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Sri Lanka

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This church building in Sri Lanka was severely damaged in a mob attack  

Sri Lanka’s constitution affords Buddhism, which is practised by about 70% of the population, “the foremost place”. This elevated status is exploited by a powerful ethnic Sinhalese and Buddhist nationalist lobby, which demands rights and privileges for itself at the expense of other religions. The lobby, which is particularly opposed to Christianity, campaigns for the introduction of anti-conversion legislation that would hinder Christian activities.

This political pressure is accompanied by a violent extremist movement on the ground. At least 65 anti-Christian incidents, including mob attacks on churches, were recorded in 2013. Church leaders are particularly at risk of violence and harassment, and churches may be forcibly closed. Pressure from Buddhist monks closed down over 40 churches and house churches in Sri Lanka in 2013. While the government claims to uphold religious freedom, it does little to investigate or prevent attacks by Buddhist extremists.

Pastor Pradeep was out when a violent mob of Buddhist extremists descended on his home, which is used for worship. The assailants vandalised the property and threatened the pastor’s wife, who called the police, but they could not contain the mob. The attack continued for three and a half hours. This onslaught followed a series of other forcible attempts to end Pastor Pradeep’s ministry.

Christians face difficulties in building churches, and may be ordered to stop activities that have not been “authorised” by the state. The government plans to introduce legislation prohibiting “cults”; this could threaten evangelical churches, which are not recognised by the state.

Christians, who make up around 7% of the population, also experience discrimination in education. Many have continued to live in desperate poverty since their homes and churches were destroyed in the 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009.

Christianity has a long history on the island, pre-dating the arrival of Westerners by many centuries. Tradition claims that Sri Lanka was first evangelised by the apostle Thomas. Small Christian communities existed on the coasts of Sri Lanka during the succeeding centuries, but Christianity made significant progress only from the sixteenth century. Despite this long-standing presence, the faith is perceived by many Sri Lankans as a product of Western colonialism.

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    • “We had this feeling that jihadists wanted to wipe out any trace of Christianity in the north of Mali. But God in His goodness has not allowed such an eventuality,” said Dr Yattara, the president of the Baptist Church in northern Mali, to World Watch Monitor in September. He was describing how most of the Christians who had fled the region when Islamist radicals took control in 2012 have now returned to their homes after French troops ousted the Islamists. Many church buildings were desecrated, looted or severely damaged, but the Christians are determined to resume their ministries. Praise God for the continued Christian presence in northern Mali, for the courage of the Christians and for the religious liberty that they have under the law. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 32 minutes ago

    • Pray for the friends and family of Beatrice Mukashaka, an 18-year-old Christian woman, who was hacked to death in a savage attack by Muslims during an overnight prayer meeting at a church in Uganda. A group of around 20 Christians had gathered at the church in Kyegegwa district for their regular Friday night prayer session when armed Muslims burst into the building at around 2am. Please pray for all who mourn for Beatrice and that the assailants will be brought to justice. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Churches in Christian-majority Burundi are facing the unfamiliar situation of political restriction by their own government because of a new law passed in August that requires each church to have at least 500 members and a proper building. Congregations have a year in which to comply with the new regulations. Although intended to reduce some scandalous practices, the law is strangely reminiscent of the strict regimes of Central Asia. Pray that religious liberty will be maintained in Burundi, both for Christians and for the small minorities who follow other religions. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Pray for eight Cameroonian missionaries who have been harshly reminded of the cost of sharing the Gospel in their country during a training seminar to equip them for ministry. Barnabas had helped to fund a series of seminars, and on the final day of the last seminar they heard that Jean-Marcel Kesvere, another Cameroonian missionary, who had been planning to attend the seminar with his wife, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram and that his body had been found earlier that day. Give thanks for the response of the missionaries, who expressed their willingness to suffer similarly for Christ, and pray that their work will bear much fruit (John 12:24). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Please pray for Christians in northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram is terrorising people, especially Christians and security forces, just as in neighbouring Nigeria. The Islamist militants openly declare themselves to be Boko Haram, and issue threats by letter, including to pastors telling them they must leave. Two pastors were killed in the village of Assigashia on the night of 25-26 August, hich has caused great distress and consternation. The Cameroonian Christians ask for prayer that God will bring peace and security, that the kidnapped will be released, that believers will stand firm despite being targeted, that God will comfort the traumatised, and that church leaders will know how to prepare their people for persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Oct 2014 00:00

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