(Voice of the Persecuted) This past weekend, Nigerian Christians listened to a sermon about letting go of bitterness and thoughts of revenge. To forgive and to have the heart of Jesus. They also prayed for us, the American Church!!! They are praying for our elections as what happens here also greatly affects them. They always remember us in their prayers, let us keep them daily in our prayers too. Pray also for Gideon, a courageous man of God and our refugee camp project leader. Much love for Brother Gideon and all our Nigerian brothers and sisters. Their faith is unshakable in a world that is shaken—a great witness for us in the West. They are so loving and giving, even sending Christmas cards and a video singing a carol for us. Our hearts and prayers are with them. To not only know them but to serve them is such a blessing.
These dear ones are suffering horrific atrocities by the Boko Haram and now endangered by the Fulani who have become emboldened by their collaboration with Boko Haram terrorists. Most have lost family members in the jihadists terror campaign. Please pray for peace in Nigeria and that these dear saints will soon be able to SAFELY go back home and start rebuilding their lives. Many have been living in refugee camps for years. Imagine what it must be like living in those conditions for so long.
At this time, it is still UNSAFE for those we aid to return to their villages. The Nigerian government is sharing they have beaten the terrorists. But they have NOT stopped the Boko Haram and now must seriously deal with the rising attacks by the Fulani. We have CONFIRMED attacks are still taking place EVERY OTHER DAY near the Sambisa, a Boko Haram stronghold. Where’s the media coverage???
If your able to help support the mission that is caring for these dear ones, please do! Their needs are immense. We’ve been asked to care for more, a new total of 10,000 displaced people. We really need your help.
No Gift Is Too Small to Make a Difference!
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home. we will be there to help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project. Donations always desperately needed.
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Last month a video emerged showing Islamic State members tossing hundreds of Christian textbooks, many of them emblazoned with crosses, into a large bonfire. As one report put it, ISIS was “burning Christian textbooks in an attempt to erase all traces of” Christianity from the ancient region of Mosul, where Christianity once thrived for centuries before the rise of Islam.
As usual, ISIS is ultimately an extreme example of Islam’s normative approach. This was confirmed during a recent conference in Amman, Jordan hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Political Studies. While presenting, Dr. Hena al-Kaldani, a Christian, said that “there is a complete cancellation of Arab Christian history in the pre-Islamic era,” “many historical mistakes,” and “unjustifiable historic leaps in our Jordanian curriculum.” “Tenth grade textbooks omit any mention of any Christian or church history in the region.” Wherever Christianity is mentioned, omissions and mischaracterizations proliferate, including the portrayal of Christianity as a Western (that is, “foreign”) source of colonization, said al-Kaldani.
Of course, Christian minorities throughout the Middle East—not just in Jordan—have long maintained that the history taught in public classrooms habitually suppresses the region’s Christian heritage while magnifying (including by lying about) Islam.
“It sounds absurd, but Muslims more or less know nothing about Christians, even though they make up a large part of the population and are in fact the original Egyptians,” said Kamal Mougheeth, a retired teacher in Egypt: “Egypt was Christian for six or seven centuries [before the Muslim invasion around 640]. The sad thing is that for many years the history books skipped from Cleopatra to the Muslim conquest of Egypt. The Christian era was gone. Disappeared. An enormous black whole.”[i]
This agrees perfectly with what I recall my parents, Christians from Egypt, telling me of their classroom experiences from more than half a century ago: there was virtually no mention of Hellenism, Christianity, or the Coptic Church—one thousand years of Egypt’s pre-Islamic history. History began with the pharaohs before jumping to the seventh century when Arabian Muslims “opened” Egypt to Islam. (Wherever Muslims conquer non-Muslim territories, Islamic hagiography euphemistically refers to it as an “opening,” fath, never a “conquest.”)
Sharara Yousif Zara, an influential politician involved in the Iraqi Ministry of Education agrees: “It’s the same situation in Iraq. There’s almost nothing about us [Christians] in our history books, and what there is, is totally wrong. There’s nothing about us being here before Islam. The only Christians mentioned are from the West. Many Iraqis believe we moved here. From the West. That we are guests in this country.”[ii]
Zara might be surprised to learn that similar ignorance and historical revisionism predominates in the West. Although Christians are in fact the most indigenous inhabitants of most of the Arab world, I am often asked, by educated people, why Christians “choose” to go and live in the Middle East among Muslims, if the latter treat them badly.
At any rate, the Mideast’s pseudo historical approach to Christianity has for generations successfully indoctrinated Muslim students to suspect and hate Christianity, which is regularly seen as a non-organic parasitic remnant left by Western colonialists (though as mentioned, Christianity precedes Islam in the region by some six centuries).
