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Nigeria

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A trama healing workshop for victims of
anti-Christian violence

The lives of many Christians in Nigeria are being taken or torn apart by the ruthless campaign of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. It is mounting attacks on various targets, including the security forces, and it has openly declared its intention of driving Christians from the North of the country, where it wants to establish an Islamic state.

The group is thought to have killed over 3,500 people since the launch of its violent campaign in 2009. The US finally designated Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs) in November 2013 after a long campaign by Nigerian Christians, backed by Barnabas Fund.

Boko Haram has not only engaged in its own brutal acts of violence; it has also exploited existing tensions to encourage other Muslims to attack Christians. Anti-Christian atrocities are continuing on almost a daily basis, and they occur not only in the mainly Muslim North, but also in the Middle Belt, where Christians and Muslims are roughly equal in number. Incidents in 2013 have included raids on homes and villages that left dozens dead and scores of houses destroyed, the abduction of Christian girls who were then coerced into renouncing their faith, the bombing and torching of churches, and an attack on Christians at a bus station. Despite its efforts to stop the violence, the government has not succeeded in effectively containing it, or in bringing those responsible to justice.

An Islamist agenda is also being enforced by the authorities in some parts of the North. Twelve states have sharia in at least some Muslim-majority areas, and some of these interpret it strictly. Non-Muslims are subject to certain sharia practices (such as the separation of men and women in public), and some states fund sharia-enforcement groups. Christians in the North may be denied building permits for new church buildings or suffer other forms of discrimination.

Although parts of Nigeria came into contact with Christianity as early as the fifteenth century, the principal phase of mission activity began in the nineteenth century. Both Western and African-American missionaries were involved. In the colonial period the mission agencies established rural networks of education and health care, some of which still exist.

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    • Churches in Christian-majority Burundi are facing the unfamiliar situation of political restriction by their own government because of a new law passed in August that requires each church to have at least 500 members and a proper building. Congregations have a year in which to comply with the new regulations. Although intended to reduce some scandalous practices, the law is strangely reminiscent of the strict regimes of Central Asia. Pray that religious liberty will be maintained in Burundi, both for Christians and for the small minorities who follow other religions. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 14 hours ago

    • Pray for eight Cameroonian missionaries who have been harshly reminded of the cost of sharing the Gospel in their country during a training seminar to equip them for ministry. Barnabas had helped to fund a series of seminars, and on the final day of the last seminar they heard that Jean-Marcel Kesvere, another Cameroonian missionary, who had been planning to attend the seminar with his wife, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram and that his body had been found earlier that day. Give thanks for the response of the missionaries, who expressed their willingness to suffer similarly for Christ, and pray that their work will bear much fruit (John 12:24). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Please pray for Christians in northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram is terrorising people, especially Christians and security forces, just as in neighbouring Nigeria. The Islamist militants openly declare themselves to be Boko Haram, and issue threats by letter, including to pastors telling them they must leave. Two pastors were killed in the village of Assigashia on the night of 25-26 August, hich has caused great distress and consternation. The Cameroonian Christians ask for prayer that God will bring peace and security, that the kidnapped will be released, that believers will stand firm despite being targeted, that God will comfort the traumatised, and that church leaders will know how to prepare their people for persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Oct 2014 00:00

    • “The cathedral in Damaturu now has only about 40 members instead of 450 members. The church in Potiskum now has only about 15 members instead of 500 members… the southern part of [Yobe state] is still very dangerous and most of the churches here have closed down.” A senior church leader in Nigeria wrote to Barnabas Fund in August about the impact on the Church of Boko Haram’s violence. Nevertheless Christians were still holding worship services every Sunday, discipling the young people and even commissioning pastors. Praise God for such perseverance, and pray that a Christian presence and witness may remain in north-east Nigeria. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Oct 2014 00:00

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