Christian Persecution: The Not-So-Merry Christmas of Persecuted Christians

The angel of the Lord woke Joseph with a dream, instructing him to take Mary and the baby Jesus into hiding. This warning saved the infant Messiah from the slaughter of little boys that we remember as the Slaughter of the Innocents.

Many present-day Christians must re-live this terror with more than memorials. Violent Christian persecution ramped up in several places this Christmas. Then and now, the devil tries to stamp out our witness to Christ with murder. And now as then, wise men still seek Him.

Here is a brief summary of some of the acts of violent persecution Christians have suffered so far this Christmas season.

 

DOZENS OF CHRISTIANS SHOT AND SLAUGHTERED IN CHRISTMAS ATTACKS IN NIGERIA

NIGERIA
Dozens of Christians were killed during church services over the Christmas period in Northern Nigeria; others were murdered in their homes in raids by suspected Boko Haram militants.

Most of the attacks took place in Borno state; Islamist group Boko Haram had earlier declared that any Christians remaining in the territory by Christmas would be killed. Although it has not been confirmed who was behind the violence, it seems likely that the militants were carrying out this threat.

On Christmas Eve, six people were killed by gunmen at a church service in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno state.

Another six were killed and two injured in a shooting at a church service in the early hours of Christmas Day in Siri village, near Potiskum, Yobe State. Gunmen entered the midnight service and attacked the congregation; the Rev. Yohanna Simi was among those killed.

Many residents fled Siri village to the bush during the attack. Around 20 homes and the church where the shooting had taken place were torched.

Then on Sunday (30 December), gunmen killed at least 15 worshippers at a church in Chibok, Borno state. Mohammed Kana, a regional official for the National Emergency Management Agency, said that some of the victims had had their throats slit.

It is the third consecutive year of fatal attacks on services during the Christmas season in Nigeria. (Read more here.)

TANZANIA: CHURCH LEADER INJURED IN CHRISTMAS DAY SHOOTING BY SUSPECTED ISLAMISTS

A church leader was critically wounded in a Christmas Day shooting by suspected Islamist separatists in Zanzibar.
The Rev. Ambrose Mkenda was shot in the face and shoulder by two attackers on a motorcycle. The shooting took place as the church leader returned to his home in Tomondo just before 8pm. He was rushed to hospital and later transferred to intensive care as his condition deteriorated.(Read more here.)

IRAN: 50 CHRISTIANS ARRESTED AT HOUSE CHURCH GATHERING

Around 50 Christians, mostly converts from Islam, were arrested at a house church Christmas gathering in Tehran.
The raid by 15 police and security agents happened on 27 December. The Christians had to hand over their mobile phones and personal information, including passwords to their email and social media accounts, and explain how they had come to accept Christianity. (Read more here.)

INDONESIA: ROTTEN EGGS, DUNG AND URINE THROWN AT CONGREGATION DURING CHRISTMAS EVE EVENT

Members of Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) came under attack by Muslims as they gathered in the open for a Christmas Eve service.
The assailants threw rotten eggs, dung and plastic bags full of urine at the congregation of around 200 people. HKBP had been subjected to a similar assault in May.
On Christmas Eve, the congregation gathered for a service in front of its property in Bekasi, West Java, which has been sealed off by the authorities. It was forced to flee and hold the service in the compound of a police station.
HKBP has been denied a building permit despite a Supreme Court ruling that one be granted and the site reopened. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: How Many Christians Have to Die Before We Admit That Boko Haram Are Terrorists?

Why does the US State Department resist calls to say what is obvious to so many and name Boko Haram a terrorist organization? That is the question the following Barnabas Aid article asks. According to the article, ” … calls earlier this year from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and more than 20 American scholars for Boko Haram to be labelled a terrorist outfit largely fell on deaf ears in the US State Department, which in June named only three of the group’s leaders as foreign terrorists.”

At the same time, the terrorist attacks on Christians in Nigerian continue unabated. The bloodshed leads one to wonder just how many Nigerian Christians have to die before the organized attacks on them can be called terrorism?

The Barnabas Aid article reads in part:

As an international groundswell builds against the deadly activities of Islamist militants Boko Haram in Nigeria, why do the Nigerian government and the US State Department remain resistant to labelling the group a Foreign Terrorist Organisation?

