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.)

 

Pope Benedict Calls for Christians, Muslims to Unite Against Violence

The Holy Father made a statement on Vatican Radio yesterday calling for Christians and Muslims to unite against violence. Rather than discuss what he said, I decided to reproduce the article from Vatican Radio for you to read without editing. You can find the original on the Vatican website here.

Pope: Christians and Muslims united against war

 

2012-09-19 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) – It is time for Christians and Muslims to come together in a decided and sincere witness against divisions, violence and war: This was Pope Benedict XVI’s clear message Wednesday morning, during his general audience at the Vatican. Emer McCarthy reports Listen: 

The Pope spoke of his recent Apostolic voyage to Lebanon to the 8, 000 pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI hall, stressing that he had strongly wanted this the trip to go ahead, because “a father should always be near his children when they encounter grave problems”, and to bring a message of encouragement and peace, in particular for Syria and Iraq.
Pope Benedict said that during his visit, the people of Lebanon and the Middle East – Catholics, representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the various Muslim communities – enthusiastically and in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere, experienced the importance of mutual respect, understanding and brotherhood, which is a strong sign of hope for all humanity. He added that the constant presence and participation of Muslims gave him the opportunity to launch a call to dialogue and collaboration between Christianity and Islam”.

Benedict XVI also expressed his profound gratitude for the fervent faith and witness of the thousands of Catholics from Lebanon and the Middle East who accompanied each stage of his visit. It is a sign of hope, he concluded “for the future of the Church in those lands: young people, adults and families motivated by a strong desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain anchored to the Gospel, to walk together in the Church”.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to briefly return, in my thoughts and heart, to those extraordinary days of my Apostolic journey to Lebanon. A trip that I had strongly wanted, despite the difficult circumstances, considering that a father should always be near his children when they encounter grave problems. I was moved by a sincere desire to announce the peace that the risen Lord gave to his disciples and summarized in the words “My peace I give to you – سلامي أعطيكم” (Jn 14:27). The main aim of my journey was the signing and consignment of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to the representatives of the Catholic communities of the Middle East, to other Churches and ecclesial communities as well as Muslim leaders.

It was a moving ecclesial event and, at the same time, a provident opportunity for dialogue lived in a complex but emblematic country for the entire region, because of its tradition of coexistence and fruitful cooperation between the different religious and social components. In the face of the suffering and tragedies that continue in that area of the Middle East, I expressed my heartfelt closeness to the legitimate aspirations of those dear people, bringing them a message of encouragement and peace. I am thinking in particular of the terrible conflict that torments Syria, causing, in addition to thousands of deaths, a stream of refugees that pours into the region desperately seeking security and a future; neither have I forgotten the plight of Iraq. During my visit, the people of Lebanon and the Middle East – Catholics, representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the various Muslim communities – enthusiastically and in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere, experienced the importance of mutual respect, understanding and brotherhood, which is a strong sign of hope for all humanity. But it was the encounter with the Catholic faithful of Lebanon and the Middle East, present in their thousands, which aroused in me a feeling of deep gratitude for the ardor of their faith and their witness.

I thank the Lord for this precious gift, which gives hope for the future of the Church in those areas: youth, adults and families motivated by the strong desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain anchored to the Gospel, to walk together in the Church. I renew my gratitude also to all who worked tirelessly for my visit: the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon with their staff, the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, consecrated persons and the lay faithful, which are a precious and meaningful reality in Lebanese society. I was able to observe firsthand that the Lebanese Catholic communities, through their presence and their millennial commitment full of hope, offer a significant and valued contribution to the daily lives of all the inhabitants of the country. My respect and gratitude go to the Lebanese authorities, institutions and associations, volunteers and all those who have offered their support in prayer. I can not forget the warm welcome I received from the President of the Republic, Mr. Michel Sleiman, as well as the various components of the country and the people: it was a warm welcome, in line with the famous Lebanese hospitality. Muslims welcomed me with great respect and sincere consideration, their constant presence and participation gave me the opportunity to launch a call to dialogue and collaboration between Christianity and Islam: it seems to me that the time has come for us to give a decided and sincere witness together against the divisions and wars. The Catholics, who also came from neighboring countries, fervently expressed their deep affection for the Successor of Peter.

