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Christians and Churches Attacked in the West: Muslim Persecution of Christians, September 2014

Burnt-church

The Muslim persecution of Christians in September made prominent appearances not just in the Islamic world, but also in the West—in America, Australia and Europe.

In the United States, in Columbus, Indiana, three churches were vandalized on the same night. The words most frequently sprayed were “Infidels!” and “Koran 3:151.” The verse from the Koran states, “We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve [or “infidels”] for what they have associated with Allah [reference to Christian Trinity] of which He had not sent down [any] authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.”

Father Doug Marcotte of Saint Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, one of those vandalized, said, “There’s a lot of bad stuff being done in the name of Allah and so when people see this happening in Columbus, whether that was truly the person’s intent or there’s something else going on, it makes people nervous. It makes people upset. It makes them scared.”

Meanwhile, in Australia, AAP reported that “Church-goers in Sydney’s west have been left shaken after a stranger shouted death threats from a car bearing the Islamic State flag. The car drove past Our Lady of Lebanon Church at Harris Park on Tuesday and witnesses claim it had a flag similar to those brandished by Islamic State jihadists hanging out the window.” A church official said the people in the car threatened to “kill the Christians” and slaughter their children: “They were strong words and people were scared of what they saw.” Witnesses saw a flag outside the window with the words, “There is only one god and Muhammad is the prophet.” And as happens frequently in Muslim-majority nations, police security was later dispatched to patrol the Harris Park church while hundreds partook of mass inside.

Another Christian woman of Iranian background recounted how she and her son are harassed on the Muslim-majority block where they live—and where she stands out for not wearing a hijab, the Islamic veil: “My son is being called everything. I get called all sorts of things. Infidel. Filthy Christians. They tell me I ought to be stoned to death. My son was beaten at the bus stop. He was called pig, dirty potato (Muslim slang for Danes), and that ‘you and your mother should die.”‘

Islamic dreams of conquering Europe were prevalent. A senior analyst in Spain warned that, because Islamists see the Iberian peninsula as being “under Spanish and Portuguese occupation,” greater risk of terrorism exists there than in other Western areas. Because Iberia—or, in Arabic, Al-Andalus—was under Islamic domination for centuries, many Muslims consider it part of the Islamic world, or Dar al-Islam, which needs to be reconquered, no less than Israel, also seen as occupied Islamic territory.

More pointedly, in the Islamic State [IS], in a lengthy message partially addressed to the “crusaders”—a reference to the West—some members declared, “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah.” Members of the IS also invoked a statement attributed to Muhammad, that Constantinople would be conquered before Rome—and it was, in 1453. The implication is that the Eternal City of Rome is next.

Around the same time, Rome responded by rejecting a motion to name a street after the late Oriana Fallaci, a veteran journalist who had once written that, “the Muslim world is attempting to conquer the West in the name of Islam.” In explaining their decision, local politicians described Fallaci’s writings as containing “religious hatred,” or “Islamophobia.”

In Canada, while 80 special Muslims went to the trouble of attending a Muslim rally on behalf of persecuted Christians, another rally, an extremist Al Quds Day Anti-Israel Hate Fest, drew approximately 6,000 participants.

The rest of September’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Muslim Attacks on Churches

East JerusalemA Christian church was attacked numerous times: On September 29, young Muslim men, with ties to a Palestinian militant group, wired shut the door of the Living Bread Church and sprayed a gaseous substance at those inside. An earlier gas attack had already occurred on September 17. Hours before the second attack, someone threw a rock through one of the windows of the church, and the day before that, Sunday, September 28, a Palestinian and others assaulted a church member as he was emptying trash into a dumpster outside the church.  On Sept. 21, a Palestinian militant, without warning, ran up behind a church leader, Karen Dunham, and knocked her to the pavement: “This guy charged me as fast as he could,” she said. “He came up behind me and just slammed into my back, and I fell and I hit the ground. My face is bruised. There’s bruises on the side of my cheek, on my face, on my head, on my knee, cuts on my head, and my wrist was fractured.”

Egypt: A Christian priest in Egypt appealed to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to intervene on behalf of yet another church being threatened by “religious extremists.” So far, local authorities have done nothing. Four years ago, the Coptic Church of St. Abram in Shubra al-Khaima received a permit to build an additional building. During those same four years, seven “thugs”—in the words of the report—have prevented it from being built. The “thugs” had mobilized local Muslims to threaten and demonstrate against the church. “The priest lamented that ‘after suffering many long years’ they finally managed to acquire the permit to build, but then the next obstacle presented itself in the person of the aforementioned seven ‘thugs’ who constantly harass, and incite Muslim mobs, against the church, whenever it tries to exercise its right to build the services building. Islamic law forbids the building of new churches or the renovation of existing churches.”

