Monthly Prayer Agenda
Welcome to the December 2018 Global Prayer Agenda featuring major concerns affecting the nations of our world, and the growth of Christ's church universally for the advancement of world evangelism and the establishment of God's Kingdom. This agenda was specially prepared for use during the Monthly Global Prayer Teleconference sessions by a few members of the team of leaders facilitating these monthly global prayer calls. The agenda is structured into three main categories for the convenience of our users. As you join us in prayer about these various issues, during this month, we trust that you will find the experience spiritually rewarding. We also extend a special invitation to join us for our next Monthly Global Prayer Teleconference.
Prayer for North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe
Prayer for Revival in the United States of America
Scripture: Psalm 2: 1 - 8
Prayer For Pastors Across America
Pastors across America that are leaving the ministry in droves.
Top 2 Causes for Pastors Leaving Ministry and More Statistics
More than 70% of pastors do not have a close friend with whom they can openly share their struggles. The dominant cause for pastors to leave the pastoral ministry is burnout. Number two is a moral failure. These are alarming statistics. And there are many more:
- 80% of pastors believe the pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families (Life Enrichment Ministries – 1998)
- Only 50% of pastors felt that the education they received adequately prepared them for ministry. Most pastors rely on books and conferences as their primary source of continuing education. (George Barna – 2002)
- 25% of all pastors don’t know where to go for help if they have a personal or family conflict or concern. 33% have no established means for resolving the conflict. (George Barna – 2002)
- 40% have no opportunity for outside renewal like a family vacation or continuing education. There is a very clear relationship between the amount of time a pastor takes for personal renewal and his satisfaction in his job. (George Barna – 2002)
- At any given time, 75% of pastors in America want to quit. (Church Resource Ministries – 1998)
- More than 2000 pastors are leaving the ministry each month. (Marble Retreat Center 2001) (Source: www.Standaloneministry.org)
- For pastors across America experiencing loneliness, the burning out effect, other challenges of the pastoral ministry that impact negatively on their families or considering quitting the ministry as a result of discouragement to turn to the Lord, the only Rock of our Salvation for spiritual comfort, assurance, and strength. Indeed, all other grounds or bais of faith or worship are sinking sand.
- For all pastors facing all types of moral failure that continue to undermine the credible witness of the church as salt and light of this nation, to turn to the Lord in prayer and repentance to help to facilitate revival in the church for the spiritual healing and transformation of the nation so urgently needed at this time.
- For those institutions and agencies that provide all types of spiritual support to pastors, including seminaries, denominations and the local church to do a more effective job of training, mentoring and caring for the spiritual, emotional, social and family needs of the pastors they serve.
Prayer for Victims of California’s Deadliest Fires
Officials in California say hundreds of people remain missing from the deadliest wildfire US history and that the death toll has increased to over 80. Also, some 52,000 individuals have been displaced by the crisis, who are staying in shelters, motels, homes of relatives and friends, and at a makeshift camp on a nearby Walmart parking lot and an adjacent field. In and around the northern California town of Paradise a town of 27,000, the blaze reduced the town to ashes, having destroyed nearly 12,000 structures, including at least 9,700 homes. (Source: Adopted from VOA News)
- For the families of victims mourning the loss of loved ones killed in the fires, for God to grant them peace and comfort during this very difficult time.
- For the approximately 52,000 persons displaced by the fires to experience God’s supernatural provision, leading to a revelation of God’s divine love and grace manifested in salvation through Jesus Christ.
- For all churches and ministries across California to utilize the opportunity to minister to those left destitute, homeless or in dire need as a result of the disaster, including the thousands living in tent cities. Pray also that this major crisis will lead people to turn to God for the birth of another spiritual revival in that state.
Prayer for Children Across America
Although these articles specifically target Millennials, the same effect is trickling down to teenagers and even younger children. (All articles excerpted.)
Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology
By Kari Paul
Published: Oct 31, 2018, 4:46 p.m. ET
In tumultuous political times, the 18-30 demographic is reaching for the stars
When Coco Layne, a Brooklyn-based producer, meets someone new these days, the first question that comes up in conversation isn’t “Where do you live?” or “What do you do?” but “What’s your sign?” “So many millennials read their horoscopes every day and believe them,” Layne, who is involved in a number of nonreligious spiritual practices, said. “It is a good reference point to identify and place people in the world.” Interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials. The majority of Americans now believe it is not necessary to believe in God to have good morals, a study from Pew Research Center found. The percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who “never doubt existence of God” fell from 81% in 2007 to 67% in 2012. Meanwhile, more than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science. compared to less than 8% of the Chinese public.
