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Jury orders city to pay woman $19K after religious harassment

lawsuit wonPORTLAND, Ore. – The city of Portland has to fork over more than $19,000 to a city employee and part of it is because of the phrase “God bless you.” Kellymarie Griffin said she was being harassed for being Christian. She sued and won.

In her lawsuit, Griffin said that a co-worker had chided her at one point, saying she prayed to a God who was simply a figment of her imagination. But a federal jury decided the harassment Griffin suffered was all too real.

The drama played out inside the Parks Bureau offices at the Mount Tabor maintenance yard during the past four years. Griffin was transferred here in October 2009 and said her co-worker, Theresa Lareau, almost immediately started harassing her because of her Christian beliefs.

According to the federal lawsuit, Griffin contends Lareau said, “I’m tired of your Christian attitude.”

The lawsuit also contends Lareau added,

“I’m going to file a complaint against you the next time I sneeze and you say ‘bless you.’ You’re just doing it for the attention; you wear it on your sleeve like a badge and I’m sick of it. It offends me.”

There were a series of complaints and meetings involving two separate parks bureau supervisors.

Meanwhile, Lareau filed paperwork of her own, seeking a civil stalking order against Griffin in March of last year. Lareau went through five attorneys before finally representing herself. She never got the stalking order.

A federal jury last week sided with Griffin.

It awarded her just over $5,000 in economic damages and $14,000 in noneconomic damages, deciding her workplace became a hostile work environment based on her religion.

The federal jury also decided Lareau may have thought she was right to file for a stalking order against Griffin, but that Lareau also went way too far in trying to get one over and over and over again.

They also found Lareau wasn’t totally honest with her attorneys in seeking that stalking order.

Source

CAN alleges fresh attacks on Christians in North-East

let-s-pray-nigeria

The Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) on Wednesday raised the alarm over alleged continued killings of Christians in the North by the Boko Haram Islamic sect.

The association, in a communiqué at the end of its Special Meeting in Abuja by its General Secretary, Dr. Musa Asake, expressed worries that despite the state of emergency declared in the North-Eastern part of the country to curtail insurgency, the attacks on Christians had continued unabated.

Giving the chronicles of the new spate of killings, it said suspected Boko Haram members attacked Ngoshe village in Gwoza Local Government area of Borno State on November 3 and killed eight Christians. CAN further alleged that several churches had been burnt since the killings were carried out without any of the attackers being arrested.

The communique reads in part: “On the 3rd of this month at about 8pm, Boko Haram members attacked Ngoshe village in Gwoza local government area of Borno state and killed 8 Christians: Baba Ayuba, Baba Bitrus and Baba Isa Biyabra, the security guard and four others whose names we are yet to get.

“They burnt 11 houses owned by the Christians and three churches: EYN church, Deeper Life Bible church and the Redeemed Christian Church of God. We were informed that when the Christian community sought to meet the state governor on this issue, he said, “He does not have the time to see them until February next year.”

Source

Persecuted Christian’s message to the West and the UNHCR

Pakistan-refugee
Voice of the Persecuted interviews a Pakistani Christian who endured extreme persecution now trying to survive as an asylum seeker in Thailand. 
Asking for a true account of the reality of life for Christians in Pakistan, Sunny Gill, a well-known photo-journalist, explains the cause of extreme persecution against them and why it been a never ending battle. He hopes this interview will serve as a message to Western Christians and nations, as plea to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a dire warning to Pakistani Christians seeking to come to Thailand for asylum.

My name is Pakistani Christian.

Due to serious threats against my life, I was forced to leave Pakistan and move to Thailand. Upon arrival, I put in a request at UNHCR Bangkok for asylum.

In Pakistan, we are considered second class citizens simply because of our Christian religious beliefs. We have always been discriminated against by Muslims. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.

Our story starts when we are born into a Christian family. Often, our parents carefully choose our name in a way which will not become a problem for us in the future. Names such as JOHN, JAMES, THOMAS etc. are easily recognized by Muslims as Christian or Churaa, which means sanitation worker. Due to the unpleasant nature of the job, it is considered a lowly position by Muslims and normally done by minorities, mainly Christians. With a Christian name, the potential for persecution is much greater.

discriminationducksWhen we go to school, our text books teach us that Hindus, Christians, and Jews can not be your brother. There are more than 60 syllabus in Pakistani text books which spread hate in Muslims hearts for a non-Muslim. We are always an easy target for fundamental Muslims.