Iraq: Islamic State militants “completely destroyed” the ancient Green Church in Tikrit. They packed the church with explosives and detonated them – completely destroying the ancient church, which belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East. Almost from the time it was built in the seventh century, when Islam overran Iraq, the church had been attacked, ransacked, and destroyed by Muslim rulers and others, but was restored on the orders of Iraq’s late President Saddam Hussein in the 1990s.

Nigeria: Many more churches and a Christian university, Kulp Bible College, were forced to shut down as a result of the advances of the Islamic jihadi group, Boko Haram. In one instance, a pastor reported that “Boko Haram violence has been getting worse every day, and our members are fleeing the area by the thousands. Recent attacks in Borno and Adamawa states where our churches are located have seen Boko Haram take over the Army base. As a result, about 350 Christians have been killed.”  Separately, in Kaduna state, where “Muslim Fulani assailants seem driven to rid the area of Christianity and use the land to graze their cattle,” according to church leaders, 46 Christians, including two pastors, were slaughtered in raids. According to an eyewitness,

Suddenly we heard sounds of gunshots around our village. The pastor was still in the pastorate when the Muslim Fulani gunmen forced their way onto the church premises. They cut him, his wife and a daughter with a machete, and then tied the hands and feet of the three of them before setting the house on fire. The three of them were burned to ashes in the living room of the pastorate. We only found the charred remains of the three of them the following morning…. The gunmen then came onto the church premises and began shooting. I heard them shouting at the top of their voices, saying they must obliterate any trace of Christianity in the town.

Although Muslim Fulani have historically had property disputes with Christian farmers, Christian leaders say attacks by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria.

Sudan: In the latest incident of a nearly two-year wave of church demolitions, closures and confiscations, security agents padlocked a 500-member church building, the Sudan Pentecostal Church in Khartoum. The church also houses the Khartoum Christian Center. “The church is concerned that the building might be sold by the government, which renders more than 500 worshippers to have no place for worship,” a source told the Morning Star News. The Islamist government appears to be seeking any pretext for closing churches, sources said. In this instance, the space for the church was originally designated as “office space.” But, as one source asked, “How do you close a church building that has been in operation for 20 years in the name of the church being meant for offices?” The church has a deed showing that it owns the building and property — a situation that raises the question of the government’s right to sell it.  Earlier, on June 30 bulldozers demolished the Sudanese Church of Christ in the Thiba Al Hamyida area of North Khartoum as church members watched, while security personnel threatened to arrest them if they tried to block the bulldozers, church members said.

Syria: The Islamic State destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor, seen as the “Auschwitz” of the Armenian Genocide. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished in Der Zor and the surrounding desert during the genocide. In the summer of 1916 alone, more than 200,000 Armenians, mostly women and children, were massacred by Ottoman Turks. Armenia’s foreign minister issued a statement calling the church’s destruction a “horrible barbarity,” and referred to the Islamic State as a “disease” that “threatened civilized mankind.” The church was built in 1989-90 and consecrated a year later. A genocide memorial and a museum housing the remains of the victims of the genocide were also located in the church compound. Thousands of Armenians from Syria and neighboring countries gathered at the memorial every year on April 24 to commemorate the genocide.

Pakistani Rape and Dhimmitude

  • Four young Muslims gang raped a 15-year-old Christian girl and filmed it. The girl’s father, although he was threatened against filing a complaint, went to police, who confirmed the existence of a video that corroborates the violence. The video will apparently be introduced as evidence against the youths. A lawyer, Mushtaq Gill, issued a statement that, “Many Christian girls continue to be victims of sexual assault by young Muslims, who go unpunished” and that, “in this case there is also a video, flaunted as a trophy.”
  • Two Christian women were abducted, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Lawyer Mushtaq Gill said, “A Christian girl, Sairish, forced to marry a Muslim in 2009, in her heart never abandoned the faith and continued to pray to Jesus Christ even after her marriage. After a few years she found the courage to rebel against the situation and run away…. Her life is now in danger because if she declares herself Christian, Muslims may accuse her of apostasy and the punishment would be death.” Each year, approximately 1,000 women in Pakistan are forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Whenever a case of this nature reaches the law courts, those women, under threat and blackmail, often declare that their conversion and marriage were decisions freely made, and the case is closed.
  • Another Christian family fled their hometown, Lahore, to save their daughters from forced conversion to Islam. According to the Justice and Peace Commission, the two sisters, aged 12 and 8, were studying in public schools, where learning to recite the Koran is mandatory. Apparently, because the girls recited the shehada, the Islamic declaration of faith, “an Islamic cleric, the father of a student stated that these girls had become Muslims and thus needed to be taken from their Christian parents and entrusted to adult Muslims.” The parents pulled their daughters out of school, but then the headmaster and other Muslim teachers “warned the parents to send them back to school, offering the family financial aid regarding the school fees.” The parents quit their jobs and fled the region.
  • Police arrested 15 Christians and booked 45 other members of the minority community under the blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating Muslim graves in a village in Punjab province. According to the AP, “The case was registered after a local cleric filed a complaint alleging that the Christians had desecrated over 400 Muslim graves to occupy the land in Chak village in Faisalabad, about 150 kilometres from Lahore.” Rights groups said it was a spurious charge meant to prevent the Christians from acquiring the land. In fact, the accusations were later proven false.

