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INDIA: Grandmother Murdered for ‘Disturbing the Peace’

INDIA: Grandmother Murdered for ‘Disturbing the Peace’

An Indian grandmother was stripped naked, beaten to death and her body burned, apparently because her Christian faith was “disturbing the peace” in her village.

The incident, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, followed other serious attacks on vulnerable Christians in the state this year, including the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

During the evening of 16 October, some villagers called at Samari’s home, eyewitnesses said, and asked for her son. When she told them he was out, they dragged her outside, pulled off all her clothes and beat her to death. They then burnt her body a few hundred metres from her house.

When Sukura returned home the next day, he couldn’t find his mother. While searching near her house, he found bloodstains and a bag with the clothes she’d worn the previous day. He asked the neighbours what had happened, but said that they seemed to be hiding something. Eventually they told him the horrific news.

Sukura immediately reported the incident to police. They arrested the village chief, who confirmed the details of the murder. The chief was detained for two days while the police made more enquiries, which led to the arrest of four people from the village. The chief was then set free, while the other four have not yet been charged.

Six months earlier, some of the villagers had complained about Sukura’s family to local Naxalites – militant communists operating in India, who are known to have murdered many Christians in the past.  The villagers told the Naxalites that Sukura’s family was “disturbing the peace” of the village and must be killed. The Naxalites then abducted and detained Sukura and his family for three days, before letting them go.

“The Naxalites told the villagers that we were innocent, were praying for the welfare of the community and not disturbing the peace,” said Sukura. However, the villagers continued to threaten the family.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will walk closely with this family as they continue to come to terms with their terrible loss. May their church family and their community be of great support and encouragement.
  • Pray this tragic death will not be in vain. May the testimony of Samari and her family be used by the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of many.
  • Pray for the investigation of this crime; pray for justice for this family.
EGYPT: Church Bombing Kills At Least 25

EGYPT: Church Bombing Kills At Least 25

On 11 December, an explosion in the main hall of St Mark’s Cathedral, the largest Coptic church in Cairo, killed at least 25 and wounded more than 50. The blast took place during Sunday morning mass in the chapel adjoining the main hall of the cathedral. Many among the injured and dead are Christian women and children.

“The church bombing was planned and carried out meticulously. The explosion took place in the pews of the women,” said Mena Adel, a church member. “I think that someone seized the opportunity of overcrowding Copts who were entering the church and was able to enter the church among them and put the bomb under the church pews and then went out.”

According to reports, the blast was caused by a device containing at least 12kg of TNT. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamic State militants celebrated the bombing on social media outlets after the fact.

The attack, which was the worst attack on Egypt’s Christian community in years, has sparked outrage and anger within the Christian community. Many gathered immediately following the attack to express their demands for justice.

State officials are launching immediate investigations into the attack while President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has declared a three-day period of national mourning.

Source: International Christian Concern

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to minister to the grieving. May those who have lost loved ones find comfort in the fact that Christ is victorious over death (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).
  • Ask the Lord to heal the injured by His miraculous hand and the skills and experience of those who are caring for them.
  • Pray for the investigations; may the perpetrators be brought to justice and to repentance. Ask the Lord to protect and strengthen His church in Egypt.
PAKISTAN: Five Men Sentenced for Killing Christian Couple

PAKISTAN: Five Men Sentenced for Killing Christian Couple

Five men have been sentenced to death for their part in the mob killing of a Christian couple.

Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi had been falsely accused of desecrating a copy of the Koran and breaking Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws.

More than 400 people took part in the lynching, which took place in the town of Kot Radha Kishan in Punjab.

The brutal attack, which happened in 2014, saw the couple tortured and finally burned alive. Shama Bibi was thought to be pregnant when they were murdered.

The five people handed the death sentence by the court were involved in dragging, beating and burning the couple, and were also said to have gathered the larger mob of many hundreds and inciting them to violence using a mosque’s PA system.

The killing drew international condemnation.

Handing down the death sentence for such a killing is unprecedented in Pakistan as police are afraid to confront mob violence, not wanting to anger militant Islamists.

