Easter: God Powerfully at Work Through Suffering

Source;  http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com

Date:  March 28, 2018

by Elizabeth Kendal

It might not have seemed like it at the time, but now it is clear: even as 
Christ hung on the Cross; even as he lay in the grave; God was at work 
subverting evil and redeeming it for good. Through the Cross we learn 
something of how God works through suffering; he enters hostile territory so 
that he might defeat evil from within and redeem it for good in fulfilment of 
promise. Apply this paradigm to the suffering of the Body of Christ (the 
Church) today, and believe that God is powerfully at work. Though it might 
not seem like it just now as persecution and conflict escalate, God is at 
work subverting evil and redeeming it for his good purpose.  

One great work that God is doing in our day is creating unity in the Body of 
Christ in answer to Jesus' High Priestly prayer which he prayed in the Garden 
of Gethsemane on the night in which he was betrayed (John 17).  'I do not ask 
for these only,' prayed Jesus, with reference to his disciples, 'but also for 
those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one ... 
that they may be one even as we are one ... that they may become perfectly 
one, so that the world may know that you sent me ...' (from John 17:20-26).  

None of the persecution we are witnessing in the world today is 
'unprecedented'. Whilst the globalisation of persecution is indeed 
unprecedented, this merely reflects the globalisation of the Church, a trend 
of the latter half of the 20th Century during which time Christianity 
experienced phenomenal growth throughout the non-Western, non-Judeo-Christian 
world. [For more information see 'Global Trends in Persecution' on 
www.ElizabethKendal.com ]  

Whilst the persecution is not unprecedented, our ability to respond most 
certainly is. Through today's globalised communication systems and networks, 
the Church can now be aware of persecution - even as it unfolds, even on the 
other side of the world - and can respond immediately for the saving of many 
lives. Furthermore, as the Church responds she is sanctified to become in 
practice what she is in theory: One Body. This makes for powerful witness.  I 
believe that the 21st Century will go down in Christian history as the 
century in which God knitted together an increasingly global Church with 
cords of love forged in the flames of persecution ... that the world might 
believe. Our persecuted brothers and sisters need our prayers - prayers God 
hears, answers and even uses in more ways than we may ever imagine.  

Elizabeth Kendal
Easter 2018

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

* MALI & BURKINA FASO (RLPB 445), where al-Qaeda and Islamic State affiliated 
jihadists are escalating terror in response to the anti-terror operations 
being conducted by French and African troops in the deserts of northern Mali. 
The main terror group, al-Qaeda affiliate JNIM (Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam 
wal-Muslimin / Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims) is holding five 
non-Muslims hostage for ransom, four of whom are Christian aid workers; three 
of them women. Please continue to pray that they will be rescued alive and 
restored to their loved ones and that God will intervene to restore security 
and liberty to West Africa so that mission might be revived across that 
desperately needy region.  

* NORTH KOREA (RLPB 446), after North and South Korea agreed to hold an 
Inter-Korean Summit (only the third ever - the first for North Korean leader 
Kim Jong-un and the first on the south side of the border); and US President 
Donald Trump accepted an invitation from Pyongyang (delivered via Seoul) to 
meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As noted in RLPB 446, not only is 
the strategic situation totally new, so too are the three leaders. This may 
well be a unique window of opportunity in answer to the prayers of many.  

UPDATE: This Thursday 29 March, North and South Korea will each send a 
three-member delegation to the border truce village of Panmunjom where they 
will discuss logistics for the Inter-Korean Summit to be held in late April. 
Remember North Korea's needy people, in particular North Korea's 
long-suffering Church - and pray, pray, pray. May God intervene to achieve 
more than we might ever ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20,21). For more 
information and prayer points see RLPB 446.  

* TURKEY IN SYRIA (RLPB 447), specifically for Christians displaced by the 
Turkish-jihadist conquest of Afrin, Syria, and for Pastor Andrew Brunson who 
is currently languishing in a Turkish prison on manifestly false charges.   

UPDATE

TURKEY IN SYRIA: The Directorate-General of the Syrian Department of 
Antiquities reports that Turkish air-raids have destroyed important Christian 
archaeological sites. Specifically, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed 
archaeological site of Barad, which includes the remains of many Byzantine 
churches, monasteries and tombs dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries. 
Barad is 15km south of the city of Afrin and a mere 30km north-west of Aleppo 
city. Turkey is pushing deeper into Syria and has reportedly now taken Tell 
Rifaat (20km east), which the Kurds ceded without a fight. Pray for Afrin's 
displaced and traumatised believers and for all Christians now at risk in 
northern Aleppo Province.  

PASTOR ANDREW BRUNSON:  Pastor Andrew Brunson's trial on espionage and 
terrorism-related charges is set to commence in a Turkish criminal court on 
16 April. He faces up to 35 years in prison. As noted in RLPB 447, the 
Erdogan government is using Brunson as a bargaining chip in its dealings with 
the US. As one Turkish Christian leader reports, Christians in Turkey are 
increasingly being accused of supporting 'terrorists' (code for 'Kurds'). 
Consequently, apprehension and anxiety is growing in the churches. Despite 
the escalating sense of crisis, many Turkish Christian ministries continue to 
witness courageously, fully aware that spiritual transformation through Jesus 
Christ is ultimately the only solution for Turkey. Pray for Turkey and her 
threatened, remnant Church and for Pastor Andrew Brunson as he 'waits for the 
Lord' (Isaiah 40:31) in a Turkish prison cell.  