Dhimmitude: Islamic Discrimination Against Christianity

Egypt: Iman Sarofim, a 39-year-old Christian mother of five, returned home to her family after being kidnapped. Initially it was believed that she had voluntarily converted to Islam and fled her family to be with a Muslim man. The woman contacted the family from Suez, where she had been brought by the kidnapper. The return of the woman was celebrated by neighbors and relatives in the city of Gabal al-Tir. Her disappearance had been the cause of clashes between Copts and police, who believed the narrative that she had voluntarily left. In retaliation, police officers entered the homes of dozens of Coptic families and violently arrested dozens of Christians. Separately, Ehab Karam, a Coptic dentist, was killed after he was abducted by unknown persons, most likely for ransom. The kidnapping of Copts for ransom has evidently become a regular part of life in Egypt for Christians, particularly in Upper Egypt. Last February, for instance, police dismantled a crime network that for months had been organizing kidnappings, robberies and extortion against the local Coptic community. “Unfortunately,” said the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assist, Kyrillos William, “the phenomenon continues and there are no signs of improvement. Police operations are episodic and ineffective, they are unable to solve the problem.”

Iraq: The Islamic State decreed that all schools in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain which bore Christian names, some since the 1700s, must be changed. Also, the teaching of the Syriac language and culture and Christian religious education has been abolished. Reports indicate that the Islamic State took these moves “in order to erase all traces of cultural and religious pluralism in the conquered areas and turn schools into propaganda tools of jihadist ideology among the new generations.”

Saudi Arabia: In the Eastern Province city of Khafji, “religious police,” or agents from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, raided a house where at least 27 Christians, mostly expatriates from various Asian nationalities, were gathered. The Christians, including children, were accused of practicing Christianity in a house church, and were arrested and detained overnight. Authorities also confiscated musical instruments and copies of the Bible. The house had been placed under surveillance after a citizen reported that his Indian neighbor had converted his home into a Christian church. After witnessing a large number of individuals enter the home, officers raided the house. The only religion allowed to be practiced in public in Saudi Arabia is Islam. In the land of the prophet, no public places of worship for non-Muslims are permitted to exist.

Turkey: According to the Armenian magazine, Agos, many of the primary and secondary education books being used for the current school year still describe the Armenians and other Christian communities as enemy forces at the service of foreign powers, including Russia and England, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. One eighth-grade history book tries to whitewash the Armenian genocide, which is portrayed as a “necessary deportation,” never as a massacre.

Uzbekistan: Security forces reportedly raided the home of Pastor Stanislav Kim in Chirchik, 20 miles northeast of Tashkent, the capital. They detained 11 teenagers and three adults, who had gathered there for a volleyball game, and questioned them for more than four hours before releasing them. Officials also searched the pastor’s home and confiscated a New Testament, a Bible, several other Christian books, more than 100 slides of hymns, as well as some computer equipment. Voice of the Martyrs, which says there are at least 65 unregistered congregations scattered throughout Uzbekistan, said in a statement, “Please pray that this pastor and his son will not face fines, but will soon be acquitted of any perceived wrongdoing. Ask God to strengthen each believer who was present during this unwarranted raid so that they will not give in to governmental intimidation and pressure, but instead be emboldened to serve our Lord faithfully.”

About this Series

The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic.  Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:

1)          To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.

2)          To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam;  theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

By Raymond Ibrahim – Gatestone Institute

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam specialist and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow, David Horowitz Freedom Center; a CBN News contributor; a Media Fellow, Hoover Institution (2013); and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum . Ibrahim’s dual-background — born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East — has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.

Christmas Season Brings Christianity under Renewed Attack in India

Malibu Hindu Temple  Wikimedia Commons

Malibu Hindu Temple Wikimedia Commons

(Morning Star News) – Christmas-related anti-Christian violence and harassment have begun as Hindu extremists undertake an aggressive effort to “reconvert” tribal people to Hinduism, sources said.

Police arrested and Hindu extremists attacked Christians in three Christmas-related incident in three states the past two weeks.

“Christians in India are apprehensive of having a peaceful Christmas amid this wave of attacks as the right-wing groups are also becoming more aggressive in their mass conversion program that is taking place in different parts of India,” the Rev. Bhupendra Kohra, a church leader in central India, told Morning Star News. “We are fearful but we are praying.”

Police on Wednesday (Dec. 17) arrested 16 Christians, including four women, as they celebrated Christmas in Navipur, Pipraich, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Liris Thomas of Alliance Defending Freedom-India (ADF-India) told Morning Star News.

“They were taken to the police station at about 10 a.m., and they were detained till 3:30 a.m. the next morning,” Thomas said.

