South-East Asia

Please pray for an unfolding situation in South-East Asia concerning a believer, Oscar*, currently imprisoned for his faith.

Oscar was once far from Christ - before his conversion he strongly opposed Christianity. When his son, Sam*, became a Christian and shared his faith with the family, Oscar kicked him out of the house and threw away the Bibles Sam had brought for him. Oscar even reported his son so that he would be arrested!

Sam went and studied at Bible college and learned from other church leaders before returning to his home village. Sam made the decision to return to Oscar again despite his previous rejection. This time Oscar was open to listening to the gospel from his son and gave his life to Christ.

Oscar began passionately witnessing about Jesus to others in the village and led 5 more families to Christ. Numbers of believers in Oscar’s village were growing and he led 8 more families to the Lord as recently as January.

However, the village authorities were concerned by this growth and Oscar was arrested and detained a number of weeks ago. Oscar is awaiting the court to pass a verdict and will not be released in the interim unless he signs a document renouncing his faith. His wife and the 8 families who recently became Christians are also under pressure to renounce Christianity.

Pray with us for this situation and for Oscar, his family and those who have become Christians. It’s incredible to hear stories like Oscar's - from reporting his son to be arrested to following Jesus and being arrested and detained himself.

These believers need our prayers for strength, endurance and comfort. We pray that God would use this situation to bring even more unreached people to himself.

*names changed for security reasons

North Korea

The Church around the world mourned the loss of evangelical leader Billy Graham last month.

Billy’s ministry led countless people to the Lord globally and has prompted many reflections on his life and work.

A fascinating aspect of Billy’s ministry was his ability to go and influence people and places unreachable by many others. In the 1990s, Billy visited North Korea twice where he lectured and met with the Kim family - truly remarkable events when we consider the hostility towards the West and Christianity that North Korea is infamous for. Billy was even able to give Kim Il Sung, ruler at the time, a copy of one his evangelistic books.

The Graham family’s ongoing relationship with the Kims has paved the way for other Westerners to visit and opened up pathways for aid to be delivered to needy North Korean people. This relationship provided key diplomatic value as it offered another line of communication between North Korea and the US Presidency.

It’s difficult to imagine another man like Billy Graham with the ministry, platform and reach that he had. We pray for more men like him and especially for men operating at such a level that they might be able to meet with Kim Jong Un and continue Billy’s gospel influence in North Korea.

Central Asia

In Pakistan, a recent religious ruling has been passed by the government condemning Islamic extremism and vigilante “blasphemy” attacks.

Faisal Masjid, Islamabad

Christians in Pakistan face sustained discrimination at all levels and society and there are many groups that seek to incite violence against known believers. While strict blasphemy laws remain in place that directly affect Christians, this recent ruling is positive development for believers in Pakistan as extremist violence against them has been explicitly condemned. 

We continue to pray for Pakistan and we celebrate this ruling, albeit incremental, that moves towards increased safety for brothers and sisters in the land. Pray for Christians in Pakistan, currently number 5 on Open Doors World Watch List for persecution against Christians.

Subcontinent

In the Kashmir region of India there are more stories of the hostility to Hindus towards Christians. 

An unwell Hindu woman and her husband converted to Christianity after receiving prayer and ministry from a local pastor. The woman sadly passed away some time after. A large group of Hindus heard about the conversion and death of the woman and reacted angrily, seizing the body and performing Hindu last rites before burning the body on the grounds of a local church.

The mob of around 1000 also attempted to burn the woman’s husband alive before police took him into protective custody. The mob resisted police control and set fire to the church building connected to the husband and his late wife as well as damaging cars of believers attending the church.

Local Christians hid, fearful for their lives and local pastors are attempting to seek justice for the actions of the mob. So far there have been a few arrests with quick releases.

Continue to pray for believers in the volatile Kashmir region of India.

East Asia

In China, the government’s new policies on unregistered Christian gatherings and activities could cause many involved in these kinds of ministries a lot of trouble.

These new policies will most likely result in arrests, confiscation of property, or disruption from the authorities of normal church life in China. The changes reflect the governments revived desire to attack the church in China, since  Christianity is seen as a threat to the Communist model of government which allows Chinese leaders to retain their positions of power. 

The changes are being spearheaded by President Xi who is in a position of unparalleled power in China’s modern history. On February 25, it was announced that the Chinese government intends to amend the current constitution to remove limits on the number of terms Presidents can sit. If these changes occur, President Xi could theoretically reign until the end of his life.

These developments in China must spur us to prayer for Xi, the leader of China for the foreseeable future and beyond. Only the Lord can move his heart to usher in a more open arena for Christianity in China.