How Persecuted Believers are ‘Going Around’ the Mainstream Press
- by Douglas Burton (UTS’82)
Breaking news of terrorism in West Africa rarely breaks on large, mainstream news platforms, but change may be on the way. Terrorism news now is reaching American readers through a novel digital pathway called Prayer News Network (PNN). The mission of PNN is to help Americans “adopt” Christians in harm’s way in Nigeria through prayer by cell phone and to let the victims of persecution transmit actionable news of violence to their Western prayer partners. And by doing so, go around the mainstream news media.
A dramatic story of an attempted assassination of a Catholic priest in Nigeria was posted Monday, Aug. 5 on the start-up news site, WarDesknews.com and in an opinion posted Aug. 6 in the respected Washington Times. Announced two weeks ago by Christian Broadcasting Network, PNN is a non-profit effort founded by Douglas Burton and Magnafaith Krimi, both working with the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) and serving on the Advisory Board of Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC).
In the digital age, group prayer is more than an inward journey or a supplication to the Divine, it is a learning experience. People in the West learn from the spoken prayers of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, China and Africa.
And crimes against humanity have to be reported in order for people of conscience to mobilize their governments to step in. Western governments failed the Jews during the Holocaust and stood by dumbly during the holocaust in Rwanda in 1994 and the decimation of Yezidis in Northern Iraq in 2014. Broadcaster Mark Levin, author of Unfreedom of the Press, tore into the New York Times on Fox TV for its abject failure to report the atrocities committed against millions of Jews in Europe during the holocaust of World War II, despite the “paper of record” having complete knowledge of the crimes of the Nazis unleashed on vulnerable populations.
Having witnessed first-hand the persecution of Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq as State Department official in 2007, we decided something similar was happening in Nigeria.
I suggested to a gathering of STPC members at an educational forum in March, that the folks present could not only pray for persecuted Christians overseas but pray directly with them by cell phone. In fact, I had been using cell phone calls to Christians in war zones for years to buttress my free-lance stories on the war against ISIS. Cell phone prayers began in March with Fr. Lawrence Ikeh, a Roman Catholic priest in Northeastern Nigeria who ministered near a stronghold of Boko Haram. On April 9, that priest was “adopted” by a Republican club of believing women in Northern Virginia headed by Alice Butler-Short. The club of Virginia Women for Trump bowed their heads as Butler-Short held her cell phone on speaker phone as the club prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
Butler-Short later welcomed a delegation of Nigerian truth-tellers to be honored at a gala in Washington on June 23, where Stephen Enada, ICON founder introduced the mother of Leah Sharibu, a 16-year-old Christian girl who is being held as a slave by Boko Haram because she refuses to give up her faith.
The story of genocide in West African has started to leak out more frequently due to the diligent reporting of CP and other journals. It’s a good sign, too, that Alice Butler-Short, a native of Ireland and today a naturalized American citizen has been moved to action by what she has learned from the so-called truth squad from Nigeria. She has found in her Nigerian diaspora friends many kindred, politically conservative spirits.
Butler-Short reported recently on her club’s Facebook site on an epiphany of sorts regarding the plight of Nigeria.
“This may sound strange but for some reason God has led me to the Nigerian community,” she posted. “I feel very strongly that the African Diaspora is going to play a large role in the 2020 election. We must reach out to them, get to know them, and let them know that we care. Their values are totally conservative and when approached on a spiritual level they "get it."
She went on to say, “My prayer is that God will open even more doors and that other groups around the nation will look for these communities and reach out to them.
And the scripture that comes to me right now is Jeremiah Chapter 32:38,39 "And they shall be My people, and I will be their God, and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may reverence Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them."
Douglas Burton is the co-founder of War Desk News and Prayer News Network and writes on terrorism, culture, and politics from the Washington, D.C. area. Douglas Burton is a former U.S. State Department official in Kirkuk, Iraq. Queries to Burtonnewsandviews@gmail.com call him at 202 203 9883.