Updates on the persecuted Church
Barnabas Fund, November 8th, 2023
Hyacinth Alia – a church leader and Governor of Benue State, Nigeria – condemned a violent attack on three Benue villages on 17 October in which nine people were killed. He also called on security forces to act against the armed militants. Around 45,000 Nigerian believers have been killed in anti-Christian violence since 2009. Ask for the Lord’s intervention to bring peace for our brothers and sisters, and for all people.
At least 26 people were killed on 24 October in a Christian area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Extremists attacked residents in the town of Oicha with machetes. An estimated 5,500 have lost their lives in anti-Christian violence in DRC since October 2017. Pray for an end to this terrible violence.
The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention issued a “red flag” warning on 1 November highlighting the risk of an Azerbaijani invasion of Christian-majority Armenia. Armenia is currently hosting nearly 120,000 thousand refugees who have fled the Armenian Christian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh since a 19 September Azerbaijani attack. Ask the Lord to protect His people from further attack and to provide for those who have been forced to flee their homes.
The Shepherd’s Academy continues to grow.
Barnabas Fund, 17th October 2023 (excerpts)
Barnabas Aid’s theological and pastoral training programme, The Shepherd’s Academy (TSA), continues to grow, with over 800 grassroots church leaders from more than 30 countries now registered. TSA provides training opportunities for church leaders in the Global South who often struggle to access formal training or education to support them in their God-given calling as leaders of the church.
600 leaders are undertaking short courses while 200 are studying for an undergraduate degree. Less than a year ago there were just over 400 students registered.
TSA programmes combine guided self-study and online classes, keeping overheads low. Each undergraduate student is linked to a local TSA study centre. There are now 20 such study centres in 12 countries.
“I might never have had this kind of opportunity to study without TSA,” says Pastor Godwill, “With the kind of tutorials and tutors we have at TSA, and the small amount of money we pay as tuition fee, I can only say we have been favoured by God to have TSA.”
Barnabas Director Dr Patrick Sookhdeo says, “Our mission is to form in a new generation of leaders the character and integrity that will give them the foundation to face their challenges, find hope in hopeless situations and counter untruth with truth.”
Updates on the persecuted Church – 10 October 2023
Barnabas Fund, 11th October 2023 (excerpts)
- A church leader in Algeria has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and a £605 fine for holding an unauthorised religious meeting in a place not permitted for religious worship. Pastor Youssef Ourahmane, of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), in March 2023, supervised Christian families who stayed at a church compound including a chapel sealed by the authorities. Since closures began in 2018, 41 of 45 EPA churches have been closed, 15 of them physically sealed. Pray for Youssef’s appeal against his sentence and for the Algerian people.
- 29 were killed and 56 wounded when the Buddhist extremist Myanmar military bombed a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Christian-majority Kachin State on 9 October. The victims had fled another IDP camp after being forced from their homes. Ask the Lord to bring an end to anti-Christian violence in Myanmar, and for peace for all people.
- 2 pastors have been targeted in separate incidents in southern Nigeria. Pastor Nicholas Omoroka escaped after gunmen shot at his house. His son Christopher, in his 20s, was killed in the attack. Pastor Agbadamashi Emmanuel and family were abducted on 6 October. May the Lord comfort Pastor Nicholas and family in their loss and for Pastor Agbadamashi and his family to be freed safe and unharmed.
- The first church building to open in the modern Muslim-majority Turkish Republic was inaugurated on Sunday 8 October in Istanbul. Church leaders and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took part in the inauguration ceremony.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 26 September 2023
Barnabas Fund, 26th September 2023 (excerpts)
- More than 13,000 ethnic Armenian Christians have fled Nagorno-Karabakh since Azerbaijan seized control of the enclave in a military offensive launched on 19 September 2023. Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate of the Armenian Church of the UK and Ireland, said, “There are reports of mass killings, raping, and torturing of people. A scene of war crimes is unfolding.”
