26 April 2023
Countries observe Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day; Illiterate Christian woman and Muslim man accused of “blasphemy” in Punjab, Pakistan; Further abductions in Christian area of Nigeria’s Middle Belt
- Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day was observed in Christian-majority Armenia and in other parts of the world on 24 April. Between 1893 and 1923 around 3.75 million Armenian, Assyrian, Syriac and Greek Christians perished in the Ottoman Empire in a policy of extermination of Christian minorities. Give thanks for increased awareness of these events, and pray that this will prevent further such atrocities. Pray for Armenian Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh as the blockade of the region continues.
- A Christian woman and a Muslim man were arrested and charged with “blasphemy” in the Pakpattan District of Punjab, Pakistan, on 19 April. Musarrat Bibi and her colleague, Mohammad Sarmad, were asked to clear a store room at the school where they both worked. They gathered waste paper that had been discarded in the store room and burnt it. As both Musarrat and Mohammad are illiterate, they did not realise that some of the pages contained Arabic verses from the Quran. School pupils and residents in the district raised the alarm and informed the police. Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws stipulate life imprisonment for desecration of the Quran. Give thanks that Musarrat and Mohammad did not suffer any mob violence. Ask that justice will be done for both. Pray especially for our sister Musarrat, as Christians and other religious minorities are particularly vulnerable to accusations of “blasphemy” in Muslim-majority Pakistan.
- Seven people were abducted on Sunday 16 April when returning from a church service in Benue State in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. They were in group of eight who were ambushed by gunmen in Atamka, Owukpa community, in Ogbadibo Local Government Area (LGA). Samuel Onu, a former Chairman of the LGA, said that one of the group was spared abduction due to having a leg injury which would have slowed the kidnappers down. He confirmed that a security guard was abducted in Atamka the previous day. Pray that the Lord will draw close to those abducted, strengthening them spiritually through their ordeal, and that they will all be released without harm.