Anita Dauda had only just regained the use of her legs after an Islamist attack six years ago on her village – Kagoro in Kaduna State, Nigeria – when her life was cruelly snatched away. Anita was among 32 Christians slaughtered by Fulani extremists in a violent assault on Kagoro on Sunday 20 March. Her mother and brother were also among the dead. Anita’s story demonstrates the relentless nature of anti-Christian violence in Nigeria. Pray that the Lord will move mightily in that land, protecting His people, restraining evil, and bringing even the terrorists to repentance and faith.
More than 13,000 Nigerians – the vast majority of them Christians – have been killed in attacks by Fulani extremists between 2009 and 2021, according to a recent report. Few of the perpetrators have ever been brought to justice.
Ask that the Lord will grant wisdom, courage and determination to the Nigerian authorities to take action. Intercede for our brothers and sisters that they will find that “the name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
Lord Jesus, we lift up before You Christians suffering throughout the world as victims of violence and injustice. We pray that You will draw close to those who have suffered at the hands of regimes whose policies are opposed to Your Gospel and of communities that have chosen to persecute Your people. We ask that You will preserve Christian believers around the world from violence, yet remember Your words that we should expect servants to suffer in like manner to the Master. Please enable Your saints to glorify You by their testimony. (John 15:20; 1 Peter 4:19)
Religious freedom conditions in Eritrea remain among the worst in the world. Eritrea’s Marxist government recognises only three Christian denominations as official Eritrean Orthodox, Roman ̶ Catholic and Lutheran and all others ̶ are banned from practising their faith in public. There are estimated to be around 160 Christians imprisoned for their faith. Believers report being beaten, denied food and water, and blocked from receiving medical attention – these conditions show no sign of improving. They may be in prison for many years without being tried or even charged. Call on the Lord for the release of all Eritrean Christians in prison for following Him. Pray that the government will turn from its repressive policies and allow believers of all denominations to worship in peace. July/August 2022 3 Christians in northern Kenya are among 20 million facing starvation in the Horn of Africa.
“This is one of the hardest times we have experienced,” wrote Kenyan Christians to Barnabas. Northern Kenya is experiencing its worst drought since 1981. Four successive rainy seasons have failed in this Muslim-dominated part of Kenya, where Christians are usually left out when government food relief is distributed. Barnabas is sending food aid to our brothers and sisters there. It is estimated that 20 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk of starvation owing to worsening drought. Pray for all to be fed. Pray for rain.
Give thanks for the release of nine Egyptian Christians who were arrested after a peaceful protest. The nine were among about 70 people protesting against the refusal of the authorities to grant permission for the rebuilding of a church in Ezbet Faragallah village, Minya governorate, Upper Egypt that was destroyed in 2016 in a fire. The church, which was granted legal status in 2011, is still waiting to hear if the Minya governorate has granted a reconstruction permit. Pray that permission will be given so that the 800 Christians in Ezbet Faragallah once again have a church in which to worship.
Egyptian church minister Arsanios Wadid, 56, was stabbed to death in April as he supervised an outing for about 35 young people from his church in Alexandria. Nehru Abdel-Moneim Tawfiq, a 60-year old former member of an Islamist terrorist group, has been convicted of premeditated murder. The court has issued a preliminary death sentence against him, which has been referred to the Mufti of Egypt, the country’s most senior cleric. Pray for comfort for Arsanios’ grieving family, friends and congregation. Pray that Nehru Abdel Moneim Tawfiq will come to realise that what he did was displeasing to God and will turn to Him for full forgiveness.
Praise the Lord that Egypt registered a record batch of 239 licences granted to churches and church affiliated buildings in April – at time of writing the largest single batch since a government committee was set up five years ago to oversee the process. This 23rd batch brought the number of churches granted licences to 2,401 out of the 3,730 that applied for registration after a new Law for Building and Restoring Churches removed Ottoman era restrictions on church buildings in 2016. Pray that this momentum will continue and that the committee will clear the remaining backlog of 1,329 applications as swiftly as possible. Ask that the situation of the minority Christian community in Egypt will continue to improve.
