October 2016 Update

Source:  http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com 

Date:  October 26, 2016

OCTOBER 2016 UPDATE - this month we prayed concerning ...

* RUSSIA (RLPB 378), where new anti-mission measures - which have more to do 
with politics than religion - are causing grief and stirring debate.  

UPDATE: Russia's new anti-mission measures are stirring debate within the 
Orthodox Church.  On 7 October activists associated with the 'Orthodox 
Advocacy Analytic Centre' (OAAC) summarily detained and then handed to police 
eight Jehovah's Witnesses they accused of illegal missionary activity.  
Russian Orthodox theologian and commentator Sergey Khudiev slammed the action 
in an article on Pravmir.ru (Orthodoxy and the World website). Khudiev 
condemned the harmful actions of Orthodox 'vigilantes' who bring 'nothing to 
the faith, the church, or the salvation of souls, except harm. ... [They] are 
not a testimony to Orthodoxy. They are testimony against it,' he said, 
recommending instead 'a ministry of love'. Lawyers from the OAAC went on the 
attack, publicly criticising Khudiev. Citing a list that includes Baptists 
and Pentecostals, they referred to the 'sects' as 'wolves in sheep's 
clothing' who hide 'their evil and violence against people' behind 'Christian 
symbols and quotations from Sacred Scripture'. Using highly evocative 
language, the OAAC insisted it has a 'sacred obligation' to 'defend our 
neighbours from this plague that is vigorously penetrating our country'. A 
spiritual battle is under way. Please pray for Russia and its Church. (Romans 
8:28 ESV).  

* CHINA (RLPB 379), where new regulations targeting churches and lawyers 
herald dark days for the Church. For a more complete analysis, see: 
'Persecution of Church to Escalate as Zhejiang Experiment Goes National', by 
Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring (17 Oct 2016).  

UPDATE: China Aid reports that local government authorities in Lishui city in 
Zhejiang Province have instructed teachers at the Lishui Vocational and 
Technical College to instil atheism, exclude theism and eradicate religious 
activity on campus.  

ALSO: The four-day 6th Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party's 205-member 
Central Committee commenced on Monday. By the end of the week President Xi 
will have been confirmed as the 'core' of the CCP. This will put Xi Jinping 
on a par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, as a leader whose rule may not be 
questioned. Pray for China and its Church.  

* GERMANY (RLPB 380) where the Church is in decline, Christianity is in 
crisis and Christian asylum seekers are persecuted with impunity. Without 
reformation, revival and divine intervention, Germany will be lost.  Pray for 
Germany on Reformation Sunday, 30 October. [For prayer points see RLPB 380 
(19 Oct).]  

UPDATE: In addition to the report referenced in RLPB 380, Open Doors has now 
also released a case study which profiles a refugee centre in the central 
German town of Rotenburg an der Fulda. Sobering reading, the report includes 
an open letter and appeal for help from Iranian Christians living in the 
Rotenburg facility. Appendix 2 calls for an end to the 'integration 
experience' which is being undertaken at the expense of Christians and 
appeals for the swift implementation of various protective measures. 
Critically, the report highlights the role of the local church in supporting 
Christian refugees, monitoring their situation and advocating on their behalf 
to bring about change.  

Report: 'Attacks on Christian Refugees'. Open Doors, October 2016 A case 
study: the refugee reception centre in Rotenburg an der Fulda, Hesse.  


OCTOBER ROUND-UP - also this month ...

* IRAQ: ELEVATED RISK DURING BATTLE FOR MOSUL 

Despite having been driven from their homes in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains 
in June-August 2014, the now-displaced Assyrian remnant will face elevated 
risk during the Battle for Mosul. At present most are hunkered down in 
Ankawa, on the northern edge of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The 
ISIS counter-offensive has included attempts to open new fronts. On 21 
October ISIS suicide bombers and snipers attacked the contested but 
Kurdish-held oil-rich city of Kirkuk. On 23 October ISIS launched a fierce 
three-pronged attack on Rutba in western Anbar Province. During the attack on 
Kirkuk, a group of ISIS fighters (at least one in suicide vest) took up 
positions inside the home of seven female Christian university students. 
Unable to escape, the girls hid under their beds, texting their priest in 
Erbil. He in turn, rallied the church to prayer and notified Iraqi and 
Kurdish forces. It is nothing short of a miracle that these girls remained 
undetected and were rescued, not simply alive but unharmed. Priest Ammar told 
World Watch Monitor, 'It's a miracle. A true miracle. We prayed a lot and God 
answered.' Pray for the Christian remnant in Iraq: 'Keep me as the apple of 
your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings ...' (from Psalm 17:6-9).   

* PRISONERS: PRAISE GOD for the release in IRAN of Behnam Irani, pastor of 
the 300-member Church of Iran in Karaj. During his six years in prison, he 
had at times been close to death. PRAISE GOD for the release in CHINA of Yang 
Rongli, pastor of the 50,000-member Linfen Church in Shaanxi province; she 
had served her full 7-year detention.  

PLEASE continue to 'Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison 
with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.' 
(Hebrews 13:3 ESV)  

* UK: BELFAST COURT RULES AGAINST ASHERS BAKERY

Belfast's Court of Appeal has ruled against Ashers Baking Company deeming its 
refusal in 2014 to decorate a cake with the words 'Support Gay Marriage' 
constituted 'direct discrimination'. This was despite recognising that the 
openly Christian bakery manager, Mr Daniel McArthur, did not refuse the 
service because the customer, Mr Gareth Lee, was gay; indeed, Mr Lee (a gay 
rights activist) had been a regular customer at Ashers bakery. 'What we 
refused to do,' said Daniel McArthur, 'was to be involved with promoting a 
political campaign to change marriage law.' Northern Ireland's Attorney 
General John Larkin QC had argued that, 'No one should be forced to be the 
mouthpiece for someone else's views when they are opposed to their own - 
whether in print or in icing sugar,' noting that would amount to 'coerced 
expression'. Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute agreed, protesting: 
'Equality laws are there to protect people from discrimination, not to force 
people to associate themselves with a cause they oppose.' The case against 
Ashers Baking Company was brought by the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission 
for Northern Ireland, which is now demanding the McArthurs pay costs 
amounting to more than 88,000 pounds. As the McArthurs consider their 
options, the tide of public opinion is turning. In an online opinion poll 
conducted by The Telegraph, 88 percent of respondents voted 'No' when asked 
if the court had made the right decision. Pray  for the McArthurs and for 
awakening in the UK.   

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