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At least 58 Pakistanis killed in Lahore suicide attack, over 200 injured

Easter Sunday suicide attack Lahore, Pakistan Photo: Dawn

Easter Sunday suicide attack Lahore, Pakistan Photo: Dawn

As Pakistani Christian community was celebrating Easter‬, Iqbal Town Superintendent Police Dr Muhammad Iqbal confirmed this was a suicide attack that took place at a children’s park, where a large number of families, especially women and children, were present. “Most of the dead and injured are women and children,” said Mustansar Feroz, police superintendent for the area in which the park is located.

LAHORE: At least 58 people were killed in a suicide attack in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park of Iqbal Town on Sunday evening, provincial government officials said. Hospital sources added that over 200 were injured.

The area is a renowned residential area of Lahore. The blast was just outside the exit gate and a few feet (metres) away from the children’s swings.

DCO Captain (Retd) Muhammad Usman said the head of the suicide bomber was recovered. Ball bearings were also found at the site.

Eye witnesses said there were pools of blood and scattered body parts spread across the site of the attack.

“We took the injured to hospitals on rickshaws and taxis,” one eyewitness said.

He added that the crowd was “unusually large” because of Easter.

“The roads were also jammed and queues of vehicles could be seen till Moon Market.”

‘No security’

Many eyewitnesses said there was no security present in and around the park.

An eye witness, talking to DawnNews, said:

“The park is huge and has many entrance gates. There were almost no security personnel present there.”

A Rescue 1122 spokesman confirmed that an emergency call was received at around 6:44pm and that over 20 ambulances had been sent to the site at the time. READ MORE

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific 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

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Faith Over Fear in Nigeria – Mission Update!

Nigerian Christian children forced to live in IDP camp by Boko Haram insurgency. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Nigerian Christian children forced to live in IDP camp by Boko Haram insurgency. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted©

(Voice of the Persecuted) We’ve been busy! Much is going on behind the scenes to better advocate for and aid the faithful suffering in persecution. Our founder, along with other members of the team, recently met with VOP’s Nigerian Project Leader, Fr. Gideon Obasogie and Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, head of the Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria’s Borno State. During the mission discussions, they focused on the current situation of our Nigerian brothers and sisters and ways VOP’s Project 13:3 Nigeria can better help them to endure. We have long warned of Boko Haram’s murderous campaign and their capabilities. Last year, the Boko Haram was described as the world’s deadliest terror group and has wreaked terrible death and destruction across the region. Like those in Iraq and Syria, they too have faced some of the worst persecution the world has ever known. Yet, the media seems less interested in covering the Nigeria crisis as the majority of reports are focused on the Middle East.

Fr.Gideon Obasogie, VOP Founder Lois Kanalos, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme

Fr.Gideon Obasogie, VOP Founder Lois Kanalos, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria supporting a camp for those displaced by extreme persecution. Many in the camp come from areas hardest hit by the radical militants. They’ve survived unimaginable attacks, kidnappings, rape and great losses. Nearly every person has suffered the death of family members. It has taken a serious toll on their physical and emotional health. Many will need long-term counseling and medical rehabilitation. More than two million people have been internally displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency. Based on those in ‘unregistered’ camps some report the number is much higher.

Overwhelming Silence

For the most part, the global community has blatantly looked away. It has shocked a number of us at Voice of the Persecuted and the reason a few advocates have named these dear ones, The Invisibles‘. Many in the West are unaware that every day, Christians are facing some form of persecution in North Nigeria. Bishop Doeme said. “Since Boko Haram’s emergence, it has been one attack after another on the church, on individuals and families.” Aid reaching these victims falls way short compared to the scale of the crisis. We cannot continue to ignore them any longer. Our silence has added to the acute suffering. We are the Church, we must do more to aid our brethren when others will not.

Christians have been severely impacted as the military fights to push back the jihadists. Many fled their villages which were completely razed, even going as far as neighboring Cameroon to seek safety. Family members became separated with many of the victims unaware if their loved ones are still alive. They are hopeful that the government will soon take down the Boko Haram. They are praying for the ability to return home safely. The military has taken back some areas once controlled by the militants. Weary from the conflict, some people have recently started to return. But many villages are still unstable and under threat of possible attacks, including suicide bombings. Their safety outweighs the risk of return. They’ve been through enough.

Project 133 Nigeria mission meeting Mar 2016During our meeting, we listened as they shared heartbreaking stories of what can only be described as demonic activity. One may not like to hear us use such terms, but the extreme brutality and torture being witnessed is not human. Our Nigerian brothers and sisters agree. However, they ask us to pray for their persecutors as they are lost and have been deceived.

We heard horrifying accounts of women and children watching their husbands or fathers murdered before their eyes. Some have lost multiple family members in a single attack. They saw their homes doused with flammables as everything they owned was set on fire, burned to the ground in a heap of ash. In particular, the story of one woman stands out. She begged the militants to take her life after they forced her to watch the beheading her husband, a man with great faith. Strangely the insurgents ignored her. She grabbed the shirt one of the militants, demanding they relieve her from living without the man she loved and the loss of all she had. She claimed she would rather be with him than to face another day without. Once again, the they seemed not to notice her. They did not rape or take her as a spoil. She lives today! Praise the Lord with us that our Christian sister has been spared. Pray that she will overcome the intense grief, will be uplifted and shown love and concern by us, the Church as a whole.

