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06 17 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church

June 18, 2014 by Open Doors in

Open Doors USA: Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church


(Published every Tuesday & Thursday)


June 17, 2014


Kenya: Violent Attack on Christian Majority Town   

On Sunday, gunmen attacked the Christian majority town of Mpekitoni in Lamu county. After hijacking vechiles from the nearby town, they raided the Mpekitoni police station before attacking the town.

Witnesses told media they could hear gunfire and had seen multiple bodies in the street. The attack sent locals fleeing into the forest.

Local Open Doors staff says that two vans full of militia attacked the main police station, disabled communication, took guns, overran the police and then moved on into the town shooting and killing all they found walking around.


“They torched building including banks, hotels and gas stations,” shares an Open Doors staff member. “They then went to nearby homes, and pulled out men and killed them. They left the women and children unharmed, but burnt down their houses.”


The attack began at 8:30 and lasted about five hours. Open Doors contacts in Mpekitoni spent the night in the Bush, but were in touch with local staff throughout the night. Almost all Christians fled into the surrounding forests and spent the night there with their families. Pastors now have to see if all their members are accounted for. The Open Doors contacts say many are traumatized.


The Mpeketoni population is about 90% Christian, surrounded by various Somali ethnic (Muslim) communities such as the Orma and Borana.


Iraq: Violence Against Christians Continues 

Last week, over 500,000 people fled Mosul due to its seizure by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an Iraq and Syria-based Sunni Muslim extremist group. The few remaining Christians continue to face increasing attacks in Mosul.

Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq and former home to a significant number of Assyrian Christians. Many of the Christians are fleeing Mosul to Kurdistan, an autonomous northern part of Iraq and considered a safer place.

“The Islamist terrorists want to make Iraq a ‘Muslim only’ nation and as a result they want all Christians out,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry. “The ongoing attacks are forcing hundreds of Christians to leave the country.”

In the past 10 years, Iraqi Christians have faced kidnappings, threats and even death for their faith. Thus far, the government has not been able to provide security for these Christians.

An Open Doors representative for Iraq says that some of the Christians have found temporary shelter, but is worried that there will soon be no Christians left in Iraq due to the violence.

“In 2003 the Christian population in Iraq was estimated at over 1 million,” the Open Doors represenative states. “Today, Open Doors places the number now at around 330,000.”

Iraq is ranked No. 4 of 50 countries on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.

The Open Doors ministry in Iraq includes trauma support, biblical training for church leaders and Muslim Background Believers, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, community development projects and working with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kurdistan.


Indonesian Catholic and Protestant Groups Attacked by Islamists– World Watch Monitor  


Two church group attacks within 3 days of each other in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, have caused concern ahead of Presidential elections in July. They both occurred in Yogyakarta province’s Sleman regency; the province is in the central region of Java, the country’s most populous island.


During the first incident on May 29, over a dozen armed people in white robes attacked members of Santo Francis Agung Banteng Church while they were holding a prayer gathering in a member’s house. Julius Felicianus, the house owner, was not present during the incident; he rushed home right after his son texted him about the assault.


As he tried talking to the mob, eight people started to beat him, severely injuring him in the head and back. A few other members were assaulted, including an eight-year-old girl who was given an electric shock. Apart from the worshippers, Julius’ neighbour, a reporter from national media Kompas TV, was also beaten up, as he arrived to try to film the raid. Over the next few days, the police arrested three of the assailants, who are allegedly linked to the Islam Defenders Front.


Various assumptions were made about the main motives for the attack. Some were associated with the upcoming Presidential election in July; Julius is apparently an active campaigner of one of the two presidential candidates, the popular Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. In contrast, Yogyakarta Police spokeswoman Adj. Sr. Comr. Anny Pujiastuti stated that the attack was driven by the group’s objections to the religious activity conducted in Julius’ house. As a result, National Police Chief General Sutarman urged the public not to organize collective worship in private residences in order to avoid further acts of violence, as cited by the Jakarta Post.


Only three days after this attack, another incident took place; this time against the Pentecostal Church in Indonesia GPDI El Shaddai in Pangukan village, Sleman Regency. During Sunday Service, a mob of unidentified people barged through the church doors. Police officers came and prevented the violence from escalating. As the congregation left the church, the mob began to calm down. However, several hours later, the assailants returned in greater number and attacked the church with stones. The church building and the house of Nico Lomboan, the lead pastor of the church, were damaged as a result. No one was hurt in the incident.

According to Pastor Agus Haryanto, Chairman of the Inter-Church Cooperation of Sleman, GPDI El Shaddai was established in 1992. In 2011, the church of 100 worshippers tried to build a new and bigger building. In order to gain a place of worship permit, a church has to meet the main requirements of having at least 90 congregation members and gain the consent of 60 neighbours of different faiths. While the first requirement on membership was met, GPDI El Shaddai stumbled upon the second. “For years, the church had failed to obtain the local community’s support. Growth in building size is commonly associated with growth in congregation number. People held an unspoken suspicion and fear that the church was converting the locals into Christians,” Pastor Haryanto told World Watch Monitor. Despite the absence of a permit, construction went on until the building reached near completion.

In 2012, the local administration sealed the church due to local protests. A village hall was provided for the church as a temporary worship venue. After using the facility for a while, the congregation rented a hotel hall to conduct their Sunday Service.

The church attempted a couple of times to move back to their new premises. The first try was at Christmas 2013, followed by this second attempt on June 1. Both ended in mass protests.


“The recent violence, however, was committed not by Pangukan villagers but by outsiders,” said Pastor Arief Arianto, leader of the Indonesian Bethel Church located just 50 m away from GPDI El Shaddai.

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