Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 444


Date:  February 28, 2018

by Elizabeth Kendal

'For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the 
flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine 
power to destroy strongholds.' 2 Corinthians 10:3,4 ESV  

FEBRUARY 2018 UPDATE - this month we prayed concerning ...

* UGANDA (RLPB 441), in particular for severely persecuted Christians in the 
Muslim-dominated Eastern Region. We prayed specifically for Munabi Abudallah, 
Mulangira Ibrahim (a former sheikh) and the widow Nafamba Madina and her 
children. All are converts from Islam who are paying an extremely high price 
for their faith in Jesus. Please continue to lift them before the Lord.  

* NIGERIA (RLPB 442), as the government deployed troops to the volatile 
Middle Belt, ostensibly to tackle the 'Fulani Crisis'.    


FULANI CRISIS: The most disturbing aspect of the 'Fulani Crisis' is the way 
in which it is inflaming Nigeria's ethnic-religious tensions. Despite this 
being a law-and-order issue pertaining to the right to private property, it 
is evolving into an ethno-religious conflict which is threatening Nigeria's 
unity. As noted in RLPB 442, Nigeria's Minister of Defence has publicly 
blamed Christians for the crisis, saying it stems from their refusal to 
accommodate their 'fellow Nigerians'. It is a claim being echoed by other 
Muslim leaders, including Prof. Ango Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of 
Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, northern Kaduna. As spokesperson of the 
Northern Elders Forum, Abdullahi justified the Fulani killings as pre-emptive 
killings committed in self defence. Totally ignoring the issue of private 
property, Abdullah asserted that if an Igbo can set up his business in the 
north, then a Fulani should be able to graze his cattle in the south. It is 
not difficult to see where such a claim could lead. Clearly, the suggestion 
is that if the Fulani [Muslims from the north] are not permitted to graze 
their cattle in the south, then the Igbo [mostly Christians from the 
southeast] should not be permitted to set up business in the north. Such 
language threatens to re-ignite the threat issued in the Kaduna Declaration 
of June 2017 [See RLPB 422 'Muslim Youths Beat Drums of War' (6 Sep 2017)]. 
Watch and pray.  

CONVERSION CRISIS: On 11 January Nigeria's Department of State Security 
Services (DSS) arrested Simput Dafup (engineer) and Daniel Hassan (driver) in 
relation to the alleged 'forced conversion' of Miss Nabila Sanda (19), the 
daughter of a powerful Muslim elder in Borno State. After being interrogated 
in the DSS office in Jos, Dafup and Hassan were transferred to Abuja where 
they were detained on charges of 'forced conversion' [see RLPB 439 (24 Jan)]. 
Viewpoint Nigeria reports that the leadership of CAN (Christian Association 
of Nigeria) worked with the president of ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning 
All), the Reverend Jeremiah Gado, to pressure the DSS. Eventually, on 27 
January, Dafup and Hassan were released into the custody of Rev Yakubu Pam, 
the CAN Northern Chairman, one of the sureties for Dafup's bail. The men 
travelled immediately to ECWA headquarters in Jos, where they were welcomed 
and prayed for. Legal battles loom. The plight of convert Nabila Sanda is 
unknown; presumably she was forcibly returned to her father's custody. Please 

* DAGESTAN, SOUTH RUSSIA (RLPB 443), after Islamic State claimed 
responsibility for a terror attack on Kizlyar's Orthodox St George's 
Cathedral, which claimed the lives of five women.  


Though three Muslims have been arrested in connection to the 18 February 
terror attack on the Orthodox church in Kizlyar, Dagestan, South Russia, the 
terror threat remains elevated. On Thursday 22 February Site Intelligence 
Group published a letter purportedly by Islamic State (IS). Entitled 'Strike 
Their Necks and Strike Each One of Their Sons', the letter glorifies the 
killer as an 'extraordinary mujtahid' and urges IS supporters in 
'Russian-occupied Muslim areas' to kidnap and kill Christians. [The order 
'strike their necks' comes from the Quran, Sura 47:4 
.] IS hopes that the Kizlyar church attack will 'be the spark for more bloody 
attacks' and that many Christians 'will be killed as a punishment for their 
disbelief in Allah the Great, and it will plant fear and horror inside the 
hearts of hundreds of thousands of their brothers and make them flee with 
fear'. Pray for the Church in Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Russia's 
other Muslim-majority regions.  

