NIGERIAN CHURCHES CRITICISED FOR NOT HELPING PRESECUTED NORTH
Christians in the south of Nigeria are failing to help their persecuted compatriots in the north, according to a veteran humanitarian campaigner. British peer, Baroness Caroline Cox, who has made numerous aid missions to the country, said: “My personal view is that many of those churches are very wealthy and I would hope they could do more to help those who are suffering in the north, particularly the internally displaced people who are left. They could work with churches in the north who know the needs, to reach those most in need. From a Christian point of view, St Paul said that where one part of the Body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. There is an obligation to help our Christian brothers and sisters.” The 7 year Islamist rebellion has left 20,000 people dead and about 2.6 million displaced.
Lady Cox said that southern churches sent occasional aid, but a tribal rather than national outlook often resulted in a “disconnect at every level” between Christians in the north and those in the south. Church leaders in northern Nigeria have said that they do not have the resources to care for the children orphaned by Islamist attacks. Lady Cox also voiced concern that the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is failing to adequately respond to the increasing attacks by groups of armed Fulani herdsmen on Christian villages in the country’s Middle Belt. The lack of response could be linked to him being Fulani. The Federal Government has pledged to establish cattle ranches to resolve the issues between herdsmen and farmers, which President Buhari has attributed to “poverty, injustice and the lack of jobs”.
Other analysts give other reasons but ignoring an aspect that researchers such as Open Doors’ Yonas Dembele says amounts to ethnic cleansing of Christians. Last month dozens of southern Kaduna indigenes staged a demonstration in Kaduna city to the ongoing killings in their communities. The protesters accused the authorities of not doing enough to stop the violence. They also wanted the whole world to know their plight. Earlier about 7 people were killed as Fulani herdsmen raided Kugo village, in Kaduna state. Many others were injured while dozens of houses were set on fire including food stores. Since March 2013, at least 180 have been killed and 10,000 displaced, while hundreds of properties, including dozens of churches, have been burnt down.
Some 16 villages have been overrun by Fulani, according to the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). ECWA is the main church organisation in Kaduna (950 churches, over 2 million members) and most of the victims were ECWA members. While there had long been tensions over land for grazing cattle, Lady Cox describes as a “deeply disturbing strategy” a pattern by armed groups of Fulanis of carrying out violent attacks on Christian villages, shooting dead their pastors and occupying the land, causing the Christian populations to flee. Because eye-witnesses reported them shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they carried out their attacks, there’s also an “ideological aspect”, she said. She said this is also visible in the way the herdsmen passed through the Sharia-run states in the north without carrying out attacks.
A recent security report found that 826 Christians were killed, 878 injured and 21,000 displaced as a result of Fulani attacks in the Middle Belt region between January 2013 and May 2016. Asked who was arming the militias, Lady Cox suggested that Boko Haram may have a role in training them, adding: “There’s a lot of concern the cleansing by Fulani militias is an extension of the Islamisation of Nigeria”. Asked whether Britain could exert influence through its provision of aid, Cox said she hopes the UK Government would address the issue, however, trying to get aid to Christians displaced by Fulani militias would be difficult, she said. “Very often the aid doesn’t reach the people most in need who are dispersed among communities and not in UNHCR camps, making them hard to reach.”
TRUMP SWORN IN ON 2 BIBLES – ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S AND HIS OWN
Two different Bibles were used for the swearing in of President-elect Donald Trump at the Inauguration Ceremony last week. One was the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln during his first inauguration when he became the 16th President of the United States. The other is Mr. Trump’s very own personal Bible that was a gift from his mother many years ago. Presidential Inauguration Committee Chairman Tom Barrack shared in a statement, “In his first inaugural address, President Lincoln appealed to the ‘better angels of our nature.” Prior to Donald Trump taking the same oath of office 156 years later, he said he was humbled to place his hand on Bibles that hold special meaning both to his family and to our country.”
The “Lincoln Bible” was originally purchased for Lincoln’s first inauguration by Supreme Court clerk William Thomas Carroll and has been used for three different inauguration ceremonies, including Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861 and President Barack Obama’s inaugurations in 2009 and 2013. The other Bible that will be a part of the ceremony was a gift from Trump’s mother, given when he graduated from Sunday Church Primary School at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, New York in June of 1955. He shared in a campaign video about the Bible as he thanked evangelical supporters, “My mother gave me this Bible many years ago. In fact, it’s her writing on the inside cover. She wrote my name and my address and it’s just very special to me. I want to thank the evangelicals. I will never let you down.”
