THE AID AGENCY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH www.barnabasfund.

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prayer

to help you pray for the persecuted church

MARCH/APRIL 2013

MARCH 1 - 4 Thank you for your prayers for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, which make such a difference to them. We sometimes have to change or omit their names for security reasons, and we have only limited space to share their stories. But the Lord knows the people and places we are praying about. Thank you for your understanding. Please do not feel limited by the specific prayer requests, but pray as you feel led. blasphemy. The pastor was attending a prayer meeting at a Christian family’s home when he was asked about the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha; he explained that it was a strictly Muslim practice and not for Christians. Muslims who were listening took offence at his comments. Pray for the pastor to be cleared of the charge and released, and for his safety; even people who are acquitted of blasphemy have sometimes been attacked or even murdered by zealous Muslims in Pakistan. Sunday 3 Christians in some parts of India continue to be vulnerable to intimidation and violence by Hindu nationalists, who want to make the country a religiously “pure” Hindu nation. On 20 November 2012 a group of extremists locked 30 members of a church in Chippagiri Gowtown, in the Karwar district of Karnataka state, in their homes before starting to demolish their place of worship and then setting it on fire. They threatened to kill the Christians if they tried to escape. A month earlier, some of the attackers had accused the church’s pastor of forcibly converting people and threatened him with “serious consequences” if he did not stop. Pray that Christians in Karnataka and throughout India will not be deterred by this bullying from practising and sharing their faith. Monday 4 A senior Christian leader in India has denounced the “sinister, subtle and ongoing persecution” against Christians in the Kandhamal district of Orissa. Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, was speaking after a Christian cemetery was desecrated in the village of Midiaka. Gravestones were removed, and trees and bushes uprooted. Kandhamal was one of the areas worst affected by the anti-Christian violence by militant Hindus in Orissa in 2007-8, and more sporadic attacks have continued since then. Ask the Lord to strengthen

March
Friday 1 Give thanks to the Lord that the blasphemy charge against Rimsha Masih, a vulnerable Christian teenager in Pakistan, has been thrown out of court. Rimsha was arrested on 16 August 2012 after being accused of burning pages from a booklet used to learn the basics of the Quran. Around 600 Christian families from her neighbourhood in Islamabad were forced to flee their homes by a hostile Muslim backlash. But it later emerged that the local imam had planted evidence on Rimsha to rid the area of Christians, and on 20 November the Islamabad High Court dismissed her case. Christians and other non-Muslims are particularly vulnerable to malicious and false accusations under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law”. Pray that this case will prompt the authorities to act against abuses of the law, and that it will eventually be abolished. Saturday 2 “Pastor Karma Patras is blasphemer and infidel liable to be killed.” This message from the mosque loudspeakers in Sangla Hill, Punjab province, Pakistan, brought hundreds of infuriated Muslims to the home of a church leader. They kicked and beat him and trashed his house before police arrested him for
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MARCH 5 - 9 and help the Christians throughout the district and to uphold them with His righteous right hand. Tuesday 5 Thank the Lord for the conviction and sentencing of twelve people involved in the brutal anti-Christian violence in Orissa in 2008. The defendants were found guilty of rioting and torching houses in Jarkinaju village near Raikia. They were each sentenced to six years in jail. There have been very few convictions resulting from the Orissa attacks, in which around 90 Christians died; thousands of complaints have been disregarded by the authorities, and very few murder charges have even come to court. Pray that justice may be done for the bereaved Christian families. Wednesday 6 Christians in Syria continue to suffer grievously as the civil war rages on without respite. Almost all the 60,000 Christians who used to live in the city of Homs have fled the anti-Christian violence in their city, but 86 were kept in the Christian neighbourhood of Hamadiya by opposition forces as human shields. With no medical care and hardly any food getting to them, about ten have already died, and very little aid has got through to them. At the time of writing Islamist extremists among the rebels are refusing to let them go. Cry out to the Lord for these suffering brothers and sisters, that their needs will be met and that they will soon be set free. Thursday 7 “We feel no one cares about us. The media does not show what happens to Christians. We have no hope for the future now. Our Christian area and our churches are destroyed. For Christians all is lost.” A church leader from the Homs area of Syria gave Barnabas Fund this bleak assessment of the plight of the thousands of displaced Christians now living in the villages around the city. The nearby Wadi al-Nasara, the only purely Christian area of Syria, is hosting at least 100,000 displaced people, who brought little with them from home and lack warm clothing for the bitter Syrian winter. Pray that the Lord will renew their hope and strengthen them to endure their present hardships. Friday 8 By December 2012 the Christian area in the city of Aleppo in Syria was almost completely surrounded by opposition forces and Islamist extremists. At least 131 Christians had been killed, and around ten others were being held by kidnappers. Sometimes exorbitant sums were demanded for their release; the kidnappers said, “Go to your church and ask your minister for the money.” Around 10,000 Christians from the area are estimated to have left the country since the crisis began, and some of these refugees are now in desperate need. Those who remain are seeing their city die around them. Pray for peace and order to return to this shattered area, and that the Christian community there will be restored. Saturday 9 Pray for a congregation in Jerusalem whose church building was defaced with hate graffiti in December 2012. The vandals spray-painted “Death to Christianity” and an offensive comment about Jesus on the building’s outer wall during the night. Police suspect that Jewish extremists were responsible for the incident, which was the latest in a series of attacks on Christian sites in Jerusalem. Christians
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These Syrian Christians are being held in poor conditions by opposition fighters

