Today, 20 March 2013, we received news of an attack on a Christian community in Kano, northern Nigeria, in which some 60 people were killed, mainly Christians. Last week Patrick was in East Africa speaking at leadership conferences. One of the participants, the most senior church leader of Tanzania, could not come because on Sunday 10 March, the very day he planned to travel to the conference, there was an attempt on his life; he
survived unscathed but one of his close colleagues was seriously wounded. This attack came after he had been sent a video calling for his beheading. The previous day, Saturday 9 March, a mob of 3,000 Muslim extremists attacked the Christian community of Badami Bagh in Lahore, Pakistan, and destroyed over 200 homes in a poor Christian neighbourhood called Joseph Colony. Four days earlier, a court in Kazakhstan ordered the destruction of 121 pieces of Christian literature, including Bibles, the  first time this
has happened in that country.

This is but a snapshot of what is taking place across the world. The persecution of Christians has risen sharply in recent times; it comes in many di erent shapes and is driven by many different forces. In some places, such as northern Kenya, it can be murder of an individual evangelist. In other places, such as Iraq, it can be the deliberate elimination of a whole Christian community. In places like Sri Lanka, it can be the discrimination and marginalisation of the Christians by the majority society.

In developing the work of Barnabas Fund, we have from the beginning tried to focus principally on Muslim-majority contexts.
We have also sought to speak out about the awful atrocities as well as the ongoing discrimination that has been and continues to be current within these areas. It is not an easy task and at times Syria where Barnabas Fund is heavily involved in delivering aid and relief to the Christian community, and Patrick has been chairing a committee of senior church leaders who
oversee distribution. However, tragically, it looks as if Syria is going the same way as Iraq, so that its whole Christian community (2.3 million people) may be forced from their homeland.

The international community is almost invariably silent on the plight of Christians. Western governments are allied with Middle Eastern governments such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Where they  nd themselves in opposition to countries such as Iran they are unable to do anything to reduce persecution because they lack any influence.

Ministry to the persecuted church takes many forms. Following his trip to East Africa, Patrick  ies next to Nigeria, Lord willing, to meet with Nigerian church leaders to discuss how best to deal with the religious violence there. Then in April/May we return back to the Middle East for a meeting in Lebanon to discuss aid to Syria. Travelling is hugely important. In our last visit to Lebanon, Rosemary took seriously ill with food poisoning and nearly died. All of this can be exhausting. But we believe that God has called us to bring hope and sustenance to His su ering people. Ultimately, it is only God who can save His people, and we must trust in Him to do this. But we in our turn must be faithful and do our part.

Patrick & Rosemary Sookhdeo – Barnabas Fund

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