• Treehaven Group
    SOUTH AFRICAN STUDENTS UNDERGOING TRAINING AT TREEHAVEN
  • Treehaven Building
    Treehaven, South Africa
  • Ray
    RAY BARNETT, FOUNDER, FRIENDS IN THE WEST
  • Corrymeela
    PRAYERS AND PRACTICAL HELP FOR THOSE SUFFERING THROUGH VIOLENCE AND WAR

African Children’s Choir Founder Calls for Miracle Prayers to end Pandemic

African Children’s Choir Founder Calls for Miracle Prayers to end Pandemic

Written by Peter Wooding

Vancouver, Canada (ANS) – Christian pioneer Ray Barnett is calling on believers across the globe to pray for a miracle to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Ray Barnett with the African Children’s Choir

While growing up in Coleraine in Northern Ireland Ray, now aged 83, says he first experienced the power of prayer not long after he became a Christian and believes that we can see continued breakthroughs today:

“The day after I accepted Christ I tried to share my testimony in public for the first time, but I fainted.  But I knew that with God nothing was impossible if you only believe; and I took that literally.”

Founder of the African Children’s Choir and the ministry Friends in the West Ray, who now lives in Vancouver, Canada added:

“So, I then prayed that all my friends would become Christians.  Six months later they had all accepted Christ. That’s where I began to know that prayer works.

“And that’s why I believe so much today in prayer. And as far as the pandemic today the scripture that is so relevant for today is:

“II Chronicles 7:14 – If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.”

“I believe Christians around the world can either gather together or pray individually for a miracle of God to heal not only what we call our land in the UK or Canada or America but the whole world needs healing right now.”

Ray concluded by sharing the example of how the African Children’s Choir that was birthed in prayer has brought healing to the land across the world over the past 36 years:

“Back then through a series of miracles the first choir came to Canada in September 1984 and it’s been touring the world ever since. They’ve been touring nonstop and the children are grown up and they are doctors they’re lawyers they’re teachers they’re pastors.

“These children are a source of joy and they are ministering in all kinds of places not only in Africa but all over the world and they have amazing testimonies of God’s miracles not only for them but generally in the villages where they come from all around.  Their presence in the choir has changed the lives of people in their villages. And it’s been a thing that God ordained.

“There are miracles like this happening all over the place and that’s what we need to continue to pray for that this virus will be completely prevented from spreading.

“But I think the most important thing is the call of God to the church for us to humble ourselves and pray and then the Lord will heal the land. II Chronicles 7:14 is a very strong scripture and I want to see it get out there in whatever languages we can because this is God’s time.”

You can listen to the full interview with Ray Barnett here.To find out more about Ray Barnett go to: www.friendsinthewest.com

Source: ASSIST News

Peter Wooding
PETER WOODING

Peter Wooding is Senior Editor at Assist News Service and an award-winning radio, TV, and print journalist. Peter has worked as news editor at UCB Radio in the UK, and has reported from countries around the world including Israel, India, Russia, Serbia, South Sudan, Ukraine and Mozambique. Continuing his father Dan’s legacy, Peter now leads the global expansion of ANS. He is also the London Bureau Chief for the Global News Alliance, Media and PR Officer for Leading The Way UK and UK Director for Mercy Projects. Peter lives in North Wales, UK, with his wife, Sharon, and their three daughters, Sarah, Anna and Abigail.



Nigerian pastor and Calvin Seminary grad gunned down with his wife on their farm

Emmanuel and Juliana Bileya | Facebook/Hausa Christians Foundation

A Nigerian Christian pastor who graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in Michigan was gunned down along with his wife Monday while working on their farm in the Taraba State of Nigeria. The couple leaves behind eight children ages 1 to 19. 

The Rev. Emmanuel Saba Bileya and his wife, Juliana, who is said to be pregnant, were killed by gunmen who have yet to be identified, according to a statement released by the Hausa Christians Foundation.

“It was an attack on the pastor and his wife on their farm. While they were working on the farm, suddenly armed men came and opened fire on them, leading to the death of the pastor and his wife,” a spokesperson for the state police said in a statement shared by the foundation. 

