Urgent prayer request: Pastors attacked and church demolished by terrorists

Report: Pastor Peter Haneef for Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church

Bibles for Mideast has a mission field along with an ALG (Assembly of Loving God) Church in a remote mountain area of Central Asia among poor villagers. By God's grace, Pastors Shah* and Asif* work among the dozens of villages in this cold, Muslim-dominated northern area. Both men had once been enemies of the Lord Jesus as Islamic militants, but God captured them and made them mighty witnesses for Him in the mountain villages (God willing, we will tell you their testimonies another time).  

A few years ago, Pastors Shah and Asif went to share the gospel in one of the villages, where 45 families lived.  The Holy Spirit guided them to a poor family suffering many problems. The father was completely bedridden after a stroke and his wife battled cancer. Their eldest son had been imprisoned for murder; their second son went missing, presumed to have joined up with terrorists and then been killed by the army. Their eldest daughter had severe psychiatric problems and the second had committed suicide because of an illegal pregnancy and failed love affairs. Their third daughter, unmarried, helped her parents and her mentally-ill sister.

With no income and near starvation, the family decided one day to put an end to it all and commit suicide. That same day, our Lord brought our pastors to that very house. They learned the details of the family’s situation and prayed for them, and set about making sure they would have daily food. 

Both parents felt some relief after the prayers. They invited the pastors to stay with them, and so began their ministry in the area.

For the next three days, the men prayed and fasted for the household and the whole village. Soon, the father found he was able to stand up! The mother’s cancer vanished and the elder sister recovered her ‘right mind’. All then joined with the pastors as they prayed and fasted, and each readily accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Slowly the ministers became a solid part of the family.

A few months later, Pastor Shah and the elder girl—the one who had been mentally ill—became husband and wife.  He had prayed for wisdom and direction and felt the Father’s release for the marriage. Pastor Asif blessed their union in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

As time went on, our pastors developed good relationships with the other families in the village. All thought highly of them because of the miraculous healings and their loving service to the family and friendliness with the villagers. 

They opened a village school for the children and began teaching them Bible stories. They then started educating illiterate adults and set up a sewing school in the village for young women.. Soon they started a prayer fellowship and invited the villagers to attend services, which most did. Many experienced miracles through those prayers.

Pastor Asif felt led of the Lord to ask the youngest daughter’s hand in marriage, so both couples live together with the parents. Having two children each, it became a full and happy home.

Every evening, villagers gather together at one of the houses and have a prayer service under the leadership of the pastors. They sing songs, have a Bible class, meditate on the Word of God and join in intercession. In this way, 27 families accepted the Lord Jesus and a new ALG Church was born. They built a tin shed to meet in, and set aside part of the shed for a medical clinic. The villagers who did not accept Jesus still silently approved the believers since they received so much help from the pastors.

Two nurses serve at the clinic and a doctor comes from hundreds of miles away and stay three days a month to treat and check up on patients. The church pays the physician's expenses and a small allowance to the nurses, while patients receive free care.

One of the new believer's daughters, a brilliant student, scored high marks in school. She had a desire to study medicine, but neither her family nor the church could fund her. So the headquarters of Bibles for Mideast decided to sponsor her studies, and sent her to another country to study. Now a second-year medical student, her hope is to serve in her village as a missionary doctor and win more souls for Christ. She is the first person to study medicine not only from that village, but from the whole region.

Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly.  But the people of neighboring villages didn’t like any of the activities of the pastors and the church, so began persecuting them. A group of fundamentalists came from one of the towns to visit the villagers in an attempt to convince them to obey Islamic law and refute Jesus. A few youngsters joined with them and began threatening the families of the pastors and other believers.  All, however, stood strong in their faith.

Recently (Nov. 25), the young villagers who had been influenced by the outside extremists decided to attack while the new Christians met for Sunday worship. They completely destroyed the meeting house and clinic, as well as the sewing school and education center. Both pastors and several believers, including children, suffered serious injuries.

The situation is now extremely dire. They have no way to get the injured to a hospital, since the nearest one is more than a hundred miles away and they have no vehicles at all. The doctor has not visited for over a month due to threats from the militants. The nurses are doing what they can to treat and care for the wounded.

We request your urgent prayers for them. Our Lord alone can help and protect them by the prayers of the children of God.

