A group of Muslim men entered a church in Kala Shah Kaku, Sheikhupura, about 40km from Lahore, shouting that they would set the building on fire and burn the Christians.
According to the pastor, Samuel Hidayat Masih, of the Trinity Pentecostal Church; on the morning of 9 May, Malik Aun Abbas, Ali Shan and several other people, forcefully entered the church and asked the worshippers present there to vacate the land.
They claimed the land belonged to them and started demolishing the church courtyard gate and the boundary wall. They forced their way into the church and desecrated the cross along with other fixtures and threatened everyone present.
Following the incident, community leaders lodged a police complaint at the Ferozwala police station.
Pastor Samuel is still being threatened and he is worried he will be attacked.
Nasir Saeed, Director of Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK) said: “It is sad that attacks on churches continue even during the COVID-19 pandemic, because hatred against Christians continues to rise and the government has no plans at all to protect the religious minorities and their places of worship.”
- Ask God to place a shield of protection around Pastor Samuel, his family and his church.
- Pray the Lord will help Pastor Samuel and the church members to overcome this attack and ongoing threats. Pray for justice and that the Lord will provide them with wisdom to deal with the opposition and the authorities.
- Pray for the church throughout Pakistan, which often faces targeted violence and injustice.
Egyptian police have arrested four people in the wake of the bombing that killed dozens of Christians at Cairo’s Coptic Christian cathedral last month, the Interior Ministry said.
The death toll from the bombing at a chapel next to St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo has risen to 28, the Health Ministry added.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said following the attack that the perpetrator was a man named Mahmoud Shafik, who had worn a suicide vest, and that security forces were seeking two more people in conjunction with the attack.
The Interior Ministry said it had arrested one of the two, as well as three others who were part of the same cell. It added that one man was still on the run.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Egyptian Government has sought to link the attack to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has condemned the attack and accused Sisi’s administration of failing to protect the church, Reuters reported.
President Sisi, who attended funerals at the cathedral for the victims, attended Christmas Eve Mass in the Coptic Cathedral for the third year. In 2016, he promised to rebuild all churches destroyed or damaged in the violence of August 2013. He also pledged 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($7200) towards construction of what will become the largest church (built at the same time as the largest new mosque) in a new political and administrative area planned for the edge of Cairo. He said the church is due to be inaugurated in 2018.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Commit to the Lord those who continue to grieve over the loss of loved ones. Pray too for those who sustained serious injury.
- Thank the Lord for the government support of the Christian community. Pray the Lord will grant them His strength and protection.
- Pray for those who oppose the Lord and His church in Egypt and ask Him to frustrate their plans and remove the hatred from their hearts.
Tears misted Basma’s eyes as she touched my arms and looked at me. “Beautiful. You are beautiful.” It was the look a proud mother would give her daughter.
Basma had been a mother to me in many ways. She had taken me in as a newcomer to the neighbourhood, taught me how to cook soft, fluffy couscous, and introduced me to her friends.
Now Basma had dressed me in one of her black abayas and given me a matching headscarf to wear. We were going furniture shopping, and she explained I should dress in the long cloak and scarf to avoid wayward looks from the men who congregate in that part of town. Donning the abaya and scarf didn’t bother me; I wanted to dress appropriately. “It’s better to wear this. Safer,” Basma reminded me with a beaming smile. I smiled back, knowing much of Basma’s happiness came from the fact that I looked more Muslim now than before.
Basma wasn’t the first Muslim woman who tried to convert me, but she was definitely one of the most gracious and sensitive. Some women are pushy and rude; on a bad day, I chafe at their questions.
One Muslim woman grilled me, “Muslim? Are you Muslim?” As I stumbled around in my second language, sharing that I am a follower of Jesus the Messiah, she cut me off. “Islam is good. The final religion. You must enter Islam.” End of conversation. But Basma was much more respectful in “inviting” me to Islam. Asking me what I believed, she thoughtfully processed the information. Then she excitedly explained about her prophet, vouching for the miraculous experiences he had. She scribbled down Islamic Web sites for me to read. On one of my visits, Basma switched the television to a station broadcasting recitation of the Koran. She left the channel playing loudly for the entire visit!
