Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Open Doors: Algeria, Saudi Arabia

From Open Doors:

"The attacks against African Christians are often direct and brutal. The laws enacted, like those in the following story, can have a devastating effect upon the education and future opportunities for Christians who are barred from receiving proper avenues of education. Pray that like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, they will cling to their faith and receive God’s gifts of wisdom and service.

Algeria:* Two Christian foreign students from sub-Saharan Africa have been expelled from Algeria, and 12 others have been commanded to leave by June 27. Authorities have taken the identity cards and residency permits from several of the students, leaving them without any proof of identity. There was no specified the reason for the expulsion. The students attended a well publicized seminar organized by a well-known Christian organization in March 2006. A new law restricting non-Muslim worship was passed in March 2006, however it will not go into effect until September. Among other provisions of the law, it prohibits any action that “incites, constrains or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion, or by using to this end establishments for teaching, for education, for health, of a social or cultural nature, or training institutions, or any other establishment, or any financial means.” Punishment is two to five years in prison and a fine. The law will also prohibit Christian activity anywhere outside a state-recognized church building. As one Algerian Christian stated, “If these foreign students receive such treatment, whose faith is known by all, and who have embraced the Christian faith for generations, what will it be like for our own students and for our churches! We who are Christians from Muslim backgrounds only the Lord Himself knows what the future will bring!”

Please Pray:

- For the Lord to move in a miraculous way to prevent this law from ever being fully enforced.

- That God will guide the Algerian authorities to make wise decisions, realizing how many lives and careers could be destroyed by their decisions.

- For these students and everyone affected by this new government policy, and for the Lord to renew and increase their faith, and give them courage and hope for their future.

Saudi Arabia:* Over one hundred Eritreans, Ethiopians, and Filipinos were gathered in the morning for worship in a home in the coastal city of Jedda on Friday, June 9, when a group of Saudi police entered the meeting, wooden clubs in hand. The startled worshippers brought chairs to seat the policemen, who sat and waited for the three-hour worship service to conclude. None used their clubs or physically mishandled the worshippers. “Actually, some muttawa [Muslim religious police] came to this gathering about two weeks before,” a local source told Compass, “but they did not do anything.” But after the June 9 weekly praise and prayer service finished, police arrested four leaders of the group. Typically the Saudi government deports expatriate Christians caught conducting worship meetings in their homes or privately owned villas, forcing their employers to terminate their work contracts. Under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, public non-Muslim worship is prohibited, although members of the royal family insist that Christians are free to worship within their own homes. Last year five East Africans were detained for a month for leading a private Christian worship service in Riyadh.

Please Pray:

- For the men being held who are now facing deportation; pray that the Lord will make known His presence in order to encourage and comfort them, and use them to witness to and bring hope to other prisoners.

- For the men’s prompt release and that God would reassure them that He will provide for them and their families.

-For the Saudi royal family and government officials, that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior."

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