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Christians Condemn ‘Outrageously Evil’ Killing of Priest at Altar of Philippines Church

(PHOTO: REUTERS/ROMEO RANOCO) Filipino Catholic devotees light candles and offer prayers after attending a mass at a National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Paranaque city, metro Manila, Philippines on September 18, 2016.

Christians across the Philippines are outraged after the latest murder of a Roman Catholic priest in the country. A top archbishop maintained that those who murder priests are going to an “even worse” place than Hell.

“God’s justice be upon those who kill the Lord’s anointed ones. There is a special place in Hell for killers. There is a worse place for those who kill priests,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan declared on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported that the priest, the Rev. Richmond Nilo, was gunned down Sunday night in the chapel in Zaragoza town in Nueva Ecija province, at the altar where he was preparing to celebrate Mass.

Two unidentified gunmen fired through the chapel window, before fleeing by motorcycle.

According to Philstar.com, the priest died from gunshots to the head and different parts of the body. Police found seven slugs from a caliber .45 pistol at the altar.

Nilo is the third priest to be killed in the Philippines, Asia’s largest Catholic country, in three months.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reacted in a statement of its own to Nilo’s killing, calling it an “outrageously evil act.”

“We pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Fr. Nilo. We also offer our prayer for his bereaved family. We make our appeal once again to the police authorities to act swiftly in the investigation and to go after the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.”

Villegas, meanwhile, pleaded for God to “touch the heart” of President Rodrigo Duterte and stop the “verbal persecution” of the Catholic Church.

‘Rage and Grief’ in Philippines After ‘Leftist’ Priest Murdered; Government Involvement Suspected
Duterte has denied any involvement in the violence against priests but he has clashed with Catholic clergy over the ongoing mass-killings of drug suspects in the country.

As UCAnews.com pointed out, Catholic priests and bishops have been among the most vocal critics of the president and opposed his war on drugs, which has claimed up to 23,000 lives in the past two years.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said that Duterte’s government strongly condemns the latest killing.

“We will really give priority to the investigation of the killing of father. The government is concerned because just like the killing of a journalist, if you kill a priest, you violate not just his right to life, you also violate his right to worship freely,” Roque Jr. said.

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, who is also vice president of the CBCP, said that a culture of impunity is putting priests in danger. At the same time, he rejected the idea that clergy should start arming themselves.

“We will never bear arms. We will never, ever seek security through a gun. That is not our role. We have no other savior but the Lord. We have no other refuge but the Lord,” David stated.

Source: The Christian Post



Urgent prayer request from Heidi and Rolland Baker in Mozambique as they face Terrorism Threat

The International House of Prayer based in Kansas, USA, has circulated an urgent prayer request on behalf of Heidi and Rolland Baker and a team along with 250 students who are in Pemba, Mozambique.

On 30th May Friends In The West via this website, carried a story from the BBC with the headline, MOZAMBIQUE ‘JIHADISTS BEHEAD’ VILLAGERS. Terrorist are attacking villages in the Pemba area and a number of people have been killed in the past few days. “They are beheading people, burning small villages and more.”

Heidi has 250 students in Pemba and they all need to be moved to Johannesburg within the next few days. Roads have been closed off in Pemba. Military are trying to protect the areas but cannot get in.

Heidi and her husband Rolland’s ministry, “Iris Global” has networks of churches and church-based orphan care in all ten provinces in Mozambique in addition to their bases in main cities. In recent years they have concentrated on the Makua, a people group of four million in the north who were listed by mission researchers as “unreached and unreachable.” With tremendous help from missionaries and nationals, around two thousand churches have been planted among these people in the last eight years.

In 1995, Heidi and Rolland moved their family to Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. The government offered them a horribly dilapidated and neglected “orphanage.” They started caring for 80 children and watched God pour out his love and provide food day after day. The Bakers now watch God provide miraculously for well over 10,000 children every day and have a network of more than 10,000 churches, Bible schools, primary schools, and remote outreach programs.