All the Christians except Pastor Amit Kumar were released without charges, with the pastor being held for “disturbing the peace” and his belongs confiscated, Thomas said.

In Andhra Pradesh, Hindu extremists on Dec. 13 attacked pastor Bhimudu Nayak and members of the Banjara Baptist Church at about midnight as they were singings carols, seriously injuring Pastor Nayak and five others in Singareny, Hyderabad, area church leader and Evangelical Fellowship of India representative T. Monohar told Morning Star News.

“About 15 people suddenly came up against the carol team, accused them of forceful conversion and started to beat them up,” Monohar said. “The pastor was beaten unconscious and rushed to the hospital along with five other Christians.”

In Madhya Pradesh state, Hindu extremists on Dec. 9 beat pastor Paltu Ahirwar and another Christian from Blessing Youth Mission as they were returning home to Bamnora village, in Chattarpur District. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists were furious that the Christians were conducting a Christmas program in their village.

Ghar Vapsi

In the widespread Ghar Vapsi (“homecoming”) campaign launched this month by Hindu extremists, the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) allegedly “reconverted” about 30 impoverished tribal Christians to Hinduism in Kerala state in a five hour-ceremony on Sunday (Dec. 21) in Alappuzha District, The Hindu reported.

The reconversion campaign is predicated on the Hindu nationalist belief that being born in India makes one a Hindu, and therefore anyone of a different faith must be “reconverted,” thus returning them “home” to their national religious identity. The unit president of the VHP, Pratap G. Padikkal, claimed that eight families from a Pentecostal church came forward voluntarily for conversion and that another 150 families expressed interest in conversion to Hinduism.

The converted families were not traceable, as the local VHP leaders had moved them to another location, The Hindu reported, noting that more than 200 Christians were also “reconverted” at Aranai village in the Valsad District of Gujarat.

Similarly, in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 57 Muslim families on Dec. 8 were “reconverted” to Hinduism in a mass conversion ceremony jointly organized by the Dharma Jagran Samanvav Vibhag, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal, according to The Times of India.

“RSS people assured us that they will provide us a better place to live, better food and schooling for my grandsons,” Sufia Begum, 76, told The Times.

Some participants reportedly said they were lured to the reconversion event with the promise of voter identification, proof of address and government ration cards, while others said they were not aware that the ritual was one of conversion and that they still considered themselves Muslims.

“Any coercion or threats should be swiftly dealt with under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code,” attorney Tehmina Arora of ADF-India told Morning Star News.

The Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission has stated that the Agra “reconversion” event was an “act of fraud.”

Hindu extremists had pledged to hold a massive reconversion event in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh state, on Christmas Day in which 5,000 Christians and Muslims would be “brought back to the Hindu fold.” Rajeshwar Singh, head of a wing of the RSS known as the Dharm Jagran Samiti, reportedly said Christmas was chosen as the day of the event as a Shakti Parish or “test of strength” between religions.

At press time the planned event appeared to have been postponed after the RSS came under government pressure.

These and other reconversion events raised sharp protests in parliament, with the opposition demanding on Dec. 10 that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has links to Hindu extremist groups, respond to the reconversion events and address the issue of fraudulent “reconversions.”

“The House and the country need reassurance that the constitution will not be violated,” Congress party leader Anand Sharma said, according to The Times of India.

In Chhattisgarh, about 33 members of 10 tribal Christian families were “reconverted” to Hinduism on Oct. 9 at Kunkuda, Bastar town, Jagdalpur, ADF-India reported. In the same area, the VHP demanded that Hindu idol Ma Saraswati should be installed in 22 schools run by Catholic missionaries, and the lead priest should be addressed only as “Sir” and not “Father.”

 

Pastor in Kenya Fears His Life Is in Imminent Danger from Islamic Extremists

 

Jamia Mosque in Nairobi, Kenya. (Wikipedia)

Jamia Mosque in Nairobi, Kenya. (Wikipedia)

(Morning Star News) – A pastor in Kenya of Somali descent whom Islamic extremist Al Shabaab militants have threatened for leaving Islam fears he soon could be killed.

Somali Al Shabaab rebels have offered a reward to anyone who kills the Rev. Mahad H. Birik, and after a video of him describing his conversion from Islam seeped into major Somali broadcast, Web and print media two months ago, the pastor of an undisclosed church on the outskirts of Nairobi said longstanding threats on his life became concrete this month.

“My family is now living in a sleepless state,” said the father of two children – one age 15 from a wife who was taken from him when he left Islam, and a 2-year-old from remarriage. “My life and that of my family is in imminent danger. It is very serious and real, as Muslim extremists are strategizing on having my head.”

On Sunday (Dec. 14) Somali men unknown to him followed Birik and his wife to their church. A security guard stopped the men, asking them who they were and what they wanted, and they left. Birik said police identified their car as registered to Kamau Kamotho, whom officers have long sought on suspicion of being a hit-man for hire.

