01 22 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Central African Republic: Life Interrupted for Pastor
Since the arrival of the Seleka (Muslim rebel extremists) in Bangui, Central African Republic, Pastor Obona* has been maintaining a low profile. Well-known in his district because of his pastoral activities and the planting of churches, Seleka had him in focus as soon as they arrived in his district.
“Some brothers warned me,” he states. “They said, ‘be careful, pastor, they are looking for you. Hide yourself and your family!’ My wife and children left first. When I left the house it was 7 p.m. and the Seleka were already arriving! As I left, we passed each other. Fortunately, by the grace of God, I was able to slip through the net under His protection.”
But the flight came at great cost with one of their children not surviving the stress. “We had taken in an orphan who was nearly 15 years old. This boy was unable to cope with the situation. He fell ill and died.”
The rebels plundered Obona’s house and then occupied it. “A well-intentioned imam told them that it was the house of a servant of God and that they would be cursed if they didn’t leave. They must have been afraid, because they left.”
However, until security is restored, Obona does not dare take his family back to their home. In the lingering insecurity, their family life has been completely disrupted.
“My family has been scattered,” he says. “My wife and I live at another pastor’s house with our youngest son. Our other children have been scattered amongst other pastors.”
When Open Doors team members visited, they went to his house. It was the first time in six months that he had returned. He says: “It is your visit that has given me the courage to return to see my house. It is a complete disaster! Everything has been plundered. There is nothing left. They even took my children’s school things. I also kept the church’s musical instruments at my house. Everything was taken.”
Obona does not doubt for a moment that the rebels targeted him because of his pastoral ministry. “We have planted churches in Bangui and its area. Around here everyone knows me. The rebels have been looking for me because I planted these churches, especially the one in their stronghold.”
But despite the danger, he has discreetly started his pastoral activities again in an effort to bring comfort to the countless people whose lives have been disrupted like his. “Please pray for us, he says. “Pray for the liberation of the country, for the believers who are discouraged and for my family to be together again.”
*Obona is not his real name
Arabian Peninsula: Christian Faces Threatening Situation
Over a year ago Abbudin* had a dream in which Jesus appeared to him and promised; “come to me and I will give you rest.” With this promise in mind, the young man, who is in his twenties, started searching, communicated with Christians and gave his life to the Lord. He obtained a Bible and grew in his faith. When his Bible was found one day, several of his family members attacked him.
Abbudin’s father is an influential man in his society. When he found out about his son’s new-found faith, he forced him at gunpoint to say the shahada, the Islamic creed, so he would become a Muslim again.
For months Abuddin was controlled by his family, but slowly he gained some freedom. The believer felt terrible about having denied Jesus and his faith in Him. In contact with a Christian, Abbudin told him that his intention is to never deny his faith for a second time, not even at gunpoint.
Recently, when his family found out that he had not truly denied Jesus, but secretly still believed in Him, the family clamped down on his freedom again. Earlier this month the situation turned grim for Abbudin. Friends and family have sent him emails with videos of beheadings and other cruelties. Open Doors received these videos as well, but they are simply too horrible to share. The family recently expressed determination to “solve” this matter of shame for the family.
Will you please pray for Abbudin over the next few days?
- Pray for wisdom for Abbudin and for protection for his life.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will give him courage and the right words when he is asked about his faith in Jesus.
- Please pray for those Christians who are (were) in touch with him. Pray that contact will still be possible and that the Lord grants wisdom in what else can be done for him.
Open Doors cannot be specific about his country, but combined under the “Arabian Peninsula” are the countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
*Abbudin is not his real name