Close to 2.5 million Muslims gathered in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform one of Islam’s 5 Pillars of their faith – the Hajj (pilgrimage). This past weekend on the sacred hill called Mount Arafat, known as the mountain of Mercy, pilgrims spent an intense day of prayer, worship and reflection on what’s considered the climax of the hajj pilgrimage. Many spent the day and evening praying, asking for mercy for their past sins, imploring Allah for blessings, for good health, and healing.
Tears stream down the faces of some as they raise their hands in prayer on the slopes of this rocky hill where Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, is said to have delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago, in the hope their prayers will be answered.
One Muslim pilgrim from the Philippines said he felt a little nervous about making hajj: “God willing, everyone here will be accepted by Allah.”
Another pilgrim from Yemen shared, “We can tolerate the heat (40C) because our sins are greater than that,” he said… “We ask God to alleviate the heat of the hereafter.”
Sadly, for many Muslim pilgrims fear is the motivating factor for why they went on the Hajj.
- · Fear of what will happen after they die
- · Fear of the consequences of their own sins
- · Fear of evil and bad things happening to them
- · Fear of God, as they understand Him from the Quran
As these millions of pilgrims begin their journey home, most remain afraid.
Have they done enough to please God? Will He have favor on them? Is there hope for their souls? The vast majority of them don’t know that there is a perfect love that casts out ALL fear. His name is Jesus!
Let’s ask God to open the eyes of these precious people to see that we are born in sin, and that salvation is a free gift, not something we can obtain by doing good works or living rightly. Our
Salvation is by grace, not good works. If it were by works, we would have something to boast about because we did it on our own! Grace however, is unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor from God. Ephesians 2:8-9
This month, join me in praying over the following needs in Asia!
(Rev.) Dale R. Hiscock
MONDAY Saudi Arabia - 2.5 MILLION MUSLIMS TO ATTEND HAJJ IN MECCA
Every year, millions of Muslims converge on the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to symbolically retrace the footsteps of Adam, Eve, Abraham and Hagar (according to the Qur’an), and to be reminded that they are part of the umma—the worldwide community of Islam. The hajj consists of five intense days of ritual and prayer in Islam’s holiest city, Mecca. The pilgrimage to Mecca is among the five main pillars of Islam and must be carried out by every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able, at least once in their lives. This year Hajj begins on Friday August 9th and concludes on Wednesday August 14th. Last year 2.38 million Muslims travelled to Mecca to fulfill their spiritual obligation. This year Saudi Arabia is expecting 2.5 million to do the Hajj. Every Muslim who is physically and financially able is required to complete this journey in his or her lifetime.
By performing the hajj, pilgrims believe the series of rituals and prayers will erase their past sins. Muslims believe the hajj traces the paths of the Prophets Abraham, Ishmael and Mohammed.
They believe the following Hadith (the sayings of Muhammad): “It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: ‘Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed, will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.’” (Al-Bukhaari, 1449; Muslim, 1350).
As a result, the Hajj is the pinnacle of life for Muslims. They seek not only the forgiveness of sins but also to deepen their allegiance to Allah. We believe that God can use this time of spiritual focus to give Muslims a hunger for the gospel!
• Pray that the spiritual focus of this time will cause many Muslims to think about what they believe.
• Pray that Muslims will experience the true forgiveness that is available through Christ alone.
• Pray that God would show many pilgrims that works and rituals cannot save them.
• Ask God to open the eyes of Muslims to see that we are born in sin, and that salvation is a free gift, not something we can obtain by works.
• Pray that pilgrims returning home will have a sense of spiritual dissatisfaction after the Hajj and that they will have an urgent sense to learn more about who Jesus Christ really is
TUESDAY Syria - 60 YEAR OLD CHRISTIAN WOMAN GANG RAPED AND STONED TO DEATH
Muslim extremists tortured and repeatedly raped a Christian woman for over nine hours before stoning her to death in the Syrian province of Idlib, a disturbing new report has revealed.
According to various sources, 60-year-old Suzan Der Kirkour, a gardener and Arabic teacher, was found dead on July 9th, outside her village, which is located just north of a jihadist stronghold.
An autopsy report found that Suzan was tortured and raped over the span of nine hours before finally being stoned to death.
Miss Der Kirkour, a retired local school teacher, went missing from her home in the mainly-Christian village of Al-Yacoubia on July 8th. Her body was found the following day by members of her church in a nearby grove.
