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Monthly archives: March, 2016

Kenya honour for Muslim hero who protected Christian bus passengers

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Salah Farah died in surgery a month after the attack in December

A Muslim teacher in Kenya who protected Christians on a bus after it was attacked by Islamist militants has been posthumously honoured for his bravery.

Salah Farah was shot in the attack in north-eastern Kenya in December and later died from his bullet wound.

The insurgents told the Muslims and Christians to split up but he was among Muslim passengers who refused to do so.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was awarding the Order Of The Grand Warrior to Mr Farah “for his act of courage”.

It is one of the country’s top honours and is awarded by the president for exemplary service to the country.

In previous attacks in the area, Somalia-based al-Shabab militants have killed Christians and spared Muslims.

‘Proud of Kenyan unity’

Mr Kenyatta made the announcement during his state of the union address in parliament.

He said that he was proud that Kenyan had “refused to be divided by terrorism”.

The bus was packed with about 60 passengers travelling from the capital, Nairobi, to the town of Mandera when it was forced to stop on 20 December by gunmen firing shots.

Muslim women quickly offered Christian women scarves to cover their heads when they were ordered off the bus near the village of El Wak on the Somali border.

The year before, a survivor of a similar attack recounted how passengers had been spared if they could recite the Koran.

But Mr Farah, the deputy head of the Mandera township primary school, told Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper that the Muslim passengers had confronted the gunmen.

“We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone,” he said.

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This is the bus that was attacked in November 2014 – the militants killed 28 passengers.

While this confrontation continued, a lorry approached and the militants ambushed this vehicle too, killing an off-duty policeman.

The BBC’s Bashkas Jugsodaay in Garissa says the militants then abandoned their attempt to kill the Christian bus passengers as the Muslims were refusing to co-operate with them.

Altogether three people died at the scene of the incident, including two passengers – one of whom had tried to run away.

Mr Farah died a month later in the capital, Nairobi, during surgery.

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Our reporter says the mainly Muslim north-east is heavily dependent on teachers and health workers who come to work there from other parts of Kenya.

But in a brutal bus attack in November 2014, 20 of the 28 passengers killed were teachers returning home for the Christmas holidays.

This led many civil servants to refuse to return to their posts – not helped by the deadly attack on Garissa University last April.

Al-Shabab has been at war with Kenya ever since Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October 2011 in an effort to crush the al Qaeda-linked militants.

Kenya’s north-eastern region has a large population of ethnic Somalis.

Source: BBC News



Memphis Church Security Thwarts Gunman on Easter Sunday

A Tennessee church is counting its blessings after a gunman walked into its sanctuary with several guns on Easter morning.

Police say, Marcus Donald, 31, arrived at Bellevue Baptist Church around the time of the 11 a.m. service with an estimated 4,500 people inside the church.

A church usher saw the man who was carrying several guns and alerted the church’s security team. Security then contacted the Memphis Police Department.

CBN News’s Charlene Aaron spoke with Andy Willis, head of the security program at Bellevue Baptist Church. He says churches must be prepared for attacks and threats and have security in place to respond.

In 2014, CBN News highlighted Bellevue Baptist, one of the largest churches in Memphis, for a story about church security.

Andy Willis, who heads up security at the church, has the monumental job of keeping this large congregation safe.

“Today, churches that speak the truth, that teach and preach true biblical principles, they draw a lot of attention because there are a lot of components of society today that don’t want to hear that,” Willis told CBN News.

Willis said the church relies on state-of-the-art cameras.

“A camera system that constantly monitors and records activities on campus is extremely important,” he explained.

“They are not very expensive, and the thing that you get is the protection in a liability situation that you won’t have if you don’t have it.”

Police said Donald told them “people in society are a threat to him and that he must be vigilant.”

He was arrested without incident and police are continuing their investigation into the incident.

In a statement, the church said, “A heavily armed man entered our building today about 11 a.m. He was stopped by our security people before he could enter the sanctuary, and was subsequently arrested by Memphis Police. We are thankful for the diligence of our security people and the Memphis Police Department.”

On Twitter church leaders said, “Today an armed man came to Bellevue’s property. Memphis Police arrested the suspect. obody was injured. Praise the Lord for His protection!”

Willis said Christians need to trust God, but be prepared.

“The biggest thing that makes me cringe when I talk to other churches about security is they will say, ‘We don’t have security; we’re just praying that nothing happens,” Willis told CBN News.

He went on to say that trusting God must be paired with understanding we have a part to play in our safety as well.

Source: CBN News



Easter: The Resurrection

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4 Wycliffe Associates Bible Translators Brutally Murdered by Radicals

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

Four Wycliffe Associates workers have been killed in an attack by radicals in the organization’s office in the Middle East.

Wycliffe explained in a statement that the attackers, who are yet to be identified, shot and destroyed all the equipment in the Bible translation office, but the hard drives containing the translation work for eight language projects was saved.

Two of the Wycliffe workers were apparently killed by gunshots, while two others laid on top of the lead translator and died while “deflecting bludgeoning blows from the radicals’ spent weapons,” and managed to save his life.

Mae Greenleaf, prayer coordinator for Wycliffe Associates, said that several other people were also injured in the raid.

