Terrifying Encounter with Central African Republic Rebels Leaves Pastor Traumatized
“About 40 rebels invaded the offices of the ministry. One of them was pointing his gun at me,” says Gerald Bomana, pastor of an Evangelical church in Bangui. “The rebels thought we have much money. They ordered me to hand them five million CFA francs (about USD 11,000).” Since rebels of the SELEKA coalition took power by capturing the capital Bangui on Sunday, April 24, armed bandits have been looting, holding people for ransom and harassing the population.
Radical Islamists in Indonesia Shifts Strategy
The photograph of a banner in front of a mosque spread like wildfire through social media in Indonesia last week. The banner read, “The officials of the mosque will ‘reject/refuse’ to prepare the body of [dead] Muslims who approve the building of a church in the area.” When a Muslim dies, the body must be properly prepared in order to help the soul reach the “right place.” If the local mosque rejects or refuses to perform the rituals, many Muslims believe their soul will not be able to rest in peace.
Such unrest in these articles, that it is very disturbing in this day and age, that we have news about very primitive ways of thinking from rebels & extremists. thanks
Tanzania was once celebrated as a role model for peace in Africa, but is no longer being considered 'safe' after an increase in inter-faith violence, with little evidence so far of perpetrators being brought to justice. A blast outside St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Arusha, a town popular with tourists visiting the Serengeti national park and Mount Kilimanjaro, was just the most recent example.
The newly built church, in the Olasti district on the outskirts of Arusha, was celebrating its first ever mass at the time of the attack, which left three dead and more than 60 injured.
Tension has been building between the two most populous religious communities in Tanzania - Christians comprise 62 percent of the population, while 35 percent is Muslim (Pew, 2010).
In Zanzibar, which is 97 percent Muslim, arsonists burned the Evangelical Church of Siloam on February 19, two days after gunmen killed a Catholic priest, Father Evaristus Mushi, in the Motni area of the island.
Earlier that month, an Assemblies of God minister, Pastor Mathayo Kachili, was hacked to death in the Geita region of Lake Victoria, when he intervened in an altercation between villagers over the slaughter of an animal, after the local government had granted Christians the right to practice as butchers.
June, Not a Good Month for Christians in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka saw six cases of religious persecution in the month of June alone, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL). In one incident five Buddhist monks and some 30 locals surrounded a pastor's home and hurled threats at him. "They demanded that the worship services be discontinued," said NCEASL. The assaulted pastor says that he continues to receive threats almost on a daily basis.
My name is Emily and I am a staff member at Open Doors USA. This past September, I had the opportunity to go to Nigeria to meet with some of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Nigeria is ranked as the 13th most difficult place to be a Christian on the Open Doors World Watch List and last year, more than 800 Christians died as a result of persecution.
In the months leading up to this trip, God began to place the Christians of Nigeria on my heart. It seemed like almost every weekend, I had read about another attack on a Nigerian church in the news. I remember reading one story in particular.
"Two victims died in the most recent church attack in Nigeria," I said to my husband.
Comparatively, that really was amazing (especially since many of the other attacks had taken the lives of up to 60 people in a single incident). There were more than 600 people in attendance that day and a suicide bomber had driven up to the front of the church to set off a bomb in his car. I was truly amazed that there were not more causalities and was thankful that so many had survived, despite being saddened by the loss of two lives.
Little did I know that less than two months later, I would actually meet some of the survivors of this very attack and others like it.
Below are the stories of Hannatu, Usman and Grace, three Christians I met while I was in Nigeria. Would you take a moment to read each of their stories, to learn more about persecution in Nigeria and how you can be praying for our suffering brothers and sisters there?
Thank you for being One With Them,
Hannatu is 13 years old and wants to become a banker. Her favorite sport is basketball and she loves mathematics. She really likes the Book of Psalms because it tells her so much about who God is. One Sunday morning in June, Hannatu went to her Sunday school as she did every Sunday. But that Sunday would be different. That day, a suicide bomber crashed his car into a barricade at her church, setting off explosives that killed at least 24 people and wounded 125 others.
"We were in the church. The church was full that morning. I was at the Sunday school. I went outside with my uncle and we were preparing for the meal. Then, we wanted to go inside. We heard a car coming. The next thing I saw was people crying, running outside. There were people lying on the ground." Hannatu's voice is so soft that you can barely hear it. It is difficult for her to talk about what happened.
Hannatu asked for Christians around the world to pray for her church and also for herself. "I feel sad because I lost people I loved, especially my uncle. Sometimes, I am happy because God made me see this day and saved my life. I would like people to pray for me because my eyes were hurt in the explosion. I cannot see many objects from afar. I don't want to wear glasses, I just want to see well. Thank you for praying."
Imagine you are a Christian leader in Nigeria. For many years you have worked tirelessly to encourage Christians, evangelize to non-believers and serve as you felt led.
