Praise and Prayer

Praise: Nigerian Christian Boy Escapes Muslim Captors-A Christian boy in Sokoto, Nigeria, who was kidnapped in November by Muslims intending to convert him to Islam escaped March 6 and has returned to his family. After four months in captivity, 13-year-old Victor Udo Usen fled from his Muslim captors and ran to a shop run by his mother in Mabera, capital of the northern state of Sokoto. Esther Udo Usen, Victor's mother, said she was in her shop when Victor came in. "We arranged through a family friend to take him out of the city," she said, calling his escape a miracle. The boy is taking counseling in Uyo and attending Bible study lessons, she said. Victor's father, Udo Usen, a member of the Christ Apostolic Church in Sokoto, also thanked God for his son's escape. "I feel very happy that he is back home," said Usen. "I had to get him out of the city, because we believe that these Muslims will come after him again, just as they did when he previously tried escaping from them." The Usens had reported their son's disappearance to police and state security services, but they said no serious efforts were made to rescue him in the predominantly Muslim state.

Compass Direct News via MissionNet

Pray: Mexican Jailed for Becoming Christian, Spurning Quasi-Catholic Rites-Juan Méndez Méndez became a Christian in Pasté, a village outside of San Cristbal de las Casas in southern Mexico's Chiapas state Saturday, April 7, and two days later local authorities jailed him for leaving the area's traditional religion, a blend of Roman Catholicism and native customs. Méndez, 25, was released on Tuesday, April 10, after spending the night in jail. The previous Easter Sunday, political bosses in the village of Tzotzil Maya noticed him skipping a church festival involving what Méndez considered to be idolatrous rites, and they summoned him that evening. "They said, What do you mean that you've accepted Christ - you mean you don't believe in our gods [Catholic saints]?'" Méndez explained. "And I said, Well, those were just apostles, and now I belong to Christ.'" When town leaders threatened to beat him, Méndez replied, "If you're going to beat me, then here I am." Méndez told a member of his church, "If I have to be a prisoner, I have no other alternative but to continue pressing forward."

Compass Direct News via MissionNet

Praise/Pray: German Homeschooler Melissa Busekros Home with Family after 3-Month Ordeal-German home-schooler Melissa Busekros finally returned home early on April 23, on her 16th birthday, after having been forcibly separated from her family by the government 3 months ago. Back in February, Melissa was removed from her family home for the "crime" of home schooling -illegal since 1937 by edict of Nazi Chancellor Adolf Hitler-and placed with a foster home in a location unknown to her family.

The International Human Rights Group (IHRG), reported that Melissa penned a note to her foster family and left in the dead of night, arriving on her doorstep in Erlangen at 3AM to the astonishment of her family. According to IHRG, German law gives Melissa far more rights after turning 16, meaning she now has more clout in determining her custody. So, as soon as she turned 16, Melissa headed out the door for her family.

There is a danger the Jugendamt may order police forces to seize Melissa again. However, confident of her new legal rights, Melissa was prepared to refuse to leave home on the advice of her attorney, Dr. Hildebrandt.

Pray: Saudi Rape Victim Beaten by Brother, Sentenced for Crime'-A Saudi woman who was kidnapped at knifepoint, gang-raped, and then beaten by her brother was sentenced to 90 lashes-for a meeting a man who was not a relative, a newspaper reported. In an interview with the Saudi Gazette, the 19-year-old said she was blackmailed a year ago into meeting a man who threatened to tell her family they were having a relationship outside wedlock, which is illegal in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom.

After driving off together from a shopping mall near her home, the woman and the man were stopped and abducted by a gang of men wielding kitchen knives who took them to a farm where she was raped 14 times by her captors. Five men were arrested for the rape and given jail terms ranging from 10 months to five years by a panel of judges in the eastern city of Qatif, near the woman's hometown. But the judges also decided to sentence the woman, identified by the newspaper only as "G," and the man to lashes for being alone together in the car. Unrelated men and women are forbidden from interacting in public in Saudi Arabia, which strictly enforces Islamic Sharia law.

"G" also told the paper she tried to commit suicide because of her ordeal and was beaten by her younger brother because the rape had brought shame on their family. Fuziyah al-Ouni, described as an activist by the paper, said she was outraged by the case. "By sentencing her to 90 lashes they are sending a message that she is guilty. No rape victim is guilty," she said.

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