Fulani Herdsmen Kill 10 Christians, Burn 100 Homes in Nigeria (International Christian Herald 12.5.21)

This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to International Christian Concern, At one o’clock in the morning on Friday, Nov. 26, jihadist Fulani herdsmen killed ten Christians and set fire to 100 homes in an attack on Ta’agbe village, Plateau state, Nigeria. According to witnesses, the attackers entered Ta’agbe dressed in black, holding sophisticated weapons, and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is the greatest). The National President of the Irigwe Youth Movement confirmed the incident to an ICC correspondent in Plateau. He said that the attack was aimed to wipe Christians from the area. “I lost my grandchildren for the sake of Christ,” survivor Sibi Gara told ICC with tears, laying in a hospital bed in Miango District. “I slept outside on the street,” said another survivor who narrowly escape the attack, but lost six family members. An additional 690 people were displaced from their homes. Nuhu Ngah, the National Spokesman of the Miango Youth Development Association, said in a press statement that the attack lasted for over two hours. He identified the victims, six of whom are from the same family. Ngah also identified three injured survivors.

According to Reuters, An elderly man who appeared to be a Greek Orthodox priest shouted “Pope, you are a heretic” as Pope Francis was entering the Orthodox Archbishopric in Athens on Saturday and was taken away by police. Video showed the man, who was dressed in black robes and black hat and had a long white beard, shouting the words in Greek outside the building before police bundled him away. Witnesses said he shouted loud enough for the pope to hear the commotion. The man appeared to have fallen while being taken away and was lifted up by police and taken away. Francis arrived in Greece on Saturday for a three-day visit that Greek Roman Catholics hope will bring the Eastern and Western churches closer together. Christianity split into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in 1054 in what is referred to as the Great Schism, and for centuries relations were rocky. In an attempt to heal the rift, in 2001 John Paul II became the first pope ever to visit Greece. His appeal at that time for forgiveness for historic wrongs committed by Catholics against Orthodox Christians helped to thaw relations.

According to Faithwire, It’s difficult to imagine not having access to Scripture, but for millions of believers around the globe, that is their everyday reality. One charity, Open Doors USA, is changing that for tens of thousands of Christians this Christmas. After a successful Giving Tuesday campaign, the persecution watchdog is continuing its Bible-smuggling tradition, an effort dating back to 1955, when the organization’s founder, Brother Andrew, hid Bibles in his Volkswagen Beetle and delivered them inside countries hostile toward Christians. David Curry, president of Open Doors, told Faithwire in a statement Thursday that this year’s campaign “is the greatest outpouring of support” the charity has ever seen from believers in the United States. “The need is greater than ever, and it’s encouraging to see Americans rise to meet that challenge,” he said. “It will make a tremendous difference in the lives of persecuted Christians around the world.” As for how the Scripture is delivered to Christians in dangerous regions, Open Doors said copies of the Bible are shipped where possible and brought in by hand in other areas. Elsewhere, the Bibles are distributed digitally and even clandestinely printed in-country in certain places.

According to Religion News Service, The Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, whose authority extends over some 130,000 Middle Eastern Christians, has posted a memo on the patriarchate website that appears to overturn a 45-year-old agreement with Western Christian churches to unify the celebration of Christian holidays. Since 1975, Western and Eastern Christians in Jordan, the Palestinian territories (with the exception of Jerusalem and Bethlehem) and Israel have publicly celebrated Christmas according to the Gregorian calendar, on Dec. 25, and Easter according to the older Julian calendar, which the Eastern Orthodox Church still abides by to determine feast days. On the Julian calendar, Christmas falls on Jan. 7, while Easter is typically a week later than in the West. In Muslim-majority Jordan, the 25th of December is a national holiday, while Easter is not. Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Christmas is also celebrated publicly in Palestinian cities in Israel such as Nazareth. The patriarch’s memo, which appeared Saturday (Nov. 27), calls for abstaining from any Christian carols on Dec. 25, which in the Eastern church is the feast of St. Spyridon. The memo says the liturgy for the day should observe the service of “Saints Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythus the wonderworker,” and “not the service of Christmas day of 25th December.” The patriarch goes on to say: “During this day, after the observed service of the feast of Saint Spyridon, the members of the Greek Orthodox flock may proceed to demonstrations of a social but not ecclesiastical character.” The memo ends with the call for total observance of the memo, saying, “Expecting your conformity.” Many Christians have responded, however, with anger and have vowed on social media not to heed the patriarch’s call. Others have said they will start a petition to oppose the memo.

According to Daily Mail, A chart-topping Australian Hillsong gospel singer has promoted anti-vaccination propaganda comparing vaccine mandates to the badges Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany. Renee Sieff, 28, once graced the top of the Australian Christian and Gospel charts and sang songs at the megachurch’s headquarters in Sydney, but now she’s on the front line of anti-vaccination protests with her sister Rachel, 30. The acclaimed gospel singer uploaded a photo of a yellow armband depicting a Star of David to her Instagram with the caption: ‘These were once made mandatory too’. The image led many of her followers to believe the gospel singer was making a comparison between Australians who refused the jab and Holocaust victims. Hillsong distanced itself from the post this week. ‘This is very inappropriate. Shame on you,’ one woman commented. ‘Are you serious? And you’re representing a church? Those armbands were forced on people because they were Jewish,’ another wrote. ‘We should refrain from using this kind of rhetoric which correlates vaccination and/or mask wearing to the experiences of Jews and other minorities under the Nazi regime,’ a third user added. However, several of the musician’s followers applauded the comparison. ‘People may think it’s not the same. Let’s wait and watch it all unfold,’ one wrote. ‘Welcome back! We need you in this fight! Let’s GO!’ another exclaimed. Renee became synonymous with Brian Houston’s religious movement thanks to her performances with the Christian band ‘Hillsong Young & Free’. She was a founding member of the band when it formed in 2012 and claimed the top spot on the Christian Album chart with their record ‘We are Young and Free’.

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!