On 29 March Pastor Pedro Vazquez was abducted from his village in Chiapas, Mexico, by a violent group known as Chinchulines. Pastor Vazquez was held in a nearby village and his family members and church congregation were very concerned that he would be killed.
Pastor Vazquez works in an area where pastors and Christian workers have been threatened with death and evangelicals are often expelled from their communities, losing land, homes and crops.
Pastor Pedro Vazquez has since been released.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Praise God for the pastor’s release. Ask the Lord to help him and his family overcome their ordeal.
- Pray for this church as they continue to share God’s Word in an area that is hostile to the Gospel. Ask for the Lord’s protection to be upon them; pray for courage.
- Pray the witness of Pastor Vazquez may be used by the Lord to touch the hearts of this group and be the instrument the Lord uses to open them to the message of the Gospel.
MEXICO: Protestants Expelled, Homes Destroyed
MEXICO: Couple Threatened for Sharing the Gospel
MEXICO: Christian Families Left to Starve after Raid
Bank building destroyed by Boko Haram in Adamawa State, Nigeria.
Destruction and total annihilation is what Boko Haram and Islamic State (IS) have in common. The picture shown above is sadly a telling sign in Nigeria that Boko Haram have arrived, killing and destroying everything in their path.
Boko Haram and IS have a common agenda: to annihilate anything that does not fit with their Islamic ideology.
Who is Boko Haram?
Boko Haram are found in northern Nigeria. They are an Islamic extremist group who want to eradicate western influence, or anything does not fit with their ideology. They specifically target Christians. In 2014, around 200 school girls were abducted. The leader, Abubakar, was quoted saying, “I abducted your girls, I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will sell them off and marry them off.” (Source: BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-18020349)
Who is IS?
IS are found heavily in Syria and Iraq but are also having a wider influence in places like Egypt, Nigeria and throughout the Middle East as more and more extremist groups turn to them for support. Their goal is to make an Islamic state that imposes their rendition of Islam.
What can we do?
It’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed by what is happening in places like Iraq and Nigeria, and then don’t do anything about it. This is what we cannot allow ourselves to do.
There are four ways we can help our persecuted brothers and sisters today.
- Be informed
To pray, we need to know what to pray for. If a friend of yours were sick, you would want to know what they were sick with and the background of their sickness. This would allow your prayers to God to be more specific and personal. It is the same for our persecuted family. We should know what is happening to them so our prayers and our care can be more personal. You won’t find much information in mainstream media on Christian persecution – it’s unpopular. But you will find it from Thirteen Three. Sign up to our monthly enews or VOM’s weekly prayer email to stay informed.
Prayer is powerful and we have a God who listens and responds to our prayer. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7.
Look at Releasing the Gospel into North Korea Part 2 for an example.
Tell your friends, tell your family, tell all of Facebook what is happening to our Christian brothers and sisters. They too may be unaware and through your sharing might become #boundwiththem. The more people praying and caring for our persecuted family, the more encouraged they will be to stand firm for Jesus.
Become a partner with Thirteen Three by booking a Thirteen Three speaker or by considering investing into some of our projects. Your contribution goes a long way in supporting persecuted Christians and by helping the spread of the Gospel.
On behalf of persecuted Christians, may we thank you for your partnership and support.
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I know theology. They know God.
Recently, I had the privilege and honour of visiting several dear sisters in Christ in Bogota, Colombia, a city which has seen a recent growth in economy and safety and therefore tourism. However, if you leave behind the bustle of modern Bogota, you enter the rural ‘red zones’ where villages and families are caught in the crosshairs of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), ELN (National Liberation Army), and paramilitary groups. We hear so often of Islamic State and Boko Haram these days that we forget the cruelty of the FARC’s indiscriminate murder of those that they find useless — those who won’t join their ranks or buy drugs to fund their guerrilla warfare — usually, Christians.
Imagine living in a village where you and your neighbours could be killed if the FARC thought you supported the paramilitary, or vice versa. Trust is difficult. The women I met had lost homes, husbands, and children because of the violence. I sat next to ‘Milena’ as the translator relayed her story. Her tears needed no translation. Her story came out haltingly as she hesitated to open fresh wounds, but when we asked her if God had been with her, the words poured out of her; He had been her comfort and strength in her loss and loneliness.
