Friday, June 29, 2012

NIGERIA - BOKO HARAM DECLARES CHRISTIANS “ENEMIES”


Systematic suicide bombings at three churches in Kaduna State, Nigeria, on the morning of Sunday 17 June left around 16 people dead and scores injured.
The incidents bore the hallmarks of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which was reported recently as saying, “The Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state.”
Barely a Sunday goes by in Nigeria without another church attack. On Sunday 10 June, gunmen burst into a church in Biu, in the north-eastern state of Borno, and opened fire on the congregation. At least one woman was killed and three people were injured. Later that same day, a suicide bomber reportedly disguised as a worshipper drove up to an evangelical church in the central city of Jos, Plateau state, and detonated a bomb. The intensity of the explosion caused the church building to collapse. An estimated 62 people were critically injured, and around ten people are feared to have been killed; six people died in violence that broke out following the blast. And on Sunday 3 June, at least 18 people were killed and more than 40 injured in a suicide car bombing that struck two churches in Bauchi state.
Despite the danger, Christians are continuing to attend services. A pastor in Jos, Plateau state, Abraham Ekeneh, said after the church suicide bombing on 10 June, “I always sense the fear in the atmosphere during Sunday services, but we still don’t relent. We cannot stop attending Sunday services because if we do, it means we have helped them to achieve their objective.”
  • Pray for all those who were bereaved or injured in the church bombings. Pray that they will know the Lord’s comfort in their sorrow and His healing hand on any emotional or physical wounds. Pray that Christians will respond in a Christ-like way.
  • Pray for courage and wisdom for the government of Nigeria. Pray that they will bring to justice those responsible for the violence and bring an end the regular attacks on Nigerian Christians. Pray for a change of heart for those who lead Boko Haram.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Boko Haram Reign of Terror Impacts Churches in Nigeria



Open Doors USA
Jerry Dykstra, Media Relations Director
Phone: 616-915-4117
Email: JerryD@odusa.org

Website: www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

Immediate Release
SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) -- The terror campaign on Christian churches in northern Nigeria by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram continues to impact Sunday worship services.
The group has succeeded in injecting fear into the minds of believers as many could not attend churches Sunday, following the new threat by the group to launch coordinated bloody attacks on churches.
The extremist group earlier released an email confirming their plans for the coming weeks. In Jos, particularly, Boko Haram threatened to bomb places of worship, aiming to prevent worship services from taking place over the weekend. Many people in Jos, Kaduna, Kano and other major cities in the north did not go to church Sunday. Even Muslims stayed off the streets, according to one report.
“The increasingly intentional activity of Boko Haram has taken on the characteristics of a real war,” said Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. “These are not random attacks as they're often characterized in the media. They are intentional, and they're designed with one purpose in mind: the elimination of Christianity. I call it ‘religicide’ or the intentional and systemic effort to eliminate a religious belief and its followers from a country or region.”
In another incident over the weekend, Boko Haram concealed a bomb in a coffin claiming that it was a corpse. Explosives were discovered when a soldier at a checkpoint insisted to see what was inside the coffin. The men were arrested on the spot. After this incident the police restricted the movement of vehicles.
A man was arrested when he masqueraded as someone who was interested to learn about Jesus Christ and to submit his life to Him. The man approached the pastor in the church. While talking, the pastor noticed a bag a few yards away. When he asked the possible convert about the bag, he denied knowing anything about the bag. But after the police discovered that the bag was filled with explosives, the would-be suicide bomber was arrested.
“The believers can now only rely on prayer as Christians in the northern states are living in fear and uncertainty,” said an Open Doors co-worker.
In Kaduna and Zaria where churches were bombed last week a curfew is still in effect.
On Sunday Boko Haram attacked a prison and freed 40 inmates who are members of Boko Haram. The Associated Press estimated 620 Nigerians, mostly Christians, have been killed by Boko Haram in 2012.
President Goodluck Jonathan, in his effort to restructure and ensure security, fired his special adviser and the minister of defense. He appointed a new national security adviser who is a Muslim. The appointment is seen by some church leaders as a mistake.
At the moment, fear reigns all over the region. However, believers in northern Nigeria trust the Lord for His divine intervention as the government has not offered any effective solutions to the terror campaign. Concerned believers are on their knees seeking God’s face because the battle is spiritual and it is only God that can bring an end to this situation.
An Open Doors co-worker is asking for prayers: “We really appreciate your concern and prayers; continue to pray for us and don’t get tired. Our office might be among the places which the sect members may aim to attack at any time and any day. Pray that the Lord will deliver us.”
Nigeria is ranked No. 13 on the 2012 Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries which are the worst persecutors of Christians. According to World Watch List, Nigeria had at least 300 martyrs in 2011, although the actual number could be closer to 1,000.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website atwww.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

NIGERIA: 300 suicide bombers ready to attack churches 22/06/2012



The front of the church after the bombing
The front of the church after the bombing
The Islamist sect Boko Haram is claiming to have around 300 suicide bombers ready to attack churches and plans to make June “the bloodiest month yet”.  CSW is launching 30 days of prayer for Nigeria in response to calls for prayer from Nigerian Christians.

