Open Doors, the Preemptive Love Coalition, and Save the Children continued their work in Northern Syria during the Turkish military incursion across the border in October, despite airstrikes, constantly shifting battle lines, and fears that local staff could face violent reprisals. Most foreign aid workers were evacuated as more than 160,000 people fled the Kurdish-controlled region, which had only recently celebrated the defeat of ISIS with the help of the Syriac Military Council, a Christian component of the Syrian Defense Forces. With an estimated 40,000–100,000 Christians living in the area, local leaders pleaded for international protection to preserve the church against religious persecution and
the threat of genocide.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was named the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to restore peace with Eritrea, the country’s neighbor in the Horn of Africa. An evangelical and member of the Pentecostal Full Gospel Believers’ Church, his faith is frequently credited as the force behind his optimism and belief in reconciliation. Since Ahmed took office in April 2018, he has signed a historic peace accord with Eritrea, helped heal a schism in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, granted amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, legalized political opposition, and ended media censorship. The 43-year-old politician is slated to receive his Nobel during a ceremony on December 10.
Church replaces Nazi bell
A Lutheran church in northern Germany recently replaced a bell engraved with two swastikas and an eagle. St. Michael’s Church in Fassberg took down the Third Reich artifact this September in the midst of an ongoing national debate about what to do with about two dozen Nazi bells that remain in German churches. Fassberg’s bell was installed in 1938, with funds from Adolf Hitler’s government, when Protestant leaders across the country took an oath of loyalty to Hitler, over the objections of pastors Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth, and Martin Niemöller. St. Michael’s will exhibit the old bell in a display that explains its history.
Boko Haram terrorists killed two Nigerian evangelicals who traveled to the northeastern city of Maiduguri to build shelters for refugees. In a video of the execution, a masked militant pledged to capture and kill more Christians. The Islamist terror group, whose insurgency in the region has spanned a decade, has recently targeted aid workers, taking three hostages from the International Red Cross and killing one, and six hostages from Action Against Hunger and killing one. The Nigerian Christians, Lawrence Duna Dacighir and Godfrey Ali Shikagham, were cousins and active members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria.
The Jordanian Evangelical Council is renewing appeals for recognition by the state’s Council of Church Leaders (CCL). The status would allow evangelicals to form an ecclesiastical court governing family affairs, including marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Jordan is majority Sunni Muslim, but recognizes 11 historic Christian denominations. Some CCL leaders have opposed recognition of evangelicals, however, saying evangelical efforts disturb interfaith harmony. The 57 evangelical churches—sometimes called “American churches”—are also seen as too independent to be held accountable. The evangelical council elected a new leader, Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor Habes Nimat, in October.
Months after protests over fires in the Amazon spurred international ire in August, the world’s largest rainforest continued to burn. The blazes have divided Brazil’s Catholics and evangelicals along political lines. Catholic leaders called attention to the fires at the Synod for the Amazon in October, calling for pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro to change the pro-business policies that many say have made the fires worse. Bolsonaro has strong evangelical support, and many of his backers—including pastors in the Amazon—say the seasonal fires are normal. The Brazilian Evangelical Christian Alliance, however, did call on the administration to “defend life” and stop deforestation.
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