Wednesday, June 30, 2010

062. June Update; Incl. India, Afghanistan, Kenya, USA, Indonesia, Lebanon,

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 062 | Wed 30 Jun 2010

'And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' (Prayer of the Persecuted Church in Acts 4:29,30 ESV)

JUNE 2010 UPDATE -- During June we prayed concerning . . .

INDIA, where intolerant Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) continues to advance unchallenged and violence against Christians is soaring amidst a culture of impunity. Prayer is requested concerning the Maa Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Mother Narmada Social Kumbh) to be held on the banks of the Narmada River in Mandla district, Madhya Pradesh in February 2011. Millions of Hindu devotees are expected to pour into this predominantly tribal district to attend the kumbh, where they will be incited against Christians and recruited to the Hindutva cause.

* UPDATE: VIOLENCE AND INTOLERANCE IN KARNATAKA Pastors Shidu Kurialose and Nithya Vachanam of the Bethel Assembly of God Church in Chandapura were attacked by Hindutva militants on 23 June. The militants accused the pastors of 'forcible conversions' before beating them with iron rods, leaving them seriously injured and requiring hospitalisation. In Bangalore on 13 June Pastor Sam Joseph consented to go with some men and pray over their sick friend. Upon arrival, the pastor was accused of 'forcible conversions', beaten and dragged to the police station -- all in front of waiting media. He was released after agreeing to stop conducting Christian meetings. Pastor Vasanthe Kathedar of the New India Church (NIC) in Okkere, Belgaum, was conducting a home prayer meeting when he was arrested on 9 June and charged with creating communal disharmony and disrupting the peace. On 7 June, Hindu militants invaded a worship meeting run by the Jesus Prayer Team and accused Pastor Lalathamma and Kadaur Devaki (both women) of creating communal disharmony. Police arrived and arrested them under 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings.

AFGHANISTAN, where video footage of Afghans being baptised, as well as praying to and worshipping the Lord with foreign Christians, led to high-level calls for apostates to be executed in accordance with Islamic Sharia Law.

* UPDATE: AFGHAN CHRISTIANS UNDER SIEGE Sources have told Christian Solidarity Worldwide that more than 20 Afghan Christians have been detained in Afghanistan since early June. Reportedly non-Christians with ties to Westerners have also been targeted for interrogation. Afghan Christian refugees arriving in India on 8 June reported there had already been many arrests and searches as well as claiming that arrested Christians were being tortured for information on the 'underground church'. Afghan Christian refugees have also been targeted for persecution in Delhi, India. On 14 June a group of Afghan Muslim refugees deliberately rammed their car into a disabled Afghan Christian refugee named Hamidullah. Earlier in the month a young Afghan Christian refugee named Mirdad Al was attacked by a group of Indian and Afghan Muslims who abused him as a pagan and infidel. Indian police reportedly refuse to extend protection to 'illegal immigrants'.

KENYA, where the Church is finding herself in a dangerous position as she opposes the draft constitution which Kenya's most powerful forces want passed. Whilst the Church favours constitutional reform, she is unhappy with the draft constitution's softened position on abortion, its entrenchment of kahdi (Islamic) courts and 'majimbo' (ethnic federalism). Opponents of the draft constitution have been targeted with violence and 'hate speech' laws.

* UPDATE: On Sunday 27 June Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his wife Ida addressed the congregation at All Saints Cathedral, telling them they should vote 'Yes' for the constitution because the Bible tells them to. To this end PM Odinga quoted 2 Corinthians 1:18-20: 'But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No" . . . but in him it has always been "Yes" . . .' When Odinga took his seat the courageous Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala accused him of quoting the verse out of context. After correcting the PM's misinterpretation, the Archbishop urged the church to stay united. Kenya's Anglicans have committed themselves to pray daily concerning the constitution in the lead up to the 4 August constitutional referendum.

USA, where four Christians were arrested and charged with breaching the peace for witnessing to Muslims at an Arab festival. Also the Supreme Court was considering whether or not a public college could enforce an anti-discrimination policy without violating a group's First Amendment right to freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion.