Calls for the State Department to designate Boko Haram an FTO are intensifying as brutal attacks against Christians in the North show no signs of relenting. In the latest act of savagery, a group of suspected Boko Haram attackers went from house to house in the predominantly Christian part of the village of Chibok, Borno state, late on Saturday night (1 December). They set people’s houses on fire before slitting the throats of their victims, holding them upside down as when animals are slaughered; ten Christians were killed.
Later that night, gunmen killed five policemen as they attacked churches and government buildings in Gamboru Ngala, near the border with Cameroon. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Christian Nigeria’s Witness for Jesus in the Face of Boko Haram’s Terrorists

Nigerian Christians are withstanding violent persecution at the hands of Islamic terrorists called Boko Haram. Their witness for Christ humbles me today, as if has for quite a long time. I will never forget the voice of a Nigerian Anglican Bishop’s wife as she told me “Those who persist in following Christ until the end will have eternal life.”

Eternal life in Christ was real to her. It sustained her and gave her not only a peace which passes understanding, but courage which passes understanding, as well.

When people are faced with the horror of repeated terrorist attacks as Christians in Nigeria are, and they respond with prayer and fasting as Christians in Nigeria do, I know that I am witnessing the courage that comes only from the grace of a loving God.

One of the many sins that we need to repent of in this Advent season is our indifference in the face of such magnificent courage and faith in Our Savior by our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, especially in Nigeria.

The excerpted CNA article below describes one such act of courage among the many in Nigeria today.

Msgr. Obiora F. Ike walks in front of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Enugu, Nigeria. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need, www.kirche-in-not.ch.

Lagos, Nigeria, Nov 13, 2012 / 12:17 am (CNA).- After his parish in southern Nigeria was desecrated on Nov. 4, Monsignor Obiora F. Ike called on his parishioners to observe a week of prayer and penance.

“Msgr. Ike has called for seven days of prayer, fasting, penance and reparation for the Christian faithfuls and for the conversion of these perpetrators,” according to a statement on his website.

Around 2:00 a.m. on Nov. 4, attackers entered St. Leo the Great parish in Enugu, vandalizing the building and destroying infrastructure and sacred items.

Everything in the church was destroyed: the altar, sacred vessels, musical equipment, seats, the pulpit, statues, religious images, and the entire microphone system.

The destruction included “the Blessed Sacrament that was desecrated,” according to Msgr. Ike’s statement.

By 4:00 a.m. security agents arrived at the parish and assessed the damage. According to Msgr. Ike, the damage done totals around $63,500.

Sunday Mass at the parish was held outside “under the heavy sunshine.” Msgr. Ike’s sermon that day encouraged the congregation to “remain steadfast in their faith despite all the persecution, religious intolerance and fanaticism.” He also urged them to remain dedicated in prayer and forgive the perpetrators.(Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Boko Haram Kills 150 in Coordinated Attack on Nigerian Christians

The following article is by Stefan J. Bos, of Worthy News. You are read other articles like this here.

150 Killed In Attack On Nigeria Churches

by Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Correspondent
ABUJA, NIGERIA (Worthy News)– Islamic militants shouting “Allahu Akbar”, or ‘Allah is great’, carried out coordinated gun and bomb attacks on churches and police stations in northern Nigeria, killing at least 150 people and injuring some 100 others, aid workers and witnesses confirmed Saturday, November 5.

Militant group Boko Haram, or ‘Western education is a sin’, claimed responsibility for what Nigeria’s President leader Goodluck Jonathan described as a “heinous” violence in mainly Damaturu, capital of Yobe state.

Confirmation of the attacks Saturday, November 5, came as frightened mourners tried to leave their homes to begin burying their dead.

Boko Haram, which seeks strict implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law, across the nation of more than 160 million people, pledged more attacks.

The Red Cross aid group and witnesses said fighting began Friday, November 4, around Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, when a car bomb exploded outside a three-story building used as a military office and barracks, with many uniformed security agents dying in the blasts.

Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed told reporters that the “suicide” attackers, driving a black sports utility vehicle, detonated their explosives near the gate of the building, used by the Joint Task Force (JTF), the military unit deployed to curb violence there.

CHURCHES ATTACKED
Several other police stations, a bank and up to six churches were also attacked, residents and aid workers said. Among areas targeted by militants was the Jerusalem area, a predominantly Christian neighborhood, according to witnesses.

One resident, Isa Jakusko, was quoted by French News Agency AFP as saying that city had been thrown into chaos. “There have been several bomb explosions and shooting. As I am talking to you there is still fire exchanges between the attackers and security personnel with the attackers shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’,” he reportedly said.

