Raise Your Voice this Christmas for Persecuted Christians

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1 Raise Your Voice this Christmas for Persecuted Christians

2 Each Month 322 Christians are killed for their faith 214 Churches and Christian properties are destroyed 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (beatings, rape, arrests and forced marriage) In 2016 a Christian was killed every 6 minutes because of their faith

3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison,and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 3:13 Over 215 million Christians around the world are currently suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. That number is staggering, almost too large to comprehend. To put it in perspective, that means approximately 1 in 12 Christians worldwide live in a place where it is unsafe to freely practice their religion. Christians United for Israel is deeply concerned with our fellow Christian brothers and sisters living under constant threat, particularly in the Middle East and portions of Africa. This part of the world places Christians in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. We are thankful that Israel is the one bright island of hope in this region. In Israel, Christians are not only protected by law, but also thrive as influential leaders in every segment of society. All year long, we celebrate the fact that Israel is the only safe space for Christians in the Middle East. But in the twelve days leading up to Christmas, we want to pause and recognize those Christians in the Middle East and Africa who do not enjoy the freedoms and security of the Christian community in Israel. Not only do we recognize their plight, we also commit to pray for their protection and deliverance from evil men. As believers, we are all part of the same body of Christ. When one member of the body hurts, we all hurt. Please take a few minutes out of your holiday preparations over the next twelve days to pray with us for these precious brothers and sisters. Christmas is a joyous time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, but for the Christians living in these areas Christmas is an especially vulnerable time. Join us in lifting them up before the throne of Heaven as we ask God to protect and bless them in the midst of their difficult circumstances. Thank you for raising your voice with us. Pastor John Hagee Founder and Chairman of CUFI

4 Jewish Leaders Speak Out in Defense of Persecuted Christians Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Christmas Greeting on December 22, 2016 we all know that this land of Israel is the land of our common heritage. It changed the story of humanity, it changed civilization. What a magnificent heritage it is. Yet, we also know that it is under attack these days, that the forces of intolerance, of barbarism that attack all religions attack Christians with particular vehemence. We stand with you and I'm proud of the fact that in Israel, this is the one place in the Middle East that the Christian community not only survives but thrives and it's no accident. It s because of our commitment to religious freedom; it's because of our embrace of our heritage; it's because of our embrace of our common future.

5 Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Middle East Briefing at CUFI Washington DC Summit 2017 We have to remember the Christians in the Middle East; the Christians in Syria. Stand up for them! Speak up for them! They need us. They need to hear from us. We work across the border [in Syria]; every day Israel sends young guys risking their lives every day. It s important for all of us to stand up and say, We will not sit quietly by while Christians are persecuted and executed.

6 Ron Lauder, World Jewish Congress NYT Op-Ed in 2014 I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East. This bond between Jews and Christians makes complete sense. We share much more than most religions. We read the same Bible, and share a moral and ethical core. Now, sadly, we share a kind of suffering: Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering. Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence.

7 God s Promise of Protection Psalm 91 1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you say, The Lord is my refuge, and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

8 Somalia Population: 14,317,996 Religion: Islam 99.8%, (including Christians) 0.2% In Somalia, a few hundred Christians bravely persevere under the weight of intense government oppression, religious persecution, and constant threats of violence. Martyrdom is a regular occurrence. Converts from Islam to Christianity are especially hated and targeted. Followers of Jesus know they could be executed at any time by an angry mob, terrorists, or the government. In addition to persecution, those living in Somalia also suffer from a widespread famine that has impacted several Sub-Saharan countries. The government is unstable, and unable to control the warring terrorist factions. Extreme poverty, disease, and hunger are a daily struggle. Because of the danger and instability, it is nearly impossible for international aid organizations to distribute food or supplies to the people.

