VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Africa

26 dead after gunmen open fire on buses carrying Coptic Christians

Nigeria: 82 of the Chibok girls freed in prisoner swap -over 100 still missing

(Voice of the Persecuted) Held captive by the Boko Haram for over three years, 82 of the Chibok girls have been freed in a prisoner swap with the Nigerian government. Unofficially, five of the terror groups members were released in exchange for the girls on May 6, 2017.

Originally 275 Chibok girls had been taken from their school in April, 2014. Their plight became internationally known through the Bring Back Our Girls #hashtag campaign, but celebrity and global coverage quickly waned. Sadly, media silence led many to believe the girls had been released. Some did escaped and others set free, but the condition of the remaining 113 is still unknown.

Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja told Agenzia Fides,

“We thank God that these girls have re-embraced their families, but I wonder why they had to wait three years for this to happen.”

“In all these years, I was among those who insistently asked the government to do everything possible to free the girls. The government replied that it could not negotiate for their release with terrorists, exchanging them with some Boko Haram prisoners. But that is what eventually happened. For their release some Boko Haram leaders were released and an important figure was paid. Why did this not happen before, saving three years of suffering for these girls and their families?”

“Three years of anguish that could be have been avoided – he stresses. Among them is a girl with an amputated leg”.
“If these girls had been the daughters of some powerful leader would they have lost all this time? We also forget that there are still more than 100 girls whose fate we know nothing about. Some of them probably died during fights, illness or childbirth. At least let families know the fate of these poor girls. I invite everyone to pray for their release”, he concluded.

Tens of thousands have been killed by the radical militants. 2.6 million are displaced and thousands of men, women and children have been abducted since the Boko Haram began their deadly campaign in 2009. North Nigeria and the surrounding region is now experiencing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis that’s being called one of the gravest in the world. With the uptick of attacks by the Fulani brings continued fears and anxiety. Let us continue to remember our Nigerian brothers and sisters who are too often overlooked by the global community.

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christians experiencing brutal persecution. If you would like to show your love and support for those who’ve faced unimaginable persecution, please support our Nigerian mission project, today.

We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on orphan-306x4601them. They have been so encouraged and thankful for each one of you who have joined this mission through your prayers and support. Your gifts have brought so many smiles. THANK YOU!

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project. Donations always desperately needed

Police, Mob Attack Synod Guard’s Quarters, Arrest His Family in Omdurman, Sudan

Synod guard’s wife and their three children in jail in Omdurman, Sudan. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) Three weeks after an elder was killed in an attack on church property in Omdurman, Sudan, a mob with police on Monday (April 24) ransacked the living quarters of the compound guard and arrested his family, sources said.

Police accompanied by a mob demolished part of the room where the family lived after first destroying its padlock at the compound of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), sources said. Officers took 27-year-old Mona Matta, wife of guard Azhari Tambra, 28, and their children ages 6, 4 and 2 from their room at the SPEC synod offices and detained them until 10 p.m. at the Northern Division Police Station in Omdurman, they said.

Tambra was not home at the time of the attack. When Matta and her three children, including one who is disabled, were taken away in a police van, they were accused of opposing authorities, lacking ownership papers and betrayal of the country. They were released, however, with no charges filed against them, said a source who requested anonymity.

When the family arrived home after the release of Tambra’s wife and children, they found all their belongings destroyed, and officers prevented them from entering their living quarters, sources said.

“It is very inhumane,” the Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu, SPEC moderator, told Morning Star News.

The guard and his family, members of an evangelical church in Omdurman, were unsure where they would take shelter after their home was ruined, sources said.

A committee that the government illegally appointed to run the SPEC in 2013 is occupying the synod offices with help from police. Committee members were reported to have been present in the mob that damaged the guard’s living quarters.

On April 3 about 20 men with knives and other weapons, including members of the government-appointed committee, arrived at the Evangelical School of Sudan on the synod property and began to beat several women after police had arrested the men at the school. Christians from nearby Bahri Evangelical Church rushed to the school to try and protect the women, and two church members were stabbed.

