Persecution & Prayer Alert

"Who will arise and plead my right
and guard from numerous foes?
When earth and hell increase my plight,
my anxious worry grows!
'God, hold my sliding feet,' I cried.
'Your statutes are my stay;
Your mercies, constant by my side,
must guide me in Your way.'"
~ Hymn lyrics by Isaac Watts 

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On January 12, the Iranian parliament approved a law that would see non-Muslim Iranians receive the same "blood money" as Muslim men. Under Islamic law, relatives of a murder victim can claim blood money instead of having the convicted murderer executed. The money is also used in compensating relatives in fatal vehicle accidents. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the supervisory Guardians Council must still approve the new law. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei is reported to support the law and will decide the amount of money that will be paid out if it is finally approved. The amount presently paid for Muslim men is 150 million rials ($28,800 CDN) and half that amount for women. The changes would apply to "recognized religious minorities," which are Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.

Pray that reforms beginning to take place in Iran will continue, and that there might be religious equality and greater freedom of religion. Pray for Christians in Iran who are working to reach their friends and neighbors with the Gospel of Christ.

For more information on the persecution of Christians in Iran, go to the Iran Country Report.

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On Sunday, December 29, a mob attacked a crusade in Mekelle, Ethiopia, killing two and injuring many others. According to a source for The Voice of the Martyrs, a crusade organized by the Ethiopian Full Gospel Church was in its final day when a mob of Ethiopian Orthodox militants attacked. Mekelle is the capital of the state of Tigray in northern Ethiopia. The state is strongly Ethiopian Orthodox and has often seen persecution against evangelicals. According to the Ethiopian source, there were at least twelve serious attacks against evangelical Christians in Ethiopia in 2002. Societal discrimination, individual physical assaults, and a denial of police protection are commonplace, particularly in rural areas.

Pray for those suffering at the hands of those who often feel that they are doing a service for God by persecuting evangelicals (John 16:2). Pray for the attackers, that they might see and experience the love and peace of Christ in their lives through the lives of those whom they are persecuting. The February 2003 edition of The Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter will focus on the plight and testimonies of Christians in this east African nation. For more information or to receive a free subscription to this informative and inspirational monthly publication, go to our website at https://www.vomcanada.com/nlonline.htm.

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Questions are being raised on whether the sale of Talisman Energy's interests in Sudan to India's national oil company will be able to proceed. The problems center on the other partners in the Greater Nile Oil Project that include the national oil companies of China, Malaysia and Sudan. Talisman owns a 25% share in the project.

The difficulties apparently revolve around the unfriendly relations that exist between the governments of China and India. There has also been talk that the partners may want a share in the $1.2 billion profit that Talisman will be making from the sale. Talisman Energy, one of Canada's largest oil companies, continues to affirm the January 31 closing date for the sale.

Talisman Energy has been under intense international pressure over its involvement in the oil production in Sudan. Many reports have confirmed that oil is the primary funding for the Islamist government's offensive against the people of southern Sudan that has killed over two million people. In spite of a cease-fire, government forces have launched a new offensive in the past week, using helicopters, tanks, and ground troops against villages near the oil production sites.

Pray for peace in Sudan. Pray that the international community will be stirred to act to prevent the continuing attacks against the non-Muslim people of southern Sudan.

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The chief superintendent of prisons at India's Pondicherry Central Jail is facing a judicial inquiry being accused of forcibly converting inmates to Christianity. According to a report from Compass Direct on January 7, Munanni, a fundamentalist Hindu group, is also demanding the suspension of Mr. G. David and calling upon state legislators to adopt an anti-conversion law similar to that in neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. The Hindu group alleges that at least three prisoners were baptized in the prison in recent weeks. While David makes no attempt to hide his Christian faith, he denies being involved in conversions. The Inspector General of Prisons has also received no complaints from inmates about conversions.

Pray for David and other Christians facing false accusations. Pray that governments will refuse to bend to the demands from militant groups fighting for anti-conversion legislation.

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