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619 new Bible translation projects in 2019

Wycliffe Associates is advancing Bible translation and has received requests to launch 619 translation projects worldwide, including groups in DRC, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Nigeria. ‘When they hear that the entire New Testament can now be translated in just months through ground-breaking technology, they are astonished, and they plead for a chance,’ said Wycliffe’s CEO. Traditionally, translations of the New Testament into another language have taken as long as 25 to 30 years. Pray for God's protection over Bible translation workshops for mother-tongue speakers, and for adequate funding for technology resources. Pray for God to keep translators safe when working discreetly in places where Christians face intense persecution. To date, the organisation has installed 90 print-on-demand units in 31 countries. By God’s grace they have distributed 5,485 tablets in 67 countries so far.

Pray: for the millions of people around the world still waiting for Scriptures in their language to have their needs met speedily and safely. ( Acts 20:32)

More: www.wycliffeassociates.org/who-we-are/for-the-press/press-release/694

Nigeria: elections on 16 Feb and 2 March

Rev Mathew Sukada, from Jos, has cautioned Nigerians, ‘Do not kill yourselves over politicians; they do not even know you and will reconcile with each other long after you are gone’. He said some politicians were more concerned about their personal interests, and cautioned youths against being used as thugs to kill and destroy. ‘Politicians seeking to use you for selfish reasons will offer you peanuts to fight and kill for them. When you get killed, they won’t remember you. When you get injured, they won’t have time for you. When you are caught, they will deny you. You must learn to be wise and protect yourselves against destruction. As Christians, you have a duty to serve only God, your Creator.’ An army commander told troops, ‘Let me warn and remind you of the need to remain apolitical in the performance of your duties during the election period. Defaulters will be severely dealt with. You must be professional, patriotic and respectful of the rights of citizens.’ See

Pray: for peace in crisis-ridden areas, and for responsible leaders to be elected. (Proverbs 3:21)

More: www.legit.ng/1219671-elections-dont-kill-yourselves-politicians-catholic-priest-advises-nigerians.html

Nigeria: Boko Haram threat displaces 30,000

Fear of renewed attacks by Boko Haram is prompting the exodus of 30,000+ people from the town of Rann. UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told reporters in Geneva on 29 January that the town's population ‘seems to be panicking; they are on the run as a pre-emptive measure to save their lives.’ Rann, near the border with Cameroon in northern Borno state, has already seen an exodus of 9,000 people to Cameroon after a Boko Haram attack on 14 January, killing 14 people. Baloch said that Cameroon had sent back the 9,000 refugees, and initially deployed troops as part of a multinational task force to protect the town, but that task force has now left. A recent upsurge in violence in northeastern Nigeria has driven more than 80,000 civilians to seek refuge in already crowded camps or in towns in Borno state, ‘where they are surviving in tough living conditions’. The hostilities have strained humanitarian operations there and forced aid workers to pull out from some locations.

Pray: for God’s comfort to all living in fear, or in desperate need in refugee camps. (Psalm 37:40)

More: www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/boko-haram-threat-displaces-30000-nigeria-rann-town-190129112148918.html

Global: Christian persecution rising

Figures for the persecution of Christians have shown a 'shocking increase', by 13.9% according to Open Doors World Watch List 2019. Asia has a sharp rise. China rose 16 places to number 27, with new laws to control all expressions of religion. Some church leaders say it is the worst since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. India, the world's largest democracy, is now number 10 on the list. Hindu extremists act with impunity, violently attacking Christians and churches and non-Hindu religious minorities. Rising nationalism is leading to persecution in Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal, where national identity is tied to religion and those from minority faiths are considered outcasts. Persecution in North Korea has been worse than any other country for the last 18 years. In the north and middle of Nigeria, 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith - almost twice as many as the previous year.

