Give thanks that Almighty God has knit together believers from every part of the world in communion and fellowship with one another and with Him, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Pray that Christians who suffer persecution, poverty and hunger will be an example to those believers who live in safer parts of the world, as well as being a powerful witness to all those around them. Ask that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that He will sustain them in their Christian faith, until we all meet as one great multitude that no man can number, “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
Around 33 million people were affected when unprecedented flooding in August and September left large areas of Pakistan under water. At the time of writing the danger was from water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and gastroenteritis that had claimed hundreds of lives in Sindh, the worst-hit province. Many of our brothers and sisters lost their homes, livelihoods, crops and animals in the flood waters. Barnabas responded to urgent calls for help by sending food, drinking water, medicines and plastic sheeting to create temporary shelters. Pray that Christians will have courage and perseverance knowing that God will meet their needs according to the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19).
With smiling faces they are praising God and giving thanks in their trials and sufferings,” reported Barnabas Aid’s Pakistan Coordinator, describing Christians in Sindh province, the area worst affected by devastating flooding in Pakistan in August and September. He was helping our project partners to distribute Barnabas-funded food, clean water and other practical aid to remote and isolated Christian communities where no other aid had reached. Christian farmer “Chand” said he felt very blessed by God who had provided “for His people through His people”. Pray that the joy of the Lord will continue to be their strength in these days of trial (Nehemiah 8:10).
Praise God that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has granted bail to three Christians accused of “blasphemy”. Salamat Mansha Masih had been charged after distributing Christian literature, while Patras Masih and Raja Waris were accused of posting offensive material online. Give thanks that the Supreme Court recognised the lack of evidence against our three brothers. Pray that Salamat, Patras and Raja will all be acquitted or the cases against them dropped, and for their protection from attack by zealous Muslims.
Give thanks for a highly significant and welcome legal opinion published by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which affirmed that the preaching of Christianity “is not a crime, nor can it be made into one”. The court’s judgment came as it granted bail to Salamat Mansha Masih, who is accused of “blasphemy” (see Friday 4 November). The nine-page opinion also raises issues such as false and malicious “blasphemy” allegations, the lack of credible evidence in many “blasphemy” cases, and the mob violence that often faces the accused. Pray that the court’s opinion will be heeded by the police, lower courts and Muslim-majority society.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we thank You that Your Word forewarns us of persecution, opposition and suffering. Please equip us by Your Holy Spirit to stand firm in our Christian faith despite earthly suffering, reminding us that though such suffering is real and painful it is but for a moment, and not to be compared with the eternal glory that awaits all those who stand firm. May Your Word keep us from both false hope and faithless despair, for we ask in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 24;13)
“I am so grateful for my God who provided everything for me here – I can worship God, I can pray, I can be with my God.” These are the words of Samim, a first-generation Afghan Christian convert who fled his homeland and the threat of death at the hands of the Taliban. He is among the first group of Afghan Christians whom Barnabas has helped to start new lives in safety in Brazil. Give thanks for the steadfast faith of these converts from Islam, and ask God to help us to learn from their example of courage and perseverance. Praise God for churches in Brazil who have welcomed the refugees as their brothers and sisters (Matthew 25:40).
The number of Christians still living in Afghanistan is known only to the Lord. As converts from Islam or children of converts, they face the death penalty for apostasy if discovered. Being in hiding, they cannot work. The growing humanitarian crisis affecting all Afghan people has added to the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Pray for food and other essential supplies to reach Christians, and that they will also be provided with spiritual food and encouragement. Ask the Lord to enable His people to find safe havens, whether within Afghanistan or abroad, where they will be protected from the danger of violence and death for their faith.
Muslim-background Christians have often been viewed with suspicion and distrust in Muslim-majority Kazakhstan, but now this hostility is increasingly directed against all Christians. This situation has arisen in part because of a growing sense of Kazakh nationalism that is linked to Islamic identity. Around 25% of Kazakhstan’s population are Christians. Pray that our brothers and sisters, whether they are from a Muslim background or a Christian background, will stand should they face attacks or discrimination from their non-Christian neighbours.
Fourteen Kyrgyzstan churches were encouraged when 134 of the poorest families from their congregations received three months’ food from Barnabas. “They have seen the real work of God in caring for their children through Barnabas,” a pastor told us. All of the aid recipients are facing hardship − some because they have disabled children, others are widowed, elderly or unable to work because of health issues. Most are converts from Islam who receive no help from their relatives because of their faith in Jesus. Pray that though hard pressed on every side, these Christian convert families will not be crushed, though perplexed they will not despair, though persecuted they will never feel abandoned (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Lebanon’s catastrophic economic situation is reckoned to be even worse than in war-ravaged Syria. Yet Dima, a young Syrian Christian widow, came to Lebanon with her children in 2021, when Lebanon was mired in dreadful calamities. She depends on the church for practical support, as do many Lebanese Christians. In Lebanon there are long queues to buy bread, and cooking oil is virtually unobtainable. Fuel is so costly that lengthy cooking is out of the question for many. People have died because they could no longer afford the medication they depended on. Pray that our Lebanese and Syrian brothers and sisters will receive vital aid and support in rebuilding their lives.
