Latest MERF news Letter
Jan. 19, 2018 | Tanzania
|A young boy who is one of only two Christians at his school in Zanzibar has been punished by teachers and bullied by students because of his faith. One day a group of Muslim boys locked him in an outhouse for several hours, and another day they held him down and forced him to drink urine. The Muslim boys were never punished. This boy’s experience reflects a growing trend of persecution targeting Christian youth. All schools in Zanzibar, including private Christian schools, are required to teach Arabic and Islamic studies, and students cannot graduate without passing exams in those subjects. Teachers are encouraged to discipline Christian students harshly and rebuke their beliefs. Pray that this Christian boy and all Christian youth in Zanzibar will grow stronger in faith, and also pray for their protection.
The warring factions care only about themselves and power. They care not their country is devastated, impoverished and countless millions on brink of starvation-how can anything they do be justified? It can’t! Lord oppose them and give them what they deserve.
This potentially rich nation (diamonds) is impoverished by all kinds of violent anarchy and social evils-it badly needs our prayer. Click on slides to enlarge.
Please use this for prayer in 2018 regularly:
Two Christians in Iran
given eight-year prison sentences
Iranian Christians Eskandar Rezaei and Soroush Saraei (pictured, Eskandar on left) have each been sentenced to eight years in prison. Arrested in July 2017, they were both charged with “acting against national security”, while Soroush was also charged with “forgery” for issuing letters as pastor of the Church of Shiraz for students seeking exemption from Islamic studies classes.
On 28 December 2017, they were each sentenced to seven years in prison for “acting against national security” plus one year for proselytising and forming house meetings. They are appealing the sentences.
More mass murder with seeming impunity in Central Nigeria.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A mass burial on Sunday (Jan. 7) was announced for 49 of at least 65 Christians killed in Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks in Benue state, Nigeria that began on New Year’s Day, sources said.
Benue Gov. Samuel Ortom announced on Saturday (Jan. 6) that coffins would be provided for the state-sponsored funeral as he visited Benue State University Teaching Hospital-Makurdi’s hospital morgue. Brandishing heavy weaponry as well as cutlasses, Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked several predominantly Christian villages in the Guma and Logo Local Government Areas (LGAs) on Jan. 1-2 and on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 5-6).
The governor of the Middle Belt, majority-Christian state told journalists that 49 corpses recovered from the Christian communities in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas had been kept in morgues across the state. He said a mass burial was necessary because the bodies were decomposing. The governor…
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What a travesty!
Bijay Kumar Sanseth (left) and Gornath Chalanseth were able to spent time with their families over Christmas (World Watch Monitor)
(World Watch Monitor) Two of seven Indian Christians who have spent nearly a decade in prison – convicted of murdering a Hindu leader whose death sparked the worst case of anti-Christian violence in India’s history – were granted temporary parole over the Christmas period to spend time with their families. Evidence seems to be mounting that their convictions may be false. Six of the seven are illiterate, and they all continue to maintain their innocence.
Gornath Chalanseth and Bijay Kumar Sanseth returned to prison on Saturday (6 January), after two weeks on parole. It was the third time Chalanseth has been granted temporary release, but a first for Sanseth, who was accused of masterminding the Hindu leader’s murder in August 2008.
His death had been preceded over Christmas 2007
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Click on slides to enlarge:
No question this country needs prayer.
Iran (MNN) – While much of the world was anticipating the possibilities of the new year, Iranians were busy calling upon their government for change in widespread protests that continue today.
*Peter Smith was able to speak with strategically placed Christians in Iran about the situation that is unfolding.
He says, “About [seven] days ago inside Iran, what started as a riot towards the price increase of eggs — the price of eggs went up by 40 percent and so the people said, ‘Hey, that’s too much!’ — it has since turned into a political revolt. And what started in the city of Mashhad, which is the Shiite holy city on the coast near Afghanistan, has now spread to than 100 different cities inside Iran.”
The protests have grown in both scope and size, and what started as a small group of protesters has garnered international attention.
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Sadly this is becoming the norm as Satan enrages his minions in this pathetic country.
The Pathans, or Pashtoo or Pushtu people are the largest group in Afghanistan totalling about 12 million. There are Pathans scattered all over the world (50 million total). Many speak Pashto or Dari and there are Scriptures in Dari–I gave a Dari Bible to an Afghan taxi-driver (Ali) in Warrington recently!
There are Pashtoo people in Ballymena, I have met one.
Jamil Abraham is a Pashtoo believer leading a church of displaced Afghans in Delhi, India. He is also translating the New Testament into Pashtoo. His wife a Christian schoolteacher was killed by the Taliban and because his life was in danger he left the country. He since remarried Dunya, now also a believer, and has five children. He and his people need our prayers. Most of the Taliban would be Pashtoons.
Please pray for these people.
As the church service started two mortar bombs dropped through the ceiling and exploded, there were cries everywhere, these rocket propelled grenades were fired by Muslim Seleka rebels at the Evangelical church in the suburbs of Bangui, the capital city killed seven and injured at least 33. Jeovani Mongounou (9) and Quanizolo Saint Jacob (23) were two injured that day.
Jeovani (above) was with the other children on the Sunday school bench and sustained such serious leg injuries both his legs had to be amputated. He wants to get back to school, get educated, become a civil servant and misses walking and is deeply emotionally traumatised according to his mother Lydie Daily Kanzo. Jeovani prays daily for protection and the supply of his family’s needs. Lydie has five other children between 6 weeks and 12 years of age and no means of making a living.
