Love of Children Brings $800,000 Gift to Zimbabwe

Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, episcopal leader of the United Methodist South Carolina Conference, speaks during the presentation of $800,029 donated by the conference to the Fairfield Children’s Home in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of the Africa University Public Affairs Office.

In 2001, the Rev. John Holler and a mission team from South Carolina traveled thousands of miles to work at the Fairfield Children’s Home.

They fell in love with the orphans and The United Methodist Church’s Old Mutare Mission that was caring for them. Holler promised to return.

On Oct. 21, Holler walked back on the campus. He also brought a gift of $800,029.

“For 20 years, it was a promise unkept,” he said. “It is amazing to return to this place.”

More than 80 United Methodists traveled from the U.S. to celebrate the 30th anniversary of United Methodist-related Africa University and the inauguration of the Rev. Peter Mageto as the university’s fifth vice chancellor.

The visit to Old Mutare Mission was also in the plans.

“Africa University is called the ‘School of Dreams,’” said Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, episcopal leader of the South Carolina Conference. “The Old Mutare Mission is across the way in the ‘Valley of Hope.’”

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Source: United Methodist News

Islamic State Mozambique Demands That Christians and Jews Convert to Islam or Pay a Tax if They Do Not Want to Be Killed

As part of its mission to establish a caliphate, the Islamic State Mozambique terror group has demanded that all Christians and Jews convert to Islam or pay a tax if they do not want to be slaughtered, and has declared an “endless war” on the Mozambican army, according to a report.

The message is part of a handwritten note addressed to the “Mozambican crusader army,” —Muslims, Christians and Jews in Mozambique — which appeared on social media earlier this month, Zitamar News reported.

Submit to Islam, pay tax or accept an “endless war,” the message warns Christians and Jews in the country. In a threat to the country’s army, it added, “We will escalate the war against you until you submit to Islam. … Our desire is to kill you or be killed, for we are martyrs before God, so submit or run from us.”

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Source: Christian Post

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Warns of Dangerous Use of Blasphemy Laws in Nigeria

Blasphemy laws and their discriminatory enforcement are becoming another major threat to religious liberty in Nigeria, according to a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The USCIRF study also found that blasphemy bans contained in the nation’s criminal statutes and state-level Shari’a rules are often carried out for political gain, to persecute religious minorities or to settle personal grudges.

This is an especially important issue in a nation almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims with a tiny minority of Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, humanist, Jewish and indigenous traditions, the commission said. “The increasing enforcement of blasphemy laws enshrined in Nigeria’s criminal and Shari’a codes poses a significant risk to religious freedom for Nigerians, especially religious minorities and those who espouse unpopular or dissenting beliefs, worldviews, or religious interpretations.”

The rise of anti-blasphemy actions in Nigeria comes during a rise in high-profile outbreaks of sectarian and mob-driven violence motivated by religious intolerance and deep partisan divides, according to a USCIRF report.

“In recent years, nonstate actor violence has increased in most parts of Nigeria, and this violence has yielded devastating humanitarian and human rights consequences, including but not limited to violence based on religion and other violations of Nigerians’ rights to freedom of religion or belief,” USCIRF reported.

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Source: Baptist News Global

Report Says Global Rise in Persecution of Christians is Passing ‘the Threshold of Genocide’

The Bishop of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, visits a victim of the June attack on St Francis Xavier Church in hospital.

A report on persecuted Christians has warned that growing threats to communities across the world and evidence of violence which “clearly passes the threshold of genocide”.

Persecuted and Forgotten? was published by the charity Aid to the Church in Need on Wednesday 16 November at the Houses of Parliament. Covering the period 2020-22, it found that the persecution of Christians increased in three-quarters of the countries surveyed.

The charity said that the report “shows there is a long way to go to ensure the liberty of Christians and other minorities around the world is protected”.

