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Twin Sisters Kidnapped, Pastor and Three Other Christians Killed in Nigeria

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A church elder was shot as his daughters were kidnapped in northwest Nigeria on Friday (Sept. 18), days after a pastor and three other Christians in a north-central state were killed earlier this month.

Hassana and Hussaina Garba, teenaged Christian twin sisters, were kidnapped from their home beside their Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) worship building in Kwakware village, Kankara County in northwest Nigeria’s Katsina state, sources said. The kidnappers shot their father, ECWA elder Ibrahim Garba, in the stomach in the 10:30 p.m. assault, and sources said he was receiving hospital treatment.

Kidnappings by various criminal elements have become rampant in Katsina state the past few years, with the high number committed by predominantly Muslim Fulanis prompting Gov. Aminu Masari to warn last year that the tribe risks being targeted by vigilantes.

Kwakware area resident Charles Yahaya said kidnapping has long been a problem in Katsina state but has intensified.

“Testimonies and exhibits at the crime scene show that the kidnappers were very organized, very informed on their target and heavily armed,” Yahaya told Morning Star News by text message. “This is one incident among many. It is the sustained and targeted kidnapping of Christian girls in northern Nigeria, after which they are forcefully converted to Islam and married off, thereby becoming sex slaves. Something is going on in our country that needs to be addressed systematically and collectively by all well-meaning citizens.”

Area resident Saminu Adamu called for prayer for the rescue of the sisters.

“It’s heart-breaking and becoming unbearable; Christian twin sisters were kidnapped at their residence,” Adamu told Morning Star News by text message. “Family of Christ, please pray for their safe release in the hand of their captors.”

Yahaya said another teenaged Christian girl was kidnapped in Soba, Kaduna state, on Aug. 30 and forced to convert to Islam.

“Aliyah, a young Christian girl who was the last born of seven children and the only daughter of a widow, was kidnapped on the 30th,” he said. “On that fateful day, she went to church but never returned home.”

Her mother reported the disappearance to Soba Local Government Area police. On Sept.1 officers told her come to the station as her daughter was there, he said.

“When the mother got there, unknown to her, Aliyah had been forced to convert to Islam,” Yahaya told Morning Star News. “Aliyah completely denied knowing the mother. Nevertheless, the mother demanded release of her daughter. The DPO [Divisional Police Officer] refused to grant this request, but rather returned Aliyah to the Muslim abductors and later transferred the case to Zaria Area Command. All efforts made by the girl’s mother and members of the church to have the girl return back to her mother could not yield a positive result.”

On Sept. 7 police transferred the case to Kaduna headquarters on grounds that the kidnapping had become an interfaith conflict, he said.

“The mother, lawyers, and Christian body tried to intervene, but the police unlawfully detained her to be presented to the Interfaith Committee in Kaduna State,” Yahaya said. “As prayers intensified, the girl began crying and pleading with the police to release her to go back home. But the police insisted on her unlawful detention to achieve the wish of her abductors to Islamize the young Christian girl.”

After more prayer and the involvement of other well-meaning Nigerians, the girl was released back to her mother, he said.

“Others have not been so lucky, and many are still at risk,” Yahaya said. “Christian girls, many of whom are minors, go missing on their way to or from school or church. Something needs to be done urgently to arrest such brazen unconstitutional acts.”

Four Christians Slain

In Kaduna state, suspected Fulani herdsmen killed an ECWA pastor and three other Christians in attacks in which they kidnapped other Christians.

The Rev. Alubara Audu, a 45-year-old father of five, was killed in Buda, Kajuru County in a Sept. 6 attack at 2 a.m., according to a statement from Awemi Dio Maisamari, a Christian community leader and national president of the Adara Development Association. Also killed in the unprovoked attack were Adamu Tata, 40, a father of four children, and Ishaku Peter, a 37-year-old father of five, Maisamari said.

The assailants kidnapped Sani Peter, 25, and his wife Esther Sani Peter, 20, he said.

A fourth Christian, Danladi Abashi, was killed in a herdsmen attack on Aug. 16 in Kallah village, he said.

“Abashi, a 50-year-old old farmer, ventured near the villages that were invaded and are still occupied by Fulani herdsmen in the Kallah/Gefe/Libere area of Kajuru LGA,” Maisamari said. “His body was only recovered with the help of the police, because the herdsmen disallowed Adara people from even approaching the occupied enclave.”

In an Aug. 27 attack in Maraban Kajuru, herdsmen kidnapped Daniel Shuaibu and Abednego Paul from their home and wounded another Christian, he said.

“During the operation, Mr. Sunday Barau was shot and injured, and the abductees are still with their abductors because his helpless family has been unable to meet their demands,” Maisamari said.

Pius Gargai also was kidnapped from his home in Maraban Rido, and on Sept. 2 four people were kidnapped from Rafin Roro village in Kajuru County, he said.

“One of them managed to escape and three are still being held,” Maisamari said. “With the continuation of such hostilities by Fulani herdsmen even when various peace moves are being initiated, it is becoming clearer that the purported dialogue is serving as a diversion to enable the attackers to continue their diabolical activities. We are left wondering whether it is worthwhile engaging in such dialogue and peace talks if this continues.”

Also kidnapped in early September were five people from the Kemara Rimi community of Buda Ward, Kajuru County, he said: Ojo Aminu, 35; Danfulani Makaranta, 37; Namiji Gwamna, 36; Ali Musa, 36; and Grace Mathew, 16.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Fulani herdsmen have increasingly adopted ideology and methods similar to Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram, and some come from outside Nigeria, This Day’s Akin Osuntokun wrote in an Aug. 14 column for the Nigerian news outlet.

“Today, a new breed of herdsman has emerged: an aggressive and murderous terrorist bearing sophisticated firearms such as AK-47s and even rocket launchers,” Osuntokun wrote. “And they become the mobile avant-garde army of political Islam in Nigeria. Given the country’s porous borders, many of them are recent immigrants from neighboring countries. Herdsmen from Niger, Chad and Mali can walk across the border and immediately lay claim to all the sacrosanct rights appertaining to bona fide Nigerian nationals.”

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Kidnapping of Christian Girls in Kaduna, Nigeria Leads to Casualties, Area Christians Say

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim residents of Kasuwan Magani in northern Nigeria yesterday killed 12 Christians after an attempt to rescue two Christian teenage girls from Muslims who had kidnapped them and coerced them to convert, area residents told Morning Star News.

James Madaki, a 50-year-old member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), said another 20 Christians were injured, and that Muslims set homes and shops on fire in the predominantly Christian area of the town in Kaduna state, 31 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of the city of Kaduna.

“The names of those killed are not readily available to me at the moment, but I can confirm to you that they are Christians killed in the Christian area of the town,” Madaki told Morning Star News.

In comments corroborated by another area Christian, Madaki said two Christian teenage girls were abducted and forcefully converted to Islam two weeks ago, and that they were being held hostage in the house of the Muslim leader in Kasuwan Magani.

“The case was reported to the police, and the girls were not rescued, so some Christians decided to rescue the girls, but the Muslims in the town attacked them,” Madaki said. “The Muslims did not just attack the Christians that went to rescue the girls, but also went round town attacking Christians they sighted and burned houses belonging to Christians.”

Those killed and wounded belong to the ECWA, Baptist, Assemblies of God and Seventh-day Adventist churches, as well as Pentecostal churches in the town, he said.

“As I talk to you, 12 Christians have been killed and 20 others injured and are being been taken to hospitals in the city of Kaduna,” he said.

He said the violence broke out at about 10:30 a.m. following the attempt to rescue the girls.

Another resident of Kasuwan Magani, Omega Funom, corroborated Madaki’s account in a text message.

“The crisis here occurred because two Christian underage girls were kidnapped and forced to become Muslims by some Muslims in this town,” Funom said. “This is the practice by Muslims in Kaduna state. They abduct small Christian girls and force them to become Muslims, and when Christians reject this, they attack them to create the impression that there’s a religious crisis.”

He told Morning Star News that the sanctuary of Assemblies of God Church in the town was burned down yesterday during the attack on Christians.

“The Assembly of God Church was burnt down,” Funom wrote. “Muslims were armed with AK-47 guns as they attacked Christians. This is a Jihad by the Muslims.”

Nigerian press reports indicated, without citing sources, that the violence resulted from Christian and Muslim youths clashing over their girlfriends dating men of the other faith.