After several masked men hovered near his house one night early this year, he relocated his family to another area of Nairobi. On Dec. 4, masked men showed up at about 7:30 a.m. at their new residence, located in a compound where around two dozen other families live. They arrived in a car with tinted windows, he said.

“One of them came out of the car and started asking whether a Somali pastor was still inside the compound,” Birik said. “The watchman became suspicion as it was very early in the morning. He was able to see through the lowered window, where the driver of the car came out from, and saw two masked men, and then he raised an alarm by whistling.”

A second person got out of the car, and the watchman retreated backwards, he said; residents rushed to the scene, and the suspicious figures got back into the car and drove away.

Al Shabaab, an Islamic extremist insurgent group in Somalia, announced through Kenyan and Somali media and over mosque loudspeakers in 2009 that they would pay a large sum of money for Birik’s head, he said.

“The Al Shabaab have a sophisticated network,” said Birik, who also works for a relief agency. “I do not know when they will hit me; I am sure I can no longer hide myself. I therefore want the Christian world as well as human rights groups to know that my life is in danger, and I need urgent rescue.”

Video of Birik’s testimony had circulated on the Web prior to the latest version, which was recorded by a U.S. church volunteer this year and posted on the church website; the church had partnered in Nairobi with a foreign-based ministry to help produce audio recordings of the Bible in the Somali language. Telling the church volunteer his testimony was already available online, Birik had granted the church permission to disseminate the recording of his conversion story, a source said.

Birik said many in the underground network of Somali Christians in Kenya have sent him text messages saying his life is in danger and to be careful of his movements; “You are not safe at all,” one read.

On Dec. 8, a vehicle hit him and sent him caroming into a ditch, but he sustained only minor injuries. Birik said police later located the car, but the owner said it had been on a road test and the driver had not deliberately hit him.

At the end of November, Birik reported to police that Al Shabaab planned to execute him.

“I now have to put on a cap to hide my identity,” Birik said.

On Dec. 7, two Somali women that Birik believes were connected to Al Shabaab began following him. He told Morning Star News that one of them said in the Somali language, “This man is now an enemy of Islam. He used to be an imam. We should finish him off.”

Birik responded, “I am a Somali man; I have heard what you have said. You cannot harm me. Go back,” and immediately they began to run away, one of them falling down and another slipping into mud, he said. Coincidentally, police in the predominantly Somali area of Eastleigh in Nairobi on Dec. 12 arrested eight Somali women on suspicion of being agents of Al Shabaab.

On Dec.1, after two of Birik’s Somali relatives argued with him over his conversion to Christianity, one of them said, “I wish I could get an opportunity to kill this infidel – just hit him right in his face,” and the ensuing fight between the relative and the pastor resulted in police seeking to arrest them. Officers granted their request to settle the matter outside court, but later the case was registered at Administrative Police Camp at Dagoreti Corner.

The other relative, more sympathetic to Birik, told him that he needs to be careful and to watch his movements, Birik said.

Birik is not a stranger to persecution. Raised in northern Kenya to parents from Somalia, the neighboring country where leaving Islam is punishable by death, upon conversion his family disowned him and took all his property. They also took his wife from him and married her off to another man; the divorce became final in 2004.

“This was a big loss to me, and it took several years for me to recover,” he said.

In 2008 Somali Muslims beat him outside Nairobi for leaving Islam, breaking both his hands, he said, and in 2009 another Islamist gang confronted him and broke his right hand.

“They hit me with blunt objects, with several kicks and blows, and my hand got broken,” he said. “Now it is difficult to use it in doing heavy tasks.”

Birik said he is also in danger of losing his job with a relief organization.

“My employer is considering dismissing me, because my profile, which has been aired in all the Somali televisions and daily papers, will put their operation and lives of visiting staff in danger,” he said. “This organization has had bad experiences in the past, and it will not take chances once again.”

Since the Al Shabaab offer of a bounty to kill him, he has not been able to return to his home town of Wajir in northern Kenya, Birik said. He said the denomination that ordained him has not been responsive, and that he does not have the estimated $1,500 needed to relocate his family to another part of Kenya.

“I am sure if I am not rescued soon, then they will get rid of me,” he said. “It only a matter of when.”

Morning Star News

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.

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 have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support.

Even in the cold and cramp we must Pray On

PRAY FOR THE PERSECUTED

PRAY FOR THE PERSECUTED

Since September 26, 2012; close to 800 days; 27 months ago, American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned. Christmas has come and gone three times, and he’s missed children’s birthdays and other family celebrations. The Boise, Idaho, resident remains imprisoned by the Iranian government on charges related to his Christian faith.

Most recently a letter was shared by Saeed describing his resting place in Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran, as cramped and cold, he states, “My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep.” A letter that continues to explain his harsh treatment in one term “cold”, sharing that guards and other inmates are hostile towards him, in unnamed ways, because of his Christianity displayed by a paper cross.  Although Saeed expresses loneliness being away from family, he is comforted and secure with not being alone. Through all of his circumstances Saeed continues to love and encourages us to do the same with these words, “We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead.”

