A group of Muslims thwarted a terrorist attack planned against Christians in Northern Kenya, saving nearly two dozen believers from death, a persecution watchdog has revealed.
The Islamic extremist group Al-Shabaab had planned to storm a construction site for a new hospital in Kutulo, Kenya and kill any Christian workers they found there.
When some of the local Muslim population heard of the impending attack, they rushed to the area to tell all Christians to evacuate. They then waited for the gunmen to arrive and confronted them.
While the Muslims were unable to prevent the gunmen from opening fire on the construction site, more than 20 Christians were nevertheless able to flee the site and escape without injuries.
“They confronted the gunmen who proceeded to the site and failed to get what they wanted. The attackers opened fire but no one was injured before they escaped,” north-eastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik told media.
Kutulo, located in Mandera County, Kenya, is a highly dangerous place for Christians to live and work due to the high concentration of Somalis and Muslims that live in the region. ICC notes that Christians are an “easy target” for terrorist groups like al-Shabaab, as they are easily identifiable.
In light of this reality, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, told The Christian Post the Muslim’s decision to protect Christians is of “immense importance.”
“First, it shows that those of different faiths can come together and protect each other,” he said. “You will find that, most often, those who are most able to defend people against extremist groups, are those of the same faith as the extremist group. When locals know what is happening or receive warning when attacks like this are coming, it takes brave men like these to stop them.”
The story also provides the chance for groups like ICC to “laud the heroism of those of other faiths,” Johnson continued.
“If we want to be able to call out those who abuse power and persecute others, then we must also be able to applaud those who protect others as well,” he said. “These men, at risk to their own lives, stopped an attack that would have left dozens dead or injured. It took true bravery to do this.”
The July 21 attempted attack mirrors a 2016 incident in which a group of Kenyan Muslims traveling on a bus ambushed by Al-Shabaab gunmen protected Christian passengers by refusing to be split into groups.
The terrorists killed two people and wounded four others in the attack before ordering the Muslim passengers separate themselves from the Christians, but the Muslims on board refused to comply.
“They told us if you are a Muslim, we are safe,” one passenger recalled to the BBC. “We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone.”
Al-Shabaab, which is based in Somalia but continues to carry out attacks in neighboring Kenya, remains one of Africa’s deadliest terror groups.
In April 2015, the terrorists killed close to 150 students during an ambush attack at Garissa University College, where the militants separated Muslims from Christians before executing the latter.
In August 2017, the terrorists killed another four Christian men in Kenya’s Lamu County, beheading three and burning alive another.
Kenya ranks 40th on Open Door USA’s World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult be a Christian, with Islamic oppression cited as the primary source of persecution.
Johnson told CP that while the lives of Christians were spared in the most recent terrorist attack, it does “not mean the work there is done.”
“This is an opportunity to highlight the plight of Christians in northeastern Kenya without the expense of anyone losing their life,” he said. “There have been many such attacks where no one stepped in to save those targeted.”
“Please continue to pray that those who live in these areas are able to work and worship in peace, that they would be able to spread the Gospel to those who do not know it, and that they would love their neighbors regardless of their faith and ethnicity,” he added.
Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools
An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.
In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.
‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’
The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.
While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.
The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.
He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.
Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.
But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.
John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.
‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.
They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.
They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.
This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.
He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.
The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’
He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.
China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service
The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.
An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.
The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”
“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”
While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.
The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.
In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.
Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.
In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.
The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.
“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”
“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”
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