(Morning Star News)– Security officials in Sudan last week arrested 13 Christians during a worship service in the Darfur Region, sources said.
Personnel from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) interrupted the worship service the afternoon of Oct. 10 in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state in western Sudan’s Darfur Region and arrested all 13 Christians present (not Oct. 13 while evangelizing Muslims, as reported elsewhere), the sources said.
NISS personnel gave no reason for arresting the Christians, members of four different churches who had come together for the service, except to say that they were all converts from Islam, the sources said. Authorities are targeting Christian converts from Islam in Darfur, they said.
“We are worried because their whereabouts are still unknown,” said one source, adding that he feared they might be tortured. “The Christians gathered as one body of Christ from different denominations.”
The arrested Christians include 10 from Darfur and three from the Nuba Mountains in southeastern Sudan. Church leader Tajaldin Idriss Yousif was arrested along with his church members: Alfadil Ismail Alnil, Ahmed Mohammed Hassan, Neseraldin Osman, Shemen Ahmed Shemen and Abubaker Biri.
Other Christians arrested were identified only as Kamal, Abdullah, Mutasim, Mujahid, El Sadik Afendi, Bolis Suliman and Abdel Maseh. NISS, widely regarded as a notorious agency staffed by hard-line Islamists, may hold people in detention for up to four and a half months without charges.
Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.
The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.
Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.
Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.
Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999.
Sudan ranked fourth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.
(Voice of the Persecuted) What does it mean to tell a 15 year old Nigerian girl that she is a slave for life. Particularly when she sees or hears that another young woman has been executed.
We were deeply saddened to hear the Boko Haram had executed Hauwa Limon. She was a 24 year old midwife who worked for the International Red Cross. Hauwa wanted to help displaced mothers deliver their babies. She was a Muslim yet executed by the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram. Their defense for executing her, she became an apostate when she went to work for the Red Cross. The first local chapter of the Red Cross was established in 1881 at the English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dansville in New York.
How can our hearts not be saddened over this senseless killing. One can only hope that in her final moments she cried out to the Lord Jesus for salvation as the thief on the cross did. Let us pray comfort for her family. That they too would experience the peace of Christ. Let us also pray that the Boko Haram will have an experience with Jesus. That they would be brought out of darkness Into the light of Christ.
But what of Leah Sharibu? Being told that she will never be released and a slave nor allowed to achieve her dreams and aspirations. As we try to wrap our mind around this, we are hard pressed to imagine what is going through this young woman’s mind. One does not want to conceive the violations that may be inflicted upon this precious daughter of Christ. Believing it more merciful, many girls in her situation hope for martyrdom than enduring atrocities as a slave for Islamists. At least they would be absent from the body and at home in the arms of Jesus.
But perhaps God is sparing Leah to be a witness to her captors. I would certainly agree with this as we cry out for the salvation of unbelievers. But in the sadness of my heart I found this to be small consolation. Yes. God has used those who have suffered many years in prison such as Richard Wurmbrand and Watchman Nee to reach their captors for Christ. We certainly see that in the writings of our brother, the Apostle Paul.
As I walked to the park, yesterday, lamenting this before the Lord. The Holy Spirit reminded me of these verses out of 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18,
Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
As I meditated on these verses I felt an encouragement in continuing to pray for those, such as Leah, who suffer for months, even years in captivity. That each day of their temporal sufferings will bring more eternal glory for them in the presence of Christ. For this temporal realm is not their home. What awaits our persecuted brothers and sisters is far more glorious than the sufferings of this present world.
This is also our inheritance in our sufferings in this broken world. The eternal glories of Christ will far outweigh whatever we may experience in our temporal sufferings.
This too is the encouragement of Leah Sharibu and the persecuted Church. the glory of Christ, which is eternal.
Let us pray this for our dear sister in Nigeria, the persecuted church in Nigeria and around the world. Let us also pray that in the midst of our own sufferings, we may see the encouragement of Christ in his glory. For sure this is truly the eternal encouragement of Christ.
