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UGANDA (Morning Star News) – The pastor of a church in eastern Uganda faces a dilemma after receiving threatening messages from Muslim villagers last week.
A large family is staying at his church site after Islamist threats for leaving Islam forced them to flee their home. His congregation is dwindling as members have stopped attending services out of fear of an Islamist attack. Should he ask the family to try to relocate?
“On Feb. 20, I received some threatening messages that my church is going to be destroyed because of converting Muslims to Christians,” said the pastor, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons. “Some of my members have stopped attending the church for fear of their lives in a possible attack by the Muslims. Sending away the helpless family is not a good idea, but losing church members is also not good. We as a church are in a dilemma.”
Namuwaya (surname withheld), a 40-year-old mother of nine children in an area of Kamuli District undisclosed for security reasons, had first gone to an evening service at the church on March 18, 2019 after sleepless nights of unexplained anxiety. After the pastor prayed for her, she was still not at peace, she told Morning Star News by phone.
“As the church faithful were leaving, I shared with the pastor my troubled heart,” Namuwaya said. “He told me that it is only Isa [Jesus] who can heal a troubled heart, if only a person can put her trust in Him. The conviction was so strong that I could not resist. The pastor then prayed for my deliverance. After prayers, my heart was very peaceful.”
She did not tell her Muslim husband or children about her faith in Christ for three months, she said.
“I only continued praying for my family with the hope that Jesus will reveal Himself to them,” Namuwaya said.
After four months, Namuwaya began telling her youngest five children, ages 5 to 12, about Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, and they accepted Christ as Lord and Savior a month later, she said.
Those children began sharing the message of Christ with the four older ones, ages 14 to 20, and by October 2019 all nine of her children had become Christians, she said. Namuwaya began sharing about Christ with her husband, 45-year-old Waiswa (surname withheld).
“When I shared Christ’s love to my husband, he was so furious at me and responded by slapping and kicking, which injured my rib on the left side,” Namuwaya told Morning Star News. “I was taken for medication. But I continued praying and sharing Jesus with him. After two months Jesus appeared to my husband in a vision, which led to his conversion to the Christian faith. He then stopped attending the prayers at mosque.”
Late last year the youngest child innocently told her grandfather, Waiswa’s father, that her father was attending church. Waiswa told Morning Star News that his angry father summoned him to a meeting where mosque elders and clan leaders would determine his punishment for leaving Islam. Under sharia (Islamic law), apostasy is often punishable by death.
“I did not attend the meeting, but instead we sought refuge at the church, where we have been residing since December 2019,” Waiswa told Morning Star News by phone.
Having fled his home and having lost his share of the family land, Waiswa is not sure where to go. His pastor is also in a quandary.
“The responsibility for the education of Waiswa’s family is a big challenge to the church, as well as the fears which have now entered the church for housing Waiswa’s family,” the pastor said. “We as a church need prayers for God’s protection for the church and the family of Waiswa, who are now landless.”
The case is the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.
VOP Note: Please pray for this family, the pastor and the church members.
(Voice of the Persecuted) In these troubled and unstable times, many feel as though threats loom around every corner. We’re bombarded with constant news of terrorist attacks or those which have been thwarted, war or the threat thereof, the refugee crisis, economic woes, intolerance disguised as tolerance, growing divisions among citizens in nearly every nation, increasing violence and hatred. It can be very difficult to deal with and extremely intimidating. But as Christians, it would be hard not to notice the push to remove God and His Word from society as a whole. The attacks against our faith in Christ and the rapid rise of Christian persecution, quite possibly by our friends and family members. How does one not become overwhelmed by the pressures of this world? What can we do as believers in Christ to keep from being crushed by the darkness closing in?
Put your focus back on Jesus, have faith. FEAR is a distraction to draw you away from him. Remember God’s promises. He is faithful and His Word will never come back void! To know where these attacks come from and why, STUDY God’s Word here and equip yourselves with courage.
Read scriptures that can guide and encourage you on topics relating to fear, such as fear and anxiety, fear of love, fear of the unknown and fear of death. Read verses from the Holy Bible about fear in relation to God, Jesus Christ, and the Christian faith.
Let us encourage one another come what may…Love wins! Below are Bible verses about fear to help you overcome. God bless you, dear brothers and sisters. May God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. AMEN
4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD— he is their help and shield.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
1 Praise the LORD.Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.”
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
source Bible Study Tools
SYRIA – Aleppo still under bombs. Bishop Audo: we live among the desolation of war and the consolation of God
July 10, 2016 – “We are again under bombs. We do not know what is about to happen. Even last night we could not sleep, and this morning an artillery shell also fell in the street of our cathedral, resulting in one death and three injuries. Also for this reason we have decided not to reopen the Caritas offices, which had been closed for a few days during the Muslim feast for the end of Ramadan”.
Bishop Antoine Audo SJ, at the head of the Chaldean Diocese of Aleppo, explains to Agenzia Fides the daily horror that continues to disrupt the martyred city worn away by five years of war.
The new upsurge of bombings and mortar attacks on neighborhoods in Aleppo must also be considered, according to the Chaldean Bishop, as a reaction to the operations with which the army took control of the so-called “road of the Castle” by cutting the connections between areas occupied by rebel militiamen – including those related to jihadist acronyms – and Turkey. “They launch a hail of bullets to show they are not happy, that they are dangerous and are still strong”, notes Mgr. Audo.
In addition to fear and the count of new victims, the Chaldean Bishop also keeps track of the persistent signs of a life of faith, in the presence of factors that he defines as “a mysterious and wonderful paradox”. On one side – says the Bishop – “we are all heartbroken by what is happening, on the other side there are many that in this state meet to celebrate the sacraments, pray, share a spirit of hope and mercy.
I have just been called by the participants in a spiritual retreat organized on the mountains by the Focolare members. There were two hundred people, with ten priests. From next Thursday we will meet in Tartus with 175 operators and Caritas volunteers from all over Syria, for a few days of formation and meetings. It is a mysterious and wonderful paradox: on one hand there is the desolation of war, and on the other there is the consolation of God”.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Christians in North Nigeria shared with Voice of the Persecuted that the military has warned of a new tactic by Boko Haram to perpetrate deadly attacks on the public. The news comes as added stress for those suffering beyond measure in the North and they’re asking for prayer.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Defence Headquarters (DHQ, Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar stated the Boko Haram is determined to continue attacks using bombs in crowded areas. He advised the public to be on the alert and not to hesitate in reporting any suspicious persons.
The extremists have been able to carry out attacks, though the government recently insisted Boko Haram has been effectively defeated.
TERRORISTS NOW HIDE IEDS AMONG VEGETABLES
“In continuation with the sensitization of our citizens on the devilish strategy of the terrorists, the Nigerian Military authorities have discovered that the Boko Haram terrorists are determined to continue letting off bombs and have resorted to masquerading as fruits and vegetable vendors wheeling Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as groceries into crowded areas.
The terrorists now hide IEDs under vegetable wares in carts and wheelbarrows and move to crowded places where they detonate them for maximum casualties. The recent terrorists attack in the North East is a case in point.
Having been effectively dislodged and decimated the BH terror group has begun some systematic isolated attacks mainly on soft targets in their desperation to remain relevant.
The Defence Headquarters hereby advises the general public to constantly be alert to this latest terrorist tactics and to report promptly any suspicious persons or objects to the nearest security agency.
While commending the general public and the media for their continuous support so far, all citizens are once again reminded that security is everybody’s concern therefore, they should join hands with the security agencies to eliminate the remnant of the terrorists.”
Imagine living day to day never knowing where or when an attack will happen. If the person walking or sitting next to you is a suicide bomber and about to complete their final mission. It’s not a question of if, but when. Too many still suffer extreme grief and trauma from near-death experiences as Boko Haram unleashed terror on their communities. After 6 long years of the insurgency, many wonder if their towns and villages will ever be safe. They now fear they’ll be forced to return to areas which will face repeat attacks after resettlement. Will they again be forced to hide in the bush, or trapped in the mountains without food or water? Will they and their remaining family members be spared in another murderous rampage of the Boko Haram? What risks will the Nigerian government and international communities expect them to accept? What would we in the West demand if it were happening to us, in our own countries? They want as we would, protection and survival without any risks.
Today, the U.N. warned the Nigerian government of returning the IDP’s (internally displaced people) to their villages. In the country to assess measures in place for the rehabilitation and re-integration of returnee Boko Haram victims, a delegation of the United Nations (UN) has warned that the nation risks future crisis if it fails to properly resettle those displaced by activities of the terrorist group.
We’ve heard chilling stories as these brothers and sisters narrated the past six years of incredible brutality, inhuman attacks of pure evil. Churches, businesses and homes looted and destroyed, entire villages burned to the ground. Horrifying accounts of captivity while in the hands of the murderous Boko Haram. Many slaughtered like animals for refusing to convert to Islam. Children taken to Sambisa Forest to train as fighters while militants plant hatred in their hearts. Profound grief for loved ones lost in attacks, or from infection and the severity of their wounds. Stories of dangerous journeys on the run and their intense struggles to keep alive. The unbearable sorrow of a parent describing the death of a child who had succumbed to starvation and disease. So many widows, so many orphans, it’s impossible to hold back the tears and not cry with them. As their stories, all at once, come flooding back to my mind, it’s impossible to write or express the atrocious savagery and enormous extent of suffering endured. But in the midst of great trials, their joy in the Lord is nothing short of remarkable. Their steadfast faith in the face of death, a great witness and encouragement. Through all the pain inflicted on them by the Boko Haram, they refuse to give in to hate. They remain determined to one day go home, rebuild their villages and again live happily.
