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Yemen

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Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen
Ai@ce / CC BY-NC 2.0

After decades of almost constant conflict, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. It is also a fertile ground for Islamist terrorism, since militant groups inspired by al-Qaeda are very active there. Islam is the state religion of Yemen, and sharia is the source of all the country’s legislation. Conversion from Islam is considered apostasy, and is a crime punishable by death, although it is not known if the penalty has been carried out in recent years. The very small number of Yemeni Christians, who are all converts from Islam, risk severe reprisals for practising their faith, including arrest, torture and extra-judicial killing. Converts also face danger from their families and communities. It is illegal to evangelise Muslims.

Most Christians in Yemen are expatriate workers from the West, South and East Asia and other Arab countries, or Ethiopian refugees, many of them fleeing from war and persecution at home. Although expatriate Christians are able to worship in their own churches with relative freedom, there have been instances of government interference. Christians have been arrested for “promoting Christianity and distributing the Bible”, and those found to be in possession of Christian literature believed to be intended for evangelism may be expelled from the country.

Expatriate Christians also experience other forms of subtle oppression and discrimination. They are required to gain permission to build churches, and no church buildings are allowed at all in the north of the country. Many Ethiopian Christians also face discrimination. For example, they are not permitted to be buried in Sana’a, the capital city, unless they change their name to a Muslim one.

In the centuries following Christ’s death and resurrection Christianity was strong in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, known today as Yemen, and it was ruled by a line of Christian kings. Yet in the 7th century the country became predominately Muslim, as Muhammad and his followers gradually took power in the whole Arabian Peninsula. Today, the large majority of the population is Sunni Muslim, and Christians comprise less than 0.5 per cent of the population.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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Daily prayer

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  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

  • Pray for Barnabas Aid partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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