Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Afghanistan: Taliban Terrorists Kill Aid Workers
Three armed Taliban insurgents swept into a Kabul guesthouse last Friday, murdering three South Africans and two Afghans in the compound of an international aid agency in the Afghan capital, according to World Watch Monitor.
Werner Groenewald and his two teenage children were murdered in the guesthouse where they lived in Kabul’s western Karte Seh district, along with an Afghan employee of their small aid organization, Partnership in Academics and Development (PAD). Another Afghan man visiting the compound at the time was also killed.
Dr. Hannelie Groenewald, the wife and mother of the South African victims, returned home late that Saturday afternoon from her work at a medical clinic to find her family’s bullet-ridden bodies being loaded onto ambulances.
The attackers had set the house ablaze, leaving her with only the clothes she was wearing and destroying all the family’s documents and other possessions.
Groenewald was the local director of PAD’s educational projects in Afghanistan. A former pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church, he and his family had lived in Afghanistan since August 2003.
The Afghan constitution does not recognize the existence of Afghan Christians and they are not protected. Open Doors notes that within Afghanistan, ranked No. 5 on the 2014 World Watch List, there are individual followers of Christ and small groups of believers, but no organized church.
Syria: Open Doors Helping 9,000 Families a Month
The situation in Syria, ranked No. 3 on the World Watch List, continues to change, but there is still the reality of extreme violence and displacement. The latest United Nations figure shows that 3.25 million Syrians are refugees in the surrounding countries. Non-official figures are higher. More than 6 million Syrians are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Estimates of Open Doors, based on contacts with church leaders inside Syria, are about 40 percent of the Christians have left Syria since the start of the civil war over three years ago. Depending on where new battles are taking place, new waves of refugees are reported.
The United Nations recently announced it is reducing food support to the refugees and displaced because of lack of contributions of donors and donor countries.
Open Doors is working with partners inside Syria to provide food packages, shelter, medicine, blankets, trauma counseling training and training Syrian Christian leaders in leadership and relief work. Open Doors reports it is partnering with churches and other Christian organizations to help 9,000 families each month.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is also going out. An Open Doors worker in Syria says: “We hear church leaders saying that the churches are not empty. New people are coming to church, interested in the gospel and comforted by the message. We hear of people coming to Christ.”
Kenya: Al-Shabaab Continues Violent Attacks on Christians
Suspected Al-Shabaab militants killed 36 quarry workers in a village 10 miles from the town of Mandera in northeastern Kenya on the Somalian border on Tuesday. According to reports, the attackers separated the Muslims from among the workers and then killed the Christians.
A man who visited the scene of the attack told the BBC some of the victims appear to have been lined up and shot in the head at close range. An Open Doors contact in the region says an unknown number of workers also have been abducted.
The atmosphere in the area remains extremely tense. “There has been lots of gunfire near the Kenya-Somalian border so we cannot venture out just yet…please pray for us,” said a Christian in the area. “We are fervently praying that some of the workers fled into the surrounding bushes and will make their way back to Mandera. The stone quarries had about 200 workers. These are people we know and it is very painful. May God help the survivors get back to us.”
The quarry attack follows an incident on Monday when attackers hurled grenades into a social club frequented by government officials in Wajir, a town not far from Mandera. Al-Shabaab also attacked a bus in the Mandera area last week in which 28 non-Muslims were separated from other passengers and killed.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.