Allow me to remind you of the fifth point of prayer, out of seven, we prayed for during the prayer vigil;

  • The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Spiritual awakening in Iran. That many Muslims would come to know Jesus in Iran and the Middle East.

My friends, I propose to you that our prayers are being heard and answered. As we recap yesterday’s celebrations with photos of family and friends, our hearts are reminded of Saeed, his third Christmas without family.  I am encourage to have compassion (Hebrews 10:34) for Saeed through God to continually pray for his safety and release, but a peace from God is given to know that Saeed is not forgotten, but doing the work of the Lord while in prison.  And doing the work that has been laid on his heart long ago when Saeed started Saeed Ministries, Inc. Where its purpose is “to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world.” We find in Saeed Ministries their mission statement which includes,

Penetrate the dark regions of the enemy and win the lost, especially those in the Middle East region, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Satellite TV programs, evangelistic events, and being a support to those who are ministering in-country.

As we read in Saeed’s letter, his paper cross that has become such an offense to others is actually a tool used to penetrate the darkness of the enemy in Rajai Shahr Prison.  So let us be encouraged and continue to support Saeed in prayer, as he continues to steadfastly represent Christ and be a vessel for the sharing of the Gospel in the Middle East.

I encourage you to continue to pray on, asking God to comfort Saeed (2 Cor. 1:3-4), his family, and support. Asking God to give Saeed immediate peace (Eph. 2:14; Phil 4:7), and that peace/Joy of Christ (1 Chronicles 16:27; Psalm 32:11; Colossians 1:11) be as radiant as the sun in Saeed’s cold and cramped confines.  Through this joy, a penetration of God will be so obvious that inmates and guards will see and ask “What must I do to be saved” (Act 16:30) and souls saved. And through this, new missionaries are assigned and the Gospel is spread throughout Iran, the Middle East, (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1; Matthew 28:19) and Rajai Shahr Prison. Will you pray the same way?

As we pray, pray for your own and others spiritual growth, for your own mission field, we may not be in cramped and crowded confines physically, but we may be spiritually? Pray for each other, for our faith to grow (Hebrews 10:24). Use Saeed’s letter as encouragement, as he wrote, “In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness.”  Remember as we draw close to God (James 4:8) God will draw close to us, and grow our faith, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 1:6-7 (ESV), “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” And in Colossians 2:19 (ESV), “and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”

Pray On.

by Dr. Jim Seward

Voice of the Persecuted

Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen who was imprisoned in a North Korean Prison Writes A Christmas Message

American citizen, Kenneth Bae sentenced by North Korea to 15 years in a labor camp...but now released and back in the U.S.

American citizen, Kenneth Bae sentenced by North Korea to 15 years in a labor camp…but now released and back in the U.S.

Voice of the Persecuted is still praising God for the miracle of Kenneth’s release from North Korea. And that he is able to be surrounded by the love of his family, sharing Christmas in their presence. Our great God still hears us and answers our prayers! Continue to pray, PRESS IN! In Jesus holy name, Heaven come down!

We are grateful to God that we are able and happy to share Kenneth’s Christmas message with you.

Dec 25, 2014 — Dear friends,

Thank you to all of you for signing my son Jonathan Bae’s petition “Amnesty for my father Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in a North Korean Special Labor Camp.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude to learn that so many of you have signed the petition on my behalf —177,552 signatures!

Thanks to all of you who raised your voices to advocate for my freedom, I was able to come home and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family back on US soil. Because of your support and prayers for me and for my family, I was able to endure and sustain during my time in North Korea.

Since I was released more than one month ago, I have had a chance to rest and reconnect with my family. We have spent a few days at the beach, which, as you can understand, is quite surreal considering where I have been. I am still praying about my future—what I will do and where I will live—but I feel at peace, knowing God will guide me as He has always.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on the glorious day of our Savior’s birthday! May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and your family!

Blessings,

Kenneth Bae

 

Voice of the Persecuted wishes you, Merry Christmas!

Voice-of-the-Persecuted-Christmas

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18 Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)

Joy to the World, our Savior has come!

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, please take a moment to remember and pray for those who are suffering in the name of Jesus. All over the world, persecuted believers are worshiping God for the greatest gift ever given to mankind, counting their suffering worthy to be in Him as part of the Body of Christ.

In the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”

The true joy of Christmas is in the everlasting love of Christ.

Please continue to lift up our persecuted brethren in your daily prayers. And please pray for the Lord’s guidance as we move forward in the mission.

Though nothing we could ever give or do will compare to the rescue mission of Christ, because of your prayers and faithful support, persecuted believers have been given hope. From all of us at Voice of the Persecuted and on behalf of the persecuted believers, Thank you!

May you be blessed with His peace, love and joy in the coming new year.

Merry Christmas!

Lois Kanalos, Founder and the VOP Advocate Team

Voice of the Persecuted

We pray for your continued partnership and generous blessings in 2015!

