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The conflict in Nigeria, Africa, is complex, but one reason is the clash between Islam and Christianity. One report says the explosive growth of Christianity has caused tensions to rise. While this religious difference is clearly not the only cause of conflict, it seems to be one major cause. Religious clashes are not new. Persecution was rampant during the first four centuries of the Christian church. When the Apostle Paul preached in Thessalonica, the Gospel ignited animosity among Jews and other groups who rejected the message. After leaving that city, Paul wrote to encourage those who were suffering. Here is a portion of what he said, “We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray… we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know dear brothers and sisters that God loves you, and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. You received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you.” Today, we are glad that we can worship God as we please, but we do not take it for granted, and we pray for those who suffer persecution in other countries.

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