Witchcraft Casts an Ever-Widening Spell on Millennials
October 11, 2018
If you’ve noticed an increase in references to witches and mysticism lately, that’s not just because Halloween is approaching. Surveys, social media sites and product branding indicate an increase in people who practice or are interested in witchcraft. Trend-spotters say millennials—especially young women—are drawn to Wicca, astrology and new-age spirituality. About 1 to 1.5 million Americans label themselves Wiccan or pagan, according to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than the membership of some mainstream Christian denominations in the United States.…The rise of witchcraft is attributed to several factors, including decreased interest in religion and increased interest in spirituality. Other factors include the wellness and mindfulness movements, female-empowerment efforts and even the uncertain political climate.…As with any dangerous trend, it’s up to Christians, churches, pastors and parents to be alert and to shine the light of God’s truth into our dark world.
Witches Outnumber Presbyterians in the US; Wicca, Paganism Growing 'Astronomically'
The population of self-identified witches has risen dramatically in the United States in recent decades, as interest in astrology and witchcraft practices have become increasingly mainstreamed.…"Rather than deeming everything that is supernatural 'demonic,' the Church needs to wake up to the reality of this realm and begin to approach it from a Kingdom perspective which understands its place and purpose," said Wanda Alger, field correspondent with Intercessors for America and a pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Winchester, Virginia, in a CP interview at the time. "The sad thing is that these millennials who are exploring the dark side of the supernatural have more faith and belief than most Christians. Because they are open and spiritually hungry, the spirit realm responds. The biggest hindrance to understanding the realities of the Spirit realm is unbelief," she emphasized.
- Pray for a covering over our young people and children so that they will not be deceived and fall into agreement with the enemy and his lies that do not line up with God’s Word or purposes for them.
- Pray for life over the Word that is in many Millennials from their childhood church/Sunday School experiences. Pray younger children will not follow their path to witchcraft and the occult.
- Repent for the Church/parents who, in great number, have failed to mature children/youth in the things of God’s Spirit – the HOLY Spirit – and have, as a result left them vulnerable/weak to the draw/lies of the unholy spirit.
South America and The Caribbean
Asylum case backlog of 750K gains 1000s more in the migrant caravan
To begin the process of gaining asylum in the US, a migrant need only pass a perfunctory assessment that he has “credible fear.” After that, he can live in the US for several years while waiting to see a judge. At this time 750,000+ others stand before him in the line to go to court. (That figure does not include the 10,000+ who are massing at the Mexican border.) Judges grant asylum to less than 10 percent of these cases. But by that time, the remaining 675,000+ disqualified applicants will more easily resist deportation to their home countries.
And so claiming asylum has become a popular way of getting into the US. Asylum claims have quadrupled since 2014. At that time then-President Obama bypassed Congress and took executive action to protect “dreamers.” Obama shielded a total of 5 million+ illegal immigrants from deportation. Therefore many more came to the US seeking asylum and expecting favorable treatment from the US government.
President Trump attempted to render ineligible for asylum those who entered illegally. But a federal judge in California blocked him. The DHS has reported that 500 criminals are traveling in the caravan at the San Ysidro border crossing. Now Trump is threatening to close the border. In the meantime, the 10,000+ migrants at the border may have “credible fears” about staying in drug-cartel dominated Mexican border states.
Dangers without, dangers within
Moreover, more than half of them are jammed into Tijuana, known as the fifth most violent city in the world. There the mayor declared a “humanitarian crisis”, refusing to finance the migrants' care.
Yet a group of Tijuana business leaders say they have thousands of jobs available in assembly plants. Also, Mexican officials say their country has a total of 100,000 job openings for Central American asylum seekers. In view of this, Mexico's incoming interior minister initially agreed to Trump's latest proposal to control immigration. It would require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their claims were processed. But then the interior minister backed out of that agreement.
No one knows what to do with the 10,000+ at the US border, and the thousands more coming—except God.
Pray for God to
- Protect the caravan from the hundreds of reported criminals within their ranks and the dangers without.
- Pour His Holy Spirit on the whole caravan, and appoint personal encounters with Jesus for each one.
- Reveal Jesus as the true Shepherd of the sheep, and take them from broad ways of destruction to the narrow way of life and show each one clear signs and directions, and that the true Promised Land is wherever He wants them.
