Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 354

Source:  http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com

Date:  04/27/2016

by Elizabeth Kendal

WELCOME to intercessors who have joined the list in the past month.

APRIL 2016 ROUND-UP - this month we prayed concerning ...

* NAGORNO-KARABAKH (NK), an Armenian Christian enclave in Turkic Muslim 
Azerbaijan (RLPB 351), which, over 1-5 April, saw the worst hostilities since 
the 1994 ceasefire.  

UPDATE: it has emerged that, while the Azeri military was shelling Nagorno 
Karabakh (NK), Azeri soldiers who managed to invade NK were committing 
atrocities. In the NK village of Talish, Azeri soldiers brutally murdered 
three elderly civilians, mutilated the bodies of 18 Karabakh soldiers, and 
beheaded a young Armenian Yazidi soldier. On the night of 7 April - two days 
after the ceasefire - Azeri forces shelled Karmir, Ttudjur, and Baganis, 
three villages in north-east Armenia. Fortunately there were no casualties. 
Tensions are high. Wedged between belligerent NATO-member, neo-Ottoman 
Turkey, and belligerent, US-allied, oil- and gas-rich Azerbaijan, the remnant 
Christian Armenians need our prayers.  

* NIGERIA (RLPB 352), where Boko Haram terror and Muslim Fulani predatory 
migration are inflicting appalling suffering on the Christian peoples of 
northern Nigeria. May God intervene to bring justice, security and peace.  

* SUDAN (RLPB 352), where the Arab-Islamist Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and 
allied militias continue to press in on the predominantly Christian African 
Nuba peoples of South Kordofan. Fighting continues to rage, but the 'rebel' 
Sudan People's Liberation Army-North is holding its ground. May God intervene 
to 'turn back the battle' (Isaiah 28:5,6).  

* LIBYA (RLPB 353), where a decimated remnant Church may soon come under 
increased pressure, as the dark storm clouds of war gather and the battle for 
Libya intensifies. 'Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you 
my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till 
the storms of destruction pass by.' (Psalm 57:1 ESV)  


APRIL ROUND-UP - also this month ...

* CHINA: GU RELEASED; DING MURDERED

After three months in 'black jail' detention for criticising Chinese 
Communist Party (CCP) policy, Rev 'Joseph' Gu Yuese, of Hangzhou's 
10,000-strong, CCP-approved Chongyi Church, was released on 31 March. He 
remains under house arrest. On 14 April, when bulldozers arrived at Beitou 
Church in Zhumadian, Henan Province, Pastor Li Jiangong and his wife, Ding 
Cuimei, stood defiantly in front of the machines. Their efforts to prevent 
the demolition of the church were, however, in vain. Urged on by his 
supervisor, the bulldozer operator proceeded not only to demolish the 
property, but to deliberately bury the couple alive. Li survived, but Ding 
did not. China Aid reports that in response to an outcry, the demolition crew 
has been arrested and an investigation is under way. Pray for the Church in 
China.  

* SYRIA: DAMASCUS CELEBRATES, ALEPPO SUFFERS 

With the support of Russia, a re-energised Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has brought 
a greater level of security to the country's west, specifically the densely 
populated north-south Aleppo-Damascus corridor and the coastal provinces of 
Latakia and Tartus. Consequently, this year's Easter celebrations were 
reportedly the best for five years. This was especially so in Damascus, where 
Christians (many thousands of whom are displaced) filled the churches and the 
streets where Muslims joined in the festivities.  

The battle for Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital, is heating up. Though most 
of Aleppo's estimated 200,000 Christians have fled and are now displaced in 
Latakia and Damascus, many remain and are gravely imperilled. Rebel shelling 
has targeted Kurdish and Armenian districts; many have been killed. There are 
also reports that the rebels are attempting to ethnically cleanse Kurds, 
Armenians and Assyrians out of the city. North of the city, al-Nusra and IS 
are fighting each other. South of the city, they are co-operating in an 
effort to cut the Khanasar Road, the only government-held road into Aleppo, 
critical for supply into government-held areas. May God intervene on behalf 
of the imperilled remnant Church trapped in Aleppo.  

April 22 marked the third anniversary of the abduction of Bishop Yohanna 
Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Bishop Boulos Yaziji of the Greek 
Orthodox Church. The bishops had been abducted by foreign jihadists while 
travelling north of Aleppo. They had been to the Turkish border to negotiate 
the release of two priests abducted six weeks earlier. Their driver (a 
priest) was killed [see RLPB 207 (23 April 2013)]. The fate of the two 
bishops and two priests remains unknown to this day. Please pray. 

* TURKEY: GOVERNMENT SIEZES ARMENIAN CHURCHES  

As part of its war against its Kurdish minority, Turkey has been bombing the 
predominantly Kurdish city Diyarbakir in south-east Turkey, a city that 
essentially functions as the Kurdish capital.  Situated on the eastern edge 
of the city, historic Sur district has been the focus of particularly heavy 
shelling. At the end of March, the government seized some 6,300 plots of land 
and ordered the residents out, saying the district will be rebuilt. Sur's 
Kurdish and Armenian populations suspect they will not be able to return and 
that what is happening is the ethnic cleansing of Sur district.  Of 
particular distress to the Armenians is the government's acquisition of six 
churches. Unlike mosques which are state owned and funded, the churches are 
the private property of their foundations.  

One of the churches seized is Surp (Saint) Giragos Armenian Apostolic Church, 
one of the largest Armenian churches in the Middle East. After WWI, this 
church, which had been a focal point for Armenians before the genocide, fell 
into disrepair, but the Kurdish administration backed its renovation. Since 
its re-opening in October 2011 Surp Giragos has become a focal point not only 
for Armenian Christians, but for 'Hidden Armenians' - the descendants of 
Armenian Christians (often orphans) who were Islamised and raised as Kurds or 
Turks. The Church has been key to many 'Hidden Armenians' rediscovering their 
identities. Whilst dozens have been baptised, Church leaders believe there 
could be as many as half-a-million 'Hidden Armenians' in Turkey.  Surp 
Giragos Church is preparing to take legal action. Pray for the Armenians of 
Turkey. 

* VIETNAM: TRIAL OF NGUYEN VAN DAI  

As reported in RLPB 340 (15 Dec 2015), Christian attorney and religious 
liberty defender Mr Nguyen Van Dai was brutally attacked by officials of the 
Vietnamese Communist regime on 6 December 2015. Subsequently, on 16 December, 
Dai was arrested at his home, charged under Article 88 of the Criminal Code 
('spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam') and jailed 
in Hanoi for four months pending trial. Four months is now up and Dai is 
still in prison with no date set for the trial. If found guilty Dai would 
face between three and twenty years in prison. Denied access to her husband, 
Dai's wife, Vu Minh Khanh - a strong Christian and active church worker - is 
currently travelling in the US, speaking to supporters and members of the 
Congress and Senate to raise awareness of Dai's plight. [She will be in 
Australia on 29 and 30 June.] Dai has already spent five years in prison in 
Hanoi (2007-2011). Please pray.  

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