Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:22:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Christian Teenager in India Arrested for Comments on Fake Facebook, Sources Say http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/christian-teenager-india-arrested-comments-fake-facebook-sources-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/christian-teenager-india-arrested-comments-fake-facebook-sources-say/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:31:18 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7210 HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – A Christian teenager in northern India was jailed for 12 days after anti-Hindu comments appeared on a fake Facebook account in his name, sources said. Sandeep Kumar, 18, christened Karan Anthony, was released on bail 12 days after being arrested on Aug. 23 and charged with posting anti-Hindu comments on […]

The post Christian Teenager in India Arrested for Comments on Fake Facebook, Sources Say appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Hindu deity Keshav Dev at temple bearing his name in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Wikimedia)

Hindu deity Keshav Dev at temple bearing his name in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Wikimedia)

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – A Christian teenager in northern India was jailed for 12 days after anti-Hindu comments appeared on a fake Facebook account in his name, sources said.

Sandeep Kumar, 18, christened Karan Anthony, was released on bail 12 days after being arrested on Aug. 23 and charged with posting anti-Hindu comments on Facebook in Uttar Pradesh state. The University of Allahabad student of agricultural sciences was arrested when members of the Hindu extremist Rudra Sena in his home area of Kasganj District filed a complaint with police.

“I did not make any posts on Facebook,” Anthony told Morning Star News. “It was my good friend who falsely framed me by joining hands with Rudra Sena activists.”

He said he has not used Facebook in months.

“Whenever I posted something about Jesus, my friend Sathin and other classmates started sending abusive comments,” he said. “They were expressing hatred in vulgar language, and I did not like it. I deactivated Facebook immediately and never logged in after that incident.”

The chief complainant, Sathin Gaur, was a former classmate and friend of Anthony, the Christian’s father, pastor Shriniwas Gautam, told Morning Star News.

Kasganj District police registered a First Information Report (FIR) charging Anthony with “promoting enmity between classes” (section 153A of the Indian Penal Code), punishable by three years of prison and/or a fine, and “publishing or transmitting obscene material” (Section 67 of the Information Technology Act), punishable by imprisonment of up to three years and/or a fine of 500,000 rupees (US$7,725).

He was also charged with accessing a computer without the permission of the owner and doing so dishonestly or fraudulently (Section 66 of the Information Technology Act), punishable by up to three years and/or a fine of up to 500,000 rupees (US$7,725).

Attorney Suresh Sahu, who represented Anthony before the district’s Criminal Magistrate Court, said police are continuing to investigate.

Anthony said he has long been a target of his Hindu friends because they know his father is a pastor.

“Before this Facebook row, they got me into trouble twice,” he said. “They beat me severely, alleging, ‘You are Christian, you are from low caste.’”

He had lost contact with his old high school friends after beginning university, he said. While in police custody, he said, he discovered a fake Facebook account had been set up with his name and photo.

“Somebody was using this account to post abusive, anti-Hindu content – I told the police it is not me,” Anthony said. “I was not at all aware about the fake Facebook account. I was only focusing on my studies, and we have worship services on the campus also every morning and evening, so I was spending most of my time with Christian friends here and never felt the need to open a social media account.”

The FIR lists the complainants as members of Hindu extremist groups Rudra Sena and Hindu Yuva Vahini, along with Hindu nationalist student political party presidents and vice-presidents, Pastor Gautam told Morning Star News. He added, “Karan Anthony for them is a Christian boy from lower castes, and now that he secured admission in an esteemed university, they are not happy with it.”

Gaur signed the FIR along with Vaibhav Kumar, vice president of the Hindu Yuva Vahini (Vajpayee Nagar); Amar Dubey, Patiali vice president of the Rudra Sena; Vikas Pratap Singh, Patiali vice president of the Hindu Yuva Vahini; Amar Chauhan, president of the Rudra Sena in Patiali; Jacky Yadav, president of the Student Union in Patiali; and Rudra Sena members Ramendra Mishra, Rishab Shakya and Rohit Solanki.

The complainants badgered his mother into calling him back to his home village in Kasganj District, he said, where police took him into custody. He did not receive anything to eat the first two days, Anthony said.

“I knelt down and prayed a day after I was presented before the court,” he said. “When I was in jail, every day I was spending time in prayer; the other prisoners did not understand what was going on, they asked me many questions like, ‘What is this you are doing, why are you knelt, what are you murmuring?’ It was an opportunity the Lord had given me to share the gospel with them.”

The other inmates were happy to hear about Christ, he said, and they discussed Jesus daily.

“I felt so light, like all my burdens vanished at once,” he said. “I even invited them to our church in Patiali town, Kasganj.”

After 12 days in jail, he was weak and ill from malaria and typhoid, he said.

“I am praying every day for Sathin and the other complainants,” Anthony told Morning Star News. “I have forgiven them. I want Sathin to recognize the Lord’s love. Through all these hardships, the Lord is with me, and I want them to see this.”

Local media have published false reports that his father and members of his family are guilty of forcible conversion, he added.

“Nobody tried to find out the truth,” he said.

His father said he also has faced persecution, in his case for leading worship services in Kasganj villages.

“I too was beaten and arrested,” Pastor Gautam said in tears. “They even stripped my wife and insulted her.”

Anthony’s brother, Kuldeep Kumar, said Anthony is a brilliant student and very friendly with all people.

“He shares with his friends about Jesus and His second coming,” Kumar told Morning Star News. “He boldly shares his testimony. He will never abuse or pass any hurtful statements, neither on social media nor directly. He is a very good friend and brother.”

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

 

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Christian Teenager in India Arrested for Comments on Fake Facebook, Sources Say appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/christian-teenager-india-arrested-comments-fake-facebook-sources-say/feed/ 0
Coptic Orthodox Bishop Killed outside Cairo, Egypt http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/coptic-orthodox-bishop-killed-outside-cairo-egypt/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/coptic-orthodox-bishop-killed-outside-cairo-egypt/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:08:06 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7203 CAIRO (Morning Star News) – A Coptic Orthodox bishop from Upper Egypt was slain outside Cairo, Egypt yesterday. The assailant struck Bishop Samaan Shehata in the head, neck and torso with a machete in the El Salam area near El Marg District on the outskirts of Cairo, according to local reports. Shehata was born in 1972. […]

The post Coptic Orthodox Bishop Killed outside Cairo, Egypt appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Assailant arriving at warehouse door in pursuit of Coptic Orthodox bishop on outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. (Screen grab of security footage)

Assailant arriving at warehouse door in pursuit of Coptic Orthodox bishop on outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. (Screen grab of security footage)

CAIRO (Morning Star News) – A Coptic Orthodox bishop from Upper Egypt was slain outside Cairo, Egypt yesterday.

The assailant struck Bishop Samaan Shehata in the head, neck and torso with a machete in the El Salam area near El Marg District on the outskirts of Cairo, according to local reports. Shehata was born in 1972.

While a security spokesman said the suspect, Ahmed Saeed Ibrahim, was mentally ill, neighbors reportedly denied this, saying he was a Muslim who had been “radicalized” a year ago. Since then, they said, Ibrahim had begun praying in the street, shouting loudly and calling Christians infidels.

