Christian communities under assault in Nigeria

The latest development in the ongoing violent assault against Christians in Nigeria occurred in Plateau state, located in central Nigeria. Throughout September and October, repeated attacks against Christian communities left at least 75 dead.

Our partners on the ground, Stefanos Foundation, reported on the attacks and interviewed the victims. Throughout the course of the violence, 12 villages were attacked. In addition to the casualties, 489 homes were burned, and 13,726 persons were displaced. The victims identified the perpetrators as Fulani Militants.

Stefanos Foundation interviewed some victims to learn about the attacks.

Lisa Bono

Lisa

“When we heard rumors about the planned Fulani herdsmen attack on our community, we sought refuge in my in-law’s house. While we were asleep, we then heard gunshots around the house. The Fulani militants had surrounded our house shooting sporadically and a bullet got me on the cheek.”

The assailants then set their house on fire, but Lisa was able to escape through a window. Lisa lost 5 family members in the attack.

Friday Chinge

Friday
Villagers often get some kind of tip off before an attack will occur. Friday was with Nigerian soldiers in his village before an imminent attack hoping they would provide direction and protection. However, he soon realized they were not to be trusted.

“Some people came out from a particular house because of the gunshots and ran to the soldiers for help, who told them to join the others in the classroom. However, I advised the people not to go into the classroom, but they did anyway. So I laid down in the grasses with the soldiers, as we were lying down on the ground I saw one of the soldiers pointing his hand, directing the Fulani militants towards the classroom where the villagers are… The soldiers withdrew from the scene, the militants then surrounded the classroom, some stayed close to a window, and some stayed close to the door and opened fire on the people, killing almost everyone in the classroom except for two who survived with serious gunshot injuries.”

Chris Aya

Chris

Chris was on his way with his family to a hiding place, when he turned back to retrieve a bag from their house. When he got to the house, he saw armed men and screamed for his family to run. The attackers shot Chris and hacked his head with a machete. He was left to die. His family searched the next morning for what they thought would be his dead body. Instead they found him clinging to life and rushed him to the hospital. All the houses in their village were burnt down.

For some time, there have been growing tensions between the Fulani herdsmen who are mostly and Muslim, and the farming communities, who are largely Christians. However, in recent years it appears that some Fulani members have become violent and potentially even radicalized. This has caused the tensions to evolve into deadly attacks against the Christian farming communities. The attackers have been named Fulani Militants.

We ask you to pray for the following:

  • That the attacks would cease, and the communities would find ways to restore peace.
  • That the Nigerian government would provide effective security measures and bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • That the victimized communities would not participate in retaliatory attacks.

Malaysia Day: church leaders call for prayer

September 16th marks Malaysia’s birthday, known as Malaysia Day. In the midst of many things to celebrate, Malaysian Christians remain burdened with realities that challenge Malaysia’s foundational principles of diversity, unity, and a high regard for human rights. Christians are facing rising discrimination for their faith and pressure to conform to the nation’s Muslim majority.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia released the following request for prayer. Will you join our brothers and sisters in Malaysia in praying for justice and unity?

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MISSING: Chinese human rights lawyer

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Chinese human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, has been missing from his home for over a week. His wife, family, and friends have been unable to contact him since August 13th. Zhisheng’s disappearance comes in the midst of him serving a house arrest that began in 2014. This is the latest sentence he has served in a pattern of targeting from the Chinese government.

In 2005, Zhisheng’s license to be a lawyer was taken away and he was charged in 2006 with “inciting subversion of state power.” He was sentenced to three years in prison but was released early. Then in 2007, he was again detained without reason for 50 days, and was tortured.

In 2009, Zhisheng’s wife and children fled China and came to the United States. Soon after, Zhisheng was taken by police and his whereabouts were unknown for over a year, from February 4, 2009- March 27, 2010. He was then released on parole, but re-arrested in 2011 for supposedly violating the terms of his parole. The Chinese authorities sentenced him to another three-year imprisonment. Since his latest release from prison in 2014, he has remained under house arrest.

Zhisheng’s wife is very concerned about her husband’s well being and the inability of anyone to contact him. After failed phone calls, his brother went to Zhisheng’s home and found it empty.

The wife said, “Now that I know he has disappeared, I am in a state of emotional collapse.”

Some suspect his disappearance could be linked to an interview he recently gave in which he spoke against the Chinese regime.

Zhisheng has been a powerful defender of Christians and other groups in China who face intense discrimination. Please pray for Zhisheng’s well being and freedom and that God would strengthen and comfort Zhisheng’s wife and children.

Eritrea: Christian mother dies in prison

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We’re saddened to report that mother of three, Fikadu Debesay, died in a desert prison in Eritrea. Her death comes only a few months after her arrest in May during a raid on Christians. Since May over 200 Christians have been detained due to these increasing raids by the Eritrean government.

Since 2002 Christians have been forced to go “underground” with their practices after the Eritrean government passed a law prohibiting any religious practice outside of Sunni Islam and Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran Christian denominations.

Prisoners of conscience in Eritrea are kept in extremely cruel conditions. They are sometimes held in metal shipping containers and they face torture, lack of food and medical attention, and hard labor. Desert prisons, like the one where Mrs. Debesay was held, subject prisoners to especially hot and suffocating conditions. They also face humiliation. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that detainees’ hair may be forcibly shaved off as a “sign of humiliation in a society where a woman’s hair is regarded as a sign of decency and sanity”.

Mrs. Debesay’s husband is also in prison from the May raids. This sadly means their three children have been left without parental care.

Please pray for the Christians of Eritrea.