“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” – Catherine Pulsifer
Thanksgiving weekend came and went all too quickly. The turkey I barbecued tasted great as did all the accompanying food dishes my wife prepared. Our children were all home to enjoy this time together as a family.
Yet, as I reflected I was reminded that we as Christians, who live here in Canada, have been blessed with incredible freedom without the dark threat of war, persecution, or even imprisonment unlike other areas of the world.
Earlier this week I learned that over 100,000 Christian lives are threatened in the Kurdish region of Syria that is under attack from Turkey. Meanwhile, the world turns its back on those being assaulted.
In China, Christians and those of any faith are under increasing threat from communist party authorities. Churches that once flourished freely and openly are now being closed and their member’s lives threatened. One house church has seen over 300 members arrested. Many have been evicted from their homes and have had to endure the police threatening to take away their children, all because they believe in Jesus.
In Bangladesh, a fervent Muslim stole a Christian leader’s camera which had a memory card in it. Sadly, the card had many sensitive ministry documents on it. The end result – a number of fanatical Muslims now want to go the police with the information they discovered. The Christian leader, fearful for his life and that of his family ,desperately needs your prayers.
Should we be surprised by any of this? No!
Jesus said… “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Matthew 24:9
Join me in making a life changing difference by investing your prayers into the lives of those in need!
Rev. Dale R. Hiscock
PS: Last month we shared the story of Saphia and her family who are facing being deported from Azerbaijan. Family members have threatened to hunt her down and kill her if she is deported back to her home country of Pakistan because she has left Islam and become a Christian.
We last heard from Saphia on October 6th… “Today is our last day we don’t know what will happen to us tomorrow. Again we are in the same situation which we were last month but we believe in Jesus Christ because the way he saved us last month he will save us again. We go in God’s words, follow God’s words… PRAY FOR US!!!”
If you haven’t signed the petition to help Saphia and her family do so now... asking the Azerbaijan United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to recognize this family as refugees please do so now! Encourage your friends and family to sign it !!
MONDAY / China - TO IMPOSE NEW SOCIAL CREDIT SYSTEM ON GOVERNMENT CHURCHES
China is creatively devising new ways of closing many of its Three Self Patriotic Movement Churches (TSPM) which are government controlled.
It is now implementing a system called the “standardized assessment of religious venues”. Any church that scores under 70 points (out of 100) will face the threat of being closed down.
The assessment lists more than 50 violations for which churches can lose points and face various forms of punishment, such as the dismissal of the person in charge or the closure of the church.
Three points can be deducted if church clergy members leave the county without prior approval, five points can be deducted for not raising the national flag or when video surveillance equipment inside the church doesn’t work properly, and eight points – for not proactively preaching “sinicized” sermons which emphasize loyalty to the government above loyalty to God.
In one region of China 15 points is taken off for not promoting the core socialist values in church services, and five points for having religious publications that are not published by state-designated publishing houses.
In July, one TSPM church was deducted ten points for using a hymn-book and five points because the church’s Chinese national flag was “old and tattered.”
The highest amount of points will be lost for “foreign-related” issues that are regard-ed as “betraying the Party and defecting to the enemy.” If a clergy member is found engaging in religious activities associated with those from outside China 20 points will be deducted per instance. If a church has established a religious venue with foreign ties, it will be immediately closed. One Christian stated that within nine days officials from various levels of government conducted four inspections, and in July – seven.
This new type of social credit system began in 2014 and is to be fully implemented in 2020 throughout China. Fearing that their churches could be shut down because of low points, some TSPM believers no longer hold private gatherings in their homes, since they could lose ten points for their church for holding “unregulated religious activities.”
• Pray China’s above ground church would be guided in knowing how to deal with these new pressures.
• Pray for church leaders, pastors and Christians who love God in the TSPM churches!
TUESDAY / Pakistan - 14 YEAR OLD CHRISTIAN GIRL KIDNAPPED, CONVERTED & MARRIED
On September 16th, Samra Bibi, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, was abducted by a Muslim man and four accomplices while her father and brother were at work.
When her father, Munir Masih, went to the police station to file a complaint, police officers refused to file a report. Instead, the investigative officer was verbally abusive to the father.
Two days later, police finally began to pursue the case after the intervention from local Christian leaders. Police quickly arrested one of the accomplices who sadly was released an hour later due to the payment of a bribe and pressure put on the police to release him.
