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World News

World in Brief

  • Africa: ministry begun

    Fellowship of European Broadcasters (FEB)

    The ship Logos Hope has begun its ministry in Africa, it was reported in March.

    The vision for Africa is to raise up 5,000 African missionaries to reach the continent with the gospel by 2025. Working with OM Africa in each country, Logos Hope aims to be a catalyst to motivate the church and mobilise 1,000 African people into mission during its visit. 2016 will be strategic in making an impact. During the year, Logos Hope plans to visit 20 ports in 15 African countries.

  • Africa: drought


    Churches in eastern and southern Africa in March were appealing for humanitarian aid in the region, as 36 million people grapple with the worst drought in decades.

    Linked to extreme El Nino weather conditions, the drought has hit countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi and Zimbabwe, among others. The conditions have reversed normal weather patterns, upsetting people’s livelihoods.

  • Bangladesh: killed

    Barnabas Fund

    Hossain Ali (68), a convert from Islam, was killed on 22 March when three motorcyclists attacked him at 5.30 am while he was taking his regular early morning walk in Valacopa, Kurrigram District of northern Bangladesh, hacking him to death with a knife.

    Hossain Ali left Islam to follow Christ in 1999. Two other Muslim-background families from his neighbourhood came to know the Lord through his witness, and two years ago he set up a house church in his own home. He had been threatened and pressurised to return to Islam by local Muslims.

  • Canada: third country

    Barnabas Fund

    A third country has been added to the list of those receiving persecuted Syrian and Iraqi Christians, it was reported in March.

    A young Syrian family will shortly be flying to Canada to be welcomed by an Arab church fellowship there and who will help them settle in.

  • China: under surveillance

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)

    Pastor Gu Yuese, who publicly opposed forced cross removals from churches in Zhejiang Province, was released from detention into ‘residential surveillance’ on 31 March.

    Pastor Gu Yuese was senior pastor of the state-sanctioned Chongyi Church in Zhejiang Province, one of the largest registered churches in China. He was first detained in January 2016 before being formally arrested on 6 February on charges of embezzling funds. The release of Pastor Gu and of human rights lawyer Zhang Kai on 23 March were both related to President Xi’s visit to the US for the Nuclear Security Summit. The lawyer’s passport has been confiscated.

  • Cuba: arrested


    The Revd Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, Baptist pastor, member of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba and prominent religious freedom activist, was arrested on 20 March by Cuban state security agents, just hours before President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba for his official visit.

    Following his arrest, Mr Barroso’s wife, Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez, was put under house arrest. State security surrounded their home, where she and their two young daughters were locked inside and the authorities cut the phone connection.

  • Egypt: finally cleared

    World Watch Monitor

    On 13 March Bishoy Kameel Garas, a Coptic Christian, was declared ‘innocent’ after he spent more than half his six-year sentence for charges including defamation of Islam, the Cairo Court of Cassation ruled.

    The charges related to Facebook posts found on a fake page opened in his name. Cairo’s senior court ruled against the sentence last July but it took until 9 October for him to be released. Despite mounting evidence for his acquittal, the prosecution and two lower courts insisted on condemning the Christian, until the higher court finally declared him innocent.

  • Egypt: banned?

    Barnabas Fund

    In March, a Bill was being drafted to ban women from wearing the niqab in public places and government institutions.

    Egypt’s president, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, is attempting to secularise government institutions in order to counter Islamism. In February 2015 Cairo University banned female nurses and doctors from wearing the face veil in medical schools and teaching hospitals. Al-Sisi has also called for a reform of Islam and is promoting tolerance towards the country’s Christian population.

  • Ethiopia: buildings burned

    Morning Star News

    Across the border in Siraro District of Ethiopia’s Oromia Region, in East Shewa Zone about 150 miles south of Addis Ababa, rioting on 15 February by predominantly Muslim Oromo Arsi destroyed 14 church buildings, Christian leaders said.

