Political transition brings challenges to Christians: Christian communities are facing specific challenges in these times of political transition including: the requirement for Christian schools to be open on Sundays; interference by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in the operation of churches; confiscation of church properties by the NISS or people related to the NISS and court cases against Christians accusing them of being foreign spies and working for foreign governments. Pray for further progress in addressing these specific challenges faced by the church in Sudan and that any new political situation would allow Christians to worship freely.
Churches sealed by authorities: Authorities continue to harass the Christian community in Algeria. In the past year, four churches have been sealed by authorities; their congregations refused permission to worship. In this Muslim majority nation, churches must be government-registered. The government has refused to renew the registration of the Église Protestant d’Algérie (EPA - the association for Protestant churches in Algeria), making many existing churches illegal. Most EPA-affiliated churches have been visited by “building-safety committees,” which inspect buildings’ suitability to host meetings but also ask about licenses required under an ordinance regulating non-Muslim worship. However, the government has yet to issue any licence for a church building under this ordinance. Please pray that the authorities will end their systematic campaign to close churches and limit Christians’ freedom to worship.
Political division: Northern Cyprus remains divided from southern Cyprus by the Green Line established in 1974. The self proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is officially recognised only by Turkey, who maintain a military presence estimated at 30,000 troops. The economy, although generally poor, has benefitted from increased freedom of movement with southern Cyprus following the easing of restrictions when Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004. Most indigenous believers face pressure from their families and there is harassment of those who choose to openly share their faith. Pray for protection for these Christians, as well as for churches to be able to operate freely. Pray too for a resolution of the political division of the island as well as for improvement in the economic situation to the benefit of all citizens.
Surrounded by conflict: Jordan is surrounded by conflict, with Iraq to the East, Israel/Palestine to the West, and Syria/Lebanon to the North. Jordan’s population contains a majority of people of Palestinian descent, including Queen Rania, and this necessitates delicate handling of social tensions fuelled by the situation in Israel/Palestine. The King is therefore balancing the need for Western trade links and investment while desiring not to alienate his people, many of whom are furious with Western policy towards Jordan’s neighbours. Pray for the King of Jordan - thank God for his ongoing efforts at modernisation and pray that the government will work to reduce discrimination against minorities, including Christians.
Ethnic and religious unity: Approximately 20% of the 73 million people in Turkey are of Kurdish descent with the remaining 80% identifying themselves as ‘Turkish’, mainly defined by a sense of sharing a common culture and language. After years of difficulties, Turkey has recently seen strong economic growth. EU membership talks were launched in October 2005 although negotiations are expected to take at least ten years. Pray that the various ethnic and religious groups in Turkey would be united in their efforts for an improved and more peaceful society. Also pray that the EU membership application would drive further improvements in human rights for minorities.