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187 TEENAGE GIRLS STILL MISSING AFTER BOKO HARAM RAID IN NIGERIA

On 25 February Boko Haram militants slaughtered 59 teenage boys boarding at a Government College in Yobe State, Nigeria. After rounding up the female students, the militants sent them off with orders to abandon their education and get married.  In a video released on March 23, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to kidnap schoolgirls. At 11pm on Sunday 13 April, Boko Haram militants invaded the Christian enclave of Chibok in the south of Borno State. After looting and burning shops and homes, the militants attacked the local Government Girls Secondary School where some 300 girls aged between 16 and 18 were sleeping.

The attack culminated in the abduction of around 270 girls, some of whom managed to escape as they were being sped away in open trucks. Christians in Borno are at a loss to explain how such violence and terrorism can continue with impunity in a state under emergency rule. When Borno governor Kashim Shettima later visited Chibok, parents presented him with a list of 234 names of missing girls. Distressed and frustrated from lack of action, parents and volunteers formed a search party on 17 April and set off on some 1500 motorcycles to storm Sambisa forest where it is believed Boko Haram is hiding and where it is presumed the girls are being held captive.

In the forest they found makeshift camps and met people who claimed to have seen their daughters. Eventually they came across a man who confirmed that the base camp was nearby, but warned them that the militants were heavily armed and would not hesitate to kill. Without military back-up, there was nothing the parents and volunteers could do. Returning to Chibok, they appealed to Governor Shettima to deploy security forces and rescue the girls. On Easter Saturday Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video in which he claimed responsibility for the attack at the Nyanya Motor Park in the national capital, Abuja, which claimed at least 75 lives and left over 120 wounded.

Chuckling and tapping his chest, he said, ‘This is me, Abubakar Shekau whose turban you don’t like seeing; whose armoured shirt you so much hate; this is my usual gun with which I kill. Get more annoyed, because I am still here; yes, I am the Shekau that does not like Christians, and I don’t like Muslims that relate with Christians. We have been commanded by Allah not to associate with infidels because they cannot be trusted until they accept your religion. So you cannot say you are a believer and then go and follow democracy; we cannot allow you to ridicule the religion of God; never!’

On Easter Sunday (20 April) the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno state chapter, announced three days of prayer and fasting for the immediate release of the abducted schoolgirls. On Tuesday 22 April, parents confirmed that more than 40 girls had escaped and 187 were still missing. Grave concerns are held for the girls’ welfare as they are doubtless being used as human shields and possibly also as wives or slave-girls/possessions with whom sexual relations are lawful according to Islam. Latest reports indicate that the girls are being moved around to escape detection and may have even been moved into another neighbouring country.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT OUR FAITHFUL GOD WILL —

* protect and sustain the captive girls spiritually, emotionally and physically, and give special grace to those who know Him so they will encourage, care for and witness to the girls who do not. Pray too that God will open the way for the girls to be liberated and reunited with their families.

* call to account Boko Haram’s wicked, arrogant leader Abubakar Shekau. May Boko Haram become leaderless and the militants be beset with confusion.

* cause Nigeria’s Muslim masses to reject violence and intolerance, and may the wisdom and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be evident to all. May Christ build his Church and may God be glorified!

 

Source: Religious Liberty Commission

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SAUDI ARABIAN SHEIKS LEGALLY IMPORTING BIBLES

The following is from a businessman who lives in Saudi Arabia but wishes to remain anonymous: For the last 30 years, people have smuggled Bibles into Saudi Arabia. Six years ago, I decided that I would try and import them legally. I was a neighbour to some very powerful sheiks. I met them regularly for conversation over tea.  In conversation, as we talked about the Qur’an, I would mention the Injil (Gospel) and the position of the Bible in the Qur’an which says that Muslims should read the Torah, the Zabur (Psalms), the Injil—all of God’s books. So I challenged them to read the Injil.  I have read all the books but I didn’t want to enter into discussions until they also had read them. 

They debated amongst themselves for a whole year. Inevitably it came back to a belief that the Christian Scriptures are corrupted. I did my research on this and after some months, presented my study on the issue. I pointed out that this teaching goes against the Qur’an which says that the Word of God cannot be corrupted. Eventually they admitted that to be good Muslims, they had to read all the books and remove the idea of corruption from the discussion. I suggested they go the market and buy a copy of the Injil. They were sceptical; maybe it was illegal. Two weeks later they returned and said it wasn’t possible. I said; it’s shameful that Muslims do not want to obey the Qur’an and read all the books. 

