Showing posts with label Mali. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mali. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RLPB 161. May Update; Incl. Mali, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, UK, Zanzibar

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 161 | Wed 30 May 2012
By Elizabeth Kendal

MAY 2012 UPDATE -- During May we prayed concerning . . . 

* AFRICA (RLPB 157), where Christians are at risk from Islamic terrorism from one side of the continent to the other.

UPDATE: Al-Qaeda-linked rebel forces (which includes elements of Nigeria's Boko Haram) that are controlling northern Mali have seized a key underground weapons and ammunition depot of the Malian Army in Gao. A regional security source confirmed the seizure, saying the vast cache of weapons will greatly boost al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's (AQIM's) striking power, adding that the group 'is today more armed than the combined armies of Mali and Burkina Faso'.  See RLPB 157 for critical prayer points, particularly that supply-lines will be cut off.
For an update on Mali see:
"Islamist's weapons siezure will greatly boost AQIM's striking power "
Religious Liberty Monitoring 6 June 2012

* INDIA (RLPB 158), where militant Hindu nationalism, which is advancing unchallenged and with impunity, is bringing great suffering to the body of Christ.

* ACEH, INDONESIA (RLPB 159), where a new Islamist governor is acquiescing to Islamic hard-line fundamentalists and escalating repression against the church.

* SYRIA & LEBANON (RLPB 160), where sectarian violence is escalating and spreading, leaving large Christian minorities in great need of divine refuge and deliverance.

'The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.' (Psalm 18:2,3 ESV)

MAY 2012 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .

* EGYPT: ISLAMISTS BLAME CHRISTIANS
Over 23-24 May, Egyptians voted to elect a president from amongst 13 candidates. There was a low turnout of only 46 percent. The two front-runners will go head-to-head in a run-off over 16-17 June. They are the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi who polled 25.3 percent, and Ahmed Shafiq who polled 24.9 percent. Shafiq, a former air force commander, was former president Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister. For many, the run-off presents an unthinkable dilemma: to risk the feared Islamists or to return to the reviled regime? This choice leaves many Egyptians very angry and deeply conflicted. The Islamists are blaming the unexpected rise of Ahmed Shafiq on the 'unfortunate' and 'sectarian' vote of Christians who, they falsely claim, were following directions from Coptic Church leaders. In reality, the Copts were totally free to vote according to conscience and Shafiq -- who campaigned on a platform of stability and security -- won most of his votes in the Delta provinces where Copts number only about 5 percent. As Egyptian media fuel the rumours, the Copts are finding themselves under fire from both the Islamists and the young 'revolutionaries'. On Monday 28 May rioting Egyptian youths ransacked and set fire to Shafiq's campaign headquarters in Cairo. Similar protests erupted in other cities. The fear now is that the run-off will accelerate the fracturing of Egyptian society and that the Christians will be slandered as spoilers of the revolution so that all anger might be deflected on to them. Pray for Egypt's threatened Christians.

* INDONESIA: THE MYTH OF RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE
On Thursday 17 May, some 100 members of the Philadelphia Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi, a suburb of Jakarta, in West Java, met for prayer and worship, surrounded -- as they are every week -- by a large angry Muslim mob. In direct violation of a Supreme Court ruling, local authorities refuse to let the church construct a building. Consequently the believers are forced to meet in the open air where they are vulnerable to weekly abuse and violence from members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). As soon as Pastor Palti Panjaitan began speaking, the 600-strong Islamist mob began pelting the believers with stones, frogs and plastic bags filled with urine, forcing the believers to disperse. The police on guard did nothing to intervene and nobody has been arrested. Three days later (Sunday 20 May) the Islamists repeated the abuse, throwing mud, rotten eggs and cups of drainage water at the believers, forcing them to disperse after only five minutes.  Pray for the Church in Indonesia.

