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.
Yemen is number 15 on Open Door’s World Watch List. It is another country in the Middle East where Christianity is almost entirely prohibited. Yemen has fallen from the top ten most restricted nations in the past few years, again, not because of increased religious liberties, but because so many other places have gotten so much worse. In a country of 25 million, there are only a few thousand Christians.
Yemen is the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula. Poor economic conditions, high unemployment rates and political unrest led to the forced resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012. Secessionist tribal groups and al-Qaida cells remain a significant problem for the government, which faces periodic violence from southerners advocating secession from the north. This year, Houthi rebels from the north seized the capital city of Sanaa as well as a key port city. Islam is very conservative in Yemen, and Sharia law is the ultimate source of all legislation. The country is a haven for Islamic militants, who have kidnapped and held foreigners for ransom.
Expressing faith in Jesus is dangerous for Yemenis, and persecution is very intense. It is illegal for non-Muslims to proselytize and for Muslims to convert to Christianity, but expatriates may privately practice religions other than Islam. Yemeni Christian converts from Islam face the death penalty if discovered, and family culture is extremely opposed to conversion. Mosque leaders openly preach an anti-Western message of hate.
- Muslim Background Believers face immediate death if they do not convert back to Islam; pray for their safety and protection
- For stability in a country deeply divided and torn by violence
- That the few thousand Christians in the country might be embraced by other believers
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