Persecuted Church 2017

This discussion will post prayer alerts and resources for the Persecuted Church in 2017.  In the past, I've posted my own prayers using Open Doors resources, but this year I'm going to focus on posting the resources themselves and hopefully equipping many to pray.  Primary source material for this discussion will come from Open Doors, including the World Watch List, monthly Prayer Force Alert calendars, and prayer news items.  Additional resources will be drawn from Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. -- Hebrews 13:3

Here are a few key links to help you pray for the Persecuted Church:

World Watch List (Open Doors)

Prayer Updates (Open Doors)

Monthly Prayer Calendar (Open Doors)

Prayer News (Voice of the Martyrs)

Prayer News (International Christian Concern)

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  • WWL #48: Bahrain

    Leader: King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa
    Government: Constitutional monarchy
    Population: 1.3 million (188,500 Christians)
    Main Religion: Islam
    Persecution Level: High
    Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism/ dictatorial paranoia

    The rulers of this Gulf State have managed to consolidate their powers through repressive means. This mainly Shia-Islamic country is relatively tolerant in general because of its international position in banking and trade. A considerable number of expatriate/migrant Christians (mainly from South Asia) work and live in Bahrain and are relatively free to practice their faith in private places of worship, but proselytizing Muslims is illegal. The constitutional provision regarding religious freedom is full of contradictions. On the one hand, it provides for religious freedom, and on the other hand, it states that the practice of freedom of religion should not violate established customs, public policy or public morals. In the reporting period, the king donated land for the construction of a second Coptic church

    Prayer Points for Bahrain

    • Pray for wisdom as Christians strive to share the gospel with their neighbors.
    • Pray for those who have been shunned from their families and communities for Christ.
    • Pray that believers from Muslim backgrounds would grow daily in knowledge of their Savior.
  • WWL #47: Mauritania

    Leader: Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
    Government: Republic
    Population: 3.9 million (Thousands of Christians)
    Main Religion: Islam
    Persecution Level: High
    Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism

    Mauritania is self-proclaimed Islamic Republic and has been under military rule for more than 30 years, with only a short democratic interruption in 2007. The country is formally a multiparty democracy, but its parliament is completely dominated by the ruling party. There are several Islamist groups that are active in the political scene in the country. Ethnicity is also an important factor in Mauritania’s politics. Mauritania is one of the world’s poorest countries. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has been a challenge to the Mauritanian government since 2005.

    Prayer Points for Mauritania

    • Since there are so few believers, Christians often feel isolated. Pray for their strength.
    • Pray for the level of poverty in the area.
    • Pray for those seeking to know more about Christ.

    Operation World: Mauritania

  • Operation World: Indonesia

    Click the link above or the maps below for Operation World's "Pray Today" page for Indonesia.


  • Sep. 08: Harun’s Secret Faith Triggers Family Suspicions

    Last week we reported that Harun* (19), a new believer in Indonesia, was facing a difficult trial. After having turned to Christ only a month earlier, his father found his Bible, burned it, and then locked Harun in their home to face questioning from his extended family about his new faith.

    As usual, he was asked if he has become a Christian. Harun answered that he is still a Muslim. Later, he said to his mentor, “I had to reply to them that way to reduce my father’s and the family’s anger. But in my heart, I continue to believe in Christ.” His father, however, continued to lock Harun at home and kept him from going to school.

    Pray for Harun as he learns how to remain faithful to Christ in these difficult circumstances. In certain places in Indonesia, leaving Islam and converting to Christianity can threaten one’s life. Therefore, new believers sometimes declare that they are still Muslim, even though they believe in Jesus. They continue to wear the veil, maintain Islam on their identity card, and/or go to the mosque until they are spiritually strong enough to reveal their true beliefs.

    *Not his real name.

    Father, we do pray today for Harun as he struggles to know how to step through the difficulties of living for Christ in a world set against him, set against Christ. Wash away any shame that remains from claiming he was still a Muslim. Increase his faith and strengthen him to stand strong in these difficult times. Holy Spirit, we ask You give him words to speak as he talks to his father, words that will diffuse his father’s anger without compromising his faith. We also pray for his mentor and for other Christians in the community who must keep a distance to help keep Harun safe. And we pray for Harun’s father and family that they will come to see the presence of Christ in him and turn in faith to Jesus, who is enthroned in glory. It is in the name of Jesus whom we serve, Amen.

