PRAY WITH US.
Join us in praying for the nations of Asia using the regularly updated prayer points below!
Join us in praying for the nations of Asia using the regularly updated prayer points below!
The recent discovery that a mountain shrub called ephedra could be used to make methamphetamine has caused a boom in the Afghan crystal meth industry. This new source is a game–changer for drug traffickers, making meth cheaper, easier to produce and thus more profitable.
In a country already termed the heroin capital of the world, this revelation could see the meth industry become equally widespread and destructive. While the drug may be exported worldwide, Kabul’s streets are feeling the impacts first and foremost. With 30% unemployment, the stress of the ongoing war and few mental health services, many are seeking a means of escape.
The nation recently suffered its heaviest rains in almost a decade, leaving around 1.5 milion people displaced. Thousands of paddy fields have been washed away, leaving millions in need of food aid. Meanwhile, economic lockdowns have hit the textile industry hard, leaving many without a source of income.
Source: The Guardian
Bhutan is proud of its freedom of religion laws guaranteed by the Constitution. However, evangelism is illegal. For Christians and seekers, this is clearly a challenge. Conversions are frowned upon, with reconversions back to original religions celebrated in the local news. We support pastors seeking to share their faith and grow the church despite these barriers. In different parts of the kingdom, the pastors run house churches, Sunday school classes, youth seminars and other activities. Lockdown moved some of these activities online but the churches continue to grow.
Although Christmas Day is a national holiday, celebrating it in any way has been banned in Brunei since 2015. Anyone found singing carols, decorating a tree or wearing a Santa hat could face up to 5 years in prison or a huge fine. These restrictions are “intended to control the act of celebrating Christmas excessively and openly, which could damage the beliefs of the Muslim community.” Non–Muslims can privately celebrate in their homes if they alert the authorities first, but the message is clear: the government is watching.
The government is planning to route all internet traffic through a ‘national internet gateway’ akin to that operated by China. The stated goals are to enhance national revenue collection, protect national security and assure social order. Human rights advocates fear that any content critical of the authoritarian government will be blocked. Cambodians have been increasingly harassed and jailed as a result of publishing their opinions online in recent years.
Source: Nikkei Asia
Brother Dongfeng (age 58) was imprisoned twice for his role as a house church leader and had unknown drugs and liquids forced down his throat by the authorities. As a result, he now suffers serious stomach problems and continues to require medicine. He is grateful for the support of God’s people around the world through our Action Fund.
Thousands of farmers have flocked to Delhi to protest new laws announced by the Indian government. The relatively wealthy farmers from other northern states have been receiving guaranteed prices for their crops, but the new laws will allow the government to buy for unregulated prices. The farmers fear this will leave them at the mercy of private buyers. In addition to the tension and disruption, two police officers have tested positive for COVID and a report claimed 2–3 farmers per day have flu–like symptoms. With Delhi already being one of the most affected areas in the country, with little to no social distancing or sanitising, there are fears this will be a ‘super–spreader’ event.
Source: Hindustan Times
While countries rush to inoculate vulnerable individuals from coronavirus, Indonesia has put a surprising group at the front of the queue – social media influencers. Vaccinating the young, healthy and wealthy as a priority may raise eyebrows, but this has come as a response to vaccine scepticism. Instead of vaccinating elderly people first, Indonesia will target younger working people aged 18 to 59 after frontline workers. One government adviser explained, “We are targeting those that are likely to spread the virus.”
In late October, it was claimed that one Iranian was dying of coronavirus every four minutes, with the capital city, Tehran, being worst hit. The government appears to have prioritised the national economy over public health, with the capital not being subjected to the same restrictions as the provinces. The way the situation has been handled will have done nothing to appease longstanding anger at the way the country is being run, particularly among the younger generation.
In summer 2014, ISIS singled out the Yazidi people for especially brutal treatment. Roughly 9,900 Yazidis were either killed or kidnapped within a few days. Over 3,000 of those abducted were women and girls, viewed to the fighters as ‘spoils of war’. They were raped, forced into marriage and/or sold into trafficking. Many are still unaccounted for. Those who did escape continue to face enormous challenges with trauma and health issues.
