Wednesday, June 29, 2011

114. June 2011 Update; incl. Burma, Egypt, North Korea, Tajikistan.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 114 | Wed 29 Jun 2011

By Elizabeth Kendal

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [. . .] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7,11 ESV)

JUNE 2011 UPDATE
-- During June we prayed for . . .

ZIMBABWE (RLPBs 110 & 111), where churches (particularly Anglican churches) are facing escalating political violence ahead of elections. See Religious Liberty Monitoring for more information.

UPDATE: according to The Tablet, a Catholic weekly newsletter, President Mugabe has branded the Catholic Church an enemy of the State. With secret police masquerading as Mass-goers, Catholic priests are increasingly at risk of arrest and torture. One priest laments: '[we] don't have any freedom to preach the Word as we would want to even within the Church because you never know what kind of visit you may get after Mass. You know that the secret police are attending and the moment you finish, things happen.' Even just acknowledging the existence of hunger in the country is enough to get a priest into trouble. Phones are tapped and Internet lines are monitored. Priests wearing clerical garb are routinely arrested, interrogated and humiliated. 'If you are lucky,' the priest said, 'you are interviewed and let go; if you are not so lucky you are tortured a little bit.' Pray for the Church in Zimbabwe.

see: Fear in the pulpit
Oppression in Zimbabwe
Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet - 25 June 2011

REFUGEES (RLPB 112), as increasing numbers of Christians are being forced to flee war, Islamic jihad and violent religious persecution.

NUBA MOUNTAINS, SUDAN (RLPB 113): where as many as half-a-million mostly Christian Nuba -- some 50 African tribes indigenous to North Sudan's Nuba Mountains -- have been displaced by aerial bombardment and a violent ethnic cleansing campaign. Once again, as in the early 1990s, the Arab-Islamist regime in Khartoum has closed the Nuba Mountains off to all humanitarian aid as it seeks the genocide of the 'blacks' through the use of starvation as a weapon of mass destruction. See Religious Liberty Monitoring for more information. Please pray for God's intervention.

JUNE 2011 ROUND-UP
-- also this month . . .

BURMA (Myanmar): CONFLICT ERUPTS IN KACHIN STATE

As was noted in RLPB 080 (3 Nov 2010), the sole purpose of Burma's fraudulent November 2010 elections was to legitimise the regime and give it a mandate to impose its will. Because the ethnic-religious minorities do not have enough confidence in the junta to disarm, the regime has branded them 'separatist' and tensions have escalated. Conflict has erupted in devoutly Christian Kachin State which borders China to the north. The trigger has been China's building of two hydropower mega-dams in Kachin, against the will of the Kachin people who protest that social and environmental damage will be catastrophic. With China wanting to build at least seven more such mega-dams in Kachin State, the Burmese junta's interest in controlling Kachin lands will intensify. Thousands of Christian Kachin are on the run and at least 50 have been killed. Pray for the Christian Kachin.

EGYPT: VIOLENCE CONTINUES AGAINST COPTIC CHURCH

On 23 June hundreds of fundamentalist Salafi Muslims attacked the Coptic Church of St George in the village of Bani Ahmed in Minya Province, Upper Egypt, during Mass. The Salafis demanded that the priest, Fr George Thabet, either leave the village or be handed over to be killed. For months now, the Salafis have been protesting development work done on the church. After a five-hour siege the Army intervened, quelling the rioting and escorting Fr Thabet out of the village.

On 25 June a rumour spread through the village of Awlad Khalaf in Suhaj Province, Upper Egypt, that the home being built by a Coptic Christian, Wahib Halim Attia, was actually a church. Consequently, a mob of some 200 Muslims responded by attacking Mr Attia. After looting and bulldozing his home, they moved on to loot and torch another six Coptic-owned homes. Attia was subsequently arrested. Reportedly, local Muslims intervened to return many of the looted possessions. Pray for the Church in Egypt and that Egyptian Muslims will awaken to the fact that Islam is not the solution.

NORTH KOREA: MILITARY GOING HUNGRY

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has obtained some very revealing film smuggled out of North Korea. The footage confirms: there is mass poverty, starvation and fear; there are scores of scavenging, homeless orphans whose parents have died either of starvation or in concentration camps; and work is being done by malnourished slave labourers. But the report also reveals something quite new: many uniformed soldiers are weak from hunger and malnutrition. This is significant because if the regime cannot sustain its 'military first' policy -- feeding its military to secure its loyalty -- then the regime's grip on power could be tenuous. Under the Kim regime, hundreds of thousands of Korean Christians suffer some of the most severe expressions of religious persecution known. See Religious Liberty Monitoring for more on North Korea. And please pray.

