Widespread Discrimination Against Christians Being Ignored by Media.

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High-level European officials and experts attending an international conference in Vienna last week, stated that European governments and the international community were failing to address religious discrimination and the persecution of Christians in Europe and worldwide.

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In his opening keynote speech to the conference, EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom, Ján Figel’, observed that, even though tens of thousands of Christians worldwide are killed every year because of their faith, the media and the international community pay little attention.

Significantly, the conference, entitled “Embattled: Christians under Pressure in Europe and Beyond” was split into two parts, the first part dealing with persecution outside of Europe in countries such as Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea and Syria, and the second focused on growing governmental restrictions within European countries on conscience, freedom of association, freedom of speech and parental rights, as well as hate crimes against Christians.

Speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of Vienna at the start of the conference, Bishop Stephan Turnovszky said that, although there is no organised or systematic persecution of Christians in Europe, there were frightening trends involving Christian marginalisation, as well as political and media reprisals against those with religious convictions.

He also observed that violence against Christians is rarely reported in the media, and instances of anti-Christian discrimination are increasingly the norm, despite being dramatically under-reported.

  • Pray for Christians across the world, including the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Europe, where discrimination, oppression and persecution against Christians are increasing.
  • Pray for the Church in these regions, for wisdom, integrity, courage and strength of faith, and to be a light in the darkness and beacon of hope to the communities around them.
  • Pray for governments in these regions, to be true to their constitutions where they allow freedom of belief and freedom of speech for all people.
  • Pray that  violence and crime against Christians will be reported in the media, and for a growing awareness and voice against the discrimination that all too many Christians face around the world.

Proverbs 31 vs 8 – 9: “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.  Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Source: https://barnabasfund.org/news/

 

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Pray for Uzbekistan Elections for New President.

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Polls have opened in Uzbekistan to elect a successor to the late leader, Islam Karimov, with long-serving Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev expected to win a comfortable victory.

Mirziyoyev, who was appointed prime minister in 2003, became interim president following Karimov’s death in September from a stroke.

Representing the same Liberal-Democratic Party that Karimov stood for in the last presidential vote in 2015, Mirziyoyev is facing three other challengers in a bid to secure a five-year term.

However, analysts noted that the candidates are not critical of Mirziyoyev or the regime in the country bordering Afghanistan, where Beijing, Moscow, and Washington all vie for influence.

“The format for Uzbek elections has not changed since Karimov’s death because the regime has not had time to think of anything different,” the AFP news agency quoted Kamoliddin Rabbimov, an Uzbek political analyst who lives in France, as saying.

“If anything, efforts have been made to ensure other candidates are even more obscure, because Mirziyoyev’s stature among the population is not yet what Karimov’s was.”

Two of the candidates challenged Karimov in past elections, each receiving about 3 percent of the vote.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which deployed an observer team to monitor the election, has described the campaign as “strictly regulated” and “moderately visible”.

Karimov’s 27-year reign began in 1989 at the tail-end of the Soviet era, and was often criticised for extreme abuses of human rights.

Few expect 59-year-old Mirziyoyev to make any serious political changes if elected, after serving at the top of his predecessor’s government for so long.

However, since coming to power, Mirziyoyev has offered clemency to at least one prominent political prisoner, while indicating his government will prioritise reforms to the heavily regulated state economy.

Almost all Western media have been barred from reporting inside Uzbekistan for many years now, and the country’s independent journalists and activists have faced sustained harassment.

  • Pray for the elections in Uzbekistan, for free and fair elections, for a peaceful outcome and for the new President to rule with justice and integrity.
  • Pray that the new president will move to allow freedom of speech in Uzbekistan, as well as freedom of belief for all people, including Uzbek Christians who currently face intense persecution.
  • Pray for this region as it faces instability associated with water rights and power struggles within the region.
  • Pray for Uzbek Christians, for courage in their faith, for access to Bibles in their own language, and for opportunities to meet together to worship without fear.
  • Pray for the continued growth of the Church across Uzbekistan and Central Asia, for many people to come to know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2 vs 1 – 4: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/news

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God is at Work Amongst Refugees in Europe.

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Not all the news about the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants entering Europe is good news. But the following report shows that, in the midst of the suffering, something remarkable is happening.
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As a Muslim from Iran, Javad didn’t know any Christians and didn’t own a Bible, though he had heard some Christian satellite radio. Then in 2008 he migrated to Athens, and a roommate asked him to come to an Iranian church.
Javad had never heard of such a thing and, being curious, he went along. There, in a small, unremarkable rented room, he heard the gospel and gladly received Christ.

