Release has launched its Christmas Appeal to support the families of Christians who have been killed for their faith around the world.
Christians are being martyred in countries including Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.
In Nigeria, Christians continue to be rocked by attacks by Fulani militants – heavily armed herdsmen who slaughter villagers and drive them from their homes.
A Release Partner says: ‘In the first six months of 2018, some 6,000 people have been killed and close to 50,000 displaced. The escalation of killings is very clear.’
Another Release partner has personal experience of a Fulani attack on his home.
The Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi, was looking after 60 orphans at night when the raiders struck.
They seized nine cows and shot and killed a neighbour after he challenged them by shining a torch in their direction.
Archbishop Ben Kwashi heard the raiders break into his compound and told everyone to stay indoors until they had left.
He wrote on his Facebook page: ‘Adamu Dung was shot through the head because he flashed his light when he heard footsteps of cattle being rustled. The cows were mine. Adamu was killed. He is no threat. He is an ordinary citizen struggling with life and doing every honest job to make ends meet.’
He later visited the family of the dead man and prayed for them.
‘When I saw the widow and the house I could not help myself, my tears flowed freely and my heart shattered! I still carry the image of the house, the widow and the children. Adamu died, killed by rustlers in front of his house.
‘We are not safe in [our] homes. I am raising an alarm – if the government will listen. Lord in your mercy…’
Archbishop Kwashi has called repeatedly for the government to step up security to protect Christians under attack in the north.
Release International has warned that the ongoing attacks, by heavily armed herdsmen and Boko Haram militants, point to a campaign to drive Christians out of the north of Nigeria.
Release CEO Paul Robinson says: ‘These murderous raids beg important questions. Why is the military apparently powerless to stop the slaughter of unarmed farmers? Who is arming and training these Fulani militants? And whose agenda does this killing of mainly Christian communities serve?
‘It all points to a strategy to drive out Christians from the north of Nigeria.
‘The government of Nigeria must protect its vulnerable Christian communities in the north – and its Anglican Archbishop.’
Archbishop Ben Kwashi is visiting churches around the UK from November 20 – 27 as a guest of Release International. Please click here for a list of venues where he will be speaking.
You can find out more about the Release Christmas Appeal for the families of believers who have lost their lives in nations including Nigeria here
Release is celebrating its 50th anniversary of serving the persecuted Church. Through its international network of missions Release International is active in more than 30 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles; and working for justice.