• Ray's Books
    Books by Ray, republished 2016
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    Treehaven, South Africa: International Retreat and Training Centre
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    South African Students Undergoing Training at Treehaven
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    Ray Barnett, founder, Friends In The West
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    Prayers and practical help for those suffering through violence and war.

Monthly archives: August, 2017

American Pastor Held in Turkey Faces More Charges

By Dale Hurd

Pastor Andrew Brunson, Photo, Facebook

American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been imprisoned in Turkey for nearly a year on terrorism charges, now faces new charges, including espionage.

The 48-year old Brunson, a missionary from Black Mountain, North Carolina, was detained last year and later charged with “membership in an armed terroristic organization.”

Last week, the government filed four new charges against Brunson, including acquiring secret political and military information and attempting to destroy constitutional order and overthrow the Turkish Parliament, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Brunson, who has lived and worked in Turkey as a missionary for 23 years, has denied all the charges.

He and his wife were charged with immigration violations. Norine Brunson was later released.

Both President Trump and Vice President Pence have personally asked Turkish officials to release Brunson.

Jay Sekulow, an attorney representing Brunson, told the Journal, “The charges that are leveled against him are absolutely false.”

Sekulow also said Turkey is keeping records of the case against Brunson sealed, making a defense of the jailed pastor extremely difficult.

Source: CBN News



Mother in Uganda Beaten, Driven from Home for Embracing Christianity

Entryway to Kamuli General Hospital in eastern Uganda. (Kamulipage)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A woman in eastern Uganda who put her faith in Christ is in hiding after her husband beat her for leaving Islam, sources said.

Sophia Nakisaala, 35, turned to Christ on Aug. 7 after her daughter was healed when a street preacher she’d heard in Bulopa village, Kamuli District, prayed for her. Kamuli is 143 kilometers (88 miles) northeast of Kampala, the capital.

Nakisaala was on her way to Kamuli General Hospital with her ill 5-year-old daughter when she stopped to listen to the evangelist from an area church (undisclosed for security reasons). She later met with the street preacher, who prayed for her daughter.

“My child got healed instantly from high fever, which had caused several convulsions,” Nakisaala told Morning Star News by phone. “The evangelist shared with me about Issa [Jesus], whom he said to be the healer and Savior. I then decided to accept Him as my Lord and Savior and then returned back home.”

At home she told her husband, Muhammad Lubaale, about the healing of the child. He was initially inquisitive, but she stopped short of telling him about her new faith after he slapped her, she said.

“As I mentioned to my husband that the preacher also prayed for me, his mood changed and he was not able to wait for me to finish the whole story,” she said. “He got angry and slapped me. I kept quiet and did not respond to his interrogation about my new faith in Jesus.”

Word of the healing of their girl and Nakisaala’s subsequent faith in Christ later reached Lubaale.

“My husband arrived home on Aug. 10 and started beating me and injuring me with bruises on my head and right hand, using a stick,” she said.

“Neighbors came to my rescue and housed me that very night.”

The following morning, while her husband was away, she gathered up her four children, ages 3, 5, 8 and 11, and went to an area pastor in Tirinyi Sub-County, Kibuku District. The pastor reported the attack to a local council administrator.

The church has sent her to a place of refuge while she recovers, the pastor told Morning Star News by phone.

“The local council administrator at Tirinyi has promised to offer us security and protection in case the Muslims turn against us,” he said. “We earnestly request prayers to that effect.”

Many of Uganda’s Muslims are concentrated in the eastern part of the country, where Morning Star News has documented attacks. Earlier this year Muslims began monitoring pastor Christopher James Kalaja of Nakabale village, Kaderuna Sub-County, because he filed a court case against those who recently destroyed his farm, home and church building, his wife told Morning Star News.

