Cameroon – Two months ago, suspected Fulani militants in northern Cameroon attacked villages in Wum. During the attacks, they killed a man named Angus Fung, who had served for years as a Bible Translator. Angus and others with him helped write the New Testament into the Aghem language for the people of Northern Cameroon. Though it is more likely that this killing was due to the civil strife taking place in Cameroon, it does not lessen the sadness of the loss.
Just this past Sunday, another man named Benjamin Tem, who had been on the same project as Angus Fung, was also killed in his home. Again, locals of the village said that it was Fulani militants who had been ordered by the government to attack any individuals or groups who were helping the separatists. If this is the case, then this again is more political driven than religiously, but it also shows that the government in Cameroon must do more to protect their citizens.
If it is true that the government in Cameroon has hired mercenaries to attack their own people, then they must be held accountable. Allowing groups to attack villages, destroy homes and kill people should never be justified. This is a wrongful act by the government against its own citizens if true. If it is false, then they must ensure the safety of their own people from outside entities who are looking to hurt those they are sworn to protect. Whichever the case, please be praying for the safety of the Christians in Northern Cameroon as the fight continues to grow between the Anglophone and Francophone populations.
Christian Girl Abducted and Raped in Pakistan
Pakistan – Earlier this month, 16-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped near her college in Okara by a Muslim man. She was drugged and then driven to Faisalabad in southwest Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab in Pakistan. There, she was raped several times. The next morning, she was found by her mother Grace as she was laying unconscious on the street near her home.
Grace stated in the first information report that her daughter went to the college in the morning and was supposed to be picked up by her brother that afternoon. When her brother showed up, he was informed that she was already gone.
“The unexpected situation made my son worried as this never happened before.”
According to a local Pastor, the perpetrator harassed her for several months. She refused his advances, at which point he escalated his harassments into sexual assault. No arrest has been made. The harrowing story reveals the abuse of Christians in Pakistan and how justice is often elusive for the persecuted.
Boko Haram Terrorists Abduct 17 Girls, Kill “Many Christians”, and Burn Down Two Churches in Single Attack
Nigeria – Boko Haram terrorists abducted 17 girls in the Chibok area of Borno state on Thursday, January 20th.
The ISIS affiliated group made a statement on Friday claiming responsibility for the attack, adding that they killed ‘many Christians’, set fire to two churches, and burned down two homes.
Eyewitness and local leader Hassan Chibok detailed the attack during an interview with the Associated Press. “The militants targeted a church and Christians when they stormed Pemi on Thursday,” he said. “They were shooting sporadically after they rounded the community. Some could not have access to escape, so they abducted 17 girls.”
A Nigerian army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, told AP that the insurgents were “desperate” to grow their influence.
“Having been depleted by our troops, the imbroglio in their ranks and the massive surrendering of Boko Haram, the terrorists, in a desperate move, are embarking on a recruitment drive to shore up their strength with child soldiers, who they could easily indoctrinate, manipulate and cheaply manage financially,” Nwachukwu said.
Christian communities within Chibok have been faced with ongoing persecution since 2014, when almost 300 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram.
The Islamic terrorist group has killed tens of thousands of Christians in Nigeria and displaced millions in an attempt to discard western influence and impose strict Islamic Sharia law. They target those who do not share their radical interpretation of Islam, often attacking villages and forcefully converting Christians, other religious minorities, and the many Muslims who they feel do not appropriately adhere to the teachings of Muhammed. While the Nigerian military repeatedly insists that the group has been defeated, attacks are ongoing.
Please pray for the end of the Boko Haram insurgency and for the Lord to soften the hearts of militants, who all too often are children forced to partake in heinous acts of violence. Please also pray for those who have been victims of terrorism, for the Lord to heal them and strengthen the church amidst persecution.
The 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus in 2022
A thousand more Christians were killed for their faith last year than the year before.
A thousand more Christians were detained.
Six hundred more churches were attacked or closed.