After the beautiful ceremony on my arrival at Beirut airport, the first meeting was of particular solemnity: the signing of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, in the Greek-Catholic Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa. On that occasion I invited Catholics in the Middle East to fix their gaze on Christ Crucified to find the strength, even in difficult and painful contexts, to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge and unity over division. I assured them all that the universal Church is closer than ever, with affection and prayer, to the Church in the Middle East: they, despite being a “little flock”, need not fear, knowing that the Lord is always with them. The Pope does not forget them.

On the second day of my Apostolic Journey I met the representatives of the institutions of the Republic and the world of culture, the diplomatic corps and religious leaders. To them, among others, I pointed a way forward to promote a future of peace and solidarity: this means working so that cultural, social and religious differences result in a sincere dialogue, a new fraternity, united by a shared sense of the greatness and dignity of every person, whose life must always be defended and protected. On the same day I had a meeting with the heads of Muslim religious communities, which took place in a spirit of dialogue and mutual benevolence. I thank God for this meeting. The world today needs clear and strong signs of dialogue and cooperation, of which Lebanon has been and must continue to be an example to the Arab countries and the rest of the world.

In the afternoon, at the residence of the Maronite Patriarch, I was greeted by the irrepressible enthusiasm of thousands of young people from Lebanon and from neighboring countries, who gave rise to a moment of great celebration and prayer, that will remain unforgettable for many. I pointed out their good fortune to live in that part of the world that saw Jesus, Crucified and Risen for our salvation, and the development of Christianity, exhorting them to fidelity and love for their land, despite the difficulties caused by the lack of stability and security. In addition, I encouraged them to be firm in their faith, trusting in Christ, the source of our joy, and to deepen their personal relationship with Him in prayer, as well as to be open to the great ideals of life, family, friendship and solidarity. Seeing young Christians and Muslims celebrate in great harmony, I encouraged them to build together the future of Lebanon and the Middle East and to oppose violence and war. Harmony and reconciliation must be stronger than the forces of death.

On Sunday morning, there was a very intense moment of great participation in the Holy Mass at the City Center Waterfront in Beirut, accompanied by evocative hymns and chants, which also characterized other celebrations. In the presence of many bishops and a large crowd of faithful from all over the Middle East, I urged everyone to live and to witness their faith without fear, knowing that the vocation of the Christian and the Church is to bring the Gospel to all without distinction, following the example of Jesus in a context marked by bitter conflicts, I drew attention to the need to serve peace and justice by becoming instruments of reconciliation and builders of communion. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, I had the joy of presenting the Apostolic Exhortation which gathers the conclusions of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Through the Patriarchs and Eastern and Latin Bishops, priests, religious and laity, this Document wants to reach all the faithful of that dear land, to support them in their faith and communion and encourage them on the path of the much hoped for new evangelization. In the afternoon, at the headquarters of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate, I then had the joy of a fraternal ecumenical meeting with the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs and representatives of those Churches, as well as other Ecclesial Communities.

Dear friends, the days spent in Lebanon were a wonderful manifestation of faith and religious feeling and a prophetic sign of peace. The multitude of believers from the entire Middle East, had the opportunity to reflect, to talk and especially to pray together, renewing their commitment to root their lives in Christ. I am sure that the people of Lebanon, in its varied but well blended religious and social composition, will know how to witness with renewed impetus to the true peace that comes from faith in God. I hope that the messages of peace and respect that I wanted to give, will help governments of the region to take decisive steps towards peace and a better understanding of the relationship between Christians and Muslims. For my part, I continue to accompany those beloved people in prayer, so that they remain faithful to their commitments. To the maternal intercession of Mary, venerated in so many and ancient Lebanese shrines, I entrust the fruits of this pastoral visit, as well as the good intentions and the just aspirations of the entire Middle East.