It’s hard for us to understand why Nigeria is so often ignored. If the mutilation and slaughter, capture and rape of young girls and married women, little girls forced to become slave wives and suicide bombers, the suffering of internal refugees from years of neglect were documented in film; would it be enough for the world to even grasp the reality of the crisis and senseless evil brought against them? Would they be a voice, or remain silent? Would they be stirred to action and bring aid, or turn up the volume to drown out their cries? I wonder…
The desire to serve at their place, to love, pray and worship with them intensifies with each new attack. My heart overflows for my Christian family in Nigeria and the need to go and wash their feet calls out louder and louder.
Displaced people (internal refugees say that although their living conditions were nearly intolerable they had heard too many stories of attacks on the few early returnees to feel safe going home.
“We are afraid we will go and the army will leave us, and Boko Haram will come back.”
“People there are still voluntarily joining the insurgents.”
“The dense forest is near our village. So long as they are there, we can’t return.”
Some have seen Boko Haram militants moving large quantities of supplies to mountain hideouts.
Students in the Northeast, particularly girls, are afraid to go back to school fearing they will be attacked by the Boko Haram who believe Western education is a sin. In areas where thousands have been displaced by the insurgency, the majority of schools have remained closed for the past two years.
In regard to the latest news, a Christian pastor in the heart of the crisis told VOP, “Never relent in your prayers for us.”
L. Kanalos, VOP Advocate
Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) is aiding an IDP camp caring for Christians who have faced incredible persecution. Nearly every person has lost loved ones at the hands of Boko Haram. The road ahead is long, both physically and emotionally. A large number, including the children in the camp, have suffered great emotional trauma and need counseling to overcome. Most in the camp come from villages which were completely destroyed and still considered at risk. They will not be leaving the camp anytime soon and their needs continue to rise. The insurgency by Boko Haram extremists in north-east Nigeria, the epicentre of the crisis, has created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and many believe it’s far from over. Based on the latest mission assessment report, it has been logically determined many areas, particularly the villages of Gwoza, remain too dangerous for return. We cannot be silent and will continue to be their voice. We will stand by them and remember them constantly in our prayers.
Much help is needed to continue covering basic needs for these persecuted families, orphans and widows in the camp, approx. 400 people. Your gifts make it possible to get food, clothing, medical needs/care and fresh water to the suffering. These brothers and sisters need our compassion. They are thankful for any help, so encouraged they’re not forgotten. Can you share with these dear ones, today?
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.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and 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!
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Article may be reprinted with link/credit to VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED.
Ahead of Nigeria’s general elections on March 28, hundreds of people, fearful of election violence, have fled back to their place of origin, World Watch Monitor has been told.
The election was originally scheduled for February 14th, before being postponed to the March date for security reasons.
Take for example Sam Nwodo, 48, a dealer in motor parts, who has moved his family from Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State in northern Nigeria, to his native Imo State in the South. In 2000, Zamfara State was the first State to implement Sharia Law in the country. This act was then followed by 11 other States in the North.
The election between the two main candidates: incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition (All Progressive Congress, APC) one, Retired Gen. Muhammed Buhari, has crystallised tensions and divisions along religious and ethnic lines.
In 2011, the victory of Jonathan, a Christian from the southern Niger Delta, provoked an eruption of violence in Katsina, the hometown of Gen. Buhari in the North. The post-election violence, which Human Rights Watch described at the time as one of the bloodiest episodes in Nigerian history, spread quickly to all 12 Northern States and claimed more than 800 lives. More than 350 Churches were burnt down, among other properties.
The conflict has left lasting scars on many Nigerians who would not want to be caught in another wave of violence. Sam Nwodo, for instance, is sceptical and has been willing to forfeit his vote for his safety.
“We are afraid because we feel that this election may lead to the disintegration of Nigeria. There may be war because of the desperate nature of politicians. The candidacy of President Jonathan and Gen. Buhari has polarised the Nigerian masses along religious lines.
‘‘Many Igbos (from the majority Christian south) in Gusau are leaving en masse because we don’t know what will happen. No matter how brave you are, when you see your people leaving in such large numbers you have no choice but to move too”.
The fear of violence has also gripped Nigeria’s Central States, known as the Middle-Belt, the natural border between North and South. From Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State, some 400 ethnic Igbos are known to have relocated to their hometowns in the South East of Nigeria. Others have chosen to stay but have relocated their families, according to a source at the Igbo Welfare Community.
Innocent Anya, 48, relocated his family back to his hometown in the southern Enugu State, even prior to postponement of the election. The father of four has lived in Kaduna, where he earned his living repairing air conditioning units, for the past 22 years. He told WWM that there were glaring signs of violence even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the election.
