January 2018 Persecution Magazine

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JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Nigeria’s Continuing Crisis:<br />

FULANI<br />


Christian Farmers Endure Relentless and<br />

Devastating Violence from Islam’s Army in Nigeria<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Table of Contents<br />

In This Issue:<br />


14 | Crisis in the Middle Belt<br />

Fulani militants continue to target and<br />

attack Christian farmers in Nigeria.<br />


18 | The Latest in a Long Series<br />

of Attacks<br />

Two villages are left devastated after<br />

the most recent attacks.<br />


24 | Emissaries of Grace and<br />

Hope<br />

ICC brings hope to the families that<br />

face continual persecution in Nigeria.<br />


26 | Miracle of Hope in the<br />

Midst of ISIS<br />

The miraculous return of Christina to<br />

her family continues to bring hope to<br />

Christians rebuilding their lives in Iraq.<br />


28 | Enduring the Unthinkable<br />

in Pakistan’s Schools<br />

The religious intolerance taught in<br />

Pakistan’s schools has deadly consequences<br />

for Christian children.<br />


30 | Why We Serve<br />

Members of ICC’s staff share their<br />

motivation for serving through this<br />

ministry.<br />

Regular Features<br />

3 Letter from the President<br />

A few words from ICC’s president, Jeff<br />

King, on the plight and lessons of the<br />

persecuted.<br />

4 World News<br />

A snapshot of the persecution that<br />

impacts our brothers and sisters daily, in<br />

every corner of the world.<br />

8 Your Dollars at Work<br />

Learn how your gifts are providing<br />

comfort, relief, Bibles, education and<br />

vocational training to the persecuted.<br />

12 Volunteers<br />

Learn how members of ICC’s volunteer<br />

teams are making an impact in their<br />

communities for the persecuted.<br />

14<br />

24<br />

26 28<br />

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President’s Letter<br />

“We ran [into] the grass but they set the grass ablaze and burned my sister,<br />

my father, my brother, and me. I ran and met my brother Godfrey, but the<br />

Fulanis came and [hit my brother with machetes]. They set my stepmother<br />

ablaze and slaughtered my brother Nathaniel. They burnt my 3-day-old<br />

stepbrother on the head and umbilical cord. They burnt Peace [my older<br />

sister]. [After the attack], when we saw our people, we were brought down<br />

from the hills and they took us to Kaura Hospital and later to Jos.”<br />

Azumi Francis, Nigeria, 7, remembers Feb. 20, 2017 (pg 14).<br />

“I would like to keep the beauty of my own vineyard and not be involved in such<br />

a huge fight. I would like so much to (live) somewhere in quietness and rest. But<br />

it is not possible... The quietness and rest for which I long would be an escape<br />

from reality and dangerous for my soul... The West sleeps and must be awakened<br />

to see the plight of the captive nations.”<br />

Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

In this month’s issue, you will read about the devastating war against the Body of Christ going on in Nigeria and it will be<br />

disturbing. Like me, you may be led to cry out, “How long, O Lord?”<br />

We who carry the burden of the persecuted fully understand the paradox of Richard Wurmbrand. As it was for him, life would<br />

be easier if we could forget the persecuted’s plight, go back to sleep, and live out our Christian lives, blissfully unaware of<br />

the suffering of the Body of Jesus.<br />

You see, there is a cost on the psyche of knowing and living with the persecuted and their pain, Yet, like Mr. Wurmbrand,<br />

we can’t abandon them for they have few friends in the slumbering Church, a Church distracted by trivial issues of pews,<br />

carpets, basketball courts, and turf that crowd out the distant and weak call for help coming from across the world.<br />

The Kingdom of Heaven will continue to be subjected to violence (Matt. 11:12), but having been chosen, we rise to the battle<br />

and understand that to be awake is preferable to sleep.<br />

Like Simon of Cyrene, we stoop down and lift the cross off of the back of the persecuted and carry whatever portion of<br />

their load we can. And while we help carry their cross, we find ourselves transformed, bit by bit, and inoculated against the<br />

deceitfulness of riches and the twin diseases of materialism and meaninglessness that infect our Western culture.<br />

For we have seen in the persecuted what true love can be and we rise to their example of deepest devotion, while paying<br />

the highest cost.<br />

For all this, we part with our time, treasure, and talent, to bring them relief and to lift the cross off their shoulders.<br />

As always, your donations will be used efficiently, effectively, and ethically.<br />

I promise!<br />

Jeff King<br />

President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

www.persecution.org<br />

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News<br />

1<br />

2<br />

4<br />

6<br />

3<br />

5<br />

“Religious<br />

education would<br />

no longer be<br />

permitted”<br />

Mob Attacks Coptic Church, Damages<br />

Other Christian Buildings<br />

1 | EGYPT On October 27, a Muslim mob formed<br />

in Egypt’s Ezbat Zakaria village and attacked St.<br />

George’s (“Mar Girgis”) Church. During the attack,<br />

the mob also damaged several homes and stables<br />

owned by Coptic Christians. Many doors and windows<br />

were broken in the attack and three of the stables<br />

were set on fire. One Christian woman suffered minor<br />

injuries during the incident.<br />

A local resident of the Christian community<br />

recalled that, on the morning of the attack, they<br />

found fliers near the village mosque that read, “We<br />

opened the church in spite of you.” He noted that<br />

the fliers were forged to appear as though they were<br />

written by the Christian villagers as a ploy to justify<br />

the attack.<br />

As the Christian community seeks to recover from<br />

the incident, security officials responded to the attack<br />

by closing down the church. Approximately 1,800<br />

Christians call Ezbat<br />

Zakaria home, all of<br />

whom have lost their<br />

place of worship<br />

because of this decision.<br />

One eyewitness<br />

to the attack noted<br />

that it was the mob’s<br />

goal to close the<br />

church. When authorities<br />

restricted the<br />

Christians’ access to<br />

their facilities, many<br />

felt frustrated, as if the<br />

radical Muslims were<br />

given what they wanted.<br />

While it is essential<br />

that their church<br />

building be restored<br />

to its rightful owners,<br />

it is encouraging that<br />

the authorities are taking<br />

action to investigate<br />

the violence. At<br />

the time of writing,<br />

15 people have been<br />

arrested pending an<br />

investigation.<br />

Unfortunately, this<br />

recent attack is just<br />

one example of growing<br />

anti-Christian<br />

sentiment in Egypt.<br />

Authorities must take<br />

stronger action to condemn<br />

this type of violence<br />

or else life for<br />

minority Christians<br />

will only grow more<br />

dangerous.<br />

Eritrea Forces Christian Schools to<br />

Close in Favor of Public Schools<br />

2 | ERITREA For years, the Eritrean government,<br />

led by Isaias Afwerki (pictured), has persecuted its<br />

Christian population. Rightfully earning its moniker<br />

as the “North Korea of Africa,” the Eritrean government<br />

only officially recognizes four religions:<br />

the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic<br />

Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea,<br />

and Sunni Islam. Those who practice their faith<br />

outside of the government’s strict parameters find<br />

themselves subject to severe persecution.<br />

In a recent move that further restricts religious<br />

activity, the Eritrean government ruled that all<br />

schools within the nation must be public. In doing<br />

so, religious education would no longer be permitted<br />

and students are no longer able to wear religious<br />

symbols such as crosses or Muslim headscarves.<br />

The government justified the decision by saying that<br />

the church’s sole function was to address the community’s<br />

spiritual needs. When a Catholic school<br />

refused to comply by closing itself, the government<br />

allegedly shut<br />

down the school and<br />

arrested both a nun<br />

and a priest.<br />

This decision has<br />

been met with widespread<br />

disapproval<br />

which led people to<br />

protest in the capital<br />

city of Asmara. In<br />

a country as oppressive<br />

as Eritrea, protests<br />

of this nature<br />

are not a common<br />

occurrence due to the<br />

harsh consequences<br />

that often follow.<br />

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China Expels Hundreds of Missionaries from North Korea Border Region<br />

3 | CHINA Without explanation, three provincial governments in China have deported hundreds of South Korean missionaries from the North<br />

Korean border region. Many believe that the missionaries were deported because of their involvement with assisting North Korean defectors.<br />

