Persecution and Prayer Alert
"In prayer you align yourselves to the purpose and power of God....
For God has left certain things open to prayer --
things which will never be done except as we pray."
~ E. Stanley Jones
Sources: Middle East Concern, Open Doors, Morning Star News
A Benghazi beach
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Dennixo
Seven Egyptian Christians were brutally murdered on February 24th on a beach near the Libyan city of Benghazi. The victims -- who ranged in age from 17 to 25, and worked in the area -- were apprehended by a group of armed men who searched their apartment building door-to-door for Christians. Although several other believers managed to escape the assailants, the seven young men were forced to the beach where they were shot in the head execution-style.
According to reports, a militia group has offered rewards to Benghazi residents who are willing to help them round up other Christians. The killings have sparked great fear among expatriate believers working in the area, and many are now seeking a safe way to leave the country.
Pray that the families of the murdered young men will know the peace, presence and comfort of our Saviour, Jesus. Ask the Lord to send His Spirit to guide other expatriate Christians who are presently in the country, and especially those residing in the Benghazi area. Bring the assailants of this violent crime to our Father, asking that they will be convicted of their sins and seek forgiveness through Jesus' atoning blood.
To share your own prayers for the grieving families and friends of these seven victims, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.
Sources: World Watch Monitor, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Almost three years have passed since the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistani MP who lobbied against the country's controversial blasphemy laws. Now, his elder brother's life is under threat.
Paul Bhatti recently received a letter from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, warning him that he would suffer the same fate as his brother if he did not stop pursuing justice. Other lawyers and eyewitnesses involved in Shahbaz's case have also received death threats. (For more information on the assassination of Paul's brother, Shahbaz, please visit our website.)
Paul Bhatti was living in Italy when his brother was murdered on March 2nd, 2011, but soon returned to his home country to take over the chairmanship of the All-Pakistan Minorities' Alliance, which his brother founded. He says his desire is to speak on behalf of the country's marginalized and oppressed, and to fight for improved education and opportunities for the poor and those facing discrimination. In Pakistan, this often means Christians, who comprise around two-and-a-half percent of the population. "In this situation of instability in Pakistan the minorities suffer more, especially the Christian minority, which belongs to the poorest sector of Pakistan," Paul explains.
During this time of uncertainty, ask the Lord to protect and preserve Paul, his family members, and all those who support him in his work to raise a voice for minorities in Pakistan. Also pray that God's reassuring presence will be evident to the lawyers and eyewitnesses who are facing threats, reminding them to seek Him for their daily strength. Ask that wisdom, direction and favour be granted to the leaders and authorities involved in this case. Pray, too, that the perpetrators of Shahbaz's murder will be brought to justice and, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, they will come to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
For more information on Pakistan's persecuted church, visit our Pakistan Country Report.
Source: VOM USA
In the midst of opposition from family members and authorities, believers throughout Laos are remaining resolute in their faith.
Three Christians from a remote Hmong village were arrested in October of 2013 and taken to the district governor, who told them to recant their faith in Jesus Christ. But the believers refused to comply, telling the governor that they would not leave their faith because their lives have been changed by God. After their arrest, a VOM contact explained that Christians are, by law, allowed to practise their faith. Another contact was then sent to discuss the matter with the district governor, and the three Christians were released without further problems.
Qhua Xiong, a 20-year-old new believer, faced immediate persecution from his relatives when they learned of his conversion. The young Hmong man had dedicated his life to Christ while attending a Christmas service in Hua Sell in December of 2013. Upon returning to his home village, he was beaten by family members and tied up for a day and a half. They later forced him to leave the village.
In another remote village, Pastor "Tai Loc" and other Christians of his community have refused to renounce their faith despite pressure from local authorities. After learning their village had been awarded the "best role model village" in their district, the officials became concerned that they might be disqualified because Christians lived there. Pastor Loc explained to them that the Christians in the village are role models because of their hard work and example to others. When the pastor refused to renounce his faith, the opposing officials tried to persuade him to sign papers indicating that he would stop evangelizing in the village. Seeing that the Christians remained steadfast in their beliefs, the authorities eventually stopped pressuring them.
As the believers of this nation face opposition from family members and authorities alike, pray that they will cling to their faith in God and place their trust in Him who promises to uphold them (Psalm 63:8). Pray that those facing rejection from their families will experience true and lasting relationships with their spiritual brothers and sisters. May the Lord also work mightily in the lives of the leaders and authorities who are opposing the Christian faith, that they would see the error of their ways and come to believe in the saving message of Christ who was crucified on behalf of their sins as well.
To learn more about our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in Laos, go to the Laos Country Report.