Armed Muslim Seleka militants attacked a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Central African Republic (CAR) on 3 December, killing eight Christians and wounding one UN peacekeeper.
The attack took place in Ngakobo, about 60 km south of Bambari, in central CAR.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
National Communist Party ofﬁcials informed the Maranatha First Baptist Church, Holguin, on 21 December that the decision to expropriate the church property had been reversed.
Instead, government officers told the denominational and church leadership that they will begin the process of allowing the church to build a more adequate structure on the property to accommodate the large congregation.
Egypt: still held
SAT-7 Egypt’s equipment, conﬁscated in October, is still held by the Censorship Police, it was reported in December.
SAT-7 remains optimistic and believes that the confiscated equipment will eventually be returned. However, please pray that the case against Farid Samir, its Director in Egypt, will not be referred to the courts, which could prolong the current challenges for potentially many more months.
World Watch Monitor / Elam Ministries
Farshid Fathi was released on 21 December after ﬁve years in prison for his faith.
Farshid was serving a six-year prison sentence – extended to seven years – for ‘action against the regime’s security, being in contact with foreign organisations, and religious propaganda’. He was originally arrested on 26 December 2010 at the same time as around 60 other Christians, many belonging to house churches in Tehran and other cities, most of whom have now been released.
Iran: released as well
Maysam Hojati, a Christian convert residing in Esfahan, who had been arrested on 23 December, was temporarily released on 6 January after 15 days in prison, during which time he endured solitary conﬁne-ment and lengthy interrogation sessions.
Hojati was charged with apostasy, evangelism, distributing Bibles and partaking in house-church planting and only released on payment of approximately £24,000 bail.
A record number of Iranians celebrated Christmas in the Iran region in 2015.
This included thousands of non-Christians who were invited to gatherings in Iran and surrounding nations. The largest service was 900 people in a city near Iran on 20 December. After a joy-filled programme, 31 people gave their lives to Christ.
Iraq: ‘cover up’
World Watch Monitor
The few Christians still in Baghdad found themselves at the receiving end of another barrage of intimidation in December.
Posters appeared on the morning of Sunday 13 December near Christian places of worship, with a message to Christian women to cover up. The messages were reported to be the work of the Government-sanctioned ‘People’s Mobilisation’ Shiite militias.
Israel: rewriting history?
The United Nations has passed a resolution declaring the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as Islamic sites, it was reported at the end of December.
This is yet another attempt by Islamists to rewrite Judeo-Christian history and hijack our biblical heritage.
Kenya: saved by Muslims
On 21 December, about 60 Christians and Muslims were travelling on a bus when al-Shabaab militants stopped the vehicle to target Christians for attack.
Several Muslim passengers quickly gave Christians headscarves to wear to disguise them as Muslims. The extremists ordered the passengers to divide themselves into groups of Christians and Muslims. One Christian tried to run, but was shot and killed. Another individual was also killed in the attack. Authorities say that the Muslims who disguised the Christians saved many more lives from being lost in the attack.
North Korea: sentenced
A Canadian pastor of South Korean origin, who was arrested in Pyongyang after he travelled there in January for humanitarian work, was sentenced on 16 December to life imprisonment with hard labour.
The Revd Hyeon Soo Lim (60), senior pastor of the 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was sentenced on charges of ‘political terrorism’, having been denied independent legal representation. He has visited North Korea 100 times in the past 20 years to support a nursing home, nursery and orphanage.
Somalia: no Christmas
Morning Star News
The Government on 22 December announced a ban on Christmas and New Year’s Day celebrations.
Underground churches in Somalia had planned Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in small fellowships in private homes, but feared holding them after the ban was announced. An influx of Somali refugees returning from ‘Christian’ countries such as Kenya, coupled with the presence of Christians among 22,000 African Union peacekeepers and other foreigners, appears to have prompted the ban.
Pastor Haﬁz Mengisto, senior minister of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, was acquitted on 29 December of obstructing a public servant from performing the duties of his ofﬁce.
Mohaned Mustafa, lawyer for the church, who was charged with the same crime, had his case dismissed on 23 December.
The Tanzanian Government has banned 1,268 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and sent warnings to a further 1,406 NGOs, Home Affairs ministry spokesman Isaac Natanga announced on 11 December.
Listing organisations that ‘interfere with other faith affairs or do politics’ among those banned, this vague and undefined requirement threatens local churches and Christian organisations, particularly those in Muslim-majority parts of the country.
British Pakistani Christian Association
A 30-year-old Christian woman, who ﬂed violence-ridden Karachi in Pakistan and sought refuge in Thailand, died on 31 December after she was arrested and detained, in horriﬁc conditions, for being there after her visa expired.
Samina Faisal was arrested along with many other Pakistani Christians in Thailand on 20 December as part of an ongoing wave of arrests of foreigners deemed to have overstayed their visas. Despite her remonstra-tions that she was on treatment for long-running health conditions and for which she showed paperwork, her arrest stood.
Morning Star News
More than 20 Muslim extremists killed Christian policeman Ismail Kuloba on 8 December, after he responded to an urgent call to intervene in a supposed land dispute between warring parties.
Stationed in Kagunu, Kuloba and three other policemen went to the site of the alleged dispute in nearby Komodo, but when they arrived found only a group of Muslims who surrounded them. Some were angry at Kuloba for leading other Muslims in the area to Christ. One of the assailants, Mudangha Kasimu, threw a stone that hit Kuloba in the forehead and then shot him.
Morning Star News
Pastor Bongo Martin (32), of Nansololo village near Mazuba, in Namudumba District, was hacked to death on 23 December as he and other church members resisted an effort by Muslims to take over their land.
The Pentecostal Church Ministry’s property extended to a nearby river that borders mosque land. ‘On several occasions we have been threatened that our church building should be removed from its present location’, a church leader said.
Carson-Newman University, a Christian university in Tennessee, has been granted a waiver that allows it to ban those whose lifestyle choices are not consistent with its Christian beliefs, it was reported in December.
The waiver allows the school to discriminate against students who are gay, have had abortions or are unwed mothers. ‘These are our religious principles. And in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be’, said Carson-Newman President, Dr Randall O’Brien.
USA: complaint failed
The US Air Force Academy struck down a complaint by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which claimed that it was unconstitutional for Air Force Academy cadets to pray before football games.
After investigating the complaint, the Air Force Academy said that players are allowed to follow their own religious beliefs.
Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and three of his friends were beaten with sticks by Vietnamese police after they took part in a conference on 6 December to inform people living in the country’s Nghe An Province about their human rights, including their right to religious freedom.
Police seized their personal possessions and Mr Nguyen was pushed into the sea after the authorities had stripped him of his jacket and shoes.