• Treehaven3
    Treehaven, South Africa: International Retreat and Training Centre
  • Treehaven1
    South African Students Undergoing Training at Treehaven
  • Ray
    Ray Barnett, founder, Friends In The West
  • Corrymeela cross
    Prayers and practical help for those suffering through violence and war.

Friends In The West founder, Ray Barnett – Don’t Tell Me It Can’t be Done (Podcast)

Dan Wooding interviews his old friend and Friends In The West founder, Ray Barnett, about the book they wrote together called “Uganda Holocaust”. Out of this is how the African Children’s Choir was born. Dan also asks about Ray’s autobiography, “Don’t Tell Me It Can’t Be Done.”



Hostages reportedly tortured to extract ransom from parents.

Kaduna River, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Jula2812, Wikipedia) Kaduna River, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Jula2812, Wikipedia)

(Morning Star News) – Six girls and two staff members from a Christian-run high school in north-central Nigeria have been released after torture and payment of a ransom, according to local reports.

The girls and staff members kidnapped at gunpoint on Oct. 3 in Kaduna state from Engravers’ College in Kakau Daji village, Chikun County near Kaduna city, were released by their Muslim Fulani captors on Oct. 26, one of girls’ parents told Nigerian reporters.
“Several people prayed in churches and mosques,” Ohemu Fredrick told reporters. “Through their prayers, God brought us help. God used a former governor of Kaduna state to assist us.”

Fredrick did not disclose the former governor’s name or the ransom amount. He said the former official offered the children and staff members free medical treatment, as the hostages were reportedly tortured each time the kidnappers called the parents so they could hear their screams, according to another parent whose identity was withheld.

That parent reportedly said that after the kidnappers set them free, police picked them up and dropped them off near a toll gate about five kilometers (three miles) from the city center.

Suspected to be herdsmen who have carried out numerous kidnappings and attacks in southern Kaduna state, the armed Fulani invaded the school at 12:20 a.m.

Shunom Giwa, vice principal of Engravers’ College, previously told Morning Star News that initially five armed herdsmen appeared at the door of his house and spoke with each other in the Fulani language. Others with the school’s vice principal arrived shortly after they told him to lie down, and Giwa escaped, he said.

The school, which is open to both Christian and non-Christian students, has a secular curriculum in accordance with Nigeria’s Ministry of Education but includes a Christian perspective, and students take Christian Religious Knowledge as a subject, an official told Morning Star News.
The school has a student population of 100, with rampant insecurity in the state compelling some parents to withdraw their children from the school, Giwa said.

The village lies in the kidnapping belt of the state and is on the route to Kwanti village, where Morning Star News last year reported the displacement of many Christians due to kidnappings by armed Fulani Herdsmen, according to area residents.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Source: Morning Star News

“Why is house church worship a crime?” writes Iranian Christian from prison cell

Iranian Christian Naser Navard Goltapeh wrote an open letter from his prison cell on 1 November questioning why worshipping in house churches is an “action against national security”.

The Farsi-speaking convert from Islam, who was remanded in the notorious Evin prison and sentenced to serve a ten-year term in January 2018, wrote, “Today marks more than two years since I have been detained in prison for the fabricated charge of acting against national security by running house churches, even though religious ceremonies are part of our religion.

“I hope that Christ’s love will spread through the voice of imprisoned Christians throughout the world,” wrote Naser Navard Goltapeh from his prison cell [image: Article 18]

“I do not know by what logic or under which crime this heavy sentence has been imposed upon me. I hope that Christ’s love will spread through the voice of imprisoned Christians throughout the world,” wrote Naser.

He noted that Christians are one of Iran’s recognised religious minorities that “are free to practise their religion” under the constitution.

Naser was arrested in July 2017 with three Azerbaijani Christians during a secret police raid on a church meeting. He was convicted of assembling in an “illegal gathering” that “threatens the security of Iran”. The others were also convicted then released and sentenced in absentia, after returning to their country.

In April 2018, Naser’s family raised concerns over his health. They said Naser, who was kept in solitary confinement for two months while undergoing gruelling interrogation, was at risk of losing his teeth if he did not receive treatment for a severe gum infection.

Christian worship meetings in Farsi, the national language spoken by the Muslim majority, are often targeted by the Iranian authorities in their efforts to discourage conversion of Muslims to Christianity. Historic Assyrian and Armenian Christian minorities who have their own languages, not spoken by the Muslim majority, are usually allowed to worship freely in those languages.

