Appeal for Christians in Mali
Christians in the UK are being urged to pray and give as the church in Mali faces being eradicated.
Uncertainty has fallen upon Christians in Mali since the government was overthrown in a coup in March.
Although a newly-established transition government has brought some stability to the south, there is still uncertainty over the fate of the north where Tuareg rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out.
Christian charity Worldshare warns that there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, and that people have been tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.
Many have fled south to Bamako, the capital, where they are living as refugees with low supplies of food.
Worldshare said that church and Christian property in Timbuktu and Gao has either been looted or destroyed.
The charity has been working with a ministry in Timbuktu since 2001 and with the Gao Evangelical Church since 2004.
The ministries covered several areas of work, including care for street kids and income generation. These have now been destroyed, Worldshare said.
The charity fears for the future of Christians sheltering in Bamako, as there has been sporadic ethnic conflict there in the past.
It is asking Christians in the UK to give what they can to practically support the refugees and pray for them.
It also wants Christians to write to their MPs to ask what the UK is doing to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict and prevent Mali from turning into another base for Islamic radicals.
“We are deeply concerned for the Christian refugees around Bamako,” the charity said.
“We need to raise at least £25,000 to sustain them for the next few weeks, and more if their situation continues beyond that.
“Apart from that our natural concern for these individuals, the only means of maintaining a Christian presence in Mali seems to be through enabling the Christian refugees to stay there.
“If further Tuareg advances result in their being forced out into neighbouring countries, or worse still being killed, that will be to the detriment of Mali for generations to come.”