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Global: rising Christian persecution

Release International reports, ‘With all eyes on Russia’s assault on Ukraine, we will be watching closely to see how Russia is treating Christians of faiths other than Russian Orthodox.’ The USCIRF has long criticised the Taliban for their extremist policies. Its 2022 report warns, ‘Afghans who do not adhere to the Taliban’s harsh and strict interpretation of Sunni Islam and adherents of other faiths or beliefs are in grave danger. With the Taliban’s return to power, religious freedom conditions in Afghanistan, and the overall human rights situation, have significantly deteriorated. Christian converts (and other minorities) practise their faith in hiding due to fear of reprisal and threats from the Taliban.’ Also religious persecution in India has taken a significant turn for the worse. In Nigeria there is an anti-Christian dimension to much of the violence which the government is failing to control.

Pray: for God to destroy the persecutors’ plans and increase protection of Christians. (Ephesians 6:11)

More: www.releaseinternational.org/christian-persecution-growing-in-nigeria-india-and-afghanistan-warns-us-commission/

Nigeria: Gospel singer's husband arrested over death

Osinachi Nwachuckwu was best known for featuring in the hit gospel song Ekuweme has died in an Abuja hospital. Police have arrested her husband. Initial reports said the 42-year old had been sick with throat cancer, but her family deny that, alleging she had been a victim of domestic abuse. A police spokesperson said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of her death. Many Nigerians, especially Christians, have reacted with sorrow and anger to the news of her death. Some have gone online to urge religious leaders not to advise church members to stay in abusive relationships. Domestic violence has also been trending on social media.

Pray: for authorities to bring justice for the Nwachukwu family and promote the concept that it is better to be single and alive than to die in an abusive marriage.(Colossians 3:19)

More: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-61067247https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-61067247

Nigeria: insurgents continue attacking

For twenty years Nigerian Christians have suffered attack after attack, with little to no response from the largely Muslim government. Anti-Christian violence is often swept under the carpet. On 20 March community members had just finished their church worship when armed insurgents arrived with sophisticated weapons, an eyewitness told International Christian Concern. ‘Twenty-five people were killed and over 100 houses burnt down.’ He added that the evening attack occurred from 7 to 10 pm, without any intervention by the Nigerian army. The total number of casualties is yet to be released. ‘We are now hiding, our church and houses burnt; we are sleeping outside tonight’, said another eyewitness. Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the world for persecution. Due to violent terrorist groups and government indifference, tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced.

Pray: for God to heal the physical and emotional wounds of persecuted Christians, and for the world to recognise the government’s indifference to the violence. (Proverbs 21:15)

More: www.persecution.org/2022/03/21/insurgents-attack-center-christianity-nigerian-state/

Africa: potential new energy market

African countries have some of the world’s deepest gas reserves. President Hassan said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an opportunity for gas sales: Tanzania aims to secure a new energy market outside Africa and has been working with Shell to utilise their vast offshore gas resources and export elsewhere. He said, ‘Whether in Africa, Europe or America, we are looking for markets.’ Nigeria, Africa’s largest gas producer, has similar plans. They intend to build a trans-Sahara pipeline, taking their gas to Algeria and Europe. They recently signed an agreement with Algeria and the Niger Republic to construct the 381-mile-long Trans-Saharan Natural Gas Pipeline, beginning in northern Nigeria. However there are concerns over the historic lack of investment in gas infrastructure that has hampered the energy industry. Many African countries with massive gas reserves have struggled to attract investment to build gas infrastructure projects that would have supplied the European market. Ask God to use the current Russian gas situation to take many African nations out of poverty.