 

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: Israel and the Global War on Christians

American Christians are among Israel’s most stalwart supporters.

Evangelical Christians, in particular, have been unyielding in their demands that America stand by the tiny nation. Their advocacy for Israel has raised the political stakes concerning America’s policy toward Israel in the upcoming election.

Violent persecution of Christians is a growing reality in much of the world. It cuts especially deep when it happens in countries and comes from people that Christians here in America support. There is an innate desire to turn our heads and pretend that it isn’t happening. As a long-time supporter of Israel, I understand the feeling. However, our first allegiance must be to our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

In a September 7 article Playing politics with the global war on Christians, John Allen discusses just such a conundrum: The violent persecution of Christians in Israel. Members of my parish went on pilgrimage to Israel last year and came back with eyewitness testimony concerning similar stories. It appears that persecution of Christians in Israel is real.

You can write the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren here. Please do so. If there is one country that should be willing to listen to American Christians it is Israel.

The article says in part:

Playing politics with the global war on Christians

Most people, most of the time, are fundamentally decent. Hence if they knew that there’s a minority facing an epidemic of persecution — a staggering total of 150,000 martyrs every year, meaning 17 deaths every hour — there would almost certainly be a groundswell of moral and political outrage.

There is such a minority in the world today, and it’s Christianity. The fact that there isn’t yet a broad-based movement to fight anti-Christian persecution suggests something is missing in public understanding.

In part, of course, the problem is that unquestionable acts of persecution, such as murder and imprisonment, are sometimes confused with a perceived cultural and legal “war on religion” in the West, a less clear-cut proposition. In part, too, it’s because of the antique prejudice that holds that Christianity is always the oppressor, never the oppressed.

Yet as with most things, politics also has a distorting effect, and a story out of Israel this week makes the point.

On Tuesday, the doors of a Trappist monastery in Latrun, near Jerusalem, were set ablaze, with provocative phrases in Hebrew spray-painted on the exteriors walls, such as “Jesus is a monkey.” The assault was attributed to extremist Jews unhappy with the recent dismantling of two settlements on nearby Palestinian land.

Founded in 1890 by French Trappists, the Latrun monastery is famed for its strict religious observance. Israelis call it minzar ha’shatkanim, meaning “the monastery of those who don’t speak.” Ironically, it’s known for fostering dialogue with Judaism, and welcomes hundreds of Jewish visitors every week.

Tuesday’s attack was not an isolated incident. In 2009, a Franciscan church near the Cenacle on Mount Zion, regarded by tradition as the site of Christ’s Last Supper, was defaced with a spray-painted Star of David and slogans such as “Christians Out!” and “We Killed Jesus!” According to reports, the vandals also urinated on the door and left a trail of urine leading to the church.

Last February, the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land wrote to Israeli authorities to appeal for better protection after another wave of vandalism struck a Baptist church, a Christian cemetery and a Greek Orthodox monastery. That time, slogans included “Death to Christianity,” “We will crucify you!” and “Mary is a whore.”

At the time, the custodian, Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, complained that no arrests had been made in any of these cases. (Read more here.)

 

Christian Persecution: In the West, Where the War Is Forced Upon Us

Hearings on a discrimination suit filed by four British Christians against their government began September 4 in the European Court of Human RightsThe Christians say that they have lost their jobs because they would not comply with demands that they violate their Christian faith.

Their complaints range from a woman who was fired because she wore a cross on a necklace to work, to a registrar who lost her job because she refused to conduct same-sex cvil partnerships. These people have been the object of ridicule for filing these claims. But they have persisted, even in the face of predictions that they will ultimately lose the case. This article from The Telegraph gives more details:

David Barrett

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012

In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross.

It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.

A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.

The Government’s position received an angry response last night from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life. (Read more here.)