Research found varying causes of oppression in different regions, with state authoritarianism significant in some Asian countries, such as China and Myanmar, while in India the growth of religious nationalism had caused worsening conditions for Christians.

The report describes a particularly bleak situation in Nigeria, which it says “teeters on the brink of becoming a failed state”, where more than 7,600 Christians were killed between January 2021 and June 2022.

The foreword is by Fr Andrew Andeniyi Abayomi, a priest of St Francis Xavier’s Church in Owo, Ondo State, which was attacked by militants during Pentecost Mass on 5 June this year, killing 40 of the congregation.

“The world has turned away from Nigeria,” writes Fr Abayomi. “A genocide is taking place, but no one cares.”

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Source: the Tablet

Pastor Tortured and Killed in Laos, Nigeria, for Spreading the Gospel Was a Father of 8

The body of Pastor Seetoud is burried on Oct. 24, 2022, in Laos. | Morning Star News

The body of a pastor with an officially recognized church in Laos was found last month with signs that he was tortured and killed for his faith, area sources said.

Christian leaders and police in central Laos’ Khammouane Province believe Pastor Seetoud, who went by a single name, was killed for spreading the Gospel amid rapid church growth in the country.

The pastor had been expected to attend a meeting of Christians on Oct. 20 in Thakhek, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from his home in Don Keo village, Nakai District, Khammouane Province, a journey of three and a half hours on his motorbike. When he failed to arrive more than three hours after the start time for the meeting, more than 20 people searched for him on the mountain pass near Don Keo village and at a local hospital, without success.

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Source: Christian Post

Ethiopia-Tigray Peace Agreement Contains Biblical Mandate

Image: Phill Magakoe / AFP / Getty Images. Ethiopian government representative Redwan Hussein (second left) and Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) representative Getachew Reda (second right) sign a peace agreement during a press conference regarding the African Union-led negotiations to resolve conflict in Ethiopia, in Pretoria on November 2, 2022.
Image: Phill Magakoe / AFP / Getty Images. Ethiopian government representative Redwan Hussein (second left) and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) representative Getachew Reda (second right) sign a peace agreement during a press conference regarding the African Union-led negotiations to resolve conflict in Ethiopia, in Pretoria on November 2, 2022.

The Ethiopian war in Tigray is over.

On November 2, federal forces and rebel authorities agreed on a “cessation of hostilities,” ending a conflict believed to have killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. All sides committed abuses, as documented by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and other international observers.

“No one has been clean in this war,” said Desta Heliso, a visiting lecturer at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. “As Christians, we have to feel sorry about this.”

The peace agreement, however, provides for a biblical mandate.

Most negotiations concerned military realities. The two-year conflict in the Horn of Africa nation’s northernmost region—home to 7 million of Ethiopia’s 120 million people—vacillated in advantage between the two sides and between hostilities and humanitarian truce.

The United Nations stated 5.2 million Tigrayans need assistance.

But as federal forces pressed deeper into Tigray, peace talks sponsored by the African Union (AU) in South Africa concluded with an agreement for complete disarmament of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) within 30 days. National troops may enter the regional capital of Mekele; assume control of all borders, highways, and airports; and expedite humanitarian aid.

Both sides agree to cease defamation campaigns, and the central government will ensure restoration of communication, transportation networks, and banking services.

But long-term peace may depend on the outcome of a minor clause included among the 15 measures. The federal government agrees to conduct a “comprehensive transitional justice policy” consistent with the AU framework.

Ethiopia will be the first experiment in implementation.

“The possibility for reconciliation is there,” said Heliso, who was formerly vice president of the Kale Heywet Church, one of Ethiopia’s largest evangelical denominations. “But some claims for justice will have to be given up for peace, painful as it might be.”

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Source: Christianity Today

Report Says Islamic Extremists Have Killed at Least 29 Christians in Mozambique Since September

At least 21 Christians have been killed by Islamist extremists in violent attacks throughout October in northern Mozambique.

