Pray for family and friends mourning 41 people, including 18 children, killed when fire broke out at a church in Giza city, near Egypt’s capital Cairo. Five families lost all their children in the disaster. In one case three five-year-old triplets, Mohrael, Youssef and Philopator, died. At least 45 people were also injured after an electrical fault ignited the blaze during Sunday worship on 14 August. Ask the Lord to comfort the bereaved (Matthew 5:4), in the sure knowledge that in Him there is eternal life (John 3:15). Give thanks for the financial support pledged by Egypt’s President al-Sisi for bereaved families and to rebuild the church.
Today is National Day in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and comes two days after the UAE’s Commemoration Day on 30 November. The UAE is a highly conservative Muslim-majority country, where Christian worship is tightly restricted and Christian converts from Islam risk imprisonment for apostasy. Proselytising Muslims or preaching “against Islam” is prohibited by law and carries a prison sentence of up to five years. Most of the Christians in the Arabian Peninsula are resident non-citizens who came to the region as migrant workers, though there are a small number of Muslim-background converts – the exact number is known only to the Lord. Pray that at this time of national celebration there will be a recognition in UAE of the contribution of Christian migrant workers and a softening of attitudes towards Muslim-background believers.
Despite some improvements, the highly conservative Muslim-majority state of Saudi Arabia continues to have one of the world’s worst human rights records, with lengthy prison sentences given in recent months to those who are alleged to have criticised the country on social media. Christian migrant workers may face abuse or harassment from their employers, while Saudi Christian converts from Islam could face the death penalty for apostasy (this is not known to have been carried out in recent times, though some converts have been murdered by their own families). Intercede for the people of Saudi Arabia, and especially our brothers and sisters forced either to hide their faith or to face abuse and even death.
Father God, we pray for those believers around the world who cannot gather for worship this Advent season, or any Lord’s Day, because of the persecution they suffer in this world. Some are imprisoned, some have seen their church buildings closed and their congregations dispersed, some live in lands where Christian worship is illegal, and others must hide their faith for fear of reprisals from family and friends. For all such, we pray that, despite their circumstances, “the God of hope” will fill them “with all joy and peace in believing”, because we ask in the Name of Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:13, ESV)
We rejoice that a case for apostasy against four Sudanese Christian converts from Islam has been dismissed by the General Prosecutor in Central Darfur. The four young men had been facing the death penalty if convicted of apostasy for renouncing Islam. The case was particularly troubling, as the law against apostasy in Sudan had been abolished in 2020. Despite the welcome decision, the men, their families and their church remain under threat, while there are still concerns that the Sudanese government will return to harsh Islamist rule. Give thanks for this decision, and pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Sudan.
Give thanks for the Lord’s protection over a Bible college in Sudan, a land where Christians have for many decades been persecuted by the Muslim majority. The country has been in political turmoil since a military coup of October 2021, which threatens to roll back positive changes towards greater religious freedom made by the previous administration. Despite this instability, the Bible college has been able to serve and grow, training new church leaders with campus-based and distance learning courses, as well as holding regular meetings to strengthen serving pastors. Ask that God will guide college leaders with His wisdom to know how to train and spiritually equip students in their ministry for years to come, advancing His kingdom in Sudan.
In a recent online poster campaign, Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) boasted of killing 190 Christians and burning down 13 church buildings across Africa in June and July, celebrating what they called a “Harvest of African Christians”. IS have previously called for Muslims to move to Africa as an act of jihad, in order to fulfil their aim of Islamising the entire continent. Pray that the Lord, our refuge, will save and deliver His people from all who pursue them, bringing an end to violence and making the righteous secure (Psalm 7:1,9).
Researchers have highlighted Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) as a country in particular risk of Islamist insurgency. This is due to ineffective governance at the country’s northern regions, existing jihadi networks, and proximity to other unstable regions where Islamist terrorists operate (namely, Burkina Faso and Mali). Approximately 44% of the Ivorian population is Christian, although Islam is dominant in the North. Pray for vulnerable believers in this unstable part of the world, that the Lord will protect them from harm and, if necessary, prepare them for persecution.