Boko Haram plans “the bloodiest campaign ever”

After last weekend’s triple suicide bomb offensive on churches, Boko Haram, the Islamist sect responsible for the attacks, says it is planning to make this month “the bloodiest June ever”.
Speaking to a Nigerian agency this week, a spokesman said this would be the bloodiest month yet, with the group planning multiple church attacks, a huge bombing in Abuja and assaults on government facilities.  The group claims it has 300 suicide bombers ready to target churches in predominantly Christian southern Kaduna State and Plateau State. The sect also plans to attack or take over government buildings in Kano, Kaduna, Yobe and Gombe States, along with a major assault on the Federal Capital Territory at the end of June.  The sect reportedly wants to prove that Nigerian security forces have not hampered its operations, and cannot match its deadly force.

Massive attack on Yobe state capital

Yobe state’s capital, Damaturu, suffered a massive attack by 100 heavily armed Boko Haram members, which began on 5pm on Monday and was only brought under control over a day later.  Bombing and shooting continued throughout Tuesday despite a 24-hour curfew being in place.  So far over 50people are confirmed dead, and this figure is expected to rise. 
Fears grow in Kaduna as 24-hour curfew fails to control violence
A 24-hour curfew was imposed on Kaduna City after reprisal attacks broke out in response to Sunday’s bombings.  Attempts to relax the curfew on Monday resulted in more violence, as Muslim youths attacked Christian homes and churches in retaliation for the reprisal attacks. Though the 24 hour curfew was reinstated, sporadic outbreaks of violence continue to occur throughout the city.  CSW Nigeria reported there is great fear in Kaduna, particularly since the curfew is failing to end the violence.

Pope Benedict XVI calls for freedom of religion, not vengeance

On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI spoke out about his “deep concern” about events in Nigeria. He not only assured the victims of his prayers and support, but also expressed his hope “that there might be full cooperation among all members of Nigerian society, that they might forgo the path of vengeance, and that all citizens might rather work together to build a peaceful and reconciled society, in which the right freely to profess one’s faith is fully protected”.

I want to...

Pray

Join 30 days of prayer for Nigeria
CSW launches 30 days of prayer for Nigeria and urges Christians around the world to show their support.  You can take part by joining CSW’s Facebook group.
Please pray:
• For all those who have lost loved ones, asking God to comfort and uphold them, sustaining them with His peace.
•  For an end to the cycle of retaliatory violence, and that security forces would be able to calm situations using minimal force. 
• Pray fervently for every attack planned against churches or government facilities to fail, and attackers to be apprehended.
• Ask God to move in power to expose Boko Haram’s plans, members, funders and backers and bring an end to every aspect of the violence perpetrated by the group.
•  That regardless of their creed, Nigerians would unite against Boko Haram.
 For the urgent restoration of peace and true reconciliation between religious communities in Kaduna.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

URGENT: Native Nigerian Missionaries and Converts Trapped and Under Siege From Muslim Terrorists


