Gunmen attacked an evangelical church in central Nigeria on Monday, Aug. 6, killing at least 19 people, including the pastor. The attackers cut off power to the Deeper Life Bible Church in Otite, near the town of Okene, Kogi state, and surrounded the building to block the congregation’s escape. They then entered the building and fired at worshipers for about 20 minutes. At least 15 people died at the scene, four died later from gunshot wounds and many others were wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but many believe the Islamist group Boko Haram was involved. Kogi state, which is south of Abuja, had not previously suffered attacks by Muslim extremists. Pray that Christians in Nigeria will respond to their persecutors in a way that glorifies God and that they will see God meet their needs.
Tanzania—Christian Teen Sentenced to Two Years in Prison Source: VOM Contacts
A teenager in Tanzania was sentenced to two years in prison recently after being accused of desecrating the Quran. Eva Abdullah, 17, converted from Islam to Christianity three years ago. Her parents disowned her after her conversion, and a group of radicals in her hometown of Bagamoyo tried to persuade her to renounce her Christian faith. When she refused, they falsely accused her of urinating on a Quran. Many Christian leaders were afraid to defend Eva because of Muslim dominance in the district. On July 26, Eva was sentenced to two years in prison by a judge who was allegedly bribed by the Islamic militants. Although Tanzania is not on VOM’s list of hostile and restricted areas, our contacts report increased hostility toward Christians because of radical Islamic influences. Pray that God will strengthen Eva’s faith no matter the circumstances.
Azerbaijan—Update: Church’s Appeal Rejected Source: Forum 18 News
The Baku Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision to liquidate the Greater Grace Protestant Church and ban its activity. A panel of three judges rejected the church’s appeal on July 31, and church members are already preparing an appeal to Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court. Although Greater Grace has been registered with the Justice Ministry since 1993, the State Committee lodged a liquidation suit against the church in December 2011, arguing that the church had failed to re-register after changes to the religion law in 2009. Only six registration applications have been approved by the State Committee in Baku in 2012. In addition, Azerbaijan’s parliament has passed an amendment requiring religious materials to have a state-issued verification mark before the materials can be sold. Those selling religious materials — whether electronic or hard copy print, audio or video products — without the verification mark may face fines and confiscation of the materials. Pray that the members of Greater Grace will find a way to worship no matter what the court decides.