TAJIKISTAN: SEVERE RELIGIOUS RESTRICTIONS THREATENED

On 15 June Tajikistan's Lower House of Parliament approved a controversial Parental Responsibility Law. An initiative of President Emomali Rahmon, the law obliges parents 'not to let children-teenagers participate in the activity of religious organisations [other than funerals], with the exception of those officially enrolled in [State-sanctioned] religious education'. Penalties will apply.

Also on 15 June the Lower House approved amendments to the Criminal Code that will extend punishments for 'unapproved meetings' to unapproved religious meetings, and prescribe lengthy prison terms for those found participating in 'religious extremist' teaching. With the courts left to define 'extremist', observers fear that all unsanctioned religious education will be penalised. Before they can be enacted as law, the draft law and amendments need to be approved by the Upper House (Majlisi Milli) and signed by the President. Chair of the Lower House's Science, Education, Culture and Youth Policy Committee, Marhabo Jabborova, told Forum 18 she felt 'sure' the Parental Responsibility Law and the Criminal Code amendments would be adopted by the Upper House in July. Whilst Islamic sects considered to be dangerous are the target, Protestant Christians will be caught in the net, a detail the authorities will keenly exploit. Please pray for God's intervention.

113. Sudan: genocidal regime targets Nuba again

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 113 | Wed 22 Jun 2011

SUDAN: GENOCIDAL REGIME TARGETS NUBA AGAIN

By Elizabeth Kendal

North Sudan's South Kordofan State is defined by the Nuba Mountains. Whilst the plains of South Kordofan are populated by pro-Khartoum Arab Misseriya Baggara nomads, the Nuba Mountains are populated by some 50 non-Arab, predominantly non-Muslim African tribes collectively known as Nuba. Long isolated, the Nuba are famous for their unique culture. In 1968 when the Government of Sudan (GoS) based in Khartoum started acquiring large tracts of land for mechanised farming, the Baggara began grazing their cattle on Nuba land, destroying crops and taking over wells in the process. Tensions soared, exacerbated through the 1970s by drought. By 1983 the Baggara were raiding the Nuba at will and with impunity.

Meanwhile, Dr John Garang had united South Sudan's various rebel forces to form the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). In June 1983 the SPLM published its Manifesto calling for a united, secular, democratic Sudan with equality and rights for all Sudan's diverse peoples. Khartoum responded instead by imposing Sharia Law. The South would not submit. The war was on. In 1984 senior Nuba leaders likewise wanting an end to Islamisation joined the SPLM/A.

In 1985 a local SPLA taskforce chased a band of Misseriya Baggara raiders to the outskirts of the Nuba Mts, killing 60. Khartoum responded by training and arming Baggara militias, known as Murahaliin, for use in a proxy jihad against the Nuba. When in 1986 an SPLA taskforce came seeking recruits, young Nuba men flocked to enlist. At that point the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) entered the fray, purging Nuba villages of anyone they suspected of SPLA sympathies. After Omar al-Bashir seized power in Khartoum in a military coup in 1989, he brought the Baggara Murahaliin under government control, re-branding them as the Popular Defence Force (PDF). Commissioned to carry out genocide in the Nuba Mts, the SAF and PDF murdered the Nuba elite, razed Nuba villages, burnt crops and shut schools and medical clinics. The areas that survived under SPLA control were then blockaded against all trade and humanitarian aid. Amidst this, the GoS established so-called 'Peace Camps' (concentration camps) where submission to the regime and conversion to Islam would win a family GoS food aid. Hundreds of thousands of Nuba perished in the GoS-engineered famine of 1990-93, rather than submit. Had it not been for Arab smugglers the Nuba civilisation would have been annihilated.

Despite Dr Garang's best efforts, when negotiating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) he had not been able to get the GoS to agree to a referendum on self-determination for the Nuba. However, Garang assured the Nuba that if the CPA were implemented then the racist, Islamist regime would be finished and a 'New Sudan' would emerge. So the Nuba signed the CPA despite their immense dissatisfaction at the lack of a referendum on Nuba self-determination.

