July 30, 2013 by Open Doors

Somali Extremists Step Up Attack

Somali and international leaders condemned the July 27 suicide attack at a compound housing Turkish embassy staff in the Hodan district of Mogadishu that killed a Turkish guard and a Somali bystander while wounding others. Somali rebel group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in which a car laden with explosives crashed into the gates of the Turkish residence. Three al-Shabaab militants, including the car bomber, were also killed. Just prior to the attack, al-Shabaab promised in a series of Twitter messages to step up what they called their “Ramadan Offensive” in the second half of the Muslim month of fasting that ends Aug. 7. “Ramadan is a month of Jihad and sacrifice. It’s time for observing the most righteous deeds & offering gratitude to Allah for His blessings,” one message said. “And what better way to observe Ramadan and offer gratitude to Allah than striking the necks of the invaders and destroying their might!” The group said in the first half of the fast its fighters carried out over 100 attacks, mostly in and around the capital Mogadishu. These allegedly included 57 explosions and grenade attacks, 41 direct confrontations and ambushes, nine targeted assassinations and a suicide attack against an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Mogadishu on July 12 in which they claim to have wounded American intelligence officials.

“Please remember to pray for the handful of secret Christians in Somalia,” said an Open Doors worker. “Although al-Shabaab threatens the society in general, these secret Christians are at particular risk. During Ramadan they face additional pressures not only from al-Shabaab but from the society in general as zealous Muslims spy on neighbors to see what level of participation they have to the Ramadan fast. Being suspected of leaving the Islamic fold has dire consequences. It is our prayer that in the midst of these challenges, God will be at work in the lives of Somali people and that many will come to Him in faith. We pray that God will establish in Somalia a strong and vibrant testimony for Him.”

After 12 years, Turkey Closes Door on American Church Volunteer — From World Watch Monitor

After 12 years serving a church in Diyarbakir, Turkey voluntarily and peacefully, Jerry Mattix suddenly is on the country’s blacklist. In the past two years, the Mattix family and at least six other foreign-born families have either been deported from Turkey or denied renewals of their residency permits. “Sadly, this is not just a personal vendetta on the part of the government,” Mattix said. “Several other Christian workers in our region and connected to our church have been forced to leave in the last year.”  Diyarbakir is near the epicentre of on-going clashes between Turkish military and Kurdish rebels, and not far from Turkey’s border with Syria, over which thousands of Syrian refugees have fled, overwhelming local authorities. These issues have made the region politically sensitive for Turkey’s ruling AK Party, which is trying to marry democratic principles with modern Islam. For their part, churches in southeastern Turkey say they’ve been deprived of their right to obtain help and support from foreigners. “There is a discomfort with foreign Christians here, and slowly they will clean them out,” said Ahmet Guvener, pastor of the Diyarbakir Protestant Church, where Mattix had been a volunteer. “In the end the churches in the east will become weak and scattered, because there are no mature Christian workers among us.”

(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected]).

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