Church elder Younan Abdullah later died in a hospital from wounds sustained while he and others were defending the school. Supporters of a Muslim business interest in Omdurman trying to take over the school, including members of the government-imposed committee, participated in the attack after police along with a group supported by Sudan’s Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments arrived at the school first and arrested all men.

Abdullah is survived by his wife and two young children.

The illegally imposed committee has been selling church properties to businessmen aligned with the government, sources said. SPEC leaders are appealing to the Sudan government to stop interfering with SPEC affairs and cease support of the government-appointed committee.

After the arrest of the guard’s family, Elia Aromi Kuku, a prominent Christian writer from the Nuba Mountains area, on Monday (April 24) published an open letter on the Nuba Times website to Sudan’s first vice president, minister of Guidance and Religious Endowments and Sudan’s chief of justice urging them to respect the rights of Sudanese Christians.

“It is the role of the Sudanese government to protect the rights of its Christian citizens and their rights to religious co-existence, as well as respecting their beliefs and their places of worship,” he wrote.

Police in Omdurman, across from Khartoum on the Nile River, on March 27 had arrested 12 staff members of the Christian school and the next day prevented others from leaving the campus, they said.

They were taken to Omdurman’s Central Division Police Station and released at about 8 p.m., accused of obstructing the work of Education Vision, which is trying to take over the school. The institution was still functioning as a Christian school, but representatives of Education Vision were regularly disrupting classes, school personnel said.

On March 16 about 20 policemen aboard a truck forcefully entered the school compound, arrested three Christian teachers including the headmaster, Daud Musa, and took them to Omdurman’s Central Division Police Station, sources said. Also arrested were Christian teachers Yahya Elias and the late elder Abdullah, all of the SPEC.

They were released on bail after eight hours, charged with obstructing the work of those attempting to take over the school.

The arrests came nearly a month after authorities arrested and held overnight four educators from the same school, including Musa, before releasing them on bail. They were accused of destroying a sign belonging to Education Vision. The Christians strongly denied the accusation.

The Evangelical School of Sudan is one of several SPEC schools throughout Sudan.

The leadership of the SPEC remains in the hands of government-appointed committee members even after a court ruled in November 2016 that the appointments were illegal, sources said. That case is separate from an Aug. 31, 2015 ruling by the Administrative Court of Appeal saying the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments interfered with SPEC’s Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church by imposing committees on the church in order to enable Muslim investors to take it over.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2016 report.

Sudan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

Former Egyptian-Muslim converts to Christianity

This is the story of Amani Mustafa, a Egyptian women who left her country and moved to the US. In this video she explains the danger and abuse she was faced with in Egypt and about her conversion to Christianity.

Bishop blames Government for Fulani Massacre in Nigeria

(Voice of the Persecuted) On the evening of April 15, 2017, while Christians had gathered for an Easter vigil, heavily armed gunmen entered Asso village in Kaduna state and began shooting sporadically at their victims. 12 people were killed and many were injured in the attack.  Fulani herdsmen are suspected of carrying out the attack in the Christian community.

In a press statement concerning the Asso village massacre, Bishop Joseph Danlami Bogobiri accused the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai of taking sides with herdsmen. He said that, “Having presided over the mass burial of at least 10 Catholics along with their parish priest Revd Fr. Alexander Yayock the following day, I’m by conscience compelled to make the following statements.”