It appears that Britain has crossed the line into active legal discrimination against people of faith. This lawsuit and the attitude of intolerance toward Christians that caused it should be harbingers for the rest of us.

Violent persecution of a group of people doesn’t spring fully grown from nowhere. It grows from smaller things and lays down roots of acceptance in our minds and hearts in an incremental, almost invisible fashion.

Christians in much of the world are subjected to the brutality of violent discrimination that often approaches genocide. We haven’t gotten to violent persecution here in the West. But I believe we are moving in that direction.

Much of Western society today hovers somewhere between openly accepted verbal harassment of their Christian majorities and active legal discrimination against them. Majority populations have been subjected to active discrimination and violent persecution by a minority which has control of the governing apparatus of the country before. South Africa is one recent example.

Here in America, people of faith in general and Christians in particular have been subjected to a barrage of lawsuits seeking to wipe all mention of faith out of our public life. These lawsuits force us to chisel God’s name off our monuments, take down religious symbols from our parks and public facilities and ban all mention of the Almighty at public events such as football games. Most recently, there has been a move to do away with the National Day of Prayer and to expunge “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The HHS Mandate and lawsuits trying to force religious ministries to refer women for abortions have broadened these attacks from a debate about monuments, public prayers and slogans. They are now attacking the Church itself.

Meanwhile, verbal agitation aimed at silencing individual citizens becomes more strident and widespread. Private conversations between two people in line at a grocery store can be hijacked by the Christian-basher standing behind them who rudely interjects his (it seems almost always to be a “him.”) version of the usual atheist canards attacking their faith. The sense of entitlement these people seem to feel to harass, insult and bully Christians is truly mind-boggling. Christians often find themselves falling silent about their faith simply because they get worn out by the constant hassle and circular arguments these people force on them.

This is harassment. The names that Christians are called and the way that Christianity is attacked in some of the media has become so extreme that it can fairly be called hate speech. This is not benign. It is Christian baiting and it’s time we called it that. 

We are in a plunge downward here in America. Yesterday’s outrageous insults against Christians become today’s accepted beliefs. The line between an aggressive secularism and active legal discrimination was crossed with the HHS Mandate.

In Britain, this has evidently reached the point that individual Christians face loss of their jobs for something so small as wearing a cross on a necklace. Other Christians lose their jobs if they refuse to participate in activities that violate their faith.

It isn’t such a big step in a violent world from social bullying and legal discrimination to violent persecution. In fact, the legal apparatus, if it becomes draconian enough, actually supports and protects the persecutors.

I hope that the European Court of Human Rights rules in favor of these four Christian petitioners. But even if it does, to paraphrase a line from an old Star Trek episode, the war is still forced upon us. A positive ruling in the four Christians’ favor would not turn back the tide of Christian-baiting and the constant push for more discriminatory laws against people of faith.

If the court rules against these Christians, the matter becomes even more urgent. A negative ruling will open the door for what almost certainly will be oppressive laws that force Christians to chose on a daily basis between Jesus and their jobs and eventually, their freedom.

I quoted Vijay Ooman, of Nigeria in an earlier post. What he said is worth a second read:

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..

Based on the letters I get, I think a lot of Christians around the world are watching us here in America as we fight for our basic freedom of religion. American Christians need to start standing up for Jesus in their daily lives. If this misuse of the law to force us to violate our faith continues, we need to be prepared to practice non-violent civil disobedience. After all, don’t we sing in our churches that we are “soldiers of the cross?”

Christian Persecution: Coptic Christians in Egypt, Ready to be Martyrs

Ready To Be Martyrs

Coptic Christians in Egypt claim their ancient roots.
DAVID PINAULT | SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
the cover of America, the Catholic magazine

My sharpest memory from Cairo is what my driver said: al-Masih biygarribna, “Christ is testing us.” I’d hired Sami to drive me around the city. As soon as I saw on his wrist thewashma, a faded tattoo in the shape of a cross, I knew he was a Copt, a member of Egypt’s Christian minority, a community that predates the Muslim presence by centuries.

