Praise God for signs of positivepolitical change in Burma. The National Leaguefor Democracy of opposition leader Aung SanSuu Kyi won a landslide victory in a series of parliamentary by-elections in April, which havebeen hailed as evidence of a genuine movetowards democracy. But although 2011 also sawan end to decades of outright military rule, thereis still a long way to go: the parliament continuesto be dominated by the army and its allies. MostChristians in Burma belong to non-Burman ethnicminorities, and the military are extremely hostile tothese groups. Pray that the political changes willbring genuine freedom and justice for all Burma’speoples, and that Christians will no longer beendangered.
Praise God for better news of GKI Yasmin church in Bogor, Indonesia, whichhas faced a long campaign of opposition bythe mayor and hostility from local Muslims. Thechurch’s building permit was revoked in 2008,and the building was subsequently sealed off bythe authorities; the congregation has been forcedto hold worship in the street or in private homes.But now the mayor has agreed that the buildingcan re-open, provided that a mosque is built nextdoor, and the church has accepted this proposal.Pray that this may bring an end to the harassmentsuffered by this brave and persevering Christiancommunity, and that its patient witness to itsopponents may bear fruit (1 Peter 2:12).
“This is a dark time in the history of religious freedom and tolerance in Aceh,” said thespokesman of an Indonesian human rights groupafter the sealing of 17 Christian places of worshipin the semi-autonomous province. The undungs,which are small buildings not classi
ed aschurches, were closed in early May after protestsfrom hard-line Islamist groups. The authoritiesinsist that only one church and four undungs maybe built in Singkil, despite its having a Christianpopulation of some 20,000. Elements of shariaare in force in Aceh, and although non-Muslimsare exempt from it, the churches are comingunder increasing attack. Pray for their protection,and that the Muslim majority will allow them tomeet and worship without hindrance.
When the Filadel
a Batak ChristianProtestant Church in Jakarta, Indonesia, gatheredon 17 May to celebrate the ascension of the LordJesus, it was attacked by hundreds of Islamists.They shouted threats and insults at the Christians,threw stones at them and showered them withurine and dirty water. The following Sundayanother mob tried to block them from reachingtheir worship site, threatened them and then threwsewage, water, oil, mud, rotten eggs, sticks andblunt objects at them. The police presence waswoefully inadequate to restrain the attackers. Thechurch has been meeting outside or in homessince its building was sealed off by the authoritiesin 2010. Pray that the ascended Lord, who isexalted to the right hand of God, will watch over them (Acts 2:33-36).
Thank God that Tunisia’sgoverning Islamist party, Ennahda, hassaid that it will not support changing thecountry’s constitution to make sharia themain source of legislation, as had previouslybeen proposed. The party said at the end ofMarch that it would uphold the separation ofreligion and state enshrined in the
rst articleof the constitution. Ennahda’s leader, RachidGhannouchi, who in the 1970s called for thestrict application of sharia in Tunisia, saidthat they were “not going to use the law toimpose religion”. Pray that they will be true totheir word and that Tunisia’s small Christiancommunity will be allowed to practise theirfaith freely.
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