 ____________________
* names changed for security reasons

EXCITING UPDATE: entire village now Christian!

Freedom for Middle East missionaries imprisoned for evangelizing; healing and salvation for fellow prisoners!

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an Assembly of Loving God (ALG)  church in the Middle East

Pastor Zakkir of Bibles for Mideast labored long, hard and secretively in one of the most restrictive countries in the Middle East, as we reported last year in our story From Islamic enforcer and Christian killer to underground church leader: a modern-day Muslim Saul.

After his dramatic conversion, he had been pastoring an underground ALG (Assembly of Living God) church and taking care of a number of persecuted Christians who had converted from Islam. He lived with and was training seven young men in how to effectively evangelize in the Middle East.
 
About seven months ago, he and his team headed out to evangelize and distribute gospel tracts and bibles in a particularly dangerous area. They shared with many Muslims in the region and on returning home, sat down to intercede for the salvation of those they'd reached out to. 

As they prayed, a group of policemen and angry locals barged in on them, brandishing guns. They brutally attacked Zakkir and the team, burned their bibles and gospel literature along with their clothes and other items. While the men who’d accompanied the police aimed to kill the Christians, fortunately the officers decided to 'only' arrest them. They were whisked away to a religious court for trial and sentenced to prison for blasphemy and proselytizing.

When thrown into a common cell with notorious criminals and murderers, their real trials began. For over a month they faced cruel torture by jail wardens and relentless, often violent harassment from fellow prisoners. Yet they report now they felt the ever-present love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Compared to what He endured for us, they explain, their sufferings amounted to nothing.

Inside a Mddle Eastern jail cell

Inside a Mddle Eastern jail cell

On first arriving at their cell, they immediately knelt down and prayed in the name of Jesus. Seeing this, other prisoners beat them and made it clear they were not to ever pray like this. So the men resorted to waiting till the others were sound asleep, then join hands in fervent worship and prayer. They figure the Lord must have induced deep sleep in their fellow prisoners, just to allow His children to worship Him in spirit, truth and safety. They prayed especially for their jailers and cellmates.
 
One day a man imprisoned for murdering three people developed severe chest pains and began vomiting blood.  He had been the one encouraging others to torture the gospel team members. 

“Shall we pray to Jesus for your healing?” Pastor Zakkir asked him.

“No!” he replied. “You cannot pray for me in that name and I do not want to hear that name again!” 

When his vomiting resumed even more severely, the man, now exhausted, thought he was going to die.

“Shall we pray for you?” Zakkir inquired again. ”Jesus is the mighty healer and He will heal you and will give you life, for which we are the witness.”

The criminal didn’t turn down the offer this time. So the pastor touched his head and prayed over him. The other team members laid their hands on him as well, joining in the prayers.

His stomach settled down immediately, as did his chest pains. Leaping to his feet as if absolutely nothing had been wrong, he marvelled that he'd felt something like an electric current flow through his body when the men prayed.

Others in the cell were equally stunned by his swift relief. The atmosphere in the cell soon transformed as the convicts grew friendly and accommodating. The missionaries could now freely pray as and when they wanted.

Furthermore, when any prisoner felt sick, depressed or upset, he'd now ask for prayer and find rapid, remarkable relief. One by one the convicted murderers, rapists, thieves and other outlaws joined the gospel workers in their times of prayer. Without the jail wardens or officers knowing, the whole cell resembled an underground church each night, with praise, worship and prayers rising to the heavens. 

Zakkir and his team related their own stories of salvation to the others, and the pastor shared the gospel message. Each and every prisoner confessed his many sins before Jesus Christ, and readily accepted Him as personal savior and Lord. They agreed that if released from jail, they too would become witnesses of Jesus to others.
 
Three months ago, a new officer took charge of the prison. Apparently trying particularly hard to prove he was tough and up to the task of controlling those in his charge, he behaved harshly towards prisoners. He could not figure out, however, why the men in this one particular cell actually seemed calm and happy. They behaved well and kindly to each other and even more surprising, when beaten or tortured, responded with “Praise the Lord!” Keeping a close eye on them, he discovered it was all because of the prayers of the gospel team members. So after two weeks, he moved Pastor Zakkir and his team into a separate cell.
 