“If you were to list the ten worst situations in Pakistan, extremism would be #10, but discrimination would be #1!”

Pakistani Christians have always played an important role in fields such as education, medical and others, but still we continually face much discrimination.

It’s very sad that Muslim parents teach their children not to drink water from a Christian or Hindu’s home. Non-Muslims are kafirs (unbelievers, disbelievers, or infidels), so they are considered dirty. It’s not uncommon for them to keep different water glasses for non-Muslims, which I have witnessed. Not all Muslims do such things, there are many  tolerant Muslims in Pakistan who are good people. Often, they have received their education from Christian institutions.

He highlights for us many incidents in Pakistan done by the local people including:

  • In Shanti Nagar on February 6, 1997, thousands of Islamic protesters descended on the village with placards stating: “Kill the Christians because they are blasphemers towards the Holy Quran and Holy Prophet.” 785 houses were destroyed, four churches were burned, and 2,500 Christians forced to flee.

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  • The 2009 Gojra riots were a series of attacks targeting Christians in Gojra, a town in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Forty houses and a Church were set ablaze by a mob on August 1st.  Most of the houses were burnt by young males who had their faces covered with veils. This resulted in the deaths of eight Christians, including four women and a child. The victims were all burnt alive. 18 others were injured. Televised footage showed burning houses and streets strewn with blackened furniture and people firing at each other from their rooftops.

Pakistan-Christian-woman

  • And on March 9th, 2013 a charged Muslim mob of over 3,000 common people attacked a Christian community in Lahore. They were not thugs or gang members, but local paperboys, store owners, family men –among their other identity: Muslim radicals. They attacked over 100 (according to some reports well over 150) homes destroying the entire community. An event that could well be seen by the international community as a genocidal attempt to eliminate Christianity from Pakistan.

Pakistani politicians have oftentimes blamed events on groups such as Mossad, or the CIA. They easily point fingers at others, because it’s very difficult to accept your own mistakes.

Why are school books giving the wrong impressions and spreading hatred? Why are schools telling them that Shia, Christians and others are kafir?
I received my education in a Christian school. Our teachers never taught us anything against Islam. Maybe they didn’t speak against it out of fear, but our religion is not one of hatred towards those of different beliefs. It is one of tolerance towards others.

Among countries with a Muslim majority, Pakistan has the strictest anti-blasphemy laws. The first purpose of those laws is to protect Islamic authority. By the constitution (Article 2), Islam is the state religion. Critics complain that Pakistan’s blasphemy law “is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas,” but calls for change in the blasphemy laws have been strongly resisted by Islamic parties. source

Christian parents in Pakistan realize the extreme danger of the blasphemy law, which the penalty is often death. Christian children are taught from a very young age to not speak against Islam.

All Christians, in fact all minorities, in Pakistan have a fear of the blasphemy law, which is very easy for Muslims to impose on them as revenge for any reason such as personal vendettas.

The Blasphemy law is often misused in Pakistan. Numerous disputes have resulted in a false blasphemy charge against a minority. Pakistan-persecuted

Many have lost their lives because of this law. A large number are tortured and killed in police custody when arrested for a blasphemy charge. The police will then report they have committed suicide. Many are killed outside the courts when extremists wait for those exonerated to leave. They assassinate them in broad daylight, some even on the court house grounds.

Last year, the case of Rimsha Masih displayed all that is wrong with Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law. Rimsha, believed to have been between 11 and 13 years old, comes from an impoverished Christian family living near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. She suffers from Down Syndrome. Rimsha was accused of burning pages with Quranic [Koranic] passages. Police took her into custody on August 17, 2013. The entire Christian community was reportedly assaulted by an enraged mob who demanded that police turn her over to be killed.