Tonight on the Persecution Watch prayer conference call, we have the opportunity to hear from a pastor who works in a restricted nation in Asia. Please join us on the call to unite with and lift up this dear brother.
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It is urgent to speed up the judicial process which sees seven innocent Christians of Kandhamal, a district in the Indian state of Orissa, in prison. The seven have been languishing in jail because of the false accusation of the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati , the Hindu leader killed by the Maoists in 2008. This is what the Delhi Minorities Committee (DMC) asks for, which has produced and published a documentary film in Hindi entitled “Kaid mein Bekasoor” (Innocents imprisoned). As reported to Agenzia Fides, the documentary was produced by journalist Anto Akkara who has been spearheading a campaign for the release of the seven innocents.
“It is shocking to know about the plight of these innocents languishing in jail for the last 10 years. It should concern the whole nation”, said Zafarul-Islam Khan, President of the Committee for Minorities. “Our mandate is to speak up for the voiceless and minorities. That is why the Commission decided to host this programme to spread awareness about the shocking injustice to the Christian minorities”, he stressed.
“It is a shame for Indian democracy and judicial system that the seven innocents – six of them illiterates – are in jail to perpetuate a political fraud”, urged Akkara, who made 27 trips to remote Kandhamal jungles villages and authored the nationally acclaimed book “Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?” that has now been translated into Hindi and Malayalam.
Akkara has been anchoring an online signature campaign for the release of the innocents on www.release7innocents.com. Each signature on this website generates four instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India, NHRC chairman and the Odisha High Court .
“It is time for everyone to come together to fight for law and justice and adequate compensation for the victims of the 2008 anti-Christian violence” said Father Kulokant Dandasena, a Catholic priest who works for the survivors in Kandhamal. “Seven innocent people in prison is a shame for a secular and democratic country like India”, he added.
“We are taking up this case to awaken the minorities and others to massive injustice to innocent people”, said Advocate Sister Anastasia Gill, a lawyer and member of the DMC. “This is the moment for all the minorities to join hands together and challenge the forces that are trying to divide people in the name of religion”, she concluded.
‘Innocents Imprisoned’ – Kandhamal’s Travesty of Justice
Innocents Imprisoned is a documentary on the Hindu nationalist fraud & travesty of justice in Kandhamal jungles (of Odisha state in India) with seven innocent Christians including a mentally challenged illiterate languishing in jail for nearly 10 years due to the subversion of the judicial system. This documentary – visual presentation of the investigative book, ‘Who killed Swami Laxmanananda?’ launched on August 23, 2018 in New Delhi on the 10th anniversary of Kandhamal.
Speak up for these voiceless by signing the online petition for their release at link above.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Nigerian news sources are reporting shocking news that Boko Haram terrorists have executed the second International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) aide worker, Hauwa Leman. ICRC had begged the Nigerian government to intervene, it is sad their cries have gone unheard.
In a report first published by TheCable, the terrorist group vowed to keep Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi Christian schoolgirl, as “a slave for life”.
The Nigerian government said it was shocked and saddened by the killing of another aid worker by the insurgent group.
In a statement issued in London on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, described her execution as “dastardly, inhuman and ungodly”, saying nothing can justify the shedding of the blood of innocent people.
“We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker.”
“However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors, he said.”
Atiku Abubakar, Former Vice President (1999-2007), I’m deeply saddened by the murder of Hauwa Leman, an ICRC aid worker, by terrorists. I implore the Federal Government to deploy every reasonable tool at its disposal to bring Leah Shuaibu and all the children in Boko Haram captivity home. (photo)
About 3 hours ago, VOP began receiving the chatter of this heartbreaking report. Please keep praying!