Now Javad is sharing the Jesus he met with other Muslim refugees in Greece. Every day he visits a refugee centre, a park or coffee shop to share the good news with Iranian and Afghan refugees.

He says that, each day since he arrived, he knows of two or three Muslims who have trusted in Christ. Working at a refugee centre that provides practical aid, Javad says more than 2,000 Muslims at there have turned to Jesus in the last eight years.

As a result, and becasue many refugees remain on the move, an informal network of new churches for Muslim converts has begun spreading in Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, and elsewhere.

One church in Berlin has seen 1,200 Muslims come to Christ in just three years, most of them Afghans and Iranians. Meanwhile, at a Persian church in Hamburg, more than 600 Pakistanis and Afghans recently lined up to be baptised during one service.

There are many more “hidden” stories – each one remarkable in its own way, so may this encourage us to keep praying, knowing that God is at work, even in the darkest of situations.

  • Give thanks for the many Muslim background believers amongst refugees in Europe. Pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to move amongst these needy people and draw many more to know His love and grace.
  • Pray for these new Muslim background believers in Europe to stand firm in their new found faith in Christ, and to grow into committed followers of Jesus.
  • Pray for their protection in refugee centres,as they are often targeted for persecution by other fundamentalist Muslims.
  • Pray for the established church in Europe to be strengthened and encouraged by the new believers, as well as being empowered by the Holy Spirit and willing to reach out to more Muslims and to assist the new converts their faith.
  • Pray especially for Muslim radicals to come face-to-face with the love of Jesus and respond to the truth of the Gospel. Percentage wise, there are more radical Muslims becoming followers of Jesus than non-radicals.

John 12 vs 32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

Source: http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/

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Christians’ Property in Egypt Attacked by Mob.

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On 25th November, a Muslim mob gathered after Friday prayers and launched a coordinated attack on Christian homes and business in the Egyptian town of al-Naghameesh. The attack was incited by false rumours that the Christian community was about to open a church.

New laws to ease restrictions on church building were passed by the Egyptian Parliament in August, but there is still fierce, even violent opposition at a local level

A Christian-owned guesthouse was torched, a shop looted and ten homes damaged in the attack, during which the water supply to al-Naghameesh was cut off and the road blocked to prevent fire engines reaching the town.

Police did intervene to disperse the mob and make arrests, and the local governor has subsequently stated that the regional government will cover the cost of repairs to the guesthouse, assuring the Christian community that justice will be served.

The attack is reminiscent of the heightened anti-Christian violence in June and July 2016, (https://pray.interserve.org/pray-for-the-church-in-egypt-after-a-series-of-attacks/) which witnessed a series of similar mob attacks on Christian communities following false claims that existing buildings, or ones under construction, were to become churches.

Although there are 2,000 Christians in al-Naghameesh, which is around 280 miles south of Cairo, there is no church building in the town. An application to use space for church meetings in a Christian community centre, that also houses a pre-school and a home for the elderly, is is awaiting approval.

In August, Egypt’s parliament passed landmark legislation to allow easier construction of churches, overturning Ottoman-era regulations that tightly restricted church building. Under the new laws, applications for new churches must be considered by local governors within four month, whereas, previously, such applications required the approval of the head of state and took years to process, with many being refused.

The proactive response of the local governor following the attack in al-Naghameesh is welcome, but true justice must also include upholding the Christian community’s right to establish places of worship, as clearly stated in the Egyptian constitution.

  • Pray for Egypt’s Christian communities, as they face continuing attacks, threats and oppression from the, increasingly fundamentalist, Muslim communities around them.
  • Pray for the victims of this latest attack. Pray for peace in their hearts and homes, for restoration of property that was damaged, and for protection from further attacks.
  • Pray for reconciliation between Egypt’s Muslim and Christian communities, who have lived side by side for centuries.
  • Pray for the government of Egypt, both national and local, to uphold the constitution and the rights of Christians to meet and worship together in freedom.

Psalm 5 vs 1: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Source: https://www.barnabasfund.org/news

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Protest Rallies Planned in Jakarta Against Christian Governor Accused of Blasphemy.

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A large number of fundamentalist Muslims are expected to join a rally in Jakarta today,  December 2nd, to once again protest against the Christian governor of Jakarta who they accuse of blasphemy.

