Open Doors USA: Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
(Published every Tuesday & Thursday)
July 22, 2014
Nigeria: Terrorists Kill 27, Burn Three Churches
Gunmen suspected to be members of an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria stormed the Christian-dominated village of Dille in southern Borno State, Nigeria on July 14 and opened fire on residents. They set three churches on fire, including the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), along with shops and homes.
Displaced residents said the heavily-armed attackers who used IEDs, anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled launchers came from the Sambisa forest area where an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria is thought to be keeping at least some of the more than 200 girls they abducted in April. Open Doors staff in northern Nigeria report that at least 27 people died. The attack sent people fleeing to Lassa and Chibok.
The attack came only days after Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar, said in an interview with Voice of America that security forces have been doing their best to contain the security situation. He sharply denied accusations that some security officers have been providing intelligence information to the militants; enabling an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria members to evade arrests and attempts by security forces to protect lives and property.
He pointed to recent arrests of people connected to the militants in Borno, Adamawa and Lagos states as evidence of the security agencies’ hard work to combat the terrorism the country faces. Abubakar said the arrests enabled the security agencies to gather intelligence as well as recover arms and ammunition available to the militants that could have been used to launch even more attacks.
Please pray for God’s grace for the many Christians who are trying to deal with the effects of violent attacks in Borno and elsewhere. Pray that there will be greater success for the government in its efforts to protect civilians and that they would receive appropriate and effective help from the international community.
Iraq: Rape of Christian Girls Huge Problem
Every year, hundreds of Christian girls are raped by extremist Muslim men in Iraq. Every one of the girls is afraid that the event will become public. Incredibly, some of these girls are forced into marrying their rapists; others feel so broken and hopeless they find their only solution in committing suicide.
Open Doors field worker Jane* explains that the rape of Christian women in Iraq is part of a bigger picture.
“Every violent act against women fits into the framework of the persecution situation here,” she shares.
Amala* is but one of many Christian victims in Iraq. When Amala went to study, she was careful, recognizing the dangers of being a Christian woman. She took measures to protect herself, but her precautions were not enough. Towards the end of her education, when Amala was already engaged to be married, one of the men involved in her studies told her that his wife suspected him of having a relationship with Amala.
She knew and trusted the man and agreed to visit his house in order to explain things to his wife. What happened after Amala arrived at the man’s house changed her life in an instant: Amala was raped.
Christian girls such as Amala are struggling with what has happened to them. Open Doors has been and will continue to train more and more lay trauma counselors in Iraq. The hope is that every “Amala” may eventually have someone close to her who will help her recognize and cope with trauma, and who will help her find hope again.
Egypt: Village Mothers Learn about Teenage Generation Gap
If there’s any place the proverbial “generation gap” between parents and their children seems particularly difficult to resolve, rural Upper Egypt may top the list.
Imagine for a moment the dilemma of an illiterate Christian mother raising her teenage girl in the
village where she herself grew up, just a few decades ago. In contrast to her mother, the daughter was fortunate enough to be allowed by her family to go to the village’s public school and can read and write; she also has a more expanded worldview through the rare opportunities she gets when she is given space and time to sit at the church’s computer and surf the internet. There are helpful books and media programs in Arabic to help Christian parents in developing influential relationships with their children, but this simple mother has no way to access them.
How is such an uneducated parent able to learn how to relate and communicate with her daughter, who easily becomes rebellious when her mother tries to guide her relationships and activities? In worst-case scenarios, when mothers fail to build trust with their daughters, the relationship is disconnected so in some cases teenage girls actually run away from home, lured by the illusion of falling in love with Muslim neighbor boys.
For their part, sons can easily link up with the wrong friends in the neighborhood, cutting ties with their parents and getting involved in violence and crime. Even in better situations, the children in these rural families often grow up with hurts and emotional scars. This can result in an estrangement caused by their random upbringing based only on folk knowledge and inherited traditions and customs, rather than biblical principles.
Since the Women’s Ministry was newly started in one of the southern Egyptians cities six months ago, it has helped 1,000 rural Christian women between the ages of 20-45 years old to become better mothers who can bring up their children in the fear of God. Recently, 150 women attended a one-day conference to learn more about how to deal with their teenage children, and how to pray with and for them. They learned about this phase in their children’s life to better understand their physical, mental and psychological development needs, along with practical tips to encourage a healthy relationship with them.
“I learned the importance of encouragement and love, rather than punishment and yelling all the time. I will surely try this,” said Om Romani,* the mother of two teenage children.
When the Women’s Ministry in that city was first starting, many of the women were overwhelmed with their work at home and in the fields or markets. They felt that they had no time or energy for any more obligations. However, as they started to experience the difference the teaching was making in their homes, they began to realize that attending these one-day seminars was the best use of their time.
“We need more of such important teachings that are new to our community to deal with the new challenges and dangers that are facing our families,” said a local pastor in one of the villages.
The Women’s Ministry aims at building up the mothers spiritually to influence and lead as well as give them basics of child development and best practices for raising children.
*Not their real names due to security concerns