Wednesday, December 07, 2005

From Open Doors - India, Turkey, Egypt

December 7, 2005

Luke 2:8-10 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

Today we had a guest in our office who is a Christian leader working in the Middle East. He read this passage during devotions and reminded us that we are all shepherds. The shepherds in this scripture sat that night, just like every other night, and watched over their sheep. A shepherd’s vocation was considered insignificant, but on that night God used ordinary men in an extraordinary way. He used humble shepherds to spread the good news about the baby, the Prince of Peace, and all who heard were amazed! Our ministry of praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters may not be Headline News on the Front Pages of newspapers, but never-the-less, we are on the Frontlines. We are like the shepherds keeping watch with hope and anticipation, waiting for God to use us, and our prayers, in extraordinary ways.

Egypt:* Under threat from Egypt’s security police for holding services at his house church, a Protestant pastor has been run down by a taxi in Cairo and died of internal bleeding and a broken skull. According to Compass Direct Pastor Ezzat Habib, his son Ibram Habib and a friend were crossing the street in Cairo’s Matereya district on the evening of October 23 when a parked taxi pulled into the street and hit them from behind. The pastor, 58, was immediately taken to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery the following morning but died later that day. The incident culminates two years of harassment in which Pastor Habib was jailed and tortured.
>>Read More

Turkey:* Turkey’s Protestant Christian minorities experienced fresh harassment this past week from both security police and the judiciary, along with an attempt by vandals to set a church on fire. In Samsun, a minivan registered with the security police appeared to be filming members of the Agape House congregation as they entered and left. In Selcuk, the local prosecutor’s office summoned two members of the Ephesus Protestant Church to answer bizarre accusations concocted by remote agitators. And in Antalya, vandals tried to set afire three windows of the St. Paul Cultural Center. The first new Christian congregation in Turkey to gain government recognition as an official “association” meets there. >>Read More

India:* Two militant Hindu groups struck churches in Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh states on Sunday (December 4). At least 25 members of the Hindu extremist group Dharma Sena attacked a church in Raipur, Chattisgarh state, severely beating five Christians. After beating four Christians in the church, the attackers took them and a pastor from another area church into a Hindu temple, where they tried to force them to bow down to idols. Also on Sunday, a group of 15 extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh attacked a pastor in Jhabua district of the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh. Police declined to arrest any of the militant Hindus but rather detained the pastor, Anil Mehra of Indian Evangelical Team, for more than 10 hours for “disrupting public peace.” >>Read More

Dear Heavenly Father,

We come before you today to seek your face, your mercy and your grace. Thank you for calling us from all parts of the world to make us your disciples and to serve in your kingdom. We ask that the boundaries of intolerance be broken and that instead you build bridges of peace especially in Egypt, India and Turkey. We ask for comfort at this time for the family of the pastor killed in Egypt, and for healing for the Christians who were beaten in India. Also, help us to pray for those who are serving in difficult places and for the many forgotten Christians, our brothers and sisters who stand strong in your truth. You are the Prince of Peace. We ask that you bear our concerns on your mighty shoulders and erase the many hurts and the scars, that you bring compassion and change, healing and hope, to our troubled world.


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