Wednesday, November 30, 2011

136. Nov. Update; Incl. Burma, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, India, Nepal, Vietnam.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 136 | Wed 30 Nov 2011

By Elizabeth Kendal

We must understand the times in which we live (Luke 12:54-56): persecution is escalating at an alarming rate. So: 'Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.' (Ephesians 6:18b NLT)


NOVEMBER 2011 UPDATE -- During November we prayed concerning . . .

BURMA (RLPB 132), where ethnic Kachin Christians are being driven from their lands behind a smokescreen of mini-'reforms'.

UPDATE: KACHIN IMPERILED; BURMA REWARDED.

Ten people were killed (all children) and 27 were injured on Sunday evening 13 November when a parcel bomb was thrown into an orphanage in Myitkyinar, Kachin State, during a study. The owner-manager of the orphanage, Dayaung Tangoon, was away travelling with Christian pastors at the time. Though Tangoon, a leader in the Kachin community, lost a son, a daughter and grandchild in the attack, he was arrested. Meanwhile the 27 wounded, including Tangoon's wife, are in hospital, barred from receiving visitors.

Furthermore, the regime is deploying chemical weapons against the Kachin. Residents of Mai Ja Yang village recently fled their homes reporting toxic and caustic 'yellow rain'. Likewise, residents fleeing Prang Ngawn village in western Kachin also reported that a plane had delivered 'yellow rain' to their village. On 17 November the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced that Myanmar (Burma) will chair ASEAN in 2014. Pray for the besieged Christian Kachin of northern Burma.

NIGERIA (RLPB 133), where the al-Qaeda-linked terror group Boko Haram, which wants Nigeria run as an Islamic State, is escalating its campaign of terror against Christian, educational and democratic institutions across the north.

UPDATE 1: BOKO HARAM STRIKES IN YOBE STATE.

On Saturday 26 November Boko Haram unleashed another wave of terror, this time targeting Geidam Local Government Area, Yobe State (north-east Nigeria). Armed with Kalashnikov rifles and explosives, the militants bombed Geidam police station, freeing suspects and looting the armoury before rampaging through the town, robbing a bank and looting a shopping complex. They torched numerous businesses, an abandoned beer parlour, a court, the local government secretariat and at least eight churches. Four police were killed. When claiming responsibility for terrorising Geidam -- -- the hometown of the Yobe state governor Ibrahim Geidam -- Boko Haram warned: 'Until all our members in detention are released and the Yobe state government stops intimidating and harassing our members we will continue carrying out attacks in the state.'

UPDATE 2: MUSLIMS MASSACRE CHRISTIANS IN PLATEAU STATE.

Compass Direct News reports that Fulani Muslim herdsmen, backed by Muslim soldiers, recently killed 45 ethnic Berom Christians around the town of Barkin Ladi in Plateau State. After accusing the Berom Christians of stealing cattle, the Fulani Muslims started randomly killing Christians: three on 20 November, two on 21st and another beheaded on 22nd. On Wednesday 23rd the Muslims attacked a church in Barkin Ladi, killing four Christians. The next day, straight after the morning call to prayer, hundreds of armed Muslims joined forces in a major assault. Chanting 'Allahu akbar' (Allah is great) they massacred nine Christians in Barkin Ladi and 26 Christians in nearby Kwok village. Please pray for the Church in Nigeria.

SUDAN (RPLB 134), where genocidal ethnic cleansing continues in the north (in South Kordofan and Blue Nile) while an oil war looms over South Sudan, threatening to engulf not only the whole nation but the wider region.

UGANDA (RLPB 135), which is launching a fresh offensive against the LRA, assisted by 100 US Special Forces troops. It is urgent that we pray for a spiritual breakthrough so that multitudes of the LRA -- most of whom are just kidnapped, traumatised, brainwashed children -- might be spiritually and physically freed to leave the LRA for rehabilitation. Pray for the religious leaders who are working to this end, especially for the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative. Pray that Ugandan Christians will unite across tribal lines to address historic injustices and inequity, for the sake of long-lasting peace and for the glory of God.

