U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued an impassioned plea for the release of several Americans imprisoned in Iran including American Pastor Saeed Abedini.
His statement focused on the immense hardship faced by Pastor Saeed’s family in his absence.
The Unites States respectfully calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian to their families and work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson and bring him home. . . .
On September 26, Mr. Abedini will have been detained for two years in Iran, on charges related to his religious beliefs. Mrs. Abedini has spoken eloquently about the difficulties her family has faced during this challenging time. . . .
he United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends, and loved ones. We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release . . . Saeed Abedini . . . .
The statement’s tone is a marked difference and a welcomed acknowledgement of the severe difficulty faced by Pastor Saeed’s family. Pastor Saeed – a 34-year-old U.S. citizen – has done nothing wrong; he is imprisoned merely because of his religious beliefs. His wife, Naghmeh, and two young children, Jacob and Rebekka, desperately miss and deserve Saeed back home.
The reality of what Pastor Saeed’s family faces on a daily basis without their loving husband and father was best expressed by Pastor Saeed’s children in a recent video. In the video they pled for President Obama to do more for their father’s freedom and implore Iran’s leaders to let their father come home to them.
We are thankful for the Obama Administration’s renewed focus on Pastor Saeed’s plight. We continue urging the Administration to do all within its power to bring him safely home to his family.
As Secretary Kerry correctly notes, September 26th marks the two-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s wrongful imprisonment in Iran for his Christian faith.
On that day, thousands of people around the world will join together is hundreds of cities worldwide in a global day of prayer for Pastor Saeed and the persecuted Church.
As Pastor Saeed has said, knowing “that in my chains the body of Christ has chained together” in prayer greatly encourages him during his ordeal.
Learn more about a prayer vigil in your city or register to host an event atSaeedVigil.com.
Join over 287,000 people in signing the petition for his freedom atBeHeardProject.com.
As we continue fighting across the globe for Pastor Saeed’s release, please continue to pray and share his story.
Though other parades and protests have been permittted the City of Toronto is saying a parade celebrating Jesus can’t proceed because of construction. Will media coverage change their mind?
TORONTO – Praise Jesus, it looks like the parade is back on.
Sources tell the Toronto Sun that an arrangement has been worked out between organizers of the cancelled Jesus in the City parade and City of Toronto staff.
The group tried to persuade the city to offer another route but, up until Thursday, they were told this was not possible.
Enter Mayor Rob Ford, who told the Sun he wanted the parade back on and called a meeting of all involved. READ MORE
“He was animated” and vocal, McVety said of the mayor. “He made it clear to city staff he wanted to find a solution.”
Before noon Thursday, that solution was worked out.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – A secret Christian of Somali ancestry is still in pain as he recovers from a Muslim extremist attack here that left him in a coma for five days.
Five Somali immigrant Muslims on Aug. 15 threw Mohammed Ali, a 30-year-old convert from Islam, from a fourth-story apartment building in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area, according to a friend. Ali, who lives in another area and is receiving treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital, was helping the friend to move.
“Mohammed left Eastleigh six years ago after escaping an attack,” said his wife, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons. “I had been telling him to be careful of the Muslims at Eastleigh, as they are not happy with his conversion to Christianity.”
Ali and his wife have two daughters, 5 and 3.
Ali and the friend were waiting at the friend’s place in Eastleigh, which has a large population of Somali immigrants, for a vehicle to transport household items in the move. Told to wait until 5 p.m., at that hour they called the driver, who said he was held up in a traffic jam. They continued to wait.
At 9 p.m., they heard a knock on the door. Ali’s friend, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons, went to open it thinking the driver of the transport vehicle had arrived. As he opened the door, one of five men told him, “We are looking for Mohammed,” the friend said.
Ali’s friend told them that it was late and that they should come back to see him early in the morning, but they pushed their way in, pulled Ali out of the room and threw him over a balcony from the fourth-floor apartment building.
His speech and memory impaired, Ali was able to speak with Morning Star News for no more than one minute.
“I just found myself in the hospital bed,” he said. “How I got into the hospital, I do not know.”
A doctor at the hospital said Ali’s bladder was injured. A deep wound to his stomach appeared to indicate he had been slashed with a knife.
Ali said someone may have set him up to be attacked. His wife and others said they believe he was deliberately made to wait at his friend’s place in order to provide a more isolated moment for the assailants to try to kill him.
“My husband left the house and did not come back, and that very day I received a telephone call from the police informing me that Mohammed had been attacked,” his wife said.
The hospital bill has surpassed 100,000 Kenyan shillings (US$1,110), she added.
“I am appealing to well-wishers to help us settle the hospital bill as well as support us at this trying moment,” she said.
Ali, born to Somalis in northern Kenya, has served as a Bible teacher and discipleship mentor for the Somali church in an undisclosed area of Nairobi. He said he became a Christian 15 years ago.
Members of the underground Christian community in Nairobi – most Somalis even in Kenya cannot worship openly before their immigrant countrymen, as leaving Islam is a crime punishable by death in Somalia – said that Ali’s survival was a miracle.
Kenya is 83 percent Christian while only 8 percent are Muslim, according to Operation World.
Bryan McCanless – SC/USA
My dear brother in Jesus,
Please know that I am praying for you that the Lord will heal, help, and deliver you!
Thank you for praying for our brother, Saeed. God bless you, Bryan. We will also keep you in our prayers.
While in prison, Paul asked believers to pray for his ability to proclaim the message of Christ clearly. As we pray for the well-being and immediate release of Pastor Saeed, we must also commit to praying for his witness and and for his persecutors. The purpose of persecution is to extinguish the Light, break us down and remove the Word of God from our hearts. We must pray divine strength to be given to those being persecuted for Christ. To trust and rely on God to remain strong in faith and endure.
Though many times we find it hard to pray for our enemies (persecutors), Christ commanded that we pray for them.
Matthew 5:43-48 (Love for Enemies)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
NEVER STOP PRAYING!
VOP Project Team
Tell Pastor Saeed that we understand, and we will pick up the cross and follow Christ as he has.
Join in this project to let the Abedini’s know how they have inspired or renewed your faith. Each testimony will be a source of encouragement to them and the Body of Christ. When the family is reunited, we will gather the stories to be published in a book and presented to them as an appreciation for their steadfast faith. Together, we will be able to provide a little insight into how God has worked through them to be a blessing to more than they realize. Add your testimony below. If your church has been active in praying for this persecuted family, inform them of this special mission so they too can share their thoughts and be an encouragement.
Be encouraged, view submitted testimonies HERE
Fears have arisen in New Zealand that the Saudi Government is operating covertly and forcibly returning converts from Islam to Christianity back to Saudi Arabia. The full article can be found here: Fears for Saudi christian converts
Quotes from the story:
Two Saudi Arabian asylum seekers at opposite ends of the country have suddenly flown home, and friends are convinced they have been forcibly repatriated because they’d turned their backs on Islam. Tony Wall and Blair Ensor investigate.
Chambers said his client had been so worried about the possibility of being kidnapped and forcibly returned home that he changed his name by deed poll and applied for asylum on religious persecution grounds.
In the Auckland case, it is believed one of the three men who snatched the asylum-seeker was his brother. A source said the other two were travelling on diplomatic passports and were captured on CCTV footage at Auckland airport.
After he disappeared his friends searched his flat in Grafton, central Auckland, and found all his clothes and belongings still there, including credit cards.
If one reads the story in the Christchurch case, the Christian sector who was supporting this brother did not receive the help they expected from the New Zealand Police. The story goes on to say that the NZ police think he went home voluntary despite evidence to the contrary. It does state a NZ official met with him when he landed in Hong Kong to ask if he was returning home voluntarily. His answer was apparently yes, but what is not said is whether he was asked this question in the present of his fellow travelers. If he was asked in their presence then this makes the words given a farce.
Outcome of this happening in New Zealand is that Saudi converts in Christchurch have gone into hiding for fear of the same happening to them. So if you think countries like New Zealand and other Pacific nations are exempt from the actions of extremist Islam nations, you need to think again.
On contacting one of the reporters who investigated the story, I said one the questions he should be asking, is where is the cry from the New Zealand Christian sector. I heard about this case from a sister in the USA as I do not follow a lot of worldly online news agencies—the news they give is not a trustful source at all. Again the Christian sector is silent and the news media hide the report on back pages when something like this should be headline news across all forms of media.
No matter how many words are written or said, whether your country is at the end of the world; no matter if you hide on the highest mountain or in the deepest cave, this evil ideology operating under the name of Islam is seeking to choke the life out of you and bring death upon your country, both physically and spiritually.
The western world and its leaders bow down allowing their evil actions against those who have chosen to follow the Lord Jesus Christ over false doctrines and cries for the blood of everyone who will not follow and accept their teachings.
John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.