Quanizolo was busy in his first year of legal studies at the University of Bangui when Seleka seized power. The grenades shattered his left leg so badly it needed amputation below the knee. He comes from a poor family and lives with his elder brother. He had great expectations. ” I implore God to give me courage and keep supplying our needs. I am not angry or bitter. We must pray for peace in our country and Christians all over the world need to know what is happening.” You can pray for Jeovani and Quanizolo and write a note or card to them.
Dieu-Fera (in care of grandmother) also had an amputation and so did Steven; both have prostheses. All three lads are progressing physically, educationally and spiritually in their church.
Dec. 28, 2017 | Myanmar
|“Tai Tai,” a recent Christian convert in Shan state, was killed this past summer because of his Christian faith. After becoming a believer in January 2017, the 41-year-old had been active in his church and in sharing the gospel with the Palong people. As he grew bolder in proclaiming Christ, villagers began to hate him. Then, one day while collecting firewood he was brutally murdered, suffering severe wounds to his chest, back, neck and head. His family fled the village, fearing for their own safety, and local missionaries helped bury his body outside the village. Because he was a Christian, he could not be buried in the village cemetery. Pray for Tai Tai’s wife and five children as they mourn his death. Pray that their faith will continue to grow despite their loss.
Death toll rises,
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…
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Two Islamist terrorists attacked the Sunday morning service at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan yesterday, 17 December. At least nine Christians died at the church or in hospital from their injuries, including women and children. There was a sustained gunfight with security forces and one of the terrorists blew himself up at the church entrance; another was shot dead. Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Rev. Simon, the pastor of the church, was in tears, unable to speak, when Wilson Saraj, Barnabas Fund’s Regional Coordinator called him soon after the attack. Wilson had been worshipping at the same church on 8 October. Yesterday, an extra large congregation filled the church building because it is so close to Christmas. Amongst them were some of poor and needy families who receive monthly food parcels from Barnabas Fund. At least three of the feeding programme families have sustained serious loss: two fathers, on duty at the main gates of the church compound, died during the attack, and a widow remains in hospital.
Courageous Christian martyrs who saved many lives
The courageous men who sacrificed their lives at the main gates were Sultan Masih (aged 36) and George Masih (aged 63, not related to Sultan). Realising they were about to be attacked, Sultan quickly locked the gates and warned others to get into the church building and leave him to deal with the terrorists. A second after he locked the gates the first terrorist arrived, as recorded by the CCTV cameras. It took the terrorists 82 seconds to climb the gate and get in, thus giving valuable time to the believers to take cover. George also can be seen on the CCTV before the terrorist jump down. Both Sultan and George were killed, but their tremendous bravery in facing the terrorists alone saved many other lives.
Urgent prayer needed
Please pray for protection for Christians in Pakistan and around the world, as Islamic State and other Islamist terrorist groups increase their attacks for the Christmas period. A second church attack, also inspired by Islamic State, had been planned yesterday, St Petersburg, Russia, but was foiled by intelligence and security.
Please help the Christian victims in Quetta
Barnabas has sent funds for emergency help for the survivors at Quetta to help with burial, medical and other costs. Please give now to help the Christian victims of this attack.
PAKISTAN – Government surrenders to demands of Islamist protestors over “blasphemy”
Authorities in Pakistan have surrendered to the demands of Islamist protestors, with the government forcing the resignation of the country’s Law Minister and guaranteeing “no leniency” to those convicted of “blasphemy.”
Zahid Hamad resigned on 27 November after weeks of violent protests by Islamists, who accused him of “blasphemy” after he proposed changing the declaration made by candidates running for political office locally and nationally.
The declaration – required for candidates running in any vote supervised by the country’s electoral commission – previously required them to “solemnly swear” to Muhammad being Islam’s “last prophet,” wording which was altered to “I believe.” Islamists alleged the change opened the way for members of the Ahmadi sect – who are viewed by them as apostates – to potentially run for office as declared Muslims. Ahmadiyyas were officially defined as non-Muslims by the government in 1974.
The street demonstrations, which paralysed cities across Pakistan, were ended after representatives from the country’s powerful military oversaw negotiations, in which the government caved in to Islamist demands.
As well as the resignation of the Law Minister, the government accepted a raft of demands made by the leaders of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Islamist party. The government agreed to guarantee that “No difficulty will be faced in registering cases under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code” (the “blasphemy” law which criminalises “defiling the name of Muhammad” and carries the death penalty); and “No leniency will be given to those convicted by courts for blasphemy.”
The Pakistani government’s capitulation in the face of violent Islamist protests sets a dangerous precedent, which is likely to make the situation of Christians accused of “blasphemy,” and those appealing against their convictions even more perilous.
From Pakistan Today here
Dec. 14, 2017 | Belarus
Pray for Christians Detained for Distributing Christian Literature
|Police have detained and questioned members of an evangelical church in northern Belarus three times in the last two months for distributing Christian literature. On Oct. 14, police arrested Andrei Fokin as he and other believers distributed Christian books and magazines in the Lepel town market. He was released after a warning, but later fined for repeat offenses. On Nov. 4, police again interrupted their literature distribution, this time taking nine Christians to the police station. Prior to the Oct. 14 arrest, the church had served the community through its street library ministry since 2004 without objection from authorities. Pray that church members will be able to pay their fines and resume their library ministry without harassment.
Christian Pastor Accused of Blasphemy in Pakistan Found Innocent
Last year, Pastor Babu Shahbaz was arrested and jailed after being accused of committing blasphemy in Pakistan. According to the accusation, Pastor Shahbaz was alleged to have torn pages of the Quran and dumped them in the street, a crime punishable with life imprisonment. Last week, the Lahore High Court released Pastor Shahbaz after finding the evidence against him unconvincing. False accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan are common and often motivated by religious hatred or score settling. Will Pastor Shahbaz be able to return to a normal life?
