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Morning Star News Nigeria Correspondent

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

JOSNigeria, August 19, 2019 (Morning Star News) – After the killing of a Roman Catholic priest and a parishioner in southeastern Nigeria earlier this month, another clergyman on Thursday (Aug. 15) narrowly escaped an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen about 40 miles away, sources said.

Armed Fulani herdsmen on Aug. 1 killed the Rev. Paul Offu in Awgu town, south of Enugu city in Enugu state, as he was returning to his church site after a visit to other congregations he was overseeing, according to Enugu Diocese officials. The herdsmen shot his car as he drove along Ihe-Agbudu Road, forcing it to a halt, and then dragged him out and shot him to death, diocese spokesman Emmanuel Nkemjika Igwesihi said in a press statement.

The herdsmen took parishioner Kenneth Igwe in the ambush. Police found his corpse on Aug. 5, according to Igwesihi.

“The Rev. Fr. Paul Offu was shot dead by some Fulani herdsmen who took him into the bush around 2 p.m.,” the Rev. Ben Achi, director of communications for the diocese told Morning Star News by phone. “He was accosted by the herdsmen and was shot dead.”

About 69 kilometers (42 miles) north, herdsmen on Thursday (Aug. 15) ambushed another Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Chimezie Ani, near Caritas University, a Catholic university in Amorji-Nike, as he drove toward Ugwuomu, the priest told Morning Star News.

“I was driving when suddenly the herdsmen, who were armed, shot at my vehicle, aiming at the windshield,” Ani told Morning Star News. “I immediately on noticing them stopped the car and drove in reverse. The bullets from them broke my windshield and riddled the car all over. I miraculously escaped unhurt. They retreated into the bushes after realizing I escaped from them.”

He said Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Christian commuters along that highway “for some time now.”

“I’m sure they were herdsmen,” Ani said.

Achi of the Enugu diocese confirmed the Aug. 1 and Aug. 15 attacks.

“The incident [Aug. 15] happened along Ugwuomu Road as you heard,” Achi said. “We are very grateful to God that he was not harmed, as he was able to navigate on reverse to a safe distance.”

Following the Aug. 1 killing of Offu, more than 200 Catholic priests took to the streets in the city of Enugu, the state capital, in protest on Aug. 2. They marched peacefully to the State House to present a letter to the governor expressing their displeasure over growing Fulani herdsmen attacks on Christians. 

Afterwards the Rev. Callistus Onaga, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, told reporters of his sadness over the inability of the government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim Fulani, to end herdsmen attacks across the country. Christians in the state have come under a series of attacks over the past seven years, adversely affecting area Catholic churches, Onaga said.

“I am sorrowful and utterly disappointed on the security in the state,” he told a press conference.

Another priest, the Rev. Clement Ugwu, of St. Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno, in Ezeagu County of the state, was kidnapped and killed in March, and herdsmen shot another priest in late July, Onaga said.

“We were shocked to see a priest that joined in our meeting yesterday afternoon in this bishop’s house very healthy and sound being reported to have died. The priest shot by the herdsmen two weeks back is still receiving intensive medical attention as we speak,” Onaga said. “Why we get worried when our priests are attacked is that it shows the level of insecurity other Nigerians face daily. Our priests are very much respected and honored by our parishioners and the people, so if these things can happen to them, what happens to the flock, the people they shepherd?”

Priests in various parts of the state were kidnapped from 2013 to 2016, he said.

“Only in 2017 were we given some breathing space,” Onaga said. “It continued in 2018 and this year, 2019; it is worse as we have suffered the death of a priest in March this year, and now another issue. All we demand is that if there are crop of bad herdsmen in the state, they should be fished out, and we will continue to live in peace with the good ones.”

Also on Aug. 2, the Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, bishop of Awka Diocese, in southeastern Nigeria’s Anambra state, told reporters of his concern over the tepid response of the Nigerian government to violence carried out by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Addressing journalists at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, he said the government lacks political will to curtail attacks against Christians.

“I am sad – what manner of country is this?” Ezeokafor said. “A country where some people are untouchables. A country where some people will be killing innocent citizens. What we are witnessing today is simply coordinated attacks against Christians in the country.

“These senseless killings of innocent Nigerians are becoming a daily occurrence. Why can’t our government put a stop to these killings? Is it not obvious that some people, somewhere are carrying a particular agenda? There is more to this than meets the eye.”

Police confirmed the attacks on the priests and reported arrests of some of the attackers.

Police spokesman Frank Mba said in a statement on Friday (Aug. 16) that officers were investigating the attacks on the priests.

“Crack detectives from the Intelligence Response Unit, the Forensic and Homicide sections of the Force Criminal Investigation Department have been deployed to Enugu state,” he said. “The deployment is to complement the Enugu Command of the Force in their investigations into the unfortunate incident.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution. 

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved. 

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: MSN/Wikipedia/Martin Kudr

 

Former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor James MacDonald reportedly shared some news on a closed Facebook page indicating that he may be returning to ministry. 

According to the Christian Post, MacDonald – who was ousted from HBC earlier this year after being accused of bullying and financial mismanagement – shared on closed Facebook group Walk in the World Partners that he is looking forward to sharing the word of God again in the coming days.

The former megachurch pastor wrote, in part, “we will be back soon w[ith] fresh messages from God’s Word. All free – all digital – all the time, as promised.”