By Rae Burnett, Africa Director for Christian Aid Mission
The whole world watches as Boko Haram increasingly terrorizes Nigeria with the stated purpose of establishing Sharia Law. They are well-funded and heavily armed with sophisticated weapons and bombs. No one doubts that they have outside support. It is obvious that federal, state and local governments will look the other way as they follow their path of murder and destruction of property.
Click here to help enable a Nigerian missionary ministry to move out of danger.
Up until now, missionaries of the indigenous Nigerian ministries supported by Christian Aid have not been directly targeted by Boko Haram though several supporters have been murdered, and random terrorist shootings have come close. These missionaries have not involved themselves at all in politics, only the gospel, and have kept a low profile until now.
Nigeria is Africa's most populated nation and by far its most influential, politically, economically, and spiritually. Nigerian Christians have exerted a dominant and profound influence in missions throughout the continent and established the first indigenous training schools for native African missionaries. Pray with our brothers and sisters that this vicious onslaught will not push the country into national sharia law and Islamic dominance, destroying the precarious 50/50 balance between Christian and Muslim which has before been peaceful.
Today, I received this report directly from a ministry leader who has been my friend since 1996. The ministry name is not mentioned for security.
Terrorists have struck again. This time we had to evacuate our missionaries from Kandawa fields as Muslim militants discovered the work and threatened them. Right now we need your prayers as Chris (the overseer of all ministry work in the northern Islamic area) is still trapped in the fields with several missionaries, some with infants.
On Sunday, three churches were bombed in Kaduna and Zaria killing several people. This led to reprisals and killings all over the place.  Yet the government is doing nothing.
More than 65 people are already confirmed dead. A 24 hour curfew has been declared, and we do not know how to reach the converts in the war zone.
Before today, Boko Haram had not done so much damage to us in this part of the country. We are appealing for funds to buy mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets and food for our converts that are about to move out.
This is urgent. We have dispatched three other staff, but there is no access to the area. Fighting and fighting. Please we need your prayers for Nigeria. I am writing this in the midnight asking for all our friends to pray and help. You can also send support to them. Our staff for the first time are affected in this kind of killing. Help and ask believers to pray and support. We need your support and we need your prayers.
The converts too need prayers. We do hope you will pray for Nigeria now.
We need to relocate quickly. I am currently in Abuja (the capital city) and will go to Kebbi state to rescue our staff as soon as possible, but no going in or out of the area for now. We want to be ready immediately when they can escape with their converts.
We are so grateful for the property Christian Aid enabled us to buy, but we must have resources to build our simple headquarters and a place to help these victims of terrorism.
Thanks for your prayers for Nigeria and others around us.
Over the past few years, this indigenous Nigerian ministry has experienced tremendous open doors for the gospel in Islamic strongholds that have never before been evangelized. Because of the violence of Boko Haram, the ministry must move its headquarters from an Islamic state where they have been in peace for more than 25 years, to a centralized and neutral place better suited to direct the work.
Christian Aid has provided the land, but $35,000 is needed to provide a simple headquarters building where the leader and staff would also live. I cannot stress enough the importance and urgency of the need for the ministry. After so many years, the work is well-known and could be targeted at any time. Please pray for these heroes of the faith as they continue to press forward with the gospel in this time of extraordinary danger.
To give via credit card to enable this Nigerian missionary ministry to move out of the danger zone call 800-977-5650 or click here to contribute online.
Please contact rae@christianaid.org or call 800-977-5650 with any questions or comments about the work of God in Africa.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Your prayers for the nation of Nigeria are desperately needed.

On Sunday, three suicide bomb attacks took place on three churches in Kaduna.This is the third consecutive Sunday that has seen gun or bomb attacks on churches in northern or central states.

Church services bombed in Kaduna
Last Sunday a suicide bomber rammed a car full of explosives into the ECWA Good News Church in Zaria, destroying the children’s church and killing a child and a young man.  Several people were wounded, including CSW Nigeria's Coordinator for the area.

On the same day, two suicide bombers in separate cars attacked Christ the King Catholic Church as the congregation was leaving mass, killing sixteen people and injuring several others.
Meanwhile, in Kaduna City, another bomb exploded at the Shalom Pentecostal Church as ushers were interrogating the bomber, killing three people.

As with the attack on the previous weekend in Jos, the bombings sparked violence as angry youths took to the streets to protest the seeming inability to prevent the incessant bombings. A 24-hour curfew is now in place, although the situation is still very tense.
ECWA Wusasa_Children's Church.jpg


“Weekends are now a terror for Christians in central and northern Nigeria”
According to our contacts and partners on the ground, without urgent prayer the future of Nigeria looks desperately bleak.

Speaking of his heartbreak at the incessant bombings, Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi, said, “Weekends are now a terror for Christians in northern and central Nigeria.  My heart truly bleeds at the unnecessary killings and I am deeply saddened that in a nation like Nigeria there are people who sponsor, plan, train and support people to execute evil specifically targeted against worship of God on Sundays by Christians in churches."
CSW-Nigeria’s CEO told us, “Attacks on Christians while they legitimately worship on Sundays are now a common occurrence. Unless the culture of impunity is overcome, our country will slowly slip into another civil war that will be fought along religious lines."
Christians in Nigeria are asking for worldwide prayers to help bring an end to this horrific violence. In the words of the Archbishop, “Christians and well meaning people everywhere must rise up for peace and speak out against injustice, seeking every opportunity for reconciliation and forgiveness so that Nigeria will be restored. I call for concerted prayers throughout the Church worldwide in order that those who are working for peace will not grow weary in well doing."

Please can you:
• Forward this email and prayer points below to everyone you know, asking them to pray and encourage others to do the same.
• Ask your church leader or prayer coordinator to include prayer for Nigeria in this week’s prayer meetings and next Sunday’s services.
• Every  Saturday please remember to pray for the safety and protection of Sunday services in northern and central Nigeria.
Thank you so much for your support.
Blessings,
The CSW Team 

Prayer points – please use these prayer points to guide your prayers:
• Pray for all those who have lost loved ones in attacks by Boko Haram, asking God to comfort and uphold them, sustaining them with His peace.
• Pray for CSW-Nigeria’s Coordinator for Zaria who was injured in one of the attacks.  Pray for full healing for him and others who were injured during the other attacks.
• Ask God to move in power to expose Boko Haram's plans, members, funders and backers and bring an end to every aspect of the violence perpetrated by the group.
• Pray for the protection of CSW-Nigeria staff as they seek to support victims of the violence.
• Ask God to grant wisdom, courage and strength to church leaders as they seek to lead and guide their congregations through these turbulent times.