* UPDATE: US SUPREME COURT WEAKENS FIRST AMENDMENT On Monday 28 June, the US Supreme Court (SC) ruled 5-4 against the Christian Legal Society (CLS), upholding the right of Hastings College to withhold registration from groups that discriminate, saying this does not violate the First Amendment. The SC ruling means that public colleges may dictate anti-discrimination policies. Thus the colleges are permitted to deny Christian groups registration and access to funding on the grounds that they are discriminatory if they insist that their voting members and leaders be Christians who practise biblical morality. The SC ruling has seriously weakened the First Amendment. A CLS claim will now be tested in a lower court that Hastings College has not enforced its policy equally but has targeted CLS because of its politically incorrect views on homosexuality.


JUNE 2010 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .

* INDONESIA: BEKASI MUSLIMS PREPARE FOR JIHAD

At the recent Bekasi (West Java) Islamic Congress (held in the Al-Azhar Mosque) all Bekasi Muslims were called on Sunday 27 June to prepare to fight Christians so as to stop the Christianisation of the city. It was proposed that there would first be 'talks' but if the talks fail 'this might mean war'. The Congress urged the Bekasi regency and municipality administrations to implement Islamic Sharia law immediately to 'limit apostasy'. (Sharia limits apostasy by making it a capital offence.) The Bekasi Islamic Presidium is planning a road-show aimed at persuading every mosque in Bekasi to form its own paramilitary unit that can be quickly mobilised if the decision is made for 'war'. Yenny Wahid of the Wahid Institute comments: 'Anarchism on behalf of religion is increasing, and the government seems to fear any group that uses Islam.'

* LEBANON: SIDON'S CHRISTIANS THREATENED

Christians in the predominantly Christian villages east of the southern port city of Sidon were shocked on Friday 18 June to find pamphlets being distributed that called on Christians to 'spare their lives by evacuating the area within one week' or 'bear the consequences'. Lebanon's Daily Star reports that the pamphlets 'were signed in the name of the Wilaya (Province) of Sidon and its surrounding areas, and included Islamist slogans'. Suspicion is focused on Ein Hilwe, a Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon that houses a significant presence of Al Qaida supporters. Incitement and sectarian violence have been traced back to Ein Hilwe in the past. On Tuesday 22 June the government deployed Lebanese Security Forces to Sidon to ensure that it 'will remain an example of Islamic-Christian coexistence'.

' . . . praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints . . . ' (Ephesians 6:18 ESV)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

061. Religious freedom under threat in the West

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 061 | Wed 23 Jun 2010

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM UNDER THREAT IN THE WEST

The principal religious liberty trend of the multicultural West is that religious liberty is disappearing as the culture's biblical foundations are eroded. Unfortunately, most churches and Christians are not going to realise it until the new social order has been consolidated and persecution starts to strike them directly. Christians in the West are losing the right to criticise Islam and witness to Muslims. They are also losing the right to conscientiously object to new social norms being imposed on them essentially at the behest of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (GLBT) lobby groups. Just as in non-free states, Western law-makers and law-enforcers are justifying their interventions as necessary to maintain 'peace' and/or defend 'equality' against 'extremist fundamentalism' (i.e. any ideas contrary to the democratic consensus).

Rattled by the chaos and confusion of cultural collapse -- the result of a culture losing its foundations -- Western governments are increasingly resorting to external restraint and authoritarian repression. They are opting for 'peace' through appeasement, rather than justice and defence of their Constitutions through education and rule of law. To remove contradictions, laws are being amended and re-interpreted and fundamental concepts are being redefined. Driven by fear of unrest, Western governments are increasingly proving themselves willing to secure 'peace' at any price -- even the loss of liberty. As soon as it appears that intolerant forces might protest, riot or divert their collective vote elsewhere, weak Western democracies yield and appease, repressing 'divisive' or 'provocative' elements at the behest of the most belligerent. And in a 'post-Christian' (as distinct from Judeo-Christian) culture, there is nothing as divisive and provocative as the gospel message and righteousness of Christianity.

