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Oppressed churches respond to coronavirus impact

The gospel is continuing to bear fruit in countries opposed to the Christian message despite even more restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

In China, where the pandemic started, the authorities in Shandong province have banned online preaching and ‘fellowships that meet without approval’ but as restrictions on churches’ activity have increased because of the virus, many have resorted to livestreaming services on the internet.

However, in Burkina Faso, Christians are coming under intense pressure after a high-profile Christian couple became the first cases of coronavirus to be registered in the country.

Pastor Mamadou Karambiri and his wife were reportedly infected at an international Christian conference in France, where he was keynote speaker. They tested negative for the virus in France – but fell ill within a week of returning home. As a result some have started blaming Christians for importing the virus into the country, according to Release associate ministries.

Meanwhile, Release partners ministering to North Korea have received a moving testimony (pictured) from a man to whom they gave the Bible in digital form. He says the virus is spreading fast in places such as Pyongyang and Sinuiju. ‘I think we will all die from starvation or being infected. Both are deadly and cause despair, but after knowing Him, my fear has vanished. Thank you.’

Click here for a reflection by Release CEO Paul Robinson.

  • Please pray for steadfast faith for our church family in places where the coronavirus is spreading fear and fuelling persecution.
  • Pray for the swift recovery of Pastor Mamadou and his wife, Hortense, in Burkina Faso – and ask God to protect them and other Christians.
  • Please pray that churches across the world will find new ways to enjoy fellowship. Pray that Christians will set their eyes on Jesus and become a beacon of hope amid the fear and confusion.

(Sources: China Aid, The New York Times, VOM Canada, VOM Korea)

UPDATES

Thank God that the Sudanese Government has just abolished committees set up under the previous regime to seize control of church affairs. Churches will still need to take legal action to regain control of properties confiscated under President Omar al-Bashir’s Government. Pray that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his Cabinet will continue to take action to increase religious freedom in Sudan. (Source: Morning Star News)

Please continue to pray for our Iranian brother Ebrahim Firouzi who has just had his two-year period of exile in southern Iran extended by 11 months. Ebrahim has already spent five years in jail; in November, he began a period of exile in an area renowned for extremist activity. The extension is believed to be punishment for a trip that he made to Hamedan to ‘sort out family affairs’ in December: he had applied for permission but heard nothing back. Ask God to encourage, strengthen and protect Ebrahim. (Source: Middle East Concern)

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