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The Beginning of a Genocide in Northern Nigeria?


Urgent Action Needed to Stop the Massacre of Christians

Warning: This alert contains extremely graphic images that may be disturbing to some readers.  Please ask any young children to leave the room before continuing.  We are not including these images to shock or offend, but simply to convey to you the reality of what is happening in Nigeria – the time has come to wake up to the truth!
Dear Friends and Partners,
You may recall our alert following the horrific Christmas Day 2011 church bombing by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram that claimed the lives of at least 45 Christians.  Sadly, far from serving as a wake-up call for both the international community and the Nigerian government, the Christmas Day attacks were merely a sombre preview of things to come.  The situation in Nigeria is increasingly urgent, and if immediate action is not taken to bring to an end the slaughter of Christians, we could be witnessing the beginning of a genocide in Northern Nigeria.

This Sunday morning (Nigerian time), Islamic extremists carried out 3 coordinated attacks on churches in Kaduna region, leaving at least 44 dead and hundreds more wounded – although the numbers are likely to rise as the casualties are fully accounted for.  The first attack took place in the town of Zaria, when a suicide bomber drove through a barricade and detonated a massive explosion that killed 24 worshippers and wounded over 100 others.  Within a few minutes, a second bomb went off at a nearby church, killing another 10 and wounding approximately 50.  A third bomb was detonated in the city of Kaduna approximately 30 minutes later.

Even by the most conservative estimates, at least 200 Christians have been killed at the hands of Islamic extremists during the first 6 months of 2012, in addition to the thousands killed over the previous two years.  Although the Western media has used phrases such as “sectarian violence” and “religious conflict,” the past two years can only be described as a massacre of the Christian community.  Boko Haram and its followers have repeatedly and publicly stated their goal: to remove the Christian presence from Northern Nigeria either by killing Christians or driving them out of their homes through fear.  Such a plan amounts to nothing less than genocidal intent.

The growing danger faced by Christians in Northern Nigeria is further illustrated by the fact that Christian churches have been targeted on each of the two Sundays leading up to the latest attacks.  The June 3 attack in Bauchi left 21 Christians dead and at least 45 others injured, whereas the bombing in Jos the following Sunday killed 2 and injured more than 40 Christian worshippers – the third such attack in Jos in 2012.  Also on June 10, gunmen affiliated with Boko Haram killed at least two Christian worshippers during a church service in Borno state.

These attacks are merely the latest bloody chapter in a violent campaign aimed at Christians in Nigeria.  While we will not endeavour to bring you anexhaustive list of these horrific attacks, the following examples should serve as a wake-up call for all who care about human rights (Christian and non-Christian alike) to speak out and take action to bring to an end the violence in Nigeria.  On Easter Sunday (April 8), for instance, a suicide bomber attempting to attack a Christian church killed over 40 people and injured dozens more.  At least eleven more Christian worshippers were killed in two separate attacks on churches in Jos, on February 26 and March 11 respectively – and in both cases the bomber was diverted just prior to detonating the explosives, failing which the casualty figures would have been even higher.  Other bombings in Suleja on Sunday, February 19, and in Bauchi City on Sunday, January 22, left approximately 10 more Christians dead and many others injured.  In the week from January 3 to 9 alone, Boko Haram took credit for the killings of 44 Christians in 4 Nigerian states.

There are reports from some media outlets that a group of Christians engaged in retaliatory killings after the latest gruesome attacks.  At this time, we cannot confirm either the reports of the killings themselves or whether the attackers were, in fact, Christians.  If these reports are true, our hearts are grieved for this additional loss of life, and our prayers go out to the families of those who died.  One Free World International does not condone violence of any kind, and we urge the Christian community in Nigeria not to seek retribution by returning evil for evil.

However, even if these reports are true, the isolated actions of a few in no way diminish either the horror of the past attacks or, more importantly, the present and increasing danger facing Christians in Northern Nigeria. Additionally, such regrettable actions are a testament to the lack of protection provided by the central government, which causes some to believe (however wrongly) that their only option is to take matters into their own hands.

Indeed, despite the escalating campaign to eliminate Christianity from Northern Nigeria, the central government has failed to suppress Islamic extremism and groups such as Boko Haram, or to prevent repeated attacks on Christian communities.  While we acknowledge that some efforts at protection have been made, when it comes to preventing the massacre of human beings, ‘best efforts’ and ‘good intentions’ are simply not enough.  Moreover, our sources indicate that police and security forces were warned on a number of occasions that the attacks detailed above would take place, but did not intervene to protect the Christian churches.  By turning a blind eye to the attacks, the police and military have become complicit in these atrocities.

