23 January 2010

Weekly prayers from Voice of the Martyrs (1/23/2010)

01/20/10 Egypt, Nigeria, Malaysia, Turkey, Lebanon (Scripps News) May: Islam’s war against others- There is an alarming trend in a growing number of Muslim-majority countries because they are waging a war against non-Muslim minorities.

Connect these dots: In Nigeria this week, Muslim youths set fire to a church, killing more than two dozen Christian worshippers. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been suffering increased persecution. For example, there was a drive-by shooting outside a church in which seven people were murdered this month. In Pakistan, Christian churches were bombed over Christmas. In Turkey, authorities have been closing Christian churches, monasteries and schools. Recently, churches in Malaysia have been attacked, too, provoked by this grievance: Christians inside the churches were referring to God as "Allah."

Many Muslims, no doubt, disapprove of the persecution of non-Muslims. But in most Muslim-majority countries, any Muslim openly opposing the Islamists risks being branded an apostate. And under the Islamist interpretation of Sharia, Islamic law, apostates deserve death.

Not so long ago, the Broader Middle East was a diverse region. Lebanon had a Christian majority for centuries but that ended around 1990 -- the result of years of civil war among the country's religious and ethnic communities. The Christian population of Turkey has diminished substantially in recent years. Islamists have driven Christians out of Bethlehem and other parts of the West Bank; almost all Christians have fled Gaza since Hamas' takeover.

When the dots are connected, the picture that emerges is not pretty: An "Islamic world" in which terrorists are regarded often with lenience, sometimes with respect and occasionally with reverence, while minority groups face increasing intolerance, persecution and "cleansing," where even their histories are erased. And we in the West are too polite, too "politically correct," and perhaps too cowardly to say much about it. Full Story.

Pray for a hedge of protection around all the Christian churches and all those who are in ministry in the Muslim-majority countries.
Pray that Christians will remain committed to the Lord in the midst of systemic persecution of the faithful by radical Islam.
Pray that those of the Islamic faith will realize the deception in their beliefs and they will realize the truth of the Bible and likewise accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
Pray that the West will be courageous enough to expose the hostile beliefs and actions of Muslim-majority countries which enforce Sharia, Islamic law, which proclaims that apostates deserve death-including Christians.
For more general information, please go to ICC's website.

01/19/10 Nigeria (Compass Direct News) Christians in Jos, Nigeria Fear Further Attacks- Gunshots and smoke continued to alarm residents of Jos in central Nigeria today, with the Christian community fearing further violence from Muslim youths who on Sunday (January 17th) attacked a Catholic church and burned down several other church buildings. Also burned were buildings of the Christ Apostolic Church, Assemblies of God Church, three branches of the Church of Christ in Nigeria and two buildings of the Evangelical Church of West Africa, Christian leaders said. The number of casualties continued to grow, reportedly reaching more than 100 as security forces tried to rein in rioters, with both Christian and Muslim groups still counting their losses. Hundreds have reportedly been wounded.

“What we have witnessed only goes to show that the problem in the state is far from over,” Rev. Chuwang Avou, secretary of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria said. “Many families have been displaced. There are a number who are receiving treatment in the hospital. The dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in the state has not solved any problem, as there is still tension in the land.” Avou said the crisis broke out when Muslim youths pursued a woman into a church during worship on Sunday, wreaking havoc on the service.

State Commissioner of Police Greg Anyating stated that Muslim youths were to blame for setting off the violence. The Nigerian army was reportedly summoned to try to restore order.

The secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Wale Adefarasin, said attacks on Christians are a manifestation of terrorism in the country. “What we should realize is that the government is not helping situations,” he said. “It is an illusion that Nigeria is safe.” “The Muslim fundamentalists want to take over Jos by all means,” Pastor Adefarasin said. “They claim that Jos is a Muslim state, which is not true.”

Violence against Christians has been going on for many years. For example, in the same area on November 28th & 29th of 2008, there was murderous rioting sparked by Muslim attacks on Christians and their property whereby six pastors died, at least 500 other people were killed, and 40 churches were destroyed, according to church leaders. More than 25,000 persons were displaced in the two days of violence. Full Story.

Pray that the authorities will effectively protect the Nigerian Christians from Muslim fundamentalists and promptly arrest and prosecute the Muslim youths who committed acts of hatred.
Pray that the Lord will comfort the Christian families who lost their loved ones to the barbaric murders by Muslim fanatics.
Pray that the Nigerian Christians will continue in worship and that they proclaim the Good News of salvation with courage and discernment.
For more general information, please go to ICC's website on Nigeria.

01/19/10 Egypt (Christian Newswire) Christians of Egypt are Massacred, and President Mubarak is Still Silent-
The Copts, Egypt's Christian minority, number approximately 12 million, about 15% of Egypt's population. Under the rule of President Mubarak, violent attacks against them run rampant. These attacks were once carried out mainly by organized Islamic terrorist groups. The climate of hatred in Egypt has worsened to the point that attacks against Christians are now carried out by their Muslim neighbors.