Jakarta governor to face yet another rally from Muslim hardliners

Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, counsellor of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa, said this rally against Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, would be peaceful.

Shihab, who is also patron of the Islamic Defenders Front, told tempo.co, “The rally will be in the form of a mass prayer gathering.”

Shihab said his movement to safeguard the Indonesian ulema council will not take responsibility for any other rallies besides the mass prayer gathering, which is to be held at the National Monument Square in Central Jakarta.

“If there is a rally held outside the venue, we have agreed the national police have the right to take pre-emptive measures,” he said.

According to National Police spokesman Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar, around 10,000 workers from the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions will also hold an anti-Ahok rally in front of City Hall.

Police are deploying 22,000 security personal on the day.

The rally follows a large protest by around 150,000 hard-line Muslim groups on November 4th, which demanded Ahok’s arrest for alleged blasphemy. One person died and at least 100 were injured in violence associated with this rally, and Christian and Chinese owned property was attacked and looted, according to media reports.

Blasphemy allegations against the Christian governor, who is of Chinese descent, surfaced in early October, after a video of a speech, in which he allegedly insulted the Quran, went viral on the internet.

The police charged Ahok with blasphemy on November 16th, and the Attorney General’s office announced on November 30th that it approved the case. The charges mean that the governor could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.

  • Pray for the rallies that are to be held today in Jakarta. Pray that they will be peaceful and that there will not be any over flow of violence as happened in the last rally.
  • Pray for Indonesia as tensions rise between Muslims and Christians. Pray for understanding and reconciliation between these two communities.
  • Pray for protection over Christians and their property today, and over the next weeks and months of the Governor’s trial.
  • Pray for Governor Ahok, for his faith to be strong at this time, for comfort for him and his family, and for charges of blasphemy to be dropped.

Isaiah 32 vs 18: “My people will live in peaceful dwelling-places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”

Source: http://www.ucanews.com/news, http://www.persecution.org

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Sindh Province, Pakistan, Passes New Law Banning Forced Conversion and Marriage

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At least 700 Christian and 300 Hindu girls are kidnapped and forced into marriages with Muslims every year in Pakistan.

Whilst the disappearance of some girls is reported to police, the police have a strong tendency to side with Muslims against the, often poor, Christians, who can find themselves the targets of investigation if their kidnapped family members attempt to escape the marriages they have been coerced into.

However, in a welcome move, the regional parliament in Sindh, southern Pakistan, passed a law last week criminalising forced conversion, which will now be punishable with a minimum recommended five-year jail term. The facilitating of forced marriage where any party is the victim of forced conversion will also be criminalised, with those found guilty liable for a three-year jail term.

The legislation was proposed with the intention of protecting religious minorities, particularly under age girls from non-Muslim communities, hundreds of whom are forced to convert to Islam every year. A proposal to enact a similar law in the national parliament was stalled earlier this year.

The Sindh Parliament has a history of passing more progressive legislation than Pakistan’s National Assembly. In 2015, Sindh passed an amendment to its Mental Health Act, allowing judges to reduce sentences in “blasphemy” cases for those diagnosed with mental illness.

The southern region of Sindh is Pakistan’s most religiously diverse province. According to official figures, Sindh is still 91% Muslim, but 6.5% of the population are Hindu and 0.9% Christian, although the actual number of Christians is likely to be higher than the official estimate.

Whilst the legislation passed by the Sindh Parliament is a positive step, so long as it is properly enforced, the new laws will not protect vulnerable Christian and Hindu women and girls living in other provinces of Pakistan.

  • Give thanks for the passing of this legislation in the Sindh province. Pray for wisdom for those enforcing the law, that it will be enacted properly and serve to protect vulnerable women and girls in this region.
  • Pray for the national government of Pakistan to also move ahead with passing laws that will protect women and girls throughout all of Pakistan.
  • Pray for the women and girls who have been coerced into forced marriages. Pray for their protection, and for them to know the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit and their Heavenly Father, who will never leave nor forsake them.
  • Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit over this nation, for many to encounter Christ Jesus and come to know the truth of His Gospel.

Psalm 91 vs 14: “Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.”

https://www.barnabasfund.org/news

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500,000 Children Living in Besieged Areas of Syria.

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As government forces close in on Eastern Aleppo, the UN has issued a warning that nearly 500,000 children are living in besieged areas across Syria, a figure that has doubled in less than a year.

