EN OTRO IDIOMA
CHINA, where local Christian leaders along with international religious liberty bodies have called the worldwide Christian community to make China a focus for concerted prayer during this Olympics year. May God give China´s leaders great discernment and wisdom as they tackle complex issues, and may they recognise the Church as a blessing, keen to advance harmony. ´Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.´ (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)
RUSSIA, where the children of Perestroika are being confronted by escalating intolerance driven primarily by the Russian Orthodox Church as it seeks to restore its religious hegemony and political influence. (These were children and teenagers in the mid-1980s to early 1990s when President Gorbachev introduced openness and reform to the USSR.) While the children of Perestroika found liberty, the grandchildren of Perestroika, specifically those whose families are involved with Protestant churches and missions, are finding persecution.
LEBANON: MORE CHRISTIANS ASSASSINATED
Lebanon, once a Christian majority state, was supposed to showcase Christian-Muslim peaceful co-existence. Today as a Muslim-majority state it is politically paralysed and on the brink of civil war. Disagreements between the opposing ´March 14´ (pro-West: Sunni, Christian) and ´March 8´ (pro-Syrian: Shi´ite, Christian and Wahhabist) forces have kept the state without a president since November 2007. Numerous anti-Syrian Christian politicians have been assassinated over recent years. On Sunday 20 April, two members of Lebanon´s Christian Phalange party were assassinated at the opening of a party headquarters in the eastern town of Zahle. Lebanon´s Christian minority is divided and gravely threatened. Pray for the church in Lebanon.
SRI LANKA: CATHOLIC PRIEST KILLED
Catholic priest Rev Father M X Karunaratnam died on Sunday 20 April when his car was targeted by a road-side bomb in Ambalkulam in the north which is held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Father Karunaratnam was also the chairman of the NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights. According to the LTTE, soldiers from the Sri Lankan Army´s Deep Penetration Unit perpetrated the targeted killing. However, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara rejected this, saying that LTTE-controlled territory is far too heavily guarded for government soldiers to be operating there and the LTTE controls the road on which he was travelling. Father Karunaratnam was well known, running prayer and counselling rooms in the area. Once again, a Christian leader may have been assassinated under the cover of conflict. Pray for the church in
SOUTH PHILIPPINES: CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL TARGETED
A crude bomb exploded on Sunday 13 April outside the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral in Zamboanga, South Philippines, shattering the Cathedral´s windows. Fortunately it detonated prematurely about an hour before the 5 am Mass. Zamboanga City police chief, Jonathan Perez, told Reuters news the suspects were trying to plant bombs inside the Cathedral in time for the first Mass but were forced to leave when people noticed them behaving suspiciously. As they escaped they left the bomb under a van parked inside the church compound and threw another into a coffee shop. Police believe that militants from the Abu Sayyaf were responsible. While no-one was injured, it has raised fears amongst Catholics in Zamboanga. Pray for the Church in South Philippines.
SUDAN: CENSUS COULD TRIGGER CONFLICT
Sudan´s Comprehensive Peace Agreement mandates nation-wide elections in 2009. However, a census must first be taken to determine how power and wealth are to be shared between north and south. Religious and ethnic data will not be included in the census and southerners displaced in the north are allegedly being obstructed against returning south before the census. Tensions are extremely high, especially in the oil-rich north-south border region of Abyei. This resource-rich region is contested: both the southern and northern governments want Abyei within their territorial bounds. The census will be conducted between 22 April and 6 May. Please pray for peace and justice in Sudan.
VIETNAM: CHURCH APPEALS FOR PRAYER
The Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) has made an unprecedented appeal for prayer. Despite all the Church´s peaceful, diplomatic efforts, the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam continues to interfere in Church matters, confiscate Church properties, discriminate against Christians and refuse to dialogue seriously with the Church. While confiscated properties are falling into division amongst ambitious and disgruntled pastors. Ethnic minority Christians in the northern highlands suffer intensive persecution (including torture) at the hands of local authorities. Christian lawyer and religious liberty advocate Nguyen van Dai of the ECV(North) remains in prison, along with numerous other political and religious prisoners of conscience. Please join the Church in Vietnam in its struggle by your prayers.
´I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.´
(The Apostle Paul, Romans 15:30 NIV)