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In a world where evil deeds tend to grab the headlines, it’s easy to lose sight of the ‘good’ that’s in the world.

When we read stories of Christians being persecuted and murdered because of their allegiance to Jesus Christ, we can easily be tempted to think that things are hopeless and that God doesn’t care.

This verse from Psalm 33 reminds us that in the end, righteousness and justice, not evil, will prevail. It also reminds us that “the earth is full of the ‘goodness’ of the Lord.

There are many things we don’t understand; but have you noticed that more often than not when tragedy strikes, you will witness a corresponding outpouring of goodwill? This has been evident recently, from terrorist incidents around the world to the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Just look at the mountain of flowers that were brought spontaneously to the scenes in each case. Yes, and sometimes anger and also grieving is justified when evil deeds are carried out or tragedy strikes.

The bigger picture is as the scripture says: “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord”. We are meant to be part of that “goodness”. We cannot, and shouldn’t even try, to carry the burdens of the world on our shoulders. But if we’re Christians, we should be willing to play the part we’ve been called to play, in demonstrating God’s love and goodness in a world that so desperately needs it.

At the organisation, Friends In The West, founded by Ray Barnett, we know we can’t solve all the problems that are in our world. But we can’t sit back and do nothing when we have a calling to use any talents or gifts we might have to show the “goodness of the Lord”.

Over the years, from the days of the old Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, to the raising up of the first children’s choir to come out of Africa, God gave our founder a vision to show ‘the goodness of the Lord’, even in situations that looked hopeless.

As he moved forward in faith, he saw miracles happen through prayer and obedience. Among other good things it resulted in Christian prisoners being set free and the formation of the very first African Children’s Choir which has to date given an education to more than 52,000 needy African children. But there’s much more to be done because without vision people perish.

We’ve a mission to accomplish, which involves showing the goodness of God to those who are in need. Over the past few years, many have suffered great loss and need to have their lives rebuilt. There are Christian families who lost everything they owned and they desperately need our help.

We’d love to know if you would consider becoming a “Friend in the West” to one or more of the people we need to reach. If you’d like to find out more without obligation, please drop us an email which will be passed on to Ray and we’ll get back to you with more information as to how you could become involved. One immediate way you could help is by simply sharing articles like this on social media.

We trust our articles will be an encouragement and a blessing to everyone who reads them and our News Stories a reminder to pray for those are suffering and in need. By sharing you can help us get the word out. We wish you every blessing.

Herdsmen in Plateau State, Nigeria, Quietly Seizing Christians’ Property, Pastors Say

Church leaders call Muslim Fulani land-grabs in Nigeria ‘economic terrorism.’

Plateau state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia)

Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks on predominantly Christian Berom farmers in Plateau state, Nigeria amount to “economic terrorism,” Christian leaders told Morning Star News.

While Plateau state officials say “relative peace” prevails, Christian leaders point to herdsmen attacks in the past eight months that saw 18 Christians injured and two villages seized.

Whether the “peace” is said to be relative to violence in northern neighbor Kaduna state, where attacks are so prevalent that officials dictated a news blackout, or with Plateau state flare-ups of past decades in which thousands died, Christian leaders told Morning Star News that attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen since December have quietly continued.

A pastor and his 5-year-old son were injured in May, four Christian women were raped, 12 Christians were injured and two communities displaced in attacks on 17 villages in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas, said Christian leaders Choji Chuwang, Jatau Gyang, and Da Jelkyes.

Chuwang said all those affected were members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) and Assemblies of God.

“As we gleefully wallow in the false sense of peace on the Plateau, know it today that a deliberate economic terrorism and land-grabbing strategy is being launched on Christians of Riyom and Barkin Ladi on a daily basis with the sole aim of making them poor, weak and destitute in their own land,” he said.

Management Committee Chairman of Riyom Local Government of Plateau State Mafeng Gwalson told media in May that the area was enjoying relative peace because the relationship between the security operatives and the citizens had been strengthened.

Pastor David Dalyop of the Assemblies of God and his 5-year-old son were wounded when Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked Gana Ropp, Barkin Ladi LGA, the night of May 25, Chuwang said. In Jol, Riyom LGA, Fulani assailants on March 17 stoned secondary school students, injuring 14-year-old Nehemiah David. When security personnel intercepted the attackers’ cows, Chuwang said, “there were sporadic gunshots into homes of our people. This left them panicking.”

