Isaac Achi, a church minister in Niger State, Nigeria, was burned to death by suspected Islamists who set fire to his home. His colleague, Collins Omeh, was shot in the back as he escaped the blaze and later taken to hospital – pray for his continued recovery. In 2011 Reverend Achi survived a Boko Haram church bombing that killed as many as 45. During his ministry he has also been abducted and shot in the jaw. Give thanks for Reverend Achi’s life of faithful endurance and pray for God’s hand of protection on His people in Nigeria.
It was hoped that Nigeria’s presidential elections on 25 February would bring change, leading in time to a reduction in Islamist violence. However, the Christian-Muslim divide in Nigerian society deepened during the campaign, and the country remains mired in controversy. Anti-Christian attacks have continued to claim many lives since the election. Pray for the new president Bola Tinubu, a Muslim, who will take office at the end of this month, that he and others in authority will govern with wisdom. Above all, pray for the Lord’s strength to sustain the faith of Nigerian believers during these trying times.
When disaster struck Christian-majority Malawi in the form of Cyclone Freddy, Barnabas Aid was able to respond within days. The cyclone wreaked havoc, destroying or damaging more than 40,000 homes in Malawi and displacing an estimated 180,000 people. These and many others found themselves desperately short of food. Thanks to the generous response of our supporters, we were able to fund the delivery of 15 tonnes of ePap (around 350,000 servings) to Christians in Malawi from South Africa. Give thanks that the Lord has enabled this swift response, and pray for all people affected in Malawi and other countries as they continue to recover.
In the Far North of Cameroon, which borders Boko Haram’s base in north-eastern Nigeria, rural Christian communities are regularly subjected to Islamist violence. There were at least six attacks on churches in the region in early 2023, with three Christians confirmed dead. The terrorists also looted and burned houses, causing many to flee. Pray that the Lord will comfort the bereaved, provide for those who have been forced from their homes, and bring peace to His people in Cameroon.
“God is great and wonderful!” exclaimed a pastor when he saw Barnabas-funded grain waiting to be handed out to Christians who lost everything when floods engulfed their homes in Chad and neighbouring Cameroon. At the time of writing, we were finalising the distribution of aid to more than 7,000 families (around 34,000 individuals) in the countries. Many of these families were already suffering because of repeated attacks on their communities by extremists. Pray for our displaced brothers and sisters, especially those who have been doubly traumatised, first by violence, then floods. Ask that the joy of the Lord will continue to be their strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
The West African country of Ghana has thus far been relatively free of the Islamist violence that has surged across other countries in the region, including neighbouring Burkina Faso. However, Ghanaian officials fear the extension of jihadi activity into the north of the country, where areas such as Bawku already suffer ethnic conflict and criminal activity. “If we do not stop what is happening in Bawku now,” said defence minister Dominic Nitiwul, “we risk the situation where Ghana can be thrown under terrorist attacks.” Pray that Christian communities in northern Ghana will be protected from all forms of violence.
Sovereign Lord, we lift up to you Christians working to train church leaders in places of persecution. We ask for wisdom and guidance for them as they prepare others to strengthen suffering Christians. We give thanks for those in Sudan who have completed their training and been recognised as pastors and deacons, praying that they will be a source of encouragement to the country’s small Christian community, which has endured so much persecution in previous decades. We ask this in the Name of our Saviour who overcame the world. (John 16:33)
“Everything is gone, the church is collapsed, my house is gone, we don’t have anything.” These were the words of a pastor in Antakya (Antioch) in Turkey in the hours following the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake that struck in early February. Give thanks that help swiftly arrived as Barnabas Aid was able to fund rented accommodation for the pastor, his family and another family from his congregation whose home was also destroyed. We have also provided food, clothes, blankets, tents, health kits and other aid to many Christians affected by the disaster. Give praise to God, who provided for the poor (Psalm 68:4, 10).
Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh – a Christian-majority Armenian region within Azerbaijan – have been suffering from shortages of food and medicine for, at the time of writing, more than three months. The cause is an Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the only transport link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia itself. Pray that the Lord will bring an end to the blockade and provide for His people, as He brought to an end the Aramean siege of Samaria (2 Kings 7). Praise God that Barnabas has been able to get food aid into Nagorno-Karabakh despite the blockade.
Give thanks for increased recognition on the world stage of the Armenian, Assyrian, Greek and Syriac Genocide of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The Senate of Mexico backed recognition of the Armenian Genocide in February 2023, with senators urging the government to make that recognition official. At the same time, France, which already recognises the Armenian Genocide, voted to recognise separately the Assyrian Genocide. Between 1893 and 1923 around 3.75 million Christians of various ethnic groups perished in the Ottoman Empire. Pray that greater recognition of this crime against humanity will help to prevent it from happening again.
