“None of this would be possible without the grace, the goodness and the blessings of our Lord, nor without your involvement, your prayers.” These were the words of Barnabas Aid International Director Dr Patrick Sookhdeo to supporters at the official opening of our food.gives warehouse in Swindon, UK on 11 June. At the time of writing we have sent more than 1,000 tonnes of food and other donated items from seven countries to needy Christians in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, southern and eastern Africa and South Asia, reaching a million households. Thank the Lord for all we have been able to do so far to help His people. Pray that He will continue to guide and keep the work of Barnabas Aid in ministering to the suffering Church around the world.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we are deeply saddened to see how the ongoing global food crisis is affecting people around our world. More than 2.3 billion people face hunger, with millions at risk of starvation and death. All of these are people created in Your image, and many are Your believing children. Please bless the work of all the relief organisations and aid agencies seeking to alleviate hunger and food poverty. Please provide for the followers of Your Son in lands where they are the last to receive help. May He who provided sustenance for thousands from a few loaves and fish – and who remains the same yesterday, today and forever – graciously provide again for all those in urgent need, because we ask it in His Name. (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 14:13-21; Hebrews 13:8)
“We have no food in our area,” said one church leader in Matabeleland, a desperately poor region of Zimbabwe. He was speaking after low rainfall had resulted in yet another poor harvest. Another church leader explained, “In my village, out of 47 households, only 6 harvested enough grain [to last] until August.” Working through local churches and Christian organisations, Barnabas is providing a special maize-based porridge called ePap. Fortified with vitamins, minerals and protein, a small daily amount quickly brings health to malnourished children and adults. Pray for the success of these efforts on behalf of our brothers and sisters, and for the Lord’s provision in Zimbabwe.
“This confirms that our hope in Christ is still alive and will be alive forevermore.” These were the joyful words of Vohitane, a Christian mother in southern Madagascar, after receiving desperately needed help from Barnabas. Vohitane and her family were among 6,831 poor Christian families given seeds provided by Barnabas to grow food to help them avoid famine in a region where rains have fallen recently. Families are reporting crop yields of 80% after planting the seeds of maize, antaka (local beans) and pumpkin, which they could not afford to buy themselves. They now have food to eat and enough to sell to earn an income. Our church partners say the project has encouraged and strengthened Christians in their faith and saved lives. Praise the Lord that the physical and spiritual needs of His people are being met.
“Jesus Christ had compassion when He visited [this] church and used Barnabas Aid to feed those hundred families who have been starving,” said Charles, a Kenyan missionary. “God bless you for remembering this people.” Charles was speaking after a Barnabas-funded food distribution at a church in northern Kenya, an area in which Christians have been excluded when aid from other sources is distributed. The famine here shows no sign of abating, with the drought in northern Kenya declared a national emergency and half a million people at risk of starvation. Ask the Lord, in whom we hope, to send rain for northern Kenya and everywhere affected by drought (Jeremiah 14:22).
In a recent edition of its official publication al-Naba, Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) praised its fighters across Africa and called for Muslims to migrate to African countries as part of a campaign to Islamicise the continent. There are seven IS provinces (wilayat) in Africa, where the Islamist group is thought to have carried out nearly half of all its terrorist attacks in 2022 so far. Pray that our sovereign Lord will not allow the plans of the men of violence to prosper, and that the faith of Africa’s many Christians will continue to be a powerful witness of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Islamist violence is worsening in beleaguered northern Mozambique, often referred to as “the Land of Fear” owing to the brutality of Islamist extremists. In June 2022 fighters linked to Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) claimed responsibility for beheading several Christians. Many Christians, along with Muslims who refuse to embrace the Islamists’ radical views, have been killed or forced from their homes. Cry out to the Lord for the terrorised population of northern Mozambique, especially our brothers and sisters. Pray that “the Land of Fear” will become a land of faith.
