News Articles

BP Ledger, Dec. 5 edition

EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today’s BP Ledger includes items from:
Campbellsville University
Compass Direct News
International Mission Board

Campbellsville University Establishes Club for Military Veteran Students

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University)–For those who have protected the freedom of our country, Campbellsville University has designed a new club especially for military and veteran students, Upsilon Sigma Alpha (USA) club.

Their first meeting was held on a day very special to each of them, Veterans’ Day.

Tom Finley, a junior social work student from Campbellsville who is helping lead the club, said, “This veterans’ club fits the university like a glove. The school emptied out during World War II because so many students went off to war. We have many veteran alums.”

Former CU President Dr. W.R. Davenport is also a veteran.

“We have more people coming back into the university who served, and we need to have a support group for them,” Finley said.

The goal of the club is to become a permanent structure, an ongoing thing, which will “support the government but not become a political debate,” Joe Milazzo, a graduate student from Campbellsville, said.

Milazzo is the student leader of the new club. He is a graduate assistant for the Chaplain David Sandifer, coordinator of the Center for Bivocational Christian Ministry, who is the sponsor of the club and also a veteran.

Another goal of the group is support for one another, especially support for those with post-traumatic stress disorder. “We want to build one another up,” Milazzo said. “We want to help prepare those going in and support them throughout their time in the military. And when they get out, continue to support them.”

Sandifer said, “There are things we all can learn from each other, and support each other.”

The club will also include members performing some service work. “We would like to do things for service members and their families — anything they need.”

The club hopes to raise funds for an on-campus memorial for veterans who have served and either graduated or attended Campbellsville University.

Members will also do humanitarian work in the community. “People would be surprised how much good is accomplished with boots on the ground in this country,” Sandifer said.

They also hope to eventually establish a scholarship for veterans and/or family members of veterans.

For more information on the USA Veterans Service Club, contact Sandifer at 270-789-5081 or [email protected].

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
Muslim Extremists Destroy Lives, Church Buildings in Nigeria
One woman, three girls killed as northeastern states of Yobe, Bauchi heat up.
By Obed Minchakpu/Compass Direct News

GEIDAM, Nigeria, December 2 (Compass Direct News)–In Nigeria’s increasingly dangerous northeast, Muslim extremists in this town in Yobe state helped members of the Islamic terrorist sect Boko Haram destroy five church buildings last Saturday (Nov. 26), while previously in neighboring Bauchi state Islamic radicals killed four Christians, including three girls.

Boko Haram members’ weekend rampage in the Yobe state town of Geidam destroyed all Christian-owned businesses, as area Muslims pointed them out for the sect raiders, according to local Christians. Five of the eight church buildings in town were ruined, and the violence displaced about 700 Christians, sources said.

When Compass visited the town on Tuesday (Nov. 29), only two of the eight pastors in the town remained. The other six pastors and their families had fled.

The Rev. Amos Ajeje, 48, vice chairman of the Geidam chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told Compass that local Muslims assisted Boko Haram members in carrying out the attacks on Christians. He said the attack by Boko Haram, which seeks to impose a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) than that already in place in northern Nigeria and expand it to the rest of the country, had driven all other Christians from town.

“There are no more Christians in this town,” Ajeje said. “All shops belonging to Christians have been looted and then destroyed by these Muslims. Many of these Christians who fled into bushes when the attack was going on have never returned.”

The Rev. Bitrus Mshelbara, pastor of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) at Geidam, confirmed that local Muslims led the Boko Haram members to the church buildings and Christian-owned businesses.

“The Muslims in this town were going ’round town pointing out church buildings and shops owned by Christians to members of Boko Haram, and they in turn bombed these churches and shops,” he said.

Destroyed in the attack were worship buildings belonging to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Emmanuel Anglican Church, Living Faith Church, Deeper Life Bible Church and Cherubim and Seraphim Church. These buildings were located in the Geidam areas of Kafela, Akodiri Street, and Low-Cost Housing Estate.

“Boko Haram members came in a convoy of cars last Saturday at about six o’clock in the evening,” Ajeje said. “They were well-armed. They attacked the police station. They exchanged gunshots with the police and overpowered them. After this they broke into the First Bank and removed money there, before they were joined by Muslims here to bomb churches. That is how the five churches were destroyed.”

