“I ran to my mum and held her by the hands and [was] screaming ‘Keep your head down!’ The gunshots just would not stop. It just kept going and going.” These were the words of a Nigerian Christian who survived a massacre by suspected Islamist terrorists at a church service in Ondo State, south-western Nigeria. At least 40 worshippers were killed. Pray that the Lord will bring healing and will comfort the traumatised survivors and all who lost loved ones. Give thanks for the Lord’s promise, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
More than 400 terrorists launched a deadly assault against a Christian community in Kaduna State, Nigeria, on Sunday 5 June, destroying houses and murdering 32 people. Houses and a church building in the Kajuru Local Government Area were destroyed. The following day a mass burial for the victims had to be interrupted because terrorists were sighted in the vicinity – even in mourning there is no earthly rest for Nigeria’s Christians. Give thanks for the promise of Jesus Christ that in Him the weary and burdened find eternal rest. Ask that the bereaved will know God’s comfort and guidance as they seek to rebuild their lives (Matthew 11:28).
Give thanks that more than 22,000 Christians who have fled from a recent wave of deadly attacks by Islamist militants on their homes in Nigeria’s Plateau and Kaduna states have been supported practically, physically and emotionally by Barnabas Aid. Thanks to your generous support we have provided food (rice and maize), blankets and mats to sleep on, educational materials for children and roofing sheets to rebuild their damaged homes, as well as paying for the medical bills of the injured. “The support from Barnabas Aid says to the victims of attacks, ‘We love you, we are stranding with you and sharing your pain and we are continuously praying for you’,” said a church leader. Please do continuously pray for them (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Heavenly Father, on this Lord’s Day we think of those who meet for worship knowing that they may face imminent violent attack. We consider those who cannot meet, because their faith must remain hidden, or because their churches have been closed down. We think also of those who meet in secret, not knowing whether this will be the last Sunday before they are discovered. For all such we pray that You will send blessings, comfort and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, causing them to place their hope and their confidence in the One who has overcome the world, because we ask it in His Name. (John 16:33)
A recent report by human rights experts exposes the horrifying conditions endured by prisoners in North Korean detention centres. Christians make up a large proportion of those imprisoned, and believers are generally treated more harshly than other detainees. “Suspected Christians are also interrogated for longer periods,” states the report, “usually under torture and subjected to more intense torture, including to force them to incriminate others during interrogation.” Pray for believers in North Korean prisons, that the Son of God will be with them in their suffering as He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25, AV).
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), the official Protestant church of China, was among seven religious groups – four of them Christian – to sign a statement committing to implement religious directives from the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). These include increased state oversight of churches’ finances, restrictions to online Christian content and the further Sinicisation (that is, making Chinese, according to CCP teaching) of religious activity. Ask that the Lord will give wisdom to TSPM pastors and church leaders, enabling them to navigate tricky regulations and requirements. Ask that, by their example, more people will come to know the love of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
“Bingwen” is just one of the Chinese church leaders studying with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life (OCRPL), the academic branch of Barnabas Aid. He has served the church for four years as an itinerant preacher, but like other church leaders in China and other Christian-minority parts of the world, has struggled to find opportunities for training and development. Now, thanks to OCRPL, Bingwen is able to pursue his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree, gaining knowledge and developing skills that will greatly bless the Church in China. Give thanks for this opportunity. Ask that the Lord will raise up pastors, teachers and leaders for His people in China, and pray especially for His blessing on Bingwen, his family, and the people to whom he ministers.
“Mei” has served the Church in China for more than 20 years, supporting and leading the activities of her congregation and reaching non-Christians with the Gospel. She is another of the Chinese church leaders studying with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life (OCRPL). Mei’s experience of a difficult marriage, before she and her husband became Christians, has led her to train as a marriage counsellor, supporting couples in rebuilding their relationship with each other and with God. Thanks to OCRPL, she now has the opportunity to undertake further study in a specifically Christian context. Pray for Mei’s important ministry, and for the 70 Christian students that she in turn is training.
“Through the disaster relief aid, many witnessed the love and light of Christ through the good works of His followers.” These were the words of one of our partners in the Philippines after your generous donations provided desperately needed aid to Christian communities that were devastated by Typhoon Rai. Barnabas Aid provided 1,500 Christian families with ten kilos of rice and a five gallon container of water, as well as 50 shelter repair kits, containing lumber, sheeting and nails – enough to sustain them in the weeks and months that have followed. Give thanks that needs are being met and that all can see the love of Christ being demonstrated by His Church.
Residents of Chan Thar, a Christian village in Sagaing Region, Myanmar, were left in tears as homes were destroyed in an attack by the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw). The village came under artillery fire, after which soldiers went from house to house setting them alight. More than 300 houses in the village were bombed or burned down. Around 20 homes had already been destroyed in an earlier attack on Chan Thar, while nearly all the 350 houses in Chaung Yoe – another Christian village in Sagaing – were also destroyed. Pray for our brothers and sisters, now homeless, that the Lord will provide abundantly for all their needs and strengthen their faith in Him.
