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Yemen

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Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen
Ai@ce / CC BY-NC 2.0

After decades of almost constant conflict, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. It is also a fertile ground for Islamist terrorism, since militant groups inspired by al-Qaeda are very active there. Islam is the state religion of Yemen, and sharia is the source of all the country’s legislation. Conversion from Islam is considered apostasy, and is a crime punishable by death, although it is not known if the penalty has been carried out in recent years. The very small number of Yemeni Christians, who are all converts from Islam, risk severe reprisals for practising their faith, including arrest, torture and extra-judicial killing. Converts also face danger from their families and communities. It is illegal to evangelise Muslims.

Most Christians in Yemen are expatriate workers from the West, South and East Asia and other Arab countries, or Ethiopian refugees, many of them fleeing from war and persecution at home. Although expatriate Christians are able to worship in their own churches with relative freedom, there have been instances of government interference. Christians have been arrested for “promoting Christianity and distributing the Bible”, and those found to be in possession of Christian literature believed to be intended for evangelism may be expelled from the country.

Expatriate Christians also experience other forms of subtle oppression and discrimination. They are required to gain permission to build churches, and no church buildings are allowed at all in the north of the country. Many Ethiopian Christians also face discrimination. For example, they are not permitted to be buried in Sana’a, the capital city, unless they change their name to a Muslim one.

In the centuries following Christ’s death and resurrection Christianity was strong in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, known today as Yemen, and it was ruled by a line of Christian kings. Yet in the 7th century the country became predominately Muslim, as Muhammad and his followers gradually took power in the whole Arabian Peninsula. Today, the large majority of the population is Sunni Muslim, and Christians comprise less than 0.5 per cent of the population.

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Daily prayer

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  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Indians have started going to the polls this week in a general election that is taking place in phases until 12 May. The ruling, secular Congress party is expected to be defeated by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This would be an ominous outcome for the country’s Christian minority. The BJP has given support to extremist groups that attack Christians; states under the party’s rule have generally experienced a rise in anti-Christian violence. It has introduced anti-conversion laws on a state level, and has pledged to introduce national legislation to curb "missionary" activity and end proselytising if elected nationally. Pray for wisdom for Indians as they vote and that the outcome will result in a just government that upholds the rights and freedoms of all citizens. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

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