(Voice of the Persecuted) Urgent prayers needed for Nigerian Christian teenager threatened to be executed today by Boko Haram. 15 year old Leah Sharibu was among over 100 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from a school in Dapchi, Northern Nigeria on Feb. 19, 2018. It was a kidnapping that mirrored what happened in Chibok four years earlier when 276 girls were abducted from the school in Chibok, Borno State. A month after the Dapchi abduction on March 22 the militants released 104 of the schoolgirls, with the exception of Leah. The teenager was the only Christian in the group. Boko Haram members told Leah to renounce her Christian faith and become a Muslim or they would not let her go. The Muslim schoolgirls begged her to do it and go home with them, but she refused to deny her faith in Jesus and is still a captive of the Boko Haram. The Nigerian government has been bombarded with pleas, including those from the international community, to step up and secure Leah’s immediate release.
A month ago, Boko Haram militants killed one of three Red Cross workers being held as their captives. The militants gave a one month deadline to kill Leah and the two others unless the Nigerian government met the radical group’s demands for their release. Today marks that deadline!
We ask that you pray with us for young Leah and the Red Cross workers.
…for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Rom. 14:8-9
The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 5:8, we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
Our brothers and sisters in the New Testament did not fear martyrdom. In fact, they considered the martyrs crown to be an honor and read in Revelation 20 that the martyrs will reign with Jesus in heaven.
Not to promote a cult of martyrdom, but to encourage that we need not fear what the enemy will do. Rejoice that Christ has conquered death and is victor over all. The persecuted church in Nigeria and around the world is not a “victimized” church but part of the global, persecuted church who is a “victorious” church because the bride of Christ follows a “victorious” Savior. The Son, who has conquered death, sits at the right hand of God the Father.
Only God knows what will happen to Leah Sharibu, this day, or in the days to follow. Pray for her release and let us also pray and rejoice that His good, acceptable and perfect will will be done to bring Him glory. For Leah Sharibu, our dear sister, belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. Not jihadists or even the devil can snatch her out of the hand of Jesus.
(World Watch Monitor) Radical religious groups in Pakistan have called for mass protests and threatened the judges of the country’s Supreme Court in Islamabad ahead of their ruling in the blasphemy case of Christian woman Asia Bibi.
The hardline Islamic party, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), threatened the judges in a press conference on YouTube, saying that if Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, were to receive clemency, the justices would meet a “horrible” end, reported AFP.
Meanwhile another religious group, the Red Mosque in Islamabad, asked the Supreme Court to order that, if Asia Bibi is released, she would not be able to leave the country.
“Western forces are trying to get Asia Bibi out of the country but she should be hanged,” the petitioner, Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed, told AFP.
The TLP also announced it would hold a rally on Friday, 12 October, and on social media radical voices call for Asia Bibi to be hanged.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the much-delayed appeal of Asia Bibi, on Monday, 8 October. It did not announce its decision, saying it would ‘reserve judgment’ for several days or possibly weeks.
The story of Asia Bibi
Noreen received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about Islam’s prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.
In June 2009, Noreen, then about 38, was picking berries in the fields as a day labourer in Sheikhupura, outside Lahore in eastern Pakistan. It was hot. She brought water to a female co-worker, who objected that the touch of a Christian had made the water haram, or religiously forbidden for Muslims. The woman apparently told Noreen to convert to Islam in order to become purified of her ritual impurity. Noreen’s rejoinder was perceived as an insult to Islam. She was arrested, accused of blasphemy against the Prophet and the Qur’an, and has been in prison ever since.
The Muslim woman, with her sister, were the only two eyewitnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.
In the Lahore High Court appeal hearing in October 2014, Bibi’s then-lawyer, Naeem Shakir, argued that the main complainant in the case, the local Muslim cleric Mohamed Salaam, had not heard Bibi blaspheme, and that his original complaint had been lodged only five days after the women’s quarrel. Shakir argued that, during her 2010 trial, the only reason given for this delay was “deliberation and consultation”, and said that Salaam had acknowledged this in court.
Salaam was filmed by an international film crew for a film about Bibi in 2014, saying that it is his religious obligation to defend the dignity of Muhammad and that is why he decided to be a witness before the court. He only heard Bibi allegedly confess to blasphemy when she had been brought before a village council several days after the quarrel.
Her other main accuser, Mohamed Imran, owner of the field in which Noreen worked, was not present at the time of the quarrel either; he was away from the village.
