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EGYPT: Mob Destroys Christian Properties

On 25 November, a mob of enraged Muslim radicals attacked Coptic properties and homes in Manshiet El-Naghamish village, located in the Sohag Governorate of Egypt. The attack was incited when rumours of a church being constructed spread among the community’s Muslim population.

 More than 2,000 Coptic Christians live in El-Naghamish, with the nearest church being over five kilometres away in the neighbouring Al-Kosheh village. When Christian villagers in El-Naghamish built a four-story building to be used as a community centre, preschool, and retirement home, Muslims in the nearby vicinity assumed that the building would become a church. The Christians of El-Naghamish have, in fact, applied for a permit to build a church, but are still awaiting approval from the government.

According to local sources, when the bishop of El-Balyana and Al-Kosheh was asked to preside over a prayer meeting on 22 November, Muslim villagers became more upset. On the evening of 24 November leaflets calling on local Muslims to gather and attack the Christian community the following day were distributed.

“On Friday at noon, 25 November, following the Muslim prayers, a great deal of fanatic Muslim young men, some of them were carrying gas canisters and rocks while others came armed with automatic rifles, clubs, machetes and knives, they attacked Copts and Coptic-owned houses,” said Samir Nashed, a Christian resident of El-Naghamish.

The attack resulted in four Copts being injured, the total destruction of a Christian-owned guesthouse, the destruction of nine Coptic homes, and the looting and burning of four Coptic-owned shops.

“The attackers cut off the road so that the fire trucks could not enter the village; they also cut off the water and power supply to the village,” Nashed explained.

After police gained control of the situation, they arrested 18 Muslims involved in the attack. The Governor of Sohag and the Chief of Security of Sohag visited the scene and held a reconciliation session between the two communities.

Source: International Christian Concern

 Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will heal the injured, console the fearful and provide for those who have suffered loss.
  • Pray the authorities will do more to protect Christian communities and not be dismissive of the ongoing tensions and threats. Pray the perpetrators will be dealt with justly.
  • Pray the church in Egypt may rejoice at the powerful working of the Holy Spirit as He adds to the number of believers in Egypt and gives them the strength to endure.
NIGERIA: Over 45 Killed by Fulani Herdsmen Militia

NIGERIA: Over 45 Killed by Fulani Herdsmen Militia

On Sunday 13 November Fulani militants, reportedly numbering 200, attacked four villages in the Kauru local area of Nigeria’s Kaduna State. Forty-five predominantly Christian villagers were murdered, including men, women, and children, some of whom were burnt beyond recognition. Approximately 100 houses and other properties, including churches, were also destroyed.

Adamu, a local resident accused the government of failing to stop the persistent attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives in southern Kaduna.

The attacks came a day after the Fulani herdsmen and indigenous communities in Kauru and neighbouring Local Government Areas resolved to live at peace with each other.

In reaction to the killings, the state government’s statement condemned the “barbaric” attacks, saying they would not derail ongoing efforts at peace-building in southern Kaduna.

Sources: International Christian Concern, World Watch Monitor

Prayer Points

  • Pray for the families of the Christian villagers murdered during this brutal attack; ask the Lord to comfort them in their grief and heal the trauma they have suffered.
  • Pray that the Fulani militants will be brought to justice and that the Nigerian government and military would do more to protect its citizens.
  • Pray the Lord’s generous provision will ensure the speedy rebuilding of the 100 houses and other properties that were destroyed during this attack.
SUFFERING IS NOT A NEW TRUTH

SUFFERING IS NOT A NEW TRUTH

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“Suffering is not a new truth, it is an old truth.” — Sarah Liu, imprisoned and tortured for her Christian witness.

 This Sunday, 13 November 2016 is the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church. Christians from around the globe will set aside time to honour, remember, and pray for our persecuted family. I am grateful for the privilege of standing shoulder to shoulder with those of whom the world is not worthy. I pray that this day is the beginning of a deeper fellowship with our persecuted family.

I rarely approach IDOP without remembering my introduction to those who suffer for their faith.  I was reading for the first time a Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. The stories were disturbing and intriguing. I found myself face to face with a reality I couldn’t reconcile. The suffering and pain was too difficult to fit into the sterile package I had stuffed my understanding of God into.

The journey I began by reading the true life stories of persecuted Christians would eventually land me at a VOM regional conference. It was there that a more disturbing truth came to life. That first evening I listened as a man from Pakistan described the road of suffering Pakistani Christians walk. He told of the torture and eventual murder of a young boy – someone’s son, brother, and friend. This child died at the hands of his torturers – his crime? He was a Christian. For the first time in my life I contemplated the possibility that God would not always intervene – that perhaps suffering was part of His plan.

Being shaken by the very thought of suffering of this kind, I went back to my hotel room and had a heart-to-heart talk with my God. You see, it was up until that time that I had cried “send me!” Now I was asking Him to not honour my requests.  The weight I felt upon my heart was great. Standing securely in my ‘mirage’ of comfort, safety, and control, I laid out ‘my’ plan for my life. He graciously listened to me try to tell Him what to do.

