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Nigeria: Boko Haram’s own goal?

Could the faith statement of an executed Christian leader encourage Christians facing persecution in Nigeria? Boko Haram beheaded Rev Lawan Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). But could a faith message that militants recorded with him be an own goal for terrorists? CAN has urged Nigeria’s government and the international community to act decisively to help Christians under attack in Nigeria, calling for three days of prayer and fasting for effective action. The Church views the unabated kidnappings and killings as shameful for a government boasting that it has conquered insurgency. ‘Each time the government claims the defeat of the insurgency, more killings of our people are committed. We are almost losing hope in our government’s ability to protect Nigerians – especially Christians, who have become an endangered species under its watch.’

Pray: for the international community (including the US and UK) to come to the aid of the Nigerian Church so that they might not be eliminated one by one. (Psalm 20:2)

More: releaseinternational.org/boko-haram-execution-an-own-goal/

Night rider: 21 years sleeping on a London bus

After his asylum application was rejected 21 years ago, Sunny began sleeping on London buses. His travel card holder quotes Jesus, ‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you.’ He talks about his younger self, years ago, kneeling in prayer in a Nigerian prison, waiting to be executed. His offence - struggling for democracy. A guard lifts him to his feet and rushes him down corridors, out into blinding sunlight, where a car is waiting. Family and friends had bought his freedom and his flight to London. He took a course in documentary-making years ago, reporting on the lives of London's homeless, never imagining he would soon be in their shoes. Now a church minister buys him a monthly pass for bus fares and he volunteers at churches. He reads in the reference library, and is fed by generous restaurant managers at the end of the day.

Pray: for the Government to do more to help the hidden nomads on our city streets facing persecution or death if they return to their country of origin. (Exodus 23:6)

More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-50459821

Vulnerable churches at Christmas

Here are a few of the many incidents of Christmas attacks on Christians in 2018. Two days before Egypt’s Christian celebrations, a specialist in mine clearance died defusing a bomb hidden next to a church in Cairo. On 24 December a Methodist church in Bury offering night shelter to homeless refugees was attacked by arsonists who also stole their laptop and projector equipment. In Indonesia over 90,000 police and soldiers helped guard 50,000 churches across the country, including those previously attacked by terrorists. In India on 23 December a mob attacked forty people worshipping at a church in Kowad, injuring ten people. Militants increase their attacks on Nigerian churches at this time, and in Pakistan a planned attack was foiled in Karachi. See

Pray: for God to protect His people across the nations who are vulnerable to terrorism during the Christmas period. (Psalm 5:11)

More: releaseinternational.org/christian-persecution-set-to-rise-in-2019/

North Cameroon: rampages by militants

Adults were murdered, children were kidnapped, and people robbed in Boko Haram attacks on mainly-Christian villages in the far north of Cameroon. The army has difficulty combatting militants in an area dotted with small, isolated villages linked by poor roads where militants strike and then escape via main roads back to Nigeria. On 1 December gunmen attacked mourners at a funeral in Kotserehé, killing four and wounding three. The following night, they murdered three and wounded another when they swarmed into Zangola, stealing food and clothing; they similarly looted Yagoua. In Mbreche, militants kidnapped 21 young people aged between 12 and 21; next they attacked Tahert, stealing a motorbike and wounding a girl. Those abducted will be forced to become Boko Haram ‘soldiers’ and fight for the extremists. In November a Christian boy was hacked to death for resisting militants’ attempt to abduct him as a ‘soldier’.

Pray: for God to comfort all who have been attacked and bereaved, and that the authorities can find the children and block the militants’ actions. (Psalm 86:17)

More: barnabasfund.org/en/news/seven-killed-and-21-young-people-kidnapped-in-far-north-cameroon-as-boko-haram-rampage

Global: polio in 2019

World Polio Day was on 24 October. Global polio numbers have fallen over decades, but new outbreaks continue to raise questions about eradication efforts in countries where humanitarian access is a problem. The recent surge in polio is fuelled by dozens of cases of wild poliovirus in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and by unexpected new outbreaks of vaccine-derived strains, rare mutations that affect under-immunised populations, in at least 14 other countries. Some of these had not seen polio for years, including Ghana and the Philippines, which both announced outbreaks in September. In some cases, vaccine-derived polio strains have leapt across borders - from Nigeria to its neighbours and from Somalia to Ethiopia. A WHO committee has said, ‘The risk of new outbreaks in other countries is considered extremely high, even probable’. There are grave concerns that it will not be possible to control outbreaks in Africa and Asia.

Pray: for vaccines to eradicate new strains, and for medicine to reach destinations safely. (Proverbs 3:8)

More: www.thenewhumanitarian.org/maps-and-graphics/2019/10/24/polio-outbreaks-how-virus-spread-decades-eradication-efforts

Nigeria: government detains trafficking survivors

According to a Human Rights Watch report, survivors of human trafficking are being locked up in shelters by the Nigerian government. 76 of them are women suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks, aches and pains. Despite attempts to combat human trafficking and provide support for survivors, care for victims is still severely lacking. Nigerian authorities are illegally detaining traumatised survivors, and inhibiting their recovery from the experiences they went through. They are not allowing survivors to leave at will, in violation of the country’s international legal obligations. The detentions overwhelmingly affect women and girls between the ages of 8 and 17, putting their recovery and well-being at risk. Some were promised well-paid jobs as domestic workers, hairdressers, or hotel staff but were then tricked and trapped in exploitation, and forced to pay back huge ‘debts’ for their travel.

