Mali: Jihadists Attack Churches In Mopti

Source:  http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com

Date:  October 11, 2017

PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED IS INTEGRAL TO WORSHIP

God is at work, sanctifying the Church and knitting us together as ONE. He is 
answering prayers, fulfilling promises and redeeming even suffering itself. 
Through it all he is 'making known to us the mystery of his will, according 
to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of 
time, to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth' 
(Ephesians 3:9,10 ESV). For the believer or church with faith, intercessory 
prayer for the suffering persecuted Church is not an optional add-on. Rather, 
intercessory prayer for the suffering persecuted Church is as integral to 
worship as it is to this great work of God to unite all things in Christ.  

SPECIAL PRAYER REQUEST: CRISIS PUBLISHING INITIATIVE

Intercessory prayer for the suffering persecuted Church would not be possible 
without the information that comes to us from dedicated Christian reporters, 
researchers, authors and publishers. Not only do they provide the suffering 
Church with a voice, they provide the global Church with information rarely 
found in mainstream media. Many report from the 'front-lines' or even from 
'behind enemy lines' at great personal risk in the hope that their stories 
will be received by religious liberty advocates, analysts, activists, 
journalists, authors and intercessors the world over. To aid and develop this 
work, the inaugural Crisis Publishing Initiative conference will be held in 
Sopron, Hungary, from 15 to 18 October. Nearly 100 Christian writers from 
some 24 countries (East, West, Africa, Asia and the Middle East) have 
registered to attend in order to learn from and network with other Christian 
writers and publishers.  

Elizabeth Kendal will be presenting one workshop on 'Global Trends in 
Persecution' and another (shared with author Mindy Belz) on 'Understanding 
the Middle East'. On Tuesday 17 October Elizabeth will present the plenary 
address: 'A Voice for the Suffering Church'.  For the full list of speakers 
and topics, see https://crisispublishing.com/  

Please pray for God's gracious and generous blessing on this conference and 
all who attend. May the suffering Church never be without a voice or without 
support. 'I do not ask for these only [i.e. disciples], but also for 
those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one 
...'  (Jesus' High Priestly Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. John 17).  

Anneta V., a religious liberty expert on Russia and Central Asia, will be the 
guest contributor to the RLPB ministry over the next three weeks.  

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MALI: JIHADISTS ATTACK CHURCHES IN MOPTI  

In early 2012, in the wake of Libya's 'Arab Spring', bands of ethnic Tuareg 
militants and Islamic jihadists swept into Mali's vast desert north. After 
first exploiting and then devouring the Tuareg separatist insurgency, the 
al-Qaeda-linked jihadists seized control of the Arab-Berber north. Though 
Malian and French forces did eventually regain control of the territory, the 
jihadists have remained entrenched in the northern regions known to the 
Tuareg as 'Azawad'. Though located in Mali's more populous and fertile 
African south, Mopti region borders the north, making it a 'front-line' 
region where jihadists routinely wage hit-and-run attacks on security 
personnel. Not only has violence escalated markedly in recent months, a new 
phenomenon has arisen: the jihadists are targeting churches.    

Monsignor Edmond Dembele, secretary-general of the Malian bishops' 
conference, reports that in late September and early October at least three 
churches in the diocese of Mopti received 'visits' from jihadists. In Dobara, 
jihadists smashed their way into the church from which they removed crosses 
and furnishings which they piled up outside and burned. In Bodwal, jihadists 
drove worshipping Catholics out of their church, warning them that if they 
ever return to ring the bells or pray, they will be killed. Christians 
comprise a mere 2.6 percent of Mali's population and Mgr Dembele is deeply 
concerned about the lack of security. 'What worries us,' he said, 'is that 
these groups had not targeted Christians up till now. The situation has 
changed in the last few months and for this reason we have raised the alarm.'

The attacks on churches in Mopti region is doubtless connected to a 
developing crisis. Islamic jihadist attacks on Malian troops,  UN 
peacekeepers and French forces have more than doubled since June. Most of the 
attacks have been claimed by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims 
[Jama'a Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM)], a coalition of the region's 
most powerful al-Qaeda affiliates. This is the same group that released a 
video on 1 July entitled 'The Correct Equation', in which it puts forth the 
Islamic doctrine of retaliation (essentially an eye for an eye) [see RLPB 413 
(5 July)]. JNIM also used the video to provide proof that they were holding 
six Western hostages, most of them Christians whom JNIM had accused of 
working to convert Muslims to Christianity. [The South African hostage, 
Stephen McGown (who converted to Islam), was released in August.] The video's 
release was timed to coincide with the launch in Bamako, the Malian capital, 
of a 5000-strong multinational force to tackle JNIM. The multinational force 
is expected to be fully operational by the end of October. Jihadist violence 
is destined to escalate in line with the promise of 'The Correct Equation'. 
The Battle for Mali looms. The situation facing Mali's churches and JNIM's 
Christian hostages is dire.  


PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* protect and preserve his precious Church in Mali; may the Lord himself 
provide security for the churches in Mopti region which is especially 
vulnerable to jihadist terror.  

* sustain, comfort and deliver JNIM's Christian hostages; may the Lord 
Almighty both rescue and repay. (See Isaiah 40:10; 59:14-19; and Matthew 
10:29,30)   

* insert himself into the looming Battle for Mali; may he come like a 
'pent-up flood' or a 'rushing stream' (Isaiah 59:19) and fight with those who 
fight against evil.  

* pour his Spirit afresh into Mali's Churches so believers will (1) commit to 
prayer and (2) step out in faith and with boldness to share the Good News 
with Muslims; and may the Spirit also be powerfully at work in Mali's harvest 
fields.   

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