Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Some of us can worship in peace

We feel safe entering churches in the USA and western nations, more concerned about where we will eat lunch afterward than whether we will be shot. For that we can be thankful, because it is not the case in many parts of the world. On Sunday, April 29th, Gunmen attacked worship services at a church in Kano, Nigeria, killing at least 21 people in a coordinated shooting and bombing assault. Christians were gunned down as they tried to flee, reported the Associated Press. [1] Our prayers go out to those families who lost loved ones. As Paul wrote, “we weep with those who weep”. (Rom. 12:15)

The Islamist sect responsible, Boko Haram, has previously targeted churches, including on Christmas day when at least 44 people were killed in a bombing at a church outside Abuja. The group claimed January 20 attacks, also in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 dead in the extremists' deadliest attack. [2]

On May 2nd, Boko Haram has released video celebrating the bombing of a Nigerian newspaper and warning of more attacks on the media if they publish reports that are viewed as biased to the sect or insulting to Islam, reported Reuters. The group, which wants to impose an Islamic state on Nigeria's more or less evenly mixed population of Muslim and Christians, has been blamed for hundreds of killings since 2009. [3]

Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. On April 22, a church was bombed in Khartoum, Sudan and previously many church bombings occurred in the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan. On January 1, 2011, a Coptic Christian church was bombed in Alexandria, Egypt as mass was ending. In January, 2010, three Christian churches were bombed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Muslims. The list could continue.

For those of us who live in comfort and safety, we remember those who do not. However, we also recognize the danger of complacency and that is the reason for this posting. We shine a light on the works of evil, as Paul admonished: “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them”. (Eph. 5:11) We also pray for those who persecute fellow believers (Matt. 5:44), in the hope they will become brothers.

[1] “21 Killed in Attacks on Church Services in Northern Nigeria”, May 1, 2012, by Salisu Rabiu and Jon Gambrell / The Associated Press.
[2] “Terror as worshippers gunned down during university church services”, 30 Apr 2012, Herald Sun.
[3] Deborah Lutterbeck, 2 May 2012, Reuters.