1. The attitude of the state government has been marred by lots of complicity and bias which exacerbated rather than ameliorated tensions. The Governor in most cases seemed to have abdicated his responsibility of being Governor to all us, and instead gave in to the luxury of waging an unrelenting media campaign against Southern Kaduna people. He unabashedly takes sides with the armed herdsmen (His kinsmen) thereby failing in his responsibility as a true statesman, becoming therefore a biased umpire who blames and criminalizes Southern Kaduna victims as the cause of the mayhem. The Governor has made several efforts in the media to discredit figure of casualties that were arrived at through painstaking research, and is known for trying to change the true narrative by presenting the victims as the villain and the aggressors as the prey. The Governor has the penchance of using state apparatus to insult, denigrate, intimidate, arrest and put in prison all voices of reason from Southern Kaduna who dare to challenge his handling of this crisis. Among those that have fallen victims of his tyranny are: traditional rulers, journalists, youths, political leaders, academicians, while threatening our lawyers and other leaders (Religious and Unions) with arrest for daring to speak out against the genocide.
2. The primary responsibility of government as enshrined in the constitution is the protection of life and property of citizens irrespective of ethnic and/or religious persuasion. Any breach of this fundamental principle of social contract contravenes the very reason for which Government exist for. Unfortunately, our government both at the Federal and State levels have failed woefully in this regard because of their inability to rise above ethnic and religious bias. If anything, government has shown outright partisanship in favor of the herdsmen to the disappointment of the majority Southern Kaduna indigenes. Because of Government’s inability to serve as an un-biased umpire in the face of these crises, we are sometimes tempted to belief that there is a well-planned Jihad against the people of Southern Kaduna, and Christians generally in Northern Nigeria as this is amply demonstrated by the incessant attacks and atrocities committed against the aborigines of the Middle Belt region in Northern Nigeria. The sole aim of these attacks is to conquer our people and occupy their lush lands and turning same into grazing fields for the marauding nomads. The Governor of Kaduna State is pursuing this detestable policy by his plan to forcefully take over lands in Southern Kaduna and turn same to Grazing Reserves and Routes for his kinsmen. To show Government’s insensitivity on this volatile matter, there are ongoing expansionist plans to annex more land to the already existing grazing reserves at Ladduga in Ikulu Chiefdom of Zangon Kataf Local Government area and transmute that locality from being a district into an emirate.
3. The killings continue unabatedly in fields and bushes, thereby preventing farmers from visiting and cultivating their lands. This is happening today as the Military and other security forces mount road blocks in towns and major roads while bushes remain un-safe for farming. In the Godogodo and Pasakori attacks in Jemaá Local government area for example, the military merely watched and supervised the killings and burning of homes on the pretext that their mandate did not include fighting the herdsmen. When the youth mobilized themselves to repel the attackers, the soldiers deliberately blocked them from entering the town. The herdsmen and their collaborators turned the towns into killing fields and killed mostly women, children and the elderly who couldn’t run for cover. The level of barbarity was such that pregnant women got their wombs blown out and massacred before their children. And these innocent children were not spared either. This level of viciousness was never witnessed even in the brutal tyranny and regime of Adolf Hitler. What is most intriguing is the level of sophistication of weapons; Ak 47, Machine Guns and many other deadly instruments of death are being freely used by the Herdsmen, leaving wondering how these weapons got to their hands.
4. The Governor has described the Fulanis as vindictive and un-forgiven people. This may simply be the projection of the Governor’s own mindset to an entire people. Our experience living with Fulanis for decades does not prove this. The indigenous communities of Southern Kaduna have been living peacefully with the Fulani herdsmen who came to join them as neighbors until the architects of the view that the average Fulani man is vindictive and un-forgiving came into power. The mayhem and killing with impunity in Southern Kaduna and the Middle Belt region and beyond by the Fulani Herdsmen, using sophisticated weapons is a recent development fueled by this kind of philosophy. To present any person or group of persons as revengeful and to go ahead to support and sponsor a praxis of retaliation as we are witnessing in Kaduna State today, is not only a detestable behavior but an evil mentality that will not engender social cohesion and harmonious coexistence in a plural and heterogeneous setting such as ours. The natives and herdsmen of Southern Kaduna have always had their differences as is common in herdsmen and farmers relationship everywhere in the world.  These differences sometime end up in clashes and skirmishes resulting from invasion of each other spaces, but such differences have assumed an un-precedent height under the current government with the use of very sophisticated weapons of destruction. What we are witnessing in Kaduna state is not the so called un-forgiving spirit of the Fulani people towards others, but the transfer of a hate mentality from a handful of people in leadership within the State to an entire ethnic group, with disastrous consequences. All humans are created by God with rationality and the milk of human kindness in their hearts. This often shows itself in love expressed in mercy, compassion and forgiveness. No rational human person is created without the disposition to overlook some offences committed against him or her. Only those with dead consciences are indisposed to show compassion and forgiveness. A world that does not forgive is doom to fail. An eye for an eye philosophy renders the whole world blind it is said. Describing an entire people as un-forgiven is not a plus but a minus for such people. If the