Father God, we pray for Your people in many parts of the world who have been forced from their homes and their lands by violence and the threat of violence, becoming displaced within their own countries or seeking refuge in other lands. Often they no longer have the means to provide for themselves or their families. In most cases they cannot return. We ask that our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself had “no place to lay His head”, will comfort them. Please continue to supply all their needs, according to Your “riches in glory by Christ Jesus”, for we pray in His Name. (Luke 9:58; Philippians 4:19, AV)
“I thank God that He kept me safe on my journey here, and that I can serve my people in this camp.” This is the testimony of “Khin”, a church leader in Kayah State, Myanmar, now pastoring Christians in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). “We saw the spiritual need of the people here,” he explains, “so we decided to build a church where the people can come to be ministered to, having Bible studies and church services.” Khin reports that more shelters are needed as more people arrive, and that the temporary huts that house the people need constant repair, especially during rainy season. Soldiers have planted landmines around the camp, resulting in injuries to many civilians. Yet he is thankful that Barnabas-funded food supplies are still reaching the people. Pray for the physical and spiritual needs of our desperately needy brothers and sisters.
Pray for Chin Christians in Buddhist-majority Myanmar who are being denied internationally funded humanitarian aid because of their faith in Christ. Nearly 100,000 Chin are displaced from their homes in western Myanmar owing to continued military attacks against civilian areas. The Association of South-East Asian Nations has agreed to send desperately needed aid to struggling people across the country, but this can only be delivered in conjunction with Myanmar’s military government who appear to be deliberately excluding Chin State, which is more than 90% Christian. Intercede for our brothers and sisters before the throne of the righteous judge, asking that He uphold their right and their cause (Psalm 9:4). Ask for the success of Barnabas Aid partners and others bringing aid to Chin State.
Christians around the world, especially those enduring painful persecution, are comforted and strengthened by reflecting on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. In enduring crucifixion, the Lord shared in our suffering and carries our sorrows (Isaiah 53:3-4). Even more than this, He made atonement for our sins so that all who trust in Him will be eternally reconciled to God. Give thanks to our Saviour, who still bears the marks of His crucifixion as He makes intercession for us (Revelation 5:6; Hebrews 7:25), for this blessed hope and expectation.
Four Vietnamese Christian families (32 people) were forced out of their village because they refused to re-convert to the animist religion of the other villagers. When their plight gained publicity, the families were allowed back to the village, where they now face the opposite kind of persecution: they are not allowed to leave. Nor can they have visitors. They are under close surveillance by the secret police, who listen to their phone calls. They have no crops because the rice-planting season passed while they were away from their homes and fields. Ask the Lord to sustain their faith and praise Him that our project partners managed to deliver sacks of rice to the families, despite everything.
Villagers in Serukele, Puttalam District, Sri Lanka gathered to prevent the burial of a Christian at a public cemetery. The pastor and other Christians made a complaint to police, but the Officer-in-Charge denied their request for protection in order to carry out the funeral, saying that police would only become involved if the situation escalated. Instead the family were forced to carry out a cremation in another town around 12 miles away. Lift up in prayer the family of the deceased and the members of the church, asking that they find comfort in the knowledge that their loved one is at Home with the Lord.
On 9 July the then President of Sri Lanka was forced to flee as protesters stormed his official residence in Colombo, the capital city. Several days of unrest followed, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to demonstrate against rising inflation, food and fuel shortages, power blackouts and alleged economic mismanagement by the government. On 20 July the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, won a parliamentary vote to become the new president. Pray that the new government and the international community will find ways to alleviate the suffering of the Sri Lankan people. Intercede particularly for our brothers and sisters, who are so often among the first to go hungry and the last to receive help.
Our Father, we pray for the land of Afghanistan, where so many people are hungry and suffering greatly. We ask that some way will be found to resolve the growing Afghan humanitarian crisis. We lift up to You those of our brothers and sisters who remain in Afghanistan, who not only share in the general suffering but who also live under the threat of death for their faith in Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In His Name we ask that You will “deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted that have no one to help” and “rescue them from oppression and violence”. (Psalm 72:12,14)
Give thanks for a legal opinion given by a judge of the Delhi High Court that conversion from one religion to another is legal in India. “Every person has a right to choose and profess any religion of his/her choice,” he said, adding, “It is a constitutional right.” At the time of writing there are ten Indian states with laws that criminalise seeking to make converts through force, fraud or allurement. However, many extremists interpret any sharing of the Gospel, or even Christian worship, as being an illegal attempt to gain converts. Pray that the judge’s opinion will be taken seriously, and that Indians’ constitutional right to freedom of religion will be upheld across the country.
A Christian couple in the Indian state of Karnataka were arrested after allegations of illegally securing conversions to Christianity. Pastor V Kuriyachan, 62, and his wife Selenamma, 57, were accused of forcing more than 1,000 tribal people to convert. The couple were accosted by extremists prior to their arrest. Extremists within Indian society often interpret any evangelism as an unlawful attempt to gain converts through underhand means, and take advantage of anti-conversion legislation to have Christians arrested. Intercede for Pastor Kuriyachan and his wife in their time of difficulty, and ask the Lord who “gives wisdom” and “guards the course of the just” (Proverbs 2:6, 8) to do both for His people in Karnataka.