- Afghanistan’s Taliban government has detained 18 charity workers (17 Afghans and one US citizen) for allegedly preaching Christianity. The workers were arrested from the office of Swiss charity International Assistance Mission (IAM) in early September. IAM is a Christian charity but provides aid to people of all religions. Pray that the authorities will be convinced of the vital contribution Christians are making to help Afghan people.
- Iranian-Armenian pastor Anooshavan Avedian, 61, reported to prison in Tehran, Iran, on 18 September to begin a 10-year sentence for engaging in “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam”. Ask that Pastor Anooshavan will experience God’s sustaining power as he begins this long sentence.
- 23 pastors have been killed and more than 200 churches shut down because of anti-Christian violence within the past four years in Nigeria’s Kaduna State. The total number of Christians killed in Kaduna in this time is not known but is likely to be hundreds. Pray for God’s protection over church leaders and churches in Kaduna State.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 12 September 2023
Barnabas Fund, 12th August 2023 (excerpts)
- A church minister in southern Kaduna State, Nigeria, was burned to death on 7 September by Fulani Islamist extremists. Three other men were able to escape, but he died in the blaze. “There was no reaction or support from the military forces,” said a senior church leader. Pray that security forces will be awakened to the need to protect Christians.
- A man and a woman in Nepal were attacked on the morning of 5 September for preaching Christianity. A group of extremists handed both Christians to the police. Church leaders report attacks on 7 church buildings in the last 3 weeks. Pray that the 2 arrested will not face charges despite the vague wording of a law banning “hurting religious sentiment”.
- 5 suspected jihadists have been arrested and 5 bombs discovered in Kampala, the capital of Uganda just days after the arrest of another member of the bomb plot as he attempted to enter a church service with an explosive device on Sunday 3 September. All men are linked to the Allied Democratic Forces who carried out a school massacre in June.
- A new report raises concerns that the Azerbaijani blockade of Armenian Christian enclave Nagorno-Karabakh, which began nine months ago on 12 December, represents the beginnings of a new Armenian Genocide.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 22 August 2023
Barnabas Fund, 22nd August 2023 (excerpts)
- On August 19, Ehsan, a young Pakistani Christian man, uploaded a video on his TikTok account showing solidarity with the Christian community in Jaranwala, Punjab following anti-Christian riots on August 16. Ehsan, from Sahiwal, 62 miles to the south, was accused of uploading a “blasphemous” message in the video that was hurtful to Muslims’ feelings and dishonouring to Islam. He and his family were forced into hiding once the complaint was registered with the police.
- Pastor’s wife Peace Chinyereugo was fatally wounded and her husband Samuel was injured in a shooting outside their church in Edo State, Nigeria on August 14. The church’s assistant pastor was also injured. The pastor and his wife had just arrived at the church in their car when 3 gunmen approached and opened fire. The pastor and his assistant both received hospital treatment. Ask the Lord to draw close and comfort Peace’s family and friends. Pray for healing for Samuel and his assistant as they recover from the trauma of the attack.
- 2 Myanmar churches and a pastor’s home have been damaged in airstrikes by the military in Christian-majority Chin state. 7 people were injured when a church and a residential home in Ramthlo village were hit on August 12. The same day a pastor’s home in the courtyard of a church in Hakha city was damaged in a missile strike. A church was also hit in an airstrike in Kayah state on August 12. Pray for healing for those wounded in the airstrikes.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 14 August 2023
Barnabas Fund, 25th July 2023 (excerpts)
- 21 people were killed in 2 Christian villages in the Barkin Ladi Area of Plateau State, Nigeria on 9th August. Fulani Islamist extremists attacked Batin village at around 1.30am, killing 17. The gunmen then murdered 4 more people in nearby Rayogot community. Twelve of the dead were internally displaced people who had fled to the area to escape previous extremist violence. Local Christians had warned security services that the latest attacks were planned but say the authorities failed to take action to halt the gunmen. Pray for an end to this persistent anti-Christian violence.
- The number of Christians arrested in Iran in the first 3 weeks of July has risen to 69. At least 10 are still being detained. Those released say they were forced to sign commitments not to undertake any Christian activities, or ordered to undergo Islamic re-education classes. Almost all of those arrested are converts from Islam. Ask the Lord to sustain those now forced to refrain from meeting with other Christians or to attend Islamic classes.
