We invite you to join with Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch along with International Orality Network as we host our second 2016 24-hour prayer event at the end of April. Thank you to all who participated on January’s Call Event. What a joy it is to pray united with all of you. It means so much and greatly encouraged the persecuted brethren on the call with us! We were told, “It felt like we were together praying in the same room!”
Note: You are not required to commit to the entire 24 hours. Come on the call and pray as your time allows.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Location: Call in from your own phone from any location
Fri., 4/29 – Sat., 4/30
Length of call: 24 Hours
Time of call…….Fri. evening to Sat. evening
9 p.m. Eastern Time
8 p.m. Central Time
7 p.m. Mountain Time
6 p.m. Pacific Time
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Religious and human rights groups are applauding a European court decision that ruled governments must grant a fair evaluation of Christian converts before they are denied asylum and sent back to Iran.
Mohabat News _ This week, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of F.G vs. Sweden that the Swedish government would be violating Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect life and safeguard against inhumane treatment if it deported the applicant.
“The lower chamber (of the court) underestimated the severe danger to this convert’s life,” Robert Clarke, director of European Advocacy for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, told the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
“The Grand Chamber rightly noted that Christian converts are one of the most persecuted religious minorities in Iran. Moreover, the Islamic regime governing Iran has systematic mechanisms in place to identify all Christian converts – even those practicing in secret,” Clarke added.
Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said: “Asylum should be granted to individuals who are being persecuted and fear for their lives because of converting to a different religion.
“Iran’s anti-conversion laws violate the fundamental human right to be able to choose your own religion and live out your beliefs, which includes the right to change your religion without the government threatening imprisonment or in the case of Iran, death for apostasy,” he told CNA.
In 2009, an Iranian citizen reportedly applied for asylum and a resident permit in Sweden after suffering political persecution. Two years later, the Swedish Migration Office denied his request, which he appealed.
The lower chamber of the court ruled in January 2014 that Sweden’s denial was “justified” because the applicant’s life was reportedly not in jeopardy since Iranian authorities were unaware of his conversion and he could keep his faith private.
The ADF, however, filed a brief on behalf of the Iranian citizen with the European Human Court of Human Rights, arguing that the lower court’s decision “violated his religious freedom” and that converts to Christianity face numerous threats in Iran.
The judgment states: “The applicant’s conversion to Christianity is a criminal offence punishable by death in Iran. In addition to the risk of social persecution as a Christian, the applicant risks criminal prosecution for the crime of apostasy. The order for the applicant’s deportation to Iran, where he could be tried under the above-mentioned criminal and procedural law, equates to a violation of principles deeply enshrined in the universal legal conscience.”
Iran ranked as the ninth worst country for Christian persecution. It considers conversion from Islam a crime punishable by death.
Clarke warned that if a convert to Christianity is identified by the Iranian government, he or she is very likely “to suffer substantial harm, deprivation of liberty, assaults and continual harassment. In the worst case the individual could face severe ill-treatment or death.”
In its 2014 religious freedom report, the U.S. State Department indicated that “Christians, particularly evangelicals, continued to experience disproportionate levels of arrests and high levels of harassment and surveillance.”
The U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran also reported “that authorities held at least 49 Protestant Christians in custody, many for involvement in informal house churches,” according to CNA. /.Christian today
Patriarchs of Antioch remember the two Bishops kidnapped: “We do not have the support of the ‘giants’. Our only hope is in the Lord”
(Agenzia Fides) – Three years since the disappearance of 2 Metropolitan Bishops of Aleppo – Syrian Orthodox Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Boulos Yazigi – the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Yohanna X, remember the story of the two confreres kidnapped near Aleppo on April 22, 2013 in a long and intense message addressed to their “beloved spiritual children”, to the Syrians and to all men.
The case of the two Bishops – says the message kidnapped, sent to Agenzia Fides – is “a miniature of the great human suffering coming from terrorism: massacres, abductions, deracination, takfir, and explosions”. But if the intention of the kidnapping was to spread terror among the baptized, the two Patriarchs warn that the operation failed: “We Christians”, reads the document “are the descendants of those who, two thousand years ago, put on the name of Christ in this particular land. (…). We are no giants, and we do not have the support of the “giants””, but “we preserve our identity as Antiochian Easterners, through whatever difficulties or tribulations”. “In this troubled path – underline the two Patriarchs – we have spared no effort, but our main and only hope is in God”.
