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According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has reported that Boko Haram terrorists carried out over “fifty different attacks on different communities between the end of 2019 to June 2020,” most of which were “unreported or under-reported by both the print and electronic media.”
In a statement read out on July 2 by EYN National President Reverend Joel Billi during a press conference in Yola Adamawa, the Church also revealed that over 700,000 church members have been displaced; eight pastors and over 8,370 lay people have been killed; and an unknown number of people have been abducted by the terrorist factions. “Only seven out of 60 District Church Councils […] were not directly affected by the insurgency.”
CSW reports that the EYN is the largest Christian denomination in northeast Nigeria, where the Boko Haram factions operate. Consequently, it is the denomination most impacted by terrorist violence. 217 of the 276 schoolgirls abducted from their school in Chibok in April 2014 are EYN members, and over 300 of the denomination’s 586 churches have been either burnt or destroyed, “with uncountable numbers of houses belonging to our members looted or burnt.”
In his Democracy Day speech on June 12, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that the former inhabitants of local government areas (LGAs), previously overrun by Boko Haram, had long since been able to return to them. Describing this assertion as “unfortunate, misleading and demoralizing,” the EYN President clarified that the four EYN District Church Councils (DCCs) which existed in the Gwoza LGA of Borno State prior to the insurgency are no longer there. “There are over 18,000 of our members who are still taking refuge in Minawao, Cameroon. There are also about 7,000 EYN members who are taking refuge in other IDP Camps in Cameroon…” While some people have returned to Gwoza town and Pulka, “the total number of IDPs in the Cameroon Camps, who are over 95% from Gwoza, is over 47,000.” Additionally, 34 villages in southern Borno and northern Adamawa are currently deserted due to repeated attacks by Boko Haram.
While the statement commends “the renewed zeal” of the security forces in tackling Boko Haram, it also calls on the Federal Government and the State Governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to rescue the remaining Chibok Girls “as matter of urgency,” and appeals to the Federal Government to rescue Leah Sharibu, Alice Ngaddah, “and others abducted by Boko Haram factions.”
The statement urges President Buhari to deploy “at least a battalion of military to the deserted areas behind the Gwoza Hills” in order to facilitate the return of refugees, and to send “more security personnel to volatile areas to mitigate further attacks.” Other calls are that the government should reconstruct and rehabilitate homes, schools and houses of worship destroyed by the insurgents, and make plans for the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the end of 2020.
The statement also addresses the high levels of insecurity prevailing throughout the country, urging the government “to live up to its constitutional responsibility” by bringing “the continuous killings, abductions, rape and all forms of criminality” to an end, and to urgently address “the activities of Fulani Militia, armed bandits and kidnappers terrorizing our communities.” It further implores State and Federal Governments “to ensure that Christian Religious Studies (CRS) is taught in public schools” in northern states where this is not occurring, and the “immediate reversal and correction of the imbalance in most appointments” by the president, which “have always been skewed to favour a particular section and religion.”
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “The Boko Haram factions continue to be responsible for the most appalling violence in northeast Nigeria on an almost daily basis. However, aside from particularly appalling incidents that garner international attention, the majority of these attacks go unreported and unnoticed. Both local and international media outlets must do more to report on the violence which is unfolding across Nigeria. We are deeply saddened by the suffering endured by the EYN and its members and echo its calls on the Nigerian government to take immediate action to mitigate and address attacks by all non-state actors. We also reiterate our call to Nigeria’s international allies to encourage the government in its efforts to tackle every source of the violence effectively, including by offering technical assistance and humanitarian support to those who have been displaced or otherwise affected.”
- Assist News Service
By Peter Wooding
A growing church planting ministry run by Operation Mobilisation is having a significant impact on the surfing community in Northern Portugal.
Surf Church Porto began in the home of Troy and Michelle Pitney in 2015.
“Six or so of us met in our house in our living room,” explains Troy.
“And we began worshiping the Lord and looking at scripture, we started functioning as a church and prayed that God might do something with it. Little by little things grew. In January 2017 we finally had to move out of our house. We had at times 60, 70, 80 people packed in our living room. We found a location right on the beach, right in front of the surf. It was really just a dream location to be.”