Yet another Algerian church has been closed by the authorities, the seventeenth building belonging to the officially recognised group of Algerian Protestant churches to be forcibly shut down since November 2017. The closure of the Aouchiche Church’s building in the port city of Béjaïa is based on a 2006 ordinance requiring permission for a building to be used for non-Muslim worship. Pray for Algerian church leaders to persevere in the face of increasing threats to churches. Ask that, if it is the Lord’s will, the campaign of church closures will cease, for those churches closed to be re-opened, and that Christians will be able to live and worship in peace and freedom, including the congregation of 300 who worshipped at Aouchiche.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we bring before You believers around the world who are hindered through persecution from meeting with other believers to worship You. Some have seen their church buildings sealed, and their congregations dispersed. Some are imprisoned for their belief; some must keep their faith hidden from family and friends; some have no church to be a part of. Please bless each one who would love to meet for worship on this Lord’s Day, that they who are “lonely and afflicted” will know Your caring, sustaining presence with them through all their trials and difficulties, for we ask in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Psalm 25:16)
“I find my refuge in this wonderful school,” says Rafael, a young pupil with special needs at St Aphrem’s School, Bethlehem. “I do not feel anywhere more happier.” The school, which is supported by Barnabas, provides a good Christian education for 650 students – the overwhelming majority of whom are from Christian families. Bethlehem Christians face many difficulties living as a minority in a non-Christian society and the school is a safe and secure place in which children from even the poorest Christian families can learn. Give thanks that St Aphrem’s School is maintaining Biblical values among young people and safeguarding the Christian presence in Bethlehem for generations to come. Pray that the work of the school, founded almost 20 years ago, will continue long into the future.
Small improvements in religious freedom continue to be reported in the extremely strict Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One recent reform has included the removal of some intolerant content directed at religious minorities in school textbooks. However, the government continues to forbid any public non-Muslim worship, and Saudi Arabia remains a country where Christians can meet only in secret and could potentially face execution for leaving Islam to follow Christ. Pray that the authorities will introduce further reforms and allow greater freedom of worship for both expatriate and indigenous Christians.
Give thanks that the situation for Christians in parts of Iraq continues to improve. More than 500 people attended an Easter Sunday service at a rebuilt church in Batnaya in the Nineveh Plains, the historic centre of Iraqi Christianity. A Christian school has also re-opened. This region was ruled by hard-line extremist group Islamic State (IS) from 2014 until 2017. Believers who were able to escape their strongly Islamist rule fled for safety – now an estimated 40-50% of Christians have returned. Praise God that so many believers have been able to return to their homes. Give thanks that the attitude of the Muslim community towards Christians – which hardened during the IS occupation – has softened, and pray that Muslims will continue to feel amicably towards their Christian neighbours. Anooshavan Avedian [Image credit: Article 18]
At the time of writing Rahmat Rostamipour, an Iranian Christian convert from Islam, remains in prison, his exact whereabouts unknown. Rahmat was arrested after an early morning raid on his home in which Bibles were also seized. His wife Azar was later interrogated but released without charge. Pray for the swift release of Rahmat and protection for his family at this uncertain time. Ask that the Lord will sustain His people in Iran and fill them with faith in Him as they encounter pressures to deny Christ.
An Iranian-Armenian pastor Anooshavan Avedian was sentenced to ten years in prison for running a Farsi (Persian)-speaking “house church” in Tehran. He was also sentenced to serve a further ten years of “deprivation of social rights” (e.g. severe restrictions on employment) when released. Two members of the church, Abbas Soori and Maryam Mohammadi, both Farsi-speaking converts, were also sentenced to ten years’ deprivation of rights, but their sentences were overturned on appeal. The Iranian authorities permit Armenian-language Christian worship, but not worship in Farsi, the national language, as Farsi-speaking Christians are converts from Islam. Give thanks for the successful appeals of Abbas and Maryam. Pray that the Lord will strengthen Pastor Anooshavan. Ask that the Iranian authorities will soften their stance to allow Farsi-speaking believers to worship freely.