The words of the Primates of the two Churches of the East sweep away all the maneuvers of those who seek to exploit the suffering of Christians in the Middle East: “We shall continue to live in this East, ringing our bells, building our churches, and lifting up our Crosses. And the arm that will be extended to these Crosses or bells will be twisted by our Muslim brethren from all our national spectra”, says the long patriarchal text, where it repeats that the followers of Islam “are suffering like us from the bitterness of blind terrorism and takfir”, defined as “a condemned intruder” to our past and present Christian-Muslim relationships. The sufferings of the Eastern Christian are read in the light of salvation promised by Christ: “Despite the horror of the situation and its severity” – write the Patriarchs Mar Aphrem and Boulos – “we throw all this on the way of Golgotha of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cover all the darkness of this age with the light of the Virgin’s eyes, venerated by both Christians and Muslims, whom we implore to bring back to us all kidnapped people, our brother bishops of Aleppo, along with the abducted priests”.
In the document, the two Patriarchs highlight the way in which the lives of Christians in the Middle East are also reported in the global media debate. “We” the message reads “were not a minority, and will never be”. For those “who are keen about the “minorities,” and those who are opening wide the doors to receive the various spectra of Syrians, the two Patriarchs repeat that it is more fitting for them to seek a resolution, saving people from the burden of the perilous sea travel and ship wreckage.
“We appreciate every humanitarian effort of governments or organizations. However, insist the two Patriarchs, we cannot be protected through facilitating the migration of refugees. We are not petitioning for protection. Rather, we are seeking peace”. A peace that “is not founded on the notions of minorities and majorities, but is based on coexistence, citizenship and moderate religious discourse. Peace does not come by enforcing economic blockades and foreign economic sanctions that only hurt the homeless children and the poor people, those people who became cheap commodities for the arms’ market, used according to countries’ interests”.
Returning to the case of the Bishops kidnapped, in the final part of the document, the two Patriarchs thank the international community for the many public expressions of solidarity received, but invite all, starting with “decision-maker countries”, to replace “statements of condemnation and promises” with concrete initiatives that document in facts good intentions.
The two Patriarchs invite all their brothers in faith to also look at their own suffering in the light of the Risen Christ, the one who can “comfort the heart of our children, and establish peace in the land of peace. This land of the East”, said the statement “is bleeding now, but no doubt will rise again. We are the children of the Resurrection, and the Light”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 22/04/2016)
As the operation to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS ramps up, anti-ISIS forces are detailing some of the atrocities committed by the terrorist group.
An official for the Kurdistan Democratic Party told Iranian news agency ABNA ISIS has been forcing women into arranged marriages with ISIS fighters — and executing women who refuse. The official said “at least 250 girls have so far been executed … and sometimes the families of the girls were also executed.”
Mosul fell to ISIS in the summer of 2014. Since then, the group has been taking pains to portray their occupation of the city as benevolent. But ISIS’ reign has been particularly oppressive to women; the group practices sex slavery and requires women to adhere to a strict set of rules.
The push to retake Mosul began last month, and President Obama says he expects the city to be ripe for the retaking by the end of the year.
This video includes clips from Rudaw and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
Two members of a church demolition team in China’s central Henan province buried alive Li Jiangong, a house church leader and his wife Ding Cuimei. On Thursday, April 14th a government-backed company dispatched personnel to bulldoze Beitou Church in Zhumadian, Henan province, after a local developer wished to take control of the church’s valuable property. The couple and stepped in front of the machinery trying to prevent the destruction of their church.
Referring to the couple, a demolition team member was reported by China Aid as saying, “Bury them alive for me,“I will be responsible for their lives” Subsequently, a bulldozer pushed the couple into a pit and covered their bodies with soil. The Li was able to dig his way free, but sadly his wife suffocated by the time she was freed.
Li himself reported that police took an uncommonly long time to arrive at the scene after a report of the murder was filed.
On April 17, a China Aid reporter conducted a phone interview with an officer from the local police station, who stated that two of the demolition team are currently being detained while a criminal investigation team reviews their case. The officer did not reveal the criminal charges against the workers.
Please pray the our brothers and sisters in China.
Groups representing the persecuted Christians of the Middle East are urging support for the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act. The legislation is now supported by over 50 members of Congress and you can use the Clarion Project‘s form to contact your representatives in less than one minute.