It is vital that we call on our political leaders to hold the Nigerian government accountable for its failure to protect the Christian community.  We are grateful that both Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have issued statements following two of the attacks this year – on April 8 and May 1 respectively.  However, it is imperative that our governments’ response not be restricted to isolated statements condemning individual attacks.  Public statements by our governments, while vital, are only the first step and must be backed up by consistent and sustained pressure on the Nigerian government to take action against Islamic extremists through diplomatic efforts and through linking our trade and aid to progress on human rights.

We must not forget that our brothers and sisters in Nigeria are not blessed with the peace and security we enjoy. We cannot afford to stand by as Christians are massacred simply because of their faith and religious practices. OFWI has been working to provide medical and humanitarian aid to the wounded in these attacks through our contacts in the region. Nigerian Christians desperately need our support, so please take a few moments from your day to join us in seeking justice and peace for our brothers and sisters. Your prayers, letters, and financial support are vitally important to reach the victims of these attacks with your comfort and encouragement.  We must stand with our brothers and sisters and for their right to live and worship without fear of being killed for their faith.  Please make your voice heard on behalf of the Christians in Nigeria.
Please pray:
• for courage, faith, and strength for the Christians in Nigeria during this time of deep trial. Pray that they would be encouraged and strengthened to stay true to their faith, in order that they might be a shining beacon of truth and the love of Christ both in a country desperately looking for light and throughout the whole world;

• for peace and healing in the country of Nigeria. Pray that the violence would be stopped, and that Christians would be able to live and worship in peace and security without fear of attack;

• that those carrying out these attacks would come to realize the wrongfulness of their acts and that they would seek the love and forgiveness of God and in turn apply their energies toward spreading peace rather than violence;

• that the Lord will give the Nigerian Christians the ability to forgive even when they are under constant attack.  Pray that the Christians would not seek vengeance or return evil for evil, but that they would be filled with God’s love and grace even towards those who seek to kill them;

• for the Nigerian people as a whole, that they would be united and find true peace and meaning in the Prince of Peace.


ACTION:
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):

• to the Nigerian high commissioner or ambassador to your country demanding that the Nigerian government take immediate and meaningful action to ensure the security of Christian communities and to control the violent extremist groups responsible for these attacks;

• to your Foreign Minister or Secretary of State, thanking them for their statements on the Nigerian attacks and insisting that they continue, through consistent attention to these issues both on the diplomatic front and through trade and aid policy, to hold the Nigerian government accountable for the protection of its citizens from Islamic extremism;

• to your Prime Minister or President directly, urging them to intervene in this urgent matter and use the full influence of their office to secure an immediate end to these massacres and to obtain assurances that the Christians will be protected from further attacks.


Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:

info@onefreeworldinternational.org

Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.

"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.

Be with God and may God be with you.

Rev. Majed El Shafie
President and Founder
One Free World International
El Shafie Ministries


CONTACT:
In Canada:
His Excellency Iyorwuese Hagher
High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
295 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1R9
Tel.: (613) 236-0521; Fax: (613) 236-0529
Email: chancery@nigeriahcottawa.com

The Honourable John Baird
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: (613) 996-0984; Fax: (613) 996-9880
Email: john.baird@parl.gc.ca
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A2
Tel.: (613) 992-4211; Fax: (613) 941-6900
Email: pm@pm.gc.ca


In the United States:
His Excellency Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 986-8400 ext. 1097 or 1098; Fax: (202) 362-6541 or (202) 775-1385
Email: hm@nigeriaembassyusa.org

Secretary Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard)
Webform: http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php?p_sid=F5OZZa6i&p_lva=&p_sp=&p_li
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC  20500
Tel.: (202) 456-1414 (Main switchboard)
Webform: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
In the United Kingdom:
His Excellency Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida
High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
9 Northumberland Ave
London WC2N 5BX
Tel.: (44) 207 8391244; Fax: (44) 207 83987463519
Email: hc@nigeriahc.org.uk

The Right Honourable William Hague
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH
Tel.: 020 7008 1500 (Main switchboard)
Webform: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/ministerial-feedback-form

The Right Honourable David Cameron
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister’s Office
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA
Fax: 020 7925 0918
Email: https://email.number10.gov.uk/

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Equal Civil Marriage Consultation

Response on behalf of the English Presbytery of the International Presbyterian Church

Wednesday 13th June 2012

Q1. Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?
Disagree.