- A Christian charity worker and her daughter who were abducted in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 27 July have been released. The charity announced, “It is with a heart of gratitude and immense joy that we at El Roi Haiti confirm the safe release of our staff member and friend, Alix Dorsainvil and her child!” Join with our brothers and sisters in praising God and giving thanks.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 6 June 2023
Barnabas Fund, 7th June 2023 (excerpts)
- Five North Korean Christians were arrested as they attended a secret church service in a farmhouse at 5am on Sunday 30 April. Believers in prison or labour camps in North Korea are often singled out for especially harsh treatment and may well face death.
- Pakistani Christian Noman Masih was sentenced to death by a court in Punjab, on 30 May for alleged “blasphemy” against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam over images allegedly found on his mobile phone. Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws are often used to make false accusations to settle personal grudges. Pray also for protection and wisdom for Noman’s lawyers.
- The government of Egypt has licensed a further 216 churches and church-affiliated buildings. Give thanks for this latest batch of approvals and for the increased freedom given to His people in Egypt.
- The 10-year prison sentence of a Christian in Iran was reduced to two years on 24 May after a successful appeal. Pray that the day will come when there will be no punishment for practising Christianity in Iran.
- Islamist militants who kidnapped 40 worshippers from a church service in Kaduna State, Nigeria on 7 May freed their remaining 16 captives on Sunday 4 June. Pastor John Hayab, of the Christian Association of Nigeria, thanked the Muslim community in the area for their practical help following the kidnappings.
Updates on the persecuted Church
Barnabas Fund, 23 May 2023 (excerpts)
- An Australian missionary doctor who has been held by al Qaeda-linked militants in Burkina Faso since January 2016 was released on 19 May. Dr Ken Elliott, 88 years old, is reported to be in good health, and has been reunited with his wife, Jocelyn – Mrs Elliott was abducted at the same time but released after three weeks. They ran a 120-bed clinic in the town of Djibo.
- An estimated 130 people have been killed in a series of attacks launched by Fulani Muslim extremists on Christian-majority areas of Plateau State, Nigeria, in the past week. Around 1,000 buildings in 22 villages have been burned down in Plateau since 15 May, leaving thousands displaced.
- Two Christian boys have been charged with “blasphemy” in the Lahore area of Punjab, Pakistan. On 18 May one of the boys, Adil, 17 years old, was chewing some gum that has the brand name “Muhammad Ali”. His friend Saiman, 12, made a joke about the gum, which was overheard by a Muslim man who accused the boys of making jokes about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The Muslim man beat Saiman and threatened to kill the boys, before calling the police. Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws stipulate death for defiling the name of Muhammad.
Updates on the persecuted Church
Barnabas Fund, 10 May 2023 (excerpts)
- More than 50 people from the Christian-majority Kuki tribal group have been killed in anti-Christian violence that has raged in Manipur, India, since 4 May. About 114 church buildings have been burned down and there have been targeted attacks on around 67 Kuki villages.
- Iranian Christian converts Homayoun Zhaveh, 64, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 45, were acquitted and released from prison on 9 May. The appeal court judge ruled there was “no evidence” that Homayoun and Sara had acted against national security.
- 2 of the 276 “Chibok girls” abducted by Boko Haram Islamist terrorists in April 2014 were rescued by the Nigerian military on 21 April 2023. Pray for more than 100 “Chibok girls” who have not returned home.
- Terrorists on Sunday 7 May abducted more than 40 people from a Baptist Church in Kaduna State, Nigeria. 15 people escaped, and 25 are still captive.
- A Christian wedding photographer and the Muslim couple who hired him have been accused of “blasphemy” in the Pakpattan District of Punjab, for taking photos of the newlywed couple at a Muslim shrine on 30 April.
- Six Libyan Christians who were arrested separately earlier this year are facing the death penalty as apostates for having converted from Islam and proselytising others in the Muslim-majority country.