12/11/2017 Pakistan (Asia News) – The Lahore High Court has released a Protestant pastor on bail, detained for almost a year on charges of blasphemy. A copy of the verdict was sent to Asia News, in which the judges write that the Rev. Babu Shahbaz is “innocent”. His lawyer Nadeem Anthony reports with joy, “I thank the High Court for giving justice to this innocent Christian.”
On 6 December, Pastor Shahbaz was able to embrace his family. He was arrested on December 30, 2016 in the village of Kamahan [a suburb of Lahore, ed.], after a group of local Muslims found 150 pages of the Koran torn in the street. According to the accusers, the name of the pastor was printed on 100 pages.
Locked up in Lahore’s Jail Camp, the Rev. Shahbaz was accused of insulting the prophet under section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, a non-bailable offence carrying life imprisonment.
Judge Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan’s verdict reads: “The accused allegedly made an extrajudicial confession in police custody, therefore, same is not admissible in evidence. Polygraphic test is a weak type of evidence and the same cannot be relied upon blindly,” Justice Khan added. “No page of the Sipara (chapter) allegedly recovered from the possession of the petitioner was found to be torn. Mere recovery of a blue marker from the possession of the petitioner is by itself not sufficient to refuse bail to the petitioner because a blue marker is available in almost every second house of big cities of this country.”
Having ascertained the innocence of the Christian, the judge granted him the return home, upon payment of 200,000 rupees (over 1600 euros). Attorney Nadeem Anthony claims that, “minor courts are influenced by group pressure. I made no promises to the victim’s family. I only asked that their requests be heard. Similar cases require difficult work because of religious sensitivity on the issue. Often victims can not return to lead a normal life in their environment, because society ostracizes them.”
Haji Nadeem registered the complaint, claiming that torn Quranic pages were found in the road as he and his companions were on their way to mosque for Friday prayers. On a hundred of the pages were written the name of Babu Shahbaz Masih in blue marker. Police immediately detained Babu Shahbaz Masih, together with his wife and daughter, for their own safety. A large number of security personnel were deployed to the area to ward off trouble.
Haji Nadeem, a local Muslim shopkeeper and politician, is apparently jealous of Babu Shahbaz Masih’s brother, another shopkeeper, and is reported to be resentful of Christians for not supporting him in recent elections. There also appears to be ill-feeling towards Babu Shahbaz Masih by a local pir called Baba Gujjar, who lives on the street where the torn pages were found. A pir is the South Asian term for a Muslim spiritual guide in the Sufi tradition (mystical Islam) to whom Muslims go for healing and other requests for divine intervention. Baba Gujjar has been losing followers because many Muslims instead went for healing to Babu Shahbaz Masih’s home where he held special prayer meetings for healing. Personal grudges lie behind many “blasphemy” accusations in Pakistan.
Under Pakistani law, there is a mandatory life sentence in prison for desecrating the Quran. Local Muslims are amongst those who have voiced support for Babu Shahbaz Masih, affirming his innocence.
Christmas Facebook message from prominent Pakistani Muslim brings accusations of “hate speech” and “blasphemy”
A complaint of “hate speech” has been made by his fellow Muslims against Shaan Taseer, son of Salmaan Taseer, the former Punjab governor who was murdered in January 2011, and a formal case registered against him. Muslim hardliners, not content with this, are pressing for him to be charged with “blasphemy” which carries a death sentence.
The complaints come in response to a Christmas message which Shaan Taseer posted on his Facebook page. In the video message he requested prayer for minorities exploited under the “blasphemy laws”, laws which he described as “inhumane”.
Shaan Taseer’s father, Salmaan, was shot dead by his own bodyguard for supporting Aasia Bibi (a Christian mother sentenced to death under these laws) and calling for reforms to the blasphemy laws.
A complaint of “hate speech” was registered against Shaan Taseer on 30 December (a crime punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment and/or a fine), but the Islamist group, Sunni Tehreek, are pushing for the police to charge him with defiling Muhammad’s name, a crime that carries a mandatory death penalty, threatening mass protests if the police fail to charge him. Shaan says he has received “credible death threats” from people who inspired his father’s killer, Mumtaz Qadri.
Another Pakistani Christian, a tailor, has been sentenced to death for allegedly ridiculing Mohammed in a What’s App message to a Muslim “friend”. The High Court appeal is still to give its verdict. Pray this decision will be overturned and justice done.
Pray that Islamabad’s High Court suggestion to Pakistan’s National Assembly to amend the blasphemy law to include punishment for false accusation along same lines as the alleged crime will become law and prevent this repeated misuse.
The response of the Nigerian authorities to these murderous attacks and threats is almost universally minimal or non-existent, it is a lawless, deplorable nation north of the capital. God’s people have no real protection as they ought (Romans 13:3,4 not applicable).
Kidnappings, Threats of Massacre Terrorize Christians in Kano State, Nigeria.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – When the 50-year-old church elder and leader of Kano state’s Samaila village heard gunshots shortly before midnight, he rushed out of his house to try to find security agents.
It was a natural reaction for Mai’angwa Samaila, given recent Islamist attacks in northern Nigeria. What the elder for the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) did not know was that the armed Islamic extremists, having killed two Christians in front of their Catholic church building, were coming for him next.
Not finding him at home that night (Aug. 15), they instead kidnapped his wife, Safiya Samaila, 45. They then kidnapped two other women, 20-year-old Yaha Gabriel and Hauwa Bebi, 18, both members of the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Samaila, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area (LGA).
Such kidnappings, along with threats of massacres by Islamic extremists, are continuing with the approval of some state officials in a concerted effort to eliminate Christianity, church leaders said.