Three Assyrian Christian organizations—the American Mesopotamian Organization, the Middle East Christian Committee and the Assyrian Genocide and Research Center are calling it a “historic opportunity to strike a blow against one of the Middle East’s oldest and most vicious organizations—the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Coptic Solidarity is also rallying its supporters behind the bill. Its president, Alex Shalaby, said, “Coptic Solidarity calls on all who support civil rights, democracy, and religious freedom to take action on this campaign. A terrorist designation against the Muslim Brotherhood is not just a Coptic issue, but one that affects the welfare of all Egyptians.”
The group’s statement also said that the Muslim Brotherhood “is the head of several subsidiary terrorist organizations in the Middle East, Europe and North America.”
The Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act mentions how over 70 churches and 1,000 Coptic homes and businesses were set on fire by Brotherhood supporters after the Egyptian government cracked down on the Islamist protests in 2013. The evidence shows that the Brotherhood planned for the protests to become violent even though an Egyptian government review admitted that its security forces responded to the provocations and attacks inappropriately.
The legislation also says the Brotherhood has engaged in “direct incitement” through its social media outlets and statements from its officials. It cites the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s report in 2013 that said, “Coptic Christians face ongoing violence from vigilante Muslim extremists, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, many of whom act with impunity.”
You can quickly tell your representatives to support the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act by clicking right here.
Make your voice count! Share with everyone you know.
Tell your elected officials to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Terrorist Organization. It takes less than a minute.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Tomorrow, churches are asked to remember and to take a few minutes to stand with believers across this nation and around the world by praying for the persecuted and the conversion of the persecutors. To participate in practical ministry to brothers and sisters overseas, promoting public policy that protects the persecuted—standing for their right to religious freedom, and for a secure home for them. My friend, Faith McDonnell from The Institute on Religion & Democracy(IRD) is the Director of Religious Liberty Programs and of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan. She writes and speaks on the subject of the persecuted church. In a recent article about the Persecuted Sunday event, she wrote:
Don’t panic! Yes, Stand for the Persecuted Sunday is this Sunday, April 17.* I am sure that if every church around the country, every church in Western Christendom, had known this fact with a bit more lead time, they would all be throwing over all their previous plans for Sunday worship and devoting it to a Sunday of standing for persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.. . .
What? You don’t think so? Well, to tell the truth, neither do I. And that is an indictment on Western Christianity and something for which we will answer before the throne of God, when, as Matthew 25 says,
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
What makes you think that passage is particularly about our response to persecuted Christians, you say?
Well, look at the chapter of Matthew right before this one, Matthew 24, which tells of the destruction of the Temple (70 AD) and Jesus speaks about the signs that the end of the age is coming, and the signs of His return. He calls them “the beginning of birth pains.”
The problem is — as I say when I am speaking to churches about their persecuted brothers and sisters in the global church — in the West, we have not felt the birth pains. To follow on with Jesus’ women-in-labor metaphor, with which a certain segment of us in the population can identify more than others! — Western churches have had an epidural.
It is our fellow Christians in Iraq and Syria, Sudan and Nigeria, North Korea and Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Eritrea, Libya and Somalia, Turkey and Ethiopia, and elsewhere, with increasing intensification and widening gyres — that are feeling the birth pains, and have been throughout history. In Matthew’s record of the event, Jesus says:
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
I’m grateful for less bleak account of that same passage recorded by Luke:
On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Christians who are presently being humiliated, beaten, tortured, arrested, imprisoned, displaced, persecuted, and enslaved, will stand up with power of GOD enabling their starved, bruised, and broken limbs. They will lift up heads that Islamist Supremacists from al Azhar to ISIS, and from Mohammed to Anjem Chaudary, have attempted to push into the dirt. They will see their Redemption coming.
Will we stand with them with upturned faces glowing with the Son’s beauty as He comes? Only if we stand with them now! Otherwise, we will have our heads lowered in shame, and be thinking — like goats — of excuses for why we did not respond with prayer and compassion to the plight of our fellow members of the Household of Faith.
With ISIS, and terrorist jihadi attacks invading our own shores, with more to come, we are finally starting to feel the birth pains. As horrible as that is, it seems to have opened the eyes of more Western Christians to the persecution suffered by their brothers and sisters in worldwide Body of Christ. It is encouraging more of us to stand with the persecuted. Sunday, April 17, is only a beginning. It should be a line in the sand saying from now on we will Stand with the Persecuted, individually and together as part of that one same Body of Christ.
