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!
In most countries suicide is far more common among men, but not in Afghanistan where 80% of attempts are by women. The pandemic has exacerbated existing gender inequalities and economic hardship, as many men have become unemployed. Many have turned to drugs and poverty rates have increased to 72%. Joblessness is the main cause of gender–based violence here. Lockdowns have trapped women in their homes with their abusers, cut off from any support. Almost 90% of Afghan women have experienced at least one form of physical or psychological violence in their life says WHO. As a result, doctors have reported increased suicide attempts by women especially by poisoning.
Originally from Manipur in north–eastern India, the Meitei Kabui people worship Sanamahi as a god in every corner of every house, along with his brother Pakhangba, the dragon god, as their supreme god and creator.
One evangelist working among these people reported that his outreach was curtailed by COVID–19 restrictions. Nevertheless, he has continued to encourage his fellowship of 19 believers through home visits and has had opportunities to share the gospel with 30 others. He continues to disciple one man in particular, preparing him to also take on the work of an evangelist in days to come.
Bhutan’s vision is to become a self–reliant and fully developed country in the near future. They are looking towards the end of the pandemic and planning how they can best bounce back in order to meet this vision. The Civil Service will play a large part in this, as the biggest employer in the country. A national news article called for adherence to Robert Greenleaf’s teaching on ‘servant leadership’ among civil servants. As a Quaker, Greenleaf’s writing often uses Jesus as an example of such a leader.
Often we read of Muslims in Asia coming to faith through dreams and visions. In countries like Brunei where evangelism, Bibles in the national language and converting from Islam are all illegal, God often takes matters into His own hands by revealing Himself to those He wants to redeem through their own minds. What a humbling reminder that God does not need us to complete His mission, but we are offered the privilege of accompanying Him in it!
“The people living in my mission field believe in ghosts and ancestor spirits”, reports ‘O’, a gospel worker in the north–east of the country. Many of his neighbours also sacrifice animals to the god Preah Sen in order to have their prayers answered. Into this context, O speaks of the One who laid down his life as a perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world, and of the Father who loves to give good gifts to his children as they come to him with prayers and petitions.
In recent months, O’s ministry has been confined to 3 villages, where has witnessed to around 200 people and seen twenty trust in Christ.
Hong Kong’s first National Security Day is designed to promote new laws introduced to prevent subversion, secession, “terrorism” or collusion with foreign forces with possible punishments including life in prison. Parades took place and exhibitions were held in schools, where teachers are being forced to warn primary and secondary students against committing “subversion”. Over 100 people have been arrested under the law since its introduction last summer.
“It may take another year or so before the vaccine reaches out to people in the villages. Now they are vaccinating medical people only” reports our partner in the south of the country. Nevertheless, he is not downcast. “We experienced great things from God in 2020” he says, “and we expect even greater things from God in 2021”. Although this particular worker’s usual ministry was heavily restricted by the virus, he rejoices at the ways he was able to serve the poor over the past year, providing emergency food parcels to many families in need.
A viral video of a meeting with a school official, secretly filmed by the parents of a Christian schoolgirl who refused to wear a hijab, has sparked national reform. There are concerns in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, about growing religious intolerance. However, this is a small victory for religious minorities. Before this new ban on forced hijab wearing in schools, millions of students and teachers were bullied and intimidated into wearing a Hijab sometimes leading to expulsion and resignation.
Unsanitary and overcrowded prisons plus as rapidly spreading virus are a deadly combination. This is why Iran has released or pardoned up to 100,000 prisoners since the start of the pandemic. Many of those in Iranian prisons are Christians, arrested for ‘spreading propaganda against the regime’, or for ‘security purposes’, after sharing the love of God. Four believers called Ismail, Mohammad, Alireza and Hojjat were arrested last week in Khuzestan province by intelligence agents. One was beaten during questioning and the case isn’t over yet, but they were released, apparently because of COVID–19.
Iraq’s Prime Minister has called for “love and tolerance” between the country’s rival political groups in light of the Pope’s visit to the country this month. Since taking office last year, PM Kadhimi has sought to oppose the extremists currently operating outside of state control. Many hope this first ever visit by a Pope to the nation will boost international support for the PM’s efforts. Despite recent years of hostility, Christian and Muslim groups have coexisted side–by–side in Iraq for 1400 years.
