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!
Last August, the acting prime minister claimed that women would be allowed to continue working under sharia law. However, only women whose jobs cannot be done by men were allowed to work. Current restrictions on women’s employment have been estimated to result in an immediate economic loss of up to $1 billion, and the Taliban’s first annual budget foresees a further loss of over $500 million. No explanation has been given as to how the gap will be met.
Having recently received a commitment of support from AsiaLink, one worker in the south of the country has been busy seeking to establish discipleship groups for young people. A motorbike provided through our ‘On Your Bike’ appeal is helping him travel around the region, with at least five locations targeted for new groups.
The Covid imposed restrictions have finally been lifted by the government and unrestricted travel within the country is once again possible.
Pastor T is preparing to open a café to for purposes of outreach and evangelism which should be open soon. He has started buying the equipment needed to run the café. He also hosted an event at Bhutanese New Year to which he invited various Buddhists friends that he has cultivated, seeking to develop relationships and share Christ. The work is slow but progressing well and he is very thankful for all the prayers and support we provide.
The Brunei Malay make up 66% of the nation’s population, and over 25,000 live in Kampung Ayer, the city’s famous water village. From here, they take water taxis across to the city for work. However, many of their daily needs are met through stores, schools and clinics in the village itself.
At a recent ceremony, Cambodian and Chinese officials proclaimed their friendship as they announced a new construction project, becoming, in the words of a Chinese ambassador, “ironclad brothers”. Work has begun, with Chinese investment, on expanding Cambodia’s largest naval base. Onlookers fear the project will grant Chinese forces enhanced access to the contested South China Sea.
Chinese citizens can be rewarded for providing tipoffs about suspected foreign spies and breaches of national security, under measures introduced recently by the country’s ministry of state. Beijing has in recent years been encouraging a whole–of–society approach to protecting national security. Citizens could get “spiritual rewards”, in the form of certificates of appreciation, or “material rewards” of cash up to more than 100,000 yuan (around £12,000), depending on the value of the tipoff.
Reflecting on the pandemic, our partner in the south of India shares that whilst Covid brought much suffering, it also provided many openings for the gospel. Many poor communities were provided for and an unprecedented sense of peace and partnership with the local police was developed. Meanwhile, gospel work in the villages continues.
Six bar workers were charged with blasphemy, after launching a promotion offering free bottles of gin to anybody named Mohammed or Maria. The bizarre promotion was created and promoted online, in an attempt to meet sales targets, but has landed the staff in trouble with the authorities, despite the seemingly obtuse nature of the accusations. More than 150 people have been imprisoned since the law was introduced in 1965 and some say the laws are becoming “increasingly dangerous”.
An earthquake in southern Iran has killed five with more in hospital. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake flattened a village when it struck in July. Major geological fault lines crisscross Iran, which has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years.
We give thanks for all that God has done through our partners in Iraqi Kurdistan in recent times. On average, new house churches are being planted at least once per month, with dozens of baptisms also taking place over the course of the past year. Further to this, 56 believers were equipped for ministry last year, whilst 123 existing leaders received training in church planting!
The nation continues to be closed to tourists in light of the pandemic unless they join a tour group, whilst those travelling in and out of the country for work and other purposes must undergo strict procedures. Sadly, a lack of travel opportunities has hindered outreach through English language classes, with a dampened desire leading to lower attendance by locals.
The nation has become embroiled in a political conflict with neighbouring Russia, leading to the shutting down of a key terminal for exporting oil. A Russian court closed the terminal after Kazakhstan declared its intent to increase exports to the EU. Kazakh President Kassym–Jomart Tokayev has labelled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as unjustified. He has also increased defence spending and sought closer ties to China and NATO since the invasion.
Open Doors has reported that incidents of persecution against Christians have been rising since the turn of the year, including death threats, violent attacks and mental abuse. In rural areas especially, the local authorities have considerable power and tend to be under the influence of the local Muslim community.
Source: Open Doors
Fuel shortages caused major disruption earlier this year, with large queues forming at many pumps. Laos has no oil reserves and so has been particularly vulnerable to the rising cost of fuel. In one southern area, pumps are only open for one hour per day. This has had a particular effect on agriculture in Laos, the main source of income for millions in the country.
A domestic shortage of live chickens sent costs soaring in Malaysia. As a result, the Malaysian government banned the export of live chicken to shore up supplies. This has had a devastating effect on neighbouring Singapore, a wealthy but land–poor island nation. The de facto national dish of Singapore is chicken rice, and the nation relies heavily on imports from Malaysia to ensure enough food for the population.
A yoga event organised by the Indian High Commission was disrupted as an angry mob barged into the national stadium to halt it. Ambassadors, diplomats and members of the public were taking part in the event when the mob forced entry, destroyed property and attempted to assault participants.
Source: India Today
Our partners in Mongolia have distributed hundreds of winter kits to children in 2022. Warm clothing for children is an essential in Mongolia, with winter temperatures regularly in the minus twenties! Each winter kit consists of a new coat, gloves and boots for a child. When temperatures are particularly cold, a lack of adequate clothing can prevent children from getting to school. Each gift creates a connection with a family and so opportunities for gospel outreach are created.
Enkhmunkh was one boy who received a kit:
“This is my first time visiting a church. I came here with my mom. I was surprised when I enter the church, because they welcomed me very warmly. I liked the song they sang. The church people shared about Jesus. This is my first time to hear about him. They told me that God created the heavens and earth and everything in it. I have learned that Jesus loves me. I really want to go to this church. The church people taught me how to pray. I will pray to Jesus when I am sick or when I am lonely. I really like my new coat and boots!”
In some rural areas, phone lines are not working, and the internet is unreliable. Even in Yangon, the old capital, connection speeds can be very slow. Sometimes this is due to damage caused by the conflict but at other times it is suspected that communication is being cut off for strategic purposes to aid the ruling Junta.
For our partners who work as church planters, this makes the work difficult. In some places, it can take a 60+ mile journey to reach the nearest working phone or to pick up a signal. If the churches in these areas have an urgent need, it means a long delay until help can even be contacted, let alone received. During this period of difficulty pastors and missionaries have continued in faithfulness to their calling. They continue to visit their flock to counsel, teach and offer support. It has not been possible in recent times to organise larger–scale outreach events, but evangelism continues in a more personal basis.
Numbers of tourists remain less than one half of pre–pandemic levels. Nepal is heavily reliant on tourists in search of adventure in the Himalayas. Even with restrictions removed, there remains a hesitancy for tourists to return in large numbers. Consequently, the Nepalese government are heavily promoting the various activities on offer including paragliding and bungee jumping on top of the traditional climbing and trekking. Streets in Kathmandu that usually teem with visitors remain near empty. With cost of living increasing the world over, the pressure is on to resurrect Nepal’s tourism industry.
For almost two–and–a–half years, North Korea has stuck to its claim it has seen no cases of Covid–19. Not any more! In the middle of May, North Korean officials finally confirmed its “first” infections. Few believe that the nation has actually evaded the virus until now. Not only has the virus’ presence been acknowledged, but major efforts have been taken to suppress it with a full national lockdown currently in place. With the entire population unvaccinated, and only a weak healthcare system in place, there are great fears for the people of North Korea. State media has recommended alternative remedies such as herbal tea and gargling salt water in the absence of anti–viral medication.
Temperatures in some regions have reached over 50°C, a record heat for springtime on the sub–continent. The heatwave has exacerbated energy shortages across both nations, driving up already high prices for power. In the Pakistani city of Turbat, around 200,000 residents have particularly little power, suffering in the heat without refrigerators or air–conditioning. The heat will also have a dramatic effect on crop yield, dropping in some regions by up to 50%. Food shortages are expected in future weeks and months.
Despite attacks on human rights, rule of law and the media, Rodrigo Duterte has remained popular in some areas. However, his appeal against a landslide election defeat has been thrown out by the Supreme Court, paving the way for Ferdinand Marcos to take the reins. Marcos is the son of the notorious dictator overthrown in the revolution of 1986, and his opponents highlight his systemic use of social media to ‘alter historical narratives of plunder, opulence and…brutality’ as a cause for grave concern.
The fuel situation has taken a drastic turn for the worst, causing major issues for transport. The last diesel ship arrived on 16th June and the way forward is unclear. In response to massive queues at petrol stations, the government has now mandated that fuel is for use only by essential services. As a result, many activities conducted by our partners will be put on hold as travel becomes impractical.
The UN’s latest estimate is that over 300,000 civilians have been killed in Syria since war broke out in 2011. This represents 1.5% of the pre–war population, or 1 in 67 people. This figure equates to an average of 83 deaths per day, of whom 18 were children, and does not account for those who died due to the lack of healthcare, food and water which have been a result of the ongoing conflict.
A Tajik soldier has been killed in a Tajikistan–Kyrgyzstan border dispute. The two nations in Central Asia share a contested border. Skirmishes like these have become more common in recent months as talks to resolve the situation make little progress. Kyrgyzstan reports that the incident began when Tajik forces opened fire on a Kyrgyz border post.
Source: Al Jazeera
Please pray for the bar girls of Bangkok, many of whom have been duped into this work or exploited in positions of vulnerability. Partners in Bangkok have been undertaking outreach to bars and brothels offering a way out of the sex industry. The team met a Buddhist owner of a brothel who believed the good karma of providing women work would outweigh the bad karma of engaging with prostitution. The team will continue to build a relationship with this owner and the girls working at this brothel, taking every opportunity to share Christ and leave the sex industry behind.
Recently installed president of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdymukhamedov, made his first major foray onto the international stage last month to visit President Putin in Moscow. The two nations share more than close trading links, but also a paranoia towards the emerging global alliance of democratic states. Both men set their sights on Afghanistan, seeking to influence events there.
Authorities in Uzbekistan have said that 18 people were killed during in the recent unrest in the semi–autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan. 516 people were detained following clashes between police and demonstrators sparked by plans to strip Karakalpakstan of its autonomy. One journalist was detained for speaking to family members of those detained. Hundreds have not been heard from since they were arrested.
In June, the authorities published two proposals seeking to further restrict religious freedoms. New rules could tighten controls on religious groups, including online meetings, with punishments ranging from $1300 for individuals to $2600 for organisations. Provisions have also been proposed for closing down a religious organisation altogether. One source suggested that “even ranking staff members of the government were taken by surprise and encouraged religious leaders to strongly object.”
An unprecedented spike in food prices is increasing the risk of catastrophic hunger for many. 90% of food is imported, and the conflict in Ukraine has caused significant disruption to supply chains. Meanwhile, the first commercial flight for over six years departed the nation, transporting 78 passengers from Sana’a to Cairo. A week later, 150 Ethiopians were flown home on a humanitarian flight, many having sought a way out of Yemen for over two years.
How the gift of God’s Word is changing lives among the Khumi of Myanmar!Read more
Record–breaking floods have plunged one third of Pakistan underwater.Read more