Praise the Lord! A number of folks have changed their profile pics to the “Pray for Asia Bibi” reminder seen here. As I pointed out, that is a great way to remind ourselves and others to pray for Asia Bibi between now and October 15th. Her judge in Pakistan has said that he will delay no more, and the next meeting date is final: It is life or death.
We can help her through our prayers. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians. They helped him when he thought he was going to die:
8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)
Here are a few ways we can be praying for Asia Bibi in her current distress:
- Pray for her faith not to fail, that God would strengthen her soul to faithful endurance.
- Pray for her husband to trust Christ and stay fixed on Him clearly, especially in this next month.
- Pray for her children to see Christ and the Holy Spirit at work through the faith displayed by their parents throughout this ordeal (She has 5 children).
- Pray for her judge to have the courage to execute justice (rather than executing Asia Bibi).
- Pray for this judge to do what is right, even though his life will then be in danger, as radicals would likely try to kill him if he allows Asia Bibi to go free.
- Pray for those who have persecuted Asia and caused her 5 years of imprisonment, that they will be broken by the beauty of her faith and the holiness of her suffering for Christ’s sake. Pray they will be convicted of sin and converted to Christ.
- Pray for the church in Pakistan to be strengthened through Asia’s faith, even as Paul says that the church was strengthened by seeing how God worked through his suffering.
- Pray that the gospel would increase in Pakistan in the same way that it increased when Stephen was martyred and Paul was imprisoned.
My wife made the picture above her iPhone wallpaper so that every time she turns on her phone she gets a reminder to pray. Get creative!
I’m sure that you can think of many other ways to be praying during these last few weeks. Please feel free to share how you are praying for Asia. That will likely help all of us to pray with focus and intensity. Please continue to pray and continue to share these prayer requests with others. We have a genuine opportunity to see how the fervent, faithful prayers of the righteous can accomplish much on behalf of Asia Bibi.
Who is Kenneth Bae?
Before his detention in North Korea, Kenneth Bae was always surrounded by friends, hosting meals and regaling everyone with hilarious tales and his renditions of Elvis tunes. He was the fun-loving uncle who showered his nieces with affection. He dropped out of college at the age of 22 to support his own young family. And after coming home late from working two jobs, he’d spend hours watching his baby son sleep.
Kenneth is a man who always does the right thing, no matter the cost.
Several years ago, Kenneth saw an opportunity that combined his entrepreneurial spirit with his personal convictions as a Christian. He believed in showing compassion to the North Korean people by contributing to their economy in the form of tourism. Based out of China since 2006, he started his own tour company specializing in tours to North Korea, a remote country filled with stunning vistas and a people proud of their history and tradition. His livelihood was to introduce the natural beauty of the country and its people to the outside world as a tour operator. His heart was to be a personal touch-point of compassionate humanity to the North Korean people.
On one of the multiple tours he had led through Rason (Rajin-Sonbong), a special economic zones for foreign investors, Kenneth was arrested by North Korean authorities on Nov. 3, 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years in a hard labor camp for what the DPRK identified as “hostile acts” against the North Korean government.
In a video interview with Bae released in July 2013, he spoke of his deteriorating health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver and back problems. A month later he was moved to a Hospital due to his worsening health and reports claimed he had lost more than 50lbs.
Alarmed by Kenneth’s appearance his mother, Myunghee Bae pleaded with DPRK to allow a visit with her son. Her request was granted by DPRK authorities to arrive in Oct., 2013. Prior to the trip, she discussed her concerns and asks for continued prayers. During her stay, she was allowed three visits, totaling six hours.
Though her hopes to plead his case to officials were not realized, she stated as a message to them, “Please give him mercy and give him amnesty to send him home. We apologize as a family on his behalf, but his health cannot sustain any longer if he is sent back to the labor camp again.”
In January, Kenneth’s mother, and sister, Terri Chung attended President Obama’s State of the Union address. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) had offered the seats to them. Terri, his mother, as well as Kenneth’s son, Jonathan Bae met with public figures in New York and Washington DC, uniting with the goal of seeing Kenneth released from detention in North Korea.
Terri, Myunghee, and Jonathan also met with Secretary of State John Kerry. Below is a statement from his sister:
“We were honored to have the opportunity to meet with Secretary Kerry. Secretary Kerry was warm and sympathetic, and I want to thank him for affirming the commitment of the US State Department to securing Kenneth’s release. We are grateful for his support, and we appreciate the ongoing efforts of many at the State Department who have been working behind the scenes for the past 15 months to bring Kenneth home.
The past week our family has received overwhelming support from people across the country. It is clear that many Americans are invested in this cause to see this fellow American come home to his family. I see the heart, soul and hard work of so many people. We will never be able to thank you enough for your kindness.
I also hope and pray that the attention and care that people are showing does not end with the publicity of today. The fact is, my brother remains in detention in DPRK (North Korea) after 15 months, the longest detention of any American in recent times. We will not rest until Kenneth is home in the United States. We continue to implore our government to do everything possible to secure Kenneth’s freedom.”
Kenneth Bae was sent back to the labor camp in January. You can view his family’s emotional plea in this video interview on CNN.
Kenneth Bae spoke out about the harsh conditions at the labor camp where he is being held in North Korea, telling a Swedish diplomat that he is in great pain and wishes to be back with his family.
Bae was re-admitted to a hospital in Pyongyang in March but has again been sent back to the labor camp.
After CNN was recently allowed an interview with Kenneth and other American detainees. His sister, Terri fears for her brother’s serious health conditions afraid he may not survive much longer in the labor camp. See our Sept. 3rd report
Kenneth Bae is the longest serving United States prisoner in North Korea. His family is appealing to the North Korean government to release him on humanitarian grounds. Efforts to seek Bae’s release have thus far been unproductive.
Kenneth Bae’s family and friends have connected with Voice of the Persecuted asking us to encourage the Body of Christ to pray and intercede for Kenneth. They are also asking everyone to help them close the petition his son, Johnathon started—doing what we can to help free Kenneth now.
It is important for you to join us in this mission for Kenneth, our brother in Christ suffering in North Korea, a country listed as the hardest place in the world to be a Christian.
Please pray for him daily. Be his voice by informing others of his story so they may begin to pray for him also. Remember to lift up his family as they too are suffering. And please SIGN the petition, today! Our brother, Kenneth Bae has NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN by his brothers and sisters in Christ!
The United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention this week released a 6-page report condemning the “arbitrary” and illegal detention of American Pastor Saeed Abedini and urging his immediate “release.”
The report details how Pastor Saeed was detained in Iran while finalizing the details of a government approved orphanage in July 2012, was subjected to a sham trial on charges related solely to his religious beliefs, and has spent nearly two years behind bars, enduring periods of solitary confinement and brutal beatings, because of his Christian faith.
It further highlights how he has suffered internal injuries from those beatings and has been denied critically needed medical care.
The Working Group considers that in the case under consideration Mr. Abedini has been deprived of his liberty for peacefully exercising the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and association, as guaranteed under article 19 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights], and articles 18(1) and 19(2) of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]. . .
The Working Group also considers that in this case Mr. Abedini has been deprived of his liberty for being a practicing Christian for reasons of discrimination based on religion, in violation of articles 2 and 7 of the UDHR, as well as articles 18 and 26 of the ICCPR. . . .
The Working Group considers that the non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial in this case, namely article 10 of the UDHR and article 14(3) (b), (d) and (e) of the ICCPR, is of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Abedini an arbitrary character.
Based on these finding’s the U.N. Working Group concludes:
Consequent upon the opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Abedini and bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the UDHR and the ICCPR.
The Working Group believes that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Abedini and accord him an enforceable right to compensation in accordance with article 9.5 of the ICCPR.
In accordance with article 33(a) of its Revised Methods of Work, the Working Group considers it appropriate to refer the allegations of torture to the Special Rapporteur on torture for appropriate action.
The U.N. Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s findings and recommendations are a significant step forward in the fight for Pastor Saeed’s freedom.
The international body’s recognition of the wrongful imprisonment and inhumane treatment of Pastor Saeed merely because of his Christian faith opens the door to further international efforts to secure his freedom.
We welcome the Working Group’s strong statement demanding Pastor Saeed’s immediate release. We continue to urge the U.N. and the U.S. State Department to do more to secure Pastor Saeed’s freedom. For Iran, Pastor Saeed’s release would send a powerful signal that change has come to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Our team at the U.N., lead by our international affiliate the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an official NGO with the U.N., presented an oral intervention today at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Pastor Saeed’s behalf.
We emphasized the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s report and called on the U.N. to “act on its recommendations.”
Dr. Grégor Puppinck, Executive Director of the ECLJ, concluded his presentation stating:
We therefore respectfully urge this body to act, to take up the cause of Mr. Abedini, and call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Abedini. It is time for the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the rights of Mr. Abedini and return this innocent man to his wife and two young children.
You can watch our oral intervention at the U.N. here (chapter 19).
This presentation at the U.N. allowed us to once again speak on behalf of the hundreds of thousands who have signed the petition for Pastor Saeed’s freedom at BeHeardProject.com.
Next week, September 26th, will mark the 2-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s illegal imprisonment in Iran for his Christian faith.
That day will be marked by coordinated prayer vigils in hundreds of cities throughout dozens of countries around the world. Learn more about a vigil in your area at SaeedVigil.com.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Saeed’s freedom as we continue fighting across the globe for his release.
Joran Sekulow, ACLJ
Pakistan has become a “very troubled state”, in contradiction to the dreams of its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, it was stated at a lecture “Pakistan and the Burden of Islam” held at Columbia University on Tuesday.
Professor Emeritus at Columbia University Ainslie Embree, editor in chief of the Encyclopedia of Asian History (1989), remarked that Pakistan has become the state that Jinnah never spoke of.
During the first constituent assembly in August 1947, Jinnah reiterated that the state had nothing to do with any citizen’s religion. However, contrary to his vision, minorities are not safe in Pakistan, Embree said, with Ahmadis and Christians mainly targeted among the minority groups.
In the last 30 years, it has often been said that Pakistan is ‘on the brink of disaster’ and is a failed state, Embree said. However, comparisons between Pakistan and states like India are unfair as Pakistan “has a mission to become a fully Islamic state”, he said. He argued that while Muslim rulers tried to protect Islamic culture, they did not focus on Muslim unity. read more
Alqosh, Iraq (AINA) — More than 75% of the residents of Alqosh, an Assyrian town 37 miles north of Mosul, have returned to their town after fleeing from the threat of ISIS on August 7. On September 12 the residents celebrated the festival Mar Qardakh, the patron saint of Alqosh, at the Saint Qardakh the Martyr Church. The Holy Mass was led by Bishop Michael Muqadissi of the Alqosh Archdiocese and was attended by hundreds of people from the town. After the mass, the people walked around the Church in a procession lead by children and deacons.
Improvements in security in the Nineveh Plain has allowed the residents of Alqosh to return. Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with the aid of U.S. airstrikes, have recaptured several villages in the Nineveh Plain and are pushing toward Mosul.
Life in Alqosh is slowly returning to normal, but the economy has been disrupted. Civil service employees have not received their salaries for the last three months.
In terms of services, Alqosh did not experience interruptions in water or electricity, unlike other towns and villages nearer to Mosul, whose water and electric service was cut off by ISIS. A number of doctors and dentists also returned and began seeing patients in their private clinics. Stores, pharmacies and markets are open.
Faez Juhoory, District Director of Alqosh, who never left the town, said that most Alqosh families have returned to the town after the restoration of security, thanks to the Kurdish forces stationed south of the district.
Mr. Juhoory confirmed that basic municipal services are at the same level as before. A group of Alqosh youth, in the early days after the people fled, took on the task of keeping the town clean and watering trees and seedlings, using the municipality’s equipment. After the return of some of the municipal employees and contractors, only those who worked were paid daily wages. Funds were donated by the sons of Alqosh in the Diaspora.
After fleeing Alqosh, most families took refuge in the Assyrian city of Noohadra (Dohuk), which is further north, and the villages and towns surrounding it, and others traveled to Turkey.
Columbia, SC (WLTX) – A Columbia pastor is serving jail time after his church repeatedly violated the city’s noise ordinance.
We’ve followed this story for close to two years about the dispute between neighbors and Rehoboth United Assemblies Church in Columbia concerning the amount of sound by the house of worship.
This week, a Richland County jury found church pastor Johnnie Clark guilty of unlawful sound amplification following a three-day trial where prosecutors laid out their evidence against him.
Clark was sentenced to two weeks in jail. READ MORE
(Morning Star News) – Among a wave of attacks against non-Hindus since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in India on May 26, a Christian couple in Bihar state required hospital treatment after Hindu extremists beat and publicly resolved to kill them.
A small band of men forcefully entered the home of Shri Lal Khatiyan in Balwanazir, Kaliyanganj, the morning of Aug. 30, asking who had visited and calling him and his wife pagans as they beat him, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI). When Khatiyan’s wife, Asha Devi, tried to intervene, they called her a slut and hit her on the head with the handle of a sickle, EFI reported.
“Asha sustained a deep cut on her head, and Lal has pain in his chest,” said a local pastor who goes by the single name of Ajayan, adding that they their injuries required hospital treatment.
Later that day, about 100 Hindu extremists with clubs stood in each corner of the village and threatened to cut into pieces any Christian who tried to leave the area to file a police complaint, area pastor Laxmi Prasad told Morning Star News.
