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NIGERIA: Teenage Girl Escapes After Abduction and Forcible Conversion to Islam

NIGERIA: Teenage Girl Escapes After Abduction and Forcible Conversion to Islam

Sadiya Amos, aged 17, went missing from north central Kaduna in northern Nigeria on the night of 5 January.

On 7 January, some men came to force her father Amos Chindo to attend a Sharia court in Anchau, Kubau without telling him what offence he had committed or even allowing him to tell his family where he was going.

A self-proclaimed lawyer, together with the Sharia judge, threatened that Chindo was preventing his daughter Sadiya from converting to Islam. The said ‘lawyer’, with the judge, had forged a birth certificate to raise Sadiya’s age from 17 to 19 years of age to support their claim. The ‘lawyer’ – who claimed to speak for Sadiya – refused the father access to her, or even to know her whereabouts. They then adjourned the trial to 14 January 2020.

The Anglican Bishop of Ikara Diocese, Yusuf Janfalan, who leads the church that the Chindo family attends, sent priests that day to tell the court that – since both Sadiya and her parents are Christians – the Sharia court has no official jurisdiction over the family.

The judge didn’t even give the priests the chance to speak, nor Sadiya’s parents. Instead, the Sharia judge read his pre-determined judgment and closed the case – without Sadiya even present in court.

Sadiya says she was abducted, kept in a locked room for over a month and forced to convert to Islam; some men guarded her room so she couldn’t escape. But one day, they all fell asleep leaving the door open; she quickly ran out and back to her parents.

According to Joshua Danlami , leader of The Hausa Christian Foundation, “There are two major objectives behind the incessant kidnapping of Christian girls and their forceful conversion to Islam: one, to inflict pain on the girl, her parents and the Christian community; and, two, to make the girl pregnant so that her child will then be born into Islam, contributing to claims that it’s the fastest growing religion in the world.

“The abductors know the chance of a successful prosecution against them is very low; that’s why they resort to attacking young women, who are often not well-educated, to reproduce with them. We call on the Christian communities to remain vigilant. This fight is becoming intense and the damages are overwhelming.”

Despite numerous assurances from President Buhari that he would find and rescue all women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram – hundreds are still missing, including the 100 or so Chibok girls abducted in April 2014.

After he came to power in 2015 President Buhari, pledged in his acceptance speech to end Boko Haram’s insurgency, but almost five years on, the insecurity in the north seems not to have greatly improved, despite the Nigerian Army’s constant reassurances.

The group continues to hold Leah Sharibu, now aged 16, the only one of 110 girls kidnapped in February 2018 to remain in captivity. Leah was held-back because she refused to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.

Source: World Watch Monitor

  • Join with Sadiya, her family and the Christian community in praising God for her return.
  • Ask the Lord to bring physical, emotional and spiritual healing to Sadiya to help her overcome her sufferings. Pray for her protection.
  • Pray the authorities in Nigeria will pursue justice and rescue captives. Ask the Lord to intervene on behalf of the kidnap victims in northern Nigeria.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

PAKISTAN: High Court in Pakistan Rules in Favour of Underage Marriage

PAKISTAN: High Court in Pakistan Rules in Favour of Underage Marriage

On Monday, 3 February, the Sindh High Court in Karachi ruled that men in Pakistan can marry underage girls. This ruling, which the two-member bench based on their interpretation of Sharia law, flies directly in the face of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act which forbids marriage below the age of 18.

The ruling was made during the latest court hearing into the kidnapping, forced conversion and marriage of Huma Younus, a 14-year-old Christian girl.

According to local reports, Huma was kidnapped by Abdul Jabbar from her family’s home on 10 October. Following the kidnapping, Huma’s parents were informed via text message that their daughter had converted to Islam and had married Jabbar.

In an effort to rescue their daughter, the family argued that the marriage to Jabbar was invalid under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act. The Christian couple supplied the court with baptismal and school documents proving Huma is 14 years old.

However, at the hearing on 3 February, judges Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah ruled that the marriage between Huma and Jabbar is valid because she has already had her first menstrual cycle.

“Once again, justice has been defeated and, once again, our state has shown itself unable to treat Christians as Pakistani citizens,” Nagheena Younus, Huma’s mother said.

The issue of kidnapping, forced conversion, and forced marriage is one of the major issues affecting Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan. According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls are targeted every year in Pakistan.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Aid to the Church in Need

  • Intercede for Huma and her family who have been forced to endure this unbearable situation. Pray for justice.
  • Pray the Lord will rise up powerful voices in Pakistan against this ruling and that it will be quickly overturned.
  • Pray for the protection of vulnerable girls and women throughout Pakistan.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

Christians in Brunei

Christians in Brunei

It is becoming increasingly difficult for Christians to practise their faith and ministry in the Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam.

With a ruling Muslim government and spies in churches using laser surveillance technology, every movement is being monitored carefully.

The Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, along with the prime minister, has declared his vision that Brunei will be an entirely Muslim nation by 2035.

Since overtaking his father’s reign in 1967, he has made dramatic changes to the way in which the government operates.

In 2014, Brunei became the first East Asian country to adopt parts of Sharia law, despite condemnation from the UN. This first phase of the law included punishment for general offences, such as showing disrespect for Ramadan or propagating religions other than Islam. Following this, there was a widespread banning of Christmas in the country and punishment for violating the ban was a five-year jail sentence. Putting up Christmas trees, singing religious songs or even wearing clothes or a hat that resembles Santa were all considered an offence.

Last year, the Sultan and his Islamic Religious Council approved a draft Criminal Code to bring the country one step closer to the full implementation of Sharia Law. The law, implemented last month, facilitates the introduction of harsher punishments for crimes, such as the amputation of limbs for theft, and the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality.

Despite this, Christianity is growing rapidly and has increased from 9% in 2014 to 12% in 2018. House churches are becoming the most effective way for Christians to meet and worship. Currently, there are only 20 legally registered churches. No new church buildings are allowed.

Projects in Brunei
Voice of the Martyrs Australia was active in reaching out to the persecuted church in Brunei in 2018 and has many more projects underway for the year ahead.

Last year, we were able to purchase and distribute Bibles in Brunei. Chinese residents of Brunei can obtain Bibles, but Bibles in the Malay language are illegal and are confiscated if discovered. No bookshops inside Brunei sell Bibles.

Much-needed Bibles were distributed to churches throughout Brunei with the help of our partners.

VOM also worked to support pastors in two ways. Firstly, by providing a few key pastors with much-needed transportation to visit church members and also evangelise. Many of these pastors travel long distances, transporting various resources along dirt roads. Funds were provided to purchase suitable vehicles.

Secondly, pastors need support for income-generating projects so that they can freely engage in ministry. VOM was able to assist pastors by sending monthly funds to support wages, assist with setting up farms or purchasing supplies to start businesses.

In 2019, VOM is continuing to support pastors by providing monthly funds for them to evangelise without concern for their livelihood. VOM is also working on a new project to provide disciple training for church leaders, equipping them to minister effectively to their churches and training them to evangelise Muslims.

Subscribe to our monthly print or e-newsletter at vom.com.au/subscribe

If you would like to financially support our Front Line Ministry fund please go to vom.com.au/donate.

UGANDA: High Cost of Faith in Eastern Region

UGANDA: High Cost of Faith in Eastern Region

Uganda’s population is 85% Christian, with a Christian president and a secular constitution which guarantees religious freedom. However, persecution with impunity is becoming prevalent in the Muslim-dominated Eastern Region.

Munabi Abudallah put his faith in Christ on 20 January and within 24 hours had lost everything. On Christmas Day a Muslim neighbour attempted to poison the Madina family, which she held in contempt for leaving Islam for Christianity. In October 2015 Shiekh Mulangira Ibrahim had a dramatic conversion experience and within hours had lost everything; Muslims are still trying to kill him today.

Islamists are exploiting Uganda’s decentralisation and following Sharia principles locally. The persecution is enabled by systemic corruption. Without radical reform, the situation can only get worse.

Source: Christian Faith and Freedom

  • Ask God to comfort, encourage, sustain and protect Munabi Abudallah, the Madina family and Mulangira Ibrahim; may the Lord supply their every need.
  • Pray for the government of Uganda, may they make every attempt to protect its citizens from injustice.
  • Pray the church in Uganda may remain faithful to the Lord, be unified and act as a powerful witness for the Gospel.

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PAKISTAN: Lawyers seek New Hearing within a Few Weeks

PAKISTAN: Lawyers seek New Hearing within a Few Weeks

Asia Bibi’s lawyers have made a request to the Pakistani Supreme Court seeking to appoint another judge immediately or a new colleague to hear the case.

The request sent to the Chief Justice comes after yet another postponement of Bibi’s hearing, in which her defence team are appealing her death sentence for apostasy. According to Fides, Bibi’s lawyers are confident that a new date for the hearing will be set sometime within a few weeks.

Meanwhile, the director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement Nasir Saeed, stated that despite the postponement, they are still very hopeful that at the next hearing the charges against the Christian mother of five will be dropped.

Immediately following the Court’s decision to postpone the decision on the issue, demonstrations were held in several parts of the country, including Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad, with Sunni Muslims chanting slogans and carrying signs reading ‘#HangAsia.’

Sources: Christian Today, Asia News

 Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to strengthen Asia and give her the patience she needs. Pray she will not give in to disappointment or despair but continue to trust in the Lord and His timing.
  • Pray the public anger will be restrained and no harm will come to her, her family or her legal representatives.
  • Commit to the Lord the appeal, pray those who hear it will be just, upright and will hear the appeal without any kind of agenda.