And he continued to watch them. One night, as soon as he heard them praying, the officer entered their quarters. The gospel workers’ initial fear turned to wonder as he walked unthreateningly towards them and sat down. He then opened up about his own life. He had studied at a western university, he explained, and while there, had many Christian friends. Through their influence, he learned about the sacrifice of Jesus and had even accepted Him as his personal savior. He attended worship and prayer services with his Christian buddies and had numerous experiences with God at the time.

But on returning to his homeland after studies, he joined the government services and lost all Christian fellowship. He did however still begin his day reading the bible and secretly prayed to Jesus both morning and night.

Now, he eagerly joined with the evangelists in prayer. He asked each of them to share their testimonies, which they of course did. The men continued in worship and prayer till dawn. From then on, the officer interceded with them every night. With his help the prisoners in the team's previous cell continued their prayers as well.
 
Since the new, secretly-Christian officer held sway in higher circles within the prison system, he took the initiative in securing their release from jail, with one condition: they must leave their native land.

Agreeing to this, the evangelists were freed from jail several days ago. Before departing, Pastor Zakkir asked two of the prisoners to lead in regular prayer services in the jail, as the Lord Himself would lead him. The Christian prison officer offered his full support to this. 

Worshippers in an underground church

Worshippers in an underground church

The officer then made arrangements for Pastor Zakkir and his brave team of seven to leave the country. They are now safe with Bibles for Mideast pastors in another region, and continuing ministry there.

Please pray for them and the entire ministry, all ministers and believers of Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church, and the ministry as a whole. Pastor Zakkir and his team also want to sincerely thank all who prayed for them over these challenging yet God-ordained seven months.

Healings, salvations and a new underground church in South Asian village

Report: Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church

Naseema*, 22, grew up the only child of poor Muslim parents in a village in South Asia. To support the family, her mother prepared snacks and bakery items at home which her father peddled door-to-door, balancing the food items in a large basket on his head.

As a brilliant and active little six-year-old, Naseema loved going to school. That being a fair distance from home, one of her parents would generally take her there and back.

One day when neither was able to accompany her, she made the trek home by herself. The youngster arrived back breathless, shivering and terrified. She managed to explain to her parents she had been running for her life from a stray dog who had chased her most of the way. She didn’t seem to have been bitten, but when the shaking increased and she developed a fever, her parents rushed her to hospital.  

She was admitted and as the night wore on, her fever and seizures increased, She became weaker and weaker and while wanting to speak, could not. Doctors were mystified at what might be plaguing her.  They began suspecting perhaps she had polio, or hemorrhaging in her brain, but were never able to definitively diagnose her illness. Soon she could no longer sit up, unable to balance her head or body, and became completely bedridden.

Her parents invested all of the little income they had for treatment and even hope for help. They invited many religious leaders of Islam to come and pray over her. They visited countless Muslim pilgrimage sites to offer vows and prayers for her healing. This went on for sixteen years.

Last year, Pastor Ishaq* of Bibles for Mideast—who regularly ministers in the region and had heard about the sick young woman—visited the family with his gospel team. He asked permission to pray for her, but her parents, dedicated Muslims, would not allow it. Christians were hated enemies, after all. The team left a sample gospel outside the house as they left.

A month later they were back. This time, the parents practically exploded in anger and forbade them from seeing Naseema. When the missionaries returned a third time, neighboring Muslims began gathering around, brandishing sticks, weapons and challenging questions.

“We have just come to pray for Naseema,” Pastor Ishaq answered them gently. “We believe our Lord Jesus Christ can heal her. For the word of God says that Jesus Christ was crucified, died and rose from the dead to save all human beings. It also says that by His wounds we are healed. So we believe that prayer in Jesus' name can heal Naseema.”

Hearing the name of Jesus, the crowd erupted in rage and rushed to attack. Pastor Ishaq and his team fled, the angry neighbors in hot pursuit. With God’s help they managed to escape safely … and of course they kept up their regular intercession for Naseema, her parents and the neighbors.

Not long ago, Naseema’s father met misfortune while out selling his wares. As he attempted to cross a busy road a car ran into him, knocking him down and scattering his basketful of food. The driver ignored the man he had just injured and kept driving.