The presidential election for the self-declared Republic of Somaliland will be held tomorrow, Sunday 13 November. Incumbent President Musa Bihi Abdi of Kulmiye, first elected in 2017, is eligible to seek a second five-year term in office. Islam is the official religion of Somaliland. Its constitution prohibits conversion from Islam to another religion, stipulates that its laws “shall not be contrary to Islamic sharia” and bans the propagation of any religion except Islam. The few Christians are all converts from Islam or children of converts. Pray that the elections will be conducted peacefully and that whoever is elected to office will govern fairly for all the people of Somaliland. Ask that any laws introduced will not be determined by extreme interpretations of sharia and will allow Christians to practise their faith in peace.
Father God, we lift up before You our brothers and sisters around the world who are imprisoned for their faith in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We think of those who have been locked away in Iranian prisons, who have been jailed for alleged “blasphemy” in Pakistan, or are being held in the detention centres and concentration camps of China and North Korea. Please draw near to each one by Your Holy Spirit, reminding Your children that though they have lost their earthly freedom, perhaps permanently, they have a profound and eternal freedom in Christ, in whose Name we pray, that can never be taken away. (Luke 4:18; Galatians 5:1; John 10:29)
Three Iranian Christians who were convicted of involvement in “house church” activities lost their appeals for retrial in August. Iranian-Armenian pastor Anooshavan Avedian, 60, was sentenced to ten years in jail for “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam”. Two members of his house church, Christian converts Miss Maryam Mohammadi and Mr Abbas Soori, both in their mid-40s, were given sentences of two years’ internal exile and banned from travelling abroad, for membership of the church. Pray that Anooshavan, Maryam and Abbas will remain steadfast under the trial of imprisonment, knowing that the crown of life awaits all who love God (James 1:12).
Pastor Joseph Shahbazian and four Christian women from a Muslim backgr0und have lost their appeals against jail terms and fines imposed because of their involvement in “house churches” in Iran. Pastor Shahbazian, 58, an Iranian-Armenian, was sentenced to ten years in jail, while converts Mina, 59, and Malihe, 48, were ordered to serve six years. Masoumeh and her daughter Somayeh (also known as Sonya) were issued with fines. Pray that all five Christians’ trust in their Lord will be constant and even grow stronger, despite the rejection of their cases by the appeal court. Ask that Joseph, Mina and Malihe receive the courage to endure their time in prison, and that their faith will be an inspiration to other prisoners.
Christians and other minority groups in north-east Syria are threatened by Turkish plans to conduct new military operations in the region. Turkey has stated that it intends to combat Syrian terrorist groups – but in the past Turkish airstrikes in Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan killed Christians and destroyed homes and farmlands in Christian areas. Pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters in the affected areas, asking that suffering will not be increased. Ask that there will be peace in this troubled region of the world.
The authorities in Northern Cyprus (officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) have turned down a request to hold a church service in the town of Lefkonoiko. Northern Cyprus – around a third of the island – is an unrecognised country that has been governed separately from the Republic of Cyprus since the Turkish invasion of 1974. In 2016 the government barred many churches in the region from holding more than one service each year, citing the difficulty of policing Christians who wished to cross the border to worship. Pray for the Cypriot Church, that our brothers and sisters will not be discouraged, remembering that we worship a High Priest who dwells in a sanctuary not made with human hands (Hebrews 9:24).
In September 2022 heavy fighting took place along the border between Christian-majority Armenia and Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, and even within Armenia itself. Prior to this, fighting had flared up in the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, with Azerbaijan taking over the town of Lachin and some of the surrounding areas. In September 2020 Azerbaijan, with Turkish support, invaded Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of the historic homeland of the Armenian people and was placed within Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union in 1923. Pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Nagorno-Karabakh and in Armenia itself that the Lord will protect and preserve them (Psalm 41:2).
A General Election in Hindu-majority Nepal will take place tomorrow, Sunday 20 November. Whoever comes to power will have to deal with inflation caused by rising food and energy prices and a potential financial crisis. A growing sense of Hindu nationalism may also have an impact on government policy. Christians – who could be as many as 5% of the population – are often among the poorest and most marginalised of Nepali citizens. Pray for wisdom for the new government of Nepal, and ask for the Lord’s blessing upon His people.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we give thanks that Your Son Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, and that He rules and reigns over all. When we look at the troubles and suffering of this world, and especially the persecution of Your people in many lands, it is easy for us to forget that our Saviour is in sovereign control of all things. Please help us to remember and take comfort in this truth, and to give Him the honour and praise due to His royal Name, in which we pray. (Revelation 19:16; Acts 4:24, 28)
Lift up to the Lord our brothers in sisters in North Korea, a country that is routinely ranked as one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a Christian. Children are encouraged from an early age to report on their parents if they see them praying or reading Scriptures. Believers have been executed for simply owning a Bible. Tens of thousands of Christians have been incarcerated in labour camps where they are abused, tortured and worked to death. Pray that Christians in North Korea are filled with hope by His almighty strength, sure in the knowledge that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18).
