Tuesday, May 22, 2018

RLPB 456. Central African Republic (CAR): rebels vow to march on Bangui

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 456 | Wed 23 May 2018
Archives available at http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com 

Please forward this prayer bulletin widely, and encourage others to sign up to the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16 NIV)


CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: REBELS VOW TO MARCH ON BANGUI
by Elizabeth Kendal

Updating RLPB 454 (9 May), Central African Republic: Cathedral Massacre
-- tensions in Bangui at boiling point; threat of renewed conflict.

MINUSCA map Feb 2017
click on map to enlarge
According to The Defense Post (17 May), members of the Islamic militia known as the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central Africa (FPRC) 'have been regrouping in several towns in north-eastern CAR since April 13, notably in Kaga Bandoro, around 350km north of the capital, as well as in Ndélé , further north-east'. According to the FPRC, other Islamic groups are also regrouping there, including the Patriotic Movement for the Central African Republic (MPC) and the mostly ethnic Peuhle (Fulani) Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC). These groups -- all previously part of Séléka -- have vowed to 'march on Bangui'. With tension mounting, on 13 May two French Mirage 2000-D fighter jets conducted a show of force over Kaga Bandoro to deter the militants. MINUSCA (UN peacekeepers) and CAR Armed Forces are on high alert and working to secure the Kaga Bandoro-Dekoa-Sibut axis to prevent any southward movement of Islamic militias.

Meanwhile, on the night of Monday 14 May armed men presumed to be members of the UPC attacked the front-line town of Bambari, 250km south-east of Kaga Bandoro. They struck the police station, the gendarmerie, and the local UN peacekeeper base, as well as the Town Hall, a radio station and the hospital. They looted and sacked the offices of four humanitarian non-government organisations and physically assaulted their staff.  They also looted and sacked the Catholic parish of Saint-Jean. Dozens of homes were burnt and shops looted; tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee for their lives. At least eight people, including an aid worker and a midwife, were killed. By Wednesday 16 May MINUSCA had re-established control over the city. This is without doubt an answer to our prayer that God will 'help MINUSCA and CAR's Armed Forces restore security and liberate territory'. The attack was reportedly carried out in retaliation for the deaths of three Fulani killed during a robbery outside the town on Monday 14 May. A UPC spokesman denied that the UPC was involved in the attack on Bambari, as did Radio France Internationale.

The violence came as a shattering blow for Bambari residents. Bambari had been pacified in February 2017 after a successful MINUSCA intervention to dislodge the UPC and disarm local militias. The town was hosting more than 35,000 displaced persons, all of whom were dependent on humanitarian aid. Businesses and community projects had begun to revive -- now security and hope have been shattered.  

UN peacekeepers in Bangui (2015)
Credit: Daniel Dal Zennaro/EPA
CAR, which according to Operation World 2010 is 76 percent Christian, is under attack and the situation is far more complex and opaque than most might imagine. Who is funding these Islamic militias, most of which are led by foreign mercenaries and full of foreign fighters? Whose proxies are they? Russia alone is providing the government of CAR with the military aid it is seeking: weapons for its military, with UN Security Council approval. Who would benefit if Bangui were to fall? Indeed, many more questions can be raised than answered. Fortunately, what is hidden from us is not hidden from God; he knows exactly what needs to be done.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* sever all the supply-lines that keep CAR's Islamic militants flush with funds for salaries, weapons and vehicles; in particular, may he bind all evil demonic forces in CAR, forces that empower the wicked ... may all those links likewise be severed!

'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.' (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)

* intervene to 'turn back the battle' and help the MINUSCA peace-keepers and CAR's Armed Forces restore security and liberate territory currently held by Islamic militias.

'Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.' (Psalm 20:7 ESV)

* protect, guide and empower CAR's peacemakers, aid workers, and decision-makers, for the sake of CAR's traumatised, harassed and helpless peoples, and for the sake of Christ's suffering and imperilled Church.

May the Lord have mercy on Central African Republic!
May the Lord have the victory in Central African Republic!


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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REBELS VOW TO MARCH ON BANGUI IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR)

Since mid-April, at least three Islamic militias have been regrouping in CAR's north-east, mostly in and around the rebel-held front-line town of Kaga Bandoro with the stated aim of launching an attack on the capital, Bangui. On 13 May two French Mirage fighter jets conducted a show of force over Kaga Bandoro hoping to deter the militants. UN peacekeepers and CAR Armed Forces are on high alert, determined to prevent any militia movement southwards towards the capital. On 15-16 May armed Muslims invaded Bambari, shattering a year-long period of UN-supervised peace. Numerous properties, organisations and institutions, including the local church, were looted and sacked; eight people were killed and tens of thousands displaced. Tensions are soaring. Please pray for a breakthrough in CAR and for the suffering Church.