USA: TWO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CASES TO WATCH


The population of Dearborn (Michigan, USA) is about 30 percent Arab and for some 15 years Dearborn has hosted an annual Arab International Festival. Christians (mostly Arabs) have been witnessing at the Arabfest for years without any strife, although it has stirred tensions. In 2009 a group called 'Arabic Christian Perspective' (ACP) -- led by Californian Pastor George Saieg, an Arab from the Sudan -- agreed to be confined to a booth because of complaints. However, the Arabfest organisers limited ACP's ministry greatly by assigning it a booth at the furthest end of the festival. Meanwhile, other groups that continued to witness freely were harassed and expelled, despite going out of their way to avoid trouble. This year (June 2010) an appeals court ruled that George Saieg had a right to distribute Christian literature but not inside the festival -- only on the perimeter. A team from Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries visited the Arabfest on Friday evening 18 June. Taking in no Christian literature, Dr Nabeel Qureshi, the main apologist, simply wore a t-shirt with the words 'Jesus Always Loves You' and waited for Muslims to approach him. Nabeel had a couple of wonderful conversations over about 15 minutes before he and his companions -- Paul Rezkalla, David Wood and 18-year-old Afghan convert Miss Negeen Mayel -- were arrested and led away in handcuffs to cheers and shouts of 'Allahu Akbar!' The four Christians were charged with breaching the peace and held overnight in Dearborn City Jail.

In 2004 Hastings College of the Law de-registered the campus group Christian Legal Society (CLS) after it was deemed to have contravened the College's non-discrimination policy with regard to religion and sexual orientation. The CLS by-laws mandate that members (i.e. those with voting rights and leadership eligibility) must be able to sign a statement of faith and conduct. According to Hastings College, that violated the equality rights of practising homosexuals and non-Christians. CLS sued the College on the grounds that the non-discrimination policy violated their right to freedom of association: the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to form around shared beliefs. In April 2006 a federal district court ruled against CLS. In March 2009 the US Court of Appeals upheld that decision. When the Supreme Court heard CLS' petition on 19 April 2010 the bench seemed about evenly split. A judgment is expected before the end of June. At stake is the freedom of all US student groups to choose leaders who share their beliefs.

(An expanded version of this RLPB will be available on Religious Liberty Monitoring.)

WE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT:

* God will awaken the American Church to the insufficiency of political, economic and power structures to transform society, so that they will, in humble dependence, invest their hope/trust/faith in the Lord, and wait upon him as he does something new in their midst.

* America, as a nation, will 'wake up, and strengthen what remains' (Revelation 3:2a ESV).

'It is God's manner to make men . . . to see their miserable condition as they are in themselves, and to despair of help from themselves, or from an arm of flesh, before he appears for them . . .' (Great Awakening preacher, Jonathan Edwards (1703-58). From a sermon on Hosea 5:15)

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM UNDER THREAT IN USA

On 18 June Dr Nabeel Qureshi, 18-year-old Afghan convert Miss Negeen Mayel and two others were charged with breaching the peace for witnessing to Muslims at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. Qureshi simply wore a t-shirt which read 'Jesus Always Loves You'. After 15 minutes of conversation with Muslims who approached Qureshi, the group were arrested, taken away in handcuffs and detained overnight in Dearborn City Jail. Also the US Supreme Court will soon rule on the case of the Hastings College Christian Legal Society which sued the College for its right to freedom of association. Hastings de-registered the campus group because CLS by-laws required its members to sign a statement of faith and conduct. That was deemed to discriminate against practising homosexuals and non-Christians.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

060. Kenya: Islamic courts issue stirs strife

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 060 | Wed 16 Jun 2010

KENYA: ISLAMIC COURTS ISSUE STIRS STRIFE

Last Sunday 13 June, six people were killed and some 104 wounded when grenades were thrown into a massive Christian rally in Nairobi's Uhuru Park. The rally was organised by religious leaders who advocate that Christians vote 'NO' in the 4 August referendum on Kenya's new constitution. It included evangelism, prayer for the sick and addresses from several parliamentarians from the 'NO' camp. Whilst the rally officially concluded at 6 pm, many believers lingered and continued in worship and prayer. At around 6.45pm an explosion occurred at the left rear of the gathering. Assuming it was something harmless, Pastor James Ng'ang'a, who was leading prayers at the time, called on those present to gather closer to the platform. However, as bloodied victims of the explosion were being brought forward, a grenade lobbed in from the right exploded close to the main dais. This killed some, wounded many and caused a stampede that resulted in many more injuries.