Nine Muslims bearing swords, clubs and metal objects rampaged through his property on March 27, shouting the jihadist slogan “Allah Akbar [God is greater], Pastor Kalaja said. The leader of the 86-member Agape Sanctuary International Church reported the case to Kaderuna police, but officers initially took no action, he said. Unable to elicit any police help, on March 28 he filed suit in Budaka District court, which he said prompted police to file a case.

After relocating his family from a friend’s hut to another unidentified location, Pastor Kalaja continued receiving threats, his wife said. The family has spent sleepless nights over anonymous text messages, his wife said.

The incident is one of many recent attacks by non-state figures on Christians in eastern Uganda. The country is about 84 percent Christian and 14 percent Muslim, according to census figures.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Source: Morning Star News



UNICEF: Boko Haram use of child bombers soars

At least 83 children, mostly girls, used by the armed group in suicide attacks this year, says the UN agency.

The UN has voiced alarm at Boko Haram’s increasing use of children as “human bombs” [File: Jossy Ola/AP]

The number of children, mainly girls, used by the Nigerian armed group Boko Haram as “human bombs” has quadrupled this year, according to UNICEF.

The UN’s children agency said on Tuesday that since January 1, 2017, 83 children have been used by the group to carry out bomb attacks in north-eastern Nigeria – four times higher than it was for the entirety of 2016.

The body said 55 of them were girls, most often under the age of 15. Twenty-seven were boys, and one was a baby strapped to a girl.

“UNICEF is extremely concerned about an appalling increase in the cruel and calculated use of children, especially girls, as ‘human bombs’ in northeast Nigeria,” the agency said. “The use of children in this way is an atrocity.”

READ MORE: ‘Alarming’ rise in Boko Haram child suicide bombers

UNICEF said that Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden”, has sometimes, but not always, claimed responsibility for these attacks.

The UN body did not give an explanation for the rise in numbers.

“We feel this is just the way Boko Haram terrorises women and children in the community,” Milen Kidane, UNICEF’s chief of child protection, told Al Jazeera from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

Hafsat Muhammed, a Nigerian rights activist and journalist, said the actual number of children used by the armed group is even higher.

“The conflict has reached to a stage that these insurgents are diverting attention by using children,” she told Al Jazeera.

READ MORE: One million forced from school by Boko Haram war

Muhammed said that armed groups like Boko Haram give children a sense of belonging in a society where they do not have the basic necessities.

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“Children tend to fall into the hands of Boko Haram, who would then reign over them and use them, just because they feel that they belong and they have persuaded them that maybe this is the cause of life,” she explained.

‘Rise up against atrocities’

The UN estimates that 20,000 people have been killed and at least 1.7 million displaced since the armed group launched its armed campaign in northeast Nigeria eight years ago.

The violence has also spread to neighbouring countries, leading to the closure of more than 2,000 schools in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, according to a 2015 UNICEF report.

Chibok community welcomes schoolgirls release
Hundreds of others have been attacked, looted or burned by Boko Haram, while an estimated one million children have been forced out of school as a result of violent attacks in northeastern Nigeria and its neighbouring countries.

In its statement on Tuesday, UNICEF said that the attacks have led to children who escape or are released by Boko Haram being viewed with suspicion and rejected by their communities.

The violence and security situation in the region has also forced thousands of parents not to send their children to schools.

“I think the society needs to own up to its irresponsibilities of not catering for its children and rise up against such atrocities,” Muhammed said.

UNICEF’s Kidane offered optimism that efforts are being made to put an end to the crisis.

“We are seeing a lot of collaboration with the military in Nigeria,” she said. “Work is being done so that the release of these children is done as quickly as possible while maintaining their human dignity.”

Additonal reporting by Saba Aziz: @saba_aziz

Source: Al Jazeera News



Uganda receives one million South Sudan refugees

The UN says that 85% of the refugees who have arrived in Uganda are women and children

The number of refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan to Uganda has passed the one million mark, the UN says.

The organisation is appealing to the international community for “urgent additional support”.

It adds that at least another one million refugees have fled to Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic.

