In This Issue: South Africa, Burkina Faso, Saudi Arabia, and More
- BURKINA FASO – Fulani Radio Station a Hit
- CENTRAL ASIA – Local Believers Share Their Faith, Prepare for Restrictions
- ERITREA – Doctor Arrested for His Faith
- SOUTH AFRICA – Eight-year-old Kickstarts House Church
- SRI LANKA – Anti-conversion Bill Presented to Parliament
- SAUDI ARABIA – Christian Blogger Arrested
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BURKINO FASO – Fulani Radio Station a Hit
Source: Stephen Davies, Voice in the Desert, January 14, 2009
“Since the opening of Djibo FM, every Fulani and his goat have been listening to it. On the very first day of broadcasting, someone phoned the studio from the hospital with an appeal for blood donors. The whole town descended riotously on the hospital with their sleeves rolled up.
“More recently, [my wife] Charlie put out a call for spinners (she is tentatively starting up a project to provide work for the many old ladies here who know how to spin cotton by hand) and in the days following the announcement I watched in horror as our yard was taken over by a mighty army of old ladies brandishing bobbins.
“We’ve signed a contract with them that allows us a half hour slot every Tuesday night. We’ll be broadcasting a series of Fulfulde Bible teachings called ‘Laawol Dartingol’ – the straight road.
“Over the next two years, thousands of people across this province will be hearing the good news of Jesus, many of them for the first time in their lives. If you find yourself praying on a Tuesday night, please pray for switched-on radios, stilled hearts, and changed lives.”
Full story here.
Editor’s note: Stephen has also written a great series of African adventure stories for children. Read about them here.
CENTRAL ASIA – Local Believers Share their Faith, Prepare for Restrictions
Source: Email to Marti Smith, February 1, 2009
Over the Christmas and New Year holidays 50,107 believers from across the former Soviet Union took active part in Bible Mission’s Project 1:10, sharing the gospel with 503,750 people across the region – including 85,500 in [the Muslim-dominated republics of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan].
Praise the Lord and pray now as each local church actively follows up the people who were reached, inviting them into small groups.
[In Kyrgyzstan] President Kurmanbek Bakiev did sign the new restrictive religion law January 12. The new law mandates that 200 members are necessary to register a religious organization, bans children from being involved in religious organizations, prohibits proselytization, and forbids the distribution of religious materials.
One pastor has already begun to have his church meet in house groups and says that some pastors have had their documents inspected. Others say they are not doing anything differently. Some are looking to combine; others prefer to stand alone.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Kyrgyzstan as they formulate their responses and figure out how to practice their faith under these newer repressive conditions.
BMI February News (describes the Project 1:10 evangelism campaign)
Kyrgyzstan Enacts Law Restricting Religious Activities (RFE/RL report)
ERITREA – Doctor Arrested for His Faith
Source: Release Eritrea, December 19, 2008
In what seems the culmination of arrests that were carried out across the country Eritrean authorities arrested several prominent members of evangelical churches in Asmara.
Among those arrested over the last few weeks is Dr. Michael Mehari, of Kale Hiwet church in Asmara, a renowned pediatrician who was known for his commitment to his work and dedication to his faith. Dr. Michael is a father of at least four young children.
Several others were arrested along with Dr. Michael [though] the total number of those arrested is not known. At a time when there are reports of severe food shortages Release Eritrea is extremely concerned not just for prisoners, but for their families who are going to find it extremely difficult to provide even the very basic necessities for themselves.
Since 2002 the government of Eritrea has arrested over 3,000 Eritrean Christians belonging to churches that it decreed illegal.
Full story here.
SOUTH AFRICA – Eight-year-old Kickstarts House Church
Source: Joel News International, JNI 672, January 28, 2009
Neil Hart, director of an advertising firm in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, reports about his eight-year old son Matt:
“Last year he became really friendly with a kid in his school and as they chatted Matt asked him if he’d given his heart to the Lord. Jamie said no, and that he wanted to do that. Mandi, my wife, felt it wise to consult with Jamie’s mom and indicate that Jamie was ‘interested in spiritual things.’ To our delight she agreed and said she’d invite some friends [to hear more].
“That was six months ago. Now God has birthed a thriving house church where several people [about 30] have been saved, both kids and adults. Probably the most rewarding thing of all for us is to watch Jamie and his mom, dad, and sister delighting in the life that Jesus has brought into their home as they now all serve him.
“You know, we have found over and over how kids have a far greater ability than adults to open the hearts of unbelieving families. We are surprised and amazed that we did so little to make this happen.”
Sign up for JNI emails here.
SRI LANKA – Anti-Conversion Bill Presented to Parliament
Source: Jubilee Campaign, Urgent Action email, January 23, 2009
On January 6, 2009 the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress started a Commission on Unethical Conversion of Buddhists to other religions. Their report was publicly launched with “highly inflammatory material and allegations against the Christian community” according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL). The Parliament is considering the amended bill. It is likely to be taken up for debate and final reading in February.
The bill states “No person shall, either directly or indirectly, forcibly convert or attempt to convert any person professing religion to another religion by use of force, by allurement, or by any fraudulent means.”
The Anti-Conversion Bill would have serious consequences for Christians in Sri Lanka. The word “allurement” is so broadly defined that any kind of gift, assistance, or care given by a faith-based organization or person [could] trigger a charge.
Sign up for the Jubilee Campaign USA mailing list here.
Editor’s note: Please also pray for the estimated 250,000 civilians caught in the crossfire in the north of the country. Human Rights Watch warns of untold civilian deaths if urgent action is not taken.
SAUDI ARABIA – Christian Blogger Arrested
Source: WEA RLC News and Analysis, January 28, 2009
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reports that on January 13 Saudi police arrested Hamoud Bin Saleh and blocked access to his blog (Masihi Saudi) because of his opinions and his testimony that he had converted from Islam to Christianity. According to ANHRI, Hamoud Bin Saleh is incarcerated in the infamous Eleisha political prison in Riyadh.
The 28-year-old has been arrested twice before; for nine months in 2004 and last November . On that occasion Saudi authorities released Hamoud prior to the Saudi-sponsored, UN-run “Culture of Peace” conference that was held in the UN Headquarters in New York November 12-13, 2008. However once the conference had passed, he was re-arrested for professing a different religion.
ANHRI holds great fears for Hamoud’s life, concerned that the Saudi authorities might seize the opportunity to make an example of him while the world’s eyes are fixed on the situation in Gaza.
Full story with analysis here.
See also: Google Blocks Saudi Blogger (Arab Vision press release)
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