Samra’s father shared that at the time “ten days have passed and no one has been arrested.” Naveed Walter from Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) stated… “Minority girls are easily targeted for abductions, forced conversions and forced marriages. They are soft targets for blackmail, rape and killing… Sometimes courts seem to be more supportive of perpetrators. For example, in Samra’s case, the girl is 14, a juvenile who cannot be married; yet police deliberately wrote in their report that she is between 15 and 16 years.”
• Pray that the missing daughter’s case will be taken seriously by local authorities in Pakistan and properly investigated by the police.
• Pray that their daughter will be protected and returned to her family!
• Pray she will not lose hope!
WEDNESDAY / China - UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUP - EWENI PEOPLE OF CHINA
With a population just over 27,000, the Ewenki are composed of at least three different groups with distinct dialects. The Ewenki people chose their current name meaning “people of the big mountain” in 1949. Originally they were known by tribal names such as Suelon or Tunggus that date back to the time of Genghis Khan. The Ewenki people originally came from the Lake Baikal area, but continued to move eastward. During the Qing dynasty they began to mix with other ethnic groups, and their descendants are now the Ewenki people.
Originally reindeer herders and forest hunters, about half of Ewenki people breed livestock. Most are hunters or farmers, whose main crop is wheat. The Ewenki language has no written characters. However, they also speak either Mongolian or Chinese. They are known for making utensils, clothing, shoes and other items from birch bark, as well as crafting many things from animal horns and skins.
Some Ewenki now follow Tibetan Buddhism, but most believe in good and evil spirits that can be influenced only by shamans. The “god of mountains” and the “god of fire” are some of the false gods they revere and worship. Children are not allowed to play with fire for fear that bad things will happen to the herd if they do. There are a small number of Ewenki who consider themselves Christians of the Russian Orthodox tradition. But they tend to blend religious practices, such as worshipping the statue of Jesus along with their idols.
• Pray that Chinese Christians share Christ with the Ewenki.
• Pray that spiritual strongholds among the Ewenki will be broken down.
THURSDAY / India - CHRISTIAN FAMILY HOSPITALISED AFTER BRUTAL ATTACK
A mob of almost 30 Hindu radicals attacked a pastor’s family’s home on September 22nd in northern India. The attack started when Hindu radicals stormed the home of Pastor Mangala savagely beating him, his wife and his two children.
As a result the entire family have been hospitalised. Pastor Mangala’s son lost four front teeth after he was hit in the face with a stone. According to local sources, animosity between Pastor Mangala and local Hindu radicals began in 2015 when the radicals encroached upon a property Pastor Mangala used for a school.
The radicals forcefully installed a Hindu idol in the school which was removed by court order just two months ago. No arrests have been made, however rumours suggest a case has been registered claiming that Pastor Mangala attacked the mob. This has left Pastor Mangala and his family in a state of fear as they feel they could be arrested at any time.
• Ask the Lord to bring healing and faithful perseverance to the family.
• Pray the case will be investigated fully, without bias.
• Pray justice will be served.
• Ask God to work among the local Hindus.
FRIDAY / Azerbaijan - FORMER MUSLIM WIFE AND DAUGHTER FACE DEATH THREATS
Continue to pray for former Muslim Safiya Wahed and her 16 year-old daughter Warda, that converted to Christianity and who now face deportation from Azerbaijan. Safiya is to be deported to her home country of Pakistan, where Muslim family members are threatening her life. Meanwhile her daughter is to be deported with her father and 3 year old brother to Bangladesh, thus separating the family from each other. They were to be deported the end of August but were given a month’s extension to the end of September. We have received no further update on their situation. A church in Canada is seeking to sponsor them as refugees.
• Pray the Lord would make a way for this family to come to Canada or another western country.
• Pray the Azerbaijan UN High Commissioner for Refugee’s would recognize this family as refugees.
• Pray for the Wahed family as they await the governments decision.
SATURDAY / China - PASTOR STILL BEING HELD IN PRISON
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.
• Pray God would strengthen Pastor Wang with scriptures and memories of God’s past faithfulness to him. (Psalm 51:10).
• Pray he will have proper legal council.
• Pray for the many Chinese pastors and Christians who’ve been arrested or imprisoned and are being held by authorities.
• Pray that China’s communist party members would discover the love God has for them.