A representative from the Inauguration Committee, said the two Bibles were stacked on top of each other when Trump took his oath of office. Vice-President Elect Mike Pence was sworn in using the Reagan Family Bible, that President Ronald Reagan used to take his oaths of office as the 40th President of the United States. It was the first time since Reagan used it, that his Bible was used for an inauguration. Prior to the event Pence stated, “It will be my honour to take the Oath of Office to defend our Constitution from a man who has dedicated his life to the same noble pursuit.” Notably, Mr. Pence had the Bible open to this chapter and verse when he was sworn into office: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 Amen Lord, may it be so.
WHY CHURCH-GOING TEENS DON’T RELATE CHRIST WITH FAITH
Teenagers today don’t relate Christ with their Christianity but instead view their faith as doing the right thing and living within the bounds of “morality.” Christian young people, even those engaged in church youth groups, are straying from Christ more than in years past, adding that the difference between this generation and others is stark. “Studies are continuing to confirm that vast swaths of churchgoing kids know very little about their Christian faith,” Ed Vitagliano, American Family Association’s (AFA) executive vice president, said. “Instead, American Christianity has devolved into what two sociologists called ‘moralistic therapeutic deism,’ he added. Vitagliano shared three things he believes are misleading the youth today.
First, Christian teens are more “moralistic,” meaning their faith is more about “human goodness.” “Any Bible-believing Christian, however, knows that goodness is neither an inherent human trait nor is it sufficient for a saving relationship with God,” Vitagliano said. Second, he contends that youth are more “therapeutic,” which causes them to miss the entire point of discipleship; they are viewing the Church more as a religious form of therapy rather than having an intimate relationship with God. “Somewhere along the line, churchgoing kids have missed the point about the Christian faith. Rather than it being a relationship with God by which a disciple is joined to Christ, follows Him, and becomes more and more like Him, the modern, young evangelical says religion: ‘makes me feel happy,'” he said.
Thirdly Vitagliano explains that kids also believe in “deism,” which turns God into a vague subject and something that is difficult to reach. They see God as someone who created the world and defined the moral order, but they don’t see him as someone who gets personally involved with their affairs. He says that kids relate more with pop culture idols rather than with Jesus and calls it a spiritual catastrophe for youth. “What we are witnessing is a spiritual catastrophe in the making. For those Christians who viewed the recent American election result as a reprieve, are probably right. But it was not a permanent end to the spiritual war engulfing our nation,” Vitagliano warned. “If we don’t change the way we do business within the four walls of American church life, it won’t matter what happens outside them.”
MUSLIM WOMAN RISES FROM THE DEAD TO TELL HER FAMILY ABOUT JESUS
Christian journalist Steve Rees reports about a remarkable story from Central Asia. It’s about a 63-year old Muslim woman, Sabina, who landed in a coma and was proclaimed dead by her doctors. Her body was brought to a morgue where she stayed for two days. In a near-death-experience she had a vision of a tree branch moving toward her and turning into a hand. She heard the words: “If you grab onto my hand, I will bring you back to life.” When she took hold of the hand, she came back to live, to the astonishment of the medical staff working in the morgue. When she returned home, she surprised family members by heading straight to a local Pentecostal church where she surrendered her life to Christ.
This happened several years ago and since then her six daughters, her son, her 92-year old mother and a niece have become Christians too. It demonstrates that entire household salvations still happen among Muslims. Her emotional and powerful testimony is spreading through her Muslim nation in Central Asia. ‘I saw Jesus. He had his arms open wide and welcomed me home.’ When Muslim students at university heard about the miracle, they invited Sabina’s son-in-law Jamal to share about Jesus with them. A close friend of Jamal started to have dreams and visions of Jesus and within a month he gave his heart to the Lord. “When we prayed together he began to weep,” says Jamal. He said “I just saw Jesus again. This time he had his arms open wide, welcoming me home.'”
When his friend’s wife heard about the conversion, she threatened to divorce him. But he prayed for her and three months later both of them were baptized. Out of the conversion of this family many home Bible study groups have started among friends and neighbours. Some team members are ministering to Syrian refugees. “Last year we adopted an entire refugee camp before winter set in because many babies and toddlers die from the cold. We raised enough money to pay for heat and insulation in their tents,” Jamal says. They request prayer for their work with Syrian refugees, and for the love of Jesus to be revealed to many more friends and neighbours.