John Garang, the leading advocate of the 'New Sudan' vision, died in a helicopter crash in July 2005 and subsequently the GoS has not implemented the CPA. Now the South is due to secede on 9 July, leaving numerous SPLA allies -- including the Nuba -- stranded in the North. South Kordofan is the only state in the North with oil and it appears that Khartoum has begun ethnically cleansing the Nuba Mts -- again. This is the regime that ethnically cleansed the Dinka-Ngok (Southerners) out of Abyei in March-April 2011 and annexed the contested border region.

Violence exploded in South Kordofan's capital, Kadugli, on 5 June as SAF and SPLA troops clashed. Reportedly, SAF and Baggara Arab militias have been conducting door-to-door 'sweep' operations in the cities and towns, killing everyone they suspect of SPLA sympathies. According to Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of the Episcopal Diocese of Kadugli, 'churches and pastors were directly targeted'. Christians have told Compass Direct News they have witnessed clergy being shot and killed by the sword before their eyes, to shouts of Allahu akbar. The Catholic, Episcopal and Church of Christ churches in Kadugli have been looted and torched. On Sunday 12 June the governor of North Kordofan declared jihad on the Nuba, most of whom are Christian. Ahmed Haroun, recently installed by Khartoum as governor of South Kordofan by a fraudulent poll, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands of Nuba have been displaced. Bishop Elnail requests Christians to observe Sunday 26 June as a day of prayer and fasting for an end to the violence. The Bishop laments: 'Once again we are facing the nightmare of genocide of our people in a final attempt to erase our culture and society from the face of the earth.'

Furthermore thousands of Southerners have been forced to flee GoS aerial bombardment of the oil regions of South Sudan's Unity State. The regime may well be aiming to seize as much as possible of the South's oil-rich territory before the South secedes on 9 July.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO --

* have mercy on Sudan's long-suffering marginalised peoples, drawing them to himself so that in faith and dependence they will call upon the sovereign and supreme Lord of Hosts and witness his deliverance.

* burst through the forces of the Islamist, genocidal regime of Omar al-Bashir (2 Samuel 5:20), so driven by racial and religious hatred that unconscionably (arrogantly; complacently; see Isaiah 37:29) it would orchestrate the genocide of all Sudan's non-Arab and non-Muslim peoples; may the Lord defend his people.

'For nothing will be impossible with God.' (Luke 1:37 ESV)

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GENOCIDAL SUDAN REGIME TARGETS NUBA

Violence exploded on 5 June in Sudan's South Kordofan State, the only North Sudan state with oil. South Kordofan's Nuba Mountains are populated by some 50 non-Arab, mostly non-Muslim Nuba tribes. Sudan Armed Forces and Arab militias have been conducting door-to-door 'sweep' operations, killing everyone they suspect opposes the Northern regime. In the capital, Kadugli, the Catholic, Episcopal and Church of Christ churches have been looted and torched. According to Episcopal Bishop Elnail, 'Churches and pastors were directly targeted.' Christians have told Compass Direct News they witnessed clergy being executed to shouts of Allahu akbar. Hundreds of thousands of predominantly Christian Nuba have been displaced. Amidst tensions elsewhere, South Sudan is due to secede on 9 July. Please pray for Sudan and its Christians.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

112. Refugees: Christians take flight

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 112 | Wed 15 Jun 2011

REFUGEES: CHRISTIANS TAKE FLIGHT

By Elizabeth Kendal

According to the angel, the birth of Jesus -- 'a Saviour who is Christ the Lord' -- was an event of 'good news of great joy that will be for all the people' (Luke 2:8-14). Despite this, it would not be long before 'an angel of the Lord' would appear to Joseph to warn him of the threat to the child's life, and instruct him to gather up his family and flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13,14). And so Jesus became a refugee. This Jesus, however, has become our great high priest, and '[not] a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin'. And so the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews exhorts us, 'Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.' (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV excerpts)

The number of Christians fleeing for their lives is skyrocketing. Those with financial means may emigrate or fly out and apply for refugee status in the West, an arduous enough process. However, poorer Christians seeking refuge in a neighbouring state must risk death traversing deserts, oceans and dangerous cities, while dodging bandits and people-traffickers. Lately, finding refuge is becoming increasingly difficult. Since 2003 Iraq's Assyrian-Chaldean Christians have been fleeing for their lives into Syria and Jordan. But today secular minority-ruled Syria is in turmoil and is at risk of falling into the hands of Sunni fundamentalists or erupting into a regional sectarian conflagration. Jordan is volatile. As the doors close, where will Iraq's threatened Christians go?