Our partners in the refugee camps where these women and girls now live are sharing the hope and healing offered by Jesus. They rescue, rehabilitate and vocationally train the women, as well as mentoring and discipling them. The team are rejoicing at significant healing in all forms among the young women they support.
Whilst Japan has not enforced lockdowns like those seen in many European countries, measures to control the virus have left many feeling isolated. This is especially true for school children, who are separated in class and unable to communicate and play as they usually would. At home, the situation may be no better with parents working long hours. Suicide levels in school children in August were double that of the same month in 2019.
An initiative to encourage children to read manga–style booklets of Bible stories has been launched to amuse, inspire and connect these children. It is hoped that many will discover the truth of Jesus as they read of His life and ministry.
The release of the second ‘Borat’ film has been met with a mixed response. Some see the film as offensive to the nation – over 100,000 people signed a petition to cancel the film. However, the main character’s catchphrase ‘Very nice!’ has now been used by Kazakh Tourism in an attempt to attract people to the country in 2021. An advert shows tourists hiking, sampling local drinks, meeting locals and admiring the nation’s architecture.
In October, Sadyr Japarov went from being part way through a ten–year prison sentence to becoming the prime minister and acting president in a matter of days. This came as a result of his country’s third revolution in 15 years. It was reported that allies of the previous president bought votes in a parliamentary election, leading to peaceful protests which evolved rapidly into a power grab. Many see Japarov as a hero, whilst others find his promise to rid the nation of organised crime far–fetched given allegations connecting him to money–laundering, kidnap and electoral fraud himself.
Source: The Economist
In October, local authorities in the province of Salavan chased seven Christians from their homes because they refused to renounce their faith. The two families have been forced to live in makeshift huts in the woods and although relatives have sought to provide assistance, their efforts have been stopped by village heads.
Source: Christian Post
The leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, announced in September that he has a “strong, formidable, convincing majority” of Members of Parliament to form a government. The next general election is not due to be held until 2023, but there have been calls for a snap vote. However, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned of the dangers of an election during a pandemic, stating that “this problem causes the cost of holding the general election to be high and also exposes the people to the spread of the disease”.
Having been threatened with suspension from the Commonwealth over its human rights record and a lack of progress on democratic reform, the Maldives chose to leave the Commonwealth in 2016. Since then, a new President has been elected. President Solih has done much work to strengthen democracy and human rights, whilst also clamping down on corruption and implementing judicial reform. The nation applied for readmission to the Commonwealth and was reinstated to membership earlier this year.
According to the most recent records, Mongolia has the 12th highest abortion rate in the world, higher than both the UK and the USA. A group we work with set up the first ever pro–life centre in the country, and now runs five facilities. They offer counselling, share the gospel and provide the opportunity for babies to be adopted rather than aborted. Hundreds of women have decided to keep their babies as a result, and many have also become Christians. In November in just one of their centres, 68 women visited, 27 of whom chose to keep their babies. 25 professed faith in Christ, and 15–20 women now attend weekly Bible studies.
Source: World Population Review
In the Kay Kee Tu area of Myanmar, the Burmese Army deployed a new weapon on villagers from the Karen people group. They injected dogs with a poison which made them violent before releasing them on the villagers. Many were injured and some lost their lives.
“Greetings from the unreached mountains!” began a recent report from our partner in the Himalayan nation. His team has just spent 12 days driving and hiking over 1600km around the country, preaching to the unreached and encouraging believers.
They met with pastors in six locations, gave out over 1500 pieces of Christian literature, reasoned with Hindus and Muslims, taught youngsters in a village, preached in a church, conducted house to house evangelism and were invited into many homes for meals. They gave out reading glasses, a new bike and lifts in their car, deepening friendships and making new ones. The Lord provided places to sleep, food to eat and people to speak to.