Pastor Ishaq and his assistant ‘just happened’ to be by the same roadside and witnessed the accident. They rushed to help the hurt man get off the road, and administered first aid. Only then did the pastor recognize the man as Naseema’s father. He wanted to take him to hospital, but the father pleaded to be taken home instead. So the pastor hired a three-wheeled rickshaw and brought him to the family’s home. As they traveled, he talked of the love of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

“It is because of His love that we love you and are praying for you,” he explained. This time the man seemed to be listening. 

When they reached the family’s house and Naseema’s mother heard about the accident, the missionaries were warmly welcomed inside. The parents even invited the pastor and his assistant to pray for Naseema, and for them as well. After praying, Pastor Ishaq offered to hold three days of prayer and fasting in the house if the family agreed to it, and they readily did.

On hearing of the plan, Pastor Paul travelled 18 hours by train and 5 hours by bus to take part. On the very first day, a recent Thursday, Naseema had a vision of Jesus while the team prayed. She felt Him touch her head with His nail-pierced hands, she explained later. At the time however, all she could do was open her mouth and say, “Jesus is my Lord!” She had hardly moved and had not been able to speak for years. All were beyond astonished.

When she asked for assistance sitting up, Pastor Paul stepped forward to help and for the first time in 16 years Naseema could balance both her head and body and sit upright on her own. As the group began singing and praising, she clapped her hands in joy.  

News of the miracle began to spread. The next day, one of the neighboring families joined in the prayer and fasting.  By the third day, two more families and some other Muslim individuals had come along to take part.

When the pastors shared the message of gospel, all accepted Jesus as their personal savior and Lord.  On the fourth day, a Sunday, Pastor Paul conducted a worship service in the home and planted a new house church on the spot.

in another part of south Asia, worshippers gather outside their own 'house church'

in another part of south Asia, worshippers gather outside their own 'house church'

During the service, Naseema stood up from her bed, walked towards the others, sat on the floor and listened intently. Soon filled with the Holy Spirit, she began dancing before Jesus as the worship continued.

Since then, others have begun attending Sunday worship services at the new house church. Naseema's father has also completely recovered from his accident. Unfortunately, many other Muslims have begun persecuting the new believers.

Please pray for Naseema, her parents, the newly-saved people, Pastor Ishaq, his gospel team and other believers in the region. Also keep the ministries of Bibles for Mideast and the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church in your prayers.

____________________________
names changed for security reasons

Christian teacher in Pakistan threatened with death unless he converts to Islam

Moosa with his family

Moosa with his family

Report: Bibles for Mideast

Moosa, 42, has for years been a teacher in Pakistan, helping his students learn English and Urdu. He also teaches Social Studies, along with the compulsory Islamic studies. Recently however, the government made the teaching of the Koran and Islamic prayers in schools mandatory as well.

Certain fundamentalist teachers of Islam have used this as an opportunity to inject hatred towards Christians, Hindus and other minorities into the minds of young learners. They have been teaching the children terms such as ‘kafir’—a derogatory expression for anyone not believing in Islam, as well as encouraging them to believe people of other faiths are spies of Israel, America and India.  

“From the primary classes, children are learning to fight against other religions and practice terrorism,” Moosa reports to Bibles for Mideast. “The process is easy to abuse and permits fanatical religious zealots to inculcate vulnerable young minds with their evil ideology.”

As Christians, he and his family have found themselves under increasing persecution by Islamic extremists—including threats of death.

When Moosa reported the threats to the school’s head master, things only got worse. A Muslim teacher came into his classroom shortly afterwards, called him “a son of a pig” (a terrible insult in the Islamic world) and then beat him up in front of his students.

He was again threatened with death if he dared challenge the content of Islamic and Koranic classes. Even the children have been encouraged to shout abuse and spit at him.

Extremists attacked and beat him one recent evening.

“Either convert to Islam and teach the children Islamic sharia, or get ready to die with your family and your hated religion,” they yelled at him. He reported to us with tears he had found human excrement from many people right at his doorstep.

Moosa and his family seek the sincere prayers of the children of God. Please pray for him and for the whole difficult situation in Pakistan­­—that all would come to faith in Jesus as the only way to God.

Malaysian High Court: A Muslim has the right to embrace Christianity

Kuching, Malaysia: The Kuching High Court in Malaysia ruled Wednesday (Mar. 23) that a Muslim man who was converted to Islam by his parents at the age of 10 can legally renounce Islam and embrace Christianity. Justice Yew Jen Kie said that 41-year-old Rooney Rebit, formerly known as Azmi Mohamad Azam Shah may be identified as a Christian.