A church in the state of Odisha, India, has been barred from meeting for worship after accusations that Christians were seeking converts through force, fraud or allurement. A lawyer representing the church said that these allegations are unfounded. He added that extremists have disrupted services but that the police have not responded to complaints from the church. The church plans to appeal against the decision. Pray for the success of that appeal, asking that the Lord will make a way for His people to meet freely and safely to worship Him.
Thank the Lord for answered prayer in Pakistan where the Lahore High Court has released on bail a mentally disabled Christian man who has been imprisoned for more than three years on charges of “blasphemy”. Stephen Masih was accused of “blasphemy” against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, following a dispute with a Muslim neighbour in March 2019. “We welcome the court’s decision to grant bail,” said a Pakistani church leader, “but at the same time we are concerned about the man’s safety. Once a person is accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, his life is always at risk and in danger.” Pray for the safety of Stephen, his family and his legal team. Ask that the charges against him, which have not yet been dismissed, will be dropped.
Intercede for three Pakistani Christian men convicted of “blasphemy” who are facing the death penalty. Ashfaq Masih, who was arrested for alleged “blasphemy” in 2017, was convicted and sentenced to death in July 2022 for “defiling the name” of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. In a separate case the previous month, brothers Qasir and Amoon Ayub, who were sentenced to death for alleged “blasphemy” against Muhammad in 2018, had their convictions and death sentences upheld by an appeal court. Pray that these decisions will be overturned, and that Ashfaq, Qasir and Amoon will find comfort in knowing that they share in the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise God for steps taken in Pakistan to protect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities. The government of this Muslim-majority country has appointed a Hindu, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, to oversee a task force dedicated to implementing the rights of Pakistan’s minority communities. “I am pleased the government has taken this initiative,” a Pakistani pastor told Barnabas Aid. “Let us pray it will bring positive results for Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan.”
Father God, we give You thanks for the provision through Barnabas Aid of Christian schools in Pakistan. Many parents there are unable to afford schooling for their children. Those young Christians who attend free schools provided by the government face often face harassment and blatant discrimination for their faith in Your Son. Thank You that more than 11,000 children are able to attend affordable schools with a commitment to the Christian faith. We pray that these schools will be used mightily to sustain the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ in Pakistan, for we ask it in His precious Name.
“What do you hope to achieve with this?” asked Deborah Samuel as an angry mob of Muslim extremists dragged her to her death. Deborah, a Christian student in Sokoto State, Nigeria, had been accused of making “derogatory comments” about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, by her fellow students. The mob of Muslim students and local men stoned and clubbed her to death, then set her body on fire. The arrest of two suspects led to riots in Sokoto, in which Muslims looted shops and attacked church buildings. Pray that God will restrain the hand of those who seek the death of His people in Nigeria, and give thanks that they can never achieve their aim of defeating Christ and His Church.
Give thanks for the release of three church leaders in Nigeria who were abducted by gunmen in Abia State. Dr Samuel Kanu Uche, head of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, was travelling after leading Sunday worship when he was kidnapped. His chaplain, Abidemi Jeremiah Shittu, and the Bishop of Owerri, Dennis Mark, were also taken. All three men were released the following day. Praise the Lord, our strength and shield, for hearing the voice of our supplications (Psalm 28:6-7). Ask for wisdom and guidance for the authorities that they will find a way to thwart the kidnap gangs who frequently target our brothers and sisters.
The terrorist group Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) have released a video showing the murder of 20 Nigerian Christians in an unknown location. The victims were shown kneeling with their hands tied before each one was killed. Pray that the Lord will thwart the deadly plans of IS and other Islamists in Nigeria, across Africa and throughout the world. Ask that the relatives and friends of the victims will be comforted, and that persecution and distress endured for the sake of Christ will serve only to strengthen His servants (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Praise the Lord that two women, Hauwa Joseph and Mary Dauda, who were among hundreds of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists from the Nigerian town of Chibok eight years ago, have been found within days of each other. Each woman was carrying a baby in her arms. Mary, who was 18 when she was abducted, managed to escape from her husband, a Boko Haram fighter whom she was forced to marry. Hauwa, who was only nine when taken captive, had recently been forced to marry, but had nobody to look after her after her husband was killed in a military raid. Ask the Lord to heal both women from the physical, spiritual and emotional trauma of their ordeal. Pray that they will be reunited with their loved ones and that their needs, and the needs of their children, will be met. Intercede for more than 100 Chibok girls still unaccounted for, their whereabouts unknown.
“I thank the Lord who brought me out of darkness and Barnabas who brought me out of ignorance and rehabilitated me,” said Abdoulaye, a Senegalese Christian convert, who became disabled after contracting polio as a child. “Now I see myself as a man and not as a sub-human.” In Muslim-majority Senegal, having a disabled child is seen as shameful, a “curse” caused by “evil spirits”. Disabled children have no opportunity to go to school or find work. Barnabas enabled six disabled converts to escape from begging by helping them to become self-sufficient. They received training in shoemaking and equipment to start up in business. Give thanks that this work has been such an encouragement to Abdoulaye and others.