Because of the attack, the three remaining churches in town were unable to hold worship services on Sunday (Nov. 27), he said.

“Our church members who ran away when the attack took place could not come back, so it was not possible for us to conduct worship services on Sunday,” Ajeje said. “Our fate is hanging in the balance because we do not know what will happen next.”

Pastor of an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) congregation of about 120, Ajeje added that Boko Haram members set fire to a local government building and the town’s high court.

Ajeje’s ECWA church building was among the three remaining in Geidam.

“We thank God that no one was killed, but I must say that this has brought fear to Christians since we are a minority here,” he said. “In all we just have about 700 Christians in the town, and all are dependent on their small businesses to survive. With these businesses now destroyed, how will they survive if they remain here? I guess that must be the reason they have not returned since fleeing the town on the day of the attack.”

Mshelbara told Compass that his COCIN church building is standing only because of the pleas of a Muslim neighbor boy.

“My church was spared because of a son of my Muslim neighbor who was among the local Muslims that accompanied Boko Haram members as they burned down churches,” Mshelbara said. “He pleaded with them not to set fire on our church because burning down our church will affect their house, as their house shares walls with our church building. More so, our neighbor the Muslim was sick and was in his house at the time. Based on the pleas of the young Muslim man, our church was spared.”

At Emmanuel Anglican Church, Mshelbara said, a church program was underway at the time of the attack.

“But they were alerted, and they all escaped by jumping over the fence constructed around the church premises before Boko Haram members got there – you can see the destruction yourself,” Mshelbara said, pointing at the charred church building.

Christians at the Deeper Life Bible Church in the Low Cost Housing Estate area also escaped, he said.

“Deeper Life members were holding an evening service, too, when the attack by Boko Haram was going on,” Mshelbara said. “They too were alerted, and they all escaped from the church before it was destroyed.”

Peter Mgoni, secretary of the Geidam ECWA church, said the Muslims looted shops and churches before burning them.

“Boko Haram is an anti-Christian movement out to establish sharia in Nigeria,” he said. “This is the reason they attack churches, just as they attack government institutions. They know that they cannot establish sharia without first crippling the government, and that is the reason they attack the police, after which they now come for us Christians by destroying our churches and businesses.”

Gargari Killings

In neighboring Bauchi state, 48-year-old Samaila Darabo called the members of his household together for the evening family devotion in Gargari village on Nov. 17. He led them in the reading of the Bible and prayer, and shortly afterwards they went to bed.

At about 2 a.m., he was suddenly awakened by his barking dogs. He stepped out of his room only to be confronted with bright lights from different directions around his compound. Stunned, he blindly pushed away part of the mud-brick walls closest to his room. Climbing over the fence and bolting out, he escaped to alert other neighbors about a raid on the village.

The assailants were later identified as local Muslim extremists who came in groups to attack the village on Nov. 18. Darabo’s escape and warning are credited with saving the entire community except for some family members in three residential compounds. Darabo lost his 12-year-old daughter, Laraba Samaila, and his wife, Rifkatu Samaila. She was 48.

In another home, the Muslim extremists killed 11-year-old Gloria Zakka and 7-year-old Martha Zakka, daughters of Zakka Jumba, Darabo’s brother. After attacking these and another residential compound of the Christian community in Gargari in the Bogoro Local Government Area, the assailants withdrew.

Six other people were injured in the attack, including relatives of Darabo’s other brother, Harunna Jumba.

“I climbed a fenced wall just beside the door to my room, and in the process a part of the wall collapsed with me,” Darabo said. “The collapsing wall forced some of the attackers to move away from the spot, and this gave me the opportunity to escape.”

After alerting neighbors, they quickly contacted soldiers in nearby Gobbiya village, he said.

“By then, the attackers had already left, having set fire on my house and that of my brothers,” he said. “They killed my wife, Rifkatu, and my daughter, Laraba. They also attacked some of my family members with machetes and shot them too. My brother had two of his daughters, Gloria and Martha killed. That is the grave where we buried the four of them you are seeing over there.”

