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Global: terrorism - 2

A few militants defending a Syrian river bank are all that is left of IS’s ‘caliphate’. 40,000 foreigners from 110 countries joined it; many have gone home, creating security challenges. Thousands are in Kurdish detention camps awaiting relocations. Distinguishing between regretful and repentant hangers-on and truly dangerous fighters is a legal and political nightmare, creating relationship cracks between Europe and US. Meanwhile IS’s black flag flies over an enclave on the Philippine island of Basilan, where a cathedral was bombed. IS-linked groups are still active in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and stretches of northern Africa and the Sahel. While they may not have access to the oil revenues that enabled IS to claim to be an actual state, they remain a security threat. IS is also alive and well on the web, with gruesome and well-produced propaganda.

Pray: for God to touch and turn around misguided violent hearts. (Ezekiel 36:26)

More: us12.campaign-archive.com/?e=2b376728db&u=7404e6dcdc8018f49c82e941d&id=92acd321b5

Nigeria: Christians sue the government

Rev Solomon Mfa and ten other Christian leaders filed a suit against the Nigerian government at the West African States Court of Justice, which has jurisdiction over human rights issues in the area. On 26 February the court ordered the government to investigate attacks that killed 300+ Christians and destroyed property; identify and prosecute the perpetrators; and redress the victims. ‘The government is in violation of its obligation to protect the human rights of these communities,’ the three judges stated in their unanimous verdict. The court also ordered the government to take urgent measures to protect Christians in the area by deploying soldiers and police to the affected communities. In the past three years, Muslim Fulani attacks have killed 1,000 people and destroyed property in 15 counties.

Pray: for the government to end ethno-religious cleansing, to move swiftly to reimburse and protect Christians. and to prosecute all law breakers. (Luke 18:7,8a)

More: morningstarnews.org/2019/03/west-african-court-faults-government-of-nigeria-for-failing-to-stop-killings-in-benue-state/

London protest on anniversary of Leah's abduction

On 19 February CSW organised a protest outside Nigeria’s high commission in London, commemorating one year since the abduction of Leah Sharibu. 14-year-old Leah was the sole Christian among 110 girls abducted from their school in Dapchi by a Boko Haram offshoot. While all the other classmates were released the next month following government negotiations, Leah was denied her freedom as she refused to convert as a precondition for her freedom. She has been held in captivity ever since. In September 2018, Boko Haram issued a final ultimatum on her life after executing a fellow hostage. She was eventually spared, but only after the group executed another hostage and declared that Leah and an abducted humanitarian named Alice Ngaddah were to be their slaves for life.

Pray: for Nigeria’s government to secure the release of Leah and Alice, and of the 112 girls kidnapped from Chibok. (Psalm 109:21)

More: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/36566

Europe: Huawei and 5G security

President Trump wants Europe to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from their next-generation 5G information networks, citing security risks (giving China power inside telecommunication networks where they could modify or steal information or conduct undetected espionage). US secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned of consequences for countries that don’t toe Washington’s line on the issue. Nevertheless, Germany may allow Huawei to operate in its 5G network plans, and the UK thinks the security risks of using Huawei resources are manageable. Huawei set out ambitious plans for Europe at a festive evening to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year. ‘Europe is like a big, lively family. We feel happy to be a part of it, and look forward to growing together with it,’ said a Huawei representative. See

Pray: for Europe’s transition to the fifth generation of mobile networks to be secure. (Psalm 15:1,2)

More: huawei.eu/e-news/2019/02/index.html

Nigeria: election postponed, pastor murdered

President Buhari said that the independent National Electoral Commission has questions to answer over the postponement of the general election to 23 February. He warned those planning to snatch ballot boxes that they will pay with their life. Open Doors said, ‘For Nigerian Christians, elections draw attention to a long-term crisis and can intensify attacks on them. Christians are fearful because they have been targeted so often.’ The most recent was when Pastor Jatau’s car was ambushed and he and his family were dragged away. His body was found two days later but his wife, three children, and two sisters-in-law are missing. Kidnappers are demanding a ransom for the family. They were travelling to take up a new ministry when they were attacked. See

Pray: for security agencies to protect the vulnerable, and for the election to be fair and without violence. (Psalm 9:19)

More: www.vanguardngr.com/2019/02/postponement-of-polls-inec-has-questions-to-answer-buhari/

619 new Bible translation projects in 2019

Wycliffe Associates is advancing Bible translation and has received requests to launch 619 translation projects worldwide, including groups in DRC, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Nigeria. ‘When they hear that the entire New Testament can now be translated in just months through ground-breaking technology, they are astonished, and they plead for a chance,’ said Wycliffe’s CEO. Traditionally, translations of the New Testament into another language have taken as long as 25 to 30 years. Pray for God's protection over Bible translation workshops for mother-tongue speakers, and for adequate funding for technology resources. Pray for God to keep translators safe when working discreetly in places where Christians face intense persecution. To date, the organisation has installed 90 print-on-demand units in 31 countries. By God’s grace they have distributed 5,485 tablets in 67 countries so far.