Christians fleeing repression and persecution in totalitarian Eritrea have normally headed for Egypt or Yemen, two states previously run by US-allied, politically secular dictators. Egypt and Yemen, however, are no longer 'safe'. Reaching Israel involves crossing the Sinai Desert which is not only perilous in itself, but ridden with unscrupulous people-traffickers. According to Barnabas Fund an estimated 500-600 Eritrean refugees are presently detained by authorities in Egypt, while an estimated 100-200 are in the hands of traffickers.

The greatest risk for North Korean refugees is that instead of finding the 'underground railroad' (safe passage organised by Christians) they will fall into the hands of Chinese security forces who return them to North Korea and certain incarceration or execution. Likewise, many Hmong, Montagnard and other Christians fleeing persecution in Laos and the Central Highlands of Vietnam do not always find refuge.

Hundreds of thousands of Ivorian Christians now live as refugees in Liberia, having fled ethnic-religious-political cleansing in Ivory Coast. Many more remain in Ivory Coast amidst terrible insecurity. As fighting intensifies on Sudan's North-South border, hundreds of thousands of predominantly Christian Southerners are being displaced, forced to flee as Khartoum bombs the oil-rich regions to clear and claim them. Where will they go? What of the Christians residing in North Sudan?

The time Jesus spent as a refugee was no accident, having been prophesied long beforehand: Jesus, Mary and Joseph had not slipped through God's fingers; they were not outside God's providence. Furthermore, the time Jesus spent as a refugee in Egypt predicated his coming 'out of Egypt': an event filled with theological significance and pointing to Jesus being the 'son' of God, for '. . . out of Egypt I called my son' (Hosea 11:1b; Matthew 2:15). We need to pray for the safety and refuge of Christians forced to take flight and that they might discover that 'they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles . . .' (Isaiah 40:31a).

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR ALL CHRISTIAN REFUGEES --

* that God the loving Father will keep them safe as they flee: hidden from wild animals, people-traffickers and criminals; sustaining them in oceans, deserts, dangerous cities and other hostile environments.

* that the Holy Spirit will sanctify them as they seek their place in the purposes of God, confidently looking to Jesus, their great high priest, as one who is well able to empathise with and meet their every need.

* particularly those who are currently in the hands of jailers or unscrupulous people-traffickers: may the God of all grace, mercy and justice draw these vulnerable believers into his presence, deliver them from violence and brutality and restore their liberty and security.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

111. Zimbabwe: Anglicans evicted from churches and homes (plus Pakistan)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 111 | Wed 08 Jun 2011

ZIMBABWE: ANGLICANS EVICTED FROM CHURCHES AND HOMES (plus Pakistan)

By Elizabeth Kendal

RLPB 110 on Zimbabwe was issued last Wednesday 1 June after news emerged that churches were facing escalating levels of political violence (see also Religious Liberty Monitoring). This political violence is doubtless intended to inject fear into the churches and to silence them ahead of what are likely to be rigged elections. The regime aims to force the churches to adopt a position of compliant subjugation if they want to survive. On 2 June the Bishop of Harare, the Rt Rev Chad Gandiya, issued an urgent appeal for prayer, detailing more persecution.

On Sunday 29 May a priest belonging to the pro-Mugabe faction (led by excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga) broke into the home of the Rev Charles Muzanenhamo, an Anglican priest in the Mubayira area of Mhondoro. Muzanenhamo was away visiting rural parishes at the time. When Bishop Gandiya alerted Muzanenhamo he returned home immediately and expelled the intruder. However, when the police subsequently arrived they arrested the pastor, charging him with assault. Muzanenhamo had to spend the night in detention before the bishop could bail him out. That same evening, a newly ordained deacon, Noel Magaya, was also illegally and forcibly evicted from his home-church. Once again, when the police arrived they sided with Kunonga's criminals. On 30 May when Rev Julius Zimbudzana tried to notify the police about Magaya's eviction they refused to open a docket, so officially the incident never happened.

