Persecution & Prayer Alert

"The ultimate measure of a man is not
where he stands in moments of comfort
and convenience, but where he stands at
times of challenge and controversy."

~ Martin Luther King Jr.


Indonesia: Governor Imprisoned for Alleged Blasphemy

Source(s): ABC News, World Evangelical Alliance, The New York Times

id basuki tjahaja purnama
Basuki (Ahok) Tjahaja Purnama
Wikimedia Commons / Government
of Republic of Indonesia

In a tense trial that was widely seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (popularly known as "Ahok"), has been sentenced to two years' imprisonment for alleged blasphemy. The May 9th sentence of the Jakarta governor was harsher than expected and has come as a shock to many of his supporters. TV news coverage of the scene outside the court showed some supporters weeping.

Ahok was charged with blasphemy after saying that clerics had used a verse from the Quran to mislead voters by telling them that Muslims were not allowed to vote for a Christian. He has denied any wrongdoing, explaining that he was not criticizing the Quran, but rather the clerics' interpretation of the verse. His lawyers plan to appeal the ruling.

Thousands of police have been deployed across the capital in case clashes break out between Ahok's supporters and militant Islamists who demanded he be sacked and jailed over the allegations. Although the Indonesian government was criticized for not doing enough to protect religious minorities, President Joko Widodo, a key ally of Ahok, had urged restraint over the trial and called for all sides to respect the legal process.

Pray for peace to reign in areas of Indonesia where tensions over the political controversy have fuelled strife among the country's citizens. May President Widodo, and those governing with him, respond with wisdom and diplomacy in order to bring about national unity and harmony. Also uphold Ahok as he faces harsh sentencing for a comment that has been misinterpreted. Ask that the ministering presence of Jesus will be with him, his family, fellow colleagues and supporters as they await the verdict of the appeal. As the Advocate mediates on his behalf (John 16:26), may Ahok's unwavering faith and courage be used as a testimony to many around the world due to the high-profile nature of his case.

India: Alarming Rise in Targeted Attacks

Source(s): International Christian Concern

in narendra modi flickr
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Flickr / Global Panorama (cc)

According to a newly published report, attacks against Christians in India have arisen at an alarming rate. The All India Christian Council recorded an increase of almost 20 percent in attacks against Christians within the year of 2016 alone. The report also indicates that physical violence against believers is up by 40 percent and murders have doubled.

The report titled Atrocities on Christians in India reveals that, on average, an attack has taken place every 40 hours. And the violent occurrences are no longer confined to a few Indian states but have now spread to 23 states. These recorded attacks include church workers being beaten, threatened and/or killed; as well as churches and Christian schools being bombed, torched, vandalized and/or demolished. Reflected in a notable number of these cases were attempts by extremists to force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism.

Right-wing Hindu nationalism has been gaining ground politically in the country, particularly since the Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014. This especially affects Dalit Hindus who convert to Christianity, even though this group falls outside the caste system. Still classed as "untouchables," they continue to face oppression within Indian society. However, India's caste system today goes beyond Hinduism as it also exists in many of the country's other religions. More about Christian persecution in India is available here.

Ask the Lord to equip His children in India with courage, protection and the tools needed to serve Him in the midst of tremendous opposition and threat -- using their Christian witness to open hearts and minds to the power and truth of the Gospel. As the church exemplifies the love of Christ through consistent compassion and prayer for the very perpetrators of such persecution (Matthew 5:43-48), may there be a major political and spiritual turnaround in the country so that His Spirit of love, peace, joy, kindness, patience...will prevail.

Sudan: Newest Release of Christian Prisoners!

Source(s): Release International, Middle East Concern

Petr Jasek in prison
Praise God for all the releases!

After 510 days in prison, Rev. Hassan Abduraheem and Mr. Abdulmonem Abdumawla, whom were both initially sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment, have recently been released after receiving presidential pardon. The two men were arrested in December 2015, along with VOM's Czech ministry partner Petr Jasek and fellow Christian Rev. Kuwa Shamal. (To review previously posted reports on their situation, click here.)

Rev. Shamal was acquitted of all charges and released in January, while Petr Jasek was released in February, after also being granted presidential pardon. "My joy is now complete as they are free as well," Petr gratefully announced following news of their release.

Petr spoke to Rev. Abduraheem at about midnight local time following his release. "He told me that both he and Abdulmonem were in good health, and excited and so happy to be free. He also expressed thanks to all those who had pushed their case."

Acknowledging the Lord's ability to use their incarceration for His higher purposes, Rev. Abduraheem added that he had no regrets about his time in prison. He was able to encourage Christians in Sudan's various prisons, while his imprisonment also served to encourage and embolden the Sudanese church as a whole.

The recently freed pastor mentioned in his conversation with Petr that he had already forgiven those who interrogated and imprisoned him, and that he felt no anger or bitterness. Rev. Aduraheem then sincerely added, "I pray that the Lord Jesus would reveal Himself to them as Lord and Saviour."

Thank you for joining us in prayer on behalf of these four released Christian prisoners (James 5:16), while being mindful to continue interceding for our other brothers and sisters in Sudan who are under intense pressure from a regime that appears to be set on eradicating Christianity. May God not only give them the spiritual fortitude, grace and encouragement required to persevere but, additionally, more opportunities to preach the "Good News" of the Gospel in both word and deed.

If you would like to post a prayer of praise or petition on behalf of our persecuted family around the globe, visit VOMC's prayer wall.