China’s Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services require churches and other religious organisations to obtain permission from the authorities to carry out religious activities online. Some official churches, including many in Beijing, have successfully obtained permission, while others have been excluded – out of 150 applicants in the province of Shanxi, only 24 were granted a permit. Unofficial churches, not being recognised by the authorities, cannot apply. Ask the Lord to make His people in China as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16) in responding to increasing restrictions and regulation.
Two Christians – 13-year-old Margaret and her father – have been killed by a shell fired by the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) at a camp for internally displaced persons in Demoso township, Kayah State. Margaret died instantly when struck on the head by shrapnel from the 120mm shell. Her father succumbed to similar injuries the following day. A local community spokesman said it was “safe to assume that [the Tatmadaw] were targeting the camp”, given the lack of obvious military targets in the area. Pray for Margaret’s family as they come to terms with their loss. Ask for an end to the targeted attacks on Christians and other displaced persons in Myanmar.
Give thanks for the swift response of the authorities in the Indian state of Punjab to a spate of attacks on churches. In the Punjabi village of Thakarpura, four masked men broke into a church building, taking a security guard hostage while they vandalised church property and set the pastor’s car on fire. At the request of the state’s governor, police have launched a special investigation. While extremists in this Sikh-majority state appear to be stoking hatred against churches owing to the number of Christian converts from Sikhism, in Thakarpura Sikhs and Christians live peacefully side by side. Pray that peace within the community will be maintained, and ask the Lord to draw near to new converts as they face the possibility of harassment by extremists.
Praise God for signs that India’s Supreme Court is taking seriously the issue of anti-Christian persecution. The court has ordered eight Indian states to submit evidence concerning alleged attacks against Christians, including police reports. The order follows a submission to the court from Christian leaders calling for a directive to end “hate speech” targeted against Christians and attacks on their places of worship. Pray that the verification process will be thorough, fair and a true reflection of the persecution Indian Christians experience. Ask that the findings will cause government to take steps to protect freedom of religion for all its citizens in accordance with the Indian constitution.
Ask the Lord to grant wisdom to church leaders and all Christians in the Indian state of Karnataka, which has now passed a permanent anti-conversion law. The law is more stringent than similar legislation in other Indian states, both in terms of the punishments that can be applied and in its definition of what counts as an illegal attempt to gain converts – believers may find themselves in trouble simply for sharing the Gospel message. Continue to uphold in prayer our brothers and sisters who face such obstacles and challenges. Ask that the Christian community will be kept safe from extremists who wish to do them harm.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we thank You that at the beginning of this Advent season we may remember with joy the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though He was “rich beyond all splendour, all for love’s sake becamest poor”. While many are unable to grasp the full significance, we thank You that the eyes of Your people around the world have been opened to see that the baby born in Bethlehem is the King, who “will proclaim peace to the nations” and whose rule “will extend from sea to sea”. In His Name we pray this knowledge will be an encouragement to our suffering brothers and sisters wherever they are. (Zechariah 9:10)
Give thanks to our healing Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:30) for the Barnabas-funded Hope Clinic in Pakistan’s Sindh province, which is providing quality health services to poor Christians that they could otherwise not afford. In its first year the qualified Christian medical staff of Hope Clinic helped 6,890 patients, almost double the expected number. At the time of writing, medical team members were travelling flood-affected areas of the province to reach our brothers and sisters in need, as cases of water-borne diseases were rising. Pray for the continued success of this medical ministry that is bringing both physical and spiritual comfort to impoverished Christian communities.
Zeeshan, the son of poor Christian Pakistani brick-kiln workers, used to feel sad when he saw other boys and girls going to school. He was unable to join them because his parents couldn’t afford the fees. Now, thanks to the donations of Barnabas supporters, he has a place at a new Barnabas-funded school, as well as books and stationery. Zeeshan hopes to study hard and when he is older find a good, well-paid job to help his parents. Pray that Zeeshan, and other Christian children like him, will do well academically and spiritually and be able to escape the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and discrimination that has trapped previous generations.
“This support was a ray of hope for me and my daughter,” said Pakistani Christian widow “Safia”. Women like Safia are triply discriminated against in Muslim-majority Pakistan: because of their gender, because they have lost the protection of their husband, and because they are followers of Christ. A total of 1,208 impoverished Christian families receive a monthly food parcel from Barnabas, which allows them to save a little money to pay for such things as home repairs, schooling for their children – or, in Safia’s case, medicine to treat her cancer, treatment that is also now being funded by your generous donations. Ask that, through these gifts of love, believers will grow in faith, and know the Lord will be with them wherever they go (Joshua 1:9)