canal), other families are settling in Port Said, Asyut, Minya, Sharqia, Gharbia and Cairo. Kasr al-Dobara Evangelical Church in Ismailia has registered the displaced Copts to ensure they receive ongoing assistance. Many believe they will never be able to return to their homes. Despite this being 'the largest wave of collective displacement in Egypt since the June 1967 war' (Al-Monitor, 20 March) the international response continues to be one of stone cold silence. Pray for Egypt and its Church.
* XINJIANG, CHINA (RLPB 397), where a massive security crackdown is under way. Though focused primarily on Islamic jihadists and separatists, the Communist Party is keen to consolidate its control over all of society. Consequently, the Church in Xinjiang -- especially the house church movement -- is experiencing increased repression and persecution.
* EGYPT (RLPB 398), where Coptic Christian girls are disappearing into the hands of Islamic trafficking gangs and sexual slavery at the rate of one girl every two days.
* DAMASCUS, SYRIA (RLPB 399), where a new al-Qaeda-led jihadist coalition known as Hay'at Tahrir al Sham (HTS: 'Assembly for the Liberation of Syria') is threatening security in the capital.
UPDATE: On Tuesday 21 March, HTS fighters staged a car bombing in the Abassiyin area of north-eastern Jobar district. Just 2km from the walls of the Old City, it is the same district HTS invaded on 15 March. As would be expected, the Syrian Army's response has been ferocious. Despite having been driven back, HTS still boasts its ability to strike terror. With HTS threatening Damascus and Hezbollah threatening Israel (from southern Syria), the situation is growing increasingly complicated. Pray for Syria and its imperilled, remnant Church.
MARCH 2017 ROUND-UP -- also this month ...
* ERITREA: IMPRISONED AND ABUSED TO DEATH
|click on map to enlarge|
* INDIA: IMPUNITY EMBOLDENS ATTACKERS
On 17 March Assemblies of God pastor Ajay Kumar and Bible college student Assaryav were lured into a trap in Begusarai, Bihar state and then bashed by Hindu militants. Not only did police not intervene, they subsequently arrested the two Christians on charges of 'forcible conversions'. Kumar and Assaryav remained in custody until after midnight when they were released on bail, charged with 'deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India' under sections 295/295-A of the Indian Penal Code. A minority comprised mostly of the poor and marginalised, the Indian Church has little voice or influence inside India. The situation is extremely serious.
'I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.' (Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)
|Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (c), |
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (r).
* IRAQ: DISPLACED ASSYRIANS NEED ONGOING AID
Sources have told World Watch Monitor that the supplies sustaining displaced Assyrian Christians in northern Iraq could run out 'within weeks'. However, they do note that the UN agencies which have long ignored the Assyrians have changed their outlook since US President Donald Trump threatened to reduce US funding to the UN, and are now pledging more assistance. Without ongoing aid, the remnant Assyrians -- whose numbers have fallen from 1.4 million in 1987 to around 200,000 today (most of whom are displaced and destitute) -- 'could disappear within the next six to 12 months'. They are indeed 'a threatened people on the verge of extinction, the victims of horrific genocide'. Pray that the Lord will supply all their needs, realising that while God does work miracles, more often than not he works through his Church, through us, his 'human instruments'. [See www.ElizabethKendal.com/Action ]
* NIGERIA: CHRISTIANS KILLED AS FULANI EXPAND SOUTH
Christians continue to be killed and driven from their homes and farms by southward migrating Fulani Muslims who appear to be guaranteed impunity. Morning Star News reports that on 11 March suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed at least six Christians in Tombo-Mbalagh, Benue state, bringing the total number of Christians killed in rural areas of Benue so far this year to 29. In neighbouring Nasarawa state, more than 200 have been killed and 500 wounded since the start of this year, while homes and farms have been destroyed. Two Christians (including a village chief) were killed and hundreds displaced when Fulani attacked a local congregation of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Oshugu village on Sunday 19 March. Commenting on the constant state of insecurity one survivor lamented, 'no one is doing anything about it'. Pray for God to intervene in Nigeria.
* PRISONERS ALERT: IRAN AND CHINA
Iranian Christian convert, Maryam Naghash Zargaran, is again in urgent need of medical care [RLPB 372 (24 Aug 2016)]. Maryam, an evangelist who has been incarcerated in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison since March 2013, suffers with Atrial Septal Defect, a congenital heart defect also known as 'hole in the heart'. Due for release in July 2017, Maryam is struggling with serious depression and weight loss, along with other symptoms consistent with a deteriorating heart condition. Please pray.
|Pastor Yang Hua|
See: China Aid Association
'Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.' (Hebrews 13:3 ESV)
* SOMALIA: MORE CHRISTIANS ASSASSINATED
Morning Star News reports that one night in February, armed militants from al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab broke into the home of a Christian convert family in Afgoi, in Somalia's Lower Shebelle Region. Shouting 'Allahu Akbar' they shot converts Suleiman Abdiwahab (38), his wife Faduma Osman (35) and their son Ahmed Suleiman (11). Neighbours rushed in to find Suleiman critically wounded with bullet wounds to his chest; his wife and son dead. Three other children aged 13, 9 and 7 managed to escape. The neighbours took Suleiman to hospital; the family has since been relocated. May God bring healing to this grieving and traumatised family and protect and preserve his imperilled Church in Somalia.
* WEST AFRICA: JIHADIST COALITION FORMED
Just as it has done in Syria, al-Qaeda is advancing its strategic policy of jihadist unity in West Africa. On 2 March four jihadist entities -- Ansar Dine, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Sahara branch, Al Murabitoon and the ethnic Fulani 'Katibat Macina' -- announced they had merged to form Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims). The Mali-based coalition is loyal to al-Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri and AQIM head Abdelmalek Droukdel. This is bad news for the Church and all Christian people-groups across West Africa. It further raises the stakes in volatile IVORY COAST which was recently rocked by mutinies in the former rebel capital of Bouake and at a Special Forces base in Adiake just 90km east of the port city of Andijan. [See Ivory Coast: Troubles Far From Over, by Elizabeth Kendal, 9 March 2017.] May God protect and preserve the Church in West Africa.
'Put not your trust in princes ... Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God ... The Lord loves the righteous ... but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.' (From Psalm 146)
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).