Q2. Please explain your reasons for your answer.
The proposed legislation does not seek to lift a ban on same-sex marriage. Rather it seeks to redefine marriage; since in the universal understanding of all of cultures, and according to current English law, same-sex marriage is not banned but simply a contradiction. It would change the definition of marriage from a lifelong binding commitment grounded in the nature of humanity as male and female, and parents as father and mother – as God made us – to a vague statement of affection and intent. If marriage is not grounded in our nature as human beings it cannot bind us as human beings; if we are free so completely to redefine it we are free to walk away from it.
Therefore the premise that there is no difference between a marriage commitment and a same-sex civil partnership commitment is false. To marry is to enter into an institution greater, older and higher than ourselves. In marriage we submit to something above our sexual desires, for the sake of each other and society. And it is to commit to being a family, to raising the children that will result from the marriage union within the home established by the marriage union. Same-sex unions, however well-meant, can never include commitment of this sort.

Q5. The Government does not propose to open up religious marriage to same-sex couples. Do you agree or disagree?
Agree

Q14. Do you have any comments on the assumptions or issues outlined in this chapter on consequential impacts?
The assumption that this issue is merely about equality and ending discrimination assumes that those who disagree are motivated by bigotry. But this is false; Christians are motivated by love for all, and concern that laws which cut across the way human beings are designed by God are deeply damaging for all concerned and for society as a whole.
For example, marriage has always been the best way to teach children about relationships between the sexes. Children can understand the concept of marriage long before they can (or should) understand the concept of sex. This has always been one of the great strengths of how Christians bring up their children; and it is something which has long been opposed by the gay rights movement which for decades has sought to minimise or eliminate the teaching of marriage as a concept in schools in favour of promoting sexual freedom. This redefinition of marriage will make it far harder to teach children about what appropriate family life looks like; and far harder for Christians to teach their own children what marriage is, and what a sexually responsible pattern of life looks like, once the word itself has been given a different (and much reduced) meaning according to the law.

Q15. Are you aware of any costs or benefits that exist to either the public or private sector, or individuals, that we have not accounted for?
As outlined in our answer to Q2, this legislation would redefine marriage for all, to merely a vague statement of intent. The claim in 1.12 that opposite-sex couples would not be affected is therefore false. Every marriage in the country would be weakened.
The greatest effect would be on children. Personal tragedy has always meant that some children grow up without a father or mother; redefining marriage would say (for the first time in history) that such a situation is good, normal, and to be encouraged. To say that two men can marry is to say that mothers are not necessary; to say that two women can marry is to say that fathers are not necessary. But a child’s need for a father does not end with conception and a child’s need for a mother does not end with the cutting of the umbilical cord. Children need both; it is how we are designed.
The inevitable effect would therefore be the further weakening of the family with all the consequential misery for adults and children, and all the vast expense that family breakdown lays on the state in legal costs and benefit payments. It is the very opposite of what our broken society so desperately needs.

Q16. Do you have any other comments on the proposals within this consultation?
We have answered that we agree with not opening up religious marriage to same-sex couples in Q5. However, the question, and the proposed legislation, are here deeply flawed. There is no distinction in English law between ‘religious marriage’ and ‘civil marriage’; there is only marriage. Therefore either this single definition of marriage is redefined or it is not.
For this reason the assurances given about protection for ‘religious’ marriage cannot be of any value. Once the single definition of marriage is redefined in this way, then the logic of your own ‘Ministerial Foreword’ is that this marriage – and all the ceremonies that initiate it – must be equally available for all. It is inconceivable that existing equality legislation would not be applied by the courts to require Christian ministers to perform such ceremonies. We wish to state that no sanction of the state would be sufficient to force the ministers of our churches to disobey God and celebrate sin in this way.
In the same way Christians (and others) in all walks of life who will never accept that marriage can be redefined in this way will be in great danger of falling foul of equality legislation and suffering much thereby.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stefanos Foundation on the 10th June Jos bombing


ANOTHER BOMB EXPLOSION IN JOS, PLATEAU STATE,
ON SUNDAY, 10TH JUNE, 2012

In what has become a continued attack on Christians, their properties and places of worship, Sunday the 10th June, 2012 was another black Sunday for residents of Jos where the Christ Chosen Church of God, Rukuba Road, Jos, in Plateau State was attacked by a suicide bomber who blew himself in the car, the impact of which collapsed the entire Church building.

Eye witnesses, who spoke with Stefanos Foundation said, “...they saw a Golf car with a license registration number BSA36AA and an STF hilux Car driving up and down the road as though they were on patrol. The Golf car had two men in military uniform. They earlier drove to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Rukuba Road, but where prevented from driving in by the security men at the gate. From there, they proceeded to ECWA Church which is not far from St. Peter’s. However, the security in the Church was high because they were observing the ‘Boys Brigade’s Week,’ with serious checking of vehicles coming into the church premises. Not wanting to be checked, they turned and drove away to Christ Chosen Church of God, which is barely some 100 metres away from the ECWA Church.”

