August 8, 2013 by Open Doors

Central African Republic Church Leader Arrested

Christians in Central African Republic have been shocked by the “violent” arrest on Tuesday of the President of the Evangelical Alliance of Central African Republic (CAR), Pastor Nicolas Grekoyame Gbangouon. Sources, who cannot be named for security reasons, told Open Doors the arrest was ordered by the acting president Michiel Djotodia through the Attorney General. It is not clear where he is being held or what the conditions are, but Open Doors expects him to endure harsh treatment. Local Christians say the arrest came as a result of a July 2013 interview the pastor did with a local publication called the “Democrate” in which he blamed the government and key government officials for the continuing violence in the country. Pastor Nicolas in the interview compared current woes in CAR to those of the colonial and slave trade eras and refuted claims by some government officials and Islamic clergy that security has improved in recent weeks. Pastor Nicolas said civilians continue to suffer robbery, rape and murder at the hand of Seleka soldiers. Sources told Open Doors that these events indicate that Christians in CAR now face open persecution. They expressed grave concern over information that Seleka soldiers have been distributing arms to Muslims living around the area of the capital city of Bangui. The sources told Open Doors that Christians remain determined to respond to these dangers in a biblical way, and asked Christians around the world to pray for them. 

Growing Instability Prompts Prayer Requests for Somalia

Open Doors is asking believers in the West to keep praying for Somalia. After the many years of anarchy, elections in September last year paved the way for greater stability and growth in the Horn of Africa country. The decreased violence, coupled with increased successes in the internationally-supported fight to drive out al-Shabab Islamist insurgents, greatly improved the atmosphere in Somalia. As explained in an earlier article, this did not necessarily bring freedom for the Church. But it did bring some welcome consistency and created “space” for increased discipleship – albeit still under great secrecy. However Open Doors is concerned that the atmosphere is changing rapidly. The newly installed Somali government is increasingly challenged in its efforts to maintain stability. It was expected of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to stamp out notorious clan politics, corruption and the “stubborn Islamist insurgency” of al-Shabab. But observers say his inexperienced government lacks funds and also the authority to get the job done. Additionally, in the absence of clear instruction from the provisional constitution, the government is battling to find a way to divide power between the center and the regions. Reuters reported on Monday that Somalia’s neighbors and foreign powers fear a return to civil war. “It is unclear from our vantage point if the group’s influence is really as great as they claim,” said an Open Doors worker. What is clear, however, is the fact that greater instability means greater difficulty for believers to function. For the sake of creating better opportunity for discipleship that can lead to a stronger local Body of believers, we ask believers worldwide to pray for the Lord to show grace to the inexperienced government of Somalia so that they can overcome their multiple challenges.”

Boko Haram under Investigation for Crimes against Humanity
– World Watch Monitor

At least 1,200 people have been killed in the last four years in Northern Nigeria by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, according to a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.

The Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said on Monday the ICC is investigating Boko Haram for “crimes against humanity” through “widespread and systematic attacks”, the scale and intensity of which have increased over time. The initial ICC report is based on statistics leading up to December 2012. The ICC is now considering whether it merits further investigation. The International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, tries cases of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide when a country’s own courts fail to prosecute. Nigeria agreed in 2001 to subject itself to the jurisdiction of the ICC. Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, agreed that the rate of attacks is intensifying. In a recent speech, he said: “In my first term, about 3000 Christians were killed. Last year alone averaged over 100 every month. In March 2010, about 500 Christians were slaughtered in one night on an attack on their villages. In April 2011, our members lost over 500 churches, thousands of homes and businesses in a 48 hour period and in 2012 about 70 percent of all Christians killed worldwide were in northern Nigeria alone.”

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

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