Five Iranian Christian families, mostly converts from Islam, face deportation from Turkey to Iran, where they will almost certainly suffer severe persecution. Seventeen believers held in Turkish “removal centres” have reported abuses including unsanitary conditions, adulterated food and denial of medicine. The men are held separately from their wives and children, and allowed contact with them only once a week. Ask the Lord to bring a swift resolution to their trials, release from confinement and a safe place where the families can settle and practise their faith.
The first new church building ever to be constructed in modern Turkey is, at the time of writing, nearing completion. Permission for the building in Istanbul was given by the Turkish government in 2015, and the church’s foundation stone was laid in 2020 in a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The building, due to open later this year, is the first purpose-built church in the history of the Turkish Republic, which was founded in 1922. Give thanks for the new building, and pray that it will be a blessing to Turkey’s historic Christian community.
With a general election scheduled to take place tomorrow, pray for the nation of Turkey. In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in February and serious financial troubles, this is expected to be a closely fought and critical campaign. More than 50,000 people in Turkey died in the earthquake and the efforts to repair and rebuild are central to this race. Pray for free and fair elections, and that Christians will be treated fairly in any new laws created. In particular, if there is a change of government, ask the Lord that there will be a peaceful transfer of power.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we pray for pastors and church ministers working in contexts of severe destitution or persecution, who must encourage and strengthen Your people even as they themselves share in poverty and suffering. As our Lord who hears the cry of the afflicted, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, please encourage and strengthen the under-shepherds of Your Son’s flock that their faith may not fail and that they will strengthen their brethren, for we ask it in Christ’s holy and precious name. (Psalm 10:17-18; Luke 22:32)
Egyptian Church leaders sent their thanks to the authorities in Saudi Arabia following a rare opportunity to hold a worship service in the strictly Islamic kingdom. The service was attended by Egyptian and Eritrean Christians who live and work in Saudi Arabia. Ask the Lord that this event will mark an official softening of attitudes towards expatriate Christians, who remain forbidden to make public display of their faith. Pray also for Saudi Christian converts, who according to Saudi law are liable to the death penalty as apostates from Islam.
The government of Egypt has licensed a further 73 churches and church-affiliated buildings. It is the 25th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the process began work in 2017. The latest decision, made in January 2023, brings the number of churches granted licences to 2,599 out of the 3,730 that applied for registration after a Law for Building and Restoring Churches swept away Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings in 2016. Give thanks for the granting of licences and for the support shown by the Egyptian government towards the Christian community.
Give thanks for the release of six Egyptian Christian men who were held captive in neighbouring Libya. The men – construction workers, all from the same family in Egypt’s Sohag Governorate – were held for over a week at an unofficial detention centre, not controlled by the Libyan authorities. They had travelled to the country in search of work. Praise the Lord that all six were released, safe and unharmed, and able to return to their homes.
Suffering Christians around the world draw comfort from the knowledge that the risen Lord Jesus Christ has ascended, and that now in heaven He continues His high priestly work of intercession on behalf of His people (Acts 1:9; Hebrews 4:14, 7:25). Remembering that He has “offered for all time one sacrifice for sins” and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, believers in every land are confident that their “sins and lawless acts” are forgiven (Hebrews 10:12,17-18). Pray that we too will ascend in heart and mind, reflecting on these glorious spiritual truths.
For 20 years St Aphrem’s School in Bethlehem has been committed to providing Christian children with a Christian education in a safe and secure environment in a city where Christians are a despised minority. The school, built largely with Barnabas funds and supported through your generous donations, opened on 12 September 2003 with 15 children. Today it has 650 pupils, many of whom are from Christian families too poor to pay realistic fees. Give thanks to the Lord for His guidance and protection over the school during the many earthly challenges it has faced. Pray that the school will continue to maintain Biblical values among young people for many years and many generations to come.
Give thanks for the release on 20 March 2023 of Jeff Woodke, a Christian aid worker originally from the United States, who was abducted by Islamists from his home in northern Niger in October 2016. Woodke had lived and worked in Niger since 1992. “I thank God first of all,” said Woodke following his release. Ask the Lord to be with our brother as he adjusts to being once again free, helping him to recover from the trauma of what he has experienced. Continue to pray for other Christians held by jihadists in the West African Sahel region.