On the evening of Wednesday 1 June Bishop Gandiya's congregation was holding a church wardens meeting when they were told that thugs from Kunonga's faction were breaking into Zimbudzana's home. Some of the church wardens ran to stop the break-in but all the assailants managed to escape, except one who was caught by members of Zimbudzana's church. These members and the church wardens took the apprehended attacker to the police. When they returned from the police station they found Zimbudzana's home was surrounded by riot police who then arrested all 16 present, including priests and three women -- even Zimbudzana's elderly mother. All were released on Friday 3 June when all the false charges levelled by the police failed.

Bishop Gandiya's 2 June email reports that many believers are 'greatly traumatised by all this'. Some of his priests have shared with him that their children are affected, becoming exceedingly anxious about the safety of their fathers. 'Please continue to pray for us as a diocese,' he asks.

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT:

* God our loving Father will instil peace into the hearts of all Zimbabwe's burdened yet faithful believers, particularly threatened church leaders and their vulnerable families; may they be assured of God's everlasting love ('hesed'), and may they find rest in God's everlasting arms (Matthew 11:28-30; Deuteronomy 33:27).

* the Holy Spirit will wield, as a sword, the gospel message preached and lived by his faithful ones, so that it might be powerful and effective in convicting of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:5-11), and powerful and effective in personal and national transformation (Isaiah 2:1-4).

* our LORD Jesus Christ will build his Church in Zimbabwe; for (as we prayed last week) 'Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning' (Psalm 30:5b ESV). May the LORD hasten Zimbabwe's 'morning'.

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ANGLICANS ILLEGALLY EVICTED IN ZIMBABWE

The Bishop of Harare, Rt Rev Chad Gandiya, issued a prayer request on 2 June for the Anglican Church in Harare. After seizing control of 40 percent of all Anglican properties in Zimbabwe, the pro-Mugabe faction led by excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga has begun forcibly evicting Anglican pastors from their home-churches. Kunonga is supported by a totally partisan police force. On 1 June police arrested 16 Anglicans, including priests and three women, who had helped Rev Julius Zimbudzana resist a totally illegal forcible eviction from his home. This was the third time within a week a pastor had been illegally evicted. All those arrested have been bailed. However, there is growing concern that the situation is deteriorating. Please pray for the Church in Zimbabwe.

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UPDATE

* PAKISTAN: ISLAMISTS WANT 'BLASPHEMOUS' BIBLE BANNED

At a press conference in Lahore on 30 May 2011, the leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, appealed to the Supreme Court to ban the Christian Bible on the grounds that many of its 'insertions' were pornographic and blasphemous and thus offensive to Muslims. Ominously, Farooqi suggested that the ban was necessary to prevent a clash between the two religions. This is highly provocative, creating a most dangerous, incendiary environment. Please pray for the Church in Pakistan.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

110. Zimbabwe: churches targeted for political violence (plus Algeria & Ivory Coast)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 110 | Wed 01 Jun 2011

ZIMBABWE: CHURCHES TARGETED FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE
(plus Algeria & Ivory Coast)

By Elizabeth Kendal

On 9 April some 500 Christians from Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Gweru gathered in the Church of the Nazarene in Glen Norah for a special 'Praying for Peace to Save Zimbabwe' church service. The gathering in this densely populated suburb of Harare included four bishops and 46 pastors. Their prayer for peace was shattered when a truckload of some 20 armed riot police arrived, firing tear gas into the church and storming the sanctuary wielding batons and brandishing rifles. Ironically, the service was also planned to commemorate the 11 March 2007 'Save Zimbabwe Prayer Rally' in which one participant, Gift Tandare, was shot dead by police and over 100 were arrested and tortured. As with the March 2007 rally, a sharp escalation in political violence ahead of elections had prompted this April 2011 prayer service.

About a week later a Catholic priest, Father Mark Mkandla, was arrested in Lupane after delivering a powerful sermon against violence to a special church service organised to pray for national healing and reconciliation. Further to this, officials from President Mugabe's Zanu (PF) have been visiting churches with the aim of forcing members to sign an anti-sanctions petition. Pastors who resist find their congregations split, with pro-Mugabe members being offered Zanu (PF) support to start new churches. As an incentive, the regime is offering church leaders land for loyalty.