COVID–19–related deaths surpassed 10,000 in Japan in the past week. Tokyo, Osaka and two other virus hotspots entered their third state of emergency since the pandemic began, and only around 1% of the Japanese population has been vaccinated to date. With less than 90 days to go before hosting the biggest international event since the pandemic began, it is no wonder that over one third of Japanese people believe the event should be cancelled or rescheduled once more.
Like many Asian nations, Kazakhstan has a complex relationship with China. Demonstrators recently staged anti–China protests in towns and cities throughout the nation, rallying against China’s increasing influence and economic power. These sentiments are widespread throughout the country and the upswell in anger has led to a new ban on the sale and lease of agricultural land to foreigners, described as a “rare victory for grassroots campaigning”.
The fear of the Chinese buying up all of their land, the growing presence of Chinese enterprises, the nation’s increasing debt to China and the persecution of ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang are all serving to strengthen the fear of Chinese expansion.
A majority of 79% of voters have endorsed a constitutional blueprint which abandons the parliamentary system and grants President Japarov significant power. It is telling that the voter turnout was just 37%, with accusations of bribery and voter fraud abounding. The President has widespread support among the working class, but some fear that a ‘khanate’ is being created – a feeling exacerbated when the health minister promoted a poisonous root as a miracle cure for COVID–19. Japarov insists that he is not an autocrat, but a democrat determined to “learn the lessons of history”.
Since the pandemic began, unemployment figures have soared by 20%, and a fresh wave of cases looks likely to worsen the situation still. This makes the work of providing employment and agricultural skills even more important in a nation where many struggle in poverty. We give thanks for those who are providing essential training and resources for the people of Laos – particularly to believers who experience even greater marginalisation and persecution in times of trouble.
An outspoken graphic artist was censored by Spotify and arrested for allegedly insulting the Malaysian Queen. Twenty officers arrived at the home of Fahmi Reza, forcing their way in and seizing his electronic devices before taking him into custody. The playlist in question featured a number of songs on the theme of jealousy, after the Queen accused Instagram followers of being jealous of royal access to COVID–19 vaccinations. This incident comes amid a crackdown on dissent by the government.
Hotels in the Maldives boasted some of the highest room rates in the world until COVID–19 travel bans in the West shrunk the market. In response, many mid–range resorts have instead begun to entice middle class Indian tourists by inviting well–known influencers to the islands. The Maldivian government are also reportedly considering making ‘vaxications’ available, whereby tourists would receive two doses of a vaccine during a multi–week stay.
Thanks to the overwhelmingly generous giving of AsiaLink supporters, our partners on the ground are excited to begin planning the distribution of over 1000 winter kits to children in need. The kits enable children to attend school and escape the dangers of abuse at home during the harsh Mongolian winters, and as they are distributed, the gospel is shared. We are delighted to see many turn to Christ every year, and the upscaling of this project presents a thrilling opportunity for widespread gospel outreach!
Protests continue in Myanmar and are frequently being met with a violent response. It has been reported that the police are tracking down places where protestors live and stay, causing a further escalation of tensions between the authorities and the nation’s citizens. In more rural areas, many families are having to trek deeper and deeper into the jungle to avoid attacks by the military.
The closure of banks is making it hard for our partners to distribute funds to gospel workers and there are fears that the military might begin attacking Christians if they are able to establish their power.
A concern has been raised by gospel workers in Nepal about teaching among the nation’s churches on the subject of salvation. It seems that many pastors have led their churches down the path of legalism, largely due to a lack of theological education. We are pleased to hear that a booklet is being produced to further educate pastors on this vital doctrine, and also welcome the news of a Bible college being under construction in a rural area.
Our partners are seeking to gently correct false teaching as they share fellowship with pastors around the nation, and we hope to provide further help in this area once travel restrictions are lifted.
Although it is expressed differently, North Korea’s doctrine is very similar to that of the “progressive” West. For both, independence is key. North Korea’s passion for independence stems from its history of being subject to the control of powerful nations like China and Japan. From this has grown a philosophy upon which all policies and ways of life are based – Juche. It teaches that “man is the master of all things and decides everything”. This atheistic ideology stands in stark contrast with the biblical teaching that God is the Sovereign Master of our lives.