They conceded I was right. They said, we have to read it and, since it’s not available, we need to find a way to make it available. I said that I had copies at home which they could read; if they liked the translation, we could explore ways to get more. I gave a copy to the sheiks and his male relatives. Over the next 6 months, they all read it cover to cover. Amazing conversations about Jesus and miracles followed. We discussed how sometimes the behaviour of Christians didn’t align with the teachings of Jesus—not unlike how the behaviour of Muslims may not align with the teaching of the Qur’an. So I arranged for 25,000 copies of a beautiful high quality version of the Gospels and the Book of Acts to be delivered. 

In this conservative country, the physical form of a holy book matters. So we sent the container on its way. Meanwhile, there were attacks on foreigners inside the country and the man importing the container wanted to pull out of the deal. The container arrived and was locked up in storage. Two weeks of careful negotiations were required to obtain their release. An official agreed that it was legal but he wanted to avoid potential backlash if It fell into the wrong hands. He insisted that as a white foreigner, I should be nowhere near the situation. We offered to  very slowly trickle the Injils into the market. In spite of the negotiations to regulate distribution, the shipment was distributed within a week! 

The sheiks forbade me to get involved, they oversaw the distribution. Our group paid for the Injils and I brokered the deal, but the local sheiks imported them into their country, legally. They are now being sold in markets and bookstores throughout the country. Our hope is that there will be many thousands more printed inside this country. This was the work of local Muslim sheiks, partly motivated by financial gain, but also by a renewed sense of duty as Muslims to make the Injil available to people. It took a three year conversation, a thousand cups of tea and the building of trust but God is able.

Source: Breaking Christian News

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GOD MIRACULOUSLY INTERVENES TO SPARE LIVES OF SYRIAN CHRISTIAN WOMEN

Three Syrian Christian women on their way to the hospital to pray for a sick friend were struck by gunfire recently. God miraculously intervened to spare their lives. Sabeen, along with her sister and niece were winding through the streets of Damascus in their small car. They knew the dangers for anyone to travel there – especially women – but they had faith in God’s protection. They knew there is really no “safe” place in Syria under current conditions, but according to Psalm 91:1, the one who “dwells in the shelter of the Most High,” finds protection in the shadow of the Almighty. Sabeen and her sister often travel through the streets of the city looking for ministry opportunities. 

As they passed through a somewhat dicey neighbourhood, they suddenly heard the sound of gunfire. It was not an unfamiliar sound — the women have survived months living in such conditions. But then came a jolting boom that rocked the car and the sound of an explosion! Something struck the front of the vehicle, but they were still moving forward. To their surprise, the car was still drivable. They looked at each other incredulously, and no one seemed to be wounded or even grazed. Stunned that the vehicle was still intact and they were unharmed, the three women continued on toward the hospital. 

Once safely there, they checked the outside of the car, but couldn’t find any damage. Shortly after that, a retired army major — also a Christian — offered to examine their vehicle. He found that a bullet had gone straight through the engine without impairing or damaging anything inside. The trajectory of the bullet was aimed directly at Sabeen. The bullet stopped at the back of the dashboard, directly across from where Sabeen had been sitting. The only reason it had stopped was because the tip of the bullet was bent backwards.  They believe God “bent the bullet backwards” and stopped it in its tracks. 

Syria’s civil war is in its 3rd year, and there is no end in sight. An estimated 146,000 Syrians have been killed so far in the conflict. “Of the 9 million Syrians displaced from their homes, some 2.5 million are now refugees living in squalid conditions in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. As the war rages on, the total number of Syrians internally displaced or refugees in another country now represents 40% of Syria’s pre-conflict population,” according to Christian Aid Mission. “Through faithful Christian workers like Sabeen, indigenous ministries are demonstrating the love of Christ and responding to the needs of some of the most desperate Syrian families with food, housing, and medical assistance.” 

Source: God Reports

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GLOBAL LEADERS SAY CONTINUING CHAOS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC NOT ABOUT RELIGION

The three top religious leaders of the Central African Republic (CAR) have once again travelled to the United Nations in New York to urge the Security Council to act quickly on its recommendations for a UN peacekeeping operation, as violence in their country continues. Despite a change of president and the arrival of a few thousand peacekeeping troops the slaughter has not abated. The Catholic Archbishop of Bangui, the leader of the Protestant churches, and the Imam of Bangui also met UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon, who said “We want to pass on an essential message: that the conflict in the Central African Republic is not about religion.” 