The area, which has seen several religious clashes, is a predominantly Christian community under political control of Muslims. Christians have been the victims of many unprovoked attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state.

The Rev. John Hayap, spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria Chapter, told Morning Star News he was saddened over attacks on Christians and forceful conversions of Christian girls by Muslim leaders.

“There have been such forceful conversion of teenage Christian girls by Muslim leaders in northern Nigeria, and the Nigerian government has not been able to put an end to this,” he said. “I feel very sad about such violence on Christians, but what more can we do than to pray and ask for God’s intervention. We”ll continue to preach peace and tolerance in our churches no matter the level of provocation from our Muslim neighbors.”

Mukhtar Aliyu, police spokesman for the Kaduna State Command, told Morning Star News only that there was a sectarian clash.

“Yes, there was crisis in Kasuwan Magani town today, and we are working towards restoring peace and order in the area,” he said yesterday (Feb. 26).

Samuel Aruwan, media aide to the Kaduna state governor, told Morning Star News that an effort was underway to assist the injured and the displaced from Kasuwan Magani.

“The State Emergency Management Agency has been directed to take inventory of damages and provide relief materials to victims with immediate effect,” he said.

Abuja Shooting

In Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, a worship service was disrupted on Sunday (Feb. 25) when unidentified gunmen shot at worshippers, wounding a security guard.

The shooting at 10 a.m. into the building of the ECWA Good News Church in Durumi, near Garki, forced members of the congregation to scamper to safety and abandon the service, church member Stephen Markus, 35, told Morning Star News by phone.

“Rabo Danboyi, the security officer manning the entrance into our church, was shot and injured on the leg by the gunmen, and he’s currently being treated at the Federal Medical Centre here in Abuja,” Markus said. “When we heard gunshots and bullets hitting church walls, we all ran out in different directions. Some said the attackers were Boko Haram terrorists who attacked us but were resisted by our church’s security guards.”

After about 30 minutes, the pandemonium subsided, he said.

“Some of us who braved to return to the worship sanctuary learned that the shooting was done by some unknown gunmen,” Markus said.

The pastor and other church leaders could not be reached for comment. Daniel Kadzai, national president of the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), confirmed the attack by unknown gunmen in a text message to Morning Star News.

Police authorities in Abuja confirmed the church shooting but declined to give further details.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Religious Leaders : “We want concrete action to free kidnapped girls”; maybe some of them are in Central Africa

bringback our girls

This from Fides is incredible.  The world has indeed raised it’s voice demanding the return of innocent school girls.  But what are they doing?  There is no concrete plan, no concrete actions.  The UN Security council say’s sanctions will work.  They need a concrete plan of action, not mere sanctions.  These rebels do not care about sanctions.  In another report by Fides on the CAR, they say they are held prisoner there by rebels and this evil.  We have reported before about the super highway of terror being built in Africa and the middle east.  They say that freedom of speech is now limited,  and attacks on Churches have continued.  They say the Lord’s Resistance Army is indeed there along with the Anti-Balaka and Seleka (supported by mercenaries from Chad & Sudan) hoping to regain power.   Boko Haram is also there, as there are witnesses who say they saw these girls in the night in North East CAR being loaded into an airplane!  Who is financing and directing this?  These rebels have obtained sophisticated weaponry as evidenced by the latest bombings, and now aircraft.  Pray for these girls.  Pray for guidance for the leaders to swiftly carry out rescue missions.  These girls face unbelievable torture.  One thing the media has not mentioned and that is these girls are Christian!  And now Boko Haram is taunting and mocking more of the community by announcing that these girls have converted to Islam.  This abomination must stop, the world leaders must be held accountable.

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) – Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja has called for “concrete action” to save the hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. “We want concrete action to free the kidnapped girls”, said Cardinal John Onaiyekan , Archbishop of Abuja , in a statement to the Catholic News Agency. “It is still more baffling that our president seems to be impotent. We have to see concrete action. Up until now, we are hearing practically nothing concrete on the issue. I think almost every Nigerian is taken aback. We cannot explain what is happening” said the Cardinal.

Nearly 300 girls, were kidnapped on April 14 from their boarding school in Borno, Nigeria’s northeastern-most state, by members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram and this has sparked outrage across the world. Their fate is uncertain. According to some witnesses about fifty girls have been seen passing near Tiringoulou and Birao, two towns in the north-eastern Central African Republic. In the night between the 4th and 5th of May, it seems the girls were brought from Birao to Tiringoulou where they were taken on board an aircraft coming from Sudan.