Revival across Europe
- Bulgaria Revises Proposed Restrictions on Church Activity
KATE SHELLNUTT | NOVEMBER 16, 2018 [adapted]
Following an outcry from evangelicals and other faith groups, Bulgaria opted to revise a controversial proposal to restrict religious activity before putting it up for another parliamentary vote.
The initial draft amendments to its Religious Denomination Act would have kept members of minority faiths, like Protestants, from operating seminaries, holding activities outside church, and obtaining legal status. It also regulated foreign missionaries and funding.
The updated law also would allow greater freedom to foreign missionaries than the first proposal; they could preach in the country as short-term residents or as visitors coming with advance notification. The new amendment also does away with a ban on anonymous donations by foreign groups.
As of Tuesday, the parliament had not yet voted on the restrictions, according to the Baptist Standard.
Thousands of Christians have been gathering before the parliament building each Sunday to protest and pray against the restrictions. They plan to continue rallying this Sunday, November 25, Oprenov said. ….
Protestants have had to fight for their place in Bulgaria, from being driven underground during Communist rule to fighting back against what Christianity Today called “a swelling wave of religious intolerance that includes government restrictions, vitriolic media attacks, and even violent assaults” in the 1990s.
- That the Bulgarian government will remove all restrictions to the preaching of the Gospel and the practice of the Christian faith in Bulgaria;
- That the Bible-believing Christians and mission organizations will be united in their opposition to the proposed restrictions and in their efforts to evangelize the country;
- That the Gospel will thrive in Bulgaria and that its 7.5 million people will be delivered from spiritual bondage and its many links to the occult.
- FEUER: Evangelists in European universities gathered in Spain
Around 200 evangelists from 40 countries met to share resources and experience for the proclamation of the gospel in European universities.
AUTHOR José Daniel Marín, Evangelical Focus COMARRUGA (SPAIN) 09 NOVEMBER 2018 [adapted]
Around 200 people from 40 countries gathered between 1-5 November in Comaruga (Spain).
Participants of the 10th conference of the Fellowship of Evangelists in the Universities of Europe (FEUER) included students, pastors, and workers of IFES. They all had two things in common: a deep passion for Jesus and the desire to continue impacting European universities with the gospel.
Started 10 years ago by Lindsay Brown, FEUER is a network of evangelists connected to the university, which aims to encourage, provide resources and recover the place that the public proclamation of the gospel has lost in recent decades in Europe.
This year, one of the main speakers was Samuel Escobar, who shared deep reflections of a life linked to the ministry in the university.
There was also an interview and an open question session with John Lennox. He encouraged the young evangelists to deepen their relationship with the Scriptures. “We all want to have something to say, but we will have nothing to say if we settle for a superficial approach to the Word. Let's dig into the Word and we'll have something to say. Let's develop the conviction that God speaks through the Bible and gives us the authority to speak”.
In addition to the general program, there was a program focused on academics, which aimed that those who work at the university could also be able to participate in University Mission Weeks, showing the intellectual credibility and coherence of the gospel.
On Monday, Some days later, several participants of the FEUER conference joined the Re-think University Week at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. John Lennox gave a lecture on science and faith, Vaughan Roberts spoke on sexuality and Julia Garschagen on the Bible and women
Additionally, during the conference, participants could see what God is doing in the universities of Europe. From the growth in Spain and Belarus to the challenges that countries like Holland, Portugal and Switzerland are facing, the collaboration between the Balkan countries, and the training programs for young evangelists in Denmark, Germany and Spain.
A PERSPECTIVE ON EUROPE
Europe was the first to become Christian but has also been to reject Christendom as a culture. Christians now have the privilege and responsibility to proclaim the gospel and persuade European societies to return to the gospel. The church must be prepared to communicate the good news, showing the beauty, truth and power of the gospel to a continent that cries out for purpose, identity and hope. Let's give thanks for the people called to communicate the message at the university, and pray that the Lord will continue to use them, so that many will hear and have the opportunity to respond to the gospel and be reconciled to God.
- That the Lord will anoint, empower, bless and strengthen these academics and evangelists in their efforts to spread the Gospel message throughout European universities;
- That the Lord will give them the wisdom, knowledge, understanding and skill to publicly and convincingly refute arguments, ideologies and theories that stand in opposition to the message of the Gospel that they seek to communicate;
- That the Lord will grant that the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the Gospel will spread like wildfire throughout universities in Europe and that the Gospel will recover the place it once held in Europe.
