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NIGERIA: Eleven Christians Reportedly Killed

NIGERIA: Eleven Christians Reportedly Killed

In a video released on 26 December, ISIS shows the murder of eleven Christians, claiming that it was committed in retaliation for the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader who died during a raid in Syria by US special forces in October.

In the video, which has Arabic subtitles, eleven men with their heads covered are shown. The first is shot to death, followed by the beheadings of the other ten. The producers of the video claim that all of the slain victims had been captured in Nigeria’s Borno State in recent weeks. The voice-over commentary contained the following announcement: “This message is to the Christians in the world. Those you see are Christians and we will shed their blood as revenge.”

A previously recorded video was also recently released featuring eleven Christians who had been taken captive, leading to speculation that these may be the same men. In the earlier video, the men pled for intervention by the Nigerian government and the Christian Association of Nigeria. At the time, they claimed that Leah Sharibu was still alive and with them.

Sources: BBC, National Post, Aljazeera, Release International

  • Pray for those in fear for the fate of their captured loved ones. Intercede for the victims who remain in captivity.
  • Ask God to grant the country’s authorities wisdom, assistance, and guidance in their attempts to stop the rampant violence in Nigeria.
  • Ask the Lord to intervene in the lives of the perpetrators to bring radical repentance and transformation, by the work of His Spirit.

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KENYA: At Least Nine Christians Murdered in Attack

KENYA: At Least Nine Christians Murdered in Attack

On 6 December, 11 non-local Christian passengers were attacked while travelling to Mandera from Nairobi and killed at Kotulo in north-eastern Kenya.

Confirming the incident, a Kenyan police officer said, “A passenger bus belonging to Medina Bus Company, travelling between Wajir and Mandera was attacked by a criminal gang at around 1730 hours this evening. The attack happened at Maadathe area, five kilometres to Kotulo. Lives are believed to have been lost.”

According to a reliable source, the militants separated passengers into groups, targeting the non-locals. Nine of the passengers on the Mandera-bound bus who could not recite the Shahada were paraded out of the bus and shot dead at close range by those believed to be al-Shabaab militants. There are two passengers still missing who are believed to also be dead.

The names of those confirmed as killed are Athanus Kiti, Enos Odhiambo, Kelvin Mandela, Wisely Meli, Tikane Kasale, Leonard Mukanda, Francis Mbuvi, Rodgers Machuka, and Anchari Okerosi. The two still missing are Emmanuel Barasa and Nathan Bett.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Ask the Lord to comfort those who mourn over this tragic loss.
  • Pray the authorities will find those responsible and bring them to justice.
  • Ask the Lord to frustrate the plans of al-Shabaab and bring an end to the targeted violence. Ask God to bring many of these militants to repentance.

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MEXICO: Pastor Killed During Church Service

MEXICO: Pastor Killed During Church Service

Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was in the pulpit of the Fraternidad Cristiana church in the municipality of Tlalixtac de Cabrera, when he was shot at point-blank range on 18 August.

His attacker attempted to escape but was prevented from doing so by members of the congregation, and subsequently handed over to the authorities. Pastor Cruz Canseco is reported to have died from his injuries on the way to hospital.

The motive for the murder is not yet known; however, it follows a series of attacks targeting religious leaders, including the enforced disappearance of another pastor, Aarón Méndez Ruiz on 3 August.

The expansion of violent criminal groups in Mexico and the pervading climate of impunity surrounding such crimes has led to an increase in violence against religious leaders. Many criminal groups view church leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, and their influence, as a threat to their power. Religious leaders continue to be threatened, kidnapped and killed, and a lack of proper investigation means perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Assist News Service

  • Ask the Lord to comfort the loved ones of Pastor Canseco in their time of grief. Pray too for the members of the Fraternidad Cristiana church.
  • Pray for Pastor Ruiz and his family. Pray the authorities will investigate his disappearance with great urgency. May there be word of him soon.
  • Pray for the perpetrators of the crimes; may the Lord be at work to bring many to repentance and faith.

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PHILIPPINES: Pastor Killed Amid Surge in Violent Attacks

PHILIPPINES: Pastor Killed Amid Surge in Violent Attacks

The murder of a pastor in Mindanao has fuelled fears that Christians are becoming political targets – in what bishops describe as “one of the most trying times in our history”.

Pastor Ernesto Estrella, who led the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Antipas, was shot dead by two men on motorbikes near Magsaysay. Police are investigating whether his death was linked to his alleged ties with left-wing groups.

The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) says violent attacks on Christians speaking up for human rights have “increased alarmingly” since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. It has also condemned the administration’s “oppressive policies”. Police have accused several church leaders of libel and sedition – following allegations of government links with the illegal drugs trade.

Meanwhile, in Manolo Fortich, soldiers have reportedly visited the home of Christian development worker and rights advocate Kristin Lim twice this month and ‘invited’ her to come in for questioning. As they had no legal warrant, she declined.

The church is also concerned that persecution may increase for the Christian minority living in the Muslim-majority Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM), which was established in January with its own Islamic sub-government. BARMM leaders have given assurances that minority religious rights will be protected.

Source: Release International

  • Pray for Pastor Ernesto’s family and friends, and for Kristin Lim, that they will know God’s peace, comfort and protection.
  • Pray that the government in the Philippines will begin to see the church as a force for social good.
  • Ask God to strengthen His church in the Philippines, and especially in Mindanao. Pray that His people will be a powerful witness to His great love.

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PAKISTAN: Christian Woman Killed for Refusing to Convert to Islam

PAKISTAN: Christian Woman Killed for Refusing to Convert to Islam

Saima Sardar, a resident of a Christian-majority neighbourhood in Faisalabad, was reportedly shot and killed on 10 July by Muhammad Waseem, a Muslim man, after she refused to convert to Islam and marry him. According to local reports, Saima worked as a staff nurse at a local district hospital where she was murdered.

A few months prior to the incident, Saima complained of being harassed by Waseem. She was so deeply concerned by the harassment that her brother, Akash Masih, had to accompany his sister to and from the hospital every day. Local reports claim that Masih was in the hospital when his sister was shot.

People close to Saima’s family claim, “Saima was in [a] healthy and friendly relationship with Waseem. However, when he continuously insisted Saima convert [to Islam], she decided to keep [her] distance from him and prove her loyalty to her Christian faith. Therefore, Saima very boldly refused his proposal even though she was threatened with consequences.”

Saima was reportedly engaged to another man and was supposed to be married in November. Waseem, angered by the rejection from a Christian girl, continued to push for a relationship with Saima. He reportedly insisted that if her family failed to allow her to marry him, he was willing to go to court with the issue.

A friend of Saima said, “Saima was a committed and practicing Christian, therefore she did not betray Jesus.”

Pakistani Christians are often viewed as second-class citizens. This widely held bias in Pakistan’s Muslim majority, is the root cause for much of the persecution and discrimination experienced by the country’s Christian community.

In cases where Christian women reject the advances of Muslim men or refuse invitations to convert to Islam, violence can erupt. Christian women are often kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam. According to a study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women face this treatment in Pakistan every year.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Ask the Lord for justice for this family, pray He will comfort them in their grief. May they also be loved, supported and cared for by their Christian family.
  • Pray the testimony of Saima will be widely told to encourage young woman to take care but also act as a witness for Saima’s love for the Lord.
  • Pray more will be done by the authorities to protect the vulnerable and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Post your prayer in the comments below.