FEBRUARY 2018 ROUND-UP - also this month ...  


China's new Religious Affairs Regulations came into effect on 1 February 
[see: 'The Return of Mao Style Terror and Control', Religious Liberty 
Monitoring, (Jan 2018)]. In the early weeks of February churches were warned 
that the crackdown would begin after the Chinese New Year festivities which 
commenced on 16 February and continue for 15 days. Churches without official 
government permits will be fined or demolished. Crosses are to be dismantled 
(even indoors) and replaced with a Chinese flag; the national anthem is to be 
sung at services. Buddhists and Muslims are being subjected to the same 
repression. Pray for the Church in China.  

On Monday 26 February well-known Chinese Christian human rights lawyer Li 
Baiguang (49) died suddenly, allegedly of liver failure, in No 81 People's 
Liberation Army Hospital. Human rights advocates regard the circumstances as 
highly suspicious; especially considering Li was known to be a non-drinking, 
non-smoking, healthy young man. According to the authorities, Li was admitted 
with a stomach ache; he died only hours later. As an outspoken advocate for 
religious freedom, Li had been in the Communist Party's sights. In October 
2017 he was abducted, beaten-up and threatened with death by plain-clothed 
security agents. On 8 February he attended the National Prayer Breakfast in 
Washington DC with China Aid Association founder and president, Bob Fu. Pray 
for the Church in China, continuing to uphold Christian human rights lawyer 
and religious liberty advocate Gao Zhisheng, who is currently being held in 
secret detention, most probably in solitary confinement and in darkness.  


In May 2017 the Christian, ethnic Chinese former Governor of Jakarta, Basuki 
'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, was sentenced to two years in prison on a politically 
motivated charge of 'blasphemy'. [For background, see 'Ahok's Blasphemy', 
Religious Liberty Monitoring, Nov 2016.] Hoping to clear his name, Ahok has 
petitioned the court to overturn his conviction. The first hearing was held 
in the North Jakarta District Court on Monday 26 February as hundreds of both 
supporters and Islamists protested outside. A second hearing will be held 
next week, after which the case and dossier will be forwarded to the Supreme 
Court. Ahok is appealing on the grounds that Buni Yani, a communications 
professor from Jakarta, has since been found guilty of tampering with the 
allegedly blasphemous video. Prosecutors will maintain that, whilst Yani is 
indeed guilty of tampering, Ahok is still guilty of 'blasphemy' for 
questioning the interpretation of a verse of the Qur'an. The Islamic 
Defenders Front (FPI) has called on the court to reject the appeal. The 
conviction must be overturned if Ahok is to re-enter Indonesian politics. 
Prospects are dim. Please pray, especially that God will sustain Ahok through 
his trials.  


SWEDEN: In August 2017 Sweden refused refugee status to Aideen Strandsson 
(37), an Iranian convert to Christianity. Aideen had travelled to Sweden on a 
work visa three years earlier, ostensibly to escape Islam and pursue truth in 
freedom. In Sweden in 2014 she was baptised as a Christian and took a Swedish 
surname. With her visa due to expire, Aideen applied for asylum on the 
grounds of religion. In rejecting her application for refugee status Swedish 
authorities told her, 'If you decided to become a Christian, it's your 
problem.' Fortunately for Aideen, Hungary stepped in and offered asylum, so 
if she is eventually forced to leave Sweden, then at least she will be able 
to go to a country that cares for persecuted Christians.  