Fulanis stop the aggression in Southern Kaduna today, there will be peace in the environment and the entire State. The non-retaliation of Christians to great abuses and violations of their human rights is termed as weakness, which is not correct. God has put the feeling of mercy and compassion in each of us regardless of our ethnicity and religious affiliations. If the Southern Kaduna had been trouble shooting people, they too would have established militia groups and go on rampage in domains other than their own. But alas this is not what is happening. They are being attacked in their sleep and places of worship right in the land that divine providence has given as their own. And even at that, they are told not to defend themselves in the face of aggression. The earlier we rediscover this truth of conscience (that all rational beings are imbued with a spirit of mercy and compassion) and begin to live this truth to the full, the better for our Society. Therefore the promotion of the philosophy that any offence committed is like a debt that must be avenged for either now or in the future is not only false and un-wholesome but it is the figment and projection of the personal idiosyncrasies of a few but powerful people. This mindset if not checked and corrected has the potential to erode the fabric of any social organization.
5. The killings with impunity in Southern Kaduna must not be allowed to continue. And Government in the State has a special and irreplaceable role in bringing this scourge to an end. The current Government in the State must follow the example of past Governments by initiating measures that would unify rather than divide the people of the State on ethnic and religious lines as this Government has been doing since its inception. We have had our challenges on harmonious coexistence in the past. But past Governments demonstrated statesmanship in Governance by bringing stake holders across board to parley on how to resolve our indifference. The current administration in the State seems to dread this kind of interface which had proven to be effective in the past. Government must change its attitude from alignment with people of one ethno-religious group in the State, she must resist the temptation of acting as the mouthpiece of one group against others and begin to display true statesmanship in seeing and treating the entire state as its constituency. The current Government got it all wrong right from the beginning when it openly stated that she will treat the citizens of the State not on the merits of their being Kaduna state indigenes but on the basis of who voted and who did not vote for the party that won the election. This is a wrong premise to operate under a democracy such as ours, which promotes and respects diversity particularly on political matters. We cannot all become members of one Party in Kaduna state. It is unfortunate that this kind of segregational mindset seems to be teleguiding government’s policies, utterances, appointments, and the distribution of infrastructure for development and social initiatives. This Government has taken discrimination on religious and ethnic lines to a height that has never been witnessed in the history of Kaduna. Today we are left with a situation where there is much concentration of development in the North and Central Senatorial districts to the utter neglect of the Southern Senatorial District which is predominantly Christian. The Northern part of the State monopolizes the Executive, the legislative, the Judiciary and occupies all slots of federal appointments such as the ministerial and those of parastatals. This disgusting mentality of premeditated discrimination and marginalization is shown by the lopsidedness in both political appointments, locations of infrastructural facilities, and worst still the delineations of political constituencies and polling units which institutionalizes rigging at source. While the Hausa/Fulani dominated areas in Kaduna State have cornered over 48 Federal Institutions to their domain, southern Kaduna can hardly boast of one of such institutions in her domain. Instead of the current government to work towards redressing this disturbing, inhuman and unjust imbalance, she is rather shamelessly contemplating the removal of the Kaduna State University (KASU) Campus and the College of Education (COE) from Southern Kaduna to his Fulani dominated space. What a shame and a slap to justice, fairness and objectivity in dealing with people.
6. In all these we have watched with pains and patience for about two years now how Government in the State is being managed as a personal estate in a way that excludes many stake holders from the State. We want to state emphatically that Kaduna State is for all of us, regardless of political, ethnic and religious affiliations. Therefore, the Governor should stop running it as his personal establishment. Kaduna State is the only State that we can call our own. And because Kaduna State is our State, we are contributing significantly for its progress not only on the Spiritual level, but also our works in the areas of education, medi-care, social upliftment and building of capacities of the people cannot be ignored. Government must recognize us as equal stake holders in the management and running of the affairs of the State. We do not accept being treated as aliens in our State.
7. Despite these imbalances in our Nation and in our State, here we are again celebrating another feast of the resurrection of Christ. The fact of our Lord’s resurrection revolutionized the lives of the Disciples of Christ. It transformed them from being a timid and sometimes a seemingly clueless group of disciple, to a fearless and courageous team that turned Jerusalem at some point upside down. Our faith therefore in the risen Christ must so influenced and transformed our lives as it did to the lives of the Disciples of Christ particularly at the times of persecution such as we are facing. The injustices in our Society notwithstanding, we exhort believers not to be fainthearted but courageous in facing the challenges of our time. We are to renew our faith and commitment to the living and resurrected Jesus, who triumphed over death and evil as the way to surmounting all the abuses and discrimination that we suffer in Nigeria today.
SIGNED:
Most Revd. Dr. Joseph Danlami Bagobiri
Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese and Chairman, Southern Kaduna Christian Elders Association