Two Fulani herdsmen on June 6 assaulted and raped a Christian woman (name withheld) in Dayan Rim, Riyom LGA, then tied her to a tree from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m., he said. Later apprehended, the Fulani herders admitted they had raped her and tied her to a tree. Later that night, Fulani herdsmen invaded Lwa community of Riyom LGA and removed the roofs of all the houses while Christians there were away from their homes at a wake.
In the past eight months, Fulani herders have attacked eight Christian women, he said: Tanitha Luka, Rifkatu Emmanuel Pam, Victoria Monday, and one identified only her surname, Maichibi. The identities of four other women were not disclosed because they were raped by the herdsmen, he said.

On July 2, Fulani herdsmen ambushed and attacked Christian women returning from a mining site, injuring many of them, he said. On July 7, Fulani pastoralists grazed their cows on maize farms of Christian villagers of Rim community, Riyom LGA, at night, destroying about six hectares of farmland.

On the evening of June 17, when inhabitants had returned home, herdsmen grazed their cattle on the farmland of Gyang Yarima and Davou Mwagwong, both of Vwak hamlet in Jol, Chuwang said. The next night, the herdsmen destroyed the maize crops of Joshua Peter of Dajol hamlet, Jol, he said. On June 28, Fulani herdsmen ambushed Christian villagers of Jol who were returning from mining, seriously wounding five of them.

A heated argument on May 1 between Fulani leaders and Solomon Mandiks resulted in an altercation at the Riyom police station; Mandiks had been petitioning against the forceful occupation of lands sacked by the herdsmen. On May 8, Chuwang said, a Fulani man had threatened Mandiks, saying that his days were numbered as Fulanis had just met in Gwav and decided that he should be “silenced” for petitioning their “rightful claim” to lands they have seized.

On May 9, Fulani herders attacked and seriously injured Gyang Dambwarang for raising his voice when they grazed their cows into his compound, Chuwang said.

On May 19, Fulani herdsmen attacked three Christians on the Rafin-Acha to Tanjol road, fatally injuring David Yakubu. “They ran away and their cows were apprehended and handed over to security operatives,” Chuwang said. The cows were released to the owner that night “on the excuse that the owner of the cows showed some scratches to his hand, saying that he was also attacked,” he said.

On May 17, the head of Darin, in Jol, was attacked by Fulani herders, who left him in a coma, apparently thinking he was dead, he said.
In Werreng Rim, Davou Joro Mangai was attacked on April 4 and seriously injured by suspected Islamic terrorists and/or Fulani herdsmen, who cut down cactus trees that Christians used as a fence around their houses, and grazed their cattle on their lands. Two of the Fulani attackers were apprehended and handed over to Riyom police, Chuwang said.

“There was an invasion of a mining site at Hei-Sho of Rot-Chun (Rafin Acha) in Jol community, which had suffered the brunt of terrorism in the recent past,” Chuwang said. “The Islamists have invaded a vast land richly endowed with tin and claimed it as a ‘conquered territory.’”
On April 5, at about 7 p.m., herdsmen grazed their cattle on crops belonging to Emmanuel Gankis of Jol community, he said. At a mining site at Rafin-Acha of Jol on April 21, Fulani herders attacked Mathew Samuel; the next day, two young Christian men were attacked by herders along Rafin-Acha Road in Jol.

“On March 9, Fulani herdsmen mowed down the banana farms of our people of Lwa community of Bachit District in Riyom LGA,” Chuwang said.
On Feb. 20, Fulanis erected massive and settlements on the Tagabos area of Sho community, which had been sacked by overnight raids “in a definite statement of occupation,” Chuwang said.

“On Feb. 28, Fulani herdsmen, in a lame excuse of searching for a cow, terrorized inhabitants of Tanjol hamlets with sporadic gunshots,” he said. “Christian inhabitants said it was a ploy to know if any of the villagers would return shots too, so that in an eventual attack, they would know which house to target first.”

On Jan. 18, Islamic extremists attacked and injured a Jol woman, Rifkatu Emmanuel Pam, he said. Also in Jol on the morning of Jan. 28, Fulani herdsmen tried to kidnap Dachung Maichibi, his wife and son in the Darin area. Later that night, they destroyed mud blocks molded by Internally Displaced People of Zim community in Ropp District of Barkin Ladi LGA, along with those of Jol who were trying to rebuild their razed houses, he said.

“On Jan. 20, Fulani herdsmen attacked our women on their farms at Mere hamlet of Rahoss Community in Riyom LGA, injuring one Mrs. Victoria Monday as others escaped,” he said.

One Dec. 8, 2016, Fulani herdsmen set ablaze piles of freshly harvested millet and beans belonging to the people of Nachur and Sopp communities, he said. On Dec. 9, Fulani herders attacked children at Kum of Byei community; Tabitha Lula of Werreng escaped after she was nearly killed, he said.

On the evening of Dec. 18, Fulani herdsmen led their cows to graze on the cabbage farm of Christians. They were apprehended, and the cattle of one of the herders, Musa Shuaibu of Rankum community (renamed Mahanga by the Fulani), were handed over to security agents, Chuwang said.
These encroachments and attacks should not be ignored, he said.

“If this doesn’t disturb us collectively as Plateau people, then let’s keep playing the ostrich as they forcefully take Plateau state inch by inch, day by day,” Chuwang said.

Predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have launched numerous attacks on Christians in northern and central Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Source: Morning Star News

Sudan demolishes another church, but MPs block school on Sundays

The Baptist Church in Omdurman, which was demolished this week. (Photo: Open Doors International)

The Sudanese government demolished another church on Wednesday (2 August), the day after Members of the Khartoum state parliament rejected an order by the Minister of Education for all Christian schools in the capital to open on a Sunday.

The Baptist Church in Omdurman, across the Nile, just west from the capital Khartoum, was on the list of 27 churches designated for destruction last year by the Sudanese government, which claims they were in violation of the designated purposes of the land they were built on.

The EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ján Figeľ, raised this issue in March during a visit to Sudan and was told some of the demolitions had been temporarily stopped.

However, since then at least two more churches have been destroyed and a church worker killed when he tried to intervene.

In May, the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) wrote an open letter to the Sudanese government, detailing the “hard conditions” they have faced in recent years.

In October 2015, an Evangelical church was demolished also in Omdurman at only 72 hours’ notice.

No school on Sundays

Meanwhile, MPs on Tuesday (1 August) rejected Minister of Education Farah Mustafa’s order that all Christian schools in Khartoum should open on Sundays.

Mr Mustafa last week issued a statement asking Christian-run schools to adhere to the country’s weekend days of Friday and Saturday, obliging them to treat Sundays as a work day, as Radio Tamuzuj reported.

Churches complained, arguing that Sunday had been a day off for church schools since their founding in Sudan. “The government’s decision to abolish Sundays for Christian schools is discrimination against Christians in Sudan,” an unnamed Sudanese church leader said.

The deputy speaker of the Khartoum state assembly, Mohammed Hashim, said on Tuesday (1 August) that the order had not been well thought through. He asked the education minister to revoke his decision for the sake of peaceful coexistence.

Mr Hashim explained that the Christian-run schools have been operating in Sudan for years under the Saturday-Sunday system and that there is no evidence it hampers their academic performance.

Mr Mustafa defended his order, saying he had only given instructions that all schools should maintain the calendar adopted by the council of ministers.

While Christians in some other Muslim-majority countries worship on Fridays, Sudanese Christians are wary of what they perceive to be a government campaign to eradicate Christianity in Sudan.

Religious freedom questioned

Both developments came just after the three-day visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who said he had raised the issue of religious freedom “strongly” with the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in Sudan, 29 July 2017 (Credit: Archbishop of Canterbury)

Sudan’s human rights record has been in the spotlight in recent months, as the US considers lifting a 20-year-old trade embargo on the country. In response to the concerns raised, Sudan has insisted that the country “enjoys religious freedom” and “unprecedented openness”.

David Curry, CEO of the Christian charity Open Doors USA, says he is “encouraged that the Trump administration has pressed ‘pause’ on the lifting of sanctions”. In an article for the Huffington Post, he writes that this has given the administration a “window of opportunity” and that if it “is truly attuned to the horrific reality unfolding in Sudan, they will do more than pause to evaluate; they will say ‘no’ to lifting sanctions until Sudan does the important work they need to do in the area of human rights”.


Source: World Watch Monitor


August 11, 2017 (JUBA) – China delivered 1,500 metric tonnes of rice in support of the international humanitarian efforts to provide critical assistance to nearly over 2 million displaced people affected by the four-year conflict in South Sudan.

The 1,5000 tonnes represents the first batch of 8,800 tonnes of rice to that China pledged last April.

In press statements on Friday, The Chinese embassy in Juba said the 60 containers of rice had been handed over to the government agency, South Sudan’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC).

“As a true friend and sincere partner of South Sudan, China will continuously provide strong support to South Sudan in the process of peaceful reconstruction,” said Li Xiangfeng, charge d’affaires in Juba.