Pray earnestly for believers in northern Mozambique, at increasing risk of brutality at the hands of the Islamic State of Mozambique, known locally as Al-Shabaab (no connection with the Somali group of the same name). Its militants make about two attacks every week, burning houses, killing people, raping women and kidnapping boys to serve as child soldiers. Their main targets are Christians but they also kill moderate Muslims who refuse to join their ranks. The militants work strategically, launching attacks in one area to draw in security forces and leave other areas defenceless. Ask the Lord to comfort all those grieving, to strengthen His people, to grant wisdom to Christian leaders seeking to continue ministering in the area, and to make the Mozambican government and security forces resolute in protecting innocent people so that the whole population will be able to live in peace.
“God has remembered us” whispered our brothers and sisters in northern Kenya in their mother tongue as Barnabas-funded supplies of flour, beans and cooking oil were distributed among 2,561 Christian households. The region is afflicted by drought and Christians often suffer attacks from the Muslim majority. Furthermore, they had been excluded from receiving aid given by the authorities because of their faith in Christ. Pray that the Lord will protect, strengthen and sustain His people in northern Kenya. Ask that supplies of further aid funded by Barnabas will get through as before to Christians even in the least accessible areas.
Sovereign Lord, we bring before You hard-pressed pastors and other Christian leaders around the world as they prepare to lead God’s people in the coming Christmas season. Please provide for those experiencing economic hardship, for those oppressed by restrictions imposed by governments favouring the majority religion, and for those encountering hostility from neighbours and even family members because of their trust in You. Give them wisdom in preparing their Christmas messages and enable them to direct their congregations to the Light of the World who provides eternal hope amid the world’s spiritual darkness. Send the comfort of Your Spirit to Christian leaders imprisoned for their faith in You and remind them that Your Word is never in chains. We ask in the precious Name of Jesus. (John 8:12; 2 Timothy 2:9)
Lift up to the Lord three Nigerian Christian women rescued eight years after they were kidnapped with 273 other girls, mostly Christian, from a school in Chibok by Boko Haram Islamist terrorists. Ruth Bitrus, 24, Hanatu Musa, 26, and Kauna Luka, 25, were recovered with their children by the Nigerian army in June and July. Around 165 “Chibok girls” have escaped, been rescued or released since their kidnapping in April 2014. They reported being whipped by their captors to force them into marriage, while a group of girls experienced a mock execution for refusing to convert to Islam. Ask for healing and comfort for Ruth, Hanatu and Kauna that they will recover fully from their ordeal and that their needs, and the needs of their children, will be met. Pray that other Chibok women still held by the terrorists will be freed soon.
Intercede for Christians in Plateau State, Nigeria, where anti-Christian violence continues. In one attack, for example, on a Christian village earlier this year, seven people – three adults and four children, one as young as five – were shot dead by suspected Fulani Islamists. Pray for the bereaved of this community and others in Plateau State who have suffered anti-Christian violence, that they will know the Lord’s comfort in their loss. Ask the Lord that security in Plateau State and across Nigeria will be improved, and that such attacks will cease.
Bring before the Lord the Christian minority in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and northern Nigeria, where several jihadi groups affiliated to Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) and al-Qaeda are attacking the Church and seeking to assert Islamism. Pray for our brothers and sisters who face the possibility of attack any time they meet for worship, who are forced from their homes and off their land, and who seem to be without any earthly protection, that the Lord will sustain them in their joyful Christian faith.
Lift up in prayer a Libyan Christian convert from Islam, who has been sentenced to death for apostasy by the Court of Appeal in the city of Misrata. The man became a Christian around four years ago, and has been arrested several times since then by Libyan militias who act as law enforcement in the disordered country. The death sentence for apostasy was applied as a result of his refusal to return to Islam. Pray for our brother in Libya, asking that the death sentence will not be carried out and that he will be allowed to practise his Christian faith in peace. Ask that whatever happens, the Lord will strengthen him and remain close to him.
