India: Increase in violence against Christians in Punjab

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Violence against Christians in Punjab state has been on the rise. Akal Takht is the highest earthly authority for the Sikhs. Its Jathedar, or chief spokesperson of the Sikh community, is Giani Harpreet Singh. He has recently accused Christian groups in the state of conducting large-scale forced conversions and demanded a law against such conversions. Unlike several other states, Punjab does not have an anti-conversion law. Article 25 of India’s Constitution guarantees freedom of “profession, practice and propogation of religion” for all citizens. However,whether this freedom includes the right to convert has been debated.

Sikh and Christian leaders have been called upon to diffuse tensions following anti-Christian rhetoric. There have been a string of attacks including on 31 August, when four masked men vandalised a church in Tarn Taran district bordering Pakistan, and set the church car on fire. Local leaders say the incident was meticulously planned to create discord between Christians and Sikhs in Punjab.

In another incident, a group attacked a prayer meeting led by missionaries in Daduana village, Amritsar district on 28 August. Describing the attack on his church, Pastor Sukhvinder Raja said 500 Sikhs wielding sharp-edged weapons, sticks and firearms had attacked the assembly of 200 worshippers—mostly women and children. “The attackers did not spare anyone, and injured around 45 people in the presence of a strong police force which had reached there as the Nihangs [Sikh warriors] started gathering.”

Raja adds, “I was their target but they failed to spot me. Members of the congregation rescued me and locked me inside a room close to the spot. The police have charged more than 150 Sikhs for disrupting the meeting.” The Pentecostal church met every Sunday for prayer, preaching and healing until recently at a rented field in the village, and had been growing by about 100 people every week.

House churches in Punjab have grown over the years by the thousands. They draw Dalit Sikhs, who do not formally convert to Christianity though they regularly attend church services. According to some estimates, there has been a 5–10 percent increase in the number of such churches over the past few years.

As allegations of induced conversion grow, Albert Dua, a former member of Punjab’s Minority Commission and president of the Christian United Federation in Punjab, has rejected the allegations: At church, “only prayers are said for them without any fee. There’s no such thing as a religious conversion. It’s the change of heart.” Parminder Kaur, a Sikh by birth, became a Christian some 13 years ago. She denies that economic incentives were offered for her to convert: “No one paid us anything.”

Christians and Sikhs are both minority groups in India, but Sikhs form the majority in Punjab. According to a 2011 census, Christians make up 1.26% of Punjab’s population of close to 27.7 million, while Sikhs are close to 58%.

Home Group Prayer:

Dear God,

We lift up the nation of India to you, especially the state of Punjab. We thank you that so many are turning to you in spite of opposition and persecution. We lift up the leaders in the government and the police force who have the power to stop the attacks against Christians, and ask that you would intercede on behalf of your people. May the Holy Spirit’s power and presence rest on Christians, that they will know your comfort and the peace that passes all understanding in these hard times. We stand with our brothers and sisters who are suffering and paying a great price for their faith, and ask that you will continue drawing people to you.

We ask these in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!


Pastor In Laos Tortured, Brutally Murdered

For more details, please go to ‘Pastor In Laos Tortured, Brutally Murdered‘ at Religion Unplugged.

It is with a heavy heart that we want to share with you that the body of pastor See, who went missing last week under extreme and suspicious circumstances, has been found in a ditch off a jungle road  this morning (24th October) .He leaves behind a wife and eight children.  The youngest is one year old.  The authorities warned pastor See many times to stop sharing about Jesus, and in recent months have been following and threatening him with dire consequences.

The Christian population in Laos is about 1.7%, though in some provinces, the percentage is higher. Church leaders have been encouraging their congregations to pray for a 10% increase in the Christian population 2030.

For more details, please go to Pastor In Laos Tortured, Brutally Murderedat Religion Unplugged.


