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RELEASE HIGHLIGHTS PERSECUTION IN AFRICA IN WESTMINSTER

Release hosts seminar for key parliamentarians at National Prayer Breakfast

Release International is partnering with Christians in Parliament to host this year’s National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. Release is presenting the seminar Persecution in Africa: God’s Goodness in Times of Trial.

The seminar includes a briefing on Africa and features contributions from three of Release International’s partners, including a video from Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, which you can watch below.

Each year, more than 700 MPs, peers and church leaders gather in the Houses of Parliament to pray for the UK Parliament and government. Their aim is to build relationships between church leaders and local MPs, and to celebrate and reflect on the relevance of the Christian faith to public life in the UK.

Africa focus

The focus of this year’s Release International seminar on July 5 is the growing violence in the Sahel region of Africa and Nigeria. Release’s latest annual Persecution Trends report has identified the Sahel region of Africa and Nigeria as areas of particular concern.

Extremists are gaining ground in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. Christians are being targeted in bombings, killings, kidnappings, and school attacks. Thousands have been killed or displaced.

Says Release CEO Paul Robinson: ‘Release International, which aims to be the voice of persecuted Christians, will be examining the situation for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, with guest speakers from the church on the ground.’

These include Petr Jasek, who has been imprisoned for his faith in Sudan, Dr Berhane Asmelash, of Release Eritrea, and ‘Dr Susanna’, who has worked for many years in Burkina Faso.

Goodness of God

They are being joined on video by Release International partner, Benjamin Kwashi.

the Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria. The archbishop highlights the goodness of God under extreme trial.

The following is an extract:

‘Since 2001, not less than 20,000 Christians have been killed in Plateau State alone. The violence has gone nationwide – it has reached the South. In one week, there are close to 1,000 attacks and there is kidnapping for ransom. And the world is silent.

‘Boko Haram has joined forces with ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province). And they have one goal – to Islamise Nigeria. Their first target is the Church.’

‘We cannot thank Release International enough for their work in making our stories known in raising prayer awareness and raising support.

‘The God we know, the God who saved us, the God we serve, is a good God.

‘Ours is not only a faith in Christ, but a thriving faith in Christ in the middle of nothing. The testimony of the church in these persecuted areas has made known the glory of God all over the world.

‘All of this has sharpened our focus as a persecuted church. We’re up and running with the gospel. As we are persecuted, the gospel is being spread in the midst of suffering.

‘People are opening the doors of their homes. There is practical Christianity all over. Gloria, my wife, has opened our house to over 70 kids right now who are living with us.’

You can watch that ten-minute video address by Archbishop Ben Kwashi below:

‘A gospel worth living for and a gospel worth dying for.’ Release Partner Archbishop Ben Kwashi

Sahel Jihad

Other Release speakers at the Westminster semiar include: ‘Dr Susanna’, who has many years of experience of the emerging jihad in Burkina Faso.

‘Many people try to say that these are simply tribal wars,’ she says. ‘But the jihadists are trying to make an Islamic State of Greater Sahara. It is obvious that this is a religious conflict.

‘Christians are killed on the spot. If you’re kidnapped and you’re a believer, there is no possibility you will survive.’

Release partner, Petr Jasek, was jailed as a spy in Sudan for gathering information about attacks against churches.

‘I was falsely accused while documenting persecution,’ he says. ‘I was facing the death penalty. For 14 and a half months, I shared a prison cell with ISIS fighters. One took part in the killing of Egyptian prisoners on the Libyan shore.’ Another was a bodyguard for Osama Bin Laden.

But last words to Archbishop Ben Kwashi from Nigeria:

‘God’s goodness in terms of trial is real. We are not giving up. We will not be defeated. Jesus has risen from the dead. And believe me, we have a gospel worth living for and a gospel worth proclaiming and dying for.’