The suspect walked calmly out of the warehouse after killing Shehata, according to security camera footage. Captured by people on the street and now in custody, Ibrahim had reportedly approached Shehata wielding the large knife while the bishop was waiting for another clergyman in his car.

Visiting from his Church of St. Julius Akfazi in Ezbet Girgis village, in Beni Suef Governorate, Shehata was waiting for another priest, the Rev. Beimen Moftah, when Ibrahim accosted him and attacked him, eyewitnesses told local press. Reports conflicted on whether Moftah, of the Church of the Arch Angel Malak in Ezbet Francis, Mattay village, was injured, but he did reportedly confront the assailant.

Stabbed in the neck and torso near the Virgin and Bishop Shenouda El Daeiry church, the wounded Shehata fled on foot into the warehouse, according to security camera footage obtained by El Youm el Sabe News agency, which shows the assailant following with the machete.

Police said eyewitnesses reported that the assailant had seen Shehata in his car, forcibly stopped him, ordered him out and then started to stab him in the neck and torso. Shehata fled, and the attacker followed him into the warehouse and finished his attack there with several blows to the head, they said.

Shehata’s driver, identified as Gerges Kamel, reportedly said the bishop had gotten out of the car to retrieve his cell phone at the warehouse when the assailant stopped him and stabbed him in the side, neck and skull. Kamel said the assailant used the bishop’s blood to form a cross on his forehead, according to a local newspaper.

An ambulance didn’t arrive until 90 minutes after the assault, according to Kamel, who added that the bishop was alive for half an hour after being struck and could have been saved if the ambulance had arrived timely.

He denied that the suspect was mentally ill.

Local press reported that the suspect was 19 years old and had joined a Salafi jihadist group three months prior. After his arrest, Ibrahim reportedly claimed that he was mentally ill and suffered from epileptic seizures. A piece of paper was reportedly found in his pocket saying, “the mission is done successfully.”

A preliminary autopsy reportedly showed the cause of death to be blows to the head with a long knife (machete), causing a longitudinal deep crack in the skull and internal bleeding in the abdomen.

Area residents said on social media that the suspect was known for insulting numerous Christians, picking fights with them and assaulting them. Christians made several complaints to police, which were largely ignored, according to local reports.

Shehata had reportedly worked for years to obtain a permit to construct a church building for his parishioners, who otherwise met in a small room of an association building, with most of the worshippers standing in the street. Recently the bishop found a 1,000-square-meter site on which to build, and he was reportedly in Cairo to collect donations for the building. Local press reported that residents had filed 18 police statements objecting to his church building plans.

Sheikh Abbas Shooman, dean of preeminent Islamic authority Al-Azhar University in Cairo, denounced the attack on Shehata, writing on Facebook, “An assault that religions reject…the treacherous attack on bishop Samaan Shehata, priest of the Church of St. Julius Akfazi in the village of Ezbet Girgis in the province of Beni Sueif, an attack rejected by the law of heaven and above all our religion.”

Ordained a priest in 1999 and promoted to bishop in 2001, Shehata served at Church of St. Julius Akfazi. According to the Coptic Orthodox Church Network, St. Julius of Agfahs (Akfazi), who lived in the late third and early fourth centuries, was martyred after writing a biography of church martyrs.

Another Priest Attacked

Another priest, whom local press identified as the Rev. Mikhail Melad Tawadrous, 67, of the Arch Angel Michael in Qoft, Qena Governorate, was seriously injured on the same day.

A Muslim vegetable vendor reportedly attacked Tawadrous with heavy objects, leaving him with cuts on his hand, bruises on his chest and blood in his lungs. When the priest called out for help, bystanders reportedly encouraged the suspect, Saad Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan, to kill him.

Hassan had been jailed 12 for years before, and a few days before the attack, he had insulted another priest. Authorities reportedly tried to persuade Tawadrous to drop charges, claiming that the attacker is mentally ill, and the priest refused. Hassan was held for questioning and released.

Egypt is ranked 21st on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where is it is most difficult to be a Christian.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

 

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Coptic Orthodox Bishop Killed outside Cairo, Egypt appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/coptic-orthodox-bishop-killed-outside-cairo-egypt/feed/ 1
Police in Pakistan Beat Christian Boy to Death, Father Says http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/police-pakistan-beat-christian-boy-death-father-says/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/police-pakistan-beat-christian-boy-death-father-says/#comments Wed, 11 Oct 2017 16:53:51 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7196 LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Police in Pakistan beat a 14-year-old Christian boy to death on Monday (Oct. 9) because he had gotten into a fight with a Muslim classmate who tried to bully him into renouncing his faith, sources said. Mushtaq Masih, father of Arsalan Masih, said that his son was a student at […]

The post Police in Pakistan Beat Christian Boy to Death, Father Says appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Arsalan Mushtaq's mother mourns over his body. (Morning Star News courtesy of attorney)

Arsalan Masih’s mother mourns over his body. (Morning Star News courtesy of attorney)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Police in Pakistan beat a 14-year-old Christian boy to death on Monday (Oct. 9) because he had gotten into a fight with a Muslim classmate who tried to bully him into renouncing his faith, sources said.

Mushtaq Masih, father of Arsalan Masih, said that his son was a student at a private center in Jhabran Mandi village, Sheikhupura District in Punjab Province. Arsalan was at the center when seven policemen from the Bahu Chowk Police Post arrived at about 5 p.m. in their official vehicle and stormed the premises, Masih told Morning Star News.

“Arsalan was attending his tuition classes at the Ideal Science Academy when Head Constable Imtiaz, Driver Rashid, Constable Arshad and some other unidentified policemen kicked open the door and dragged him out of the classroom,” Masih said. “Sardar, alias Billu, a police constable, helped them to identify the boy. With this, they all started beating Arsalan with fists, kicks and rifle butts.”

Teacher Farhan Ali tried to stop the assault, but the officers shoved and slapped him and continued beating the boy, Masih said.

“Rashid struck Arsalan’s head with a pistol, and he started bleeding,” he said. “When they bundled him into the police van, Arsalan collapsed and died. Later the police team threw Arsalan’s body on the roadside and fled.”

Numerous bystanders witnessed the assault, but the policemen threatened them if they intervened, he added.

Four months ago Arsalan had fought with a Muslim boy after the classmate tried to bully him into renouncing his Christian faith, said Masih, a member of the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan.

“I did not know about the fight until recently,” he said. “Arsalan had reportedly beaten up a boy whose uncle, Sardar alias Billu, is a constable in the Sheikhupura District police. Billu nurtured a grudge against Arsalan, and that’s why he brought his police friends with him to teach the poor boy a lesson.”

Masih said that he had registered a case (No. 653/17) with the Sheikhupura Saddar Police Station against seven officers, but that police had so far been unable to arrest them.

Accused Police Flee

Sheikhupura Superintendent of Police Sarfraz Virk told Morning Star News that he had ordered the registration of a case against the accused policemen and also suspended the in-charge of the Bahu Police Post for negligence in official duties.

“We are trying our best to arrest the nominated accused, who have fled the area since the day of the incident,” he said. “The boy was not wanted in any case, and it’s quite clear that the policemen had gone there on their own and misused their official authority.”

Sub-Inspector Safdar Javed of the Bahu Police Post told Morning Star News that he had just taken charge and was investigating the case.