Gideon spoke of boys abducted to kill in the insurgency, Young girls forced to become suicide bombers. Some ran away before they were blown to bits to protect their neighbors recognized in the crowd. Women and girls kidnapped and used as sex slaves. Thousands, like chattel, taken over the past 6 years. But many have only heard of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014. The whereabouts of most of the 270 Chibok girls are still unknown, only 56 escaped captivity. Nearly all the girls were Christians. We pray these little sisters have hope in Christ, are remaining strong in their Christian faith and know He is always with them. Please pray for them and the release of all captives held by the Boko Haram.

Divine Strength in Christ

Fr. Gideon reported stories of the incredible faith of those facing immediate death but held onto Jesus until their last breath. Miraculous news of those submitting their lives free from fear as if nothing was happening while they were brutally killed. Though it was a blessing to hear of these miracles, many have suffered immensely. Take heart, all these dear ones are precious in the sight of the Lord. They will be given white robes and a crown of life! One day, we will rejoice with them and together give glory to our Almighty God.

eyn-church-building-in-nigeriaThe insurgency has been ongoing since 2009. Some have been living in the IDP camps for years. Many churches have been destroyed or stand vacant. Whole congregations fled as their communities were experiencing or under the constant threat of attack. Eventually, pastors also had to run for their lives leaving their churches behind. Some began ministering in the IDP camps, as they too became refugees in their own land.

Brother Gideon told us,

“They can destroy our church buildings, but they cannot destroy our faith.”

Many of you may remember Brother Gideon and others from the camp on our January 24-hour Prayer Conference Call EventDuring that call, we heard directly from, asked questions and prayed for persecuted Christians. While we were praying, Gideon told us that explosions were taking place and the city was under attack. It was an anxious moment for all of us. Fr. Gideon shared how important the call is for them. How they feel as if they’re sitting in the same room praying with us. Our founder, Lois Kanalos shared how many of you have been deeply touched hearing their voices, their current status and connecting with them on a deeper level. He was very encouraged and looking forward to the next Prayer Call Event in April.

In Christ, Bishop Doeme has learned to deal with the anxiety that comes with each attack.

“Fear will always come,” he said. “But then, as a believer, the faith overshadows the fear.”

Fr. Gideon pointed out the Bishop’s bright red socks, which stood out in contrast to his dark clothing. He explained the Bishop wore the socks as a reminder to the faithful that he would not abandon them. He would be the last to leave, even if that departure meant martyrdom. The Bishop nodded and said,

“God has planted me there in order to serve the people.”

They expressed their gratitude for all the prayers of protection. The Christian camps in the nearby area have not been affected by recent attacks! They also said, our Nigerian brothers and sisters are very encouraged knowing we pray for them.

When many pastors have been forced to flee, these brave men have vowed to stay with, help to protect and care for all Christians, regardless of denominational differences. Voice of the Persecuted also stands united with all who call Jesus Christ, “Lord” and are persecuted for their faith. We are honored to work side by side. We thanked the Bishop for allowing our dear Brother Gideon to lead VOP’s Project 13:3 Nigeria to care for Christians who have suffered the most at the hands of the Boko Haram. Aid has even been given to moderate Muslims, particularly women, who have suffered alongside those we intend to help, which is in agreement with the VOP mission.

Continued Pressure

We were informed of the stress many Christians are facing in government camps. They’re constantly pressured to convert to Islam and often passed over for daily food rations and water. Women are extremely vulnerable and preyed upon by Muslim men. It has reached a level where Christians leaders are now asking the brethren to leave these camps and find those aiding Christians, such as our camp. The numbers in this camp rise and falls between 400-700 people. Larger numbers are seen following attacks. We’re told those in the camp have spread the word for others to come. Sharing they feel cared for, receive 3 square meals a day and medical needs are supplied.

Thanking the Lord

Thanking the Lord

The Bishop specifically spoke about our completed well project and the great blessing it has been to those in the camp. Not only has it protected them from the cholera outbreak experienced from the contaminated local well, they no longer must trek the long distance carrying heavy buckets back and forth to the camp. It has made a huge impact on them and they are forever grateful to all who have partnered for its construction. THANK YOU! They pray daily for the Lord to continue using this mission and for those making it possible through their gifts.

Excitedly, we all praise God as we discussed how the Lord has directed Project 13:3 Nigeria from the very start. From covering the needs of one family to caring for the needs of the entire camp a year later. We were reminded of the loaves and fishes. God is truly blessing His saints! With Christians now being forced out of government camps, the numbers of our brothers and sisters needing our help have grown.

Voice of the Persecuted has been asked to expand the mission to aid 2 more camps—2000 in one, 7000 in the other. We humbly ask for and need your support to help alleviate their suffering. We pray He can use each one of us to do our part for His love to shine on these persecuted brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Any amount is greatly appreciated. If your church is being led to do more for our persecuted family, please contact us. We would be happy to send detailed updates of this relief project. Is God calling you to be a part of this important mission?