Michelle Pitney explains how moving to this location also enabled them to grow their children’s ministry:
“Moving into our new church building opened such a huge opportunity for the children’s ministry. I think our church really found a heartbeat for kids and creating a safe place where kids can come from anywhere, any season of life and feel loved and learn about the love of God.
Church member Katherine Grabher says they are also impacting many lives through their dance outreach:
“One of my students brought one of her friends and this friend just loved dance and she came her just for that purpose. She didn’t know this was a church or anything to do with the church and when she found out that was amazed that a church includes dance or surf or other activities.”
Troy Pitney leading worship at Surf Church Viana.
In 2018 Surf Church Porto planted another church in Viana. Troy Pitney concluded by sharing his vision to see many more new people come and receive hands on training as part of their Church Planters Initiative program, so they can start many more fellowships across the country:
“I would hope that church in Viana becomes a church that plants churches, that creates disciples, that make disciples, that make disciples. Therefore new churches and new opportunities for new church plants would come out of it. Of course, I’d love to see the church grow. I’d love to see it reach the city, but I’d love to see that church reproducing into more and more communities of Jesus followers.”
- Assist News Service
By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
New details emerged recently of a young Christian man who was reportedly murdered in eastern India for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ.
Kande Mudu, 27, was gruesomely killed by weapons carrying Hindu militants in Bari village in the Khunti District of Jharkhand state, said Christians familiar with the situation.
Mudu, who converted to Christianity four years ago, leaves behind a wife and two daughters, aged one and three, Worthy News learned. They remain in hiding at the time of this report.
Christian rights investigators said that the June 7 attack happened after the family had finished dinner and gathered for prayer.
They reportedly first heard banging on their front door. Soon after a group of six to eight men armed with sharp weapons and homemade pistols demanded that her husband Kande Mudu come outside, Christians said.
Breaking down the door
“The men later broke down the door and dragged him outside as Mrs. Mudu pleaded for her husband’s life,” explained advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
“Once they had got Mrs. Mudu out of the way, the men proceeded to violently hack Mr. Mudu with their weapons, slitting his throat,” CSW added.
Bindu Mudu was quoted as saying that her husband knew that their lives were in danger and that the men had bad intentions. As he prepared to meet the mob, he reportedly told his wife to remain healthy and “to never give up faith in Jesus” Christ “even if they killed” him.
The widow took her two daughters and was forced to run for several kilometers as locals refused to shelter them. She eventually took temporary refuge in the home of another church member.
Her husband’s body was discovered by his younger brother on the village road, according to Christian activists.
In a statement distributed by CSW, widow Mudu said her father encouraged her “to forsake” her Christian faith if she wanted to stay alive.
At her husbands’ funeral, he reminded the widow that her mother was gang-raped in 2018 in a previous attack on the Christian family.
Though she lost her husband, to which she responded, “I will live for Jesus and die for Jesus, but I will never turn back.”
The killing was the latest in a series of attacks against Christians in India, a mainly Hindu nation.
- Worthy News
By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
Iran has detained or intimidated dozens of devoted Christians in recent days as part of government efforts to halt the spread of Christianity in the Islamic nation, investigators say.
Among those captured are many former Muslims who became believers in Christ, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
At least 12 Iranian believers were taken into custody by officers of Iran’s feared Revolutionary Guard in three cities, added Iranian advocacy group Article18.
“The arrests took place on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning in [the capital] Tehran, its sister city Karaj, and Malayer, 400 kilometers southwest of Tehran,” the group said.
“Dozens more Christians were ordered to provide their contact details and told they would be soon be summoned for questioning,” the group added.
The first arrests began Tuesday evening, in western Tehran’s Yaftabad district when security forces broke up a house church meeting, rights activists said. “Ten intelligence agents – eight men and two women – raided the home of a recent Christian convert, where around 30 Christians had gathered, Article18 stressed.
