Looking Out Looking Up
Egypt remains unstable with economic woes, rising crime and vigilantism, and a worsening crisis of confidence with lax security against sectarian violence. On 7 April, Coptic Christians were attacked while leaving a funeral. A skirmish erupted between the mourners and a crowd outside the cathedral. Witnesses say police sided with the crowd and did not protect the mourners, even firing tear gas into the church compound. Many, both Christians and other Egyptians, are attempting to flee Members of the diplomatic corp say embassies have been receiving requests to facilitate migration, although there are no official figures. Yet, there are still stories of hope amidst the chaos. An armed mob was about to attack a church with worshippers inside when others on the street told them to stop, because this church had provided first aid and water to Muslims for their ablutions during the 2011 revolution. Amazingly, the mob went silent, turned around, and went away. - WMM, OD
PRAY for the spiritual warfare being waged over Egypt. Pray for Egyptians of all faiths to be united in building and restoring Egypt's economy and society. Pray that Christians will remain faithful and not retaliate despite being targets of attacks.
A militant group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is planning to take up arms to protect Nigeria's Christian population. They have issued threats to bomb Muslim places of worship and target clerics on 31 May, unless Christian leaders intervene and the Islamist group Boko Haram ceases its attacks on Christians. However, MEND is also known as a group that is seeking control over oil resources in the Niger Delta, which makes it unclear whether its cause is religion or oil wealth. Adding to complications is the recent split between Catholic and Pentecostal church leaders within the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). The split was over differences in approach to dealing with Muslim extremists and in relations with the ruling government. This is the first time a split has happened in CAN's 40 years, and is a great blow to the unity of the Church in Nigeria at a time when Christians are faced with the challenge of militant Islam. - CT
PRAY against the spirit of violence and revenge in Nigeria. Pray that Christians will be peacemakers and bridge-builders. Pray that leaders in CAN will put aside differences and give up personal agendas so that Nigerian Christians will be united in dealing with threats to the Church. Pray that the government will be firm in taking action against all perpetrators of violence.
Local government officials bulldozed the unfinished church building of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in the Bekasi region on 21 March. Officials ordered the demolition because the HKBP had no building permit. Although church leaders were in the process of applying for a permit, the church's construction was strongly opposed by the mainly Muslim neighborhood. On 21 March, the 600-strong congregation met to pray that the demolition would be stopped, and they pleaded with officials to rethink their decision. Local church leaders and rights campaigners insist that the demolition was illegal under the constitution, which guarantees freedom of worship. The church's pastor said he intends to file a lawsuit against the Bekasi Regency's administration. He also said the church will continue to meet near the demolished church. - VOM
PRAY for Indonesian Christians who regularly face opposition from their local communities and district authorities to the building of churches. Pray that such tensions will not escalate further, but that peace and respect for the constitution that allows freedom of worship will prevail. Pray against extremist elements that seek to exploit the situation.
On 7 March, 28-year-old Ebrahim Firouzi was arrested on his way to work by plainclothes police. No one in his family was notified of his arrest, and they were greatly concerned over his sudden disappearance. The arrest is seen as more evidence of a campaign to suppress Christianity and pressure new believers. Christian converts are thrown into prison and sometimes released only after long to demoralise them. Ebrahim is believed to be in Evin prison, where apostates, political prisoners and jihadi terrorists are also held. In prison, Christians are sometimes in danger of being harmed or even killed for having left their former religion. But some believers who have been freed say that such times were also divine opportunities to share the Gospel- VOM, WWM
PRAY for Iranian believers who are in prison for their faith. Ask God to help them be strong and to minister His presence and peace to them in tangible ways. Ask God to help them be witnesses for the Gospel that other prisoners may see God glorified. Pray for strong international pressure to secure their release. Pray for comfort and faithfulness for their families.
When North Korea flexed its muscles in April and threatened to launch a missile strike, leaders of the underground church here asked Christians worldwide to pray for their country in a secret letter that was smuggled out. They say the warlike atmosphere has caused hardships for the people, with food and goods prices skyrocketing as people empty store shelves to stock up for emergencies. As the country indulges in self-worship of its leader, Christians struggle with being open about their faith, since owning a Bible is grounds for imprisonment, hard labour or execution. Yet believers say they are sustained by the prayers of believers worldwide and continue to hold to the verse to seek first God's Kingdom. - OD, BBC
PRAY for courage and strength for North Korean Christians. Pray that God would be their refuge in the midst of fear and uncertainty. For safety and protection for all Christian workers and contacts who are trying to strengthen the church there. For all international leaders involved in dealing with threats of war by North Korea.