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DAY OF THE CHRISTIAN MARTYR

Call to honour growing numbers of Christians around the world who are being killed for their faith

As growing numbers of Christians are being killed for their faith around the world, Release International is calling on churches in the UK and Ireland to remember modern-day martyrs for Christ and pray for the persecuted.

By tradition, June 29 is the date when churches remember the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Release International is holding a series of meetings in the Midlands and the North of England to honour Christian martyrs and to raise awareness of growing hotspots for the persecution of Christians. These include India, Nigeria, and the Sahel region of Africa, three nations highlighted as countries of concern in Release International’s annual Persecution Trends report.

Sahel jihad

Sahel Region of Africa. Wikimedia Commons

Islamist militants are waging a jihad across this huge band of Africa, which stretches from West to East and from the edges of the Sahara to the greener lands of the South.

Release International partner, Dr Susanna (real name withheld to protect her identity) is speaking about the growing rise in Islamist attacks in Burkina Faso.

Release International is also providing online resources, so churches can download stories of Christians who have died for their faith, as well as a sermon outline and prayer points. Available here

Says Paul Robinson, the CEO of UK-based Release International: ‘According to church tradition, June 29 marks the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul. This year, Christians around the world are taking time then and over the coming weekend, to honour the legacy of those who sacrificed their lives for the Christian message.’

India

They include Munshi, from India. India is becoming a growing trouble spot for Christians, as militant Hindu nationalism is on the rise.

From the moment Munshi and his wife became Christians, family members and neighbours tried to persuade them to renounce their faith and return to Hinduism.

And when Munshi began speaking about Jesus in his village, Hindu extremists warned him to stop.

He began holding Christian services outside the village in a small house on agricultural land that he owned.

After one Friday afternoon prayer meeting, a group of Hindu extremists abducted Munshi. They took him to a nearby jungle and shot him dead.

His wife Jaini fled the village with her four young children and took refuge in the home of a Christian family. They have been unable to return home.

Nigeria

Another country of particular concern to Release International is Nigeria, where violence against Christians has been growing. Many have been driven from their villages and killed by marauding Islamist militants.

Among them was Matthew Tagwi. He had been ordained as a Christian minister for just three months when he was shot dead in Plateau State.

Matthew had been posted to Nsah village with his pregnant wife Rose and their two young daughters.

Rose was away having an antenatal check-up on the day Fulani herdsmen attacked the village.

They headed straight for Pastor Matthew’s house, called for him by name and shot him dead.

After her husband’s martyrdom, Rose gave birth to another daughter, who she named Patience. Sadly, Patience later died.

Rose said: ‘Evil men think that killing a pastor will stop the gospel. But nothing will stop the gospel of Christ. My prayer is the Matthew’s killers will get to know the Jesus I know. I forgive them and will pray that the Lord will save their souls.’

Paul Robinson, CEO Release International

Says Paul Robinson of Release International: ‘When you read stories like these and meet the families whose loved ones have given their lives for their Christian faith, it is profoundly humbling.

‘June 29 is an opportunity for us to honour those who have sacrificed their all for the gospel. It is a time for us to be inspired by their courageous example and to dedicate ourselves anew to living wholeheartedly for Christ.’

For resources and information on Day of the Christian Martyr meetings, please click here Release International is active in around 30 countries worldwide, working through partners to prayerfully, pastorally and practically support the families of Christian martyrs, prisoners of faith and their families; Christians suffering oppression and violence, and Christians forced to flee.