In the last hours Boko Haram has released a video in which it announces the conversion to Islam of the female students abducted most of whom are of Christian faith. The leader of Boko Haram has demanded the release of members of the movement who are in Nigerian prisons in exchange for the release of the girls. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 12/05/2014)

Boko Haram brags about abducting Nigerian girls #BringBackOurGirls

Please keep these girls and their devastated families in your prayers. We know this area well. Our Nigerian correspondent tells us the terror group has stepped up their attacks and the area now resembles Afghanistan. The group has vowed to kidnap more young school girls. Please pray for the suffering people in north Nigerian subjected by this evil group. May the Lord have mercy on them!

 

Persecution News Weekly Update February 6, 2013

Watch: American Pastor Saeed Imprisoned in Iran – why the petitions make a difference

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Kashmir-Mob tries to lynch 12 Christian Tourist

Srinagar (AsiaNews) – On the basis of false allegations of forced conversions, more and more Christians in Kashmir are victims of persecution. This according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), after the attempted assault on a group of 12 foreign tourists, accused via Facebook of practicing forced conversions in Tangmarg area north of Jammu and Kashmir. The incident occurred late in the evening of 2 February. Around 10 pm a crowd of people gathered in front of a hotel in Srinagar, the capital, throwing stones against the walls and asking for the immediate trial of foreigners, eight Americans and four Koreans. Intervening on the spot, the police searched luggage and documents of the tourists. On finding nothing, the officers dispersed the protesters. When checking their passports, the police reported that the group has also visited other Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. The violent reaction was triggered by a photo published on the Facebook page Gulmarg News. The image shows three oriental girls, while the caption warns, “Caution Kashmir! Islam in Kashmir is under attack, Christians trying to convert Muslims,” ​​recounting the testimony of a boy, who in exchange for chocolate would have been forced to recant Islam and convert to Christianity. READ MORE

Increasing Target Killing of Innocent Christians in Pakistan

Target-KillingRecently target killing has been growing increasingly in Karachi in which two guiltless Christians lost their lives, last month. They were crossing the road in the middle of a protest which was going on against the killing of one of their campaigners by an Islamic Fundamental Group. The campaigner of this political party became a victim of target killing along with his 3 security guards. Thus, we can say that even the political leaders are not safe in our City which been a threat for its citizens because of its current situations. Last year, more than 2000 people were killed in Karachi due to target killing. (Gill, 2013) SOURCE  Please Pray for Pakistan!

Christian Man Cries for Justice After Being Fired For His Faith In Christ!

On4 February 2013, Mr.Riaz visited the Chief of LEAD and told of the mishap of being fired from his job on false allegations mentioned in the charge sheet against him. He gave all written evidences to the respective department regarding his innocence, but his appeal and legal right was not being considered and a decision and action was unjustly taken against him. He said that the alleged charge of misconduct was false  and his dismissal was based on religious prejudice. READ MORE

Orissa: Hindu extremists have Christians arrested on false accusations of proselytism

by Nirmala Carvalho Since 18 January, two faithful are in prison, following a police raid on a private home. The raid resulted from trumped up charges of local fundamentalists. “Political” pressure preventing their release on bail. Christian activist: project for state “Hinduisation” underway. READ MORE

Christian man mortally wounded in Baluchistan for refusing to convert to Islam

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Younas Masih died this afternoon after he was shot five times last Thursday as he made his way home. An unknown gunman fired at the 55-year-old Christian man. From the beginning, his conditions appeared critical. It is believed he was attacked after he resisted pressures from co-workers to convert to Islam. Masih worked for a company in Chaman. His friends describe him as honest and reliable. Strong in his Christian faith, he was regularly involved in his local parish. Speaking anonymously, local sources told AsiaNews that Muslim co-workers had began pressuring him to convert, which he rejected, standing firm in his beliefs in Christ. Despite the fact that people were talking behind his back and had made repeated threats against him, he continued to work for the same company and stood firm against pressures and attempts at blackmail. Last Thursday, his co-workers tried again, asking him to convert. A heated discussion followed that included insults and threats. When he went home Masih was attacked by a gunman who fired five bullets into him. READ MORE