  • Aug. 10: Mission Workers under Surveillance

    Firman* set up a small business in his home country of Indonesia so he can preach the Gospel to his customers—other Muslim youngsters like himself.

    Firman’s lay leader, Beni*, has been mentoring a student from an Islamic boarding school. Recently, the parents of the student became suspicious that their son might have been converted to the Christian faith. They confronted him and he eventually told them about Beni and Firman. The parents complained to the chief of a local Islamic organization. As a result, Firman was summoned by the administrators of the campus where his shop was located and Beni was summoned back to his own village for questioning.

    A mission worker in a different community faced a similar situation. Tirto* has been accused of Christianizing by his ex-employer and was reported to the police. He has been summoned three times to the police station for questioning. “Pray for me as I am being watched by the police and local Muslims,” he said.

    Firman and Beni have also kept Bibles and Christian literature related to their ministry in a safe place. Brother Andrew once prayed, “Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture that I want to take to Your children across this border. When You were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.” Pray now for the same miracle to happen—that religious authorities will not “see” these materials to convict Firman and his team.

    Pray for God’s protection over Firman, Beni, Tirto and many other mission workers working to bring lost Muslims to God. Pray also for His guidance as Jesus promised, “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).

    *Names changed for security.

    Father, we give You thanks for the bold faith of Firman, Beni and Tirto. Continue to strengthen their faith and grant them much wisdom that they might serve You fearlessly in ways that honor Christ. Bring abundant fruit to their ministry that a mighty throng of Christ-followers might be raised up to serve You. As Brother Andrew prayed, “When You were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the [authorities] see those things You do not want them to see.” In the name of Jesus, whose name is above all names, Amen.

  • July 14: IS Member Arrested in Papua, Indonesia

    A member of IS has been apprehended in Papua. The terrorist is currently under interrogations. The news is not widely circulated, which we suspect, is due to recent terror attacks targeting police officers.

    On June 30, two police officers were stabbed by a terrorist while they were praying in a mosque. The perpetrator is said to be a lone wolf but inspired by the IS materials online. These terrorists are known to have expressed their vengeance on government and police officers for hunting and arresting some of them.

    This information is another clue that more IS cells are growing in Papua. Therefore, pray for the church in Papua, one of the biggest Christian pockets in Indonesia. Pray for God’s protection and that all evil plans by the terrorists to be foiled by the authorities. Pray also for believers to be more effective in their Christian witness.

    Father, the gospel of Christ has been proclaimed in Papua in recent decades and we thank You that Your church has been established there. We pray now against the influence of IS terrorists, that their evil plans will be blocked by the authorities. Their power and influence is great, but the power of Your Holy Spirit is greater, so we pray boldly and with great confidence that Your church will be protected and preserved in this region and the power of the gospel will prevail. In the name of Jesus, whose voice is powerful and full of majesty (Ps 29:7), Amen!

  • June 15: Discipleship for Hindu Background Believers

    Life is difficult for Hindu Background Believers (HBBs) in Indonesia. OD field workers had heard of a group of HBB converts who were banished from the community after turning to Christ. Once banished, they automatically lose all inheritance rights to the family house or land, even rights to be buried in the community’s cemetery. They will, instead, be considered a nuisance.

    The OD team met a couple who became believers during their visit two years previously. These believers shared, “We were expelled by our family because of our faith in Christ.”  They now live under the care of a lay leader, being discipled in their faith and empowered economically to earn a living.

    Open Doors continues to be there to help. Recently, OD distributed a number of Christian books among one of the largest communities of HBBs in Indonesia. Included were Standing Strong through the Storm, Dangerous Faith, a 12-book discipleship series, and biblical “comics.” Please pray for these believers to stand firm in their faith and for a strong partnership with the local church leaders to be fostered.