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MARCH 10 - 13 in various parts of the Holy Land are vulnerable both to harassment and discrimination by some Orthodox Jewish groups and to intimidation and violence by Muslim radicals. Pray that they may be faithful to the Lord and His Gospel and be good witnesses to their neighbours of God’s grace and power (Ephesians 3:7). Sunday 10 The Christians who remain in Iraq continue to be acutely vulnerable to Islamist hostility and violence. In December 2012 a radical Muslim cleric issued a fatwa threatening them with death unless they convert to Islam. Ayatollah Ahmad Al Hassani Al Baghdadi appeared on Egyptian television calling Christians by the insulting term “polytheists” and “friends of the Zionists” and saying that “their women and girls may legitimately be regarded wives of Muslims”. The Christian population of Iraq has shrunk to little more than a quarter of its size in 1990 as hundreds of thousands have fled abroad to escape threats, kidnappings and murder. Pray that this latest pronouncement will not spark further attacks on those who remain, and that God will keep them from harm and watch over their lives (Psalm 121:7). Monday 11 Cry out to the Lord for Christians in Egypt following the approval of a draft constitution in a referendum held in December 2012. The document was rushed through its final draft by an overwhelmingly Islamist assembly, with objections being ruthlessly stamped down; Christians and liberals had previously withdrawn from the process, complaining that Islamists were hijacking
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it. The constitution sows the seeds of an Islamic state by greatly strengthening the role of sharia, prohibiting the insulting and defaming of “all prophets and messengers” and giving the state a role in enforcing morals. Christians and other non-Muslims are likely to suffer even harsher discrimination and persecution as a result. Pray for protection for our brothers and sisters, and that they will stand firm in their faith at this testing time (Ephesians 6:10-13). Tuesday 12 In a chilling foretaste of what may await Christians in Egypt under the country’s new constitution, hardline members of the ultraconservative Salafist movement forced changes to the wording of a key clause relating to sharia. The first draft stated only that the “principles of Islamic sharia form the main source of legislation”, but Salafist leaders insisted that this did not go far enough; one said that those who accepted the constitution in this form would be “casting themselves into hell”. The final version satisfied their demands by giving Muslim clerics a role in ensuring that laws comply with sharia. Pray that the reach of sharia will not be extended in Egypt, and that Christians will be protected from its cruel provisions. Wednesday 13 It is becoming increasingly difficult for Christians in Sudan to continue living out their faith in this strongly Islamic country. They are experiencing growing hostility from the overwhelmingly Muslim majority. On 15 October 2012 a Bible school in Sudan that had been set on fire by an Islamist mob earlier in the year was re-opened. However, in messages over the loudspeaker of a nearby mosque, Islamists asserted that Christian institutions should not be allowed as the country should be a “purely Islamic state”. And the Muslim sheikh who had instigated the arson attack called Christians “infidels” and urged Muslims to have no dealings

MARCH 14 - 17 with them. Pray that the Bible school’s buildings will be protected from any further harm and that its teaching can continue unabated. Pray that the school will be a strong and loving witness to its Muslim neighbours. Thursday 14 “After many years of suffering and prayers, God opened the way for us,” said Suzy, at Juba airport. She was one of 492 South Sudanese Christians, mainly women and children, whom Barnabas Fund flew to safety from Khartoum, Sudan, to Juba, South Sudan, on three flights in September 2012. After road connections between Sudan and South Sudan re-opened in October last year, Barnabas Fund was able to transport another 1,808 Christians to the South by bus. The believers had fled north to escape devastation caused by the civil war from 1983 to 2005, but life had become increasingly difficult for them in strongly Islamic Sudan. Give thanks that these 2,300 Christians are now safely back in South Sudan. Pray that God will enable them to rebuild their lives there. their activities and places of worship and for leaders to apply for official recognition. Pray that the authorities will refrain from using the measures unjustly and will eventually repeal them. Pray that God may give Christians in Vietnam peace in the face of these growing challenges, and the knowledge that God is in control. Saturday 16 Pray for four men from the mainly Christian Hmong ethnic group in Vietnam who have been jailed for religious activities. They were given jail sentences ranging from three to seven years at a trial in the north-western province of Lai Chau on 12 December 2012. Eight other Hmong men were also jailed in connection with a religious gathering in May 2011. In both cases the authorities claimed that the men had committed acts that were a threat against national security, a pretext they often use for suppressing unregistered religious activity. Pray that the men will grow in their faith during their time in prison. Pray too that the Vietnamese authorities will stop regarding Christians as a threat to national security. Sunday 17 Christians in Vietnam continue to experience arbitrary arrests and unjust convictions at the hands of the authorities. Seventeen young Christians were arrested for committing “anti-state” activities late last year. Some of them have been convicted without trial. Two other Christians, aged 24 and 33, were also arrested and charged with the same offence. They had been involved in social action, such as helping children and the disabled. Although beaten in custody, the pair refused to give up their faith. In protest against these arrests Christians held prayer vigils in Ho Chi Minh City. Pray that
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These Christians were flown from Sudan to South Sudan through a grant from Barnabas