* KUWAIT: CHURCHES EVICTED AS ISLAMISTS CONSOLIDATE
On 2 February Kuwaitis went to the polls to elect a new parliament. All four female MPs lost their seats and hard-line Islamists (including Salafis and members of the Muslim Brotherhood and conservative Popular Action Bloc) secured 34 of the 50 seats. As reported in RLPB 151 (March 2012) the new parliament is drafting a law that will ban the construction of new churches. On Thursday 3 May, the parliament ruled to amend the penal code to impose the death penalty on any Muslim who insults God, Mohammad and his relatives or the Qur'an. (Such blasphemy is essentially akin to apostasy). If the accused repents, the sentence is reduced to five years in prison plus a fine. Non-Muslims found guilty of insulting Islam will be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Two house-churches affiliated with the National Evangelical Church in Kuwait recently found they were unable to renew their leases. Whilst both have found temporary accommodation, they fear it will be impossible to find permanent meeting places as pressure is applied to landlords not to lease to church groups. Expatriate Christians are beginning to fear for their safety. Kuwaiti converts will doubtless find their already tenuous security diminishing too. Pray for Christians in Kuwait.

* UK: CHRISTIANS TO CHOOSE -- CONSCIENCE OR JOB
After hearing Christian counsellor Lesley Pilkington (61) speak at a Christian conference on sexuality, Patrick Strudwick approached her for counselling. He claimed to be 'a believer' who was unhappy about his homosexuality and interested in the 'reparative therapy' involving counselling and prayer that she had spoken about. After two sessions Mrs Pilkington discovered that Strudwick was actually a fake client: a homosexual activist-journalist working undercover in a 'sting'. After Strudwick's 'story' hit the mass media, Mrs Pilkington was charged with professional malpractice. The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) has now informed Mrs Pilkington she will lose her senior accredited status as a counsellor. Mrs Pilkington told the Telegraph, 'There is a wider agenda that diversity and equality, which is supposed to be what our society upholds, is upheld for everyone except for those who have traditional Judeo-Christian values. I think that is very disturbing.' As noted by the CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams: 'Lesley has been penalised because she was targeted as a Christian and because she believes that people are free to choose to change their behaviour if they wish.'  

In the UK, as in the USA, Christians unable to affirm homosexual lifestyle are increasingly being forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs. If this situation does not change, then submission to a totalitarian state ideology will ultimately be a requirement that will force many Christians out of many roles and professions. Pray for an awakening, and that Western Christians will stand firm in faith, trusting the Lord in all things. 'If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.' (Isaiah 7:9b ESV)

* ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA: CHURCHES TORCHED AS MUSLIM SEPARATISTS RIOT
Jumuiya ya Uamsho na Mihadhara ya Kiislamu (Swahili for the Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation) is a radical separatist group in Zanzibar.  Muslims belonging to Uamsho rioted in Zanzibar across the weekend of 26-27 May as they called for the release of Mussa Juma, an Uamsho leader. Clashes with police erupted in the historic commercial and tourism centre of Stone Town and two churches were torched. Rev Ambrose Mkenda of St Michael's Roman Catholic Church said rioters invaded the church, poured petrol on the structures and set the place alight, stoking the fire with burning tyres. The church was razed. Bishop Dickson Maganga of the Tanzania Assemblies of God church in Kariakoo said that rioters broke into the church and burnt plastic chairs before setting fire to his car which was 'reduced to a shell'. The police and fire brigade put out the fire before it spread. Senior members of Uamsho were arrested, as were scores of rioters. Tanzania's government has pledged to have a new constitution in place by 2014. Uamsho is demanding a referendum on Zanzibar's secession from Tanzania and this is expected to be a major issue in the constitutional debate. Tensions are high.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

RLPB 157. Africa: Christians targeted from east to west

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 157 | Wed 02 May 2012

AFRICA: CHRISTIANS TARGETED FROM EAST TO WEST
By Elizabeth Kendal

Security is deteriorating rapidly for Christians along Africa's notorious ethnic-religious fault-line: roughly between the 5 to 10 degree north parallels. Genocidal Islamic jihad has displaced Christians in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Mali and Ivory Coast. Multitudes of predominantly Christian, ethnically southern Ivorian refugees feel forgotten. Displaced during the French-backed Islamic coup of April 2011, they remain desperate and vulnerable, unable to return home because their homes and farms have been occupied by pro-Ouattara supporters who are being protected by armed 'dozos' from the north.  Appointed by Ouattara's Republican Forces (former 'rebels') to crack down on crime, 'dozos' are a 'brotherhood of initiated traditional hunters renowned for their mystical powers'.