Was the murder of a Fulani Christian Deputy Mayor politically or religiously motivated? No one knows for sure. Moussa Issah Bary, the 47-year-old deputy mayor of Kerana was shot and killed by six gunmen on motorbikes on 16 November. News of the event has been slow in coming to the world’s attention. Municipal elections were just days away. Calling a Fulani a Christian almost sounds like a misnomer. Deputy Mayor Bary was a rare example of a Christian member of the Fulani tribe. Fulani extremists are infamous in Nigeria for committing atrocities against the country’s predominantly Christian middle belt. In fact they have been named one of the top five deadliest militias in the world.
Recent years in Mali have seen waves of Islamic extremism. In 2012 the French military was forced to intervene in the region. Christian churches and places of worship have been frequent targets. A Swiss missionary was kidnapped. Terrorists killed 22 people at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the capital. Thousands of Christians have fled the country, finding refuge further south or in Niger and Burkina Faso. Islamic extremism in Mali is just a part of a much wider regional conflict that stretches across the Sahel region (south of the Sahara) of the continent. Mali needs the divine intervention of God to avoid another unwelcome bloodbath in this African nation.
Please pray for:
* the witness of Mayor Bary among his fellow Fulani tribal members to continue to bear fruit and cause others to seek Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
* the love of Christ to surround Mayor Bary’s wife and 8 children. May God move upon the hearts of Christian Believers to meet this family’s financial needs.
* Mali citizens and government officials to stand firm against the wave of violence coming from Islamic extremism.
LGBT STUDIES FABRICATED FOR POLITICALLY CORRECT OUTCOMES
False and misleading data on homosexuality is being published, a major U.S. magazine has warned. The National Review reports that studies on the lives of LGBT people have proved to be unfounded. The practice of ignoring facts to present data that fits with popular, liberal opinion has caused a backlash in the scientific community.” The National Review highlights a study that claims that “minority stress” is reducing the life expectancy of homosexuals by twelve years. It was widely reported by parts of the press under headlines such as: “Can Prejudice Kill You? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Life Expectancy Drops 12 Years in Anti-Gay Communities.” In mid-November, academic journal Social Science and Medicine published a well-evidenced refutation.
Researchers attempted to replicate the author’s data using 10 different approaches but were unable to do so. They concluded that no approach could obtain findings “that supported the original study’s conclusions.” Another pro-LGBT study, published in the journal Science in 2015, has also been discredited. It purported to show that canvassing by LGBT people had a major effect on people’s opinions of them. But a lone student’s research found it had been entirely faked. The author had lied about receiving grants from real institutions. New York Magazine reported that the student was constantly opposed and told to keep quiet, “lest he earn a reputation as a troublemaker.”
Commenting on the increasing prevalence of unsubstantiated scientific studies, National Review contributor and author Maggie Gallagher said: “Science is not right-wing or left-wing. But to work, it needs scientists fearlessly committed to truth over their preferred outcomes.” She revealed that an academic project has been set up that is committed to “viewpoint diversity.” The Heterodox Academy is concerned that: “When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged and errors can go unchallenged.” It says it is seeking to “reverse this process”
The 15 July coup attempt in Turkey was just that, an attempt, an unsuccessful one, but its aftermath has been anything but a restoration of calm and peace. Its ripple effects continue as President Erdogan is emboldened in his crackdown on perceived “dissidents.” All walks of life have been affected. In an attempt to apprehend other plotters and supporters, authorities have removed 100,000 people from their jobs and more than 40,000 have been detained on terrorism charges. Falling into this wide dragnet are lawyers, teachers, journalists, military personnel, judges, and yes, opposition candidates. Christians too are caught up in this huge crackdown. American pastor Andrew Brunson, pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, has been detained since 7 October.
Februniye Akyol, the first Assyrian Christian elected as mayor in Turkey was removed and replaced by another official appointed by Erdogan’s government. The Turkish government has purged 30 mayors suspected as being supporters of Erdogan’s perceived threat, Fethullah Gulen, an exile in the United States.Immediately after the coup, the Association of Turkish Protestant Churches condemned it and pleaded for wisdom and understanding. Turkey’s democracy is in peril. President Erdogan, an avowed Islamist for years has long sought to turn Turkey into an Islamist state.
Please pray for:
* the accusations against Brunson, Akyol, and other arrested innocent victims to be clearly repudiated. Pray for all families impacted by this crackdown by President Erdogan.
* Christians in Turkey not to be intimidated by these and recent pressures, but that they will rather be emboldened to stand for Christ.
* President Erdogan and his supporters to have a divine encounter with the Lord and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.