South Sudan has been wracked by civil war, which has seen numerous atrocities, since 2013.

In July of that year, President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, and in December accused him of planning a coup – an allegation he denied. Forces loyal to the two men then started fighting.

Uganda’s welcoming attitude towards refugees has been praised by the UN and other international organisations. The government, for example, gives South Sudanese a plot of land to build a home and farm.

In 2016, Uganda received more refugees than any other country in the world.

Source: BBC News



Herdsmen in Plateau State, Nigeria, Quietly Seizing Christians’ Property, Pastors Say

Church leaders call Muslim Fulani land-grabs in Nigeria ‘economic terrorism.’

Plateau state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia)

Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks on predominantly Christian Berom farmers in Plateau state, Nigeria amount to “economic terrorism,” Christian leaders told Morning Star News.

While Plateau state officials say “relative peace” prevails, Christian leaders point to herdsmen attacks in the past eight months that saw 18 Christians injured and two villages seized.

Whether the “peace” is said to be relative to violence in northern neighbor Kaduna state, where attacks are so prevalent that officials dictated a news blackout, or with Plateau state flare-ups of past decades in which thousands died, Christian leaders told Morning Star News that attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen since December have quietly continued.

A pastor and his 5-year-old son were injured in May, four Christian women were raped, 12 Christians were injured and two communities displaced in attacks on 17 villages in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas, said Christian leaders Choji Chuwang, Jatau Gyang, and Da Jelkyes.

Chuwang said all those affected were members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) and Assemblies of God.

“As we gleefully wallow in the false sense of peace on the Plateau, know it today that a deliberate economic terrorism and land-grabbing strategy is being launched on Christians of Riyom and Barkin Ladi on a daily basis with the sole aim of making them poor, weak and destitute in their own land,” he said.

Management Committee Chairman of Riyom Local Government of Plateau State Mafeng Gwalson told media in May that the area was enjoying relative peace because the relationship between the security operatives and the citizens had been strengthened.

Pastor David Dalyop of the Assemblies of God and his 5-year-old son were wounded when Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked Gana Ropp, Barkin Ladi LGA, the night of May 25, Chuwang said. In Jol, Riyom LGA, Fulani assailants on March 17 stoned secondary school students, injuring 14-year-old Nehemiah David. When security personnel intercepted the attackers’ cows, Chuwang said, “there were sporadic gunshots into homes of our people. This left them panicking.”

Two Fulani herdsmen on June 6 assaulted and raped a Christian woman (name withheld) in Dayan Rim, Riyom LGA, then tied her to a tree from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m., he said. Later apprehended, the Fulani herders admitted they had raped her and tied her to a tree. Later that night, Fulani herdsmen invaded Lwa community of Riyom LGA and removed the roofs of all the houses while Christians there were away from their homes at a wake.
In the past eight months, Fulani herders have attacked eight Christian women, he said: Tanitha Luka, Rifkatu Emmanuel Pam, Victoria Monday, and one identified only her surname, Maichibi. The identities of four other women were not disclosed because they were raped by the herdsmen, he said.

On July 2, Fulani herdsmen ambushed and attacked Christian women returning from a mining site, injuring many of them, he said. On July 7, Fulani pastoralists grazed their cows on maize farms of Christian villagers of Rim community, Riyom LGA, at night, destroying about six hectares of farmland.

On the evening of June 17, when inhabitants had returned home, herdsmen grazed their cattle on the farmland of Gyang Yarima and Davou Mwagwong, both of Vwak hamlet in Jol, Chuwang said. The next night, the herdsmen destroyed the maize crops of Joshua Peter of Dajol hamlet, Jol, he said. On June 28, Fulani herdsmen ambushed Christian villagers of Jol who were returning from mining, seriously wounding five of them.

