Looking out Looking up
Still the most difficult place in the world to be Christian. All religious activity is seen as a revolt against North Korea's socialist principles and the cult of Kim Jongil and his father. As a result of strict searches, considerable numbers of secret Christians have been discovered, arrested, tortured, and sometimes killed. Despite this, and the lack of freedom to worship, many take the risk of sharing their faith and the church is growing; there is an estimated 400,000 believers.
Pray for boldness and protection for those seeking to share the good news. Ask God to strengthen the 50-70,000 Christians detained in labor camps. Pray that help will reach those who are desperately short of food. - Idop
Although there are few restrictions on religion in law, the government's attitude towards Christians is very negative. All believers are under strict surveillance and church activities are limited. The local community reacts strongly against converts who renounce evil spirit worship. In 2009 two Christians were killed, two were imprisoned, and at least another 21 were arrested and held without trial. Christians faced physical harassment and some churches were destroyed or damaged. Praise God that despite severe persecution, the church continues to grow.
Pray for faithfulness for believers facing imprisonment and torture. Ask the Lord to provide for the needs of believers who are from the ethnic minorities living in rural areas where poverty is rife. - Idop
The Taliban grew in influence in 2009, and continued to threaten expatriate workers, Christian aid agency staff and local Christians. Believers face discrimination from the authorities and society. Afghans who are open about their faith may face violence and death threats. There were reports of believers being kidnapped or harmed. Most Christians do not publicly meet with other believers because of concern for safety. But despite the dangers, Christianity continues to grow.
Pray that secret believers will find ways to meet together for worship and encouragement. Pray also for protection for foreign Christian workers seeking to build God's kingdom in that land and that God would establish peace and stability in this troubled region - Idop
Our neighbor suffered a twin disaster recently. While a tsunami hit the Mentawai island, killing hundreds of people, the volcanic ashes from Merapi also caused severe damage to people and property.
Pray for God's strength and wisdom be upon the teams who are demonstrating God's love to the victims through the distribution of food, lamps, tents and other items. Pray especially for protection and comfort be upon the children who have suffered trauma and loss of loved ones.
The 2008 constitution guarantees religious freedom, but also forbids conversion 'by means of coercion or inducement'. To many Bhutanese, this rules out sharing the gospel. Most persecution happens in remote areas where Buddhist monks oppose Christianity. Believers are forced to meet secretly. Those who convert to Christianity face opposition from family and community. In July local youths stoned a house church, threatening to burn it down if services were not stopped. As the church lacks trained leaders, pray for those involved in training pastors. Parliament has passed a law giving village heads more influence.
Pray for believers under pressure from these local leaders. Pray also for Prime Minister Jigme Thinley, who has promised to champion religious liberty. - Idop
Christians in Iraq are living in a state of constant fear after a series of co-ordinated blasts targeting Christian neighbourhoods followed a bloody siege at a Baghdad church.The Islamic State of Iraq - an Al-Qaeda front group that claimed responsibility for the attack - threatened further violence, saying that Christians everywhere were "legitimate targets." Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have already been driven from their homeland over the last 20 years because of attacks by Muslim extremists. The exodus is expected to accelerate in light of the latest outbreak of violence.
Pray for all who have lost loved ones in the attacks and that the Lord will grant peace to those who are anxious about further violence. Pray also for wisdom and guidance for Christian families in Iraq as they consider whether or not to stay in their homeland. Ask God that the new Iraqi government will be strong and stable and exercise its authority over this escalating security crisis. - Barnabas Fund