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.

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 have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it with out you!

Christmas in Nigeria: Celebrating At Gun Point

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By Obed Minchakpu

The atmosphere was bustling with concomitant voices as each person in the crowded street market bargained for a price reduction on item(s)/they were buying. Time was running out and it is just a matter of days that the big event would be celebrated. Yes, Christmas, a period everyone looked forward to, as it is time for reunion of families, friends, communities, and a time to thank God for his faithfulness.

This market is named terminus market. Its name is derived from the fact that the spot is right in the heart of the city where travelers in and out of the city converged. The residents of the city also converge here on daily basis either to sell or buy. There used to be a main market close by, but this was destroyed about fourteen years ago when a religious crisis engulfed the city. And so, traders have now been forced to convert the adjoining streets to an emergency market.

And just as the last minute rush for shopping by excited residents of this city was on, a high pitched voice cried out: “Bomb! Bomb!!! Bomb!!! Suddenly, a loud explosion sounded. Body parts were thrown all over. There were shrieked cries of pains and anguish. Debris flew in different directions, just as activities in the market came to a standstill.

Minutes later, sirens wailed as soldiers and emergency rescue workers rushed to the scene of the explosion. Corpses littered all over. So also, wares that were on display were scattered. Gun shots rented the air as soldiers fired shots into the air to restore law and order and to create the enabling environment for rescue workers to evacuate the dead and the injured.

An hour later, death counts by rescue workers at the scene of the bomb attack showed thirty-five dead, and fourty-five injured. Days after the incident many families are still searching for missing relations. Six months earlier, more than two hundred persons had died less than a hundred meters from this present spot, when terrorists bombed traders and shoppers.

Pandemonium and confusion has engulfed the city and tension is in the air. Again, terrorists have stroked at the heart of the people. The excitement of celebrating Christmas with joy has now been turned into mourning. People are moving around wearing gloomy faces. Social activities have now ceased as there is palpable fear of more attacks.

This is not the first time that the city of Jos in central Nigeria is celebrating Christmas at gun point. In the past three years, Churches have been bombed even on Christmas days. In one of the years, bomb attacks were carried out in different parts of the city on Christmas Eve. Terrorists in Nigeria now derive pleasure in carrying out bombings during the Christmas period, just to ensure that residents of the city do not partake in this great event in human history.

praying-handsHowever, in spite of the deadly attacks, residents of Jos city have not given up on the purpose and meaning of life. To them, life is not just about celebrating, but in what one is able to do to better his life and that of others. It is for this reason that you find instead of churches being empty, they are full to the brim with Worshipers. Christians fill their churches almost on daily basis praising God for his faithfulness in spite of the incessant attacks by terrorists.

Life in Jos can never be the same again. Churches now appear to be slaughter slaps, as going to the church means signing one’s death warrant. There is no doubt that in Jos, terrorists can come at any time. For Christian Worshipers to hold successfully Sunday worship services, they must protect themselves. Streets that pass by churches have to be closed. Some members of various congregations in the city have to abandon worship services to volunteer to watch over others. While their fellow Christians are in the auditoriums praising God, these watchmen have to risk their lives standing outside in the cold and watching the streets for would-be terrorists.

Inside the churches, preachers have the same and only one message, God has incarnated and dwelt among men on earth. Jesus incarnated in order that humanity would be reconciled to God. That is the essence of Christmas, and that is the mission of Jesus.

One of the passages from the Bible that has been read severally in most churches these past few days in the city of Jos is that from the book of Isaiah.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV).

For the Christian victims of attacks by terrorists not only in the city of Jos, but also in other parts of Northern Nigeria, Jesus Christ, as God, has the power and authority over all of humanity. He incarnated and dwelt with men on earth so we can have a comforter who would stand by us in our travails and trials. Christians believe that the mission of Jesus on earth is to prepare all who believe in him for God’s heavenly kingdom. And more importantly too, is to establish his peace among his people.

These attacks by terrorists instead of dampening the spirit of Christians has brought hope into their lives. Hope of an everlasting peace because of God’s presence with them. This is the spirit of Emmanuel, God with us. The essence of Christmas. So, even when Christians are celebrating Christmas in Nigeria at gun point, the presence of God among his people had ministered peace and healing in the midst of their trials.

One other passage that has received much attention in churches in Nigeria during this Christmas season, is a passage from the book of Matthew. This Bible passage says:

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1 – 2:2 KJV).

Now, Christians believe that Christmas is a period to worship God. That is the reason churches in the city of Jos and elsewhere in Nigeria, have had to hold Carol services in spite of the state of insecurity. These Carol services have attracted unprecedented attendances. Songs of praise and worship have been rendered by various fellowship groups – Women, Youth, Choristers, and Men fellowships. Evangelism outreaches have been organized and many have come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

A very important lesson learned from messages preached from the above passage in various churches is that the wise men from the east went out in search of Jesus in order to worship him, even when they were rich men. Their status as rich men is seen from the gifts they brought to Jesus. What this means is that, the Gospel is also for the rich.