“When we arrived it was already too late ... they had already killed more than a dozen of our fellow citizens.” This was the report of an army spokesman in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after Islamists killed at least 24 villagers in a Christian-majority region of the country. The attack was carried out by terrorists linked to Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) armed with machetes. Violence in north-eastern DRC shows no sign of abating. Pray for our brothers and sisters, that they will remain firm in their faith. Ask the Lord to bring peace to this troubled land.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we lift up to You our brothers and sisters in Eritrea, who suffer greatly from government persecution. Many of Your children are imprisoned for their faith in Your Son. Others have their freedom to worship and to share the Gospel curtailed by government restrictions. We pray for all such, that You will strengthen them and keep them from despair. We give thanks for the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray, that all those who suffer loss for the Gospel will be greatly blessed in the age to come. (Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 19:29)
Give thanks that the government of Tunisia is amending its constitution, apparently as a means of discouraging Islamist extremism. Following a referendum on 25 July, the Tunisian constitution no longer names Islam as the North African country’s state religion. “Eighty percent of Tunisians are against extremism and against the use of religion for political ends,” said a legal expert who worked on the new draft. “If you use religion to engage in political extremism, we will not allow that.” Pray that the amendment will have the intended effect, and will also improve the situation of Tunisia’s small Christian community, especially Tunisian converts from Islam.
Pray for a congregation in Luxor, southern Egypt, whose church suffered an attack by a mob of Muslim extremists after nearly 20 years without a violent incident. The church was among 239 to be granted a licence by the Egyptian authorities in April 2022. Like other churches officially recognised in this way, it was then protected by guards from Egypt’s Interior Ministry. Both the licensing and the stationing of guards appears to have angered some local Muslims, who attacked the building, threw stones at the homes of Christians, and set vehicles owned by the Christians on fire. Give thanks that nobody was hurt during this rampage, and ask the Lord to again grant peace to the believers in Luxor.
Kyrillos Megally, an Egyptian Christian, had returned to his home village in Sohag, Upper Egypt, for a holiday when he was attacked and killed by a Muslim with an alleged history of harassing and insulting Christians. Abdullah Hosni, who has confessed to the killing, is reported to have pushed Kyrillos from the motorcycle he was riding before striking him repeatedly with a cleaver, inflicting fatal injuries. Pray for the family of Kyrillos and ask the Lord to draw close to them and give them comfort. Pray for guidance for the authorities investigating the killing and that a just verdict is reached in the case.
Continue to pray for Rahmat Rostamipour, an Iranian convert from Islam who has now received a £155 ($185; €184) fine for his role in setting up unlawful “house churches”. The fine is approximately one month’s wages in Iran. As well as this, Rahmat will face five years’ deprivation of social rights (these may include being sent to live in another part of the country, restrictions on being able to work, or a ban on meeting other believers) and a suspended fine of £465 ($555; €552) that will be imposed if he is deemed to re-offend within the next two years. Intercede for Rahmat and his family as they adapt to the increased scrutiny they face, asking that they will draw comfort from the Lord’s presence even if they are denied fellowship with other believers.
An Iranian pastor has been given a ten-year prison sentence for his role in running an unlawful “house church” in Tehran. Joseph Shahbazian is an Iranian-Armenian, and therefore permitted to worship as part of Iran’s historic Armenian Christian community. However, he pastored a church that included Iranian converts from Islam. Ask the Lord to sustain Joseph and his family throughout this difficult time. Pray also for a change of heart from the Iranian authorities, that they will allow Muslim-background believers to worship freely.
Give thanks that the government of Iraq has once again demonstrated its commitment to restoring buildings and property stolen from Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities. A committee working to inspect documents, determine ownership, and restore property has been expanded with three new members. This committee has already overseen the return of more than 120 houses, factories, shops and parcels of land to Christians and to Sabeans, a religious minority native to Iraq. These properties were stolen as Christians and others fled the 2014-17 occupation of the region by Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). Ask for guidance for the committee members, and pray that all stolen properties will be returned to their rightful owners.
