Persecution and Prayer Alert, Voice of the Martyrs
Update: Potential Mass Genocide Threatens Sudanese Christians
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(Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin)
The threat of genocide looms in Sudan as Christian and non-Arab communities in three regions have been targeted by President General Omar al-Bashir, a notorious leader well known for the systematic slaughter of those who oppose Islamisation.
When the mainly Christian south seceded from the predominantly Islamic north in 2011, the government of Sudan began to persecute “southerners” (those who are politically and culturally aligned with the south) living in the north, stripping them of their citizenship and denying them rights (for more, click here).
The attempts by the Khartoum government to drive out the ‘infidels’ or ‘blacks’ (as it refers to them) from the oil-rich areas of Abyei and South Kordofan, in which tens of thousands were killed in 2011, appear to be continuing. Recent aerial bombardments have completely demolished homes and farms (including crops) in these predominantly Christian areas. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, acute malnutrition and famine have become widespread, and access to humanitarian aid has been denied.
Please pray that these victims of injustice and cruelty will be sustained with supernatural strength and peace, as well as the miraculous provision of food and medical aid. Also pray that the government will cease in its systematic persecution. During these very troubling times, may the Sudanese believers remain faithful and demonstrate Christ to the world through their love and forgiveness.
For more information on persecution in Sudan, visit the Sudan Country Report.
Somalian Militants Publicly Murder Young Believer
(Source: Mission Network News)
A young Christian man was beheaded by Muslim extremists in Somalia before an assembled crowd. The brutal murder of 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose occurred in broad daylight in the city of Barawa, and his body was desecrated as a warning for others.
Prior to his death on November 16th, Farhan was accused of apostasy by members of al Shabaab. Sources report that this group of militants has compiled a list of people to hunt down; those who are suspected of converting from Islam to Christianity. There have been a series of decapitations of believers by this group in an attempt to rid Somalia of Christianity (click here for more). These Islamic extremists seek to impose a strict version of Sharia (Islamic law) in Somalia.
Please pray that the families of these victims will find comfort in the Lord’s sovereignty and love. Also ask for His powerful intervention to take place against the murderous plans of al Shabaab, bringing the members to repentance. As practised by the believers of the early Church (Acts 7:60), may the Christians of Somalia find forgiveness in their hearts toward those who are carrying out the wicked plans of the enemy against the followers of Jesus.
Go to the Somalia Country Report for more on Somalia’s suffering Church.
Harsh Prison Sentence for Christian Poet in China
After being illegally detained for more than a year, Christian poet Li Bifeng was sentenced with a fabricated charge of “contract fraud,” stemming from a legitimate business deal. As of the November 19th sentence, the dissident poet is now facing 12 more years in prison.
Interestingly, Li had become a Christian while imprisoned for seven years (due to writing poetry promoting freedom in 1998). Prior to that, he served five years for his participation in the Tiananmen democracy movement in 1989. It is widely believed by international observers that the excessive sentence is meant to exact revenge for his aid in assisting the escape of famous exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu. Liao is the author of the book, “God is Red,” which was selected in 2011 as the best title by “Christianity Today.”
Last August, the prosecutor in the case wanted Li’s 17-year-old son, Jiang, who is studying in North America, brought back to China. Li’s business and assets were confiscated, preventing him from providing financial assistance to his son. Organizations such as VOM-Canada have helped to raise support for his son’s tuition and living expenses during 2012, so that Jiang would not need to return to China and thus face impending harm.
Please pray that the Lord would provide the means to appeal the court’s decision against Li, bringing him deserved vindication. In addition, pray that Jiang will be able to successfully complete his studies. During these very trying circumstances, may Li and his family experience the Lord’s mighty power not only to endure but also to rise triumphantly over them (Ephesians 6:10-19).
For more information about China’s persecuted Church, go to the China Country Report.
Update: Suicide Bomber Kills More Christians in Nigeria
It is reported that suicide bombers killed 11 people and injured 30 more in the Kaduna state of northern Nigeria. (Since the initial report, we have been informed that the number of fatalities has increased to 15.) The bombs had detonated following a Sunday worship service on November 25th after two vehicles carrying ammunition were driven into the state’s military barracks with the purpose of attacking the church.
It is not clear who was responsible for the attack, but the BBC reports that the army suspects the Islamist militant group Boko Haram is responsible. This group is fighting to overthrow the government and impose an extreme form of Sharia (Islamic law).
Prior to the attack, Nigeria’s military offered a monetary reward (about $317,000 US) for assistance in finding suspected Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Additional financial rewards were offered for helping to locate other suspected leaders of the group.
At least 50 people were killed in bombings in Kaduna this past June and in the reprisals that followed. Last month, at least 15 people, mostly children and women, were killed and about 150 others were injured after a suicide bomber attacked a large Catholic church in the same state (for more about this, click here). According to the Human Right Watch, more than 2,800 people have died in fighting since Boko Haram’s insurrection began in 2009.
Please pray the victims’ distraught families would sense God’s comforting presence and strength as they process the trauma and grief of sudden loss. Ask that Boko Haram’s leadership would indeed be captured and brought to justice, disabling their efforts to continue killing and intimidating Christians. Despite this violence, may our Christian brothers and sisters find the strength to model Christ-like behaviour by responding to their enemies in a God-honouring manner (Matthew 5:44).
To learn more about persecution in Nigeria, please visit the Nigeria Country Report.
Update: Young Teen Becomes Egypt’s Latest Kidnapping Victim
A 14-year-old girl in Egypt has been kidnapped and reportedly forced to marry her Muslim captor. Sarah Abdelmalek is the latest victim of a common practice of kidnapping Coptic Christian girls and forcing them to marry as part of a strategy to limit and intimidate the country’s Christian population.
Sarah was last seen entering a paper shop near her school in September. After Sarah’s father filed a missing persons report, he received a phone call telling him he would never see his daughter again.
A school friend of Sarah’s says the 27-year-old paper shop owner, a member of an extremist Sunni Muslim group called the Salafists, had been pursuing Sarah. About a month after she was reported missing, a Salafist organization issued a statement saying that Sarah converted to Islam freely and married a Muslim man. Even if Sarah wanted to marry voluntarily, under Egyptian law, she would have to wait until she turned 18.
A VOM worker states that at least 24 girls have been kidnapped recently, ranging in age from 14 to 21 years old (for previous report, click here).
Please pray for strength on behalf of Sarah’s family as they endure this heartbreaking separation. Also remember young Sarah, asking for the Lord to protect her spiritually, emotionally and physically. Throughout the ordeal, may she remain steadfast in her faith and eventually find her way safely back to her family. Let’s stand in agreement together that such incidences of kidnapping and forced marriages would entirely cease.
To learn more about the suffering of believers in this part of the world, go to Egypt’s Country Report.