Pray for Seven Stan’s –Central Asia Prayer Focus – Circular 2.
Thank you for praying for the Seven Stans this month. This Region needs the constant prayer attention of Intercessors as it features some of the most troubled locations in the world. We are sharing some important information on historical and current events in these Nations for your prayer and support.
1. Pray for Afghanistan. From Apostle Thomas to President Eisonhawor – How an Afghan Church was built and destroyed.
2. Pray for the Persecuted Christians in Central Asia. Will you pay 100 times your month’s salary as fines just because you have a Bible?
3. Pray for The Unreached People of Central Asia. Central Asia UPG Prayer Calendar.
4. Pray for Nations in Crisis. Ukraine, Syria, Nigeria, Thailand and El Salvador Elections.
Pray for Afghanistan.
From Apostle Thomas to President Eisonhawor – How a Church was built and destroyed in Afghanistan.
Can you find a single church building in Afghanistan today? Sadly NO!
The only Church buildings left are the ‘Living Temples’ of Afghan Believers there today.
The First Church: According to Eusebius’ record, the Apostles Thomas and Bartholomew were assigned to Parthia (which included north western Afghanistan), and India. Legend based on the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and other ancient documents suggests that Saint Thomas preached in Bactria, which is today northern Afghanistan. There, Thomas found himself in the service of the Indo-Parthian (Southern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Northern India) King, Gondophares and the Apostle’s ministry resulted in many conversions throughout the kingdom, including the king and his brother.
In 2nd Century: Bardaisan, writing in about 196, speaks of Christians throughout Media, Parthia and Bactria and, according to Tertullian (c.160–230), there were already a number of bishoprics within the Persian Empire with bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity.
The Nestorian Church received state recognition from King Yazdegerd who reigned 399–409 of the Iranian Sassanid Empire which ruled what is now Afghanistan.
In the 9th Century, Herat, was see of a Metropolitan See the Apostolic Church of the East and also of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The significance of the Christian community in Herat can be seen in that till today there is a district outside of the city named Injil, the Arabic/Dari/Pashto word for Gospel. The Christian community was present in Herat until at least 1310.
The Armenian Apostolic Church: There were Armenian merchants living in Kabul as early as 1667 who were in contact with the Jesuits in Mughal (modern day India) It is unclear if these Armenian merchants were Christians but their presence suggests an Armenian community in Kabul in the 17th century. Kabul was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Armenian Apostolic Church Perso-Indian diocese in New Julfa,
In 1755, Jesuit missionary to Lahore (India) Joseph Tiefenthaler reported of Armenians in Afghanistan Anglican missionary Joseph Wolff preached to their descendants in Kabul in Persian in 1832; by his account, the community numbered about 23 people. The Armenian church building near Bala Hissar was destroyed during the Second Anglo-Afghan War by British troops, but the church was never rebuilt.
As late as 1870, British reports showed 18 Armenian Christians remaining in Kabul and later the Armenians were expelled and took refuge in Peshawar and these refugees carried with them their religious books and ancient manuscripts.
Christianity in 20th Century. The only legally recognized church in Afghanistan in the 20th Century was the Italian embassy. Italy was the first country to recognize Afghanistan’s independence in 1919, and Rome requested the right to build a Roman Catholic chapel, to be used by international technicians then living in the Afghan capital in the 1950s.
Catholic Church in Kabul. (Reuters)
The first Protestant Church: In 1959, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Afghanistan and requested permission from King Zahir Shah to construct a Protestant church in Kabul for the use of the diplomatic corps and expatriate community in Afghanistan, on a reciprocal basis for The Islamic Center of Washington which had recently been built in Washington, DC for the Muslim diplomats.
This only Protestant church was led by Dr. Christy Wilson (known as the Apostle to Afghanistan), as The Kabul Christian Community Church as which served only the diplomatic and expat community. The YWAM ministry to hippies and drug addicts in Kabul in the 70’s led by Floyd Mc Clung was involved with this church.
However, in 1973 the Muslim government went back on their word and moved to destroy the building. One day a bulldozer appeared at the site of the church and began the demolition, a German businessman, Hans Mohr, went to the Mayor of Kabul to see if he could get him to rescind the order. Mr. Mohr said to the mayor, “If your Government touches that House of God, God will overthrow your Government.” Quoting Corinthians 3:17, he said “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.” These words proved to be prophetic!
The Afghan police demolished the building and as they had heard that there was an “underground church,” and not understanding the English idiom, they dug down 12 feet to try to find it! They finished the destruction of the Church on July 17, 1973 and on that very date, the Government of Mohammed Zahir Shah was overthrown in a coup by Mohammed Daoud Khan and the 227 year old monarchy came to an end. The next decades brought the virtual destruction of Kabul, wars, millions of refugees, a communist government and the Taliban.
(Pic: Children Playing front of the King’s Palace destroyed by war.)
The last public Christian church in Afghanistan was razed in March 2010, according to the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report. The remaining buildings of the earlier church was used as a Christian church, but the courts have not upheld the church’s claim to its 99-year lease, and the landowner destroyed the building in March 2010,”
What about the Living Temples today?
According to Christian Post, all Afghan Christians come from a different religious background. If it becomes known that someone has converted to Christianity, he or she will face discrimination, hostility and severe persecution from their family, friends, community, local authorities and Muslim leaders. Due to this severe persecution, not a single official church remains in Afghanistan.
Please join in Prayer:
1. Secret believers in Afghanistan are asking Christians worldwide to join them in prayer for their country.
2. Today, Christians in Afghanistan form a small church. Many are not part of a network of Christians. They feel isolated, and often do not know who to trust. Pray that the underground church is able to unite and to grow.