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Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

RLPB 455. Ramadan: Praying for Protection and Salvation

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 455 | Wed 16 May 2018

Please forward this prayer bulletin widely, and encourage others to sign up to the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16 NIV)


RAMADAN: PRAYING FOR PROTECTION AND SALVATION
-- an extended RLPB for Ramadan 
by Elizabeth Kendal

'Today, after centuries of decline and decades of weakness, Islam is back, and back with a vengeance. Islam is back, and with it, invasion, conquest, and colonisation, including predatory migration. Subjugation is back, and with it, the repression and persecution of non-Muslims and the inequity and injustice of dhimmitude which includes the demand for jizya (protection money as mandated in Quran 9:29). Sharia law is back, and with it, barbaric, cruel and inhumane punishments, including death for blasphemers (be they in Pakistan or Paris) along with lashings, amputations, beheadings, crucifixions, and burnings -- all live on Twitter for our entertainment and edification. By July 2014 the Caliphate was back, and with it, the mass slaughter of men, the enslavement of women and children, ethnic-religious cleansing and genocide.' (Quote from After Saturday Comes Sunday, p59)

Egypt: Coptic Christians
Vivian Adel Youssef and her husband
Hanna Emad on their wedding day.
 Islamic expansion is back, threatening Central African Republic, Nigeria's Middle Belt, Sudan's Nuba Mountains, Bangladesh's Chittagong Hills Tracts, Indonesia's Papua, and even Western Europe. Subjugation and Sharia are back, as is evident by the drive for Muslim dominance and insistence on Islamic rule as well as by the frequency and severity of violent Islamic pogroms over accusation of 'blasphemy' or other alleged breaches of dhimma status particularly in Egypt and Pakistan. Islamic slavery is back; and while the Islamic State's slave markets and Boko Haram's mass abductions attract media attention, the routine abduction of Christian girls by Muslim gangs in Pakistan and Egypt goes largely unremarked. Coptic Christian Vivian Adel Youssef (18) had been married for just two weeks when she went missing on 2 May. Her priest describes her as a devout and active Christian really happy to be getting married. In its report, World Watch Monitor lists seven Coptic Christian girls who likewise disappeared in April alone, along with one attempted abduction. Once abducted, these Christian girls are forcibly married off to Muslim men for what is nothing other than sexual slavery and human trafficking across religious lines.

While Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his Caliphate in Mesopotamia might both be dead, the dream of a Caliphate is still well and truly alive, not merely among the 'radicalised' Muslim masses, but among Muslim leaders such as al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Increasingly, former and would-be jihadists are embracing the call to attack at home. On Sunday 13 May suicide bombers struck Catholic, Protestant and Pentecostal churches in central Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, killing 13, wounding 40. A day earlier, a French national of Chechen origin shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (Allah is greater) as he stabbed pedestrians in the neck in central Paris, killing one, wounding four. Stratfor Global Intelligence 'anticipates an increase in the tempo and intensity of attacks during Ramadan this year'.

However, whilst Islam is back, Islamic revival is not the only religious trend unfolding before us. Along with the phenomenal growth of Evangelical Christianity in the non-Western world -- a trend that has seen Christianity become (uniquely) a truly global faith -- we are also witnessing the unprecedented trend of Muslims leaving Islam.

Since the Islamic uprisings of 1979, Islam, though it promised much, has delivered little. Increasingly, Muslims are feeling not merely harassed and helpless, but disillusioned. Breaking into this context is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is now increasingly available in translation for download to a device. Also available in translation is the Quran, which many Muslims are reading in their own language for the very first time. Though in reading it some Muslims are 'radicalised', many recoil and reject Islam outright. Over and above everything is the growth of organised, strategic prayer for Muslim peoples. As mission scholar, David Garrison, observes, 'We are in the midst of the greatest turning of Muslims to Christ in 14 centuries of Muslim-Christian interaction. More than 80% of all the Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred in the past two to three decades, a time period that coincides with the modern prayer movement for Muslims. At the heart of this modern prayer movement is 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.' [Note: Garrison defines a 'movement' as a turning to Christ which results in at least 1000 baptisms or 100 new worshipping communities.]

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, commenced on 15 May and will continue through to 14 June. You can participate in 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World by purchasing a prayer guide booklet, either as hard copy or as a downloadable PDF. You can also participate by visiting the 30 Days of Prayer website where 'Today's Prayer Theme' is posted daily. If you would like to receive a daily reminder to help you remember to pray each day, you can subscribe to the 30 Days of Prayer social media pages for updates and reminders. See Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

website includes 3:32 video


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* comfort the Indonesian believers who lost loved ones in the 13 May terror attacks; may he also heal the wounded, strengthen the fearful, and guide the leadership. May the Lord protect Indonesia's churches this Ramadan.

* intervene on behalf of all Christian girls abducted and trafficked into sex slavery / forced marriage by Muslim criminal gangs and terrorists with the co-operation of Muslim authorities. Lord, every Christian girl along with every Christian who has ever been a parent or had a sister beseeches you: please rescue and restore these girls.

* send out more workers into his harvest field (see Matthew 9:35-38). May the Lord bless every believer who accepts this call, and every facility that trains believers to witness to Muslims; may God provide their every need and keep them safe.

* raise up more intercessors committed to praying for Muslims and ministry/witness to Muslims.

FOR, 'they will do these things [persecute and even kill you] because they have not known the Father, nor me' (from John 16:1-3 ESV). (emphasis mine)

'And there is salvation in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.' (Acts 4:12 ESV)


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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PRAYING FOR PROTECTION AND SALVATION DURING RAMADAN

On 2 May a newly married Coptic Christian girl aged 18 disappeared in probably another Islamic abduction. On 12 May a French national of Chechen origin shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as he stabbed pedestrians in the neck in central Paris, killing one and wounding four. On 13 May suicide bombers struck churches in Surabaya, Indonesia, killing 13, wounding 40. Pray for comfort. Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, commenced on 15 May and continues through to 14 June. Stratfor Global Intelligence 'anticipates an increase in the tempo and intensity of attacks during Ramadan this year'. Pray for protection. For decades now, Christians worldwide have been praying for Muslims during Ramadan, resulting in the unprecedented trend of Muslims leaving Islam, with many turning to Christ. To participate, visit https://www.30daysprayer.com Pray for salvation.

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Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat, central to which is prayer; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com