Local Believer Writes Her First Letter
Illiteracy continues to plague many of the believers in Bangladesh, majority of which, are living in rural and remote provinces. Access to basic education in these places is very difficult, and many believers fall prey to injustice and discrimination, simply because they cannot read the law, and are, thus, unaware of their civil and legal rights when persecuted. With your support, Open Doors’ Literacy Center in Bangladesh is benefiting more than 600 Bengalis this year alone. While most of them are believers in Christ, the literacy classes have been opened to people outside the church as a service to the community. Literacy student, Parul Sultana, writes her first letter to Open Doors:
“Greetings from Evangelical Friends Church! It was difficult being illiterate before. When I started attending classes at the literacy center, my life began to change instantly. Now, I am able to sing and understand God’s Word; I can calculate; and, I am able to teach children. I can understand the doctor’s prescriptions, and other papers.
“Before, I did not have the respect and love of my husband. When I began to learn how to read and write, his attitude toward me has changed. I am especially grateful to my teacher, who was so patient and careful in helping me learn how to read and write. I will remember her always.
“It’s nighttime, and I am writing this letter with much excitement in my heart; I can’t imagine that I would ever write one. This is a great blessing from God, and I feel like I’m the happiest woman in the world.”
Moroccan Convert Serving 15 Years for His Faith
An outspoken Christian convert, Jamaa Ait Bakrim was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years prison for “proselytizing” and destroying “the goods of others” after burning two defunct utility poles in front of his private business in south Morocco. Now nearly five years into his prison sentence, advocates and Moroccan Christians say the severity of his sentence shows the authorities’ determination to incarcerate him because of his persistence in speaking openly about Jesus. During his defense in court, Bakrim did not deny his Christian faith and refuted accusations that he had approached his neighbors in an attempt to “undermine their Muslim faith.”
“It is time for people to [stand] up on behalf of Bakrim, who has real zeal for his faith and shares it even in prison,” stated a Moroccan Christian and host for Al Hayat Television who goes only by his first name, Rachid, for security reasons. Though there have been other cases of Christians imprisoned for their faith, no one’s sentence has been as long as Bakrim’s. “They will just leave him in prison so he dies spiritually and psychologically. The authorities know he’s innocent,” Rachid noted. Rachid asked that Christians around the world continue to lobby and pray that their Moroccan brothers and sisters stand firm and gain their freedoms.
New Threats and Old Enmity Pummel Nepal’s Christians
An underground group in Nepal that speaks with bombs and coercion is now threatening Christian clergy with violence if they do not give in to extortion demands. Nearly 1,500 government officials from 27 districts have resigned after receiving threats from the group, known as the Unified National Liberation Front. “The pastors who received the extortion calls do not want to go public for fear of retaliation,” said Lok Mani Dhakal, general secretary of the Nepal Christian Society (NCS). Ishwor Pudasaini, pastor of Assembly of God Church, said that his neighbors revile him and make threatening gestures. His family is not allowed to enter any public place, and he is afraid to spend nights in his old home for fear of being attacked.
Besides facing threats from a new group, Nepalese Christians have been subject to persecution due to longstanding animosity that began when Nepal was a Hindu state; the anti-Christian sentiment refuses to die four years after Parliament declared the nation secular.
Indonesia -Despite Court Victories, Church Building in Indonesia Blocked
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Father, we cry out to You on behalf of Moroccan and Nepalese Christians. We ask for mercy upon those under strong oppression for their belief in Christ, and for freedom to worship You publicly. We pray for Jamaa Ait Bakrim to remain steadfast in his faith and in sharing the Gospel during his imprisonment. Lord, we also pray for our brothers and sisters in Nepal who are under great stress and persecution; please protect them and their churches as they face this violent opposition, and may they trust in Your sovereignty and grace through this. And Father we praise you for what you are doing in Bangladesh. May these seeds that You are planting grow into mighty trees glorifying Your name through-out Bangladesh and all of Southeast Asia. We pray for the many women like Parul Sultana that they use their new skills to train others and share the gospel message of love and hope in You.