However, the High Court ruled that it had no choice but to let the conviction and death penalty stand, based on the way the country’s laws are written, and on what it characterised as an inept trial defence.
At the same time, the court asked Pakistan’s lawmakers to craft legislation that would empower trial courts to apply a test that would make future blasphemy convictions much more difficult to achieve.
Noreen’s lawyer then filed an appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court and in July 2015 it agreed it would hear Noreen’s case.
Commentators praised the Court for its courage to hear the appeal in the face of strong public sentiment against anyone seen to denigrate Islam, with some calling it a “historic day for Pakistan”.
However, the appeal stalled in late 2016 when one member of the three-judge panel recused himself.
In April 2018 Pakistan’s chief justice, Saqib Nisar, told Noreen’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, that he would hear Asia’s appeal soon.
Since then Malook, who was the prosecution lawyer in the case of the murder of Punjab Governor Taseer, has been under 24-hours protection. Ahead of the hearing in Islamabad on 8 October he told AP News, “I have lost my health. I am a high blood pressure patient, my privacy is totally lost. You have to be in hiding,” as everyone knew his identity. “They look at this house and they know this is the home of a person who can be killed at any time by angry mullahs,” he said.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court is the last possibility for Noreen to see her death sentence repealed or she has to appeal to the President for mercy.
Bibi’s case has attracted global attention, much of it critical of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which critics contend are routinely abused as a pretext to settle personal scores.
Following the killing of Taseer, Governor of Punjab, Bibi’s husband said she was “very afraid”. “She knows the Muslims have announced a price on her head and would go to any lengths to kill her,” he said. Authorities increased her security and moved her to an all-women facility, Multan Prison.
In May 2018 another politician who has championed the country’s minority communities, Ahsan Iqbal, survived an assassination attempt by a gunman protesting against the country’s blasphemy laws.
Pope Benedict XVI made a public plea for clemency and the EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, told Pakistani officials that the renewal of their export privileges to Europe would depend on the release of Asia Bibi.
- June 2009 Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, mother of five, is arrested on charges of blasphemy
- November 2010 Noreen convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Her lawyer appeals verdict.
- January 2011 Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab Province who supported Noreen and called for reform of the country’s blasphemy laws, is assassinated by one of his bodyguards. As a result authorities increase security for Noreen and she is moved to the all-women Multan Prison.
- March 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs who supported Noreen’s case and was outspoken critic of country’s widely condemned blasphemy laws, is assassinated.
- October 2011 News emerges that Asia has been beaten by prison officer.
- March 2014 Lahore High Court starts appeal hearing but case keeps circulating among several judges who postpone its hearing, allegedly for fear of reprisal from extremist elements.
- October 2014 The Lahore High Court confirms Noreen’s death sentence
- November 2014 Noreen’s lawyer files appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
- February 2015 Noreen’s husband speaks out about how family’s lives are under constant threat following her conviction and sentencing five years ago.
- July 2015 Supreme Court decides to hear Noreen’s appeal.
- October 2015 Noreen is moved to solitary prison cell because of fears for her security after Supreme Court upholds sentence against former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s murderer.
- October 2016 About 150 top Muslim clerics from radical Islamist group Sunni Tehreek call for Noreen to be hanged.
- April 2017 Mufti Muhammad Haneef Qureshi renews call for Noreen’s execution.
- October 2017 Noreen nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
- November 2017 Three European Parliament members visit Noreen’s family in Pakistan.
- December 2017 The EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, tells Pakistani officials that renewal of export privileges to Europe depends on Noreen’s release.
- February 2018 Noreen’s husband and daughter meet Pope Francis in the Vatican.
- April 2018 Chief Justice Saqib Nisar announces he will hear Noreen’s appeal soon.
- May 2018 Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s interior minister and supporter of the country’s minority communities, survives assassination attempt after meeting prevent her from Christians in his constituency.
- October 8, 2018 Supreme Court hears Noreen’s case but delays ruling.