“So far, no accused has been arrested,” he said. “My investigation till now has revealed that no case or complaint was registered against Arsalan with the Bahu police. The policemen transgressed their authority and will be brought to justice at all costs.”

He said investigators were taking into consideration the family’s claim that the killing was religiously motivated.

The maternal grandfather of the Arsalan, identified only as Pastor Shafqat, said that there were 300 to 400 Christian families in the Jhabran Mandi area.

“Fights do take place among boys from both communities over petty issues, but this is the first time a boy has lost his life,” he said. “The murderers didn’t even [have pained conscience] for a second that they were ruthlessly beating a 14-year-old boy. What had he done to deserve such a brutal death?”

The case has been taken up by the Pakistan Center for Law and Justice (PCLJ). Attorney Kashif Naimat of the PCLJ told Morning Star News that police were initially reluctant to register a First Information Report (FIR) against their colleagues.

“However, the police were forced to register the FIR after Arsalan’s family and other Christians blocked the main highway for several hours on Monday night in protest,” he said. “PCLJ has taken up the case voluntarily, and we will do our best to bring perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice regardless of their influence.”

In August, another Christian student was killed. On Aug. 27, 17-year-old Sharoon Masih was killed by a Muslim classmate during school hours in Punjab’s Vehari District because he had drunk water from a glass used by all students – an act many Muslims hold in disdain as they regard Christians as “unclean.”

Christian rights activists said the killing showed that religious intolerance was seeping into all sections of society, including government departments. Rufus Solomon, a leading Christian rights advocate, said it was tragic that another Christian boy had fallen victim to “extremist Islam.”

“The situation won’t improve for Pakistani Christians until the government repeals the blasphemy laws,” he said. “These laws promote extremism and encourage Muslims to force their views on members of the minority communities, particularly Christians. No government in Pakistan has the spine to take on religious extremism therefore our people will continue to suffer losses, both human and material.”

It is highly likely that police will favor their own colleagues even though the murder of the Christian boy took place in front of numerous witnesses, he said.

“Arresting the accused is one thing, taking the matter to its logical end is another,” he said, adding that like other departments, the Pakistani police too had double standards when it came to issues involving members of the minority communities.

Napolean Qayyum, another Christian rights activist, echoed Solomon’s views, saying he saw little hope for justice for the family of the slain boy.

“How many people actually believe that the police will build a strong prosecution against their own fellows? Not many, I’m sure!” he said, adding that no Christian political leader had shown interest in assisting the family in the case.

Pakistan ranked fourth on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Police in Pakistan Beat Christian Boy to Death, Father Says appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/police-pakistan-beat-christian-boy-death-father-says/feed/ 1
Muslim Father in Uganda Drives Son from Home for Becoming Christian http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/muslim-father-uganda-drives-son-home-becoming-christian/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/muslim-father-uganda-drives-son-home-becoming-christian/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 17:17:36 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7190 NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – The young man did not answer after his father asked him if he had ditched Islam to become a Christian. Magale (also called Mabala) Hamidu, 20, of Nanoko village in eastern Uganda, had become a Christian seven months before. He had been failing to attend mosque prayers, and his father […]

The post Muslim Father in Uganda Drives Son from Home for Becoming Christian appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Letter from chairman of the Tirinyi Local Council requesting help from Tirinyi police for 20-year-old Christian allegedly beaten by his father. (Morning Star News)

Letter from chairman of the Tirinyi Local Council requesting help from Tirinyi police for 20-year-old Christian allegedly beaten by his father. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – The young man did not answer after his father asked him if he had ditched Islam to become a Christian.

Magale (also called Mabala) Hamidu, 20, of Nanoko village in eastern Uganda, had become a Christian seven months before. He had been failing to attend mosque prayers, and his father had learned that twice a Christian pastor had visited him at their home.

As Hamidu kept quiet, his father began beating him with a stick, sources told Morning Star News. They said other family members picked up sticks and joined in.

Hamidu’s screams on that day, Sept. 20, alerted neighbors who managed to pull the bleeding young man away. He was rushed to a community clinic in Tirinyi Sub-County, Kibuku District, where he was treated for injuries to his head and right hand and discharged, they said.

A neighbor told Morning Star News that Hamidu’s father, Kasani Mubali, said he wants to kill his son.

“I will rest only after getting rid of Hamidu – he has become a big embarrassment to my family,” the neighbor said Mubali told him.

After being discharged from the hospital, Hamidu was taken to Pastor Joseph Kisense of New Valley Baptist Church in Kiryolo. Pastor Kisense said he reported the alleged assault to the chairman of the Tirinyi Local Council, who in turn notified Tirinyi police.

The pastor said he is consulting with police officers about whether to arrest Mubali, as they believe it would trigger Islamist attacks on him or his church because several Muslims have come to Christ through his ministry.

Pastor Kisense said he has been receiving threats from area Muslims.

“We are aware that several of our Muslim members are being accommodated by your church, and if you continue housing them, then be informed that your church and life has been marked, and expect something serious to happen soon,” read one anonymous message, he said.

After a friend persuaded Hamidu to attend an open-air, evangelistic event on Feb. 15 near the church site in Kiryolo, Hamidu had felt a deep sense of sinful mortality and spoke with Pastor Kisense afterwards. The pastor took him to the church building, where Hamidu prayed to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

For months the young man secretly attended the church before he was discovered. He is now in hiding.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with many concentrated in the eastern part of the country. In August, a woman in eastern Uganda who put her faith in Christ went into hiding after her husband beat her for leaving Islam, sources said.

Sophia Nakisaala, 35, turned to Christ on Aug. 7 after her daughter was healed when a street preacher she’d heard in Bulopa village, Kamuli District, prayed for her, she said.

Earlier this year Muslims began monitoring pastor Christopher James Kalaja of Nakabale village, Kaderuna Sub-County, because he filed a court case against those who recently destroyed his farm, home and church building, his wife told Morning Star News.

The incident is one of many recent attacks by non-state figures on Christians in eastern Uganda. Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/? 

 

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Muslim Father in Uganda Drives Son from Home for Becoming Christian appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/muslim-father-uganda-drives-son-home-becoming-christian/feed/ 0
Authorities in China Detain Pastor, Daughter and 3-year-old Grandson http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/authorities-china-detain-pastor-daughter-3-year-old-grandson/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/authorities-china-detain-pastor-daughter-3-year-old-grandson/#respond Fri, 06 Oct 2017 03:29:37 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7185 (Morning Star News) – While a government-hired thug in China threatened to kill a Christian family, officials in a neighboring province arrested a pastor, her daughter and her 3-year-old grandson, sources said. In Xinning, Hubei Province in the central part of the country, police and religious affairs officials upset by a house church’s outreach arrested […]

The post Authorities in China Detain Pastor, Daughter and 3-year-old Grandson appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Liu Zigeng (left) threatened to kill a Christian family whose land he and others had seized, according to China Aid Association. (China Aid)

Liu Zigeng (left) threatened to kill a Christian family whose land he and others had seized, according to China Aid Association. (China Aid)

(Morning Star News) – While a government-hired thug in China threatened to kill a Christian family, officials in a neighboring province arrested a pastor, her daughter and her 3-year-old grandson, sources said.

