Wednesday, October 31, 2012

400 Percent Increase in Persecution of Christians in '10/40 Window' Prompts Urgent Call for Prayer

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Nov. 4 Unites Christians in Earnest Intercession

CARROLLTON, Texas, Oct. 31, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- With persecution of Christians increasing by 400 percent in India alone and similarly throughout the "10/40 Window" over the past 10 years, Christians everywhere are called to pray with urgency for these brothers and sisters in Christ.

The "10/40 Window," a geographic designation that encompasses the least-reached with the gospel, will be a unified focus for believers everywhere on Nov. 4 for the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

"Americans who have not experienced persecution do not fully understand what it means to have their lives threatened, homes destroyed, rights violated and loved ones imprisoned, all because of embracing faith in Jesus Christ," said K. P. Yohannan, Gospel for Asia (GFA) founder and president. "In the 14 countries we serve, persecution of this sort has become a normal way of life, especially for those directly involved in mission work."

In a single state of one 10/40 country, thousands of Christian homes have been destroyed or damaged by anti-Christians. In another, three Christian brothers are currently in prison under accusations of forced conversions, an offence punishable by law. Six women are raising their children alone, their husbands killed because of their belief in Christ. In one nation of 17 million people, an estimated 2,000 or fewer Christians must operate underground for fear of their lives.

"The increase of this kind of persecution should not be surprising where the gospel is going forth in unfriendly world areas," said Yohannan. "Jesus sent His disciples out as sheep among wolves (Matt. 10). Historically and biblically, persecution is an anticipated part of serving God."

In turn, the biblical response of the church to persecution is immediate and urgent prayer. Believers in remote parts of the world who feel alone in their struggle are divinely strengthened and encouraged by the prayers of others to remain faithful in the face of extreme persecution, Yohannan said.

GFA is encouraging Christians to make International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church more than a "nod" to persecution. Those who are physically able are urged to fast as well as pray. Rather than waiting for Sunday's one-day emphasis, those who can take a day off work could be alone or together as a family in a full day of prayer.

Rather than simply making an announcement or spending a few moments in prayer, churches are urged to devote the entire worship time to prayer for the persecuted church individually, collectively and in small groups.

To facilitate this prayer effort, GFA has prepared "International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church," a free downloadable video for churches to view together on Nov. 4. The video and other print resources are available

"Suffering is forced upon our brothers and sisters. To those of us not experiencing the normality of persecution, Jesus is asking that we participate willingly in their suffering and chains," said Yohannan. "Through our prayers, we can be agents of God's divine healing, hope and help."

Gospel for Asia ( is a mission organization based in Carrollton, Texas, involved in sharing the love of Jesus across South Asia. 

Muslims Attack Coptic Christians in Egypt After Mass

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

EGYPT (ANS) -- Muslim Salafis assaulted Christians after this Sunday's mass, angry that Christians from neighboring villages, who have no churches, attend mass in the village of Tala, el Fashn, in Egypt's Beni Suef Governorate.
Salafi's during a protest in Egypt
The pastor of St Georges Church Father Cheroubim Chehab could not go out of church for hours after mass.
According to Mary Abdelmassih of the Assyrian International News Agency, (AINA) -- -- eyewitnesses reported that as Christians left the church, they found a huge mob of mostly young Salafi Muslims waiting for them, armed with batons.
The assault lead to five Copts being hospitalized after suffering broken limbs, and the torching of two cars which transported the congregation from the other villages.
She said that the pastor of the church contacted the police, asking for help, however, they appeared hours later, only after Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, complained to the ministry of interior against el Fashn police and told them that no forces appeared in the village, and gave the names of six of the perpetrators and asked whether the police in el Fashn are afraid to arrest them.
"I want the whole world to know," he said, "that a priest and his congregation are presently held captives in their church, afraid of the Salafi Muslims surrounding the church."
Cheroubim said that he looked from the roof of the church and the mob, from Tala and neighboring villages, was huge. "80% had beards." He said that he stayed inside the church as he "wanted no friction with the Muslims nor with the angry Copts, who wanted me to take other steps."
Abdelmassih went on to say that later in the afternoon high officials from the security and police departments in Beni Suef arrived to the village for a reconciliation meeting, and while they were preparing for the meeting, Muslims went into Coptic homes and attacked the inhabitants. Five were hospitalized.
The problem, she said, started between the two parties nearly three months ago during Ramadan, when Salafist youths stopped Copts from neighboring villages from attending mass.
"We had a meeting with the Muslim elders," said Rev. Cheroubim, "who told us to wait until after Ramadan when the youth will leave, however, when we wanted a second meeting to solve the matter, we were told to wait until security is better. When security was better Copts from other villages complained that they have been prevented from praying for three months since Ramadan."
He said that only ten men from outside the village came to attend mass, so a large mob of Salafis waited for them after mass. "Muslims from the village held back the village Copts, so that the Salafis were able to beat and terrorize those Copts from outside the village."
Abdelmassih added that village Muslims insist that the church is an association and not a church and is for serving the village Christians only, who make up nearly 8% of the inhabitants.
Rev. Cheroubim said that he has been serving in St. George's church for 5 years and all that time Copts have come from neighboring villages to pray. "It was only during the last 10 days of Ramadan that this started, with complaints about the way the Christian girls are dressed, then it is not a church but an association, then no Copts to come from outside the village, but the main reason is mainly, as one Salafi from the mob was shouting, is that they want to the church closed."
High officials from Security department arranged for a reconciliation meetings in late afternoon with a group of Muslims and Christians, in which it was agreed that if the is officially licensed then Copts from outside can attend services any time, but if it is an association, then only village Copts will be allowed to attend the services. A penalty clause was included in which any part that attacks the other will pay 500,000 Egyptian pounds. Compensation for damages to the Coptic side will be paid by the government. No one was arrested.
According to Dr. Gabriel, St. George's Church was licensed five years ago. Rev. Charobim told Copts-United News the Deputy Security Director told the Christian party during the reconciliation meeting "Thank God for the outcome -- in other places people get killed."
"The situation is now calm in the village," concluded Abdelmassih.
According to Wikipedia, A Salafi is a Muslim who emphasises the Salaf ("predecessors" or "ancestors"), the earliest Muslims, as model examples of Islamic practice. The term has been in use since the Middle Ages but today refers especially to a follower of a modern Sunni Islamic movement known as Salafiyyah or Salafism, which is related to or includes Wahhabism (a name which some of its proponents consider derogatory, preferring the term Salafism), so that the two terms are often viewed as synonymous. Salafism has become associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam and, in the West, with the Salafi Jihadis who espouse violent jihad against civilians as a legitimate expression of Islam.

A minor Christian girl kidnapped in Islamabad territory

She may be 'illegally' married off after being forced to become a Muslim

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A 14-year-old Christian girl, Timar Shahzadi, was kidnapped by Muslim men in the twin cities of Islamabad/Rawalpindi on Monday, October 22, 2012, as she was returning from school.
Timar Shahzadi, the kidnapped girl
Shamim Masih, a ANS correspondent in Pakistan, said that according to Pastor Farooq Sadique, the girl was with friends when the abductors pounced and dragged her away.
Mr. Masih says that her family fear that she could be "forcefully converted to become a Muslim and then married off if immediate steps are not taken."
He went on to say that her family reported the incident to the police station in Koral Police Station in Islamabad, but police have not yet conducted any investigation.
"The poor family cannot afford the expenses of the tribunal procedure and her father requested the higher official to take care of her daughter's issue. He also requested the human rights and women rights organization to help him in finding her daughter," said Shamim Masih.
Her father, Amjid Masih, said that because the girl is still a minor, according to law "she is too young" to be married.
The practice of forced conversion and forced marriage is widespread: rich and powerful Muslims take advantage, especially in rural areas and girls are victims of religious minorities.
According to Fides Agency, in Pakistan there are about 1,000 similar cases each year, against Christian and Hindu girls.
The agency added that to combat the phenomenon, widely recognized by civil authorities, the "National Commission for Religious Minorities" has prepared a draft law that Christians support and hope that it may soon be considered by Parliament.

Refugee Faces 15 Years Jail if Deported

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
KAZAKHSTAN (ANS) -- Uzbekistan is trying to extradite a detained UNHCR recognized refugee from Kazakhstan on charges which carry a maximum 15 year jail term.
UNHCR is the United Nations refugee agency. Kazakhstan is in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Uzbekistan is in Central Asia.
According to a story by Felix Corley of the Forum 18 News Service, Makset Djabbarbergenov, a Protestant who fled to Kazakhstan is being sought by Uzbekistan for exercising freedom of religion or belief in his home town of Nukus.
Forum 18 said an Oct. 15 court decision in Kazakh authorised further incarceration until Nov. 5. The Kazakh court also claimed that the Uzbek charges - which seek to prosecute the exercising freedom of religion or belief - can be equated to terrorism-related charges in Kazakh law.
Djabbarbergenov's wife has been stopped by Kazakh authorities from visiting him, she told Forum 18 News Service, as has a human rights defender who found he is being held in solitary confinement. The Supreme Court claims it cannot find an appeal he lodged in August.
In addition, Forum 18 reported, Kazakhstan has yet to reply to a finding of the UN Committee Against Torture that it violated human rights obligations by extraditing to Uzbekistan a group of Muslim refugees and asylum seekers.
Kazakhstan's current bid to join the UN Human Rights Council claims it would, if elected, "enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the Human Rights Council."
For more information go to

Indonesia – Supreme Court ‘pro’ ruling ignored by City authority, so church resists

Local authorities order church to relocate, despite ruling allowing church to reopen

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Oct 29th (Open Doors News) — Bogor City, 60 kilometres south of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, is reported to be one of the world’s most densely populated areas. And, although not an Islamic state, Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with 86.1% of Indonesians being Muslim, according to the 2000 census.
In April 2010, Bogor’s Taman Yasmin Indonesia Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) was closed by order of the Mayor and city government. In December that year, the Indonesian Supreme Court affirmed the church's constitutional right to freedom of worship; however the Mayor refused to reopen the church. The Indonesian Ombudsman’s Office also urged the Bogor city administration to withdraw its later 2011 decree annulling the church’s construction permit.
But now, in the latest twist in the long-running saga, Indonesia’s Interior Minister, along with the Bogor City authorities, decided at a meeting in September that the church would not reopen, but instead should relocate about 7 kilometres away. In addition to the Mayor and Interior Minister,representatives of the Muslim Communications Forum (Forkami) – a hard-line religious group known for its stance against GKI Yasmin – attended the meeting.
Understandably, the church is refusing to comply with this order. "No matter where, no matter how beautiful or how expensive the new location, we will not accept," said the GKI Yasmin spokesman, Bona Sigalingging.
He said if the church was evicted it would mean that the rule of law in Indonesia has collapsed. "There will be a separation and segregation based on racial intolerance. It means betraying Bhinneka Tunggal Ika." (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, the motto of Indonesia, means 'Unity in Diversity').
In May this year, in an attempt to break the deadlock, the President’s Advisory Council and the National Defence Council (Wantannas) brokered a month-long negotiation between the church and the Bogor administration to build a mosque adjacent to the church. The church agreed with this suggestion, but it wasn't enough for the hardliners, who want to see the church gone from the area.
Vice Chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace (an Indonesian NGO that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights) Bonar Tigor Naipospos, said the meeting had shown that the government tended to solve problems involving minority groups by ruling them out rather than accommodating them.
“Relocation without listening to the voice of victims is a violation of human rights. Relocation means eviction and law violations. GKI Yasmin objects to being relocated anywhere at anytime,” he said.
“The government keeps suggesting relocations as solutions for the Ahmadis, Shiites and GKI Yasmin’s case. This will only lead to further segregation,” he said.
He also questioned the motive behind the decision. Bonar suspects that the location of the church – near to hospitals, supermarkets and shops – means that the land will be valuable real estate.
GKI Yasmin is one of several examples of the lack of protection for Indonesia’s minority groups. The church was sealed and padlocked in April, 2010 on the orders of the Mayor of Bogor. He claimed that the church brought trouble with the local Muslim neighbours. Later he said that the church should not be built on a street with an Islamic name. Its congregation resorted to conducting services on the pavement in front of the church for more than two years. During services outside the church, they constantly faced harassment from groups of protesters – including from Forkami.
Fearing further aggravation from hard-liners, members of the Protestant church now hold clandestine services at the houses of congregation members. They have also conducted Sunday services in front of the State Palace, to further their case with the government.
The Bogor City Government has reportedly allocated land for the replacement church some 7 kilometers from its present location, and a budget of up to 10 billion rupiahs for a new church. But it is by no means certain that, even should the church agree to relocation, they would be allowed to build a new church. Among other things, they would have to obtain a new building permit, which would require them to obtain approval signatures from 60 Muslims and 90 Christians.
Ali Akbar Tanjung from the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said that the situation would further taint Indonesia’s human rights record. The United Nation Human Rights Council has just started the 14th session (22nd Oct- 5th Nov) of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), its review of the human rights practices of all States in the world, once every four years.
“The government promised to improve back in May. How can it fulfill its promise if the Home Ministry pressures GKI Yasmin like this?”
A series of recommendations proposed by nations participating in May’s UPR discussed the persecution of minority groups in Indonesia, with a recommendation that Indonesia “should strengthen efforts to ensure that any assaults against religious minorities are properly investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice”.
The Secretary of the Diakonia Communion of Churches in Indonesia, Jeirry Sumampow, fully supports the stance taken by the GKI Yasmin.
"The government should be consistent in enforcing laws and regulations, and implement the Supreme Court decision," he said. "We'll support GKI Yasmin if they refuse relocation."
Copyright 2012 Open Doors News

Sudanese Bible School Re-Opens Despite Islamist Intimidation

Burned and ransacked in April, Christian compound faces further threats

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN (ANS) -- Amid threats of further losses, classes resumed this month at a Khartoum Bible school and church compound that Muslim extremists torched in April, an area Christian source said.
According to a story by Morning Star News, students and administrators at Gerif West Bible School in Sudan have yet to fully recover their losses from the April 21 attack.
However, the source said classes resumed on Oct. 15 even as area Muslims try to take school land and anti-Christian messages broadcast from a nearby mosque loudspeaker on most Fridays.
Muslim leaders have been saying through the mosque loudspeaker that Christian institutions should not be allowed in Sudan, as the country should be a "purely Islamic state" since the secession of South Sudan on July 9 2011, he said.
"We are expecting the level of persecution to rise in Sudan in the coming days," a pastor who works at the Bible school told Morning Star News by phone, adding that hostilities against churches and Christians were intensifying.
Morning Star News said Islamist attackers shouting threats against Christians and "Allahu Akbar" (God is greater) on April 21 broke down the Christian compound wall with a bulldozer and set fire to the school and a Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) building. Also damaged were a clinic, a home for the elderly and living quarters.
According to Morning Star News, the hard-line Muslim sheikh who led the attack, Muhammad Abdelkrim, on Sept. 21 urged Muslims to tolerate no Christian presence and to have no dealings with them because they were "infidels," the source said.
"We will never forgive Christians" for not being Muslims, Morning Star News reported the imam said during a mosque service on Sept. 21 through loudspeakers, besides saying that Christian institutions have no place in Sudan.
Morning Star News said the attackers ruined four halls used by three churches and burned the belongings of students at a dormitory. School library books, including 50 boxes of Bibles, were also destroyed. The attackers destroyed school furniture, as well as breaking into a safe and stealing college funds.

Police stood by watching the destruction, according to a statement from SPEC.

Land Grabs
Morning Star News reported the attacks followed an effort by area Muslims to take control of at least part of the land, and another attempt has since emerged.

The first attempt to seize the land came after the attacking Islamists obtained approval from the Commissioner of Khartoum to take part of the property in April, with the intent of taking all of the property. According to SPEC, the mob showed up with a bulldozer on April 9 and threatened to demolish the Bible school.

"The church was not informed (of the commissioner's decision)," said a SPEC statement at the time. "It is not the mandate of the Commissioner of Khartoum to allocate a private property to others."

Morning Star News said SPEC leaders held the documents showing proof of the church's ownership of the land, and police were able to persuade the mob to withdraw.
However, with the support of "Public Committees," (Islamist bodies supported by the government that monitor Christian activities in Sudan), Islamic extremists continue to lay claim to the land as a justification for their threats to take it by force.

Morning Star News said the Commissioner of Khartoum based his approval of the takeover on the mistaken assumption that the land belongs to South Sudanese Christians, and that it must therefore be confiscated since they were no longer citizens of Sudan following secession, according to SPEC.

In June, Morning Star News said, a new threat developed. Police on June 25 summoned three Bible school staff members to answer claims by the sons of a former Arabic teacher at the school that they were the legal heirs of a part of the property. That being since their father, Jabrah Hanaha, had lived on it before his death three years ago.
According to Morning Star News, police dropped the case after the school's lawyer presented the documents showing SPEC was the legal owner of the land. However, Adil and Ezat Hanaha have continued to claim the property with hopes that authorities sympathetic to Muslims will aid them.

Morning Star News said Sudanese law and policy favors Muslims. Sudan's Interim National Constitution holds up sharia (Islamic law) as a source of legislation, according to the U.S. Department of State. President Omar al-Bashir has vowed that Sudan will become a more strictly Islamic state.

For more information about Morning Star News, go to the website of International Christian Response (ICR), 
Later this year look for Morning Star News at

Following In the Steps of a Martyr

By Lynley Smith
Special to ASSIST News Service

BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) -- It was December, 2009. I wandered through the streets of Krakow, wondering what to do next. I was on a mission, a very unusual mission, and I had little idea how I would accomplish it.
Auschwitz-Birkenau camp fence - the largest concentration camp in the world established by the Nazis in 1940 (Oswiecim city)
I had just arrived on the overnight train from Budapest in the depths of the worst winter Europe had experienced in about 50 years and had just 12 hours to find a way to get to Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camp and back, before my train departed again for Budapest.
The information centre at the train station was closed with no indication of how I might find another office to enquire about transport to this most graphic reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. It was in Auschwitz-Birkenau that my very distant relative Jane Haining, had given her life for the sake of the Jewish children she had cared for in a girls' home in Budapest from 1933 until 1944, and I was tracking down her story. I had found out about it from a little booklet my mother passed down to me. The story intrigued me and I had to know more, to understand why this woman would do such a thing.
True to form, God came through for me. This time in the form of a man who just happened to be walking alongside me on the icy almost deserted street, with a bunch of brochures about bus tours to Auschwitz tucked under his arm. I signalled that I wanted one of them (no-one I met spoke English) and he complied by signalling me to follow him. I did.
He led me to a little bus office some blocks away and within 20 minutes, I was on the first (and only) bus leaving for Auschwitz that day. All other bus trips had been cancelled because of the atrocious sub 15 degrees Celsius weather.
I stood with other tourists in the parade yard at Auschwitz, where inmates had stood for hours each day in their flimsy summer weight uniforms in weather colder than I was experiencing. I thought of Jane and the anguish which must have invaded her soul. I was walking in her shoes, but I managed only about three minutes before escaping indoors again.
Jane Haining
This was the end of a five month journey following in the footsteps of Jane, a Scottish missionary to Budapest, who had courageously refused the demands of her mission agency to return to Scotland as World War 2 progressed. I had visited Dumfries and the nearby village of Dunscore, where Jane was raised; Glasgow, where she trained and worked; Edinburgh, where she trained for the mission field. I had spent time in Budapest, where she found, in her own words "her life's work" as the matron of a girls' home attached to the Church of Scotland's Scottish Mission to Budapest. My final destination, also her final destination, was Auschwitz.
I had given up my job as a journalist in New Zealand to answer the call of God to make this journey and to tell this courageous woman's story, and I knew exactly why I had to tell it. Two people independently gave me the scripture: Isaiah 45: 1-3 "Thus says Adonai .. 'I will go ahead of you, leveling the hills, shattering the bronze gates, smashing the iron bars. I will give you treasures hoarded in the dark, secret riches hidden away.'"
And truly the Lord did just that. At every turn, I found circumstances conspired, as in Krakow, to enable me to complete my mission. If I didn't know where to find information, someone would just appear to help me. In Budapest a member of Jane's old church, St Columba's Church, just happened to have access to some precious 20-year-old quotes by Holocaust survivors who had known Jane and the Mission school. In Dumfries, the former news editor of the local paper just happened to be a history buff and was happy to show me a plinth erected in the village to commemorate this almost unknown heroine. And so it went on. Everywhere I went I met up with guardians of a small part of her history. Somehow, her story had captured the imagination of a remnant who would not let it die, and I was going to have the privilege of piecing that story together and telling it for the first time in book form.
Why was this such an important mission? Why did God want so much for this story to be told that he went so clearly before me, making sure I gathered all the information I needed?
Book cover
One Holocaust survivors summed up Jane's influence on those who knew her: "What was her secret, how could she reach people so effectively? It was genuine living love...she could have chosen security (she could have returned to her home before Hungary entered the war, and after the German occupation, she was invited to find refuge in some embassies), but she knew she must stay with her flock. She died at the same place and in the same way as some of her children did. She followed Christ's example to the very end."
In her life and death lies a precious message for our Jewish brothers and sisters. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has not abandoned his Chosen people. On the contrary, he allowed some faithful followers to accompany them into that most evil place, the gas chambers of Auschwitz, as shining examples of the quality of His enduring love for them. Only recently have the Jews of Budapest come to acknowledge her sacrifice for them, and in this story lies an opportunity for them to also discover the God Jane followed so faithfully.
And for the Church her life and death holds a sobering challenge. The Jews often say: "Never again." But recent European events give lie to this slogan. In 2010 in Hungary, the Jobbik party, a right wing nationalist party gained 47 seats in the 263 seat parliament, the first seats to go to a right wing party since World War 2.
More recently a nationalist right wing party in Greece has become the third most powerful party in the country. And so it goes on.
But the final word belongs to the Lord. He is always true to His word. Remember the 'treasures hoarded in the dark"? What of those? When I returned to Budapest in 2010 to attend the first Jewish community commemoration of Jane's life and her sacrifice for them, the pastor at St Columba's Church just happened to look into a very old safe of World War 2 vintage, and low and behold, there, under other papers he found Jane's Bible and another of her books, hidden there presumably for the past 65 years. ! It seems the story of her life is still unfolding.
The book From Matron to Martyr by Lynley Smith, can be purchased from the publisher Tate Publishing ( ) or from and numerous other online booksellers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Invitation to pray for persecuted believers

(Photo Courtesy of Open Doors)
International (MNN) ― The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is just around the corner. It's a day when believers worldwide will come together to pray for their brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer for their faith. 

November 11, 2012 is the day Open Doors USA has set aside for prayer for the persecuted church. 

Leading up to November 11th, Open Doors encourages believers to stand with "those who share our faith but not our freedom" through their One With Them campaign. This is an initiative designed to bring awareness to the reality of Christian persecution throughout the world.

Esther is a widowed mother of six from northern Nigeria whose husband was killed in a vicious attack by an Islamic extremist group notorious for attacks on Nigerian Christians. When asked how Christians in the West could be One With Them (persecuted Christians), she said, "Share our stories so more and more people will know about the situation in Nigeria, so they can pray for us."

As IDOP approaches, keep people like Esther in mind. Pray for the many followers of Christ who are being persecuted. 
"We encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it," affirms Open Doors.  

Open Doors has also invited Christians to use their artistic ability through an online competition called "One Body-Many Gifts," a creative aspect of One With Them.

The top three entries will be announced on November 10. The grand prize is a unique opportunity to travel and meet with persecuted Christians face-to-face. It will change you forever.

Another way you can get involved is by wearing One with Themwristbands -- a tangible reminder to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Open Doors has provided IDOP resources for you or your church. Click here to learn more. Encourage your friends to participate in this life-changing event. 

Kaduna Catholic Church Hit in Nigeria Suicide Bomb Attack

By Dan Wooding, who was born in Nigeria
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

KADUNA, NIGERIA (ANS) -- At least seven people have been killed and dozens injured in a suicide bombing today (Sunday, October 28, 2012), during Mass at a Catholic church in northern Nigeria, officials say.
Bodies being loaded into an ambulance after the church attack

An explosive-laden vehicle drove into St Rita's Catholic Church which was packed with worshippers when the suicide bomber struck in the Malali area of Kaduna, Nigeria, and detonated its load, ripping a hole in the wall and roof.

"The vehicle had been stopped at the security gate outside the church. The driver initially reversed, but then careered straight through the church wall and detonated the bomb," said the BBC. "Members of the choir are thought to be among the dead and injured.

"The church was surrounded by soldiers and police after the blast, and ambulances were taking the injured to hospital.

The BBC's Will Ross visited the site of the blast
"Nigeria's north has a large Muslim majority whereas the south is most populated by Christians and those who follow traditional religions. Kaduna is on the dividing line between the two areas."

The BBC's Will Ross in Kaduna says many people have come to the city in recent months in search of sanctuary from violence in other parts of northern Nigeria.

Kaduna has been targeted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, in the recent past. Boko Haram says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, whose 160 million people are split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

President Goodluck Jonathan promised to "redouble" his government's efforts to tackle terrorism and violence.

He called the attack part of an "unfortunate and unacceptable trend that threatens the peace and stability of our nation".
Scene of devastation at the church that was attacked

A spokesman for the local governor has called for calm, pleading with people on local radio not to retaliate.

The Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) told the BBC that Christian youths attacked a vehicle that had come to rescue survivors after the attack, smashing one of the windows.

Shortly after the explosion, Christian youths took to the streets armed with sticks and knives. A Reuter's journalist reported seeing two bodies on the roadside lying in pools of blood.

"We killed them and we'll do more," shouted a youth, before police chased him and his cohorts away. Police set up roadblocks and patrols across town.

"At least 2,800 people have died in fighting since Boko Haram's insurrection began in 2009, according to Human Rights Watch. Most were Muslims in the north-east of the country, where it usually targets politicians and security forces," says Reuters.

"Another witness to the bombing, Daniel Kazah, a member of the Catholic cadets in the church, said he had seen three bodies on the church floor in the aftermath," added Reuters in its story.

A spokesman for St Gerard's Catholic hospital, Sunday John, said the hospital was treating 14 wounded. Garkura hospital was treating 84 victims, the NEMA official said.

Many residents rushed indoors, fearing a wave of the sectarian killing that has periodically hit Kaduna. A bomb attack in a church in Kaduna state in June triggered a week of tit-for-tat violence during which at least 90 people were killed.

Boko Haram has said it carried out previous attacks on churches in Kaduna state in June. At least 50 people were killed in the bombings and the reprisals that followed.

Greek Orthodox priest abducted in Syria is found dead

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

BEIRUT (ANS) -- A Greek Orthodox priest has been found slain after being kidnapped near the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Syrian government and the Vatican news service reported Thursday.

According to a story by the LA Times, the body of the Rev. Fadi Jamil Haddad, pastor of St. Elias Church in Qatana, outside Damascus, was discovered in the Jaramana district of the capital, reported Agenzia Fides, the Vatican news service. The site was not far from the area where he was kidnapped by an "unidentified armed group" last Friday, the agency said.

The Vatican agency quoted a colleague as saying the priest had been "horribly tortured."

According to the LA Times, the official Syrian news service said the priest was found with a gunshot wound to his head. The government news agency blamed the crime on "terrorists," its usual characterization of the armed opposition fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.

According to the official account, the priest was abducted while seeking the release of another person who had been kidnapped by militants.

However, the LA Times said, it was unclear if the priest's slaying was political, sectarian or criminal in nature. Many Syrians have complained of a breakdown in law and order and a spike in kidnapping for ransom and other crimes as security has deteriorated. Opportunistic criminals have moved to take advantage of the nation's security void.

The Vatican news agency reported that the priest's kidnappers had demanded a ransom equivalent to about $715,000 for the priest's release. "It was, however, impossible to find the money and meet this exorbitant demand," reported Agenzia Fides.

The LA Times said the Greek Orthodox population is considered the largest Christian denomination in Syria, where Christians represent perhaps 10 percent of the population. Syria is overwhelmingly Muslim.

Christian leaders in Syria say their community, which has ancient roots, is in a precarious position. The LA Times reported that some Christians have joined the rebellion and called for Assad to step down. However, many Syrian Christians back Assad, whose administration has been tolerant of religious minorities even as it has crushed political dissent.

The LA Times said Assad has tried to rally support among Christians and other minorities against the armed rebellion, which is led by the nation's Sunni Muslim majority. There have been reports from Syria of government efforts to arm Christian communities. But some Christian leaders have urged their co-religionists to remain neutral in the conflict.

According to the LA Times, some Christians voice fears that Islamists will take over the secular Syrian government and that the nation will experience the kind of sectarian violence, including the bombing of churches and torching of Christian shops, that ravaged neighboring Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein. Hussein, like Assad, was a secular autocrat who tolerated Christian religious practice. Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to Syria in the aftermath of Hussein's fall.

Christian Areas of Aleppo Invaded by Syrian Opposition Forces

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SYRIA (ANS) -- A humanitarian group has received an urgent prayer request from its partners in Syria for Christians in the city of Aleppo, whose major residential areas have been invaded by opposition fighters.

Aleppo seems to be falling to opposition forces
According to a news release from Barnabas Aid, on Thursday the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its allies entered al-Syriaan al-Jadide and put two checkpoints in front of a Baptist church building. They also took over a local Christian school.

Barnabas Aid said the other main Christian district, al-Syriaan al-Qadime, has also fallen to the opposition. Snipers have been positioned on the roofs in both areas.

Meanwhile, Barnabas Aid said, armed FSA groups have attacked the al-Zukhur district of the city, which is home to many of the - mainly Christian - Armenian community.

Barnabas Aid said it appears that Aleppo is now largely in the hands of the opposition. Clashes with government forces are still being reported, but the regime may now be abandoning the city.
Barnabas Aid asked, "Pray for Christians in Aleppo, both during the fighting and afterwards. The opposition generally regards them as government supporters, and some Islamists will attack them simply for being Christians. Pray that the Lord will shield all those who take refuge in Him."

Barnabas Aid provides hope and aid for the persecuted church. For more information go to