The Tunisian parliamentary elections take place tomorrow (17 December). In recent months the government of Tunisia took the important step of no longer naming Islam as the country’s state religion, a constitutional amendment made with the intention of combating Islamist extremism. In addition, Tunisia – like many other countries – is facing severe financial difficulties, including inflated food prices. It was a similar situation in Tunisia in 2010 that led to the so-called Arab Spring of protest movements across North Africa and the Middle East. Pray for Tunisia’s new parliament, that they will share the aim of tackling Islamism and respond wisely to economic problems. Ask for the Lord’s blessing upon the small Christian community, especially converts from Islam who face harassment from the Muslim majority.
Alongside Algeria’s 99% Muslim majority a small but growing indigenous Christian population, mainly converts from Islam and their children, stands firm. The Algerian constitution guarantees freedom “to exercise worship”. According to a 2006 ordinance, the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship grants permits for churches but, so far, no permits have been issued, despite repeated requests by churches. Pray for church buildings that have been closed and physically sealed on spurious administrative grounds to be reopened. Intercede especially for Aouchiche church in the port city of Béjaïa, which was served a closure notice earlier this year. Give thanks that God’s Word is never hindered and pray that He will enable His people across Algeria to meet for worship.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for every child who has come to know You at a young age and for the strong foundation to their lives that they receive. We ask You to enable them to grow spiritually even as they are forced to experience hardship early in life, as they face persecution for their faith. We pray for Your protection, comfort and strength to sustain little ones who are internally displaced in their own countries, through persecution, conflict or natural disasters, or living as refugees in other lands. We pray that they will never lose their childlike trust in You and we ask in the Name of the Lord Jesus, who welcomed children into His arms and declared that Your kingdom belongs to them. (Mark 10:14)
Intercede for our brothers and sisters in Eritrea persecuted by the Communist government for worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ. Only God knows how many Christians are being held arbitrarily in prison, where they are often subjected to beatings, forced labour and torture. Church leaders are often singled out for extra punishment and longer sentences. Pray that these courageous believers will be able to take comfort and strength from the words of the Lord Jesus, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12).
Iranian Christian couple Homayoun Zhaveh, 63, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 44, have been detained at Evin prison, Tehran. Both were convicted of membership of an “illegal organisation” (meaning a house church). Homayoun has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and Sara to eight years. Evin prison is notorious for prolonged interrogations and abusive treatment of inmates. Pray for the couple’s release, and that Homayoun’s health condition (advanced Parkinson’s disease) will not be affected by the stress of imprisonment. Ask that the Lord will sustain them and that the prosecution, and imprisonment of Christians in Iran for simply attending worship meetings will end.
Cancer sufferer Gholamreza Keyvanmanesh, 65, is among four Christians detained after Iranian security forces raided a “house church” in north-eastern Iran. At least eight other Christians questioned following the meeting were informed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to expect a summons for further interrogation. Farsi-speaking congregations are regularly raided and members charged with belonging to “illegal groups”. Pray that Gholamreza’s health needs are met, and that he and the other three Christians detained will be released. Ask that the remaining Christians questioned, and other Farsi-speaking Christians throughout Iran (converts from Islam), will draw on the Lord’s strength to find ways of maintaining fellowship despite the restrictions imposed.
Iraq, a country wracked with instability for many years, remains without a government a year after parliamentary elections took place in October 2021. The country’s Supreme Court rejected on 7 September 2022 a petition to dissolve parliament, saying it was beyond its legal authority. The long political crisis has left the country without a government, prime minister or president and resulted in several outbreaks of deadly violence. Pray that a peaceful solution is found and that a new government is formed swiftly who will govern with wisdom and compassion. Ask for protection for Iraq’s beleaguered Christian community that they take heart and find peace in our Redeemer, who overcame the world (John 16:33).