A heated argument on May 1 between Fulani leaders and Solomon Mandiks resulted in an altercation at the Riyom police station; Mandiks had been petitioning against the forceful occupation of lands sacked by the herdsmen. On May 8, Chuwang said, a Fulani man had threatened Mandiks, saying that his days were numbered as Fulanis had just met in Gwav and decided that he should be “silenced” for petitioning their “rightful claim” to lands they have seized.

On May 9, Fulani herders attacked and seriously injured Gyang Dambwarang for raising his voice when they grazed their cows into his compound, Chuwang said.

On May 19, Fulani herdsmen attacked three Christians on the Rafin-Acha to Tanjol road, fatally injuring David Yakubu. “They ran away and their cows were apprehended and handed over to security operatives,” Chuwang said. The cows were released to the owner that night “on the excuse that the owner of the cows showed some scratches to his hand, saying that he was also attacked,” he said.

On May 17, the head of Darin, in Jol, was attacked by Fulani herders, who left him in a coma, apparently thinking he was dead, he said.
In Werreng Rim, Davou Joro Mangai was attacked on April 4 and seriously injured by suspected Islamic terrorists and/or Fulani herdsmen, who cut down cactus trees that Christians used as a fence around their houses, and grazed their cattle on their lands. Two of the Fulani attackers were apprehended and handed over to Riyom police, Chuwang said.

“There was an invasion of a mining site at Hei-Sho of Rot-Chun (Rafin Acha) in Jol community, which had suffered the brunt of terrorism in the recent past,” Chuwang said. “The Islamists have invaded a vast land richly endowed with tin and claimed it as a ‘conquered territory.’”
On April 5, at about 7 p.m., herdsmen grazed their cattle on crops belonging to Emmanuel Gankis of Jol community, he said. At a mining site at Rafin-Acha of Jol on April 21, Fulani herders attacked Mathew Samuel; the next day, two young Christian men were attacked by herders along Rafin-Acha Road in Jol.

“On March 9, Fulani herdsmen mowed down the banana farms of our people of Lwa community of Bachit District in Riyom LGA,” Chuwang said.
On Feb. 20, Fulanis erected massive and settlements on the Tagabos area of Sho community, which had been sacked by overnight raids “in a definite statement of occupation,” Chuwang said.

“On Feb. 28, Fulani herdsmen, in a lame excuse of searching for a cow, terrorized inhabitants of Tanjol hamlets with sporadic gunshots,” he said. “Christian inhabitants said it was a ploy to know if any of the villagers would return shots too, so that in an eventual attack, they would know which house to target first.”

On Jan. 18, Islamic extremists attacked and injured a Jol woman, Rifkatu Emmanuel Pam, he said. Also in Jol on the morning of Jan. 28, Fulani herdsmen tried to kidnap Dachung Maichibi, his wife and son in the Darin area. Later that night, they destroyed mud blocks molded by Internally Displaced People of Zim community in Ropp District of Barkin Ladi LGA, along with those of Jol who were trying to rebuild their razed houses, he said.

“On Jan. 20, Fulani herdsmen attacked our women on their farms at Mere hamlet of Rahoss Community in Riyom LGA, injuring one Mrs. Victoria Monday as others escaped,” he said.

One Dec. 8, 2016, Fulani herdsmen set ablaze piles of freshly harvested millet and beans belonging to the people of Nachur and Sopp communities, he said. On Dec. 9, Fulani herders attacked children at Kum of Byei community; Tabitha Lula of Werreng escaped after she was nearly killed, he said.

On the evening of Dec. 18, Fulani herdsmen led their cows to graze on the cabbage farm of Christians. They were apprehended, and the cattle of one of the herders, Musa Shuaibu of Rankum community (renamed Mahanga by the Fulani), were handed over to security agents, Chuwang said.
These encroachments and attacks should not be ignored, he said.

“If this doesn’t disturb us collectively as Plateau people, then let’s keep playing the ostrich as they forcefully take Plateau state inch by inch, day by day,” Chuwang said.

Predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have launched numerous attacks on Christians in northern and central Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

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

Source: Morning Star News