People are joyfully gathering together, drinking in celebration of the birth of a ruler this Christmas time. Except, this isn’t the Christmas birth we all know and love. Christmas Eve is the birthday of Kim Jong–Suk, the deceased grandmother of King Jong–Un; Jesus’ birthday the following day passes by unnoticed here. Since being a Christian is a crime punishable by death, it is not surprising that celebrating Christmas is banned in North Korea. Believers meet in complete secrecy, maybe only sitting on a park bench with one other and saying a quick prayer, or whispering praises together in a wood. As our nation publicly celebrates this day together, let us remember in our prayers those for whom that is not possible.
Source: Open Doors USA
What starts as a small loan ends with generations trapped in slavery. This is the reality for millions in Pakistan, especially in Punjab, a hotspot for brick–making bonded labour. Often needed for medical care, small loans subsequently spiral out of reach as minimal wages fail to catch up with the rising interest. The work is hard, long and dangerous, and is not just for the men. Whole families get drawn in to help reach exploitative production targets. Children can begin and end their lives making bricks.
But there is hope. Masters have been allowing children to attend a school which gives the next generation a better future, aiming to one day end the cycle. Many of the children attending are from non–Christian families, giving the team the opportunities to share the gospel with their families in both word and deed.
An estimated 31% of Filipinos (or 7.6 million families) went hungry over the summer. Months of quarantine have left many without work, causing a spike in huger. The news comes right after the revelation that around £157 million has remained undistributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, despite the funds being earmarked for social enhancement.
Source: Straits Times
A Christian organisation on the island is seeking to set up the nation’s first online Christian bookstore. An existing physical bookstore has been somewhat mismanaged and neglected, so the team are working to overhaul the stock and prepare for online trading, particularly in light of restrictions on business, travel and gatherings during the pandemic.
Syria has been declared the world’s deadliest place for aid workers, after 254 incidents affecting aid workers were recorded in one year. The Syrian regime is largely to blame, after several violations to the laws of war including the bombing of medical facilities and the deliberate targeting of attacks on search–and–rescue workers after an incident.
Source: Syria Direct
Floods across four provinces have affected tens of thousands of households after heavy monsoon rains, with almost 1000 people being displaced so far. Two fatalities have been reported. Landslides were also reported in two of the four affected districts. AsiaLink partners are seeking to reach out to local people at this time, providing essentials for those worst affected.
In a bizarre year which has seen the people of Turkmenistan hugely confused by mixed messages regarding the prevalence and risk of coronavirus in their nation, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has erected a golden statue of the nationally revered Alabai dog. The statue is 6 metres tall and its plinth features an LED display of Alabai dogs at play. The nation continues to report no cases of coronavirus despite hospital beds being full of ‘pneumonia’ patients.
Cotton is one of Uzbekistan’s most important yet contentious exports. Generating over $1bn annually, it is nicknamed “white gold”. However, millions are forced by the state to pick huge quantities in unsafe conditions. In recent years, boycotts and international pressure have caused the president to begin dismantling the forced labour system. Last year, the government asked for the boycott by over 300 companies to end, considering the progress made. The companies refuse to do so until there are zero cases of forced labour in the country.
Meanwhile, COVID has dramatically reduced employment, income and the well–being of Uzbeks. Due to school closures, child labour has increase in order to support suffering families.
Sources: Uzbek Forum
Hundreds of thousands of families have been displaced by floods in Vietnam and Cambodia. Seven consecutive tropical storms contributed to the destruction and over 100 have died in Vietnam alone. Vast numbers of livestock have also been killed or swept away.
Source: ABC Australia
Children in Yemen are suffering record rates of acute malnutrition, leaving them ten times more likely to die of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea or malaria, all of which are common in the nation. Devastating food price increases have left the most vulnerable unable to afford to eat. The situation has been worsened by the humanitarian response plan raising only 42% of the required support.
The incarnation causes us to wonder anew at the God of mystery.Read more
Three stories of God at work through the ministry of winter kits in Mongolia.Read more
Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel reminds us that God is in the business of breaking into people’s lives in ways beyond what we expect.Read more