This article was written by Mike Gore, CEO Open Doors Australia & New Zealand.
2016 was a massive year!
Each year I try to pause and reflect on the biggest events from the last 12 months. I want to remember the moments that shook my world, and the moments when I saw God at work the most. Here are five of the biggest stand out events from 2016.
I remember sitting with a pastor in Northern Iraq in May as bombs exploded in the distance. The battle to regain ground from Islamic State (IS) raged in the distance. I heard story after story of people who had lost everything and lived with the daily stress of “ISIS coming”. To see a pastor in October return to his church, now liberated from IS and passionately ring the church bells for the first time in 2 years was incredible. It was such a powerful picture of hope, courage, and resolve that rang out over the city. Please keep praying as we continue long-term restoration plans for the local church.
Boko Haram has released 21 of the girls kidnapped from Chibok over two years ago. The girls were released into care of the Nigerian Army in Maidugiri, capital of Borno state where the Islamist group has been it’s strongest.
In the middle of the night on 14 April 2014, 275 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their dormitories in the village of Chibok, Nigeria. While over 50 managed to escape straight away, before today only 2 other girls had been found.
An Open Doors contact in close contact with parents of the Chibok girls says, “When I first spoke to the parents after the news broke, they told me they had not heard about it. Later they called to confirm the report, but at that time had not been contacted by the government yet. They are eagerly awaiting word from them.”
Here is what we know so far. Continue reading
Christian persecution in Africa is on the rise. As part of this global family, we need to ask the question – how can we help? But first, what does persecution look like in Africa?
What’s it like to be a Christian in Ethiopia?
In some regions of Ethiopia, radical Islam is growing and Christians are becoming more and more vulnerable. Some Muslims harass Christians and deny them access to public resources. Some tribes also pose a threat to Christianity, they demand loyalty from members and see faith as a denial of tribal identity.
What’s it like to be a Christian in Nigeria?
The Islamic militant group Boko Haram have destroyed many churches and left Christians traumatised. Thousands have been kidnapped, including the 200 Chibok girls. Christian communities are also often denied basic living needs like clean water, health clinics or new roads.
READ: Mother’s Day for over 200 Mothers of the Kidnapped Chibok Girls Continue reading
Comfort*, a 50-year-old widow from Mubi, Nigeria was among many Christian women from her village abducted by Boko Haram militants.
RELATED: Vision of Christ Crying for Sinners Saves Muslim Girl in Africa
One night in October 2014, Comfort heard gunshots and loud screaming in her village. Alarmed, she sought advice from her neighbours. When the screaming drew closer, her husband decided they should flee. Together with their 25 year old twin sons Jerry and Eric, they ran to the car.
Comfort* from Nigeria.
They shot my husband and sons…
Before the family could drive away, the car was surrounded by Boko Haram rebels. They were told to get out of the car and were forced to the ground. “As we lay there, I heard them shooting. I thought they were just shooting in the air, not realising that it was my husband and my twin sons who had been shot.” Continue reading
Warning: This blog contains content that may distress some readers.
Mercy endured the unthinkable brutality of abduction, forced Islamisation and marriage by Boko Haram rebels.
At 22 years old, most young women are establishing their dreams for the future. Mercy at 22, is a Displaced Person, homeless with no family and no idea what her future holds. Her miraculous testimony of survival is helping her to trust God in the uncertainty.
22-year-old Mercy from Nigeria, who endured 5 months captivity by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram, al-Shabaab – Radical Islam’s other home
Radical Islam is widely known to be active within the Middle East and North Africa. Yet in Nigeria, Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has been labelled the world’s deadliest terror organisation. Compared to the war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, al-Shabaab’s war in Somalia is virtually unheard of. While we know al-Qaeda works in places like Afghanistan, Australian missionaries Ken and Jocelyn Elliot were kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Burkina Faso.
Islamic extremism is on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet it remains relatively unknown. Continue reading
Will the church be destroyed by extremists?
‘Islamic extremism’ was the main source of persecution in 70% of the countries on the World Watch List 2016 (WWL). We take a closer look at these countries and how local Christians are responding. Continue reading