Threats against the Christian community were also made. Almost 400 families were forced to flee to other parts of the capital. Later, a Muslim cleric with a known distaste for Christians was arrested for framing the girl to cause problems for the local Christians. Though he was arrested,  he was never formally indicted. The witnesses withdrew and he was acquitted for lack of evidence. The girl’s own family had to go into hiding. After the charges against her were dropped, continued threats forced Rimsha and her family to leave Pakistan. They now reside in Canada and have been granted asylum.

Once an individual is accused of blasphemy, the stain never goes away. Unfortunately even if the accused is found not guilty, the risk of being killed by a radical is still a very grave threat.

Pakistan-blaphemy-protests

All Christians whether educated, or uneducated are at risk of becoming victims of the blasphemy law. Those who speak against the injustice of Christians become targets of persecution. Lawyers, politicians, journalists and activists who highlight the human rights abuses of persecuted Christians will face serious threats to their life, many are killed.

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Salmaan Taseer

Salman Taseer served as Governor of Punjab from 2008 until his assassination in early 2011. He was an outspoken critic of the Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He also called for the pardon and release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy. On January 4 2011, Taseer was shot 27 times by his own guard, Mumtaz Qadri, who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Afterwards, Muslims who considered him a hero began to call Qadari, ‘GHAZI’.

“Ghazi” is a title of honor for a Muslim who slaughters a non-Muslim for the cause of Islam. After the murder, more than 500 clerics voiced support for the crime. Qadari’s supporters tried blocking police attempting to bring him to the Anti-Terrorism Court, some even showered Qadari with rose petals.

October 1, 2011, Qadri was sentenced to death by a Pakistani Anti Terrorist court at Islamabad for murdering Taseer. Qadri was executed on  February 29, 2016. His home became a shrine to ‘the faithful’, and thousands of supporters have marched in the streets, praising him as a heroic defender of Islam.

Video added as an article update

Asia Noreen Bibi, is a Christian mother of five who was charged with blasphemy in 2009. Her crime? After picking berries in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, Asia went to the well to get water for herself and Her Muslim co-workers. She drank some of the water then dipped the cup again to refill it. Seeing this, a Muslim women blamed her, as a Christian, for defiling the well causing it to become unclean and unfit for them to drink or touch. Asia said some heated words were exchanged, after which two of the Muslim women fabricated the blasphemy case against her. It is also claimed a few days later she was taken, beaten, forced to admit, ask for forgiveness then convert to Islam, she refused to convert. Bibi was then arrested, charged, and sentenced to death by hanging.

Bibi maintains her innocence stating she had great respect and honor for the Muslim Prophet and the Quran, but and never made the alleged blasphemous remarks. Her case has drawn international criticism and her death sentence has so far not been carried out. A Pakistani mullah has advertised a $10,000 reward for anyone who kills her. She remains in prison under solitary confinement and required to prepare her own food, both for security reasons. While this case has drawn widespread attention, it’s not an unfamiliar tale.

Shahbaz Bhatti

Gill also recalled, Shabaz Bhatti who was a Pakistani politician and elected member of the National Assembly. He was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his assassination on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad. Bhatti, a Roman Catholic was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the Cabinet. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for his killing and called him a blasphemer of Muhammad.

“And there are hundreds of other examples.”

I became a victim of religious persecution which forced me to leave my family, job and homeland. He shared life is difficult in Thailand where he and his wife have applied for asylum. “Fear of immigration and the police is always on our head. Though Thailand kindly invited the UN to open its office here, they are not involved with the government of Thailand’s laws.” Thai authorities basically view them as ‘illegal immigrants’.

We are thankful to the Thailand government who issues us visas and grants entrance in their nation. However, we need a place to live until we are resettled by the UNHCR. As a humble request to them, I ask:

“Please ask your agencies to deal politely with the asylum seeker and refugees. We have already been through so many horrific trials. We are away from our families and burdened by great emotional distress.

His warning to Pakistani Christians seeking asylum

“Do not come to Bangkok! It’s not easy here to live and it’s very expensive. It’s also very sad to tell you that there are those claiming to be agents making false papers and selling them to innocent Christians. They will tell you that these false documents will help you in your case to the UNHCR. There are many agents in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi etc., don’t trust anyone! Please, listen! They will be putting you through hell!