Further still, as China’s Christian population continues to flourish, the government has tightened its grip within the past few years by cracking<br />

down on Christian house churches and other religious activities.<br />

Iranian Authorities Raid Home and Imprison<br />

Christian Convert<br />

4 | IRAN During a recent raid on his home, a Christian convert in<br />

Iran named Abdol Ali Pourmand was arrested in the city of Dezful.<br />

As part of the raid, authorities confiscated Bibles and other Christian<br />

materials from his home. Pourmand’s arrest took place shortly after<br />

the arrest of a fellow convert who, at the time of writing, is still being<br />

held after two weeks of detainment. While Christian converts often<br />

face abuse in Iranian prisons, the status of Pourmand’s health remains<br />

unclear at present.<br />

Indonesian Court Recognizes Minority Faiths in<br />

Landmark Ruling<br />

5 | INDONESIA In an encouraging step toward greater religious freedom<br />

in Southeast Asia, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia recently<br />

affirmed the status of all religious minorities as protected religious<br />

groups. In previous years, laws that affected specific religious minority<br />

groups, such as blasphemy laws, only protected six official religions.<br />

With the government making positive progress, this will hopefully pave<br />

the way for greater protection for minority groups, including Christians,<br />

throughout Indonesia.<br />

Authorities in India’s Tamil Nadu State Close Ten Churches<br />

6 | INDIA According to the local president of Synod Pentecostal Churches, authorities<br />

have ordered the closure of 10 Christian churches in India’s Coimbatore<br />

District in Tamil Nadu. Hindu radicals have also reportedly threatened 20 other<br />

churches in the region. Local Christians are speaking out against these church<br />

closures because all of the churches in question are house churches. Although<br />

authorities claimed that the services were not properly authorized, house churches<br />

are not required to seek government permission to exist.<br />

Since the Bharatiya Janata Party, as led by Prime Minister Modi (pictured),<br />

came to power in 2014, Christians and other religious minorities have experienced<br />

a sharp increase in religious freedom violations. Unless the government speaks<br />

out clearly against incidents of this nature, Hindu radicals will continue their<br />

campaign of discrimination, viewing the government’s silence as tacit approval.<br />

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News<br />

4<br />

5<br />

3<br />

6<br />

2<br />

1<br />

Christian Human Rights Lawyer<br />

Escaped, Recaptured<br />

1 | CHINA With the aid of two friends, Gao Zhisheng, a<br />

Christian human rights lawyer in China, escaped from his<br />

home in Shaanxi where he was being held on house arrest.<br />

Gao hid in a neighboring province for more than three<br />

weeks before Shaanxi authorities mobilized a large group<br />

of officers to recapture him across the border. While<br />

many suspect that Gao is now in police custody in Beijing,<br />

his location has not yet been confirmed.<br />

One of the friends who assisted with Gao’s escape,<br />

Li Fawang, was also temporarily detained before he<br />

spoke with reporters regarding the ordeal. Li noted that<br />

he briefly saw Gao as he was being transported back to<br />

Shaanxi, but the encounter was so brief that the men were<br />

unable to speak with one another. Apart from that passing<br />

encounter, Gao’s whereabouts remain unknown.<br />

Both Li and the<br />

other friend suffered<br />

abuse during their time<br />

in detention. They<br />

were shackled, beaten,<br />

and denied important<br />

medical care. Li, who<br />

suffers from diabetes,<br />

lost his eyesight after<br />

being denied his medicine<br />

during the beginning<br />

of his detention.<br />

Gao’s disappearance<br />

is particularly<br />

concerning because he<br />

also faces health concerns.<br />

Due to years of<br />

torture and malnutrition,<br />

he suffers from<br />

severe tooth loss and<br />

other medical complications.<br />

Even when his<br />

friends offered to take<br />

him to a dentist during<br />

his brief stint of freedom,<br />

he turned them<br />

down because he did<br />

not want to risk being<br />

caught.<br />

Further still, since<br />

Gao has escaped once<br />

already, it is likely<br />

that he will face harsh<br />

retaliation after being<br />

recaptured. Please<br />

pray for Gao as the<br />

Chinese government<br />

often treats imprisoned<br />

Christians and<br />

human rights activists<br />

as they would treat<br />

terrorists.<br />

“The women are<br />

still in jail as their<br />

application for bail<br />

was not heard.”<br />

Christians in India Falsely Accused of<br />

“Kidnapping for Conversion”<br />

2 | INDIA As discrimination against Christians continues<br />

to worsen in India, false accusations of forced<br />

conversions are becoming increasingly common. In<br />

a recent incident following a complaint by a radical<br />

Hindu group, two Christian women were arrested and<br />

accused of kidnapping seven children for the purpose of<br />

forced conversion. As the women were arrested, a group<br />

of radical Hindus also attacked some of the parents of<br />

the children. The children were detained and taken to<br />

a shelter, without their parents, before being released<br />

shortly after.<br />

However, at a press conference in late October, the<br />

parents of the seven children announced that all of their<br />

children were indeed Christians. They also noted that<br />

the two women were taking the children to Mumbai<br />

with their full permission. Yet, at the time of writing,<br />

the women are still in jail as their application for bail<br />

was not heard.<br />

As of early November, there have been 27 cases of<br />

Christians in Madhya Pradesh being accused of kidnapping<br />

for conversion in 2017 alone. Unfortunately, the<br />

consequences of these accusations last long after the<br />

charges are dropped. Aside from physical harassment<br />

from radical groups, such charges also devastate these<br />

Christians financially. Furthermore, and perhaps most<br />

damaging, the charges foster the impression that the<br />

Christian community is dangerous, cementing the perspective<br />

of prejudice against local Christians.<br />

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JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Christian in Kazakhstan Fined for Practicing His Faith<br />

3 | KAZAKHSTAN Although Kazakhstan’s constitution allows citizens to practice their faith freely, a Christian man named Yuri Bekker was<br />

arrested and issued a fine in 2015 for handing out religious literature. He was also charged a fee for the “expert analysis” of his Christian literature,<br />

even though he never requested it. After Bekker refused to pay the fine, he was convicted in October.<br />

As a result, he has been prohibited from moving houses or visiting public places, such as shops or restaurants. If he still refuses to pay the<br />

unresolved fine, the government has the authority to confiscate his home. Despite the constitutional guarantees, the government of Kazakhstan<br />

has made it increasingly difficult for Christians to exercise their rights to religious freedom.<br />

Fulani Militants Raid Village, Kill 29 Women<br />

and Children<br />

4 | NIGERIA During a recent attack led by Fulani militants, at least<br />

29 people, mostly Christians, were killed, including many women<br />

and children. The women and children were instructed by soldiers<br />

to hide in a local elementary school, but the soldiers fled as the<br />

militants arrived. Although members of the military were stationed<br />

in the village at the time of the attack, they did little to prevent the<br />

attack, leaving the Christian community wondering if the government<br />

has their best intentions in mind. This violent attack took place<br />

only a few weeks after another attack, during which 20 churchgoers<br />

were murdered in cold blood.<br />

Five Sudanese Pastors Continually Harassed<br />

After Release<br />

5 | SUDAN Five pastors in Sudan were arrested in mid-October for<br />

allegedly causing “sound pollution” during their church services.<br />

After they were summoned to court four days later, they were told<br />

upon arrival that the case had been postponed another five days.<br />

This is one of many recent examples in which the Sudanese government<br />

has persecuted Christian leaders throughout Khartoum<br />

by disrupting their daily lives. In some instances, Christians have<br />

been forced to check in with police on a daily basis, making it<br />

nearly impossible for them to maintain consistent jobs and support<br />

their families and congregations.<br />

Christian Families in Pakistan Flee Homes After False<br />

Blasphemy Accusation<br />

6 | PAKISTAN Several Christian families in Pakistan fled their homes on November 3<br />

after a member of their community was falsely accused of blasphemy. According to<br />

reports, a fake Facebook page, made to look like a local television channel, posted a<br />

photo of a teenager named Sonu Arshad and accused him of blasphemy. The post went<br />

further to encourage locals to “burn his church and give him the death penalty.” A local<br />

Christian noted that no one knows why this young man was falsely accused.<br />

According to authorities, police are investigating the situation to identify those who<br />

created the fake Facebook page. Thankfully, the actual television channel has not commented<br />

on the matter, minimizing media attention, and therefore backlash, against the<br />

Christian community. For years, radical Muslims in Pakistan have misused blasphemy<br />

laws to seek revenge or discriminate against religious minorities, including Christians.<br />