President Mugabe recently issued a call for early elections, despite the terms of the power-sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA) stitched together by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) after the 2008 elections. The GPA mandates that before the next elections, a new constitution must be approved by referendum and a new voter registry must be drawn up. It is unlikely these conditions will be met because the police, the judiciary and the Zimbabwe Election Commission are all partisan and the rule of law has collapsed. The next elections will be stolen by means of a grossly rigged electoral register and State violence.

Meanwhile, the same as Mugabe is violently confiscating white-owned farms in the name of 'indigenisation', his accomplice bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, is violently confiscating Anglican properties under the same pretext. Kunonga was unfrocked by the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa in November 2007 for heresy, schism and suspicion of complicity in the murder of ten clergy. However, he now controls 40 percent of all Zimbabwe's Anglican churches, including 30 in Harare alone. Their doors are opened on Sundays, but only to pro-Mugabe supporters. The vast majority of Zimbabwe's Anglicans now worship in any facility open to them. Anglicans suspect Kunonga of complicity in the February 2011 murder of Jessica Mandeya (89), a lay leader in the rural parish of Mashonaland East who was raped, mutilated and strangled after she refused to join Kunonga's pro-Mugabe faction. Kunonga denies any part in this, retorting that if he were going to kill anyone, it would be his nemesis, Bishop Chad Gandiya, who was elected by the Anglican Church to replace Kunonga as Bishop of Harare. According to Gandiya, Kunonga has five bishops on a hit list for 'elimination'. 'We're all being followed,' said Julius Makono, the bishop of Manicaland, one of the five. Godfrey Tawonezvi, bishop of Masvingo, another of the five, was recently visited by two of Kunonga's men. 'They had all our phone numbers, [and] our home addresses,' he said.

[See Religious Liberty Monitoring (Zimbabwe) for more details and links to sources.]


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO --

* shield his courageous servants who faithfully shepherd his flock through trials and tribulations; may he execute justice for the oppressed and frustrate the schemes of the wicked. (Psalm 146.)

* bless the faithful in Zimbabwe who continue to worship and serve with integrity despite the risk of serious political violence, rejecting enticements; may the Lord meet all their needs and increase their faith.

* build his Church in Zimbabwe; for 'Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.' (Psalm 30:5b ESV.) May the LORD hasten Zimbabwe's 'morning'.

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POLITICAL VIOLENCE HITS CHURCHES IN ZIMBABWE

Churches in Zimbabwe are being targeted amidst a sharp escalation of nationwide political violence ahead of elections. On 9 April riot police broke up a 'Praying for Peace to Save Zimbabwe' service with tear gas, batons and rifles. A week later, a Catholic priest was arrested for preaching against violence at a service for national healing and reconciliation. Mugabe's accomplice bishop, Nolbert Kunonga (unfrocked by the provincial Anglican Church in 2007), continues his program of terror and forcefully confiscating Anglican properties to be controlled by the State. Anglicans suspect Kunonga may be complicit in the gruesome murder of rural lay leader Jessica Mandeya (89) after she refused to join Kunonga's pro-Mugabe Anglican faction. Kunonga reportedly has targeted five Zimbabwean bishops for 'elimination'. Please pray for Zimbabwe's oppressed yet faithful believers.

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CURRENT UPDATES

* ALGERIA: SEVERE PENALTY FOR WITNESSING CHRISTIAN

RLPB 105 (27 April) APRIL UPDATE reported the 14 April arrest of Krimo Siaghi who had been discussing Christianity with some neighbours when they turned against him and accused him of illegal proselytism and subsequently of insulting Muhammad. At the 25 May trial in Oran, 470km west of Algiers, the prosecutor requested the judge sentence Krimo to two years in prison with a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (US$690). Instead, the judge handed down a sentence of five years in prison with a fine of 200,000 Algerian dinars. The ruling will be appealed. Please pray.

* IVORY COAST: FARMER CRUCIFIED AS 'EXAMPLE OF CHRIST'

C├ęsar Etou reports for Ivorian.net that on Saturday 28 May pro-Ouattara gunmen crucified a farmer in the central-western Ivory Coast village of Binkro, nailing the peasant's hands and feet to a plank in the form of a cross as 'the example of Christ'. According to sources, UN forces called to the rescue arrived too late to save the man. Please pray for the Church in Ivory Coast.

For more details on Religious Liberty Monitoring (Ivory Coast)