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!
Three months on from the chaotic return of the Taliban to Afghanistan’s major cities, much uncertainty remains and many Afghans find themselves in desperate need. The situation is particularly perilous given the arrival of winter. Those at risk include Christians who have not yet fled the country, and all those who have crossed borders with no money or possessions with which to sustain themselves.
Mohib Ullah, a Rohingya Muslim leader from Myanmar, has been shot dead in a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh. He had been a leading advocate for the Muslim minority group who were forced to flee after the 2017 military crackdown. These people who have survived genocide in their own country now face many dangers, harsh conditions and persistent hopelessness. The Rohingya are prohibited from moving outside their camps and faced further restrictive measures in May due to COVID lockdowns. They must also endure the extremes of the Bangladeshi climate which includes floods, heavy rains and dry–season fires; yet despite this they are forbidden from building stronger shelters to withstand the elements.
Praise God that despite COVID restrictions, He is still building His Church in Bhutan. The country has experienced a marked decrease in new cases and churches have been reporting the recommencement of Sunday services, Christian seminars and baptisms of new believers.
In a country where the majority are financially comfortable, and in which evangelism is prohibited, it can be hard to make Jesus known. However, there are particular opportunities for believers to live and work in a country like Brunei, displaying the love of God and the internal work of the Holy Spirit as they go.
The Cambodian Tourism Ministry has announced plans to allow international travellers back into the country as early as November this year. Borders have been closed to tourists since April 2020, but it is anticipated that the country will have reached herd immunity by the end of September when 75% of the population will have been double vaccinated – making Cambodia the second most vaccinated country in South–East Asia.
China is in the process of a “cultural crackdown”, seeking to exercise more social control across the country while limiting other sources of influence present in the media and entertainment industry. There appears to be some concern over the moral aspect of current pop–culture such as the love of gossip or decadency and vulgar nature of so many celebrities. However, many are fearing tighter controls will be something of a return to the pre–reform days.
Sources: The Guardian
The impacts of the pandemic rumble on across the nation, with schools remaining closed in some areas and a dire situation of hunger breaking out as many have gone without work for months. Our partners on the ground have been distributing food packages for the past 18 months and have provided for over 15,000 people to date. They have also been busy providing protective equipment, hygiene kits, and isolation packages for those forced to isolate.
The Indonesian government have banned any holiday leave between 24th December and 2nd January for workers of both state–owned and private companies. The country experienced a devastating second wave of cases in July and August this year which followed Islamic celebrations for the end of Ramadan; and officials are wary of a similar surge resulting from Christmas and New Year gatherings.
At least 72 deaths in Iranian prisons have failed to be investigated in the last 10 years. Over half of these were allegedly resulting from torture or ill–treatment by officials and another 15 followed the harsh suppression of prison protests over COVID–19.
The people of Iraq have endured much suffering and upheaval in recent years, but we are encouraged by what God is doing here. Our partners report the growth and establishment of new house churches, along with ongoing leadership training and discipleship. In addition to this, thousands have been reached from one ethnic group with online gospel advertisements in their own language. Meanwhile, other forms of outreach continue to take place.
Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced an election following his recent takeover of the Liberal Democratic Party from Shinzo Abe. Kishida has called for a sharp rise in defence spending in response to developments in China and North Korea. Other areas of concern include the availability of COVID vaccines, a politics of trust and accessibility to the public.
The Chairman of Kazakhstan’s Committee for Religious Affairs has pledged to “continue to create all necessary conditions for religious freedom” at the recent International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC. The country’s 1995 Constitution already ‘allows’ for such freedom as well as proselytization, but restrictions were added in 2011 which favoured the more ‘traditional’ religions of Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodoxy.
Source: Christianity Today
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament used emergency powers to appoint a new Prime Minister on 9th October after a week of unrest. Protesters had stormed government buildings and freed a former president, imprisoned for corruption, who then addressed a rally himself. A state of emergency has been declared with troops being deployed and curfews announced in Bishkek, the nation’s capital city.
There are reports of Christians being evicted from villages in various areas across the country. This is often due to the belief that the ‘village spirit’ will be angry and kill the residents if they allow Christians to settle there.