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Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Small Business<br />

for Nadia<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

One Sunday morning, an explosion rang<br />

throughout St. Peter’s Church. Debris,<br />

smoke, and flames filled the church due to<br />

the 26 pounds of TNT hiding in the pews.<br />

Church member Mena Adel said that “the<br />

church bombing was planned and carried<br />

out meticulously.” The perpetrator used the<br />

crowds to sneak in and sneak out, but one<br />

person saw him leave.<br />

Nabil Habib, a church guard, saw the man<br />

leaving the church and tried to approach<br />

him, but the bomb detonated before Nabil<br />

reached him. Nabil was killed in the attack.<br />

Nabil’s wife, Nadia, remembers her husband<br />

as a man who devoted his life to the<br />

church, “He died defending the church…<br />

and everyone loved him.” With Nabil’s<br />

death, Nadia is left to grieve and try to provide<br />

for her family.<br />

Nadia has three children who need her<br />

support, Marian, Justina, and Fady, ranging<br />

from ages two to 15-years-old. Two-yearold<br />

Fady still waits for his father by the<br />

door, crying until Nadia brings a photo of<br />

Nabil for him to hold.<br />

ICC sent a representative to determine<br />

how to best help Nadia earn a sustainable<br />

income despite having lost her husband.<br />

Nadia told ICC that a bedding and bath shop<br />

would be both manageable and financially<br />

lucrative.<br />

Thanks to your support, ICC was able<br />

to purchase the initial inventory for Nadia,<br />

including bed sheets, quilts, bedspreads,<br />

duvet covers, blankets, towels, bath robes,<br />

shower curtains, and bed sheets for kids.<br />

Nadia can now sell these goods to customers<br />

to both provide for her family and increase<br />

her inventory.<br />

After receiving the goods, Nadia said,<br />

“I thank you, ICC, so much for everything,<br />

for standing with my children and<br />

me after the martyring of my husband<br />

and making this great project for us. This<br />

project will help me to earn sustainable<br />

income for my children. May God richly<br />

bless you.”<br />

8 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Education for<br />

Rachael Gikonyo<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

Several students, staff, and teachers<br />

were killed or injured by al-Shabaab<br />

during the terrorist attack at Garissa<br />

University in 2015. Rachael Gikonyo, a<br />

student, survived despite sustaining seven<br />

gunshot wounds to the chest, leg, and<br />

back. Unfortunately, she now has paralysis<br />

in her lower body and is forced to use<br />

a wheelchair.<br />

Thanks to the support of generous donors,<br />

ICC was able to help with some of her medical<br />

and food expenses during 2015 and 2016. This<br />

year, ICC covered 75 percent of her tuition at<br />

Kenyatta University so she was able to return<br />

to college. She started her sophomore year in<br />

September.<br />

Remember to pray for Rachael’s academic<br />

goals and health, as well as for God’s provision<br />

for her family.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Housing for<br />

Pastor in India<br />

Hand of Hope<br />

In southern India, Pastor Aryan led a small<br />

congregation in his rented house until radical<br />

activists closed the church and forced<br />

the pastor to move. The poor community<br />

could not afford to replace their church so<br />

Pastor Aryan found an isolated, empty piece<br />

of land to quickly build a shack for his family.<br />

The unsafe shack also proved to be a<br />

home for poisonous snakes, insects, and the<br />

sun’s harsh rays.<br />

To serve the pastor, his family, and church,<br />

ICC paid for housing materials, including<br />

walls, a roof, and a door to protect them<br />

from the elements.<br />

When the home was finished, Pastor<br />

Aryan was overwhelmed, “I have never<br />

expected to have a safe place for me and my<br />

family to live, as I did not have resources to<br />

build a house.”<br />

Iraq Bible<br />

Assistance<br />

Bibles for the Persecuted<br />

W<br />

hile there are a few Christian-majority<br />

areas in Iraq, there are far more dangerous,<br />

Muslim-only areas that many evangelists<br />

will not enter. One Iraqi ministry,<br />

however, is daring to minister in those areas<br />

and create a foundation for spreading God’s<br />

Word. The ministry’s work is even more<br />

timely in light of ISIS’ brutal reign and<br />

recent exit.<br />

Many Muslims are reconsidering their<br />

faith because of ISIS and our friends are<br />

ready to share an alternative with them.<br />

A major component of this ministry is<br />

literature distribution in the streets, so<br />

we supported the evangelists with 5,000<br />

Bibles.<br />

Continue to pray for this ministry,<br />

including safety, wisdom, and continued<br />

provision.<br />


Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Medical Clinic in South Sudan<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

The conflict between the government and<br />

the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement<br />

has ignited a civil war in South Sudan. As<br />

a result, many people in South Sudan have<br />

either died or fled to different areas of the<br />

country with their families. Unfortunately,<br />

these victims have also lost their access to<br />

basic necessities such as food, water, shelter,<br />

health services and medicine, in addition to<br />

their homes.<br />

In the midst of this turmoil, a local medical<br />

clinic has been serving South Sudanese<br />

victims including malnourished children,<br />

nursing or pregnant mothers, and any other<br />

patients needing medical attention, medication,<br />

or medical testing.<br />

Thanks to the assistance of loyal donors, ICC<br />

was able to partner once again with this clinic<br />

to purchase $1,000 worth of medicine. The<br />

clinic depends exclusively on outside support<br />

to continue running; therefore, the acquisition<br />

of this medicine was indispensable since the<br />

demand for antibiotics and other medication<br />

is very high in the war-torn area. The clinic is<br />

now able to continue its assistance and service<br />

to the local community that is in desperate need<br />

of spiritual and physical help.<br />

ICC hopes to continue its partnership with<br />

this clinic since it is an effective ministry<br />

and also a tangible way to show God’s love<br />

and mercy toward others. For that reason,<br />

please remember to pray for the civil war that<br />

is taking place in South Sudan and for the<br />

Christians and non-believers who are being<br />

affected by it. Pray that these victims are able<br />

to seek God during times of despair and that<br />

God can work in their hearts. Pray also for<br />

God’s provision for this clinic as it continues<br />

to serve so many people.<br />

10 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Assistance to Chawai<br />

Victims in Nigeria<br />

Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

In November 2016, a group of Fulani<br />

militants attacked the Christian district<br />

of Chawai, Nigeria. Approximately 40<br />

people were killed, over 100 houses and<br />

crops destroyed, and two church buildings<br />

burned down. The majority of residents in<br />

the five villages that compose the district are<br />

Christian farmers who depend on their crops<br />

to survive. Therefore, these victims not only<br />

lost their properties, but the means to provide<br />

for and feed their families.<br />

In the midst of such hardship, we were<br />

able to assist 200 of the affected Christian<br />

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families by providing them with the necessary<br />

