Islamic insurgents seek to establish a caliphate in East Africa, rendering life in the northern coastal regions impossible and severely affecting Christians.
Islamists have been active in the region for the past three years, but a group has now launched attacks on villages from the north, displacing thousands into other parts of the country. Many are affected by the insurgents, but the situation for the Christians who encounter them is especially dire.
VOM partners report beheadings and incinerated churches; schools, clinics and police stations have also been destroyed. As VOM partners provide comfort to believers, they are also providing food aid and Bibles to the displaced, giving them the opportunity to hope in Jesus.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Pray the believers will be strong and courageous in the midst of great suffering and uncertainty. Pray they will experience the Lord’s ministering presence.
- Ask the Lord to bless the efforts of those who are attempting to stop the violence and bring order.
- Pray that God will bring beauty from ashes and that many will gain hope and eternal life through this time of trial.
At least two Christians were killed and three others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on a group of Christians gathered in the Essa Nagri area of Quetta, Pakistan. ISIS’s local branch claimed responsibility for Sunday’s deadly attack, marking its third attack on Christians in Quetta in recent months.
“Four men on two motorbikes opened indiscriminate fire” on a group of Christians, “killing two people while injuring three others,” local police official Abdul Razzaq Cheema told AFP. The shooting took place around 5:30pm. Victims were rushed to Bolan Medical Complex in Quetta where two of the victims, Azhar Iqbal and Rahid Khalid, succumbed to their wounds.
The attack took place in the Christian-majority neighbourhood of Esa Nagri in Quetta. Following the attack, hundreds of Christians gathered to protest the killings. Protesters burned tires and blocked traffic as they called on the government to provide their community with greater security.
Sunday’s shooting marks the third attack on Christians claimed by ISIS in Quetta. In December 2017, ISIS suicide bombers attacked Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, killing nine and injuring dozens more. On 2 April, ISIS claimed responsibility for the targeted killing of a Christian family riding in an auto-rickshaw in Quetta.
Source: International Christian Concern
- Ask the Lord to bring healing to the injured and strength and comfort to those who are mourning.
- Pray these attacks may be used by the Lord to spur the Christian community on in the faith and be filled with the joy that comes from knowing Christ Jesus, even in the midst of suffering.
- Pray the authorities will do more to protect minorities. Commit to the Lord the perpetrators.
It took a horrific attack on her church for Emily to realise that her understanding of God was wrong. Three years ago, her bishop asked her to move to a new church plant near Mombasa, Kenya. The Joy in Jesus Church in Likoni was struggling, and the bishop thought Emily could help. Over the next several months, the church grew to 60 people.
On Sunday morning, 23 March, 2014, most of the faithful were scattered throughout the pews. Assistant Pastor Philip Ambesta was speaking that morning, and Emily was in the front row. In the middle of his sermon, there was a loud bang outside and heads turned to look, but Pastor Philip told everyone, “Ignore what is going on outside these walls and listen to what God has to say to you.” He continued to preach.
Moments later, two gunmen burst through the back door. One, armed with a machine gun, sprayed the congregation with bullets. From her seat at the front, Emily turned and saw the other gunman aim a hand gun straight at the platform. He fired, and Pastor Philip fell, dead.
It was chaos. The gunmen fled, everyone was screaming and people were running everywhere. Emily moved among the members, reassuring them and offering first aid. She also made sure ambulance and police were called. The ambulance couldn’t carry all the injured, so Emily helped them prioritise which victims needed the most urgent help.
Six people died that day, including Pastor Philip. Twenty-four others were injured, and VOM has helped four of the most severely injured with their ongoing medical care for the past two years. Emily herself wasn’t injured, but she was left with deep scars on her soul.
She struggled to understand why God would have allowed the church to be attacked. She believed that God must have been punishing them for their sin. Discouraged, Emily returned to her home church in Mombasa.
But she continued to read God’s Word. As she did, she realised God wasn’t punishing them. In the Bible, she read how Jesus promised His followers they would be persecuted for His sake. She saw that sin compels evil men to commit evil acts, especially against those who follow the God in whom there is no darkness. She realised that God’s promises to work for our good and to bless us meant not financial good, but spiritual good. Persecution is a promise, not a punishment.
Today, Emily describes the Gospel as a “bitter Gospel.” She says, “I teach the bitter Gospel of the cross and the blood. You have to accept taking up the cross.”