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

'ARAB SPRING': ISLAMIST POWER RISES ACROSS NORTH AFRICA

1) TUNISIA: EVIDENCE OF RADICAL IDEOLOGY SLIPS OUT

Last month, Tunisia's Islamist, long-banned Ennahda party emerged victorious winning 89 of 217 assembly seats in the first election of the 'Arab Spring'. Ennahda has been striving to present itself as 'moderate'. Yet on 13 November Tunisia's new Prime Minister, Ennahda's Hamadi Jebali, told a rally, 'My brothers, you are at a historic moment in a new cycle of civilisation, God willing. We are in a sixth caliphate, God willing.' With a Hamas MP by his side, Jebali declared that 'the liberation of Tunisia will, God willing, bring about the liberation of Jerusalem'. When this upset his prospective coalition partners, Jabali simply said his words had been misunderstood and taken out of context.('Moderate' and jihadist Islamists have the same radical goal and differ only regarding tactics.) Pray for the Church in Tunisia.

2) MOROCCO: ISLAMISTS WIN ELECTIONS

Last week Morocco's Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) emerged victorious, winning 107 of 395 assembly seats in the second election of the 'Arab Spring'. Though being lauded in the West as 'moderate', the PJD is the political wing of the Uniqueness and Reform movement which represents the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco. Earlier this year, as the Middle East simmered in discontent, Morocco's ruling elite lessened the risk of mass revolt by enacting constitutional 'reforms'. According to the new constitution, Morocco is no longer a 'unitary sovereign state', but a 'Muslim sovereign state'. And whilst clause three of the preamble was amended to include the goal of 'deepening the sense of belonging to the Arab-Islamic umma [nation/community]', clause two of article 25 that guaranteed the 'freedom of conscience' was dropped entirely. Of the Moroccans who voted, 98.5 percent approved the constitutional amendments. Pray for the Church in Morocco.

3) EGYPT: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD RISING

Egyptians are now voting in what is the third election of the 'Arab Spring'. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood's long-banned Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is widely expected to do well in a three-stage legislative election that began on Monday 28 November and concludes in January. There have been numerous reports of vote-buying and religious sloganeering. Christians are mostly voting for the Egyptian Bloc list headed by the liberal Free Egyptians Party, which is strongly opposed to the FJP. They are anxious about the future. If Islamist power rises in Egypt, the Copts will be in a very vulnerable situation indeed. Even now the media, the army, the Salafists and masses of radicalised 'loyal' Muslims are ready to subjugate the Copts as dhimmis under Islam. According to Islam, any resistance to dhimmitude may be met with jihad (slaughter). Pray for the Church in Egypt.

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* INDIA: PERSECUTION RAMPANT IN KARNATAKA (south-west India)

Since coming under the rule of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2008, persecution of Christians has escalated in Karnataka. On Saturday 26 November members of the Bethel Ministry Church were praying together in a home on the outskirts of Kushalnagar village, Karnataka, when a mob of Hindu militants burst in. After accusing the Christians of engaging in forced conversions, the militants called the police who came and arrested a Mrs Janakiyamma, taking her to Madikeri Prison. This is the 41st case of anti-Christian persecution officially registered in Karnataka this year.

Two other church groups were attacked in Karnataka during the month, both in the district of Hassan. On 12 November six members of the Ministry of Bethel Church were attacked as they waited for a bus after attending a prayer service. The militants beat the believers and marched them off to the police station where they were subsequently placed under arrest. After an intervention by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) three women and a child were released but the men are still imprisoned. The next day Pastor Nagaraj, of the Church of Immanuel Prarthanalaya in Arkalgud, had just started the Sunday service when a mob of Hindu militants stormed the church and began tearing up Bibles. When the police arrived they arrested the pastor and three believers who are still in prison. This is India! Pray for the Church in India.

* NEPAL: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY UNDER ATTACK

A crude bomb exploded in Thapathali, Kathmandu, on 22 November, outside the offices of United Mission in Nepal (UMN), a Christian non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has been working to relieve poverty in Nepal since 1954. A second bomb was disarmed. No one was injured. Police found leaflets at the site from the Nepal Defense Army (NDA), a militant Hindu nationalist group that has targeted Christians previously. The leaflets accused the UMN of converting Hindus to Christianity. Then on the following Sunday, 27 November, a suspicious parcel was discovered outside the Assemblies of God Navajiwan Church in central Kathmandu. The police bomb squad who defused the bomb said it contained three powerful explosives that would have done considerable damage had the bomb exploded. Meanwhile, on 22 Nov, two Christian brothers, Panchman Tamang and Buddhiman, were violently assaulted and expelled from their predominantly Buddhist village in Sindhupalchowk district, north of Kathmandu near the border with Tibet. On Instead of defending religious liberty, the government is appeasing the belligerent by drafting anti-conversion laws. Pray for the Church in Nepal.

