279 SCHOOLGIRLS IN NIGERIA RELEASED!
CONTINUED PRAYER NEEDED AGAINST KIDNAPPING
It was a tremendous relief when the 279 schoolgirls were released in early March four days after their kidnapping from a boarding school in the northwestern Zamfara state of Nigeria. Hundreds of girls dressed in light blue hijabs and barefoot were sitting at the Government House office quietly talking to one another. After the meeting, the girls were escorted out to waiting vans to be reunited with their parents. Both the police and the military worked on a joint-operation to rescue the girls. According to the governor of Zamfara state, a “repentant former bandit” not only located the girls and their abductors in the forest but also negotiated their release.
Kidnappings have been rampant in Nigeria in recent years. Abductors hope to get rich after demanding ransoms from family members. The most notorious kidnapping was committed by terrorists in April 2014, when 276 girls were abducted by the original Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau. Around 100 of those girls are still missing. Among other things, Boko Haram is opposed to western education, so it often targets schools.
The event in Zamfara was the fourth mass school abduction since December 2020. There is a sense of desperation, not only in northwest Nigeria where banditry has festered for years but across the country, as kidnappings for ransom surge and general insecurity worsens. Finally, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in early March said that the government would not “succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who target innocent school students in expectation of huge ransom payments.” He has asked the government to review its policy of making such payments. Hopefully, the government will formulate a policy that addresses kidnappings for ransom effectively, regardless of the religion or ethnicity of the victims or perpetrators, and that will discourage further kidnappings and give students, their parents, and the general public some sense of security.
Thank the Lord for the release of these 279 schoolgirls. Let us pray fervently for the kidnappings to stop! Pray for the government to have wisdom and impartiality in the formulating and enacting a policy that will discourage the hopes of abductors that they will be “rewarded” for their kidnapping efforts. Pray that the kidnappers are apprehended to be soundly punished for their evil deeds (Psa. 59:2). Pray for security measures to be effective in both discouraging would-be kidnappers and encouraging parents, students and the public, in general, to feel safe wherever at home, at school, on their farms, or when traveling on roads.
– Adapted from Windows International Network, win1040.com
PERSECUTION IN NIGERIA
When Nigerian front-line worker Daniel Zagi was interviewed by The Voice of the Martyrs’ workers, he used the word pray 42 times. “If there is anything you want to do for us, pray,” he said. “We are here, and we are fighting for the cause of the Gospel in the north.”
Many Christians in northern Nigeria have lost loved ones and homes in attacks by Boko Haram and Islamic Fulani militants, who seek to drive Christians out and establish an Islamist nation. Many pastors have been forced to flee the region, and entire congregations have been displaced.
Nigerian believers need our prayers as they advance the Gospel amid violent attacks from Islamic extremists. We can help them stand firm in faith by praying for them.
Here are some specific ways to pray for persecuted Christians in Nigeria:
• Pray for the encouragement of Nigerian believers suffering repeated attacks. Pray that they will withstand persecution and persevere in faith.
• Pray for the comfort of Nigerian Christians who have experienced great loss in these attacks.
• Pray for the safety of Nigerian Christians as they share the Gospel with Muslims.
• Pray that those ministering to Nigerian believers will have renewed strength and access to needed resources.
• Pray that the persecutors of Nigerian Christians will come to faith in Jesus Christ.
– persecution.com, The Voice of the Martyrs
ERITREAN CHRISTIANS RELEASED FROM PRISON
Over the past several months, The Voice of the Martyrs Canada has been pleased to announce the release of Christian prisoners from Eritrean prisons, including at least 83 since late January. Some of those released had been held in captivity for more than ten years, often under horrific conditions.
It is now believed that there are about 150 Christians remaining imprisoned in Eritrea. The reason behind the releases is unclear, but it may be an attempt to deflect international attention away from the involvement of Eritrean troops in the war within the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Praise be to our Heavenly Father for mightily working on behalf of His suffering children and making it possible for more of them to be freed from prison! Pray for the governing officials of Eritrea to refrain from opposing the Gospel and to stop their oppression of God’s people. Pray that the Christians remaining in prison will be encouraged and fortified by the presence of the Holy Spirit among them as they eagerly await their hopeful release from captivity.
– The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, vomcanada.com
GROWING DESPERATION IN LEBANON
Growing levels of desperation in Lebanon are driving the people to protest, with many protestors calling for the removal of Lebanon’s ruling class, who most Lebanese see as completely corrupt. A leader of one ministry working in Lebanon shares this regarding the level of desperation: “The Lebanese pound has gone down by 90%. So it’s a big recession. And people can’t afford even basic needs anymore, because they’re getting their money in Lebanese pounds. And the Lebanese pound is not buying anything. Some items have been subsidized, like bread, or flour, or gas. But now the government is saying, ‘We’re bankrupt, and we cannot subsidize these things.’”
Regarding the possibility of a political solution to the crisis, the ministry leader states, “We don’t see a solution, really, [through] natural eyes. Everybody’s saying, ‘Oh, we’re in deep crisis,’ but nobody is offering any solution.” He also shares that most of the aid for those in need is coming from non-profits. “As NGOs, I think this is our time to just be there for the people. All the NGOs have been working really day and night for the people, but the government is not doing anything.”
As protests continue, ask God to bring healing to Lebanon. And pray the love of Christians for their neighbors will draw many to Christ.
– Information by permission of Mission Network News, mnnonline.org
CHINA EXPANDS CRACKDOWN AGAINST CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS
While Communist China moves aggressively to spread its influence through the Pacific region and around the world, the government is expanding a crackdown against people of faith at home. In its effort to assure that all its citizens comply with the edicts and beliefs of the state, the Chinese Communist Party is targeting Christians for persecution and ethnic Muslims for genocide. China’s Christians say it is the worst persecution against them since Chairman Mao Zedong.
In regard to the persecution toward the ethnic Uyghurs from East Turkistan, Mike Pompeo, when he served as US Secretary of State, described Uyghur suffering as “one of the worst human rights crises of our time…truly the stain of the century.” One day before he left his post at the State Department, Pompeo officially announced that China was committing genocide against the Uyghurs and Turkic people. The new US Secretary of State agrees with the genocide designation.
For years, the Chinese government has forced Uyghur women to undergo abortions and forced sterilizations. The US Department of Defense says as many as 3 million Uyghurs are being forcibly detained in re-education and forced labor camps.
– CBN News, cbn.com/cbnnews
Pray for the terrible injustice and genocide against the Uyghur and Turkic people to end. Pray for Lord’s encouragement and strength for Christians who are under persecution, especially those who are in prison because of their faith. Pray for the hearts of the persecutors to soften toward the Gospel of Christ.
PRAYER FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS
One special group of people to remember in prayer are the remaining survivors of the Holocaust. The number of these survivors throughout the world is estimated to be about 400,000, with about 179,600 living in Israel (as of the end of 2020). Sadly, tens of thousands of them live in poverty. Another sad reality is that for most of the Jewish survivors, “the only experience they had with Christianity was negative, rife with hate and anti-Semitism.”
Pray for the Lord’s special ministry to these precious souls who faced the horrible conditions related to the Holocaust. Pray they will experience the love of Christ through the prayers and ministry of Christians. Also, as the Christian Friends of Israel ministry encourages, “Pray for the healing of psychological wounds inflicted on Jewish people…by those who hated or opposed them or watched in silence during their times of mistreatment. Please pray that the Word of God will come alive in Jewish hearts bringing them comfort, healing and softening. ‘This is my comfort in my distress, that Your promise gives me life’ (Psa. 119:50).”