Lord Jesus, we bring before You faithful Christians in Iran who are persecuted simply for their devotion to You, for gathering to worship You and learn from Your Word. We pray especially that You sustain those imprisoned for following You and enable them to know a freedom in their spirit and a conviction that Your Word is never in chains. We intercede for those in internal exile within Iran, far from the fellowship of Your people. We pray that they will experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit and deep confidence in His counsel wherever You lead them. (2 Timothy 2:9; John 14:16)
A female Christian security officer at an airport in Karachi, Pakistan, was threatened by a male Muslim colleague with a “blasphemy” allegation after she admonished him for allowing an acquaintance’s vehicle through security without the required pass. The Muslim man threatened to register a “blasphemy” case against her (potentially leading to a death sentence in the courts), adding that he would “call preachers … I am mad and will cut [you] up”. Praise God that our sister courageously refused to back down, and for widespread condemnation of the colleague’s actions from many in the Muslim community. Pray that our sister and her family will be protected from those who “aim cruel words like deadly arrows” (Psalm 64:3).
Concerns were raised after the National Assembly of Pakistan passed an amendment to the country’s “blasphemy” law that increased the punishment for insulting the companions, wives or family members of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, from three years to ten years’ imprisonment. Those convicted will also receive a fine of one million rupees (£3,520; $4,350; €4,020). There is already a mandatory death sentence for “defiling the name” of Muhammad. Ask the Lord, who loves justice (Psalm 99:4), to protect Christians and other non-Muslims in Pakistan, who are especially vulnerable to false accusations of “blasphemy”.
Life remains a struggle for all people in Afghanistan, especially Christians, following the withdrawal of coalition forces in August 2021 and the subsequent resurgence of the Taliban. Two-thirds of the population are in need of humanitarian aid, and the looming threats of famine and civil disorder only add to the gravity of the situation. Under the additional threat of being killed as apostates from Islam, many Christians have fled and those who remain are in constant danger. Pray for the protection of secret believers in Afghanistan, as well as for those now in neighbouring countries. Give thanks for those helped by Barnabas to settle in Brazil, asking that the Lord will help them to restart their lives.
Islamists in Bangladesh are suspected of carrying out several attacks against religious minorities, including Hindus and Ahmadiyyas, so far in 2023. In one incident, two followers of Ahmadiyya – a Muslim sect regarded as heretical by both Shia and Sunni Islam – were killed. These attacks underline the growth of Islamist ideology in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country. Pray for all those at risk of jihadi violence, and especially our Christian brothers and sisters who are among those vulnerable to attack by extremists.
The economic situation of Sri Lanka has deteriorated rapidly, and last year led to mass protests that resulted in the president fleeing the country and resigning. As a result of this economic crisis, the country has had to request a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF loan conditions, referred to as austerity measures, are likely to be particularly difficult for the country’s poorest citizens, among whom are many Christians. Remember in your prayers all suffering in Sri Lanka and especially our impoverished brothers and sisters, asking that the Lord will deliver them from their troubles (Psalm 34:17).
Give thanks that Antoine Macaire Christian Noah, a church minister originally from Cameroon, was able to escape from his abductors in Haiti after ten days in captivity. At the time of writing, three believers, kidnapped from a church in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, are still being held. Pray that they too will regain their freedom, and for all God’s people in Haiti, many of whom are directly affected by ongoing violence, asking that peace and security will return.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we give thanks that the Lord Jesus Christ, having ascended to Your right hand, did not leave His people without a helper, but sent the Holy Spirit to be their comforter and guide. Thank You that the Spirit continues to minister to the Church, including sustaining and preserving those who suffer for their Christian faith. We pray that He will equip us for suffering, as well as for greater acts of service, for we ask it in Christ’s Name. (John 14:16-17,26)
“Thank you to Barnabas Aid. You have always been there for us,” said a Nigerian church leader in gratitude for the latest consignment of aid given by Barnabas to victims of attacks against Christians by Islamist militants in the Middle Belt. We provided food and practical aid for villagers after Fulani extremists looted and razed homes in five communities in Kagoro chiefdom, Kaduna State. Ask the Lord to draw close to our brothers and sisters displaced in these latest attacks. Pray that these attacks will cease. Ask that, by God’s grace, Christians may set an example of true forgiveness, as they forgive their persecutors (Matthew 6:14).
At least 10 residents of a community in the Christian-majority Atyap Chiefdom of Kaduna State were killed on 14 March. The attack was carried out by suspected Fulani extremists as Islamist violence against Christians persists across northern and Middle Belt Nigeria. Several others were wounded in the armed attack and required hospital treatment. Ask that the Lord will comfort those bereaved and heal those wounded in the Atyap community. Pray that our God will bring an end to the evil being perpetrated against our brothers and sisters.
“There are not many of us, but we are very courageous because we are working with God,” said a Mauritanian Christian recently. Courage is certainly needed as this is a country where conversion from Islam is potentially punishable by execution according to the law of the land. Ask the Lord Jesus to protect His people, and to guide them in all that they do. A high divorce rate causes much suffering and anguish in Mauritania and some Mauritanian Christians are eager to try to help those affected. Pray that they may be effective peacemakers and also bring comfort and hope to those who have been rejected and abused.