Changed by the Love of Jesus | Student Arrests in Eritrea

  1. Sudan: How to Pray
  2. Kenya: A Village Chief’s Life Changed by the Love of Jesus
  3. Eritrea: More than 100 Christian College Students Arrested
  4. Africa: Finishing the Task in the Sahel
  5. Iraq: One Click Away From Knowing Jesus

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Header photo: A group of boys at a rest stop between Khartoum and Karima, Sudan (2012). Photo by Mark Fischer/Flickr.

Sudan: How to Pray

Source: 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World, April 28, 2023

Sudan has been plagued by conflict for decades. Then, in 2011 Sudan split into two countries when the southern region, predominantly Christian and animist, voted to secede from the north, which is predominantly Muslim. In 2013, a civil war broke out between the government and rebel forces, and millions of people were displaced from their homes.

Then, a few weeks ago, fighting erupted across Khartoum and at other sites between two powerful rival military factions. This has engulfed the capital in warfare, for the first time, and raises the chances of a spiraling nationwide civil conflict.

Unfortunately, the Sudanese church often finds itself the target of government harassment or extremism violence. There has been an increase in murders of pastors and church leaders and the destruction of Christian villages, as well as churches, hospitals, schools, and mission bases.

Despite both nationwide chaos and religious persecution, the church continues to grow. Recent reports suggest the church has grown tenfold over the past few decades. As we look to the future, let’s keep Sudan in our prayers and ask God for peace and long-lasting change in this influential and important nation.How to Pray

  • Pray for an end to the violence. Pray that the fighting would stop and that peace would be restored to the country.
  • Pray for servant-hearted leaders for Sudan. Pray that God would raise up leaders who have the nation’s best interests (instead of their own) at the center of their motivation.
  • Pray for reconciliation. Pray that the people of Sudan would be able to forgive each other and come together to build a better future.
  • Pray for the persecuted church. Pray for Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Pray that they would be strengthened and encouraged.
  • Pray for the needs of the people of Sudan. Pray for food, water, shelter, and medical care for those who are in need and affected by the current crisis.

See the full story with pictures.

Editor’s Note: Last week we learned of four believers who died in Darfur (Western Sudan) from the fighting that spread from the capital. When there are very very few to begin with, four in a day is an incalculably heavy blow. See also Khartoum Churches Damaged as Sudan Descends Closer to Civil War (Christianity Today) and A Prayer for Sudan (World Vision UK).

Kenya: A Village Chief’s Life Changed by the Love of Jesus

Source: Global Christian Relief, April 24, 2023

The African nation of Kenya is not known for religious persecution, unlike the border countries of Somalia and Ethiopia. Eighty-five percent of the population identifies as Christian—but there’s known persecution against believers in smaller villages among traditional tribes.

A village chief from Kenya’s Teso tribe, a people group half a million strong in the western part of the country, had a well-known history of persecuting Christians in Kenya, jailing local pastors and others for leading people away from traditional tribal customs.

The chief attended a local funeral where a Christian was officiating, [a man he] had often arrested. As the persecuted Kenyan gave the eulogy and addressed those in mourning, he spoke of hope in eternity with Christ and of salvation through Christ alone. The words the man gave spoke loudly to the chief’s heart. As the believer continued speaking, the chief rose, came forward, and declared he wanted to be born again.

Not only was the chief seeking salvation [but] he also wanted forgiveness from those he had persecuted. In addition, he openly declared that he would never arrest, jail, or harass Christians again. His life has been forever changed by the love of Jesus.

The chief was recently baptized and continues to testify daily of Christ’s love to his friends, family, and others in his tribe.

Read the full story.

We love to hear stories about people who use their influence for good, but that’s not always how it goes. Perhaps you read about a Kenyan pastor who urged his congregation to starve themselves to death. As the death toll mounts, local clergy wonders at the scale of indoctrination, Religion News Service reports. INcontext provides biblical insight on this tragedy in Deaths Linked to Kenyan “Pastor” Calls for Greater Discernment.

Eritrea: More Than 100 Christian College Students Arrested

Source: International Christian Concern, April 25, 2023

Earlier this month, Eritrean police raided a group of Christian college students who had gathered to worship and record video clips for social media.

Release International reported that 103 Christians, mainly students, were arrested in the crackdown. The raid took place in the capital, Asmara, and those arrested were taken to Mai Serwa prison.

There are now more than 500 Christian prisoners detained indefinitely without trial in Eritrea. The prison where the students were taken, Mai Serwa, is notorious for its harsh conditions, overcrowding, and poor treatment of inmates.

Read the full story. Note that our efforts to confirm this story or find an update have not been successful, though other news sources have picked up the original story from Release or this version from ICC.

Religious tolerance can be difficult to maintain even in places where it is a stated value. Another story from ICC involves university students, this time in West Aceh, Indonesia, where four Muslim students were expelled from a student organization for a social media post wishing Christians a “Happy Good Friday.” This was considered apostasy and required the students to apologize to university leaders and be re-Islamized.

Also, on Monday, May 1, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released an annual report describing worsening religious freedom conditions in a number of countries.

Africa: Finishing the Task in the Sahel

Source: Lausanne Movement, April 25, 2023

The Sahel, a large component of the western third of the 10/40 Window, stands today as one of the most spiritually needy areas of the world. The middle third of the 10/40 window covers the Middle East, and the eastern third, South and East Asia. The latter two are often in the news with reports of economic, political, and religious life, as well as many confrontations and wars. For the Sahel, there has been deafening silence.

The turmoil in the Sahel over the past decade has severely limited mission activity, and many areas are now closed to or dangerous for such outreach. How can we serve and disciple these many countries and peoples? Few secular or Christian agencies have plans to place workers among them; the current risks are too high. Yet the Great Commission is still valid and to be heeded by the church for all the peoples of this area, is it not?

The full story explores context and history as well as awakenings, revivals and other signs of hope for this challenging, semi-arid region, which sits just below the Sahara Desert. It’s the second article in a series about the area, all written by Patrick Johnstone.

By the way, Lausanne has a new look. Worth checking out, especially if you are a Lausanne fan or if mission marketing is your jam.

Iraq: One Click Away From Knowing Jesus

Source: Mission Frontiers, May 1, 2023

“I read everything about Christ and I want to become a Christian.” That was Zahir’s Instagram message to one of our Arabic volunteers. Zahir was a Muslim living in Baghdad, Iraq.

Months earlier, he clicked on one of our Instagram ads and took an online course to learn about Jesus and the Christian faith. Afterward, he found a Christian and discussed the faith with him. He had a growing sense of urgency to accept Christ and finally messaged us through Instagram to take that step.

Zahir has begun walking with Jesus, watching our videos on YouTube for more encouragement, and is now meeting with other believers we connected him with in his city.

Over the past few years, Iraq has invested in and grown its digital infrastructure. Recently the government announced it was going to provide free internet for the entire country. Today, the “Search for Jesus” Facebook page has almost half a million followers from Iraq. Several hundred Muslims in this country have come to faith in Jesus Christ through our digital presence and team of volunteers, many with powerful testimonies of courageous faith.

Read We Are All Digital Missionaries. The author, Mark Appleton, is writing about his work with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. This story is one of many in a Mission Frontiers issue focused on digital outreach ministry. Check it out.

You might also enjoy The Fish That Jumped Into the Boat, about a prominent Muslim in Jordan who became a follower of Christ through online English lessons (OneWay Ministries).