Ban described the three prelates, and their joint ‘platform for peace’ initiative, as a “powerful symbol of their country’s long-standing tradition of peaceful co-existence…Religious and ethnic affiliations are being manipulated for political purposes”, he said. The Central African Republic has been plagued by violence since December 2012, when a coalition of Islamist rebel groups, led by Michel Djotodia under the Séléka banner, moved through the country to eventually drive out President Francois Bozizé in March 2013. Djotodia took control of a transitional government, while Séléka elements continued a campaign of looting, rape and murder, with a particular focus on Christian communities.  

“Many church leaders we interviewed in the CAR observed that along with the military and political aspects of the political change was the intention to Islamise the country,” said Arne Mulders, a research specialist for Open Doors International, a charity that provides aid to Christians under pressure because of their faith. Djotodia resigned in January, and the National Assembly appointed Catherine Samba-Panza president, making her the first female president of the CAR. As Séléka influence waned and the rebels retreated to the north and to neighbouring Chad and Sudan, local Muslims perceived as accomplices of Séléka have faced attacks by self-defence militias known as Anti-Balaka. 

Adding their voices to the global calls for peace at the United Nations, two renowned singers called for an end to violence in CAR. The Senegal star and one-time Minister, Youssou N’Dour, and the Central African singer Idylle Mamba, respectively Muslim and Christian artists, promote a message of peace and tolerance in a single titled “One Africa,” which they sing as a duet. “From Dakar to Bangui, let’s be proud and strong for Africa. Let’s come out from darkness and celebrate peace in music,’’ said the duo, who say religion is not a source of division but a source of richness.

Source: World Watch Monitor

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ANGLICANS, ROMAN CATHOLICS AND MUSLIMS SIGN AGREEMENT TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING

For the first time in history, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Muslims have joined forces in a project to combat modern slavery and human trafficking, an in justice that affects up to 27 million people. High-level representatives from each faith were at the Vatican to sign an agreement launching the Global Freedom Network. Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have personally given their backing to the newly-formed organisation that aims to eradicate slavery by encouraging governments, businesses, educational and faith institutions to rid their supply chains of slave labour. The Global Freedom Network will be based at the Vatican 

The Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Social Science Monseigneur Sorondo representing the Pope, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative Archbishop Sir David Moxon, signed the historic agreement. The Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt was represented by Dr Mahmoud Azab who made it clear that Islam “prohibits slavery and human trafficking 100 per cent”. He and Mr Andrew Forrest, the founder of the global anti-slavery organisation in Australia “Walk Free”, also signed the agreement. Objectives of the Network include getting the G20 to condemn modern-day slavery and persuading 50 major corporations to commit to slavery-proofing their supply chains. 

In a statement issued by Archbishop Justin Welby he said “Modern slavery and human trafficking is one of the greatest tragedies of our human age. It is intolerable that millions of fellow human beings should be violated in this way, subjected to exploitation and deprived of their dignity and rights. This outrage should concern each one of us, because what affects one part of humanity affects us all. The new Global Freedom Network is being created to join the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking from a faith base, so that we might witness to God’s compassion and act for the benefit of those who are abducted,  enslaved and abused in this terrible crime.”

The Global Freedom Network has its roots in the deep concerns about modern slavery shared when Archbishop Justin Welby visited Pope Francis in June 2013, which was followed by a conference held at the Vatican on the initiative of Pope Francis. Monseigneur Sorondo, Mr Andrew Forrest, John McCarthy the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Archbishop Moxon and Antonia Stampalija, a faith-based strategic planner from Western Australia, helped facilitate the process that led to the Network being created. The Rev Rachel Carnegie, co-director of the Anglican Alliance, was one of several people who signed the agreement as a witness.

Source: Anglican Church News

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MUSLIM EXTREMISTS CRUCITY CHRISTIAN IN SYRIA

A Syrian pastor recently told about a brutal terrorist killing that was used to send a message to the broader Christian community. The terrorists hung a believer on a cross in the town square, with a sign claiming to all Christians “this will be your fate if you don’t abide by our rules.”  Earlier this month, the terrorist group ISIS issued a three-pronged ultimatum to the Christian community in Raqaa: convert to Islam, pay our tax, or die. ISIS is doing all they can to drive believers out of Raqaa. Christians once comprised approximately 1% of the city’s 300,000 people, but it’s unknown how many are still there. Church burnings, crucifixions, and threats have driven many believers out of Raqaa.

Source: Mission Network News

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