04 22 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
North Africa: Satellite TV Impacting Thousands for Christ
In North Africa, one of the ways thousands are coming to Christ is through satellite television.
“If I would go and preach the gospel on the streets one to one, I would reach a single person. Now working with television I enter the living rooms and sleeping rooms of hundreds of thousands of people,” a Christian television programmer says.
The work in the studio, the editing of the films and the follow up work is supported by Open Doors.
“Many Christians watch Christian TV as it isn’t always possible for them to come to church or Bible study groups,” the coordinator of the work of Open Doors in North Africa explains. “The programs strengthen the believers.”
One of the church leaders in North Africa agrees: “Sometimes we see people not coming to church. For example, women are kept prisoners (out of fear) in their homes because they are Christians. With television, we can reach them and they continue to grow. I also know several farmers. Because they live far from the church, they can’t go to the service regularly, but they can watch the programs on television.”
All the Christian programs display a telephone number for the viewers to call for more information.
“Last month, I had more than 1,000 calls,” Labib (his real name is protected for security reasons) shares. “We always have at least 700 calls a month.”
Labib is the first contact for the programs which are aired in several North African countries.
“Sometimes it’s just a bleep; a sign the caller wants me to call him back. Others call and are very straightforward, ‘I want to become a Christian, how can I do that?’ Last month I had 13 persons like this. These callers normally already have given their lives to Christ after watching the TV programs.”
He has a wide variety of callers. “Of course, also some callers criticize me, or even shout and curse me. Others want to discuss the Islam and Christian faith. But most want to know more about the Bible and about Jesus. When I talk to them, I ask where they live. When I feel comfortable with the caller, I connect them with a follow-up worker of one of the churches in the country.”
When a woman calls, Labib connects her with a female follow-up worker. “Sometimes the people ask for prayer. Regularly, for example, we pray for married women that want to become pregnant. It happened several times that after the prayer the women became pregnant. We had couples calling us when entering the maternity ward for delivery, saying that our prayer was heard. I once was called by a couple that said they had named their son after me.”
From all over North Africa there are encouraging statistics about people finding new life in Christ after watching Christian television and being connected with a follow-up team. Recently Mustapha Krim, president of the Protestant church in Algeria, said: “About 70 to 80 percent of the Christians in the Algerian Protestant churches came through Christian television.”
Nigeria: Prayers Urged for Comfort for Families of Missing Girls
The Christian enclave of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria has been thrown into mourning over the abduction of girls from a secondary school last week. “Almost every family had a student in the school. Cries of parents could be heard all over the town as they prayed for God’s intervention in their tragic circumstances,” reports Open Doors workers in Nigeria.
Gunmen suspected to be members of the terrorist group Boko Haram swooped into Chibok at 10 p.m. on April 14 in seven vans. Some of the attackers set government and other buildings ablaze, while others went to the senior secondary school where they overpowered the security guards before forcing the students into busses and a truck.
Some of the girls, between the ages of 16 and 20, belong to various churches in the area. Although State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, declared that 77 girls are missing after 52 had been accounted for, the head teacher at the school, Asabe Kwambura, said the figure is much higher. He said parents reported 230 girls missing with 40 having escaped since the abduction.
The federal government has challenged Borno security agents to do everything possible to rescue these girls. Governor Shettima has offered a reward of $50,000 for information leading to the rescue of the girls.
The zonal chairman of the northeastern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Shuaibu Byal, has urged the federal government and security agents to intensify efforts to rescue the remaining abducted secondary school girls.
“I am not sure of what our daughters are passing through. Please help us to pray and seek the face of the Lord over this situation and that the good Lord will reunite us with our beloved children,” elder Emma in Chibok said when speaking with Open Doors following the abductions.
The kidnappings are believed to have been carried out by Nigeria’s Islamic rebels, known as Boko Haram. The group is violently campaigning to establish an Islamic Sharia state in Nigeria. Boko Haram has been abducting some girls and young women in attacks on schools, villages and towns, but last week’s mass kidnapping is unprecedented. The extremists use the young women as porters, cooks and sex slaves, according to Nigerian officials.
Syria: Situation in Aleppo Deteriorates
“The situation is not good in Aleppo,” one of Open Doors’ contacts in war-torn Syria said during the Easter weekend. “I am not in Aleppo now because I cannot return there because of the situation. I am so worried about the people there. There is no way for me to go back now. Could you please pray with me? Thank you for your support and concern.”
On Easter Sunday dozens of people were killed in air strikes in the northern city of Aleppo, according to news reports. Gun battles, shelling and air strikes continue daily and the weekly death toll from the conflict regularly exceeds 1,000. The civil war has reportedly resulted in over 150,000 deaths.
(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Open Doors USA website is www.OpenDoorsUSA.org)