There is coming a time when not governments, but ordinary citizens are going to pick up their own swords and go head on into a full battle with people who walk this way. Governments have their hands in the Saudi’s pockets, and the the law enforcement agencies are either overwhelmed or turn a blind eye because they are told to. You are only going to have your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus as you walk through these times described in His Word.
Stand fast, pray in all things, watch and call upon our Father in heaven. Ask for HIS guidance through the Holy Spirit as to where you place the steps of your feet.
By VOP Advocate, New Zealand
Read the full article and learn more of the real fears, even nightmares this man had of being abducted and returned to Saudi Arabia. Pray for this brother and for those who have converted to follow Christ as their Savior. Pray for mercy.
We will keep you informed of any updates in this case.
(Vatican Radio) As awareness and concern about the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq grows, persecuted Christians in India are raising awareness of their own plight.
Monday marks the sixth anniversary of the horrific violence that erupted against Christians in the Kandhamal District in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, formerly known as Orissa. It is reportedly the worst outbreak of anti-Christian violence in post-independence India.
Some 5,000 of these Christians continue to live in slum-like conditions, after losing their homes and belongings six years ago, when fleeing the brutal violence, meted out by mobs, inspired by extremist Hindu nationalists.
By the time the violence had subsided, more than 100 people were killed and 54,000 people were displaced. Hundreds of homes were razed to the ground and 295 churches were destroyed.
On Monday, Christian communities and human rights organisations worldwide observed Kandhamal Day– the anniversary of the August 2008 violence—in an effort to encourage the Indian government to take measures to ensure the attackers are brought to justice and to assure that such violence does not re-occur. READ MORE
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote a FrontPage article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:
Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.
Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:
“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?
The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.
What does one make of this—that under Saddam, who was notorious for human rights abuses, Christians were better off than they are under a democratic government sponsored by humanitarian, some would say “Christian,” America?
Although I first suggested over three years ago that Christian minorities are the first to suffer whenever the U.S. intervenes in Islamic nations—evincing the types of people the U.S. ends up empowering—this notion is now an ironclad fact, with other examples to add to Iraq, including Libya, Syria, and Egypt under Obama allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like a Baghdad caliph, Saddam appears to have made use of the better educated Christians, who posed no risk to his rule, such as his close confidant Tariq Aziz. Moreover, by keeping a tight lid on the Islamists of his nation—who hated him as a secular apostate no less than the Christians—the latter benefited indirectly.
Conversely, by empowering “the people,” the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting Western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that “people-power” will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society—despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Arab/Muslim world, “majority rule” traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect; increasingly, it means Islamist domination.
Either which way, the minorities—notably the indigenous Christians—are the first to suffer once the genie of “people-power” is uncorked. Indeed, evidence indicates that the U.S. backed “democratic” government of Iraq enables and incites the persecution of its Christians. (All of this raises the pivotal question: Do heavy-handed tyrants—Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al—create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order?)
Again, a reminder that it is not just the Islamic State that persecutes Christians, but even the U.S. installed government of Iraq. Moreover, a few months after the above was written, the government of “liberated” Afghanistan destroyed the last Christian church—entirely under U.S. auspices.
Another indicator that empowering Muslim masses equates Christian suffering is the fact that, though Iraqi Christians amount to a mere 5% of the population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq. It is now the same in Egypt: “A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.”
At least Egypt’s problems are homegrown, whereas the persecution of Iraq’s Christians is a direct byproduct of U.S. intervention. More ironic has been Obama’s approach: Justifying U.S. intervention in Libya largely in humanitarian terms, the president recently declared that, while “it is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs… that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.”
Indeed, and we have since seen what Obama’s “humanitarian” actions in Libya have led to—the empowerment of Islamists and jihadis, evinced from things like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the dramatic rise of Christian persecution. Since Obama “liberated” Libya, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. And it’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was hardly the case under Gaddafi.
True, indeed. Yet, as Obama “acts on behalf of what’s right” by providing military protection to the al-Qaeda connected Libyan opposition, Iraq’s indigenous Christians continue to be exterminated—right under the U.S. military’s nose in Iraq. You see, in its ongoing bid to win the much coveted but forever elusive “Muslim-hearts-and-minds™”—which Obama has even tasked NASA with—U.S. leadership has opted to ignore the inhumane treatment of Islam’s “Christian dogs,” the mere mention of which tends to upset Muslims.
And now the job is largely done, as Christians and other religious minorities are being cleansed from large parts of Iraq, not to mention much of the Islamic world.