And Afghanistan is the new No. 1, according to the 2022 World Watch List (WWL), the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian.
“This year’s findings indicate seismic changes in the persecution landscape,” said David Curry, president of Open Doors USA.
Since Open Doors began its tally in 1992, North Korea has led the ranking. But since Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban last August, Afghan believers have had to leave their country or relocate internally. Many lost everything they had, notes the report, while house churches were closed in their wake.
“Before the Taliban, it was not great, but it was good,” said one evacuated Afghan, requesting anonymity in hopes that he may one day return. “[Now] Christians are living in fear, in secret, totally underground.”
Open Doors is quick to note the displacement of North Korea to No. 2 does not reflect an improvement in religious freedom there. On the contrary, a new anti–reactionary thought law has resulted in an increase of Christian arrests and house church closures.
Overall, 360 million Christians live in nations with high levels of persecution or discrimination. That’s 1 in 7 Christians worldwide, including 1 in 5 believers in Africa, 2 in 5 in Asia, and 1 in 15 in Latin America.
Last year, for the first time in 29 years of tracking, all 50 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels on Open Doors’ 84-question matrix. This year, all 50 again qualified—as did 5 more nations that fell just outside the cutoff.
While Islamic extremism continues to create the most persecution, Open Doors noted that COVID-19 restrictions “have become an easy way to tighten control and surveillance over religious minorities and worship services” in China and other nations. Researchers also found that persecution is increasingly displacing Christians from their communities, with tens of thousands—especially from Myanmar—becoming refugees in other nations.
The purpose of the annual WWL rankings—which have chronicled how North Korea has competition as persecution gets worse and worse—is to guide prayers and to aim for more effective anger while showing persecuted believers that they are not forgotten.
The 2022 version tracks the time period from October 1, 2020, to September 20, 2021, and is compiled from grassroots reports by Open Doors workers in more than 60 countries.
Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus:
2. North Korea
Where are Christians most persecuted today?
Afghanistan does not represent the only substantial change in this year’s rankings. Myanmar moved up to No. 12 from No. 18, due to increased violence after its coup and discrimination in health care. Qatar climbed to No. 18 from No. 29, as previously tolerated house churches were not permitted to reopen after COVID-19 closures, despite permission given to mosques and the few officially registered church buildings. Indonesia rose to No. 28 from No. 47, driven by two deadly Islamist attacks on churches despite a government crackdown against terrorists. And Cuba jumped to No. 37 from No. 51, due to intensified action against Christian leaders and activists opposing Communist principles.
Overall, the top 10 nations only shuffled positions from last year. Somalia held steady at No. 3, as did Libya at No. 4, Eritrea at No. 6, and India at No. 10. Yemen rose two spots to No. 5, replacing Pakistan which fell three spots to No. 8. Iran fell one spot to No. 9, and Nigeria rose two spots to No. 7, completing the group.
Surprisingly removed in November from the US State Department’s annual listing of Countries of Particular Concern after finally being added in 2020, Nigeria was given special attention in the Open Doors report.
“Once you are Christian in Nigeria, your life is always at stake,” said a Nigerian believer identified as Manga, whose father was beheaded by Boko Haram. “[But] it’s not like we have anyplace [else] to go; we have no option.”
Africa’s most populous nation ranked first in the WWL subcategories of Christians killed, abducted, sexually harassed, or physically or mentally abused, and in homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. It ranked second in the subcategories of church attacks and internal displacement.
“It has … become increasingly clear that Christians (and minority groups) cannot count on the security apparatus for their protection,” stated the report.
Violations of religious freedom in Nigeria are tied to a rapidly growing Islamist presence in the African Sahel. Mali rose to No. 24 from No. 28, and Open Doors fears it may increase further next year. Burkina Faso held steady at No. 32, and Niger jumped to No. 33 from No. 54. Nearby, the Central African Republic (CAR) rose to No. 31 from No. 35.