* VIETNAM: EXTREME VIOLENCE WITH IMPUNITY

Leaders of the 2200-member Agape Baptist Church (ABC) -- a house church network near Hanoi -- were violently assaulted on Sunday 13 November, Compass Direct News reports. They were meeting in Lai Tao village, Bot Xuyen commune, My Duc district at the home of evangelist Nguyen Thi Lan, a former Communist Party (female) official who recently converted to Christianity. Unhappy about conversions in the village, the gang of over a dozen local thugs (including plain-clothed police) burst in savagely beating the leaders while looting and ransacking the home.

Nine pastors and other church leaders along with several of their teenage children sustained serious injuries. Most critically injured was Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau who was unconscious for several hours. When ABC head Nguyen Cong Thanh visited on 15 November he said, 'All they could do was weep, and I also could not prevent my tears from flowing.' With local hospitals proving reluctant to aid the pastors, ABC eventually evacuated the most critically wounded to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen Thi Lan and Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau have suffered potentially crippling injuries. No one has been arrested and the gang is threatening to kill Nguyen Thi Lan if she ever returns. The impunity granted to the persecutors guarantees that persecution will only escalate. Pray for the Church in Vietnam.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

135. Uganda: moves to quell LRA

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 135 | Wed 23 Nov 2011

UGANDA: MORE MOVES TO QUELL LRA

By Elizabeth Kendal

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a blasphemous cult militia established in the late 1980s ostensibly to fight for the rights of the long-marginalised and abused Acholi people of Northern Uganda. The LRA quickly lost its political focus, becoming infamous for its unrivalled brutality, most of it directly targeted at Christian communities, churches and seminaries. Squeezed out of Uganda, the LRA moved to South Sudan and more recently to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic. The LRA has long been armed and funded by the Islamist regime in Khartoum, which has employed the LRA as a proxy force against the South Sudanese and their Christian allies. The LRA's founder and present commander, Joseph Kony, is a former Catholic altar boy turned occultist / spirit medium. Children who have escaped Kony's camps have told social workers that when Kony gets 'possessed' -- he claims by the Holy Spirit -- he will demand worship, crave human blood and prophesy things that come 'exactly true'. This goes some way to explaining why this band of rebels has eluded capture for more than 20 years. In such an overtly spiritual battle, it should be unsurprising that prayer has proved to be the most powerful and effective weapon of all. In the opinion of this writer, the most effective local force against the LRA has been Northern Uganda's religious leaders and particularly the long-suffering and supremely courageous pastors and bishops of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI).

With the stated aim of seeing the LRA removed from the battlefield, the US recently sent 100 combat-ready Special Forces troops to Uganda, tasked with providing 'technical assistance'. The LRA's evil and the local suffering may well be not the main reasons why the US has entered Uganda. Other possible motives include the discovery of oil in Uganda five years ago and China's quick investment in it. Also a quick moral victory in Africa would look good on President Obama's resume in the lead up to the 2012 US presidential elections. Importantly though, an 'oil war' is looming in Sudan, and the LRA -- long a proxy of the Republic of Sudan -- is presently lurking in the hills of South Sudan awaiting orders. Eliminating the LRA would greatly assist South Sudan. Furthermore, American Special Forces assistance in East Africa could be helpful in countering al Shabaab or at least in seeing that Kenya and Uganda are rewarded for their counter-terror efforts. All these possible reasons aside, removing the LRA from the battlefield would be a very good outcome indeed.