Mai’angwa Samaila told Morning Star News how the killing of Yohanna Audu, 45, and Audu’s son, 18-year-old Micah Yohanna Audu, and the kidnappings were carried out. The gunmen first went to St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where Yohanna Audu, a church member whose house is beside the Catholic building, went outside.
“He went to find out who were the men on the premises of the church at that time of the night when they shot him, and he died instantly,” Samaila said. “His son, who heard the sound of the gunshot, ran out to find out what had happened since his dad had just gone to the church; he too was shot and killed.”
The armed Muslim extremists then went through the village to kidnap the three women, starting with his wife.
“As the shooting and capturing of the women was going on, some residents in our village rushed to the Catholic church and rang the church’s bell, alerting others on the attack on the village,” he said. “This forced the armed Muslim men to beat a retreat. This saved so many lives that would have perished during the attack.”
As the gunmen retreated, they shot at those who had run to the church building, Samaila said.
“The three women kidnapped were taken away,” he said. “I frantically called on heads of security agencies in our area, the police and army, but I was told that they were unable to come to our aid because their vehicles had no fuel or were in bad working condition.”
The gunmen contacted him and others the following day, demanding 10 million naira (US$27,510) for the release of the women, he said.
“We pleaded with them to release the women, but they refused,” he said. “They threatened to kill the women unless we paid the ransom. We had no other option than to tax ourselves and pay the money.”
The gunmen accepted 3 million naira (US$8,253) and released the women a week later, on Aug. 22, Samaila said. He and others recovered them in the Falgore Forest.
“We believe that Christian communities here are being persecuted because of our faith,” he said. “The government is aware about such invasions of Christian communities but has not done anything to put an end to the menace. The sad thing is that it is only Christians that are being killed or kidnapped in our area, as there was never any Muslim community attacked or a Muslim kidnapped.”
Morning Star News found that kidnappings of Christians in the Tudun Wada area have forced many Christians to flee, while many others continue to receive text messages and letters threatening massacres in their villages if no payments are made to kidnappers.
Haruna Samaila, a Christian who has received persistent phone threats from Islamic extremists, played recorded phone conversations he had with them.
“They threatened that unless I pay them 3 million naira [US$8,253], I will be killed,” he told Morning Star News. “I reported the threats to our church leaders, and they asked me to report the matter to police. When I did so, I was instead arrested by the police and detained. It took the intervention of our church leaders to get me released.”
Church leaders threatened to sue police for illegally detaining him, Samaila said.
“I will never allow them to kidnap me alive, they just have to kill me,” Samaila he said. “The government is insensitive to our plight. This is a conspiracy against us Christians in Kano. Those in authority and government know those armed Muslims carrying out these attacks against us, and that is the reason they are not concerned about our plight. It is a battle against Christianity and Christians in Kano state.”
A Christian whose adult son was killed by Islamic extremists in 2016 said he received a threatening letter from the gunmen on Nov. 21.
ECWA member Aminu Sallau, 60, told Morning Star News that a gang of nine Muslim extremists rode into Katsinawa village in the Tudun Wada LGA on motorbikes on Feb. 6, 2016 and shot his son, Usman Aminu, to death.
“Even yesterday [Nov. 21], the gunmen again sent a letter to me saying they were not yet done with me,” he said. “They stated in the letter that I should keep aside 3 million naira [US$8,253] for them, as they’ll be coming for the money at any time, and that failure on my part to give them the money would mean death for me.”
Sallau said he had no money to give them.
“I am prepared to die if that is the only price I have to pay for being a Christian,” he said.
Sallau said he narrowly escaped death in the attack that killed his son.
“I was listening to news on the radio when nine armed Muslim men stormed my house,” he said. “They came on three motorbikes and started shooting into the air. Three of them pointed their guns at my head and demanded I give them money.”
He had 80,000 naira (US$220) in the house and gave it to them.
“The gunmen were not happy that I had only a little money on me, so they tied my hands and legs and were about to take me away when one of them, who was standing guard in front of my house, rushed in to tell his colleagues that he had shot and killed my son, Usman,” he said. “On hearing this, I began to cry and shout, and in the midst of the confusion, the gunmen abandoned me and fled.”
Usman Aminu’s widow, 25-year-old ECWA member Hauwa Usman Aminu, said that her husband had returned from a business trip and had decided to check on his mother in their family home.
“He decided to visit his mom in their family home about 200 meters from our house,” she said. “It was there that the gunmen killed him. I heard sounds of gunshots shortly after my husband had gone out and knew that something was wrong.”
The Rev. Ayuba Hassan of the ECWA Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, and chairman of the Tudun Wada Local Area Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said that armed Muslims are carrying out attacks and kidnappings on Christians in order to force them to embrace Islam.
“Christians here are being persecuted for refusing to embrace Islam,” he said. “We are constantly under attack. We are not allowed to freely worship as Christians. These kidnappings are aimed at forcing us to recant or make us run away from here so that they can take over our lands and expand Islam’s frontiers.”
The Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, vice chairman of the CAN Kano State Chapter, told Morning Star News that Muslim officials in the state government are behind attacks on Christians in the state.
“These attacks are being instigated and supported by the agents of the Muslim-controlled Kano state government to force indigenous Hausa Christians, who we are, to embrace Islam,” he said. “Our refusal to do their biddings is what has made them adopt this strategy of kidnappings and attacks in order to force our people to tow their line. This is a jihad against the church of Jesus Christ.”
Kano state officials declined to speak with Morning Star News about attacks on Christians in the Tudun Wada LGA. The state police headquarters in Kano, a spokesman confirmed the attacks but declined to speak further, saying only that the cases are being investigated.
Hassan said Christian communities and villages attacked include Samaila (Tuku), Katsinawa, Beguwa, Jarkaya, Gidan Kuzuntu and Jitta Dutse.