Our Father, we lift up to You our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia, where no non-Muslim worship is permitted and where Christian converts from Islam face violence and even death for the Name of Christ. We can only guess how many of Your people are in Saudi Arabia, but each one is known individually and personally to You. Please turn and be gracious to these lonely and afflicted believers, guarding them from harm as they take refuge in You, for we ask in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Psalm 25:16,20)
“They are caught between a hammer and a piece of iron,” said a church leader from north-east Syria to Barnabas Aid. He was describing the plight of Christians, who face danger from several sources as well as a blighted economy that makes daily life a huge struggle. Add your prayers to his for all who are suffering in this terrible situation. Ask the Lord for courage for all the Christians in north-east Syria and wisdom from above for their leaders seeking to be channels of God’s blessing in very difficult circumstances.
The cost of bread in Lebanon is reported to have increased by 550% and at the time of writing is becoming scarce in the shops. Long bread queues form and some people can no longer afford to buy this basic food at all. Cooking oil is virtually unavailable. Medicines and medical tests are so expensive that many have to go without and simply endure their sickness or die. Pray that the aid provided by Barnabas for some of the neediest Christians in Lebanon will bring hope and encouragement. Pray also for wisdom for its government and the international community in attending to this crisis.
Lift up before the Lord a Christian family in Mardin province, Turkey, who were subjected to an unprovoked attack on the day Sunday worship was conducted in a newly refurbished church building in their village. The Yilmaz family are the only Assyrians in their village, and were hosting visiting church ministers who were leading worship in the church for the first time in nearly a century. Around 500 Muslim extremists, led by a local Muslim family, attacked the family home with stones, sticks and other weapons, as well as setting fire to crops. Thankfully there were no injuries, and the service went ahead as planned. Give thanks for the re-opening of the historic church and pray for the safety of the Yilmaz family.
An ancient Christian cemetery in Mardin province, Turkey, has been vandalised, with bones and Christian objects scattered. The damage was discovered when Christians visited the site for the first time in three years, a postponement caused by Covid-19 restrictions. The incident demonstrates the opposition that still faces Turkey’s Christian minority. “They do not leave our dead alone even in the grave,” said a Christian resident. “This brutal behaviour is a great insult to our religion and culture.” Ask that the unfailing love of the Lord will comfort His people in Mardin and across Turkey, giving them spiritual strength (Psalm 119:76).
There are several cases when ministers or pastors of small churches in villages, like other men in Uzbekistan, are leaving the country to seek work to support their families. This is because of the desperate economic situation that has seen prices for flour and sunflower oil rise by 100% or more. Pastors often face a heart-breaking choice between staying to serve their flock and leaving in order to provide for their families. Pray that the Lord will provide for His impoverished people in Uzbekistan with both spiritual and physical food.
Give thanks that the process of church registration in Uzbekistan is being restarted, having been suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it is not a simple matter for churches to gain registration. It is required that registered churches are led by pastors with university diplomas, while the churches must also own their own buildings. Many congregations share the few registered church buildings that there are, while others meet illegally in homes. Thankfully at present the government is not actively persecuting house meetings for converts from Islam, and has not been for several years. Many churches have also started Uzbek-language services for converts. Pray that the Lord will continue to sustain His Church in Uzbekistan.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we are mindful that our Lord Jesus Christ warned us against both false hope and hopeless despair, for neither of these reactions to the events and the circumstances around us comes from faith. Rather, help us by Your Holy Spirit to have a realistic acceptance of the circumstances and a lasting hope based on the promises of Your Holy Word. Thank You that even in darkness and trouble, even amidst suffering and persecution, hope and peace are found in Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray. (Luke 21:8-9; John 14:27)
The government of Tajikistan has said that it will not register any more churches, although it has not announced any reason behind its decision. The announcement confirms what has been the practice in the Muslim-majority Central Asian country, where no new church has been registered in the last ten years. “We are sad that we are not allowed to open new churches and are banned from sharing our faith,” said one church leader. The government also reiterated that children under the age of 18 are not permitted to attend church services. Pray that the Lord will sustain and encourage Christians and others in Tajikistan facing oppressive laws. Ask that children of Christian parents will still be able to be built up in their faith despite the restrictions on public worship.