In making his decision, Yew cited Article 11 of the Malaysian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. "It is within his constitutional rights to exercise freedom of religion," the judge said in the ruling.

The ruling comes after Rebit applied for a judicial review to allow him to obtain legal recognition as a Christian, not a Muslim. Yew issued multiple injunctions in the matter.

Rising Christian anger in mainly Muslim Malaysia over the government's handling of a case involving seized bibles could complicate Prime Minister Najib Razak's bid to win back the support of minorities ahead of an early general election.

The judge ordered the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and the Sarawak Islamic Council to issue a letter signifying Rebit's release from Islam.

Bible in Malay

Bible in Malay

Additionally, she ordered the state government to ensure that Rebit's identification card and government records at the nation's registry show that he is a Christian and for his name to be legally changed to Rooney Anak Rebit.

Rebit, who is a part of the Bidayuh ethnicity, was forced to convert to Islam as a child after his parents converted from Christianity.

Since it was never Rebit's choice to embrace Islam, Yew stated that Rebit can't be considered a person who officially professed Islam. Additionally, the judge pointed out that Rebit was baptised as a Christian in 1999, when he was able to make a mature decision about his faith.

The state government had earlier refused to change his religious preference on his identification and government records without an order obtained from an Islamic court, even though the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and the Sarawak Islamic Council agreed to issue a letter of ‘no objection’ to his conversion.

While Rebit was granted his request to be recognized as a Christian, Lina Joy was not as fortunate in 2007 when her appeal to a Malaysian federal court to have her official religion changed on her identification card was struck down. As apostasy laws in Malaysia are handled by state governments, each state has the freedom to apply the law as they see fit when residents renounce the Muslim faith.

Last May, the State Assembly of Kelantan considered a bill that would have allowed the death penalty to be given to anyone charged with abandoning Islam.

Formerly Muslim doctor now evangelizes, plants churches AND treats patients

Living in one of the most unreached places in the world, devout Muslim Sanjay's whole life changed when he was healed from cancer.

Growing up as a devout Muslim, Sanjay gave his life to Jesus and now, despite persecution, shares the gospel with everyone he meets. Since his conversion, Sanjay has led hundreds to faith in Jesus and planted 50 small house churches for believers with Muslim backgrounds.

Sanjay's journey to faith started when he was in hospital in Kolkata, India, having chemotherapy.

"I was crying, and the one name that I did not want to believe in came back to me again and again – the name of Jesus," he says. "I was so weak and so sick. So I prayed to the Lord Jesus and said, 'will you heal me?'"

Slowly, Sanjay began to feel better. Knowing that something had changed, he returned to the hospital for tests and discovered the cancer was gone. He was healed. "I saw that only Jesus can save my life," he says, "nobody else can." Realising that it was Jesus who restored his health, Sanjay gave his life to Christ and got baptised.

West Bengal, where Sanjay lives, is one of the least evangelised places on the planet. When he discovered Jesus was real, Sanjay started preaching the gospel in his Muslim village and telling everyone he could about Christ. It was not well received.

"My family threw me out. They said, 'we want nothing to do with you. Since you have Jesus you can just go away.'" Other people began plotting against him. "They decided to break into my doctor's office where patients used to come and see me," he says.

doctor.jpg

Sanjay was afraid, and he prayed to God for protection. God acted, leading Sanjay's mother to have compassion on him and to let him come back home.

For years, Sanjay has been persecuted by many in his community for sharing the gospel. But he just won't stop. As well as working as a doctor, Sanjay has dedicated his life to serve as an evangelist and a church planter.

He has found a way to forgive those who persecuted him, as God forgave him. And now, miraculously, those who once attacked him come to him for medical care.

"People who persecuted me for many years got tired. They said, 'the more we tell him not to speak, the more he goes out and preaches'," says Sanjay. "People who wanted to throw me out, now they bring their patients to me and say, 'we're so sorry'."

Having already planted 50 churches for Muslim background believers, Sanjay shows no signs of slowing down – he is keen to press on with his ministry.

"Apart from Jesus there is no life," he says. "I am even more excited to tell others what Jesus has done. Every day I want to live for my Lord and keep on doing what I'm doing. Please pray that I can do more in the days to come."