Pakistani FIA is also taking lots of money from Christians who are coming to Bangkok. They are asking for a large amount of bribe from Christians. They say, “We know you going for asylum.” Pakistani Christians are giving it to them, or they don’t allow them to go from immigration check to the airplane. Please be warned!

A humble request to the UNHCR

christians-in-pakistan-unhcrPlease provide ‘asylum seeker papers’ to all those seeking asylum nearer to their arrival in the country. Waiting a year for an interview after the six month wait for the paperwork is unbearably long. We are under continued fear of deportation. We don’t have job’s, we don’t haves visa’s, we don’t have enough money to eat even a good meal. I have even had to eliminate a meal each day. We can barely afford to eat twice a day due to financial problems. We appreciate and are grateful for the chance to be rescued from the terrorizing abuse in our nation. Please consider our plight to survive, now that we’ve come this far.

We are converted Christians. Our forefather were Hindus, Sikh, ect. Missionaries from Europe converted us. Now we are true believers in Jesus. Pakistani Christians don’t want to convert to Islam to save ourselves. We would give our life before denying JESUS without any doubts.

UPDATE July 2015:

The UNHCR Thailand office has postponed this persecuted Christian’s asylum interview date another 12 months. They’re money has run out and to get by, they are forced to ask others for support. They, like the many others in Thailand are desperate. Unable to legally work without asylum, threats of being arrested and thrown into detention centers has brought great stress and anxiety upon them. Many face extreme depression with the sense of complete loss of dignity.

Pakistan-Christiancross

PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS NEED YOUR PRAYERS! And pressure must be put on Pakistan to protect all of it’s citizens, regardless of stature, ethnicity, or religion.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech should be a basic human right upheld in all nations. Americans can help by contacting their Senators and Congressmen about the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Ask that future aid and other relations with Pakistan ought to be curtailed in the light of Pakistan’s steadfast refusal to accord Christians and other religious minorities basic human rights. Pakistan ought not receive any but the most urgent humanitarian aid until these totalitarian laws are repealed.
And please remember to pray for our brother in Thailand, as he desperately waits for asylum to be granted!

By Lois Kanalos

UPDATE: Sunny has been granted refugee status from the UNHCR. He and his family are still at risk of being detained by the Thai authorities and sent to the IDC as they do not recognize his UNHCR status. Please pray for them and for a timely resettlement to start a new life living freely in a different country.

This interview may be shared, or reprinted with credit to Voice of the Persecuted

Voice of the Persecuted is helping to relieve Pakistani Christians in Thailand. We cannot continue the work without your generous support. Help us reach life saving goals by joining us in the mission for persecuted Pakistani Christians.

If you would like your gift to be used specifically for those suffering in Thailand, please add Pakistani Christians in Thailand to the note section on the donation page.

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!

 

For Indian Christian Leader, Narendra Modi Is A Threat To Religious Freedom

Narendra Modi

This is the conclusion reached by Sajan George, president of Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) following certain statements made by Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who said that that he likes Karnataka’s “saffron wave”. Saffron is the colour of radical Hindus, and the state has one of the worst records in terms of the persecution of religious minorities.

Mumbai ( AsiaNews) – If Narendra Modi comes to power “religious freedom in India will be in danger,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians ( GCIC ) as he spoke to AsiaNews about the latest statements made by Gujarat’s chief minister, who is also the prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“I can see saffron waves rising from across the region. It is a delightful sight,” Modi said at a rally in Bangalore (Karnataka) yesterday. He was referring to supporters of Hindutva (Hindu fundamentalist ideology), whose symbol is the colour ‘Saffron’ (orange). In Karnataka, they have often attacked members of ethnic and religious minorities.

Narendra Modi is a former militant with the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS), one of India’s most active and violent radical Hindu organizations.

The BJP, which is known for its open support to groups such as the RSS, as well as for backing a state that is “100 per cent Hindu“, picked him as candidate for the post of prime minister, ahead of next year’s general elections.

Modi is very popular among BJP supporters. He is appreciated for making Gujarat one of the richest states in the country. In turn, he has often stressed the need to give back a “Hindu identity” to India.

At the same time however, he has not been spared criticism (even by some of his fellow party members); in particular, for his ambiguous role in the 2002 violence between Hindus and Muslims, which has been blamed on him.