“In Beguwa village, on 14 July, 2016, three Christians were kidnapped,” he said. “Those kidnapped are Shamaki Ali, Bature Hassan, and Magaji Salisu. A Christian woman was also raped there. The four victims are members of the ECWA Church in Beguwa village.”
On the same day in Jarkaya village, another Christian community, three members of the Catholic church were kidnapped, identified only as Abdu, Jamilu and his son, he said.
In Gidan Kuzuntu village, also a predominantly Christian community, Baba Yaji was kidnapped at about 1:30 a.m. on July 12, 2016, and the Rev. Julius Gospel, a Roman Catholic priest, was kidnapped on June 30, 2016, in predominantly Christian Jitta Dutse, the ECWA pastor said.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Mob rule in this pathetically ungovernable state that has long reneged on her founder’s vision for true equality and democracy.
Pakistan (Morning Star News) – The government’s inability to withstand the violent protests and demands of the upstart, Muslim extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) has also further imperiled religious minorities, especially Christians, as it resulted in the state tacitly agreeing to facilitate registration of blasphemy cases and assuring that officials will show no leniency to blasphemy suspects, they said. “The government’s succumbing to Islamists’ pressure will surely have an adverse effect on Asia Bibi’s case, as her appeal is likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court in December,” said her lead counsel in the high court, Saiful Malook, noting that the Islamist upsurge could influence judges. “It is Asia’s fundamental right to appeal her death sentence, but the naked threats made to judges from the podium at the protest sit-in at Faizabad, in full view of the state, and its subsequent surrender to their demands, does…
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Satan continues his onslaught against God’s people as he cannot attack Christ personally-what a coward!
May is a Tausug believer, threatened with death by her brother. The Tausug are staunch Muslims among whom Jesus name is prohibited. May she be established and grow in grace and knowledge. The Tausug live in Mindanao and the islands off it to the south.
Click on map to emlarge.
Pray for this Fulani Christian who converted from Islam, whose family angrily falsely accused him of theft and landed him in jail
More spurious but potentially life-threatening cases of accusation of blasphemy in Pakistan.
Simon a teenage man who recycles has been attacked, tortured and arrested after a fellow worker who bears him a grudge made false accusations of blasphemy.. Lord care for him, release him, guard and protect him.
Salman Taseer’s son charged with “hate speech”
A Christmas message (2016) calling for prayers for those charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws has led to death threats against the son of Salman Taseer, the Punjab Governor assassinated six years ago for his support of Asia Bibi and his opposition to the blasphemy laws. Read more
LATEST: Babu Shahbaz Masih has been released and charges dropped. PTL.
He will need to be careful along with his wife and children.
Meanwhile, in a new blasphemy case, Muslims in Pakistan have filed charges against Babu Shahbaz Masih (40), a Christian from Kamaha village, Lahore. He has been taken into custody, accused of desecrating pages from the Quran. Read more
PAKISTAN – Illiterate evangelist accused of Quran “blasphemy” released but family still unable to return home
After 30 days in custody, police have released Babu Shahbaz Masih, an illiterate evangelist from Lahore, who was arrested and accused of “blasphemy” in December after pages of the Quran with his name written on them were found in the street. Although he has been cleared of all charges, police have advised 41-year-old Babu, his wife and three children not to return home, as local Muslims are still pressuring police to charge him. Christians accused of “blasphemy” are rarely able to go back to their former lives, even if, as in Babu’s case, charges have been dropped, because of often violent threats from zealous Muslims.
From Barnabas Fund project partner
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – Babu Shahbaz, a Christian from the village of Kamahan, near Lahore, was arrested by the police for alleged blasphemy. As Fides learns, on December 30 a formal complaint was filed to the police against Babu Shahbaz, under Article 295 b of the Penal Code of Pakistan. The complaint came after the Muslim, Haji Nadeem accused the Christian of having torn and thrown pages of the Koran in the street. Shahbaz is illiterate and cannot write.
Babu Shahbaz, 41, lives in the village of Kamahan, is married and has three children. An evangelical Christian who in the past 15 years has organized prayer meetings at his house, and many Christians and Muslims participate in the small home meetings, asking blessings and healing prayer. The local Muslims have shown impatience towards the growing popularity of Shahbaz and therefore have accused him of a false case of…
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|Nov. 30, 2017 | Bangladesh
Pray for Imam Fedu, a New Christian Convert
|Nov. 30, 2017 | Myanmar
Pray for Htin and His Wife, Kicked Out of Their Village
An Iranian convert has lost his appeal of a ten year prison sentence following his conviction of engaging in “missionary activities” and acting “against national security.” Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh was sentenced in May along with three Azerbaijanis. These three men are no longer in Iran, and will not be forced to return. They were originally arrested in June 2016. Christians are poorly treated in prison, and are often singled out by guards for mistreatment because of their faith. Ten years imprisonment for simply being a Christian is tragically not unusual in Iran. We must continue to pray for those Christians, who like Naser, face a long unjust imprisonment.
|Nov. 23, 2017 | China
Pray for Li Aijie, Beaten for Refusing to Divorce Her Husband
Iranian Christian Released on $60,000 Bail After Signing Blank Papers
An Iranian Christian in Southwestern Iran has been released on $60,000 bail after having been imprisoned for slightly over a month. Mohammad Ali Torabi is one of two Christians who were recently forced to sign blank papers. These papers can now be used to fabricate evidence against these men. The other Christian, Abdol Ali Pourmand, remains in prison. It is also reported that Christian prisoners are forced to pray the Islamic prayer during their incarceration. Iranian authorities are determined to make every aspect of life difficult for Christians, and the authorities have no regard for the religious freedom.