Muslims converting to Christianity in Nigeria, despite brutal persecution

A church burned down by Boko Haram in Damascus on March 24, 2015 ( Reuters)

A church burned down by Boko Haram in Damascus on March 24, 2015 (Reuters)

Muslims are converting to Christianity in northern Nigeria amid rapidly rising levels of Christian persecution, which has seen more than 10,000 Christians killed in five years, Christian Today reports..

While much media attention has been focussed on Islamic State and the plight of persecuted minorities in the Middle East, close to 11,500 Christians in northern Nigeria were killed between 2006 and 2014, and 13,000 churches destroyed, forcing 1.3 million Christians to flee to safer areas of the country.

In 2014, Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group active mainly in northern Nigeria, was named the world's deadliest terror organisation by the Global Terrorism Index.

In 2015, the number of Christians violently killed in the country increased by 62 per cent to 4,028 people, and 198 churches were attacked according to persecution charity Open Doors' 2016 World Watch List.

A new report, Crushed but not defeated, the impact of persistent violence on the Church in Northern Nigeria by Open Doors and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) reveals a horrific degree of violence against Christians, but also glimmers of hope from a Church that is determined to remain strong.

CAN, Nigeria's largest confederation of churches, has committed to revive the Church in northern Nigeria, both by grass roots action and by advocacy. It is calling on the UN and other international bodies to engage with the plight of Christians who feel long abandoned.

Marginalisation, discrimination and targeted violence

While Nigeria is technically a secular federal state with religious freedom enshrined in its constitution, "the reality in Northern Nigeria is radically different," said Lisa Pearce, chief executive of Open Doors UK and Ireland.

"For decades, Christians in the region have suffered marginalisation and discrimination as well as targeted violence. This is happening not only in the Sharia states of the Far North where the pressure of Islam is hard felt, but also in the non-Sharia Middle Belt states where Sharia has not been formally implemented."

Crucial to understanding this situation is that there are three distinct perpetrators of persistent violence against Christians in northern Nigeria, united around one cause: "defending northern Muslims' interests, Muslim identity and the position of Islam," the report says.

These perpetrators are not only proponents of radical Islam, such as Boko Haram, but the northern Muslim political and religious elite and the Muslim Hausa-Fulani herdsmen are also major perpetrators of religious violence against Christians.

This has lead to a diaspora of Christians from certain areas, the Christian presence becoming "virtually extinct or substantially diminished", and a break down in social cohesian between Muslims and Christians.

"Mutual trust has disappeared and Muslims and Christians have become increasingly separate groups, clustering together in town suburbs and distinguished rural areas," the report says.

This three-pronged attack against Christianity has left Christians in the north without refuge, unable to conduct themselves in public life or exert public influence.

"Many Christians say they face harassment, hatred, marginalization, intimidation and violence," the report says. "They have very limited freedom to worship and to build churches. They have no real voice in public media, have hardly any access to government positions for employment and are barely represented in local politics. Young Christians feel discrimination at school."

Three quarters of the 122 church leaders Open Doors interviewed said the outlook is bleak.

Renewed faith

But while the report highlights that the Church is hard pressed in northern Nigeria, it remains present.

Many churches are emptying as congregants flee violence and persecution, but those who leave are not abandoning their faith; instead getting involved in church in slightly safer contexts. Although those living in northern Nigeria are unable to participate in politics and are struggling even to provide a livelihood, there has been an increase in Christian political engagement with politics in the Middle Belt states of the country.

Those who are choosing to stay are experiencing a renewed fervour in their faith, according to the report, and some Christians reported that their churches in the north are growing as Muslims convert to Christianity. The report cited reasons including many Muslims having dreams of Jesus.

"Many among the Muslims want to become Christians, but they are afraid of being killed or pressured by fellow Muslims," the report quoted one interviewee as saying.

While there are glimmers of hope on the ground, a response is required from those with higher political power, such as Nigeria's government, the UN and other Western governing bodies.

"Policy makers in churches, governments and society in Nigeria and in the international community should become aware of the scope and impact of the violence," the report recommended.

"There needs to be a united and proper response to end the violence and restore a situation in Northern Nigeria where Muslims and Christians alike can live together, exercise their human rights and have equal access to education, work and property and will have the freedom to worship."