In separate incidents across the globe, extremist groups continue their violent campaigns against Christians. In Colombia, Manuel Pertuz, 35, and his son Daniel, 11 (fictitious names), both members of the World Missionary Movement, were murdered on January 10th in the village of Guacamayas (Guaviare) by members of FARC. According to a report from a regional Open Doors coordinator, the murderers tortured the victims, killing them with a bowie knife. Manuel was a recent convert to Christianity.
In this region of Colombia, Christians face strong persecution from the guerrilla groups who threaten, pressure, and forbid them from preaching the gospel in rural areas. A pastor in the area received a letter from the FARC which said, “You must leave the region or you’ll die.” In this letter, the guerrillas included a picture of a coffin. He leads the church attended by Manuel and his family. Open Doors has assisted Manuel’s widow in moving to another city where she now lives with her three daughters, ranging in age from 3 to 17, and awaits the birth of their fifth child.
In Africa, tensions remain high in Central African Republic (CAR) as deadly violence continues in the northern central parts of Bangui, the nation’s capital. In the north, civilians paid a heavy price when Seleka soldiers with heavy armor attacked civilians in retaliation for anti-Balaka’s capture of one of their posts. Though the intervention of French troops managed to restore order for the time being, the situation remains precarious. Among those killed in the violence are a pastor by the name of Kongbo, who serves as the treasurer of the Union of Baptist Churches, as well as one of his sons. In the central parts of the city, fighting forced previously displaced persons, who had only recently returned home, to retreat once more to refugee camps.
Northern Nigeria is once again reeling from suspected an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria attacks in two locations on February 2nd which left at least 99 people dead. Attackers stormed the Catholic Church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa State during a worship service. They fired guns, set off bombs and took hostages. There are conflicting reports about the number of casualties. Local media reported that the attack lasted from 10am to 2pm, and included the destruction of several homes in the area.
In a separate incident later that day, at least 52 people died when suspected an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria insurgents set off several bombs at a busy market in Kuwari, Borno state. Assailants also burned down 300 homes in the area. The following day, two bombs that had been left behind also went off, narrowly missing security personnel in the midst of clean-up operations.
Adamawa, Borno and Yobe state are still under a state of emergency imposed by the government in May of last year in an effort to root out the an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria sect.
Father, as we consider the wrath of extremists against Your people and, in general, against those who oppose them, we pray that victims would know Your grace and peace of heart to meet their circumstances with godly wisdom and courage. We pray for Your comfort, strength and protection for Manuel’s widow and her daughters. We call on You to uphold them and provide for their needs. Grant her a safe delivery of the child she carries, and comfort her in her sorrows and fears. We pray also for Pastor Miguel and his family that You would grant wisdom and direction. We pray for peace in CAR and for comfort in the midst of the tension that continues to hold sway. Bring comfort to the family of Kongbo in the midst of their sorrow, and be a consoling, protecting Father to those who have returned to the refugee camps. Comfort the many hearts that grieve the loss of loved ones in Nigeria. Continue to strengthen them to greet each day with courage and confidence in Your presence with them, no matter what the day brings. In the name of Jesus, who reigns over His church and is coming again, Amen!