eBriefing January/February 2019 See previous eBriefings Download this eBriefing as PDF Freedom for Asia Bibi Asia Bibi's acquittal from a blasphemy charge has been upheld by Pakistan's Supreme Court. Over the final few months of 2018, we shared updates about Asia Bibi and her situation for prayer. Since being convicted of blasphemy in 2009 and sentenced to death, Asia has fought for freedom. She was acquitted late last year - a ruling which was upheld last week by the Supreme Court after an appeal by the prosecution. As a result of this ruling, Asia Bibi is now free to leave the country after spending the past nine years on death row in Pakistan. The UK government refused to grant her asylum despite strong lobbying, but her two children were granted asylum in Canada where they have been residing with a relative. Asia and her husband are expected to leave Pakistan to join them in Canada. We praise God for His deliverance of Asia and her family, and pray He would continue to bless them as they settle into new surroundings. Do join us in praying for this family, and for the many more Christians in Pakistan at risk of such dangerous false accusations. Source: Morning Star China vs. Christianity China remains an ongoing prayer concern as the nation continues with its plan to bring Christianity to heel. One expert on modern China claims that rather than seeking to destroy Christianity in the country, it wants to “turn Christianity into a fully domesticated religion that would do the bidding of the [ruling Communist] party.” The project has led to the mass shutdowns of house churches in recent years, along with the arrests of numerous leading figures in the underground church movement - churches operating outside of the government approved network of churches. One large church in Beijing was shut down because the pastor refused to install CCTV, such is the extent of China’s effort to monitor and control the church in China. The attempted manipulation even extends to God’s Word. Plans have been revealed to begin “retranslating and annotating” the Bible, to find commonalities with socialism and establish a “correct understanding” of the text. In other words, the government plans to rewrite the Bible to honour and promote Chinese Communists rather than the Lord. Please continue to pray with us for those believers resisting these attempts to control the church. Source: The Guardian Human Rights in North Korea A UN official has reported that the human rights situation in the country remains “extremely serious” after an investigation. He went on to describe accounts from people who have escaped the country: “Of those who left the North recently that I interviewed, every person gave accounts of ordinary people being subjected to exploitative labour and serious human rights violations. “Stories were told to me of people, including children, being subjected to long hours of labour where they were forced to work without remuneration. One person concluded: “the whole country is a prison.” The UN official also shared how detentions in political prison camps often occurred without due process or fair trial. This has resulted in a fear of imprisonment that is “very real and deeply embedded in the consciousness of the ordinary North Korean people”. In his New Year’s address, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un stated that “improving people’s standard of living radically” was a priority. Meanwhile, North Korea has been placed at the top of Open Doors World Watch List as the most anti-Christian country in the world for the 18th year in a row. Please continue to pray with us, that the light of Christ might shine into people’s lives. Source: United Nations The world’s largest public gathering The Kumbh Mela (pronounced koomph mel-a) is a Hindu festival occurring in various locations around the Ganges every three years. An estimated 120 million Hindus joined in the celebrations in 2013, including over 30 million on a single day, and the festival regularly attracts upwards of 75 million attendees. The latest mela has just begun in Uttar Pradesh, with a similarly impressive turnout expected. The festival is regarded as the most sacred of all Hindu pilgrimages, and the whole celebration focuses on man’s fear of death and his desire to enjoy immortality like the Hindu gods. It’s staggering to consider as many as 30 million people in one location to celebrate this festival. These are people hoping to please their gods by their actions, but instead are heading to a lost eternity. The festival will continue until March 4th – could you pray during the length of this festival for the millions of Hindus who will attend? Pray for the opening of eyes to the false teachings of Hinduism and to their need to know Christ as Saviour. Pray also for AsiaLink partners across India, who seek to bring the gospel to Hindus like those attending the Kumbh Mela. Source: The Guardian HistoryMakers Teams 2019 Don't miss the deadline to apply for our summer teams! There are only a few days left for young adults (18+) to apply before the initial deadline of February 5th. Do you know someone who could serve the church in Asia this summer? Why not pass this along to them? This summer we will be sending a team to South-East Asia at the end of July and another at the beginning of August to India. For more details on the trips and to apply, visit our HistoryMakers website.