Friday 15 Pray for Christians in Vietnam, who may face even more harassment from the authorities following the introduction of a new decree in early 2013. Decree 92 has brought more restrictions on religious freedom, imposing procedures for religious organisations to register

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MARCH 18 - 21 the Lord will intervene in the plight of Christians in Vietnam and bring these unjust arrests and convictions to an end. Monday 18 Christians in the southern Philippines are facing second-class status in their homeland. The national government has made an agreement with a Muslim separatist group to create an autonomous area called “Bangsamoro”, where aspects of sharia law will be enforced. Christians are concerned that this will become an Islamic sub-state, and although the agreement states that sharia will not be applied to them, its imposition is likely to result in discrimination and restrictions. When Christians objected to a similar agreement in 2008, the Islamist group responded with violence, killing around 400 Christians and displacing some 750,000. Pray for protection for our brothers and sisters at this uncertain time, and that their freedom and equality under the law will be preserved. Tuesday 19 Pray for Christians on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines who were overwhelmed by a destructive storm in December 2012. Typhoon Bopha triggered flooding and they have frequently been targeted by Islamists fighting for the territory to become an independent Islamic state. Barnabas has sent aid to Christians affected by the typhoon. Pray that they will be able to rebuild their shattered communities and not be left more exposed to further violence and intimidation. Wednesday 20 Give thanks to God that a church in Belarus has been given a last-minute reprieve from being forcibly evicted from its premises. New Life Pentecostal Church meets in a renovated cowshed on the outskirts of the capital, Minsk, and has been battling with the authorities for ten years to legalise its status as a place of worship. It was due to be evicted on 5 December, but the action was stopped after the district housing authority withdrew its demand. However, the church is expecting further difficulties, as the authorities seized the legal title to the building and land in 2006 and have not returned it. Pray that the congregation will be left in peace to worship the Lord without further harassment (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). Thursday 21 Give thanks that the Russian government is taking concrete steps to restore church assets that were seized during the Soviet era to their original ownership and use. An education bill and amendments to the law “On freedom of conscience and religious associations” has been passing through the Duma (the Russian parliament). If these are approved, government schools will be free to allow worship services in any of their buildings originally intended for that purpose. At the same time, some “non-traditional” churches in Russia continue to face difficulties in obtaining construction permits or in renting or buying meeting-places. Pray that the authorities will not merely restore confiscated church property but also guarantee the freedom of all Christians to meet for worship.

A pastor surveys the wreckage of his church building, which was destroyed by Typhoon Bopha