Basma firmly believes Islam is the final revelation from God, and it is for everyone. So can I fault her for trying to win a convert for her religion?
But I felt like a project. If Muslims wrote missionary prayer letters, I might have made the front page. I can see it now: Anna is so close to becoming a Muslim. Yesterday, she even wore an abaya! Although Basma assures me that her friendship is not contingent upon me becoming Muslim, I still notice her discreet disappointment as I hold firmly to Jesus.
When approached by Muslims as a would-be convert, what should our response be?
William McElwee Miller’s answer is one of the best I have found. A Muslim traveler challenged Miller, “Why don’t you accept our prophet?” Miller responded, “… I have in Jesus Christ everything that I need for the journey of life: a road, light, bread and water. What else do I need?”1
Instead of becoming irritated by zealous Muslims, I am slowly learning to expect their challenges (and yes, even their pushy questions) and use them as an opportunity to express my complete satisfaction in Christ. I have Jesus. What else do I need?
Your turn: What is your response to someone trying to convert you? Offense? Indignation? Compassion?
1. Source: “Tales of Persia” p. 38 by William McElwee Miller
Despite being threatened with death and disowned by family members, he was determined to share the Gospel with Fulani Muslims. And David Weeti’s determination hasn’t wavered.
The day after David Weeti’s cousin burned David’s Bible and kicked him out of the house, 20 young men surrounded the new believer, wrestled him to the ground and tied his hands and feet together with rope. When he had placed his faith in Christ three days earlier, he couldn’t have imagined that what he was about to endure would change so much for so many.
As a member of the West African Fulani people, it was expected that David was and would remain Muslim. He had moved in with his cousin in a large city in Bauchi state, Nigeria, intending to enrol in an Islamic school. However, his path was radically altered by a series of vivid dreams in which he saw heaven and encountered Jesus. Prompted by the dreams, he used the little money he had to purchase a Bible and learn more about Christianity. What he learned led him to abandon his traditional Fulani religion to follow Christ.
Not afraid of death
Moved by the realisation that he had received salvation, he declared himself ready to die for Jesus. He understood that his new faith would cause trouble among the 99% Muslim Fulani people, but he didn’t expect it to come so soon.
The young men who bound David hand and foot feared that he might lead others away from Islam. Therefore, they decided to eliminate the threat.
“I am not afraid to die right now,” David told them when he learned of their intentions. “I am afraid only that you can’t get a chance to get the salvation I have.”
A crowd gathered to watch as one of the men holding David began to cut the side of his head with a knife. Just then, a police van pulled up and everyone scattered, leaving David alone, bound and wounded.
“What is wrong?” the officer asked.
“I am a Christian,” David replied. “I just found out I am forgiven. I did not insult anybody, but they want to kill me.”
“I am happy you have found salvation,” the officer responded. “I am the only Christian police officer in this vehicle. Let me untie you, then find a way to leave this town.”
Since that moment, David has dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel among Fulani Muslims and serving his persecuted brothers and sisters.
Reaching a nomadic culture
David immediately began to use his Fulani background to witness to Muslims, leading many to Christ. As the first in his fellowship of Christian Fulani to experience persecution, he feels called to share the Gospel with his Muslim neighbours one at a time.
He has spent years translating Bibles into Fulfulde for the Fulani, and he regularly works to build relationships with his sometimes distrustful neighbours. The Fulani are semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers who live in temporary settlements and are very protective of their cattle.
Although the Fulani are devout Muslims, they sometimes engage in fortune-telling and various animistic practices. They also brutally attack Christians for various reasons. Often, it’s because they perceive Christians as infidels, but sometimes it’s simply because they want the Christians’ land for their cattle. In addition, when a cow gets injured, they commonly blame someone outside their tribe.
