He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Pakistan – Christian among three from religious minorities killed by Islamists in Peshawar
A Pakistani Christian, Kashif Masih, was shot and killed in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on 1 April. Kashif was returning home from his job as a sanitary worker when motorcyclists opened fire in a residential area of the city.
The shooting was claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province (a group active in Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as Pakistan).
Two other men in the Peshawar area – a Hindu and a Sikh – were killed in separate incidents on 30 and 31 March, respectively, that are believed to be part of an Islamist attack on religious minorities.
Pray for the safety of all minority religious communities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and ask that our Christian brothers and sisters will know the Lord’s peace in their hearts. Ask that their faith will inspire them to pure and blameless conduct and to shine brilliantly as examples among the majority community (Philippians 2:15). Pray that the Lord will draw near to Kashif’s widow and three children in their grief as they seek Him, knowing that He will never leave them nor forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Afghanistan – Barnabas helps second group of Afghan Christians to reach safety in Brazil
“Thank you so much for helping us, for helping to save my family!” exclaimed an Afghan Christian to Barnabas as he arrived with his wife and three children in a safe country in South America.
They were among 15 Christian families (60 individuals) who were flown last month by Barnabas to begin a new life in Brazil where they can worship freely. The last families touched down safely on 27 March.
The families were among the Afghan Christians who fled almost certain death at the hands of the Taliban by escaping into one of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries.
Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in July 2021, the danger to any apostates from Islam such as these Christian converts has intensified with the death sentence now being pursued rigorously in accordance with the demands of sharia (Islamic law).
However, the Muslim-majority countries that border Afghanistan are not themselves safe for Christians who have converted from Islam.
This is the second group of Afghan Christians flown by Barnabas’ Operation Safe Havens initiative to Brazil. Ten families (54 individuals) were in the first group resettled in the country in June 2022.
Samim, a Christian convert from Kabul who was among that first group, was waiting at São Paulo airport on Sunday 26 March for the arrival of his mother, father and two brothers.
The newly arrived Christian families have each been adopted by a church in Brazil and the congregations are providing them with housing, food, Portuguese language classes and pastoral care.
“We learn a lot from them – more than we teach them, in fact,” said a Brazilian church leader. “They live the Church life with reverence and zeal. They are very grateful to God for everything.”
Barnabas’ Head of Operations in Brazil said the first group of families that arrived in June 2022 are well settled and enjoying life in Brazil. “Their Portuguese is improving each day,” he added.
Praise the Lord for His protection over the Afghan convert families that has ensured their safe arrival in Brazil. Give thanks for the care, compassion and generosity shown to the families by congregations in Brazil. Pray that the new arrivals will settle in well to their new country, just as the first group of families has done (2 Samuel 7:10). Continue to pray for Christians still in Afghanistan that they will be preserved from harm and that the Lord will lead them to safe havens.
Cameroon – Bible translator killed by gunmen
The death of a senior Bible translator in north-west Cameroon has emphasised the dangers involved in translating the Bible into unreached people’s languages.
Wuwih William Gemuh was kidnapped and later killed by gunmen after facilitating a workshop on 17 March. He had responsibility for supervising translation work into several languages in the region, where Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is active.
Keyeh Emmanuel, General Director of the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy, said, “We are working to bring comfort to the family and colleagues at this very difficult moment. We invite you to be in prayers for us and for Wuwih’s family.”
Lift up Wuwih’s wife and six children and pray that they will be greatly comforted as they mourn. Ask that his colleagues will receive courage and wisdom as they adjust to the void left by Wuwih, and for their protection from extremists who seek to prevent the Bible being made available to all peoples. Pray that the translation of the Scriptures into the region’s many languages will not be hindered, and that God’s Word will spread rapidly and be honoured (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
Myanmar – Attacks on Christian communities extend across three states, killing at least 23
At least 23 people were killed in multiple attacks by the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) in mainly Christian areas of the country in the period prior to and just after Easter.
On 23 March three people were killed as the Tatmadaw attacked several villages in predominantly Christian Kayah State. Six others were wounded as fighter jets bombed Wan Pala village in Bawlake township. Thousands of Kayah State residents, mainly Christians, fled their homes in the weeks preceding these attacks, including 700 who sought refuge in two church buildings.
At least ten people were killed and 20 injured in Tatmadaw air strikes on the village of Khuabung, Thantlang township, in Christian-majority Chin State on 30 March. Local sources said that there was no military action in the vicinity, and the military were clearly targeting the civilian population. Also in Chin State, at least nine people were killed when the military’s jets bombed a school in Webula, Falam township, on 10 April. The school was not open at the time, but the head teacher and his wife were among the dead.
Artillery shelling by the Tatmadaw killed one person, a 50-year-old man, and injured five others in a mainly Christian village in Shan State on Sunday 2 April. The church in the village in Pekhon township was also struck in the attack.
Cry out to the Lord for the Christian communities that have endured these attacks. Ask that the Lord will bring peace to the bereaved, heal those injured and enable those dispersed to return to their homes safely. Pray that children in Christian families will not be lacking in education after the death of their head teacher, and will receive abundant instruction in the ways of the Lord (Psalm 32:8). Ask that God will restrain those intent on attacking His people and bring an end to such attacks on Christians in Myanmar (Psalm 46:9).
Iran – Retrial date for Christian couple set for 9 May
Prayers are urgently needed for Iranian Christians Homayoun Zhaveh, 64, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 45, currently imprisoned in the notorious Evin Prison, Tehran.
They were informed on Easter Sunday, 9 April, that their third application for a retrial has been accepted by the country’s Supreme Court. Homayoun (who is serving two years for membership of a “house church”) and Sara (serving eight years) will have their case reviewed by Branch 34 of Tehran’s appeal court on 9 May. Homayoun, who has advanced Parkinson’s disease, and Sara, who is his main carer, have been in prison since August 2022 (see Prayer Focus Update, September 2022).
The couple were originally arrested and detained in June 2019 and sentenced in November 2020. When they responded to a summons to begin their sentences in June 2021, they were sent home before being jailed again in August 2022. The first two applications for a retrial – in June 2021 and November 2021 – were rejected.
Pray that the Lord will strengthen and sustain Homayoun and Sara as they prepare for the appeal. Ask that, by His grace, they will win the case and be granted immediate freedom. Ask that other Christians imprisoned in Iran for exercising their right to freedom of religion will know God’s peace and the certainty of His purposes for them, whatever pressures humans may exert on them (Hebrews 13:6).
food.gives – Barnabas-funded food reaches cyclone-affected Malawi Christians
Barnabas Aid has responded swiftly to the urgent needs of Christians affected by the cyclone that devastated Malawi in March by sending 350,000 servings of ePap.
Thanks to the generous response of Barnabas supporters to our appeal on 17 March, 15 tonnes of nourishing ePap porridge has now reached Malawian Christians who are desperately short of food. In partnership with African Enterprise, the ePap was transported by road from South Africa, a journey of over 1,000 miles.
Cyclone Freddy – which battered Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique – caused more than six months of rain to fall in just six days in mid-March. This resulted in widespread flooding and mudslides that left an estimated 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed. More than 400 people in Malawi are known to have been killed in the disaster.
Christian-majority Malawi is often among the last to receive aid in time of need owing to its landlocked position.
Give thanks for the safe arrival and distribution of the precious ePap to Malawian Christians. Pray that our brothers and sisters will be restored both physically and spiritually, and receive much encouragement to rebuild their lives (Romans 15:5).