October 27, 2022) Elizabeth Kendal requests urgent prayer for the following…
1. CHINA’S SEVERELY PERSECUTED CHURCH [RLPB 667 (19 Oct)]
As reported by Bitter Winter (17 Oct), government-controlled religious organisations contribute to the National Party Congress by presenting reports on their activities. Pastor Xu Xiaohong, the Chairman of the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) Committee, presented a report entitled, ‘Ten years of sharpening a sword and continuing to advance the sinicisation of Christianity.’
Interestingly, Xu admits much work needs to be done to sinicise the Chinese Church so that it will willingly serve the CCP, support all its policies, and unite around the Party with Xi as its ‘core.’ Xu laments that the promotion of sinicisation is ‘hot at the top and cold and the bottom’: i.e. it is embraced by CCP-appointed technocrats/administrators, but not by grassroots teachers, preachers, or believers! As such, the TSPM Committee is working on a new five-year plan for 2023-2027 which Xu hopes will remove people’s doubts and ‘guide religion to adapt to socialist society.’ TSPM’s focus will be educating teachers and preachers, providing sermons to be delivered from pulpits, and establishing a ‘theological ideology of the Chinese Church.’ Five volumes of approved sermons have already been compiled! Xu maintains the Church will be fine so long as she ‘adapts.’
Xu praises the CCP, with Xi as its core, for its innovative, advanced, and positive religious work. He commends the CCP’s efforts to sinicise church architecture – done by way of desecration and destruction in the name of ‘rectification.’
Of course, it is one thing to remove a steeple to make a church look less European, it is quite another thing to remove a cross to make a church look less Christian. How does one sinicise a universal symbol like the cross? The CCP sinicises the cross by removing it from towns and cities by ensuring they are free of crosses.
Sinicised Christianity is crossless Christianity; after all, who needs the cross when you have the CCP; and who needs Christ when you have Xi Jinping? That faithful Christians insist on looking to Jesus, no matter the cost, is one of the CCP’s most enduring problems! Worse persecution is yet to come. The Church in China (Photo Bitter Winter) needs our prayers.
2. D. R. CONGO: TWO MISSIONS RAZED IN DEADLY TERROR ATTACK
At around midnight on 19-20 October, a large group of jihadists, presumed to be from the group formerly known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), now known as Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), attacked two Christian missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu Province. They struck the village of Maboya, which is located on the N2 highway, half-way between Butembo and Beni. Along with looting and burning homes, the terrorists looted and burned the referral health clinic run by the health office of the Catholic diocese of Butembo-Beni.
Seven people were killed, including Sister Dr. Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki (left) and six patients, and an unknown number were abducted, including a nurse. The terrorists then looted and burned the Tinge hospital, owned by the Protestant community, located 1.5km away. An Arabic-language message posted to social media claimed responsibility for Islamic State. D. R. Congo’s north-east provinces of North Kivu and Ituri – which border Uganda (where the ADF originated) – have been under a state of siege since May 2021 [see Religious Liberty Monitoring, 21 Sept 2021] but it has failed to stop the violence. Please pray.
3. NIGERIA: CHRISTIANS UNDER EXTREME PRESSURE
(1) Blasphemy trial in Bauchi
May 12: Deborah Emmanuel – an unashamed Christian from Niger State – was falsely accused of blasphemy and horrifically lynched on the campus of the Sokoto’s Shehu Shagari College of Education in Nigeria’s far north-west.
May 14: Hundreds of Muslims took to Sokoto’s streets to protest the arrest of two Muslims who led the lynching. [Full details: RLPB 645 (18 May 2022).]
May 20: On the other side of the country, a Christian woman named Rhoda Jatau (right) received a WhatsApp message on her phone condemning the lynching. A healthcare worker in Bauchi, in North-East Region, Rhoda, forwarded the message to her colleagues. Muslims who saw it accused Rhoda of blasphemy, triggering an Islamic pogrom in which homes and stores were burned and some 20 people were injured [see RLPB 646 (25 May 2022)]. Though Rhoda fled, she was arrested later that day.
After two weeks in goal Rhoda (40s) was officially charged with blasphemy; she has been in held incommunicado ever since. Her attorney, Joshua Nasara, told Morning Star News (MSN) that all efforts to secure bail have been ‘frustrated and denied by government authorities and leaders of Islamic groups in [Bauchi] state.’ According to MSN (5 Oct), Rhoda Jatau is now on trial. Please pray.
