Lord God and Heavenly Father, we lift up to You all of Your people across the world who have been displaced by persecution and violence over many years. We think in particular of our brother Barka Amos in Borno State, Nigeria, who after another attack on his village by Islamic State said, “I am tired of running.” Please strengthen all believers who have had to flee danger, reminding them that, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” We ask in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Proverbs 18:10, NKJV)
Boko Haram militants killed 4 Christian men and abducted at least 24 other Christians, 22 women and girls, and two men, in three separate attacks in Chibok Local Government Area, Borno State, Nigeria. Four girls were subsequently released by their abductors. Borno State Governor Babagana Umara Zulum pledged additional security support.
Pray that such support is forthcoming and effective in preventing further violence. Ask that those still held captive will be released unharmed and that those bereaved will know the Lord’s comfort.
When Aicha’s husband discovered that she had left Islam to follow Christ, he told her she must choose between her home and her faith. “I decided to be faithful to my Lord,” says Aicha, who lives in Burkina Faso. She and her children were thrown out. Working through the local church, Barnabas aid provided food for Aicha and other very needy Christian families. “We are humbled and thankful that Christians from far away are helping us with so much food,” said Aicha.
Pray that Aicha, the other beneficiaries and their local churches will continue strong in the Lord, despite their hardships.
Military leader Paul-Henri Damiba took office as President of Burkina Faso in February, promising to tackle the Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, many of them Christian, and forced more than 1.4 million to flee their homes. Islamist groups have frequently targeted Christians, church leaders and places of worship. Most Christians have fled the worst-affected areas, and the few remaining believers worship in secret.
Pray for peace in Burkina Faso and ask for the Lord’s protection over its beleaguered people. Ask our Almighty Father, for whom nothing is impossible, to change the hatred of the men of violence into love (Matthew 19:26).
“I have seen the love of the Church,” said a Christian woman after Barnabas sent food and practical aid to survivors of a jihadi attack on a predominantly Christian village in South Sudan. Islamist militants killed at least 25 villagers, razed homes and a church, stole their animals and destroyed their food stores. It was just one of a number of anti-Christian attacks on communities by jihadists from across the border in Sudan. Ask for comfort for the bereaved, an end to the attacks and strength for the survivors to rebuild.
Pray that these exhausted Christians will fix their thoughts on Jesus, and hold firmly to their confidence and hope of His glory (Hebrews 3:1,6).
A bill to recognise the Ottoman-era Armenian Genocide was scheduled to receive its second reading in the UK House of Commons on 18 March. Unfortunately, through time constraints, the reading did not take place. Parliament was prorogued (the official end of the parliamentary session) on 29 April ahead of UK local elections. This means that the bill will not progress any further.
Pray that the UK will eventually join more than 30 countries that have officially recognised the Genocide in which 3.75 million Christians in the Ottoman Empire were killed between 1893 and 1923.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Christian-majority country, has suffered much over the past 140 years. Under the despotic rule of King Leopold II of Belgium (1885-1908) the people of this land were treated brutally. Violence has continued since the country gained independence in 1960. Today cobalt mining, driven by the world’s desire for lithium batteries to power mobile phones and electric cars, is the scourge of the DRC. Child labour is common, the mines hazardous, and workers often mistreated.
Pray for the success of efforts to better regulate mining, that the poverty and misery of our brothers and sisters will be alleviated, and that peace will come to this troubled nation.
Father God, we pray for Your children across Africa. Many suffer persecution, poverty and hunger. These problems appear set to increase as the population of Africa grows, with predictions that from 1.2 billion today the continent will be home to 2.5 billion people by 2050. Yet simultaneously the Church here is growing, and if this continues nearly half of all Christians on earth will live in Africa. Thank You in the Name of Your Son that His Kingdom is increasing, and for the hope that “a people not yet born will praise the Lord”. (Psalm 102:18, NLT)
A report published in March 2022 highlighted continuing human rights abuses in Eritrea. Investigators said that since 1991 thousands of Eritreans have been arbitrarily imprisoned, often subjected to degrading conditions, forced labour, and torture. Some have died, while the whereabouts of others is unknown. Many of those imprisoned are Christians, who are regarded by Eritrea’s communist government with suspicion and hostility. Church leaders are often singled out for beatings, extra punishments or extended prison sentences. It is estimated that there are 160 Christians imprisoned in Eritrea, but the exact figure is unknown.