Since the early 1980s I had been to Egypt many times as a student of Arabic, as a researcher and as a tour guide on Nile cruise-boats. But this visit in 2012 was my first time back since the onset of the Arab Spring and Egypt’s “Lotus Revolution.”

As we drove, Sami told me about the persecution Copts endure at the hands of Egyptian Salafists. Salafists are Muslims who want an Islamist government in which the harshest interpretations of Islamic law (shariah) are privileged at the expense of both non-Muslims and progressive-minded Muslims. “Things had been less worse for us under Mubarak,” Sami said. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s authoritarian ruler until his ouster in the revolution, had suppressed Islamist radicals. But now, said Sami, the Salafists feel bold enough to burn churches, incite anti-Coptic riots and call openly for the expulsion of Christians.

I told him the statistics: in 2011 and 2012, since the revolution’s onset, over 100,000 Copts have fled Egypt. “Well, I’m not going to leave,” Sami insisted. “Christ is testing us. I tell my friends to stay. Christ could end this suffering, this trial, at any time. How will you feel, I tell my friends, if you’re in Canada instead of Egypt when Christ returns?”  (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Christians are the World’s Most Persecuted Religious Group

By Michael Gryboski , Christian Post Reporter
May 4, 2012|7:59 am

WASHINGTON – The head of a California-based evangelical religious liberty group stated Thursday that Christianity is presently the most persecuted religion on earth based on evidence gathered.
Dr. Carl Moeller told The Christian Post at an event on rising religious intolerance abroad that Christians are “the most persecuted in the world” when the nonprofit examined religious groups suffering from increased persecution.

“In terms of sheer numbers, the large size of the Christian populations around the world, where they’re repressed or restricted… Whether you count martyrs, those killed, or you count those living in regimes, sizable Christian populations live under extreme restrictions in places like China, Indonesia, and of course the Middle East,” said Moeller.

He noted that “the methodology for determining this was not from Open Doors necessarily. It was through organizations like Pew Research.”

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-most-persecuted-religious-group-in-the-world-says-expert-74332/#CAUz9TZKyZYKOcZF.99

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. 

Survey: Increasing Hostility Toward Religion in USA

In what may be one of the more poignant stories of the week, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute released a survey Monday that details the rise in hostility toward religion in America.

Just a week ago, a gunman attempted to enter Family Research Council headquarters in Washington DC, wounding a security guard. Law enforcement has treated this as an incident of Domestic Terrorism. That certainly puts an explanation point at the end of yesterday’s press release from the Family Research Council.

According to CNA/EWTN news,

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2012 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A report examining court cases from recent years has found that hostility towards religion has grown to unprecedented levels in the United States.

The newly-updated Survey of Religious Hostility in America serves as “a testament to the radical shift in our culture’s worldview” on religion, said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, and Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

On Aug. 20, Shackelford and Perkins announced the release of the updated analysis, describing “more than 600 recent examples of religious hostility” in the U.S., most occurring in the last decade. Read more here

The full report on the rise of hostility toward religion in the USA can be found here.

From Xyklon B to Machetes: Our Lady in the Age of Genocide

Genocide was the 20th Century’s iconic crime. It was, for much of the world, a 100-year bloodbath.

Murderous governments used killers armed with everything from Xyklon B to machetes to wage war against civilians with the aim of wiping entire tribes and populations of people from the earth. It began with the Armenian Genocide and kept on rolling through to the Sudan. Other eras were guilty of genocidal war. But when it came to efficiency and numbers, nobody did it better than the genocidal warriors of the 20th Century.

Our hope, as we left the old century behind, was that we had somehow contrived to leave these impulses for organized murder behind us. We thought they belonged in the forgotten junk drawer of that era, beside the vacuum tubes and eight track tapes. Unfortunately, genocide trailed us into the 21st Century and is already making a real name for itself here.

