Nigeria: Church Closes after Recent Attacks
The St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Mandera, Nigeria, has closed down after the congregation lost 11 members in two recent al-Shabaab attacks on non-Muslims in Mandera. Non-locals are fleeing the area in large numbers.
Talking to Open Doors over the phone, Elijah Kinyua says his St. Andrew’s Anglican Church lost nine members in the quarry massacre on Dec. 2 while two died in an attack on the Makkah Travelers bus on Nov. 23. He says most of the surviving members have either fled Mandera or have joined other non-Muslims in seeking refuge at the Kenya Defense Forces camp.
“We have closed the church. We (the church leadership) will decide later on whether or not to reopen. But for now things are not good on the ground,” he reports.
The church closure comes at a time when most non-Muslim professionals are seeking transfers to other “safer” areas. They are leaving despite promised protection from the government.
“It was heartbreaking for me to hear the raw pain in Elijah’s voice,” says Hadassah*, a local Open Doors worker. “His heart is so heavy. He is feeling deep, deep pain and loss. We imagine that this is the general feeling in Mandera for all the non- Muslims.”
Central Asia: Convert to Christianity Finally Baptized
Totally disillusioned by Islam, Yassar* had a dream where Jesus, a man clothed in white, appeared Himself. This spiritual experience was so real to him that he made every effort to obtain a Bible so he might learn more about Jesus.
Upon reading the Bible, he was touched by the message of love and the manner and tone in which it was written. To him, the god of the Koran was a violent and loveless deity. Upon reading the gospels, he became convinced that he needed to be baptized into the family of Jesus. But Yassar lived in a Central Asian country where converts to Christianity can be tortured or killed if they don’t recant their newfound faith in Jesus Christ.
Later, he took a job in a neighboring country, and by the grace of God, he met another ex-pat believer who introduced him to an Open Doors co-worker. All of this took place in utmost secrecy as he was afraid of being exposed and deported.
He knew that his home country would also be informed of his conversion. After a few meetings and fellowship with a small group of believers, Yassar was finally baptized after two years of longing to confirm his faith in Jesus Christ.
Yassar would love to take his faith back to his homeland, but he awaiting God’s instructions for the right timing.
Egypt: Christian Faces Long Prison Sentence
The first Egyptian citizen to attempt to change his legal religious identity from Muslim to Christian, Mohammed Hegazy, has been in jail for a year, awaiting a verdict on separate misdemeanor charges, due on Dec. 28.
Hegazy faces a five-year prison sentence if an appeal court upholds his conviction last June when he was ruled guilty of “illegally filming anti-Christian demonstrations” in Upper Egypt’s Minya governate.
But his lawyer, Karam Ghobrial, told World Watch Monitor that he is “optimistic” that the appeal court judge will overturn the conviction, simply because no evidence was produced to prove the allegations against his client.
Ghobrial contends that the real reason Hegazy was arrested and then kept in custody on minor charges is because he is publicly known for the case he tried to open in 2007 to legalize his conversion to Christianity.
Now 31-years-old, Hegazy converted to Christianity as a teenager, when he took the Christian name Bishoy Armiya Boulos. After his marriage to another convert from Islam, he applied for legal Christian identity in August 2007. He has since sent his wife and children to claim asylum in Europe.
* Real names protected due to security concerns
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.