Pray: for medical, counselling, financial support and reintegration into society or reuniting with their families for all the men, women and children. (Psalm 23:4)

More: www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/nigeria-government-detaining-trafficking-survivors-report-190827085056733.html

Chad: 30 killed in landslide

Chad’s defence minister has said that a landslide at an illegal gold mine had killed about thirty people in a region near the Libyan border early on 24 September, and more victims might still be buried in the rubble. There has been rapid growth in illegal mining in recent years, often by refugees from Sudan looking for quick money to head to Europe or by rebels fighting the army. Unsafe methods and a lack of oversight mean that accidents are common at such mines across Africa, where impoverished communities seek a share of the vast resources that are usually dug up by international companies, processed and sent overseas. As gold surges, so does illegal mining across Chad, South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Nigeria - bringing crime, danger and risk to fragile environments.

Pray: for those rescued to be arrested for illegal mining and trespassing, for those still underground to be found and for the families of the dead to be comforted. (Proverbs 21:15)

More: www.vanguardngr.com/2019/09/about-30-killed-in-landslide-at-chad-gold-mine/

Nigeria: kidnapped Christians alive?

More than a month after a video which implied that kidnapped Christian teenager Leah Sharibu had been killed, a presidential spokesman, citing intelligence from security agencies, released a statement stating that the government is negotiating with terrorists for the release of Leah and other captives. He said that lines of communication remain open with Boko Haram kidnappers, now called the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), to secure their release. The government understands how difficult these times are for the family and friends of the kidnapped girls, and is pursuing many options to ensure their safe return. However, the administration does not encourage payment of ransom to secure the release of captives. For this reason, he said, the government has not rushed to yield to the demands of the terrorist group. However, many no longer believe that the government is genuinely working to free the captives.

Pray: for the release of Leah and all the others abducted in recent years. (Nehemiah 9:19a)

More: www.assistnews.net/nigeria-says-leah-sharibu-is-alive/

South Africa: agitation and frustration

Cyril Ramaphosa won the May elections on a reformist ticket against ANC’s corrupt old guard. Now he is dealing with a corruption row over land reform in the countryside and xenophobia in the towns. When he took over he pledged to bring ‘ethics’ into politics. But for much of his short tenure, Ramaphosa has fought a campaign addressing financial scandals. His first move as president was spearheading controversial reforms which would advance land transfers to the black majority. But many black people don't yet know how to farm,so they need the white commercial farmers to train and help them. Recently, cities have experienced violent mobs looting shops and torching vehicles owned by foreign nationals, in a wave of xenophobic attacks. Angry residents are calling on the government to deport undocumented migrants. Nigeria sent an envoy to South Africa to express her displeasure over the treatment of her citizens, and Ethiopia's embassy advised its citizens to close their businesses. See also

Pray: for white commercial farmers and black farmers to be able to work collaboratively, for criminality and xenophobic violence to be removed from the cities, and for fair and honest documentation in both cases. (Micah 6:8)

More: www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/inthefield/2019/08/land-expropriation-eyes-south-african-farmers-190829143259189.html

Met Police pay damages to street preacher

In March Prayer-Alert intercessors prayed for an inquiry into the unfair arrest and abuse of Pastor Oluwole Ilesanmi, a street preacher. Now, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, he has been offered £2,500 in exemplary damages from the Metropolitan Police in relation to his false arrest, imprisonment and unlawful detention. Also a petition with over 38,000 signatures has now been given to the Home Secretary calling on her to investigate the guidance and training given to police officers nationwide on the freedom to preach in public. May this petition now be acted upon. See

Praise: God for the justice given to Pastor Oluowe, may this case set a precedent for policing procedures. (Isaiah 43:19)

More: https://www.christianconcern.com/our-issues/freedom-of-speech/met-police-pays-damages-nigerian-street-preacher-wrongful-arrest

Cameroon: Christian majority flee Boko Haram

Bishop Bruno Ateba of Maroua-Mokolo said that over 100,000 Christian Cameroonians have been made refugees within their own country as a result of a rise in attacks by Boko Haram. 70% of the population is Christian. The bishop said tourism has ceased and life has come to a standstill because of the terrorist crisis. Suicide bombings in Maroua, in the far north, killed over 30 people and injured hundreds. The recent suicide attacks were carried out by two young girls, forced by Boko Haram to conceal bombs under their burkas and detonate their weapons in public places. In an appeal to international governments, Bishop Bruno said, ‘Help us to achieve peace. The international community has all the resources to put an end to the terrorism of Boko Haram.’ In a letter to all the faithful of his diocese, Bishop Bruno called them to pray and be watchful.

Pray: for God's protection over the land, and for international security support on the Nigerian border. (Psalm 91:1)

More: www.sconews.co.uk/news/47172/christian-majority-in-cameroon-flee-boko-haram-attacks/

Christians persecuted in 3 of 4 nations globally

'Have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group'

There are some 197 countries around the world.

And in 144 of them, Christians are persecuted, according to a report commissioned by the British government.

There is widespread evidence showing that “today, Christians constitute by far the most widely persecuted religion,” the report said.

It found that “Christians have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group and have suffered harassment in many of the heavily Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa.”

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