Father, our hearts weep and we are saddened by this tragedy.  Pastor See is at peace in your arms. We pray for comfort,  care and provision for his wife and eight children as they grieve. We lift up the church and all the pastors in Laos and ask that your presence would be very real to them.  Take away any fear and give them boldness and courage to keep proclaiming your love.  Keep them safe and provide for their every need.  We pray that your kingdom would come in Laos, and that your will would be done there.  We ask these in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Indonesia: Blasphemy law in action

“The  name  of  the  LORD  is  a  strong  tower.  The  righteous  run  into  it and  are  safe.”

(Proverbs 18:10 NRSV)

A former Muslim cleric who converted to Christianity was sentenced to ten years in prison under Indonesia’s blasphemy law for allegedly offending Muslims across the country.

Muhammad Kace converted to Christianity in 2014. After his conversion, he began uploading videos to YouTube criticizing his former faith. He was arrested in Bali last August, following a sermon video in which he allegedly insulted the prophet Muhammad. The judges of Ciamis District Court in West Java agreed with prosecutors to sentence him for his offenses. Thousands of Muslims surrounded the court in support of the harsher indictment. While in detention, he had been brutally beaten by prison inmates.

Under Indonesia’s blasphemy law, offenders can be punished with up to five years in jail. But there is also a blasphemy provision of the Internet law, which carries a maximum term of ten years. Blasphemy prosecutions have become more common over the past two decades, undermining Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant Islamic state. The blasphemy law has mostly been used against those deemed to have insulted Islam.

In June this year, police charged six people at the Holywings Bar and Restaurant chain with blasphemy over a promotion offering free alcoholic drinks for people named Mohammad or Maria. Jakarta’s Governor Anies Baswedan revoked the licence of all 12 outlets of the chain after complaints by religious groups. In 2017, Jakarta’s former governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy on charges widely seen as politically motivated.

Under Indonesia’s Pancasila policy which recognises Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism as major religions, the blasphemy law should defend against those who “distort” or “misrepresent” these faiths. But while Indonesia has jailed more than 150 people since the blasphemy law was passed in 1965, they have mostly been from religious minorities.

Christians should have the same rights as other religious groups. But in some regions, they face difficulties in getting permission to build churches. Local authorities often ignore requests by churches even if they manage to fulfil all legal requirements. It is more difficult to register a church than a mosque.

The persecution of Christians in Indonesia has worsened in recent years. Churches that engage in evangelistic outreach are at risk of being targeted by Islamic extremist groups. Extremist groups in West Java and Aceh continue to exert a strong influence on society and politics.

Home Group Prayer:

Dear Father God,

We pray for our brothers and sisters in the beautiful country of Indonesia as they try to live out their faith in the face of religious persecution. We ask that they may sense your presence and nearness in a very real and vibrant manner, and that your Holy Spirit will continue to nurture and comfort them. We ask for authorities to respect all, regardless of their faiths, and especially for Christian converts from other faiths to be able to live and worship freely without fear or oppression.

We lift up Muhammad Kace who is now in prison for his faith, and ask that you protect his life and his well being. May he be treated well and released very soon. We pray for his family, and for other believers who live in fear. We also pray for wisdom and discernment for those in power in the Indonesian government, and ask that your will be done in this country.

We ask these in the name of your son, Jesus.



Laos: Christian family attacked and displaced from home

 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed,
but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down,
but not destroyed.” 

(2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV)

(Photo courtesy of a citizen journalist)

A Christian family in southern Laos has recently been persecuted and physically attacked in spite of religious freedom protected and guaranteed by a national law in the country.

In February, villagers of Dong Savanh in Phalanxay district of Savannakhet province attacked mourners and pallbearers who were attempting to bury their Christian patriarch in their own rice field. Seng Aloun, the widow of the deceased, said an angry mob turned up and beat family members and participants, and even attacked the coffin with clubs. Other villagers then torched their home and at least 12 family members were driven out and forced to flee and take shelter with relatives.

Seng Aloun said this attack was the latest in a string of assaults on the family by villagers as well as local authorities. When her husband passed away last December, they refused his burial in the village cemetery. They also struck his coffin with wooden sticks and hit their family members.