Young Christian girl raped by Muslim Landlord

Pakistan-The females members of minorities are routinely subjected to abduction, rape and forcible marriage by Muslim men while culprits remain scot-free. Legal Evangelical Association Development reports:  A Christian minor girl, Fouzia bibi, 15 from a small village of Roday, Dristrict Kasur, in Punjab Province of Pakistan became victim of rape by local influential Muslim men. READ MORE

Ugandan Pastor Arrested, Chained to Tree by Police For Giving Away Gospel Film on Street

Uganda, Africa – A Ugandan pastor reports that he was arrested and chained to a tree last weekend for distributing a Gospel film outside one of the largest megachurches in the nation. Pastor Bill Issa of Reconcilation Outreach Ministries states that he and a team of five Christians set out last Saturday to distribute copies of the film The Biggest Question at Miracle Center Cathedral in Kampala when they were met with opposition from police. They had just finished up a distribution at St. Lawrence University where approximately 300 students received copies of the Gospel film, which features Kirk Cameron, Todd Friel and RW Glenn sharing about matters of life and eternity. Issa serves as the Ugandan team leader for the global The Biggest Question distribution effort, headed up by Friel’s Wretched outreach in Minnesota. READ MORE

Yemen’s Forgotten Christians

When one thinks of Yemen—the impoverished Arab country that begat Osama bin Laden and is cushioned between Saudi Arabia and Somalia, two of the absolute most radical Muslim nations—one seldom thinks of Christians, primarily because they are practically nonexistent in such an inhospitable environment. In fact, most tallies suggest that Yemen’s entire non-Muslim population is less than one percent. READ MORE

Cuba: Pastor Gude Perez and family arrive in the United States as refugees  01/02/2013

Pastor Omar Gude Perez, his wife Kenia Denis and their two children arrived in the United States as refugees yesterday. They were finally granted permission by Cuban emigration authorities to leave the island following an 18-month wait for the appropriate paperwork. Family blocked from leaving Cuba for 18 months Former prisoner of conscience Pastor Gude Perez and his family were granted asylum by the United States in July 2011 after he was barred from working as a pastor and following a campaign of official harassment lasting a number of years. Despite multiple verbal promises on the part of government officials, the family was blocked from leaving the country for 18 months. State security officials contacted Pastor Gude Perez on 14 November following his wife’s high profile visit to Washington DC, facilitated by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), during which she highlighted their case. He received a citation to present himself a police station the following day in Havana in order to sign a series of documents that they assured him would allow him to leave the country. There were no further developments until mid-January when state security officials contacted the family to inform them that an exit permit had been issued. READ MORE

Iraq, #4 on the World Watch List. Watch the video to learn more on how you can be praying for this country.

All eyes on Kenya as elections approach

Kenya (ODM/MNN) ― Kenya is at a crossroads. On March 4th, voters will decide the president, senators, county governors, members of Parliament, civic wards, and women county representatives. What makes this election unique, says the Open Doors coordinator for the region, is that “these are the first elections under the new constitution with its very many new structures.”  However, recent memories of 2007 and the deadly rioting cast a shadow of concern over the impending vote. The tensions are heightened especially after the setup of a tribunal was blocked by politicians in Kenya, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to prosecute six politicians. Charges against two were dropped, while two of the remaining four are running in the elections: one for president and the other as his running mate. Some reports of violence have already surfaced. Al-Shabaab influences have been growing in the region, triggering political instability and fears that religious freedom hangs in the balance. Additionally, Open Doors reports that the pressure on the government allowing for greater official influence for Islam remains a high priority. READ MORE

  • Pray for safety for the Open Doors team working in tense areas.
  • Pray that the process will go forward peacefully.
  • Pray that God gives the new president wisdom.