In Xinning, Hubei Province in the central part of the country, police and religious affairs officials upset by a house church’s outreach arrested pastor Xu Shizhen, her daughter Xu Yuqing, and Xu Yuqing’s 3-year-old son, Xu Shouwang, on the night of Sept. 22, according to advocacy group China Aid Association.

The pastor and her daughter had taken part in an evangelistic effort by their unregistered congregation, Zion Church, to proclaim Christ in public parks and squares, according to China Aid. In the outreach, which included song, dance and music on bamboo instruments, the women shared the gospel even as local religious affairs, public security, and national security bureau authorities frequently interrupted them, China Aid reported.

Family members who inquired of police about the detainees on Sept. 24 discovered that officers had separated the women from the small child, keeping him at the station while transferring his mother and grandmother to other sites, according to China Aid. The organization reported that no one knew whether the women were under criminal or administrative detention.

Previously, on Sept. 13, Deputy Director of Xianan District Religious Affairs Bureau Yang Haijun led a group of police officers to Change Square, where Xu Shizhen and other church members had gathered to talk with people about Christ.

“The officials detained three Christians and drove the evangelists from the square,” Christian Aid reported.

The religious affairs bureau on Aug. 23 had sent Xu Shizhen a notice accusing the church of violating Regulations on Religious Affairs and ordered her to stop the missionary work, according to the advocacy group.

Xu previously pastored Hongqiao Church, a house church that became part of the official Three-Self Church in April 2012 after officials forcibly occupied its building and damaged its property. China Aid reported that when she left to start a new church, police continued to harass her and her congregation.

Family Threatened

In Nanyang, in neighboring Henan Province, an official on Sept. 21 threatened to kill a Christian family for attempting to harvest peanuts on a field that government-hired thugs had seized last year.

When Bai Fengju, a Christian, and relatives arrived at the field that morning, the gang prevented them from gathering peanuts from last year’s planting.

“Liu Zigeng, a man who headed the same gang to confiscate a portion of Bai’s property in a government-backed bid to build a road leading up to a Buddhist temple, threatened to kill all of Bai’s family should they gather the peanuts,” China Aid reported. “According to Feng Haiqin, Bai’s daughter-in-law, ‘[Liu] said he was supposed to collect the peanuts, not us.’”

Liu had destroyed bean sprouts owned by Bai’s family and bulldozed his farmland in order to build a road connecting a Buddhist temple to an area outside the village, the group reported.

“When Bai tried to defend his land, Liu threatened to beat him to death,” China Aid reported. “Even though Bai repeatedly complained to local government departments, Liu was allowed to keep occupying his land and making threats against his family members.”

Zhao Yushan, the village secretary for the region, told China Aid on Sept. 23 that the conflict had been resolved. Feng, Bai’s daughter-in-law, said that an official invited Liu to his home on Sept. 21 to discuss the matter, but that she didn’t know the outcome.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.   

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

 

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Authorities in China Detain Pastor, Daughter and 3-year-old Grandson appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/10/authorities-china-detain-pastor-daughter-3-year-old-grandson/feed/ 0
Sudan Detains, Interrogates Elder in Campaign to Take over Church http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/sudan-detains-interrogates-elder-campaign-take-church/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/sudan-detains-interrogates-elder-campaign-take-church/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:14:26 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7181 JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – A month after seven church leaders were arrested, interrogated and released on bail, police in Sudan detained and questioned another church leader in Omdurman on Friday (Sept. 22), sources said. Elder Mahjoub Abotrin of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) was arrested from his home in Omdurman, across the […]

The post Sudan Detains, Interrogates Elder in Campaign to Take over Church appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Remains of Sudanese Church of Christ in North Khartoum demolished in 2014. (Morning Star News)

Remains of Sudanese Church of Christ in North Khartoum demolished in 2014. (Morning Star News)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – A month after seven church leaders were arrested, interrogated and released on bail, police in Sudan detained and questioned another church leader in Omdurman on Friday (Sept. 22), sources said.

Elder Mahjoub Abotrin of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) was arrested from his home in Omdurman, across the Nile River from Khartoum, and was interrogated before he was released. It was not clear if he was charged with any offense, but sources said that he was arrested because of his refusal to hand over SCOC leadership to government-appointed leadership.

The current leadership expires on March 2018. The SCOC constitution calls for a general assembly every three years to appoint church leaders.

Rev. Kwa Shamaal (also transliterated Kuwa Shamaal), SCOC head of missions, confirmed the arrest of Abotrin to Morning Star News.

“We cannot allow them [government-appointed committee members] to take over the church,” Shamaal said.

On Aug. 23 seven church leaders were arrested, jailed for six hours and interrogated for refusing to comply with a government order to hand over church leadership to the government’s committee. The leaders were released on bail after authorities told them to comply with the government order, which they roundly rejected.

Shamaal and the Rev. Ayoub Mattan, SCOC moderator, were among the church leaders arrested. Pastor Shamaal was previously arrested on Dec. 18, 2015 and acquitted on Jan. 2 this year of charges ranging from spying to inciting hatred against the government.

Pastors Mattan, Shamaal and the others are still members of the legitimate executive committee of the SCOC.

Another SCOC pastor, the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, had received a 12-year sentence earlier this year after being charged with spying and trying to tarnish Sudan’s image, but he was freed along with Abdulmonem Abdumawla of Darfur on May 11 after receiving a presidential pardon.

He had been arrested along with Pastor Shamaal in December 2015. They were convicted on baseless charges of assisting Czech aid worker Petr Jasek – pardoned and released on Feb. 25 – in alleged espionage, causing hatred among communities and spreading false information, according to their attorney.

Foreign diplomats and international rights activists took notice of the case after Morning Star News broke the story of the arrest of pastors Abdelrahim Tawor and Shamaal. Their arrests were seen as part of a recent upsurge in harassment of Christians.

Most SCOC members have roots among the ethnic Nuba in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan’s South Kordofan state, where the government is fighting an insurgency. The Nuba along with other Christians in Sudan face discrimination and harassment, as Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has vowed to introduce a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and Arabic language.

In its campaign to rid the country of Christianity, Sudan has designated 25 church buildings for destruction, and on Aug. 2 it demolished a Baptist church in Omdurman. On May 7 Khartoum state authorities in Sudan demolished a church building in the Khartoum suburb of Soba al Aradi, which began as a refugee camp for south Sudanese. A bulldozer sent by Jebel Aulia locality and the Ministry of Planning and Urban Development destroyed the SCOC building.

Authorities had notified church leaders of the impending demolition just a week prior. The government reportedly claimed the churches were built on land zoned for residential or other uses, or were on government land, but church leaders said it is part of wider crack-down on Christianity.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Sudan Detains, Interrogates Elder in Campaign to Take over Church appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/sudan-detains-interrogates-elder-campaign-take-church/feed/ 0
Fulani Fugitive from Islam in Nigeria Endures Persecution as a ‘Lifestyle’ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/fulani-fugitive-islam-nigeria-endures-persecution-lifestyle/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/fulani-fugitive-islam-nigeria-endures-persecution-lifestyle/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:01:55 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7167 ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Before Boko Haram began growing into a prominent terrorist force in northeast Nigeria in 2009, its members were trying to kill a highly effective evangelist to ethnic Fulani Muslims. One Boko Haram member pretended to be a Christian in order to kill Habibu Adam Mohammed, 49, an Islamic teacher who had […]

The post Fulani Fugitive from Islam in Nigeria Endures Persecution as a ‘Lifestyle’ appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Habibu Adam Mohammed. (Morning Star News photo)

Habibu Adam Mohammed. (Morning Star News photo)

ABUJANigeria (Morning Star News) – Before Boko Haram began growing into a prominent terrorist force in northeast Nigeria in 2009, its members were trying to kill a highly effective evangelist to ethnic Fulani Muslims.

