9/3/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) Maldives — Population: 450 ,000, Christian thousands
Radical Muslims control society. The Maldives is a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean, that spans across the equator. The country is comprised of 1192 islands that stretch along a length of 871 miles. The Maldives, especially its main island, Malé, is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. The close-knit, homogeneous communities are naturally alert to any deviation, including religious choice. All politicians tirelessly announce that they are keeping the Maldives 100 percent Muslim, leaving effectively, no space for any other expression of religious faith.
The Maldives are a paradise on earth for tourists, you would think about the Christians community hardly persecuted in the islands: Maldivian Christians must keep their faith completely secret and being found to own a Bible could result in a prison sentence. That’s why many Maldivian Christians have been forced to move abroad to escape persecution. Those Christians who live outside the capital sometimes meet in secret for worship, but these meetings are subject to police raids. Even tourists have reported getting into trouble for having a personal copy of the Bible since importing Christian literature into the country is strictly prohibited.
The main source of persecution is the Islamic extremism since the government sees itself as the protector of Islam, and the judicial system increasingly reflects Sharia (Islamic law); the death penalty has been introduced as punishment for murder, even for children, and a law banning marital rape was vetoed by the president as ‘un-Islamic‘. Citizens of the Maldives who convert to Christianity lose their citizenship and risk torture.
It is illegal to import Bibles, but some Maldivians access the Scriptures through Bible apps or the internet. VOM says translation of the Bible into Dhivehi, the main language of the Maldives, is ongoing, but the work has been difficult and slow because of the small number of Christian converts. They use creative, secretive methods to share the gospel inside the Maldives. They also support outreach to Maldivians in India and are assisting in the recording of God’s Word in the national language
The Maldives’ constitution requires all citizens to be Muslim. Conversion from Islam means that someone can be stripped of their citizenship and punished under Shariah law. Even foreign workers who are Christians are closely watched, which makes church life extremely difficult and practically non-existent. Churches are outlawed, and openly carrying the Bible is illegal Maldivian Christians must keep their faith completely secret. There have been cases where spouses have only discovered after years that both of them were active Christians, as they had hidden their faith from one another. If they are discovered, they will lose their citizenship. Even owning a Bible can result in imprisonment. In practice, no church meetings are possible. Most Christians in the Maldives are expatriates, and most prefer not to organize meetings out of fear of repercussions. Sharing the gospel with Muslims is illegal and can result in deportation.
Since Christianity is forbidden in the country, baptisms of converts cannot take place and would have to be done outside of the Maldives—and even then in secret, so the conversion is not made known. Children of converts are shunned and harassed at school, if the conversion is discovered. They may also be forced to leave school and may have no other option but to attend a school abroad, if they want to continue their studies (and their parents can afford it). This is an option many expatriate Christians choose for their children, just to avoid the everyday pressure on Christians.
At work, coworkers apply constant pressure on expatriate Christians to persuade them to convert to Islam. They try to prove to Christian migrant workers that Jesus is not the Savior and even use money or promises of promotion at times. Converts try to blend in with the majority of people around them in their efforts to hide their faith.
- Pray the hearts of those in power will be softened toward Christians.
- Pray for protection of believers because the government is currently engaged in a political struggle with opposition forces, any perceived threat such like Christianity is quickly and harshly eradicated.
- Pray the hopes for human rights are realized. Former President Mohamed Nasheed was elected as speaker of the parliament in May 2019. This formalizes his reappearance on the political stage in the Maldives and increases hopes for change, including in the area of human rights, including religious freedom. However, these are hopes for the long-term, not the short-term.
- Pray that God would help secret believers to find fellowship.
- The language of the Maldives is Dhivehi: the complete Bible in this language is not yet available. Pray believers will have access to the Bible in their language.
- Pray for more translators so that a Bible in the Dhivehi language will be available soon
- Pray for got to soften the hearts of radical Muslims, that the Lord will appear to them in their dreams.
- Pray for protection of NGO’s who covert support to believers
- Pray that the strong Christian messages on the internet that will encourage believers and let Muslims see and understand the Good News.
- Pray that believers would have courage and endurance in the face of persecution.
- Pray to the Lord to that He will protect and encourage the saints and make their gatherings invisible to the authorities
You are invited to join us on Thursday, September the 3rd in a prayer call for the persecuted church.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.
The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.
With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.
Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.
If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.
Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.
MALDIVES: Maldives Ruling Party Should Repudiate Attacks on UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the verbal and online attacks against UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed. The statements by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the online postings of at least one religious scholar include harsh criticism and accusations that Shaheed is an apostate from his Muslim faith. The denunciations of this advocate for religious freedom have even resulted in calls online for his beheading.
According to reports, statements from the PPM, the party of current President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, accuse Dr. Shaheed of spreading “evil deeds” among Maldivians. “As if this were not enough,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga, who recently met with him in Oxford to discuss religious freedom, “the party also called on the public to speak out against Shaheed’s ‘irreligious’ activities, which resulted in online postings accusing him of apostasy and calling for his beheading. Coming from the ruling party, this is nothing less than government-sanctioned incitement to violence. That is unacceptable in the Maldives or any other country.”
Shaheed is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. In this key position, he is mandated to “identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles.” Freedom of religion or belief is intimately linked to freedom of expression. Dr. Shaheed is being attacked by political and religious figures in his home country for exercising his freedom of expression on a variety of issues spanning several countries.
One reported Facebook posting by an alleged religious scholar called for Muslims who have expressed views such as Shaheed’s to “repent,” and if they do not, “Their heads will have to be removed [from their bodies] as a non-believer. [This has to be] implemented by the ruler.” Postings and statements such as this and those by the PPM have resulted in numerous explicit, violent threats against Dr. Shaheed as well as his family.
USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark added, “The PPM should retract its statements threatening Dr. Shaheed and condemn in the strongest possible terms any calls for action against him. Rather than inciting violence against a fellow citizen, the PPM should protect Dr. Shaheed and indeed any other Maldivian citizen who exercises his or her right to freedom of expression. A government is responsible for protecting its citizens, not being complicit in threats to their lives.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world. USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties.