As world leaders come together to take on the brutality of ISIS, thousands of Christians are fleeing from their homes to nearby countries.
Baylor University hosted a panel discussion on “The Crisis Facing Churches in Iraq and Syria.”
Three professors with close ties to the area talked about their personal experiences and described ISIS’ persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.
Just last month, ISIS captured hundreds of Yazidis and Christians alike and offered them a choice, either convert to Islam or face death.
These kinds of acts are forcing thousands of Christians to seek refuge in nearby countries, like Turkey.
One of the speakers, Ph.D. Abdul Saadi described what he’s been told it’s like to be a Christian in the area.
“Our very existence as an ethnic group in Iraq, which we have been there for the last 7,000 years, we were eradicated; we were kicked out in less than seven hours.”
Saadi went on to say that dealing with ISIS isn’t just a Middle East problem, it’s a global issue.
“It is a problem and a crisis for everybody, not only the Christians in the Middle East, but the Muslims in the Middle East, most of the Muslims in the Middle East, it’s a crisis against the whole entire world.”
Saadi says ISIS should not be dismissed as radical, terrorist group because they are proud to be that.
Each of the speakers emphasized that one way Americans can help is to keep Christians in the Middle East in their prayers and to be a voice for the thousands of Christians who don’t have one.
(Morning Star News) – Ethnic Fulani gunmen shouting the jihadist chant “Allahu Akbar” attacked three villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state this month, burning down a church building and killing at least 10 Christians, sources said.
Heavily-armed Fulani Muslim extremists on Sept. 14 attacked the Bokkos area, shooting five members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in their homes in Mbar and burning down 15 houses and an Assemblies of God church building, said the Rev. Manasseh Duwong of the COCIN congregation in Mbar.
“They were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar [God is greater]’ and also saying, ‘We must wipe out these infidel Christians today,’” Duwong told Morning Star News in Mbar.
Duwong identified those killed in Mbar as, “Gideon Mutang Kidum, Ladi Mafulul and two of her children, and a deaf woman by the name of Urawal.” Another church member, identified only as Rabo, was killed in nearby Mandar, he added.
Also killed in Mbar was a driver passing through the town at the time of the attack, Duwong said. The assailants also burned his vehicle. His name was not immediately available, but Duwong and two other area pastors believe he also was a Christian.
The pastor told Morning Star News that Muslim Fulani gunmen also killed two members of his church in Mbar on Sept. 7, and two more Christians the next night.
In nearby Gong village, four houses were burned.
The Rev. Moses Kungyep, secretary of the area Regional Church Council, and the Rev. Sunday Gwom of the COCIN church in Matol, confirmed the attacks. They told Morning Star News that unless the Nigerian government is able to find ways of curtailing attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, more Christian communities will be displaced.
“We appeal to the federal government to take measures to check these attacks, because our church members, whose major occupation is in farming and agricultural production, are dying of hunger, as they are not able to go to their farms because they are being attacked on their farms too by these Muslim gunmen,” Kungyep said.
Gwom said efforts by Christian leaders to reach security agencies during the assaults were futile as soldiers were unable to reach the attack sites.
“The soldiers complain of lack of equipment they need to repel these marauding Muslim Fulani gunmen who have been attacking our church members,” Gwom said. “Please, we appeal that the Nigerian government should do something about this.”
On Aug. 11 in Yelwa, where Muslim Fulani cattlemen have largely replaced Christian ethnicities over the years by means of slash-and-shoot attacks, a throng of heavily armed herdsmen attacked the remnant Christian community in the early hours, killing 14 Christians, sources said.
Yelwa is part of the Shendam Local Government Area in the southern part of Plateau state. On the same morning in Zarazong, in the Jos East Local Government Area, a group of gunmen killed two other Christians, and between the two villages 15 homes were burned down, sources said.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. Those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.
Fulani herdsmen have long attacked settled Christian farmers in Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Taraba and Adamawa states, but in the past year analysts have begun to see some ties between the assailants and Islamic extremist groups keen to exploit longstanding ethnic, property and religious conflicts.
While Muslim Fulani have historically had property disputes with Christian farmers, Christian leaders say attacks on Christian communities by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to jihadist” in Nigeria.
