Islamist militants executed five Christians in Nigeria over Christmas. In a video of the killing, they declare: “This is a warning to Christians in all parts of the world and those in Nigeria.”
The terrorist group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed responsibility for the killings. ISWAP is a splinter group of Boko Haram, which has pledged to turn Nigeria into an Islamist state.
The five executed are believed to have been among 11 kidnapped on Christmas Day in northeast Nigeria. Their executioners filmed them kneeling with their hands tied behind them.
Before they shot them dead from behind they asked them to state their names.
The men gave their names as Uka Joseph, Sunday, Wilson, Joshua Maidugu and Garba Yusuf.
Their last words were: “I am a Christian.”
Sources: Release International, Morningstar News
- Pray earnestly for the believers who have suffered so much in the last few years as a result of this unrelenting violence from Islamic groups. Ask God to bring good from this tragedy. Pray for the other kidnap victims.
- Pray against any kind of retaliation from Christian communities. Ask God to enable believers to encourage each other with powerful words of forgiveness and love.
- Ask God to use the witness of His children to powerfully work to change the hearts and minds of those who have opposed Him and His church.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
David Omara was the pastor of Christian Church Centre and a well-known radio preacher in northern Uganda.
During his radio broadcast on 31 October, he contrasted Christianity to Islam. After finishing the broadcast at about 9pm, Pastor David received a phone call from a listener who expressed appreciation for his message and invited him to meet with some friends. Unaware of the danger that awaited him, Pastor David went to the meeting location, along with his son Simon Okut.
Upon arrival, the two were ambushed by six people. Simon managed to escape but Pastor David was strangled and beaten to death.
When his wife received the shattering news, she immediately passed out and, even after receiving treatment, was unable to recognise people.
Speaking of the incident, a colleague said of the slain pastor: “He worked tirelessly for the Kingdom of God to the day he breathed his last breath.”
The pastor is survived by his wife and their eight children who range in age from 10 to 30. The church is calling for prayer and support on behalf of this grieving family, and specifically for the recovery of his emotionally distraught widow.
Despite having a reputation for being one of the most Christianised nations in Africa, a strong militant Islamic stance has created problems in recent years.
Source: Morning Star News
- Pray for Pastor David’s wife and children during this time of great sorrow. Ask the Lord to provide each one, much-needed comfort, strength, and hope for the future.
- Pray the militants responsible for the murder will not only be brought to justice but also delivered from the evil one.
- Pray that the faithful work and witness of Pastor David will continue to resonate in the hearts of all who have heard the Gospel message through his ministry.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
The 30 April marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Pastor Han Chung-Ryeol, the Korean Chinese pastor stabbed to death through his skull and heart in an apparent murder in Changbai, China in 2016. But according to Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr Hyun Sook Foley, the story of Pastor Han’s ministry and death has continued to captivate Christians worldwide.
“In the last year alone, Pastor Han’s story has been retold in a short film that was used by more than 100,000 church congregations worldwide; that same film has been watched by more than 400,000 viewers on YouTube; Pastor Han’s story was added to a new international edition of the 450 year-old Foxe’s Book of Martyrs; and his story will be retold again this year in an updated version of the international bestseller, Jesus Freaks,” says Dr Foley. “In many ways he has impacted more people for Christ after his death than before it.”
Pastor Han was the pastor of Changbai Church and a long-time partner of Voice of the Martyrs Korea in providing discipleship, evangelism, and living necessities to the North Koreans who would cross the border into Changbai. He was found dead of multiple stab wounds in his car. Chinese authorities have not closed the case, but no information has been released by them about the motive or the killers since the time of his death. “Often governments just want situations like this to disappear,” says Dr Foley. “But in the case of Pastor Han, the story of his faithful life is continuing to appear in more and more countries around the world. We are especially excited that the film about Pastor Han has been shared with persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries. While Pastor Han would probably be embarrassed by all of the publicity, I am sure that he would be thankful that his story is able to continue to encourage the suffering church worldwide.”
Voice of the Martyrs Korea partnered with award-winning producer John Grooters on the film about Pastor Han, which was released in Korean, English, Russian, Chinese, and multiple other languages last year. The film tells the story of one of the disciples of Pastor Han Chung-Ryeol, and about him carrying on the work of sharing the Gospel when he hears that Pastor Han has been killed. According to Dr Foley, Pastor Han shared his faith with at least 1,000 North Koreans before his death.
