Wednesday, June 1, 2011

110. Zimbabwe: churches targeted for political violence (plus Algeria & Ivory Coast)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 110 | Wed 01 Jun 2011

ZIMBABWE: CHURCHES TARGETED FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE
(plus Algeria & Ivory Coast)

By Elizabeth Kendal

On 9 April some 500 Christians from Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Gweru gathered in the Church of the Nazarene in Glen Norah for a special 'Praying for Peace to Save Zimbabwe' church service. The gathering in this densely populated suburb of Harare included four bishops and 46 pastors. Their prayer for peace was shattered when a truckload of some 20 armed riot police arrived, firing tear gas into the church and storming the sanctuary wielding batons and brandishing rifles. Ironically, the service was also planned to commemorate the 11 March 2007 'Save Zimbabwe Prayer Rally' in which one participant, Gift Tandare, was shot dead by police and over 100 were arrested and tortured. As with the March 2007 rally, a sharp escalation in political violence ahead of elections had prompted this April 2011 prayer service.

About a week later a Catholic priest, Father Mark Mkandla, was arrested in Lupane after delivering a powerful sermon against violence to a special church service organised to pray for national healing and reconciliation. Further to this, officials from President Mugabe's Zanu (PF) have been visiting churches with the aim of forcing members to sign an anti-sanctions petition. Pastors who resist find their congregations split, with pro-Mugabe members being offered Zanu (PF) support to start new churches. As an incentive, the regime is offering church leaders land for loyalty.

President Mugabe recently issued a call for early elections, despite the terms of the power-sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA) stitched together by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) after the 2008 elections. The GPA mandates that before the next elections, a new constitution must be approved by referendum and a new voter registry must be drawn up. It is unlikely these conditions will be met because the police, the judiciary and the Zimbabwe Election Commission are all partisan and the rule of law has collapsed. The next elections will be stolen by means of a grossly rigged electoral register and State violence.

Meanwhile, the same as Mugabe is violently confiscating white-owned farms in the name of 'indigenisation', his accomplice bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, is violently confiscating Anglican properties under the same pretext. Kunonga was unfrocked by the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa in November 2007 for heresy, schism and suspicion of complicity in the murder of ten clergy. However, he now controls 40 percent of all Zimbabwe's Anglican churches, including 30 in Harare alone. Their doors are opened on Sundays, but only to pro-Mugabe supporters. The vast majority of Zimbabwe's Anglicans now worship in any facility open to them. Anglicans suspect Kunonga of complicity in the February 2011 murder of Jessica Mandeya (89), a lay leader in the rural parish of Mashonaland East who was raped, mutilated and strangled after she refused to join Kunonga's pro-Mugabe faction. Kunonga denies any part in this, retorting that if he were going to kill anyone, it would be his nemesis, Bishop Chad Gandiya, who was elected by the Anglican Church to replace Kunonga as Bishop of Harare. According to Gandiya, Kunonga has five bishops on a hit list for 'elimination'. 'We're all being followed,' said Julius Makono, the bishop of Manicaland, one of the five. Godfrey Tawonezvi, bishop of Masvingo, another of the five, was recently visited by two of Kunonga's men. 'They had all our phone numbers, [and] our home addresses,' he said.

[See Religious Liberty Monitoring (Zimbabwe) for more details and links to sources.]


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO --

* shield his courageous servants who faithfully shepherd his flock through trials and tribulations; may he execute justice for the oppressed and frustrate the schemes of the wicked. (Psalm 146.)

* bless the faithful in Zimbabwe who continue to worship and serve with integrity despite the risk of serious political violence, rejecting enticements; may the Lord meet all their needs and increase their faith.

* build his Church in Zimbabwe; for 'Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.' (Psalm 30:5b ESV.) May the LORD hasten Zimbabwe's 'morning'.

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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POLITICAL VIOLENCE HITS CHURCHES IN ZIMBABWE

Churches in Zimbabwe are being targeted amidst a sharp escalation of nationwide political violence ahead of elections. On 9 April riot police broke up a 'Praying for Peace to Save Zimbabwe' service with tear gas, batons and rifles. A week later, a Catholic priest was arrested for preaching against violence at a service for national healing and reconciliation. Mugabe's accomplice bishop, Nolbert Kunonga (unfrocked by the provincial Anglican Church in 2007), continues his program of terror and forcefully confiscating Anglican properties to be controlled by the State. Anglicans suspect Kunonga may be complicit in the gruesome murder of rural lay leader Jessica Mandeya (89) after she refused to join Kunonga's pro-Mugabe Anglican faction. Kunonga reportedly has targeted five Zimbabwean bishops for 'elimination'. Please pray for Zimbabwe's oppressed yet faithful believers.

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CURRENT UPDATES

* ALGERIA: SEVERE PENALTY FOR WITNESSING CHRISTIAN

RLPB 105 (27 April) APRIL UPDATE reported the 14 April arrest of Krimo Siaghi who had been discussing Christianity with some neighbours when they turned against him and accused him of illegal proselytism and subsequently of insulting Muhammad. At the 25 May trial in Oran, 470km west of Algiers, the prosecutor requested the judge sentence Krimo to two years in prison with a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (US$690). Instead, the judge handed down a sentence of five years in prison with a fine of 200,000 Algerian dinars. The ruling will be appealed. Please pray.

* IVORY COAST: FARMER CRUCIFIED AS 'EXAMPLE OF CHRIST'

C├ęsar Etou reports for Ivorian.net that on Saturday 28 May pro-Ouattara gunmen crucified a farmer in the central-western Ivory Coast village of Binkro, nailing the peasant's hands and feet to a plank in the form of a cross as 'the example of Christ'. According to sources, UN forces called to the rescue arrived too late to save the man. Please pray for the Church in Ivory Coast.

For more details on Religious Liberty Monitoring (Ivory Coast)