Syria refugees surpass 700,000; deaths, 60,000

NASHVILLE (BP) -Refugees keep streaming from Syria as a cycle of violence and revenge threatens to destroy their homeland, and even the United Nations cannot keep up with the “unrelenting flow,” a Southern Baptist humanitarian leader said. Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response, said the number of refugees has topped 700,000 and the death toll has surpassed 60,000 in the 22-month conflict. Families who thought they would be able to outlast the fighting are giving up and fleeing the country as reports of atrocities like the recent discovery of another mass grave in Aleppo continue to mount. The fragmentation of regime and opposition forces has thrown the entire situation into doubt, Palmer told Mission Network News, an evangelical news service based in Grand Rapids, Mich. “I wish I could point out who’s the bad guy, who’s the good guy, but that’s the problem. That’s why a lot of people are fleeing. Nobody knows who’s who,” Palmer said. “It’s just literally chaos, fear for safety, fear for their children, fear for their families and future. “A lot of time it’s women and children coming out and more and more, it’s the men too because they’ve got to protect their families,” Palmer said. READ MORE

Persecution in China climbs for 7th year

WASHINGTON (BP) – Government persecution of Christians in China increased in 2012 for the seventh consecutive year, ChinaAid reported Feb. 4, with the government especially moving to eradicate house churches. Data collected by ChinaAid in 2012 showed a 125 percent increase in sentencings and a 41.9 percent increase in incidences of persecution over 2011, according to the religious liberty group’s 2012 annual report. Specifically, a total of 132 cases of persecution across China targeted 4,919 individuals, including 442 clergy; the detaining of 1,441, including 236 clergy; and the sentencing of nine people. In 2011, ChinaAid reported 93 cases of persecution, involving 4,322 individuals, 337 of them clergy; the detaining of 1,289 individuals, including 267 church leaders; and the sentencing of four individuals.

“Compared with the statistics in ChinaAid’s past annual reports, this trend of worsening persecution has persisted for the past seven years,” the report said, “with an average increase of 24.5 percent in the total of all six categories of persecution statistics tracked by ChinaAid.”

A secret Chinese government document issued in September 2011, which was released by ChinaAid, verified the focus on eradicating the house church, as did the number of incidences reported. READ MORE

Nigeria: Walking Corpses

NigeriaVOM workers say Christians in northern Nigeria are facing unprecedented trials and fierce persecution. It was therefore a special privilege for VOM workers to distribute the gift of 37 bicycles, 15 motorcycles and 50 megaphones to pastors and Christians workers in the north recently. These simple tools will help them evangelize and preach the gospel in northern Nigeria. At a distribution in Gombe state, one of the hardest hit areas in the north, at least 2,500 Christians gathered for a worship service. Widows, orphans, pastors and entire families from all over Gombe came together to hear a pastor preach about loving their neighbors. The pastor reminded worshipers that they must not hate their attackers and that martyrs like Stephen forgave his attackers.

“At this point, I began to realize the weight of love,” a VOM worker at the distribution said. “This made everyone focus on the Lord’s intent and design for us, which surpasses all understanding.”

Christians are targeted and “butchered like animals” nearly every day in northern Nigerian cities, with little alarm sounded by the international community, according to the VOM worker. Christians are targeted in their homes, at their businesses, on farms, while traveling on highways and even in their churches. READ MORE

Over 500 Christian girls kidnapped by Muslims in Egypt since revolution

Country/Region: Egypt, Middle East and North Africa

Over 500 Christian girls have been abducted in Egypt since  the revolution of January 2011; they are taken by Salafists who forcibly convert them to Islam and marry them to Muslim men against their will. The number of cases has been documented by the  non-governmental Christian organisation Association of Victims of Abduction and  Enforced Disappearance (AVAED), which says that Salafist sheiks are behind  nearly all of the abductions and the interior ministry colludes with them. Founder Ebram Louis said:

In  every Egyptian province there is a Salafist association which handles the kidnapping of Christian girls. They have homes everywhere where they keep them.  If we inform the police where the kidnapped girl is being kept, they inform the  Salafists, who then move her away to another home and then we lose all trace of  her.

AVAED  lawyer Said Fayez said that the age of the abducted girls is becoming younger  at typically 13-14 years old.One case  involves 14-year-old Sarah Ishaq Abdelmalek from el-Dabaa. She disappeared on  her way to school on 30 September 2012, having stopped at a bookshop; Sarah’s  father subsequently accused the Salafist bookshop keeper of abducting his  daughter and marrying her against her will.Mr  Louis said that Sarah was smuggled across the border to Libya with the help of  the interior ministry. READ MORE

 Dagestan Martyrs for Christ – Dagestan is the most dangerous place in Russia- George Thomas reports

