THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS IN 2018
We praise God that ‘the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’ (2 Chronicles 16:9). We know that our persecuted family are very much in his sight and on his heart – but we also know he calls us to help sustain them through prayer.
So, thank you for standing in the gap for all those who have been imprisoned, bereaved, separated from their loved ones, attacked or discriminated against – simply for following Jesus.
We have seen real answers to prayer in some regions of the world, such as the Middle East where Islamic State militants have largely been routed and the immediate threat to life has subsided. But insecurity continues and many Christians are still displaced, far from home.
In other countries, such as Algeria and China, persecution has risen sharply this year. Elsewhere, Christians in certain areas have come under intense pressure, including the Indonesian city of Surabaya where three churches were bombed, and northern Myanmar where government forces targeted the Christian Kachin people.
We rejoice with Asia Bibi over her recent acquittal after nine years in jail for ‘blasphemy’ – though she and her family remain at high risk of extremist attack if she remains in Pakistan. We thank God that he answered our prayers for Pastor Andrew Brunson, whose release from jail in Turkey in October ended a two-year detention on terrorism-related charges.
Please pray for those who will spend Christmas in custody or captivity, including some we have prayed for all year, including Chinese Christian lawyer Jiang Tianyong whose family fear he is being given drugs that are damaging his memory. Nigerian teenager Leah Sharibu has been held by Boko Haram extremists since February after refusing to deny Christ. Zafar Bhatti in Pakistan is still waiting for his appeal against a life sentence for ‘blasphemy’ over ‘defamatory’ text messages, after an adjournment last week.
Jiang, Leah and Zafar represent countless others. Even last week in China, more than 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong, were arrested in Sichuan province.
As our global church family gathers to celebrate Christmas and other Christian festivals, they are often at heightened risk, as attacks in Egypt last Christmas and in Pakistan this Easter prove. Forthcoming general elections in Nigeria and India next year may prompt an upsurge in violence against Christians, our partners warn.
We will continue to pray for the persecutors, as Jesus himself urges us to (Matthew 5:44). Thank you so much for joining our #Pray50 campaign with this focus in our anniversary year.
So please stand with us in asking God to be with his people and protect them – so that they know his overwhelming love and perfect peace. And we pray that you and yours will meet with Christ anew this Christmas and in the year ahead.
- Please pray that the Lord Almighty will guard his people as they meet in his name to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Ask him to speak peace into the hearts of their persecutors.
- Ask God to bless prisoners of faith and their families as they face Christmas apart, perhaps not for the first time. Ask him to renew their hope and build their faith.
- Praise God that he ‘will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust’ in him. And pray that our persecuted family will ‘trust in the Lord… the Rock eternal’ (Isaiah 26:3-4).