Receiving hospital treatment from injuries sustained in the attack were 2-month-old Matwi Mathias, Esther John, Rebecca Zakka, Yelshi Zakka, Sarauniya Samaila, and Mummy Zakka.

Aminu Gida, 38, told Compass that he was awakened by sounds of gunshots and the cries of children and women that night.

“The men who attacked us are Muslims whom we know live just across the river north of our village of Gargari,” Gida said. “They came in groups that night and started the attack from the western part of the village.”

Yakubu Lawal, 58, said attacks on Gargari village began as far back as 1991 and have become more regular. This year alone, he said, the community has been attacked about four times.

“The first attack was on June 28, when at about 10 a.m. six Christian girls from the village who were returning from their farms were attacked by a group of Muslim attackers,” he said. “They took one of the girls away and raped her in turns before leaving her to die in the bush.”

The girl survived and was found days later, he said. Two young Christian men were also attacked the same day while working on their farm, and the assailants also stole two cows, Lawal said.

The second attack on the village, Lawal said, came on July 6, when seven members of the community returning from Bogoro town were ambushed by another group of Muslims.

“Three of them were killed – Yohanna Godiya, Appollos Godiya and Rhoda Gashon,” Lawal said. “The remaining four were injured in the attack – the wife of the village pastor, Mrs. Talatu Karmus, and Rahila Gashon and Ruth Gashon. The fourth victim of the attack was a 6-month-old baby.”

On Oct. 8 at about 8 p.m., four members of the Christian community were returning from the neighboring village of Gobbiya when they were attacked by another group of Muslims, he said. They escaped unhurt, but before the Muslims withdrew from the village they set fire to the house of Joseph Ezekiel.

Ishaku Gambo, 58, pastor of the village COCIN congregation, told Compass the attacks have crippled worship. The church had an average attendance of about 200 at Sunday services; now only about 105 show up, he said.

“The reason is that some members have to keep watch over the village while church service is going on,” he said.

Gambo urged the Nigerian government to urgently find a lasting solution to attacks on Christian communities in northern Nigeria.

Another Village Attacked

In neighboring Tudun Wada Gobbiya Kazar village, Christians have been forced to flee, with more than 60 residents now living in Gobiyya town as displaced persons, Christians said.

Tudun Wada Gobbiya Kazar village was last attacked on Oct. 1, when its Christian village head, Bitrus Ramako, was killed. A member of the local ECWA in Gobbiya, Ramako was killed at about 10 p.m., area Christians said. Muslim assailants set fire to his house after killing him and then raided the entire village, forcing the Christian villagers out, they said.

Solomon Jingina, 41, pastor of the ECWA Church in Gobbiya, told Compass the displaced Christians are living outside their village without any form of assistance. Jingina said there is an urgent need for the Nigerian government to intervene.

“These 60 members of my church are now homeless, and they cannot return to the village because of the incessant attacks on them,” he said. “I want to appeal for the Nigerian government to address this problem of attacks on Christians, as this is threatening the peaceful co-existence of the people of this country.”
South Asia Prayer Requests

SOUTH ASIA (IMB)–Brief items reported by South Asia News (https://www.go2southasia.org) on Dec. 1 include:

BANGLADESH. “Christmas in Bangladesh is a unique time of celebration and ministry. Those of us who are believers enjoy baking special treats, decorating our homes, and shopping for gifts for friends and family. Churches and Christian schools have Christmas plays and sing holiday songs, remembering the great gift of Christ to the world. But around us, the streets are still overflowing with those going about their lives unaware of who this Christ truly is. The call to prayer still blares from the mosques and the 99.9 percent who do not claim to be Christian continue on their path to an eternity without Him. So, while we celebrate the joy of Christmas, our hearts are heavy for those who have no such peace and hope. This December, a team from Tennessee will sacrifice Christmas with their families to come and minister to the people of Bangladesh. They will help host Christmas parties with believers and non-believers. They will love on children in the slums, as well as share with university-age students. Pray that God will open many doors of ministry for them as they share the true story of Christmas. Pray that the Good News will change lives and that many will come to know the Savior of the world.”

