The incredible aerial image above doesn’t do justice in capturing the 2 to 3 million Muslims, gathered from around the world to celebrate the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the 5 required pillars of the Islamic faith that every Muslim must do in their lifetime.
The other pillars of Islam, are:
• Shahadah: sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith
• Salat: performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day
• Zakat: paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy
• Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan
• Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca
Carrying out the Five Pillars demonstrates that the Muslim is putting their faith first, and not just trying to fit it in around their secular lives.
As they circle the Kaaba, the black cube building at the center of Islam’s most important mosque, they walk counter clock wise all in the hope that their prayers will be answered!
The hajj mostly commemorates events in the life of the Prophet Ibrahim — that is, Abraham from the Old Testament.
From a biblical understanding the son Abraham almost sacrifices is Isaac. Whereas in Islam, it’s Abraham’s other son, Ismail (Ishmael), who is the one almost sacrificed. Muslims consider both Abraham and Ismail to be prophets of Allah, and Mohammed’s ancestry is said to be traced back to Ismail.
The Quran often confuses and contradicts our Biblical account with it’s own version of events and perspective. Sadly, the death and resurrection of Jesus is lost, misinterpreted and totally misunderstood. Let’s pray that Jesus would reveal himself as only He can into the mindset and life of Muslims who are in Mecca and throughout the Islamic world!
Rev. Dale R. Hiscock
MONDAY / North Korea - AMNESTY GRANTED FOR SOME
On August 1st the North Korean (NK) communist regime of Kim Jong-un granted a large-scale amnesty to people sentenced for crimes against “the state and the people”.
This is the third amnesty since Kim Jong-un came to power in December 2011. As yet there is no indication of how many prisoners were released. Analysts suspect the latest amnesty is aimed at ‘consolidating social unity … and boosting the people’s loyalty for Kim amid a changing environment after the North-US summit talks in June’.
Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul agrees, adding that the North might even want to ‘show [the] world it’s improving human rights’. In political prison camps, detainees have been subjected to torture and many NK’ans are incarcerated for life without any contact with the outside world, according to the UN in a 2014 report on the human rights situation in NK.
The Korea Institute for National Unification, a South Korean government agency, estimates today there are upwards of 200,000 people held in labour camps across the secretive state.
• Pray with North Korea’s underground church that the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un will come to know Christ and that his nation will find true peace in God.
• Pray that the Holy Spirit will move among the Supreme Leader’s inner circle and lead many of them to meet with Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
• Ask Jesus to sustain and strengthen our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned in North Korea and restore their hope in Him and in a future where His name is glorified across Korea.
TUESDAY / India - 9 YEAR-OLD CHRISTIAN GIRL GANG-RAPED & MURDERED
A nine-year-old girl from an Indian family that had recently converted to Christianity was gang-raped and murdered on Sunday, August 5th.
Anjali Masih was playing with her friends when a group of men lured her away by showing her a guava (popular tropical fruit).
She was then gang-raped and strangled with a telephone wire.
Local Christians shared that there has been a rise in anti-Christian feeling in the area, which is predominantly Hindu and Sikh, since a number of families converted to Christianity. One Christian, who did not wish to be named, suggested the brutal attack could have been carried out by people wanting to discourage others from changing religions.
India has seen a wave of anti-Christian violence in recent years, with a notable increase since Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in 2014. However, Punjab state has been largely spared such violence.
After the murder of a pastor in the Punjab city of Ludhiana last year, one local Christian shared: “The state of Punjab is very safe in India for Christians. There are Sikhs living here – they are also a religious minority in India. We are also a minority, but never before have we had any threats. But unfortunately this has happened and we are all shocked about how this is possible. Nobody knows how this can happen.”
• Pray for Anjali’s family at this time that they will be comforted and cared for at this critical moment.
• Pray that justice would be given and that Christians in this area would be encouraged to stand strong despite such a horrendous attack on such a young innocent life.
