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Tuesday, April 04, 2006Prayers for April 4, 2006
"But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."
(I Corinthians 12:24b-26)
From The Voice of the Martyrs
ALGERIA (ASSIST News Service)
A presidential order that establishes new conditions for the exercise of non-Muslim religious practice was passed in the Algerian Ummah council (Senate) on March 13th, and March 15th in the Algerian National Assembly (Parliament). As a presidential order, the text would not have even been open to debate. The penal aspects of the text are: between a two- and five-year prison term and a fine of approximately (US) $7,000 to (US) $14,000 for anyone who "incites, constrains or uses seductive means seeking to convert a Muslim to another religion or who produces, stores or distributes printed documents or audio-visual formats or any other format or means which seeks to shake the faith of a Muslim." Arabic News reports the new law "is an attempt to withstand the Christianizing campaign which had witnessed notable activity recently."
Pray Christians will be faithful and loving witnesses of their Savior under all circumstances. Give thanks to God that this new law signifies many people are turning to Christ. Pray our omnipotent Father will cause the light of His Son to shine even when people prefer the darkness.
CUBA (Compass Direct)
March 31st marked 40 days of imprisonment without charge for Rev. Carlos Lamelas, an evangelical pastor in Cuba jailed for allegedly aiding refugees who sought to emigrate illegally. "An 'instructor' (police appointed) is supposed to show up to explain the charges to Carlos and his lawyer," according to a source close to the Lamelas family. Some observers believe Lamelas was targeted for harassment because he challenged the government on religious rights issues while serving as national president of his church. He told his wife Uramis during a 15-minute visit at the Villa Marita Detention Center in Havana that he was "pretty discouraged" because the legal case is not moving forward.
Pray the love and power of the Holy Spirit will fill Rev. Lamelas' mind with hope and trust in God's love for him. Pray the Lord will give his family members great courage and faithfulness. Pray God will soften the hearts of the Cuban authorities and help them see all Cubans deserve the right to worship freely.
ERITREA (ASSIST News Service)
Since May 2002, the repressive regime of President Isaias Afwerki has closed down all independent evangelical churches and refused to allow their members to meet anywhere for worship, according to Compass Direct. Although ordered to apply for legal registration, none of these churches has been granted government recognition. Evangelical believers caught by the police while gathering in their homes are arrested and detained, often held incommunicado for months without charges. Nearly 1,800 Eritrean Christians are now believed to be under arrest because of their religious beliefs and held in police stations, military camps and prisons in 12 known locations across Eritrea, according to Compass. The jailed Protestants are routinely subjected to physical beatings and severe psychological pressure to deny their religious beliefs. One of the mothers was asked to visit them and convince them to sign a document stating they will practice "individual religion" but not together with other believers. They were told there are no restrictions in reading their Bibles and praying, but they were to do it individually and always on their own. Not one signed, and they remain faithful.
Offer up prayers of thanksgiving for these faithful believers who have not denied their Lord and Savior. Pray their loving witness will lead others to seek the God of peace. Pray God will give all Christians a sense of hope that despite persecution and suffering, He is building His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
INDIA (Compass Direct)
In remanding the president of the Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) to judicial custody until April 10th, a Rajasthan court ordered the administration to keep the Rev. Dr. Samuel Thomas in a cell separate from Hindu extremist inmates allegedly plotting to assault him. Thomas' attorney, Mohammad Akram, told Compass he had pleaded in court his client be given a cell separate from jailed militants accused of violence against Christians. EMI officials said other Hindu extremists were hatching a conspiracy to falsely implicate Thomas for illegal trade in drugs. A delegation from the All India Christian Council has submitted a report to the prime minister, concluding that Rajasthan state is harassing Christians due to pressure from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). During a three-day tour of the Kota area, the delegation also met Samuel Thomas in police custody. Thomas told the delegation he had not been mistreated, but he was worried about EMI's orphanage and the hospital. At the hospital the delegation found patients had not received adequate care because of police presence and threats that if anyone were treated, staff members would be arrested and the facility closed down.
Pray God will continue to protect Dr. Thomas from physical harm. Pray those who never sought the Lord will see Jesus in Dr. Thomas and turn to Him. Pray God will move in power to protect and maintain the orphanage and hospital founded by Dr. Thomas' father.
A Hindu extremist group planning centenary celebrations in April hopes to "reconvert" as many as 10,000 tribal Christians to Hinduism during the event. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will hold the Dharma Jogna in Orissa, India, on April 8th – 10th. Given the recent trend of mass "reconversion" ceremonies organized by the RSS and its sister organization, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council), Christian leaders fear many tribal people may be persuaded to reconvert against their will. "We are extremely worried," said the Rev. Dandia Basi Hrudaya, secretary of the Orissa chapter of the All India Christian Council (AICC). "The AICC and other Christian leaders are meeting this week to finalize plans to protect the tribals during this event."
Pray the Lord of all creation will strengthen the faith of the tribal people with supernatural courage to stand up for Jesus. Pray the Holy Spirit will send a spirit of confusion into the minds of the Hindu extremists. Pray the plans of the organizers of this event will backfire and more Hindus will seek to know Christ.
INDONESIA (Compass Direct)
A local council in West Java has warned several congregations in the Rancaekek Kencana housing complex in Bandung to abandon their "nomadic" cell group system, which allows limited numbers of Christians to meet together in private homes. In letters to the churches, the council also warned Christians to stop meeting in buildings that were converted some years ago into permanent--though unregistered--worship facilities. A joint decree issued in 1969, by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, requires all religious groups to seek permission from neighbors and district officials before they build or establish a place of worship. Since Christians are a distinct minority in Indonesia, the decree has made it virtually impossible to secure church permits.
Pray God will keep the Christians strong in their faith and guide them to places where they can continue to meet and worship. Pray their witness of love and peace will lead many to seek their Lord and Savior. Pray the Holy Spirit will enlighten Muslim authorities to the reality of Jesus' love for them.
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