Friday, February 19, 2010

Prayer Focus

Once the ‘bread basket’ of Africa because of its large food output, Zimbabwe is now in the grip of long-term poverty and starvation caused by massive inflation and the destruction of the country’s agricultural sector.

Zimbabwe has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world and Christian leaders and congregations have been among the many victims of President Mugabe’s brutal oppression.

Barnabas Fund is supporting Christians in Zimbabwe in a number of ways: providing food parcels to alleviate the starvation among the Christians; supplying seeds and training local people how to farm their land in a more productive way; and providing equipment, uniforms for staff and funding for maintenance at a care home for elderly people.

The feeding project provides parcels of rice and other necessities to thousands of Zimbabwean Christians every month. The agricultural training project assists people who used to receive food parcels to move on to becoming self-sufficient.

Pray for protection for the courageous South African Christians who are driving food in to Zimbabwe to distribute it to the poorest. Pray for Christians being trained under the Barnabas Fund’s agricultural training project to effectively share their skills with the other farmers.

The Christian population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is estimated at less than 1%. Most Christians are from the historic churches of the region, but there are also churches comprising converts from Islam. Religious freedom in Iran is very limited, and Christians from Muslim background face particular persecution.

One convert was officially executed in 1990 and others have been mysteriously murdered, apparently by government agencies, as have Christians who are active in ministry or outreach. There remains the possibility of further executions for apostasy.

Two young Christian women from Muslim backgrounds, Marzieh and Maryam, were imprisoned last March but were released last November.
It is common for government spies to be present at Sunday services and for the phones of church leaders to be tapped. The pressure is such that many have fled Iran to live in other countries.

Pray for Iran’s Christians, that they may be protected from harm and that the Gospel may be heard and received by all. Pray for church leaders and Christian workers, converts who are the main focus of government monitoring, harassment and persecution.
Pray that they will remain steadfast, never shaken by threats to their lives and that God will meet all their needs.

Pray that a provisionally approved Islamic Penal Code Bill, prescribing the death penalty for those who leave Islam to follow Christ will not be passed into law. At present, Iranian judges have to refer to syariah in order to apply the death sentence for apostasy, but having such a law within the Iranian statute books would make converts even more vulnerable.

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