You carry the burden of exhaustion because you have had to do all of this with limited resources. The violence against Christians in recent years has only added to this heavy load. Though there are wonderful accounts of former persecutors coming to Christ, there have also been reports of people merely acting like they had become Christians, so they could infiltrate the church and attack Christians when their 'guards were down.'
Usman is a Christian leader who faces this very dilemma. He is from Northern Nigeria and has experienced many trials in his lifetime.
Looking at him, you can tell that he is weary. The lines on his face and the tiredness in his eyes show that he is worn down by all the trials he has faced. His stoic voice adds to the resigned image that he portrays.
As he looks in the distance he says "My name is Usman, a Muslim name, because I was once a Muslim."
Usman is a Muslim Background Believer (MB. Though most Christians in Northern Nigeria are marginalized by their Muslim neighbors, MBBs often face more persecution from friends and family because they have abandoned Islam. Due to this, he is very aware of the different ways that Muslim extremists have tried to persecute Christians, one being false conversions. He is not always sure if he can trust a Muslim who says that they want to convert to Christianity.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the current dilemma that he is facing, is the realization that if it weren't for someone taking a chance and sharing the gospel with Usman himself, he may have never found Christ.
Usman reflects on the passage from Matthew 10:16 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." He knows that the only solution to his dilemma is to pray that God will grant him wisdom and discernment.
According to Usman, there is currently a debate between some Northern Nigerian Christians regarding the issue of church security. Some believe that they should not have security guards at churches, because it goes against Christ's command to 'turn the other cheek.' Other Christians believe that they should never invoke violence or retaliate, but should be wise about protecting themselves from attacks. Usman is from that latter school of thought.
Usman knows that not all churches are willing to hire security guards, so he is trying to encourage churches to build fences around their building, to protect them against attacks during their services. Though some churches have been proactive in this regard, others are unable to do this, due to lack of resources and funding.
It is understandable why Usman is feeling so burned-out. He has gone through many trials and tribulations that most Christian leaders will never encounter. Please pray for Usman, that the Lord would aid him with this burdensome yoke in his life. Pray that God would revitalize Usman and give him the strength to continue his ministry. Finally, please pray for God to give Usman discernment when dealing with new converts and church security.
Grace is a 26 year old woman from Northern Nigeria. The dark purple dress she wore on the day we met illuminated her sad and piercing brown eyes.
She had only been married for a year and a half when she lost her husband in an attack by Boko Haram. Boko Haram is the Islamic extremist group responsible for multiple attacks on government and church buildings in Northern Nigeria.
Though it had been six months since Grace had lost her husband, she was still in a deep state of mourning. Even though she had come to share her story that day, she was unable to speak about the day she lost her husband and what life was like as a 26-year-old widow from Northern Nigeria.
James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
As Grace was in a state of mourning and distress, we knew that we were called to minister to her by covering her in prayer. About four or five of us women gathered around Grace, laid hands on her and began to pray for her unspoken prayer requests.
Though we did not know her exact needs, we knew that God did. Though we could not fully understand the pain such a young Nigerian widow felt, we knew that God did. Though she could not verbalize her exact feelings and emotions to us, we knew that God knew all of those feelings and emotions.
After we prayed for these unspoken prayer requests, Grace looked up with tears in her eyes. For the first time a beautiful smile emerged onto her once stoic face. This was a connection that transcended both culture and spoken word, something that only God could do.
Please continue to pray for Grace and the many young Christian widows she represents. Though their unspoken prayer requests may not be known to us, our heavenly Father knows their every need.
In Pakistan; the Taliban are harassing, blackmailing, and persecuting the Christians, of all denominations, especially Catholics and Pentecostals.
They are threatening Christians to give then money and if they don't give them money, they tear up their churches, even going inside one church while a service was going on and becoming very violent, tearing up the church.
Christians are frightened and are leaving and moving to live somewhere else.
They also have threatened individuals at their homes. Every month becomes more dangerous for Christians in Pakistan. Please pray for them.
In Pakistan; Pastor Sirdar and several other Christians in Pakistan are being threatened and are afraid for their lives! Please pray for the Christians in Pakistan.I have communicated with Pastor Sirdar on the internet for many years and am very frightened for Pastor Sirdar and the others. I am very concerned! Please pray~
Armed men, driving Kurdish government cars, terrorized a Christian village in Northern Iraq last month. Firing their guns in the air, the men declared, "We are the authority around here and we will take what we want." Though the village has been fending off land grab attempts since the early 1990s, an Open Doors fieldworker voiced concerns that these latest attacks might spark a new emigration of Iraqi Christians. "This is just one reported incident, but I have been assured that it happens frequently. Let's hope and pray that attacks against Christians will stop."
Husband Denies Wife
Mehriban, mother of two young boys, recently accepted Jesus in her heart. Soon her husband noticed a difference and accused her of being Christian. After beating her severely, he left her saying he would find a new wife who was Muslim. Now alone and concerned over how to raise her children, she has asked for our prayers.
