By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
PORTO-NOVO, BENIN (BosNewsLife) -- Islamic militants in Benin destroyed a church established by Christ Power Ministries (CPM) in the latest attack against the indigenous evangelical mission group in the African nation, missionaries told BosNewsLife Friday, March 2.
Christian Aid Mission, which supports CPM, confirmed the church was destroyed just three days after it was opened. There were no reports of injuries. About four months earlier militants also destroyed a CPM training center where over 2,000 Christian workers, including 1500 'disciples' and 650 children's ministry workers were educated, missionaries said.
It came as a major setback for the organization as the center apparently gained recognition for its effectiveness and members of neighboring Christian communities interested in starting similar projects visited the center to observe training methods and activities.
In addition two CPM mission schools were reportedly ransacked and destroyed by Islamic militants. It was not immediately clear which group was behind the several attacks in recent months.
Missionaries said however they fear that radical Muslims, who "subjugated North African countries under Islamic law," are rapidly moving southward "in their quest to convert the entire African continent."
In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife, CPM leader Claude Sossa suggested he had experienced "the devastating effect" of the apparent Islamic infiltration of his country, "as 30 percent of Benin's population is now Muslim," at least 10 percent higher than previous estimates by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
However Sossa, who oversees 130 church congregations, five mission schools and one 'School of Discipleship' made clear he wants to continue his work. "We have lost our [training] center after many years of work. But we continue to love those who destroyed it, because Jesus died for them and I believe that many of them will come to the Lord," he said. "The struggle continues," the mission leader added.
The son of a voodoo priest, Claude Sossa claims he had "a life-changing encounter with the Lord" in 1985. He then established CPM in an effort to reach unreached tribes and led a program to train future native missionaries. Claude also rescues orphaned and abandoned children and over 300 children are said to live in one of CPM's three orphanages.
In addition Claude's CPM has provided financial assistance to more than 200 families who adopted an abandoned child, while nearly 300 children reportedly receive free education at one of CPM's five Christian schools.
Hundreds of other Christian missionaries are also working in 45 mission fields, "targeting 32 of the 62 tribes living in Benin with the Gospel of Christ," Christian Aid Mission told BosNewsLife. The US-based organization began supporting CPM in 1996 when its Africa Director Rae Burnett witnessed what he called "the incredible work accomplished by Claude Sossa and the missionaries he had trained."
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