It claimed that the agents, who were armed and wore masks, were initially polite as they filmed the raid and separated men from women. “But they later turned the cameras off and treated the Christians harshly.”
Everyone was taken to the building’s car park, where a van with blacked-out windows awaited, and several other cars, Christians said. Vehicles of residents were removed to make space for the agents’ cars and for the garage to become a quasi-interrogation room, Christians said.
Agents later reportedly read out a list of names written on an arrest warrant. They were identified as Armenian-Iranian Christian Joseph Shahbazian, and five Christian converts named Reza, Salar, Sonya, and elderly sisters Mina and Maryam.
Those detained were handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken away to an unknown location, Article18 confirmed. “They’ve and have not yet been able to contact their families to tell them where they have been taken.”
The Christians were also ordered to write that none of their property had been confiscated, even after the confiscation of their mobile phones, and despite their protests, Worthy News learned.
The agents then drove the six detained Christians, as well as some of whose names were not on the list, to their homes in Tehran and Karaj to look for Bibles, other Christian literature, and communication devices.
During the operation, “Christians were reportedly beaten, as well as some of their non-Christian family members,” Forum 18 stressed.
The agents later went to the homes of the three Christian converts whose names were read out but had not been present. Two men, Farhad, and another named Arash were detained.
Elsewhere three Christian converts were summoned to the city of Malayer and told to report to the Revolutionary Guard intelligence office for questioning.
The three Christians – named Sohrab, Ebrahim, and Yasser were released the next days on bail of 30 million tomans ($1,500) each, activists confirmed. Of the other detained Christians, two were reportedly freed on bail set at 50 million tomans (around $2,500).
Article18 said the raids were apparently coordinated “with the help of an informant, who had infiltrated the group within the past few months and gained their trust.”
This individual “is reported to have accompanied the intelligence agents in their raid on the Tehran house-church, and to have even stood next to the judge as he later read out his bail demands,” the group stressed.
Government officials have denied wrongdoing. However, Christians say Iran’s leadership is concerned, hundreds of thousands of former Muslims are believed to have embraced the Christian faith in recent years.
- Worthy News
For three Wednesday’s, starting on July 15, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, (ICEJ) will host a webinar series by Dr Susanna Kokennen on anti-Semitism. She was the director of the Christian Desk at Yad VaShem in Jerusalem for many years and is an expert on the topic being presented, which is so crucial for the time we are in:
July 15, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain.
From Medieval anti-Semitism to COVID-19: An ancient hatred in a contemporary context
In this first session, we start briefly from the Biblical setting and the Antiquity, as background to our medieval context of anti-Semitism. What was the medieval society like in relation to the Jews? What was the specific Christian attitude inherited from the Church Fathers like? How did the Black Death influence Europe’s Jewish communities? Do we see medieval anti-Semitism present in our society? What is the enduring legacy of traditional Christian anti-Semitism that we need to be aware of?
July 22, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain.
Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories
From the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to COVID-19
In this second session, we move on from the medieval era to the Enlightenment and modernity. As the Jews of Western Europe left the ghettoes, new accusations were added to traditional Christian anti-Semitism. These included the perception of Jewish power in banking, in media and in world politics. The dual accusations of Jewish Capitalism as well as Communism were made by the Nazis and their followers. Later, the State of Israel and “international Zionism” are frequently maligned. Where do these ideas come from? How are they visible during COVID-19? How are we to react, as Christians, to these anti-Jewish and anti-Israel views?
July 29, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain.
In this third session, we focus on objective definitions of anti-Semitism. The pertinent question is who defines something as anti-Semitic? The goal of this session is to equip us with tools so we can recognize hatred. Anti-Semites often do not like to call themselves as such. They frequently appeal to freedom of speech. Since anti-Semitism has always adapted itself to changing environments, how do we recognize anti-Semitic speech today? How do we recognize Holocaust denial and re-writing of history? There are intergovernmental definitions we need to study. Finally, does the Bible address this topic? Is it possible that even Christians can be deceived?
To register and watch live and to learn more – https://ca.icej.org/summer-season-seminars