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Myanmar, Burma

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Barnabas provided Kachin refugees with emergency aid, including shoes for
1,000 needy children

The Burmese army is continuing to pursue its agenda of intimidation and violence against ethnic minority groups, the majority of whom are Christians. In Kachin state, soldiers are kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing Christians, apparently with impunity. This is despite a peace deal negotiated between the Burmese government and representatives of the predominantly Christian people group in May 2013, which it was hoped would bring an end to two years of intense suffering endured by our brothers and sisters.

Believers from the Kachin and other mainly Christian ethnic minority groups are persecuted for both their ethnicity and their faith, and continue to suffer great oppression despite Burma’s recent moves towards political reform. In Kachin state, at least 64 women and girls have been raped, 66 churches and 200 villages have been destroyed and nearly 100,000 people have been displaced since July 2011, when the army broke a 17-year ceasefire. Two Kachin people were killed by the army just two weeks after the peace deal was agreed. Then, in early September 2013, women and girls were kidnapped and gang-raped by soldiers who attacked their village. Other villagers, including a church leader, were also kidnapped and were tortured.

Throughout Burma, the authorities have continued to disrupt Christian gatherings, restrict the publication of Christian literature and prevent the construction or repair of church buildings. The government actively promotes conversion to Buddhism. Christians are sometimes forced to help build and maintain Buddhist pagodas and monasteries or to destroy church buildings. In some remote areas, children of very poor Christian families are targeted by special schools, known as Na Ta La, which offer them free food and education as well as government jobs when they graduate. At the schools, they are prevented from practising their faith and are forced to shave their heads in accordance with the teachings of Buddhism. They may be beaten or threatened with military conscription if they resist.

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    • Iraqi Christians are losing even previously safe havens under the relentless assault of ISIS. On 25 June, the militant group attacked the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, driving its mainly Christian population of around 40,000 to flee. Many Christians from Mosul had gone there after the fall of their own city earlier in the month. Kurdish forces were able to repel ISIS from the town, allowing some people to return to their homes for the time being, but their security remains extremely precarious. Pray that the ISIS advance will be stopped and that the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the captured territory. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 10 hours ago

    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

    • The militant jihadist group ISIS launched a terrifying attack on Mosul, the second city of Iraq, on 6 June. They seized weapons, freed prisoners and looted and torched church buildings. Three days later, police came to senior church leaders there and advised the Christian community to leave. They fled immediately, leaving everything behind as they sought refuge in the Nineveh valley. The following day Mosul fell to the rebels. Barnabas sent emergency aid to support the Christians in their desperate need. The militants then advanced south, prompting Christians also to leave the city of Kirkuk. Pray for provision and protection for our displaced brothers and sisters and that they will find safety in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Give thanks that Barnabas Aid is helping many Christian families from Aleppo, Syria, to survive. One group of over 240 families originally lived in one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods, but on Good Friday 2013, rebels invaded their area, forcing them to flee. They lost all their possessions on that day and have been living as displaced persons. The families have been receiving monthly food packages and milk powder for the children for almost two years now, as well as regular additional packages containing essentials such as blankets, shoes and seasonal clothes. Pray that our partner will be able to continue getting the aid to those who need it most. Pray too that the displaced families may experience God’s nearness through their ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Aug 2014 00:00

    • As the Syrian civil war rages on, the militant Islamist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) now controls extensive territory in eastern Syria. The group is acutely hostile to Christians, who are suffering grievous oppression under its rule. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has named Syria as one of the world’s worst violators for the first time, saying that the crisis “has devolved largely into a sectarian conflict” and “represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”, with abuses being committed by all sides. Before the war, it was easier to be a Christian in Syria than almost anywhere else in the Arab world. Pray that the US and other Western governments will continue to work for a resolution of the conflict and for religious freedom for all Syria’s citizens. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Aug 2014 00:00

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