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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Veronica Neffinger

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly was kidnapped by al-Qaeda last year. Recently, the terrorist group released a video in which Stockly appears.

The Christian Post reports that al-Qaeda kidnapped Stockly from Mali in North Africa where she was working. The group says she will be released when its terrorists in Mali are released.

The purpose of the video was apparently to show that Stockly was still alive. In the video, which is just over two minutes long, a woman speaking in French claims to be Stockly and appears dressed in a black veil.

Stockly thanks the Swiss government for its efforts working toward her release. She also says that she is in “good health.”

Mali has made this year’s World Watch List, released by Open Doors. The North African country ranks 32nd on the list of countries where persecution is most severe.

"This is directly linked with Islamic radicalism and violence," Open Doors reports. "Since the Islamist takeover of northern Mali in mid-2012 and the subsequent French-led effort to restore Malian authority to the entire country in early 2013, civil liberties and political rights have yet to return to pre-2012 levels in both the north and south of the country."


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Publication date: January 18, 2017

An airstrike carried out by Nigeria’s military killed at least 52 refugees and aid workers when it was meant to target Boko Haram militants.

According to, the airstrike occurred in Rann in Borno state. The fifty-two civilians who were killed and the other 120 who were injured were living in a refugee camp or were aid workers working with the refugees.

"At least 52 people were killed and 120 wounded," said Tim Shenk, a spokesman for Medecins Sans Frontieres, a medical charity. "The organization's medical and surgical teams in the region are preparing to treat evacuated patients," he added.

Six of those killed were reportedly Red Cross workers.

The airstrike was carried out as part of the Nigerian military’s ongoing campaign to eradicate the Boko Haram terrorist group which has killed more than 15,000 people since 2010 and forced an estimated two million others to flee their homes.

The government of NIgeria has said that the Boko Haram militants are losing territory. The attack which ended up targeting civilians was supposed to be part of the “final phase of mopping up insurgents in the northeast,” according to government officials.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the tragic accident “underlines the importance of protecting civilians in complex humanitarian emergencies.”


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Publication date: January 18, 2017

Russia has dominated much of the news lately, but according to, there are even more pressing reasons to be concerned about Russia than what most news sources are reporting.

Persecution of Christians is increasing in Russia at an alarming rate. Last summer, Russia passed controversial laws that prohibited Christians from evangelizing freely and restricted religious discussions. Shortly following these laws, which are part of the Yarovaya package, Christians began to be prosecuted for engaging in their normal religious activities.

Some Christians were even labelled as “cultists” or “foreign agents.”

These laws have some fearing that Russia is going back to the Soviet era when Christians faced severe persecution.

Emily Taylor of Relevant offers three specific things Christians can do in light of what believers are facing in Russia.

1. Pray for Russian Christians. Pray that they would remain strong in faith and that they would never lose hope.

2. Forgive those who want to punish Christians for their faith. Pray for Russia and its leaders, even though this may be difficult.

3. Learn more about what Russian Christians are facing so that you can pray for specific needs. Learn more about Russian culture as a whole so you can better understand these people.


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Publication date: January 18, 2017