RLPB 395. February 2017 Update, Incl. Uganda, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Sudan
FEBRUARY 2017 UPDATE — this month we prayed concerning:
* UGANDA (RLPB 392), after a mob of some 90 local Muslims violently attacked a church prayer meeting in Katira village, Budaka District, in Muslim-dominated Eastern Region. Fifteen Christian women were raped and dozens of believers were wounded. The pastor was among nine church members later deemed ‘missing’.
UPDATE: As reported by Morning Star News (MSN) Uganda’s Daily Monitor subsequently issued a false report on the incident. According to the Monitor, residents from neighbouring villages turned up at the church eager to witness what the church promised would be the return of a miracle-working prophet. Only when nothing eventuated did the ‘angry residents’ attack the believers who had made ‘false predictions’. Local church leaders have denounced the article as ‘false and a fabrication’. Such fake news is usually the work of elements more interested in appeasement, political correctness and blame-shifting than in defending constitutional rights. Of the nine believers deemed missing after the attack, only one has been found. Patrick Mbayo told MSN that he had been too afraid to go home after the attack, as he had received death threats for ‘trying to win Muslims to Christianity’. Slandered by the media and abandoned by their government, church leaders and members are praying for courage, perseverance, healing, grace to forgive, and for the safety of those who remain missing.
* BANGLADESH (RLPB 393), where the indigenous non-Bengali, non-Muslim Paharais (hills tribes) of the Chittagong Hills Tracts are suffering as victims of a hidden genocide. The weapon of mass destruction being used against them is government orchestrated, mosque facilitated and military implemented mass migration of Bengali Muslims. Abuses/crimes such as rape, torture, forced Islamisation – including by means of forced marriage and child trafficking – are routine and committed with impunity. The region is closed off to outsiders. The Church desperately needs our advocacy (Proverbs 31:8-9) and our intercessory prayer (i.e. advocacy to the highest authority).
* INDIA (RLPB 394), after Bartu Urawn (50) of Jharkhand joined the company of Indian martyrs; and as persecution escalates in Uttar Pradesh, fuelled by Hindutva forces playing the communal, Hindu nationalist card for political gain ahead of state elections. Results will be announced on 11 March.
FEBRUARY 2017 ROUND-UP — also this month . . .
* CHINA: 32 KOREAN MISSIONARIES EXPELLED
It has been confirmed that in January China expelled 32 South Korean Christian missionaries who had been working in China’s northeastern Yanji region, near the border of North Korea. Further to this, it has been alleged that four people, including a Korean missionary and a Korean-American pastor, were apprehended on 9 February by Chinese police in a Yanji hotel. An estimated one thousand Korean missionaries work in China, most along the border with Nth Korea where they rescue, minister to and assist North Korean defectors fleeing persecution, repression and starvation. Pray this is not the beginning of a major crackdown. May God protect and preserve Christian mission along the China-North Korea border.
* EGYPT: ISIS THREATENS COPTS . . . AGAIN
On 19 February, a group calling itself the ‘Islamic State of Egypt’ released a video message entitled ‘Kill All Kuffar’ (infidels). The video shows Abu Abdallah al-Masri – the Egyptian jihadist allegedly responsible for the 11 December church bombing in Cairo [see RLPB 388 (14 Dec 2016)] – railing against Egypt’s Copts (the non-Arab, Christian, indigenous people of Egypt) who he describes as Islamic State’s ‘favourite prey’. Images of the Advent bombing and subsequent funeral then flash across the screen to a soundtrack of jihadi music. Another masked jihadist then threatens the Copts with more deadly attacks, warning that the Advent bombing was ‘only the beginning’. ‘Oh worshippers of the cross,’ he hisses, ‘the soldiers of the state are watching you’.
This new video, released on SUNDAY 19 Feb 2017, comes at the two year anniversary of the ISIS video, ‘A Message Signed in Blood to the Nation of the Cross,’ released SUNDAY 15 Feb 2015 [see RLPB 297 (Feb 2015) Both videos feature the mass murder of Coptic Christians, and both were issued as a call to jihad against the Copts.
[You can find a full analysis of the ‘Message Signed in Blood . . .’ and the events of Feb 2015, in chapter 10 of Elizabeth Kendal’s book, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).]
PLEASE PRAY: Psalm 141:8-10 (ESV)
* May the Spirit of God draw the eyes of all Copts and all Egyptian Christians towards our God; may they ‘seek refuge’ in him. v8
* May Jesus Christ, the Lord of hosts (the commander of heaven’s angelic hosts), deploy his angels to deliver Egypt’s Coptic Christians from the ‘traps’ set for them, from the ‘snares of evildoers’. v9
* May God intervene for his people; ‘Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while [God’s children] pass safely by.’ v10
* INDONESIA: JAKARTA GUBERNATORIAL RACE HEATS UP
Jakartans turned out in record numbers (77 percent) on 15 February, to cast their vote for a new governor. As was anticipated, incumbent Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama secured the most votes, but not enough to avoid a second round of voting. At the time of writing, results were hovering at around: Ahok, 43 percent; Anies Baswedan, 40 percent; and Agus Yudhoyono, 17 percent. The run-off between Ahok (an ethnic Chinese Christian) and Anies (who is favoured by Islamists) will take place on 19 April. Meanwhile Ahok’s blasphemy trial continues. Islamic hardliners will campaign hard to secure the support of Muslims ahead of the April poll. Their campaign is likely to be dirty, tense and polarising. Pray for Indonesia; pray for Ahok.
* SUDAN: 25 CHURCHES SLATED FOR DEMOLITION IN KHARTOUM NORTH
On 13 January, the out-going Obama administration announced that it was ‘easing sanctions’ on Sudan on the grounds that the Government of Sudan has allegedly shown ‘sustained progress … on several fronts …’ [see RLPB 391 (25 Jan)]. By 1 February, land authorities in Khartoum had issued demolition notices to at least 25 churches they accuse of ‘trespassing in residential areas’ mostly in the Sharq al Neel (East Nile area) locality of Khartoum North (Bahri). At a press conference on 11 February, the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) denounced the order as pure persecution, noting the discriminatory of the order which targets only churches while bypassing mosques, despite their being in the same area. The SCC called on the government to reconsider its decision or provide alternative sites for the churches. Church leaders see the order as part of a wider campaign to drive the Nuba (the non-Arab, African Christians of Sudan’s Nuba Mountains) and Christianity out of Khartoum, and ultimately out of Sudan.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).