But is that the case in our country? Have the wealthy, those in authority, and those in the corridors of power realized that Jesus came for them too? Do they know that it is incumbent on them to live lives pleasing to God? Do they realize that they need to put all they have in the service of God? Are they prepared to humble themselves and submit to the authority of God, instead being power drunk? These are pertinent questions the Christmas message is posing to Nigerian leaders.

Further more, the message of Christmas as preached this past week in churches in Jos, and in other parts of Nigeria, point also to the fact that the mission of Jesus is not only targeted at the rich, but also, on the poor, the less privilege, the fatherless, and the bereaved. One of the passages that was preached from the pulpit to lay emphasis on this fact, is that from the book of Luke.

angels bring good news“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2: 8- 2:14 KJV).

The Shepherds received the good news about the birth of Jesus as the messiah. They praised God for the privilege of being partakers and heirs of his eternal kingdom. One thing stands out here, the shepherds are from the lower pedestal or strata of the society. They live in the fields and are nomadic. They move from place to place, and this is because of their cattle, and as a result, they do not have decent living conditions. They represent the poor of our society. Jesus too, came for the poor and the lowly.

In Nigeria, there are also shepherds, and church leaders and mission agencies have been working hard to present this very important message about Jesus Christ to them. This group of people who are shepherds in Nigeria are the Fulani Herdsmen. The good news is that, many Fulani men and women have come to Jesus Christ, and thousands of them in Nigeria areChristians. There are even some of them who have made decisions to go into full time Christian ministry and have been ordained pastors.

However, there are millions of other Fulani Herdsmen who are still gripped by evil. That is the reason some of them have been drafted into terror activities by Islamists and Muslim fanatics. These Fulani Herdsmen are involved in the killings going on in some states in northern Nigeria. They invade villages and attack defenseless communities. Even though this is a sad development, Jesus Christ loves the Fulani too. Christ came because of them, and this is the more reason all Christians should pray for them to know the truth about Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to ensure that we play our part by sharing the Gospel with them, and leave the conviction and conversion to the Holy Spirit.

On the whole, the mission of Jesus on earth is to reconcile the whole of mankind to God. The fall of man in the garden had separated man from God. The birth of Jesus Christ was divine intervention in an effort to bring humanity back into fellowship with God.

So, as we celebrate this Christmas, even at gun point, we must not forget that beyond the celebration, we are tasked to share this good news with all we come across with, even to those who point their guns on our heads.

Have a blessed Christmas celebration!

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.

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 have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support.

Voice of the Persecuted

 

 

Christmas: Solidarity With The Victims Of The Massacre In Peshawar

pray-for-Christians-pakistan-Voice of the Persecuted

Our hearts and prayers are with Pakistan as it mourns these precious souls.  One Pakistani Christian remarked as these events were unfolding, “they destroyed a generation.”

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – For Christians in Pakistan, Christmas 2014 will be marked by prayers and moments of solidarity for the victims of the massacre in Peshawar, where the Taliban killed more than 130 children in an army school. Many churches have set up altars with images of victims and lighted candles. Archbishop Joseph Coutts, President of the Episcopal Conference, has launched an appeal so that the Christian community reflects on the message of hope and peace that Christmas brings. In a message sent to Fides, Peter Jacob, a Catholic activist for human rights, reports that 11 parishes and several churches in the city of Lahore have decided to cancel or postpone until after January 1, some programs and events (Christmas carol concerts, shows, games) that were planned to celebrate Christmas. According to deacon Shahid Mehraj, of the Cathedral of Lahore, “there is pain and concern” over what is seen as “an attack on the future of Pakistan”.  At Christmas, he informs “we will dedicate a special candle lighting ceremony to those who lost their lives in the attack”. “Christmas brings a message of hope to the world. The birth of Christ was also marked by a massacre of innocent children by King Herod. In the context of this bloodshed, Christ was born as a symbol of hope”, he says, pointing out the similarities with the Pakistani context today. For this, he concludes, “now is a time to spread the message of love and brotherhood in Pakistan”.  Christians remember that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born on December 25, also for this reason the country should reflect on his vision and the country that Jinnah dreamed: a united, open, tolerant, peaceful nation, free from hatred and violence. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/12/2014)

We also want to remember Asia Bibi & those imprisoned for their faith, and the Christians there who have lost their lives for their faith in Christ.  Remember our brothers and sisters still there facing persecution.   May we always remember that Christ is the light in this darkness, and always let that light shine through us.

Pray for Pakistan

  • Pray for God’s healing power
  • Pray for God’s mercy
  • Pray for the light of Christ to shine through this darkness
  • Pray for comfort, knowledge, wisdom and guidance

Credit:  Original photo from wiki-media commons By (Matthew Bowden http://www.digitallyrefreshing.com (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/148763) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

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