BHUTAN. “The estimated 6,000 -15,000 Christians in the Buddhist nation of Bhutan have been awaiting decision on whether they will receive official recognition. It appears the government will first pass a measure against fraudulent conversion that the prime minister says is essentially designed to deter evangelism. In an exclusive interview with Compass in his office, Prime Minister Thinley said that Christians seek to convert other Bhutanese citizens with the power of money and an attitude of spiritual superiority. Christian leaders said they were distressed with the government’s notion of Christians and Christianity, which they said was “far from true,” and seek to dialogue with them. Roughly 75 percent of Bhutan’s population of 708,484 is Buddhist, and Hindus, mainly ethnic Nepalese, account for 22 percent, according to Operation World.” (Compass News Direct, September 9)

DIASPORA. “I think I shall be a follower of both Jesus and Muhammad. But if there is a conflict between what Jesus wants and what Muhammad wants, I will follow Jesus.” It is apparent that R, a young man from Bangladesh living outside his home country, is still feeling pressured by his parents’ demands. Recently they forbade him from physically meeting with Christians. He is still allowed Internet contact with a cross-cultural worker and a national partner. R also wrote: “I believe Jesus performed miracles like healing the sick and raising the dead.” Please pray that as he reads the Gospels, his faith in Jesus will grow. Pray that God will provide so that R can get a job and move out of his parents’ home. Ask the Father to have mercy on his parents and siblings, to “grant them repentance to know the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25b-26, HCSB).

INDIA. “I used to drink bottles of codeine every night in order to go to sleep. I was causing so much pain to my family and living the life of an addict until I found Christ and was taken in by a group of believers,” said the tall, clean-shaven student in a “pheren,” the traditional woolen cloak worn to beat back extreme Kashmiri winters. In recent years, due to the long-term effects of violence, political turmoil, and the breakdown of families, Kashmiri youth have been turning to drugs in any form they can get it: over-the-counter liquid medicines, glues, pills, or for the wealthier, LSD or heroine. Unofficial statistics estimate that 30 to 35 percent of the youth in Kashmir (15-35 years old), both male and female, have become victim of drug addiction. Pray that the small community of Muslim-background believers in Kashmir will reach out with the love of Christ to drug-addicted youth, and that many will be made whole by His grace as they leave the darkness and enter the kingdom of Light.

MALDIVES. “Police in the island nation of Maldives arrested a teacher from India in late September after finding a Bible in his house during a raid. The country’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs had recently passed a new act outlawing the promotion, propagation and expression of anything representing a religion other than Islam. Shijo(pseudonym) was charged with preaching his Christian faith and taken to another island for interrogation and kept in custody for more than two weeks before being banished from the country, the punishment for foreigners found proselytizing. The Maldive’s 314,000 population are among the least evangelised on earth.” (Compass Direct, Oct. 21)

NEPAL. “Thank you for praying for the team that came from Texas to do a training. Those college students changed a small community of believers! Since then, the believers in that church have shared with more than 200 people, and we have 12 new brothers and sisters! Praise to the Giver of all good things! Please continue to pray for the believers in the Middle Hill region, asking that they will continue in their newfound boldness in sharing. Pray also for the new constitution for Nepal which is still being formulated. The current draft says that though people would have the freedom to follow any religion, conversions would be prohibited.

PAKISTAN. “Although the Pashtuns of Pakistan are from the Western border with Afghanistan, they can be found all over the country. We have just completed a water-filter project among 125 displaced Pashtun families. These are some of the poorest people around. War and lack of land in their home areas have forced them to leave. They are usually simple day laborers. These are people who work when they can, and in a country plagued with as many problems as Pakistan, that may not be often. Many were simply taking water from a nearby polluted stream for all their needs, including drinking water. Please pray that as our national partners share filters for clean water, and the love of God in their own hearts, those receiving help will have hearts opened by the Spirit to receive truth. Jesus said in John 4:14, ‘Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'”

SRI LANKA. Just last month, you prayed for God to cause the paths of Christians and Malay Muslims to cross. Surely it would not surprise you to know that God has already answered! At a birthday party of a child’s classmate, a worker was amazed to find that the family was indeed Malay! Not only was the birthday girl a classmate, but the mother is the teacher of one of the worker’s other children! Much truth was shared with the grandfather and great-uncle, who live in one of the most spiritually dark places on the island. Please continue to pray for the Malay, especially for this family that has many connections to international Christians, asking that they will come to know the truth and that it will set them free.

