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Anti-Christian killings suggest “religious cleansing” – Nigerian church leaders

Country/Region: Africa, Nigeria

I was leading the congregation in prayers. Our eyes were closed when some gunmen stormed the church and opened fire on the congregation. Nigerian pastor Johnson Jauro

Intensifying anti-Christian killings in Nigeria suggest “systematic ethnic and religious cleansing”, according to the country’s church leaders, as the violence claims around 30 more lives.

Pastor-ayo-oritsejafort-4X3.jpg
Ayo Oritsejafor, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said on Saturday (7 January) that church leaders had held an emergency meeting about the escalating attacks, which, they concluded, are reminiscent of the run-up to the civil war of 1967-70. More than a million people were killed during that conflict.

Concerns of a repeat are growing following two further anti-Christian attacks, which come after militant Islamist group Boko Haram issued a three day ultimatum for Christians to leave the north.

At least eight Christians were killed when gunmen stormed a church in Gombe, capital of Gombe State, during a prayer meeting on Thursday night (5 January).

Pastor Johnson Jauro, whose wife was shot dead in the attack, said:

The attackers started shooting sporadically. They shot through the window of the church, and many people were killed including my wife. Many members who attended the church service were also injured.

The following day, around 20 Christians were gunned down in Mubi, Adamawa state, as they gathered to mourn the death of another Christian who had been killed the night before. The assailants chanted “god is great” as they fired Kalashnikov rifles. They were also carrying knives and machetes.

Then on Saturday night (7 January), three people believed to be Christians were shot dead in the north-eastern town of Biu.

A Boko Haram spokesman claimed responsibility for attacks following the three-day ultimatum, which expired on Wednesday (4 January).

The group was behind a series of attacks on churches and other targets in five states over Christmas that left more than 40 people dead and prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in the most troubled areas.

Boko Haram is fighting to create an Islamic state and impose sharia law. The group has been responsible for more than 500 deaths over the last year.

Nigeria is descending into further chaos, with widespread protests over the government’s removal of a fuel subsidy that has resulted in petrol prices more than doubling.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 9 hours ago

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

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