Not so long ago, within living memory, we stood beside the mass graves and crematoriums of the Third Reich and vowed “never again.” But, as my grandmother used to tell me, “Never say never.”

Genocide led us on a blood-drenched march through the last half of the 20th Century. In 50 short years of history, it drug us from the Nazi death camps to the Killing Fields of Cambodia, through the slaughter in Rwanda, and on to the Sudan.
 Today, it is the Christians who are being targeted for extermination.

Each day brings a new and horrific story of Christians murdered because they are Christians in many places around globe, but particularly the Middle East and parts of Africa. Deacon Greg Kandra, over at The Deacon’s Bench, posted Monday on the plight of Christians in Syria.

In his post, Can Syria’s Christians Survive? Deacon Greg quotes a Wall Street Journal article that says in part:

“… Syria’s Christian communities are being severely tested by the uprising that has racked the country for more than a year. They think back to 636, when the Christian Byzantine emperor Heraclius saw his army defeated by Muslim forces south of present-day Damascus. “Peace be with you Syria. What a beautiful land you will be for our enemies,” he lamented before fleeing north to Antioch. In the 8th century, a famed Damascus church was razed to make way for the Umayyad Mosque—today one of Islam’s holiest sites.

Not a few Christians in modern-day Syria worry that the current crisis could end the same way for them if Bashar al-Assad and his regime are defeated by the rebel insurgency … ” Read more here:  Can Syria’s Christians Survive?

This is especially poignant today, on the Feast of the Assumption, since this feast honors Mary, Our Lord’s mother. Our Lady spent her last years in what is modern day Turkey. Her last home is believed to have been high on a hillside not far from the city of Ephesus.

When I visited this site last year, I was impressed by the long lines of believers who had traveled from all over the world to stand in the cool shade of this hillside. It was equally striking to see Muslims and Christians in line together, waiting their turn to enter the tiny rooms of the reconstructed ruin of Our Lady’s home.

You can touch the stones that formed the lower portion of her original house, hear the breeze riffling through the trees, and drink from a spring that may have supplied her water. It’s easy to imagine how peaceful this home would have been for her, especially after visiting the stone metropolis of Ephesus not far away. Her empty grave must lie a short distance from this place. She was assumed into heaven from here.

I wanted to attend mass at this spot, but we got there too late in the day. What I did instead was break the “no entry” rule posted beside the ropes surrounding the little outdoor chapel and take a seat in one of the chairs. I wanted to be alone, to feel the Presence in that place and to pray. The guard eyed me quietly and then respectfully backed away, his rifle hanging limp at his side.

When I had told one of my Muslim companions that I wanted to be alone to pray, he said, “Pray for me too,” and I did.

It was easy here, in this quiet bubble of grace next to the long lines of pilgrims chattering in their many languages, to believe that we could put it all aside. We could give up the things that divide us and remember the things that make us one.

We are all born of woman. We will all die. We are children of the same One God Who loves us the way any parent loves his children.

That should be enough. It should be more than enough to make us think long and hard about this nasty habit we have of killing one another.

What are we going to say when we stand before God and try to explain ourselves?

It was unfathomable to me, sitting in that holy place, that there are people so demented and lost that they honestly believe that God will reward them for the wanton killing of His children. But I know that such people exist. I’ve witnessed first-hand the carnage that terrorists cause.

If there is one message in this Feast of the Assumption, it’s that we not only have One Father; we have One Mother, as well.

I saw Muslims and Christians, standing in line together to honor her. A hardened Turkish guard respectfully backed away to let me pray my Christian prayers. From The Deacon’s Bench, to the bleached stones of Ephesus and on uphill to the riffling breezes of her last home, Our Lady does what mothers always do.

She makes us family.

Mary truly is the Mother of God. Jesus gave her to humanity when He told the Apostle John, “This is your mother.” She is mother to us all, Muslim and Christian alike.

I think her love is the bridge that will one day bring us together.


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