landslides that devastated coastal communities and left inland villages cut off. Houses, church buildings and livelihoods were totally wiped out. Although Christians are a majority on Mindanao,
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MARCH 22 - 26 Friday 22 Pray for churches and Christian organisations in the UK that may be threatened with the loss of their charitable status. Since 2006 Christian charities have been obliged to demonstrate that their activities are of benefit to the wider public (before this date that was simply assumed if one of the charity’s purposes was “the advancement of religion”). In 2012 a group of Brethren churches had their re-application for charitable status turned down by the Charity Commission because they were judged not to satisfy this requirement, despite the extensive work carried out by Brethren congregations in their communities. Losing this status would put many churches and Christian groups under financial pressure and severely limit their activities. Pray that the Charity Commission will see them as a force for good in society and encourage their work instead of crippling it. Saturday 23 Praise God that a leading German politician has stood up for the small Christian minority in Turkey. Volker Kauder, chairman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said on 5 December 2012, “A country that wants to be part of Europe must accept the basic principle of religious freedom. That means that we expect Christians in Turkey to be able to build churches without any restrictions, just as Muslims build mosques here in Germany.” Give thanks that a European politician is aware of and ready to defend the cause of Christians living under pressure and damaging restrictions. Pray that his words will have an effect on Turkey’s decision-makers and will bring more liberty for Turkey’s Christian minority. Sunday 24 Praise God for an important boost for religious freedom at the United Nations! In late 2012 the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief urged the international community to uphold the rights to change one’s religion and to try to convert others. Heiner Bielefeldt accurately outlined the many problems faced by converts, which include discrimination, deprivation, prosecution and even death. Barnabas Fund has campaigned for many years for the right to convert to be internationally affirmed. Pray that all UN member states will respond positively to Mr Bielefeldt’s call, especially those that do not currently honour their obligations to uphold these rights. Pray too for the safety of Christian converts around the world, especially Muslim-background believers, who are at the most serious risk. Monday 25 “A society can and should be judged, in part, by how it protects the rights of its minorities.” Speaking in Dublin in December 2012, outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton highlighted religious freedom as a key objective of American foreign policy, and called for its protection in countries such as Egypt that are in transition from dictatorship to democracy. Yet some of the US’s foreign policies in recent years have done disastrous damage to Christian minorities, for example in Iraq and Syria. Pray that Western governments will turn their words into actions on behalf of persecuted Christian (and other) minorities, and will ensure that their human rights are guaranteed and promoted. Tuesday 26 Laws restricting the religious and human rights of Christians are on the increase in Kyrgyzstan. To help Christians deal with this problem, Barnabas Fund recently supported a two-day legal course for 61 church leaders, church administrators and church treasurers from
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MARCH 27 - 30 seven regions of the country. They received an overview of current and draft laws on religious freedom and human rights and learned how they can better protect themselves. They also drew up a petition on proposed laws that infringe the rights of believers. Give thanks that the course has helped many of these leaders gain a better understanding of their rights, which they can now teach to members of their congregations. Pray that legislators in Kyrgyzstan will be moved to make more lenient laws. Wednesday 27 Many churches in Kazakhstan have been closed since late 2012 as the authorities enforce a crippling and controversial religion law. Since the expiry of a deadline for recognised religious groups to re-register with the state, over half of them have seen all their congregations legally liquidated. Under the law a group must have at least 50 members locally, 500 regionally and 5,000 nationally, so small churches are unable to obtain state approval. Some groups have complained that the re-registration process is difficult and arbitrary, and the authorities have used various excuses and strategies to avoid registering certain Protestant groups that they regard as “nontraditional”. Pray that the churches that have been stripped of their legal status will survive and thrive, and for greater religious freedom in Kazakhstan. Thursday 28 Praise the Lord that a pastor who was facing extradition to Uzbekistan has been freed with help from Barnabas Fund. Makset Djabbarbergenov was being held in Kazakhstan while the authorities considered the extradition request from his homeland. He had fled Uzbekistan in 2007 following a prolonged campaign of harassment against him by the secret police, and he would have been liable to up to 15 years in prison for his Christian activities had he been returned to the country. After Barnabas
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made representations on his behalf with the Kazakh and Western authorities, he was released in December 2012 and flew to Sweden with his family, where they have been granted refugee status. Give thanks that this family has been reunited, and pray for them as they begin life in a new country (Psalm 5:12).

Pastor Makset was freed from prison with help from Barnabas Fund

Friday 29 “Children without parents are going about the city, begging for help.” A Barnabas Fund partner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was reporting on the desperate plight of Christians in Goma, East Kivu province as violence rages in the east of the country. A new rebel group, known as M23, has been plundering villages, killing and looting, raping women and forcibly recruiting young men and boys. Thousands of Christians have fled their homes, and many of them have gone to Goma. Pray for our brothers and sisters throughout this volatile region, who have been caught up in war and insurgency for decades. Pray too for our partners as they distribute aid to displaced Christians. Saturday 30 Pray for the Lord’s protection for Christians in Kenya and Tanzania, who live in growing danger of violence from radical Islamist groups. Last year saw a spate of deadly bombings and shootings at churches and the targeting of Christian leaders in both countries, where relationships between Christians

