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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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    • 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 5 hours ago

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • “Saudi Arabia remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.” In its annual report for 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted the extraordinary restrictions faced by Christians and other non-Muslims in one of the most rigid and hardline Islamic states in the world. No churches exist in Saudi Arabia because of an Islamic tradition that Muhammad said there should be only one religion in the Arabian peninsula. Pray for peace and perseverance for the small number of Saudi converts and the many expatriate Christians practising their faith in this repressive context, and ask that the authorities will yield to international pressure to introduce greater religious freedom. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 23 June, Vahid Hakkani, a Christian convert in prison in Iran, resumed a hunger strike in protest against the refusal of a court to grant him and two other Christians conditional release. Vahid had broken his previous strike in May after another of his fellow-detainees was set free. The prison authorities have reportedly confiscated his personal belongings from his cell and are denying him the right to make phone calls; they have also separated the Christian prisoners from one another. Even before his first hunger strike, Vahid had been suffering from a digestive problem and internal bleeding. Pray that his health may not fail altogether and that his action will secure justice and freedom for him and his friends (Psalm 69:33). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Pray for imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been severely beaten and forcibly returned to jail from hospital in Iran. He had been recovering there for two months from injuries received in past beatings, and his transfer back to the deadly Rajai Shahr prison came without warning. When he arrived at the hospital in March, he was shackled, and guards lashed out at him violently. But his treatment later improved; his family were allowed to visit him, and he was given nutritious meals. Ask the Lord to strengthen and protect Saeed in this latest stage of his long and painful ordeal, and pray that he will soon be released. Pray too for comfort for his family in the US; his wife has said that this latest development breaks her heart. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Sep 2014 00:00

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