Source: CLAAS

Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord for this outcome and pray the remaining perpetrators will be dealt with justly. Pray they will be given an opportunity to repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness.
  • Pray this case will be used by the Lord to further draw attention to the misuse of Pakistan’s flawed blasphemy laws. Commit to God the many victims of the blasphemy laws who are currently languishing in jail.
  • Pray for the couple’s three children, currently being cared for by relatives. May they grow in faith and strength and be encouraged to embrace the faith of their parents.
IRAN: Christians Facing Persecution in Refugee Camps

IRAN: Christians Facing Persecution in Refugee Camps

Religiously motivated violence among immigrants at a refugee centre in the central German town of Rotenburg an der Fulda has left life for some Christians “still unbearable” despite praiseworthy responses to incidents. A case study, which Open Doors has released as an example for other refugee centres to follow, notes that “much action is needed” and demands there be “no more integration experiments at the expense of Christians.”

According to the report, the victims of religiously motivated attacks in most centres represent the minority, and the reasons why (militant) Muslims attack Christians and other religious minorities are not well known to the facilities’ operators and management.

The following letter was written by a group of Iranian Christian refugees:

“We, the Iranian refugees based in the city of Rotenburg, have fled from the Islamic Republic of Iran because we have been accused of being Christians and, therefore, have repeatedly been threatened by torture, imprisonment and the death penalty…. Here, where we have been accommodated presently, we are exposed to the same kinds of threats as before, this time at the hand of Afghan Muslims, and we fear for our lives. The Afghan refugees…call us Iranian Christians ‘apostates’ and ‘infidels’ because of our decision to leave Islam and consider the shedding of our blood as legitimate (or even necessary).

The Muslim Afghans, who by far outnumber us, have beaten us repeatedly…. They have threatened to kill us…. Therefore, we are very much afraid. We are asking you, our fellow citizens, desperately for help. You, who engage yourselves in the protection of pets, please also engage yourselves on our behalf. We are suffering these threats and difficulties because of our faith. In the hope for the day when throughout the world no one will be suppressed because of their faith. Thank you very much, your Iranian Christians.”

 Source: World Watch Monitor

Prayer Points

  • Uphold in prayer the Christians in refugee centres and camps around the world who are experiencing persecution from fellow inhabitants.
  • Pray a blessing of unity among all the refugees, so that even if they don’t practise the same religion, they will live in harmony with one another.
  • Ask the Lord to provide opportunities for His people to proclaim the Gospel through word and deed.
Christians Facing Islamic Extremists: ISIS

Christians Facing Islamic Extremists: ISIS

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Region: Iraq, Syria

“Convert, pay a tax, leave or die.”
The self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) became infamous when it invaded the city of Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014. Mosul, which is the ancient biblical city of Nineveh, has been home to Christians for almost 2,000 years.

Members of ISIS went door to door identifying homes of Christians and spray-painting a red Arabic “N” on their houses. The “N” stands for Nasara, a term used in the Koran to identify Christians – followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Christians in Mosul were given an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay an exorbitant tax called the jizya, flee Mosul, leaving their homes and property behind, or be killed. While nearly all Christians chose to leave, some, such as those unable to travel, were killed.

The Islamic State is proud of its exploits. Beatings, beheadings, crucifixions and other forms of merciless execution of Christians and others are all conducted with cameras rolling. Children are taught to hate all that is not Islam and even carry out executions themselves.

While it would be easy for Christians facing this kind of terror to become fearful or to despair, many of those who were driven from their homes say it has caused them to grow stronger in their faith. After losing all their worldly possessions, many have discovered Christ in new ways – ways that bring them great joy amid persecution.

While the eyes of the world watch and judge from a temporal perspective, our Christian brothers and sisters view ISIS from the perspective of faith and eternity.

Plague of Destruction
This video shows the destruction left when ISIS moves into a town. Everything is destroyed and nothing is left.

Please Pray

  • Pray that more ISIS fighters, and even ISIS leaders, will have a divine encounter with Christ or one of His followers and come to a saving faith.
  • Pray for the tens of thousands of Christians who have been displaced from areas now controlled by ISIS. Pray that God will meet their physical needs, and pray that their relationship with Christ will grow through this trial.
  • Pray for VOM as we seek to meet both physical and spiritual needs in areas controlled or affected by ISIS. Pray for our wisdom and for God’s protection of our staff and co-workers in the region.