Pray: for nations to take extra preventative action against rising Christian persecution. (Job 36:3)

More: www.christiantoday.com/article/open-doors-2019-report-persecution-is-on-the-rise-globally/131479.htm

Media disinformation

‘Fake news’ threatens honest debate and democracy. Donald Trump’s favourite term was named 2017's word of the year by Collins Dictionary (described as false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting). Facebook has employed a UK fact-checking service to help it deal with the spread of fake news. Full Fact, a charity founded in 2010, will review stories, images and videos for accuracy, focusing on misinformation that could damage people's health or safety, or undermine democratic processes. If something is fake, it will appear lower in the news feed but will not be deleted. Pray for proven misinformation to be removed completely. Brexit and the 2017 UK general election were both found to be tarnished by fake news. On 11 January Nigeria held a ‘Beyond Fake News’ summit in Abuja to examine ways of combatting fake news ahead of February’s election. See

Pray: for balanced honest facts to replace hollow comments and lies. (Proverbs 12:17a, 18)

More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46836897

Africa: elections, poverty and potential

This year, 24 of Africa’s 54 countries are scheduled to hold legislative, general, or presidential elections. Extreme poverty and state fragility prevail in parts of Africa. This year, the World Data Lab estimates that by 2030, 70% of the world’s poor will live in Africa (notably in Nigeria and the Congo) and by that date 13 African countries will have seen an increase in the number of those living in extreme poverty. Based on these forecasts, poverty will continue to strain government institutions and threaten stability. Climate change is expected to exacerbate the challenge, with disproportionate effects on the Sahel and other unstable areas. However, massive opportunities exist for many to enter greater prosperity. The middle class is expanding, businesses are growing to meet consumption needs, and a young fast-growing population with rapid technology adoption is making the continent fertile for innovation. Pray for institutional changes and new approaches to eliminate poverty so that no country is left behind.

Pray: for the African continent to step into its God-given identity and do great things. (Jeremiah 29:11)

More: www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/BLS18234_BRO_book_007_WEB.pdf

Elections needing prayer in 2019

The results of forthcoming elections will be important in many ways - domestic, religious, regional and global. El Salvador elects a president on 3 February: security, corruption and migration will be campaign issues. On 16 February President Buhari seeks re-election in Nigeria, where electoral violence remains a real concern. Ukraine’s presidential election on 31 March will focus on security and the economy. Afghanistan’s fourth presidential election since 2001, on 20 April, will test its capacity to conduct a credible, orderly process amid deteriorating security conditions. In South Africa the ruling ANC, dogged by record-high unemployment and corruption, faces an election test in May following the resignation of President Zuma. European parliamentary elections between 23-26 May will see anti-Europe and Euro-skeptic forces capitalising on anti-immigration and populist economic issues post-Brexit. In Guatemala, general elections in June will focus on the economy, reforms to public administration, migration, and anti-corruption issues that have divided the country over recent years.

Pray: for political and social stability across the nations. (Deuteronomy 1:13)

More: www.ifes.org/news/elections-watch-2019

Christmas: a dangerous season for some

In France the security alert system is at its highest level, after an extremist gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, killing two people and injuring at least twelve. Christmas can be a dangerous season for many. Last year suicide bombers killed nine and wounded over 50 people attending pre-Christmas church services in Pakistan. In Nigeria, Boko Haram have often carried out Christmas attacks. In the West, Christmas can mean financial strain, pressures, loneliness or simply a time with relatives where old tensions come to the fore and explode, sometimes with devastating results. For example, last year in Canada a father who had custody of his daughters (aged six and four) on Christmas Day killed them both and attempted suicide. Pray for peace to replace turmoil, restraint to replace violence, and harmony to replace disagreement wherever it threatens. Pray that police and other agencies can detect and remove danger from vulnerable community spaces.