At the delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in March, Bishop Bagobiri said,

Christians of Southern Kaduna have taken their case to God in prayer. They want God to fight their battle for them because He is the only one who can rescue them from the systematic elimination of Christians in the area which has the support of both the Federal and State governments as well as the country’ security agents.
In his words, “Since we have no government that would listen to our plight, we have carried our case directly to God. It is only God that can save us from our present situation. Our hope in Him is never in vain since he knows our problem and He will deliver us one day just as he delivered the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.”

The Bishop raised concerns of injustices for the survival of Christianity in northern Nigeria were premised on structural injustices which have become institutionalized. Some of the challenges he described included inequitable distribution of amenities, infrastructure and discrimination in appointment to political and public office. The Bishop suggested the Church focus on enabling the faithful stand for their faith in the face of persecution.

“We as a Church must evolve new ways on how we can face violence without losing faith. It is our prayer that God will give us strength and the needed direction on how to make Christianity survive despite the constant attacks and persecution.”
“…we must use Constitutional means to fight for our rights. Where it becomes necessary, we must go to court and use human rights lawyers that are sympathetic to the course of justice; not only as a Church but also as citizens of this country.”

Begging To Be Heard

Nigerian Christians are expressing their great concern for the ongoing silence of international media outlets of Christians massacred in Southern Kaduna. “It’s an issue the Christian leadership must urgently address,” one claimed. In Voice of the Persecuted’s years of communication with Nigerian churches and Christian communities, much is vaguely covered, or never reported by the MSM.

They want the world to know the genocide that is taking place on the Christian faithful in Nigeria. They are praying all information will be sent and covered by CNN , FOX, BBC and all international media. One claimed,

“Once the world begins to pay attention to the massacre and beheadings by Fulani terrorist herdsmen, who killed and occupy farmland and villages, only then will we see a change.”

In 2016, ‘Fulani’ terrorist ‘herdsmen’ killed over 700, almost twice the number Boko Haram had killed that first quarter. They fear Governor El Rufai nor President Buhari will do anything to stop who they call ‘their own’ meaning the herdsmen. Both men are from the Fulani tribe.

We pray with these brothers and sisters for the world to take notice of the extreme abuse North Nigerian Christians continue to face. Please pray with us for a blessed change to take place. For now, the Body of Christ is all they have. Hold on dear brothers and sisters. We hear you!