One Boko Haram member pretended to be a Christian in order to kill Habibu Adam Mohammed, 49, an Islamic teacher who had longed to die as a Muslim martyr before he became a Christian 21 years ago. The group once sent a member to infiltrate his ministry and kill him, the evangelist told Morning Star News.

“The man stayed with me and pretended to have converted to the Christian faith,” said Mohammed, who has helped lead hundreds of ethnic Fulanis to Christ. “However, after some time, he confessed to me that he was sent to kill me, but that I was a good man and so he would not kill me. He asked that I should move him away from the area, or else both of us would be killed.”

Mohammed smuggled him out of the area, and the man later rejoined Boko Haram when it tried to seize Borno state’s capital city of Maiduguri in 2014, he said.

“The shocking thing is that this terrorist had never attended even primary school, yet here he was having in his possession military, police, and other paramilitary uniforms,” he said. “He had identity cards indicating he was a serving personnel in these security agencies. I was baffled as to how he obtained them.”

The hatred for his work among the Fulanis in northern Nigeria was such that he was beaten several times, on one occasion left for dead. His house has been burned down, and Boko Haram has not ceased scheming to kill him, he said. A politician who resolved to kill him on May 30, 2014 announced it publicly to area Fulanis the day he planned to carry it out, he said.

“Having offered prayers in the mosque, he picked up his double barrel gun and drove towards the village where I was with the intent to kill me,” he said. “A miracle happened on the way; the gun exploded as he was driving, and the gun went off, and he was shot by the bullets from his gun and he died.”

Upon hearing of the accident, Mohammed went to console the politician’s family, he said.

“This incident in Mallam Fatori town brought about 130 Fulanis and Kanuris to the saving knowledge of Christ,” he said. “That day I baptized many of these converts into the Christian faith until I got tired.”

Mobile Churches

At the time Mohammed was working with a team of evangelists in Mallam Fatori, in Nigeria’s far northeast, as part of a seven-year stint in which 500 Fulanis gave their lives to Christ, he said.

Director of the United Faith Tabernacle Fulani Radio Program, Mohammed continues to reach Fulanis with the gospel – and continues to flee persecution as a “lifestyle,” moving two or three times a year, he said.

More than 200 Fulanis from various communities recently put their faith in Christ, primarily through the radio program, he said. Converts are located in places ranging from Mubi state on the eastern border to Kaduna state in north-central Nigeria, and his teams are discipling the largely nomadic people.

“It is only when we are convinced about their decision to receive Christ that we make personal contact with them,” Mohammed said.

A network of committed Fulani Christians are scattered throughout northern Nigeria to proclaim Christ to the largely nomadic Fulanis, disciple them and establish congregations, he said.

“But mind you, ours is an underground ministry,” Mohammed said. “So you may not find standing facilities housing Fulani congregations, but you find living churches moving from place to place to the glory of God.”

An Unlikely Convert

Before coming to Christ at age 28, Mohammed in the early 1990s had fought Christian tribes alongside other Muslim Fulanis seeking grazing land for their cattle and territory for Islam.

“The desire to go to heaven was what prompted my involvement in so many religious crises in southern Kaduna state,” he said, adding that missing a ride that would have taken him to jihad in Zangon Kataf, where all his colleagues were killed, upset him. “I cried my heart out – I mourned that I was not one of them. My desire then was to die a martyr in these conflicts fighting for Islam, because I believed that it was only through this way that I can go to heaven.”

Resolving to be killed in jihad, he sharply rebuffed attempts by Christian co-workers to persuade him of Christ’s love. He was raised in a family that didn’t allow sons to marry unless they studied the Koran enough to become preeminent teachers of Islam. Growing up, he had memorized the Koran, read the five foremost theological books of Islam and studied the sayings of the Muhammad (hadiths).

He was also an ardent reader of South African Muslim cleric Ahmed Deedat and admired his attacks on Jesus Christ and Christians. Mohammed was thrilled to meet Deedat when he visited Nigeria in the mid-1990s.

Then a Christian woman, as the wife of an army officer, was in position to request that his father help take care of her three cows. She frequently visited his family to check on her cows, and as she and Mohammed became friendly, she spoke about Christ to him. Mohammed said he used Deedat’s arguments to shoot down everything she said.

“She got tired of the arguments with me, and eventually resolved that she was no longer going to talk about Jesus Christ to me, but would instead pray for me,” he said. “She confidently told me one day that she asked God to save only one soul through her efforts, and that one soul was me. So she was not going to give up praying for me. She pointedly told me that I was too good to be allowed to go to hell.”

One Sunday morning he went to her house to borrow money, and as she was in a hurry, he saw no problem in accompanying her to her church service. He soon regretted entering the service, fearful of friends or relatives seeing him. He also quickly recognized the preacher as someone he had seen at the woman’s house and intensely disliked.

“Not that he did anything bad, but because he was a pastor – here was a man I hated very much coming to preach,” Mohammed said.

He preached on Noah’s ark as a foreshadowing of Christ’s salvation, and, much to Mohammed’s surprise, the message seemed “sound and authentic” to him, and he began to like the pastor. Then, he said, came a powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

“I was so carried away by this thought-provoking sermon that, in the middle of the sermon, I jumped to my feet and shouted that I wanted to receive Jesus into my life,” he said. “The ushers restrained me, as the sermon was still on, but I insisted that I should be allowed to meet the pastor to pray for me. I pushed them aside and walked over to the pulpit and asked the pastor to lead me to Christ.”

This salvation was what he had been longing for, he told Morning Star News.

“This is what I desired but could not find in Islam, and so, I was not going to let the opportunity pass me by,” he said. “The points raised by this pastor in his sermon destroyed all I heard or read from Ahmed Deedat. The sermon opened my eyes to new understanding of who Jesus is, better than what I heard preached from the Koran.”

It was Sept. 15, 1996.

“That was the day I gave my life to Christ, and my whole world, my whole life, was turned upside down,” he said.

After the service, he did not return to his friend’s house for the loan, and he felt he no longer had a home to return to. He stayed in the sanctuary, which had no windows or doors as it was only partially finished, and spoke to his Savior.

“Having been left alone, I felt the presence of Jesus, and I spoke to Him,” he said. “It was not a prayer, but I know I spoke to him. And this is what I told him: ‘Jesus, I know you’re right here with me, and this is where I met you. The pastor, his family, and church members have all returned to their homes, but me, I don’t have a home to return to. I used to have a home, but now trouble, pains, bitterness, and persecution are awaiting me at home. I want to say this to you, don’t let me die in their hands as you’ll be ashamed. But don’t let me deny you because of pains, instead, take my life before I deny you.’ I forgot to ask Jesus to take me away from me persecution or shield me from their troubles; I did not ask for this. This is how I ended my discussion with Jesus. After this I went back home.”

