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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 148 | Wed 29 Feb 2012

February 29th, 2012
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By Elizabeth Kendal

FEBRUARY 2012 UPDATE -- During February we prayed concerning . . . 

EGYPT (RLPB 144), where Christians, especially indigenous Copts, are
  facing increasing levels of insecurity as Islam rises and dhimmitude
  (religious apartheid) returns. 

BURMA (RLPB 145), where up to 60,000 displaced Christian Kachin are
  struggling to survive without aid. [Reminder: Burma Day of Prayer --
  Saturday 17 March 2012.] 

UPDATE: God answers prayer! On 24 February an agreement was reached
  between the UN and Burmese government officials that should allow aid
  to reach some 45,000 displaced Kachin presently sheltering in camps and
  churches in areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation
  (KIO). Please persist in prayer for there is no word yet on when the UN
  aid convoy will depart. Meanwhile, the situation remains dire for some
  20,000 displaced Kachin stranded at the China-Burma border. 


SUDAN (RLPB 145 & 147), where genocide by the Arab-supremacist, Islamist
  regime in Khartoum against the predominantly Christian African Nuba of
  the 'new south', is well under way. 

UPDATE: New York Times correspondent Nicholas Kristoff slipped into South
  Kordofan in late February. He describes the situation as a 'mass
  atrocity . . . a government starving its people, massacring them,
  raping them, and bombing them . . .'. 

ESCAPE ROUTE OPENED. Since early February we have been praying for God to
  open the escape route south (see RLPB 145, which uses Exodus 14 as our
  precedent for prayer). On Sunday 26 February a newly-formed rebel
  alliance of groups from South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, the Sudan
  Revolutionary Front (SRF; also known as the Kauda Alliance), won their
  first ever military victory over Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) troops. The
  SRF liberated Taruje and the strategic SAF garrison at Jau, close to
  the South Sudan border. According to a spokesman from the Sudan
  People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N), as well as killing 130
  SAF troops, the SRF seized three tanks, some 200 vehicles, hundreds of
  weapons and dozens of heavy artillery and opened a 'completely clear
  and safe' route for refugees. Predictably President Omar al-Bashir is
  blaming South Sudan (which was not involved) and threatening a military
  response. Tensions are soaring. Please continue to pray. The way has
  been opened. Now the refugees need to escape and the LORD needs to
  frustrate any SAF pursuit. Please continue to pray that the LORD will
  fight for the Nuba (Exodus 14:14) so that all Sudan will know that God
  is the LORD (Exodus 14:18). 

MIDDLE EAST (RLPB 146), where Christians are increasingly persecuted and
  vulnerable in the wake of the so-called 'Arab Spring'. 

SYRIA (RLPB 147), where Christians presently suffering the depredations
  of war fear outright slaughter if the Assad regime falls. 

UPDATE: Syrian sources have told Barnabas Fund that Sunni jihadists are
  invading and pillaging house after house and that around 70 homes
  belonging to Christians in Homs have been thus affected. Forced to live
  in the crossfire, without electricity and with supplies of water, food
  and medicines declining, Christians are saying they would flee if only
  there were the opportunity.  Two martyrdom brigades of Islamists have
  formed in Homs this past month: the Al Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom
  Brigade and the Al Nusrah Front to Protect the Levant. The Catholic
  Archbishop of Damascus, Maronite Samir Nassar, says the situation in
  the country is spiralling out of control, with Syria becoming an arena
  of international conflict over competing political, military and
  economic interests. 


FEBRUARY 2012 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . . 

* INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR: CHRISTIANS FORCED TO REVERT TO ISLAM 
(Further updating RLPBs 142 & 143) 

Kashmiri Christians are now being pressured violently to revert to Islam 
by Islamic fundamentalists committed to ending 'apostasy'. The persecution 
has forced several local Christian ministries to close and is driving 
churches underground.  Many Christians are fleeing. One madrassa (Islamic 
school) has boasted it is presently working on 115 Kashmiri Christian 
converts after having already reverted around 150 converts over recent 
months. Slanderous, sensational disinformation is proliferating. After 
undertaking a 10-day investigative trip, the Catholic Christian Secular 
Forum (CSF) has prepared the report 'Religious Liberty and Persecution in 
Kashmir' which they will present to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 
shortly. CSF is calling on the Indian government to 'put an end to the 
persecution carried out in the state under the garb of Sharia law'.  


* IRAN: REPRESSION AND PERSECUTION ESCALATING 

According to Iranian sources, a lower court has signed execution orders 
for Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani (34), making his execution 
imminent. The government is denying the claim. Arrested in 2009 and 
sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010, Youcef (married with two young 
sons) has refused to renounce Christ, even in exchange for his freedom. 
Other Christian leaders arrested during February include Ms Giti Hakimpour 
(78) a leader at St Luke's Church in Esfahan and Mr Hekmat Salimi, pastor 
of the official Church of St Paul in Esfahan. According to Middle East 
Concern, government officials issued orders on 10 February to Emmanuel 
Protestant Church and St Peter's Evangelical Church to end their Friday 
Farsi-language worship services. They were the last two official churches 
in Tehran offering services on Fridays in the local language.  

* NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM TARGETS CHURCH 

Whilst the situation is dire, we can thank God that though the two most 
recent church bombings were designed to cause maximum carnage, to a large 
degree they were frustrated. The bomb that exploded outside Christ Embassy 
Church in Suleija on Sunday 19 February was massive, yet no worshippers 
were killed. One member returning from inside the church to his car 
noticed a bag placed between his car and the next. Finding it contained a 
huge bomb he called security. All the worshippers were gathered inside the 
church while bomb disposal police were called. Around 25 minutes later the 
powerful bomb exploded, killing five people, mainly spectators across the 
road. Had the bomb exploded while worshippers were leaving after the 
service the result would have been devastating. Similarly, in Jos on 
Sunday 26 February a suicide bomber had planned to ram his bomb-laden car 
into the front of Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) church to cause 
total carnage and maximum casualties. However, as he smashed through the 
church's security gates a tyre blew out, stopping the car, and the gas 
cylinder needed to maximise the blast fell out of the boot. Whilst three 
worshippers were killed -- a woman who was struck by the car and a father 
and son killed by shrapnel inside the church -- the toll would have been 
ten-fold had the bombing gone to plan.  

On 22 February jihadists in Maiduguri murdered a believer, Shetu Haruna 
Malgwi (79), who was mother of a local pastor. They slit her throat, 
placed a Bible under her feet and left a note written in Arabic on her 
chest. The note, believed to be for her son, said, 'We will get you soon.' 
Strong as Boko Haram is now it is affiliated with al Qaeda, God is still 
stronger. Please pray for the church in Nigeria. 'The LORD . . . 
frustrates the ways of the wicked (Psalm 146:9 NIV).  

* SOMALIA: ANOTHER SOMALI CHRISTIAN MARTYRED 

Compass Direct News (CDN) recently reported that on 2 January militants 
belonging to al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab beheaded yet another Somali 
believer. He was Zakaria Hussein Omar (26) who worked for a Christian 
humanitarian organisation recently banned by al-Shabaab. According to CDN, 
Omar converted to Christianity seven years ago while living in Ethiopia. 
He returned to Somalia in 2008 and married in 2010. 'For these things I 
weep; my eyes flow with tears . . .' (Lamentations 1:16a ESV) May the 'God 
of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction' (from 2 Corinthians 
1:3,4) bring comfort to the besieged and traumatised church in Somalia.

Prayers

Rod Matthews Regional Update 29th Feb 2012

February 29th, 2012
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Rod Matthews report on his recent trip to Thailand (Karen Congregation) and Thailand (Ambassador Bilingual School) and  with some people updates can be seen by clicking Regional Update – 29Feb2012

News

I AM: putting on Christ(6)

February 29th, 2012
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Scripture of the Day: Exodus 34:5 -6

5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. (NIV)

Israel was to carry God’s name. They were to be his image bearers in the world. If someone came across Israel they were suppose to have a true knowledge of God; what he is like in the way they dealt with one another.

Probably the greatest revelation in the First Testament which lays the foundation for the rest of the Bible is contained in

6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,

Yahweh, Yahweh, El Rachum and Chanun, ‘Erek ‘Apayim and of great Chesed and ‘Emet. (as we heard Dr McKenna explain)

Rachum – compassionate, mercy. related to the womb.

It gives the idea of caring for the foetus.

The Lord’s compassion and mercy is as a mother’s womb for her child. Any hope the foetus has is possessed because of the care and protection of this womb.

God’s compassion is the womb of all beginnings. This is the womb in which all true creation begins. And this is the womb in which all created life is sustained.

Chacun –favour, affirmation, confirmation.

While rachum is about conception, chacun is about being sustained. What God conceives, he sustains.

If the creation’s existence belongs to the tender mercies of God, it’s continuation depends upon his willingness to bend down and support it in being.

This favour gives one the right to exist and live in relationship with one’s creator and redeemer. This is evident as we will see in how God renews the covenant in Israel’s history. The covenant he initiated and brought into existence.

If compassion is necessary for beginnings, favour is imperative for continuance.

‘Erek’ Apayim -slowness to anger, long- suffering, ‘wide of nostril’

Very vivid in the Hebrew idiom. I am slow to, my nostrils to reach, to get it as wide apart as they’re going to get before I strike with my wrath.

Two final perfections revealed in his presence and covenant with his people.

These point to the future.

Chesed – loyal or steadfast love, covenant love, loving kindness, great grace, tender mercies

It can be argued this is OT equivalent of grace. At the heart of God’s intent and purpose of his relationship is great grace –from creation through the exodus and events leading onward.

Chesed with his presence will always be the way Yahweh is with his people.

It is this grace that we find God in his covenant renewals, with his great promises to the House of David.

In fact we can understand this perfection of God (or chesed Yahweh) when the Lord promised to never remove his chesed from David’s house. It is this promise that is the basis for the messianic vision of the prophetic tradition in Israel’s history.

‘Emet –faithful, trustworthy, reliable, real, truthful, the “Amen”

Yahweh will be faithful to his promise in the covenant with Israel and the Church.

The great Yes of the Lord God as truth and grace in times of covenant renewal.

Message for the Day