Turkish attitudes towards Armenian Christians appear to be softening. An Armenian Christian, who often travels to Turkey for work, reports that on his travels Turks have told him, “I am so sorry for what my people did to your people.” Between 1893 and 1923 some 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the Ottoman Empire in a policy of extermination of Christian minorities. Pray that a more peaceful and tolerant attitude will prevail, including within the government of Turkey, and that this will encompass not just Armenian Christians but Turkish Christians who have converted from Islam.
Sovereign Lord, we lift up Your Church in Turkey, a land from which 78 foreign pastors have been deported since the beginning of 2019. We ask that the trust of Your people in Turkey in Your resourcefulness and provision will be undiminished, even when they face the loss of their church leaders. We pray that You will both intervene to stop deportations and raise up strong Turkish pastors. We ask in the Name of the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 10:11)
18 The persecution of ethnic minority Christians by the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) continues unabated. Chin, Kachin and Karen believers are among those who have suffered marginalisation and violence over the course of many decades. Their situation has worsened since the 2021 coup that restored direct military rule over the country, to the extent that a recent report has likened their treatment to the genocide perpetrated by the Tatmadaw against the Muslim majority Rohingya. Ask that the faith of the Lord’s flock will be sustained, even in the face of such deadly opposition.
“It’s so sad,” said a Christian woman. “I was in tears when I saw smoke coming out from my village as my house was also burned down.” She was one of thousands of Christians who fled the latest attack on the historic Myanmar Christian village of Chaung Yeo in the Sagaing Region. At least 320 out of the village’s 350 homes were burned in the raid on 20 May. Two months earlier soldiers shot dead a 55-year-old man and his son as they tried to flee a previous Tatmadaw attack on the village in which ten homes were burned down and the church pulpit set on fire. Pray for protection for God’s people in the region who patiently endure persecution by the Tatmadaw (Revelation 14:12).
In the 12 months to the end of March 2022, Barnabas Aid gave practical support to around 26,000 Myanmar Christians. Believers are forced from their homes because of attacks by the Tatmadaw, which has even launched airstrikes and artillery bombardments against IDP (internally displaced persons) camps. The annual rainy season (June-October) brings further challenges, but our project partners travel by motorbike or on foot to distribute rice to IDPs in remote, flood-prone areas. Pray that the Lord will guide Barnabas partners seeking to distribute aid across unforgiving terrain. Ask that He will provide for Christian IDPs within Myanmar, and refugees who have crossed over into Thailand, India and Bangladesh.
Seng Aloun, a Christian widow, is struggling to raise her children alone. The family of 12 were driven from their village in southern Laos after an arson attack on their home in February. This incident followed attacks on her deceased husband’s coffin in December 2021 by local Buddhists angered at the family’s practice of a “foreign” religion. Pray that the authorities will act on repeated promises to find the arsonists, cease their harassment of Seng Aloun and her children and concentrate their efforts on finding them a permanent home. South-east Asian Christians received Bibles and rice from Barnabas.
Isolated Christians living in the mountains of a South-East Asian country received Bibles alongside aid distributed through Barnabas partners. They are persecuted as an ethnic minority and, because the government views Christianity as a “Western” religion, Christians face restrictions on activities including preaching, teaching and publishing. Barnabas provided 100 Christian families with sufficient rice to help them survive after the failure of their harvest. Bibles in the local language were also distributed – for many it was the first Bible they had ever owned. Pray that the Lord will richly bless His people with insight into His precious Word. Ask that He will sustain them throughout the hardship they face.
Muhammad Kace, a Muslim-background Christian in Indonesia, has been sentenced to ten years in prison after being found guilty of “blasphemy”. Kace, formerly a Muslim cleric, was accused of making disparaging remarks about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Following his arrest in August 2021, Kace was brutally beaten by other prisoners, an attack that prison authorities allegedly tried to keep hidden. Pray for the safety of Kace while he remains in prison, and for the success of his appeal against the lengthy sentence.