However, as the ARLPI notes, military means have never worked against the LRA. In December 2008 US military advisors assisted Uganda, DRC and the South Sudan-based Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) as they joined forces in Operation Lightning Thunder to fight the LRA in the heavily-forested Garamba National Park region of north-eastern DRC. Mysteriously alerted to the allied advance, the LRA tactically retreated and dispersed. In early January 2009 the alliance boasted that the LRA had been routed but by late January the LRA was enacting reprisals and terrorising civilian populations across the region. By March the Ugandan army had pulled out. The military operation, which cost a huge 500 billion shillings, was an unmitigated disaster, subsequently blamed on 'leaky intelligence'. Today the region is relatively calm and though sporadic violence continues (see LRA Crisis Tracker), the ARLPI believes that gains are being made through dialogue which offers a more holistic outcome than military action ever could.

So the dilemma is this: whilst everyone wants to see the end of the LRA, most Acholi do not favour a military solution. One reason why the ARLPI is opposed to the military option is because the LRA never had popular appeal and it could only fill its ranks by kidnapping young children. Consequently, apart from its top leadership, the LRA comprises mostly abducted, traumatised, terrorised Acholi children, who, after being forced at gunpoint to murder their own parents, were then brainwashed to believe they have no other home nor life than the LRA. However, the churches of Northern Uganda have, in great generosity of spirit, worked very hard over many years to prove that this is not so. These children deserve the opportunity of rehabilitation and reconciliation.

For more background on the LRA see blogs --
Religious Liberty Monitoring label: Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
also
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin label: LRA

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* Yahweh Sabaoth -- the Lord of Hosts (literally the commander of heaven's forces) -- will open the door to victory on earth by delivering a victory in heavenly realms; may demonic spirits be bound, through 'Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him' (1 Peter 3:22 ESV).

* Joseph Kony and the other senior leaders of the LRA will be removed from the battlefield in accordance with the will and purpose of God.

* multitudes of abducted children will be spiritually and physically freed to leave the bush and surrender themselves to those who will in amazing grace -- and usually to the bewilderment of the children -- love them, rehabilitate them and facilitate reconciliation.

* Ugandan churches -- both northern and southern -- will unite across deep tribal divides to pray for the above outcomes and to work together as one people in Christ for peace, justice and equity across the nation.

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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MORE MOVES IN UGANDA TO QUELL LRA

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a blasphemous cult militia established in northern Uganda in the late 1980s. For decades it has wreaked terror across the largely Christian regions of central Africa, often directly targeting churches and seminaries. Its leader Joseph Kony is a spirit medium. The Islamist regime in Khartoum arms and funds the LRA as a proxy against the South Sudanese and their Christian allies. The US has sent 100 combat-ready Special Forces 'advisors' to Uganda to help fight the LRA. All past efforts to destroy the LRA militarily have failed and even made things worse. Lacking popular appeal, the LRA fills its ranks with abducted local children. Ugandan religious leaders are very concerned but they are making real gains through dialogue. Please pray for them and the Church.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

134. SUDAN: refugees bombed; 'oil war' looming

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 134 | Wed 16 Nov 2011

SUDAN: REFUGEES BOMBED; 'OIL WAR' LOOMING

By Elizabeth Kendal

Religious Liberty Monitoring noted in its 14 May 2010 posting, 'SPLM-NCP alliance: a "covenant with death" (Isaiah 28:15)': 'There will be a massive war for control of the oil fields presently situated on the southern side of the North-South border.' It appears that the predicted 'oil-war' is looming.

When South Sudan seceded from the north in July, the Republic of Sudan lost about 25 percent of its land mass, 80 percent of its forests and 75 percent of its oil. Consequently, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was never popular in Khartoum, especially amongst Islamists and the regime's military elite. Compounding the situation, Sudan's remaining oil fields were located in the region of Abyei and the state of South Kordofan, whilst the bulk of its hydroelectric power emanated from Blue Nile. Long politically marginalised and violently persecuted on racial and religious grounds, the mostly Christian and non-Arab peoples of this 'new south' have long supported the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). So that it might cement its control over the resource-rich 'new south', Khartoum has been ethnically cleansing the region. In May, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) surged into Abyei. On 5 June the regime unleashed genocidal jihad on South Kordofan and extended this to Blue Nile on 1 September. Untold thousands of mostly Christian non-Arabs have been slaughtered and many hundreds of thousands displaced. To hasten the genocide, Khartoum has sealed the region off to humanitarian aid, condemning the displaced to death by mass starvation. For some shameful reason, Western media do not seem to regard this as newsworthy.