In the message, MacDonald also noted that he looks forward to reconciling differences with others as he prepares for the truth to “come to light.” 

He wrote, “Please continue in prayer for Kathy and I – there has been a great deal of loss for us this year but we love one another and the Lord and have prayed fervently not to say or do anything during our trial that would undermine our many years of teaching you God’s Word.”

He continued, “We have prayed to practice our biblical teaching on love and God has surely allowed us to be stretched. There is much we could say, as so much is not at all what has been portrayed. But we look to the Lord for forgiveness where I did fail as a leader and for vindication of false statements that will not cover forever what others have done.”

“God is in control, truth will come to light in his time. When Our Lord moves to remedy these injustices and bring healing between hearts humbled before him, we will have all the more reason to praise Him. We are ready now with open arms and pray for others to meet us in genuine Christian reconciliation,” he asserted.

The screenshots of MacDonald’s post were posted to Julie Roys’ website on Thursday. Roys played a major role in MacDonald’s termination.

As Christian Headlines previously reported, in 2018, Roys published an exposé in World Magazine about MacDonald and his Chicago-based church. Two other writers for The Elephant’s Debt blog also criticized MacDonald and HBC for poor management and leadership. 

According to Church Leaders, Roys backed accusations made by former HBC elders that MacDonald was guilty of “self-promotion…love of money…domineering and bullying…abusive speech…outbursts of anger…[and] making misleading statements.” MacDonald was also accused of self-dealing and financial mismanagement.

Soon after these accusations were made, HBC filed suit against the three writers for defamation of character. 

Months into the lawsuit, however, the church dropped the suit, placed MacDonald on an indefinite sabbatical and in February the church cut ties with the pastor.

Read MacDonald’s full post below:

Greetings loved ones, 

Please continue in prayer for Kathy and I – there has been a great deal of loss for us this year but we love one another and the Lord and have prayed fervently not to say or do anything during our trial that would undermine our many years of teaching you God’s Word.

We have prayed to practice our biblical teaching on love and God has surely allowed us to be stretched. There is much we could say, as so much is not at all what has been portrayed. But we look to the Lord for forgiveness where I did fail as a leader and for vindication of false statements that will not cover forever what others have done.

God is in control, truth will come to light in his time. When Our Lord moves to remedy these injustices and bring healing between hearts humbled before him, we will have all the more reason to praise Him. We are ready now with open arms and pray for others to meet us in genuine Christian reconciliation.

Our health is good, our children have found other places of fruitful ministry and many prayers have been answered along these lines. 

Our broadcast partners are our family now and we will be back soon w fresh messages from God’s Word. All free – all digital – all the time, as promised. If you want to write to us – we are reading all mail personally at:

James and Kathy MacDonald 

PO Box 5368 

Elgin IL 60121

Just this week I met a man at a gas station in Casper Wyoming (while travelling to see our grankids) who approached me with a strong word He knew it was me and I wouldn’t look up but just began to weep as he said boldly: “James, I love you and many others do too. I can’t make sense of all that has happened in your ministry – just seems like it all could have been worked out. God is not done with you yet

– get back to preaching God’s word, as we all need to hear from you.”

Wow – I cannot tell you what these suprise and very kind words, so on point and from the Lord have meant to me. I am so thankful for a faithful messenger. In God’s time we desire to be that messenger in your life again, afresh.

Great days of triumph and victory always follow days of testing – we look forward to sharing with you in brand new ways – all the Lord has been teaching us and what His calling is for us.

Much love to you in Christ,

James and Kathy

Photo courtesy: Esther 5000/Creative Commons, Cropped to 1200x627

The co-creator of VeggieTales says Christian television programming will one day have to address LGBT issues on their shows.

Phil Vischer told the Christian Post that those topics are going “to show up more and more.”

"Parents are definitely going to have to deal with a growing LGBT presence in children's media," Vischer said.

"It's going to show up more and more as the world has decided that LGBT issues are in the same categories as race and civil rights issues. So to say you shouldn't have a same-sex couple on Sesame Street is the equivalent of saying you shouldn't have a black couple on Sesame Street."

Vischer said there are already many shows addressing LGBT issues. In 2017, the children’s Disney show Doc McStuffins aired an episode that featured a same-sex couple of two mothers, CBN News reports.

Also, as Christian Headlines previously reported, this year the PBS show Arthur showed Arthur and his friends attending their teacher’s gay wedding. One character told the group at the wedding, “Yep, it’s a brand new world.”

Vischer said he worried that none of the characters were portrayed as questioning the wedding.

"The most striking thing about that episode of Arthur wasn't that they thought it was time to introduce kids to gay marriage; it was the reaction of all the kids on the show," he said. "None of them asked questions about why two men were getting married. Their reaction was, 'Oh, OK! Great!'"

He said it will not be long before Christian shows may have to take on the topics.

"I think it will have to be addressed at some point; I do think it's a matter of time," he told the Post. "It's tricky because it's so divisive.

"I think it would be difficult for a couple of reasons. First: the nuance of how to treat LGBT issues isn't agreed upon within the Church; and secondly, some parents may want to have that talk with their kids.”

Related:

Arthur Becomes 1st PBS Cartoon with a Gay Wedding – ‘It’s a Brand-New World’

Alabama Declines to Air Arthur Episode Featuring a Same-Sex Wedding

12 Popular Children’s TV Shows that Have Gay Characters

Photo courtesy: VeggieTales Facebook Page

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