Gunshots were reportedly still heard Saturday, November 5, from different parts of the city with the sky dark with smoke, apparently from burning buildings.

In another part of northern Nigeria, hundreds of youths staged angry protests after gunmen opened fire on a congregation of Christians praying at a village in Kaduna state overnight, witnesses said. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Nigerian Church Bombings Continue

More Nigerian Church Bombings

by John Campbell
September 25, 2012

 

A woman cries during a mass funeral for the victims of Christmas day bombing at St Theresa Catholic church, outside Nigeria's capital Abuja 01/02/2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).A woman cries during a mass funeral for the victims of Christmas day bombing at St Theresa Catholic church, outside Nigeria’s capital Abuja 01/02/2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).

 

On Sunday, September 24, immediately after an early mass, a suicide bomber attacked St. John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Bauchi. Five were reported killed with another forty-six injured.  Doctors warn that many of the wounded are in bad condition, and may die. No part of Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement that targets the Nigerian political economy, has claimed responsibility. It is likely, however, that most Nigerians will impute to it the responsibility. The BBC, among other media, has stated that church bombings have waned while Boko Haram shifted its focus to communications towers. The Nigerian press, on the other hand, has reported attacks nearly every Sunday since at least the beginning of August.

The northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella group that includes almost all of the Christian churches, appears to be working to dampen down Christian revenge against Muslims.  Its spokesmen characterize the bombings as “a test of faith.” One CAN spokesman said, “Christians should look up to God, because vengeance is of God.  We are not comfortable with the killing of Christians, but we leave everything to God.  He has not failed us, and will not fail us.” (Read more here.)

 

Christian Persecution: British Charity Accused of Funding Boko Haram

Boko Haram

Men look at the wreckage of a car following a bomb blast in Abuja last year.
The terrorist group Boko Haram was suspected. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

I have written about the terrorist war on Christians in Nigeria before. Nigerian Christians are being subjected to murderous attacks from an Islamic group which calls itself Boko Haram.

Guns, bullets and bombs do not build themselves. Money from the West often turns out to be the source of terrorist funding. These bloody enterprises frequently hide behind the name of “charity.”

So, it’s not unusual or surprising that Nigerian media accused Al Muntada, a British charity of providing funds to Boko Haram. An article from The Observer says in part:

Peer raises fears over UK charity’s alleged links to Boko Haram

British charity is under scrutiny amid claims funds ended up in hands of Nigerian terrorists blamed for killing hundreds

A British charity is under scrutiny amid claims some of its funds have ended up in the hands of African terrorists blamed for killing hundreds of people.

Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group in Nigeria with close links to al-Qaida, has targeted churches and Christians as it seeks to spread terror across the country.

The Nigerian media has reported that the country’s state security service, working with local and international agencies, believes money raised by the Al Muntada Trust found its way to Boko Haram.

A charity of that name, which has its headquarters in London, raises money for disaster projects in Africa. It has attracted controversy in the past for giving a platform to radical clerics.

Lord Alton of Liverpool told parliament in July there was evidence Boko Haram carried out 600 murders this year and called for it to be proscribed in the UK as a terror group. Its rise has alarmed Africa experts and prompted concerns of “blowback” for the UK as its supporters return from Nigeria. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: The Martyrdom of Nigeria

…. Would to God that ”christians” from the west come to places like Nigeria, especially in the North to places like – Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Madiguri, where Christians are slaughtered , burnt alive, beheaded, killed – their only sin is that they are professing Christians , as the world would term ‘fundementalists- Bible believing Christians. Yet none of them will ever want to change their lot of what the west has in store…..

Remember, as we here in Nigeria live, each day at a time, knowing that any day can be our last…There is No fear with us, as we know we can only be killed/ dead ONCE!! And it makes ALL the difference to live for our Lord Jesus Christ, and be counted as worthy to suffer for HIS name , rather than someday die and find we have lived only for ourselves, and were ashamed to stand up as MEN for the Lord…..

Vijay Oomen, Nigeria. 

He didn’t want to go back.

That’s how I met him and his wife. He is an Anglican Bishop in the city of Kano in Northern Nigeria. He had managed to get out with his family and find temporary safety in this country. His Visa had expired.

And he didn’t want to go back. 

