Tensions Rise Among Christians in Jordan
After the brutal killing of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar on Sept 25, tensions among Jordanian Christians and other minority groups in the Muslim-dominated country are rising. The following day, several hundreds of Jordanians—many of them Christians, including Church leaders—demonstrated peacefully near the Office of the Prime Minister in the capital Amman. Some liberal Muslim leaders and community leaders supported the demonstration. They publically requested that the government fully protect the rights and safety of minorities the day after the murder of the prominent Jordanian writer. Hattar was on trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, and was shot dead outside a court in Amman where he was due to appear. The suspected killer is reportedly a fundamentalist Muslim. Let’s pray this does not become a new trend for Jordan, where minorities have usually been able to live in relative freedom. Hattar originates from a Christian family, but was not known to have been practicing any faith. Nevertheless, Jordanian Christians, being a small but ancient minority, fear the possible negative impact of this recent unrest on their situation.
Jordanian society is multi-ethnic – a phenomenon which is also reflected by the monarchy. Jordan is now hosting large groups of refugees, mostly from Iraq and Syria, which produces increased economic, political and religious pressure, all of which are potentially destabilizing factors. The number of Christians in the country has been declining for half a century. For a long time, Jordan was one of the most liberal countries in the region in terms of religious freedom. However, the tide now seems to be turning for Christians, especially for Christian converts from a Muslim background who frequently suffer the most persecution. Please support the Christians in Jordan in your prayers, especially is the face of the recent rise in tensions.
Father, we bring before Your throne of grace today Christians in Jordan as they respond to the murder of this man accused of blasphemy. We pray for a spirit of peace to fall upon the nation of Jordan in the midst of this tension. We pray against the efforts of fundamentalists as they seek to grow in power, that the freedom to worship Christ in Jordan will continue as it has since the first century. As the church leaders seek how to respond and shepherd their flocks in these troubled times, we pray You will lavish Your wisdom upon them. In the face of fear, grant courage to Christians that they may speak boldly when You give opportunity. And we pray that You will soften the hearts of fundamentalist Muslims, misled to believe they serve God by killing others. Reveal Yourself to them, and others who do not know you, that they might turn to Christ in saving faith, to Christ who took upon Himself the penalty for their sin that if they turn to Him, they might live and bring glory to His name. It in His name, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we pray. Amen.
Plans are underway for a camp for children to be held during October’s upcoming vacation in a Central Asian country, at the home of a Christian couple, Umar* and Zuhra*, as well as in the homes of their assistants, other members of their church. The camp will be held secretly since it is forbidden for them to hold Christian camps where Muslims children are present. If the authorities discover the camps, the teachers will be arrested.
Umar, Zuhra and their assistants have taken strict precautions to avoid detection by local police. This courageous couple will also hold two Christian biblical training seminars next month in two different towns of their country. These trainings too must be conducted in the strictest of secrecy. Please, pray for safety for Umar, Zuhra, their assistants, and also for the children and seminar students who will attend these events, as well as for a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all who attend. Please also pray also for the freedom to lead future camps and seminars.
*Names changed for security
We come before You today, Father, on behalf of Umar and Zuhra. As You bend Your ear to hear the cry of Your people and gather men and women from all nations and tribes to be a people set apart for Your glory, we call on You to protect these faithful saints and those who help them as they proclaim Your Word to children at the camp. May Your Word go forth in the hearts and minds of the children in great power and authority. We pray especially for any Muslim children who are there that You will draw them to Yourself and protect and guide them in what could be perilous days and weeks to follow. May the light of Christ shine through them to their families. Thank You for the bold testimony of Umar and Zuhra as they serve You faithfully in the face of great risk. In the name of Jesus who is preparing His bride, the church, to come before You in great beauty and holiness, Amen.