11/29/2017 Iran (Mohabat News) – Mohammad Ali Torabi, a Christian man imprisoned in south-western Iran, was released on a 200 million Tomans (approx. 60,000 USD) bail on Wednesday November 22, 2017.
Mr. Torabi, who is 39 years old, is also known as Davoud among other Christians. He served in the Payam-e Aramesh (Message of Peace) Church in Dezful. He had been arrested in his workplace on Tuesday October 10, 2017 and immediately transferred to Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan province.
Another Christian serving in Payam-e Aramesh Church, Abdol-Ali Pourman (Elias), was also arrested nine days after Mr. Torabi’s arrest. There are no further updates available on his situation other than that he is being held in Dezful prison.
During the investigation phase of these two Christian prisoner cases the two men were forced to sign an empty confession paper. It is believed the interrogators of their cases need those empty signed papers in fabricating evidence against these men.
In another incident, about one month after Mr. Pourmand’s arrest, he told his family in a phone call that he has been repeatedly transferred to different wards in the prison and even one time he was forced to participate in Islamic prayer, which he refused.
Forced or fake confessions and participation in Islamic prayer are two new tactics the Iranian government and judicial system have employed in order to increase their pressure on prisoners of conscience, including Christian prisoners.
It is worth noting that according to Iranian laws, it is not legal to force citizens to sign empty paper and anything added to a signed paper after it being signed should not have any legal merit in court. However, it seems the Iranian government is willing to bend its own laws in order to increase pressure on Christian convert citizens.
Iranian Christian converts are often arrested under political charges such as propagation against the Islamic government or action against national security. However, once Christians converts are arrested in Iran, the majority of their interrogators’ efforts is focused on convincing them to renounce their faith and become Muslims again!
Nov. 23, 2017 | Iran
Christians in India Praise God in Spite of Police Brutality, Month in jail.
India (Morning Star News) – Six Christians facing false charges, two of them beaten by police, were jailed for a month for praying for a sick woman in eastern India, they said.
After tribal Gondi villagers in Simdega District, Jharkhand state, attacked the Christians on Sept. 16, officers at the local police station refused to listen to the victims and hit two young men among them, 25-year-old Sajan Majhi and Kalender Majhi, 20, they said.
“The police hit Sajan Majhi and Kalender Majhi repeatedly,” said one of those arrested, 35-year-old Dasrath Karketta. “They didn’t give us a chance to speak. If they inquired of us, we could have explained what happened exactly, but they didn’t; instead, they scarred the face of Kalender Majhi. He bled also.”
The police beating followed the thrashing the Christians received from Hindu extremists in Ghosra village, who attacked them while they were praying for healing for the wife of Bikhru Majhi, sources said. Officers jailed the Christians and charged them with “promoting enmity between classes” and insulting religion. They spent a month in jail before being released on bail.
“We spent one month in jail joyously – we sang hymns, read the Bible, prayed and worshipped together in jail,” Karketta said. “We shared the gospel with other inmates in the district jail. There also, people came to Christ. We strongly felt the Lord was using us for His work and were happy about it.”
Karketta, the two young men and James Ba, 30, Balmuni Kumari, 19, and Jagdish Majhi, 50, went to the home of Bikhru Majhi after he asked them to pray for his wife, Nitu Devi, sources said.
“Bikhru Majhi heard our testimonies,” Karketta said. “He was amazed at how I got healed, and he wanted prayers for his wife.”
Before winning a battle against cancer, Karketta had visited several hospitals for treatment, exhausting his family’s financial resources, he said.
“We spent lot of money to a point that there was nothing left in our house, even no food for our children to eat,” Karketta said. “When I came to Christ, I got rid of all ailments, and now I am working, providing for my family and leading my life in Christ: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”’
Bikhru Majhi is Hindu but believes Christ can heal, and he routinely invites Christians to pray for his wife, who has long been ill, said Singhray Kullu, former pastor of the church in Ghosra village that the arrested Christians attend.
“Bikhru believes the prayers can heal her,” he said.
At around 8 p.m. on Sept. 16, a throng of Hindu villagers surrounded Bikhru Majhi’s house as the Christians prayed for his wife, said the only woman among the six arrested, Balmuni Kumari.
“They surrounded us and started beating the Christian brothers and me,” she told Morning Star News. “We told them it’s not conversion, we only came to pray for a sick woman.”
The villagers were furious, Karketta said.
“We tried telling them, ‘We did not come to murder, or get drunk, or steal, we came to pray at the request of Bikhru, and if this act of us offends you, we ask for forgiveness, please forgive us,’” Karketta said. “We tried our best to make peace, but they did not listen. They beat us, screaming, “Where is your God? Where is your Jesus? What can He do? Call him right now. We also want to see what He can do.’”
At around 11 p.m., police arrived and arrested the Christians, he said. They were taken to T. Tangar Police Station.
“We all are daily laborers, we depend on our earnings each day for our bread,” Karketta said. “From where arises the question of paying people and converting them?”
James Ba and Kalender Majhi of Banspahar village, Jagdish Majhi of Latapani village and Balmuni Kumari of Tukupani Baanstoli village were released on bail on Oct. 16. Dasrath Karketta of Khijri village and Sajan Majhi of Farsapani village were released on bail on Oct. 17.
The 19-year-old Kumari was arrested along with the others at 11 p.m., though arrests of women are not permitted in India after sunset, a legal expert told Morning Star News. He added that if special circumstances require the arrest of a woman after sunset, police are required to assign female police officer.
“No female police constable came for me,” Kumari said. “I was the only woman, and it was frightening. I trusted the Lord.”
Her family came under severe pressure from the Hindus extremists while she was in jail, she said.
“The assailants threatened my mother and father,” she said. “They were asked to leave the village.”