Christian Children Nigeria copyright photo Voice of the Persecuted©-1

We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home. we will be there to help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific 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

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project. Donations always desperately needed

 Article may be shared and reprinted with credit to Voice of the Persecuted.  

 

Village massacres strain Nigeria further, as traditional nomads fight modernisation

Ethnic Fulani Muslim herdsman -Wikipedia

Ethnic Fulani Muslim herdsman -Wikipedia

(World Watch Monitor)In the rural village of Agatu, in north central Nigeria, someone had successfully installed a solar panel in his home before the arsonists lit their fires. It was late February when suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen razed scores of villages in central Nigeria’s most Christian state. The contrast between one community modestly reaching for modern advancement, and another relying on medieval practices, could not be sharper.

The northern Fulani tribe herds their cattle, traversing the length of a country the size of Texas, as their fathers have done for centuries – on foot. The only discernible change in this age-long practice is that many have traded their nomadic staffs for AK47s. As vectors of a jihad two centuries ago that shaped contemporary Islam in Nigeria, it is uncertain if the automatic rifles are for tending cows or a necessary jihadi upgrade.

The Idoma people of Agatu till the land, as did their forbears for aeons. But schools have dotted the landscape, clinics and churches too, as they have embraced Christianity and Western education, turning away centuries before from Fulani Islamic jihad. Huts have turned to houses, and far more young people drift to cities to live and work than remain at home to farm.

Fulani attacks ‘worse than Boko Haram’

Yet Benue state in Nigeria’s middle belt, where Agatu is located, is the nation’s undisputed “Food Basket.” It provides food to both the north and the more educationally advanced south. But now it is the latest battleground in what former US ambassador John Campbell termed a looming “religious war”, and a situation the US Commission for international Religious Freedom warned had claimed as many lives as Boko Haram terrorists had killed in one period under review.

“Religiously-related violence has led to more deaths in northern Nigeria than have Boko Haram attacks, said commission Chairwoman Katrina Lantos Swett in April 2013, following attacks by Fulani herdsmen.

The parallels with Boko Haram – the world’s deadliest terror group – go further. Like Boko Haram, the Fulani are Muslim. Similarly, their victims are overwhelmingly Christians and non-Muslims. They cry “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) during their attacks, and they leave atrocities in their wake.

During a tour of the region by journalists and humanitarian agencies following the February violence, Benue state governor Samuel Ortom said the impact of the herdsmen’s attack was probably “worse than Boko Haram” in the northeast. “When Boko Haram captures a town, they kill some people, recruit some people and occupy the town. But the herdsmen spare no-one. My own house was burnt. Kids haven’t been to school in two years.”

A tour of Benue’s state capital, Makurdi, shows exactly that – churches, homes, clinics destroyed from Fulani attacks in 2014. The Makurdi local-government chairman said a few students still congregate in a burnt-out school building, but most moved away to a neighbouring hamlet that doesn’t have a school.

It was the same for the Guma local-government chairman. During a damage assessment, he was shocked to learn from religious leaders that they had lost 70 churches, as the Catholic Church reported in the news in 2014. The Secretary to the Catholic Bishop of Makurdi Diocese, Moses Mbachie, was quoted as saying then that “more than 70 churches” had been destroyed, and he described the situation as “very sad.”

But researchers at the Self-Worth Development Initiative, a local Makurdi NGO, say the public doesn’t realise just how bad the devastation has been. Their  research revealed that nine Local Government Areas in the state had been impacted in the 2014 attacks – 80 per cent of the Agatu Local Government Area, and for the Guma Local Government Area, 10 out of 10 wards. More than 50,000 people were displaced from Agatu, which represented about 10 per cent of the 430,000 people affected by attacks between 2011 and 2014 in Benue.

These figures describe a humanitarian crisis akin to Boko Haram’s insurgency in the northeast. The striking hostility of the attackers toward churches, schools, homes and farms is another indication that the terror group and the nomads share similar methods and even a common ideology – except that the Fulani take no prisoners.

A problematic crisis

But here is how the nomads are different, and possibly more problematic. They are a tribe and not a terror group. This means they can’t simply be outlawed and treated as a terrorist organisation. This also means government response has been muted compared to its declared war on Boko Haram.

The Fulani attacks are also more brutal. Where Boko Haram would sort through victims to separate Muslims from Christians, women from men and children from adults, most often killing the latter and sparing the former, the nomads hack and burn babies, slash the bellies of pregnant women and generally leave a less methodical and more gruesome aftermath. Boko Haram seizes and occupies towns to administer them. The Fulani destroy communities and their cattle graze on the farms of those displaced or killed.

Similarly, the Fulani operate in plain sight. They have a public organisation, the Miyette Allah association, that routinely issues press statements rationalising their attacks and even filing lawsuits in court. Generally, the theme of their defense is that their cattle were rustled. Justifying the present Agatu massacre, they claim 10,000 cows were killed by the locals. Yet, members of the first assessment mission said they saw no dead cows at all, and no-one has been arrested for that crime. Boko Haram, by contrast, remains a non-juridical entity, does not have a public presence, and does not participate in litigation.

