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In Nigeria, Christians in the Muslim-majority North have been the targets of relentless deadly attacks by Islamic extremists.
More than 200 pastors in the Northeastern Borno state have either fled, closed their churches, or have been murdered by the militant Islamic group Boko Haram.
Christian leaders who remain have committed to fasting and praying for the region one week each month.
“We have to stay and uphold the name of Christ in this state,” one pastor named James told the international ministry Open Doors.
“We are willing to pay the price for our calling. We don’t only share the Gospel when things are rosy,” he continued. “It is to be done in every situation. Hunger and want will never discourage us. Swords and guns, even the roar of the devil, will only encourage us to stand first for Christ.”
“If we die, our blood will speak about Christ to our killers,” he said.
“We are seeking the face of God in this situation,” Rev. Pona, whose full name we cannot reveal for security purposes, told Open Doors. “Brethren are being killed all over the state. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. Our churches have not been spared. We are being struck from every direction. Only Christ can deliver us from this trial.”
Copts in the village of Tarshoub, Beni Suef, Upper Egypt, are experiencing intimidation after extremists attacked them on Monday. Aggressors threw stones at Coptic homes, burned a tuk-tuk truck owned by a Copt named Magdy Fathi Rizk and a store owned by Badr Maher.
They also destroyed the fronts of some houses and called for the closure of the church, which dates back more than 40 years in the village.
Father Malak Shehata from the Fashn Diocese told Mideast Christian News that the village of Tarshoub has been served by Father Andrawis, who moved to serve in another location. When the Fashn Diocese delegated a new priest to serve in the village and Copts tried to prepare a residence for him in the church, some Muslims gathered and refused to let the priest enter the church. This was led by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the village.
During a reconciliation meeting held yesterday to resolve the situation, the Brotherhood members mobilized the villagers to attack the homes of Christians and prevented the priest from entering the village. They closed the church and Copts could not practice their prayers.
A witness from the village said that they had prayed in the church for many years and there was no problem with their Muslim neighbors until a new priest was ordained. When Copts started to furnish a residence for the priest in the church, a Brotherhood-associate named Ramadan Wahballah mobilized his supporters to reject the reconciliation meeting, which was held to resolve the situation.
They chanted against Copts during the meeting and began to throw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Coptic houses, disrupting the meeting. Copts were forced to close the church and the priest has returned to the Fashn Diocese until the crisis is resolved.
The witness added that they are getting close to the New Year celebrations and Christmas, and yet they are not able to open the church. He noted that security authorities have not arrested the aggressors, while Copts were forced to close the church for fear of more attacks, especially in light of continued incitement by the Muslim Brotherhood.