O Jesus, our Good Shepherd, we thank You for your loving care for Christian children. We pray that children growing up in cultures where they are disadvantaged and despised will know the security of Your protection. Please provide for their educational needs and confound the plans of those who seek to disrupt or limit their schooling. Fill them with perseverance and resilience as they encounter difficulties. May they know from a young age the wisdom that You withhold from the wise and learned, and treasure it throughout their lives. (Matthew 11:25)
The VHP, a hard-line Hindu group in India, has sent to the authorities in Madhya Pradesh state a list of 56 Indian Christian missionaries whom the VHP alleges to be using methods that are illegal in Madhya Pradesh, that is, fraud, force or allurement. Christian missionaries engaged in valid evangelism are often falsely accused of using such techniques, which are punishable under law in nine of India’s states. Pray that those working to make disciples of Christ across the vast nation of India will know the sure presence of Jesus with them always, no matter what happens to them (Matthew 28:18-20).
A devastating second wave of Covid-19 began surging across India in mid-March and was still increasing in early May. Amongst the hundreds of thousands of deaths are many church leaders and ministry leaders. Ask the Lord to raise up others to take their places, anointing them with the necessary gifts and giving them strength to handle their challenging task. Frightened congregations, many without income and many sick or dying, need pastoral care. Ministries of all kinds need wise leaders to keep the Lord’s work going. We may not know in detail what the needs are today, but our Father knows what our Indian brothers and sisters need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).
By early May Nepal was struggling to contain an explosion of Covid-19 cases as bad as, if not worse than neighbouring India’s. Transport and logistics are difficult in this mountainous country, and the health system is weaker, with fewer doctors per capita than India. “Christians who are Covid patients don’t get good care in the hospital; they are discriminated against,” wrote a Nepalese Christian to Barnabas Fund, adding that a wave of persecution against Christians had coincided with the start of the second Covid wave in Nepal. He reported that more than 15,000 churches were closed, leaving thousands of pastors penniless alongside countless daily-wage earners who had lost their work. Many Christians had died and burial places were becoming an issue, with the government refusing to give land for this in the capital Kathmandu. Ask the Father of compassion to have mercy on Nepal and especially the beleaguered Christians (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
“Persecution of Christians in Nepal is increasing. Evangelists, pastors, Christian workers have been arrested with false allegation. Street evangelists have been beaten badly. Christian workers/missionaries’ activities have been closely tracked and monitored. Hate messages against Nepalese Christians have been spreading through social media. Conversion is criminalised.” This summary of the situation of Christians in Nepal was sent to Barnabas Fund by a senior church leader. Pray that Christians will not give way to fear, but will stand firm in the Lord and focus on “Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).
Praise God that more Eritrean Christians have been released from prison. The 22 freed on 11 April had been held only a few weeks after being arrested at a prayer meeting. The 14 released from a prison on Dahlak Island on 27 April had been imprisoned for four years. At the time of writing there are thought to be at least 129 Christians still in prison in Eritrea. With God’s help, let us pray them free!
Amongst the Eritrean Christians released in the last amazing year was Twen Theodoros (37) who had been in prison for 16 years. She survived the very harsh Wi’a prison, where a meningitis outbreak killed hundreds of prisoners including about 50 Christians. She survived time in a shipping container. She survived a labour camp, with hard work and inadequate food. All the time she led and cared for other women prisoners, sometimes even taking their punishment beatings for them. When she fell sick she was allowed to go home to her family. Instead of taking the opportunity to flee the country, she reported back to the prison again after her medical treatment was complete. Now free, Twen has again refused to consider escaping and is determined to stay in Eritrea. Pray that the Lord will continue to use our brave sister for His purposes and glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, we remember our brothers and sisters suffering imprisonment in Your Name around the world. We ask for vision to intercede for them as if we were suffering alongside them. May the joy of the Lord be their strength in these days of trial. We pray that they will be able to draw comfort from the fact that the Word of God is not chained. Please empower them by Your Spirit to speak boldly and graciously to their persecutors. May their testimony carry conviction that leads others to Christ. (2 Timothy 2:9; Hebrews 13:3)
An American Christian living in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has been charged with illegal importation, after being found in possession of 35 Bibles, 178 New Testaments and two boxes of John’s Gospel, all in Farsi or Arabic. Ryan Keating denied the charges and was released on bail to await his court case; pray that he will be acquitted. Pray that the Good News that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16) may be made known in Northern Cyprus to people of all languages and backgrounds, despite the efforts of the authorities.
Thank the Lord for a ruling by a US federal judge that a university Christian Union in Michigan can be allowed to insist that its leaders are professing Christians. Wayne State University had argued that the Christian Union’s policy was discriminatory, but the judge said that other student groups were allowed to set restrictions on leadership or membership, so the university itself had been discriminatory to expect a Christian group to appoint non-Christians to leadership positions. Pray that this ruling will set a precedent for other universities.