Pray: for honest and fair investment, wise and fruitful incentives, and up-to-date technical support to be released into this new energy market. (Proverbs 27:17)

More: www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/3/1/analysis-can-african-gas-replace-russian-supplies-to-europe

Nigeria: militants kill Christians, soldiers do nothing

On 28 January a contact in Nigeria discovered over 500 bullet shells used in the killing of eighteen Christians in Ancha village, located about two hours from the capital of Plateau State. Villagers said the attackers were Fulani militants dressed in black while others wore the uniform of the Nigerian army. Thirty soldiers with AK47s were stationed in a classroom in the community when the attack happened. The converted classroom served as a barracks for the soldiers. Despite being stationed inside the village, the soldiers did not defend it against the invading militants. Instead, they stood by and watched as houses were burnt, cars and food were destroyed, and villagers were killed. During the attack, the soldiers protected only their two vehicles and the converted classroom. This attack is just the latest in a years-long pattern of militant violence committed against Ancha and neighbouring villages. Often bullet shells found belong to the army.

Pray: for security agencies to be more committed to tackling the criminals killing Christians. (Psalm 43:1)

More: www.persecution.org/2022/01/28/nigerian-militants-kill-christians-spate-recent-attacks/

Global: persecution in 2022

Islamist extremists are gaining ground in sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso and Mali. Christians are bombed, killed, and kidnapped; schools are burnt. Jihadists have assaulted religious leaders and places of worship, and forced churches to close and meet in secret. The situation is set to grow worse as French troops withdraw from the area. Life for Christians in the Sahel region now resembles Nigeria, where Boko Haram terrorists, IS fighters and Fulani militants are active. For all three, Christian communities are their prime targets. Afghanistan and India are also countries of great concern. Since the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan, Christians have faced greater risks of violence and betrayal by family and neighbours. Major food shortages will increase pressure on them. Indian Hindu militants are attacking Christians, and some states have anti-conversion laws to prevent Christian outreach among the Dalits where many are turning to Christ.

Pray: for God to strengthen and encourage Christians in the many nations where there is a rising tide of intolerance of accompanied by violence and food and climate insecurity. (1 Peter 3:14)

More: releaseinternational.org/persecution-trends-watch-the-release-international-report-in-the-media/

Nigeria: plans for Leah Sharibu's release?

The Nigerian government says efforts are under way to release Leah Sharibu, the Christian teenager who was one of 110 girls abducted in 2018 by the Boko Haram group ISWAP. Her classmates were released, but Leah refused to convert to Islam and was declared a ‘slave for life’ by ISWAP while remaining in captivity. The federal government announced it is using the military to ensure Leah and all captives regain their freedom, and armed groups operating in Nigeria’s northwest are now called terrorists. Reacting to the announcement, Dr Kathaza Gondwe, advocacy director for CSW, said, ‘It is belated news as Nigeria’s president has been promising Leah's parents since 2018 that he would work quickly to ensure her release. But it's a welcomed development. We can only pray the government will honour this commitment.’ CSW believes that categorising ISWAP as terrorists will help in how the armed forces deal with them.

Pray: for success in securing the freedom and safety of Nigerian Christians currently held captive and an end to all religiously-motivated violence in Nigeria. (Psalm 32:7)

More: premierchristian.news/en/news/article/plans-underway-to-secure-leah-sharibu-s-release-says-nigerian-government

Global: this year’s Dis-Honorees Awards

The Persecutor of the Year Awards shone a light on the world's most oppressive countries, entities, and individuals. Due to the nation's various terrorist groups and the lack of government response, Nigeria earned the title as the Top Country Persecutor. As we witnessed the Taliban's rise to power in August which forced Afghanistan's Christians even deeper into hiding, the Taliban received the title of Top Entity Persecutor. Lastly, in North Korea, the ongoing brutal reign of the Kim regime and the deplorable conditions that the nation's citizens face earned Kim Jong-un the title of Top Individual Persecutor. Pray for God to give those facing persecution for their faith in these, and other, nations the peace and joy that Christ brings.