No security had been provided for the event though church leaders had requested it. Despite the explosions, police did not attend from the nearest police station just 2km away until Bishop Margaret Wanjiru drove there after an hour and requested their assistance. In highly provocative statements Professor Peter Anyang Nyong'o, Co-convener of the 'YES' campaign Secretariat, and Hussein Khalid, head of Muslims For Human Rights, insinuated that the 'NO' campaign might have bombed itself to gain sympathy.

The draft constitution includes several divisive issues, one of which is the entrenchment of Kadhi (Islamic) courts. Kenyan Muslims (8 percent) have long pushed to have Kadhi courts defined in the Constitution with national rather than just local jurisdiction. This would give Khadi courts authority equal to the State's secular courts. Christians maintain that Kenya's secularism, equity, tolerance and religious freedom will then be diminished.

On 24 May a three-judge bench declared the inclusion of Kadhi courts in the current Constitution illegal and discriminatory, prompting church leaders to petition for a recall of parliament so amendments could be made. However, former Law Society of Kenya chairman, Ahmednassir Abdullahi, charged that the constitutional court had acted outside its jurisdiction, a claim supported by Kenya's Attorney-General Amos Wako. Wako has launched an appeal that he wants heard before the 4 August referendum. Tensions are running high.

Meanwhile the 'YES' campaign is busy wielding 'hate speech' laws against those who dare speak out against the dangers they believe are posed by the draft constitution. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is investigating complaints made against the Higher Education Minister William Ruto, who is spearheading the 'NO' campaign, and five other Members of Parliament. The NCIC wants them prosecuted for 'hate speech' since they opined that elements of the draft constitution could trigger bloodshed and evictions (as power is devolved from the centre to 47 self-governing ethnic counties) and 'religious warfare' (due to advancing Islamisation). The 'YES' campaign was greatly bolstered last week by the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden who publicly supported the 'YES' campaign, urging Kenyans to resist those who would use 'fear' as a 'tool' to perpetuate division. He also promised the Kenyan Government more American and foreign investment if the constitution were passed. No wonder the government is hungry for a quick, untroubled 'Yes'. In the midst of this, the Church stands as a prophetic voice of opposition. Polls taken on 4 June show the powerful, elitist-led, Muslim-backed 'YES' vote clearly in front. They will be furious if the constitution fails. It is a no-win situation for the Church.

(An expanded version of this RLPB will be available on Religious Liberty Monitoring.)

WE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* grant Kenya's Church leaders great wisdom, courage and unity as they seek what is best for their nation.

* use this trial to purify and sanctify his Church in Kenya, forging spiritual maturity and unity and a God-dependency that expresses itself in prayerfulness.

* use these difficult and darkening days to lead many Kenyans to Jesus Christ; may the Church not fear the times, knowing she will shine like a star, only brighter as darkness descends.

'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.' (Isaiah 55:9 ESV.)

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ISLAMIC COURTS ISSUE STIRS STRIFE IN KENYA

Kenyans will vote on a new constitution on 4 August. Several elements in the proposed constitution are, however, highly controversial and opposed by the Church which is advocating a 'NO' vote. One contentious issue is the promotion of Kadhi (Islamic) courts. The Church maintains that if Islamic courts are entrenched in the constitution and given national jurisdiction, then secularism, equity, tolerance and religious liberty will be diminished. Last Sunday 13 June grenades were thrown into a massive Christian prayer rally in Nairobi. Six people were killed and 104 injured. The 'YES' campaign is busy wielding 'hate speech' laws against 'NO' advocates who claim the new constitution could trigger ethnic bloodshed and religious conflict. Please pray for the Church in Kenya.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

059. Afghanistan: Christians menaced as Karzai woos Taliban

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 059 | Wed 09 Jun 2010

AFGHANISTAN: CHRISTIANS MENACED AS KARZAI WOOS TALIBAN

The government of Afghanistan suspended two church-based aid organisations -- US-based Church World Service (CWS) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) -- on 31 May over allegations of proselytising. Both groups deny the charge, insisting they had adhered to the Islamic State's strict protocols. Leaving Islam (apostasy) is a capital offence under Afghan law and it is illegal to proselytise. The allegations emerged on 30 May via a privately-run Afghan television station, Noorin TV. The station broadcast video footage reportedly showing Afghans being baptised and participating with Westerners in Christian prayer meetings being held in alleged 'missionary safe houses' in western Kabul. Whilst CWS and NCA were specifically named, Noorin TV unashamedly confesses it has NO evidence they were involved. The producer maintains that the report merely raised 'suspicions' about the two groups. He had simply selected their names out of the telephone directory because they contained the word 'church'.