Pray: for all affected by the Strasbourg attack to have comfort and support. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

More: www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/strasbourg-terror-manhunt-live-update-cherif-chekatt-shooting-christmas-market-police-france-a8679036.html

Christian ministry to seafarers

The Sailors' Society, an international charity based in Southampton, started a crisis response network (CRN) in South Africa in 2015, providing trauma care and counselling wherever necessary. This network provided support to its 100th case this week, with piracy, death at sea and abandonment accounting for 59% of those supported. 26% of those seeking crisis response were affected by piracy. The CRN now has 52 chaplains trained to offer crisis support to seafarers around the world. The International Maritime Bureau saw 107 actual or attempted attacks in the past six months, up from 87 in the same period of last year, with Nigeria and Indonesia the main piracy hotspots. On 31 October, eleven seafarers were seized by pirates off the Nigerian coast. Piracy, and the fear of piracy, is a massive issue for seafarers.

Pray: for Sailors' Society chaplains to experience God's presence and protection. (Psalm 16:11)

More: www.christiantoday.com/uk/seafarers-in-crisis-how-a-christian-ministry-is-dealing-with-the-fallout-from-piracy-and-abandonment/130831.htm

Nigeria: aid workers killed, hostages held

Hauwa Liman, a midwife with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was killed days after her kidnappers set a deadline. Ms Liman was taken with two others in the northern town of Rann last March. Fellow-midwife Saifura Ahmed Khorsa was killed last month. Ms Loksha remains a hostage. A 15-year-old schoolgirl is also still being held by the same group, which is affiliated to a faction of Boko Haram. Most of the other 110 students who were kidnapped have now been freed but the girl, who reportedly refused to convert to Islam, remains in captivity. The ICRC's regional director said there was no justification for the execution of innocent young healthcare workers, and feared for its implication on their work in the region. The information and culture minister said that the government would ‘keep the negotiations open’ and continue to work to free Ms Loksha and the schoolgirl. Pray for this work.

Pray: for better security for all helping internally displaced people. (Psalm 119:45,46)

More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45871361

Nigeria: action needed

Reconciliation seems far away between Christian farmers and Muslim herdsmen in Nigeria’s middle belt areas. Christians fled to Plateau and Benue states because of discrimination and attacks from Boko Haram in the north,but now they are being killed and having their homes torched by Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Over 56 villages have been attacked this year, three in the past week. It is a religious battle and a battle over land. There is no reconciliation in sight, and the attitude of government is not helping. Governments should protect their people, but this government has allowed the people to be continuously attacked. Some Christians are having their faith eroded, while many are holding on trusting in God. A local farmer said, ‘We believe God will come through for the church as believers stand with us worldwide in prayer - He will sort out these issues’. Pray for those carrying the burden of housing people who have fled persecution.

Pray: for God to give Nigeria’s leaders compassion. May they promote justice. (Micah 3:1,2a)

More: www.premierchristianradio.com/News/World/Something-needs-to-be-done-or-the-church-will-be-destroyed-says-Nigerian-Christian

Nigeria: massacres shatter peace efforts

Christian leaders in the central Plateau State argue that there is a religious dimension to Fulani attacks on villages; unless politicians acknowledge this, they cannot properly address the conflict. On 28 August in Jos, a Christian peace summit for the northern regions was ending. 100 miles away, at the same time, Fulani militants set ablaze Rev Adamu Wurim Gyang and his three children. They were burnt beyond recognition. His wife Jummai was left to die in a pool of blood. 95 houses were torched, 225 crops awaiting harvest were destroyed, at least 14 were killed, and many wounded. CSW said that after the perpetrators had gone the military arrived, killing a woman who tried to stop them detaining local youths who wanted them to go after the Fulani militia instead. A video verified by World Watch Monitor shows people holding up her body, and Rev Ezekiel Dachomo appealing for assistance from the US, UK, and the UN, saying, ‘An Islamic agenda is taking over the nation’.

Pray: for God to prompt the nations to stand with and for the persecuted in Nigeria. (Isaiah 14: 24, 25b)

More: www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2018/09/nigeria-pastor-and-three-sons-burned-alive-among-at-least-20-killed-in-latest-plateau-massacre/

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