This post was modified from its original form on 09 Aug, 5:08
While moving his family to a new village posed many potential challenges, Nwin Than (alias), a former Shan Buddhist, decided that the risks were worth taking. Not long after their arrival, however, "Buddhist monks and neighbors signed a petition which would not allow non-Buddhists to live in their village," shares a local believer. Making the situation more difficult the local believer adds, "His two small children cannot go to school because they are not permitted to enroll. But the family has decided to stay despite the difficulties. Nwin Than's heart breaks for his own people. He wants to share Jesus with them. Please pray for the family, especially the children."
On December 29, 2011, Open Doors shared an urgent prayer need for Pastor Umar Mulinde who had survived a vicious acid attack. Mulinde relates his ongoing struggle, "I have so far undergone 7 surgeries and have 3 more to go. It seems like a never-ending battle for me, but I am glad that I have not let it put me down. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Please keep praying for me."
The July 3rd removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power by Egyptian forces unleashed an anti-Christian backlash that has flared in pockets across Egypt. The situation has become volatile enough that Coptic Pope Tawadros II cancelled his scheduled public appearances this week at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, fearing his presence could endanger the congregation. The latest wave of violence was sparked by an Aug. 3 incident in a village east of Cairo—over a song. In its wake, an eerie silence has settled over The Church of St. Mary where Mass is no longer being celebrated and police officers guard the entrance.
As Pastor Arun Kanti Chakma was quietly sleeping inside his church, attackers burst in and shot him six times, ending his life. A good and peace-loving man, Chakma (40) is survived by his wife Shupta and his only daughter, thirteen-year-old Gayetree. In Bangladesh violence against religious and ethnic minorities seem to intensify during. With General Elections commencing this October and culminating in January 2014, Bengali Christians are increasing their vigilance through prayer and are calling on the worldwide body of Christ to join them.
Farah, one of the students from ICC’s “Save our Sisters” vocational training school, was attacked while on the way to ICC’s beauty salon in June. A group of Muslim boys shamelessly attacked Farah in broad daylight. ICC came in contact with Farah after hearing about her tough situation at home where she was verbally abused for her faith. ICC supported Farah by enrolling her in one of our vocational training schools, teaching young girls business education at a beauty salon.
ICC representatives took Farah to the hospital where she received medical attention for the injuries she received during the attack. By God’s grace, Farah is expected to make a full recovery although she will always have a major scar. Because Farah is both Christian and a woman, she is considered a low status citizen in Pakistan which makes her an easy target for abuse. Please pray for Farah’s physical and spiritual re...
An elderly Christian woman has been attacked and beaten by four Hindu extremists in Rajasthan, India. The mother of Rev. Vishaal Behl was home alone when extremists broke in attempting to find her son to beat him for his Christian activities. When the intruders didn't find Rev. Behl, they turned their rage upon his mother, severely injuring her head and arms. This is just another attack in a new wave of intolerance that is crashing across India. Please pray for this persecuted family and families who have also experienced this extreme form of intolerance.
Full Story: http://ow.ly/o3HRt
Photo: The mother of Rev. Vishaal Behl after the attack.(AsiaNews)
"There is not a single day without the discovery of a body in the river Oubangui. In one week we counted over 100; and we don't even speak about the killings in the interior [of the country] or the continuing rape of women. I cannot keep record of these any more…these scenes overwhelm me." The emotional words of a distraught Open Doors source reporting from Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), highlight the horrifying realities for civilians and the precarious circumstances for Christians.
Churches, monasteries, Christian schools, shops, and houses of Christians have been attacked, looted, and destroyed by Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In spite of the attacks, an Egyptian brother shares, "I tried hard to hate them. They are burning my entire country down. But, instead I found myself moved by a divine power to enter a shop owned by a Muslim Brotherhood man and purchase boxes of bottled water. In tears I moved from one man to another; one woman to another, handing bottles to anyone who came my way. After all, they too need the love of Christ."
Please pray for this suffering family in Pakistan. Recently, their daughter was abducted, forcefully married to a Muslim man and forcefully converted to Islam. The family is too afraid to leave the home for fear of what could happen next. During an emotional visit, ICC representatives listened to their story, prayed for them, and gave them assistance by providing food aid.
Please pray for their safety and comfort during this time.
On August 25, a mob of nearly 1,000 people rallied together in a village in northern India and destroyed a church. According to reports, the church's construction had been halted for two years because of opposition. As the church was torn apart brick by brick, the mob also turned its rage on the pastor and the believers they could find, beating them severely. These persecuted brothers and sisters are now hiding, afraid to leave the relative safety of their homes. Please pray for the safety and deliverance of our persecuted brothers and sisters.
Full Story: http://ow.ly/oqbW3