NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A pastor in eastern Uganda was hacked to death on Wednesday (Dec. 23) as he and other church members resisted an effort by Muslims to take over their land, area church leaders said.
In Nansololo village near Mazuba, in Namudumba District, Muslims erected a boundary fence with poles and barbed wire that included land of the Pentecostal Church Ministry (PCM), a church elder told Morning Star News. A church member who lives close to the church building telephoned pastor Bongo Martin, who immediately came to the site.
“Why are you encroaching on the church’s land and removing the boundary marks?” Pastor Martin asked. A church member said the imam answered, “We have told you many times that we do not want the church to be located near our mosque. Your church has been taking our members to your church.”
A Muslim named Abdulhakha Mugen then drew his sword and struck the pastor’s neck, church members said. Pastor Martin fell down bleeding, and after more sword blows and decapitation, he died. He was 32.
“When I saw such a brutal killing of my pastor, fear gripped me and, fearing for my life, I went to report the incident to Nabitende area police,” a church elder said.
Muslims threw Pastor Martin’s body into a nearby river at 10 a.m., sources said. He is survived by a widow and two children.
“When I arrived at the scene, the pastor’s body had just been thrown into the river, and many people came to witness the sad incident,” the church leader said. “Tension remains high in the area.”
The PCM church has documents showing it bought the disputed land from Kamya Ephraim for 3.4 million Uganda shillings (US$1,000), the church leader said.
“The church building extends to a nearby river that borders mosque land, and on several occasions we have been threatened that our church building should be removed from its present location,” the church leader said.
The church intended to establish an orphanage in the center of Nansololo, but plans are now on hold.
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Christmas is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated time of the year. The music is cheerful, the decorations colorful, and the food is amazing. And fattening. More important than that, it is the time we consider the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, when God entered the human race in order to redeem lost mankind. We know what day Christmas will be each year because we have calendars. Even our children have Advent calendars to help them count down the days until the 25th. It is a good thing that we have accurate ways to determine Christmas day each year.
If we relied on the weather as an indicator we would be in trouble. We reached the mid-sixties two days before Christmas. Thunderstorms are forecast for the day after Christmas. Hardly a normal weather pattern for the Christmas holidays.
If we relied on the retail industry, we would find irregularities. We might be celebrating Christmas as early as August.
Sometimes understanding the times can be confusing.
When it comes to understanding the signs of the end times, it is important to be careful and discerning. It is easy to mistakenly pick out certain events and be dogmatic in identifying them as precise fulfillment’s of biblical prophecy. However, taken as a whole, it is evident that we are living in the final days before Jesus’ Second Coming. What is especially important is that we don’t overlook the indicators.
Shortly after Jesus miraculously fed more than 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish, He was confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees who tested Him by asking for a sign confirming His identity. They did not seek such a sign because they wanted to believe Him, but because they opposed Him and were constantly trying to trap Him. However, Jesus turned the discussion in a different direction. The record of this confrontation is found in Matthew 16:
Matthew 16:1–4 (NKJV)
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.
Jesus advised them that although they could understand the signs indicating changes in the weather, they failed to understand the more important signs of the times. Those signs were the indicators that Israel’s long-promised Messiah was on the scene. All of the factors indicated that Jesus was that Messiah, but rather than correctly interpreting the signs and recognizing Jesus for who He truly was, they opposed Him and tried to discredit His miracles at every opportunity.
Jesus’ reference to the sign of the prophet Jonah referred to Jesus coming death, burial, and resurrection. They would later reject these evidences as well.
While we acknowledge Jesus’ First Coming by keeping Him central in our celebrations, let us be just as eager and prepared in anticipating His return.
Neither the weather nor the retail industry nor even a calendar will give us clues about His sudden return. There are many prophecies in the Bible describing end time events, but His return for His Church will come secretly and in advance of those events. The fact that we now see them indicates Jesus should return soon. Christians have the responsibility to be ready at all times, and we need to be voices of warning to others of the lateness of the time.
Matthew 25:13 (NKJV)
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
International Christian Concern is reporting that seven Evangelical Christians in Chiapas, Mexico, were arrested and jailed on December 15 after refusing to convert to Catholicism. State and federal authorities had been informed of threats to illegally expel or incarcerate members of the Evangelical community weeks in advance but have refused to intervene.
The imprisonment comes as the culmination of an ultimatum that was given by local officials of Leyva Velazques, a municipality of Las Margaritas, Chiapas, to the local Evangelical community to convert to Catholicism, leave the village, or face prison. According to Luis Herrera, Director of the Coordination of Christian Council of Churches, eight families in the village have succumbed to the ultimatum and signed documents indicating their conversion to Catholicism. Mexico’s Constitution explicitly protects the right of all citizens to profess and practice the religious belief of their choice. The seven who are currently jailed have refused to convert.
In an interview with ICC, Jorge Lee Galindo, Director of Impulso 18, a human rights organization in Mexico City, said that for months the Christian community has been pressured to recant their faith or face expulsion from Leyva Velazques. At time of writing, ICC sources indicated that other Evangelical Christians in the community are continually being summoned before local officials in an effort to force them to renounce their faith.
This incident reflects a growing trend of religious persecution in rural areas of Mexico, as well as reluctance by the state and federal government to protect religious minorities. In June, ICC estimated that more than 70 open cases of religious persecution against minority Christian communities, each involving between 20-100 victims, existed in the states of Chiapas, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero. On July 15, Senator Marco Rubio questioned Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the current nominee for U.S. ambassador to Mexico, on how she would address this issue.
Isaac Six, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said “It is simply unconscionable for the state and federal governments of Mexico to repeatedly ignore the arbitrary arrest and expulsion of their own citizens by local governments on the basis of religious belief. We know that the federal government, as well as the State of Chiapas, was warned days in advance that the Evangelical community in Leyva Velazques was under threat, yet even after seven individuals were thrown in prison for their religious beliefs, action was not taken. This blatant abdication of responsibility has, for decades now, sent the message to rural villages across Mexico that if you have a problem with someone from another faith, you can simply force them to convert or leave. Today, hundreds of men, women, and children are homeless in Mexico because they chose to follow their beliefs, and because their government refused to act. We call on the federal government of Mexico to immediately intervene and halt the unlawful detention of members of the Evangelical community in Leyva Velazques.”