In Kabul, angry protesters have demanded the expulsion of foreigners who try to convert Muslims. In parliament Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a deputy of the lower house, called for Muslim converts to Christianity to be executed: 'Those Afghans who appeared in this video film should be executed in public; the house should order the attorney general and the NDS (intelligence agency) to arrest these Afghans and execute them.' Qazi Nazir Ahmad, a lawmaker from the western province of Herat, affirmed that killing an apostate is 'not a crime'. Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai is reportedly taking a personal interest in the case and has ordered an investigation, but not because he is keen to defend religious liberty for he no longer needs to do this to maintain Western favour. According to Waheed Omar, the President's spokesman, Karzai has instructed his interior minister and the head of the country's spy agency 'to take immediate and serious action to prevent this phenomenon'. A European diplomat told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that he suspected there might be a 'hidden political agenda' behind the Noorin TV broadcast, 'at a time when stirring up anti-foreign sentiment is quite fashionable in Kabul'.

This drama is unfolding parallel to President Karzai's desperate efforts to entice the Taliban into a peace agreement. However, the Taliban are not interested because they are ascendant and even now they can terrorise Kabul at will. They are just biding their time until the US and allied forces depart. Whether they then decide to take over Kabul or not, they will certainly dictate their terms. So Karzai is offering appeasements and inducements in the hope that the Taliban will talk 'peace', i.e. to ensure his survival, albeit as a puppet or facade. As part of the British-authored, US-approved Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program, Taliban who denounce violence and lay down their weapons will receive money and amnesty. Billions of dollars will thus be channelled to supposedly de-radicalised Taliban. Nations desperate for 'peace' are lining up to contribute to the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund. Australia for instance has pledged $25 million. However, it is easy to imagine how this scheme could be massively rorted to produce the exact opposite of what was intended.

In such an environment of political and existential desperation, the lives of the Afghan believers who have been filmed being baptised or praying to the Lord are imminently imperilled. The Islamic masses are against them. The Islamic State's constitution is against them. Their own government -- including their Western-backed president -- is against them. However, the God of their salvation, the Almighty eternal God Jehovah, is for them and with them.

WE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* be a refuge, strength, help and fortress to all Afghanistan's seriously threatened and besieged Christians. (Psalm 46)

* gift and empower all Afghanistan's young believers with radical faith that expresses itself in humble prayer and fearless peace. 'Be still, and know that I am God.' (Psalm 46:10 ESV)

* in mercy (Ephesians 2:4) and pity (Jonah 4:11) awaken the consciences of many Afghans, opening their eyes and their hearts to receive the true and liberating gospel (Luke 4:18,19; Acts 16:14).

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AFGHANI CHRISTIANS MENACED AS TALIBAN ARE WOOED

President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers desperately want peace with the Taliban. The British-authored, US-approved Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program offers money and amnesty to Taliban militants who denounce violence and lay down their weapons. However, the Taliban, sensing victory, reject peace and are merely awaiting the US withdrawal. (Nevertheless they might not pass up an opportunity to make some money in the meantime!) In this climate, Afghan TV has shown Afghans being baptised and praying with Christians in Kabul. The angry masses want supposedly proselytising foreigners deported. MPs are calling for these Afghani apostates to be publicly executed. Karzai has ordered the interior ministry and spy agency to 'prevent' conversions. Still, God is in the midst of his people (Psalm 46). Please pray for the Church in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

058. India: Hindutva and persecution advance unchallenged.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 058 | Wed 02 June 2010

INDIA: HINDUTVA AND PERSECUTION ADVANCE UNCHALLENGED

Hindu elites in the Sangh Parivar (Hindu nationalist forces) are striving to attain Hindu power in a Hindu State, primarily to perpetuate their own caste privilege. The strategy of the Sangh Parivar is to convert the indigenous, traditionally animist, Congress-voting tribals to Hinduism, and through a fear campaign bring Hindus together in the Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) camp. The fear campaign revolves around demonising and incitement against Christianity which is portrayed as an existential threat to national security, sovereignty and social cohesion. Hindutva is presented as the only solution to this. The Hinduised tribals are then used as 'vote-cattle' for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. They are also recruited into militias to be pitted against Christians, thus setting the tribals communities against one another. (The Hindu caste system is essentially institutionalised racism. Most high-caste Aryan Hindus would happily be rid of all tribals, except that they have value as vote-cattle, militants and menial labourers.)

