Dear Friend …
Nissa is a 75 year old woman. She has lived her entire life on one of the islands that make up a country you probably have not heard of, The Republic of Maldives. It’s a group of about 1,200 tiny coral islands grouped into 26 atolls that are situated in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka and India. It just happens to be the smallest Asian country in the world with just over 400,000 people.
Nissa has no experience of the world beyond these tiny communities that make up the Maldives. She was born there, still lives there and is almost certain to die there without her ever hearing the message of God’s love for her.
Since its introduction in the 12th century, Islam has dominated the entire nation. Across these many islands it is rare to find a Christian. Like many generations before her, Nissa has never held a Bible in her hands and has never heard the message of Christ. She is like so many others…
It might surprise you that it is illegal to openly practise or promote any other faith than Islam. Those found to have strayed from Islam often face severe threats and punishment from local extremist groups.
They may even be arrested, jailed or forcibly converted back to the national faith. With so few Christians, no public churches and no complete Bible in the Maldivian language, how will Nissa ever hear the gospel?
Pray that someday soon she will discover Jesus. Your prayers can be the catalyst for Nissa’s encounter with Christ whether through a dream, a vision or by personal contact with a Christian. AsiaLink is looking to develop, support and train new workers for these islands. You can be a part of this incredible opportunity now by praying and giving!
Yours for Asia,
Rev. Dale R. Hiscock Executive Director
MONDAY - China - AUTHORITIES FORCIBLY CLOSE FOUR CHURCHES
According to China Aid, Chinese authorities closed four churches in China’s north-central Gansu province recently, saying they needed to register with the government, accusing them of violating laws.
One of the churches, Enyu Church, received a notice from the local religious affairs and public security bureaus in February, ordering them to immediately close their church. The government charged them with organizing religious activities without registering with the government and demanded that they cancel all services.
In response, church members began negotiating with the government, but in early March, local officials raided the church and ordered it to shut down immediately. They told church leaders they had violated the Religious Affairs laws and Fire Safety Regulations by continuing to meet without government permission. The church followed the government’s orders, and their building now sits empty.
Church leaders later shared that the government was just looking for an excuse to shut them down by stating there were fire safety violations. In addition, three other churches in Lanzhou were also closed within a month of each other. Some of the affected Christians are now gathering at private residences. One of the church members said, “The government asked us to attend a Three-Self church, but we want to remain in our house church.”
The Three-Self Patriotic Church in China is a Protestant organization affiliated with the government, and closely monitored by the Communist Party. The government appoints Three-Self pastors, allowing it to censor sermons and insert Communist propaganda.
Pray for these believers… and others through-out China who are experiencing the winds of renewed persecution.
Pray that this will only energize them and drive them closer to the Lord.
TUESDAY - Vietnam - HMONG CHRISTIANS HOSPITALISED AFTER MOB ATTACK
Four Vietnamese Christian families – 24 people in all – have been attacked by a mob led by the village chief, local sources have revealed. Four people were hospitalised for eight days after the March 1st attack, with injuries to their heads and arms. All four families are from the Hmong people group and only recently converted to the Christian faith. Provincial authorities advised them against continuing with their newfound faith and village leaders told them that unless they renounce Christianity they will be forced to leave their village.
The family’s pastor is understood to be in talks with local authorities about the incident.
Among the one million Hmong in Vietnam, there are an estimated 400,000 Christians – a higher proportion than in Vietnam’s population as a whole (about 9%). The religious transformation of this people group has been described as “remarkable”.
The Hmong, just like Vietnam’s other Christians, face threats to their religious freedom through the government’s new Law on Belief and Religion, which came into effect this year and has, so far, been used to criminalize a church gathering. Vietnam’s Hmong live mainly in the country’s northwest and central highlands.
Ask the Lord to bring complete healing to those who are injured.
Ask the Lord to give wisdom to the pastor as he speaks with the authorities.
Pray for their continued boldness in sharing the Gospel.