- Christian charity launches an emergency appeal to help thousands of fair trade producers put at risk by Brexit
CHRISTIAN TODAY | Staff writer Thu 22 Nov 2018 [adapted]
A Christian development charity is appealing for donations to support fair trade producers facing economic uncertainty and hardship as a result of Brexit. Traidcraft Exchange said the fallout from Britain's decision to leave the European Union is hurting fair trade suppliers in poorer parts of the world who have traditionally sold their products to the British market.
It is now seeking donations to help cushion the impact on suppliers experiencing a sudden drop in orders. The launch of the appeal comes not long after the charity's sister business Traidcraft plc warned that its future was in question unless it could find a sustainable alternative model. It blamed the crisis on the uncertain economic conditions caused by Brexit as it revealed that it would be significantly downsizing and cutting the number of product lines it sells in the UK. Over 8,000 artisans and producers stand to lose their jobs or experience a decline in their income as a result of the losses at Traidcraft plc, with producers from India and Bangladesh among the worst affected. Hand-embroidered card manufacturer Swajan, based in Bangladesh, employs over 750 people, many of them women. Traidcraft Exchange said the company faces a 65 percent fall in orders.
'For years artisans from poor and isolated regions have been able to sell to the UK fair trade market. Now that existing deals are coming to an abrupt end we owe it to them to cushion the blow and help them chart a new future,' said Kate Dixon, spokesperson for Traidcraft Exchange. 'Every supplier has different needs – some will need help finding alternative fair trade buyers and some will need short-term direct financial support.
- That the Lord will stretch out His hand to deliver and provide for His people, in particular, who are suffering various forms of hardships, or who stand to suffer as a result of the Brexit crisis;
- That God will grant unto those spearheading the negotiations, the wisdom, and skill to navigate their way through the issues in a way that is peaceful and beneficial to all but especially to those who belong to the ‘household of faith’;
- That in the midst of these negotiations, God’s people will stand united – both in the United Kingdom and in Europe – and will emerge as powerful witnesses to the Lord as agents of peace, stability and
Israel, the Middle East and Africa
The United States has accused Iran of failing to declare chemical weapons-related activities in violation of commitments to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Speaking to an annual meeting of the intergovernmental organization in The Hague on Thursday, U.S. envoy Kenneth Ward said Washington is concerned that Iran is developing “central nervous system-acting chemicals” for offensive military purposes. He did not cite the source of the allegation.
Ward also gave three examples of what he said were Iranian declaration failures under OPCW rules. Iran is a signatory to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention administered by OPCW.
Ward said Iran failed to declare a capability to fill weapons with chemicals, its transfer of chemical-filled shells to Libya in the 1980s, and its marketing of CR gas at defense expos as a riot control agent. A 2011 Washington Post report quoted U.S. officials as saying chemical munitions uncovered that year by rebels in Libya’s civil war appeared to have originated in Iran. (Michael Lipin, November 22, 2018)
Saheb Fadaei and Fatimeh Bakhtiari have received prison sentences of 18 and 12 months respectively for "spreading propaganda against the regime." It is written in the verdict that for Christians to claim that Jesus is Lord and that the Bible is their final authority can be perceived as an attack against Islam. Saheb was additionally sentenced to 2 years’ internal exile in Nehbandan County, close to the border with Afghanistan. The lawyer representing Saheb and Fatimah is appealing the sentences. Saheb is already serving a 10-year sentence in Evin Prison, Tehran, along with pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, Mohammadreza Omidi and Yaser Mosibzadeh. (Elam Ministries, Wednesday, November 21st, 2018)
Nearly 100 Persian-speaking Christians were recently baptized in one city in a country neighboring Iran. We celebrate the work that the Lord is doing in each of their lives and pray that He would use them to grow His kingdom. (Elam Ministries, Wednesday, November 21st, 2018)
This month Elam held a conference for 19 women, each hand-selected from across the Iran region. Many had been abused or experienced other traumas. These women came thirsty to know how to witness and how to be more productive for God’s mission. The week-long conference was a huge blessing to all who were there.
Baptism: “You should have seen the joy and excitement on their faces,” said one leader of the 12 ladies who were baptized. For Leila*, it had been one of her deepest desires to be baptized. (Elam Ministries, Saturday, September 29th, 2018)
- Pray that any chemical weapon activity involving Iran would be exposed.
- Thank God for the 119 Iranians who accepted Christ and got baptized.
- Pray for those who got baptized as they continue to grow in their faith. Also, pray for their pastors and leaders as they teach and disciple them.
- Pray for the release of Saheb Fadaei and Fatimeh Bakhtiari who have been imprisoned for their faith.