Confession

Soon his family heard about his conversion and confronted him.

He told them he was now a believer in Jesus. They gave him the option of either recanting and returning to Islam or facing the consequences of apostasy.

“I told my parents, uncles, and grandfather, who was still alive at the time, that it was a difficult option they offered me, as I did not choose Jesus as my Lord, but He chose me as His redeemed,” he said. “I told them, ‘I did not enter to dwell in Him, but He entered into me to dwell in my heart. I don’t have the power to recant.’”

His parents asked how much money he had been offered to change his faith.

“I told them, ‘If I told you I was not offered anything, I would be lying, but the truth is that the Christians promised me a reward,’” he said. “My parents wanted to know what the reward was as they’d double it. I told my parents that these Christians promised me life in eternity. They offered me a new life in Christ Jesus.”

As they grew angrier and asked what had happened to him, he told them that the Habibu they knew was dead, but that Jesus Christ lived in him.

“I apologized for causing them inconveniences, disgrace, pains, and embarrassment, because I know they love me,” he said, “but I told them that they should know that it is God who has ordained that I will be called to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior.”

They reminded him of what Islam prescribes for those who take the route he had taken, and he responded by saying he was not ignorant of the consequences. They asked whether he was ready to pay the price, and he told them, “My heart is ready; God is with me.”

Consequences

As Mohammed began to recount the violence that followed to Morning Star News, he broke down in tears.

Each of his relatives reached for whatever they could lay their hands on – sticks, clubs, knives, and machetes. They beat and clubbed him and stabbed him in the thigh. He struggled out of their grip, and they chased him out of the house, he said, his father’s voice echoing behind him, “A reward of three hefty bulls awaits anyone who brings me the dead body of Habibu, my son, who has now become an infidel.”

His wife and two children were taken away from him. He was thought to be a mad man for embracing Christ.

For 14 days, Mohammed hid in an unfinished building with no roof, doors or windows in an area of Jos known as Tudun Naira. He went without food.

“I was unable to go outside to look for food because my father had sent people out to look for me and kill me,” he said. “I only sneaked out at night to a small stream close to the area to drink water.”

The search for him expanded to other towns, and announcements were made in the surrounding area mosques that he was to be killed on sight for the reward of three bulls.

Bleeding, unable to reach a hospital and starving, Mohammed on the 14th day was at the stream when a woman approached him. She offered to help him, but he told her his family would attack her if she did so. He left her, but she spied him as he returned to the building and later brought him a meal.

She pleaded with him to sneak to her house, and he did so under cover of darkness. After eating he collapsed from exhaustion, waking the next morning to the blaring of the Muslim call to prayer.

The woman gave him all the money she had in the house, 300 naira (less than one US dollar), which at the time was enough for a taxi collective to Abuja. The next day at 4 a.m. he snuck through the wilderness to the Old Airport Junction in Jos to board the vehicle. In Abuja, he took shelter in a primary school in the Mararaba area.

Some churches were using the school. He joined their Bible studies and eventually got a job as a driver for a pastor. Mohammed slept in the car at night; no Christian could risk the dangers of taking him into their homes.

When Mohammed returned to Jos eight months later to thank the woman who had sheltered him, a pastor who had heard of his conversion took him in. After listening to his testimony, he told Mohammed he wanted him to stay in Jos, and he discipled him. After several years, Mohammed returned to Abuja and enrolled at the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Theological Seminary, Karu, earning a diploma in theology.

Dark Forces

Loving the Fulani people as he does, the uptick in Muslim Fulani attacks on Christian communities of the past few years is especially troubling to Mohammed.

“I don’t believe that a typical Fulani man who’s looking for a place to graze his cattle would want to fight a community,” he said. “But there are other criminal-minded hoodlums who might not necessarily be Fulanis, who might have conspired with some bad Fulanis who have a different agenda, to fight these communities.”

His prayer is that the international community and Christians in particular would understand that there is an element of deceit in the attacks. The influence of Satan and Islamic extremist groups is present but not always readily evident.

“Peter cautions us on this: ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,’” he said, citing the King James Version of 1 Peter 5:8. “These attacks are the devices of the enemy.”

His message to Muslim Fulanis who persecute Christians echoes the last words of Stephen, he said: “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.”  He also has a message for persecuted Christians from Scripture: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, Hebrews 13:5 says. So also, the Apostle John wrote that Jesus said: ‘No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.’

“What this means is that no matter what happens to us, we have the enabling grace to see us through our trials. No one can kill us, until Jesus who has the power allows them to do so. This is the promise of God, our lives are safe in Him. We are hidden in Christ, and we are the apples of His eyes. So, no one can do anything to us, no one.”

The church in Nigeria must remain connected to Jesus to withstand the spike in attacks, he said.

“We must note that allowing the flesh to come forward would be resolving issues of persecution through human understanding, and that means taking up arms and fighting,” he said. “Would Jesus have taken up weapons to fight for his followers? Our major task is to pray to overcome these difficult times. When Peter and John were captured, the disciples went to the Upper Room to pray for their release. We must be a praying church and not a fighting church.”

A New Family

Having lost his family in 1996, Mohammed married anew in 2002 and has a new family – along with the family of the persecuted, he said.

“I support this persecuted family and encourage them to remain steadfast in Christ Jesus,” he said. “I understand their predicament and bear the cross with them. Many have come to know Jesus Christ as a result of our decision to embrace Jesus as our Lord. Many from Islamic background have embraced Christ because they believe that if we have overcome our travails, they too can withstand persecution.”

In some cases, his team has seen whole Fulani communities putting their faith in Jesus Christ, he said.

“We have seen people who are persecuted; we have seen people who have become homeless just like me for their decision to receive Christ,” he said. “Right now, in addition to my three kids, I have adopted six others because of their decision to embrace Christ.”

He adopted one of the boys after learning that his father had taken him to a farm to slaughter him for his decision to receive Christ.

“Myself and some Christians rescued this boy from his father as he was bleeding,” he said. “The boy, in our presence there in the bush, where his father took him to kill him, told his father, ‘I love you as my father, but I cannot be a Muslim like you.’”

The boy further told his father that he had seen Christian parents continue to show love to their children after they became Muslims, but that he could no longer stay with his father because he no longer loved him. “All you want is to kill me – I cannot be your son,” he told him.

“That was how the boy left his father and walked away,” Mohammed said. “I had to adopt him because he had no place to live.”

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Fulani Fugitive from Islam in Nigeria Endures Persecution as a ‘Lifestyle’ appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/fulani-fugitive-islam-nigeria-endures-persecution-lifestyle/feed/ 0
Christians in Nepal Sentenced to Prison for Praying for Ill Woman Are Released http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/christians-nepal-sentenced-prison-praying-ill-woman-released/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/christians-nepal-sentenced-prison-praying-ill-woman-released/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 15:24:37 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7171   (Morning Star News) – Four Christians in Nepal sentenced to five years in prison on false charges of “witchcraft” and “violence” were released today after a high court annulled their convictions, church leaders said. Lali Pun, Bimkali Budha, Suk Lal Pariyar and Ganga Pariyar had been accused in Salyan District Court on May 19, […]

The post Christians in Nepal Sentenced to Prison for Praying for Ill Woman Are Released appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
 

Accused Christians (front) and advocates, including FNCN President C.B. Gahatraj (center). (FNCN)

Accused Christians (front) and advocates, including FNCN President C.B. Gahatraj (center). (FNCN)

(Morning Star News) – Four Christians in Nepal sentenced to five years in prison on false charges of “witchcraft” and “violence” were released today after a high court annulled their convictions, church leaders said.