More than a year ago, David partnered with VOM to help provide practical and spiritual assistance to new Fulani believers facing persecution. The Gospel has since spread quickly among the Fulani, due in part to his ministry activities. More than 800 people, including 400 from David’s clan, have accepted Christ, joining the very small minority of Fulani Christian converts in Nigeria.
A bold church
Once Fulani people come to know Christ, they’re often completely dedicated to living — and even dying — for Him. They understand and expect persecution. With David’s guidance, they learn how, as Christians, they should respond.
“They believe they have to face these things and believe they want to have a better home after they leave this body,” David said. “They’re always praising God in that and always trying to be happy. If you go to the fellowship, the main lesson they are teaching their children is, ‘You have to try always to love those who hate you.’ They want to live a life that those people can ask them questions; they want to live in a community where they can be close to those people.”
Standing with them
David is one of two VOM partners serving the Fulani people. Within his fellowship network, VOM has helped distribute everything from mobile phones and methods of transportation to clothing and blankets to fertiliser and cows. In addition, VOM will distribute more than 3,000 audio Bibles among the largely illiterate Fulani this year, with plans to distribute more in the coming years.
“The more they are getting persecuted, the more they are getting stronger,” David said. “In fact, when they saw the support they got from Voice of the Martyrs, it encouraged their faith more than anything knowing that other people are praying for them. They didn’t even know that. It really, really encouraged them.”
Fifty-two-year-old Perfecto Padilla, a dedicated church elder from Sultan Kudarat, Philippines, was brutally murdered by two Muslim men on 11 September at 6pm local time.
Brother Perfecto was resting outside his house in a hammock when two Muslim men came by on motorbikes and began to fire what was believed to be a 45-caliber pistol from approximately five metres away, witnesses said. He was struck by seven bullets in his chest, thigh and other parts of his body. The assailants immediately fled the scene.
Perfecto’s 12-year-old daughter Naomi ran to the assistance of her father, crying and screaming for help. A pastor named William was nearby, visiting a church member, when he heard the screaming and immediately went to provide assistance. Seeing the seriousness of the wounds, Pastor William borrowed a tricycle and took Perfecto to the hospital, but the wounded man died on the journey.
Perfectos’ two children Naomi (12) and Joseph (10) are left with no father. Their mother went to work overseas many years ago and they have lost contact with her. They are now alone and in need of assistance.
Our local VOM contact immediately visited the family after a call from Pastor William had informed him of the situation. When he met with the children, Naomi exclaimed, weeping bitterly, “Our father is a good father. He never did anything wrong. Why has this happened to him?”
“This district was once a peaceful village,” our VOM contact reported. “We always visited the church in the past and there were no close Muslim neighbours, but now Muslims have built a mosque very close to their church. They have been trying to force them to sell the property. There have been evacuations of Christians from this area because of the attacks on neighbouring Christian villages. This constant pressure by the Muslims appears to be part of a plan for them to try to claim more of the land for themselves. Perhaps the murder of this church elder has been part of the strategy and pressure put upon this small Christian community by those who are wanting the land.”
Please pray for Naomi and her brother Joseph as they deeply grieve for the sad loss of their loving father, and pray especially for their future. Their father had offered his small house for their pastor to stay in while Perfecto had planned to build a temporary church building beside the house, such was his dedication to the church and his desire to see more people come to know Christ.
Perfecto leaves a legacy for his children of his faithful commitment to God.
VOM will provide financial assistance for this young family to rebuild their lives and future.
This attack comes close on the heels of a bomb attack at a night market in the southern Filipino city of Davao on 2 September, which is reported to have killed 14 people and left another 67 injured. Among the casualties were a pastor’s 42-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old son, who both died in the bombing.
Source: VOM Australia