Pray: for God to bring the persecutors of Christians into His kingdom with visions and dreams of Christ. (Joel 2:28)

More: www.persecution.org/initiatives/poy/

Nigeria: one million expired doses of vaccine destroyed

The national primary health care agency (NPHCDA) destroyed 1,066,214 expired doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that were donated to them in October but had to be used by November. The decision to destroy the vaccinations followed several testing processes showing it was necessary to destroy them to protect Nigerians from being harmed. NPHCDA’s director said they had an option to try and use these vaccines beyond the labelled expiry date, but decided to destroy them at the point they expired. The vaccines came with a short life span, some as short as two weeks. NPHCDA said while Nigeria appreciated the gesture of the donors, it was not in the interest of Nigeria that vaccines with a short lifespan were sent there. Only ten million Nigerians have been vaccinated to date: Nigeria’s target is 110 million people.

Pray: for improved coordination and distribution of AstraZeneca vaccinations donated from abroad to Nigeria. (Ephesians 5:15)

More: saharareporters.com/2021/12/22/nigerian-government-destroys-one-million-expired-doses-covid-19-astrazeneca-vaccine

Nigeria removed from US ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ list

Nigeria regularly sees ongoing massacres of indigenous Christians, and security forces imprison free thinkers for the ‘crime’ of blasphemy. Nevertheless, the USA removed Nigeria from its Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list. On 2 December Rev John Hayab wrote an article in Nigerian Voice stating, ‘The US’s delisting Nigeria from its CPC list is appalling, as the persecution of Christians is still at its peak. Because Nigeria still has grave problems with religious persecution, this action is like a doctor discharging a patient from hospital even though they are still critically ill. What that signifies is telling the patient to go home and die. The USA was either ill-advised or does not care what happens in Nigeria. It does not comprehend that the current regime wants to impoverish and weaken the Christian community without letting the international community notice it. The Nigerian government employed highly professional lobbyists to convince the US state department to reach its decision.’

Pray: for the USA to recognise that its action is violating religious freedom and provide protection. (Psalm 34:7)
More: www.decisionmagazine.com/nigerian-pastor-disappointed-at-us-removal-of-nigeria-from-its-countries-of-particular-concern-list/

Global: violence against hospitals, patients, healthcare workers

A disturbing but common feature of modern warfare is incidents of violence against hospitals, patients and healthcare workers. A recent report cites 806 incidents of violence against or obstruction of healthcare in 43 countries and territories in ongoing wars and violent conflicts in 2020, ranging from the bombing of hospitals in Yemen to the abduction of doctors in Nigeria. At least 185 health workers were killed and 117 kidnapped. Attacks continue with impunity, as several states fail to act on global commitments and frameworks intended to safeguard medical professionals saving lives. The nature of conflict now includes more non-state armed groups, but they all attack healthcare. Pray for health workers alone, with very little support, suffering trauma from violence.

Pray: for more warring nations to provide safe zones and protection avenues to protect health carers and safe access to and from healthcare providers. (Psalm 5:11)

More: www.thenewhumanitarian.org

Nigeria: lawlessness and ‘fake news’

Luka Binniyat, a Christian journalist, faces three years’ imprisonment after reporting on attacks against Christian communities and critical assessments of the government’s response. He was arrested on 4 November and charged with electronically transmitting information ‘known to be false’. Many believe his arrest is aimed at silencing dissenting voices and intimidating Luka and Kaduna communities. Luka has persistently challenged the government on issues of security and killings in southern Kaduna. This charge follows his report on police failing to make any arrests after gunmen killed 35 people in two separate attacks on churches. He said, ‘In Nigeria, police decry massacres as “wicked” but make no arrests’. Pray for Luka’s release and for an end to criminalisation of journalism. Meanwhile bandits invaded Emmanuel Baptist Church, service killing two, seriously injuring three, and kidnapping 66. Rev Joseph Hayab said, ‘The abducted worshippers are in danger and require urgent government intervention.’ The insecurity in Kaduna state has grown beyond imagination and is threatening Nigeria’s peace.

Pray: for God’s peace for the Church and may the international community recognise the fragile situation and act so that violent lawlessness is eradicated. (Isaiah 61:8)

More: punchng.com/bandits-kill-two-out-of-66-abducted-kaduna-baptist-church-worshippers-can/

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