Further to this, terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, the Government of Sudan, Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and eastern Mali and Ansar Dine in Northern Mali are targeting Christians continually. These groups are seeking at the very least the subjugation of Christians and in some places their total eradication. The jihadists receive support from Islamist governments and from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which gets most of its funds from trafficking drugs, weapons and human beings.

TERROR IN KENYA

After Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia to fight al-Shabaab in October 2011 the Somalia-based jihadists threatened Kenya with 'a long, protracted war'. On Saturday evening 31 March militants believed to be from al-Shabaab hurled explosives into a prayer meeting in the coastal town of Mtwapa, just 16km from Mombasa. A woman and a nine-year-old boy were killed while around 30 others were wounded. On Sunday 29 April some 50 believers were worshipping in God's House of Miracles International Church in Nairobi when a militant simply walked in and hurled a bomb at the altar. 'I heard a blast and then around me everyone was covered in blood,' said Steven Mulinge, the church pianist. One person was killed while 15 others were treated in hospital for shrapnel wounds. Four victims with critical injuries have been transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital.

TERROR IN NIGERIA

On Sunday 29 April believers worshipping at Bayero University in the northern city of Kano  were targeted by militants from Boko Haram. The jihadists attacked the open-air service outside the faculty of medicine, throwing explosive devices amongst the worshippers then chasing and shooting believers as they fled. They also attacked a worship service being held in the sporting complex, again throwing explosive devices amongst the believers who were then chased and gunned down as they fled. Twenty-one people were killed and more than 20 were treated in hospital for gunshot wounds. In an almost simultaneous attack, six Boko Haram gunmen burst into a Church of Christ in Nigeria chapel the northeast city of Maiduguri, spraying bullets throughout the sanctuary. Whilst the worshippers escaped with wounds but no fatalities, the pastor and three others who were preparing to serve communion were found dead in the sanctuary. 

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* cut the lines of support that keep these jihadists armed and paid; may he sever relationships, smash networks, destroy trade and smuggling routes and remove key players so that the jihadists will be starved of resources. May the 'horns' [strength] of the wicked be cut off, and the 'horns' [strength] of the righteous be lifted up. (Psalm 75:10)

' . . . in the name of the LORD I cut them off!' (Psalm 118:10 ESV.)

* intervene for the sake of his imperilled people to infuse wisdom, courage and commitment into fearful, reluctant, equivocating and short-sighted African governments. 'The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.' (Proverbs 21:1 ESV)

* be a shield and provider for his displaced and frightened people; may he heal their wounds, shelter and protect them, provide their every need and increase their faith. (Psalm 18)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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CHRISTIANS TARGETED FROM EAST TO WEST IN AFRICA

Islamic jihad has displaced Christians in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Mali and Ivory Coast. Terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, the Government of Sudan, Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and eastern Mali and Ansar Dine in Northern Mali are targeting Christians continually. On Sunday 29 April some 25 Christians were killed and dozens wounded when jihadists launched terror attacks against church worship services in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Kano and Maiduguri, Northern Nigeria. The two groups involved -- al-Shabaab and Boko Haram -- both receive support from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), as does Ansar Dine, the group that has driven Christians from northern Mali. AQIM gets most of its funds from trafficking drugs, weapons and human beings. Please pray for these Churches.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

RLPB 154. MALI: Christians flee imposition of Sharia

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 154 | Wed 11 Apr 2012

MALI: CHRISTIANS FLEE IMPOSITION OF SHARIA
(plus a Nigeria update)
By Elizabeth Kendal

Having seized the capitals of the three main northern provinces in three days -- Kidal, on 30 March, Gao on 31 March and Timbuktu on 1 April -- the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (NMLA) declared it had achieved its military goal. (NMLA is the ethnic Tuareg rebel group that has seized control of northern Mali.) Consequently, on Thursday 5 April the NMLA announced a ceasefire. Whilst the NMLA has been fighting for political ends -- specifically for autonomy in their homeland -- they have been aided by Islamic jihadists who have been fighting for religious ends, specifically an Islamic state where Sharia (Islamic) Law is enforced. No sooner had the NMLA achieved its goal, the jihadists of Ansar Dine hoisted the black flag of al-Qaeda and announced the imposition of Sharia. Some 100 Nigerian Boko Haram militants who assisted in the capture of Gao have also established a presence there. Sources advise there are four distinct flags flying in Goa: the NMLA, Boko Haram, Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). However, it is the jihadists calling the shots, not the professedly secular NMLA.