    More than 2,000 Christians have been left without worship venues after throngs of Oromo Arsi, protesting that the government was marginalising them and that Christians were converting Muslims, burned ten Kale Heywet Church (KHC, Word of Life) buildings and four others.

  • Iran: significant elections?

    Elam Ministries

    Late February saw elections for both Iran’s Majlis (parliament) and the Assembly of Experts, a body of men who will choose the next Supreme Leader.

    A quarter of the parliamentary seats are still to be decided but it is already clear that the voice of the hardliners has been diminished in the Iranian parliament. More significant, though, is the new makeup of the Assembly of Experts. Given the health of 76year-old Ayatollah Khamenei the new members of the Assembly are highly likely to choose his successor. At least 50 of the Assembly’s 88 seats have been taken by men who, while not reformers, are not considered to be hardliners.

  • Kazakhstan: raided

    F18 News (www.forum18.org)

    Police and officers of other security agencies raided 11 church premises and homes of the leaders of New Life Pentecostal Church in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty on 25 March, the day the church was commemorating Good Friday.

    This was the first the church knew of a criminal case of alleged large-scale fraud opened against it in May 2015. ‘We’re not fraudsters’, one church member said following the raids. ‘On the contrary, we help people. We’ve been working here in Kazakhstan for 26 years.’

  • Middle East: joining hands


    Serving In Mission (SIM) and Middle East Christian Outreach (MECO) International are joining hands in an effort to drive the gospel forward as they work with churches in the Middle East, it was reported in March.

    The Middle East offers one of the biggest gospel opportunities and this new initiative will seek to put more UK workers into that region. Both SIM and MECO believe that together they are far better able to take the good news of Jesus to where he is least known than either could have done individually.

  • Middle East: four killed

    Barnabas Fund

    Four national Christian Bible translators were killed when Islamic militants raided the office of Wycliffe Associates in the Middle East, the Christian organisation confirmed in a report released on 20 March.

    The attackers sprayed bullets around the office, shooting and killing two of the translators, injuring several more, and destroying the office equipment. Then, with their spent weapons, they bludgeoned to death two other translators who had leapt on top of the lead translator, saving his life.

  • Nigeria: new bookshop


    Africa Christian Textbooks (ACTS) was in March delighted to have an agreement with the Rt Revd Ben Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos, to open a new ACTS bookshop in the premises of St Luke’s Anglican Cathedral in central Jos.

    With its headquarters in Bukuru, a suburb of Jos, ACTS has been longing to have a shop in the centre of the city in view of growing traffic jams.

  • Paraguay: transformation


    A project of training and equipping pastors and leaders from a rural community called ‘Maracana’ has begun in Paraguay, it was reported in March.

    This community has been hit hard in the last couple of years by drug trafficking, crimes and violence. Yet, in that community, there are many small churches that are preaching that Jesus can bring spiritual and social transformation.

  • USA: announced

    Barnabas Fund

    In an announcement on 17 March, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Islamic State (IS) is ‘genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions’ and is responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in the areas it controls in Syria and Iraq.

    Mr Kerry also made it clear that the US will strongly support efforts to gather evidence of IS atrocities and bring those responsible to justice.

  • Uzbekistan: arrested

    Barnabas Fund / F18 News

    Uzbekistan continues to raid private homes and confiscate religious literature from their owners, it was reported in March.

    Pastor Latifzhon Mamazhanov was arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail on 12 March after police went to the homes of six Christian families, including the pastor’s, in the Fergana Valley in eastern Uzbekistan. The police were searching for Christian literature and resources as they had been informed that a large quantity of Jesus film DVDs and Christian literature had been brought to the region.

  • Yemen: rescued


    Nineteen Jews were covertly taken from their homes in Yemen and brought to safety in Israel, as violence against Jews increases in the predominantly Islamic country, it was reported in late March.

    About 200 Jews have been rescued from Yemen in recent years, while the most recent rescue involved 14 from the town of Raydah and a family of five from Sana’a. The group arriving in Israel from Raydah included a rabbi who brought with him an ancient Torah scroll, estimated to be between 500 and 600 years old.