Updates on the persecuted Church – 12 April 2023

12 April 2023

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Terrorist attack church reopens in Ondo State, Nigeria; Jailed Iranian Christian couple granted retrial; At least ten killed in Christian-majority areas of Myanmar; Violence in Christian-majority DRC causes humanitarian crisis. 

Seventeen Christians were killed when Islamists bombed a church service in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in January 2023. Ongoing violence in the north-east of Christian-majority DRC is creating a humanitarian disaster [Image credit: Africa News]

  • A church in Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria reopened on Easter Sunday, 9 April, ten months after at least 40 worshippers were killed in an attack on 5 June 2022. In a sermon to mark the reopening, Bishop Jude Arogundade called on the government to do more to prevent such attacks. “Almost on a daily basis we hear people being killed in their tens and hundreds,” he said. “Many people have even forgotten what happened in this church ten months ago, because many more [attacks] have happened without the world paying attention.” Give thanks for the reopening of the church. Pray that a solution is found to bring an end to armed attacks against civilians, including persistent Islamist attacks on Christian communities.
  • Iranian Christians Homayoun Zhaveh, 64, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 44, were informed on Easter Sunday, 9 April, that their third application for a retrial has been accepted by the country’s Supreme Court. Homayoun (who is serving two years for membership of a “house church”) and Sara (serving eight years) will have their case reviewed by Branch 34 of Tehran’s appeal court on 9 May. Homayoun, who has advanced Parkinson’s disease, and Sara, who is his main carer, have been in prison since August 2022. Pray that the Lord will strengthen and sustain the couple as they prepare for the appeal. Ask that, by His grace, they will win the case and be granted immediate freedom.
  • At least nine people were killed in Christian-majority Chin State when Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) jets bombed a school in Webula on 10 April. The school was not open at the time, but the head teacher and his wife were among the dead. A week earlier, on Sunday 2 April, artillery shelling by the Tatmadaw killed a 50-year-old man and injured five other people in a mainly Christian village in Pekhon township, Shan State. A church building was also struck in the attack, while several houses were damaged. Ask that the Lord will comfort those bereaved in the assaults, enable those wounded to recover and provide for those suffering loss of property to rebuild their lives. Pray for an end to the Tatmadaw’s attacks on Christian communities.
  • Ten million people in the Christian-majority Democratic Republic of the Congo are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, a crisis exacerbated by a renewed rise in violence, aid agencies warned on 5 April. Hundreds of thousands of farmers across North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri – provinces targeted for attacks by armed gangs including the Allied Democratic Forces, a jihadi group affiliated to Islamic State – have been unable to plant for the next harvest as they have been driven from their lands and homes. More than 600,000 have been internally displaced since violence escalated in June 2022. Ask God to intervene to halt the rise in violence. Pray that farmers will be able to return to their fields to plant the crops needed to feed His people.