The Tuareg rebellion has left northern Mali devastated. There have been reports of pack rapes as well as massive destruction and looting. The UN's office of humanitarian affairs reports: 'Malians in the northern towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu are hiding in their homes in fear following the weekend takeover by rebel groups, during which hospitals, health clinics, government buildings, and most NGO and UN offices and warehouses were looted, and in some cases destroyed, leaving the bulk of humanitarian operations suspended.' (IRIN, 3 April.) Head of the Malian office of Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Julia McDade, told IRIN: 'Everyone [in Gao] is in hiding, everyone's vehicles have been stolen … every single office has been ransacked.' Caritas Mali reported that its local office in Gao was destroyed along with the local church which served Gao's 200-strong Catholic community.

Reportedly, Ansar Dine has distributed leaflets containing a contact number saying that anyone who feels threatened or endangered should call Ansar Dine for assistance. One resident reports being on a bus of families fleeing Gao that was ambushed by Tuareg militants who were robbing everyone. People called the Ansar Dine 'hotline' and jihadists were quickly on the scene. The passengers then watched in horror as the jihadists slit the throat of one of the Tuareg militants to cries of 'Allahu Akbar'.

The shocking violence and destruction, but especially the Islamist threat, has forced virtually the entire Christian population of northern Mali to flee for their lives. The Guardian received an unconfirmed report that the Christian prefect of the town of Bourem had been executed along with his whole family. More than 90 percent of Timbuktu's approximately 300 Christians have fled according to Baptist Pastor Nock Ag Info Yattara, whose congregation has worshipped in Timbuktu since the 1950s. He added that not one of its 205 people is left. In Timbuktu, Ansar Dine is controlling the city and its military base, while the NMLA is camped out at the airport. 'What I deplore,' laments Ousmane Halle, the mayor of Timbuktu, 'is the departure of the Christian community . . . I cannot guarantee their safety. And these are people that have lived side by side with us for centuries.' (See AP)

For more details see Religious Liberty Monitoring

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* guarantee the safety of his displaced and threatened people and supply all their needs: spiritual, emotional and physical (food, medical supplies and refuge).

* 'frustrate' (NIV) / 'thwart' (NASB) the way of the wicked (Psalm 146:9c) so that northern Mali will not become an Islamic state and al-Qaeda sanctuary; may he intervene to restore democracy and liberty to northern Mali so that the light of Christ might shine there openly.

* redeem the present sufferings for his own ends, turning the schemes of the wicked 'upside down' (Psalm 146:9c KJV), so that falsehood might be exposed and rejected, truth might be illuminated and lifted up and doors long closed might be opened for gospel ministry.

'The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.' (Psalm 146:9 ESV)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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MALI CHRISTIANS FLEE IMPOSITION OF SHARIA

Ethnic Tuareg rebels have seized control of northern Mali. Whilst the main rebel group, the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, is professedly secular, its ally, a jihadist faction known as Ansar Dine, has wrested control, hoisted the black flag of al-Qaeda and announced the imposition of Sharia Law. The Tuareg rebellion has devastated northern Mali. There have been reports of pack rapes and violence, whilst the massive destruction and widespread looting has left the humanitarian aid sector totally crippled. Christian charities and churches have been destroyed. With Christians being targeted, virtually the entire Christian population of northern Mali has been forced to flee. Please pray for the Church in Mali.

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NIGERIA: GIVE THANKS AND KEEP PRAYING

On Easter Sunday a Boko Haram bomber attempted to get access to the 1st Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) on Gwari Road, Kaduna. However, his car was turned away at the barricades despite his having a military uniform folded on the back seat. As he drove away, the massive bomb exploded outside a hotel opposite the church. So far 39 people have died, most of whom were Okada (motor-cycle taxi) drivers parked at the hotel. The massive explosion damaged the ECWA Good News Church and the nearby All Nations Christian Assembly Church, blowing in the windows and destroying fans and roofing. However, the churchgoers worshipping at Easter services inside were protected. Thank the Lord while continuing to pray that he will protect his people (Psalm 125:2) and frustrate the schemes of the wicked (Psalm 146:9).