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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 400


Date:  March 29, 2017

MARCH 2017 UPDATE - this month we prayed concerning ...

* EGYPT (RLPB 396), after 'Islamic State in Egypt' threatened Coptic 
Christians in North Sinai and called for IS sympathisers to report the 
whereabouts of Copts. Seven Copts were murdered in a matter of weeks, 
triggering an exodus of Copts from the Sinai.  

UPDATE: According to the spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, Rev Boulos 
Halim, an estimated 310 Coptic families were uprooted during the crisis in 
late February and early March; other sources report higher figures. Whilst 
around 200 families have settled in Ismailia (on the Suez Canal), other 
families are settling in Port Said, Asyut, Minya, Sharqia, Gharbia and Cairo. 
Kasr al-Dobara Evangelical Church in Ismailia has registered the displaced 
Copts to ensure they receive ongoing assistance. Many believe they will never 
be able to return to their homes. Despite this being 'the largest wave of 
collective displacement in Egypt since the June 1967 war' (Al-Monitor, 20 
March) the international response continues to be one of stone cold silence. 
Pray for Egypt and its Church.  

* XINJIANG, CHINA (RLPB 397), where a massive security crackdown is under 
way. Though focused primarily on Islamic jihadists and separatists, the 
Communist Party is keen to consolidate its control over all of society. 
Consequently, the Church in Xinjiang - especially the house church movement - 
is experiencing increased repression and persecution.  

* EGYPT (RLPB 398), where Coptic Christian girls are disappearing into the 
hands of Islamic trafficking gangs and sexual slavery at the rate of one girl 
every two days.  

* DAMASCUS, SYRIA (RLPB 399), where a new al-Qaeda-led jihadist coalition 
known as Hay'at Tahrir al Sham (HTS: 'Assembly for the Liberation of Syria') 
is threatening security in the capital.  

UPDATE: On Tuesday 21 March, HTS fighters staged a car bombing in the 
Abassiyin area of north-eastern Jobar district. Just 2km from the walls of 
the Old City, it is the same district HTS invaded on 15 March. As would be 
expected, the Syrian Army's response has been ferocious. Despite having been 
driven back, HTS still boasts its ability to strike terror. With HTS 
threatening Damascus and Hezbollah threatening Israel (from southern Syria), 
the situation is growing increasingly complicated. Pray for Syria and its 
imperilled, remnant Church.  

MARCH 2017 ROUND-UP - also this month ... 


Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that two Protestant Christian 
women who had been detained in Wi'a military camp died in Massawa Hospital on 
17 March, five days after being admitted. Imprisoned for their faith, the 
women had commenced a hunger strike in protest at their treatment. CSW has 
learned that the women's bodies showed clear evidence of violent sexual 
abuse. The authorities confiscated their medical records when they died, 
doubtless to eliminate evidence of human rights abuses. CSW has also learned 
that a significant number of Christians were arrested on Christmas Eve and 
forcibly marched barefoot to an unknown location. Eritrea is one of the most 
violently repressive and abusive totalitarian states in the world. 
Christianity has been under sustained and targeted attack since 2002. Pray 
Psalm 10 for Eritrea; pray the LORD will intervene.  


On 17 March Assemblies of God pastor Ajay Kumar and Bible college student 
Assaryav were lured into a trap in Begusarai, Bihar state and then bashed by 
Hindu militants. Not only did police not intervene, they subsequently 
arrested the two Christians on charges of 'forcible conversions'. Kumar and 
Assaryav remained in custody until after midnight when they were released on 
bail, charged with 'deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the 
religious feelings of any class of citizens of India' under sections 
295/295-A of the Indian Penal Code. A minority comprised mostly of the poor 
and marginalised, the Indian Church has little voice or influence inside 
India. The situation is extremely serious.  

'I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes 
from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.' (Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)  

UTTAR PRADESH ELECTIONS (update to RLPB 394): The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya 
Janata Party (BJP) has secured a landslide win in Uttar Pradesh. Opting to 
ride to power on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who 
campaigned on a platform of economic development, the BJP did not even name a 
candidate for Chief Minister. Only when it had won a majority - securing 225 
of the 403 seats - did the BJP name hard-line Hindu cleric Yogi Adityanath as 
the new Chief Minister. A New York Times editorial described this as 'a 
shocking rebuke to religious minorities', adding that 'nothing stands in the 
[BJP's] way of realising its long-held dream of transforming a secular 
republic into a Hindu state'. Pray for India and its Church.  