Another eye-witness further told Stefanos Foundation that, he saw the Golf Car dropping two men in military uniform; and as soon as the suicide bomber made his move towards the Church building, the hilux military patrol truck zoomed away, allowing the suicide bomber to accelerate towards the fenceless Church building and detonated the bomb while service was on.

Over forty five persons were injured in the bomb blast, which also include the Pastor of the church, his wife and their two children. 

This kind of attacks has been the style of “Terror against Non-Muslims and innocent citizens” by the Islamic Sect, Boko Haram, who has claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack, of Sunday, 10th June, 2012 in Jos, as part of their campaign seeking to destabilise the government and impose Shari’a Law in Nigeria, which has a majority non-Muslim’s population. 

According to Sunday Okobi, published in Daily Trust Newspaper of 11th June, 2012, 

 “Indication emerged yesterday (Sunday, 10th June, 2012) over plots by certain elements in the country to destabilise the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, using Boko Haram, as cover. Sources said, a group of individuals are unhappy with the appointment of National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Andrew Azazi and some key Ministers, have vowed to destabilise the government through the perpetration of violent attacks in strategic national institutions.”

“The sources cited the continuous retention of the NSA as being reprehensive to the group, vowing to sabotage his efforts at combating national insecurity. According to a source, the aggrieved group is said to be angered that all-important and strategic office of the NSA had for the first time slipped out of the hands of the north and was currently being held by “a southerner and an outsider.”

“The source also maintained that the group was particularly aggrieved that, President Jonathan, despite discreet moves to dump Azazi have failed to yield fruit. It was further alleged that the group had been pressurising the president through some powerful politicians and traditional rulers to sack Azazi and replace him with any of the former military chiefs who had held the office before.”

“Azazi who assumed the office of the NSA on October 4, 2010 became the first non-northern to be appointed security adviser since independent.”

It is very obvious that, the Boko Haram Sect, has the backings of some the northern elites and is being used to make the country ungovernable for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Nigeria notes

This is in response to a Facebook friend who posted that ' the divisions are all man/western based'.


 The divisions in Nigeria are not all man/western based.  Pre-colonial era southern Nigeria got its supplies of slaves for the triangular trade from inter tribal conflict. Northern Nigeria was a land of jihad where present day indigenous Christians are descended from those who resisted Islam. Colonial invasion brought an end to slave trading and eventually, as late as the 1920s, to slavery itself.  Rather than divide people it united very disparate peoples in Pax Britannica. Christian missions bringing Western education and  medicine were welcomed in the south but kept out of the north for many years by the British whose policy was indirect rule via Muslim emirs whose realms were consolidated at this time. Independent Nigeria lasted only six years before civil war erupted. The seeds of conflict were there from before the colonial area. It is not some supposed imposition of foreign ways that has lead to conflict.


Islam in Nigeria goes back to the Kanem empire in the 8th century. Co-incidentally it was in the NE of Nigeria, home of Boko Haram. Personal view of our empire there and everywhere else is that we were there for the money. Economics is the motivation. Worst thing we did in Nigeria, triangular trade. Best thing was stopping not only that trade but slavery itself but the latter was less than 100 years ago. But of five possible colonisers on the continent we were least worse option.

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Saturday, June 09, 2012

Books read in the past six months

Once again, depression has restricted my activity, reading included.

1. The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, The Only Surviving Veteran of the Trenches 
Harry Patch has now passed on but left a fascinating memoir. It tells,as one would expect, of the horror of the trenches, but also that which is less well known, a social history of life in England in the first half of the last century. He served with a Lewis gun crew and the most remarkable thing in the book is that they has a pact not to shoot to kill the enemy unless their own lives were under threat. Three of his crew were killed and he was wounded by shrapnel which he had removed without anaesthetic. Hell on earth indeed.


2. The Autobiography Of Henry VIII by Margaret George
He lived only 55 years but no monarch changed our country so much and forever it seems. This is a long historical novel told by the voices of the king and his jester. It certainly tries to get into the mind of the monarch and this gives you a feel for the people and events. Henry is a pious Catholic who only breaks with Rome because of his obsession to bet a male heir who will bring stability to the kingdom. Never did God move in a more mysterious way to effect reformation of the church. I am not expert enough to judge the accuracy of the author's portrayal. The one place I do question her is the portrayal of Anne Boleyn as a witch in the eyes of her husband.