For Sajan George, “these comments are an alarm bell”. The rise of anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka confirms the resurgence of Hindu nationalism in the country. India is a secular country, not one based on Hindutva.”

The persecution against religious minorities in Karnataka is among the worst in India, especially after five years of BJP government.

Last 5 May, the Congress (which is in power at the federal level) won state elections by a wide margin.

“The BJP lost control of the state but made ​​up for the defeat with more attacks,” the GCIC president told AsiaNews.

According to GCIC data, “in the last three years there have been 150 incidents against minorities: 49 cases of violence and hostility against Christians in 2011; 41 incidents in 2012. Since the start of 2013, we have had more than 40 cases.”

“These figures refer only to destroyed churches and to believers who have been attacked or imprisoned,” Sajan George noted. “If we take into account every episode of intimidation, persecution, insult or temporary detention, the numbers would be much higher.”

by Nirmala Carvalho for AsiaNewsit.

Christians Are Not ‘Extremists’ – Sign the Petition

military-soldier-Bible

Under President Obama and Secretary of Defense Hagel, the military is increasingly hostile to Christians.

Mandatory briefings warn soldiers against joining evangelical groups.

The Pentagon consults with a known anti-Christian bigot.

Soldiers are told not to give money to conservative organizations.

Enough is enough. Sign the petition to stop this anti-Christian propaganda.

Recently, VOP was at a church taking SAVE SAEED pictures of church members. One member did not allow us to take his picture, because he is in the military. He is very concerned for Pastor Saeed and was disappointed he could not take part in the campaign! Pray for Christians in the military!

President Obama and Secretary of Defense Hagel,

It is unconstitutional to single out Christianity as “extreme” and warn our nation’s soldiers away from evangelical or conservative groups. Anti-Christian bigotry has no place in our Armed Forces. Defend religious liberty in the military.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Sri Lanka-Christians attacked by Buddhists

Buddhist-fight

Church services disrupted= Golathwaye Church Galmuruwa (Puttalam District)
13th October 2013- At approximately 09.45a.m. while the Sunday worship service was in progress, 2 Buddhist monks together with another youth from the village forcibly entered the premises where the worship service was being held. The Buddhist monks together with the youth shouted “Christianity is a western religion, stop all prayer meetings”. The Buddhist monk threatened the pastor and the congregation of serious consequences which they will face in the event the worship service activities are not stopped with immediate effect.

14th October 2013- A police officer visited the pastor’s premises and informed him to meet the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the area police station. The OIC informed the pastor that a police complaint has been lodged against him claiming that Buddhist statues have been desecrated by him in the village. The pastor denied the false accusations which were lodged against him and explained that he has not done any act of that nature. The OIC informed the pastor that an investigation will be conducted looking into the complaint filed and instructed the pastor to stop all worship service activities. However, the pastor explained to the OIC his Fundamental Rights to practice and observe his belief.

Villagers complain against the Church Church of Glory Kegalle (Kegalle District)
11th October 2013 A complaint against the pastor was made by a neighboring villager to the Municipal Council stating that an unauthorized church had been founded in the village. The mayor informed the pastor that he would be visiting his premises and to ensure that the church is closed down.

Pastors premises attacked Gospel Power Mission Church Kandalama (Matale District)

6th October 2013- At approximately 10:45pm, once the pastor and his family had fallen asleep, an unidentified group of persons began to pelt stones at the pastors’ residence. Some of the stones caused damage to the glass windows of the premises.
A police complaint was lodged, holding complaint number 61/88/CID 2.

4th November 2013- At approximately 10:45pm, a group of unidentified persons began to attack the pastors’ premises by pelting stones at his house. The attack continued until 11.30pm, the police officers were informed, upon their arrival the attack ceased. The pastor was informed to lodge a police complaint. Once the police officers left the premises, around 1:15am, the attackers once again began to pelt stones at the premises which continued until 1.30am. A police complaint was lodged, holding number CID 1-149/71. The pastor has an ongoing case filed in the Magistrate Courts claiming his church as an unauthorized place of worship. Fearing further attacks, the pastor is holding prayer meetings in various different locations. A congregation of 127 members attend the church.