Nor does Boko Haram have the free reign that the Fulani have to travel all over Nigeria, and across West Africa. The herdsmen are found in several African countries, including some of those to which the Boko Haram insurgency has spread, and are able to move freely across national borders with their cattle and arms.

A week after the recent attacks began, on 29 February, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered an investigation. On 17 March, the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum, a subset of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said Buhari’s actions were not living up to his words.

On the same day, Members of the Benue parliamentary caucus in the House of Representatives issued a blunt statement: “We decry the lukewarm attitude of the Federal government towards this ‘jihad’ being waged against our people by the herdsmen.” The 11 lawmakers accused President Buhari of downplaying what they characterised as “a genocide that, typical of the Nigerian state, has been downplayed or ignored until it spirals out of control. After the Agatu mass massacre, a few headlines were recorded, a few sympathetic comments in high places but concrete moves to stop the killings have not been made.”

Available data show there have been 10 Fulani herdsmen attacks in Benue state alone, an average of almost one a month, since Buhari took office in March 2015. This has also been a consistent average for the last three years, including during the previous administration. (There have been 40 documented attacks in 35 months.)

TIMELINE OF FULANI ATTACKS ON BENUE STATE 2013 – 2016

Note: “LGA” is the acronym for Local Government Area, a subdivision of Nigerian state government.

2013
1. April 23: 10 farmers killed in Mbasenge community, Guma LGA
2. May 7: 47 mourners killed in Agatu while burying 2 policemen killed in neighbouring Nassarawa town
3. May 14: 40 killed as over 200 herdsmen stormed Ekwo-Okpanchenyi, Agatu LGA
4. July 5: 20 killed following clashes between Tiv farmers and herdsmen in Nzorov, Guma LGA
5. July 28: 8 killed as herdsmen invaded 2 villages in Agatu LGA
6. Nov 7: 7 killed, 6,000+ displaced when attackers struck Ikpele & Okpopolo communities, Agatu LGA
7. Nov 9: 36 killed and 7 villages overrun in Agatu LGA
8. Nov 20: 22 killed and lots of properties destroyed in an attack in Guma LGA.

2014
9. Jan 20: 5 soldiers and 7 civilians gunned down in an attack, in Agatu LGA
10. Jan 20: 3 killed in attack on Adeke village
11. 20-21 Feb: 35 killed, 80,000 displaced, 6 villages sacked following an attack in Gwer West LGA
12. Feb 24: 8 killed following an attack on a Tiv community along Naka road, Makurdi
13. March 6: 30 killed, 6 villages sacked in Katsina/Ala and Logo LGAs
14. March 12: 28 killed in a raid on Ukpam, in Guma LGA. Yam barns and farms burnt
15. March 10: the convoy of ex-Governor Suswam attacked at Umenger. He managed to escape
16. March 12: 22 slaughtered in an attack on Suswam’s village, Logo LGA. The entire village sacked
17. March 23: 25 killed, over 50 injured following an attack in Gbajimba, Guma LGA
18. March 25: 7 killed following an attack on Agena village
19. March 29: 19 killed in attack on 4 villages in Agatu LGA
20. March 29: 15 killed in a suspected use of chemical weapons on Shengev community, in Gwer LGA
21. March 30: 19 killed in Agatu LGA
22. April 10: 6 killed and many properties destroyed as 100+ assailants stormed 4 villages in Logo LGA
23. April 15: 12 killed in attack on Obagaji, Headquarters of Agatu LGA
24. Sept 10: Scores dead when herdsmen attacked 5 villages in Ogbadibo LGA

2015
25. Jan 27: 17 killed in attacks on Abugbe, Okoklo, Ogwule & Ocholoyan in Agatu LGA
26. Jan 30: 9 killed as 100+ assailants stormed 5 villages in Logo LGA
27. March 15: 90+ killed, including women and children, properties destroyed in Egba village, Agatu LGA
28. April 27: 28 killed in attack on 3 villages in Mbadwem, Guma LGA; houses and farmlands razed
29. May 11: 5 killed & 8 wounded as herdsmen invaded Ikyoawen community, Turan Kwande LGA
30. May 24: 100 killed in an attack on villages & refugee camps in Logo LGA
31. July 7: 1 killed and others injured following an attack on mourners in Imande Bebeshi, Kwande LGA
32. Nov 5: 12 killed, 25 others injured in Buruku LGA following an attack by suspected herdsmen

2016
33. Feb 8: 10 killed and 300+ displaced in clash between herdsmen and farmers at Tor-Anyiin and Tor-Ataan in Buruku LGA
34. Feb 21-24: 500+ killed and 7,000 displaced in an attack on Agatu LGA, over 7 villages razed
35. Feb 29: 11 killed in Edugbeho, Agatu LGA, including a police inspector.
36. March 5: many properties burnt in Agatu as security forces prevented killings
37. March 9: 8 killed in attacks on Ngorukgan, Tse Chia, Deghkia and Nhumbe in Logo LGA
38. March 10: 2 killed in attack on Obagaji, Agatu LGA
39. March 11: Convoy of Senator David Mark attacked, but he managed to escape
40. March 13: 6 killed in an attack on Tarkaa LGA.

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orphan-306x4601Voice of the Persecuted is caring for internal refugees from Christian villages hardest hit by the Boko Haram. It is one of the largest Christian camps in the area with over 400 displaced persons. We’ve been asked if it would be possible to extend the mission to the other camps too. Many children reside in the camp, including those orphaned and women made widows in the insurgency. Their needs are immense. Please consider supporting this mission to care for those suffering great physical and emotional trauma. VOP is on the ground in Nigeria, GO with us on the mission through your gifts.

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through your support and they keep you in their prayers.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific 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 greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project.

Retraction: “Murdered Translators” Not Affiliated with Wycliffe Global Alliance Organizations

bible-223654

We’re sorry that we must share our first retraction regarding Wycliffe Global Alliance Organizations Bible translators being martyred for their faith. Wycliffe Global Alliance has confirmed none of their translators have been harmed. Yet, another mission, Wycliffe Associates has claimed their workers have been martyred. We apologize for any mis-communication that those martyred had worked with Wycliffe Global Alliance Organizations. Once again, we apologize and will strive to verify and accurately share the many reports sent to us.  We ask that you continue to pray and know your prayers have not been wasted. Most certainly these courageous brothers and sisters, and their families need our prayers.

Statement from Wycliffe Global Alliance Organizations:

Some media networks have recently published stories concerning four local translators ‘murdered by militants in the Middle East’. Some of the news stories and headlines identified these translators as “Wycliffe translators.” In fact, no Wycliffe Global Alliance staff, staff of Alliance organizations, or related local partners have been harmed.
We are saddened to hear of this tragic story and those affected by it, whatever organization they may be associated with. We, however, have no further information about this incident, where it took place or who was involved.

The Islamic State Attempts To Eradicate Christians While Creating Killer Caliphate

Urban camp holding 94 Assyrian families in Erbil, Iraq. ( Doug Bandow)

Urban camp holding 94 Assyrian families in Erbil, Iraq. ( Doug Bandow)

By Doug Bandow

ERBIL, IRAQ–Kurdistan in the north of Iraq has become a refuge for Christians and other religious minorities in the midst of the Islamic State’s murderous rampage. In response, the Republican-controlled House voted to designate the Islamic State’s murderous campaign against Christians and Yazidis as genocide.

It’s an ironic judgment from a body controlled by the political party most responsible for the rise of ISIS–absent George W. Bush’s foolhardy invasion of Iraq, the deadly movement would not even exist. Nevertheless, Secretary of State John Kerry last week used the term for the first time regarding the Islamic State, declaring that it “is responsible for genocide against groups” including religious minorities.

The abundant crimes of Daesh, as it also is known, constitute an unprecedented religious war against members of minority faiths who until recently largely lived in peace with their Muslim neighbors. While Christians and other religious minorities suffered pervasive discrimination and persecution by such U.S. allies as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, these groups were largely unmolested by the secular dictatorships of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, a Christian woman was better off living in Baghdad or Damascus than in Riyadh or Islamabad.

Alas, George W. Bush’s botched campaign against non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction unleashed a tsunami of Islamist brutality. Newly empowered Shia turned the state against formerly ruling Sunnis, who responded with a virulent insurgency and indiscriminate terrorism. Christians, who possessed neither militia nor safe haven, suffered grievously, with hundreds of thousands driven from their homes, many fleeing to Syria.

The collapse, the latter into civil war left Christians (and other religious minorities) poised uneasily between the government and insurgents, with many leaning toward the former. After all, they lived the show in Iraq and didn’t enjoy the ending. Worse was to come from the Islamic State, an outgrowth of  in Iraq which allied with disgruntled Sunnis to defeat Baghdad’s forces in Iraq and displace both government forces and more moderate insurgents in Syria.

As ISIS created its “Caliphate”–establishing its rule over a sizeable amount of territory–the group expanded its depredations against most everyone, including antagonistic Sunnis, but especially Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. Hence the brutal campaign detailed in the nearly 300-page report, “Genocide against Christians in the Middle East,” issued by the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians, a group which focuses on the Mideast.

This sustained Islamist attack targets the roots of Christianity. Believers were first called Christians in Antioch, Syria (Acts 11:26). Iraqi Christians, known as Assyrians, were converted to Christianity 2000 years ago, apparently by St. Thomas. Christianity predated Islam by hundreds of years and was subjugated through military conquest, not converted through spiritual persuasion. Nevertheless, the Christian community remained vibrant and contributed greatly to Muslim-dominated societies in succeeding centuries. Even in recent years Christians enjoyed surprising influence and authority. A Christian founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In Hussein’s Iraq a nominal Christian, Tariq Aziz, held multiple high public positions.

Today, however, the very survival of Christianity in its birthplace is in question.

The report argued simply: “ISIS is committing genocide” against Christians in Iraq, Libya and Syria. “Killings, rapes, torture, kidnappings, bombings and the destruction of religious property and monuments are, in some instances, a matter of public record.” But the document adds much more detail, reporting crimes largely hidden from public view in the West. Nor is this all. Explained the authors: “We are now being sent new stories and new evidence daily. So what is known about ISIS’ genocidal atrocities will only increase, and the known scale of the horrors that have occurred can only expand with time.”

The words of ISIS are clear. The organization publishes a magazine named Dabiq, the place where the movement expects to destroy the “Crusader army,” meaning Christians. This is no metaphorical quest. Explained the Islamic State:

“We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted.” If today’s ISIS killers fail in this regard, “then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”

Nor is this viewed as a battle against secular armies. To the contrary, stated the Islamic State:

“It will continue to wage war against the apostates until they repent from apostasy. It will continue wage war against the pagans until they accept Islam. It will continue to wage war against the Jewish state until the Jews hide behind their gharqad trees. And it will continue to wage war against the Christians until the truce decreed sometime before the Malhamah. Thereafter, the slave markets will commence in Rome by Allah’s power and might.”

Some policymakers mistakenly believed the assault on Christians was limited–for instance, mostly occurring in Nineveh in 2014. However, noted the study, “Christians have been attacked throughout the region, not simply in the Nineveh area or only during the summer of 2014. Christians have been attacked and killed by ISIS and its affiliates in Syria, Libya, Yemen and surrounding areas.” Indeed, the violence began in Iraq shortly after the U.S. invasion by ISIS’ predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The Islamic State claimed to represent historic Islam and convinced some observers that it had replicated the practice of levying the jizya tax on Christians, otherwise leaving them at peace. In fact, explained the study, ISIS simply employed theological concepts which may “mean something contrary to historic Islamic practice” or “nothing at all.” In this case, jizya proved to be a ploy, “almost always a term for extortion and a prelude or postscript to ISIS violence against Christians.”

In Nineveh, for instance, demands for the tax preceded “killings, kidnappings, rapes and the dispossession of the Christian population.” In Raqqa the practice was employed only “after ISIS had already closed the churches, burned Bibles and kidnapped the town’s priests.” Scholar Alberto Fernandez called the concept “more a Salafi Caliphate publicity stunt than a careful recreation of jizya as practiced by the early Caliphs.” It seems even ISIS, which positively gloried in its murderous ways, hoped to mislead its opponents as to the nature of its campaign.

Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that the Islamic State will change its behavior as long as any Christians or other religious minorities survive under its control. Argued the report: “Thousands of Christians, Yazidis, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Turkmen, Shabaks, Sabean-Mandeans, Kaka’en Kurds, and Jews have been–and will continue to be–targeted for extermination because of their religion by a well-financed and highly-organized network of criminal gangs.”

Yet to describe the Islamic State’s crimes in generalities does not adequately communicate the truly horrific nature of its campaign. The NGO Shlomo recorded 1131 Christians murders between 2003 and 2014 in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, with more than 100 more since then. Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan of Antioch, Syria believed more than 500 Christians in Iraq and more than 1000 in Syria were murdered. The Archbishop of Aleppo, Syria, Jean-Clement Jeanbart, said that hundreds of Christians have been killed or kidnapped in his city and perhaps thousands in Syria as a whole. Others have been slaughtered in Libya and elsewhere.

While widespread murder is the Islamic State’s most odious crime, the group inflicts grievous harm on those it does not kill. Those interviewed for the report cited all manner of bodily harm: “Choking, beatings with guns and electrical cords, mock executions, and withholding of food and water in the extreme heat are commonplace.” Rape also is widespread, with more than “1500 Yazidi and Christian girls” taken as sex slaves. As in ancient times, they are sold and shared like chattel. At least 380 Christians are known to have been kidnapped in Syria and more than 150 have been seized in the Nineveh Plain since 2014. Such activities create “mental traumas” akin to PTSD, “Including intrusive thoughts of their captors, overwhelming emotions of fear and grief, and nightmares.” In some cases, such as women repeatedly raped by ISIS fighters, there is “acute mental distress, even total mental breakdown.”

Moreover, the Islamic State coerced religious conversion. Dozens of Christians have affirmed Islam “after being deprived of food and water, and being beaten and threatened with death.” This process might seem unimportant to nonbelievers but, reported the authors, “the violation of conscience–the spiritual rape–involved in a conversion through force works a state of mental and spiritual unrest that is difficult to put into words.” A coerced conversion against one’s beliefs “introduces fear, uncertainty, guilt, and shame into the most important and intimate relationship one can experience.”

There also is robbery of most everything Christians possessed–“homes, businesses, money, jewelry, clothes, and supplies.” ISIS members often returned repeatedly to steal more. Islamic State fighters seized the luggage of Christians forced into exile. Those left in their homes were denied electricity, sanitation and water.

Finally, there is religious cleansing. For instance, “Christians were rounded up into buses and driven out to a remote place to fend for themselves. Sometimes this was next to a river they had to cross, sometimes it was in the middle of the desert.” Left without food and water, many had to walk for hours to reach safety. All told, noted the report: “ISIS generally operated with extreme indifference or hostility to the survival and well-being of its Christian victims.”

