Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 358

Source:  http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com

Date:  May 25, 2016

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

TURKEY (RLPB 355), where the neo-Ottoman, Islamist, AKP government of Recep 
Tayyip Erdogan has seized six churches in the mostly Kurdish city of 
Diyarbakir.  

SUNDAY 29 MAY - PRAY FOR THE CHURCH IN TURKEY In NATO-member Turkey, 29 May 
is celebrated annually as 'Conquest Day' in commemoration of the day in 1453 
when the Byzantine [Eastern Christian] capital, Constantinople, fell to 
invading Ottoman Turks. This year, 29 May falls on a Sunday and will mark the 
563rd anniversary of that historical catastrophe. Today, as Turkey's 
belligerent, neo-Ottoman president (Erdogan) increases his powers, blackmails 
Europe, wages war with impunity and dreams of a pan-Turkic empire, Turkey's 
remnant Church - with its long historical memory - is growing nervous. So, as 
Islamist Turks celebrate the Ottoman 'conquest' of Constantinople, the Church 
should celebrate Christ's conquest at Calvary. May God pour his Holy Spirit 
into Turkey so that this land, where churches are being appropriated and 
converted into stables, mosques or piles of rubble, will see the Lord at 
work, building his Church!    

'I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' 
(Matthew 16:18 ESV)  

CHINA (RLPB 356), where imprisoned Christian lawyer Yang Maodong (also known 
by his pen-name, Guo Feixiong) risks losing the fight, not only for justice, 
righteousness, religious freedom and truth, but for his life.  

UPDATE: ABUSED LAWYER ON HUNGER STRIKE 
On 20 May Dr Yang Maoping (sister of imprisoned Christian lawyer Yang 
Maodong), confirmed to Radio Free Asia that her brother has been on a hunger 
strike since 9 May. According to the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights 
Lawyers Concern Group, Yang Maodong  commenced his hunger strike after being 
subjected to a forced rectal cavity search which prison guards filmed and are 
threatening to post online. His supporters are deeply concerned as Yang, 
whose mood is understandably very low, is vowing to hunger strike 
indefinitely. Yang's wife, Zhang Qing, has written an open letter to 
President Xi Jinping, protesting the unlawful and degrading treatment meted 
out to her husband. Pray for God to comfort, sustain, protect and deliver 
Yang Maodong.  

PAKISTAN (RLPB 357), where hostile Muslims continue to wield a flawed, 
infamous blasphemy law as a weapon against vulnerable Christians. On 6 May 
police stepped in to prevent a Muslim riot in Chak 44. However, the 
Christians were still suffering under a boycott that left them without food, 
water or work.  

UPDATE: According to 'Christians in Pakistan', a local community leader 
Naseer Ahmed Saleem, who serves as the Vice Chairman of Union Council of Chak 
44, has intervened on behalf of the Christians, urging all the landlords of 
the village to let the Christians resume working in their fields. Leading by 
example, he invited the Christians to till his land and work on wages for 
him. This is a clear and direct answer to our prayers. Please continue to 
pray. For prayer points, see RLPB 357 (18 May).  


MAY ROUND-UP - also this month ...

* BANGLADESH: A LINGERING THREAT

On Friday 20 May a homeopathic doctor, Sanaur Rahman, was riding a motorcycle 
with a friend in Kushtia when they were ambushed by three men wielding 
machetes. Mr Rahman was killed. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, 
saying Mr Rahman was killed for 'promoting Christianity'. In fact Rahman was 
not Christian, but followed the mystical practice of Baul music and promoted 
Baul philosophy. Despite the misunderstanding, the claim of responsibility 
reveals yet again how serious Bangladesh's Islamists are about silencing 
Christian witness. Pray for the Church in Bangladesh.  

* BURMA: MILITARY BRUTALITY WITH IMPUNITY

Praise God that an investigation has finally been launched into the 19 
January 2015 gang rape and murder of two Kachin missionaries: Maran Lu Ra 
(20) and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin (21). [See RLPB 347 (8 March 2016).] Four 
senior army officers from the 503rd Light Infantry Regiment, including key 
suspect Major Aung Phyo Myint, will be questioned by police. Granted only a 
limited right to observe, the Kachin Baptist Convention's legal team will not 
be permitted to interview the soldiers. There are concerns that the police 
are colluding with the military to get local, civilian scapegoats. The Kachin 
Baptist Convention (KBC) asks for prayer that the truth will come out. 
Meanwhile, on Wednesday 18 May, Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) helicopters attacked 
civilians in predominantly Christian Kachin State. According to Rein Mao of 
the KBC, 'This wasn't a normal military engagement between the KIA and the 
Burma Army.' The helicopters, he said, were 'shooting everywhere'. Lt-Col Naw 
Bu, a spokesperson for the Kachin Independence Army concurs: 'They didn't 
shoot at KIA outposts,' he said. 'They only attacked civilians.' Pray for 
Burma's ethnic minority Christians.  

