As we cover the nation of Cuba in prayer this week, we do so with this verse from this psalm of praise in our hearts. Even in moments of great uncertainty, where situations look bleak, we stand on the promise that God is sovereign over all the nations; the great King over all the earth.
Next month, Cuba will vote on a new draft constitution, which many of the country’s Christian leaders are concerned will not guarantee Cubans’ rights to practice, openly manifest, choose or change their religion or belief freely. In an unprecedented cross-denominational campaign last September, they called the Cuban government to include new clauses in the draft constitution which would guarantee complete religious freedom.
Cuba’s National Assembly has ignored their calls to put in place robust protections for religious freedom, and the wording of the draft constitution indicates that the government has no intention of making real reforms to protect religious freedom. In fact, provisions for religious freedom in this draft are considerably weaker than the current constitution adopted in 1992. Additions to the draft constitution include reference to Cuba as a secular state while freedom of conscience – which was explicitly protected in the 1992 version – has not been reinstated.
Over the past year, evidence gathered by CSW shows that the government’s attempts to control religious groups and religious expression have continued unabated. Religious groups of all faiths are targeted to varying degrees. Leaders of all denominations reported a continued campaign of intimidation and harassment of local and national religious leaders. Members of religious groups routinely experience discrimination in education and employment, and Christian leaders continue to report a scarcity of Bibles and other religious literature, as well as denied permits and harassment of visiting pastors.
In summary, please pray:
- Giving thanks for the cross-denominational campaign, and praying that Christian leaders would continue to speak up for their right to religious freedom
- That the government’s plans to control religious groups and religious expression would falter and come to nothing
- Asking God to protect Cuba’s religious groups amidst concerns that the passing of the draft constitution would lead to a crackdown on religious groups and religious expression across the island.
This week’s Prayer Diary
Indonesia’s long-standing tradition of tolerance and religious pluralism is increasingly under threat. Churches have been targets for violence and local authorities have used blasphemy laws to attack religious minorities. In North Sumatra, a Buddhist woman was jailed for 18 months just for asking a local mosque to turn down its loudspeakers.
Sunday 20 January
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has chosen Ma’ruf Amin, a 75-year-old Islamic cleric with a history of intolerance, as his running mate in this year’s election. Pray that, if elected, President Widodo would be able to do more to counter extremism and intolerance, and defend religious pluralism.
Monday 21 January
In a recent visit CSW heard from a partner who had asked his 12-year-old son what he’d learned at school: ‘We learned about kafir [infidels],’ his son replied. When his father asked what they had learned about infidels, his son said simply, ‘We learned that they must be killed.’ Pray against the promotion of hatred in Indonesia’s schools.
Tuesday 22 January
In May 2018 three churches in Surabaya were hit with a coordinated suicide bomb attack. The perpetrators all belonged to the same family: the youngest was just six. Thirteen people were killed and dozens injured. Pray for healing for the congregations of Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church, Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church, and Santa Maria Catholic Church.
Wednesday 23 January
Following the attacks, Father Aloysius Widyawan, a priest at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church, told us that the consistent message from his parishioners was, ‘We must love others, we forgive the attackers, we do not want revenge.’ Pray that this attitude of peace and forgiveness prevails.
Thursday 24 January
Indonesia used to be an example to the international community of harmony and pluralism due to its founding principles known as Pancasila, which promote tolerance and acceptance. Pray that Indonesia would return to its founding principles.
Friday 25 January
CSW has travelled regularly to Indonesia over the last few years and is uniquely positioned to face the rising intolerance. Thank God for our contacts with human rights defenders and churches across the country, and ask God to grant us wisdom and provision as we develop strategies to combat the current intolerance.
Saturday 26 January
Lord, today we commit the nation of Indonesia to you. We pray especially for the congregations of Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church, Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church and Santa Maria Catholic Church following the attacks last May, and ask you to give them comfort and healing. Amen.