“The Hindu extremists warned the Christians that they should not go to anyone’s house, and neither should they entertain anyone in their house,” Prasad said. “The believers somehow contacted me by telephone, and I immediately informed the area superintendent of police.”
Authorities that evening sent two policemen to provide protection to Christians.
On Sept. 2, after police had left the village, the extremists held a public meeting at which they resolved to kill the couple, Prasad said, adding, “The Christians are living in constant fear.”
Tied Up, Told to Renounce
In the same area, on the day the BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power, May 26, Hindu extremists tied the hands of nine Christians, including two girls and one widow, dragged them from their homes and beat them when they refused to renounce Christ, the EFI reported.
“Like criminals, they tied their hands with a rope, marched them to the courtyard and told them to renounce Christ,” Prasad told Morning Star News.
The extremists verbally abused the Christians, kicked them, punched them and beat them with clubs when they refused to deny Christ. Badly bruised was widow Rajo Devi, 12-year-old Nutan Kumari, Janardan Singh, Sadanandan Singh, Upendra Kumar Singh, Ravender Kumar Singh, 14-year-old Heera Devi, Vipin Kumar Singh and Jitendra Kumar Singh.
The extremists also pulled off the gold earrings of Rajo Devi, Prasad said.
They continued to harass and beat the Christians for more than a week, pressuring them to leave their faith, finally locking the church doors shut on June 6.
“The extremists threatened to kill anyone who opened up the church and bury them in the church itself, and further told them there is no place for Christians in the village and threatened to kill anyone who did not leave Jesus,” Prasad said.
On July 22, the Hindu extremists beat members of the fellowship again. Seemingly exasperated, a local police official, Sajat Hussain, told the Christians to resolve the matter by themselves, saying, “We cannot always give you protection,” Prasad said.
When attorney Loreing Ovung of religious rights group Alliance Defending Freedom-India called Hussain, however, the officer said a bail bond of 20,000 rupees (US$330) had been imposed on the alleged assailants, and that he had advised the Christians to submit a written complaint about the latest assault.
The Rev. Richard Howell, EFI general secretary, deplored the attack on the Christians in Kaliyanganj.
“The manner in which they were dragged on the road, and even minor girls beaten up, is a sign that the fundamental freedoms enshrined in our constitution are increasingly under threat,” he said. “Freedom of conscience is guaranteed by the constitution of India, and we urge the state government of Bihar to protect this freedom.”
Violence against small Christian groups in the village has become commonplace. They are not allowed to walk on the main road or fetch drinking water from the public well; stones or wood planks block their passage; and derogatory remarks about their faith are uttered at the smallest opportunity.
“Because of these constants attacks, some Christians have also stopped coming to the church and have been backsliding,” Ajayan added.
The Christians who were recently beaten, however, have remained firm.
“I will not leave Jesus even if they kill me,” Sadanandan Singh, told Morning Star News.
Abuja (Agenzia Fides)- Some 2,500 Catholics of the Nigerian diocese of Maiduguri have been violently killed in Boko Haram violence, local Catholic Bishop Mgr Oliver Dashe Doeme told THISDAY a local newspaper. The Bishop has taken refuge with thousands of his faithful, in the parish of Saint Teresa in Yola in Adamawa state.
The diocese of Maiduguri (capital city of Borno state) is in north eastern Nigeria which comprises the states of Borno, Yobe and parts of Adamawa state. In these three States, where Boko Haram concentrates its activity, the Nigerian president Mr Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 decreed a state of emergency, although this did not prevent the Islamist guerrillas from continuing their activity, including the recent conquest of places where a “Caliphate” has been proclaimed .
Bishop Doeme says the majority of the displaced faithful now sheltering in Yola parish, narrowly escaped death at the hands of the members of Boko Haram. In the haste to escape numerous families were separated and many parents are still searching for their children. The Bishop also denounced that very often the Nigerian military withdraw without fighting and this, says Bishop Doeme, is due first of all to corruption.
The dramatic situation of the displaced persons is the main topic of a statement issued by Caritas Nigeria and the Bishops Conference Commission for Justice and Peace with the title “Adapting our lives to the present warfare ” which affirms: “the simple truth is that Nigeria is at war”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 15/9/2014)
Three Choices and the Bitter Harvest of Denial: How Western denial about Islam has fueled Genocide in the Middle East.
Dr Durie speaks at the Q Society event in Melbourne together with Clare Lopez on the evening of 2 September 2014.