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Church Confirms Release of Pastor Threatened with Execution

Pastor Bulus Yakura with EYN member Kwajaffa Balamusa (left) after the pastor’s release from Islamic extremist militants. (Morning Star News courtesy of Kwajaffa Balamusa)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Church leaders have confirmed reports that Islamic terrorists who threatened to execute a pastor they abducted in northeast Nigeria freed him on Wednesday (March 3).

The president of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or EYN), Joel S. Billi, told church leaders on Thursday (March 4) that he had spoken to Pastor Bulus Yakura (also transliterated as Bulus Yikura) after he was freed, according to a notice posted on Friday (March 5) on the website of the Church of the Brethren’s U.S. headquarters by Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media.

“Speaking to Yakura over the telephone today was heart-touching,” Billi said, adding that Pastor Yakura told him, “I am fine, thank you for your prayers and concern,” according to Musa.

Nigerian newspaper the Premium Times had reported that Pastor Yakura, an EYN pastor abducted from Pemi village near Chibok, Borno state in an Islamic terrorist attack on Christmas Eve, was freed after Christians met ransom demands.

Citing security sources, the newspaper reported that Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram freed Pastor Yakura on Wednesday evening (March 3). A Premium Times correspondent in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, reported sighting Pastor Yakura at about 6:15 p.m. as he was taken to the office of Nigeria’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Services (DSS).

The Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram, which in 2015 formally aligned with the Islamic State and changed its name to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), released a video on Feb. 25 in which the pastor said he would be executed by March 3 unless government and church officials met the kidnappers’ demands.

After watching the video in which the pastor had announced the deadline for his execution, his wife had fallen ill and his children refused to go to school, Musa reported.

An EYN church member, Kwajaffa Balamusa, also confirmed the release of Pastor Yakura in a text message to Morning Star News on Sunday (March 7), accompanied by a photo of him and the pastor after his release.

“Thank God, for our EYN pastor is alive,” Balamusa said.

The Premium Times reported that on Wednesday (March 3), when asked to speak about his freedom, Pastor Yakura kept repeating, “I thank God, I thank God.”

The Islamic State recognizes the ISWAP faction that broke away from Shekau in 2016 as its cell in the region, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and many Nigerians still refer to the Shekau-led faction of ISWAP by its original name, Boko Haram.

Efforts by the EYN and Pastor Yakura’s family resulted in his release, according to the newspaper.

Premium Times gathered from security sources that family members and the EYN church had been negotiating the release of the abducted pastor since last week,” the newspaper reported on Wednesday (March 3).

Prior to his release, Nigerian newspaper Sahara Reporters had reported that the Christian community in Borno state’s Chibok County had contributed money for ransom in order to secure the pastor’s release.

Pattern of Executions

In a video released on July 22, Islamic extremists thought to be members of ISWAP executed five Nigerian men in Borno state, with one executioner saying it was a warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity.”

On Jan. 20, 2020, Islamic terrorists executed the Rev. Lawan Andimi, district chairman of the EYN in Michika County, Adamawa state, also in northeast Nigeria.

A video released in January 2020 shows ISWAP terrorists executing Christian university student Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a member of the Church of Christ in Nations who was kidnapped on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Highway while returning to studies in Maiduguri, Borno state.

Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List. In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.

Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to the WWL report. In the 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year.

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.

In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”

 

Grenade Attack Near Cathedral Leaves Several Wounded in the Philippines

Aerial view of Cotabato, Philippines. (Wikipedia, PeterParker22)

Philippines (Morning Star News) – A grenade attack near a Catholic cathedral and radio station in the southern Philippines on Sunday (Dec. 22) could have been aimed at a military advance team for a presidential visit as much as the Christian sites, according to local reports.

The grenade explosion injured at least eight soldiers and six civilians in Cotabato on the island of Mindanao, according to reports. Police stated the grenade was thrown near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, seat of the archdiocese of Cotabato, and the radio station owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Mass-goers huddled in the cathedral upon hearing the explosion and the ensuing brief gunfight between soldiers and the assailants. They later returned to worship, but a service scheduled for 6:30 p.m. was cancelled, parish priest Zaldy Robles told Minda News.

“It is sad that this kind of violence is happening while we are celebrating the holy Christmas season,” Robles told the news outlet. “Let us not let the reign of darkness rule over us.”

He added that it was fortunate the grenade was not thrown into the worship service. In 2009, a bomb attack at the same cathedral in Cotabato killed five civilians and wounded dozens of others.

After Sunday’s grenade attack, a second blast a short distance away injured a passer-by, according to Vatican News.

Explosions in two cities also in the same diocese’s territory, Libungan in North Cotabato and Upi in Maguindanao, hit shortly after the attack in Cotabato, and the military suspected the Islamic State-aligned Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in all the blasts, according to reports. Earlier security forces had reportedly recovered and de-activated two Improvised Explosive Devices on Sinsuat Avenue in Cotabato, near the cathedral.

It was unclear if the wounded soldiers were guarding the cathedral or were part of an advance team for the visit of the president scheduled for the following day. Minda News reported they were part of the security apparatus assigned to the cathedral during the Christmas season, while another news outlet quoted a Western Mindanao Command spokesman as saying the grenade was aimed at a military vehicle of the Division Reconnaissance Company deployed in advance of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit on Monday (Dec. 23).

Mindanao is one of five provinces that came under the Muslim rule of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), confirmed in a Jan. 21 referendum. The BARMM was formed from a peace deal with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but the BIFF and Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf rebels were excluded from the agreement.

While the military suspected the BIFF in the attacks, some speculated the assailants could have been other opponents of the BARMM. Whether one or the other, Duterte called the attackers terrorists.

While the peace agreement calls for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to take over administration of the BARMM, the Philippine government exercises full control over the police and military.

Islamic State-affiliated terrorists were blamed for twin suicide bombings at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu Province on Jan. 27, which killed at least 22 people and wounded more than 100. Jolo is a small island off the coast of Mindanao.

Members of Abu Sayyaf, which claims allegiance to Islamic State, reportedly aided the Jan. 27 attack and turned themselves into authorities. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año stated on Feb. 1 that Islamic State-affiliated terrorists were responsible for the twin suicide bombings.

Islamic State representatives took responsibility for the bombings in online postings shortly after the explosions, one inside the cathedral on Jolo, and another about 12 to 15 seconds later outside the doorway. Año said two Indonesian suicide bombers, one who went by the nom de guerre Abu Hud and his wife (unnamed), were guided by local rebels from Abu Sayyaf.

Abu Sayyaf had rejected the peace deal that created the BARMM as it preferred the region belong to a broader southeast Asian caliphate.

Sunday’s violence follows a bomb attack on a shopping mall in Cotabato earlier this month that killed two people and wounded 35 others, also attributed to Islamic State-affiliated terrorists.

According to the government’s peace deal with the rebels, 2019 is a period of transitioning from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the new BARMM (adding “Bangsamoro,” or “Nation of Moros,” moros being a colloquial term for Muslims) government.

Under the agreement, MILF rebels were to surrender their estimated 50,000 weapons to the government.

Pakistan: Mourners bury 11 killed in Quetta church suicide attack, as 50 injured

Mourners carry coffin of victim of church attack (World Watch Monitor)

CCTV footage (added below) shows gunmen attacking Pakistan church in Quetta

(World Watch Monitor) Pakistani Christian mourners today (Monday) are burying their dead only days before they should be celebrating Christ’s birth.

Worshippers were lining up to take the Holy Communion when at least two men, armed and wearing suicide vests, attacked Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in western Pakistan’s restive city Quetta on Sunday morning. They left at least eleven dead and more than 50 injured, many in a critical condition, unofficial local figures say.

“It was a pleasant morning. We had sung songs and children had presented a Christmas program. Pastor Simon Bashir had finished his sermon and we were moving towards the altar when we started hearing gunfire outside the church,” said Sohail Yousuf. His 13 year-old daughter Mehak lost her life; her 16 year-old sister Wasiqa is critically ill after an operation in Quetta’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH).

Yousuf, a manager in an insurance company, migrated 16 years ago to Quetta from Punjab after his wife, a government schoolteacher, was posted there.

“We bolted all the doors and were praying that God would protect each of us. Then a suicide bomber blew himself up at the main door. The explosion shattered the door and injured many inside. When some rushed outside, they were injured by gunfire as the terrorists were on the church lawn. But soon the situation was brought under control by the volunteer church security guards and police present there.”

Caritas Executive Director Sheezan William told World Watch Monitor that the first person killed was the church security guard George Masih, who tried to stop the men advancing towards the church.

“I came to know what was happening while the exchange of fire was taking place. I phoned two youths in the choir. I could hear gunfire on the phone and then rushed to the church,” he said.

Leading Pakistani newspaper ‘Dawn’ also confirms that police intervened after the church security guard scuffled with one attacker. About two hundred congregants were inside the church, beautifully decorated for Christmas, when the terrorists unleashed their attack. Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility but provided no evidence for this claim.

“The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital, CMH, Akram Hospital and other private hospitals. Relatives picked up two bodies from the church and took them away, which is why they are not counted in official numbering.”

Retired Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf, a political analyst who is close to security agencies, told World Watch Monitor the attackers were four in number. “They were equipped with ample ammunition supply and were aiming to take worshippers hostage and kill them one by one, prolonging the scene of terror as much as they could.”

Video footage shows a church security guard was quick to close the door when he saw two men approaching. This provided more time for local security personnel to plan.

“One terrorist was shot in the compound before he could blow himself up inside the church. Meanwhile, the other one rushed to the church entrance where he blew himself up,” said Sharaf. “The agencies chased the other two who fled, and a search operation is ongoing.

“The incident has taken place close to the sad day in the country’s history, December 16 [when Pakistani forces were defeated in 1971, leading to East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh]. Our enemy keeps reminding us of our history. This time Christians are targeted who stand united with other Pakistanis against the menace of terrorism.”

William added: “A team of about 70 youths is working day and night to provide blood supplies, food or any other assistance to the injured, and coffins for the burial.” He told World Watch Monitor that seven families living in the church compound, including that of Pastor Simon Bashir, were told to vacate their houses. “All of them have moved to relatives until the area is given clearance.”

Al-Jazeera reports Moazzam Jah Ansari, police chief of Balochistan province, as saying: “We have cleared the immediate area around the church, and we are now clearing a peripheral area”.

Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, is situated along the Afghan border. The mineral rich, mostly hilly, region – the least populated area in the country – is where an insurgent separatist movement has long been going on. Most Christians in this province have migrated from Punjab but mostly remain unharmed by the separatists, though the separatists are against Punjabis, believing they are doing an injustice to them by controlling their land and resources.

The Quetta Methodist church, established in 1959, came under the control of the Church of Pakistan in 1971 after six Protestant denominations, including the Methodist Church, united as one denomination.

Ten days ago, a seven-year-old boy and two others were killed during a hand grenade attack on the gates of a Christian colony in Chaman, also in Balochistan, south-western Pakistan.

Punjabi Christians staged a protest, about the way they feel the government does not do enough to protect them against radical Islamic militant extremists, outside the Lahore Press Club a few hours after the Quetta attack.

Last week, the EU Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figel, was in Pakistan, and took part in the set-up of an inter-faith advisory commission. Its main aim is to help stop misuse of the blasphemy law.

Since 9/11, Christians are the main religious minority that has come under both communal attacks on the pretext of blasphemy, and by terrorist attacks on their places of worship. Immediately after 9/11 there were six attacks on churches, Christian hospitals and educational institutions. Such attacks re-surfaced again in 2013 with the suicide attack on All Saints’ Memorial Church in Peshawar province, which is also on the Afghan border. About 90 people died in that incident, including many children.

Then on 15 March 2015, just before Easter, two churches in a Christian neighborhood in Lahore came under twin suicide attacks. About 25 people died. In 2016 in Lahore, Punjab – where the largest Christian population lives – a suicide attack took place on a park, killing mostly Christians as they celebrated Easter. This year, security was on high alert at Easter. In March, Pakistan’s military agency, to prevent an attack, killed a husband and arrested his wife, who’d been trained in Syria by IS. (She was later released by security agencies.) Security agencies are on high alert for Christmas.

The worst attack in Pakistan’s history (which changed the course of the country by triggering new anti-terrorism laws after showing the population how ruthlessly Islamist militant radicals could behave), took place exactly three years ago in Peshawar when terrorists raided an army public school, massacring 141, including 132 children.

Breaking: Bomb Blast in Nigeria – News source calls a Boko Haram/ISIS connection a Marriage from Hell

(Voice of the Persecuted)

(CNN)For sheer cruelty, they are well matched. They also share an apocalyptic “end-of-days” vision. Now there are signs that Boko Haram — the most feared group in West Africa — may be edging toward a formal pledge of allegiance to the self-declared Caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Watch Video}

For some time now, we have shown the link between Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-shabob, and other extremists groups.  A year ago we warned of the ‘super highway of terror’ that travels from the Middle East to the coasts of Africa.  The MSM is finally connecting the dots, as the stench of death and destruction goes ever deeper in the region.  As we review our past reports, you have to ask what took Western leaders and the press so long to figure this out, or to finally decide to share it with us? Though some are reporting it as happening overnight, when you take a look back, you’ll find it’s been festering and spreading like a cancer for some time. With reports coming in last year from the field, we feared with others the risks of genocide as the world remained basically silent.

From our report dated April 26, 2014:    The Stench of Death, Abomination & Devastation Coming From The Middle East & Africa

There is a terrible highway being built by evil factions that have one agenda.  Though they[terrorists] are a mixed people, they have one goal in mind, and that is to kill everyone and everything that is different from them.  If you don’t believe in their brand of god, than you will die.  They don’t care about life, they have no regard for it.  While talking with a Christian brother from this region, I have come to understand that there are nearly 100 different sects[divisions] of people who follow Islam.  And none of them seem to know which or who will go into ‘paradise’ with their God.  So they are all bent on killing seeing this as the sure way to guarantee their entry into paradise.  To die in battle fighting in the name of Allah.

So as the media and the West fiddles, so to speak, the middle east and Africa are on fire.  In Syria there has been a battle cry raised, a cry that commands all to come and fight.  This is not war in the conventional sense, this is not the Syrian people raising up to topple an evil dictator.  This is a Holy War, a jihad commanded by a Holy Book. With an end outcome of causing chaos, while ridding the world of non-believers so that their Mahdi/savior can appear.

Look at what has happened in the short span of a year.  Over 2 million are now displaced, over 200,000 have been killed. Refugee camps overflowing and people starving or dying from disease.  Attack after attack has been witnessed in village after village by the Boko Haram’s murderous rampage.  We have watched whole Christian communities and churches looted and destroyed, many burned to the ground. Aid is not nearly enough, and we’ve reported that rebels have infiltrated refugee camps hiding among the people. Many fearing to even go to the camps for refuge, choosing undesignated areas for safety instead. This in turn makes calculating true numbers of those suffering much harder.