Praise God that on 24 April US President Biden recognised the Armenian Genocide, as the US Congress had in 2019. But many other governments have not yet recognised as genocide the deaths of 3.75 million Armenian, Assyrian, Syriac and Greek Christians under the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Days before Biden’s statement, Jewish leaders in Australia called on the governments of Australia and Israel to recognise the genocide. Barnabas Fund has run petitions this year, asking the governments of Australia, New Zealand and the UK to recognise the genocide. Pray that other world leaders will follow Mr Biden’s example, for such recognition would help to prevent future massacres of vulnerable Christian minorities.
The Armenian Christians of Nagorno-Karabakh have been described as “God-fearing, gentle, friendly and hospitable people”. Much of the enclave in which they live was seized by Muslim-majority Azerbaijan last year and many Armenian civilians were tortured and abused, with several dying in captivity. Nagorno-Karabakh is full of spiritual significance to Armenians, the world’s first Christian nation. It has many ancient churches and other historic Christian sites, but these are being vandalised and destroyed in the areas now controlled by Azerbaijan. Ask that, if it is the Lord’s will, He will bring an end to this persecution which Armenians have suffered so long.
Last year saw an encouraging number of Muslims in Mauritania committing their lives to the Lord. Much suffering was caused by Covid-19 in this impoverished country which is 90% Sahara desert, but Christians were active in helping the neediest, which softened some hearts towards Christianity. As lockdown obliged people to use social media more, it seems that more were reading Gospel messages. Please pray for the new Christians that they will be protected from persecution whether by family and community or by the authorities, and that they will grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord.
“Every Muslim guilty of the crime of apostasy, whether by word or action, will be invited to repent over a period of three days. If he does not repent within this time limit, he is to be condemned to death as an apostate and his property will be confiscated by the Treasury.” This is a translation of Article 306 of the Mauritanian Penal Code. Although there have been no known executions in Mauritania for any crime since 1987, the possibility of being executed still exists for every Muslim who becomes a Christian. Mauritanian Christians ask prayer that their country will “develop in a more tolerant and open way”.
O Lord, Ruler of the Nations, we pray that You will direct those in positions of authority, whether internationally, nationally or locally. May they rule with justice and compassion and with an awareness of their responsibility before God. Guide rulers and lawmakers to be just in their dealings with those who seek to follow You. We pray that You will lead more of Your people into positions of authority to influence society for good. Please enable those who know You to resist any temptation to support policies that run contrary to Your Word. May they pursue Your purposes with an undivided heart. We ask in Jesus’ Name. (Micah 6:8; Romans 13:1-5)
Morocco is a country of contrasts. The constitution and law favour Islam (Christian evangelism is illegal), the population is almost 100% Muslim, but there is usually little official anti-Christian persecution. The attitude of the local wali (governor) largely determines the treatment of Christians, and in remote rural areas Christians are more vulnerable than in the cities. While Moroccan Christians are virtually all first generation converts from Islam with their children/grandchildren and keep a very low profile, there is the remnant of a historic Jewish community dating back at least 1,700 years who are active in business, politics and culture. (There are at present roughly equal numbers of Moroccan Jews and Moroccan Christians in the country.) Pray that Christians will be as accepted by the Muslim majority and be as free to function as the Jewish community are.
Moroccan believers meet discreetly in small fellowships in people’s homes. Because the home is considered the domain of the “woman of the house”, women are prominent in the Moroccan Church and active in many ministries. Pray that our sisters may be equipped and guided in all their service for the Lord. When Moroccan Christians encounter hostility and persecution, it is usually from their own relatives or local community; pray that they will stand firm and not waver in their faith.
The Algerian Church “grows where it can in the cracks of a closed society”, say Algerian Christians as they describe how they have to adapt to pressures, harassment and persecution. They ask prayer for their churches to be granted legal registration and that those church buildings which the authorities have forcibly closed be allowed to re-open. The Covid crisis seemed to have a positive impact on their evangelistic efforts, as the Muslim majority thought more than before about death and the hereafter. Pray for more Algerians to put their faith in the Lord Jesus, and that Algerian church leaders will be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their tumultuous country.
A group of villages in Myanmar’s Kachin State were targeted by the Myanmar armed forces in early May. Repeated bombardment over several days destroyed many houses, killed two people, injured ten and caused thousands to flee, leaving behind all their possessions. An estimated 95% of Kachin people are Christians. Pray that their faith in the Lord will sustain them amidst the many afflictions they face.
On 3 April the Myanmar army raided three church buildings in Mohnyin Township, Kachin State, claiming to be searching for leaders of the protests against the military coup in February. Despite a very thorough search, the soldiers apparently found no one and nothing. The previous month security forces had conducted a midnight search at Kachin Theological College and Seminary. They had also broken into a Kachin church in Shan State and detained ten people for two days. Pray that our righteous Lord, who loves justice, will guide those in power in Myanmar so that there may be peace and freedom for all (Psalm 11:7).