Bileya served as a pastor at a Christian Reformed Church in the Donga local government area. Bileya received a Master of Theology from Calvin in 2014 and served for the last five years at Veenstra Theological Seminary in Donga, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

“In what is being noted as systematic direct war against Christianity in Nigeria, pastors, Christian leaders and seminarians are either being kidnapped or killed every week,” the Hausa Christians Foundation statement reads. “Christians in Nigeria have been the target of many attacks by the vicious Boko Haram jihadist Islamist terrorists, herdsmen attacks and many other kidnappings in recent times.”

In a statement released through a spokesperson, Taraba Gov. Darius Ishaku condemned the murder of the pastor and his wife. Ishaku said he sympathizes with the surviving members of Bileya’s family and members of the Christian Reformed Church in Nigeria. 

“The killing of the pastor and his wife is wicked and inhuman,” the governor’s statement reads, according to Nigeria’s This Day newspaper. “Killings of this nature have happened too often recently in Southern Taraba communities and this is unhelpful to the ongoing efforts of the government to achieve lasting peace among communities in the area.”

Biyela was a doctoral student at the Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies, a nondenominational graduate school in Jacksonville, Florida.

He enrolled at IWS in 2014 and was in the final stage of his doctoral program. He took a thesis course in 2019. 

“It is with a broken heart that IWS announces the deaths of D.W.S. student Emmanuel Bileya, his wife Juliana, and their child in utero, whose name is known only to God,” an IWS statement reads. “Their martyrdom was the result of an ongoing ethnic war in their home country of Nigeria.”

According to IWS, Emmanuel and Juliana will receive Christian burials on Friday. 

According to IWS, Biyela wrote an explanation of the escalating tribal conflicts ongoing in his local area as recently as two weeks ago. 

According to IWS, Biyela wrote: 

“This war has been going on for about a month now in my area, since April 2020. Another tribe has destroyed our churches and rumoured that they plan to come to destroy the church where I am working at, which is in a town called Mararraba located in Donga LGA of Taraba State in Nigeria. For some time now, many people have fled the town for safety including my family but I have remained in Mararraba praying and hoping for God’s restoration of peace and protection of the town and church….

The truth is that the war started from a farm dispute. One man, a member of my branch church kindly gave part of his farmland to a man from another tribe to farm. But this year, 2020, the man encroached more into the farmland, of which the owner disagreed. A farm dispute resolution committee with a membership of both tribes was set up to resolve the issue. Although yet to be resolved, the man from the other tribe invited 200 other people who came with guns and forcefully went ahead to farm on the land. When the owner saw them and tried to stop them, they beat the life out of him to the point of death….

While we were trying to calm the situation in town, youths retaliated by beating a man on his farm. After this, 4 of my church members who decided to leave the village and go to different peaceful village to look for a job were shot: 2 were killed, 2 survived. I buried the 2 boys. In summary, the people from one tribe attacked my village 2 times without success but succeeded on the 3rd attempt, they killed some of the villagers and burnt down the whole village with our branch church and the pastorium.”

A fellow Nigerian IWS student who spoke with Biyela five days before his death told IWS that Biyela “mentioned that he sent his children to the headquarters town of his church, but that he and his wife had stayed back.” 

According to IWS, that decision saved the children’s lives. 

“Born on Christmas Day of 1968, his family gave him the name Emmanuel, ‘God with us,’” the IWS statement continues. “For all in the IWS community who were blessed to meet Emmanuel, share a class with him, or enjoy a meal alongside him, it can truthfully be said that ‘God with us’ was an apt name for him.”

The institution states that the deceased student’s humility and gentleness “spoke to all of the voluminous love of God in His Son, Jesus Christ.”

“Without fail, any email or letter from Emmanuel would begin the same way: ‘Calvary greetings,’ IWS noted. “This constant reminder of Christ’s death was, as Emmanuel well knew, also a reminder of Christ’s victory over the grave.”