View the International Day of Prayer version at vom.com.au/idop
“Pastor Han was our long-time friend and ministry partner,” Dr Foley says. “North Korea tried to silence him. China seems to hope his memory will fade away. But 1 John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” So we believe that God is not only keeping alive but also amplifying the witness made by Pastor Han and his North Korean disciples, so that it is reaching Christians all over the world.”
Dr Foley encourages churches to show the video during their worship services this week, but she also encourages all Christians to share the video with their friends and families. “The work Pastor Han began still continues four years after his death. It continues not only in North Korea and China, but now around the world. It can inspire us here in these challenging days to serve Christ faithfully, no matter the cost.”
A Muslim background believer living in Egypt, Hussein Mohammed, was killed on 6 October after his family discovered that he had converted from Islam to Christianity.
Hussein, who preferred to be called by his baptismal name George, had posted several photos to his Facebook account. One of the photos showed a cross tattoo which George had obtained on his wrist; a practice pursued by Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians. His family had known of his conversion prior to the photos being posted, and his uncle had made complaints to the Directorate of Security about his ‘apostasy’. However, these photos were a public acknowledgement of his conversion.
According to George’s friend, “[He] was a very brave man. He was a very good believer and follower of Jesus Christ. He loved Christ very much. He challenged his family for his faith in Jesus Christ. He was knowing that his family were going to kill him anytime, but he didn’t fear death. He kept faith till his last breath and refused to renounce his new faith. He was martyred in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Egypt is an officially Islamic country, but with the largest Christian demographic in the Middle East. Christians are regulated as second class citizens at best, and often lack the opportunity to claim their civil rights. Muslims who convert to Christianity, however, are viewed by the Islamic community from an even harsher perspective. They are viewed as apostates, which means that the public discovery of their conversion makes them vulnerable to becoming a victim of an honour killing.
Sources: International Christian Concern, World Watch Monitor
- Commit to the Lord those who grieve the loss of George. Pray his death will not be in vain, but that God will use his testimony for spiritual enlightenment and His glory.
- Pray that the perpetrators will face justice in this life. Pray the Lord will have mercy on them and grant them salvation.
- Pray for the Lord’s strength and protection to be on Muslim background believers in Egypt.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
Hannelie Groenewald and her family were missionaries in Afghanistan in 2014 when a targeted Taliban attack claimed the lives of her husband and two children. Today, despite her grief, Hannelie continues to share Jesus.
Hannelie and her husband Werner moved to Afghanistan from their native South Africa in 2003. A missions trip confirmed to them that they were to move their family to this war-torn country.
Over the years, Werner served with various humanitarian organisations, providing leadership training, community development education and English language courses.
“Fearless service to Christ became a theme for Werner, and something he spoke of often. In October 2014, Werner spoke at a conference on the subject of ‘Counting the Cost for Christ’. He ended it by saying, “We die only once. It might as well be for Christ”.
While Werner thrived in his work, Hannelie supported her husband and family.
“My main focus in Afghanistan was to support my husband and to be God’s hands and feet to the Afghan people, and also to shine my light and be salt”.
On 29 November 2014, Hannelie was on her way home when her driver received a text message warning her that the building where her family lived and worked had faced an attack.
As they arrived, police and armoured vehicles blocked the way and a crowd had gathered outside her building. No one would let her go inside and she was forced to wait, praying for her family the whole time.
That evening, she discovered that three men had stormed the building and her husband and two children were shot and killed.
She eventually moved back to South Africa to bury her family and mourn their loss.
Four years after the attack, Hannelie will tell you, “It is well with my soul”. Although it wasn’t easy for her to find this peace, she knows God has been with her.
Hannelie eventually wrote a book about her experience and today, she is remarried and continues to travel and speak alongside Afghan Christians both inside Afghanistan and around the world.
Hannelie said she is often asked if she was ever angry with God for the deaths of her family members, and her answer is “never”.
“We had a clear calling”, she said. “We had a mandate with this; we counted the cost. We knew that something like this could happen. God allowed that for a reason.
“I know that they are actually chasing me on to finish the race as well, to finish well”, she continued. “I believe one day Jean-Pierre will say, ‘Mum, what took you so long to get here?’ I believe they are where they are supposed to be, on Jesus’ lap, and I cannot wait to be there as well. But I have to finish this race for the Lord”.
We first told Hannelie’s story in October 2017; this is the most recent update
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