Persecution and Prayer Alert
"'Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name
we go against this multitude.' ...Through the Lord's mercies we are
not consumed, because His compassions fail not."
2 Chronicles 14:11; Lamentations 3:22 (NKJV)
Sources: International Christian Concern, BBC
St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church
Photo: Mwananchi via World Watch Monitor
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Tanzania's northern city of Arusha was bombed on Sunday, May 5th. At least two people are confirmed dead as a result of the blast. As many as 50 people were wounded, 44 of whom received serious injuries and have been rushed to nearby hospitals. The church was bombed during its official opening, with the bomb thrown into the building from someone on a motorcycle.
"When it exploded there was a stampede, people running in all directions, walking over each other, children were screaming and women crying," a witness told Al Jazeera. "I saw a dead woman trampled; I think even her two children were killed in the same way," another witness added.
Tanzania's president, Jakaya Kikwete, has condemned the bombing as an "act of terrorism," and has vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
Please remember to uphold the grieving and the injured. Let's also petition our "Righteous Judge," who reigns with utmost supremacy on His throne, to render justice on behalf of His persecuted people and ensure the complete rebuilding of the church. Pray that this violence, which was initially intended for evil, will be used by the Lord to facilitate the exponential growth of His church -- bringing even the perpetrators to repentance and salvation.
Source: World Evangelical Alliance
Anti-Christian protest held by the Bodu Bala Sena
in October 2012 in Piliyandala, Sri Lanka
Photo: www.nation.lk via WEA
As previously reported in recent prayer alerts, Christian persecution in Sri Lanka has intensified due to the rise in the country's Buddhist nationalism.
Extremist Buddhist groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Strong Army) and the Sinhala Rawaya (Sinhala Echo) have incited religious disharmony and carried out malicious attacks, targeting both Christian and Muslim minorities in the country.
In a wave of violence, around 30 churches have come under attack this year alone. In 2012, there were 52 reported incidents of persecution. Quite alarmingly, these attacks have occurred with impunity, and with little or no state action to prosecute those responsible.
In addition to the rising violence, churches are also facing restriction in the form of forced closure by the authorities. For instance, local governments and police have ordered many churches to close down, claiming that they are not authorized by the state.
In a recent incident in the Hambantota district, authorities called on certain evangelical churches to confirm their legality, warning church leaders that failure to do so will result in the closure of churches. Previous reports can be found by going to the Sri Lanka Country Report.
May our Christian brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka continue to place their trust in the Lord during this time of mounting pressure and persecution. Pray for His protection over all who are at risk of violence, especially those who are willing to place the ‘mission of God' ahead of their own comfort and security. May the Holy Spirit grant church leaders discernment on how to appropriately respond to the situation. Also intercede for those inciting these religious tensions, and thus persecuting His precious people, that they would experience a radical change of heart, repentance and the saving grace of God.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs
A pastor in Uttar Pradesh state was recently attacked and beaten during a church service. Near the end of the service, a group of Hindu men attacked Pastor "Caleb" by tying him to a tree and beating him. The attackers, who apparently were directed by Hindu leaders in the village, broke Pastor Caleb's arm during the beating.
VOM partners are helping to provide him with medical treatment, while also urging police to prosecute the attackers. Pastor Caleb's church had been threatened in the past by high caste families. It is understood that about five Christian families who have faithfully remained with the church had angered villagers by refusing to offer a gift to a Hindu goddess.
A group from the village also became angry when the Christian families refused to help with the wedding of a high caste family's daughter. Despite the recent attack, Pastor "Caleb" plans on continuing his ministry service in this volatile community. To learn more about the challenges faced by believers in this part of the world, please go to the India Country Report.
While we are thankful to the Lord for Pastor Caleb's faithfulness and willingness to continue in ministry, we also pray that he will be completely healed of the afflictions imposed on him during the attack. May the loving concern and assistance of our VOM partners serve to further encourage and strengthen this dedicated man of God. As a result of his faithfulness, may many others be spurred on to preach the Gospel (Philippians 1:14) and win others for Christ.
RECENT PRISONER UPDATE
Source: Naghmeh Abedini, wife of the imprisoned pastor
"Saeed's family got to visit him at Evin Prison today since he has now been released from solitary confinement. He said he felt many praying, and the time in solitary was a time of intimacy with God. He said when he came out, the other prisoners said he was glowing! He was filled with more joy and peace after solitary than going in!!! All of the prisoners were shocked at the change! This is because of your prayers! Thank you! I will provide more updates as I get them. Please continue to pray for his health and his internal bleeding. He has not been treated yet."
For more about the events surrounding Pastor Saeed's imprisonment, click here.