On 7-8 September, several missiles were reportedly fired by al-Qaeda-linked rebels toward the predominately Christian town of Mhardeh, Syria. Reports indicate that the missiles carried cluster bombs, killing at least 10 civilians and seriously wounding at least 20 others. Two more died later in hospital.
Five of the dead were children under 15, three from the same family, whose mother and grandmother were also killed. The children’s father is in hospital.
“Do you feel that you are safe now?” asked a reporter for Norwegian newspaper Dagen, which has links to Mhardeh. “All we can do now is to pray,” a local source told its reporter. “The only thing we feel is grief. Please pray for us.”
Mhardeh, reported to be one of the most densely populated Christian villages in Syria, has received thousands of internally displaced people from other parts of the country.
Mhardeh is controlled by the Syrian government, which has retaliated by attacking nearby towns as part of the build-up to the offensive against Idlib Province. The province is the last remaining stronghold controlled by the opposition.
Sources: International Christian Concern, World Watch Monitor
- Ask the Lord to comfort these families in their time of shock and grief. Pray they will rest in the knowledge that the good shepherd walks with them (Psalm 23).
- Ask the Lord to bring healing to those who are injured; pray for the medical staff who are treating them.
- Ask the Lord to intervene and bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria.
In late September and early October, at least three churches in the Mopti region have received “visits” from jihadists.
In Dobara, the militants smashed their way into a church from which they removed crosses and furnishings that were later piled up outside and burned. In Bodwal, members of the same extremist group drove worshipping believers out of their church, warning them that if they ever returned to ring the bells or pray, they would be killed.
Most of the attacks have been claimed by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, a coalition of the region’s most powerful Al-Qaeda affiliates. This same group released a video on 1 July titled, The Correct Equation, which puts forth the Islamic doctrine of retaliation (essentially “an eye for an eye”). The extremist group also used the video to provide proof that they were holding six Western hostages ─ most of whom are Christians accused by group members of working to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Source: Religious Liberty Bulletin
- Ask God to protect and preserve His precious church in Mali, specifically providing security to believers who are extremely vulnerable to militant terror in the Mopti region.
- Pray He will sustain, comfort and deliver the six Western hostages.
- Ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit in Mali to strengthen the faith of believers and draw more people to Himself, including those who currently, violently oppose the Gospel.
A new al-Qaeda-led jihadist coalition, Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), recently perpetrated several devastating attacks deep inside Damascus.
On 19 March HTS launched a massive military assault just 2km from the walls of the Old City, having entered the area through tunnels. Whilst they were eventually driven back, it is the closest the jihadists have come to the city centre.
In recent years, the population of Damascus has swelled from less than 2 million to well over 4 million as Syrians, including hundreds of thousands of Christians, have sought sanctuary inside the city’s security cordon.
The Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar, writes of “a very bitter Lent”, while proclaiming Christ Resurrected and encouraging the faithful not to give up.
Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
- Ask the Lord to intervene in the Middle East to bring protection and provision to those who have left homes to flee danger only to find themselves at risk again.
- Pray the church in Syria may be strengthened by the Lord, to not give up. Grant wisdom to the church leaders who constantly need to encourage their parishioners.
- Pray the witness of the church in Syria may be so strong, that many will seek and find the one true God in the midst of suffering and uncertainly. Pray too for those who currently oppose the Lord and His children.