The organization explained that the remaining team has vowed to re-double their effort to translate, publish and print the Gospel for the eight language communities that they had been working on.

“Please ask the Lord to mend the hearts and wounds of the translation team who have gone through this horrible ordeal. Pray that God will strengthen their minds, their hearts, and their bodies to be able to continue the translation of the gospel for their people,” Greenleaf asked.

“Pray with me for the killers too. Pray for these whose hearts are so hard. Pray the Lord will open their eyes to what they have done. Please ask the Lord to meet them, each one, right where they are. Pray that He will show Himself merciful, that they will know His forgiveness, His love, and His peace” she added.

Wycliffe also said it will be looking for a new safe location to continue its translation and printing work, and said that people wishing to help can give to its Emergency 911 Fund.

“Please take this opportunity to be an encourager to translation teams in dangerous places. And continue to pray,” Greenleaf urged.

“Pray for all the newly formed translation teams diligently translating Scripture in their own language, for their own loved ones, in extremely difficult places.”

Wycliffe Associates, which was formed in 1967 and had over 6,279 staff and volunteers translating the Gospel in 75 different countries in 2015.

Source: Christian Post



‘How I almost became a Boko Haram suicide bomber’

By Anne Soy
BBC Africa, northern Nigeria

On Tuesday 9 February, two Nigerian girls entered a camp for displaced people in the country’s north-east. Minutes later they detonated their explosive vests, killing 58 people. A third girl refused to take part in the suicide mission for Islamist militant group Boko Haram. This is her story.
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Hauwa, not her real name, doesn’t know her age, but she looks 17 or 18.

She had been held by Boko Haram for more than a year when her captors suggested the plan to attack the Dikwa camp.

In return for carrying out their mission, the three girls were told they would go to paradise.

But Hauwa knew that she had to defy them.

‘Spiritual problems’

“I said ‘No’, since my mum is residing in Dikwa, I won’t go and kill people there. I would rather go and stay with my family, even if I die there,” she tells me through a translator.
Both her parents and her siblings, except for one brother who had been captured with her, were staying in the camp at Dikwa in Borno state, along with about 50,000 others forced from their homes.

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The Dikwa camp is home to tens of thousands of people

Hauwa explains how she ended up being lured into joining the group.

“I had spiritual problems and so the Boko Haram told me they could help get rid of them,” she says.

We do not know exactly what Hauwa was suffering from, but these so-called “evil spirits” had caused her to soil herself and even put her hand into a fire.

Whatever the reason, she saw Boko Haram as the answer to her problems, and they took her in.

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“They said since I refused to re-marry, I should take the bomb”

She remembers a typical day living with the militants.

“We were living in grass-thatched houses. When my husband was around, I cooked three times a day… the men would steal meat and bring it for us to cook.”

After a while, Hauwa separated from her husband and then got remarried.

Her second husband then ran away and when she refused to take a third husband, the group suggested their plan:
“They said since I refused to re-marry, I should take the bomb,” she says.

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Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has often attacked schools

The Dikwa camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) was 85km (50 miles) north-east of Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno and the birthplace of Boko Haram.

Hauwa knew it well and it was not far from the place she was being held by the militants, so the night before the attack was due to take place, she sneaked out very early in the morning.

Her plan was to alert her family and others staying at Dikwa of the impending attack.
But she was too late.

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“People rushed to help her and tried to lift her up and that’s when the bomb detonated”

By the time she reached Dikwa camp, the two suicide bombers had already struck.

An army officer showed the BBC team the scene of the attack.

“This is the spot where the first explosion went off,” he said pointing to brown patches on the tarmac, where blood stains had been darkened by a layer of dust.

The camp stretches across both sides of the road and so residents still have to pass the scene of the attack every day to get water and food.

There are 15,000 people still living here and they are scared.
But they have nowhere safe to go, so they are staying here.
Now, they say they cannot trust anyone, not even children.

An elderly woman, Falmata Mohammed, remembers the minutes before the attack.

“A soldier was trying to arrange our queues… There was this woman wearing a red veil and she had long hair.

“Falmata says she looked round when the woman began complaining about the soldiers, who were trying to disperse the crowds.

“As soon as we moved onto the road, she shouted ‘Wayyo’, saying she had a pain in her stomach… People rushed to help her and tried to lift her up and that’s when the bomb detonated.”

“We saw fireballs around us,” she tells me, saying that suddenly she became aware that she was surrounded by dozens of mutilated bodies.

Hauwa did not see the attack herself, but she was shown footage of the aftermath by military investigators and reflect on the fate of the two girls.

“It wasn’t a pleasant thing to see. It wasn’t good to carry a bomb to go and kill fellow human beings,” she says.

“I don’t know if the other girls knew they would die when they went on the mission.”
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For parents in this part of Nigeria, the fear of Boko Haram is all too real.

The group is prepared not only to abduct their children, but to send their own young back as assassins in the very places they have sought refuge.

This is the same state where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in April 2014. Most of them are still missing.

Hauwa chose to defy the group and to escape, saving her own and the many lives of her would-be victims.

We talk about her future, but when the topic of children comes up, she laughs it off.
“I’d like to get an education,” she says.

Source: BBC Africa