materials to begin cultivating their crops<br />

again. Thanks to our donors, we supplied<br />

these farmers with over 250 bags of fertilizer<br />

and 10 irrigation water pumps.<br />

The victims were very grateful because<br />

God had provided for them once again.<br />

“They saw our plight, and God also<br />

made them think graciously to help us,”<br />

said Emmanuel who received one of the<br />

fertilizer bags.<br />

Please remember to pray for safety and<br />

provision for these Christian families that<br />

continue to live in fear of their persecutors.<br />

Food and Prison<br />

Assistance to<br />

Yasir and His<br />

Brother<br />

Hand of Hope<br />

Yasir ran a small bicycle repair shop,<br />

servicing Muslims and Christians until<br />

police threw him in jail for a false blasphemy<br />

charge. A Muslim customer leveled<br />

the charge against Yasir after Yasir asked<br />

him to pay for bicycle repairs. The Muslim<br />

customer told Yasir that he would not pay for<br />

the repairs because he was a Muslim. Yasir<br />

responded that he only believed in Jesus<br />

Christ. The Muslim customer claimed that<br />

Yasir’s statement was blasphemous and filed<br />

an official charge against him.<br />

Yasir was imprisoned and his family has<br />

gone into hiding, fearful of being attacked<br />

by radical Muslims. To ensure that Yasir still<br />

receives food and visitors, Yasir’s brother<br />

has been visiting the prison and bringing<br />

food to Yasir, despite the brother’s own<br />

financial needs.<br />

In order to support both brothers, ICC provided<br />

Yasir with three months’ worth of food<br />

and financial assistance for Yasir’s brother.<br />

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are a continual<br />

source of persecution for Christians because<br />

they are often used by Muslims to settle<br />

personal disputes or vendettas. The result<br />

often ruins the lives of accused Christians<br />

and their families.<br />


Volunteers<br />

Volunteers Support International<br />

Day of Prayer for the Persecuted<br />

Spreading the<br />

Word<br />

Throughout the year, Christians around the<br />

world pray for their persecuted brothers<br />

and sisters. Once a year, however, the global<br />

Church specifies a particular day to pray for<br />

the persecuted Church. This day is called<br />

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted<br />

(IDOP) and is traditionally recognized on the<br />

first Sunday of November.<br />

On this day, more than any other, ICC’s<br />

faithful volunteers mobilize their communities<br />

by raising awareness and prayer support<br />

for the persecuted. Many volunteers<br />

addressed the awareness aspect of this event<br />

and sought out several different avenues to<br />

spread awareness. Some distributed copies<br />

of <strong>Persecution</strong> magazine in their communities.<br />

Some took to the pulpit and spoke about<br />

persecution before their congregations. Some<br />

shared informational resources about recent<br />

news stories related to persecution. Some<br />

raised awareness about this vital issue on<br />

social media.<br />

In addition to spreading awareness, countless<br />

others recognized IDOP by gathering<br />

together for prayer. Some hosted prayer gatherings<br />

for members of their church. Some distributed<br />

prayer requests with others either in<br />

person or electronically. Many more set aside<br />

part of their day to pray, either individually or<br />

with their families.<br />

As part of IDOP 2017, ICC also hosted a<br />

petition on behalf of persecuted Christians<br />

in Nigeria. The petition calls on the Nigerian<br />

government to offer greater protection to persecuted<br />

Christians who are targeted by radical<br />

groups such as Boko Haram and Fulani<br />

militants. Several thousand signatures from<br />

countries all over the world have already been<br />

gathered in response.<br />

In ministries that serve the persecuted, volunteers<br />

don’t always have the ability to see the<br />

fruits of their labor. However, on International<br />

Day of Prayer for the Persecuted, it is undeniable<br />

that the global Church is making progress<br />

in alleviating the suffering of the persecuted.<br />

While there is still work to be done, it is<br />

encouraging to see the Church coming together<br />

year after year to support heroes of the faith.<br />

‘And pray in the Spirit on all<br />

occasions with all kinds of<br />

prayers and requests. With<br />

this in mind, be alert and<br />

always keep on prayer for all<br />

the Lord’s people.’<br />

– EPHESIANS 6:18 (NIV)<br />

This ministry would not be possible<br />

unless the general public was aware<br />

of the plight of persecuted Christians.<br />

Therefore, ICC is always looking for new<br />

ways to reach out to various communities<br />

to inform them about different religious<br />

freedom issues. In doing so, ICC’s volunteers<br />

participated in a recent campaign that<br />

challenged them to reach out to their local<br />

newspapers to write letters to the editor<br />

about persecution.<br />

Specifically, volunteers contacted newspapers<br />

to write letters about the issues<br />

facing Christians in North Korea. In the<br />

midst of political tension surrounding<br />

North Korea, volunteers encouraged readers<br />

not to forget the egregious human<br />

rights violations that the Kim regime is<br />

constantly committing against its own<br />

people. By using local newspapers as a<br />

means of communication, these volunteers<br />

are reaching out to new communities<br />

that might not otherwise hear about these<br />

issues, specifically those that are affecting<br />

minority Christians. As long as persecution<br />

exists, it is vital for the free Church<br />

to continue spreading the word about the<br />

atrocities that its brothers and sisters in<br />

Christ are facing.<br />

12 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Looking for a Way to Make a Difference in the World? Join Our Team of Volunteers!<br />

For those wishing to assist the persecuted Church, many are not sure how to get started. However, volunteers all over the world are making a<br />

difference within their own communities as members of ICC’s five different volunteer teams: Advocacy, Awareness, Office, Prayer, and Special<br />

Projects. By standing up for the persecuted in countless different ways, ICC’s volunteers play a crucial role in connecting the global Church by<br />

bridging the gap between the persecuted and the free Church. It only takes one person to make a difference – are you willing?<br />

Fighting for Justice<br />

One of the most important duties of volunteers who serve on<br />

ICC’s Advocacy Team is supporting ICC’s petitions. Between<br />

September and November, ICC hosted a petition that called for<br />

the release of four prisoners of conscience in Iran. Each of these<br />

men was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly committing<br />

“actions against national security.” In response, volunteers all<br />

over the world called upon their churches, their families, and their<br />

friends, encouraging them to sign this petition on behalf of these<br />

wrongfully imprisoned men. As a result, this petition garnered<br />

nearly 4,500 signatures.<br />

The Power of Prayer<br />

In addition to praying on International Day of Prayer for the<br />

Persecuted, it is essential that volunteers pray for the persecuted<br />

on a consistent basis. As a result, several members of ICC’s Prayer<br />

Team address this need by forming prayer groups specifically<br />

dedicated to praying for the persecuted. These volunteers meet with<br />

their groups on a regular basis, ranging from daily to monthly, to<br />

pray over various issues related to religious freedom. Many focus on<br />

specific countries that experience severe persecution to ensure that<br />

their needs are lifted up in prayer.<br />

Volunteer Teams<br />

1 Advocacy Fight for justice for the persecuted through petitions, congressional<br />

calls, and more.<br />

2 Awareness Raise your voice by speaking in churches, writing, and social<br />

media.<br />

3 Office Lighten the load of our staff by helping with administrative assignments.<br />

4 Prayer Intercede for our brothers and sisters in Christ, both individually and<br />

as a church.<br />

5 Special Projects Volunteer on your own schedule through one-time projects.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Are You Interested<br />

in Serving?<br />

Online<br />

Apply online at:<br />

http://www.persecution.org/how-you-canhelp/volunteer<br />

Or send an email to:<br />

volunteer@persecution.org<br />

Phone Want more information? Feel<br />

free to call us at (301) 585-5915.<br />



By Nathan Johnson<br />

ran [into]<br />

the grass<br />

but they set<br />

the grass<br />

ablaze and<br />

burned my<br />

“We sister, father,<br />

brother, and<br />

me. I ran<br />

to my brother Godfrey, but the Fulanis<br />

[attacked him with machetes]. They set<br />

my stepmother ablaze and slaughtered my<br />

brother Nathaniel. They burnt my 3-dayold<br />

stepbrother on the head and burned<br />

[my older sister]. [After the attack], they<br />

took us to [the hospital] and later to Jos.”<br />

This is how 7-year-old Azumi Francis of<br />

Nigeria’s Plateau State remembers February<br />

20, 2017. Early that morning, as Fulani<br />

militants raided the villages of Ashim,<br />

Mifi, Zilang and Bakin Kogi in the Attakar<br />

District, Azumi and her family fled from the<br />

sounds of gunfire and the smell of burning<br />

houses in the village. They ran toward the<br />

safety of the surrounding grasslands to wait<br />

for the attackers to leave. They laid low,<br />

breathlessly hoping that the tall, thick grass<br />

would protect them. Sadly, it didn’t work.<br />

The militants set the grass on fire. The<br />

flames drove the villagers out of hiding,<br />

towards the Fulani guns and machetes.<br />

By the end of the attack, Azumi lost her<br />

stepmother, stepbrother, and one of her<br />

brothers. She and her sister, brother, and<br />

father were taken to the hospital where ICC<br />

paid for medical support. Unfortunately,<br />

despite the treatment, Azumi’s father and<br />

older sister died. Now, Azumi and her only<br />

living brother, Godfrey, must grow up without<br />

any other immediate family.<br />

A Common Occurrence<br />

Azumi’s experience is common for<br />

Christians living in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt”<br />