Wednesday - China - UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUP - THE SOUTHWESTERN HUISHUI MIAO
The rocky, Hershey-kiss-shaped mountains of central Guizhou province are home to more than 84,000 Southwestern Huishui Miao (Hway-shway Meow) who desperately need a Saviour.
The Miao are a diverse people group of more than 12 million spread throughout several provinces in China, as well as other countries.
They speak more than 80 languages and are divided into four major language groups. Categorized under the Western Hmongic language group, the Huishui Miao are further divided into at least four distinct languages, including the Southwestern Huishui Miao.
This unreached people group mostly raises crops such as rice and rapeseed on the difficult, rocky slopes of Huishui, Sandu and Changshun counties just south of Guizhou Province’s capital, Guiyang.
They have a complicated system of appeasing spirits, including the spirits of their ancestors, and believe that if their departed grandparents are not pleased with offerings of incense, paper money, food and wine, they may retaliate against the family by setting fire to their home or bringing sickness, even death.
The Southwestern Huishui Miao live in fear of evil spirits. Even so, they happily celebrate festivals with singing and dancing. Some of the young people have been able to attend school and speak Mandarin Chinese, but many of the older people still cannot read or write.
There is no Bible in their language, or even portions of Scripture.
Pray the Southwestern Huishui Miao will hunger after God and travel far and wide to find Him.
Pray those who have found work in the cities will meet Christians who can share the Good News with them.
Ask God to raise up believers in Guiyang and other places with a vision and a burden for reaching the Southwestern Huishui Miao for Christ.
Thursday - Pakistan - ISIS BEHIND THE KILLING OF 4 CHRISTIANS
ISIS says it was behind a terrorist attack on a Christian family in Quetta, Pakistan, that killed four people on Easter Monday.
The relatives had been riding in a rickshaw when motorcycle-riding gunmen opened fire on them. Three men and a woman died in the attack. A fifth person riding in the rickshaw — a 12-year-old girl — survived and was taken to the hospital, according to Pakistan’s Dawn news agency.
A reporter from Islamabad reports: “By targeting the family on the road, the gunmen found a weak link: Pakistani forces had stepped up security around churches to stop militants who target Christians on their holiest days, but the roads are still vulnerable.'”
The family was travelling in Quetta, a garrison town near the Afghan border. It’s the same town where ISIS militants stormed a church compound right before Christmas. They killed nine people.”
According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, roughly 2% of Pakistan’s population is Christian.
Pray the Lord will comfort those who are morning; may they experience a peace which passes all understanding as they come to terms with the loss.
Ask the Lord to bring complete healing to the girl who survived the attack.
Pray she may receive all necessary care and provision.
Pray the Lord may strengthen the church throughout Pakistan who face severe opposition and are frequently targeted.
Friday - India - FEROCITY OF HINDU EXTREMIST ATTACK STUNS CHRISTIANS
Persecution of Christians in India has been rising dramatically, so it was no surprise to hear reports of an attack on a church in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
During the attack, Persia Jacob, 38, was told that her life would be spared if she converted back to Hinduism. When she resisted, the attackers kicked her in the face until she fell unconscious.
Up till this point Persia had held her Bible close to her heart as they tried to rip it from her hands. She later stated “I will die, but I can’t do without the Bible”.
During the attack she shared that she was crying out to the Lord in her heart. Her attackers finally wrestled the Bible from her hands and, pushing and slapping her, they stripped her of her sari, burned her, and other Bibles along with other items.
Her husband, Pastor Jacob, looked on helplessly having himself been dragged out of the service and beaten. The pastor was asked if he wanted to die by hanging or being burned alive. Managing to escape the mob chased him more than a kilometre. He sought medical assistance before reporting the incident to the police, who refused to register the case.
Pray for this couple and their congregation, that they would know God’s comfort and strength at this time.
Pray for Persia that she would heal emotionally and physically from this assault.
Saturday - Pakistan - Bible Correspondence Institute
Pray for Pastor Hamid and his wife Aksa along with our AsiaLink team in central Pakistan.
Pray for new team members in our Bible Correspondence Institute that God would use them greatly in sharing the message of Christ.
Pray for the finances needed to support our various ministry opportunities.