A Christian leader in the region said, “Attacks against Christians, mainly women and girls, are frequent here now, but this one has shocked the community. Suzan was an unmarried lady and a respected teacher who only remained in the village for the sake of her pupils, so that they could continue their studies.”
Arabic media reported that “those who raped and stoned her are themselves from among her former students and neighbors, whom she taught Arabic in school over the course of 30 years…. Surely she never dreamt to see such depraved savagery in the eyes of her former students…. Nonetheless, they preyed on her like wild beasts”.
• Pray for her family and friends, that they will be comforted.
• Ask God to bind the spirit of terrorism, fighting and hatred so prevalent in Syria.
Wednesday China - ORDERS OFFICIALS TO DISCOVER AND MONITOR CHRISTIANS
China’s central government has intensified its crackdown on Christianity and is now pressuring local government officials to keep a count on the number of citizens who believe in God in their villages and towns and to monitor them, according to a new report.
The CCP (Communist Party of China) is now threatening town and village officials with repercussions if the number is wrong. Three government officials in Yongcheng city in Henan province were suspended in April when their report to the government was too low.
An unidentified local government official stated, “The government is taking the matter of religion very seriously now. Every day, they ask us how many people in our village believe in God. If we say there aren’t any believers, they claim that we’re concealing what we know and failing to report it. If it is determined that we didn’t report the situation truthfully, we will be punished. Now, we have to report our work to the township government twice a day. We also need to fill out a form in the evening. We’re so busy that we don’t have any free time at all.”
The three local officials eventually were reinstated. “Special attention is paid to this work. It’s like our lives are being threatened,” a local official said. “After reporting someone, we have to restrict their movements and report their situation every day.”
• Pray for Chinese Christians to be bold and wise as they are being monitored and tracked.
• Pray that what the enemy in stamping out Christianity will backfire and that the governments actions will only increase the commitment and passion of Chinese Christians. aba village with the gospel.
Thursday Pakistan - 13 YEAR OLD CHRISTIAN GIRL KIDNAPPED, RAPED
A 13 years old Christian girl named Sadaf was kidnapped by a 54 year old Muslim man named Maqbool Baloch. He, with the help of his cousins kidnapped the girl and then raped her. Her family went to the Police to complain, after which Maqbool brought the girl to the local Court and said that the girl had accepted Islam and is now a Muslim and that he is getting married to her. Because of that, the Court ordered the girl to stay with the man as his wife.
If you go to AsiaLink’s website you can see her photo as well as a video of her mother appealing for help. These kind of incidents are very common in Pakistan. Christian girls are specially targeted by Muslim men in Pakistan.
• Pray for Sadaf and her family!
• Ask God to free her so she can be reunited with her family.
Friday Iran- GOVERNMENT CONCERNED WITH THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY
Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, has openly expressed concern about the spread of Christianity in his country. Alavi blamed “evangelical propaganda” for the increase in Iranian Muslims converting to Christianity.
Despite Christianity being criminalized, Iran is experiencing one of the fastest growing underground church movements in the world.
Alavi further stated that the Intelligence Ministry and Qom Seminary, the country’s largest Islamic seminary, have dispatched individuals to “counter the advocates of Christianity” in areas where Muslims are being converted. The intelligence minister reportedly said that although the agency is not responsible for finding the root cause of the mass religious conversion to Christianity in Iran, it is “happening right before our eyes.”
Underground house churches continue to spring up across Iran, although they must do so in secrecy because they risk arrest and imprisonment.
• Praise God for the way He is rapidly growing His church in Iran.
• Pray for those who are being detained for their faith.
Saturday China - PASTOR STILL BEING HELD IN PRISON
Continue to pray for Pastor Wang Yi who is being held by authorities since his arrest in December 2018. Both he and his wife are accused of subverting state power and potentially face a 15 year prison sentence. Authorities in China have now added “illegal business activities” to the charges against him.
It has also been reported that some church members have been forced to make false accusations against church leaders. Those who refused had their hands and feet shackled for more than 10 days to prevent sleep, a released church member reported.
• Pray that God would strengthen Pastor Wang with scriptures and memories of God’s past faithfulness to him. (Psalm 51:10).
• Pray for the many other pastors and Christians who have been arrested and imprisoned.