- Pray that the Lord will bless and use Saheb, Yousef, Mohammadreza, and Yaser while they are held in Evin Prison.
A bill, two years in the making that aims to provide humanitarian relief to victims of the Islamic State’s genocide in Iraq and Syria is finally heading to President Donald Trump’s desk. On Tuesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 390, also known as the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018. The House’s passage of the bill follows the unanimous passing of the legislation by the U.S. Senate in October. The bill is designed to “provide emergency relief to victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq and Syria” and “provide accountability for perpetrators of these crimes.”
Among other key parts of the bill, H.R. 390 would authorize and direct the U.S. government to fund entities, including faith-based organizations, that are directly involved in giving humanitarian and recovery aid to Christian and other religious and ethnic minority communities that were targeted by IS (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh). (Samuel Smith, CP Reporter Wednesday, November 28, 2018)
BEIRUT, LEBANON —
Syrian workers have exhumed more than 500 bodies from one of the largest mass graves near the northern city of Raqqa, once the capital of the Islamic State group's self-styled caliphate, and are still uncovering remains, a local official said Tuesday. The exhumation of mass graves in and around Raqqa is being undertaken by local groups and first responders amid concerns about the preservation of bodies and evidence for possible war crimes trials.
The Panorama mass grave, named after the neighborhood where it was found, is one of the largest of nine mass graves discovered so far, and is believed to contain around 1,500 bodies. Hammoud al-Shawakh, a local official involved in the work, said 516 bodies believed to be of Islamic State fighters and civilians have been exhumed. (Associated Press, November 27, 2018)
- Thank God for the passing of H.R. 390 that will allow the U.S. government to provide humanitarian and recovery aid to Christian and other religious and ethnic minority communities that were targeted by IS.
- Thank God for the discovery of the mass graves in Raqqa, Syria. Pray that those responsible for these murders would be brought to justice.
- Pray for social, political, economic, and religious reforms in Syria.
- Pray for the strengthening and growth of the Church in Syria.
At least 22 people were killed in two separate militant attacks Monday in Somalia, witnesses and officials said. In the first incident, al-Shabab militants attacked the compound of a controversial cleric in the central Somalia town of Galkayo, killing him and at least 14 other people.
Police say eight people were killed by a car bomb just after mid-day in Mogadishu.
Commissioner of Wadajir district Omar Abdullahi Hassan told VOA that security forces intercepted the car after the driver showed suspicious behavior. He said the driver was taken away for questioning and the search of the car started when the explosion occurred. (Harun Maruf, November 26, 2018)
On Nov. 9, Saleban was a passenger in a minibus as it drove past the Sahafi Hotel on KM4 Street, one of the city’s biggest roadways. At that moment, a bomb ripped into the side of the minibus. Glass shattered. Metal warped. Against odds, Saleban survived. “The bus was full of people, but everyone else died except me,” Saleban told VOA’s Somali service.
At least 65 people died, and 106 others were wounded in the Nov. 9 attack, based on reports from the five hospitals that admitted victims. The tallies make the attack the deadliest in Mogadishu this year. For Saleban, the consequences extended beyond the double amputation. Her kidneys were badly hurt; her face burned by the flames of the explosion. (Sahra Abdi Ahmed and Salem Solomon, November 22, 2018)
NAIROBI, KENYA —
Somali intelligence officials say the largest U.S. military airstrike against al-Shabab extremists in Somalia in nearly a year largely destroyed a training camp where recruits were preparing to graduate and killed more fighters than the U.S. announced. Two officials tell The Associated Press that several missiles were fired on Friday by two unmanned U.S. drones.
Some of the freshly trained al-Shabab recruits were "burnt beyond recognition" and the death toll exceeds 75, one official said. The U.S. Africa Command on Tuesday said about 60 extremists had been killed. (Associated Press, October 17, 2018)
- Thank God for the successful US air strikes against al-Shabab militants.
- Pray for the total elimination of the al-Shabab activities and networks in East Africa.
- Pray for the salvation of al-Shabab leaders and members.
- Pray for the families of those killed by al-Shabab.
- We pray for the growth of missionary activities and the church of Christ in Somalia.
AMCHIDE, CAMEROON —
Cameroon has reactivated village militias on its northern border with Nigeria after twin suicide bombings Wednesday wounded 29 people. Authorities say the bombers were Boko Haram terrorists who crossed over from Nigeria. It is hoped the armed locals can prevent further attacks.