MARCH 31 – APRIL 3 and Muslims have until now been generally good. Al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist group from neighbouring Somalia, is believed to be responsible for the attacks in Kenya, while in Tanzania UAMSHO, an Islamist separatist group campaigning for independence for Zanzibar, has been orchestrating the violence. Some Christian leaders believe that the groups’ ultimate goal is to wipe out Christianity from Africa’s east coast. Pray that their campaign will not succeed and that the authorities will find effective ways to counter it. Sunday 31 Nigerian army chief Azubuike Ihejirika estimated in November 2012 that militant Islamist group Boko Haram has been responsible for 3,000 deaths since 2009; this is the highest total given by an official source. And since then, scores more victims, many of them Christians, have been added to the tally. In its campaign to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has been carrying out deadly attacks on churches and Christian communities as well as the security forces and official targets. The Nigerian authorities have been struggling to get to grips with the group. Pray that the Lord will intervene in this dark and desperate situation, and restore peace for His beleaguered people in Nigeria. the wall of the church building and exploded; around ten minutes later, a car blew up outside the church. Officials said that 11 people were killed, but several witnesses at the scene put the death toll at around 50. Boko Haram is suspected of carrying out the atrocity. Pray for those who lost loved ones in this bombing and also that this attack, in what should have been such a secure setting, will jolt the Nigerian authorities into improving protection for potential Christian targets. Tuesday 2 The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), backed by Nigerian Christians in the US, has called over and over again for the US State Department to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO). Various measures could then be applied to the group to restrict its destructive activities. But CAN’s campaign is being resisted by the Nigerian government, which is worried about its international reputation and economic interests, while the US State Department denies that Boko Haram’s campaign is motivated by religion. Pray that the militants will be formally recognised as the terrorists that they are, and that those in positions of power in Nigeria and the US will take the necessary measures to restrict Boko Haram’s devastating campaign. Wednesday 3 A pastor in India was beaten unconscious in an assault by Hindu extremists on 30 November 2012. A group of Christians had gathered for prayer in Boothpada village, Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh when police burst in; they ordered the believers to stop the meeting and leave the area. Then around 20 Hindu extremists arrived, shouting abuse at the Christians; as the two pastors who had been leading the meeting fled the scene, the extremists chased after them and beat them. One of them sustained severe injuries to his head, face and body. Pray for the pastor as he recovers from his injuries, and ask that the law enforcement agencies in India will
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April
Monday 1 At least 11 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a church inside a military barracks in Kaduna state, Northern Nigeria. The attack on St Andrew’s Protestant Church in Jaji happened during a service on Sunday 25 November 2012. First, a bus was driven into

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APRIL 4 - 7 not side with Hindu extremists against innocent Christians. Thursday 4 “The government is making fun of tribal Christians, and prevents the community from enjoying their constitutional rights.” A church leader in India was calling attention to the discrimination suffered by millions of Indian Christians who are being denied a place in the country’s hierarchical caste system. Two-thirds of Christians in India are Dalits, who occupy the lowest level of Indian society, but although Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh Dalits have been given a legal status that reduces their deprivations and strengthens their rights, this has been denied to Christian (and Muslim) Dalits. Tribal Christians have suffered similar ill-treatment. Pray that impoverished Indian Christians will be treated equally with their neighbours of other religions, and that the Lord will provide for all their needs. Friday 5 A young Christian man in Pakistan died in mysterious circumstances in police custody in late 2012 after he was accused of blasphemy. The 22-year-old, called Nadeem, was detained in Nankana Sahib without charge and held for a week. Police said that he was being kept in protective custody when he fell severely ill and died. Nadeem had been accused of burning a copy of the Quran, but the charge had not yet been substantiated. It seems that Nadeem, who was described by his father as mentally unstable, was tortured by the local residents who accused him. Pray for comfort and peace for his family in their bereavement and for the true circumstances of his death to be brought to light. Saturday 6 Pray for Farrukh Gill and his family, Christians from Pakistan who were forced to flee the country following false accusations of blasphemy. They are now living abroad and working in a clothes factory on low wages.
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Farrukh’s sister Fareeha has contracted tuberculosis and needs ongoing treatment, but the family are struggling to pay the medical bills. Farrukh and his father Mushtaq were arrested in 2011 after being accused of desecrating the Quran. The incident provoked a violent backlash from Muslims in Gujranwala, where the family lived, and although Farrukh and Mushtaq were later freed, they were no longer safe in their own country. Pray for Fareeha’s healing, and that the family will be able to rebuild their lives in their new home. Barnabas has helped with their relocation and medical costs.

This Christian family had to flee Pakistan after false accusations of blasphemy

Sunday 7 Pray for church leaders in Sri Lanka, who are often targeted in attacks by Buddhist extremists and by the government. On 9 December 2012 a rock was thrown at the pastor in Weeraketiya, Hambanthota district, as a large mob, including numerous Buddhist monks, stormed the building. And Pastor Lasanthe Jayaleth from Deniyaya district and his wife, Dionie, who were set upon by a mob earlier in the year, are still facing persecution; they have had to stay away from their home several times. Praise God for the courage and perseverance of these faithful shepherds of Christ’s flock, and ask