region. Despite the large number of incidents<br />

and massive number of victims for more than<br />

a decade, the Fulani’s murderous violence<br />

has gained little attention from the Nigerian<br />

government, national media, or the international<br />

community.<br />

“The government and the media in<br />

Nigeria are tone deaf when it comes to facing<br />

up to outrageous human rights abuses<br />

in Nigeria,” said Stephen Enada of the<br />

International Committee on Nigeria (ICON).<br />

“[The government] doesn’t want the international<br />

community to be aware of the level<br />

of atrocities committed against [Christians]<br />

[and because the] government [is] in charge<br />

of the public conversation, serious skewed<br />

reporting and editorializing occurs.”<br />

The war against Christian farmers has<br />

gone on for many years and there are many<br />

explanations as to why it continues. Boko<br />

Haram’s destabilization of the North is a<br />

contributing factor as is the desertification<br />

of Fulani lands, as well as the fact that the<br />

Fulani are historically nomadic but becoming<br />

more stationary. Although there are<br />

several complex factors for the attacks, the<br />

simple truth is that the nomadic cattle-herding<br />

Fulani want the land that the Christian<br />

farmers are on. The other factor is that<br />

they are predominantly Muslim and their<br />

doctrine justifies violence toward infidels<br />

who oppose them. In the end, they murder<br />

infidels whose land they want.<br />

14 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />



No Protection<br />

What makes the situation so difficult,<br />

however, is that the government is not protecting<br />

the Christians caught in the crosshairs<br />

of the Islamic violence.<br />

Victims cry out for help and have begged the<br />

government’s security agencies to adequately<br />

protect them from the marauding Fulanis, but<br />

nothing changes.<br />

The governmentstationed<br />

military units,<br />

part of Operation Safe<br />

Haven, have failed to<br />

protect those under their<br />

charge. Their blunders<br />

have been large and<br />

have led to the death<br />

and destruction of many<br />

villages. Communities<br />

have responded to the<br />

government’s failure by<br />

creating their own militias<br />

to defend themselves.<br />

While the government’s<br />

failure may initially be<br />

attributed to the vast<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


“The ongoing<br />

conflict<br />

between<br />

Christian<br />

farmers and<br />

Fulani militants<br />

has been a<br />

problem for<br />

many years.”<br />

“Unless [the] administration is fully ready<br />

to condemn the violence... the safety of<br />

all Nigeria is at risk.”<br />

amount of distance to cover, it is not an<br />

acceptable excuse. These militants often<br />

attack the same areas repeatedly, because<br />

locals who initially flee<br />

from the attack usually<br />

try to return and rebuild.<br />

ICC’s Nigerian staff<br />

noted that, after villagers<br />

return, “the [Fulanis]<br />

often return to demolish<br />

the structures being<br />

rebuilt by the farmers,<br />

or [mow down villager’s<br />

crops.] They ambush<br />

and attack the men or<br />

abduct their women<br />

on the farms and rape<br />

them, or continue to send<br />

threats to intimidate the<br />

villagers.”<br />

The attackers also often occupy the land<br />

which they have just attacked and taken<br />

from these farmers. “In other cases, the<br />

[Fulanis] actually occupy and settle down<br />

in the villages they have sacked, regarding<br />

them as ‘conquered territory’ and setting<br />

up their own camps and build[ing] homes<br />

there.”<br />

This reoccupation is devastating for<br />

Nigerian farmers, where land is seen as<br />

ancestral and ownership has been with a<br />

single family for decades.<br />

A denunciation of Fulani militant violence<br />

from President Buhari would be particularly<br />

meaningful because he is Fulani himself.<br />

Unless his administration is fully ready to<br />

condemn the violence, hold the criminals<br />

accountable, help rebuild communities, and<br />

protect vulnerable citizens like Azumi, the<br />

safety of all Nigeria is at risk.<br />


The Forgotten<br />

Terrorists:<br />

Fulani Militants<br />

in Nigeria<br />

29<br />

From<br />

<strong>January</strong> to<br />

October 2017<br />

alone, there<br />

were more<br />

than<br />

68<br />

7<br />

8<br />

71<br />

90<br />

attacks*<br />

10<br />

9<br />

100<br />

injured<br />

400<br />

killed<br />

35<br />

67<br />

65<br />

2<br />

30<br />

53<br />

73<br />

100<br />

houses burned<br />

and tens of<br />

thousands<br />

in damages<br />

*Not all attacks represented. Map features 50 of the worst<br />

attacks from 2017, numbered in chronological order.<br />

16 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


33<br />

84<br />

3<br />

15 31<br />

69 12<br />

11<br />

32<br />

52<br />

92<br />

91<br />

56<br />

63<br />

66<br />

37 40<br />

34 64 55<br />

61<br />

18 39 46 62<br />

1<br />

60<br />

87<br />

49<br />

21<br />

23<br />

13<br />

14<br />

25<br />

How<br />

you can<br />

help:<br />

6<br />

47<br />

1-5 deaths<br />

6-10 deaths<br />

11-20 deaths<br />

$30<br />

$100<br />

buys fertilizer to<br />

restart farming<br />

buys food for<br />

a month<br />

>20 deaths<br />

$150<br />

buys a water<br />

pump for farming<br />

$1,000<br />

buys the internal supplies<br />

for a home to be rebuilt<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



The Latest in a Long<br />

Series of Attacks:<br />

Fulani Militants Hit Ancha and Nkedoron Villages<br />

By Nathan Johnson<br />

In 2017, Fulani militants perpetrated<br />

no less than 92 attacks on Christians<br />

and their communities. These attacks<br />

caused the deaths of more than 392<br />

people, with many more injured, and<br />

thousands of homes, farms, and essential<br />

pieces of equipment destroyed. The<br />

death and destruction caused by this<br />

group in Nigeria is only surpassed by<br />

Boko Haram. The two most recent Fulani<br />

attacks have shown the true brutality and insidious<br />

nature of the Fulani militancy.<br />

Ancha Attack<br />

On September 7, 2017, Fulani militants raided the<br />

small village of Ancha in Plateau, Nigeria. During<br />

this attack, they killed 20 Christian villagers, 19 of<br />

whom attended one church.<br />

“My heart is terribly heavy. I haven’t been able<br />

to sleep. I was called (on the phone) at about 12:00<br />

midnight when the Fulani militia came into the village,”<br />

mourned Rev. Nanchwat Laven, the pastor of<br />

Salama Baptist Church in Ancha village, which lost<br />

19 members in the attack.<br />

One villager, Lami Ishaya, a mother whose four<br />

children were killed, recounted, “They hit the front<br />

door, then I ran into the second room and jumped off<br />

through the window to the back of the house and fled<br />

into the bush. They killed four of my children and<br />

a daughter-in-law. The mother of this 2-year-old<br />

small boy was killed. Monday Musa is his name.”<br />

When the Fulani attack, they do not only target<br />

the men in the village. They indiscriminately kill<br />

women, children, and the elderly alike. To add to<br />

the brutality of their gruesome attacks, they use fire,<br />

machetes, and automatic gunfire.<br />

Another villager, who lost his father, mother, and<br />

brother, told ICC, “I was sleeping, and got woken<br />

by sound of gunshot. I came out and looked behind<br />

the house, then I saw three persons holding guns.<br />

I quickly ran back into the room and locked the<br />

door. After a little while, I hear movements towards<br />

my father’s hut, then heard gunshots. I heard loud<br />

screams. I was so scared. And they continued<br />

shooting. After a little while, it got quiet. I peeped<br />

out to see as there was moonlight. I saw them beck-<br />

18 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Lami Ishaya lost her four children<br />

and Monday Musa lost his mother<br />

due to Fulani attacks.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



Feature Article<br />

oning each other to leave. It appears they<br />

distributed themselves to different houses.<br />

When I peeped into my parent’s room, I saw<br />

them on the floor motionless, dead.”<br />

To add to the Ancha villagers’ trauma, the<br />

attackers left the bodies of the people they<br />

killed in the streets. This means that families<br />

that returned to the village from their hiding<br />

places were surrounded by dead friends and<br />

family. Sometimes, however, there is no one<br />

left in the family to return. One entire family<br />

was killed in the attack on Ancha. They<br />

were the last surviving members of their<br />

direct line.<br />

When ICC asked why the Fulani attacked,<br />

Rev. Nanchwat stated, “We didn’t have a<br />

quarrel [with the Fulani militants]. Some<br />

of the herdsmen [would] relax among the<br />

villagers, sometimes way into [the] late evening,<br />

when the local vigilante would advise<br />

them to go home. Of course we have had<br />

issues from time to time with the herdsmen<br />

letting their cattle graze into our farms and<br />

destroy our crops. It would appear [that] the<br />

Fulanis [launched this] attack because they<br />

had…some provocative attitude [about] their<br />

cattle graz[ing] on our farms.”<br />

While some observers will use the agricultural<br />

dispute to downplay the religious<br />

nature of the conflict, it is important to<br />

recognize that Fulani militants don’t attack<br />

Muslim communities for grazing land.<br />

Fulani herders allow their cattle to graze<br />

on land owned by Christian farmers and<br />

militants use violence to ensure that herders<br />

keep the land. Militants use the justification<br />

that Christians are infidels who are not worthy<br />

of the land that they own.<br />

Nkedoron Attack<br />

The attack on Nkedoron on October 16,<br />

2017 was just as horrific and violent as<br />

Ancha. Fulani militants killed 29 people,<br />

mostly women and children. The victims<br />

were led to the local elementary school by<br />

military personnel to hide. Unbeknownst to<br />

‘[Islamic] Fulani militants<br />

have increased their<br />

attacks against defenseless<br />

Christian farmers and they<br />

must be held accountable<br />

for their actions.’<br />

them however, the military personnel fled<br />

the scene and provided no protection during<br />

the attack.<br />

Rev. Andrew Okebe, the Zonal Coordinator<br />

of Christian Association of Nigeria, Miango<br />

District, told ICC, “The soldiers had told the<br />

women and children to go and hide in the<br />

primary (elementary) school class at night<br />

while the men in the village constituted a<br />

vigilante group and join[ed] the soldiers in<br />

patrolling the area. Sadly, the [Fulani] militia<br />

descended and the soldiers fled, leaving<br />

the defenseless villagers to be massacred by<br />

the terrorists.”<br />

According to Rev. Okebe, these persistent<br />

attacks have left villagers feeling like the<br />

security agencies and personnel assigned to<br />

protect their communities are not committed<br />

to protecting their villages from aggressors<br />

whom they believe to be Islamic jihadists<br />

who want to occupy their land. These soldiers<br />

are a part of Operation Safe Haven,<br />

which is the government’s attempt to confront<br />

the Fulani militant violence and reprisal<br />

attacks in the Middle Belt. Even though<br />

these soldiers were on the scene before the<br />

attack, and the entire area was under curfew,<br />

their only action was to gather all of the<br />

women, children, and elderly into a central<br />

20 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Opposite Rev. Nanchwat Laven speaks with ICC about the murder of 19 of his church members.<br />

Top This house was destroyed by Fulani militants as the roof was ripped down.<br />

Bottom In the middle of this Anglican church that was burned down, the cross survived the flames.<br />

location before fleeing.<br />

The Commander of OPSH, Maj. Gen.<br />

Anthony Atolagbe, stated to the media,<br />

“Soldiers have been sent to the headquarters<br />

of the OPSH for a proper investigation<br />

on how the attack took place in the village<br />

under their watch, especially when curfew<br />

was imposed in the village and there was<br />

supposed to be restriction on movement.”<br />

It has left many questioning the dedication<br />

of these men to protecting the communities<br />

with which they are charged, and possibly<br />

even being complicit in some of the actions<br />

that have taken place.<br />

A 74-year-old man, Goh Rohu, was left<br />

completely devastated by this violence. He<br />

lost his wife and 15 relatives in the attack.<br />

He and his extended family were deeply<br />

wounded during this attack. Five of his brothers,<br />

four of their wives, and six children were<br />

killed that day. He told the New Telegraph, “I<br />

want Federal and State Government to investigate<br />

these killings; it was carefully planned<br />

to wipe out the entire village and my house<br />

was mostly affected.”<br />

Something must be done to end these<br />

atrocities. Fulani militants have increased<br />

their attacks against defenseless Christian<br />

farmers and they must be held accountable<br />

for their actions. The government of Nigeria<br />

must not only condemn these attacks, but also<br />

take major steps to ensure that the perpetrators<br />

are punished and unable to commit these<br />

acts again. They must help rebuild the lives<br />

and communities of these families to show<br />

their commitment to their citizens. Until then,<br />

Christian villagers in the Middle Belt will be<br />

left wondering which village is next.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