9 Prayer for Christians in Somalia Heavenly Father, on behalf of my brothers and sisters in Somalia, I ask you to give them strength and courage as they face persecution for your sake. Send your angels to guard them and watch over them, and protect them from the plans of the Enemy. Restore their hope and faith, and give them supernatural favor with those in authority. Fill them with the boldness and peace of the Holy Spirit. Lord, I ask you to lift the famine in Somalia and provide food for your children. Protect the international aid workers who are trying to bring supplies into the country. Thank you for promising never to abandon those who love you. Defend your people in Somalia, and change the hearts of those who persecute them.

10 Afghanistan Population: 34,656,032 Religion: Sunni Islam 87%, Immaiyyah 7%, Ismailism 4.5% Other (including Christians) 0.5% In Afghanistan, Christian converts face a greater threat of persecution from their families and local community than from the government. Conversion away from Islam is not tolerated, and anyone who converts to Christianity faces an immediate threat of murder as soon as anyone finds out. Often the martyrdom of believers comes at the hands of their own relatives. Those who are not killed might be declared insane and forcibly committed to a mental institution. Converts are typically stripped of their material possessions and right to own personal property. Any who escape death are left with nothing and no way to support themselves. The situation in Afghanistan is dire for thousands of followers of Jesus. Their circumstances have become even more dangerous in the last few years, as ISIS and the Taliban have fought for control of the country.

11 Prayer for Christians in Afghanistan Heavenly Father, watch over your children facing persecution in Afghanistan. Protect them from those who seek to harm them. Send your angels to accompany them and shield them from every attack. Strengthen their faith and give them a spirit of love and courage instead of fear. Fill these believers with your peace, and comfort them with your presence. Lord, bring stability to Afghanistan and provide a place of safety for the Christians there. Put an end to the terrorism and violence so the people can live in peace. Restore to your people everything that has been stolen from them, and free those who have been imprisoned. Thank you for promising to protect the righteous, and for being an ever present help in time of need. Bless my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan in the midst of their trials.

12 Pakistan Population: 207,774,520 Religion: Islam 96.4%, Other 3.6% (including Christians) Over 3.9 million Christians live in Pakistan, yet they are among some of the most endangered believers in the world. Although it is not illegal to be a Christian in Pakistan, it is illegal to blaspheme Islam. At any time, anyone could accuse someone of blasphemy for something as simple as drinking from the same fountain as a Muslim. Mobs sometimes attack and kill those who are accused of blasphemy, while others are imprisoned and sentenced to execution by the government. Sometimes Christian girls are kidnapped and forced to marry and convert to Islam. Murder and rape are common, and many Christians have lost their property, homes, and churches. Though Pakistan s government sometimes provides some protection, it is not consistent and those leaders who speak up in defense of Christians are at risk of assassination.

13 Prayer for Christians in Pakistan Heavenly Father, have mercy on the men, women, and children currently suffering in Pakistan for their faith in you. Be their strength and their defender. Send your angels to stand between them and their accusers. Rescue them from every attack. Intervene in miraculous ways to save their lives and protect the innocent. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort and heal the men and women suffering in prison, and give them supernatural favor with their judges. Lord, you see the situation of the Christians in Pakistan and hear their cries. Give them the security and peace they need. Give them just rulers and soften the hearts of the authorities with compassion towards them. Thank you for promising to give the people of Pakistan a hope and a future.

14 Sudan Population: 37,345,935 Religion: Sunni Muslim, small Christian minority Over 1.9 million Christians live in Sudan, where they live under intense government persecution. Islam is the religion of the state, and Christians are routinely arrested, attacked, and murdered. Their churches are demolished, their property confiscated or vandalized, and their protests to the government are ignored. Civil war has added to the suffering of Sudanese Christians for decades. South Sudan officially seceded in Christians who remained in the north now commonly face charges of spying, particularly if they work with international organizations. Sudanese Christians are also suffering the effects of famine and extreme poverty in their region. The instability and violence in their country make it difficult for international aid organizations to bring in supplies. Foreign humanitarian workers face threats of being killed and their goods stolen.

