By BosNewsLife Africa Service
DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA (BosNewsLife)-- Evangelical Christians in a heavily Muslim area of Tanzania aree without a place to worship after their church building was torched by Islamic militants, an aid group says.
"Militants had threatened the church and the pastor, Ombeni Omari, for the past two years," said Voice Of the Martyrs USA (VOM) about the May 8 attack in Mafia.
"Pastor Ombeni, a Christian convert from Islam, escaped to Dar es Salaam with his wife and three children after learning of the attack."
Nobody was apparently injured as it reportedly happened just before a scheduled prayer meeting. Pastor Omari founded the almost 60-member church -- the only Christian church in the area -- which consists of mainly converts from Islam.
The May 9 incident in Mafia came after militants had threatened the church and Pastor Omari for the past two years, Christians said. Nobody was apparently injured as the attack happened before a scheduled prayer meeting.
CHURCH BUILDING DESTROYED
Although the church building was destroyed, Pastor Ombeni said he would "return" because the work he was "called to do is not yet finished".
VOM said it had asked its supporters to pray for the congregation that they continue "to meet in worship" and that God would be "near Pastor Ombeni and his family, giving them much wisdom as they discern their next steps."
The group also urged prayers "that those who perpetrated this attack will repent and come to faith in our Living God."
Islamic extremism is a challenge for Jakaya Kikwete, who has been president since 2005 and is now serving his second term after winning re-election in 2010.
Under his presidency inflation dropped, the economy grew and Tanzania's foreign debt was wiped, experts say. However critics critics say most Tanzanians remain impoverished, fuelling religious strife in this nation of almost 48 million people. (With reporting from the region and BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos).