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Pastor killed in village amidst surge of violent attacks.

The murder of a pastor in Mindanao has fuelled fears that Christians are becoming political targets – in what bishops describe as ‘one of the most trying times in our history’.

Pastor Ernesto Estrella, who led the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Antipas, was shot dead by two men on motorbikes near Magsaysay. Police are investigating whether his death was linked to his alleged ties with left-wing groups.

Please ask God to comfort Pastor Ernesto’s family and his church in Mindanao.

The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) says violent attacks on Christians speaking up for human rights have ‘increased alarmingly’ since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. It has also condemned the administration’s ‘oppressive policies’. Police have accused several church leaders of libel and sedition – following allegations of government links with the illegal drugs trade.

Meanwhile, in Manolo Fortich, soldiers have reportedly visited the home of Christian development worker and rights advocate Kristin Lim twice this month and ‘invited’ her to come in for questioning. As they had no legal warrant, she declined.

The church is also concerned that persecution may increase for the Christian minority living in the Muslim-majority Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM), which was established in January with its own Islamic sub-government. BARMM leaders have given assurances that minority religious rights will be protected.

Please pray for Pastor Ernesto’s family and friends, and for Kristin Lim, that they will know God’s peace, comfort and protection.Pray that the Government in the Philippines will begin to see the church as a force for social good, not least because of its tireless work supporting drug users.Ask God to strengthen His church in the Philippines, and especially in Mindanao. Pray that His people will be a powerful witness to His great love.(Source: Morning Star News)

UPDATE Please continue to pray for our family in Algeria where church closures are continuing. On August 6, police shut down Pastor Messaoud Takilt’s church in Bouidjima for lack of a permit. Churches have to apply for permits in accordance with a 2006 ordinance covering non-Muslim worship – but none has been granted. Several churches, mostly in northern Algeria, have been closed since a crackdown began in November 2017. (Source: Middle East Concern)

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