Day two of the conference began with me feeling assured – certainly my one-on-one talk with God had sealed the deal. I had effectively cancelled out all those “send me” prayers! It was then that a young man from the Middle East began to share about his work, which includes travelling great distances into hostile territories controlled by Islamic extremists. These were places where Christians die for their faith. Pictures were displayed on a screen behind him of people receiving the Bibles he delivered. Their expressions of curiosity and delight captivated me. As he spoke, he seemed puzzled by those who ask why he goes to such dangerous places. His response was simply, “Since when has the Gospel been safe?”

I felt as if I were alone with the Lord in that room. I knew He was speaking directly to me. I recalled the list of demands I called “a prayer” the night before, and heard Him say, “I did not create you that way.” I’m so glad He didn’t “create me that way.”

Since then I’ve learned that God’s love trumps suffering. Those who walk the road of suffering for Jesus Christ – never really walk alone. Their substance for the journey? An intimacy with God reserved for those He counts worthy.

“So, instead of continuing to focus on preventing suffering – which we simply won’t be very successful at anyway – perhaps we should begin entering the suffering, participating insofar as we are able – entering the mystery and looking around for God. In other words, we need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them and if they will let us – join them in protest and prayer.” — Eugene H Peterson, Introduction to Job, The Message Bible

The church in Australia can join with the body of Christ around the world to pray and remember the persecuted church on 13 November. To learn more please visit www.vom.com.au/idop.

“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand” Revelation 8:4.

Tami Yeager

PAKISTAN: Blasphemy Charges Dropped Against Child

PAKISTAN: Blasphemy Charges Dropped Against Child

Blasphemy charges have been dropped against a young Christian boy in Quetta, Pakistan. The boy and his mother were both accused of burning pages of the Koran, an incident that allegedly took place on 20 October.

While the child and his mother remained behind bars, local Christian leaders negotiated on their behalf. Thankfully the matter was resolved a day later, resulting in the release of the mother and son. The blasphemy accusations were quashed and an official complaint was filed against some unknown persons.

Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS (Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement) in the United Kingdom, said this is not the first time a minor has been charged with a blasphemy offence. One such case took place in 1993 when 12-year-old Salamat Masih was charged under the blasphemy law for a crime he never committed. In 2011, a 13-year-old Christian girl by the name of F Bhatti was accused of blasphemy by her Muslim teacher for misspelling a word.

The director further states in regards to this concern: “The Government of Pakistan must consider such cases and take appropriate steps to bring necessary changes to stop the ongoing misuse of this law. The international community has continuously expressed its concern and called for amendments.”

Source: CLAAS

Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord for this outcome; ask for the Lord’s protection to be upon the young boy and his mother.
  • Please pray that the needed amendments will be made so the country’s citizens will be shielded from injustice and abuse.
  • Pray the church in Pakistan may be strong in faith, unified by their love of the Lord and be a light to their community.
IRAQ: The Cross Returns to The Nineveh Plain

IRAQ: The Cross Returns to The Nineveh Plain

There were tears, praying and singing as the cross ─ deemed illegal by ISIS – returned to the Christian villages in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain.

News continues to emerge of villages being reclaimed from ISIS, and signs of destruction become apparent.

As soon as it was remotely safe, priests were escorted back to their villages by car. In Christian villages like Karamles and Qaraqosh – half an hour’s drive east of Mosul – they were among the first non-combatants to return now the villages have been liberated from ISIS occupation.

Father Thabet, who lives with his congregation in a complex for internally displaced people in Erbil, brought a cross, the size of a man, covered with flowers, with him when he returned to his home village of Karamles.

“I am so happy I can do this. I’m smiling from cheek to cheek and I weep tears of joy at the same time. This is the trip I have been praying for, for two years now,” he said.

He climbed Barbara Hill, next to his village, and planted the cross firmly in the ground overlooking Karamles.

When he arrived in Karamles, Fr Thabet found his church had been heavily damaged by ISIS but was still standing. The church’s cross had been taken off and thrown to the ground. The inside of the church was a mess, but it’s not beyond repair. Fears that the Christian village would be completely uninhabitable have proven to be unfounded.

ISIS conquered the Nineveh Plain – including Iraq’s second city of Mosul and many Christian villages surrounding it – in 2014. Tens of thousands of Christian families had to run for their lives. The battle for Mosul is still being fought, but large Christian settlements surrounding Mosul, like Karamles and Qaraqosh, are already liberated. At night, however, ISIS fighters are still attempting to reclaim territories.

It is expected it will take some time before families can start returning to their villages close to Mosul. Most of them will wait for Mosul itself to be liberated and for ISIS to be driven out completely.

Source: World Watch Monitor

 Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the opportunity for Christians to return home. Join with them in thanking God for this blessing. Pray for the protection of civilians as ISIS becomes more desperate.
  • Pray the city of Mosul and all surrounding villages will soon be liberated and made safe so that many will have an opportunity to return home and rebuild their communities.
  • Pray the name of Jesus will be proclaimed all over Iraq; pray His church will grow.