Persecution and Prayer Alert
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord."
~ Psalm 27:14
Sources: Huffington Post, CTV, The Guardian
Red Cross workers bury a corpse in CAR.
Photo: World Watch Monitor
As rebel groups and soldiers ravage the country of Central African Republic (CAR), the international community fears the possibility of religious genocide. The rebels, known as "Seleka" (meaning "Alliance"), have been pillaging villages, raping women, conscripting children as soldiers, and brutally murdering innocent victims in recent months. Sources estimate that approximately 10 percent of the population has been displaced.
The rebel group's former leader, Michel Djotodia, ousted the country's president earlier this year. He later disbanded the Seleka rebels, but the violence has continued unabated. The majority of the rebels are Muslims, some of whom have come from neighbouring countries such as Chad and Sudan.
Approximately half of the population of CAR is Christian, a quarter is Muslim, and the remaining has indigenous beliefs. While Muslims and Christians have largely lived at peace together, the ongoing attacks from the Seleka rebels threaten to unravel the country's unity. Armed Christian groups have formed to defend themselves; however, some have launched counterattacks on Muslim communities. As the violence continues, both Christians and Muslims are becoming increasingly hostile towards one another and the fighting is taking on a more religious tone.
A concerned church leader stated, "The Christians feel betrayed by the Muslims and are starting to feel vengeance in their hearts.... This is a very big challenge for the church."
As members of Christ's body of believers, let us lift up the church in the Central African Republic as they face this difficult trial. Pray that the Seleka rebels' acts of terror will cease, and that peace will come to this beleaguered nation. May these Christians not resort to violence, but rather serve as instruments of God's grace. Let's also intercede on behalf of those who are targeting Christ's followers so that they, too, will know of His love, forgiveness and blessing (Romans 12:14,21).
To join other Christians in prayer for CAR, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.
Source: World Watch Monitor
Construction of the Tangail Evangelical Holiness Church in
Bilbathuagani village was brought to a halt in September.
Photo: World Watch Monitor
Just months after the construction of a church building had been ordered to cease, a "committee" was formed to stop all Christian activity in Bilbathuagani village, Tangail. The committee is made up of political leaders, Muslim elders, and an elected local government official.
The church construction initially began in early September by approximately 25 believers who had been meeting secretly for three years. Five days after the construction had commenced, the local council chairman and approximately 200 Muslims went to the site and ordered the building project to stop. The following day, after announcements were made in the area mosques, more than 1,000 Muslims gathered outside the chairman's office to protest the church. A committee was then formed to stop the believers from "misguiding" Muslims.
"Never will the local Muslims accept those people's conversion to Christianity," the council chairman announced. "It is impossible for them to live as Christians in this Muslim area. It would be like stirring up a hornet's nest. This is the second time Christians are trying to ruffle a few feathers in our Islamic society. Ten years ago, some Christians tried similarly to convert some Muslims here, but we beat those Christians and they left this place forever."
Since the church construction was halted, several of the Christians in the community have returned to Islam.
Ask God to give the believers in this village strength to persevere in the midst of ongoing pressure. Pray that many more Muslims in this community will learn the truth about Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Saviour and Lord. Pray that religious freedom will be respected in Bangladesh for all citizens, including those of the very small Christian population.
This year, our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh will be the recipients of VOMC's Christmas Blessing packages. Each Christmas Blessing package contains food items, toiletries, medication, clothing and Christian materials. To support this fund, please visit our website.
Sources: World Watch Monitor, Morningstar News, VOM USA
Approximately 40 people were tragically murdered in the early hours of November 26th when assailants launched attacks on four Christian-majority villages in Plateau State. Those murdered included pregnant women and young children. The attackers are believed to be members of the Fulani tribe, which is predominately Muslim. Some Christian leaders believe Islamic militants are inciting the Fulani people to attack believers in order to acquire their land.
These latest attacks follow several earlier incidents of persecution against the church in recent weeks. On November 3rd, eight Christians were killed in Borno State, and several church buildings destroyed. The following week, from November 11th to the 13th, Boko Haram militants attacked Christian villages and murdered over 20 people. On November 15th, government officials offered money to approximately 19 Christians who converted to Islam during a service held at the National Mosque in the country's capital. According to sources, officials handed out the equivalent of more than $85,000 CAD to the group of converts.
The Rev. Dr. Soja Bewarang, president of the Church of Christ in Nations, reports, "Even as we are looking at these issues, we need not forget that God has the final say on man and his security concerns.... Therefore, we must always surrender our security concerns to the Lord, because the watchman watches in vain if the Lord does not watch alongside with him" (see Psalm 127).
Pray that the believers in Nigeria will trust in the Lord to watch over them and guard their lives, whether in life or in death. Ask that His peace will reign between the Muslim and Christian populations in Nigeria, and that Boko Haram's attempts to create chaos will be thwarted. Also please remember the many believers in Nigeria who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
To learn more about our persecuted family in Nigeria, please visit the Nigeria Country Report.