President Omar el-Bashir was in Blue Nile recently to celebrate the 'liberation' (conquest and ethnic cleansing) of Kurmuk, a highly strategic Blue Nile town on the border with Ethiopia and formerly the main bastion of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). Addressing a rally in the Blue Nile capital Al-Damazin on Sunday 6 November, el-Bashir declared that Khartoum was ready to return to war with the South where it would repeat 'the lessons of Abyei, Kadugli [South Kordofan] and Al-Damazin [Blue Nile]'. Doubtless the regime intends to use the military to seize as much as possible of South Sudan's oil-rich territory, re-drawing the North-South border to 'recover' at least some of what was 'lost' through the CPA.

On 8 & 9 November Antonov bombers from the SAF airbase in El Obeid, North Kordofan, attacked two locations inside South Sudan. The remote region of Guffa in Upper Nile state, where Oxfam is caring for some 50,000 refugees from Blue Nile, came under aerial attack on 8 November. Oxfam workers reported that the four-hour-long bombing and heavy artillery fire destroyed several structures while killing seven people and wounding many more. The next day Yida refugee camp in Unity State was bombed. Run by the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse, Yida is home to more than 23,000 mostly Nuba registered refugees from South Kordofan. The attack left 12 dead and some 20 wounded, but it could have been much worse. A bomb that landed outside a school building where over 200 students were in classes failed to detonate. Praise God and persevere in prayer!

Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) has been upgrading airbases recently captured from the SPLA-N in Blue Nile's border regions. The airstrip in Al-Damazin has been lengthened. Helipads are being developed at Kurmuk for helicopter gunships and the runway re-laid for Russian-built Antonov bombers. With an operating radius of some 1100km, Antonovs from Kurmuk would be able to reach Juba, the capital of South Sudan. On Friday 11 November, 18 died and 73 were wounded when a Khartoum-backed militia launched a daring cross-border raid into Kuek, Upper Nile State, South Sudan, attacking the SPLA military base. SPLA colonel, Philip Aguer, reports that the militias are massing along the border in preparation for an attack on the oil-producing regions of Upper Nile. 'This is an oil war now,' he said.

For full background on Sudan see Religious Liberty Monitoring, label: Sudan
Map of Sudan & Southern Oil Concessions (sudanreeves.org: best source on Sudan)


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* God will be a 'refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' for all Sudanese Christians -- in the North and in the South -- who will faithfully trust HIM through these tumultuous times (Psalm 46:1-3); may they find peace and comfort in the assurance that their sovereign LORD is with them (vv4-7) and that HE will be exalted in the earth (vv8-11).

* the LORD's fearsome anger might be roused (Psalm 76:7), that he might rise to 'establish judgement' and save the humble (vv8,9). May Sudan's 'men of war' and its leadership be hamstrung, reduced and made subject to HIM (vv5,6,10-12).

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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SUDAN: REFUGEES BOMBED; 'OIL WAR' LOOMING

The Republic of Sudan Arab-Islamist regime has been waging genocidal jihad against the mostly Christian non-Arabs of the 'new south': Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The regime has now escalated its attacks inside South Sudan. On 8 & 9 November it bombed refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile as they sheltered in South Sudan's Unity and Upper Nile States. On 11 November a Khartoum-backed militia attacked a Southern military base in Kuek, Upper Nile, South Sudan. Many have been killed and wounded. Satellite images reveal that Khartoum is establishing and supplying forward bases and massing militias along the border ready for a full-scale 'oil war'. Please pray for Sudan's Christians, in the North and in the South. May God be their fortress, deliverer and peace.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

133. International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church; plus Nigeria

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 133 | Wed 09 Nov 2011

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER (IDOP) FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

By Elizabeth Kendal

The security of Christians is deteriorating. In countries where Christians have long suffered discrimination and persecution, violence is escalating. Anti-Christian forces have been advancing for decades, gaining momentum through the radicalisation of the masses. Christians who were once at risk from militants are increasingly at risk from their own neighbours. As religious hardliners gain political influence, hateful and criminal elements discover that they can persecute, kill and loot Christians with impunity. In Egypt, Pakistan and parts of India the situation is absolutely critical.