A group of 200 young men, drawn from 20 villages around the town of Amchide, sing a song about initiation into the local militia. In the lyrics, they vow to defend their communities from all intruders who would disturb the peace they had enjoyed for the past five months.
That peace was shaken on Wednesday when two suicide bombers attacked a food market in Amchide, wounding 29 people, nine of them critically. The women bombers — the only ones killed — are suspected of having crossed over from the neighboring Nigerian town of Banki.
Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of this far northern region of Cameroon, which borders Nigeria., said the bombings prompted him to reactivate the village militias, known as self-defense groups. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka,VOA News, November 29, 2018)
Seventy-nine children who were kidnapped from a school in Cameroon on Sunday have now been returned, but Presbyterian Church officials say they appear to have been tortured.
"They were brought last night to one of our churches ... near Bamenda (the regional capital). They look tired and psychologically tortured," said Fonki Samuel Forba, moderator of the country's Presbyterian Church, according to The Associated Press. While the children were released, two staff members remain in captivity. Forba has plead for the kidnappers to "free the staff still in their keeping." (Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter, NOVEMBER 07, 2018)
- Thank God that Cameroon has taken steps to prevent Boko Haram from attacking their villages.
- Thank God that the 79 school children who were kidnapped have been released. Pray for the release of the two staff members who are still being held. Also, pray that the kidnappers will be brought to justice.
- Pray for the strengthening and growth of the Church in Cameroon.
Prayer for Movement Day Global Cities, the Persecuted Church and Other Critical Concerns of Asia
Movement Day Expressions
- Pray for new team member Elizabeth Bloodworth as she navigates her new role supporting events management.
- Pray for financial provision as Movement Day Oslo leader, Joakim Magnus andhis team are strategizing and handling logistics for this first time gathering. Joakim Magnus is a young leader, who has a true passion for youth. Along with spearheading this Movement Day gathering he also works with Youth with a Mission (YWAM)
- Prayer for Arthur Thangiah (Mumbai, India), Jeyakaran Emmanuel and Mark Visvasam (Chennai, India) as they plan Movement Day Expressions January/February 2019 respectively to advance high-level city transformation in the face of heightened religious persecution.
100 Cities Summit
- Pray for high attendance at our 100 Cities Summit Closing Ceremony at the National Presbyterian Church. We have the capacity to seat 1,000 guests!
- Pray for financial provision as leaders are coming from a wide array of countries all over the globe.
The Global Persecution of Christians
Open Doors Lists Top 10 Persecutors of Christians Worldwide
Over 215 million believers are persecuted with intimidation, prison, and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ across the world, Open Doors USA says in a report, listing the top 10 persecutors of Christians.
The report, released this week, notes that hostility against Christians is particularly intense in some areas "due to the focused efforts of either one person or a larger system bent on smashing or squeezing out Christians in the region." Half of the top 10 human rights offenders toward Christians are Islamist terror groups, including the Islamic State terror group, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh. The brutal and targeted attacks from ISIS have driven many Christians to flee countries like Iraq, where Christianity has had a presence for nearly 2,000 years, the report says. "Ten years ago, there were nearly 1 million Christians living in Iraq, with a large majority of the population living in Mosul. Today, ISIS has been driven out of Iraq and Syria for the most part, but now they are spreading to Southeast Asia. Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi is the current leader of ISIS in western Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan," it notes. While Islamic State was listed as No. 1, the list is not comprehensive or in particular order, the ministry notes.
The second persecutor of Christians listed is the al-Qaeda terror group, which has not been in news much but "has continued to fight in countries throughout the Middle East, often marking Christian communities as specific targets." The report mentions particularly Yemen, where Christian converts from Islam are particularly at risk as they are already treated as outcasts by their own communities. "As Al-Qaeda takes advantage of distracted governments, Christians in their path experience intense persecution. Ayman al-Zawahiri is the current leader of Al-Qaeda."
The far-right Hindu nationalist movement" seeks to wipe out any religious expression, including Christianity, that falls outside of the Hindu faith, the report says. It mentions the Hindu nationalist association Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, which "has created a culture war and made it very dangerous and difficult for many Christians living in the region who are often forced out of villages, beaten and arrested for believing in Jesus." The governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in India is seen as the political wing of the RSS.
Fifth on the list is the al-Shabaab terror group, which is "in many ways the Eastern African version of al-Qaeda." "Al-Shabaab has terrorized the country of Somalia for the past decade and is recently focusing its attacks on the neighboring country of Kenya. In 2015, a Kenya college campus faced an attack where Christian students were specifically targeted, killing 148 in total. Any place al-Shabaab controls operates under Sharia law, which includes the slaughtering of anyone who identifies as Christian."