APRIL 8 - 12 Him to watch over them as they serve and lead His people (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). Monday 8 Four Christians from a church in Ahwaz, Iran, were sentenced in late 2012 to a year’s imprisonment. The pastor, Farhad Sabokrouh, his wife, Shahnaz Jeizan, and two assistant ministers, Naser Zamen Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani, were found guilty of “converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert, as well as propagating against the Islamic regime through promoting evangelical Christianity”. They had been in custody since just before Christmas 2011, when their church was raided and the whole congregation rounded up, though most of the Christians were freed after a few hours. Give thanks that the four have been released pending an appeal, and pray that this may be successful. Pray especially for Farhad, who has been ordered to leave Ahwaz and not to visit other Christians there or conduct church services. Tuesday 9 After Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife Fariba Nazemian, Christian converts from Islam in Iran, were arrested in early 2012, their 17-year-old son Nima was left to care for his 12-year-old sister alone. When their trial began in October 2012, Nima, who has epilepsy, came to the court in hope of seeing his parents (for the first time in months), but he had a seizure and passed out in the corridor. The judge offered to free Fariba to go home and care for her son if she would renounce her Christian faith. But she refused and was required to pay bail of around $200,000 for her temporary release. Pray for strength, endurance and peace for the whole family at this traumatic time, and that Homayoun and Fariba will soon be free to return home for good. Wednesday 10 Forty Christians from four churches in Shiraz and Kavar, in the Fars province of Iran, were arrested in a sweep by security agents in late 2012. They were accused of “having contact with the enemies of the Islamic regime abroad” and “holding Christian services at their homes”. Some were later freed after paying a large amount of bail; others were transferred to local prisons or held at the Intelligence Ministry’s notorious private jail. Hundreds of Christians, mainly converts from Islam, have been arrested and detained in Iran in the past few years. Pray that the Lord will deliver our brothers and sisters and that through their ordeal the Gospel may be proclaimed (2 Timothy 4:17). Thursday 11 Pray for a church in Shiraz, Iran, where an agent of the Islamic government has been installed, apparently to deter people from attending. He is said to be offensive to older members of the church and has ordered parents not to bring their children to services; he even tells people where to sit and interferes with the choice of songs. He has told the elders that he will order the closure of the church if his orders are not followed to the letter. The church has faced harassment from the authorities in the past, but this latest campaign significantly increases the restrictions upon it. Pray that it may be able to maintain its worship, ministry and mission, and that the government may soon relax its controls. Friday 12 Egypt’s Islamist government is tightening its grip on the country, further undermining the safety of the large Christian population. Since coming to power in 2012, President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood have ruthlessly removed opponents from office, neutralised potential opposition and silenced critics. Leading members of the Brotherhood have been appointed to influential posts, and Islamists have also taken up seats on the National Council for Human Rights. Some of the new members of the Council are opposed
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APRIL 13 - 16 to equal rights for Christians and women; one commentator said, “We see a council tasked to defend human rights while its members are opponents to human rights.” Pray that the growing power of Islamism in Egypt will be checked and that the freedom and security of Christians will not be curtailed more severely. Saturday 13 Christians in the village of Tala, in the Beni Suef governorate of Egypt, were attacked by a mob of Salafist Muslims as they left a church service in Egypt on 29 October 2012. The Muslims were angry that ten Christians from neighbouring villages, which do not have church buildings, were coming to Tala for worship. Five Christians were hospitalised with broken limbs, and the two cars that were used to transport the visiting Christians were torched. Later in the afternoon Muslims also went to a number of Christian homes and attacked the residents; five more required hospital treatment. Pray for the believers as they recover from this ordeal, and that Christians in Egypt will be free to worship wherever they choose. Sunday 14 Praise God that in a rare piece of good news for Christians in Egypt, the country’s prosecutor general has sided with a church in a land dispute. Salafist Muslims had invaded a plot of land owned by the Christians in Cairo’s Shubra Al-Kheima district, wielding sticks and rods; they put up a sign saying “Al-Rahma Mosque” and performed Islamic prayers for 24 hours. They were opposed to the church’s plans to build on the land. But on 8 November 2012 Abdul Magid Mahmud ruled that the church was the rightful owner of the land and ordered that legal measures be taken
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to stop the Salafists from building a mosque there. Pray that this positive decision will promote justice for Egyptian Christians, who so often struggle to get a fair hearing in the courts. Monday 15 Give thanks that Barnabas Fund was able to provide much-needed maize, rice and medicines to 2,295 Christians in southern Mali last summer. Most had fled from the north following a violent take-over by Islamist rebels in March 2012. Regional crop failures and spiralling food prices made their circumstances even more desperate. Some families had been eating only watery soup for three days before the food aid from Barnabas arrived, while others had not eaten anything at all. Pray that God will watch over these displaced Christians and provide for them. Pray that the Islamist groups that are imposing a strict interpretation of sharia on the people in the north will repent of their actions and turn to the Lord as their Saviour. Ask the Lord to bring back peace and stability to the country.