Pray that the government of Eritrea will stop persecuting believers.
The province of Tizi Ouzou has the highest concentration of Christians in Algeria. On 2 February the provincial governor began legal proceedings against leaders of a church in Ait Atteli with a view to closing it down. He cited a 2006 ordinance that stipulates permission must be obtained before a building is used for non-Muslim worship.
Pray that the church leaders will be wise in dealing with the court case. Ask that the church will avoid closure and that the government will begin to grant licences allowing Christians in Algeria to worship legally.
Egyptian Christian Abanoub, 19, recalls as “a memorable event” receiving the gift of a personal Bible at the age of 12. He uses it regularly for guidance and comfort. Pray that every one of the 4,791 young Egyptian Christians, aged 12 and 13, who have recently received the gift of a Bible, funded by Barnabas, will also cherish the Word of God, and use the Scriptures throughout their lives as a lamp to their feet and a light to their path (Psalm 119:105).
On 9 February Judge Boulos Fahmy Eskandar, a Christian, was sworn in as President of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court. It is the first time that a Christian has been appointed to this position, which makes Boulous effectively Egypt’s most senior judge. The appointment of a Christian to such a high position of authority is rare in a Muslim-majority country, and demonstrates the courage of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s support for religious equality.
Pray for Judge Boulos, that the Lord will grant him wisdom and make him a blessing to the people of Egypt. Give thanks for the improving situation of Egyptian Christians.
“I am very sad,” wrote a Jordanian church leader to Barnabas, describing the situation in his country. Life in Jordan (which includes the Biblical region of Gilead) is becoming very hard, with the result that many people are emigrating, especially young Christian families. “My heart bleeds for them leaving,” wrote the church leader, “and I fear that Christianity may die in her birthplace [the Middle East].” Only about 130,000 Christians remain in Jordan. On top of this, two pastors recently died of Covid.
Pray that this crushed and mourning Christian community may find balm and healing in their beloved Lord (Jeremiah 8:21-22).
Continue to pray for Syria, especially our fellow Christians there. One wrote from Aleppo in February describing the terrible new poverty, which he said was even worse than the pandemic. “The Syrian economy is suffering major collapse, high inflation, the depreciation of the local Syrian pound, and uncontrollable high prices for food, transportation, medicine, fuel, gas and clothing.” The churches are struggling to provide even a little help to their congregations “in this bleeding and financially exhausted country”. The following month we were told of an important city on the Turkish border getting electricity for only 30 minutes in every 24 hours. Prayer was requested that the crops in that region of Syria could be gathered in safely this year, and not set on fire by Turkish armed forces just before harvest-time.
Almighty God, our Father, we cry out for Christian brothers and sisters facing isolation and extreme loneliness for the Gospel’s sake. We pray for those suffering in prison, away from loved ones, those rejected from their families and socially excluded because of their faith in You, even forced to leave their homeland. Please cause them to sense You drawing alongside them to counsel, to comfort and to chart the course of their lives. While they may feel insignificant and unknown, may they be assured that they are known by You and encouraged that You have a plan for their lives.
We ask this in the precious Name of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 6: 4-10)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is overseeing reforms in this highly conservative Islamic kingdom. Known as Vision 2030, the Saudi programme includes a reduction in the powers of the religious police and an expansion in women’s rights, alongside an unofficial softening of the ban on marking Christmas and other holidays celebrated in the West. Saudi Arabia remains a strictly Islamic country. There are over a million expatriate Christians, who are barred from practising their faith openly, and an unknown number of Saudi converts who are at great risk.
Pray that these reforms will continue, and that Christians of all backgrounds will be accepted.
