What in the world is going on?

I woke up this morning to a phone call.
It’s the kind of phone call that you really don’t want to get. As soon as I saw the number, I knew it was my parents. My parents call every Sunday afternoon. Is it Sunday afternoon? Nope. So something must be wrong.

I knew I was right as soon as I heard my Dad’s voice.

“Suzanne, please pray. Get all the prayer warriors. Pray for Niger”.

Protests have broken out across the country. They started in the East and have now spread to the capital city, Niamey, where my parents are. Muslims are looting, destroying and burning whatever churches they can get their hands on. It doesn’t matter the denomination. It doesn’t matter the location. It does matter if they are affiliated with anything biblical.

(Side note: When I use the term “Muslim”, I do not refer to every Muslim in the country. This is a general term, in that all of the protesters are Muslimsbut not all Muslims are protesters. In fact, I have heard that many Muslim nationals have come to the defense of clinics, churches and individuals.)

A church, which was damaged after it was set on fire by protesters during a demonstration against French weekly Charlie Hebdo's publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in Niamey.

Source for this picture: BBC News. This church is actually the church that my parents first attended when they were in Niger. My brother was brought home from the hospital to the house right next door. I remember playing hide and seek after Sunday evening service at this place.

So far I have also heard that the targets are the buildings, and not so much the people. There are many homeless and possession-less pastors and believers, but I have not yet heard of any deaths inflicted because of being a believer. There have been deaths due to the conflicts, but from what I have heard these are all due to the protests and the damages on buildings. But, still…persecution none the less.

News sources are reporting that these attacks are stemming from the attacks in France, and the “Charlie Hebdo” thing.

Huh? That made no sense to me. What does France even have to do with Niger, and what do Christian churches have to do with it anyways? And who is Charlie?

Well, I texted my brother (political guru that he is) and asked him to explain the situation to me politically. I understand that Muslims are destroying houses of worship. But why? His response was really helpful to me, and I thought that it would be to you, too:

DD: Well, last week some terrorists attacked a newspaper in Paris and killed a bunch of journalists

Me: Who is Charlie? What does that have to do with Niger and churches?

DD: Well the name of the newspaper was Charlie Hebdo. That’s who Charlie is. So this slogan “Je suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie” is supposed to be supporting Charlie and solidarity with freedom of speech, etc.

Me: Ok. So what does that have to do with Niger and churches?

DD: Well, Charlie Hebdos first publication after the attack was supposed to be a BIG DEAL. High profile. So what they did was put Mohommed on the cover holding a sign saying “Je suis Charlie”. So now Muslims around the world are having a negative reaction to that (they think it’s dishonorable to Mohammed, whom they hold in highest regard). So the Muslims are taking it out on French, American and I guess they are also assuming the Christians were involved, too.

**I DO NOT support this image, and as soon as I googled it, I understood why people are so offended by it! (I originally had the picture posted in this post, but after some negative feedback I removed it. Please google it yourself if you wish to see the picture that has offended so many Muslims.

(Another sidenote: I do this all the time to my brother. I hear a story on the news that makes NO SENSE to me, so I text him and ask him to explain the situation in 5-10 sentences and “real-people” terms. It’s the only way I can make sense of half the stuff that is happening around the world!)

I hope that helped to fill you in on a little bit of what is going on in Niger today. I last heard from a missionary that things have calmed down for the day, but that there are rumors of planned protests for tomorrow. Missionaries have all been advised to stay in their homes, and not go out.

Please, please pray.

Pray for safety and protection. For my parents. It’s killing me to be so far from them. Please pray for the other missionaries in the country. Like I said…the denomination does not matter. Every church is being burned. Please pray for the national pastors and believers. Many have just lost EVERYTHING. This is real persecution. This is the ‘you can take all this world, but give me Jesus’ stuff.

Pray for those who are doing the looting, burning and persecuting. That they would understand what they are doing and that they would see the power of God through this situation. Remember, even the protesters and the burners and looters and murderers are human. And God loves them.

Pray that the gospel would go forth through this.

Pray for me and many other MKs and former missionares who are sitting in comfortable homes in the US worried to death about our parents and our families that are over there. Pray that we have peace that passes understanding and an understanding of God’s timing and the way that God has called our parents to be on the field. Sometimes its really, really hard to be far away.

Pray that God’s will would be done.

For some reason, my blog is not letting me imbed links, but for more news on the subject, visit

www.bbc.co.uk

www.reuters.com

P.S. I am NOT a reporter. I am NOT there. Everything that I had written is based off of information that I have collected today. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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