For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.
While Saudi Arabia has dropped to number 12 on Open Door’s World Watch List, that doesn’t appear to be because the nation is becoming a better place for Christians, but rather that so many other places are becoming worse. There is not one church in all of Saudi Arabia and 4,000 religious police exist to enforce religious laws in the Islamic nation.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace and homeland of Islam. Once an underdeveloped country, Saudi Arabia has become one of the wealthiest nations in the world because of its vast amount of oil resources. Twenty percent of the national budget is allocated to the worldwide expansion of Islam, and the country’s enormous oil wealth has financed global Islamic expansion with billions of dollars. Most Saudis follow the strict form of Wahhabi Islam, which is known for its contempt of non-Muslims, but there is a very vocal Shiite minority. The country has one of the worst human rights records in the world. In 2011 women received the right to vote, and in 2015 they will be able to run in municipal elections. But they are still forbidden from driving, conducting official business or undergoing certain medical procedures without permission from their male guardians. Saudi Arabia has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the USCIRF since 2004.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most oppressive nations in the world for Christians. Religious freedom is nonexistent, and leaving Islam is punishable by death. Non-Muslims are not permitted to become citizens of Saudi Arabia, and are vulnerable to discrimination, harassment and detention. Places of worship other than mosques are not permitted in the country. All non-Muslim religious rituals and materials are banned. Converts from Islam to Christianity are rare, and converts have been executed for the offense. Anyone who performs mission work or converts a Muslim faces jail, expulsion, lashing, torture or execution. Non-Muslim worship, even private worship for foreign Christians, is prohibited, and Saudi religious police have been known to raid homes where expatriate workers were worshiping.
- That more Muslims will meet Jesus through satellite television or dreams and visions of Jesus
- Being a woman and a Christian increases the severity of persecution; pray for the government to respect women and grant more freedom to worship for women and men
- That the house churches will continue to worship in secret and not be discovered by the secret police
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