Lali Pun, Bimkali Budha, Suk Lal Pariyar and Ganga Pariyar had been accused in Salyan District Court on May 19, 2016 for praying for a mentally troubled woman, Seti Pariyar, according to the Federation of National Christian Nepal (FNCN). On Dec. 19, 2016 they were convicted of witchcraft, violence and holding Seti Pariyar against her will, though the woman testified that she was not mistreated or captive and had been healed by the prayer.

Besides the prison sentences, the Christians had been told to pay a fine of 50,000 Nepalese rupees (US$475), an overwhelming sum in Nepal. A fifth Christian, Rupa Thapa, was arrested with them but was declared not guilty and released in 2016.

“FNCN would like to thank Higher Court, Surkhet for setting free our innocent people,” said FNCN co-general secretary Sagar Baizu in the statement. “We would also like to inform you all that the FNCN has already arranged the shelter and other things for the victimized people and education for their children.”

FNCN representatives had petitioned for the Christians’ release, and on Sept. 10 High Court Surkhet Judges Mahesh Sharma Paudel and Krishna Thapa invalidated the Dec. 19, 2016 convictions by the Salyan District Court, Baizu said.

Relatives of Seti Pariyar, said to be mentally ill, had taken her to the four Christians’ Samuel Church for healing prayer in Kubine-4, Jiamire, Salyan District, on May 19, 2016, according to the FNCN. Accusing her of witchcraft, the relatives had raked her “with stinging nettle and fed her stool” while bringing her to the church, the FNCN reported.

The four Christians were not charged for months after their arrest, according to the FNCN. The umbrella body said accusers intentionally twisted the facts to fabricate a case against the four Christians, and that authorities forced them to sign a document whose contents the accused did not know.

Area church leaders believe the four Christians were set up.

“There is a risk that this type of well-designed plan can happen any time among the Christian community,” an earlier FNCN statement noted, concluding that the Christians were targeted for their faith.

“About the incident, the victims told us face-to-face that what they have done is for the benefit of the sick woman, as she was brought by her relatives for prayer for healing,” the FNCN statement noted.

Seti Pariyar’s husband also testified that she was not mistreated or held against her will.

The arrest and conviction of the four Christians came at a time when Nepal’s Hindu majority was increasingly influencing authorities to harass Christians. While Nepal has long outlawed evangelization, a new constitution in 2015 and the release of implementing laws last month reinforced existing prohibitions against evangelizing, and Hindu interests have used them to falsely accuse Christians.

Last year a court dropped charges against eight Christians who had been wrongly arrested for distributing Christian comic books in a Christian school.

Under the implementing laws approved on Aug. 8, those convicted of converting or undermining “the religion, faith or belief that any caste, ethnic group or community has been observing since eternal times” can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. A conviction for “hurting religious sentiment” can result in up to two years in prison and a fine.

In the harassment of eight Christians last year, seven men and one woman were arrested in Charikot, Dolakha District in June 2016 as part of a crack-down on Christian activities in the fledgling democracy. They were reportedly mistreated in jail before being released on bail.

While the new constitution passed in September 2015 establishes Nepal as a secular and democratic republic, its definition of “secular” appears to protect Hinduism and allows others only to worship in their own faiths. Article 26 forbids anyone to “convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other people.”

Advocacy groups have recently detected increased enforcement and other anti-Christian efforts as officials seek to placate Hindus incensed that the new constitution did not re-establish a more prominent place for Hinduism.

The eight Christians were acquitted on Dec. 6, 2016 after being charged with trying to convert children to Christianity. They were using the comic booklets as part of a counseling program for children traumatized by earthquakes on April 25, 2015 and May 12, 2015.

The Christians were arrested after Teach Nepal, a Kathmandu-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), organized two trauma counseling sessions at two schools in Charikot. The earthquake trauma sessions took place at Modern Nepal School and Mount Valley Academy in Charikot, with children receiving a small gift pack that included the 23-page Christian comic book.

A landlocked country between the giants of India and China, Nepal is said to be more than 75 percent Hindu and 16 percent Buddhist. Christians are estimated to make up nearly 3 percent of Nepal’s population, and Muslims 4.4 percent.

In 2009, the Hindu extremist Nepal Defense Army bombed a Catholic Mass at the Assumption Church in the capital city of Kathmandu, killing two women and a schoolgirl.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

 

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Christians in Nepal Sentenced to Prison for Praying for Ill Woman Are Released appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/christians-nepal-sentenced-prison-praying-ill-woman-released/feed/ 0
Christian Father of Two in Pakistan Sentenced to Death for ‘Blaspheming’ Prophet of Islam http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/christian-father-two-in-pakistan-sentenced-death-blaspheming-prophet-islam/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/christian-father-two-in-pakistan-sentenced-death-blaspheming-prophet-islam/#comments Mon, 18 Sep 2017 10:46:21 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7159 LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian father of two in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for blaspheming Islam’s prophet in a phone text even though he is illiterate, sources said. Nadeem James, 27, was charged in July 2016 in Gujrat District after a friend, Yasir Bashir, complained to police that he received a […]

The post Christian Father of Two in Pakistan Sentenced to Death for ‘Blaspheming’ Prophet of Islam appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
First Information Report of blasphemy accusation against Nadeem James. (Morning Star News)

First Information Report of blasphemy accusation against Nadeem James. (Morning Star News)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian father of two in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for blaspheming Islam’s prophet in a phone text even though he is illiterate, sources said.

Nadeem James, 27, was charged in July 2016 in Gujrat District after a friend, Yasir Bashir, complained to police that he received a poem via WhatsApp instant messaging that was derogatory towards Muhammad and other revered Islamic figures. James’ attorney, Riaz Anjum, told Morning Star News that the court sentenced James to death on Thursday (Sept. 14).

“The trial was held inside the prison due to security reasons,” Anjum said, adding that they will challenge the conviction in the high court.

The lawyer said that James’ childhood friend, Bashir, leveled the charge after becoming annoyed with James’ alleged affair with a Muslim woman. James, a Roman Catholic, had separated from his wife, Anjum said

“Bashir used to meet James almost every day, and we believe that it was then that he misused the latter’s phone for forwarding the blasphemous poem to himself,” Anjum said.

He said that he had yet to receive the judgment, but that the conviction was based on data transferred from James’ phone.

“There’s no denying that the blasphemous poem was forwarded from James’ phone,” he said, “however, we implored the judge to consider the circumstances that eventually led to the registration of the case against James.”

The lawyer said that James was deeply troubled by the conviction but hopeful that the high court will acquit him based on the facts.

James’ brother, Shahbaz James, had earlier told Morning Star News that police had falsely charged his younger brother under pressure from local Islamist leaders, particularly Hafiz Muhammad Tariq, prayer leader of Yaqoobabad mosque in Sarai Alamgir, Gujrat District.