“We know that at this time, Emmanuel would want those of us who grieve to place our focus not solely on these tragic deaths, but ultimately on the victory over death that Christ has secured for all who place their faith in Him.”

IWS will release more details on how people can help support Biyela’s children. 

Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst country in the world for Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List. 

Estimates suggest that over 620 Christians have been killed in Nigeria by radical herdsmen and Islamic extremists so far in 2020 as thousands have been killed in recent years. 

While the government has maintained that the escalation of violence is a result of ethnic conflicts between predominantly Christian farming and predominantly Muslim herding communities, advocates for Christians contend that religious elements are a factor. 

Source: The Christian Post



Heavily-armed jihadists murder 27 people in attacks on Christian villages in Mali

Heavily-armed jihadists on motorcycles killed 27 people in three attacks on mainly-Christian Dogon villages in central Mali in less than 24 hours on 26 May.

Extremists have been waging jihad against Christians in north and central Mali since 2016

Seven were killed, some burned alive, in the village of Tillé. Another 20 ethnic Dogon villagers were shot or burned to death in neighbouring Bankass and Koro, local officials said.

Since 2016, jihadists have been waging a war to occupy north and central Mali with the declared aim of establishing sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country.

Mali suffered its worst year of extremist violence in seven years in 2019. Jihadi militants carried out murderous attacks in the north and central area, laying waste to Christian villages and causing hundreds to flee with only the clothes on their backs. In one of the worst attacks, in June 2019, at least 100 men, women and children were slaughtered in Sobame Da, a mainly-Christian village in the Mopti region of central Mali.

Source: Barnabas Fund



Vietnamese Christians excluded from official COVID aid

Witney, England (ANS) – Partners of the charity Open Doors, are reporting that Christian families in Northern Vietnam are being passed over in the distribution of food and medicine.

Christians in Vietnam hold the cross high as they face persecution

The charity says a number of families from a district of northern Vietnam reported being turned down point blank when they asked for food. In total 107 individuals in total including the elderly and children were denied the goods by local authorities.

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Christians in Vietnam hold the cross high as they face persecution

“You are Christians and your God will take care of your family! The government is not responsible for your families!”

“These families are poor,” says Chau*, one of the partner-workers in Vietnam, who has worked to offer assistance in lieu of official aid. “When they learned that the government’s support is coming to their district, they were so happy but only to find out that they were not on the list because they are Christians.”

Although Vietnam has already lifted its nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic on April 23 and some Vietnamese have already begun to go back to their normal lives, the government and several charitable organizations are still providing countrywide support – especially to those on low incomes or who have lost their jobs during the lockdown.

The families that reported being denied this aid, work and live near the Chinese border. Due to COVID-19’s pandemic’s effect on the country’s economy, their work has stopped. They strive to provide food for their families, and they eke out what little they have day-by-day.

The latest report, appears to be the tip of a much larger iceberg, of aid discrimination, not only in Vietnam, but around the world, where Christians are a minority.

  •  In north-eastern Nigeria, the minority Christian community report getting much smaller aid packages from the state, than their Muslim counterparts.
  • In India, Christians report being left at the back of the queue for aid with others of the Dalit or ‘untouchable’ caste.
  • In another unnamed Asian nation, partners of Open Doors risk prison for delivering food to Christians in remote areas of the country.

“It’s a story that we’ve heard again and again, since the start of the pandemic,” says Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland.

“Some lives are considered unworthy of saving, because of their decision to stand by their faith. Make no mistake: the crisis is being used as a weapon against Christians. We’re seen discrimination against Christians in ration distribution, denying Christian health workers access to protective clothing, and opening mosques but keeping churches closed.”

Open Doors, working through local partners, is currently in touch with these families and is arranging to provide food packs and other urgent needs for these families. For many Christians, intervening like this is a risky activity.

“If Christians ignore COVID-19 restrictions, in order to stop their brothers and sisters from starving, they can also alert the authorities of their existence as a community. And that will mean serious persecution for them in months and years to come – it’s a terrible dilemma.”

*Name changed for security reasons.