“If your children’s lives are precious to you, leave the area, leave. This area belongs to Azerbaijan.” Armenian Christians in parts of Nagorno-Karabakh have been receiving threatening voicemails such as this in an effort to chase them from their ancestral lands. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh – an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan – in September-November 2020 devastated the traditional farming industry on which many families are dependent. Thank the Lord for the courage of the Christian families who have chosen to remain and pray for the success of Barnabas Aid’s provision of sheep, pigs and beehives to Christian families trying to rebuild their lives in this war-torn land.
“In our country, death has become a daily meal.” This was the lament of Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso in Kaduna State, Nigeria, after Vitus Borogo, a church minister, was killed while working on his farm. The words proved sadly accurate, as the very next day in Edo State another church minister, Christopher Odia, was shot and killed by gunmen as he prepared to lead Sunday worship. Lift up in prayer Nigerian believers for whom death has become their daily meal, asking the Lord will prepare for them a table of blessings in the midst of their enemies (Psalm 23:5).
Three Christians were killed and two injured in Kaduna State, Nigeria, as Islamist extremists on motorcycles attacked two Sunday morning church services in Rubu village. The dead were named as Peter Madaki, Elisha Ezekiel, and Ali Zamani. As many as 36 people were abducted. “I spoke to a man whose wife, mother and daughter were taken,” said an advisor to the Governor of Kaduna. “The anguish in his voice is something none of us should experience.” Pray that the Lord will wipe the tears from the eyes of the bereaved and that our abducted brothers and sisters will be freed safely and swiftly. Ask that beleaguered Christians have the patience to endure these difficult and testing times.
Abductions of Christians and especially church leaders are becoming increasingly common in Nigeria. On 10 June three evangelists – Peter Adigidzi, Pastor Sunday Abah and Pastor Mike Baba – were kidnapped by gunmen in Kogi State. Two days later, on Sunday 12 June, the Bishop of Jebba Diocese, the Rt Rev Oluwaseun Aderogba, was abducted with his wife and driver in Oyo State. The next day an assistant pastor, Oluwaseun Ajose, and a Sunday school teacher, Dagunro Ayobami were taken from a church in Ogun State – thankfully these two men have since been released. Intercede for those of our brothers and sisters who remain in captivity, asking for their safe and swift release. Ask that a solution is found to the wave of abductions and violence that has wracked Nigeria. Pray that the Lord will break the power of those who threaten His people.
“We thank you for your prayers, support, encouragement and show of love. May the name of the Lord be praised, now and forever. Amen! Thank you!” These were the words of Reverend Christopher Omotosho, a senior church leader in Katsina State, Nigeria, after four Christians were released by their kidnappers. Stephen Ojapa and Oliver Okpara, both church ministers, and a Christian couple, Mr Hassan Hassan and Mrs Ummie Hassan, had been abducted a month previously. Join with Reverend Omotosho in giving thanks and praising “the name of the Lord, for his name is alone exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens” (Psalm 148:13).
Father God, we are mindful that Your Word tells us that those who persevere to the end will be saved. We recognise that we are living in a time of persecution when Christians are falling away from the faith and betraying one another, false prophets are leading people astray, and wickedness is increasing – a time prophesied by Your Son. Yet, He also promised that nobody will snatch us out of His hand or Yours. Preserve us we pray, as You promise in Your Word, for we ask it in His Name. (Luke 21:19; Matthew 24:13; John 10:28-29)
“I have forgiven those behind these killings and abduction. Also, I have accepted the will of God.” This was the wonderful statement of a Nigerian mother of three, whose daughter was kidnapped, whose husband was wounded, and whose two sons were shot and killed by gunmen who broke into her house. The two young men – Fanye Umaru, 23, and his brother Kefrey, 19 – were killed as they and their father tried to stop the bandits from entering the family home. Mrs Umaru spoke on the occasion of her sons’ funeral, at which point her husband Pastor Daniel Umaru was still in hospital and her 13-year-old daughter Ijagla still being held by her kidnappers. Give thanks that Ijagla has since been released, pray for healing for Pastor Umaru, and ask that Mrs Umaru’s grace will be an example to us all.