Jihadists set fire to a church building and several houses in the Chiure district of Cabo Delgado Province on October 26, killing one person.

The Islamists also announced the killing of 20 Christians and the displacement of hundreds more in Cabo Delgado between October 3 and 20.

The attacks were carried out by an Islamic State (IS)-affiliated organisation Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, known locally as Al Shabaab (not the Somali-based group of the same name). They were announced in al-Naba, the weekly magazine of IS (also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh).

In addition to church building in Chiure, the Islamists said that other church property in Cabo Delgado had been destroyed, though no details were given.

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Source: Barnabas Fund

How an Australian Missionary Regrew the African Sahel

Image: Silas Koch / World Vision. Farmer-managed natural regeneration in Niger

After 18 grueling months fighting desertification in Niger, Tony Rinaudo was near despair. As manager of a small reforestation project for SIM in 1983, he knew few of the 6,000 trees the missions agency had planted yearly since 1977 had survived the arid Sahel climate.

Locals called him the “crazy white farmer,” not wishing to waste valuable agricultural land on more failed efforts. But, trudging on, he loaded another batch of saplings into his pickup truck, struggling to fulfill his childhood prayer.

Years earlier in the threatened Ovens Valley of southeast Australia, Rinaudo lamented the bulldozing of hilly bushland and the killing of fish by drift from insecticides sprayed on tobacco plants—while children elsewhere went to bed hungry.

“God,” he cried out, “use me somehow, somewhere, to make a difference.”

Soon thereafter he stumbled upon I Planted Trees by Richard St. Barbe Baker. One line impressed itself upon Rinaudo, becoming his eventual life work.

“When the forests go, the waters go, the fish and game go, herds and flocks go, fertility departs,” he read from the 19th-century English botanist’s book. (The quote is attributed elsewhere to Scottish science journalist Robert Chambers). “Then the age-old phantoms appear stealthily, one after another—Flood, Drought, Fire, Famine, Pestilence.”

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Source: Christianity Todaye

Watchdog Report Says Over 4000 Christians Have Been Killed by Terrorists in Nigeria Since the Start of 2022

Christians hold signs as they march on the streets of Abuja during a prayer and penance for peace and security in Nigeria in Abuja on March 1, 2020. The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria gathered faithfuls and other Christians to pray for security and to denounce the barbaric killings of Christians by the Boko Haram insurgents and the incessant cases of kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria. | Kola Sulaimon/AFP via Getty Images

Islamic jihadist groups in Nigeria killed at least 4,000 Christians and abducted more than 2,300 other Christians in the first 10 months of this year alone, according to a report released this week by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law.

The Fulani herdsmen and Islamic terror groups allied with it were responsible for 2,650 of the 4,020 total Christian deaths between January and October 2022, the Anambra-based group Intersociety said in a report sent to The Christian Post.

The other terror groups, including Islamist State in West Africa Province, Boko Haram and Ansaru, accounted for 450 Christian deaths and the Fulani (Zamfara) bandits and their splinters were responsible for 370 Christian deaths, it added.

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Source: Christian Post

Christian Woman Testifies of God’s Faithfulness After Husband and Son Martyred in Nigeria

Rebecca speaks during the short film "Rebecca: Nigeria," produced by the Voice of the Martyrs and released on Nov. 6, 2022. | YouTube/Voice of the Martyrs USA
Rebecca speaks during the short film “Rebecca: Nigeria,” produced by the Voice of the Martyrs and released on Nov. 6, 2022. | YouTube/Voice of the Martyrs USA

A new short feature film from a global missions organization serving persecuted Christians shares the inspiring story of courageous faith faced by a Christian woman in northern Nigeria.

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) released Rebecca: Nigeria, the true story of a Nigerian Christian woman who watched helplessly with her daughter as Boko Haram militants killed her husband and son and burned their home.

“There was nothing we could do to defend ourselves,” she said. “I was devastated. I mourned for many months.”

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Source: Christian Post