3. The Development of Islam in West Africa (Studies in African History) by Meryvn Hiskett
The late author lectured in England and Nigeria and was a world expert on this subject to which he gives a comprehensive introduction. He shares it seems the sympathetic British attitude to things Islamic, an attitude evidenced most of all in the years of colonial indirect rule, and an attitude not shred by the French colonial administrations. It is interesting to read how the Muslims facing colonial forces described their enemies as Christians, but when these enemies were victorious British troops, they prohibited Christian missions and by indirect rule established and unwittingly promoted the spread of Islam. The development of various Islamic groupings are described but even by the date of publication this seems to me to be lacking in describing for example Wahhabi influences.


4.  Apostolic Networks in Britain: New Ways of Being Church (Studies in Evangelical History & Thought) by William Kay
Though this is an academic survey of the development of charismatic Christianity in England, it is written by a sympathetic insider. It is a comprehensive history and analysis of different networks of charismatics so is most informative. It tells us what has happened among this growing section of the church but there is no attempt at any biblical theological critique. Nor is there any discussion as to why this manifestation of the faith is the fastest growing. It only deals with Protestant groupings in England.


5.  At Home: A short history of private life by Bill Bryson


Bryson is one of the best contemporary non-fiction authors and he does not disappoint here. He tours his old rectory home to tell us more than the history of private life. There is a lot of social history here, especially from the American founding fathers. This is a compendium of things historic that one never knew. It is fascinating and at times horrific. It proves that no-one except the ignorant would want to have rather lived in past times. If you need to be convinced read the account written by a woman enduring mastectomy without anaesthetic. This may not be Bryson the humorist but it is him as entertaining educator par excellence.


6. Icons of England , foreword


This glossy coffee table type book comes from The Campaign to Protect Rural England. So it is full of beautiful images of our countryside rather than many design or cultural icons. A fitting present for a friend from overseas.


7. A Way to Pray: A Biblical Method for Enriching Your Prayer Life and Language by Shaping Your Words with Scripture (Hardcover) by Matthew Henry


Matthew Henry is justly famous as a biblical commentator so I am surprised this excellent volume is not so well known. O Palmer Robinson deserves thanks for revising and modernising it. I consider this the most helpful aid to prayer I have ever read. It shows Henry's amazing knowledge of Scripture that he could take countless biblical texts and form them into prayers which are three to stimulate and aid the reader's praying. This is the one book I will have with my Bible to aid daily devotions.


8. QI: The Book of General Ignorance (The Noticeably Stouter Edition) (Paperback) by  John Lloyd and John Mitchinson 


I confess I have never watched QI and the comments from its panellists here I found inane or smutty so the book does not attract me to the programme. However the questions will delight pedants and those wanting to set quiz questions that will catch people out. It is a good read if you skip the inserted comments.


9.  Godly and Righteous, Peevish and Perverse: Clergy and Religious in Literature and Letters by Raymond Chapman


It may be appropriate to describe this as a curate's egg of literary excerpts. Some fascinate, others seem rather a bore. I think the selection is heavily biased to the established church. Puritans, non conformists and missionaries seem in short supply.


10. Sitting in my house dreaming of Nepal by Valerie Inchley


This is a study of Nepal through the eyes of its proverbs. It has taught me a new word, paroemiology, the study of proverbs. The author has spent her working life in Nepal and this is from a masters thesis. It gives proverbs in Nepali, translates into English, categorises and compares with English proverbs. It will prove a valuable resource for anyone going to Nepal to learn the language and gives much insight into the culture. The reader will also learn some English proverbs which will be new to them.


11. Magnificent Seven: Yorkshire's Champions of the Championship Years by Andrew Collomosse


Yorkshire were the county champions seven times between 1959 and 1969. I first saw them in 1962 at Harrogate. Don Wilson spun Glamorgan out. He tells his story like a Boys Own hero,coming to the attention of the county, aged 16, when with his sixth ball for Settle against a Yorkshire XI, he clean bowled Len Hutton. The county side of those years were lions under  the donkey chairman Brian Sellers. All those great players still alive recount their stories with only Boycott, ever the odd one declining to contribute. It is full of great cricketing tales from another era of the game now sadly gone. It really took me back to happy youthful memories.


12. Balti Britain: A Journey Through the British Asian Experience by Ziauddin Sardar


If you want the 'gift to gie us, to see ourselves as others see us' here the gift comes through the eyes and voice of a man born in Pakistan who grew up in London. He is a journalist who travels in England and Scotland recounting the experiences and diversity of South Asians in Britain. He is outspoken on the history of colonial India and how Indian immigration and influences are no new thing. He is good on the diversity of South Asian immigrant communities, especially the diversity of Muslims. This diverse Islam is in his view essentially benign. I think he is too kind when he says many (Muslim) puritans divide the world into the abode of Islam and the abode of infidels. Is that not Islamic orthodoxy?  He is a strong advocate of multiculturalism and gives a very good chapter advocating a kind of multiculturalism which is not wholly relativistic, one which I could never envisage in a Muslim dominated society

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