Her brother told Singhray Kullu about the threats in Kumari’s home village.
“The family faced severe opposition because of their faith,” Kullu told Morning Star News. “The Gondis plotted to expel them from the village. Balmuni’s mother went into depression. Things turned normal after her release.”
The time in the women’s jail interrupted her university studies, Kumari said.
“Even in the prison, I prayed and worshipped with other Christians,” she said. “Every Sunday believing sisters from outside visited us and led us in prayer and worship.”
Some of the assailants later apologized to her, she added.
“The people who beat me that day came and asked for forgiveness after my release,” Kumari said. “But there is still bitterness in the hearts of some.”
The Christians were charged with promoting enmity between classes (Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code), punishable by up to three years of prison and/or a fine; maliciously insulting the religion or religious beliefs of any class (Section 295-A), punishable by up to three years of prison and/or a fine; and acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention (Section 34).
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.
India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution
Police detained seven children for a week and two adults for ten days after Hindu extremists attacked a group of Christians travelling to a youth Bible conference by train. Police charged the adults with kidnapping and forcible conversion.
The photo shows a mother trying to comfort her crying daughter at the railway police station in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, before they were separated. The extremists beat parents who tried to regain custody of their children.
On 23 October, Anita Francis (50) and her daughter Sophia Francis (19) went to the railway station in Indore to take the Avantika Express for Mumbai with seven children – four boys aged 5, 13, 17 and 17, and three girls aged 5, 12 and 13. The children are relatives of Anita Francis, living in the same colony (where nearly 80 per cent of residents are Christians), and she had parental permission to take them to the annual Bible study conference for young people from all over India.
They boarded the train and had taken their seats when a mob of extremists from the Hindu nationalist organisation Hindu Jagran Manch entered their compartment and forced them off the train. The organisation is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghor RSS (National Volunteers’ Organisation), the Hindu nationalist parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The extremists asked Anita Francis how much money they had received to convert the children to Christianity, according to her nephew Alex Matera (19), who had come to see them off with his father, Anita’s brother Amrit Kumar Matera (52).
Alex told Morning Star News that he tried explaining that all the passengers were baptised Christians going to a Bible study conference as they do every year. He said, “They gathered the children from where they were seated and collected them all at one place, interrogating and intimidating Anita without even giving her the chance to reply. The children were pushed and pulled in the most ruthless manner… We don’t know how these people got to know about the travel plans. They alleged we convert children forcibly.”
The Hindu extremists called the media to witness the alleged “kidnapping” of the children. Amrit said, “There was a mob waiting at the platform with media persons clicking pictures, recording videos and asking all kinds of questions. The presence of the media and the crowd was evidence enough that the Christians were ambushed with a well-planned strategy.”
The extremists verbally abused Anita, beat Amrit, Alex and the three older boys (beating the 13-year-old so severely that his leg became swollen) and dragged the Christians to the Government Railway Police station.
“They tried to force us to hail Hindu gods,” said Amrit, “and when we did not, they beat us. They intimidated the children to repeat the slogans or else face the beating. The 5-year-old boy and girl were made to chant the slogan, ‘Hail lord Ram’ repeatedly. We felt so helpless as they intimidated the little children before our eyes, and we could do nothing to help them.”
Anita had telephoned the children’s parents, who hurried to the railway police station, where the extremists assaulted them too, while police watched. Dennis Michael, father of sons Priyal (17) and Harsh (13) and daughter Anushka (12), already had a broken leg from an accident, and the extremists repeatedly struck his broken leg with their boots.
The police released Sophie and Alex at 11 pm but kept Anita and Amrit in custody, charged them with serious crimes (including kidnapping, forcible conversion and trafficking of minors*) and sent them to Indore’s Musa Khedi Jail.
After some initial contact, parents who arrived at the police station were not allowed to see their children. Anita’s relative Tanna Machado, who came to the railway station after Anita called her, said: “What was inhuman was that the children were not allowed to use the restrooms since the time they were detained until 7 pm at night. They were neither given anything to eat until late night.”
The children were taken away – the girls to a shelter near the station; the boys to a children’s home on the outskirts of the city. Parents were not told where their children had been taken and were not allowed to see or speak with them in the week that followed.
Dennis Michael filed for habeas corpus on behalf of all the parents at the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court (pictured). The petition claimed the attack was politically motivated and stated, “The constitutional rights of the petitioners have been imperiled by illegal detention of their children without any reason.”
At the habeas corpus petition hearing on 30 October, the court asked each child whose custody they would like to return to. All said they would like to return to their parents. The court ordered that they be handed to their parents immediately and asked the home secretary and the officer in charge of Indore Government Railway Police station to file a report.
The Indian Express reported that the families had not returned to their homes out of fear. Dennis Michael, speaking from an undisclosed location, said: “All these days I was moving around dazed looking for my children. Now that we have got their custody, we are too scared to return.”
Adults released on bail
On 3 November, Anita and Amrit were released on bail after their lawyer submitted the high court’s habeas corpus ruling and supporting affidavits from the parents in the sessions court. (The photo shows friends and neighbours waiting for them to be released.)
The charges remain and the accused are trying to cope with the stigma of having been jailed for ten days. Anita is a well-respected retired teacher, while Amrit has taught at St Arnold School, Vijay Nagar, Indore, for 21 years. “I have not gone back to the school,” he said. “It is embarrassing to answer questions about my jail stay.”
On 17 November, Madhya Pradesh High Court ordered an investigation into the case against Anita and Amrit and into the allegations that the children were assaulted by Hindu Jagran Manch activists. The allegations were made by the parents in the writ petition and by the children in open court. The court reprimanded the railway police and asked the SHO to hand over case records.