More than 120 homes, shops, factories and plots of land stolen in Iraq from Christians and Sabeans, another indigenous religious minority, were restored and given back to their rightful owners in February. The ownership review was conducted by the Committee for Restitution of Christian and Sabean Property, set up in early 2021 by Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Sadrist Movement holds the majority in Iraq’s parliament.
Give thanks to the Lord of justice and compassion for answering the cries of His people (Isaiah 30:18-19). Pray that this initiative will continue and that Christians return to their lands
Thanksgiving for the acquittal of eight Christian converts in Dezful, Iran on charges of “propaganda activities” was tempered by additional sanctions against them. Esmaeil Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi Shangari, Masood Nabi, Alireza Varak-Shah, Hojat Lotfi Khalaf Juy, Mohammad Kayidgap, Mohsen Saadati Zadeh and Alireza Roshanaei Zadeh were all found not guilty in November 2021. However, in January 2022 they were all summoned, along with other Christians, to attend ten classes with an Islamic cleric so that they could be guided “back onto the right path”, i.e. Islam.
Pray that Iranian Christians forced to undertake such classes will stand firm in their faith.
Naser Navard Goltapeh, a 60-year-old Iranian Christian convert, has served more than four years of a prison sentence for “acting against national security with the intention to overthrow the regime”. He has always contested the charges, which concern running a house church. The Supreme Court finally agreed to review his case in January 2022 but has now ruled that there are no grounds for a retrial, without giving any explanation.
Pray that the Lord will strengthen Naser, reminding him that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. Intercede for other imprisoned and exiled Iranian Christians to draw on God’s grace and truth amid intimidation and false accusations.
On 24 January a group of Iranian Christians previously imprisoned for their faith released a statement protesting against the denial of the right to education to Farsi-speaking Christians in Iran. The signatories included Mary Mohammadi, expelled from university, without explanation, on the eve of her exams in December 2019. Farsi-speaking Christian children who refuse to take Islamic Studies classes have been barred from school. Unlike the historic Armenian- and Assyrian-speaking Christian communities, Farsi-speaking Christians are converts from Islam. As apostates they are liable to punishment according to Islamic law.
Ask the Lord to open doors for Christians of all backgrounds to have full access to education in Iran and that the authorities see them as valued contributors to society.
Only the Lord knows how many Christians remain in Afghanistan. Believers there are at risk of being killed as apostates from Islam. They must hide their faith from the Taliban government, their neighbours, and usually from their family and friends. Many keep moving from place to place to avoid detection. As well as suffering for their faith, Afghan Christians share in the wider suffering of Afghanistan – poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
Ask that the Lord will protect, strengthen and sustain His people in Afghanistan, send the food they so desperately need, and provide a safe haven for those who have been forced to leave their homes.
Lord Jesus, we thank You for the promise that those who give up everything to follow You will receive blessings in this life and, in the age to come, eternal life. We pray for Christians in cultures where family and nationhood ties are so strong that leaving the majority religion to follow Christ is seen as treachery. Please enable our brothers and sisters to remain true to their calling and to be filled with the sure conviction that they are forever part of the worldwide family of God and His holy nation.
We ask this in Your Name and for Your glory. (Mark 10:29-30; 1 Peter 2:9-10)
Many Christians in Pakistan are consigned to poorly paid, dirty jobs such as sanitation work (e.g. cleaning sewers) and street sweeping. The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) initiated a campaign in Islamabad on 25 January criticising advertisements for sanitation workers and other low-paid, menial work that stipulate applicants must be non-Muslim. Give thanks for NCHR’s initiative and pray that adverts requiring sanitary workers to be members of religious minorities will be outlawed. Ask that Christians will no longer be viewed as unclean, fit only for dirty and dangerous jobs, but as equal and valued members of Pakistani society.
Pray also for greater employment opportunities for our brothers and sisters and better conditions for all sanitary workers.
