BBC reports that there was another terrible massacre in Central Mali in the village of Sobame Da, situated in the Mopti region. There has been an ongoing tension between the Dogon hunters and the Fulani herders. This attack appears to be the Fulani who came and surrounded the village of Sabame Da, heavily armed, and killed everyone who tried to escape. One survivor who witnessed the attack, said that they spared no one, including women, children and elderly.
Please pray fervently for this country, for the people of this country. The violence is getting worse and worse. Many Christians have been killed.
Pastor Christophe Dembele, our representative of Praise International, will send me more detailed information tomorrow, so I will write more.
APRIL 9, 2018 UPDATE:
A Chrstian Mission reported the following in their newsletter:
Militant Muslim Fulani herdsmen are continuing to target Christian individuals and families throughout Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
These militants will stop at nothing.
Our partners have shared that as Fulani extremists fight and take over land through violent means, they believe their radicalized version of Islam gives them every right to take possession of everything in their path.
And the attacks have been brutal with thousands of Christians killed and whole villages burned…and more lives of believers in Nigeria are at risk.
A word about Ebola from Pastor Joseph Oulai, Praise Director of West Africa:
On TV they said that one person had died in Biankouma, a town after Man, due to Ebola. [Editor’s Note: Man is the name of a large town near Dakoupleu, where Joseph and his family live. It is a region where Praise International sponsors many national pastors.] The person who died of Ebola was entering Cote d’Ivoire from Guinea, but the disease was contained.
In Cote d’Ivoire, it is a pressure of fear for some people. However, for most Christians, they are leaning on Psalms 91 “A thousand May Fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes.” This faith animates many Christian and they feel confident.
Here in Abidjan, there is more fear than harm. God is watching over us. The only thing affected, is the decline in personal greetings and hugging.
In Guinea, it’s worse. Any encounter with people is difficult. Even at the worship services on Sunday, the Guinean believers feel threatened because they are afraid of contamination.
Nevertheless, God has a solution. He is our only hope.
The AGEMPEM, an association that brings together all the evangelical churches and missions in Mali, had an emergency meeting to discuss the extremely disasterous situation in the North Mali. A special crisis commitee was appointed to deal with this situation. They made an official statement in French that I want to summarize in English.
Horrendous crimes are being committed against the population: searching out Christians, maccacres, rapes, enforcing the shariah law, etc. All the churches in Gao and Timbuktu have been destroyed. All the Believers are trying to flee to southern Mali, abandonning all their belongings.
The commitee is making an appeal for Christians everywhere to join together in solidarity behind those who are suffering and to help in any way possible. The churches in the regions of Gao and Timbuktu are filled hunbreds with refugees, from little children to the elderly, who seriously need our help. There is a great need of funds, of grain, of clothing. The AGEMPEM says that all gifts may be addressed to the commitee treasurer, Jean Pierre Doumbia, whose telephone number in Mali is (223) 220.127.116.11 , or to the assistant treasure, Emmanuel Keita (223) 18.104.22.168. The AGEPPEM Crisis Commitee will handle the funds and will provide periodic financial reports for those who give.
For those who would prefer to give through the auspices of Praise International, please write me a message. I need to speak with our leaders in West Africa and see how Praise would handle this.
The committee closes the letter with Matthew 25:35-36, where Jesus asks us to show compassion to the hurting, for in so doing we are doing it unto Him, “I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
Please make the serious situation in Mali a priority in your prayers and consider how you can help.
Last Friday was Christmas for many Orthodox believers. It is also Christmas for the Coptic believers. The Coptic Faith has a long and rich history. It originated in Egypt, in fact, Alexandria might be considered the place of origin. They were Egyptians. Though they have a closer tie to the Orthodox church, there are also Coptic Catholic Churches and even Coptic Protestant Churches. The Copts represent an estimated 10-20% of the Egyptian population. The Coptic Church has expanded into other cities in the Middle East, representing the largest body of Christians in the Middle East. There are even Coptic Churches in many other African countries.
On New Year’s Day a bomb exploded outside a Coptic Church in Alexandra, killing 23 Copts. The killing of these Coptic believers put a damper upon their celebration of Christmas. Though Muslim extremists are blamed for this bomb, Muslims all over Egypt have expressed their disgust with this brutal attack. Thousands have shown great sympathy and compassion for the families of the Copts killed in this attack. As a demonstration of goodwill, thousands of Muslims even attended the Coptic Christmas celebration on January 6 and 7. In fact, some very famous Muslim intellectuals, actors and clergy also joined the Copts.
This killing symbolically represents the sad state of affairs in the world in regards to the freedom and tolerance of religions. I realize that this is a delicate subject. The freedom and tolerance of religion has most often been nice words but in reality non-existent. The so-called “religious wars” give this principle of respect for each other’s religious a bad name, to say the very least. Most often the assaults upon this principle came from religious extremists. It is frequently more about political power than about religion.
It’s not hard to think of examples: Outrageous and unimaginable were the massacre of Christians in Roman Coliseums and the massacre of the Huguenot Christians in France. We have all heard the horrendous stories of the Jewish Holocaust. Many of us are acquainted with religious persecution of protestant pastors and believers during the tyranny of such country leaders as Nicolae Çeauçescu. Most of us will never forget the tragic killing of the five missionaries on the shore of the Curaray River in Equator by the Auca Indians (the Waodani people). The list goes on and on and on.
The national pastors whom Praise International sponsors deal with many forms of religious discrimination. Be it in Africa, India or the Philippines, etc. The discrimination against our Praise pastors comes no where close to the above-mentioned atrocities, but it is still very real. Having worked often with a great number of pastors in Eastern Europe, I know that protestant churches have experienced religious oppression and persecution, mostly from national régimes, frequently by creating subtle and less subtle laws that obstruct the growth of the protestant church and punish its adherents in some ways. I have been saddened deeply, spending time with many Romanian pastors who experienced first-hand the cruel years of Çeauçescu, listening to their stories of persecution and survival.
Romanian Pastor Richard Wurmbrand survived years of torture and imprisonment during the Çeauçescu years. After his release, Wurmbrand founded the Voice of Martyrs, a well-known ministry whose mission is to help pastors, serving in countries where they suffer severe religious persecution. Open Doors is a ministry that has a similar passion.
Praise International has partnered with Romanian Pastor Ion Vasile, supporting and facilitating the ministries of several Romanian pastors. Pastor Vasile and his family are very dear friends of mine. In spite Romanian laws meant to stifle the expansion of protestant churches, he has personally planted several churches and through discipling aspiring young Bible school students, training them, challenging and coaching them and his supervision of them, many other evangelical protestant churches have been planted in eastern Romania.
Please pray for Pastor Ion Vasile, for his family, for the many pastors whom he oversees, for the Romanian Christians in these churches and for the spiritual needs of this entire country. Pray also for pastors and Christians all over the world are being persecuted.