He told me about the anti-Christian riots in Kano. He described his parishioner who was grabbed by the mob. His voice rose as he told me how they bent the man over a saw horse. The last sentence came out strained, as if the memory was a hand squeezing his chest. “Beheaded,” he said. “They bent him over a saw horse and beheaded him.”  

He spoke of the five churches in his diocese, burned to the ground.

He talked about his daughter who had been taken by the mob. Of the anxious hours not knowing if she would survive. 

His wife, the calm one, told me, “If the Bishop doesn’t stand, the people will all run away.”

It was so matter of fact, the way she said it. But it gave me a glimpse of a meaning of the word bishop that goes beyond title and privilege and into responsibility for souls that has no limit. If the bishop doesn’t stand, the people will all run away. 

He wanted, desperately to stay in America. Nigeria, the land of his birth, had become the place above all others that he wished to avoid. I did my best to keep him here, but nothing worked. He went back. To Nigeria. To Kano. To be the bishop who does not run away.

That was 1998. 

Today, things are even worse. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, head of Nigeria’s Conference of Bishops, says that more than 800 people have been murdered in his Archdiocese of Jog. Churches have been burned to the ground with worshippers inside them. Sunday after Sunday, Christians at worship are attacked by armed men who leave scores of dead behind them.

A group of murderers who claim that they are killing for Islam named the Boko Haram have declared “war” on the unarmed Christian civilians of Nigeria. Every day brings news of fresh atrocities, especially in the Northern city of Kano. 

“There needs to be a response from the international community,” Archbishop Kaigama told an international conference on August 22. “Pressure your governments, do not abandon us.” 

His speech, titled The Martyrdom of Nigeria, We Need a Miracle from God was to the lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation on Wednesday, August 22, 2012.

The comments I quoted above by Mr. Ooman, a Nigerian member of the Baptist Church, are echoed by other Nigerian Protestants. On August 23, the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor announced that Christians will not match the violence against them with violence of their own. He said in part:

“We will not encourage our people to carry arms against anybody whatsoever the situation may be. For those that are behind Boko Haram, you come to us with AK47, bombs, charms and other dangerous weapons, but we come to you in the name of God.

“I want to assure Christians in Nigeria that Christ has always been with his people. He will never give victory to those persecuting Christians and the Church. Whoever is trying to exterminate Christians and Christianity from Nigeria is neither pleasing God nor his people”, he said.

In his welcome address, state chairman of CAN Bishop Emmanuel Ereola Igbokoyi urged Christians not to be timid of whom they were serving as their rewards is in heaven. Read the rest here.

When I asked Mr. Oomen what one thing I should say that Nigeria needed from Americans, here is what he said:

IF there is one thing we can do is to PRAY..without ceasing.

All to often the “Christian church” has flooded the Lord’s work with money and more money using all sorts of cliches and misquoted bible verses like ‘seed money’ etc etc which has nothing to do ‘LIVING AND WITNESSING ‘ AS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST EXPECTS OF US.

DONT  send any money BUT pray without ceasing.

Prayer is far far  more expensive thats why many dont engage in it.

Ask the Churches, and believers JUST PRAY and keep on PRAYING that the Lord will grant us the courage to be HIS witnesses for HIM in these end times. Can you and the others just do that please?

Go  on any webite of the situation in Nigeria – Kano and other places and see what is being reported.

29th April 2012 terrorists burst in and shot dead over 15 believers at the University campus. Of them 4 Professors.

Others students.

Their ONLY crime/ fault . that they were worshiping and praising God on that Sunday.

Now has the work ceased????.. No, instead others instead of fleeing are staying put, WITH MORE boldness given by the HOLY SPIRIT to be living for our Lord Jesus.

When we hear and read of how a Christian nation, founded by those who left Europe because of the persecution they faced, has today abandoned that call, its not only sad but pathetic.

Can any of the western countries ever be called as a Christian nation any more?

It is no different than a child denying his own parents and telling the world ‘ I dont know who they are”…

It is time the Churches in the west turned back to profess and be the witnesses they once were..

Thank you dear sister for your concern. God bless you.

My pledge to Mr. Ooman, and to Archbishop Kaigama, Pastor Oristsejafor and the Bishop from Kano whose name I cannot say is that I will pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for them this day. 

I am also going to send an email to my United States Senators, asking them to encourage the State Department to help my brothers and sisters in Christ in the Persecuted Church in Nigeria. 

Hopefully, some of you will do the same.