Please pray for Heidi and Rolland and all who are under their care at this time, that they will be protected from evil and that they may experience a divine intervention in this situation.

Source: T he International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOPKC) | CBN



Burkina Faso: Kidnappers release pastor and his family

A church in Burkina Faso. The recent kidnappings of two Christian church leaders has created an atmosphere of anxiety among Christian communities in the north-eastern part of the country. (Photo: khym54 via Flickr; CC 2.0)

The Christian pastor who was abducted on Sunday with his family in Burkina Faso’s north-eastern province of Soum has been released.

Local sources told national broadcaster Omega Radio that Pastor Pierre Boena, his son David and his daughter-in-law, Ami Sawadogo, were released yesterday (7 June).

The report does not specifically mention the two granddaughters, Fasne-wendé Ouédraogo and Pélagie Sawadogo, who were also abducted during the raid on Sunday, but does state that the pastor was released “with all the other members of his family in Malian territory”.

The reason for their release is not known, nor is it known whether a ransom was paid.

Pierre Boena, a pastor with an Assembly of God church, was kidnapped on Sunday evening in his village of Bilhore, near the border with Mali.

At the time of the attack he was at home with four family members and a church member, Pauline Sawadogo, who was visiting with her two daughters, Sanata and Zoenabou, local sources told World Watch Monitor.

These sources suggested that Pauline and her daughters may have been kidnapped along with Pastor Boena’s family on Sunday. Speaking on Thursday they said the whereabouts of Pauline and her daughters remain unknown.

Meanwhile there has still been no news regarding catechist Basnéré Mathieu Sawadogo, and his wife Alizeta, who were abducted two weeks earlier. Mathieu serves as a catechist at their parish, Notre Dame des Apôtres (Our Lady of the Apostles) in Arbinda, 100km from Djibo.

Kidnappers have previously targeted Djibo. Eighteen months ago an Australian couple were taken hostage from the city by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ken and Jocelyn Elliott had run a 120-bed clinic for 40 years until their abduction in January 2016. Jocelyn was released a month later, but her husband remains in captivity.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the recent kidnappings but World Watch Monitor understands that the perpetrators are believed to be members of the Fulani ethnic group.

Some relatives have been able to speak over the phone with the hostages, who told their family that they were in good health and were being treated well by their abductors.

There has been speculation that the kidnappings could be the result of acts of violence against Fulani communities by security forces which, it was said, had angered them.

Fulanis and Tuaregs are the two main nomadic ethnic groups in northern Burkina Faso, and in neighbouring Mali and Niger.

Access to grazing land and water have caused tensions between the two communities. Militant members of the two communities are also fighting alongside numerous Islamist groups active in the Sahel region.

Pope hears of terrorism concerns

The recent kidnappings of the two Christian church leaders has created an atmosphere of anxiety among Christian communities in the land-locked Sahel nation, seen as a model of tolerance in a troubled region.

Burkina Faso’s 20 million inhabitants – predominantly Muslim (around 60%), but also with significant numbers of Christians (over 20%, the vast majority of whom are Catholics) and followers of indigenous beliefs (15%) – have long enjoyed peaceful co-existence.

Two weeks ago, 21 Catholic bishops from Burkina Faso and Niger said better dialogue was needed between Muslim and Christian communities if terrorism was to be eradicated.

Following their five-yearly ad limina meeting with Pope Francis, in which the bishops discussed their concerns, Bishop Laurent Birfuore Dabiré of Dori, BurkinaFaso, told Vatican Radio that “peaceful cohabitation” between Muslims and Catholics continued “despite the atmosphere of insecurity, and everything must be done to support it”.

His diocese is located in the tense border region with Mali where many of the kidnappings and attacks have taken place, but, he said, what unites people “is family, culture, and traditions that are independent of religion”.

Increase in Islamist activities

Unlike Mali, Burkina Faso has not seen as many terrorist attacks. But it appears it is being slowly drawn into the wars of the Sahel. Attacks attributed to Islamist militants have intensified, particularly in the northern part of the country, prompting a military campaign in the region.