We are grateful to see more and more Christians and churches getting involved in helping and praying for the persecuted! God bless your faithfulness! But as Faith mentioned, the seeming unconcern of the Western Church is perplexing. Disheartening when the majority of churches in the majority Christian nation of the U.S. are uninterested not even mentioning the most vulnerable in the Body of Christ. Even Israeli’s are asking why we’re silent of the impending holocaust of Christians in the Middle East. With all the information be shared today, how can church goers be completely oblivious that persecution is even taking place? I recall a conversation about our mission with a woman who never missed a Sunday. She asked, “You mean Christians are being persecuted like in the times of the Romans?” She was shocked and wanted to know more, a lot more.
Closing our eyes and turning up the volume doesn’t negate the fact that Christians are more intensely persecuted today than at any other time in history. Some have shared that the church in the West cannot handle the ‘bad news’ of persecution. That they’re apt to run for the hills because we’re already overloaded with headlines of crises and persecution news may throw them over the edge. Others don’t want to scare off the ‘newcomers’. Who draws men and women to Christ, us or Him?
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus said a servant isn’t greater than his master. He warned in advance that we would suffer trials and be hated because they hate Him. He said these things to encourage us, that those who endured until the end would be saved! Are we so arrogant to believe that persecution could never come to America? That we have been chosen to escape it? Many Christians in Syria have been shaken to the core believing it would never happen to them. (Read our exclusive report written by a Syrian Christian.) But in a short period of time, their world has been turned inside out. Pray for them as for the many others, globally, experiencing the same. But take heart, the Church is growing despite the extreme hardship!
We’ve heard some say, I can’t worry about what’s happening on the other side of the world. I have enough to worry about here.” A great opportunity is missed when we turn a blind eye and close our ears to the suffering of the persecuted church. A part of our own ‘Body’ has been wounded, yet we don’t tend to the wound. The persecuted never fail to ask, “Pray for us!” and often ask for nothing more. Yet, many prayers are silenced in ignorance and never realizing the great need for support, their hands are stilled. We also miss the encouraging message in the example of unyielding faith demonstrated by the persecuted Church. Their witness causes us to examine our own faith. Can we be as strong? YES! They encourage us by proving all things, even endurance and victory in extreme persecution is possible through Christ our Lord. Hallelujah, glory be to God!
Dear pastors, give your flock more credit. If they’ve been led to the cross, called and in Christ, they can handle the news! Our God will bend down to hear the resounding prayers of your congregation for the persecuted church! Also, an amazing voice for the persecuted could be sitting in your church, but unknowing…he, she or they are silenced.
Agreeing with my friend from IRD, it’s never too late to Stand for the Persecuted! Don’t be discouraged from observing this important event if you have missed April 17. You can observe Persecution Sunday anytime, not only tomorrow but every Sunday! Today, let’s start by making it a point to care more, do more and pray more for the Persecuted Church! Our family in Christ. You can also go on the aid mission with us through your gifts!
Voice of the Persecuted’s Prayer Director, Blain Scogin who is also Director of Persecution Watch will host a prayer conference call at 9pm EST on Sunday evening in recognition of Persecuted Sunday. If you would like to pray again, or were unable to pray for the persecuted at your church, call in and join others on the call to intercede for the persecuted.
Time of call…….Sunday, April 17, 2016
9 p.m. Eastern Time
8 p.m. Central Time
7 p.m. Mountain Time
6 p.m. Pacific Time
Call number and access code:
Voice of the Persecuted’s next 5th Friday 24-Hour Prayer Conference Call Event for the Persecuted takes place on April 29th, 2016! Mark your calendars and unite with us on the call as we hear from and pray for the persecuted believers! Details here
Keep raising awareness by being a Voice of the Persecuted, partner with us to come to their aid. But most importantly, keep praying for them! Please share this report and encourage your church and others to step out in faith for the persecuted. God bless and strengthen you.
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
Every day, 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.
An elderly Christian woman has been caned in Indonesia, the first time a Sharia law punishment has been meted out to a non-Muslim. The 60-year-old, who was convicted of selling alcohol, was whipped nearly 30 times with a rattan cane, before a crowd of hundreds, in Aceh province on Tuesday, according to reports.