This also explains one of Islam’s bitterest ironies: a great many of today’s Middle East Christians are being persecuted by Muslims — including of the ISIS variety — whose own ancestors were persecuted Christians who converted to Islam to end their suffering. In other words, Muslim descendants of persecuted Christians are today slaughtering their Christian cousins. Christians are seen as “foreign traitors” in part because many Muslims do not know of their own Christian ancestry.
Due to such entrenched revisionism, Muslim “scholars” are able to disseminate highly dubious and ahistorical theses, as seen in Dr. Fadel Soliman’s 2011 book, Copts: Muslims Before Muhammad. It claims that, at the time of the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the vast majority of Egyptians were not, as Muslim and Western history has long taught, Christians, but rather prototypical Muslims, or muwahidin, who were being oppressed by European Christians: hence, the Islamic invasion of Egypt was really about “liberating” fellow Muslims.
Needless to say, no historian has ever suggested that Muslims invaded Egypt to liberate “proto-Muslims.” Rather, the Muslim chroniclers who wrote our primary sources on Islam, candidly and refreshingly present the “openings” as they were—conquests, replete with massacres, enslavement, and displacement of Christians and the destruction of thousands of churches.
In the end, of course, the Muslim world’s historical approach to Christianity should be familiar. After all, doesn’t the West engage in the same chicanery? In both instances, Christianity is demonized and its history distorted by its usurping enemies: in the West, by a host of “isms”—including leftism, moral relativism, and multiculturalism—and in the Middle East, by Islam.
Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with the Gatestone Institute, April 2013).
We invite you to join with Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch along with International Orality Network as we host our second 2016 24-hour prayer event at the end of April. Thank you to all who participated on January’s Call Event. What a joy it is to pray united with all of you. It means so much and greatly encouraged the persecuted brethren on the call with us! We were told, “It felt like we were together praying in the same room!”
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Religious and human rights groups are applauding a European court decision that ruled governments must grant a fair evaluation of Christian converts before they are denied asylum and sent back to Iran.
Mohabat News _ This week, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of F.G vs. Sweden that the Swedish government would be violating Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect life and safeguard against inhumane treatment if it deported the applicant.
“The lower chamber (of the court) underestimated the severe danger to this convert’s life,” Robert Clarke, director of European Advocacy for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, told the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
“The Grand Chamber rightly noted that Christian converts are one of the most persecuted religious minorities in Iran. Moreover, the Islamic regime governing Iran has systematic mechanisms in place to identify all Christian converts – even those practicing in secret,” Clarke added.
Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said: “Asylum should be granted to individuals who are being persecuted and fear for their lives because of converting to a different religion.
“Iran’s anti-conversion laws violate the fundamental human right to be able to choose your own religion and live out your beliefs, which includes the right to change your religion without the government threatening imprisonment or in the case of Iran, death for apostasy,” he told CNA.
In 2009, an Iranian citizen reportedly applied for asylum and a resident permit in Sweden after suffering political persecution. Two years later, the Swedish Migration Office denied his request, which he appealed.
The lower chamber of the court ruled in January 2014 that Sweden’s denial was “justified” because the applicant’s life was reportedly not in jeopardy since Iranian authorities were unaware of his conversion and he could keep his faith private.
The ADF, however, filed a brief on behalf of the Iranian citizen with the European Human Court of Human Rights, arguing that the lower court’s decision “violated his religious freedom” and that converts to Christianity face numerous threats in Iran.
The judgment states: “The applicant’s conversion to Christianity is a criminal offence punishable by death in Iran. In addition to the risk of social persecution as a Christian, the applicant risks criminal prosecution for the crime of apostasy. The order for the applicant’s deportation to Iran, where he could be tried under the above-mentioned criminal and procedural law, equates to a violation of principles deeply enshrined in the universal legal conscience.”
Iran ranked as the ninth worst country for Christian persecution. It considers conversion from Islam a crime punishable by death.
Clarke warned that if a convert to Christianity is identified by the Iranian government, he or she is very likely “to suffer substantial harm, deprivation of liberty, assaults and continual harassment. In the worst case the individual could face severe ill-treatment or death.”
In its 2014 religious freedom report, the U.S. State Department indicated that “Christians, particularly evangelicals, continued to experience disproportionate levels of arrests and high levels of harassment and surveillance.”
The U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran also reported “that authorities held at least 49 Protestant Christians in custody, many for involvement in informal house churches,” according to CNA. /.Christian today
Patriarchs of Antioch remember the two Bishops kidnapped: “We do not have the support of the ‘giants’. Our only hope is in the Lord”
(Agenzia Fides) – Three years since the disappearance of 2 Metropolitan Bishops of Aleppo – Syrian Orthodox Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Boulos Yazigi – the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Yohanna X, remember the story of the two confreres kidnapped near Aleppo on April 22, 2013 in a long and intense message addressed to their “beloved spiritual children”, to the Syrians and to all men.