For his part, the RRC deputy chairman praised the humanitarian assistance adding that it will be used to fill the food shortage in the conflict-affected areas.

Chinese authorities prefer to deal directly with South Sudanese humanitarian authorities instead of distributing their humanitarian contribution via the World Food Programme.

Last June Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told an international forum on famine prevention in Geneva that food insecurity and overall humanitarian needs have severely deteriorated across the South Sudan.

“The number of people in IPC Phase 4 – that is one step away from famine – has increased from 1 million to 1.7 million, and the number of severely food insecure people has increased from 5 to 6 million,” O’Brien said.

He further stressed that more people are on the brink of famine across the troubled eastern Africa country today than they were in February.

Source: Sudan Tribune

Kidnapped Pastor in Nigeria Released from Five Days of Captivity

Church leaders release sharply worded statement about police, government.

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses after his release by kidnappers. (Morning Star News courtesy of Mose family)

Suspecting corrupt police and accusing the Nigerian government of failing to contain a rash of kidnappings, Christian leaders announced that a pastor abducted last week was freed on Wednesday (Aug. 9).

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses, kidnapped by young Fulani men on Friday (Aug. 4) on the highway from Jos to Abuja in Plateau state, was brought back to Jos at about 1 a.m. on Wednesday, according to a statement from leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).

The church leaders would not say whether a ransom was paid to the kidnappers, who had demanded 1 million naira (US2,730), but church sources told Morning Star News said a payment was made to secure his release.

The Rev. Ishaku Yaro, a pastor at ECWA Headquarters in Jos, wrote a Facebook post on Wednesday excitedly announcing the release of the pastor, and that special prayers were held for him at the residence of the general secretary of the ECWA in Jos.

“Praise God we arrived Jos safely with our CE [Christian Education] Director at about 1a.m. on the 9th August 2017,” Yaro stated. “Special prayers took place at the ECWA GS house, and he was reunited with his wife. Please allow him to rest … Presently, he will be somewhere resting for at least 3 days before coming back home.”

Pastor Moses was kidnapped by armed gunmen believe to be Fulani herdsmen while he and his driver were on their way to attend a church leadership seminar set for Saturday; the event was cancelled as a result of the kidnapping.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Gado, president of the ECWA, and the Rev. Yunusa S. Madu, ECWA general secretary, suggested “bad egg” police were allowing Christians to be kidnapped.

“Considering the short distance between the police checkpoint and the spot in which the pastor and other passengers were attacked by the kidnappers, one would have expected a swift response by the police to rescue them, but unfortunately they were helplessly abandoned in the hands of the kidnappers,” they said in the statement. “This scenario, like many others as have been attested to by many residents along Abuja-Kaduna road, lend credence to the possible collaboration of some bad egg police and other security personnel in the increasing crime of kidnapping and armed robbery along that highway, or how do you explain the fact that for all the period our pastor was in the hands of the kidnapers, they neither changed position nor mobile number, and yet the security agents were not able to apprehend or track them.”

In recent days other ECWA pastors and members, including heavily pregnant women and children, have been kidnapped by young Fulani men along the Abuja-Kaduna road and subjected to various degrees of traumatic experience before being released after payment of ransoms, they said.

“Very recently, one of our pastors who had just regained his freedom was held hostage for 5 days by some daredevil young Fulani kidnappers who seized him along Jere-Bwari road, just 200 meters away from a major police checkpoint on the curve bridge after shooting the driver of the vehicle in which he was travelling,” they said. “We therefore use this opportunity to call on the federal government to do the needful in strengthening security of lives and property in the country, especially in the country’s highways, through which many Nigerians ply in search of their daily bread.”

They urged the Nigerian government to step up its effort in securing lives and property of the people.

“The Evangelical Church Winning All is seriously worried about the growing spate of insecurity and criminality in Nigeria which appears to have overwhelmed the government and its security agencies, as nowhere, either in home, marketplaces, workplaces, worship places and our highways, are now safe,” they said. “Like many other Nigerians, members of the ECWA are suffering the brunt of insecurity on our highways, which have been taken over by armed robbers and kidnappers who kill, maim, torture, rape, steal and extort outrageous ransoms from their helpless poor victims while security agents look away.”

The situation is alarming, they said, because cases of kidnapping and armed robbery continue throughout the country on an hourly basis against already impoverished citizens on the highways and in their homes.

“The federal government should do more to closely monitor the activities of security personnel on the highways and fish out bad eggs among them who metamorphose into criminals on the roads,” they said. “We recommend that the federal government should consider the payment of ransom for kidnap victims where it failed to protect the people.”