As I hugged, listened to and prayed for these women, I was struck with the knowledge that I did not know God as they did, despite all the Bible studies, church services, and conferences I’ve been too. Their experience of Him is so much deeper than mine, hence the realisation that most of my knowledge of God is theological head knowledge.
After visiting Colombia, I cannot say that I prayed to lose everything I own. I did not walk into my house and ask God to take it all away from me. It is my hope, however, that I am growing to see all that I have as luxuries, not as blessings. Luxuries that I could very easily do without if God asked me if He could take them away.
The world says, “Pursue your own happiness and gain earthly wealth.” Live for luxury.
Christ says, “Find your joy in Me and gain the treasures of heaven.” I’ll let Him decide what persecution or suffering I will endure on this life. I am just called to obey, regardless of the cost.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12, emphasis mine)
The real beauty of Colombia isn’t in the modern, mountainous city of Bogota, but the lives of Milena and the others that have learned to count their blessings, not their luxuries. They have the blessing of the knowledge of the Most High God.
Leah Grant writes for The Voice of the Martyrs USA
“On a Sunday morning, I walked towards my church and mused about the sermon, which I would have to deliver…while I was debating with Jesus the sermon, which I had to deliver after half an hour, at once a car of the secret police stopped near me, four men rushed out of the car, in a minute’s time, I was in the car, I was handcuffed, I was blindfolded. And now, I was under arrest.”
As Richard Wurmbrand shared this story at the Royal Festival Hall in London, on 13 April 1969, he invited the listeners to enter into a dark world. He continued, “And now, in our imagination, let us all leave this hall. You descend with me blindfolded down some slippery stair, I do not know where I am led. A door opens before me. The blindfold is taken away. I am pushed in. The door is banged after me, it is locked. And now, Jesus is no more simply at the door; he is at a locked door, which I cannot unlock.”
He asked the spellbound audience: “What would be your first feeling, if such a thing would happen to you? I can tell you what happened to me first: I trembled. We knew already, how the communists behave towards prisoners. It is not only beatings, whippings, but refined tortures, cruelties, and dopings. And I feared that under these atrocities, my faith might break, I might become a traitor to the Church.”
These words provide a window into the soul of a frightened prisoner and the deep questions that each one of us would face when confronted with an unjust imprisonment. It is a space of denial, fear and loneliness. However, as believers, we have an assurance that can never be taken away.
Richard continued his speech, “You are alone in a cell; they meant you to be alone.”
“But, we were not alone!”
Right now. Today. This very moment, there are Christians who are facing the same denial, fear and loneliness. I have personally encountered, and prayed with, Christians in Asia and Africa who have spent years in prison, facing unimaginable tortures.
Even in these dark moments, Scripture reminds us that we are never alone. When Joseph was placed in a dark prison cell, the Lord was with him: “Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:20-21).
Will you join me today in praying specifically for those who are in prison right now because of their faith? Let’s pray that they will sense the deep comfort of God’s presence with them, that they will experience His mercy and that they will find favour in the eyes of those who have detained them.
We are never alone.
Dr Jason Peters works as Associate Vice President of Connection for The Voice of the Martyrs USA.
Pastor Bongo Martin was brutally killed on 23 December when he and other members of his church resisted the efforts of local militant Muslims to take over their land in the Namutumba district.
The 32-year-old church leader was attacked with a sword after protesting about a fence that had been put up in an attempt to encroach on part of the church’s land in Nansololo village. The opposing locals had previously complained several times, believing that the church was not far enough away from their mosque.
Just days prior to this, five Christians in the Budaka district had died after eating food laced with pesticide following a Bible study meeting in Kachomo, a predominantly Muslim village.
The study group leader and host, Hajii Suleiman Sajjabi, is presently in a coma. Four of those who died were his relatives, and the fifth was a pregnant woman. Prior to the poisoning, Hajii had been reprimanded by a local imam for distributing Bibles in the community.
Sources: Morning Star News, Release International
- Please uphold Pastor Bongo’s wife and two children in prayer, as well as his congregation. May God sustain these believers in their time of shock and grief.
- Pray for Hajii that he may make a complete physical recovery. Pray the Lord will help him to come to terms with such a loss.
- May the militants responsible for both of these crimes come to repentance, recognising their own need of God’s mercy and salvation.
UGANDA: Young Woman Beaten and Disowned
UGANDA: Two Christians Killed
UGANDA: Abuse Perpetrated Against Women of Faith