Barnabas Prayer Focus: Egypt & Syria

September 2, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Egypt – Unprecedented anti-Christian violence rages

Unprecedented anti-Christian violenceCry out to the Lord on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt, who desperately need our prayers. They are suffering an unprecedented wave of violence at the hands of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Twelve Christians have been confirmed killed, including a ten-year-old girl who was gunned down as she walked home from her Bible study class. More than 60 churches have been destroyed, along with Christian homes, businesses and schools, an orphanage and a hospital. Islamists who broke into one Christian school replaced the cross on its gate with an al-Qaeda-style flag before setting the building on fire.

The anti-Christian attacks began immediately after Morsi’s removal but intensified after the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-in protests by the authorities on 14 August. It has been said that this day was the worst for violence against the Church in Egypt since the 14th century.

Despite the fact that Christians form a small and marginalised minority in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is blaming them for Morsi’s fall. In fact, more than 22 million Egyptians signed the petition calling for his removal, so even if every one of Egypt’s eight to ten million Christians had signed it, they would still have been outnumbered by Muslims. But this absurd scapegoating has put Christians in great danger. Christians in many places have received leaflets telling them to leave or face reprisals, and many churches have had no choice but to stop holding services because of the danger to their congregations.

Christian homes and businesses in Minya have been marked with black “X”s to single them out for attack, while Muslim ones have been distinguished by red “X”s that will keep them safe. But just as the people of Israel in Egypt were distinguished by the lamb’s blood that marked their doorframes during the plague on the firstborn (Exodus 12:7,13), our brothers and sisters in Egypt are covered by the blood of the Lamb who was slain for our sin. Give thanks that although their future is uncertain and they face many grave dangers, they are eternally secure. Ask the Lord to protect them from harm and to bring peace to their troubled country. Pray also that He will give them strength and calm their fears.

Syria – Christians killed in shooting in safe area

Syria ChristiansAs Islamist groups grow in power and take over new territory, the plight of Christians in Syria is worsening. Around 15 Christians were killed in an attack on a predominantly Christian area that had previously been a safe haven for the displaced. Two young volunteers with a Barnabas Fund partner were amongst those killed when opposition fighters attacked Ein al-Ajouz in Wadi al Nasara (“Valley of the Christians”) on 17 August. The volunteers were shot dead in cold blood as they tried to assist a family who had also been targeted.

This is the first anti-Christian attack the Wadi has seen. The community has been plunged into shock and grief by the atrocity, in which armed militants first killed soldiers at a checkpoint and then went on a shooting spree that targeted Christian civilians holding a celebration at a hotel. A Barnabas partner in the area said, “Wadi al Nasara was in deep deep sorrow to lose so many people in one day… I cried a lot seeing the photos of the innocent who were killed in cold blood.”

Elsewhere, the Christian community in the city of al-Thawrah has been driven out since the al-Nusra Front, an Islamist brigade, seized the city in February. The rebels confiscated the Christians’ property, threatened them with death if they did not comply with Islamic laws and destroyed one of the city’s two churches. Recognition is growing of the dangers posed by Islamist rebel groups, with some of the revolution’s original activists saying that they feel their campaign has been hijacked.

Christian leaders continue to be particular targets for Islamic groups. Paolo Dall’Oglio, a prominent Italian church leader, went missing in Raqqa on 29 July. It is feared that he was taken captive by al-Qaeda-linked militants, who control the area.

Please continue to uphold our suffering brothers and sisters in Syria in prayer. Pray that the Lord will enable them to stand strong in their faith despite the constant danger that many of them are in. Pray that they will find comfort at this desperate time in the knowledge that their true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Ask the Lord to provide for all those who are displaced, and to protect Christians in areas that are especially prone to attack.

The actions of Western governments at this crucial time will greatly impact the future of the Church in Syria. Pray for wisdom for all those involved in making decisions on this issue, and ask the Lord to guide believers among them. Pray that any decisions taken will be made with all Syrians and particularly vulnerable minorities in mind, and that the country will not fall into the hands of the Islamist groups that are targeting our brothers and sisters.

– barnabas team

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