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christians experiencing brutal persecution. If you would like to show your love and support for those who’ve faced unimaginable persecution, please support our Nigerian mission project, today.

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support. Your gifts have brought many smiles on the faces of these youngsters below. THANK YOU!

orphan-306x4601We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed

ISIS claims attack near historic Monastery in Egypt

The AP reports the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a check point near the historic Orthodox Christian St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, killing one police officer and wounding four. ISIS has vowed more attacks against Egyptian Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country’s population.

One of the world’s oldest ‘working’ Christian monasteries, St. Catherine’s, officially “Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai”, was built between 548 and 565 in a remote desert area at the foot of Mount Sinai. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and a popular tourists destination. The site contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus.

Militants ascended onto an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint several hundred meters outside the monastery. Then they opened fire. Some of the gunmen were wounded when police returned fire, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said.

Please pray for our Christian family in Egypt.

Photo By Berthold Werner via Wikimedia Commons

 

A MESSAGE TO THOSE WHO KILL US – Fr. Boules George (Egypt)

Fr. Boules George, St. Mark, Cleopatra (Cairo, Egypt)

Video Transcript:

What will we say to them?

THANK YOU

The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it.

You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us.

You gave us to die the same death as Christ–and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified–and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered–and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave them to die.

We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey.

We thank you because you gave to us to fulfill what Christ said to us: “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). We were lambs; our only weapons: our faith and the church we pray in. I carry no weapon in my hand. We are so grateful that you helped us fulfill this saying of Christ.

Thank you for helping us achieve our goal. You’re helping us, and you don’t even know it. I know you don’t understand, but I’m trying to explain it to you. There are people we visited at home to encourage them to come to church–three, four, five times. Still they won’t come. What you’re doing here–you’re bringing to church the people who never come. Believe me–it’s bringing to church the people who never come!

People who were living in sin and away from God, after the bombing of St. Peter’s Chapel in the Cathedral, they were saying, “You never know when your number’s up. Better take more care [in our spiritual lives].” All these vistations we do–you’re so much more effective. You’re filling up our churches! You’re filling our churches!

Let’s speak plainly here… Usually attendance at the Eve of Monday Pascha is very little. People are usually so tired after a long Palm Sunday Liturgy and the General Funeral, and they don’t come to the Eve of Monday services. When I came in tonight, there were people on chairs outside the sanctuary, there were people in the balcony seating. The church is completely full. There isn’t even one empty nook. Thank you. We are so grateful that you’re helping fill up our churches.

When you do this, you irritate the soul of the person who was lazy before. You wake his conscience and the love of God within him prods him to come to church.

Can you see why we thank you? We’re not being deceptive. A priest holding a microphone can’t lie to you! I say to you: THANK YOU. Thank you for all you have done for us without even noticing.

WE LOVE YOU

The second part of the message we want to send to you is that we love you. And this, unfortunately, you won’t understand at all. Maybe you won’t believe us when we say we’re grateful. But this–you won’t even understand. Why won’t you understand it? Because this too is a teaching of our Christ. I want to explain to you about our Christ. I want to tell you about how wonderful He is.

See what Christ said: If you love those who love you, you have no profit or reward with me. Even thugs and thieves love those who love them. Any gang loves its members. Even the drug dealers all like each other and take care of each other. Right? But I want to tell you that “if you love those who love you, what reward have you… But I say to you, love your enemies”(Matthew 5:46, 44).

We Christians don’t have enemies. We don’t have enemies; others make enmity with us. The Christian doesn’t make enemies because we are commanded to love everyone. And so, we love you because this is the teaching of our God–that I’m to love you–no matter what you do to me.

I love you very much. And I want to say one last thing to you: we’re praying for you. Because the One who told us to love you told us to “bless those who curse you… and PRAY for those who spitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44). So my instructions from my loving God make it my duty to pray for you.