Food aid from Barnabas reaches hungry Christians in Mali

Tuesday 16 “I was distressed to hear accounts of violent attacks, forced displacement, denial of identification cards and other forms of discrimination and harassment… I was also concerned to hear that the police have been failing to provide adequate protection in these

APRIL 17 - 21 cases.” With these words the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, drew attention to the increasing violence towards religious minorities, including Christians, in Indonesia, and to “narrow and extremist interpretations of Islam”. Ms Pillay called on the country to take firm action against these destructive trends. Give thanks for her statement, and pray that the Indonesian government will respond positively to it. Wednesday 17 Sharia law is continuing to spread in Indonesia. For example, the new mayor of Tasikmalaya in West Java, Budi Setiawan, promised on 19 November 2012 that the city’s by-laws would be based on sharia in matters of customs and behaviour. Earlier in the year a proposal by the previous mayor to impose the veil for all women in the city, including Christians, and to form a “moral police” provoked controversy, but he insisted that there were some “customs” that every citizen would have to respect. At least half of Indonesia’s provinces have enacted their own variations of sharia, some of which apply to Christians as well as Muslims. Pray that Christians will not be forced or pressured to conform to Islamic practices, or be treated as second-class citizens for refusing to do so. Thursday 18 Hundreds of Muslims from a radical Islamist group descended on two congregations in West Sumatra, Indonesia, in late 2012 to protest against their planned building expansions. The mob threatened to use force to stop Stasi Mahakarya and Gereja Pentakosta Sion Indonesia from extending their sites in West Pasaman, complaining that the churches did not have the required permits. It is very difficult for churches to obtain permission for building works from the authorities; the applications require the signatures of at least 90 church members and 60 non-Christians, and they are generally opposed by Islamic groups. Pray that these churches will be able to extend their buildings without harassment and intimidation, and for greater freedom for Christians in Indonesia to build places of worship. Friday 19 In another onslaught against Christian buildings in Indonesia, Islamists in Banda Aceh have forced the closure of nine house churches by protesting about “improper” use of the buildings. The deputy mayor said that the churches were illegal because they did not have the right permit; private homes cannot be used for “religious ceremonies or functions” in Aceh. The local branch of the Islamic Defence Front called on other authorities to follow this example and stop unapproved non-Muslim worship. Sharia is officially permitted in Aceh, which has semi-autonomous status and is known as the “gateway to Mecca” because it is so Islamic. Pray for protection for the small Christian minority and that their worship will not be further restricted. Saturday 20 A 25-year-old Christian convert from Islam was beheaded by al-Shabaab militants in Somalia on 16 November 2012. Farhan Haji Mose was killed by members of the militant Islamist group in Barawa in front of a crowd. They accused him of being a spy for foreigners and embracing the “foreign religion of Christianity”. Farhan’s movements had been monitored for the previous six months after he had returned from Kenya, where he had converted to Christianity on a visit in 2010. Numerous converts have been killed by al-Shabaab in their ruthless campaign to rid Somalia of Christianity. Pray that the laying down of their lives will produce much fruit for the Kingdom (John 12:24). Sunday 21 An accusation of blasphemy against a Christian tailor
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APRIL 22 - 25 sparked deadly anti-Christian riots in the town of Bichi, Kano state, Northern Nigeria, on 22 November 2012. The tailor, Chibuke, accidentally mispronounced the name for a popular outfit while talking with a Muslim; he inadvertently said, “The prophet has come to the market.” Muslims launched a violent response, rampaging through the town, attacking Christians and their property. Four Christians, including Chibuke, were killed. Seven churches, eight shops and a house were also torched. Pray that the Lord will heal the wounds of this Christian community and also that innocent mistakes will not be used as a pretext to attack Christians in Nigeria. Monday 22 A new church building in Kwara state, Nigeria, was burnt to the ground amid a dispute with Muslims over the ownership of the land. Members of Living Faith Church in Ilorin, the state capital, discovered the wreckage of their building on the morning of 10 December 2012. It had been constructed only two months before. Equipment, including musical instruments and chairs, was also destroyed. The church had been repeatedly threatened over the land dispute with the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria. Pray that the members of Living Faith Church will be able to forgive their persecutors, and that the Lord will provide them with another building in which to worship. Tuesday 23 Christians in Northern Nigeria are not safe even in their own homes. On 14 November 2012, five members of one Christian family from Madauchi-Zonkwa, Kaduna state, were shot inside their house, which was then set ablaze with the victims inside. Soldiers stationed
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nearby failed to intervene, despite gunshots ringing out for almost an hour, provoking protests from Christian youth. Pray that the Lord will turn the hearts of those intent on harming His people in Nigeria and that the security services will take seriously their responsibility to protect all citizens. Wednesday 24 Converts from Islam in Tajikistan can experience great pressure from the Muslim community to reconvert and stop their Christian activity. Convert church leaders especially can suffer much coercion. In order to help them stand strong in their faith and persevere in their ministry, Barnabas Fund is supporting the training of 60 leaders, all converts from Islam, from rural areas of the country. Every three months for a period of two years they are meeting together for two days and receiving a solid grounding in their Christian faith. The training is helping them explain their faith to Muslims and correct wrong assumptions about Christianity. Give thanks for the changes this training course is bringing to the lives of these pastors. Pray for their protection and for God’s guiding as they work to lead Muslims to Christ.