Myanmar fighter jets launched air strikes on a Karen village on 27 March, killing at least three people and injuring eight. Day Pu No village is in an area with a large Christian population. A second bombing raid the next day on villages and a displacement camp forced 3,000 Karen people to flee across the border to Thailand. A majority of the Karen ethnic group of Myanmar are Christians and they have lived with violent persecution from the Buddhist ethnic-Burman majority for three generations. Pray that they may be encouraged by remembering that their “light and momentary troubles” are achieving for them “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Heavenly Father, we lift up to You our brothers and sisters who are victims of conflict throughout the world. We ask You to comfort those who mourn the loss of loved ones. Please remind them that You see all injustice and there will be a day when they will be vindicated. We pray that those who have fled their homes because of violence will know the loving protection and provision of the God of all comfort. Cause them to draw strength from the One who endured all manner of evil so that we might taste the riches of His love. We pray in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3)
Nineteen people were injured when husband and wife suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a church in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, on 28 March. A security guard had managed to stop the couple entering the church, where the congregation were celebrating Palm Sunday. Thank the Lord that no one (except the bombers) died and pray that the injured will fully recover.
Many Indonesian Christians see a pattern of deliberate systematic government neglect of Christian parts of the country, which have had minimal resources provided for them, thus leaving the people in poverty. East Nusa Tenggara and Papua, for example, are very under-developed. This pattern of discriminatory neglect amounts to a type of persecution that has been going on for decades. Pray that the current President, Joko Widodo, who has done much to support Christians, will also put right this long-term injustice.
Indonesia has offered one of its small islands to businessman Elon Musk as a site for the launchpad of his SpaceX project, which aims to put humans on the moon. Biak Island, off the coast of Papua, has a population of about 100,000 people, mainly Christians. They are very concerned about this threat to their traditional livelihoods of fishing in the sea and hunting/gathering in the tropical rainforest. Relocation is not an option in a culture where each family has its traditional hereditary land. Pray that the Christians of Biak will be able to continue to support themselves from the land they have lived on for centuries. Indonesia has also approached Japan, South Korea, China and India as potential investors in Biak, which is ideally suited for a space project, being situated almost on the equator and having plentiful nickel and copper.
Five Islamist terrorists, armed with swords, killed four Indonesian Christians as they worked in a coffee plantation in Poso, Central Sulawesi, on 11 May. A fifth managed to escape the attack. The perpetrators were recognised as members of the East Indonesia Mujahideen, a group loyal to Islamic State but which only has ten known members and seems to operate only in Central Sulawesi. Ask the Lord to send His angelic hosts to protect His people in Indonesia.
Official scrutiny of the small Christian community in Tunisia tends to come in waves. In recent years they find themselves more often questioned by the authorities, more restricted in their comings and goings, and facing more difficulties in finding landlords willing to rent out premises for Christian meetings. At the same time Tunisian society as a whole has grown more open since the Arab Spring ten years ago, the justice system is more independent and fair, there have been two democratic elections and there is gradual economic growth. Pray that the changes in Tunisian society may extend to give greater freedom and acceptance to Christians.
Although Tunisia has many expatriate Christians from Africa and the West, the number of Tunisian believers is only a few thousand, almost all converts from Islam and their children. The second generation believers tend to be bolder and less secretive about their faith than their parents. Pray that the Church will be blessed by the courage of the children together with the maturity and experience of their parents who have suffered much for Christ. Thank the Lord that, after opposition and delays, a “Bible House” bookshop has opened in downtown Tunis. Pray with Tunisian Christians for well established groups of national believers in each of the country’s 24 provinces. At present such groups exist in only nine or ten provinces, while in other provinces the believers are scattered in very small groups not linked to other Christians.
Heavenly Father, we remember those called to leadership of Your church. We intercede for faithful pastors and evangelists that they may exercise their God-given gifts to cause Your Kingdom to be extended. Please grant them perseverance in times of trial and wisdom to communicate Your truth faithfully. Empower them to handle Your Word accurately so that Your suffering people are built up in their relationship with You. We pray that church leaders will know Your grace in times of discouragement and ask that their families will experience Your protection. We pray this in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The tiny Church of national believers in Libya is believed to have doubled in size in 2020 as more Libyan Muslims committed their lives to Christ. This seems to have been partly because of Covid-19 and partly because of tribal feuding and other violent conflict, which together caused people to ask deep spiritual questions. Praise God for all who decided to make Christ their Refuge and Rock in a time of danger. Pray that they will grow in their new faith.
Thank the Lord for answered prayers about Egypt, where Christians say that their situation is now better than anyone can remember before. Humanly speaking, this is due to the efforts of President al-Sisi, who is quick to support them verbally and practically whenever anti-Christian incidents occur. Although there have been a few kidnappings of Christians, the government has exerted itself to get the hostages released. Al-Azhar University now controls most of the mosques so that the extremist Muslim Brotherhood has become much less influential. Pray that the whole Muslim community of Egypt will follow their president’s lead in treating the Christian minority as respected equals. Ask that Islamist extremists seeking his life will not succeed in their plans.