18 July 2023
Christians in Punjab, Pakistan, threatened by extremists; Three church members beaten in central Sri Lanka; Church minister among four released by kidnappers in Ebonyi State, Nigeria
- Residents of a Christian community in Punjab, Pakistan, have been left fearing for their safety after they were blamed without evidence for producing posters with content offensive to Muslims. A Muslim resident of Sarghoda District discovered the offensive posters on the morning of Sunday 16 July and made a “blasphemy” complaint to police. Later that day extremists gathered to protest against the pamphlet, blaming Christians for producing it. Many believers have fled from their homes in Marriam Town, a Christian community in Sarghoda of 3,500-4,000 people, after the extremists threatened to burn down their homes. Give thanks that police prevented the mob from carrying out their threats. Pray for the safety of Christians in Sarghoda, and across Pakistan, who are vulnerable to mob violence following such baseless accusations.
- Three Christians from the same church in Thamankaduwa, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, were beaten and threatened in separate attacks by extremists. On 16 June one Christian, a trainee pastor and church volunteer, suffered scratches on his neck after being beaten by two men. The men also threatened to attack the church building. Three days later, two other believers, on their way home after a Bible study, were attacked by three or four men armed with iron bars. One suffered injuries to his head and the other an injury to his hand. Pray for the recovery of the injured, and the safety of the church.
- Nigerian church minister Joseph Azubike, kidnapped as he returned to his home in Ebonyi State on 10 July from a pastoral engagement, has been freed by his abductors along with three other men travelling with him. Police said the four men were released unharmed and in good health on 12 July. Give thanks to God for answering prayers for the men’s swift and safe release. Pray for an end to the persistent kidnappings, especially of church leaders, in Nigeria.