SOUTH ASIAN HINDU FESTIVALS. In October, you prayed for Hindus celebrating Divali to have the opportunity to learn about the true Light of the world, Jesus Christ. You also prayed to meet Hindu neighbors and have opportunities to share about your faith. One cross-cultural witness living in India had such an encounter. She shares: “After a full day of constant cracks, pops, bangs and booms (fireworks), I wasn’t in much of a mood to venture out, but I needed to get some groceries for supper. On my way down our building’s stairwell, I talked briefly with a young neighbor creating a ‘rangoli’ outside her door. (A ‘rangoli’ is an intricate design made of chalk or flower petals.) I stopped to admire her work, and asked her the significance. She tried to explain that they were celebrating the victory of the good gods over the evil gods, and were welcoming those good gods into their homes. It was a brief encounter, but I got her permission to come back and take a picture. By the time I got back, the ‘rangoli’ was finished and she was inside with her family. I snapped a couple of photos anyway. Please pray with me that I can talk to her again. I plan to print the photos and take them to her. Ask God to give me extended time to visit with her to develop a relationship and to share the love of Christ with her.”

SOUTH ASIAN PEOPLES. There are more than 7 billion people in the world today, and the list of “Ten Fastest-Growing Cities of Tomorrow” includes six cities in South Asia: Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan; Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi, India; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. India has 1.2 billion people. Add in the populations of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and South Asians scattered around the world, and we have 1.57 billion South Asians. There are an estimated 22.5 million evangelical believers in South Asia, which leaves 1.54 billion who live unreconciled to God. Pray that the Holy Spirit of God will move throughout South Asia, drawing men, women and children to Jesus. Pray that believers will take every opportunity this Christmas to share the love of Jesus with all those around them who have yet to meet the Savior born over 2,000 years ago. https://prayerthreads.imb.org

SOUTH ASIAN PEOPLES. December 16 marks the nation of Bangladesh’s 40th anniversary. In 1971 they finally gained independence from Pakistan and the right to speak their national language of Bangla. This bloody war cost them dearly, with a death toll in the hundreds of thousands. Since independence, this young nation has experienced famines and numerous natural disasters. It is also expected to be one of the areas of the world most affected by climate change. Corruption and political turmoil make its future unstable, as the ongoing battle between political parties leaves its close to 150 million inhabitants lacking basic life necessities and education. Bangladesh’s poverty and mounting population present many challenges that need attention. Still, the people love their land and are proud of the freedom that many died to attain. There are still those alive who fought in the Liberation War, and their stories are told to the next generation. As we reflect on this land and this momentous occasion, let us not forget the most saddening part of their story: The vast majority of the people of Bangladesh have never found the freedom they so desperately need. They need Christ. He is the only one who can truly transform their lives and their nation. Pray that Christ will be proclaimed in this land and that millions will turn to Him. Only then will there truly be a celebration — one that takes place in the hearts of the newly free and by the hosts in heaven.

SOUTH ASIAN UNENGAGED PEOPLES. Unengaged unreached people groups (UUPGs) are spread all over mid-south India. We praise the Lord that there are also followers of Jesus spread throughout these states, even though the numbers are few in comparison to the lost. The Christmas season is an ideal time for people to get a glimpse of what Christianity is all about. Without the commercialism that is prevalent in the United States, the Christmas celebration can really point to the Savior very effectively. Pray that Christians all throughout the mid-south will celebrate Christmas in such a way that people of the UUPGs will see and want to know more about following Jesus! Pray for boldness in the planning of Christmas events so that the full Gospel is proclaimed in each celebration. Pray for Christians to be compelled to invite their unbelieving neighbors to be a part of their celebrations of Jesus’ birthday. Ask the Holy Spirit to draw unreached people to have a curiosity about Christians and their celebrations. Pray for boldness among Christians as they answer questions raised about why they celebrate Christmas. https://prayerthreads.imb.org

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