ICC Note: Hard-line Muslims forced a pastor in Zanzibar and his family into hiding and he has moved four times to escape persecution, according to Morning Star News. The group has also taken control of his rented church space. The island off the coast of Tanzania has a population that is 97% Muslim and brothers and sisters in Christ have faced church burnings, intimidation, and legal pressure under a tense climate of persecution. Muslims often file suit against churches embroiling them in land disputes in order to drain the churches of their resources. Such actions have forced pastors to resort to worshiping in house churches.
6/23/15 Zanzibar, Tanzania (Morning Star News) – Hard-line Muslims on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania have driven a pastor and father of five into hiding and taken over his church’s rented worship hall, he said.
“I have changed my place of residence four times since 2012” due to threats from area Muslims, said Pastor Philemon, whose full name is withheld for security purposes.
Once a congregation of 100, his New Covenant Church has shrunk to 25 members. Intent on removing his church from the undisclosed area, the Muslims cajoled a landlord into renting the congregation’s worship hall to them before the term of church’s lease ended, the pastor said.
“The church faithful are so scattered,” he said. “Some members are always knocking at my door requesting a place for worship.”
The remaining members now rotate among their homes for worship. At times they discuss joining other churches.
The pastor said the church has identified a safe place for worship that would cost about $15,000, of which he already has already raised $5,000. Getting land for churches is difficult in Zanzibar, and initially he must purchase it as private property; were he to mention that it will be turned into a church building, the seller on the Muslim-majority island would decline to sell, he said.