Christians and Churches Attacked in the West: Muslim Persecution of Christians, September 2014
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 Jerusalem: A 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 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
(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.
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
(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.”
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.
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
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.”
by Dr. Jim Seward
Christmas: Solidarity With The Victims Of The Massacre In Peshawar
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)