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Tanzania

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Chaos in the aftermath of a church
bombing in Arusha

Christians and Muslims in Tanzania have traditionally lived together in peace, and they continue to do so in many parts of the country. But the president has said that for the first time Tanzania is facing the prospect of civil strife and division on religious lines. The past two years have seen heightened tensions, sometimes centred on the issue of animal slaughter. Muslims have attacked Christians for slaughtering and selling meat that is not halal (that is, killed according to Islamic sharia).

Church leaders are particularly liable to suffer violence. In 2013, one leader was beheaded, another shot dead, and a youth leader hacked to death, and there were machete attacks on pastors in their homes. Acid was thrown at another leader in Zanzibar. Some pastors have had to flee because of the threat to their lives. There has also been an increase in the number of attacks on churches and their buildings; for example, five people were killed and around 60 wounded when a new church building in Arusha was bombed during its inaugural service in May 2013. (Responsibility for some of these attacks is still unclear.)

Christians make up over 50% of the population of Tanzania, and the government safeguards religious freedom. The conditions on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, however, are very different. Islamists on Zanzibar, which is 98% Muslim, are pressing for independence from mainland Tanzania and for sharia to be applied to all the islands’ legislation. Violent attacks by Islamists on Zanzibar are becoming more frequent as tensions heighten.

The role of sharia is also being debated on the mainland. Many key posts across the country in politics, the judiciary and the security services are held by Muslims, and one senior Christian leader has said that the country could be totally Islamised in five to ten years if the Church does not make a decisive response to the threat of Islamism.

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Daily prayer

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  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 15 hours ago

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

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