Furthermore, terrorism is increasing. In Iraq and Somalia, al-Qaeda affiliates are training jihadists for local and international jihad. Amidst this, the Assyrian-Chaldean Christians indigenous to Iraq are facing genocide while the Church in Somalia is being systematically eradicated. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Margreb (AQIM) will doubtless benefit greatly from the so-called 'Arab Spring': in particular the rise of Islam, the decline in security and the looting of Libya's arms caches.

Unfortunately, as the West discards its biblical foundations to facilitate 'culture change' -- the transition from 'Judeo-Christian' to 'post-Christian' (non-Christian) -- it becomes just like the rest of the world: harsh, with less respect for human life and hostile towards the Gospel. A civilisation that ceases to respect religious liberty at home is not going to defend it abroad. Already, supposedly rights-affirming Western governments have demonstrated that they are quite prepared to sacrifice principles -- even whole Christian people groups -- in exchange for geo-strategic gains or lucrative contracts. Severely persecuted Christians in highly strategic or resource-rich states routinely find themselves abandoned. This is the sad reality for example for the Kachin in Burma (Myanmar), the Papuans in eastern Indonesia, the minority Protestants in Central Asia, and the Assyrian-Chaldeans of Iraq. So whilst the West has long been a powerful advocate of religious liberty, increasingly as culture changes and influence wanes (through loss of economic leverage) this is less the case.

It is imperative that as the security situation for Christians deteriorates, we come to terms with the reality that the West cannot save the Church; neither can the UN (which is now dominated by non-free states) or the EU (which is cursed with confusion just like the original tower of Babel) or NATO (which has done more to advance Islam than Islam itself) or 'democracy' (which is doing a wonderful job of empowering anti-Christian forces throughout the world) or any other creation of arrogant, independent humanity.

PRAISE GOD there is another reality: the LORD of hosts is for us and able to save! But he 'waits' (holds back / tarries expectantly) for us, so that we will 'wait' (hold back / tarry expectantly) for him (Isaiah 30:18). What he seeks is faith -- that we would look to HIM and pray -- that he might answer our prayers and reveal to all that he alone is the LORD (Isaiah 37:20). Such prayers are not desperate wishful thinking but expressions of expectant faith anchored in the promises of God.

Prayer is thus the highest form of advocacy. On her knees, the Church is the most powerful body on earth, for through her petitions, the hosts of the Lord of hosts are unleashed to change the course of history. Please join with us on 13 November to pray for the Persecuted Church.

A Prayer for IDOP

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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PRAYING FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

The security of Christians is deteriorating. Violent persecution is escalating, as is terrorism. As the West discards its biblical foundations to undergo 'culture change', religious freedom loses its reason to exist and disappears with the 'old order', traded away for 'peace'. Strategic agreements, lucrative contracts and access to resources are paramount. As persecution escalates globally, we must come to terms with the reality that the world cannot save the Church. Prayer is thus the best and highest form of advocacy. On her knees, the Church is the most powerful body on earth for, through her petitions, the hosts of the Lord of hosts are unleashed to change the course of history. Please join in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on 13 November 2011.

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* NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM HITS NINE CHURCHES

On Friday 4 November al-Qaeda affiliate Boko Haram launched attacks in Damaturu and Potiskum (Yobe State) and in Maiduguri (Borno State). The death toll from the co-ordinated bombings (including suicide bombings) and gun battles presently stands at 150 and is expected to rise. Nine churches were targeted, along with mosques, a bank, an anti-terrorist court, police stations and army posts. In Damaturu's mostly Christian New Jerusalem district, six churches were bombed. According to one resident, 'The whole city is traumatised.' Nigeria's The Nation reported on 7 November, 'In spite [of] their churches being burnt, Christians in Damaturu yesterday defied the security panic and held their Sunday service in [the] open air at the premises of their burnt churches.' According to Boko Haram spokesman Abul-Qaqa, 'More attacks are on the way.' Please pray for the Church in Nigeria.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

A Prayer for International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church

By Elizabeth Kendal

TO OPEN: an affirmation.
(Psalm 121:1,2 ESV)

Leader: I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?

Congregation: My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

Leader: Let's pray . . .


Dear Father,

We know that Christ is building his Church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). We see the evidence of this all around us, as people are coming to Christ from every tribe, language, people and nation. We praise you for your redeeming love, transforming power and gracious mercy.

