Tuesday, October 02, 2007

30 Days of Prayer - Brunei

Brunei: It’s rich, but slaps harsh laws on Christians

Flag of Brunei

Ramadan 2007 / 1428 : Day 20 for October 2 (We are posting these one day early to include all time zones.)

In Southeast Asia, facing the South China Sea, the nation of Negara Brunei Darussalam – better known as Brunei, is wedged between the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Brunei was a British protectorate for almost one hundred years until independence in 1984. Brunei became a Muslim nation in the 15th Century after the conversion of Sultan Awang Alak Beter. The same family has ruled Brunei for over six centuries. Brunei is very rich in oil and the sultan is one of the world’s richest men. The government collects no taxes, but provides health care, pensions, education, and, for those without the means, assistance in making the Hajj to Mecca.

Difficult for Christians

Islamic Shari’a law in Brunei supersedes civil law and it regulates all of life. The national constitution states, “The religion of Brunei Darussalam shall be the Muslim religion.” Life is difficult for Christians in Brunei. Some have lost their jobs without any notice. Christians seeking opportunities for higher education must leave the country to access universities. Evangelism is strictly forbidden and some local Christians have been arrested and detained for planning outreach to the population. Christian based (expatriate) schools must give instruction in Islam to all students and are not allowed to teach Christianity. Recently a foreign English teacher simply prayed for blessings on a Malay family during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations (at the end of Ramadan) was given 48 hours to leave the country.

A number of Brunei Malays have believed over the years, but the very strict, conservative Islamic environment in Brunei is hardly conducive to any Muslim-background believer being open about their commitment. Indonesian Christian broadcasting is easily heard and understood in Brunei. Christian literature for personal purposes (not resale or distribution quantities) can be carried in from neighbouring Malaysia. It is not possible to buy Bibles or Christian books in Brunei. Two recognised churches exist. Both are closely watched by police with spies in nearly every meeting.

Prayer Points (from those ministering to Brunei):

* Pray for expatriate brothers and sisters who are serving in Brunei. Their situation is very sensitive. May their lives provide an example of Christ to those within their circle of influence.

* Pray for the Church throughout Brunei, that Christians will be a light to those within their immediate community. May the congregations welcome the presence of God in their worship and prayers. May they offer encouragement to all local believers while the Lord helps them to build meaningful relationships for the sake of the Kingdom.

* Pray for a stirring in the hearts among the people. May Jesus reveal Himself through dreams and visions. May God work in ways that only he can do to draw the people to himself.

* Pray for the royal family and their influence at every level: the Sultan’s ‘second’ wife, Azrinaz Makar Hakim, from Malaysia; Crown Prince Billah and his wife, Sarah. [Acts 16:31] The parliament is beginning to meet again after being closed for 20 years.

Map of Brunei

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