The case of the two Bishops – says the message kidnapped, sent to Agenzia Fides – is “a miniature of the great human suffering coming from terrorism: massacres, abductions, deracination, takfir, and explosions”. But if the intention of the kidnapping was to spread terror among the baptized, the two Patriarchs warn that the operation failed: “We Christians”, reads the document “are the descendants of those who, two thousand years ago, put on the name of Christ in this particular land. (…). We are no giants, and we do not have the support of the “giants””, but “we preserve our identity as Antiochian Easterners, through whatever difficulties or tribulations”. “In this troubled path – underline the two Patriarchs – we have spared no effort, but our main and only hope is in God”.
The words of the Primates of the two Churches of the East sweep away all the maneuvers of those who seek to exploit the suffering of Christians in the Middle East: “We shall continue to live in this East, ringing our bells, building our churches, and lifting up our Crosses. And the arm that will be extended to these Crosses or bells will be twisted by our Muslim brethren from all our national spectra”, says the long patriarchal text, where it repeats that the followers of Islam “are suffering like us from the bitterness of blind terrorism and takfir”, defined as “a condemned intruder” to our past and present Christian-Muslim relationships. The sufferings of the Eastern Christian are read in the light of salvation promised by Christ: “Despite the horror of the situation and its severity” – write the Patriarchs Mar Aphrem and Boulos – “we throw all this on the way of Golgotha of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cover all the darkness of this age with the light of the Virgin’s eyes, venerated by both Christians and Muslims, whom we implore to bring back to us all kidnapped people, our brother bishops of Aleppo, along with the abducted priests”.
In the document, the two Patriarchs highlight the way in which the lives of Christians in the Middle East are also reported in the global media debate. “We” the message reads “were not a minority, and will never be”. For those “who are keen about the “minorities,” and those who are opening wide the doors to receive the various spectra of Syrians, the two Patriarchs repeat that it is more fitting for them to seek a resolution, saving people from the burden of the perilous sea travel and ship wreckage.
“We appreciate every humanitarian effort of governments or organizations. However, insist the two Patriarchs, we cannot be protected through facilitating the migration of refugees. We are not petitioning for protection. Rather, we are seeking peace”. A peace that “is not founded on the notions of minorities and majorities, but is based on coexistence, citizenship and moderate religious discourse. Peace does not come by enforcing economic blockades and foreign economic sanctions that only hurt the homeless children and the poor people, those people who became cheap commodities for the arms’ market, used according to countries’ interests”.
Returning to the case of the Bishops kidnapped, in the final part of the document, the two Patriarchs thank the international community for the many public expressions of solidarity received, but invite all, starting with “decision-maker countries”, to replace “statements of condemnation and promises” with concrete initiatives that document in facts good intentions.
The two Patriarchs invite all their brothers in faith to also look at their own suffering in the light of the Risen Christ, the one who can “comfort the heart of our children, and establish peace in the land of peace. This land of the East”, said the statement “is bleeding now, but no doubt will rise again. We are the children of the Resurrection, and the Light”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 22/04/2016)
As the operation to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS ramps up, anti-ISIS forces are detailing some of the atrocities committed by the terrorist group.
An official for the Kurdistan Democratic Party told Iranian news agency ABNA ISIS has been forcing women into arranged marriages with ISIS fighters — and executing women who refuse. The official said “at least 250 girls have so far been executed … and sometimes the families of the girls were also executed.”
Mosul fell to ISIS in the summer of 2014. Since then, the group has been taking pains to portray their occupation of the city as benevolent. But ISIS’ reign has been particularly oppressive to women; the group practices sex slavery and requires women to adhere to a strict set of rules.
The push to retake Mosul began last month, and President Obama says he expects the city to be ripe for the retaking by the end of the year.
This video includes clips from Rudaw and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
Two members of a church demolition team in China’s central Henan province buried alive Li Jiangong, a house church leader and his wife Ding Cuimei. On Thursday, April 14th a government-backed company dispatched personnel to bulldoze Beitou Church in Zhumadian, Henan province, after a local developer wished to take control of the church’s valuable property. The couple and stepped in front of the machinery trying to prevent the destruction of their church.
Referring to the couple, a demolition team member was reported by China Aid as saying, “Bury them alive for me,“I will be responsible for their lives” Subsequently, a bulldozer pushed the couple into a pit and covered their bodies with soil. The Li was able to dig his way free, but sadly his wife suffocated by the time she was freed.
Li himself reported that police took an uncommonly long time to arrive at the scene after a report of the murder was filed.
On April 17, a China Aid reporter conducted a phone interview with an officer from the local police station, who stated that two of the demolition team are currently being detained while a criminal investigation team reviews their case. The officer did not reveal the criminal charges against the workers.
Please pray the our brothers and sisters in China.