Lift up in prayer the family of an Egyptian Christian father and son who were shot dead by Islamist terrorists. Salama Moussa Waheeb and his son Hany were working on their family farm in the Sinai peninsula when they were shot by jihadists from Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). Salama was father to two sons and three daughters. Hany, 40, leaves behind a wife and two daughters. Pray for their family to receive the Lord’s comfort and strength. Ask for an end to violence towards Egyptian Christians in Sinai.
Many extremists see Christmas as a prime opportunity to attack believers celebrating the birth of Christ. The Christmas period is a time when Christians gather together in large numbers for church services and other celebrations, inadvertently making themselves a target for terrorist attacks and other violence. Additionally, some religious extremists will see Christmas as the ideal time to strike a blow against the Christian faith. Pray for those who gather for worship this evening and tomorrow in lands of persecution, that the Lord will grant them confidence in Him and to know the peace that is for “those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14).
Our Father, as we celebrate with great joy the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, we pray for Christians suffering today because of violence and war, drought and tempest, disease and discrimination, harassment and persecution. Help them to fix their eyes upon the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who came to this earth to endure the cross, that all who believe will live with Him in eternity. Help us not grow weary and lose heart, but rejoice in Him at every opportunity, ordering our lives by His teachings, so that by our example others draw close to His Name, in which we pray. (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Although Jordan is considered a food-secure country, the kingdom faces many challenges. It has limited agricultural land, water is scarce and it shelters a growing number of refugees from other countries. Almost 10% of Jordanians have health conditions as a result of nutritional deficiency. “Daoud” and his wife were amongst many impoverished Jordanians who received 20kg of chickpeas through our food.gives programme. This enabled them to give their four children meals of high quality plant protein. Life had been tough for the couple since Daoud had to give up work because of illness and mobility problems. Southern Jordan, where they live, has experienced years of drought and the family only receives water from the mains once a week. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Jordan, that the Lord will provide for them and strengthen their faith in Him.
Pray for the success of Barnabas Aid’s medical.gives ministry, which we are currently expanding in an effort to meet the medical needs of our suffering Christian family worldwide. We hope, God willing, to be able to forward donations of medical supplies and equipment – for example, reading glasses, walking sticks and frames, blood pressure machines, stethoscopes – and transport these to where they can make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Ask God to bless our efforts, for without His blessing we labour in vain (Psalm 127:1).
Give thanks for the provision through medical.gives of 1,176 manual wheelchairs worth £200 each for those in need in Ukraine. Many people in this troubled land have been left injured and maimed by the ongoing conflict, and earlier this year the Ukrainian Ministry of Health made an appeal for wheelchairs. The wheelchairs were donated to Barnabas by another charity, and shipped to Ukraine thanks to your generous financial contributions. Rejoice with us that we see the Lord’s hand at work even in such dark and difficult times.
Praise God for His blessing and provision that is enabling Barnabas to expand our food.gives programme into food production for the first time, dramatically increasing our ability to sustain our hungry brothers and sisters around the world. Through His perfect timing, we have forged a partnership with a US-based Christian charity Blessings of Hope to own and operate a food dehydration machine. By the time you read this, God willing, the machine will be in operation, preparing surplus and unused produce from the US for delivery to Christians in great need. Give thanks to our almighty Father for whom all things are possible (Luke 1:37).
Western New Year is sometimes wrongly considered by non-Christians to be a Christian festival, much like Christmas or Easter. As such this period of the year can be dangerous for believers, who face the increased risk of attack associated with both of those days in the Church calendar, a risk intensified this year as New Year’s Day is a Sunday. Lift up our brothers and sisters, asking that the Lord will restrain the hand of those who plan to do them harm in the days ahead.
Praise God for providing the resources through our supporters to fund hundreds of live-changing and life-saving projects throughout 2022. Give thanks for the provision of food and medical aid to our brothers and sisters suffering in many countries. Remember with gratitude Christian children receiving a quality education through the generosity of Barnabas supporters. Give thanks for Christian communities, often persecuted, who have received funding to construct church buildings. Pray that the Lord will direct Barnabas Aid and our many partners worldwide to serve Him with wise stewardship in 2023 to enable His kingdom to expand and His Church to be built up.