In one of the dioceses, there is a bishop. In that diocese, there is a man who gets on the microphone every week to say terrible things about Christians–unheard of things. So the servants [of the diocese] are hearing this man and are so upset. We didn’t do anything to this man. He’s just taken a vow to curse us. Every Friday he comes out and curses the Christians.

So the bishop is sitting with his servants, and he asks them, “Are you upset by what this man says?” And they say, “Of course! We are so upset! What’s he doing to us!” The bishop gets quiet and his face darkens with sorrow. The servants say to him, “You have a right to be upset from what he says, Your Grace. You have a right.”

“I’m not upset with him,” the bishop says, “I’m upset with you! You are servants–you? How many of you pray for him every day? Because if he tasted of the love of God, if he knew who our Lord is, he could never hate again because God is love.

“How many of you are praying for him? Aren’t you servants! Aren’t you Christians! So you are a servant teaching in the Sunday School here, and you’ve broken the commandment of Christ to pray for this person?!”

So what do you think? How about we make a commitment to pray for them? Pray that they know the God of love? Pray that they experience the love of God? Because if they knew that God is love and experienced His love, they could not do these things–never, never, never.

They are a wretched lot. And because they are wretched, we must pray for them. But when someone loves God, he won’t know except love.

We need to pray for them so they can sleep at night. A person who has all this inside them, how can he sleep comfortably?

Can you imagine? We are being slaughtered and the King of Peace gives us peace to sleep. And the one who slaughters, all night he can’t sleep.

You know where this happens in the Bible? With Daniel and the king. Daniel is put in the lion’s den and he stays up all night praising God and praying for the king. And the king is up all night, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.

Pray for them. Take it as a command. Take it as a duty. Take it as the application of Christ’s instructions.

We must ALL pray for them today that God opens their eyes and open their hearts to His love.

Because if they knew Him, they could NEVER do this.

I don’t want to take too long. God comfort us. God give us understanding. God give us JOY because Christ’s promise is truth. He said, “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy NO ONE will take from you” (John 16:22).

I’m embarrassed to say at the beginning of Holy Week that the Church, though she is in pain, rejoices because today–I don’t know what the final count is. They said 40-something, and, of course, many people in the hospitals will catch up to them. All of these are crowns. They are rejoicing with God. And they will attend the Resurrection up there. And they are praying for us. The rest is on us.

O, you lucky, lucky, lucky ones! And until it is our turn.

To our God be the glory now and forever. Amen.

 

EGYPT: Christians killed in Palm Sunday suicide blasts claimed by ISIS

(Voice of the Persecuted) Amid tight security, suicide bombers detonated explosives at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday, when Christian remember the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

The terror group, ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the bombings that is said to have killed at least 36 at the time of this report. Nearly hundred have been injured and the death toll is expected to rise. 

More than two thousand were in attendance when the first explosion took place during Palm Sunday service at St George (aka Mar Girgis) Coptic church in Tanta.

The second explosion detonated in front of  the packed Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. The scene was described as chaotic with body parts blown off and scattered. The bomber was trying to enter the church but stopped by a two police officers who were killed in the blast.

Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria was at Saint Mark’s for Palm Sunday. He was to lead a portion of the mass, a first since he took office in 2012. Saint Mark’s had tight security measures in line with the arrival of Pope Tawadros II to the city. It is believed the second attack was meant to harm Pope Tawadros, but a church official claimed the Pope had already left the church before the blast occurred.

The Coptic community is once again devastated.

One Christian remarked,

‘This is evil and out of hateful heart for the followers of Christ.”

It being reported that the church in Tanta received threats over a week ago. Questions have been raised as to why the government doesn’t take security serious enough when it comes to protecting the Coptic minority.

In December,  at least 25 people were killed and wounded 49 in a bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral.  Many of the victims were women and children.

Please pray for our Egyptian brothers and sisters.

 

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