Source: Barnabas Fund

Tension in Burkina Faso after 37 killed in ambush on Canadian mining convoy

OCHA/Otto Bakano More than 100,000 people have been uprooted from their homes due to intercommunity clashes and two main sites have been set up for the displaced in Barsalogho and Foubé localities in Centre-Nord region, Burkina Faso.

Authorities in Burkina Faso must “do everything in their power” to bring to justice the perpetrators of an attack on a mining company convoy in the West African nation on Wednesday, which killed dozens and left scores more injured, the UN chief said on Thursday.
“The Secretary-General conveys his condolences to the families of the deceased, as well as to the people and Government of Burkina Faso and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured”, his Spokesperson told reporters in New York.

Montreal-based mining company, Semafo, said five of its buses carrying workers, escorted by Burkina Faso military personnel, were attacked while traveling to an open-pit gold mine in the eastern part of the country, according to media reports.

The ambush represents one of the deadliest attacks in a recent spate of violence in the historically-calm landlocked nation, which has been infiltrated by jihadists, active for years in neighbouring Mali.

Increased bloodshed has forced hundreds-of-thousands of people to flee their homes, igniting a fast-growing humanitarian crisis.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday’s incident, which Secretary-General António Guterres has called a “heinous act” against the country’s people.

During a Security Council meeting on peace in Africa last month, Mr. Guterres declared that the sprawl of terrorist networks is a growing, transnational threat to the continent, with a pervasive climate crisis exacerbating violence, and straining resources.

Extremist groups have exploited existing divides within rival pastoralist communities, already competing for access to limited natural resources.

In a span of just three weeks, the number of displaced in Burkina Faso has increased by nearly 70 percent, around half a million people, in a nation of 20 million, according to UN figures.

Reiterating the UN’s commitment to supporting nation, engulfed by violence, the Secretary-General highlighted “the full support of the United Nations to the Government of Burkina Faso in its continuing efforts to ensure peace and stability in the country.”

Source: UN

China: Jiangsu Province Launches New Crackdown on Christianity

To implement direct orders from President Xi Jinping, the Jiangsu provincial government started in July a new targeted campaign in five cities.

Multiple internal CCP documents that Bitter Winter recently obtained confirm that the government of the eastern province of Jiangsu has started a new round of coordinated, six-month-long crackdown on the Christian faith. Launched in July, the operation concentrates on shutting down house churches and state-approved Three-Self churches alike.

According to the documents, this new operation can be traced to a neican – an internal reference report of limited circulation for the highest ranks of government –with Xi Jinping’s instructions on the issue of Christianity in northern cities of Jiangsu, distributed by China’s official Xinhua News Agency on June 2.

The sensitivity and depth of neican reports far exceed the publicly available information on Xinhua: most are classified as state secrets and are made available only to government officials at appropriate levels. Based on a neican, leaders of relevant institutions and levels of governance then issue instructions as to their implementation to subordinate authorities.

Jiangsu’s provincial government and Party committee, attaching great importance to Xi’s instructions, launched a crackdown in five prefecture-level cities in the north of the province where about 80 percent of province’s Christians reside: Xuzhou, Lianyungang, Suqian, Huai’an, and Yancheng.

Seeking to avoid attention and criticism from the international community and reduce the discontent from local Christians, the government has spent a few months preparing the new operation.

As per The Special Governance Work Plan on the Issue of Christianity in the Five Cities of Northern Jiangsu, issued by the provincial United Front Work Department on August 2, the investigative research and planning stages of the new operation were set for July and August. August and September were dedicated to propaganda development, as well as mobilization and deployment of personnel. The implementation of the operation was foreseen for October and November. To prevent any crackdown-related incidents on the National Day, celebrated on October 1, concentrated rectification activities were postponed to later October. The month of December will be dedicated to post-implementation management activities.

According to the document, the main objectives of the crackdown are “two reductions, two normalizations, and two fortifications,” meaning that the number of religious meeting venues and believers should be reduced, private meeting venues eliminated and crosses removed, and the management of the clergy and believers strengthened.

According to sources, relevant government departments were set quotas for eliminating meeting venues and reducing the number of believers.

Source: Bitter Winter Magazine