Pray: for the millions of people around the world still waiting for Scriptures in their language to have their needs met speedily and safely. ( Acts 20:32)

More: www.wycliffeassociates.org/who-we-are/for-the-press/press-release/694

Nigeria: elections on 16 Feb and 2 March

Rev Mathew Sukada, from Jos, has cautioned Nigerians, ‘Do not kill yourselves over politicians; they do not even know you and will reconcile with each other long after you are gone’. He said some politicians were more concerned about their personal interests, and cautioned youths against being used as thugs to kill and destroy. ‘Politicians seeking to use you for selfish reasons will offer you peanuts to fight and kill for them. When you get killed, they won’t remember you. When you get injured, they won’t have time for you. When you are caught, they will deny you. You must learn to be wise and protect yourselves against destruction. As Christians, you have a duty to serve only God, your Creator.’ An army commander told troops, ‘Let me warn and remind you of the need to remain apolitical in the performance of your duties during the election period. Defaulters will be severely dealt with. You must be professional, patriotic and respectful of the rights of citizens.’ See

Pray: for peace in crisis-ridden areas, and for responsible leaders to be elected. (Proverbs 3:21)

More: www.legit.ng/1219671-elections-dont-kill-yourselves-politicians-catholic-priest-advises-nigerians.html

Nigeria: Boko Haram threat displaces 30,000

Fear of renewed attacks by Boko Haram is prompting the exodus of 30,000+ people from the town of Rann. UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told reporters in Geneva on 29 January that the town's population ‘seems to be panicking; they are on the run as a pre-emptive measure to save their lives.’ Rann, near the border with Cameroon in northern Borno state, has already seen an exodus of 9,000 people to Cameroon after a Boko Haram attack on 14 January, killing 14 people. Baloch said that Cameroon had sent back the 9,000 refugees, and initially deployed troops as part of a multinational task force to protect the town, but that task force has now left. A recent upsurge in violence in northeastern Nigeria has driven more than 80,000 civilians to seek refuge in already crowded camps or in towns in Borno state, ‘where they are surviving in tough living conditions’. The hostilities have strained humanitarian operations there and forced aid workers to pull out from some locations.

Pray: for God’s comfort to all living in fear, or in desperate need in refugee camps. (Psalm 37:40)

More: www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/boko-haram-threat-displaces-30000-nigeria-rann-town-190129112148918.html

Global: Christian persecution rising

Figures for the persecution of Christians have shown a 'shocking increase', by 13.9% according to Open Doors World Watch List 2019. Asia has a sharp rise. China rose 16 places to number 27, with new laws to control all expressions of religion. Some church leaders say it is the worst since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. India, the world's largest democracy, is now number 10 on the list. Hindu extremists act with impunity, violently attacking Christians and churches and non-Hindu religious minorities. Rising nationalism is leading to persecution in Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal, where national identity is tied to religion and those from minority faiths are considered outcasts. Persecution in North Korea has been worse than any other country for the last 18 years. In the north and middle of Nigeria, 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith - almost twice as many as the previous year.

Pray: for nations to take extra preventative action against rising Christian persecution. (Job 36:3)

More: www.christiantoday.com/article/open-doors-2019-report-persecution-is-on-the-rise-globally/131479.htm

Media disinformation

‘Fake news’ threatens honest debate and democracy. Donald Trump’s favourite term was named 2017's word of the year by Collins Dictionary (described as false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting). Facebook has employed a UK fact-checking service to help it deal with the spread of fake news. Full Fact, a charity founded in 2010, will review stories, images and videos for accuracy, focusing on misinformation that could damage people's health or safety, or undermine democratic processes. If something is fake, it will appear lower in the news feed but will not be deleted. Pray for proven misinformation to be removed completely. Brexit and the 2017 UK general election were both found to be tarnished by fake news. On 11 January Nigeria held a ‘Beyond Fake News’ summit in Abuja to examine ways of combatting fake news ahead of February’s election. See

Pray: for balanced honest facts to replace hollow comments and lies. (Proverbs 12:17a, 18)

More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46836897

Africa: elections, poverty and potential

This year, 24 of Africa’s 54 countries are scheduled to hold legislative, general, or presidential elections. Extreme poverty and state fragility prevail in parts of Africa. This year, the World Data Lab estimates that by 2030, 70% of the world’s poor will live in Africa (notably in Nigeria and the Congo) and by that date 13 African countries will have seen an increase in the number of those living in extreme poverty. Based on these forecasts, poverty will continue to strain government institutions and threaten stability. Climate change is expected to exacerbate the challenge, with disproportionate effects on the Sahel and other unstable areas. However, massive opportunities exist for many to enter greater prosperity. The middle class is expanding, businesses are growing to meet consumption needs, and a young fast-growing population with rapid technology adoption is making the continent fertile for innovation. Pray for institutional changes and new approaches to eliminate poverty so that no country is left behind.

Pray: for the African continent to step into its God-given identity and do great things. (Jeremiah 29:11)

More: www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/BLS18234_BRO_book_007_WEB.pdf

Elections needing prayer in 2019

The results of forthcoming elections will be important in many ways - domestic, religious, regional and global. El Salvador elects a president on 3 February: security, corruption and migration will be campaign issues. On 16 February President Buhari seeks re-election in Nigeria, where electoral violence remains a real concern. Ukraine’s presidential election on 31 March will focus on security and the economy. Afghanistan’s fourth presidential election since 2001, on 20 April, will test its capacity to conduct a credible, orderly process amid deteriorating security conditions. In South Africa the ruling ANC, dogged by record-high unemployment and corruption, faces an election test in May following the resignation of President Zuma. European parliamentary elections between 23-26 May will see anti-Europe and Euro-skeptic forces capitalising on anti-immigration and populist economic issues post-Brexit. In Guatemala, general elections in June will focus on the economy, reforms to public administration, migration, and anti-corruption issues that have divided the country over recent years.

Pray: for political and social stability across the nations. (Deuteronomy 1:13)

More: www.ifes.org/news/elections-watch-2019

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