15 Prayer for Christians in Sudan Heavenly Father, bless my brothers and sisters being persecuted in Sudan. Give them the grace and the strength to endure and find joy even in the midst of terrible circumstances. Protect them from the evil men who plot to destroy them. Change the hearts of Sudan s leaders and bring an end to the violence in Sudan against the Christians and other innocents. Bring an end to terrorism of every kind. Lord, help your children in Sudan to find renewed courage and hope. Comfort them with your Holy Spirit. Protect them from every false accusation, and release from prison those who have been unjustly incarcerated. Thank you for promising that you will never leave nor forsake your people in Sudan.

16 Syria Population: 18,028,549 Religion: Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3% The Syrian Civil War that began in 2011 has made life extremely difficult and dangerous for Syria s 794,000 Christians. They have been heavily targeted by ISIS and are also under attack from competing Islamic rebel groups fighting against Syria s secular dictator. Hezbollah has taken control of some parts of the country. In the war, most Christian churches and communities have been bombed and at least partially destroyed. Many Christians have become refugees, living in tents amidst extreme poverty and disease. In the last few months, ISIS has lost control of key areas, and now some of the Christian refugees are trying to return home and rebuild. While the international community has largely been complacent about the suffering in Syria, Israel has played an important role in bringing relief to Christians and other Syrians.

17 Prayer for Christians in Syria Heavenly Father, give the Christians in Syria a safe place to rebuild their lives and their communities. Destroy the power of ISIS, Hezbollah and every other terrorist group in Syria. Bring peace and stability to the millions of suffering people in Syria. As the country recovers from this devastating civil war, place good men in authority. Lord, I ask you to restore everything that has been stolen from your people in Syria, especially hope. Reunite the families that have been torn apart. Provide the resources to rebuild the churches, homes, and business that have been ruined. Thank you for the blessing Israel has been to the Syrian people during the last six years, and how the compassion of Israel has opened thousands of eyes to the fact Israel is a friend. Continue to protect and bless the Christians living in Syria.

18 Iraq Population: 39,192,111 Religion: Muslim (official) 99% (Shia 55-60%, Sunni 40%), Christian <.1%, Yazidi <.1%, The Christians of Iraq have been intensely persecuted by ISIS in recent years. Christians have been violently and publicly murdered, their women raped, and their children enslaved. Many of the remaining 230,000 Iraqi Christians have fled their homes. Recent news that ISIS is defeated in Iraq has encouraged some of these Christians to return to their communities only to find there is nothing left. Even without ISIS, Christians in Iraq face severe persecution from their families and neighbors. Converts from Islam are often threatened with death. The current Iraqi government is not effective in protecting the rights of the Christian minority. Living conditions in Iraq are abysmal for many of the Christians still living in refugee camps or returning to their bombed-out homes. In many cases, electricity and running water are nonexistent. Rebuilding will be a tremendous challenge.

19 Prayer for Christians in Iraq Heavenly Father, thank you for preserving the lives of these 230,000 Christians in Iraq. As they return home, help them find the strength to rebuild their communities and livelihoods. Reunite the families that were torn apart, and help the survivors find peace. Give them the grace to love and forgive the people who betrayed them. Lord, comfort and heal my brothers and sisters in Iraq. Bless them for remaining faithful to you even while many of them were martyred for your sake. Protect them now from anyone who would try to harm them. Help the authorities restore order and stability to the country. As Iraq rebuilds, make it a place where Christians are safe and free to worship you.

20 Iran Population: 82,021,564 Religion: Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% Approximately 800,000 Christians live in Iran, where they are severely persecuted for offenses such as owning a Bible and evangelizing Muslims. Ancient communities of Armenian and Assyrian Christians have some legal protections, but are still treated as second-class citizens. Converts from Islam are not protected in any way, and often face imprisonment, torture, and execution at the hands of Iran s government. Despite the brutal regime, the Christian population of Iran is growing. In fact, Iran is now home to the fastest-growing Church in the Middle East. When the Iranian Revolution of 1979 put Islamic hardliners into power, there were only around 500 Christians in the entire country. Instead of being wiped out by the government s persecution, hundreds of thousands of new believers converted from Islam over the next 38 years after becoming disillusioned with the harsh religion enforced by the state.