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

* CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC (CAR): PRIEST MURDERED; THOUSANDS DISPLACED

On 19 March 2018 militants belonging to the Muslim, mostly ethnic Peuhl 
(Fulani) and ironically named UPC (l'Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique / 
Union for Peace in the Central African Republic) clashed with local 
anti-balaka forces (indigenous and non-Muslim) at Alindao, 118km south-east 
of Bambari. Then on the morning of 21 March UPC fighters attacked Tagbara, a 
village some 74km north-east of Bambari, clashing with local anti-balaka 
forces. An unknown number of local people were killed, wounded and displaced. 
Numerous homes were looted and torched. UPC militants also attacked the local 
church, killing the priest, Fr Joseph Desire Angbabata (48) as he intervened 
to protect refugees camped in the church compound. Most UPC fighters are 
ethnic Fulani Muslims from Chad. The UPC founder and Commander, Babba Ladde, 
is Chadian, whilst its president and second-in-command, Ali Darassa, is a 
war-lord from Niger. Ali Darassa led the attack in Tagbara. Community leaders 
are calling for him to be expelled from CAR. CAR's citizens, especially its 
Christian majority, feel utterly abandoned. Pray that God will intervene in 
Central African Republic.  

* INDIA and PAKISTAN

Christians are really suffering in India and Pakistan as violence continues 
to escalate in frequency and severity. The communal violence is driven by 
religio-political forces (Hindu nationalists in India and Islamic 
fundamentalists in Pakistan) and fuelled by the guarantee of impunity. There 
are so many cases of serious violence against Indian Christians for the month 
of March they simply cannot be dealt with in a paragraph. See Morning Star 
News and World Watch Monitor for updates. Christians in South Asia really are 
in a permanent state of crisis and desperately need our unceasing prayer 
support.  

* IRAQ: CHRISTIAN CRISIS ANYTHING BUT OVER

On 8 March three Assyrian Christians were murdered in Baghdad. Dr Hisham 
Shafiq al-Maskuni (61), his wife, Dr Shaza Malik Dinno and her elderly 
mother, Khairiyah Dawood Abada, were stabbed to death during a violent home 
invasion. A few weeks earlier, a young Christian man named Samer Salah Addin 
was shot to death in front of his home. Fr Biyos Qasha of Baghdad's Maryos 
Church told Kurdish media that the message is loud and clear: there is no 
security for Christians in Baghdad, so get out while you can. Iraq is 
anything but stable and the Christian Crisis in the Middle East is anything 
but over. Iraqi troops and Iranian-led Shi'ite militias are battling Islamic 
State forces just south of Kirkuk. Turkey is threatening to invade northern 
Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish 'terrorists'. Meanwhile, the future of Nineveh 
Province hangs in the balance. Deemed 'disputed territory', it is actually 
the heartland of the Christian Assyrian nation, the indigenous people of 
Iraq. May the Lord protect and sustain his precious people.  

* NIGERIA: A PRISONER FOR JESUS CHRIST

On Wednesday morning 21 March a convoy of trucks rolled into Dapchi town, 
Yobe State, northern Nigeria. When the local people realised it was Boko 
Haram, they fled. However, it soon became evident that Boko Haram was 
returning the girls they had kidnapped from Dapchi's Government Girls' 
Science and Technical College on 19 February, causing the city to erupt in 
excitement. In all, 104 of the 110 girls were returned. Five girls reportedly 
died during the abduction, and one girl, a Christian named Leah Shariba, was 
'held back', retained as a prisoner because she 'refused to co-operate'. 
According to the freed girls, the militants told Leah that she would not be 
released until she becomes a Muslim and recites the shahada (Islamic 
statement of faith). Aware of what their daughter must be suffering, Leah's 
parents were understandably shocked and distraught. They were, however, 
incredibly proud of Leah (15) for her enduring faithfulness to Jesus Christ. 
Numerous groups, including the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria 
(CLASFON) and the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), to which Leah and 
her parents belong, have appealed to the Buhari government to 'ensure the 
immediate release of Leah Sharibu and the other remaining Chibok girls'. 
[Kidnapped in April 2014, 110 mostly Christian 'Chibok girls' remain 
unaccounted for.] The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which held a 
Day of Prayer for Leah on Sunday 25 March, is appealing for worldwide 
prayers.  

* VIETNAM

HIGHLANDS: World Watch Monitor reports that on 1 March four Hmong Christian 
families, comprising 24 people in all, were violently attacked by a mob led 
by the village chief. Four Christians required hospitalisation for serious 
injuries to their head and arms. The case is reminiscent of attacks in 
neighbouring Laos - the Christians had been warned that if they did not 
return to their traditional animist faith then they would be driven from the 
village. The families' pastor is understood to be in talks with local 
authorities about the incident. Please pray.  

HANOI: Protestant Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton has long been active in Vietnam's 
pro-democracy movement. A vocal advocate for religious freedom, Ton was 
abducted in February 2017 by unknown assailants who took him into a forest in 
a mountainous area of Ha Tinh Province, where he was savagely beaten. The 
ordeal left him with a torn ligament and crushed leg muscles, injuries which 
have never fully healed. In July 2017 the Vietnamese government launched a 
crackdown on the online democracy group Brotherhood for Democracy. Ton was 
arrested, along with four others. A sixth member, Christian human rights 
attorney, Nguyen Van Dai, was already in prison in Hanoi. All stand accused 
of the serious crime of attempting to overthrow the regime. Ton's wife Nguyen 
Thi Lanh told Radio Free Asia that Ton has severe and constant pain in both 
legs, blurred vision and clearly needs medical care. Please pray for Nguyen 
Trung Ton, Nguyen Van Dai and Vietnam's other Christian prisoners. 

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