VOP Note: Remember Nigeria and the faithful in your prayers. Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate their suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Thank you for your support!
U.S. Prayer Conference Call Joins Prayer Vigil For Pastor Saeed Abedini on Sept. 26th.
Persecution Watch, a national prayer conference call who pray specifically for the persecuted Church—will join global prayer vigils being held for Pastor Saeed Abedini on the night of September 26th.
For the past 5 years, Blaine Scogin has led this national network of believers faithfully praying for the persecuted Church and the global harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God. The group normally meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 8pm CST. But dedicated in their prayers for our persecuted brothers and sisters, these prayer warriors have been known to meet every night for months at a time—lifting them up as the Lord leads. Often, they host callers from nations other than the United States. And on occasion, they pray with and serve the persecuted by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.
Persecution Watch is inviting all who cannot leave their homes, or do not live within…
View original post 121 more words
Today’s reading: Jeremiah 35-37.
“I’ve been faithful to keep God’s word and obey his commands. How did I end up in prison?”
I don’t know if Jeremiah ever said anything like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought it. Then again, he may have been wise and realistic enough to know ahead of time that prison was a likely outcome of voicing God’s judgment on Jerusalem. You and I don’t expect to be jailed for our faith, but in many parts of the world that is a common result. It became a repeated result for Jeremiah. One of the occasions happened during the reign of King Zedekiah. Jerusalem had been under siege by Babylon for some time, but Egypt began to threaten and the Babylonians left Jerusalem to face the Egyptians. During this interlude of peace, Jeremiah decided to visit his home town.
Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there. But when he reached the Benjamin Gate, the captain of the guard, whose name was Irijah son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, arrested him and said, “You are deserting to the Babylonians!” “That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison. Jeremiah was put into a vaulted cell in a dungeon, where he remained a long time. Jeremiah 37: 12-16
Look at the injustices Jeremiah suffered and notice how little things have changed today.
- Jeremiah was jailed on false charges.
- He was jailed because his captors were angry at him for speaking God’s judgment.
- He was physically abused.
- He was kept in prison a long time, presumably without trial.
All of this happened despite, or perhaps even because of, Jeremiah’s faithful proclamation of God’s word. And Jeremiah lived in a nation that professed belief in Jehovah! We should not be surprised at the abuse Christians are suffering around the world. Jesus warned it would happen. We may experience it in the United States before too much more time passes.
There is one prisoner for the faith I want to lift up before you today. His name is Saeed Abedini. He is Iranian-born, but also an American citizen, and he has been imprisoned in Iran for his work in expanding the Christian church there. This Friday, September 26, marks the second anniversary of his imprisonment. His wife has led an effort to hold prayer vigils across the U.S. and around the world, in support of Saeed, this Friday. Would you make an effort to find one near you and join in prayer for Saeed and all persecuted Christians? You can find a list of the prayer sites at this link.
“If you live in such a manner as to stand the test of the last judgment, you can depend upon it that the world will not speak well of you.” Alistair Begg
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. I Peter 4:12-14
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
By Bob Dellinger at BIBLE IN A YEAR
About the ONE-YEAR BIBLE PROJECT and it’s Author
Bob Dellinger is reading through the Bible in a year and posting daily reflections on what seems most compelling to him in that day’s reading. He started with Genesis and plans to reach Revelation at year’s end in 2014.
He says that he’s already learned important lessons. Reading straight through the Bible shows clearly how God’s interactions with men change from the occasional visit with a man like Abraham to the daily presence in the tabernacle among the children of Israel. How the practices of the Old Testament law prepared the way for the new covenant of grace in Jesus Christ. And a number of difficult passages that we often overlook when we pick and choose what to study.
He tells us. “It’s possible that this will stretch out to more than a year depending on my speed of distilling thoughts into a worthwhile post. I appreciate your comments about my postings.
Bob Dellinger is a disciple of Jesus Christ, Southern Baptist, family physician, living and practicing in North Carolina.
