01 16 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Iraq: A Christian Girl Faces Daily Hardships
They love their Lord just like we do. Go to school or to work. Have their doubts and dreams. Christian young people in Iraq are just like youth who live in the West. But the price they have to pay for their faith is high. How is day to day life for them? This is the story of Raja*, who is a refugee in her own country:
“Mosul is no more than an hour away from here, but I’ve never been back. When my mother and brother went back for two days to handle some administration work, they nearly got were killed by a car bomb. It’s just too dangerous there. I saw a lot of people around me being killed. Like the Christian who we bought candy across the street from our school. One day he was there, the next day he was killed. Now I’m living in a more peaceful city, but I still have to watch my steps.
“I like dancing. I took dance classes when I was abroad. When I’m in a taxi to go to church and the taxi driver turns on the music, I want to dance with the music. But I don’t – I fold my hands over my knees and look out of the window. I’m too afraid the taxi driver might see me dance. I have been intimidated several times and I don’t want to provoke anything. Being a Christian girl in Iraq makes me very vulnerable. Many young Christian women in Iraq get harassed and I don’t want to be the next victim. I always have the feeling that people looking at me because I’m not wearing the covered clothes like Muslims. So I always try not to provoke. When they told us to veil at the university, I did. Recently female students that didn’t veil themselves had acid thrown in their face. Outside the house I’m never free to do what I want.
“Church services are always in the evening here. Sunday is a normal working day for a lot of people, so we never have church services in the morning. I know most of the people in my church; many of them are from my congregation in Mosul. I sometimes think of the priest that baptized me; he was kidnapped just before we fled to this place. It was so awful when we found him dead in the gutter. The extremists did horrible things to him because he didn’t deny Jesus. It made me so afraid. Every day I cried. It made a big impression on my faith life. I started thinking if I was actually ready to die for my faith like my priest did. I have to be honest; at first I wasn’t that brave. I thought: I’ll just say I converted to Islam, but stay a Christian in my heart. But with the thought of the sacrifice of our priest in the back of my head, I started realizing that I never want to deny my faith The pain of death only lasts for a minute. After that I will be with my savior forever.”
*Raja is not her real name
Nigeria: Christians under Attack Again
Open Doors (OD) workers in Nigeria have asked us to raise prayer for families affected by recent violence in Africa’s most populous nation.
Around 9 a.m. on Jan. 6, unknown gunmen surrounded and stormed the Christian village of the Riyom local government area shouting “Alahu Akubar.” They attacked believers with sophisticated weapons and killed 33, including women and children. The attackers burned several homes. The deceased were given a mass burial the next day, but many whose bodies were burnt beyond recognition remained unidentified. The injured were taken to different hospitals around Jos – many with machete wounds. The violence sent residents, mostly women and children, fleeing from the village. Although it has been widely reported that Muslim Fulani herdsmen are responsible for the attack, local Christians suspect that it was done by Boko Haram “in the name of Fulani herdsmen.” A senior politician who remains anonymous for security reasons confirmed to OD these suspicions. Local team members are investigating.
Believers in the Kaura local government area of Kaduna suffered a similar fate when unknown gunmen attacked their village. The exact date and time of the attack is unknown at this stage, but Open Doors knows that 10 villagers were killed and hundreds of families fled.
In another, more recent development, OD learned that suspected Boko Haram members abducted a Baptist pastor, whose name is withheld for security reasons, from his home in Gwoza last Friday. All efforts by the family to discover his whereabouts have proven fruitless. No further details are available at this stage, but the local OD team is investigating.
“Keep praying for us and the church in Nigeria,” wrote Isaac, an OD researcher.
Pray for God’s comfort to the bereaved and traumatized families from Riyom and Kaura.
Pray ay that police will be able to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Pray for the safe release of the Baptist pastor from Gwoza. Pray for God’s grace to his family as they anxiously await news of his welfare and whereabouts.