Wednesday / China - UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUP - THE SICHUAN MONGOL PEOPLE OF CHINA
Transportation is difficult in southwestern Sichuan Province, where there are few paved roads. As a result, the Gospel has been slow to reach the remote villages where more than 34,000 Mongols live.
Trails to their villages are steep, rocky and often covered with the very mud they use to make their homes. As farmers, most Mongols of Sichuan are too poor to own any type of vehicle but their feet.
They call themselves Naze in their own language and Mengguzu (Mongolian) in Chinese. Proud of their heritage, they claim their ancestors were members of Kublai Khan’s army, which conquered this area of Sichuan many centuries ago.
Today, local cultural and linguistic influences have begun to usurp Mongolian influence, assimilating them into the dominant Han society. Even though many no longer speak their native language or wear their traditional ethnic clothes, they still strongly identify themselves as Mongols.
Signs in both Chinese and Mongolian can be found throughout the area, although few Mongols of Sichuan can read their native script. They believe in spirits and carry on a loose affiliation with Buddhism. When someone dies they call a priest to perform the ceremony they believe will send the spirit through a series of intermediate stops back to Inner Mongolia, their original homeland. Most Mongols of Sichuan have never heard Jesus’ name.
• Pray that the Mongols of Sichuan will see their need for a Savior and call out to Jesus so they can find their true home in Him.
• Pray that near-culture believers will heed the Holy Spirit’s calling to endure the hardships necessary to bring the truth and light of Jesus to this tribe of Mongols.
Thursday / China - ANOTHER CROSS REMOVED FROM CHURCH BUILDING
The cross of a government-controlled Three Self Patriotic Church (TSPM) in a village in Shandong province was removed, and the church was covered with greenery all because of a visit by China’s President, Xi Jinping.
Earlier this year on June 9-10, the Chinese government hosted a leadership summit. During preparations for President Xi Jinping’s visit to a “model village” during the summit, local authorities concluded that a government-controlled Protestant TSPM church in the area of the visit was too visible.
According to local Christians, a government official visited the pastor of the church and ordered him to dismantle the church cross. “There cannot be a cross in the model village,” he said.
After the visit the pastor tried to meet with government officials in order to stop the cross from being taken down. Instead government officials threatened, “If you don’t dismantle the cross, we will demolish the church!”
As a result the cross was removed and authorities then planted a strip of green shrubbery to block the church from sight.
We know that the church is not a building… Yet, under President Xi China is undergoing a new cultural revolution to remove all signs of the Christian faith and influence.
• Pray for Chinese believers to remain commit-ted to living for the Lord.
• Pray that revival would change China’s communist party!
Friday / Afghanistan/India - BELIEVERS LIVING IN SECRET
“AP”, a man in his 60s arrived in India three years ago after converting to Christianity at the age of 38. Since then he has lost all contact with his parents and siblings. In the Afghan capital Kabul, AP used to visit a makeshift church set up for converts to Christianity by an NGO.
One day, in November 2014, the sermon at the church was interrupted by gunshots, and a security guard killed. “The Taliban had located our place of prayer. Almost immediately, we rushed to turn off the lights and hide under tables and in corners,” he recalled. The gunmen broke into the room and started shooting randomly, which resulted in many people being killed.
AP was shot in the leg, moved to the hospital, then arrested and questioned about his conversion. Using a six-month Indian visa, AP fled to Delhi and sought asylum.
• Pray for the Afghan church that they will stand strong in their faith and not return to Islam under pressure.
• Pray that they will have freedom to worship!
Saturday / Pakistan - GROWTH OF THE CHURCH
- Thank God for the tremendous response to our latest apologetic seminar where a former Muslim shared her incredible story of faith.
- Pray for our Bro. Hamid and his wife Aksa as they direct our ministry in this Mulim country.
- Pray that God would protect and bless their ministry with new opportunities to touch people lives with the good news of Christ.