The latest attack took place in Naga Hamady, Upper Egypt, during the late hours of Wednesday, January 6th of 2010. Drive-by gunmen opened fire with machine guns as worshippers were coming out of church after celebrating Coptic Christmas mass. Seven people were instantly killed and many others were seriously wounded.

The escalation of attacks is encouraged by the Egyptian government's lack of resolve in addressing the problem and adopting a plan of action to stop it at its roots. The climate of hatred is deeply entrenched in Egypt's mosques, the Egyptian media, and the Egyptian educational system. Very seldom are killers of Copts apprehended, and when arrested, they are often released for lack of evidence, or given a very light sentence. President Mubarak, now in power for almost 3 decades, during which 7 American presidents took office, turns a blind eye to what happens to the Coptic citizens of his country. This seems to be an attempt at appeasing the Islamists to strengthen his hold on power and pass it on to his son. Not once, did President Mubarak address his nation assuring the Copts that he cares about their problems.

Egypt, the recipient of 2 billion dollars yearly of American foreign aid since the signing of the Camp David peace treaty in 1978, can not continue abusing the human rights of its Coptic Christian citizens, a basic perquisite for receiving American foreign aid.

We ask President Obama, the US Congress and government officials, and all freedom-loving people and organizations in the US and around the world to support the rights of the Copts, for protection from aggression and equality under the law. Full Story.

Pray that the Christian families who lost their loved ones to murder will be comforted by the Lord, that the wounded will heal from their wounds, and that they all will stay strong in their Christian faith.
Pray that President Mubarak will have the fortitude to protect all Egyptian Christians from savage attacks by radical Muslims.
Pray that President Obama, the US Congress and government officials, and all freedom-loving people and organizations in the US and around the world will support the right of the Copts for protection from aggression and equality under the law.
For more general information, please go to ICC's website on Egypt.

01/19/10 United States (Baptist Press) Arson Suspected in Two More Texas Church Fires- The number of suspicious fires at churches in East Texas has climbed to seven as federal investigators join state and local authorities in seeking clues to two blazes in Tyler, Texas. The latest fires were at the Tyland Baptist Church and the First Church of Christ, Scientist, both in Tyler. Tyland is the third Southern Baptist church to burn in what investigators believe is a string of arsons. Both fires took place on the weekend of January 16th & 17th.

Authorities in the three affected counties are being aided in their investigation by the Texas state fire marshal's office and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Authorities first suspected burglary as a motive at the Athens churches, said Athens Assistant Police Chief Rodney Williams, but the investigation is ongoing.

Tyland Baptist Church Pastor David E. Mahfood posted a statement on the church's website: "Dear Friends, as most of you know, our beloved church building was consumed by fire on Saturday evening, January 16. We grieve the loss of church home, the place that we loved and shared so many memories with our church family. It was a very special place to all of us, and our emotions at this time are varied and many.

"Yet as deep as our sadness is our conviction is that our God is a mighty God, and that He is able to prevail through any adversity. We are confident that He is by our side as we come to grips with this devastating loss, and we know He will embolden us to move forward. We also take great comfort in His Word, which says:

"'We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.'" Full Story.

Pray that the police will quickly ascertain the cause of the destruction of seven churches in East Texas and prosecute any criminals if they torched the churches.
Pray that Christ will embolden the Christians at the Tyland Baptist Church to move forward and that they take great comfort in His Word as they proclaim the Gospel.
Praise God that no one was hurt in the fires.

For more general information, please go to ICC’s website.

01/15/10 India (Assist News Service) Indian Pastor and Believers Attacked and Beaten, Church Service Disrupted in Andhra Pradesh State- A group of Hindu radicals barged into a prayer service held in a church in Jalliguda, which is located in Hyderabad City, Andhra Pradesh state, India and mercilessly beat the pastor and the attendees at a meeting in on Sunday, January 10, 2010. According to the Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), an advocacy group, they reported that on January 10, at around 9:00 am, approximately 50 members belonging to the Hindu radical groups, Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks (RSS) and Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), barged inside the prayer hall and beat Pastor Benhur who was conducting the prayer service and also some of the attendees. It was known from the source that these Hindu radicals warned them to stop preaching about Jesus in their locality.

The source also said that the Hindu radicals continued to beat the pastor and the members of the congregation in the presence of a police officer and his team who were present during the attack. According to the news source it was known that these Hindu radicals later dragged some of the church members and the pastor and then filed a complaint against the pastor, despite the fact that he was the victim in this attack.

For the past three years, Pastor Benhur has been organizing Sunday Services regularly at Jalliguda. More than 50 believers get together for the prayer meetings. Pastor Benhur ministers with an organization called Heavens Glory Ministries. He is married to Prassanna (30) and blessed with a daughter Jessika (3 years). Full Story.
Pray that the Indian believers will remain committed to the Lord in the midst of ongoing beatings and intimidation by Hindu radicals.
Pray that the police will protect Christians from victimization and that they promptly arrest and prosecute the criminal Hindu extremists.
Pray that those of the Hindu faith will accept the truth of the Bible and likewise believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Pray that Pastor Benhur, who was brutally beaten, will be comforted, healed, and strengthened by the Lord.

For more general information, please go to ICC’s website on India.

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