The report included detailed lists of crimes committed against Christians and Christians known to be murdered, as well as summaries of witness statements. These highlighted the tragedy that has overwhelmed the region’s religious minorities. Those who escaped reported brutality, beatings, kidnappings, disappearances, expulsions, ransom demands, detentions, looting, churches vandalized and destroyed, homes seized, forced conversions, coerced marriages, and killing. Perhaps the saddest cases, tragically common, involved family members who chose to remain after ISIS’s arrival, believing that the situation would quickly return to normal. Many since have not been heard from and their fate is unknown.

Among the creepiest evidence of the depravity of the Islamic State is the “Subject/Prices of Selling Spoils of War” flier reproduced in the report. Almost beyond belief, this price list for sexual slaves has been confirmed as genuine by Zainab Hawa Bangura, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict. The document complained about a drop in “demand in women and spoils of war” which cut ISIS revenues. Thus, the “caliphate” set price controls, with the penalty of death for any violations. Prices started at 50,000 dinars for a Christian or Yazidi woman between 40 and 50 and rose to 200,000 for any Christian or Yazidi child from one to nine. Only foreigners, as in “Turks, Syrians, and Gulf Arabs,” were allowed to purchase more than “3 spoils.” Bangura explained that such “spoils” often were first offered to Islamic State leaders, next to wealthy Gulf Arabs, and then to local fighters.

Included within the report is a memorandum from ADF International detailing the extraordinary damage done Middle Eastern Christians. While Christianity is the most victimized faith worldwide, noted the group, “the persecution of Christian and other religious or ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq differs significantly from the rest of the world due to the magnitude of the persecution and the intent behind it.” The number of Christians in Iraq is estimated to have dropped from 1.4 million in 2003 to 275,000 today. In Syria the number has gone from 1.25 million in 2011 to about a half million today.

As the Knights/IDC report substantiates, there is no doubt of widespread genocidal persecution of religious minorities. The biggest challenge is what to do about it. Many who pushed for the designation of “genocide” hoped to force a response from Washington. But there is little military option. After all, foolish U.S. intervention triggered the crisis in Iraq and Libya and exacerbated the conflict in Syria. Indictments under the International Criminal Court would provide moral satisfaction, but the Islamic State must be defeated for any prosecutions to occur. Indeed, defeat itself is the most important way to stop ISIS activities and is primarily the responsibility of the Middle Eastern nations under attack from Daesh.

Perhaps the most obvious response by Americans would be to offer more humanitarian aid and accept additional refugees. Despite security fears, the Islamic State is unlikely to attempt to use refugees, who typically wait years for resettlement, as a means to attack America. However, at least Muslim refugees could be taken in by the Persian Gulf States. Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities lack any comparable Mideast sanctuary: only Lebanon is hospitable to non-Muslims, and is overwhelmed with refugees of all faiths.

The slaughter of Middle Eastern Christians and other persecuted faiths is one of the great tragedies of our age. The Knights/IDC report helps bring the Islamic State’s many crimes to life. There is no panacea, no easy solution to the ongoing conflict. But Americans can act even when their government cannot. Today they should act even if their government does not.

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Christian convert killed in Bangladesh

Bangladesh-MAP

(Voice of the Persecuted) In the latest attack on minorities in the country, Hossain Ali (68), a Christian convert was brutally hacked to death by suspected Islamic militants in the northern Bangladesh town of Kurigram. Witnesses claim during his regular morning walk, attackers jump out at Ali and slashed his neck. Law enforcement reported 3 unknown assailants fled the scene on motorbikes and that Ali died on the spot. They also reported that there had been disputes in the family and he may have been murdered for religious reasons.

Ali converted to Christianity in 1999. He had recently retired from government service. Locals also claim Hossain Ali was a pastor at a neighborhood church, although autorities have denied this claim. He was also a 1971 liberation war veteran.

In January, the Islamic State claimed the murder of Samir al-Din because he converted from Islam. Their statement, “Soldiers of the caliphate were able to eliminate the apostate, named ‘Samir al-Din’, by stabbing him with a knife,”

Despite ISIS claiming responsibily for a number of attacks, the government denies the presence of ISIS in Bangladesh and attributes the murders to the banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh. The nation seen a surge in Islamist violence as activists and religious minorities have been targeted.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh. Pray endurance for the many who have converted to faith in Jesus across the globe.

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MARCH 21, This Day in Christian History: On a Sinking Ship, John Newton is Converted by Amazing Grace

amazing grace

Watch and share the documentary below. To be at sea in a storm on an ocean liner can be thrilling. To face a storm in a sailing vessel that is not seaworthy can be terrifying. The boat in which John Newton sailed was in disrepair and its sails and rigging worn. A hard man who had often mocked God, John was considered impious even by his godless mates.

One night, he was awakened by a violent wave crashing against the vessel. Water filled his cabin. Hurrying above, he found that timbers had been ripped away. All were in terrible danger as the ship plunged through a furious storm. Men pumped desperately. Clothes and bedding were stuffed into holes and boards nailed over them. John joined those who were manning the pumps.

Too exhausted to pump any longer, he was lashed to the wheel to try and steer the ship. The storm raged on and on. It was bitterly cold, more so since the men had few clothes left. In this desperate moment, John began to review his life. Raised to the age of seven by a Christian mother, he had sought the Lord with fasts and prayers, but failing to find God he had become embittered. Despite this, the Lord preserved him through many dangers. Once he was even made a servant to slaves on the West coast of Africa.