Heavenly Father, we bring before You our brothers and sisters adapting to new lives in new countries. We pray for Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagufta Kausar who endured several years on death row in Pakistan on false charges of “blasphemy” but are now in a safe country. Please help them to adapt to a new culture and language, and assist them to testify to Your deliverance as they seek to live for You. We ask the same for others who have faced similar trauma, in Jesus’ precious Name. (Psalm 34:4)
The Indian state of Karnataka has passed an anti conversion ordinance, barring religious conversions solicited through force, fraud or allurement. Anti-conversion laws can result in believers being harassed or arrested for simply sharing their faith in Jesus Christ. Unlike the laws passed by other Indian states the ordinance is only temporary – it will lapse within six months if not approved by the state legislature. Ask that anti conversion legislation will ultimately be withdrawn and that Christians in Karnataka will oppose the ordinance wisely while it remains in force. Pray that the government’s decision will not lead to increased hostility towards Christians and unfounded accusations of forced conversions.
Extremists have alleged that a Christian high school in Bengaluru (Bangalore) in Karnataka, India, is forcing non-Christian pupils to read the Bible. As a result of the allegations Clarence High School is now under investigation by the Karnataka Education Department. The school points out that consent for Bible study is gained from parents or guardians when children join the school. Pray that all attempts to repress Christians will not succeed, and the school leadership will find favour from God and the government to continue its service to the community as a Christian high school. Ask that the commitment of Christian students and staff to the Word of God will be strengthened.
Extremists in Karnataka are also trying to prevent the work of Christian chaplains in the state’s prisons. A prison visitor claims to have found a Bible in a non-Christian prisoner’s cell. The alleged discovery led to extremists alerting local police and demanding the immediate suspension of all Christian chaplains. Christian leaders point out that other religious literature is freely distributed in prisons. Pray that extremist groups will be prevented from suppressing God’s Word and that Christian prison visitors in Karnataka will be able to continue this valuable work unhindered.
Praise God that the Supreme Court of India emphatically rejected a petition by an extremist group for the creation of a committee to monitor Indian Christian missionaries and local evangelists. The petition was based on the allegation that Christian missionaries and evangelists are seeking converts through force, fraud or allurement. In a declaration published on 25 March, the bench of two Supreme Court Justices told the extremists, “You are actually disturbing the harmony with these kinds of petitions.” Give thanks for the Supreme Court’s decision and pray that it will serve as a precedent to deter any future extremist attempts to oppress Christians in India.
The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka documented 31 incidents of violence and intolerance against Christians in the first quarter of 2022. More than half of these incidents involved public officials demanding that churches prove they have the legal right to meet for worship, or attempting to close down worship services either in church buildings or private homes, even though the law does not in fact require official registration for places of worship. Pray that harassment of Christians by public officials will cease, and that the Lord’s people will be free to worship and practise their faith.
Hunger and deprivation in Sri Lanka are the worst in living memory as a result of the country’s economic collapse, which has come on top of the suffering from the Covid crisis. Inflation is soaring and this has been compounded by recent crop failures. Fuel shortages and power cuts of up to ten hours a day are also severely impacting the livelihoods of day labourers, leaving them unable to earn an income. The very poor, including many Christians, are suffering the most. Pray for them all, especially our brothers and sisters. Ask that they will be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). Pray for the smooth delivery of aid being sent by Barnabas to vulnerable Christians in need.
Thank You, dear Lord Jesus, for the rapid growth of Your Church in Nepal. Please strengthen and sustain our Nepali brothers and sisters amidst the opposition of various kinds that they face. Give them courage, hope, perseverance and a faith that will not fail. May Your Holy Spirit guide them with wisdom as to how to proclaim the Gospel in the context of current legal restrictions. Please raise up new leaders for congregations whose pastors succumbed to Covid-19, and may each of Your followers in Nepal know the reality of Your promise to be with them always. (Matthew 28:20)