A NEW<br />


Building Hope in Nigeria<br />

Stones, bags of cement,<br />

and cement-molded<br />

blocks. Wood and zinc<br />

roofing sheets; plaster.<br />

The building materials<br />

for Mrs. Laraba’s<br />

new home are simple,<br />

yet they formed a new<br />

foundation: a visible<br />

placeholder for the<br />

hope she held inside her heart as she and<br />

her six children endured months of living<br />

in an internally displaced persons (IDP)<br />

camp. With the help of generous donors,<br />

ICC built this new home which will serve<br />

as a safe place for this family to recover<br />

from the trauma they have walked<br />

through together.<br />

After her husband was killed and her<br />

home was destroyed by militants, Mrs.<br />

Laraba became one of thousands in Nigeria<br />

who have been displaced by the relentless<br />

assaults of Fulani militants. They chased<br />

farmers from their land, subsequently occupying<br />

the abandoned real estate with thousands<br />

of cattle for grazing.<br />

Many are still waiting to recover, but we<br />

can pray for peace in Nigeria’s tumultuous<br />

“Middle Belt” region. We can pray for help<br />

to come to victims who still need it. And we<br />

can pray that Mrs. Laraba and her children<br />

will continue to serve the Lord and be a<br />

light to others in their community.<br />

Pray that their light will spread across<br />

Nigeria, that there won’t be one soul untouched<br />

by the grace they have received.<br />

‘I am very happy for<br />

the work you’ve done<br />

for me. If not for God’s<br />

intervention, I couldn’t<br />

do this myself. Words<br />

fail me to express my<br />

thanks to God for this<br />

great thing you’ve done<br />

for me. I thank you<br />

greatly for this work<br />

you’ve done.’<br />

– MRS. LARABA<br />

22 PERSECU ION.org<br />

JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Top Left Mrs.<br />

Laraba sits with<br />

some of her children<br />

at the village<br />

celebration.<br />

Top Right<br />

Despite facing the<br />

devastating effects<br />

of the militant attack,<br />

Mrs. Laraba’s<br />

faith remains<br />

steadfast.<br />

Bottom The entire<br />

village comes<br />

out to celebrate<br />

the new home<br />

built just for Mrs.<br />

Laraba.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



Feature Article<br />

Emissaries<br />

of Grace<br />

and Hope<br />

ICC brings hope to the families<br />

that face continual persecution<br />

in Nigeria.<br />

By Amy Penn<br />

As Boko Haram<br />

and Fulani<br />

militants carry<br />

out simultaneous<br />

campaigns<br />

of violence,<br />

Christians<br />

throughout Nigeria continue to<br />

be devastated as their villages<br />

are repeatedly destroyed. Further<br />

still, the government has proven<br />

largely unsuccessful in pushing<br />

back against these groups’<br />

attacks. Despite the destruction,<br />

Nigeria’s Christians want to<br />

restart their lives. They want to<br />

recover and rebuild, but they lack<br />

the resources to do so. With the<br />

support of generous donors, we<br />

responded to the call.<br />

Between October 15-17,<br />

2016, Fulani herdsmen attacked<br />

Godogodo and surrounding<br />

villages. As a result, 30 were<br />

killed, 326 were injured, over<br />

300 families’ crops were burned,<br />

and over 27,000 people were<br />

displaced. Of the 27,000 people<br />

displaced, approximately 1,000<br />

people registered at an internally<br />

displaced persons (IDP) camp in<br />

Kafanchan with no food, clothing,<br />

or shelter. As we monitored<br />

the IDP situation, we discovered<br />

that they had yet to receive any<br />

government support.<br />

Sustaining the families became<br />

our top priority, so we purchased<br />

one month’s worth of food packages<br />

and clothing for these displaced<br />

Christians. Food packages<br />

included necessities like rice,<br />

beans, cooking oil, salt, and nutritional<br />

supplements for children.<br />

On behalf of the IDPs, the community<br />

leader noted, “We are<br />

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JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Feature Article<br />

“We are grateful for all these relief materials that you have brought<br />

for us... You promised to return and here you are again today.”<br />

grateful for all these relief materials<br />

that you have brought for<br />

us… You visited some time ago to<br />

ascertain the plight of victims on<br />

this camp. You promised to return<br />

and here you are again today.”<br />

In November 2016, Christians<br />

in the Chawai district lost their<br />

homes, neighbors, family members,<br />

businesses, and food supplies<br />

in yet another Fulani militant<br />

attack. Forty people were killed,<br />

over 100 homes were demolished,<br />

including two churches, and the<br />

militants ensured that Christians<br />

had no food supplies. By destroying<br />

food storages, irrigation<br />

pumps, transportation vehicles,<br />

sewing machines, and other tools,<br />

the militants did everything in<br />

their power to starve out Chawai’s<br />

Christian community, physically<br />

and economically.<br />

When we heard about the<br />

attacks, we asked the families<br />

what would be the most helpful<br />

as they worked to restore their<br />

community. The families determined<br />

that agricultural supplies<br />

like seed, insecticide, and irrigation<br />

equipment would provide<br />

sustainable development for their<br />

villages. After testing the soil,<br />

we bought and distributed more<br />

than 400 bags of fertilizer as well<br />

as irrigation equipment to ensure<br />

that the families would have a<br />

bountiful harvest. “By the grace<br />

of God,” said Kiri, “this [water]<br />

pump will be very beneficial and<br />

profitable.”<br />

In February 2017, Fulani militants<br />

attacked Attakar, killing 26,<br />

injuring 19, and destroying 70<br />

homes. Of the 19 injured, seven<br />

required expensive medical treatment<br />

at Jos University Hospital,<br />

totaling over $4,000. The injuries<br />

included lacerations from<br />

machetes, extensive burns, and<br />

gunshot wounds. We were able<br />

to pay the medical bills to ensure<br />

that these Christians had the best<br />

possible care in response to such<br />

tragedy. One young girl who<br />

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Opposite Food and clothing assistance are necessary after an attack.<br />

Top One farmer receives his seed from ICC.<br />

Bottom In addition to providing seed, fertilizer, and herbicide, we<br />

also train farmers to ensure that they use the supplies correctly.<br />

received skin grafts after being<br />

burned said, “I have nothing to<br />

give to ICC, but to say thank you.<br />

I also thank God.”<br />

The Fulani militants, however,<br />

are not the only problem<br />

in Nigeria. Boko Haram has<br />

destabilized much of Nigeria<br />

by kidnapping, attacking, and<br />

killing Christians. One of their<br />

most notable acts of persecution<br />

included the kidnapping of the<br />

Chibok girls in 2014. Militants<br />

took nearly 300 schoolgirls<br />

from their school to unknown<br />

locations. #BringBackOurGirls<br />

became an international,<br />

resounding cry as celebrities,<br />

politicians, pastors, neighbors,<br />

and family members shared the<br />

hashtag on social media and in<br />

the news.<br />

We went beyond the hashtag<br />

to bring assistance to the broken<br />

families and raise awareness<br />

about the realities of life after<br />

the kidnapping. Using exclusive,<br />

in-person interviews with the<br />

families, we fought to share the<br />

families’ stories, but also alleviate<br />

some of their needs. Many<br />

of these families have struggled<br />

to provide for themselves since<br />

the event because of Nigeria’s<br />

economic struggles and a high<br />

inflation rate. Without crops, the<br />

families faced imminent starvation.<br />

We were able to provide fertilizer,<br />

herbicides, and corn seeds<br />

in 2016 to ensure that the families<br />

could harvest in the next season.<br />

We will continue to seek ways to<br />

support the families and girls who<br />

have been released.<br />

In the midst of the persecution<br />

facing Nigerian Christians, we<br />

may not be able to bring back their<br />

loved ones. We may not be able to<br />

wipe away the horrible memories<br />

of the attacks. But, we can restore<br />

hope through God’s grace and<br />

provision in difficult times, helping<br />

Nigerian Christians rebuild<br />

their homes, replant their crops,<br />

and restart their lives.<br />


Miracle of Hope in<br />

the Midst of ISIS<br />

The miraculous return of Christina to her family<br />

continues to bring hope to Christians rebuilding<br />

their lives in Iraq.<br />

By Claire Evans<br />

Rapturous joy paints<br />

the faces of the poverty-stricken<br />

parents,<br />

lighting up a room of<br />

expressionless white<br />

walls. Though blind,<br />

the dark sunglasses<br />

of the father can<br />

hardly hide his happiness.<br />

The mother’s<br />

delight is indescribable, her wide smile signaling<br />

the end of three years of uncertainty.<br />

Between them sits the source of their happiness:<br />

a 6-year-old girl named Christina,<br />

dressed in her customary polka dots and<br />

wearing a large cross necklace.<br />

In June 2014, hundreds of ISIS militants<br />

raced across Iraq’s Nineveh Plains, intent on<br />

erasing all signs of Christianity from Iraq. The<br />

Nineveh Plains is the historic home of Iraq’s<br />

Christians; the target of ISIS’s famed brutality.<br />

Most residents fled, but not everyone was<br />

able to escape the fury of ISIS. The elderly,<br />

frail, and disabled were unable to quickly<br />

flee and thus stayed behind, hoping that ISIS<br />

would show them some mercy. Such was the<br />

case with Christina’s family.<br />

The youngest in a family of nine, Christina<br />

is her family’s treasure. Her name, which<br />

means “follower of Christ,” was a symbol<br />

of her family’s faith. Her father, Khader, is<br />

blind; her mother, Aida, is slightly disabled.<br />

Christina was only 3-years-old when ISIS<br />

swept through Qaraqosh, images of which<br />

forever remain seared in the memory of her<br />

family and friends. Her older siblings left<br />

when the other residents fled, but Christina<br />

and her parents remained in the city. Her<br />

mother Aida recalled, “My husband, a blind<br />

man, was sick and unable to escape. I sent<br />

my older children to run away with people<br />

in town. I stayed behind with my husband<br />

and younger daughter, Christina, and I<br />

thought she would be safe, no matter how<br />

cruel they were.”<br />

However, it quickly became apparent that<br />

ISIS would show no mercy to those who<br />

remained behind. Just a few weeks after the<br />

militants seized Qaraqosh, on August 22,<br />

Girls taken<br />

captive by<br />

ISIS often<br />

disappeared,<br />

their fate<br />

unknown.<br />

2014, the militants rounded up the town’s<br />

remaining Christians under the guise of conducting<br />

medical checkups. Instead, all of<br />

their possessions were confiscated. Money,<br />

cell phones, ID cards, jewelry—whatever it<br />

was, ISIS took it. The frightened Christians<br />

were then shuttled onto a bus. Aida placed<br />

Christina onto her lap, holding her close in<br />

an attempt to shield her from whatever horrors<br />

ISIS had in store for them. Then, without<br />

explanation, a militant walked up to Aida,<br />

picked up Christina, and walked away.<br />

One eyewitness, Kafah, later explained<br />

to local media: “I saw a bearded ISIS guy<br />

carry off a girl, about 3-years-old, called<br />

Christina. Her mother started to scream and<br />

cry. [She said,] ‘Poor girl, what has she done<br />

wrong? For the sake of Allah, for the sake of<br />

Muhammad, what do you worship? Give her<br />

to me; I’m nursing and she’ll die if she’s not<br />

with [me].’” She added that Aida started to<br />

follow the man, who then “drew his machine<br />

gun and said, ‘Go quickly to the bus. If you<br />

come close to this little girl, you will be<br />

slaughtered. We will slaughter you.’”<br />

Dejected, Aida returned to her seat in tears,<br />

unsure of what would happen to Christina<br />

and the other young women taken from the<br />

bus. One of the hostages later managed to<br />

find a cellphone and report that the captives,<br />

including Christina, were taken to Mosul.<br />

Meanwhile, the families remaining on the<br />

bus were driven far from their homes and<br />

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JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Top Joy radiates from Christina’s face as<br />

she sits with her family upon her return.<br />

Bottom ICC provides aid to Christina’s<br />

family after her return.<br />

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released. Christina’s family was completely<br />

devastated. After all, girls taken captive by<br />

ISIS often disappeared, their fate unknown.<br />

Over the next few years, the family would<br />

hear rumors about Christina. They heard that<br />

Christina was living with a Muslim family in<br />

Mosul. But after two years, the rumors faded<br />

away. Aida would wander from camp to<br />

camp, asking if anyone knew what happened<br />

to her little girl. Posters reading “Lost Girl”<br />

and featuring Christina’s photo were scattered<br />

throughout the displacement camp her family<br />

called home. At one point, Christina’s father<br />

thought he heard the voice of a young girl.<br />

He recalled, “I heard, ‘Papa! Papa!’ I called,<br />

‘Christina! Christina!’ but she didn’t reply.”<br />

The hope of Christina’s family for her<br />

eventual return was an inspiration to other<br />

displaced Christians. Their hope was memorialized<br />

in a stage play written and performed<br />

by Qaraqosh Christians, Christina’s former<br />

neighbors. In one scene, a girl portraying<br />

Christina wanders onto the stage as another<br />

character cries out, “Christina, where have<br />

you been, beautiful? Your mother is looking<br />

for you. She looked for you everywhere. Where<br />

did they take you, beautiful?”<br />

Three years after ISIS took Christina<br />

from her family, that question was finally<br />

answered. Iraqi Special Forces found her in<br />

Mosul in June 2017, just days before her<br />

sixth birthday. Joyous ululation echoed<br />

along the dirt street as a huge crowd sang<br />

and danced to welcome Christina home. Her<br />

mother cried tears of joy as she hugged her<br />

child closely; her father beamed with happiness.<br />

Aida noted, “The best day of my life<br />

is when Christina came back.” Christina<br />

moved to sit between her parents, and contentedly<br />

said, “I’m with mum and dad.”<br />

Although her family has yet to return<br />

home, the emotion of that moment continues<br />

each day. Thankfulness fills the entire family;<br />

the haunted expressions previously worn by<br />

Christina’s parents are replaced with radiating<br />

joy. Her family never lost hope during<br />

the three years of Christina’s disappearance,<br />

and that hope continues to provide strength to<br />

their community.<br />






By William Stark<br />

For many parents, sending<br />

their child away for the first<br />

day of school is anxietyprovoking.<br />

Concerns such<br />

as, will my child make<br />

friends, will my child sit<br />

alone at lunch, and will my<br />

child get teased, are what<br />

most parents worry about.<br />

In Pakistan, Christians<br />

must accept the possibility that their child<br />

will be mocked by classmates, beaten by the<br />

teacher, or even forced to convert to Islam<br />

because of the religious intolerance pervading<br />

Pakistan’s educational institutions. Some<br />

worry that they’ll never see their child again.<br />

Unfortunately, two families have already<br />

endured the unthinkable this school year.<br />

In August and again in October, Christian<br />

students were killed at school. In each case,<br />

authorities quickly claimed that the students’<br />

religion had nothing to do with their deaths,<br />

but the victims’ parents believe otherwise.<br />

Sharoon Masih<br />

Sharoon Masih, a bright 17-year-old<br />

Christian, started the new school year<br />

at MC Model Boys Government High<br />

School in Pakistan’s Punjab Province.<br />

Unfortunately, Sharoon’s first day, August<br />

25, did not go well. According to Sharoon’s<br />

parents, his teacher pulled him in front of<br />

the class, in which Sharoon was the only<br />

Christian, and berated him for not wearing<br />

the proper uniform.<br />

Ilyasab Masih, Sharoon’s father, told<br />

Pakistan Today, “His mother told me that<br />

Sharoon told her the teacher hit him in front<br />

of the whole class and also called him a<br />

‘Choora’ (a derogatory word used for Pakistani<br />

Christians that denotes them as “unclean”),<br />

“Sharoon faced<br />

high-scale<br />

religious hatred<br />

[at] the school.”<br />

among other curse words. She said he was<br />

quite upset at being humiliated in front of the<br />

whole class on the very first day of school.”<br />

After the brutal reprimand, Sharoon was<br />

ordered to stand outside the classroom for the<br />

rest of the day. There, his Muslim classmates<br />

began imitating the prejudiced behavior<br />

modeled by their teacher.<br />

Being teased and singled out as someone to<br />

be mocked had such a deep effect on Sharoon<br />

that he skipped his second day of school,<br />

August 26, and used the money he earned<br />

over the summer to buy a new uniform. When<br />

Sharoon returned for his third day of school,<br />

August 27, the stage was already set for<br />

something terrible to unfold.<br />

According to his classmates, Sharoon<br />

and Ahmed Raza, a Muslim classmate, got<br />

into a quarrel after Ahmed tripped Sharoon<br />

on his way out of the classroom. In this<br />

quarrel, Ahmed’s cellphone was damaged<br />

which he quickly blamed on Sharoon. For<br />

this, Ahmed became enraged with Sharoon<br />

and beat him to death.<br />

“The teacher was not present in the<br />

classroom during that time,” Ilyasab reported<br />

to Pakistan Today. “Some students did try to<br />

break up the fight. Ahmed was said to have<br />

chased [Sharoon] and viciously punched and<br />

kicked him. It was probably then that he kicked<br />

him fatally in the abdomen or the chest.”<br />

To the surprise of Sharoon’s family, no staff<br />

members of the school were at the hospital<br />

when they claimed Sharoon’s body. In fact,<br />

the school’s staff had not even bothered to<br />

take Sharoon to the hospital after the fight.<br />

Instead, four of Sharoon’s classmates took<br />

him to the hospital on their own.<br />

“Sharoon faced high-scale religious hatred<br />

[at] the school,” Ilyasab shared with ICC.<br />

“Religious hatred was the main cause of<br />

killing my son, Sharoon.”<br />

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JANUARY <strong>2018</strong><br />