Please dear Father, help us fulfil the will for Christ and become ONE Church in spirit (John 17:20-23). Transform our selfish hearts into hearts that love one another as you love us. May the Holy Spirit do a work in us so that we might see as you see and love as you love, even though it may hurt and be costly. Inject into our hearts a deep compassion for our brothers and sisters -- a love that will compel us to intercede for them and bear their burdens (Galatians 6:2).

Dear Father, we are faced with so many horrific situations that are completely beyond our ability to address: whole regions and peoples that are oppressed, nations tearing apart in violent conflict, genocides, mass cruelty, gross injustice . . . We confess that many of these terrible situations persist because we have been unfaithful in witness, righteousness and prayer; because we have been uninterested in suffering and injustice; because we have sat back, washed our hands and let the devil get a foothold. We repent of our sin, ask for your forgiveness and seek your mercy for those who suffer.

We pray for our brothers and sisters who suffer under Islamic oppression and jihad; for those who live under Communist rule and cruel totalitarian regimes; for those suffering persecution on account of militant religious nationalism; and for those who suffer humiliation, ridicule, scorn and crippling discrimination simply because they love and follow Jesus Christ and will not compromise for the sake of personal security or financial gain.

We pray for those who are in prison and in concentration or forced labour camps on account of the name of Jesus (John 15:21). We pray for those who go hungry, for those who grieve and for those who have been cast from their homes and lands simply on account of the name of Jesus.

We pray for those who are displaced and imperilled on account of war. We beseech you Father: rise up in defence of your betrayed, abandoned and threatened people (Isaiah 59:15b-19), so that their enemies might 'be scattered' (Psalm 68:1) and 'put to shame and confusion' and 'turned back and brought to dishonour' (Psalm 70:2). Provide for your suffering people O LORD, just as you did when you provided manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16) and water from the rock (Exodus 17); just as you did when you instructed the ravens to feed Elijah and resupplied the widow each night (1 Kings 17). We know you rule heaven and earth. We know that with you, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).

Father we ask that your Holy Spirit, who is present within each believer, will comfort, encourage, revive and counsel them. May they be assured in the depths of their hearts that nothing can separate them from your love (Romans 8:35-39). Draw them into prayer and then answer their prayers that their faith might be fanned into flame. May the devil have no victory over them.

Father we pray for those who persecute the Church. We know that they do this because they do not know you (John 16:3). May the Holy Spirit fill us with love them so that we might pray for them and be courageous in our witness to them. We pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit, persecutors will come under conviction of sin. We pray for many of those miracles of transformation whereby persecutors are turned into preachers (Galatians 1:23). We pray that you will establish leaders in the nations who will be committed to justice, righteousness, peace and liberty so that Christians may live in peace and security and so the gospel may be preached freely to lost and dying souls (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Finally we ask that your Holy Spirit will help us to prevail in prayer: not giving up, not being distracted, not fooled by the tricks of the devil, but compelled by love into prevailing prayer with hearts full of assurance and faith (Hebrews 10:19-23). For we know that we are ultimately wrestling not with men/women, or governments, or systems -- but we are fighting against principalities and powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:10-18). We know we cannot do this on our own -- and so we come before you now to humbly seek your direction and your intervention. We do not ask these things because we deserve your help, but because you are merciful (Daniel 9:18b).

So now O LORD our God, intervene on behalf of your besieged, suffering and threatened people -- your persecuted Church -- that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD (Isaiah 37:20).

AMEN

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

132. BURMA: Interests, Smokescreens & Ethnic Cleansing

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 132 | Wed 02 Nov 2011

BURMA (Myanmar): INTERESTS, SMOKESCREENS & ETHNIC CLEANSING

By Elizabeth Kendal

Burma has been subject to Western political and economic sanctions for decades because of its repression of democracy. However, since the mid-1990s ascendant China has been taking Burma into its embrace, supplying it with loans and commodities, trading freely and building infrastructure -- but not out of benevolence. China is pursuing its own interests, in particular gaining access to Burmese ports on the Bay of Bengal, where there has long been a power vacuum. Motivated by this threat, the US is now pursuing engagement with Burma. Consequently Burma's geo-strategic value is rising in line with China's economic and military ascendancy, which means Burma (like Indonesia -- RLPB 119) can now play geo-politics to its own advantage. To this end, the regime is welcoming the US overtures as they offer a way to counter the anti-China sentiment rising inside Burma.