Shahbaz said that James was uneducated and could not have possibly sent the text message.

At that time a police official who requested anonymity told Morning Star News that officers registered the case against James under pressure from local Islamist leaders who had threatened to stage protests in the district if police delayed filing the First Information Report.

Police filed the case against James under Sections 295-C, defaming Muhammad, punishable by death and a fine, and 295-A, acts intended to outrage religious feelings, punishable by up to 10 years of prison and a fine, on the basis of the phone text provided by Bashir, a police spokesman then said.

“According to our initial investigation, the WhatsApp text was sent to Yasir Bashir’s cell number on July 4, and the two sides had been negotiating a settlement until the talks broke down and Yasir Bashir informed us about the issue,” he said at that time.

Relatives are caring for James’ two children because he and his wife are separated, according to his brother.

Critics of Pakistan’s blasphemy statues, including European governments, assert they are misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges that could see them face fines, life imprisonment or death by hanging.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone convicted of blasphemy, but anyone charged or accused of insulting Islam risks a violent death at the hands of vigilantes. A Christian laborer and his wife were thrown into the furnace of a brick kiln in 2014 after being wrongly accused of throwing pages of the Koran into the garbage.

Christian mother of five Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 after an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Although international attorneys note that lower courts did not consider which of three statements attributed to her were “blasphemous” nor prove the intent to blaspheme necessary for conviction, the courts upheld her conviction. She is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on an appeal.

Pakistan ranked fourth on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

 

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post Christian Father of Two in Pakistan Sentenced to Death for ‘Blaspheming’ Prophet of Islam appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/christian-father-two-in-pakistan-sentenced-death-blaspheming-prophet-islam/feed/ 1
China Tightens Control on Churches, Enforces Law Against Teaching Children http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/china-tightens-control-churches-enforces-law-teaching-children/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/china-tightens-control-churches-enforces-law-teaching-children/#comments Fri, 15 Sep 2017 11:09:08 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7153 (Morning Star News) – China has tightened its “choke-hold” on churches across the country in recent weeks, according to advocacy group China Aid. Recent bans on unregistered church worship and on teaching Christianity to children, “as if intending to eliminate all house churches at once,” have startled Christians, a China Aid source reported. In Guangzhou, […]

The post China Tightens Control on Churches, Enforces Law Against Teaching Children appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
Officials collect information from Christians in Jiangsu Province. (China Aid)

Officials collect information from Christians in Jiangsu Province. (China Aid)

(Morning Star News) – China has tightened its “choke-hold” on churches across the country in recent weeks, according to advocacy group China Aid.

Recent bans on unregistered church worship and on teaching Christianity to children, “as if intending to eliminate all house churches at once,” have startled Christians, a China Aid source reported.

In Guangzhou, Guangdong Province in southern China, a source told China Aid that in the past week police visited members of unregistered church members at their homes to warn them not to attend worship services. Officers also summoned a large number of them for questioning.

“The police called me again today and ordered me to stay away from church gatherings, which irritated me,” reported one Christian, who wished to remain unnamed. “I don’t know what to do with these people.”

Authorities also ordered the Christian to write a letter guaranteeing not to attend church services.

“Today, people from the sub-district office went to take pictures of our two church buildings, using inspecting the fire systems as an excuse,” the source told China Aid earlier this week. “People from the religious affairs bureau also called and summoned me for a talk on Friday [Sept. 7].”

Separation of Church and Children

In Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province on the eastern coast, children were specifically prohibited from attending church services, with local officials ordering churches to cancel all activities involving teenagers. Elementary and middle school staff members told parents not to allow them to attend Sunday worship services or other church events, according to China Aid.

“Many Sunday schools in Wenzhou were shut down,” a Wenzhou Christian identified only as Li told China Aid. “Many teachers sent messages to their colleagues in group chats in order to prevent children from attending religious gatherings.”

Similar bans occurred earlier this year, as Chinese law that is inconsistently enforced forbids adults from teaching religion to Chinese children, according to China Aid. In Wenzhou, county-level departments dispatched officials to more than 100 churches who verbally issued prohibitions against teenagers attending church services, church-related summer camps or Sunday schools and assigned personnel to monitor the churches and their activities.

“Outraged, the Chinese Christians argued that the government had violated its own laws on protecting minors, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and China’s religious freedom regulations,” China Aid reported.

Article 36 of China’s Constitution stipulates that all Chinese citizens have freedom of belief, and its Regulations on Religious Affairs do not forbid children from attending worship services, according to China Aid.

“For a long time, teenagers and students have not been allowed to participate in religious activities,” a local Christian identified only as Zhang told China Aid, referring to the law that forbids children from attending religious events. “However, the [official, registered] Three-Self Churches and house churches would usually hold summer camps during the summer vacation.”

Now the government is emphasizing that even Sunday school classes are prohibited, he said, adding, “The government’s major intention is to shut down the Sunday schools.”

The crack-down comes in the wake of a recent order from the Henan Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Committee and the Henan Provincial China Christian Council forbidding churches from organizing summer camps for minors and students, citing high temperatures as a possible health risk. A Christian from Henan said such camps have been allowed in previous summers, and originally officials would interfere only if they received a tip-off about such events.

“The government is trying to control ideology,” Zhang told China Aid. “During [Chinese Presidents] Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s time, the government was tolerant toward preaching and missionary work. After Xi Jinping came into power, the government’s grip on religion has strengthened.”

The Nanyang Municipal Religious Affairs Bureau in Henan ordered all 20,000 house-church members in the province to join the Three-Self Church, according to China Aid. Many Chinese Christians disagree with the Three-Self Church based on theological discrepancies and rampant government censorship, making the forced merging of these two branches a violation of religious freedom, the advocacy group asserted.

Henan Province has also begun forcing Three-Self Churches seek approval for all large-scale religious activities, China Aid reported.

In Ezhou, Hubei Province in the eastern part of the country, an almost weekly conflict between officials and members of a house church that met outdoors after the Communist Party confiscated its chairs and desks on Jan. 10 escalated when government-hired thugs beat five or six Christians on Aug. 22, China Aid reported. Previously such goons had “shot firecrackers at the Christians, hurled mud at them, and beaten a woman with high blood pressure unconscious, continuing to kick her even after she fainted.”

In the eastern province of Jiangsu, officials have launched a new investigation that includes acquiring information on key church leaders and other members and their connections to Christians overseas, as well as their plans for future development. When a pastor asked why she was being made to fill out a form that included her personal information, an official replied that the Communist Party suspected “Christian imposters” were infiltrating churches and deceiving believers, according to China Aid.

“The government often uses excuses in order to investigate churches, such as alleging that they need to perform fire-safety checks, and it is likely the government’s so-called suspicions are actually just ruses used in order to sanction the baseless persecution of Christians,” China Aid reported.

A China Aid correspondent theorized that such actions are being carried out as “comprehensive stability maintenance” ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China meeting on Oct. 18.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.   

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

 

###

© 2017 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

The post China Tightens Control on Churches, Enforces Law Against Teaching Children appeared first on Morningstar News.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2017/09/china-tightens-control-churches-enforces-law-teaching-children/feed/ 1