Seng Aloun posted videos on social media to show what had happened at the cemetery and appealed for help. Police who investigated the attacks at the two attempted burials asked her to remove the posts. Then on 15 March, district authorities invited her and some other members of the local Christian church to the office of the Phalanxay City Problem Resolution Committee to discuss the conflict between the family and Dong Savanh village officials.

However, one local Christian leader reported, “At the meeting, the district authorities again demanded the family take down the posts and the videos of the burned home and the attack on the coffin, or to make changes to the posts.” One proposed change was to imply that someone else had burned down their home and not the village chief. However, the authorities have neither interrogated nor investigated the village chief about the fire and the seizure of the family’s farmland.

A member of the Lao Evangelical Church in Savannakhet province has said that he was worried about Seng Aloun’s family, because according to him, authorities do not honour the Lao government’s legal protection for Christians: “In Savannakhet province, authorities at all levels from villages to the province have attended seminars and been informed about the Law on the Evangelical Church which spells out all the rights, rules and regulations concerning Christians. But the problem is that many village authorities won’t comply. It’s like they know the rules, but they don’t follow them.”

The family has refused to delete or make any changes to the social media posts and said they would file a complaint with the provincial and central governments. As Seng Aloun is raising her children alone in the forest outside the village, she hopes that district officials can help find the arsonist and the conflict can be resolved soon.

The law protecting religious freedom came into effect in December 2019 and gives Lao Christians the right to conduct services, to preach throughout the country, and to maintain contact with believers in other countries.

Home Group Prayer:

Dear Father God,

We pray for the believers in Laos who face the threat of physical harm and persecution from all fronts. We ask for your divine protection to cover them and shield them from attack, be it physical, legal, verbal or spiritual.

We ask for authorities to uphold and respect the law that is designed to enforce religious freedom and for Lao Christians to be able to live and worship freely without fear or oppression.

We pray especially for Seng Aloun, her children and her family members who have been displaced from their own homes, that there will be a swift resolution in the face of their grief and that they will be able to give their husband and father a proper burial without further attack.

We pray for your divine intervention in this tragic situation and ask for Seng Aloun and her family members to be able to return safely to their home soon.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

PAKISTAN: Pastor killed after Sunday service

 “… The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

(Hebrews 13:6 NIV)

On 30 January, two pastors in Peshawar, Pakistan were shot by two gunmen on a motorcycle in a suspected terrorist attack. Pastor William Siraj, 75, was killed and Rev. Patrick Naeem was taken to hospital but thankfully discharged without injury. They were driving home after leading a Sunday morning service.

This latest attack and a fresh wave of incidents targeting Pakistan’s Christian community have left believers fearful. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which the police are still investigating.

Pastor Siraj’s funeral was held on 31 January at All Saints Church, the very church where on 22 September 2013 two suicide bombers had killed as many as 127 people, including an estimated 37 children, and injured a further 170.

One of the martyrs was Pastor Siraj’s son-in-law. He had been supporting his daughter in the years since her widowing, and often ministered to the families of other victims.

While Christians make up only 1.9 percent of the population, this still totals roughly 4.1 million people. Pakistan is currently eighth on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. Believers not only face the threat of death and violence, but also discrimination because of blasphemy laws.

Home Group Prayer:

Father God Almighty,

We pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and the persecution they are experiencing right now. We can’t imagine the fear they live under every day and ask for your Word and your everlasting peace to comfort them in the midst of this terror.

We also ask for peace and a permanent cease to any further would-be attacks on Christians in Pakistan. We ask you to change the hearts of those who seek harm and deliver them out of the darkness they live in by shining your light on them through the power of the gospel.

We pray for the family of Pastor William Siraj and all who have been victims of all these terrible attacks over the years. We ask for your comfort to envelop them in the midst of their sorrow, for your joy to be their strength, and for your love to help them forgive.

We also pray for the government and authorities of Pakistan, that they would provide protection and support to the Christian minority and stop such attacks. We ask for their hearts to be moved by compassion and for the message of the cross of Christ to be continuously preached throughout the country without fear.

Lord! Please hear our prayer. We ask it all in the name of your son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.