* D.R.CONGO: A BIGGER, STRONGER 'MONSTER'

The Church in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to 
suffer militia violence and insecurity. [For background see RLPB 238 (22 Oct 
2014).] World Watch Monitor (WWM) reports that on the night of 3 May, 
militants belonging to Muslim Defense International (MDI, formerly known as 
Allied Democratic Forces) attacked a village in North Kivu killing as many as 
34 civilians, slashing them with machetes in their beds. Thousands have fled. 
 On 6 May, up to 15 were slaughtered in another MDI attack, this time further 
north in the province of Ituri. According to WWM, the attack took place just 
300 metres away from a Congolese army base and 500 metres from a UN army 
base. Despite its close proximity and regardless of the fact that locals had 
alerted soldiers to 'suspicious movements', the Congolese army failed to 
intervene to stop the massacre. This aligns with reports recently published 
by the Congo Research Group (CRG) and IRIN (formerly the UN's Integrated 
Regional Information Networks), both of which indicate that the situation is 
more complex than the 'narrative of an Islamist menace'. The Congolese 
military (FARDC) is believed to be deeply implicated, with potential links to 
smuggling rackets. In other words, the 'monster' is much bigger and much 
stronger than first appears. The Christians of north-east DRC need our 
prayers.  

* IRAN: AUTHORITIES STEP UP HARASSMENT 

On 13 May Iranian security officers raided some ten homes of prominent 
Christians in Rasht. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife Tina were arrested 
along with Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Whilst the Nadarkhanis were later released, 
Yasser was not. Saheb Fadaie and Mohammedreza Omidi were also arrested on 13 
May when they obeyed a summons and reported to the security offices. The 
homes of these Christians have been raided, their phones, computers, Bibles 
and other Christian literature were confiscated. Like Yousef Nadarkhani, 
Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza have all been imprisoned before. The three 
detained men have reportedly been offered bail equivalent to US$3000 each. As 
Middle East Concern rightly notes, 'These arrests are part of a larger 
systematic action on the part of Iranian authorities to harass Christian 
communities and put pressure on active Christians to leave Iran.' As the 
revival rolls on, the authorities grow more desperate. As the storm 
intensifies, pray the Church in Iran will cling to the rock. (Matthew 
7:24-27) 'And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat 
on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.' 
(Matthew 7:25 ESV)   

* SUDAN: MASSACRE IN HEIBAN 

On 1 May two Sudanese Air Force MiG fighter jets attacked residential areas 
within the Heiban locality in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan. Six 
children aged between 4 and 12 were killed, three from one family. The 
Government of Sudan has been relocating mujahideen to the Nuba Mountains and 
escalating fighting ahead of the rainy season. The GoS wants to ensure that 
when the rains do come and the roads are closed, the Nuba will have nothing 
to eat. As the Government of Sudan's genocidal jihad against the Christian 
Nuba enters its sixth year, one can only wonder why this genocide attracts so 
little attention in the West. Pray for the Nuba. Pray Psalm 46. 'God is 
our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble ...'  

[For background see: 'SUDAN: Massacre in Heiban as Nuba Genocide enters its 
Sixth Year,' by Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 23 May 2016.]

* SYRIA: TERRORISTS HIT LONG-SAFE HEARTLAND

Nearly 150 people were killed on Monday 23 May when a string of suicide 
bombings rocked the coastal towns of Jableh and Tartus in Syria's long-safe 
Latakia Province. Latakia is the heartland of the Alawite minority and a 
safe-haven to hundreds of thousands of refugees (Muslims and Christians) who 
have fled Islamic violence across the north. While Islamic State has claimed 
responsibility, al-Nusra and its allied jihadist militias (many of which are 
US trained and armed) are the more probable culprits. Since the cessation of 
hostilities was declared on 27 February, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have 
redoubled their support for 'rebel'/jihadist forces, with the tacit approval 
of the US. Now in possession of surface to air missiles, the 
'rebels'/jihadists have brought down three Syrian jets in the space of a 
month. The Battle for Aleppo is fierce, with government-held western Aleppo 
suffering heavy rebel shelling. For the Christian remnant in Aleppo, the 
situation now is worse than ever.  Sources report that more than 200 
Christians have been killed in Aleppo in recent weeks. The only thing hurting 
the Church more than the violence is the exodus of Christians. May the Lord 
have mercy on Syria.   

* VIETNAM: FAMILY OF IMPRISONED PASTOR PERSECUTED

Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh (45), a missionary pastor in Gia Lai Province in 
Vietnam's Central Highland, suffers both physical and psychological abuse in 
a Vietnamese prison because of his 'illegal' (Lutheran) faith and religious 
liberty advocacy. Arrested numerous times since 2003, he was eventually 
sentenced in July 2012 to 11 years in prison for 'undermining national 
unity'. As if this were not enough, his wife Tran Thi Hong suffers endless 
persecution which she laments is becoming 'intolerable'. Police interrogated 
Tran Thi Hong on 11, 12 and 13 May. Violence is routine and part of the 
process. On 13 May, as Mrs Hong was being beaten, her 18-year-old son tried 
to intervene to save her, only to be grabbed and violently choked by police 
who then had him bound and arrested. He was released later that day. In 
Vietnam, state violence against and repression of Christians is escalating in 
line with Communist Party confidence that nobody will do anything about it. 
Pray for Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, his wife Tran Thi Hong and their children. 
Please pray for all Vietnam's imprisoned and threatened pastors and human 
rights lawyers. 

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