3. Christians are extremely vulnerable. Their families feel obliged to save the family honor by forcing them to reconvert. If that does not happen, Christians can be disowned, banished, abused, kidnapped or even killed. The authorities and extremist groups form another threat to the lives of Christians.
4. Thank God for the many Afghans who listen to Christian radio stations or download Christian materials from the internet. Some are genuine (but isolated) believers, others are disappointed with their religion and want to know more about Jesus Christ.
5. Every year, Christians lose their life for their faith. Often, these cases go unreported, but the pain and trauma of those who are left behind are immense. Pray that God heals the families of martyrs and makes them strong so they can endure in these difficult times.
6. Please pray for Afghan Elections on 5th April, 2014.
The political future of this nation depends on leaders elected this year and pray that God will guide these leaders. 2 Timothy 2:1-4. Romans 13:1-5.
Pray for the Persecuted Christians in Central Asia.
Will you pay 100 times your month’s salary as fines just because you have a Bible in your house?
We are sharing excerpts of news items of the persecution which Christians in Central Asian nations face today. (For security reasons we have kept out names of nations and people)
· A Protestant Christian is facing criminal prosecution for “illegally” storing religious literature.
The criminal charges carry a fine up to 100 times the minimum monthly wage, or a prison term of up to three years. Also, Protestants in another Region have told they are upset and outraged over a judge’s order to destroy Bibles.
· Criminal Code bans “illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious literature”. It carries – if there has been a previous administrative conviction – a maximum sentence of a fine of between 20 and 100 times the minimum monthly wage, or three years’ imprisonment!
· Two grandmothers in their late seventies were among seven Baptists fined in early April for participating in an unregistered religious meeting in a private home. Each was fined between one and two months’ average wage for a local state employee. The oldest of the fined is 77. However, another Baptist – former Soviet-era religious prisoner was 79 when he was given a massive fine for his religious activity.
· Members of the Christian Churches have a policy of not seeking state registration, insisting that country’s Constitution and the country’s international human rights commitments cannot require communities to have registration before they can meet for worship. They also have a policy of not paying the many administrative fines handed down to their members.
· Homes of Protestant Christians from various Churches across another country were raided and in at least two cases, courts subsequently handed down huge fines. A Protestant who knows them complained that the raiding authorities produced no warrants, no trial was held and that the fines given were “unbelievably high”. “The authorities know where believers live and know that they have Christian literature in their homes,” and “By raiding their homes the authorities harass believers and are trying to wear them down by the fines.”
· On Easter Sunday, nine members of a small congregation of a Pentecostal Church were meeting for worship in a private flat when it was raided. Five police officers – among them anti-extremism police officer- had accompanying with them two witnesses as required by law. Protestants familiar with the raid told that the two appeared to be drunk.
· A Protestant pastor in was arrested on criminal charges of harming health and he was ordered to be held for two months’ detention pre-trial detention. An imprisoned atheist writer remains under investigation in a psychiatric hospital and Baptist leader served a three-day prison term, for refusing to pay a fine equivalent to a year and a half’s average local wages, for meeting for worship without state permission.
· A Pastor was arrested in the early evening of 17 May, church members told the local media said he was taken to the city’s Temporary Isolation Prison. Police added that Pastor was arrested on suspicion of an offence under Criminal Code “Intentional inflicting of serious harm to health”. This carries a punishment of restrictions on freedom or imprisonment of between three and seven years.
· Elsewhere, a Baptist has been jailed for three days was given a three-day prison term for refusing to pay a fine, imposed for meeting without state permission. The fine is equivalent to 2,486 Euros. Local people estimated that this was about a year and a half’s average local wages
Please pray for these Christians and churches who are facing persecution for their faith.
Prayer for the Unreached People of Central Asia.
Unreached People’s Calendar.
Are you interested in praying for the Unreached People in Central Asia?
The Joshua Project Daily Prayer Calendar is available on PDF format which could be printed by anyone and used to mobilize prayer. Click here to request.
Pray for Nations in Crisis.
After watching their country erupt into months of angry anti-government protests, Christians in Ukraine praised a peace deal that ended the protests as well as the appointment of Baptist pastor Dr. Oleksandr Turchynov as their interim president until May 25 when the country is expected to hold a presidential election. See CP Report
However the latest situation in the country has led to great uncertainty with the involvement of regional powers in the crisis. Pray for the diffusion of tension and for unity of the nation.
Syria: Thank you for your prayer for Syrian Peace talks in Geneva which facilitated humanitarian help to thousands of refugees and those trapped in war.
Urgent Prayer Request for Christians the town of Raqqah, which is occupied by the Islamic extremist as they face difficult circumstances . Please read this report by ME Concern
Please pray that this nation will return to normalcy and there will be a political solution to this crisis.
The Islamic militants in northern Nigeria has caused terror by killing many innocent villagers, students and other civilians. Please pray for this situation for God’s hand of peace and intervention in stopping this bloodshed. See BBC Report.
Central African Republic.
The country is still very tense with clashes among the 2 main ethnic groups.
Pray that Christians will reflect the Love of Christ to the moslem people in that country despite the violence and hatred. See Article: Global Initiative.
The second round of Elections are being held on March 9th and Church leaders requests prayer:
1. God to grant wisdom and discernment in the citizens of El Salvador to choose their president who would lead the nation for the next 5 years.
2. That the government continue respecting the family bible principles, keep a high level of morality and allowed the religious freedom that Christian Churches had been enjoying.
3. That the elections will be carried out without any kind of violence, allowing each Salvadoran vote in a peaceful environment till the new president be announced.
(Sources: Christian Post, CNN, Wikipdia, USCIRF Freedom of Religion, Forum 18) photo: unocha.org