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NIGERIA: Remember Leah Sharibu, Three Years Captive

NIGERIA: Remember Leah Sharibu, Three Years Captive

On 19 February 2018, Islamic jihadists from Boko Haram swept into Dapchi town, Yobe State, northern Nigeria.

They kidnapped 110 girls, mostly Muslim, from Dapchi’s Government Girls’ Science and Technical College. A few weeks later on 21 March, the jihadists returned 104 girls to their families. Five girls had died, and one, Leah Sharibu (then 15) was retained as a prisoner because she

“refused to cooperate”

and convert to Islam. Today, three years later, Leah is alive but remains in captivity.

Source: Christian Faith and Freedom, International Christian Concern

Let us pray.

  • Pray for Leah and the many other young women who remain captive in Nigeria. Remember their families, desperate for word of them.
  • Pray the Lord will secure the release of these young women and frustrate the plans of those intent on evil and violence in Nigeria.
  • Ask the Lord to intervene in Nigeria to raise up a government committed to peace, justice and righteousness.
SOMALIA: Christians Arrested in Somalia

SOMALIA: Christians Arrested in Somalia

Eleven Christians are currently in custody in Somaliland, a semi-autonomous area of Somalia.

Five believers were arrested on 21 January, including an Ethiopian woman and a couple with their newborn baby.

When they were brought to court on 25 January, the 11 believers were told they are suspected of spreading Christianity. Six other believers were arrested a few weeks later, and the prosecutor has 45 days to investigate and file charges.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

Meanwhile, other Christians are trying to flee the country

fearing that the whole house church network has been exposed. Another Somali couple was arrested in September 2020 and deported to Somalia, where they would be at risk from al-Shabaab extremists.

Let us pray.

  • Pray for the release of those who were arrested, may they know the Lord’s comforting presence. Pray for His protection over them.
  • Intercede for believers in the area who are scared and wisdom for Somali church leadership in how to respond.
  • Pray that seekers may be shielded from all harm and may their lives be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
SUDAN: Christian Leader Beaten for Protesting Church Burning

SUDAN: Christian Leader Beaten for Protesting Church Burning

The ninth church building within the past two years was set ablaze in Sudan on 3 January.

In the weeks leading up to the recent arson attack, hate messages against
the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) in the rural Tambul area of Al Jazirah state were circulating on social media, calling for action against Christians.

According to Rev Kuwa Shamal, head of the SCOC, the attackers

Sources: Morning Star News, International Christian Concern

“targeted the church because they do not want to see any sign of the cross in the area.”

Osama Saeed Kodi, chairman of the Christian Youth Union for Al Jazirah state, is one of the Christian leaders who has spoken out against the violence. On 19 February, Osama was seized by masked men believed to be national security personnel.

After he was handcuffed and blindfolded, the perpetrators beat him and announced, “We will kill you if you continue with Christian activities in Tambul.” Osama was released after a few hours and is recovering from the injuries he sustained during captivity.

After military leaders deposed President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the transitional government promised greater freedoms. Apostasy laws were abolished in 2020 and Christians, while cautious, had some optimism that significant changes could lead to expanded religious freedoms. However, Sudan remains a predominantly Islamic country, and militant Muslim leaders continue to have a significant voice in political decisions.

Let us pray.

  • Pray for Osama’s recovery. Ask God to provide him protection from any further attack, and the wisdom and courage required to persevere in his call to share the Gospel.
  • Pray that all ministry outreaches in the Tambul area will continue unabated and that Christians will have the strength to stand firm in their faith despite opposition.
  • Pray for conviction and repentance on behalf of those who oppose the Lord and His Gospel.
IRAN: Ebrahim Firouzi Released on Bail

IRAN: Ebrahim Firouzi Released on Bail

On 8 February Ebrahim, appeared in court to respond to allegations of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic in favour of hostile groups”, relating to his claims of harassment by Iranian Intelligence (MOIS).
Unable to post bail of 50 million tomans (about $2,140), Ebrahim was transferred to Chabahar prison in south-east Iran.

While in prison Ebrahim began a hunger strike to protest the charges but was persuaded to end the action after receiving assurances his case would be dealt with promptly and that he would be released.

Source: Middle East Concern

On 27 February, Ebrahim’s release was secured when his family posted bail.

Ebrahim has been arrested multiple times, spending more than six years in prison on various charges, including “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”, “launching and directing evangelism”, “running a Christian website”, “actions against national security”, “being present at an illegal gathering” and “collusion with foreign entities.”

Let us pray.

  • Praise God for this development and pray that Ebrahim will be strengthened and encouraged after this most recent time in prison.
  • Pray the charges against Ebrahim will be dropped and that MOIS will stop the harassment of Ebrahim and his family members.
  • Pray that Iranian authorities will uphold the religious freedom of minorities, including Christian converts.
Mexico: They found a window

Mexico: They found a window

Pastors in southern Mexico found a way to distribute thousands of much-wanted Bibles despite COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Christians make up approximately three percent of the population in southern Mexico – a region that has a high concentration of indigenous minority groups that maintain separate identities and speak indigenous languages. Christians have had their struggles with local Marxist rebels as well as with the occult practices of some indigenous groups.

VOM workers understand the power of the Gospel and the importance of reaching out to others, and have implemented a strategy of Bible distribution throughout southern Mexico. A pastor in Chiapas has a map tacked up in his office marked with all the places Bibles have been distributed. He and other Bible distributors had feared that the map wouldn’t change much during the COVID-19 lockdown, but God had other plans.

The boxes of Bibles were stored away in April with the expectation that they wouldn’t reach believers until lockdown restrictions were lifted. However, by mid-June, most of the 16,000 Bibles had been distributed to those whose names were on the waiting list. “I still don’t know how the pastors got permission to get out, but they did,” a VOM worker said.

“It seems like they found a window.”

Praise God that Bibles were able to reach waiting believers in southern Mexico, regardless of restrictions.