(2) More trauma in traumatised Chibok
On Sunday night 13 April 2014, Boko Haram militants invaded the Christian enclave of Chibok in Nigeria’s mostly Muslim, north-eastern Borno State [RLPB257 (23 April 2014)]. Along with looting and burning homes, the jihadists attacked the local residential Government Girls Secondary School where some 300 girls were sleeping. Of the 276 high school girls taken that night, 98 remain missing to this day.
All the while, Muslim efforts to erase this Christian enclave have never ceased. The latest attack occurred at 2:30am on Tuesday 4 October, when jihadists armed with high-powered weapons – believed to be Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) – attacked Njilang village in Chibok County on the outskirts of Chibok town. Homes and stores were looted and burned, three Christians were killed and dozens were wounded, mostly shot as they attempted to escape. It was the fourth jihadist attack in the Chibok area in two weeks. How much trauma can an already traumatised Christian community endure? Families will resist leaving the area while their daughters remain missing. Where is the Nigerian government? Please pray.
4. UGANDA: MUSLIMS CHOOSE CHRIST; EVANGELISTS BLEED
In what is becoming a terrible trend, evangelists have again been attacked in Uganda. On 7 October evangelists Robert Okia (43) and Wilberforce Mutenga (38) conducted gospel outreach in Ikule village, Mayuge district, roughly 120km due east of Kampala in Uganda’s Eastern Region. Just days earlier, when the pair shared the gospel in Busakira village, eight Muslims put their faith in Jesus Christ. Now in Ikule, the Muslims were prepared. At the second home they visited, the evangelists were surrounded and heckled. Then, after one Muslim shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is greater), the mob moved in and attacked the Christians with knives and blunt objects.
Morning Star News reports (23 Oct) that Mutenga sustained a knife wound on his head, bruises on his legs, and a dislocated right knee; while Okia sustained a knife wound on his knee, injuries to his ribs and hand, and a severe beating to his mouth and face. The Muslims dumped the wounded men in a nearby swamp where they were found by herdsmen who took them to a medical clinic. Mutenga was transferred to a private clinic in Kampala, while Okia has required specialised hospital treatment in Jinja. Please pray.
(Andrew Dikusooka and Ronald Musasizi received hospital treatment. Morning Star News)
The attack came just two weeks after two other evangelists – Andrew Dikusooka (35) and Ronald Musasizi (26) – were attacked. The pair had just completed a series of public debates with Muslim scholars in Iganga District, Eastern Region. ‘Many people gave their lives to Christ, including Muslims, witchdoctors and street vendors,’ Dikusooka told Morning Star News. Dikusooka and Musasizi were travelling home when they were ambushed and violently assaulted by a group of angry Muslims. Just as the evangelists fell unconscious, the driver of an on-coming car stopped, rescued them (praise God!), and delivered them to hospital suffering severe bruising and deep knife wounds. Please pray.
‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…’ from Isaiah 52:7 ESV.
5. THE SAHEL: TERROR PRESSING SOUTH, REACHING BENIN
Jamestown Terrorism Monitor reports (19 Oct): ‘Since the French military withdrawal from Mali in August, Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), which is formally known as Islamic State in Sahel Province, and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) have intensified their attacks.’
This is exactly what RLPB predicted as soon as the withdrawal was announced in June 2021 [RLPB 607 (21 July 2021). In other words, it is not rocket science! Any serious analyst could have seen this coming!]. As soon as the withdrawal was announced the jihadists moved to consolidated in Mali and Burkina Faso and press south. The first attacks on the Gulf of Guinea states struck Togo in November 2021 [RLPB 625, 24 Nov 2021].
On 16 October Islamic jihadists attacked a customs post in the commune of Karimama and torched the police station in nearby Birni Lafia in Benin’s mostly Muslim north-east, close to the border with Niger. The jihadists had reportedly been terrorising the area for some days, mostly threatening schools.
On 12 October eight jihadists were killed when a Beninese security patrol located a terror cell preparing explosives in Nouari, in the commune of Matéri in Benin’s north-west. According to the 2013 census, 48.5 percent of the population is Christian, 27.7 percent is Muslim (mostly Sunni), and 11.6 percent practice Voodoo, with a lot of syncretism (mixing/combining beliefs). Most Christians are ethnic Yoruba and located in the more densely populated south. The jihadists are doubtless hoping to establish bases in the remote and mostly Muslim north near the borders of Burkina Faso, Niger and Northern Nigeria. Please pray for Benin.
Please pray urgently that our merciful God will… heal, protect and intervene. ‘The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5:16b)
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate for the persecuted church. To support this ministry visit www.ElizabethKendal.com.
Elizabeth has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). She is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.