Left Christian students in Pakistani schools<br />

often face intense persecution at the hands of<br />

their teachers and peers.<br />

Arsalan Masih<br />

On October 9, the unthinkable happened<br />

again. Arsalan Masih, a 15-year-old<br />

Christian boy, was attending tutoring lessons<br />

at the Ideal Science Academy in Jhabran village,<br />

also in Punjab, when he was attacked<br />

by a group of police officers.<br />

According to witnesses, seven police officers<br />

identified Arsalan, grabbed him by the<br />

collar, and began savagely beating him with<br />

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fists, batons, and gun butts. Arsalan’s teacher<br />

tried to intervene, but was pushed aside by<br />

the officers.<br />

Mushtaq Masih, Arsalan’s father, told the<br />

media, “Arsalan was in visible pain and<br />

was screaming for the men to stop. [Police<br />

Constable] Rashid struck Arsalan’s head<br />

with a pistol which created a bleed. When<br />

they put him into the police van, Arsalan<br />

collapsed and died. Later, the police threw<br />

Arsalan’s body on the roadside and fled.”<br />

What motivated the savage assault?<br />

According to Arsalan’s mother, Arsalan got<br />

into a fight with a Muslim boy who had been<br />

bullying him and pressuring him to convert<br />

to Islam. The bully Arsalan fought with was<br />

the nephew of Constable Sardar Bilu, one of<br />

the seven police officers who killed Arsalan.<br />

As the only Christian in his class, Arsalan<br />

was separated for religious studies and<br />

would meet with a Catholic priest while the<br />

rest of the class met with an imam. After a<br />

few weeks, Muslim classmates began telling<br />

Arsalan that he needed to convert to<br />

Islam. Over time, these interactions became<br />

increasingly aggressive and insulting, leading<br />

to the fight that cost Arsalan his life.<br />

“Arsalan was killed because he refused to<br />

convert and was a brilliant student,” Mushtaq<br />

told ICC. “He wanted to become an engineer<br />

and serve the Christian community.”<br />

Pakistan’s Jim Crow<br />

To understand the motivation behind these<br />

murders, one doesn’t need to look far back<br />

into America’s own history. The discrimination<br />

and disdain with which Christians in<br />

Pakistan are treated is similar to that experienced<br />

by African Americans in the Jim<br />

Crow South.<br />

For many Pakistani Muslims, Christians<br />

are considered dirty and deserving of their<br />

low status. This is why there is such an overreaction<br />

to perceived slights by members of<br />

Pakistan’s Christian community.<br />

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s own education<br />

system perpetuates this intolerance.<br />

By allowing teachers to mock and abuse<br />

Christian children without consequence, the<br />

atmosphere of religious intolerance that led<br />

to the murders of Sharoon and Arsalan will<br />

persist and likely grow.<br />

“Being Christian is a ‘punishment’ in<br />

Pakistan,” Mushtaq told ICC. “Mostly<br />

Christians do sanitation work because they<br />

did not get an education. Now I think to<br />

save the lives of our children we should<br />

avoid sending them to school. At least they<br />

will survive.”<br />


WHY WE<br />

SERVE<br />

ICC staff members reflect<br />

on their experience working<br />

with the persecuted Church.<br />

By Tony Laudadio<br />

Jon, ICC’s video producer was deeply touched by Mrs. Laraba’s<br />

story (pg. 22). He saw her raw interview footage and produced<br />

a video about her plight, which led to her housing project.<br />

Another year<br />

is upon us<br />

and the battle<br />

against<br />

persecution<br />

rages on.<br />

You’ve been<br />

moved by<br />

the stories of our courageous<br />

brothers and sisters overseas, but<br />

we want to start the new year<br />

by introducing you to some of<br />

our staff. As our supporters, you<br />

are the reason we are able to<br />

effectively serve the persecuted,<br />

and we believe that you deserve<br />

to know why we do what we do.<br />

We come from diverse backgrounds,<br />

including some who<br />

have experienced persecution<br />

firsthand, and have come to ICC<br />

for different reasons, but none of<br />

us have been unchanged by our<br />

time here. In our diversity, our<br />

greatest shared lesson is that the<br />

worldwide Church is united by<br />

the fact that, together, we make<br />

up the Body of Christ which is a<br />

kingdom planted on earth by the<br />

King of Heaven.<br />

When details are stripped<br />

aside, we all came here to be a<br />

part of nurturing and building this<br />

Kingdom. Grace, ICC’s advocacy<br />

fellow and newest team member,<br />

said that she came to ICC “looking<br />

for a Kingdom-focused job”<br />

and that she “really wanted to<br />

have every day matter.” When<br />

asked why she specifically pursued<br />

the field of advocacy, she<br />

said, “I saw how powerful the<br />

government can be, and I felt like<br />

it was important that we engaged<br />

that side of [ministry].”<br />

Some of our other staff members<br />

came to ICC for more per-<br />

“Living here in<br />

the United States,<br />

you just have so<br />

much religious<br />

freedom that you<br />

are prompted to<br />

protect it.”<br />

Grace describes how the eternal impact of ICC’s ministry is what<br />

sets it apart from other professional pursuits.<br />

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“I witnessed a lot of persecution and experienced a<br />

lot of discrimination at every single level... I grew up<br />

very passionate about it. I can’t leave it behind me.”<br />

sonal reasons. Jorge, ICC’s<br />

outgoing logistics manager,<br />

is from Colombia. When<br />

asked why he came to ICC,<br />

he said, “Our family was<br />

harassed a lot by communist<br />

guerillas, and we lost a lot<br />

when moving to the States<br />

and having to be kicked out<br />

of our native land, so I identify<br />

a lot with the plight of<br />

the persecuted.”<br />

ICC’s chief of staff, who<br />

is from Egypt, has a similar<br />

story. He explained, “I<br />

witnessed a lot of persecution<br />

and experienced a lot<br />

of discrimination at every<br />

single level…I grew up very<br />

passionate about it. I can’t<br />

leave it behind me.”<br />

Even those who have not<br />

experienced persecution on<br />

a personal level have found<br />

a deeper appreciation for<br />

the plight of our suffering<br />

brothers and sisters. Claire<br />

is ICC’s regional manager<br />

for the Middle East. When<br />

asked how her view of persecution<br />

has changed since<br />

working for ICC, she said,<br />

“I remember when I was<br />

quite little I would read<br />

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,<br />

and I would think, ‘Surely<br />

there’s not persecution that<br />

much in the world today;<br />

this is all in the past.’ And<br />

then when I started working<br />

on…religious freedom<br />

issues…I realized it’s a very<br />

real problem, and it still<br />

exists today.”<br />

Milos, an ICC intern<br />

from Serbia, shared how<br />

the internship has impacted<br />

him, “I think it opened<br />

my mind a little more in<br />

the way [of] understanding<br />

more about persecution<br />

around the world. I was<br />

aware of it, I knew about it,<br />

but I didn’t know it as much<br />

I do now.”<br />

Our staff also reflected<br />

on how this ministry ties<br />

into the broader work of<br />

furthering the Kingdom.<br />

ICC’s graphic design intern,<br />

Natalie, said, “The Gospel<br />

is all about spreading<br />

Christ’s love and sharing<br />

the message with people<br />

who haven’t heard…so ICC<br />

is helping people in the<br />

field…fulfilling their role in<br />

spreading the Gospel.”<br />

Finally, our staff shared<br />

how their time at ICC has<br />

helped them grow personally.<br />

Claire reflected that the<br />

more time she spends with<br />

the persecuted, “the more<br />

I see God’s hand in everything…and<br />

so I mention<br />

it more.” As Jorge gave<br />

a parting farewell to ICC,<br />

he noted, “I will always<br />

have a heart for the cause…<br />

specifically for religious<br />

freedom. Living here in the<br />

United States, you just have<br />

so much religious freedom<br />

that you are prompted to<br />

protect it.”<br />

As a whole, the ICC family<br />

represents a microcosm<br />

of the global Church and its<br />

mission. Some of us have<br />

spent years reading about<br />

persecution, and others have<br />

experienced it firsthand. The<br />

brothers and sisters we serve<br />

are part of our family and<br />

play a vital role in the work<br />

of the Kingdom. All glory<br />

goes to our Savior for this<br />

incredible chance to share in<br />

their mission.<br />

As ICC’s senior regional manager, William has repeatedly visited and served the victims of persecution in<br />

Pakistan. The victims’ recovery after ICC provides aid motivates him to be a constant advocate for them.<br />

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