The West is highly excited over Burma's recent reforms: the release of some 200 political prisoners (despite over 1000 still behind bars); talks held with Aung San Suu Kyi; improvements in press freedom and the introduction of debate into its parliament. Burmese generally are highly sceptical of the reforms which need to be seen in the light of Burmese domestic realities. Domestically the regime wants to lessen its dependence on China. It also wants to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014 (which will be decided this month). The only reform that has really captured the imagination of the Burmese is the regime's 30 September decision to suspend until 2015 the immensely controversial Myitsone Dam Project in Kachin State. A joint project between the previous Burmese junta and the China Power Investment Corporation, the Myitsone Dam project was not only opposed by the Kachin -- a Christian people whose lands would have been decimated -- but by many Burmese. Not only would 90 percent of the output and 70 percent of the profits go to China, but the impact on the Irrawaddy River -- Burma's life source -- would be catastrophic. So even this move must be seen in the context of the regime's survival strategy amidst Burma's internal reality of escalating anti-China sentiment.

Whilst the regime has suspended the Myitsone Dam Project, its war on the Christian Kachin -- a war triggered in part by the dam project (see RLPB, label: Burma) -- continues unabated. In an 18 October report, Human Rights Watch estimates 30,000 Kachin are now displaced. While UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has inexplicably downplayed the situation, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, told the UN General Assembly on 19 October that recent fighting had resulted in more than 15,000 displaced Kachin being confined to a remote mountainous area on the Chinese border in conditions that can only be described as 'perilous'. According to Quintana, the UN informed the Burmese authorities that it was willing to help these Internally Displaced Persons but Thein Sein's government declined the offer.

Furthermore, it is being reported that China is blocking the delivery of food, emergency shelter and medicines, leaving some analysts wondering if Kachin State is being ethnically cleansed at China's behest. Is the suspension of the dam project just a smokescreen behind which Burma will have three years to ethnically cleanse Kachin State? With the US working to bring Burma out of China's embrace into its own, will the US reward the tokens while ignoring the genocide (exactly as is happening in Papua, Indonesia)? No matter what the world does, the Church must not ignore the persecution of her sisters and brothers.

With the Kachin people being over 90 percent devout Christian, the Church is being hit hard. Churches in Kachin State have been attacked, seized, used as prisons and burnt. The Christian Kachin are being raped, brutalised, enslaved, starved and slaughtered. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported on 31 October that in Maw Wan Ward, Phakant Township, the town administration is now requiring Christians to seek official permission to read the Bible, pray and fast, amongst other Christian 'cultural' activities. Requests must be accompanied by recommendations from other departments and must be submitted to the Township Administration Office 15 days in advance.

With war and repression escalating behind a smokescreen of token reforms from a Burman-Buddhist-supremacist regime operating from a position of increasing geo-strategic significance, the Christian Kachin need our prayers for God's intervention now more than ever.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* the LORD will rise up in defence of his own people (Isaiah 59:15b-19); may their enemies 'be scattered' (Psalm 68:1), 'be put to shame and confusion' and 'turned back and brought to dishonour' (Psalm 70:2 ESV).

* the God who provided manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16) and water from the rock (Exodus 17), who instructed the ravens to feed Elijah and resupplied the widow each night (1 Kings 17), who performs miracles (Matthew 14:13ff) and opens and closes doors definitively and at will (Revelation 3:7) will meet the needs of all the displaced Christian Kachin.

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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ETHNIC CLEANSING IN BURMA BEHIND TOKEN REFORMS

Whilst the West is lauding Burma for its reforms, these reforms are not about democracy but regime survival and advancing the regime's interests as anti-China sentiment inside Burma is soaring. Burma's duplicity is evident in that its war against the Christian Kachin people continues unabated. The regime appears intent on ethnically cleansing Kachin State where China wants to build a massive dam and hydro-power scheme. Some 30,000 Kachin are displaced, most without food, shelter or medical aid. The regime is imposing severe restrictions on Christianity in some Kachin towns. War and repression are escalating behind a smokescreen of token reforms from a Burman-Buddhist-supremacist regime operating from a position of increasing geo-strategic significance. The Christian Kachin need our prayers for God's intervention now more than ever.