In a report published last month, Human Rights Watch highlighted the atmosphere of fear created by the increase in Islamist activities in the region. The New York-based group accused security forces of extrajudicial killings, abuse of suspects in custody and arbitrary arrests.

In March, the capital, Ouagadougou, was rocked by twin attacks on the country’s army headquarters and the French embassy.

Schools and teachers in and around Djibo have also been targeted by the militants. In April, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara kidnapped a teacher “because he was speaking French to the pupils” rather than Arabic, the South African news agency News24 reported.

Source: World Watch Monitor



Save the Persecuted Christians: Get Your Church Involved

PHOTO: COURTESY OF VIKING)
Eric Metaxas, host of ‘The Eric Metaxas Show,’ author of Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed The World.

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You’ve been asked to save the whales, the elephants, and the redwoods, but how about the persecuted Christians?

Americans can be passionate about saving endangered species—and that’s great. But I’m hoping a new campaign will spark a passion for saving persecuted Christians around the world.

But first, I want to remind you of a campaign from half a century ago, one that’s more relevant than ever. In 1963, a synagogue in Ohio launched the Cleveland Campaign for Soviet Jewry to call attention to and generate support for Jews in the Soviet Union who were being repressed and incarcerated in the Gulag. Synagogues across America called attention to their plight using prominently displayed signage to engage members, neighbors, journalists, business leaders, and politicians. Eventually, mass demonstrations in the United States and overseas followed. In 1973, President Nixon dispatched Chuck Colson to pressure the Soviets on Jewish emigration

Next came bracelets bearing the names of Jews seeking to emigrate, such as Natan Sharansky. President Ronald Reagan kept one of those bracelets on his desk. And then, as the public got engaged, came legislative pressure, and economic and political pressure. Political prisoners started being released. And then the unthinkable happened—the Soviet Union collapsed into history’s dustbin.

No, the signs and bracelets didn’t by themselves cause the fall of the Soviet empire, but it’s fair to say they were an indispensable first step. As one observer quipped, “a few people with signs led to the destruction of an empire.”

So folks, let’s do it again—this time on behalf of an even larger group—persecuted Christians. According to the new Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition, some 215 million Christians worldwide face heavy persecution—including rape, imprisonment, forced marriages, physical violence, even death. That’s one in 12.

According to Open Doors, every month 255 Christians are killed; 104 abducted; 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted, or forced into marriage; 160 Christians detained or imprisoned without trial; and 66 churches are attacked.

So what can we do to help? Open Doors USA suggests that we pray daily, engage by writing letters and advocate for the persecuted, volunteer with trusted ministries that help the persecuted, and give to organizations that provide Bibles, food, and other forms of help.

But I want to focus on one thing we can do today: it’s the Save the Persecuted Christians campaign.

The Arabic letter pronounced “nun” stands for “Nazarene,” a derogatory reference to Christians in large swathes of the Middle East. The Islamic State used this Arabic character to designate homes of followers of Christ targeted for persecution. Today, however, the letter nun is a prominent part of the Save the Persecuted Christians campaign, displayed on banners at churches and other houses of worship to spread the word about oppression around the globe.

To get one of these banners for your church, encourage your church’s leaders to visit SaveThePersecutedChristians.org and join those who’ve already ordered their free kits and banners, which can be displayed in front of their houses of worship, much like the campaign for Soviet Jewry displayed its banners. You’ll also find a color poster for your church that explains the banner. Your pastor will receive a folder stuffed full of information on this vital new movement. Please come to BreakPoint.org and I’ll link you to it.

The growing Save the Persecuted Christians coalition wants to create a movement akin to the one that sparked assistance to Soviet Jews—one that brings about policy changes, holds the persecutors accountable, and increases the costs for their crimes against humanity. Ultimately, they want to launch a movement that, by God’s grace, will be instrumental in ending the unconscionable daily abuse of our brothers and sisters around the world.

So please get your church involved. And the next time someone asks you to “save” something, invite them to help Save the Persecuted Christians.

