Azerbaijani pastor Hamid Shabanov was arrested and given a prison sentence in 2008 for having an unregistered house church, even though his many attempts to register his church had been rejected. In 2016 his church was again raided by police, and all 30 members were taken to the police station. National television reported they were arrested for “spreading illegal religious doctrines.” Both Pastor Hamid and another church leader were assessed heavy fines—the equivalent of three months wages—and they were ordered to stop meeting as a congregation. Please pray for Pastor Hamid and the believers in Azerbaijan as they seek to follow Jesus in this Muslim country.
In 2012, Beatrice Stockly was abducted by radical Muslims in the West African country of Mali. She was accused of sharing her Christian faith with Muslim women and children throughout the city of Timbuktu. When she was released, Beatrice was ordered to leave Mali and never return. While home in Switzerland, her family pleaded with her not to go back to Mali. However, she insisted on taking the risk for the Gospel’s sake and returned to Mali. In 2016 Islamic extremists kidnapped Beatrice from her home a second time. It has now been two years without any word of her well-being. Please lift up Beatrice before the Throne of Grace for God’s strength and courage in her captivity.
In the Buddhist nation of Burma (also called Myanmar), military forces have been targeting Christians on a massive scale. In the northern Kachin state—which is predominantly Christian—approximately 400 villages and 300 churches have been destroyed, hundreds of Christians have been killed, and more than 120,000 of the Kachin people have been displaced. In the southern Karen state, which also is predominantly Christian, more than 100,000 Karen people have fled across the border to squalid refugee camps in Thailand. Yet, in spite of this hostility to followers of the Cross, Burmese people are coming to Christ out of Buddhism. Please pray for God’s grace for these persecuted brothers and sisters to remain strong for Jesus.
In Burkina Faso, a small West African nation, churches have been burned, Christians schools have been closed, all open-air evangelistic outreach has been banned, and radical Muslims have killed multiple Christians. Pastor Elie Zore, age 48, was murdered this past April, leaving behind a wife and six children. Five days later, terrorists demanded that 80-year-old Pastor Pierre Oedraogo and five other Christians convert to Islam. When they refused to deny Jesus, they were killed. Many other Christians have been displaced by terrorist attacks and are now fleeing the country. Please pray for God’s special grace for these persecuted sisters and brothers who stand for Christ.
Photo: Pastor Elie Zore Photo Credit: World Watch Monitor
In Algeria only 1% of the population are followers of the Cross, and these believers are often persecuted for their faith. Under a controversial law that forbids “undermining the faith of a Muslim,” a pastor was fined over $800 last year for possessing Bibles. Since November 2017, eight Protestant churches have been closed by the government for failure to have the proper registration. One of these churches had applied for registration in 2013, but the government refused to process their application and has now threatened to demolish the church building. Furthermore, Christians have been arrested for sharing the Gospel of Jesus with Muslims. Pray for God’s grace for these believers as they seek to be faithful to Christ while facing persecution from the government and also their families.
After spending nine years on death row in Pakistan for the alleged charge of blasphemy, Asia Bibi, a 51-year old mother, has finally been able to leave the country and join her family for asylum in Canada. Many Christians around the world prayed for her, and Asia Bibi was acquitted in October of 2018. However, in response to her exoneration, radical Muslims violently protested in the streets for days, and the Pakistani government decided to re-examine the Supreme Court’s acquittal. In January 2019 the Supreme Court’s decision was affirmed, but due to threats on her life from Muslim extremists, she had to go into hiding and could not leave the country. We rejoice that Asia Bibi is safely in Canada with her family.
In India, non-Hindu citizens have seen increasing religious oppression over the five years that Prime Minister Modi has been in office. Under Modi, an advocate of a radical view of Hinduism, the discrimination and attacks against Christians have increased greatly. This past February Anant Ram Gand (age 40), a new believer in Jesus for only nine months, was abducted from his home and decapitated by radical Hindus. Please pray for his wife and five children. Also pray for the national elections underway this month in India, which will determine whether Prime Minister Modi is re-elected for five more years and who is elected to many regional offices. Pray for our brothers and sisters to have grace to endure a climate of religious hostility.
Pakistan continues to be a country where Christians are persecuted, sometimes severely. Pervaiz Masih was falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam during a dispute over wages in 2015. As a result, the police brutally tortured his wife, breaking her back, and the family had to leave their village. After a three-year trial, Pervaiz was finally acquitted in January for lack of evidence.
Asia Bibi—whose acquittal was upheld by the Pakistan Supreme Court in January—has been blocked by Islamic hardliners from leaving the country. Unable to join her children in Canada, Asia has been in hiding with her husband. Read more of Asia’s story here.
Please pray for special grace for these and other believers who suffer for Christ in a country that is hostile to the Cross.
In Tunisia, evangelical Christians number approximately one-tenth of one percent. Though the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, it also states that Islam is the “religion of the state.” Tunisian Muslims who leave Islam to follow Jesus face persecution from family, friends, and the community, and the opposition sometimes turns violent. These new believers often experience loneliness and have few opportunities for fellowship and worship with other Christians. Please pray for grace for our sisters and brothers in Tunisia to stand for Christ in these difficult circumstances.
Though close to half of Nigeria’s population identify as Christian, radical Islamists regularly terrorize Christians. In February of 2018, Boko Haram kidnapped 110 school girls. All but one has now been released. 15-year old Leah Sharibu, who is the only Christian, remains in captivity. She was promised release if she would simply recite the Islamic shahada and wear a hijab. Leah has repeatedly refused to renounce her faith in Jesus. Her father said, “My daughter’s trust and faith has made me realize that I have been living under the same roof with an admirable disciple of Christ.” Leah has been in captivity for a year now. Please pray for special grace for this courageous young woman to stand for Christ as well as for her parents, who are pleading for her release.