Three armies are now battling this wicked insurrection, from Niger,  Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.  They have joined to form a multi-national force with France supplying logistics.  Young children have been forced and indoctrinated into their armies, and as recently reported little girls used as suicide bombers.  Women and children are kidnapped and used as slaves, raped and tortured.  Christians are slaughtered for not recanting their faith. We have also connected the Janjaweed from Sudan to this group, as well as possible ties with the LRA here and in the CAR.  Now Libya has been overrun with ISIS as allegiances grow and formed.

Voice of America is reporting of one refugee camp in Cameroon, that has grown to 40,000.  They describe deplorable conditions with no running water, no toliet facilities, and very little food.  The displaced complain that Christians and Muslims are put together in the camps. With the inhumane attacks by the Boko Haram many Christians are mistrusting of Muslims in such close proximity.  Knowing insurgents infiltrate these camps, Muslims are feared as Boko Haram with many frequently taken away. There is much confusion in this crisis that has been allowed to explode not only by Nigeria, but global governments who’ve been fore warned. Fear grows for innocents mistook for insurgents, Muslim and Christian alike.

VOA reports that a humanitarian crises is looming in Cameroon.  They report that ” last week, the Cameroonian forces arrested hundreds of the refugees saying they were suspected Boko Haram fighters who had infiltrated the camp. Yega (a resident)  said life has been extremely difficult for him and his family for the one week he has been here. I brought all of my family. My wife is in the market, my children are from school. They give us food normally, but the feeding will not satisfy us. That is why they call us here today in a meeting so, may be tomorrow they will give us feeding [more food], he said. “We eat two times in a day. We cook in our various houses. Mouhaman Boukar, a cattle rancher who fled from Yerwa, Borno State said he is thankful to God for saving his life from the insurgents, but said the increasing number of Nigerians in the refugee camp is making living conditions unbearable.” (More)

Our contacts are reporting similar conditions in the refugee camps and deplorable conditions for many.  Churches are struggling to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people.

Maiduguri Christians are living in fear of Boko Haram taking control of the city. The control of Maiduguri could cause an unrevokable change the political landscape

Martin Ewi, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies said, “Maiduguri is very important, extremely important, we’re talking about two million people who live in that city.” He warned, “The strategic importance of Maiduguri cannot be overestimated. “If they can take Maiduguri, taking over the whole state will be a matter of time.”

They are worried Boko Haram has placed ‘sleeper cells’ among the refugees in Maiduguri, as they have done everywhere else in their efforts to take control. If Maiduguri were to be attacked, 200,000 Christians would be at risk, unable to escape and possibly slaughtered.

Neighboring countries, Niger, Chad and Cameroon have also become targets as their forces have joined the battle against the radical insurgents. Two people were killed in Niger on Thursday by a mine thought to have been planted by Boko Haram.

Still Reeling from Tuesday’s Attacks Suicide Bombers Target Christian Areas Again on Thursday

Explosions in Nigeria’s north-central city of Jos and the northeast town of Biu over the past two days have killed at least 34 people, witnesses said Thursday.

A suicide bomber killed people at a bus station in Biu, witnesses say, while a second bomber was caught by a crowd and reportedly beaten to death. Reports claim a second bomber was killed before carrying out his mission.

One of the bombers refused to stop  at a check point then detonated. A witness claimed, the bomber may have been heading toward Biu market, but could not get past security points set up by the Civilian JTF

Following the Biu attack, two roadside bombs exploded in the city of Jos killed at least 15 people at a bus station and the motor park near the university. Witnesses claim they heard a “loud sound” then another blast moments later.

Video taken at the scene of one blast is simply to graphic to share. Please pray for the victims and their families.

Do not let up in your prayers for Nigeria. 

Voice of the Persecuted

NIGERIA: The UNIMAGINABLE

africalois-2

Living daily at risk of unspeakable torture, becoming enslaved, or killed at the hands of brutality.

(VOP) Imagine, for a minute that you live in a land where slavery is rampant.  Imagine for a minute that a walk in the park, or simply going to the store could find you in the hands of barbarous rebels who wanted nothing more than to rape, torture or kill you. Imagine for a minute while riding a bus to visit family, to get to work or go home at the end of the day suddenly overtaken by evil men demanding that you recite a prayer to their deity which is foreign to you. Imagine how you would feel knowing you couldn’t and the result would most likely end in your death.

This is reality for many in Africa from Somalia to Nigeria, even as far north as Libya.  A recent slaughter took place in Kenya as a band of Muslim rebels attacked a bus load of people, and when the men couldn’t recite the Muslim ‘shahada’ they forced them to lay on the ground and shot them.  One man who survived said they must have thought that another already shot him. He laid very still until they left.

There are reports that 33,000 Nigerians are still in the caves and starving. They were forced to flee the Boko Haram to escape death. The same report says that Boko Haram has stolen tear gas canisters that they are now throwing into the caves.  (More) Why is this barely reported by the West?  Why is it not repeatedly denounced by the UN?  Nigeria has been embroiled in a political struggle amid reports of human rights abuses by the military, which prominent leaders deny.  Yet, no one is helping the many in the most dire situations, nor interested in the truth.

FACT: The people are suffering, many to the extreme. Based on the magnitude of need, they have received little aid relief, safety, nor much sympathy.  It appears Western leaders along with the UN are not interested in the ethnic cleansing and what is called by some, a genocide taking place. History repeating itself?

One of our Nigerian contacts witnesses these horrific scenes and great suffering on a daily basis. He described to us a recent trip to deliver relief. While traveling, he felt the sudden urge to leave the car, he said God was guiding him to get out the car and run into the bush.  He demanded the driver to stop the car and urged him to leave too, but the driver refused and continued down the road.  He didn’t get very far. The car was attacked, robbed and the driver beheaded.  These are occurrences faced by those brave enough to offer love, sympathy and aid to those suffering immensely.

It has become common place for people of Western nations to accept the fact that their governments are supplying aid to rebel groups in Syria and other places, including weapons.  It has been presented to them as necessary to help rebel groups who are fighting evil, so it’s honorable to arm them.  But what is the truth?

It’s reported these weapons are being shared and trafficked in a ways unimaginable to most. Many in these groups, no matter what they portray to the West, are uniting with one another for one goal, to set up one government, one law, (Sharia) that will as they believe, rule the world. Rebels trained to kill as many ‘non-believers’ as possible. To rape women, force conversion, marriage, and torture those they kidnap.

In another recent attack at least 40 were killed by two female suicide bombers in Maiduguri. One entered a roadside trading area and detonated herself. While people were trying to get to the wounded, the second woman blew herself up causing more damage and death, preventing help from getting to the victims.  (More) A calling card of Boko Haram.  Again it begs the question, could these females be captives that were kidnapped?

Cameroon, that borders Nigeria is closing 130 of it’s secondary schools as they have become targets of Boko Haram (Western education is sinful).  It is understandable why they would want to do this for the protection of children. However, many feel this will only embolden the terror group as, ‘mission accomplished’.  Again, why does the West remain silent? These terror groups have catapulted the Middle East, Africa and Asia from a modern-day world that has prided itself on movements toward equivalence and peace, into the dark ages wiping out thousands of years of history, all vestiges of civility and growth toward peace and equality for all.

World leaders have instituted failed foreign policies that have set 1/4 of the world on fire, with cataclysmic results.  They have fueled and aided a war of attrition.

“Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent attempts to win a war by wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and material. The war will usually be won by the side with greater such resources. The word attrition comes from the Latin root atterere to rub against, similar to the “grinding down” of the opponent’s forces in attrition warfare.”

Is the West ‘complicit’ in these killings, tortures and genocide of minorities?  While this snake continues to grow governments continue to slice up the spoils.  And the people, innocent victims are starving, or suffering immense & indescribable torture. Do they view them as simple casualties of war? While thousands are forced to flee from this evil, fear and hatred grows in strength.

Amid the cries from the West to stop all travel to Africa due to Ebola, many now question if they should mission to this Continent. Who is going to help these people? Who will provide comfort, food, clothing, spiritual support and encouragement for these children and their families? Many are hiding and unable to even find a crumb of food or water.  While African leaders have met with the West, no sustainable solutions are forthcoming.  No condemnation, only defensive statements when challenged such as, “We have given military support.”

You can be their voice, you can be their spiritual family.  Your prayers and voices do matter.  Over and over we hear the same thing, “no one cares.”  No one is helping, are we forgotten? Sadly, for most of the world this is true. Too few care, “Africa’s always in crisis, what’s new?”

These are our brethren! Innocent people who are being ripped apart by this erosion of civilization in modern times. Spreading an evil ideology that’s beginning to make the dark ages look pale in comparison. Today, atrocities are being carried out with blindness in part for a civilized world.  Why not start, or help to start a conversation in your church, your parish, your neighborhood and help with a mission there. Ask your community leaders, your Representatives, your Senators for their help. You would be surprised at the lack of interest for missions boards in this region. Didn’t Christ tell us not to fear?  So why are not more of these agencies helping.  We have heard that they do not wish to plan their activities in these areas facing untold evil.  Why not ask your pastor about your mission board and how they can do more?  Watch, a minister who is speaking out and aiding.

Again, send your prayers to the throne of God, but start a conversation this Thanksgiving.  Lets start a revival with the Holy Spirit guiding us with Spiritual fire instead of manmade flames.

We, at VOP have answered God’s call “Whom shall we send.” Won’t you help?  Help us to go, or bring a voice from the front lines to tell us first hand, their heart wrenching testimony? Won’t you wrap your arms around our family who needs us so desparately?  Will you answer God’s call, can you hear His voice? We can’t do it without you.

As we are thanking God for our blessings this season, let’s remember and act for those less fortunate and suffering.  Let’s do as Jesus said:  “Truly I tell you what you did for the least of these, you did for me.”

Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate their suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTEDgiving 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 have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support.

VOP Advocate Team

WOLF SPEAKS OUT AGAIN ABOUT FATE OF CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ

Rep Frank WolfWashington, D.C. (July 24, 2014) – For the second time this week, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) took to the House floor to alert his colleagues – and the world – of the genocide he believes is taking place in Iraq.

“Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out,” Wolf said.

Wolf began today’s speech by reading the first two paragraphs of a Wall Street Journal editorial from earlier in the week: “Mr. Speaker: Imagine if a fundamentalist Christian sect captured the French city of Lyon and began a systematic purge of Muslims. Their mosques were destroyed, their crescents defaced, the Koran burned and then all Muslims forced to flee or face execution. Such an event would be unthinkable today, and if it did occur Pope Francis and all other Christian leaders would denounce it and support efforts by governments to stop it.

“Yet that is essentially what is happening in reverse now in Mosul, as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham drives all signs of Christianity from the ancient city. Christians have lived in Mosul for nearly 2,000 years, but today they are reliving the Muslim religious wars of the Middle Ages.”

Wolf then read parts of an e-mail he received form someone on the ground in Iraq who painted a very dire situation: “All Mosul churches and monasteries are seized by ISIS. There are around 30. The cross has been removed from all of them. Many of them are burned, destroyed and looted. Many others are being used as ISIS centers. The religious Sunni, Shiite and Christian tombs are destroyed in Mosul. This destruction is endangering very ancient sites, such as prophet Jonah’s tomb, which was broken last week, according to many reporters.”

Wolf then asked: “Where is the West? Where is the Obama Administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.”

Wolf ended his remarks by quoting William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian who, in making the case against slavery in 1789, told his colleagues, “Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

Below is the complete text of Wolf’s remarks:

“‘Imagine if a fundamentalist Christian sect captured the French city of Lyon and began a systematic purge of Muslims. Their mosques were destroyed, their crescents defaced, the Koran burned and then all Muslims forced to flee or face execution. Such an event would be unthinkable today, and if it did occur Pope Francis and all other Christian leaders would denounce it and support efforts by governments to stop it.

“Yet that is essentially what is happening in reverse now in Mosul, as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham drives all signs of Christianity from the ancient city. Christians have lived in Mosul for nearly 2,000 years, but today they are reliving the Muslim religious wars of the Middle Ages.’

“These are not my words. They are the first two paragraphs of a Wall Street Journal editorial published earlier this week.

“Now I want to read parts of an e-mail I received yesterday from someone in the ground in Iraq: ‘All Mosul churches and monasteries are seized by ISIS. There are around 30. The cross has been removed from all of them. Many of them are burned, destroyed and looted. Many others are being used as ISIS centers. The religious Sunni, Shiite and Christian tombs are destroyed in Mosul. This destruction is endangering very ancient sites, such as prophet Jonah’s tomb, which was broken last week, according to many reporters.’

“It has been widely reported that ISIS soldiers have painted ‘N’ on the doors of Christians to signify that they are ‘Nasara,’ the word for Christian. Shiite homes were painted with the letter ‘R’ for “Rawafidh,’ meaning rejectors or protestants.

“Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out.

“With the exception of Israel, the Bible contains more references to the cities, regions and nations of ancient Iraq than any other country.

“I believe what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide. I also believe it is a crime against humanity.

“Where is the West? Where is the Obama Administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.

“The West, particularly the church, needs to speak out.

“The Obama Administration needs to make protecting this ancient community a priority. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry need to have the same courage as President Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell when they said genocide was taking place in Darfur.

“The Congress needs to hold this administration accountable for its failure to act.

“The United Nations has a role, too. It should immediately initiate proceedings in the International Criminal Court against ISIS for crimes against humanity.

“I will close today by reading the final two paragraphs of The Wall Street Journal editorial I began my statement with: ‘Today’s religious extremism is almost entirely Islamic. While ISIS’s purge may be the most brutal, Islamists in Egypt have driven thousands of Coptic Christians from homes they’ve occupied for centuries. The same is true across the Muslim parts of Africa. This does not mean that all Muslims are extremists, but it does mean that all Muslims have an obligation to denounce and resist the extremists who murder or subjugate in the name of Allah. Too few imams living in the tolerant West will speak up against it.

“As for the post-Christian West, most elites may now be nonbelievers. But a culture that fails to protect believers may eventually find that it lacks the self-belief to protect itself.’

“As William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian and abolitionist, famously told his colleagues, ‘Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.’”

Thank you, Rep. Wolf for being a VOICE!

Militants Kidnap More Girls In North Nigeria-Nearly 300 Girls Still Missing #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS

nigeria-bring-back-our-girls-protest

In the company of armed militants, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau laughed as he claimed in a recently released video,

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property and I will carry out his instructions.”

Now we learn that more girls have been abducted as the U.S. prepares to send military personnel, law enforcement personnel and others with experience in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiation and victims’ assistance, per White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Concerns about the amount of time which has gone by since the kidnapping (22 days) he mentioned, time is of the essence.

“Appropriate action must be taken to locate and to free these young women before they are trafficked or killed.”

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, today. He welcomed the secretary’s offer to send support to discuss assistance.

The latest abductions appear to be very similar to the Chibok kidnapping of what is now claimed to be near 300 girls.

The Telegraph is reporting that Islamic militants kidnapped eight girls aged between 12 and 15 from a village (Warabe) near one of their strongholds in northeast Nigeria.

37f782d589624158c0e7737f8d1a09e5“They were many, and all of them carried guns,” said Lazarus Musa, a resident of Warabe, where the attack happened.

“They came in two vehicles painted in army colour. They started shooting in our village.”

A police source said the girls were taken away in the early hours of Tuesday on trucks, along with looted livestock and food. The Islamist rebels are still holding 276 girls.

In the Chibok attack, as with the Warabe seizure, the militants arrived disguised as soldiers.

A 16-year-old girl told AP she remembered them saying. “Don’t worry, we’re soldiers, Nothing is going to happen to you.”

The gunmen commanded the hundreds of students at the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School to gather outside. The men went into a storeroom and removed all the food. Then they set fire to the room.

“They started shouting, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ (God is great),” the 16-year-old student said. “And we knew.”

A 16-year-old girl and her friend jumped out, and managed to escape by running into the forest when a terrorist vehicle broke down.

Though warned just prior to the attack, local officials were unable to fight off the nearly 200 militant invasion.

prayer-158x238Due to the voices of many concerned citizens, globally in protest of these evil crimes, we are finally seeing more media attention and world governments stirring to action. The U.S. is preparing to get involved in their rescue, while Britain is also prepared to send special forces and intelligence-gathering aircraft to Nigeria to help aid in their rescue. Obviously the Nigerian government is incapable of eradicating this dire threat not only for Christians, but all Nigerian citizens.

We pray there will be new operations planned and put into action to aid in the elimination of the vile terrorist group who are filled with nothing but hatred. And bring peace and stability to an area Voice of the Persecuted not only reports on, but have one of our own deep in the trenches of what is now being called the Afghanistan of Nigeria. Please don’t stop raising your voices and keep Nigeria in your prayers. Pray for protection.

By L. Kanalos

Nigeria: Battered By Islamic Terror Group – Kill 52, Set 300 Houses Ablaze

Boko-Haram

Maiduguri, Nigeria—The upsurge of deadly attacks by Islamists continues in Nigeria. Latest reports reveal over the past couple of weeks, Boko Haram has stepped up it’s terror operations. Two weeks ago President GoodLuck Jonathon replaced the entire head of his military, without much surfacing as an explanation other than he was stepping up efforts against the Islamic Insurgency. Nigeria is equally divided among Muslims and Christians. The Boko Haram is attempting a take over to establish a fully Sharia (Islamic Law) governed State.

In separate attacks, suspected Islamic militants used explosives and gunfire to attack a market and Christian village during a church service in Nigeria’s northeast, killing and injuring people, demolished shops and hundreds of homes.

One report claims the attacks in Borno and Adamawa states resulted in one of the highest death tolls in recent attacks by militants defying an 8-month old military state of emergency in three states in northern Nigeria, designed to end the Islamic uprising there.

On Sunday as gunmen numbering over 50 invaded Kawuri District of Konduga Local Government Area of the state set ablaze over 300 houses and shops after killing 52 people including a soldier, and wounding several others including policemen and civilians, reports Vanguard a Nigerian news outlet.

The Boston Herald reported that attackers set off several explosions in Kawuri village in Borno state after launching their assault near the weekly market as vendors were packing up on Sunday night, the security official said.

He said 52 people died and the entire village was burned down, including 300 homes.  He also said two improvised explosive devices that were left behind went off Monday morning, narrowly missing security personnel who were collecting bodies in Kawuri. The official blamed suspected Boko Haram militants for the attack.

A police official who evacuated wounded victims confirmed at least 52 people were killed and 16 wounded. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to speak to reporters.

Ari Kolomi, who fled from his village, which is 70 kilometers (45 miles) outside Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, said, “No house was left standing” by the more than 50 extremists who attacked, armed with explosives and guns. Kolomi was searching for relatives in the village to make sure they had survived the attack.

State Police Commissioner Lawan Tanko confirmed the attack but said he was awaiting details on the casualties.

Local Chairman Maina Ularamu said officials recovered 45 bodies including those of two police officers.  He urged calm, saying: “I believe security operatives are on top of the situation.”

Also on Sunday, suspected militants in Adamawa state, south of Borno, stormed a Roman Catholic church during a Sunday morning service in Wada Chakawa village. They fired guns into the church, set off explosives and took people hostage during a five-hour siege, residents said. The Rev. Raymond Danbouye, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Yola, said dozens of people were killed.

Villager Moses Apogu said, “They used explosives during the attack on worshippers, and many people lost their lives.” Another resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said some of the people taken away were later killed.

In the adjacent Adamawa State, several people, including two policemen were also feared dead as gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members attacked the church in Chakawa village of Madagali Local Government Area.

The attack in Borno carried out at about 5pm on a market, which many traders and residents sustaining injuries. Some of the injured are being treatment at Konduga General Hospital and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

Kawuri District is one of the towns in Konduga, about 60 kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital.

This is the second attack on the town in the last few months. In October some Boko Haram suspects clashed with vigilante youths popularly known as civilian JTF, which led to the killing of 10 people including three youths, while 18 were injured and over 48 shops and many houses burnt in the attack.

The Governor, Kashim Shettima was due to visit the town yesterday morning suspended his trip following intelligence reports that the place was not safe. The terrorists who attacked the town had planted explosive devices, targeting rescue workers and security operatives deployed to maintain law and order.

nigeria-bomb attack

Vanguard gathered that the latest attack on Kawuri town took place on Sunday were gunmen suspected to be terrorists armed with AK47 rifles, IEDs and petrol bombs. They entered the community and wreaked havoc before fleeing into the Sambisa forest.

A survivor, Mallam Mustapha Modu said he counted about 47 dead while several others sustained gunshots and various burns.

In the last week, 37 communities of Kwaljiri, Kaya, Ngawo Fate, Limanti, Njaba, Yahuri, Mude, Wala and Alau among others in Damboa, Konduga and Gwoza council areas have been sacked by terrorists. The displaced residents have taken refuge in neighboring villages of Cameroon Republic and other towns including Maiduguri metropolis.

The Police Commissioner of Borno State, told Vanguard,

“I received an intelligence information that Kawuri town was attacked by Boko Haram sect members suspected to be on revenge mission on market day (Sunday), where many civilians were killed while several others were left with serious burn wounds before they set the whole place on fire. We have deployed our men to the area and very soon I will give you with details.”

Tanko said, some of his men were wounded in the attack but he did not lose any of them.

“The gunmen arrived the town using Sports Utility Vehicles, SUVs, and pretended to be villagers coming to the market. “Unknown to the people the gunmen had planted IEDs at strategic areas in the town before carrying out attacks on residents,” said survivor, Malam Isa Ibrahim. He also said gunmen set several houses and shops ablaze before fleeing. Another survivor said, “We counted about 15 bodies of victims at the end of the attack. ‘and also assisted about 20 injured persons to the hospital.”

In Adamawa State, where Christians were attacked on Sunday, some of the worshippers who escaped said, “They used explosives during the attack on worshippers and many people lost their lives”. One worshipper said, “I cannot actually say how many people were killed but about 16 people were evacuated from the church.” Another resident claimed that some houses were also attacked by the gunmen who took some men hostage, while two policemen- an inspector and a sergeant who were on guard in the church were killed. “I saw some people crying, saying that their relatives had been taken away as hostages by the gunmen”.  [other reports claim the hostages were later killed]

Attempts to get military and police authorities in the area to comment on the incident were unsuccessful. A soldier in the area who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vanguard that nine people lost their lives during the attack. He said the Army had sealed up the area and were hunting for the fleeing attackers. Military authorities in Adamawa State have promised to speak on the issue later.

With determination to end the violence perpetrated by terrorists in the region, particularly in Bama, Gwoza, Damboa council areas where over 30 communities were sacked and displaced in the last one week, the state command under the recommendation of the Police Service Commission, has promoted the Area Commander of Bama, Mr. David Dangiwa from the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police to Assistant Commissioner of Police. And Officer in-Charge of Operations, Mr. Aminu Koji was promoted from Assistant Commissioner to Deputy Commissioner of Police with immediate effect.

Disturbed by the tragedy, Alhaji Bukar Aji, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF), said the fight against terrorism and crimes was a collective responsibility that should not be left for the Presidency alone.

Nigeria-Borno-Adamawa

Maiduguri, is considered the epicenter of the Boko Haram murderous attacks. Nearly 200 people have been killed this month in attacks by suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorist network in the area around Maiduguri. The city is the birthplace of the group, whose name in the local Hausa language means “Western education is forbidden.”

A Jan. 14 car bomb exploded in Maiduguri, killing about 70 people. Officials blamed Boko Haram, though the state governor suggested it was the work of political opponents.

Other attacks have forced the flight of hundreds of villagers in about 30 farming communities around Maiduguri. Some of the displaced are camping on the outskirts of the state capital. More than 5,000 refugees from the violence have fled to Cameroon and Niger this month, the U.N. said last week.

In the wake of the weekend attacks, many Nigerian citizens fed up with the violence, are calling for Nigeria to be divided.  But many Christians in the North would prefer to stay in their generational homeland and live in peace. They’re protection should be top priority and not allowed to be forced out unwillingly by greed, bigotry and radical extremists. PRAY and be their VOICE!

let-s-pray-nigeria

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