To advance their strategy, the Sangh has invented the 'social kumbh': a non-traditional Hindu 'kumbh' (pilgrimage and festival) based on newly invented, purpose-built mythology. A social kumbh essentially provides Hindutva forces with a religious platform for launching a political campaign. Vitriolic incitement to violence against Christians is an integral element of the social kumbh.

The Sangh is presently organising a social kumbh for 10-12 Feb 2011. It will be held on the banks of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh. Some 2 million Hindu devotees are expected to pour into the predominantly tribal district for the Maa Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Mother Narmada Social Kumbh). There they will hear toxic incitement against Christians, witness mass conversions of tribals and be recruited to the Hindutva cause. Hindu leaders attending a ground-breaking ceremony at the kumbh site on 22 April pledged to 'cleanse Mandla of Christians' (Compass Direct News, 20 May). Ten days later a mob of around 40 armed, abusive and belligerent Hindu militants stormed worship in the home of local pastor Bhag Chand Rujhiya (36). The police arrived and took Pastor Rujhiya away to be interrogated, harassed and intimidated. He was released after being forced to sign papers promising that he would cease evangelisation in the area and would no longer lead worship or prayers. After living in hiding for a week, Pastor Rujhiya returned with his wife and children, 'ready to face whatever comes our way'.

In neighbouring Chhattisgarh four young men belonging to the Bhilai Brethren Assembly were distributing gospel tracts door-to-door on 15 April when they were mobbed and beaten. Hindu militants had mobilised a large mob against the young evangelists, even bringing media along to report the attack. When Pastor Shalu Ninan rushed to their aid, he too was beaten. When the Christians went to the police station to file a report, they were charged with 'forcible conversions' and arrested under Chhattisgarh's Freedom of Religion Act. After seven days in Durg Jail (where they continued to witness for Christ) they were bailed.

On 17 April Hindu militants invaded a Christian revival meeting in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh. Theology student Amit Gilbert (23) was killed and his body dumped down a well. On 2 May Indian evangelist Ravi Murmu (28, married with one daughter) was hacked to death as he walked home after showing a gospel film in Laxmanpur in the northern state of Bihar. Incidents of intolerance and violence against Christians occur almost daily. As violence is rewarded with impunity, Hindutva advances unchallenged, with persecution escalating and intensifying across the whole of India.

WE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* bless the courageous work being done by India's missionaries, awakening the conscience and the spirit of many Indians -- tribals, who are liberated by the gospel; and Hindus, who are humbled by it.

* shake India's government and the secular, educated elite out of their nonchalance regarding Hindutva; may they awake to the danger, rise in defence of peace, equity and justice, and insist on an end to incitement and impunity.

* frustrate the wicked schemes of those planning the Mandla kumbh (Psalm 146:8,9).

'The nations roar like the roaring of many waters, but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away, chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind and whirling dust before the storm.' (Isaiah 17:13 ESV)

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INDIA: HINDUTVA AND PERSECUTION ADVANCE UNCHALLENGED

Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) is a movement run by Hindu elites, seeking Hindu power in a Hindu State, primarily to safeguard their own caste privilege. Their strategy is to convert the traditionally animist tribals to Hinduism and then through a fear campaign to bring all Hindus together in the Hindutva camp. That way they aim to get a voting majority for the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party. The fear campaign revolves around demonising and incitement against Christians and Christianity, that are portrayed as an existential threat to Indian sovereignty, national security and social cohesion. Hindutva ideology continues to advance unchallenged and Hindutva violence continues to be rewarded with impunity. As a result, persecution of Christians is escalating and intensifying all across India. Please pray for India and for her suffering Church.