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Kenya

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Church services in Kenya have been targeted by militant Islamists

Two pastors in the coastal region of Kenya were murdered in the space of two nights in October 2013. Charles Matole was found in his church in Mombasa, shot in the head from behind; he had begun to receive death threats after he led several evangelistic meetings in the city. Ebrahim Kidata was left in bush in Kilifi, having apparently been strangled; he was planning to plant churches in the Vitengeni area.

The deaths of these pastors highlight the threat faced by Christians in the coastal region, where many of the country’s Muslims live. Members of the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab have taken refuge there after being driven out of Somalia by Kenyan and African Union forces, and they have carried out a number of gun, grenade and bomb attacks against local congregations. In one incident last year, 15 people were injured when an explosive device was thrown into a church compound near Likoni in June. Al-Shabaab was also responsible for the siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September, when the militants murdered many of their non-Muslim hostages.

 Although Christians and Muslims generally live at peace in Kenya, some converts from Islam to Christianity have been threatened with violence or death by Muslim leaders. Like many converts, they are also liable to harassment and persecution by their own families.

 Kenya is more than 80% Christian and has seen massive church growth in recent decades. But Muslims form the majority in some areas, and Christians there may suffer discrimination from individuals and businesses. Muslims are seeking to Islamise these regions. The constitution allows Muslims to have certain civil cases, such as divorce and inheritance, decided by Islamic (Kadhi) courts.

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    • Pray for Christians in Sri Lanka facing attacks from Buddhist extremists, who have forced the closure of numerous churches. In an apparently positive move, the government has created a Religious Disputes Unit to address conflicts between different groups and combat attempts to create religious discord. But many Christians and Muslims believe that Buddhist extremists are allowed to operate with impunity and that the new unit will not solve the problems faced by non-Buddhists. A cap on the building of places of worship has also been announced, and this seems to serve the Buddhist lobby, which is opposed to expanding Christian activity. Pray for protection for Christian congregations and that their ministry and mission will not be further impeded. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Cry out to the Lord for Alexis Prem Kumar, a 47-year-old Christian minister from India who was abducted in Afghanistan on 2 June. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but three Taliban militants have been arrested in connection with it. Alexis had worked for an NGO in Afghanistan since 2011, helping returning refugees. He was leaving a school near Herat for Afghan children who have recently returned from Iran or Pakistan when he was seized. Give thanks for Alexis’ willingness to serve the Lord in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and pray for his safe return. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Sep 2014 00:00

    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

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