Buddhist monks and villagers degraded a Christian member at a meeting Four Square Church Sevanagala (Monaragala District)
12th October 2013- A meeting was organized by the village Buddhist monks together with the villagers of Sevanagala. The Christian member was informed to be present at the Buddhist temple in the village. Upon the pastors arrival, around 20 villagers together with the Buddhist monks who were gathered together began to use derogatory language against the Christian member. The villagers shouted “Don’t bring Christianity to this village” and “This is a Buddhist village; you have no right to be here; you don’t belong here”. The Christian member left the meeting stating his right to belief, explaining that he has caused no harm to the village.

14th October 2013- Offence of arson committed against Christian member by unidentified group
At approximately 2 a.m., the Christian member and his family were awakened by a fire; their tractor had been set on fire by an unidentified group of persons. This tractor being the only source of the members livelihood, they attempted in vain to save the vehicle. However, it was completely damaged by the fire. The police authorities were immediately informed of this incident. Whilst inspecting the premises, the police officers found a petrol can and traces of petrol within the premises. They further noted that an attempt had also been made to burn down the house with the Christian family inside. A police complaint was lodged following which the police officers warned the villagers and spoke against this offence. However, no arrests have been made to date with regard to this offence.

Buddhist monks threaten a Christian member to stop prayer meetings Anuradhapura (Anuradhapura District)
30th September 2013- At approximately 10 a.m., a mob led by 15 Buddhist monks and 15 other villagers forcibly entered a Christian members premises. The mob began shouting threats stating “We will demolish this house if you don’t stop conducting prayer meetings”. The mob gave an ultimatum to the Christian member to stop prayer meetings conducted in the premises within 3 days, declaring that they would destroy the premises if the prayer meetings continued.

1st October 2013- By phone, police requested the Christian member to be present at the police station for an inquiry at 9.30 a.m. However, shortly after the call, a police vehicle arrived at the Christian’s premises and without prior notice instructed her to come with them to the police station. At the police station, 7 Buddhist monks together with some other villagers were also gathered. The police officer instructed her to stop all prayer meetings conducted at her premises. The police officer further threatened her of arrest under the Emergency Regulations in the event more than 5 people gather at her premises. The Emergency Regulations were only in force in Sri Lanka during the time of the ethnic war and it was used against possible terrorist suspects.
The police officer together with the Buddhist monks forced the Christian to sign a document which stated that she will discontinue all prayer meetings held in her premises with immediate effect.

Lanka News Web

Pastor Saeed Alive! Now Being Held in Deadly Iranian Prison- Iranian Family Allowed Visitation

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For the first time since he was abruptly transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison earlier this month, American Pastor Saeed Abedini was allowed visitation with his Iranian family.

This is a positive sign that international pressure continues to work to keep Pastor Saeed alive. Pastor Saeed’s Iranian family has, for the past two weeks since his transfer, been prevented from visiting him – something they had previously been permitted to do once a week during his imprisonment in Evin Prison.

It is also the first physical confirmation of Pastor Saeed’s condition and life since his transfer to the brutal prison.

Pastor Saeed remains in the violent criminal ward – Ward 3 – of Rajai Shahr, sharing a 3 meter by 3 meter cell with other prisoners. This particular ward of the deadly prison holds some of the worst criminals in Iran – murderers and rapists.

International human rights organizations have reported that prisoner on prisoner violence, including murder, is routine at Rajai Shahr Prison.

Pastor Saeed’s situation remains dire. However, we are encouraged that his Iranian family was allowed visitation – and that his Iranian family was able to see him face-to-face and communicate with him. Pastor Saeed, however, has yet to receive the medication he has been prescribed for internal injuries suffered at the hands of his captors.

We believe that prayer and strong international pressure – the outcry of hundreds of thousands of people around the world – are keeping Pastor Saeed alive.

Last week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the release of this U.S. citizen and key members of the European Parliament wrote a letter raising Pastor Saeed’s case.

A similar resolution is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has announced that it will take up the resolution (H. Res. 147) this Wednesday. These statements, resolutions, and letters from U.S. and international government leaders are key to Pastor Saeed’s case.

We must not allow him to be forgotten. We must not allow him to disappear.