UNICEF executive director,Anthony Lake, said: “For millions of human beings in Syria, life has become an endless nightmare – in particular for the hundreds of thousands of children living under siege. Children are being killed and injured, too afraid to go to school or even play, surviving with little food and hardly any medicine.

“This is no way to live – and too many are dying.”

UNICEF warned that around 100,000 children are living under siege in Aleppo alone, where thousands are attempting to flee the increased violence.

Across another 16 besieged areas in Syria, hundreds of thousands of children are almost completely cut off from sustained humanitarian aid and basic services.

Volunteers have been forced to build basement playgrounds, schools and hospitals to try to cope with the crisis.

UNICEF renewed its call to lift the sieges across Syria, and to facilitate immediate humanitarian access to all areas.

The call comes as a priest in Aleppo urged Christians around the world to join Syrians in praying for peace.

Father Ibrahim Alsabagh, priest of the Latin parish of Aleppo, told Asia News that civilians are “exhausted” by war, and the city has become “powerless and fearful”.

“We are all waiting to see what will happen in the coming days. Families, west and east, are exhausted; they only want peace in the face of an increasingly difficult life,” he said.

  • Pray for Syria, for the millions displaced by the ongoing civil war, and for the hundreds of thousands of children living in daily fear and deprivation across the besieged cities of this nation.
  • Pray for the government and rebel forces to agree to allow safe passage for aid convoys into besieged cities in Syria, including Aleppo, especially with the onset of cold winter weather.
  • Pray for those working with the children in these cities, for compassion, wisdom and courage as they work to alleviate some of the suffering.
  • Pray for the Syrian Church, that they will be encouraged by Christians around the world standing with them in prayer, and that their faith will stand firm and be a beacon of hope for many adults and children in this nation.

Psalm 82 vs 4: “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’”

Source: http://www.christiantoday.com/article

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Houthi’s Announce the Formation of a New Government in Yemen

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In what appears to be a blow to UN-backed efforts to end 20 months of war, Houthi rebels in Yemen, and their political allies, have formed a new government.

More than 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded in the 20-month conflict [Reuters]

The Supreme Political Council, a body through which the Houthi’s have been ruling parts of Yemen, announced the new government on Monday.

“The [Council] meeting stressed that the government, which was formed amid the difficult conditions experienced by the country, is tasked with putting in order the internal situation and confronting the aggression,” the Houthi run, Saba news agency reported.

“The Council noted that this comes amid the intransigence of the aggression and its [Yemeni] mercenaries to move within the framework of a national solution … to spare the country further bloodshed and destruction.”

Rajeh Badi, a spokesperson for the government of exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said the move showed “a disregard, not just for the Yemeni people, but also for the international community”.

“It’s been over a year and a half since the Houthi militia’s coup, no one in the international community has recognised the entities they have formed,” Badi added.

Diplomats had hoped the Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa, would hold off on putting together a cabinet of their loyalists, and instead form a unity government with their Yemeni oppostion, whom they pushed into Saudi exile.

The Houthis, who control territory with more than half of Yemen’s population, previously said that forming a government with their allies did not mean abandoning the UN-sponsored peace process.

Meanwhile, Yemeni security and medical officials said at least 13 civilians, including women and children, were killed on Saturday in an air strike by the Saudi-led military coalition near the western port city of Hodeida.

More than 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded in the 20-month conflict, according to the UN.

  • Pray for Yemen, a country divided by almost 2 years of civil war.
  • Pray for a good and just solution to government in this nation, and for a continuation of peace talks despite the formation of a Houthi government.
  • Pray for the people of Yemen, many of whom face food shortages, lack access to clean water and have no medical facilities. Pray for aid to be allowed to be delivered to those who most need it, especially with the oncoming winter.
  • Pray for believers in Yemen, many of whom have to remain silent about their faith. Pray for opportunities for encouragement, for access to the Bible in their own language, and for their faith to be a light in the darkness that shrouds this troubled land.

Nehemiah 1 vs 11: “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. “

Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/news

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New Cyber Security Law Could Impact on Sharing the Gospel in Pakistan.

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A controversial cyber security law that allows Pakistan’s government to widen police online activity may cut off one of the last openings for evangelism left in the Muslim-majority nation.

Catholic communication experts claim that the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, passed in August, could be used as another way to silence Christian voices.

Father Qaiser Feroz, director of the Workshop Audio Visual Education studio, told ucanews.com: “The internet is an important tool to proclaim the word of God and faith formation in the Islamic republic. Many priests use Facebook to share their activities in restive regions. Restricted internet means restriction on evangelism.”

“The bill is ambiguous and could be misused,” the priest said. “We support the ban on immoral sites and content against religious belief, but there should be no restriction on information related to democracy or development.”

The Pakistani government said that the new powers are needed to protect citizens against the threat of terrorism, according to a Reuters report.

The new law envisages 14-year jail terms for cyber terrorism, and seven-year stints for campaigning against innocent people and spreading hate on the basis of ethnicity, religion or sect. Three-year terms were also added for “spoofing”, where hackers mimic a person’s online identity.

The church and human rights activists are concerned about vague definitions in the law, which could allow current Christian internet activity to be deemed illegal.

Christian internet activity has increasingly been a source of confrontation in Pakistan, but it remains one of the few outlets left for Pakistan’s Christian media, after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority closed 11 “illegal” Christian TV channels on September 23rd this year.

Jasber Ashiq, director of Catholic TV Pakistan, has already had to deal with government restrictions. “Now we stream our programmes live on Facebook and recorded programmes are posted on YouTube. But we had to look for alternate sites when the government imposed a three-year ban on YouTube [which was lifted in January]”, said Ashiq.

The latest developments came after Freedom House, a Washington DC-based research firm, listed Pakistan among the 10 worst countries for internet freedom in its Freedom on the Net 2016 report.

The report cited a case, in which anti-terrorism courts sentenced a man to 13 years in prison for liking an internet post against the beliefs of Sunni Muslims.

  • Pray for Pakistan, a country becoming increasingly more opposed to Christianity as fundamental Islam becomes stronger.
  • Pray for the Pakistan government to uphold the rights of non Muslims to freedom of speech and belief.
  • Pray for Christians in the light of the new Internet laws. Pray for wisdom as they consider how to work within the law, whilst continuing to spread the Gospel through the internet.
  • Pray for protection over Christian media outlets in Pakistan, that they can be a source of light, hope and life to the people of this nation.

Ephesians 6 vs 19: “Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,”

Source: http://www.heraldmalaysia.com/news, http://www.persecution.org

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India’s Christians Oppose New Education Bill.

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Christians in India, who are opposing a draft education policy introduced by India’s pro-Hindu government, are concerned that it will damage the country’s secular fabric and strengthen the caste system.

The federal government, led by the Hindu nationalist party, BJP, published a draft education policy in July and has been seeking public opinion. Church groups were the first to oppose it saying the policy attempts to implement the cultural, religious and political ideologies of the BJP.

“The government is trying to impose an anti-people policy on the whole country. If the draft is finalised it will disturb the secular and peaceful fabric of the country,” Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi said.

Christians say that the draft wants to commercialise education, and that it that undermines the values of equality, secularism and socialism enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

“The government gradually wants to control and centralise the education sector, by inviting investment from private bodies,” said Father Joseph Manipadam, secretary of the Indian bishops’ office for education.

Father Manipadam went on to say that poor children would not be able to afford school fees, and the policy also indirectly supports the caste system because it allows students to be segregated, based on their performance.

The policy is aimed at encouraging high performing students to take up studies in science and mathematics, while others focus on a more skill-based education. “This will naturally push poor students into caste-based jobs,” the priest said.

The Catholic Church in India initially criticised the draft policy in August, for introducing Vedic mathematics, yoga and stressing ancient Hindu systems of knowledge.

On November 17th, over 50 social organisations, various political parties, Christian churches and students rallied near the Indian parliament in New Delhi to protest the draft.

A senior politician from the Indian National Congress Party told that gathering that hard-line Hindu groups want to impose “their will and ideology” by changing the education policy.

“We want the government to remove the draft policy from its website. There should be an open dialogue with all stakeholders to bring in changes,” he said.

  • Pray for the Indian government in the light of these proposed changes to the educational system. Pray for wisdom as the discuss the changes, and for them to listen and take notice of the concerns of Christians and other groups.
  • Pray for the Church in India as it continues to face increased oppression and pressure against it.
  • Pray for India’s Christian community, many of whom live in the poorest areas and struggle with day to day living and provision for their families.
  • Pray for many in this vast nation to encounter Christ Jesus, and to know the truth of His Gospel and grace.

Psalm 54 vs 2: “Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.”

Source: http://www.ucanindia.in/news, http://www.persecution.org

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