Deliberate attacks on churches by rebels in Syria condemned as war crimes

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria: Human Rights Watch has condemned opposition groups in Syria  for “unjustified attacks against minority places of worship”, saying that these  amount to war crimes. The leading human rights organisation released on 23 January the findings of investigations it carried out in Latakia and Idlib governorates in November and December 2012. It found evidence that opposition fighters had “deliberately  destroyed religious sites” and that the attacks had been carried out after the areas had fallen to opposition control and government forces had left. Churches were raided by armed gunmen after they seized  control of the Christian villages of Jdeideh and Ghasaniyeh in Latakia. They took control of the former on 11 December and, once the government troops had fled, broke into the village church; they stole items and fired numerous shots inside, causing structural damage. The rebels also used the minister’s quarters next to the church to fire at a neighboring village, where government troops were present. One resident told Human Rights Watch that opposition fighters stole medicine from a church-run clinic, looted homes and kidnapped civilians. READ MORE

Sudan cracks down on Christian activity with arrests and school closures

The Sudanese authorities are cracking down on Christian activity in the strongly Islamic country with an upsurge of arrests and closures of Christian-run schools. Three Christians of South Sudanese origin were ordered last week to leave the country within 24 hours, following their detention. Pastor Ismail Bashir had been arrested on 7 January for his involvement with a Christian radio station. Cecilia Jamu was detained under  suspicion of aiding Sudanese churches; her husband Anthony was also  subsequently jailed, leaving their children in the care of friends. The three had to leave the country on 30 January. On 19 December, four members of staff at a non-profit  organization that produces Christian songs and films were arrested and interrogated. They were released the following day. Over the past two months, dozens of foreign Christians have  been ordered out of Sudan, and the government is refusing to renew the visas of many others. A Christian source in Khartoum said that the “atmosphere in  Sudan is alarming and frightening”. READ MORE  

News in brief: (BarnabusAid)

Cross carved into dead body of murdered Armenian woman

Turkey: An elderly Armenian woman has been stabbed to death in her home in Istanbul; a cross had been carved onto her body. The murder of 85-year-old Marissa Kucuk on 28 December is just one of five attacks on elderly Armenian women in the Samatya neighbourhood over the last two months. Samatya is home to around 8,000 Armenians, who are predominantly Christian. Khatchig Mouradian, an Armenian activist and academic, said, “The attacks highlight the unbearable heaviness of being Armenian in Turkey.” More than 1.5m Armenian and Assyrian Christians were killed during the Armenian genocide of 1894 to 1923.

Christian  appeals against jail term for allegedly trying to convert a Muslim

Algeria: A Christian man who was sentenced to a year in prison for allegedly pressuring a Muslim to leave Islam has appealed against the  conviction. Mohamed Ibaouene (36), himself a convert from Islam, was unknowingly convicted of the offence in his absence on 4 July 2012; he did not find out until 11 December. Mohamed had been accused by a Muslim colleague; he said that it was actually the Muslim who tried to pressure him to return to Islam and that he made the accusation only after Mohamed refused to renounce Christ. He was sentenced to a year in prison and fined 50,000 dinars (US$635). An appeal against the ruling was heard on 23 January; the decision is  expected this week.

Christian woman facing jail after police seize religious materials from her home

Uzbekistan: The home of a Christian woman in north-west Uzbekistan was raided by police twice last month; she now faces up to three years in prison  for illegally storing religious literature. Officers confiscated three Christian books, two DVDs of a Christian film and a sermon, and a video called “Life in the Church” in the first raid on Sharofat Allamova’s home in Urgench on 4 January. A further raid  took place twelve days later; no religious materials were found on this occasion. In 2007, Sharofat was given a six-month suspended jail term after Christian books and films were found in her bag on a bus. And she was fined ten times the minimum monthly wage in May 2012 for possessing religious literature. Because she has previous convictions, Sharofat could now face a fine of between 100 and 200 times the minimum monthly wage or up to  three years behind bars, if found guilty again.

What is Barnabas Aid? – Mission Statement

The mission of the Barnabas Aid is to support Christians where they are in a minority and suffer discrimination, oppression and persecution as a consequence of their faith. Our goal is to strengthen Christian individuals, churches and their communities by providing material and spiritual support in response to needs identified by local Christian leaders. To learn more about the work BarnabasAid is doing click here

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