In his heart, he believed Christianity to be true. This brought him no consolation. “I concluded my sins were too great to be forgiven. I waited with fear and impatience to receive my doom.” But soon he heard the glad news that the ship was freed of water. “I began to pray…to think of that Jesus that I had so often derided; I recollected his death: a death for sins not his own, but, as I remembered, for the sake of those who should put their trust in him.” On this day, March 21, 1747(new calendar) a day he ever after observed, John realized he needed a Savior to intercede for him with God.

He snatched a free moment to open the Bible and begin to read. Though the storm raged on for days, John spent every free moment in the Scripture and praying for guidance. Hungry, cold, exhausted, the men kept the ship afloat. Only one died of exhaustion but the Captain muttered that John ought to be thrown overboard like Jonah; he claimed John’s wickedness was the cause of all their misery. Finally, they reached Ireland.

By then John was convinced the Lord had reached down and delivered his soul. The story of the Prodigal Son seemed to exactly fit his case. He never turned back from that day of salvation, although, not realizing slavery was a sin, he worked six years as a slave ship master. He showed kindness to the slaves he transported, held worship services for his men and wrote hymns for them. Later he saw that slavery was wrong and became an abolitionist and a minister. Reflecting on his hard life, he wrote one of the world’s most loved hymns: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” Christianity.com

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SURVIVING NUN RECOUNTS YEMEN MASSACRE IN CHILLING HANDWRITTEN NOTE

Warning: graphic images

ADEN, YEMEN (ANS – March 18, 2016) — A lone surviving nun is telling the world her personal account of a recent Yemen massacre she witnessed in a chilling handwritten letter.

According to CBN News, a peaceful morning on March 4, 2016, at a Catholic nursing home in Aden, Yemen, suddenly turned into 90 minutes of horror as men, believed to be Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists, raided the facility with the intent of murdering every nun and volunteer there.

According to reports, the nuns were first handcuffed and then shot at point blank range.

The superior, Sister Sally, who hails from Kerala, India, survived after she hid herself from the gunmen after a guard sounded a warning cry about the attackers.

The superior, Sister Sally, who hails from Kerala, India, survived after she hid herself from the gunmen after a guard sounded a warning cry about the attackers.

Sister Sally is the only eye witness to the event. She recounted her story in a conversation with another nun, Sister Rio, who then wrote down her account in a memorandum.

According to India-born Sister Sally, the assailants stormed the facility on the morning of March 4 after the nuns and volunteer aids had their usual breakfast and prayer time.

Armed terrorists dressed in blue stormed the compound at 8:30 a.m.

“Ethiopian men (Christian) began running to tell the sisters ISIS was there to kill them. They were killed one by one,” Sister Sally recalled.

Another 12 others at an elderly facility were also brutally slaughtered.

CBN News then went on to say that the terrorists proceeded to gun down every nun and volunteer they could find until Sister Sally was the only one left. She then tried running to warn the nearby convent before she was forced to hide behind the door of “the refrigerator room.”

The bloody scene after the attack.

The bloody scene after the attack.

“The [Islamic State] ISIS men were everywhere, searching for her and even entered the refrigerator room at least three times without finding her,” Sister Sally witnessed.

Sister Rio comments in the memorandum that Sister Sally’s survival is nothing short of “miraculous.”

“The terrorists murdered every other nun and any volunteer aids they could find. After the rampage the Islamic extremists destroyed all religious articles and Christian symbols at the facility,” CBN went on to say.

“The martyred nuns were Sister Judith from Kenya, Sister Anselm from India, and Sister Marguerite and Sister Reginette from Rwanda. They were all associated with Members of the Missionaries of Charity, an order founded by Mother Teresa.

“Indian priest Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil was also kidnapped by the terrorists and is yet to be found.”

The murdered sisters had left their homes in India and Africa to serve the poor, elderly, and disabled in the war-torn country of Yemen. They worked together with volunteers at the convent’s home care center, where they served around sixty to eighty patients of all religions.

“They were serving all poor people irrespective of their religion. Their duty was to help the poor,” a representative from the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia told the Catholic News Agency (CAN).

Sister Sally and her community are still grieving the victims’ deaths but say they have “fully surrendered” to the will of God.

In the memorandum, Sister Sally urges Christians “to pray that their blood will be the seeds for peace in the Middle East and to stop ISIS.”

Elderly survivors of the gruesome attack.

Elderly survivors of the gruesome attack.

According to PressTV (http://www.presstv.ir), no individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the carnage, but sources close to Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi blamed it on the Islamic State [Dae’sh] (IS) terrorists.

Yemen has been under Saudi airstrikes on a daily basis since the regime in Riyadh launched its military aggression against the impoverished country in late March 2015, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Exploiting the chaos in Yemen, Islamic State (Dae’sh), which is mainly operating in Syria and Iraq, has been able to infiltrate the country.

The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also taken advantage of the volatile conditions and the breakdown of security in Yemen since the beginning of the Saudi war to tighten its grip on parts of southeastern Yemen.

By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service

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Please faithfully remember Sister Sally’s prayer request.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate the horrific suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

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