“The epicenter of international jihadism is now [in] the Sahel area,” said Illia Djadi, Open Doors senior analyst for freedom of religion and belief for sub-Saharan Africa. “This terrorism is moving south … and predominantly Christian countries like Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast are now affected.” (None rank on the watch list.)
Countries with Christian majorities rank relatively low in the top 50, and include Colombia (No. 30), Cuba (No. 37), Ethiopia (No. 38), the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC (No. 40), Mozambique (No. 41), Mexico (No. 43), and Cameroon (No. 44).
Of the top 50 nations:
11 have “extreme” levels of persecution and 39 have “very high” levels. Another five nations outside the top 50 also qualify as “very high”: Kenya, Sri Lanka, Comoros, United Arab Emirates, and Tanzania.
18 are in Africa (6 in North Africa), 29 are in Asia, 10 are in the Middle East, 4 are in Central Asia, and 3 are in Latin America.
34 have Islam as a main religion, 4 have Buddhism, 2 have Hinduism, 1 has atheism, 1 has agnosticism—and 10 have Christianity.
The 2022 list included two new countries: Cuba and Niger. Two countries dropped off the list: Kenya and Comoros.
Where Christians Face the Most Violence:
4. Central African Republic
5. Democratic Republic of Congo
10. South Sudan
Open Doors reporting period: Oct. 2020 to Sept. 2021
Other noteworthy increases include Saudi Arabia at No. 11, up from No. 14, due to the availability of more specific information on the situation of migrant converts. Similarly, fellow Gulf nation Oman rose to No. 36 from No. 44, following an increase of surveillance against Christians, especially converts, with several forced to leave the country. And in Asia, Bhutan rose to No. 34 from No. 43, due to a rise in violence against Christians in the traditionally nonviolent Buddhist nation.
Not all noteworthy movement was negative. Iraq and Syria each dropped three slots to No. 14 and No. 15, respectively, due to decreases in their number of churches attacked and Christians killed. Tunisia dropped to No. 35 from No. 25, as fewer Christians were detained, while a decrease in violence against Christians caused Tajikistan to fall to No. 45 from No. 43. Meanwhile, fewer attacks by radical Hindu groups in the Himalayan nation of Nepal led its rank to sink to No. 48, down from No. 34.
Open Doors suggested that some declines may be superficial, however, caused by decreases in Christian activity due to COVID-19. Egypt dropped to No. 20 from No. 16, and Turkey fell to No. 42 from No. 35, as attacks on churches lessened. Yet in Egypt, violence against individual Christians remained high, with eight believers killed, while Turkey witnessed increasingly aggressive government rhetoric against Christians, who suffered from growing social distrust.
Other nations canceled out positive developments with negative ones. Sudan remained at No. 13, given that religious freedom reforms at the national level have not yet been enacted at the local level. Colombia held steady at No. 30 as fewer Christians were killed yet criminal activity and social hostility rose—especially in indigenous communities. And Ethiopia, which dropped two spots to No. 38, saw a drop in violence against Christians offset by community pressures amid civil war conditions that make it difficult to discern religious versus ethnic persecution.
Where Christians Were Martyred Most:
1. Nigeria: 4,650
2. Pakistan: 620
3. Name withheld: 100*
4. Burkina Faso 100*
5. Democratic Republic of Congo: 100*
6. Mozambique: 100*
7. Central African Republic: 29
8. Cameroon: 27
9. Tanzania: 25
10. Indonesia: 15
Where Churches Were Attacked or Closed Most:
1. China: 3,000
2. Nigeria: 470
3. Bangladesh: 200
4. Pakistan: 183
5. Qatar: 100
6. Central African Republic: 100*
7. Burkina Faso: 100*
8. Mozambique: 100*
9. Burundi: 100*
10. Angola: 100*
Christian Girl Abducted and Raped in Pakistan
Pakistan – Earlier this month, 16-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped near her college in Okara by a Muslim man. She...
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