‘‘Each time there are problems in the North, we Igbos are always the target of attack by northern Muslims as if we are the cause of the problems.”
‘‘I was almost killed during the 2011 election violence. Many of our people were killed and our properties were either looted or destroyed. So we don’t want to be caught in another wave of violence again.’’
Donatus Ezenakwe, a stationery dealer in Kaduna, recalled that ‘‘in 2011, they took us unawares, and many of us were killed. So I can’t stay back and witness another killing,’’ he said.
“The campaigns have been violent. The Muslims in the north are insisting that General Buhari must win the election this time around. President Jonathan’s supporters, especially the Niger Delta militants, are threatening that there would be war if Jonathan does not win the election. So the scenario is frightening.
“I had no choice than to relocate to my village in (the southern) Anambra State where we will be safe from the mindless killings,’’ he added.
A similar trend has been observed in various southern States where hundreds of mainly Hausas have fled back to the North.
Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu, a 51 year old Muslim, lived and worked in Bayelsa, Nigeria’s most southerly State, for about 20 years. He has now moved his wife and six children to the northern town of Funtua, in Katsina State.
“We are afraid because the moment they start attacking people in the north, the southerners will want to retaliate by attacking northerners who are living in their communities and we will have to run to the military and police barracks,” he said.
The 2015 election campaigns have been marred by violence. According to Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission, no fewer than 58 people lost their lives between December 2014 and January 2015.
In Kaduna, Christians and Muslim clerics have been working together to prevent a new eruption of violence.
Leaders of the Kaduna State chapters of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jamatu Nasril Islam (JNI) have helped launch the One Family Under God campaign to combat identity-based conflict.
The campaign has resolved to ensure that anybody engaging in violence or harbouring anyone with violent intent during the elections would be handed over to security agents.
Meanwhile, about 1.5 million people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North may not be able to cast their vote, although the government says it has plans for polling stations in IDP camps and so on.
Nigeria’s 173 million people are split almost evenly between Christians in the oil-wealthy and westernized south and Muslims in the underdeveloped north.
- Praying for Nigeria and a peaceful election.
Nuri Kino is a Sweden-based independent investigative reporter, filmmaker, author, Middle East and human-rights analyst. His report, titled ”The Camp,” which examined the construction of a massive refugee camp for Syrian Christians inside Turkey, appeared May 5 at World Watch Monitor.
Early this morning I received a phone call from Mary, a friend in Sweden who was born in Syria. She wanted me to check my Facebook account. A young Syrian woman, Nour, wanted to become friends with me. I accepted the request. A minute later, Nour wrote me her first message. She had pictures from Tabqa, a town that was totally emptied of Christian Assyrians. Nour also had the contact information of victims of fundamentalist Islam. They, the victims, want the world to know what has happened to them. A group of non-Syrian Mujahedeen drove them out of their homes.The message from the perpetrators was ”convert to Islam or leave”. I called one of the victims, and heard horrifying stories about religious and ethnic cleansing.
Christians in Syria are a vulnerable group. They comprise approximately 8 percent of the population. Tabqa used to be a modern city with cinemas, hairdressers, fashion boutiques and restaurants. Now it is driven by men in beards who no longer allow any of that.
An hour after my interview with that refugee, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared ”there must be accountability” on behalf of the victims of a chemical weapon attack. Considering all the evidence emerging from witnesses, from images, from human-rights groups and from medical information provided by Doctors Without Borders, Kerry said ”these all strongly indicate” that ”chemical weapsons were used in Syria,” and that they were fired by the Syrian government.
Doctors Without Borders didnt’ appreciate its medical reports being used as a justification for possible military action. It issued a statement stressing that only ”an independent investigation” can determine whether the hundreds of bodies arriving at hospitals Aug. 21 were killed by chemical weapons, and that the organization has not placed blame anywhere.
While I tuned in to YouTube to listen to Kerry’s speech again, an Assyrian refugee who has taken shelter in Lebanon called me. Ninos wanted to know whether I thought NATO will bomb Syria. His family remains in Syria. They fled from rebel-controlled Homs to regime-controlled suburbs. They feel safer in areas where the regime can protect them, where al-Nusra or other fundamentalist Islamists can’t persecute them. Ninos said he’s afraid that, if the U.S. and its allies enter the war, Christians will be suffer doubly, and that they will be bombed along with Alawites, a Muslim sect that 15 percent of Syrians, including President Bashar al-Assad, belong to.
At the end of his speech, Kerry declared the US must protect the most vulnerable. I wondered if he, and the American allies currently expressing outrage, have thought about Christians like Ninos, his family, and Nour. They have not killed a single soul. They definitely have not gassed anyone. And they are the most vulnerable Syrians of all.