Pastor Moses’ driver, Yohanna Maina, sustained a gunshot to his thigh when the assailants shot into the windshield of the car as he neared a police checkpoint. The captors released him late that night on the highway.

The ECWA leaders said they will remain committed to praying for the government “and all those in authority, for wisdom to lead justly in accordance with God’s will.”

Predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have launched numerous attacks on Christians in northern and central Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Source: Morning Star News

Fulani Herdsmen Kidnap Pastor in Plateau State, Central Nigeria

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses. (Morning Star News via ECWA Christian Education Dept.)

JOS, Nigeria – Armed Fulani herdsmen on Friday (Aug. 4) kidnapped a pastor as he and his driver were traveling in central Nigeria’s Plateau state, the wounded driver told Morning Star News.

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses and his driver, Yohanna Maina, were on their way to Abuja from Jos to attend a church seminar planned for Saturday (Aug. 5) when the armed Fulanis stopped them on the Kafanchan-Kwoi-Bwari highway at about 8 p.m. near Jere village.

Maina said that Pastor Moses, director of the Christian Education Department of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), was praying loudly when he last saw him held at gunpoint by the kidnappers. Church officials said the kidnappers have demanded a 1 million naira (US$2,730) ransom for his release.

“I am glad I survived this ordeal, and I pray that Rev. Moses comes out alive,” Maina said. “I am saying this as, while the gunmen led us into the bush, Rev. Moses was praying very loud, and they disliked this so they were beating and threatening to kill him.”

Maina and the pastor had passed a police checkpoint and were approaching another that police were setting up when they heard gunshots, he said. Their car and the vehicle in front of them were shot, and a bullet coming through his front windshield struck him in the thigh. It was so dark that he was not even aware he was bleeding, he said.

The gunmen ordered them out of the car and led them through the bush. Maina said he saw that some occupants of the other car were shot, and he saw lifeless bodies lying beside the vehicle. A group of armed men led occupants of the other car in a different direction. The gunmen asked him and the pastor which of the two was the boss, he said, and Pastor Moses told them he was a pastor and Maina was his driver, and that the head of their church was in Jos.

“We realized that the armed gunmen were Fulani herdsmen, as they spoke to us in Hausa language but communicated with each other in the Fulani language,” he said.

Leaving their car behind, three of the Fulanis forced them to trek through the wilderness for hours, stopping to rest at midnight, while four remained on the highway to continue with their terror. Maina and the pastor heard their captors say it was midnight and their colleagues had yet to join them, and the assailants then took the Christians’ mobile phones and money.

When they noticed that Maina was wounded, they asked another group of armed men they met there to take him away, while Pastor Moses was taken to another site. They ordered Maina to hand over his jacket to Pastor Moses, who had nothing on his torso but a shirt, and told Maina they were taking the pastor to a very cold place.

They marched Maina another two hours before leaving him on the highway, telling him to remain on it or their colleagues located throughout the bushes would kill him, he said. They told him the highway would lead him to his car.

Recalling that Pastor Moses had the car keys in the jacket he had given to him, Maina continued on in hopes of finding someone to help him, watching in vain as no vehicle stopped for him.

“I trekked for two hours or so until I arrived at a village where I found some youths keeping watch outside their homes,” he said. “I told them how we were kidnapped and how I found my way to their village. The youths in the village were suspicious and afraid as they found me with bullet wounds, and it was bleeding.”

One of them believed him, however, saying he had ridden his motorbike past the spot of the attack that Maina had mentioned. One of the young men told Maina he knew of an ECWA pastor in a nearby village, and he telephoned the pastor, who arrived and took him to another village, from which a military patrol team took the Christians to Bwari town in the Federal Capital Territory.

“The soldiers took me to the police station in Bwari, where I lodged a complaint, and the police then accompanied us to the hospital where I was treated,” he said. “A surgery was carried out on my right thigh to extract the bullet that had lodge there.”

When Morning Star News visited ECWA headquarters in Jos on Monday (Aug. 7), leaders and church workers were holding prayer vigils at the conference hall for Pastor Moses. ECWA officials said the kidnappers have contacted the pastor’s wife and the accountant in his church office to make the ransom demand.

“Rev. Moses is a man of prayer and strong faith, and I am convinced that God will see him through this terrible ordeal,” Maina said.
Predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have launched numerous attacks on Christians in northern and central Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Source: Morning Star News

Founder of the African Children's Choir, Music For Life and Friends In The West.