21 Prayer for Christians in Iran Heavenly Father, thank you for giving the Christians of Iran a special strength to withstand their persecution and hardship. Bless them for continuing to hold fast to their faith and boldly sharing it with their neighbors despite the risk. Protect them from the government s efforts to intimidate and hurt the men and women who have placed their hope in you. Lord, show mercy to the Iranian Christians currently suffering in prison. Protect them from their jailors, and keep them healthy and strong in spirit. Move on the hearts of the Iranian authorities to release the Christians and reunite them with their families. Change the political atmosphere in Iran so that the people can be free and prosper

22 Yemen Population: 28,036,829 Religion: Muslim 99.1% (official; virtually all are citizens, an estimated 65% are Sunni and 35% are Shia), other 0.9% (includes Christian) Yemen has been in political crisis since 2012, and the few thousand Christians left in the country are in extreme danger. Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Iranian-backed rebels are fighting each other and struggling against Yemen s government for control. Christians are easy targets, and many have been martyred. In addition to the violence, Yemen is plagued with a severe humanitarian crisis of famine and disease. Thousands of people died from cholera in There is a shortage of doctors and usable hospitals, and many people are suffering from malnutrition. Because of the violence and political instability, it is very difficult for humanitarian aid to get into Yemen. It is even harder to distribute the supplies once they are in the country. Christians are often overlooked or intentionally excluded from community resources, which makes it extremely difficult to find food or medical care.

23 Prayer for Christians in Yemen Heavenly Father, protect the Christians of Yemen the way you promised to protect the righteous in Psalm 91. Give them shelter, protect them from disease, and hide them under your wing. Surround them with your angels to guard them from every terrorist attack and every weapon of the Enemy. Fill their hearts with peace, hope, and courage. Lord, bring an end to the famine and disease plaguing Yemen. Restore calm and stability so humanitarian aid can enter the country and be distributed. Let the terrorists be defeated and put good men in charge of the government. Give the Christians in Yemen favor with their neighbors and the country s leaders so they can live in peace.

24 Libya Population: 6,653,210 Religion: Muslim (official; virtually all Sunni) 96.6%, Christian 2.7%, Buddhist 0.3% Libya has been in turmoil since And before that, they suffered under a brutal dictatorship. Multiple militant groups are fighting for control of the country, and Islamic extremists have taken over parts of the country. Approximately 20,000 Christians are caught in the dangerous chaos. There is no rule of law in Libya, and thus crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, and murder are a daily occurrence. Radical Islamic groups have enslaved thousands of Christians and other victims, thriving off the profit of the slave trade. Christians must meet in secret, and try to plan their travel along routes where they can avoid known militants and criminals. The weak national government condemns the attacks against Christians, but they lack the ability to protect their citizens or prosecute the perpetrators. Thousands of Christians have been murdered in Libya in the last few years, and tens of thousands have fled the country. Those who remain, or who come into the country looking for work, know that they are likely going to die for their faith.

25 Prayer for Christians in Libya Heavenly Father, place a hedge of protection around my brothers and sisters in Libya. Make them invisible to their enemies, and keep them safe as they travel and meet together. Give them the courage to persevere, and fill their hearts with peace. Lord, remove these evil men in Libya from power. Restore stability to the country. Place good men in authority who will protect the innocent. Give the Christians of Libya hope for a better future. Comfort them with your Holy Spirit.