We continue to urge President Obama – who has previously directly spoken out about Pastor Saeed’s case – and the U.S. State Department to reengage this issue at the highest levels. As international negotiations continue with Iran regarding its nuclear program, Pastor Saeed’s freedom must be a chief concern. Human rights and specifically religious freedom – the first freedom – is a critical step forward for any nation on the world stage.

The time is NOW for Iran to release Pastor Saeed.

Add your name to the hundreds of thousands calling for Pastor Saeed’s release at BeHeardProject.com.

ACLJ

The Church at Large Has a Responsibility to Pastor Saeed

HAYNES-BILL

Bill Haynes, Sr. Pastor at Grace Baptist Church

It is far too easy for American Christians to hear of the imprisonment and brutal treatment of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran and just be complacent about it.  After all, we are not being imprisoned for our faith, and shouldn’t Pastor Saeed have known that Iran is a dangerous place to begin with?

Attitudes like that will betray a brand of “Christianity” that is shaped more by lifestyle than by worldview, more by culture than by God’s Word.

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us, Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (13:3). Our thoughts and prayers are to be with our brothers and sisters suffering in prison for their faith as if we were right there beside them. Why? Because we are a part of the same body, the Body of Christ. And the Apostle Paul makes it clear that when one part of the body hurts it effects the entire body, even if halfway around the earth (1 Corinthians 12:26).

When Peter was imprisoned in the early days of the church, Luke tells us, So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” (Acts 12:5). Peter was imprisoned for the single fact that he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was sharing good news that would change the hearts and lives of men and women if they would believe.  But that was seen as a threat to the “security” of the existing authorities, both religious and civil.

The church did not merely go into a helpless mode when Peter was kept in prison, but rather they became very active in prayer. Luke says the church fervently prayed to God” on Peter’s behalf. The church believed that they served a God who is greater than Herod and that their God could deliver Peter if He so willed.

That is the call and challenge to the church in the United States and around the world today. We must be in “fervent” prayer on behalf of Pastor Saeed. He is a part of our body. He is our brother in Christ, and if he is hurting then the whole body is to hurt with him and hold him up to our Heavenly Father.

Pastor Saeed was working with orphans in Iran. Granted this work was because he is a follower of Jesus and seeking to obey Him, but it was also for the good of the Iranian people, not to undercut them in any way. It is somewhat ironic that the charges against him are for “attempting to undermine the national security of Iran by gathering with fellow Christians in private homes.

There are several things that we need to be praying for in this situation.

  1. Pray that God will bring about the release of Pastor Saeed. Whether he does this in the miraculous way He did with Peter in Acts 12, or through the efforts of the ACLJ and diplomatic channels, is not the issue. But we have to realize that God’s ways are not our ways and His are always best and right! As Paul says, “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.” (Romans 11:33).
  2. Pray that, while imprisoned, Pastor Saeed will bring glory to God through his suffering. The Bible teaches us that we are to seek God’s glory in every place we find ourselves. In extraordinary circumstances like this but also in everyday, even mundane, things like eating and drinking (1st  Corinthians 10:31)
  3. Pray that God will use Pastor Saeed’s circumstances to see many come to know Jesus Christ as Lord.  Paul saw this happen while imprisoned in Rome. Paul tells the church at Philippi that “ Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,” (Philippians 1:12-13)  God uses situations that we see as negative to spread the gospel.

So perhaps God is going to use this horrible situation for the Abedini family to awaken the church in America to the real persecution and attacks that exist against Christianity in other parts of the world.  Perhaps God is wanting to wake us from our slumber, our comfort, and be challenged to intercede and be involved with other parts of our “body” in very different and very dangerous parts of the world.

God was not caught off guard by Pastor Saeed’s circumstances; and God is not helpless to use these for Saeed’s good and for the good of the church, and for His own glory.

May we Christians be sensitive to all that God is doing, and may we be obedient to His call to strengthen the body of Christ, the church, to face the spiritual warfare that is very real in our world. And may we stand in His grace, His truth, and wear the spiritual armor that Paul spoke about in Ephesians 6:10-20.
Let’s do battle in prayer for Pastor Saeed and the Abedini family and for God’s church around the world.

This article was written by Bill Haynes, Sr. Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Somerset KY.

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