Discontent over the Malaysian government’s handling of COVID–19 has led to a ‘black flag movement’ initiated by around 40 youth activist groups. Such groups were made up of mostly younger people who were originally concerned with lowering the voting age as well as the issue of unemployment.
Source: Al Jazeera
The Maldives is facing a triple–threat to its very existence. Rising sea levels, disrupted weather patterns and coastal erosion are all bringing the future of these 1000 islands into question, with some scientists warning that disaster could happen in the next 10 years. Damage to the coral reef has been of particular note of late. This ecosystem is home to nearly all of the islands’ marine life and also acts to protect the coastlines from erosion.
Source: Sky News
Our partners in Mongolia have reported record numbers of women coming to their pro–life centres. Here, women considering abortion will hear the gospel and receive support and some basic prenatal care. These centres provide an invaluable service in the community with around half of the women going on to keep their babies and half of that number becoming Christians as a result of coming to the centres.
The Burmese Army is continuing to persecute both ethnic minorities and civilians, reportedly laying landmines in residential areas and carrying out public torture and executions in efforts to reinstate military rule. It is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous to get vital aid into the country, and those who have been displaced by the fighting have little or no shelter and provisions.
Our partner in Nepal has recently completed discipleship training with a number of students who are keen to grow in their faith and understanding of the gospel. They have been a huge encouragement to him and share his heart for evangelism. He has asked us to pray with him that God would raise up at least one evangelist for each of the seven provinces of Nepal, a country with a staggering percentage of unreached people groups.
North Korea’s food shortage lingers on as the freezing winter period approaches and there is great concern for those who cannot afford the inflated food prices. In addition to this there have been reports that COVID is spreading in a number of cities despite official records of zero cases.
Christian schools in Pakistan are at risk of closure as a result of a shortfall in funds amid the pandemic. Thankfully, our partners who already run a school in the country have adopted another school and supplied a small amount of financial support to keep it running. 178 children are now able to continue their education and it is hoped that similar funds can be provided to other establishments at risk.
Despite a record–high 22,415 COVID cases on Monday 6th September, the capital Manila plans to lift the stay–at–home restrictions which have been in place for the past month. This comes with the hope of reviving the economy, however hospitals are reported to be filling up quickly as many staff have resigned since the pandemic began due to poor conditions and low pay.
Sri Lanka’s President has declared a state of emergency on 30th August as food prices soar and the currency’s value plumets. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa claims that this will prevent the hoarding of essential foods, however the emergency law will also give more power to authorities along with immunity from lawsuits and in the past such legislation has been used by ruling governments to suppress opponents.
In addition to the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria due to the refugee crisis, the region has also been experiencing rising temperatures and “record low” rainfall in recent months, putting millions in danger of losing access to water, electricity and food.
One AsiaLink partner in the country has likened watching the Thai government handle COVID–19 to watching a horror movie. “Unintelligent, non–sensical decisions seem to be the norm. But unlike in the movies, people are actually dying”, he lamented. As a result, lockdowns continue to be imposed causing children to miss school, businesses to close, jobs to be lost and outreach ministries to struggle.
Despite refusing to acknowledge the coronavirus outbreak in the nation, the government has explicitly stated that mass public events should be avoided. However, the President’s recent lecture on the duties and responsibilities of the younger generation was delivered to a hall full of students, none of whom were wearing masks.
Meanwhile, concerns abound over the possibility of yet another food shortage in the nation this winter. The government continues to insist that farmers have been provided with all the help they could possibly need.
The Foreign Ministry has taken a hard stance on Afghan migrants, refusing visa requests and insisting that illegal border crossings will be harshly suppressed. This comes in line with historic policies, with the Uzbek government having refused to sign and ratify the Refugee Convention since the Taliban’s reign in the 1990s.
COVID–19 is having a significant impact in Vietnam and particularly in Ho Chi Minh City. We know of Christians who have been both personally and financially affected as a result of the virus, and one church recently faced a criminal investigation due to an outbreak linked to their gatherings.
16 million people “are marching towards starvation”, with food rations due to be cut in Yemen from October. The head of the UN food agency has called for funding from donor countries to the World Food Programme who have previously stepped up to prevent similar catastrophes. Another $1 billion is needed in addition to the funds already pledged.
Source: Al Jazeera