Another top persecutor is the Boko Haram terror group in Nigeria, "whose belief is that any sort of Western influence is heresy, especially Christianity." "Boko Haram has conducted raids, bombings, and assassinations against any target it deems Western, especially churches and schools. They have taken out contracts on influential Christian leaders and are also at war with the Nigerian government," says the ministry.
Next on the list are Muslim Fulani herdsmen in northeastern Nigeria, who have been accused of aligning with Boko Haram.
The 2017 Global Terrorism Index described the herdsmen, who attack Christians regularly in southern Adamawa, as terrorists in 2014. According to the index, the Fulani are responsible for as many as 60,000 deaths since 2001. This week, Nigerian Christian leaders warned that if the current rate of massacres continues, with hundreds of believers being killed each month, Africa's most populous nation is on the brink of decimating its Christian population by 2043.
Open Doors further identified as a top persecutor radical Islam, which continues to spread, "aiming to bring many parts of the world under Sharia Law." "The movement, which often results in Islamic militancy and persecution of Christians," is expanding in Asia, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and in African countries like Egypt, Nigeria, and Somalia.
Also making the list are drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico. "On top of the danger that these groups bring to ordinary citizens, Christians are specifically targeted," the report says. "A soul won for Jesus is a soul lost for them," it quotes a pastor from Colombia as saying. "They know that too." "For this reason, Christian evangelists are particularly targeted. Drug cartel leaders know that they are the greatest threat to their way of life."
Rounding out the top 10 on the Open Doors list is "the ultimate enemy," or Satan. "It's easy to read this list and feel hopeless in the face of so much evil. However, in Ephesians 6 we're told our war isn't a physical war, it's a spiritual one. Behind all of the atrocities listed above is Satan, who prowls this world as a roaring lion," the ministry explains. "We are also told that God's kingdom is forcefully advancing and that in the end, Satan is overthrown and all things are made new."
Open Doors said it published the list because "Jesus commanded us, directly, to pray for our enemies." "Pray that God would stop their actions, change their hearts and shine the brilliant light of the gospel onto their path." (Source: Christian Post - June 2018)
- For the over 200 million Christians worldwide suffering persecution with intimidation, prison, and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ across the world to experience the blessings of the Kingdom promised by Christ to those who suffer persecution for righteousness;
- For the leaders of ISIS, al-Qaeda terror group, Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations involved with the wide-scale persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to halt their evil actions against Christ and His church, to come to a full knowledge of Christ, and aid in the spread of the Gospel and expansion of God’s Kingdom worldwide.
Asia Bibi's Life in Extreme Danger Even If Released From Death Row: 'They'd Feel Proud of Killing Her.
Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi's life is in imminent danger even if she is released from death row, a religious freedom advocate has warned. Shaheryar Gill, senior litigation counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, told Baptist Press that the only reason Pakistan's Supreme Court hasn't yet announced its decision on her fate is due to security concerns. "If she's acquitted she is obviously going to need a lot of security ..., security provided by the government," Gill continued. "And she cannot be released openly. If she is, there's no doubt, no question about it, that her life will be in jeopardy. They feel proud of killing somebody like this."
Bibi has been on death row since 2010 after being found guilty of blasphemy against the Islamic faith, stemming from an incident with field workers in 2009 who claimed that she insulted their religious sensitivities.Top of Form Bibi has denied the charge, but despite international pressure and the campaigns of human rights groups, she has remained in prison, waiting for the results of her appeal against the death sentence.
Earlier in October, AFP reported that Muslim hardliners have threatened "horrible" death for Pakistan's Supreme Court justices if it's revealed that they have voted to release the Christian mother. Radicals, arguing that the blasphemy laws must be upheld, have vowed to carry out nationwide protests if she is set free, threatening to paralyze the country.(Source: Christian Post, October 25, 2018)
- For the acquittal of Asia Bibi from the charge of blasphemy against the Islamic faith and her immediate release from prison
- For Asia Bibi’s protection
- For the safety and protection of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Justices threatened with “horrible” death should they vote to release Asia Bibi
- For God, by His sovereign grace to open the door for the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to be proclaimed throughout Pakistan.