- October 10, 2018 Radical religious groups threaten judges over possibility of releasing Noreen, and ask High Court to leaving the country.
(Voice of the Persecuted) A Turkish court has ordered the release of US Pastor Andrew Brunson. After two long years of detention on false charges, Andrew will be coming home and able to dance at his daughter’s wedding. Brunson and his wife, originally from North Carolina, moved to Turkey 23 years ago. Andrew led the Izmir Resurrection Church with a congregation of about 25. The couple had raised their family of three children in Turkey and had applied for permanent residency.
Case background: On Oct. 7, the couple was called to a local police station never imagining there was anything to be worried about. They went to the police station thinking they were finally approved for residency. At the station, they were initially told to leave the country because Andrew was accused of receiving funds from abroad to fund missionary initiatives that Turkey claimed would endanger the security of the country with their activities. Later, the Turkish press reported that the decree of expulsion for the Evangelical pastor had been transformed into arrest after a secret witness accused him of having ties with a terror organization. Later, more secret witnesses accused him of espionage. Many believed he was a political pawn used to force the US to extradite Fethullah Gülen who is considered an enemy of the Turkish government and living in self-exile in Pennsylvania for years.
Andrew spent much of his time in a cell with limited contact and his health deteriorated. Andrew lost 50 lbs., told he was forgotten and suffered from depression. The only thing that sustained him was his faith in God and love for his family.
Trial hearings: During the last 3 trials, Andrew shared his love for Christ and the Turkish people. He firmly denied all accusations against him and said, “My service that I have spent my life on, has now turned upside down. I was never ashamed to be a server of Jesus, but these claims are shameful and disgusting.” After the last hearing in July, he was taken back to prison, but due to health concerns he was released under house arrest and put under a travel ban. At today’s hearing, the Turkish prosecutor asked that Brunson be given a 10 year prison sentence,
During the today’s hearing it was reported that three witnesses withdrew their statements against Brunson after reports that the U.S. and Turkey were negotiating a secret deal for his release. Another report shared of the four witnesses who had earlier testified against Brunson, one claimed reading the allegations in the news, another said he was misunderstood by the judge, and the last two claimed that they first heard the allegations from one another. While the trial was ongoing, Former Turkish member of parliament Aykan Erdemir said that witnesses who have appeared at the hearing are now changing their testimony. This would clear the way for the judge to dismiss the case. Turkey has been suffering by the U.S. economic sanctions placed on the country when Brunson wasn’t released at the last hearing. Turkish agencies began reporting his release would be a partial unblocking of the terrible U.S.-Turkish relationship.
Today, Andrew told the court, “I am and innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey.” Witnesses at the hearing shared that Pastor Brunson wept when the court ruling was announced. We expect many happy tears are flowing with his in the Body of Christ, globally.
Homecoming: The U.S. military is expected to fly Andrew back to the United States., U.S. officials told Reuters that Brunson could return to the United States as soon as Friday. A Pentagon spokeswoman told Reuters that the expected plan involved flying Brunson through Germany on the way back to America but did not specify the timing.
Our Victory in Christ
Giving God all the glory, Christians around the world are rejoicing and singing praise to the Lord for this victory. Andrew’s release is an answer to many fervent prayers. We are thankful to all those who allowed the Lord to guide them for his release. Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch would like to thank those who prayed on yesterday’s prayer conference call event for Andrew. What beautiful prayer call full of joy and anticipation for what the Lord is doing. It felt more like a family reunion, in love and agreement, with some we’ve never met. The top key words throughout the day were, forward and dance. Lois Kanalos of Voice of the Persecuted said, “I kept seeing Andrew dancing in the courtroom like David for the Lord! I imagine he did, if only in his heart. Now he and the church in Turkey can move FORWARD…onward soldiers!”
We will continue to pray for Andrew’s transition and healing from his ordeal. Let us also pray for the church in Turkey to be bold and a shining light in the darkness.
Now in this present age or later in glory…victory!
(Romans 8: 26-39) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Please join us! Click on link for Call details. Ministries host open prayer conference call for Andrew Brunson