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SOMALIA: Scholars Urge Followers to Defend Islam

SOMALIA: Scholars Urge Followers to Defend Islam

Realising that a growing number of Somalis are leaving Islam and embracing Christianity, Somali Islamic leaders are issuing warnings and urging their followers to defend Islam.

A prominent Somali sheikh in Nairobi, Kenya, used his Friday address to warn that Somalia is not 100% Muslim anymore and that many young Somalis are leaving Islam. He urged his listeners to do something about those who leave Islam or share Christianity on social media.

Another sheikh, exhorting his listeners to be on guard, cited a statistic that 24% of young Somalis leave Islam every year.

Somali Christians and those who minister to Somalis report a corresponding rise in threats and attacks against them, including one murder.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Praise God that many are turning to Him in faith.
  • Pray for the protection of believers in a nation which is very hostile towards the Gospel.
  • Pray that new believers will have an opportunity to grow in faith and that believers will have opportunities to meet.

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KENYA: Christians Face New Threats Along Somali Border

KENYA: Christians Face New Threats Along Somali Border

Christians in the Kenya-Somalia border region are concerned about new threats by the Somali militant group al-Shabaab.

The militants released a video recently in which they threatened “infidels” coming into the region, calling the settlement of Christians in Muslim areas “Kenyan colonisation”.

Kenyan teachers and other professionals were withdrawn from two counties near the Somali border recently, and local churches in another county have stopped meeting. When Christian workers met to discuss a plan of action, however, they agreed to stay and continue their work despite the risk.

Kenya’s economically challenged border region is populated with people of Somali origin, but the Kenyan government sends teachers, police and other government workers from elsewhere in Kenya to serve there. Many of these workers are Christians.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Please pray for the ministries of VOM partners working in the Kenya-Somalia border region.
  • Praise God for the faithfulness of the Christian workers who refuse to leave the area for their own safety and pray for their protection.
  • Ask the Lord to strengthen the church and encourage them to not give into fear or despair over the recent threats.

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INDONESIA: Persecution Continues for Christians in Lock Down

INDONESIA: Persecution Continues for Christians in Lock Down

Many Christians are facing increased persecution during the coronavirus pandemic, especially in parts of Indonesia where even small family gatherings of Christians are being protested.

Pastor Si of Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) church was gathering with a very small group of family in his home last Sunday when a Muslim Hajj and neighbourhood leader barged in.

“The men were yelling in anger with a piece of timber, demanding we stop our meeting immediately,” said Pastor Si.

Pastor Si took a video of the incident as he is fearful the attacks will worsen and mobs will again form to threaten him. Pastor Si has previously experienced similar incidents. Years ago, his family were terrorised by a mob throwing stones at their roof every night for a whole month.

Pastor Si says he is confused by the Sunday attack as he has respected all government advice by staying home and not organising large meetings or inviting outsiders.

Pastor Si uploaded the video to his Instagram account and the governor responded saying he would investigate. Unfortunately, no progress was made and Pastor Si was even asked to apologise to the protestors. He has since taken the video to the police and is awaiting an outcome.

Source: VOM Indonesian contacts

  • Pray for justice and protection for Pastor Si.
  • Pray Pastor Si and his family will not be fearful, grow weary or lose heart. Pray they will be determined to fervently pray for those who oppose them and the Gospel.
  • Pray the church in Indonesia will be used as a powerful witness during the COVID-19 crisis.

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INDIA: Believers Forced to Pose “like Christ on the cross”

INDIA: Believers Forced to Pose “like Christ on the cross”

Believers in India were taunted, beaten and forced to pose “like Christ on the cross” in police custody when extremists accused them of “forced conversion”.

Pastor Indresh Kumar Gautam, aged 24, and four others were arrested after 30 Hindu extremists broke up their Sunday service in Pratapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh.

As extremists armed with sticks and rods threatened the congregation and started beating people, police officers who had come with the extremists looked on.

Later at the police station, a senior officer brutally beat the five detainees with a cane, insulting them and accusing them of trying to convert local people. He forced four of them to pose as if they were being crucified, because he wanted to see how it felt to “torture Jesus”. “Let’s see if your Jesus would come here to save you,” he mocked.

The Christians were released on bail after signing an affidavit promising not to engage in “conversion activities”; one said he was not a Christian. Pastor Indresh says he intends to take legal action.

Sources: Morning Star News, Release International

  • Ask God to heal all those who were beaten and tortured. Pray the Lord will give them the strength to remain steadfast.
  • Pray for the church in India, especially in eastern Uttar Pradesh where anti-Christian sentiment runs high.
  • Pray specifically for the police involved in the arrest and torture of the believers. Pray the Lord will grant wisdom and courage to Pastor Indresh.

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CHINA: Religious Funerals Banned

CHINA: Religious Funerals Banned

Christian funerals are being forbidden in some areas of China, as authorities begin enforcing new regulations to ensure the conducting of so-called “civilised” ceremonies.

In the state of Zhejiang, funerals are only allowed to take place in government-approved church buildings. While clergy may be permitted to visit families of the deceased in homes, they are forbidden from conducting any religious ceremonies or services of prayer. If mourners do gather in a home, there can be no more than ten family members reading Scripture or quietly singing hymns.

Similar policies have been adopted elsewhere. In a village of Hunan province, officials threatened to arrest a man unless he conducted a secular funeral for his father. “My father had been a believer for several decades,” the son explained. “He is persecuted even after death.”

Sources: Bitter Winter, UCA News, Christian Post

  • Remember those who are not only mourning the loss of loved ones but now must also contend with these added burdens in the midst of their grief.
  • Pray that China’s church leaders will have discernment as they determine the best ways to help those under their care.
  • Thank God that He continues to grow the church in China, in spite of the opposition.

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