Members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan province, continued to face harassment as authorities attempted to shut down their congregation. While Wang Yi, the head pastor, continues to serve a nine-year prison sentence, other members of the church also encountered persecution such as minister Wu Wuqing who, with his family, was locked in their home by officials.
At the same time we thank God that church member Liao Qiang and his family arrived safely in the US.
In October the Chinese Communist Party launched an attack on Christian education. Police in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, arrested representatives of Abeka - a Christian home-schooling programme. A day later, officials raided a Christian school in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu. It is believed the two events were co-ordinated actions against Christian education.
We thank God that the ‘Gospel Warrior’ Chen Wensheng was released in Hunan province after serving 15 days behind bars for public evangelism - his sixth detention this year. Chen wrote: ‘Hallelujah! Thank you, God, for your grace and presence. Thank you for your prayers.’
Earlier this year we were delighted to report the release of two Christians who had been long-term prisoners in Eritrea: Twen Theodros and Mussie Eyob.
Twen was first arrested in 2004. Her story is one of remarkable courage, suffering beatings and torture. Mussie was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2011 after preaching outside a mosque. Eventually he was deported to Eritrea and imprisoned.
However, we also reported that the Eritrean authorities re-arrested 15 Christians in Asmara. All had previously been imprisoned for their faith – some for up to 16 years. They were released in summer 2020, but re-arrested following the discovery of a list of Christian contacts.
We also asked you to pray for the immediate needs of Zafar Bhatti who has been in prison in Pakistan since 2012. Thank God that those needs were swiftly met. Zafar was given a life sentence in 2017 for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, which he has always denied.
In August we asked you to pray for Christian nurses Mariam Lal and Navish Arooj who were charged with ‘defiling the Koran’ after they followed their supervisor’s instructions to remove Islamic stickers from their hospital in Faisalabad, Pakistan. In an unprecedented court decision a judge is understood to have granted them bail.
It’s now nearly five years since Malaysian pastor Raymond Koh was abducted. His whereabouts and condition remain unknown but the abduction has been blamed on the police Special Branch.
We also asked you to pray more generally for Christians in Malaysia who expressed deep concern at what they see as growing intolerance. A video was posted online identifying various Christians by name and wrongly exposing them as enemies of the state.
All of this, combined with a fear that sharia (Islamic law) is being extended, is causing unrest and uneasiness within Malaysia.
In March we asked you to pray for Christians in India after armed Hindu extremists in Madhya Pradesh reportedly disrupted worship services at two churches, beat congregation members and pressured police to arrest more than 20 Christians on suspicion of forcible conversion.
Under a new anti-conversion law that came into effect in the central Indian state in January, police charged one of the two churches’ pastors with forcible conversion.
Please continue to pray for believers as extremists use anti-conversion laws in several states to target pastors and evangelists.
Thank you for praying for Christians in Burkina Fasowho were believed to be on the hitlist of jihadists after a deadly attack in the north of the country in which at least 100 people were killed.
Our partners said jihadists had been targeting pastors and priests, forcing churches to close their doors and meet in secret.
Sadly the situation in northern Nigeria remains dire, with attacks on villages by militant Fulani herdsmen and the kidnapping of Christians for ransom continuing unabated.
In the summer more than 140 children were abducted by suspected Fulani gunmen from a Christian school in Kaduna state, while more than 30 Christians were believed killed by militant Fulani herdsmen in one night in Kaduna.
In August we reported more than 50 people were killed in an attack on the town of Miango near Jos in Plateau state. About 300 homes, two churches and an orphanage were destroyed and more than 20,000 residents displaced.
Following the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistanthere are fears that the persecution of Christians will increase. One church leader said Christians were living in great fear; they risk betrayal, even from their own family.