For centuries in South Asia, families of brides have been paying dowries, whereby a gift of money, items or property is given to the family of the groom. In Pakistan, most marriages involve a dowry. It may be surprising to hear that 2,000 women die in Pakistan each year because of them, the highest rate of dowry deaths in the world. These women are murdered by in–laws deeming their payment to be insufficient. The demands requested can be crippling to already financially struggling families.
In the Philippines, the population spends more time on the internet than any other country and one in five people live on less than $1.90 a day. For most of the past year, the nation has been in lockdown, affecting employment and education opportunities. This mix of vulnerability and virtual living has resulted in a surge in online child prostitution, coming off the back of the Philippines being called the “global epicentre of the live–stream sexual abuse trade” in 2018.
It is estimated that abuse increased by 264% during the pandemic. Schools are shut, but parents with money have hired tutors. Dozens of qualified teachers were even placed in a bubble with wealthy families. How stark the difference, as parents in poverty are pimping their children to put food on the table.
‘One Team One Nation’ is the Sri Lankan cricket motto. Cricket is more than just a sport there. Being part of a sports team provides many opportunities to witness about your faith. This is amplified if you have a huge public following. Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella is one such witness. In a recent interview he said “in this country a Christian wouldn’t really like to open up and say that Jesus is my God, because it is a Buddhist country. There’s nothing bad about that, but I’m not ashamed, I will talk about God to anyone.”
With rumours circulating that a ‘Born Again’ religious cult is influencing team selections, it is vital that we pray for believers in the institution to be good ambassadors for Christ, both to their teammates and to the nation as it watches on.
A host of nations including the U.S. and the European Union have pledged grants totalling €5.5 billion to assist with Syria’s deepening humanitarian crisis. A further €6 billion was announced in the form of loans from financial institutions and donors. The conflict in Syria has entered its eleventh year with the nation also suffering at the hands of COVID–19. Meanwhile, a fuel shortage has caused the closure of schools and universities after its oil supplies became stuck behind the blockage of the Suez Canal.
A Muslim cleric was killed after being caught in the crossfire between Thai police and insurgents in the southern province of Pattani. His body was found in a car riddled with dozens of bullets. The conflict between Thai authorities and Malay insurgents continues, with a pipe bomb also exploding in neighbouring Narathiwat Province. Mercifully, none were injured.
Source: Bangkok Post
Powerful and destructive winds, described by one source as a hurricane, ripped roofs from buildings and interrupted power and communications networks in eastern parts of the nation. The authorities have been accused of taking no action to inform the public of the danger, and of censoring information about this and other events. VPN apps which help users to access censored content have been malfunctioning regularly in recent times, with the government promoting internet access on the one hand whilst increasing controls on the other.
In Uzbekistan, almost all Christians belong to ethnic minority groups and are treated harshly by the authoritarian regime. Unregistered religious activity is banned, evangelism is illegal and Christian congregations are persecuted. The church is monitored through phone taps, surveillance and recruited informers and it is reported that torture is widely used to force even children to renounce their faith. Recently, a local Christian woman named Tatyana offered Christian magazines to her neighbours. She was reported and summoned for questioning before the magazines were confiscated. Tatyana was fined because they had not been evaluated by the “Struggle with Extremism and Terrorism Department.”
Source: Voice of the Martyrs
No missionaries were present when Christianity began to spread in the Vietnamese Highlands in the late 1980s. It was a radio program from Manila in the native Hmong language which caused villagers to hear and share the good news of Jesus. Today, an incredible 51% of the region’s 1 million Hmong people are believers. These brothers and sisters often face exclusion and discrimination by both the authorities and those following indigenous religions. For example, throughout COVID, these believers have been excluded from lists to receive aid.
There is much to pray about when it comes to Yemen. Cholera, COVID and civil war, on top of an already impoverished population has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. They are battling the “worst famine the world has seen in decades” which is projected to cause nearly 2.3 million children under 5 to suffer from malnutrition this year.
Over 80% of the population requires humanitarian aid to survive, with March 26th marking six years of war which has killed over 200,000 and utilised child soldiers. The biggest crisis in Yemen however remains that only 0.2% of its population knows Christ.
Can you imagine being sentenced to 8 years in prison for going to Bible college and leading a church?Read more
Fears of an imminent and unprecedented tragedy are growing as India records a global high for cases recorded in a single day.Read more
Please pray urgently as our partners fear for their safety in the continuing aftermath of the coup in Myanmar.Read more