Sources have told World Watch Monitor that the supplies sustaining displaced 
Assyrian Christians in northern Iraq could run out 'within weeks'. However, 
they do note that the UN agencies which have long ignored the Assyrians have 
changed their outlook since the US President Donald Trump threatened to 
reduce funding to the UN and are now pledging more assistance. Without 
ongoing aid, the remnant Assyrians - whose numbers have fallen from 1.4 
million in 1987 to around 200,000 today (most of whom are displaced and 
destitute) - 'could disappear within the next six to 12 months'. They are 
indeed 'a threatened people on the verge of extinction, the victims of 
horrific genocide'.  Pray that the Lord will supply all their needs, 
realising that while God does work miracles, more often than not he works 
through his Church, through us, his  'human instruments'. [See]  


Christians continue to be killed and driven from their homes and farms by 
southward migrating Fulani Muslims who appear to be guaranteed impunity. 
Morning Star News reports that on 11 March suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen 
killed at least six Christians in Tombo-Mbalagh, Benue state, bringing the 
total number of Christians killed in rural areas of Benue so far this year to 
29. In neighbouring Nasarawa state, more than 200 have been killed and 500 
wounded since the start of this year, while homes and farms have been 
destroyed. Two Christians (including a village chief) were killed and 
hundreds displaced when Fulani attacked a local congregation of the 
Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Oshugu village on Sunday 19 March. 
Commenting on the constant state of insecurity one survivor lamented, 'no one 
is doing anything about it'. Pray for God to intervene in Nigeria. 

* PRISONERS ALERT: Iranian Christian convert, Maryam Naghash Zargaran, is 
again in urgent need of medical care [RLPB 372 (24 Aug 2016)]. Maryam, an 
evangelist who has been incarcerated in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison since 
March 2013, suffers with Atrial Septal Defect, a congenital heart defect also 
known as 'hole in the heart'. Due for release in July 2017, Maryam is 
struggling with serious depression and weight loss, along with other symptoms 
consistent with a deteriorating heart condition. Please pray. ALSO in urgent 
need of medical care is Yang Hua, pastor of the 700-member, Protestant Living 
Stone Church in Guizhou Province. Arrested in January 2016, Yang - who had 
been resisting pressure to register the church with the Communist-controlled 
Three Self Patriotic Movement - was sentenced on 26 December to 
two-and-a-half years in prison for allegedly 'divulging state secrets'. Today 
Yang Hua's legs are so severely inflamed that he is at risk of paralysis. 
Without treatment his condition could require amputation. He has been given 
pain killers, but not the prescribed penicillin or specialist care. Denial of 
medical care is in reality a form of torture. Please pray.   

'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)  


Morning Star News reports that one night in February, armed militants from 
al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab broke into the home of a Christian convert 
family in Afgoi, in Somalia's Lower Shebelle Region. Shouting 'Allahu Akbar' 
they shot converts Suleiman Abdiwahab (38), his wife Faduma Osman (35) and 
their son Ahmed Suleiman (11). Neighbours rushed in to find Suleiman 
critically wounded with bullet wounds to his chest; his wife and son dead. 
Three other children aged 13, 9 and 7 managed to escape. The neighbours took 
Suleiman to hospital; he is recovering. The family has since been relocated. 
May God bring healing to this grieving and traumatised family and protect and 
preserve his imperilled Church in Somalia.  


Just as it has done in Syria, al-Qaeda is advancing its strategic policy of 
jihadist unity in West Africa. On 2 March four jihadist entities - Ansar 
Dine, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Sahara branch, Al Murabitoon and 
the ethnic Fulani 'Katibat Macina' - announced they had merged to form 
Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (the Group for the Support of Islam and 
Muslims). The Mali-based coalition is loyal to al-Qaeda chief Ayman al 
Zawahiri and AQIM head Abdelmalek Droukdel.  This is bad news for the Church 
and all Christian people-groups across West Africa. It further raises the 
stakes in volatile IVORY COAST which was recently rocked by mutinies in the 
former rebel capital of Bouake and at a Special Forces base in Adiake just 
90km east of the port city of Andijan. May God protect and preserve the 
Church in West Africa.  

'Put not your trust in princes ... Blessed is he whose help is the God of 
Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God ... The Lord loves the righteous 
... but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.' (From Psalm 146)  

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