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Nigeria

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A trama healing workshop for victims of
anti-Christian violence

The lives of many Christians in Nigeria are being taken or torn apart by the ruthless campaign of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. It is mounting attacks on various targets, including the security forces, and it has openly declared its intention of driving Christians from the North of the country, where it wants to establish an Islamic state.

The group is thought to have killed over 3,500 people since the launch of its violent campaign in 2009. The US finally designated Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs) in November 2013 after a long campaign by Nigerian Christians, backed by Barnabas Fund.

Boko Haram has not only engaged in its own brutal acts of violence; it has also exploited existing tensions to encourage other Muslims to attack Christians. Anti-Christian atrocities are continuing on almost a daily basis, and they occur not only in the mainly Muslim North, but also in the Middle Belt, where Christians and Muslims are roughly equal in number. Incidents in 2013 have included raids on homes and villages that left dozens dead and scores of houses destroyed, the abduction of Christian girls who were then coerced into renouncing their faith, the bombing and torching of churches, and an attack on Christians at a bus station. Despite its efforts to stop the violence, the government has not succeeded in effectively containing it, or in bringing those responsible to justice.

An Islamist agenda is also being enforced by the authorities in some parts of the North. Twelve states have sharia in at least some Muslim-majority areas, and some of these interpret it strictly. Non-Muslims are subject to certain sharia practices (such as the separation of men and women in public), and some states fund sharia-enforcement groups. Christians in the North may be denied building permits for new church buildings or suffer other forms of discrimination.

Although parts of Nigeria came into contact with Christianity as early as the fifteenth century, the principal phase of mission activity began in the nineteenth century. Both Western and African-American missionaries were involved. In the colonial period the mission agencies established rural networks of education and health care, some of which still exist.

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    • Praise God that local police in the village of Tehsil Summodri, Faisalabad District, Pakistan acted to withdraw false allegations of blasphemy against 31 Christians and 23 other villagers. The allegations under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (which carries a mandatory death sentence) were made on 2 September when Christians were ploughing a piece of land given to them for free by its Muslim owner to extend the local Christian cemetery. A group of Muslims accused them of desecrating Muslim graves. The police investigation revealed that the land had been a Muslim cemetery many years earlier but the graves had been moved elsewhere. They changed the charges to the lesser ones under Section 297 (which carries a maximum prison sentence of one year or a fine). It is very unusual for the Pakistani police to defend the rights of Christians in this way. Pray that others will follow their example. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 4 hours ago

    • School text-books in Turkey are still teaching that the Armenians and most other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire a century ago were agents of enemy foreign powers such as Britain and Russia. This, the books say, was the reason for what they call the “necessary deportation” of the Christians. Turkey still does not accept blame for the deaths of at least 1.5 million Armenian and Assyrian Christians, many massacred or dying of deprivation as they were force-marched out of their homeland. Next year, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the worst year of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide. Please pray that the innocent suffering of these faithful believers will be recognised by every country and that the world will resolve never to let such a genocide happen again. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Pray for 27 Christians, believed to be from various Asian countries, who were detained overnight by the Saudi authorities on 5 September for worshipping at a private home in Khafji. The home had been under surveillance since a neighbour had reported suspicious activities there. Pray that the Lord will protect His people in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to practise a non-Islamic religion in public but supposedly permissible to do so in private. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Wao, a predominantly Christian town on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, is protesting against its inclusion in the new semi-independent Islamic region of Bangsamoro. Wao’s mayor, Elvino Balicao, is seeking exemption from the Bangsamoro government and its Islamic law and has asked that the town remain under the central government. He said that the town is 83% Christian and that local churches support exemption from Bangsamoro. Wao is in the centre of the Muslim-majority province of Lanao del Sur. Pray that the Lord will protect His people and that Wao will gain exemption from the Bangsamoro government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Our Father in Heaven, we lift up our brothers and sisters serving sentences in labour camps in North Korea, whether foreigners like Kenneth Bae from the USA, or the far greater number of North Korean believers whose names we do not know but You do. Please pour out Your grace into their lives as they suffer hunger, exhaustion, pain and imprisonment for the sake of Christ. May they continue steadfast in their faith, loving their enemies and praying for their persecutors. May their Christ-like lives draw other North Koreans to You. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Nov 2014 00:00

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