USA: Some 100 persecuted Iranians, mostly Christian religious minority 
believers, are currently facing deportation from Austria after the US reneged 
on its agreement. The asylum seekers, who had been vetted while still in 
Iran, travelled to Austria at the invitation of the US so they could apply to 
enter America as refugees under a law known as the Lautenberg Amendment. This 
process has been operating since 2004. Now the US has reneged, some 100 
Iranians are facing the prospect of deportation back to Iran. On 21 February 
Austrian police raided an apartment building in Vienna where some of the 
Christian Iranians have been living, seizing their documents and passports 
and threatening them with deportation. Their situation is dire. Please pray. 
[For the full story see 'Broken Faith', by Mindy Belz, World Magazine, 19 
February 2018.]  


Somalia-based al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab has again targeted Christian 
school teachers in eastern Kenya. [For previous attack see RLPB 411 (21 Jun 
2017)]. At 1am on Friday 16 February suspected al-Shabaab gunmen raided the 
sleeping quarters of Qarsa Primary School in Wajir County (which borders 
Somalia). They shot dead Christian teachers Kevin Shari and Seth Oluoch 
Odada, who was killed with his wife, Caroline. Another Christian teacher was 
wounded. The insecurity is so great that the Teachers Service Commission is 
transferring non-local teachers from Wajir County to their home areas. As 
most teachers are Christians from outside the region, many schools are now 
facing closure. A local pastor told Morning Star News  that area residents 
believe local Kenyans are joining al-Shabaab. 'I think these are the people 
who killed the three Christians,' he said. The Regional Commissioner said as 
much when he described the militants as 'our boys'. If al-Shabaab is 
recruiting local people to do their killings, the threat is dramatically 
increased as cross-border infiltration is no longer necessary. The same 
threat exists in the coastal south where al-Shabaab militants are known to be 
praying openly in local mosques and where Christians have been executed for 
their inability or refusal to recite the Islamic shahada (creed) [see RLPB 
421 (30 Aug 2017)]. Please pray.  


Led by the new Barelvi party, Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (LeT), [see 
RLPB 434 (29 Nov 2017)] hundreds of Muslims took to the streets of Lahore on 
Monday 19 February, threatening to burn the homes of Christians and demanding 
that police arrest Patras Masih (20), a Christian youth and resident of Dher 
Village in Shahdara Town area of Lahore, whom they accuse of posting a 
'blasphemous' image to Facebook. Fear spread through the Christian community; 
some 800 Christian families fled their homes. According to World Watch 
Monitor, the protestors dispersed only after the local police chief assured 
them that the accused had been arrested. On Friday 23 February Patras' 
cousin, Sajid Masih (24) was summoned to the police station for questioning 
in relation to the case. During the interrogation, Sajid jumped out of the 
fourth floor window and sustained serious injuries including multiple 
fractures. Interviewed in hospital, Sajid claims the police beat him and 
Patras before trying to force him to commit a sex act on his cousin. To 
escape, Sajid jumped out of the window. The police claim Sajid jumped after 
the interrogators took his cell phone. They are charging him with the crime 
of attempting suicide. Whatever is the case, nobody jumps from a fourth floor 
window unless they are absolutely terrified and distressed beyond measure. 
Grave fears are held for the wellbeing of both Sajid and Patras Masih. Please 


Turkish belligerence in northern Syria was matched this month by the Turkish 
government's threat to invade Greece, indeed to reclaim all the lands of the 
former Ottoman Empire. Fortunately though, while Turkey's President Erdogan 
might exude neo-Ottoman ambition and aggression, his depleted army cannot 
match his rhetoric. Whilst Turkey's neighbours need not fret, its ethnic and 
religious minorities have every reason to be anxious about the ever 
escalating Islamo-Turkish nationalism now threatening their continued 
existence. On 8 February Turkey's population registers were officially opened 
to the public via an online genealogy database. The demand was so great that 
the system quickly crashed and was not restored until 14 February. Many 
appealed for the database to remain closed for it threatens to reveal how 
many 'Turks' have European, Greek and even Armenian ancestry - their 
ancestors having been forcibly Islamised and 'Turkified' before or during the 
Armenian Genocide. 'Pandora's Box' has been opened and, in this environment, 
it could prove explosive. Pray for the Church in Turkey.  

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