Click here to find out how to engage in the Save the Persecuted Christians campaign. It’s a great way to bring attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in harm’s way in many places around the world.

Source: Christian Post



Second Christian leader in two weeks kidnapped in Burkina Faso

A Christian pastor and three members of his family have been kidnapped in Burkina Faso’s north-eastern province of Soum, two weeks after the kidnapping of another Christian leader and his wife.

Pierre Boena, a pastor with an Assembly of God church, was kidnapped during the evening of Sunday 3 June in his village of Bilhore, local sources told World Watch Monitor. Three members of his family – his son, his daughter-in-law and his granddaughter – were also abducted.

The circumstances of the kidnapping are not yet known, but Islamist militants are known to be active in the region.

Previously, on 20 May, a catechist at the parish of Arbinda (40km from Bilhore), was kidnapped, along with his wife, who tried to resist the attack.

The village of Bilhore is just 100km from Djibo, where an Australian couple were kidnapped 18 months ago. Ken and Jocelyn Elliott, had run a 120-bed clinic for 40 years until their abduction in January 2016. Jocelyn was released a month later, but her husband remains in captivity.

The kidnapping of the two Christian clerics have created an atmosphere of anxiety among Christian communities in the land-locked Sahel nation, seen as a model of tolerance in a troubled region.

The country’s 20 million inhabitants – predominantly Muslim (around 60%), but also with significant numbers of Christians (over 20%, the vast majority of whom are Catholics) and followers of indigenous beliefs (15%) – have long enjoyed peaceful co-existence.

Until recently, attacks carried out by Islamist militants only targeted military personnel and civil servants in the region, leaving civilians generally untroubled.

On 14 May, the prefect (chief administrator) of Oursi, in the northern province of Oudalan, was killed by unknown assailants, who also burned down his home.

Suspected Islamist militants have also set fire to schools and warned the teachers to stop teaching the French language (and instead teach only Arabic and Islamic lessons) in northern Burkina.

Since the beginning of 2017, one headteacher, as well as several other teachers and students, have been killed, while 216 schools have been closed down, leaving more than 24,000 children without education.

Many fear that the ongoing violence will create a humanitarian crisis in the affected regions, as several villages have already been emptied of their inhabitants. More than 15,000 people have fled to other areas for their safety, according to state media.

A new dynamic

The country had long been spared by terrorist attacks, particularly in comparison to neighbouring Mali, but it has now become part of the wars of the Sahel, warned the International Crisis Group in March.

Since 2015, northern Burkina Faso, which borders troubled Mali, had experienced 80 increasingly frequent and lethal attacks, the think-tank said.

Ouagadougou, the capital, has seen a series of attacks over the last three years.

On 2 March, attacks on the Burkina Faso army headquarters and the French Embassy claimed 16 lives, including nine assailants, according to the official death toll, though ICG said more than 30 were killed and 85 others wounded.

The attacks were claimed the following day (on 3 March) by the Group to Support Muslims and Islam, known by its Arabic acronym JNIM, responsible for deadly attacks in neighbouring Mali and Niger. Three suspected terrorists involved in the attack were killed by security forces in a night raid in Ouagadougou on 22 May.

Previously, on 13 August 2017, 19 people were killed and 25 others injured when suspected jihadists opened fire on a Turkish restaurant in central Ouagadougou.

Eighteen months earlier, in January 2016, 30 people were killed in attacks on two hotels and a cafe not far from the Turkish restaurant, claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Six of the victims were on a humanitarian trip prompted by their Christian faith, while a seventh was a US missionary who, with his wife, had been running an orphanage and women’s refuge in the West African country since 2011. The dead included four Canadians from the same family who had gone there over their Christmas break to do aid work in schools and orphanages.

The escalation of Islamist violence in Burkina Faso is part of a general increase in violence across the Sahel, according to ICG, which also pointed out the weakness of the country’s security apparatus since the departure of former President Blaise Compaoré in October 2014.

Source: World Watch Monitor