Training for ministry leaders in Tajikistan

Thursday 25 “Ilshod” from Uzbekistan was a Muslim extremist with links to the Taliban before he found Christ and became a pastor. Under his encouraging guidance his congregation has grown from ten members in 2007 to 120 and the

APRIL 26 - 29 attitudes of many of his church members have changed. Some, previously too fearful of police raids and fines to attend home groups, learned the importance of fellowship and now relish meeting together. Two church members resisted pressure from security service officers to spy on the church and the pastor. Barnabas Fund is covering the majority of Ilshod’s and his family’s daily needs and his ministry travel costs for two years. Give thanks for Ilshod’s inspiring leadership despite severe government pressure. Pray for protection for him and his congregation and that they will be able to lead many more people to Christ. Friday 26 “When you lose your church building it is something important,” said a church leader from Aleppo, Syria, last year. At least 16 church buildings were deliberately destroyed or damaged in Syria last year, including three in Aleppo and twelve in Homs. A church that was bombed in Dair Al-Zor had taken the congregation ten years to build. Pray that Christians in Syria will be able to respond with forgiveness to these attacks, and that God will give them strength to survive their country’s dark times. Pray that a new and vibrant church in Syria will rise up from the ashes. Saturday 27 Thank the Lord for the courage and commitment of Christian leaders in Syria who continue to encourage and care for their people and organise the distribution of aid from Barnabas. Some of our partners have been urged to leave the country and move to safer locations, but they have steadfastly refused. “If I leave Syria, I leave behind my treasure,” said one, referring to his beloved flock. “What is my value without my congregation? If I leave, I have no value any more.” Pray for the protection of these brave pastors, and that their faith and love will strengthen and sustain the Christians whom they lead. Sunday 28 “God bless you and your great efforts to wipe the tears from the eyes of the children and widows and to help restore peace and dignity to the thousands of humiliated and broken-hearted in our churches in Syria!” A Barnabas contact wrote these emotional words to us in December last year about Barnabas’ large-scale aid operation for Christians affected by the Syria crisis. With the grants sent by Barnabas local churches were able to provide food, milk powder for babies, rent, blankets, heaters and help towards medical costs. Give thanks for the message of hope and compassion that Barnabas is sending through this aid. Pray that our brothers and sisters will be sustained by it and that God will show them ways to survive the civil war. Pray that the violence will soon come to an end. Monday 29 Pray for Henna Sarkees, a Lebanese Christian living in Saudi Arabia, who has been charged with coercing a Muslim woman who was working for him to convert to Islam. Henna and an un-named Saudi national who allegedly helped the woman to leave the country were due to stand trial in September 2012, but their case has been repeatedly deferred. Pray too for the woman, who is in Sweden at the time of writing, but whose family are trying to secure her return to Saudi Arabia, where conversion to Christianity is punishable by death. The country has also introduced a tracking system to monitor any cross-border movements by female citizens, which will make it even harder for women converts to escape in future. Pray for their protection.
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APRIL 30 Tuesday 30 Saudi Arabia tries to present a tolerant image to the West. On 26 November 2012 the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue was opened in Vienna, Austria. The imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque said that it gave a strong message that “Islam is a religion of dialogue and understanding and not a religion of enmity, fanaticism and violence”. But this same imam has previously referred to International Headquarters The Old Rectory, River Street, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5DB, UK Telephone 01672 564938 Fax 01672 565030 From outside the UK Telephone +44 1672 564938 Fax +44 1672 565030 Email info@barnabasfund.org USA 6731 Curran St, McLean, VA 22101 Telephone (703) 288-1681 or toll-free 1-866-936-2525 Fax (703) 288-1682 Email usa@barnabasaid.org Australia PO Box 3527 Loganholme QLD 4129 Telephone (07) 3806 1076 or 1300 365 799 Fax (07) 3806 4076 Email bfaustralia@barnabasfund.org Christians as “cross worshippers” and “those influenced by the rottenness of their ideas”. There is virtually no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia itself, where an extreme version of Islam, Wahhabism, is strictly enforced, and non-Muslim worship is forbidden except in private homes. Pray that Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority countries will extend the same tolerance to Christians within their borders as they expect Muslims to enjoy in the West. UK 9 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX Telephone 024 7623 1923 Fax 024 7683 4718 From outside the UK Telephone +44 24 7623 1923 Fax +44 24 7683 4718 Email info@barnabasfund.org Jersey Le Jardin, La Rue a Don, Grouville, Jersey Channel Islands JE3 9GB Telephone 700600 Fax 700601 Email bfjersey@barnabasfund.org New Zealand PO Box 27 6018, Manukau City, Auckland, 2241 Telephone (09) 280 4385 or 0800 008 805 Email office@barnabasfund.org.nz

www.barnabasfund.org
Barnabas Fund is a Company registered in England Number 4029536. Registered Charity Number 1092935 Cover: Syrian Christians who received emergency aid from Barnabas Fund © Barnabas Fund 2013 16
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