Mourning the Death of Cairo Church Bombing Victims
A day after the devastating bombing, the Christian community in Cairo gathered, “as the morning sun was shining in the middle of the sky, sending rays of light and warmth to the land of Egypt.” The crowd had come together for the collective funeral for the 27 Christians who died on Sunday, December 11, 2016, when a bomb exploded inside the Orthodox Church of St. Peter during the mass. With the exception of three men, the vast majority of the victims were women and children. “Hearts and minds are bleeding for the loss of so many innocent lives snuffed out in such a brutal act. Anger mingles with the burning question in the hearts of many Christians and even Muslims: WHY?”
The above statements are taken from the blog a Christian wrote in the wake of this grievous event. The blogger continued: “I have to mention that last night, as I intended to write the first blog about the attack, it took me a lot of effort to gather myself and my thoughts. I admit that it’s very hard to express in words the depth of sorrow and pain that fills our hearts. Please join us in prayers during those sad days, so those who have lost their dear ones may find comfort in the Lord and also for those who are still in the hospitals. Please also pray for the reactions of the church of Egypt, both within the leadership and among the individuals, that everyone may clearly glorify the name of our Lord even when they express their anger and pain.”
Father, our hearts ache for our fellow Christians in Egypt as they mourn the loss of those close to them. It is hard for us to understand the cruel hostility that would lead to the killing of so many innocent men, women and children. In the sorrows of this life we cling to the comfort of Your Holy Spirit and to the hope of glory when You will wipe away every tear. Comfort these believers today, not only in their loss, but also in the fear that must surely be present. We pray for peace to be restored in this land and for a great turning to the gospel of Christ. In the name of Jesus who has promised never to leave or forsake us. Amen.
Malaysia’s Parliament Once Again Postpones Discussion on Critical Sharia Legislation
We asked you to pray on Oct. 24 for the upcoming meeting of Parliament in Malaysia as they were scheduled to discuss a bill to empower Shariah courts, a bill that had already been temporarily postponed. When it was brought up in parliament on Nov 24, the last day of the parliamentary session, discussions and voting were tabled once again until parliament reconvenes in March of next year.
The president of the Islamist party, PAS, has been gathering support for the proposal that is now before Parliament, which would amend Act 355 to remove the limitations placed on Shariah courts to mete out punishments. Act 355 currently places a limit of 3 years in jail, whipping of not more than 6 strokes, and fines of not more than RM5,000 ($1,192 USD). If this motion gains the needed majority of support in Parliament, the Federal government will then be tasked with crafting a bill to amend Act 355. The proposed bill was passed unanimously at the state level by the legislature of Kelantan state on March 19, 2015. If Act 355 is indeed amended, PAS, who formed the state government in Kelantan, will be able to enforce Hudud law, a set of laws and punishments specified by Allah in the Quran.
This bill is now also receiving the support of the UMNO-led government. The UMNO (United Malays National Organization) is the largest political party in Malaysia. In supporting the bill, however, they have insisted it be amended to imposing limits instead of giving unlimited powers to Shariah courts. As a result, the enforcement of some of the extreme punishments within Hudud, including the Islamic corporal penalties such as stoning and the amputation of limbs, would be in question. Therefore, we seek your prayers that this amended bill will not allow for the sought authority to enforce Hudud.
Pray for all Muslim MPs to make good and wise judgments when they vote on the bill in March. Pray for the government that, as they determine what to do about the bill and propose amendments, it will not, as a non-Muslim MP stated, “create separate legal systems that will cause confusion and an open-ended environment for opportunists to tear the country apart. However, we also seek for God’s will to be done. If He allows this to push through, pray for wisdom for Christians for how to respond biblically. Christians have been assured that non-Muslims will not be affected, yet, the church must not live for itself but also for those who have yet to know Christ. Pray for the Malay Muslims that this will drive them to seek the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Father, we pray today that Your hand of protection will rest upon the Christians and other minorities in Malaysia as this legislation comes before Parliament next year. We pray that in the months until then, the MPs, both Muslim and non-Muslim, will be moved to make wise judgments. We pray that You, who have placed Your good and perfect law on our hearts, will bring about Your holy and righteous will and use it to the praise of Your glory. And we think of the many Malay Muslims who do not know You. Use these circumstances, Father, to draw them to seek You and rest their souls in the merciful grace of Christ. In the name of Jesus our Redeemer and Anchor of Hope, Amen.