26 Saudi Arabia Population: 28,571,770 Religion: Muslim (official; citizens are 85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shia), other (includes Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic) (2012 est.) large expatriate community of various faiths (more than 30% of the population) Despite recent attempts at reform and modernization by Saudi Arabia s ruling family, this is still the only nation in the world without a single church building. Over 1.4 million Christians live in Saudi Arabia, many of them foreign workers, but strict Islamic rules and religious police make their life difficult. Christians in Saudi Arabia face persecution from family and friends as well as the government. Converts from Islam are in the most danger. They must keep their faith a total secret, even from spouses, in fear for their lives. Many converts come to faith through the internet, and have never even met another believer in person. Women who convert to Christianity are especially vulnerable. Even Muslim women have few rights and protections in Saudi Arabia. A woman who is discovered to have become a Christian could be rejected by her husband and family, lose her children, and have her life threatened.

27 Prayer for Christians in Saudi Arabia Heavenly Father, protect the Christians living in Saudi Arabia. Thank you for the changes taking place in the country as the leaders try to reform the government. I ask you to use this opportunity to create a safer, better country for the Christians who want to worship you without fear. Lord, thank you for the many people who are learning about you and coming to faith through the internet. Give these new converts courage and help them find other believers to encourage them. Protect the men and women who serve you, and help them to remain joyful and strong. Remove the loneliness of those who must keep their faith a secret, and comfort them with your Holy Spirit.

28 Nigeria Population: 190,632,261 Religion: Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous beliefs 10% There are almost 96 million Christians in Nigeria, but it is one of the most violent countries on the African continent for Christians. The south is predominantly Christian, while the north is predominantly Muslim. Much of the violence is taking place in the north and along the border with the southern states. Boko Haram in Nigeria is one of the most brutal Islamic terror groups active in Africa. They frequently attack Christian churches with bombs and have kidnapped hundreds of Christian school children. Christians sometimes wake in the middle of the night to find their home is being invaded and their families attacked. Another group targeting Christians is the Fulani herdsmen, responsible for murdering 28 people who had taken refuge in a school in October. Nigeria s government has tried to crack down on these terror groups, but they are still out of control. In some cases, Christians have called upon the local police or military to protect them when they knew attacks were coming only to be ignored or mocked.

29 Prayer for Christians in Nigeria Heavenly Father, protect the Christian men and women being persecuted in Nigeria. Destroy the power of Boko Haram, the Fulani herdsmen, and every other violent militant group. Help the government regain control, and give the authorities and soldiers compassion for the Christians. Lord, protect the Christian children who are being targeted, kidnapped, and murdered by extremists. Surround these Christian communities with your angels, and keep them from harm. Give the Christians of Nigeria hope for a better future, and give them peace and strength as they endure this present suffering. Give comfort to the families of those who have lost loved ones, and replace their sorrow with joy.

30 Palestinian Territories Population: 4,542,183 Religion: 98% Muslim, 2% Christian The Palestinian Territories, including Gaza and the area known as the West Bank, are home to almost 71,000 Christians. In Gaza Christians live under the oppressive rule of the terror group Hamas. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority government provides Christians with some freedoms such as attending church services but those who convert from Islam risk severe consequences. Converts might lose their jobs, be rejected by their families, and be targeted for physical harassment and violence. Many Christian Arabs also face pressure from their Muslim neighbors to be anti-israel. Christians who reject the hatred and speak up in defense of Israel and the Jews often have their lives threatened. Life in the Palestinian Territories is also difficult because of the corruption. Hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid and humanitarian aid are pumped into Gaza and the West Bank every year, but only a small fraction of that aid is used to help the people. The rest is used to support terrorism against Israel and enrich the ruling class.

31 Prayer for Christians in the Palestinian Territories Heavenly Father, thank you for the many faithful Christians living in the Palestinian Territories. Thank you especially for the brave believers who choose to reject the pressure of anti-semitism and instead promote love and peace at the risk of their own lives. Please protect all of the Christians from violent attacks against them, and give them the courage to stand firm against intimidation. Lord, help the Palestinian Christians to flourish and prosper despite the difficult circumstances in Gaza and the West Bank. Lift their spirits and encourage their hearts. Give them the wisdom to know how to navigate the pressure and tension of living in the midst of a complicated political situation.

32 ChristiansUnitedforIsrael christiansunitedforisrael

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