Why Is Kim Jong Un Afraid of Christianity? Group Points to Clash Between Jesus and 'Supreme Leader'
A persecution watchdog group has explored the reasons why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remains "afraid" of Christianity, which go to the heart of people's beliefs about Jesus."It's likely because people who are following Jesus and who are committed to one another mean there are people he can't control, and who follow a greater King. It means there are people who practice radical love for each other and for Jesus — who won't so easily follow him and the lies of his regime," Open Doors USA suggested. "This is why Christians continue to be seen as 'dangerous' and are also part of the hostile class, according to the country's social system called songbun. What this means is that anyone who is known to be a follower of Jesus is immediately assumed to be a hostile political figure."
The organization, which lists North Korea as the No.1 worst persecutor of Christians around the world, noted that Christianity "directly challenges the notion of any Supreme Leader and the idea that there is any master outside of Jesus Christ. Additionally, Christianity offers a new way and identity for people in North Korea. Both aspects of faith are direct threats to the ruling family of North Korea." Kim continues making moves to meet major world leaders, though the consequences of that for the suffering minorities in his country, including close to 300,000 Christians, are yet unclear.Top of Form Back in May, the congressionally-mandated 2017 International Religious Freedom report by the U.S. found that there are between 80,000 to 120,000 people trapped in North Korea camps, many imprisoned for their faith.
"The government continued to deal harshly with those who engaged in almost any religious practices through executions, torture, beatings, and arrests," the report stated. "An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners, some imprisoned for religious reasons, were believed to be held in the political prison camp system in remote areas under horrific conditions. "Religious and human rights groups outside the country continued to provide numerous reports that members of underground churches were arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed because of their religious beliefs."
Christian defectors have spoken of torture they have suffered at the hands of the North Korean regime. Believers are often thrown in prison or even executed if they are found with a Bible. Amid the uncertainty for believers, Open Doors urged people to pray (Source: The Christian Post, October 25, 2018)
- Pray for their strength in the face of a regime that views their faith as a special threat.
- Pray for God's grace in every situation.
- Pray for a change in the hearts of the regime, that they would see the love of Jesus as the road to truth and peace," the group stated.
Christian churches facing ultimatum in China's Sichuan: Join Communist network or be shut down
Four Christian churches in China’s Sichuan province have been given an ultimatum and told they must join the official Communist government network or be shut down. ChinaAid, which monitors the persecution of believers, reported on what it called a “massive crackdown” on unregistered churches in the southwestern province, explaining that the final warnings have recently been sent to the pastors, asking them to make a decision.
“A few churches’ pastors, who I have connections with, already received the government’s final warning, requiring that they should make a decision within two weeks: either join Three-Self Churches or be disbanded,” said one local area Christian, who wasn’t named.
The four churches in particular that need to decide whether to join the state-run Three-Self Churches or cease existing are Shangxi Church in Guangyuan, Guiyi Church in Mianyang, Xinguang Church and Joshua Church in Chengdu. The churches have in the past been told that their worship venues are illegitimate and that the worship services they put together are illegal. The churches say they have been continuously harassed by police officers and local security authorities, who have been trying to prevent them from holding services. Back in September, ChinaAid's Bob Fu told a House hearing in Washington, D.C., that the state-sanctioned denominations in China are looking to "Sinicize" Christianity.
"The heart and soul of Christianity's Sinicization is to Sinicize the Christian theology," he said, noting that the government will even “re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries." "There are outlines that the new Bible should not look westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism," the ChinaAid founder told The Christian Post after the hearing. "The Old Testament will be messed up. The New Testament will have new commentaries to interpret it."
Fu said that the plan includes "incorporating the Chinese elements into church worship services, hymns and songs, clergy attire, and the architectural style of church buildings." "This includes 'editing and publishing worship songs with Chinese characteristics and promoting the Sinicization of worship music,' using uniquely Chinese art forms, such as Chinese painting, calligraphy, inscription, and paper-cutting to express the Christian faith,'" described to CP. "[It's also] encouraging churches to blend in style with Chinese architecture to local architectural style."
Over the past few months, Christian activists have posted video clips of Communist officials burning copies of the Bible in Henan and cutting down crosses from church rooftops. Authorities also began forcing Christian students to sign papers where they reject their faith or else be faced with losing welfare benefits and being expelled from school. "The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief," Fu urged (Source: The Christian Post, November 19, 2018).
- For God’s intervention on behalf of the four Christian churches in China’s Sichuan province that have been given an ultimatum by the Communist Government to join the official Communist government network or be shut down.
- Pray against all the various efforts of the Chinese Government to restrict the growth of house churches across China, including demolition of church buildings, removal of crosses and banning free access to Bibles.
- For the continued growth of the church across China to facilitate the expansion of Christianity across Asia.