PERSECUTED CHURCH – June 2020
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” ~ Psalms 46:1
6-7 BANGLADESH #38 WWL
Covid-19 added an extra layer of suffering in this heavily populated and poverty stricken country. Threats of violence and rising danger from radical Islamic groups already faced the tiny minority of Christians in Bangladesh. Converts from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and ethnic/tribal cultures converts are vulnerable to persecution for their faith.
Christians among the Muslim Rohingoya, who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, face strong harassment and pressure from their community as well.
Then on On May 18, Amphan, the most powerful cyclone to hit the region in 20 years, struck the coasts of eastern India and Bangladesh, affecting 10 million people, killing 88. Three million people evacuated from the coastal cities, crowded into temporary, make-shift shelters. India and Bangladesh sent masks and sanitary items to the shelters, but how is it possible to manage social distancing in such crowded circumstances? Devastation is vast. One survivor is reported as saying, “Everything is lost.”
Pray the Lord will have mercy on this nation to send bounteous gifts of strength, endurance and hope to the just and the unjust.
Pray needed supplies of food, water, medicine, shelter be provided and that Christians will not be denied aide.
May those in small house churches and secret groups be filled with courage, not to renounce their faith, but to find strength in it and in sharing it.
Give strength to front-line healers and helpers.
6-24 INDIA #10 WWL
Hindu nationalism and attacks with impunity are suffered by the Christians of India. To be Indian is to be Hindu according to the view of Hindu nationalists. Persons of any non-Hindu faith are often persecuted by family members and community with little or no consequence. Covid-19 and subsequent lock-down of the country has only made the situation worse. Normally ostracized Christians often have to travel outside their home village for their daily wage. Covid-19 has trapped them in a hostile space and made violent attacks more difficult to avoid.
Angry villagers attacked Bajal and his family in the middle of the night with thick, bamboo clubs. They escaped only by running into the forest. “ Here we perform poojas (rituals) and worship our gods and goddesses; you will not bring this foreign religion and you better give it up or we will kill you!”, the village leaders shouted after them. Bloody and broken, they were warned not to make a police report. Another family, driven from one village, tried to build a new home in another place, but were attacked and driven from there also. Their new house was torn down.
Pray for provision and employment. Christians tend to be in the lower strata of society and often lack education opportunities.
Pray for protection and wisdom for Christians who choose to evangelize in states that have anti-conversion laws in place.
Pray for change in regulations that make it difficult for churches to receive financial support from abroad.
Pray for freedom to access the Christian materials via internet. Hindu hardliners are attacking Christian media.
May Christians be granted peace and protection during this time of lock-down for Covid-19.
6-21 IRAN – #9 WWL
In Iran it is illegal to convert and illegal to preach. Christian rights and professional possibilities are severely restricted in a society governed by Islamic law. Muslim background believers, when discovered, are arrested, prosecuted, and given long prison sentences for “crimes against national security”. Secret house churches are monitored and raided. Dozens of Christians are incarcerated in appalling prisons. Armenian and Assyrian Christians are allowed to practice their faith, but not share the gospel with Muslims. Covid-19 has brought the secret churches in Iran forth to help others in need in spite of their own suffering and risk. They gave what they had from their own resources and them reached out to their Open Door partners for additional help. The Church in Iran, generally considering itself quite resilient, are grateful to find the worldwide church standing with them, knowing they are not alone
Pray the seed of Christ’s love planted during this crisis will grow and increase. Pray the strong underground church in Iran will continue to minister to those in need. Pray for strength to endure and witness for those in prison – and for an opening of the prison doors that they may go home to their loved ones.
6-28 ERITREA #6 WWL
Human rights atrocities and unjust imprisonment are extreme in Eritrea. Christians not members of state-approved churches face the harshest persecution from the government and the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Government security forces make house-to-house raids and have arrested hundreds of Christians. A group of twenty Christians, including six couples and a pregnant woman, were arrested recently and are requesting prayer. Specific reasons for the arrest are unknown.
Covid-19 poses serious risk to thousands held in Eritrea’s unsanitary and inhumane prisons without adequate food, water, and medical care. One of detainees is Cilham Celi, a 23- year- old ,American citizen held for eight years without trial or information to her family as to her whereabouts or well-being.
Pray the prisoners will sense God’s sustaining presence through this trial. May the expectant mother and her unborn child be safe and protected. May they be granted an early release.
Pray the Eritrean government will choose this time to open the prisons and let these people, like Cilham Celi who was only 15 when she was taken, go home.