The court stated, “The conduct of the SHO, Police Station, GRP Indore, in not handing over the custody of the children to their parents when they were brought to the railway station raises various doubts over his way of functioning and discharge of duties as SHO. Once the documents were shown to him by the parents and the children wanted to go with their parents, this court really does not know what prevented the SHO from handing over the children to their parents.”
Previous cases of children detained
The Indore case echoes an incident in May 2017, also in Madhya Pradesh, when the authorities detained 72 children on their way to a Bible camp. Police took the children off a train at Ratlam railway station and sent them to a shelter home following activists’ allegations of forcible conversion.
Rev Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, commented, “Earlier as well, in 2015, there have been cases wherein a child as young as eight months old was detained with the mother on charges of conversion. We also recorded an incident wherein a family of four from Bhopal was arrested near Chhindwara on alleged conversion charges, and children were separated from parents and kept in separate jails which were over 150 kilometers apart.”
He said law enforcement agencies are under pressure from non-state political actors, “and go the extra mile to placate them, while Christians pay the price. This must stop, and the chief minister must intervene to restore confidence among the Christian community.”
Madhya Pradesh is one of eight Indian states that have passed anti-conversion laws. Officially called “Freedom of Religion” laws, they are intended to stop Hindus converting to other religions but extremists use them as an excuse to accuse Christians of “forcible conversion” of Hindus.
(Indian Express/Morning Star News/Scroll)
* The police charged Amrit Kumar Matera and Anita Francis with: kidnapping, punishable by up to seven years in prison and/or a fine; forcible conversion, punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine; trafficking of minors, punishable by 14 years to life in prison; crime with common intention; insulting the religion of any class, punishable by up to three years and/or a fine; obscene acts or songs, punishable by prison up to three months and/or a fine; voluntarily causing grievous hurt, punishable by up to seven years in prison; mischief by destroying or moving a landmark fixed by public authority, punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine; and sexual harassment. Later, Amrit Kumar Matera was also charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act.
Church in Chains has written to the Indian Ambassador requesting a meeting to discuss this incident and other attacks on Christians in India
Terrible wickedness on both sides as there is in almost every battle and war.
Bombing of Marawi City-Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Civilians on the island of Mindanao paid a high price with dozens killed and widespread destruction of homes and property amid the ‘battle of Marawi’ that pitted the Philippine military against militants allied to the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) between May and October this year, Amnesty International said in a report today.
The ‘Battle of Marawi’: Death and destruction in the Philippines is the first detailed human rights analysis of the conflict, based on a research trip to Lanao del Sur, Mindanao in September. It documents how IS-allied militants targeted Christian civilians for the worst of the abuses, including at least 25 extrajudicial killings, mass hostage-taking, and extensive looting of civilian property.
Philippine armed forces, meanwhile, detained and ill-treated fleeing civilians, and also engaged in looting. Their extensive bombing of militant-held areas of Marawi city wiped out entire neighbourhoods and killed…
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These murders go on with impunity. Pray for increased protection and arming of civilians even.
The Rev. Dacholom Datiri of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN). (Morning Star News)
(Morning Star News) – Five Christians were killed and five others are missing after attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Plateau and Benue states in the past two weeks.
Two members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) were killed on Sunday (Nov. 12) in Plateau state’s Wereng village, Riyom Local Government Area (LGA), as they were returning to their village at about 9:30 p.m., area resident Gyang Dahoro, a COCIN elder, told Morning Star News.
Christopher Musa Chong, 28, and Bulus Dantoro, 35, were ambushed and shot death, and their corpses cut with machetes, according to Dahoro.
“The two did not return to the village on Sunday evening,” Dahoro said. “A search was organized, and their corpses were found in bushes the following morning with bullet wounds and machete cuts.”
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Two Christian women, Gladys and Damaris in May 2012 lost their husbands Ben Juma and Jackson to a muslim mob in Mombasa, Kenya who doused them in petrol while they were preaching in the open and they died of their burns. Gladys had previously lost a husband and has four children, Damaris had been married only 8 days. Apparently both women are coping well and not only Gladys but also her children, who initially were filled with anger towards God are coming to accept this terrible incident as something ordained to His glory. They are grateful for local church support and also from the worldwide Christian community. Pray for justice and ongoing courage and commitment from the believers in Kenya.
Damaris subsequently remarried Steve in July 2017 (pic below)
The Garissa Africa Inland Church scene of a horrendous murderous attack in 2012 in which 17 people died, has regrouped and has a new building
The Presbyterian church where elder Abdi Welli was killed and senior pastor Rev Makunyi was wounded is about half full but many other pastors have rallied to help support the believers while Makunyi recovers.
Thank you to all of you who have written letters to Hellen Welli, widow of Kenyan church leader, Abdi. Since Abdi’s murder last February, over 2,000 cards and letters have been sent to Hellen and her three boys, helping them know they are not alone in their grief. “Your letters give us courage to move on with our lives,” Hellen said. “I am getting better slowly. Previously I was not eating and sleeping well. I was very fearful for my life but I thank God I am not too bad now. The cards and letters really help – we cherish every one of them. Whenever I feel overwhelmed I read them and hear God speaking to me. I am praying better and actually feel even closer to Jesus. Of course the pain and bitterness still come, but now God keeps reassuring me that Abdi did not die in vain and that He knows what He is doing…” Hellen is thankful for your continued prayers for her and the children as their future remains uncertain. Could you write a letter to show your support to persecuted Christians? You’ll find our Letter-writing Guide here http://bit.ly/IAwEUk
Gladys is now ministering to other widows. Continue to remember her and her children-they are exhibiting the truth of II Cor.1:3-4
Pray also for the family of 25 year-old George Karidhimba Muriki shot dead on January 11th leaving the school where his church met.