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Nigeria

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A trama healing workshop for victims of
anti-Christian violence

The lives of many Christians in Nigeria are being taken or torn apart by the ruthless campaign of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. It is mounting attacks on various targets, including the security forces, and it has openly declared its intention of driving Christians from the North of the country, where it wants to establish an Islamic state.

The group is thought to have killed over 3,500 people since the launch of its violent campaign in 2009. The US finally designated Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs) in November 2013 after a long campaign by Nigerian Christians, backed by Barnabas Aid.

Boko Haram has not only engaged in its own brutal acts of violence; it has also exploited existing tensions to encourage other Muslims to attack Christians. Anti-Christian atrocities are continuing on almost a daily basis, and they occur not only in the mainly Muslim North, but also in the Middle Belt, where Christians and Muslims are roughly equal in number. Incidents in 2013 have included raids on homes and villages that left dozens dead and scores of houses destroyed, the abduction of Christian girls who were then coerced into renouncing their faith, the bombing and torching of churches, and an attack on Christians at a bus station. Despite its efforts to stop the violence, the government has not succeeded in effectively containing it, or in bringing those responsible to justice.

An Islamist agenda is also being enforced by the authorities in some parts of the North. Twelve states have sharia in at least some Muslim-majority areas, and some of these interpret it strictly. Non-Muslims are subject to certain sharia practices (such as the separation of men and women in public), and some states fund sharia-enforcement groups. Christians in the North may be denied building permits for new church buildings or suffer other forms of discrimination.

Although parts of Nigeria came into contact with Christianity as early as the fifteenth century, the principal phase of mission activity began in the nineteenth century. Both Western and African-American missionaries were involved. In the colonial period the mission agencies established rural networks of education and health care, some of which still exist.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Iraqi Christians are losing even previously safe havens under the relentless assault of ISIS. On 25 June, the militant group attacked the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, driving its mainly Christian population of around 40,000 to flee. Many Christians from Mosul had gone there after the fall of their own city earlier in the month. Kurdish forces were able to repel ISIS from the town, allowing some people to return to their homes for the time being, but their security remains extremely precarious. Pray that the ISIS advance will be stopped and that the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the captured territory. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

    • The militant jihadist group ISIS launched a terrifying attack on Mosul, the second city of Iraq, on 6 June. They seized weapons, freed prisoners and looted and torched church buildings. Three days later, police came to senior church leaders there and advised the Christian community to leave. They fled immediately, leaving everything behind as they sought refuge in the Nineveh valley. The following day Mosul fell to the rebels. Barnabas sent emergency aid to support the Christians in their desperate need. The militants then advanced south, prompting Christians also to leave the city of Kirkuk. Pray for provision and protection for our displaced brothers and sisters and that they will find safety in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Give thanks that Barnabas Aid is helping many Christian families from Aleppo, Syria, to survive. One group of over 240 families originally lived in one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods, but on Good Friday 2013, rebels invaded their area, forcing them to flee. They lost all their possessions on that day and have been living as displaced persons. The families have been receiving monthly food packages and milk powder for the children for almost two years now, as well as regular additional packages containing essentials such as blankets, shoes and seasonal clothes. Pray that our partner will be able to continue getting the aid to those who need it most. Pray too that the displaced families may experience God’s nearness through their ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Aug 2014 00:00

    • As the Syrian civil war rages on, the militant Islamist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) now controls extensive territory in eastern Syria. The group is acutely hostile to Christians, who are suffering grievous oppression under its rule. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has named Syria as one of the world’s worst violators for the first time, saying that the crisis “has devolved largely into a sectarian conflict” and “represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”, with abuses being committed by all sides. Before the war, it was easier to be a Christian in Syria than almost anywhere else in the Arab world. Pray that the US and other Western governments will continue to work for a resolution of the conflict and for religious freedom for all Syria’s citizens. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Aug 2014 00:00

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