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Monday, January 23, 2006Prayers for January 17, 2006
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The LORD will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands."
From The Voice of the Martyrs
CUBA (ASSIST News Service)
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported that at least three Protestant churches have been forcibly closed in Cuba since harsh legislation on house churches was announced in 2005. Two of the churches, located in the western provinces of Guantanamo and Holguin, were forcibly closed. The first was confiscated by local authorities in August and the other threatened with demolition at the end of last year. A third church, in a suburb of Havana, was demolished at the end of last year while church members looked on. To justify their closure, all of the churches were targeted by the authorities as being "illegal constructions." When the new legislation was announced in April, requiring all house churches to register with authorities, church leaders expressed concern the registration process was so complicated it was practically impossible. CSW reported many church leaders believed this was really an attempt to shut down the house-church movement across Cuba. Because many churches have grown in the last decade, most existing church buildings are too small to accommodate all their members. The logical alternative for many of these churches has been the establishment of house churches that explains, in part, the expansion of the house-church movement across Cuba. There are now an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 house churches across the island, with each accommodating somewhere between 30 and 200 worshippers who meet weekly.
Give thanks to God that Christian faith is growing in Cuba despite government attempts to stop it. Pray those who are being harassed by authorities will have the mind of Christ as they deal with officials. Pray that as faithful Christians respond in love to their enemies, the Spirit of God will soften hearts and many will accept Jesus and the forgiveness of their sins through His blood.
Aman, an evangelist, was returning from a church service in Meki, 134 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, on January 1st, when a group of Muslims surrounded him. According to VOMC sources in Ethiopia, one member of the group began hitting Aman with a large stick and continued to pound on his body until people passing by intervened. Aman was taken to a hospital in Shashemene, where he remained unconscious for two days. At last report Aman was still in intensive care.
Pray Aman's mind and body will be fully restored so he can continue to share Christ with his friends and neighbors. Pray the attackers will recognize their guilt and turn to Christ for forgiveness. Ask God to comfort Aman and those who are close to him.
INDIA (Compass Direct)
A number of key Christian leaders recently called on the Indian government to ban or strictly supervise a massive Hindu "reawakening" event to be held in the tribal district of Dangs, Gujarat state, February 11th -13th. At least 500,000 Hindus are expected to attend. The Christian leaders fear the event may unleash a wave of violence against tribal Christians and animists. Hindu extremist groups have organized the event and expect it to generate enough momentum to trigger thousands of Christians to turn "back to the Hindu fold." They have also published materials calling for the destruction of the Christian faith in the same way the Hindu god Ram destroyed the demon Ravana in the Hindu scriptures.
Pray the Holy Spirit will move in power to prevent this demonstration from becoming violent. Pray Christians in the area will live in courageous faith and love toward their Hindu neighbors. Pray God will lead many Hindus to forsake the hundreds of gods they fear and turn to the One who loves them.
INDONESIA (Compass Direct)
The Indonesian government has established a new Security Operation Command to investigate violence in Central Sulawesi following a New Year's Eve bomb explosion in Palu that killed eight people and injured 56 others. The bombing is the latest in a string of violent incidents in the past two years, repeating the conflict between Muslims and Christians that claimed over 1,000 lives between 1998 and 2001. The bomb exploded in a marketplace in a Christian area at 6:30 a.m., as residents were buying pork for their festive meals. Pork is offensive to Muslims, and the bombing of what locals call a "Christian market" where the meat is sold may point to Islamic terrorists. Human rights groups immediately called for an independent investigation, but the government responded with the new Security Operation Command, which planned to send 1,100 police reinforcements and an unspecified number of soldiers to Poso and Palu. A member of the Regional Representatives Council who has studied the violence in Palu and Poso said religious sentiment is not the main problem in the area because the bombing of Christian markets and the earlier beheading of Christian schoolgirls "failed to provoke violence" from the Christian community.
Praise God the Christians under attack did not respond with violence. Pray the example of Christian love will cause nominal Muslims to seek the God of peace. Pray our omnipotent God will move to display His glory throughout all the islands of Indonesia.
PAKISTAN (Compass Direct)
Last week in the Punjabi town of Sangla Hill, a Pakistani Muslim dropped formal charges against a Christian he had accused of setting fire pages of the Koran. Last November Mohammed Saleem's accusation triggered a violent reprisal from local Muslims, destroying four churches and landing Yousaf Masih in jail for allegedly desecrating the Koran. As part of a reconciliation agreement reached by local Muslim and Christian leaders on January 5th, Saleem signed an affidavit declaring Masih innocent. Local Christian leaders agreed not to press charges against the mob of 2,000 Muslims who attacked the town's Christian community. Police have held 88 rioters in custody since the assault. It is not yet clear how the agreement will affect legal proceedings. Bail has been denied to the 88 rioters, and Masih also remains under arrest.
Offer praises and thanksgiving for this answer to prayer. Pray Masih will soon be released. Pray the Muslim who made the unfounded charges that caused all the destruction will be led to repent and receive forgiveness from Jesus.
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