    Thank You, Father, for these faithful believers who have turned from the spiritual darkness of Hinduism to faith in Christ. Protect them as they flee their villages to begin a new life under the care of lay leaders in the church. Sustain them with the ability to earn a living. Cultivate their faith through the knowledge of Your Word. Thank You for the resources You are providing through Open Doors to strengthen their minds and hearts that they might remain faithful through the storms of life as they come. We pray for Your Holy Spirit to open the eyes of a multitude in their region of Indonesia to see the light of Christ in them that there might be a great turning to Christ in their midst and, indeed, among the entire nation. In the name of Jesus, the Word who became flesh and made Hs dwelling among us (John 1) that we might have life in Him. Amen.

  • May 9: Jakarta Governor, Ahok, Sent to Jail for Blasphemy

    In a verdict that surprised many, an Indonesian court has sentenced Jakarta’s outgoing governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as ‘Ahok’, to two years in prison for blasphemy. The sentence is higher than the prosecutors had asked for.

    The news was welcomed by Islamic hardliners who had gathered outside of the court, cheering and shouting “God is greatest!” Supporters of the governor were stunned, with some breaking down in tears.

    Andi, a devoted Muslim, said she felt heartbroken. “He was such a good man and great leader… He didn’t care what religion people were. Now, he has been framed,” she said. Thousands of police were out on the streets to prevent clashes between Ahok’s supporters and opponents. The court case was seen as politically motivated, the ruling illustrative of the growing religious intolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

    Ahok, a Chinese Christian, was charged with blasphemy after accusing his political opponents of using Quranic verses to stop Muslims from voting for him in the bid for re-election as Jakarta’s governor. A day after he lost the election to his Muslim contender, Anies Rasiyd Baswedan, prosecutors downgraded the blasphemy charges against him and recommend that, if he was found guilty, Ahok would serve no prison time. They suggested two years of probation with a possible one-year jail term if he committed a crime during that period.

    They recommended this lighter sentence because of his “significant” contributions to the Indonesian capital. Before the Christian governor was charged with insulting Islam in one of his speeches, he enjoyed a large opinion-poll lead due to his determination to clean up traffic-clogged, polluted Jakarta.

    The judge, however, used the Penal Code 156a for blasphemy instead of the Penal Code 156 for “expressing hostile feelings or hatred towards a particular group” that was used by the prosecutor.

    The head judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, told the court: “Mr. Purnama was found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment. As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions, including the religion of the defendant himself.”

    One of his colleagues, Abdul Rosyad, added that the reasons for the stiff sentence included that “the defendant didn’t feel guilt, [and] the defendant’s act had caused anxiety and hurt Muslims.”

    The governor was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read out. His deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, will govern Jakarta until the term ends in October. Ahok’s lawyer said they will file an appeal against the verdict.

    Islamic groups said they will call for a harsher sentence as they find the two-year imprisonment too light. Under Indonesian law, blasphemy is punishable by up to five years in prison.

    Will this set a precedent and bring forth more frequent blasphemy allegations? Will this create a harsher climate for Christians living in Indonesia? Only time will tell, but please take a moment to share this and join with others in prayer for this uncertain time and shocking situation.

  • WWL #46: Indonesia

    Leader: President Joko Widodo
    Government: Republic
    Population: 249.9 million (36 million Christians)
    Main Religion: Islam
    Persecution Level: High
    Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism

    Claims that Indonesia would be unaffected Islamic State (ISIS), due to its special brand of moderate and diverse Islam, were shattered when an attack against a café in Jakarta in January 2016 claimed seven lives. Radical Islamic groups continue to pose serious challenges, especially when connected to international movements. Most citizens are not interested in issues of religion or minorities (as was demonstrated by a poll published in May 2016), instead they are more concerned about quick economic improvements. The government is taking the fight against extremists seriously: In July 2016 it killed the leader of the East Indonesian Mujahedin (MIT), “Santoso”, in Central Sulawesi.

    Prayer Points for Indonesia

    • Pray for the safety of believers as they attend church.
    • Pray for Christian congregations who cannot secure or have lost their church buildings.
    • Pray for children torn between Christianity at home and Islam at school.
  • Operation World: Sri Lanka

    Click the link above or the maps below for Operation World's "Pray Today" page for Sri Lanka.


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