Source: ASSIST News ServiceToggle panel: All In One SEO Pack



Death Tolls Mounts in Nigeria ‘Jihad’

By ANS Editor

Orpington, England (ANS) – A new report from Nigeria claims the latest attacks by Fulani militants have killed 620 Christians in the first five months of 2020, according to a Release International press release.

The charity goes on to says that a recent attack on a Baptist village killed 17, including an entire family.

Mass grave at Gonan Rogo, Nigeria, where Fulani militants killed 17 villagers

A report, by the International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (ISCLRL), follows an attack on the Christian village of Gonan Rogo, which claimed 17 lives, including a father, mother and their three young children.

The report supports claims by partners of UK-based Release International that the attacks are growing and have the characteristics of an undeclared jihad against Christians.

The ISCLRL, an NGO, claims 32,000 Christians have been killed by Islamist militants since 2009. The United Nation puts the figure killed in the conflict in northern Nigeria at 27,000.

And Release partner, the Stefanos Foundation estimates 30,000 have died in the continuing violence.

Mark Lipdo of Stefanos says: ‘Attackers have claimed more than 30,000 lives. We are seeing a systematic strategy that enforces what the ethnic minorities believe is a jihad. Christians in northern Nigeria are being annihilated. It is heading towards a genocide.’

Stefanos Foundation has been providing relief aid to attack victims for more than a decade, and works with Release to provide trauma counselling.

One of the latest attacks was against the Baptist village of Gonan Rogo in Kaduna State. Release International claims armed Fulani militants waited until around midnight on May 12 until the villagers were asleep then set upon them with guns and knives.

Children were among the victims of Fulani militants.

The dead included Jonathan Yakubu, along with his wife and all their children, aged 6, 9 and 15.

The militia also killed a six-month-old baby in the raid. Miraculously, a three-month-old baby survived, after a bullet passed through her mother’s heart and penetrated the baby’s skull.

According to Release’s sister organisation Voice of the Martyrs (USA), the attack on Gonan Rogo was part of a wave of 13 assaults by Fulani militants on villages in Kaduna and Plateau states.

‘The Nigerian government is at best ineffective, at worst reluctant, to prevent these attacks,’ says Release CEO Paul Robinson. ‘Christians in Nigeria have faced an onslaught by Boko Haram terrorists. Now they are having to endure even more deadly attacks by armed Fulani militants. How many more Christian villagers have to die before Nigeria’s military and police take effective action?

‘Observers fear the world is simply standing by and watching as this violence unfolds in the most populous nation in Africa. Our message to Nigeria and the international community is intervene and stop this now – before it is too late.’

The latest report by the ISCLRL claims Fulani militants (whom they describe as jihadists) have killed three times as many Nigerians as Boko Haram since the start of 2020. They say they have also burnt dozens of churches and Christian teaching centres.

Through its international network of missions, Release International is active in some 25 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.

Source: ASSIST News Service



Wuhan pastor arrested while preaching on Zoom

A pastor from Wuhan, China, has been detained as he preached to a Christian conference that was being broadcast on video chat platform, Zoom. Preacher Luo from Nanjing Road Church was speaking at the “Proclaim Jesus Gospel Gathering”  when police snatched the minister. He was released after four and a half hours of interrogation. 

According to a report by International Christian Concern (ICC), Luo used the time in police custody to witness about how Christians had been serving people in the city during the pandemic. The police were said to have been amazed by the good works of the faith community. 

Luo said: “I rebuke them, calling them out that they are not minding business that they should be minding. Christians disregarded their own lives to do good things, yet the police treat them as the bad guys, this is unreasonable.

“I also told them a few times in all seriousness, I will only live for Christ, I will not argue on other matters. However, I will never change [my persistence] about evangelism.” The police released him a short time later. 

At the end of January, when Wuhan was in a state of complete lockdown, ICC reported on a video which showed Christians distributing face masks and Gospel pamphlets to passersby on the streets. While believers would usually be arrested for such an open show of faith, during the height of the coronavirus outbreak, with police occupied with other matters, public shows of Christian kindness began to flourish. 

Source: Premier