To learn more and follow the plan Bob’s reading visit the site here
(AsiaNews) For the first time in history, Iraqi Christians who always had a “high standard of education” in the region, are being deprived of the right to study and cannot attend schools. This represents a further threat to the survival of the minority, not only in Iraq but throughout the Middle East, because there is not the risk that an entire generation “will not be educated”, which is a “very bad sign”. The warning comes from Msgr. Shimoun Emil Nona, Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, in the north, the second most important city in the country and first city to fall into the hands of the militia of the Islamic State.
Interviewed by AsiaNews, the prelate confirms that “currently children from many of the refugee families” as well as “children who live in Christian areas” cannot start the school year. “There are about 700 schools scattered between Erbil, Ankawa and Zakkho – he explains – but they are hosting displaced people and are full. In other non-Christian areas the lessons have begun, but not here”. Moreover in the areas occupied by the Islamic Caliphate the curriculum has been changed to promote Islam and the Koran.
Msgr. Nona was the first to raise the alarm of the danger posed by the advance of the Islamists after the conquest of Mosul, where about 500 thousand people – Muslims and Christians – fled in early June to avoid being forced to convert to Islam. It was also where the militants founded their caliphate and imposed sharia. In cities and in areas on the Nineveh plain that are under the control of the Islamic State schools have reopened. However, under the instruction of their leader the curriculum has changed to ban history, geography and literature; students must study Arabic and the Muslim religion and are forbidden to speak of the Republic of Iraq or Syria, only of the Caliphate.
An Mosul elementary school teacher of mathematics and Arabic states that “we are in 2014, but it seems have regressed 14 centuries.” 95% of the 2,450 schools in the area – Mosul and Nineveh Plain – are in the hands of the Islamists, who have forbidden mixed classes and have closed the Faculty of Law, because “conventional law is no longer in force.” Rigid rules, imposed by force, are increasingly arousing the impatience of the local population. If at first people saw them as liberators from a central government (under former Shiite Prime Minister al-Maliki) regarded as the oppressor, today 98% of the people – as reported by an academic in Mosul – “would like to see them gone as soon as possible” .
The archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee Ankawa, in Iraqi Kurdistan, cannot confirm this radical change of attitude towards the Islamic state and the distortion of the curriculum at the hands of the militia. He admits however, to “having heard similar rumors”, and there is a good chance that “they are true.” There are still some Christians in the city, but “very few” who live “isolated” and “in danger” because “anything could happen to them”.
Christians arrested at a prayer meeting in Saudi Arabia is the continuing persecution of those that follow Christ Jesus worldwide, but especially in Muslim countries right across the middle east.
These countries and people are doing everything in their power to stop the advance of the message of the kingdom of God. And the salvation through our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. They understand completely that when people are set free, they are free indeed. They do everything in their carnal being to try and stamp out the Good News being preached.
We see the same in the Gospels where no matter how many miracles were done, or what Jesus spoke directly to the religious sects of the day, they sought to put him to death. The only reason they did this was to protect their own positions, kingdoms and power that they had over the people of that time.
Saudi Arabia’s continued persecution of those following in “the way” of Jesus of Nazareth is for the exact same reason. Anyone who does not follow their ideology, or preaches the “truth of all things”, do not worship their God—which Christians believe to be false become a danger to their kingdom and to their hold on power, therefore they will persecute them even unto death.
We are seeing the worst of this behavior coming out of the Middle East, but those who live in countries ruled by a thing called democracy, persecution of those walking in the steps of Christ Jesus are starting to rear its head in many forms.
A few examples include not allowing you to speak about your faith in your workplace, forbidden to bless people publicly, or told you do not have a right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at work. All of which are the thin edge of the wedge to further persecution and possible imprisonment and in some cases physical death of the Lord’s followers in western governed countries.
Recently in New Zealand, we saw Saudi agents allegedly involved in covert operations whereas they forcibly repatriated three converts from the Muslim faith to Christianity back to Saudi Arabia.
This story should be making headlines in New Zealand, but it has been carefully controlled so that it does not interfere with the countries elections today, 20th September 2014.
It is a story I will follow up after the election and will continue to do so until someone has the courage and fortitude to seek the truth in these circumstances— a country like Saudi Arabia thinking it can freely persecute Saudi converts to Christianity within another countries sovereign borders such as New Zealand.
Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in these lands to ask the Lord to strengthen them for the trials they are to face and to intervene personally in all their lives, so their persecutors see we serve a living God who is coming back for His people and to bring in His Kingdom upon this earth.
VOP note: For those who argue that Christians in the West are not persecuted, we have been told by those in areas of severe persecution that we are seeing the beginning of what may lead to the same they are suffering today. They pray for us and tell us to stay alert. By no means are we diminishing the suffering of those under extreme persecution. Believers in the West do not suffer equally, nor should we imply that we do. But we will continue to chart the growing animosity towards Christians in all nations, including those in the West.
When Chinese authorities released Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng from prison on Aug.7, we didn’t hear anything from him, presumably because of the communist state’s one-year prohibition against him saying anything publicly that might “damage the reputation or interests of the state.”
His family had telephone conversations with him, but they didn’t hear much from him either. After some phone talks in which he said very little, the Los Angeles Times reported, his wife wasn’t sure whether he was still in too much pain to talk or had forgotten how.
It has become clear that isolation and torture left Gao, once a prominent attorney who defended Christians and the Falun Gong, unable to speak coherently. China Aid reports, “Gao has been utterly destroyed. He can barely talk – and only in very short sentences – most of the time he mutters and is unintelligible. It is believed that he is now suffering from a broad range of physical and mental health problems; he has not been allowed to see a doctor since his release.”
As his wife, Geng He, pointed out to the Times, if he cannot even obtain adequate dental care, what hope does he have for obtaining help to recover his mental health? While she and their two children escaped to the United States in 2009 and are living in northern California, Gao is under virtual house arrest at Geng’s sister’s place in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Province in the country’s far west. Dentists there don’t have the means to repair the damage malnutrition did to his remaining teeth, and the government has forbidden him to travel to Beijing, much less to the United States to be reunited with his family.
Gao’ s advocacy for religious minorities led to his conviction in 2006 for “inciting subversion,” and in 2007 he began serving a previously suspended sentence of three years in Shaya County Prison in Xinjiang region. After he wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress about human rights abuses in China, authorities “disappeared” him on Sept. 21, 2007, torturing him for more than 50 days. Gao later revealed that his captors shocked his genitals with an electric baton and pierced them with toothpicks.
“As with the torture experienced during his pretrial detention, the purpose of this mistreatment was to extract a false confession,” noted a petition by Freedom Now, which works to free prisoners of conscience.
Thugs suspected of being agents of the state again abducted Gao on Feb. 4, 2009. He reportedly reappeared from March 28, 2010, to April 20 of that year, during which he described how police beat him for two days and nights, according to Freedom Now.
China announced on Dec. 16, 2011 that it would take him to prison to serve the three-year sentence imposed on Dec. 22, 2006, thus withdrawing the five-year probation then about to expire. In Shaya Prison since December 2011, Gao remained in isolation in a small cell with little light 24 hours a day, according to China Aid.
“Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him,” the advocacy group reported. “He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. He was fed a single slice of bread and piece of cabbage, once a day; as a result, he has lost roughly 22.5 kilograms (50 pounds) and now weighs about 59 kilograms (130 pounds). He has lost many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was also repeatedly physically tortured.”
His wife commented to China Aid that she was devastated by his condition.
“The only thing I feared more than him being killed was his suffering relentless and horrific torture and being kept alive,” she said. “We desperately need help from our adopted country and from President Obama and Secretary Kerry personally to demand the Chinese government to allow my husband to come to the United States for medical treatment. If President Xi Jinping has any sense of decency or humanity, after crushing my husband both physically and psychologically, the least he could do is allow me as a devoted wife to care for him.”
Jared Genser, head of Freedom Now, told China Aid he was heartbroken for Gao and his family.
“We knew that if Gao wasn’t killed, he would have suffered immensely,” Genser said. “But the situation is far worse than my limited imagination enabled me to contemplate. While China is a great power in the 21st century, the inhumanity and brutality that it has demonstrated by the torture of Gao Zhisheng shows its profound insecurity and fear of anyone in its population who stands up to its repression.”