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09 10 Open Doors USA: Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church

September 10, 2013 by Open Doors in

Open Doors USA Requesting Prayers for Syria in Wake
of Possible U.S. Action

Open Doors USA is calling for urgent prayers this week as U.S. leaders meet to talk about a possible attack to punish Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war. Open Doors USA President/CEO President David Curry states: “Hidden in the noise of the current political environment is still an unrepresented issue in Syria – the intentional and systematic persecution of Christians. We are calling Christians on all sides of the political debate to dedicate themselves to prayer for our fellow believers who are targeted for their faith. They’ve done nothing wrong….only being bold enough to associate themselves as Jesus followers. Please pray earnestly for protection of their lives, families, businesses and freedoms. Without the support of Christians in the West these believers face even more danger; thousands are already refugees, prisoners, homeless and victims of kidnappings due to this systematic persecution. With the growing marginalization of Christian faith around the world, it is imperative that we unite in prayer.”

A few prayer requests from churches inside Syria include: Lasting peace, counseling for children who have been traumatized by violence, support for almost one-third of the Syrian population who are either refugees outside the country or homeless inside Syria, Christians be a salt and light in their community even as civil war rages and food, medicines and other relief materials get to those most in need. Prayer requests from outside the country of Syria: Wisdom for U.S. political leaders debating whether to launch an attack, also wisdom in decision-making for leaders from countries such as Iran and Russia and Jihadists from other countries will not continue to stream into Syria and spread even more havoc and violence.

Christians Caught in Crossfire in Attack in Southern Philippines

Rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) opened fire in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, at dawn Monday, killing six people, injuring numerous locals, and holding 250 civilians hostage, including a pastor and a local church. The attack was an offshoot from the rebels’ longstanding fight for autonomy. Officials said that the MNLF rebels meant to take siege of the Zamboanga City Hall, perch their flag, and declare independence. The hostages were being used as human shield as the rebels marched to the City Hall. Although there had been tip offs days before the skirmish, Zamboanga City Mayor, Maria Isabelle Climaco, was nonetheless surprised. “Their main quest is to declare independence in Zamboanga,” she told local media. “This is a non-ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) territory. We are calling a crisis committee.” The rebels attacked a community that was 550 yards away from a church that ministered to Sama and Tausug believers from a Muslim background. Seven communities had reportedly been besieged and about 800 people evacuated and sought refuge in the grandstands. But believers from a Muslim background belonging to the Sama tribe remained trapped in the towns of Rio Hondo, Arena Blanco, Mampang, and Talon-Talon. Reports from the ground indicated that the believers were held hostage by the MNLF, if not stranded. “They have gone without food for two days now,” said a local source, a Christian worker in the area, unnamed for security reasons. “MNLF has held hostage a local church.” Open Doors heard of two out of 10 Sama believers and their families evacuating safely out of Rio Hondo, a coastal village south of Zamboanga City. In the meantime, Tausug believers in Sta. Catalina, a nearby village, were also displaced, while a number of Muslim Background Believers were hurt from stray bullets and shrapnel. Five of the 250 hostages were released as of this morning, according to local media. Open Doors conducts seminars and literacy classes in the area.

Christian Woman Raped, Murdered in India – World Watch Monitor http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2013/09/2696034/

A Christian woman has been raped and brutally murdered in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, according to World Watch Monitor. The 30-year-old was raped and killed by two men on Aug. 29 in Bakoudi village in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The woman, whose name has not been released to protect her family’s security and privacy, was raped in front of her three-year-old daughter. When she tried to sound the alarm, she was murdered. Witnesses told World Watch Monitor she had suffered multiple stab wounds to her torso and had been strangled with her own sari. The following morning, the child’s cries were heard by her grandmother, who found her daughter-in-law’s body and called the police. Two suspects, both Hindus, have been arrested. Mahesh Dohre, 23, who worked with the victim’s husband, and Durgesh Potfode, 25, are residents of Bakoudi. They have both been released. It is unclear whether they will face further official charges. The local Christian community has been shocked by the event and expressed concerns about its vulnerability to local authorities. It is uncertain whether the attack took place because of the woman’s faith, but Christian women often report threats in the area. Christians comprise a tiny fraction of the population of Madhya Pradesh (the 2001 census put the figure at around 170,000 people, or 0.3%) and just 2.3% of the total population of India (2011 census). The country is No. 31 on Open Doors’ 2013 World Watch List, largely because of a streak of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, that envisions India as a purely Hindu state.

(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected]).

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