Pakistani Christian Pervez Masih was involved in an altercation with a group of Muslims in February in the games store he ran in Lahore, which appeared to have been settled after intervention by local Christians. The following day, however, a mob of between 150 to 200 Muslims went to the store armed with guns, clubs and iron bars. Pervez was hit on the head with a brick and died. Police later registered a case of murder against the members of the mob. Only a day before Pervez was killed, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said his government has “zero tolerance” for anyone taking the law into their own hands.
Ask the Lord to wipe the tears from the eyes of Pervez’s mother and sisters and pray that their needs will be met (Revelation 21:4). Give thanks for the words of Prime Minister Khan and pray that they will be put into practice.
In February Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology declared that violence against those accused of “blasphemy” is “contrary to Islamic principles”. The statement came in response to two high-profile cases of mob violence, in which two “blasphemy” suspects – one Buddhist, the other Muslim – were killed. The council also recommended a campaign using texts from the Quran and other Islamic sources to show that “such brutal torture by a violent mob is neither logical nor in line with the injunctions of the religion”.
Pray that these efforts will be successful, and that accusations of “blasphemy” will no longer be a means of inciting violence towards Christians or any others in Pakistan.
Suffering Christians around the world are strengthened and encouraged in the knowledge that the risen Lord Jesus Christ has ascended to His Father, in victory over sin, death, hell and all the forces of darkness. The Son of God is even now, in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, “seated at the right hand of the Father”. Our Lord is enthroned in power and authority, He intercedes for all His people (Hebrews 7:25), and He will soon return (Acts 1:11; Revelation 22:20).
Pray that this knowledge will comfort our hearts, and those of our Christian family in every land.
Priya Rajan, 28, made history on 4 March when sworn in as mayor of Chennai, formerly Madras, India’s fourth largest city. She became the city’s youngest ever mayor and the first Dalit Christian woman to hold this office. Scheduled Castes, including Dalits, are viewed as having the lowest status within the Hindu caste system and their representation in such high position is rare. Praise the Lord for Priya’s election and ask Him to fill her abundantly with wisdom as she addresses her new responsibilities.
Pray that she will know His Divine guidance in serving the people of Chennai and inspire India’s Christian population, 70% of which is estimated to be from a Caste background.
In an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Christian politician Margaret Alva called on his government to do more to protect Christians and other religious minorities from extremist groups. A former governor of several Indian states, Ms Alva argued that Modi’s silence was taken as “tacit approval and encouragement” by extremist elements within Indian society. She highlighted anti-conversion legislation as an infringement of personal liberties and a violation of the Indian Constitution.
Pray that Margaret Alva’s voice will be heeded and that the government will take steps to protect Christians and other minorities.
Loving Father, we thank You for the verdict of a judge in Tamil Nadu, India, who gave permission for the construction of a church building despite local opposition. We praise You that through this decision You have provided for Your people and we ask that the building will be a blessing to the whole community. May those who worship in this church, and Your people around the world – including ourselves – pray and praise You with our whole hearts, and grow in knowledge and love of the Lord. We ask this in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
On 22 March the state government of Haryana, India, became the latest to pass an anti-conversion bill to “prevent religious conversions through force, undue influence or allurement”. Such legislation can be easily misused against Christians engaged in valid evangelism. A church leader protested against the bill saying, “Our constitution provides us the freedom to choose any religion according to our free will. It is our fundamental right.” Haryana joins nine other Indian states with anti-conversion laws.
Pray that Christians will not be falsely accused of seeking converts through underhand means, and that India’s constitutional commitment to freedom of religion will be upheld.
The Gospel was brought by Western missionaries to the north-east Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in 1834, but it was not until 1960 that the seed sown really began to bear fruit. Anti-Christian persecution has occurred, the worst period being 1970-1990. This was also the period of fastest Church growth, when Christians increased from 0.6% to 30%. They are now estimated at 40-45% making Christianity the predominant faith. But there is still persecution from Buddhists, who demolished a church hall not long ago and warned Christians not to meet for worship or any other purpose. Believers, however, are continuing to meet quietly and by night, and evangelists are continuing to share the Good News.
Praise God for what He is doing and pray for the protection of all His people in Arunachal Pradesh.