Come pray with us! International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted IDOP 2017 Conference Call Events.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
The Apostle John wrote about a war that Satan is declaring on the Saints.
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17
Paul describes this as a spiritual war and he exhorts the believers to stand strong in the Lord.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13
John and Paul understood the spiritual war to be manifested in persecution as they suffered for their faith in Jesus. John was exiled and imprisoned on the island of Patmos. Paul was imprisoned and beheaded.
Two thousand years later the war continues. Satan is still waging war against the faithful, which is clearly evident, through increasing persecution of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They, who are in the shadow of the cross, who dare to stand for Him.
This raging storm, our persecuted family faces, is that spiritual war. One that cannot be fought with fleshly means. For this is a war against demonic forces that can only be defeated by spiritual means. It’s a battle to the end that must be waged spiritually with the word of God on our knees in prayer. I recall that Brother Andrew once said that prayer is the battle.
Our brother, Paul wrote in Ephesians exhorting believers to pray for one another.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
What can we do?
This coming November, individually and corporately, we will have the opportunity to join with millions of other believers around the world to lift up our persecuted family in prayer. The first two Sundays in November (11/5 and 11/12) have been designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP 2017). Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted, in collaboration with International Orality Network and other global ministries(TBA), will unite to host two 12-hour IDOP prayer conference calls for our persecuted family. This is your opportunity to come and pray and be the voice of the persecuted Church through those prayers. Please mark your calendar to stand in the gap and join the calls to lift-up our brothers and sisters suffering for Christ.
We believe prayer works. Stay on the call 5 minutes, 5 hours, or as long as you feel led. Your prayers make a huge difference in the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
Meet you on the call!
Your brother in Christ,
Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch
Participating Global Advocates
SPEAK UP against persecution—DEFEND those discriminated—HELP those in need—PRAY for those suffering.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Location: Any location from your phone
PRINT/DOWNLOAD FLYER IDOP 2017 Prayer Conference Call (please share with pastors, church members, prayer groups)
Sunday November 5
Sunday November 12
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time
6 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain time
5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time
International numbers and Mobile App links available
MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes
Available International IDOP Prayer Conference Call Numbers
(Note: If you will be using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.)
Australia +61 (0) 3 8672 0185
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Ukraine +380 (0) 89 323 9978
United Kingdom +44 (0) 330 606 0527
United States (712) 775-7035
Vietnam +84 (0) 4 7108 0080
The weekly Persecution Watch Prayer Call meets at 9pm EST every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Voice of the Persecuted) Our foreign correspondent (Asia) reported to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) that blasphemy charges were laid against Bhola Ram, a 45-year old Hindu man, Vishal Tariq (18) and Adil Saleem Masih (25), both Christians. All three were employed at Civil Hospital Dunga Bunga as sweepers.
Bhola Ram, a government employee, is the main suspect in the case. He was relocated from Chak Panj Kosi, Southern Punjab to Donga Bunga. Ram had been transferred to work at Civil Hospital Dunga Bunga and an employees’ quarter was sanctioned for his stay. Among other things, he found the quarters filled with hospital records. He asked Dr. Kashif Nazir, the doctor in charge, about the records and was told to move them to the next room.
After Ram moved the records, he gathered all the trash and took it outside to be burned. While the trash was on fire, he saw what appeared to be pages containing verses of the Quran and he panicked. Not able move fast enough, due to a previously broken leg, he asked the two Christian boys to get the pages out of the fire.
VOP’s correspondent said,
“It’s worth noting that the Christians were so afraid of the situation that they risked themselves by going directly into the flames to save the pages. As a result, the hands and feet of both boys were burned.”
The report continued that a female health worker reported that Bhola Ram and the boys had burned pages of the Quran. Like wildfire, the news spread quickly causing journalists and locals to rush to the scene. It was alleged that the 3 accused were beaten by the people, but they denied it under pressure from the police.
The initial police report (FIR no. 1014/2017) was registered on September 28, 2017 against Bhola Ram and Vishal Tariq under section 295-B (Blasphemy law), 435, 201 and 109 of the Pakistani penal code. Muhammad Farooq, sub inspector at the police station, was the complainant. Adil Saleem Masih was not named in the report as one of the accused, but still alleged to be part of the incident. The FIR claimed the complainant received a call from a local journalist about the incident. When the police arrived at the scene, they were briefed of the situation and asked Dr. Nazir to write a statement and submit it to the police. In his statement, Dr. Nazir deliberately didn’t mention the burning of pages containing Quranic verses.
Ata-ur-Rehman, a district police officer (DPO) of Bahawalnagar, dismissed the FIR due to the support of the local lawyer community. They argued that Bhola Ram, being illiterate, could’nt have done what he was accused of. Religious groups present insisted the matter be brought to investigation, but DPO Ata ur Rehman maintained his position.
This is only one event where the accused have been freed without any damage, but there is no surety that they will be safe from violence or murder at the hands of extremists, warned the VOP correspondent.
Life-and-death Issue in Pakistan
Pakistan’s blasphemy cases have often evoked anger among groups in the majority Muslim country. This has led to extreme violence by large vigilante mobs and hardliners. Sadly, some have been murdered though later found innocent. Such was the case with Shahzad Masih (28yr) and his pregnant wife, Shama (25yr) who were brutally tortured, thrown into a brick kiln furnace and burned to death in an act of sheer barbarism by a vicious mob. The couple had three young children. See our report
Often the accused are continually considered guilty of blasphemy even though they have been exonerated from all charges. AMNESTY International shared that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used against religious minorities and others who are the target of false accusations, while emboldening vigilantes prepared to threaten or kill the accused.
The report, “As good as dead”: The impact of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, shows how people accused of blasphemy face a grueling struggle to establish their innocence. Even if a person is acquitted of the charges against them and released, usually after long delays, they can still face threats to their life. View report
We witnessed this in the case of a young, mentally-challenged girl falsely accused of blasphemy. Rimsha Masih was arrested in August 2012 and accused of burning the pages of some Islamic texts. She was jailed after angry crowds threatened to burn Christian homes in the Islamabad Christian neighborhood where her family lived. The charge against Rimsha was brought to the attention of the global community and caused international outcry. The case against her later collapsed after police were informed the cleric of the mosque in Rimsha’s area had planted the burned pages on her. Pakistani courts eventually threw out the charges citing a lack of evidence, which angered many. The cleric was arrested for the false accusation, but later released without penalty, again, due to lack of evidence.
Following the infamous blasphemy case over 400 Christian families from her neighborhood were forced to flee due to serious threats. Rimsha, who had faced the possibility of the death penalty, was secretly evacuated from the country and given asylum in Canada where she now resides with her family.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and for those who’ve fled persecution to seek asylum, but now face extreme hardship and discrimination in places such as Thailand.
VOP is on the ground in Thailand. 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 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
Donations always desperately needed
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – The government of the Pakistani region of Sindh, in the south of Pakistan, issued a public competition announcement at the end of September for some jobs in the police administration. Among the positions: person in charge of maintenance, car mechanic, laborer and also “cleaner”. For this latter occupation it is specified: “For non-Muslims only”. This is an institutionalized religious discrimination.
“This wording is a flagrant violation of Article 26 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which, among the fundamental rights, explicitly speaks of ‘non-discrimination’ regarding the access to public places, towards all citizens”, said to Fides Anjum James Paul, Pakistani Catholic professor and president of the “Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association” (PMTA).
Anjum James Paul was a schoolmate of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic minister who was killed, and shared his commitment to human rights and the promotion of religious minorities in the country. Today he says to Fides: “It is a discrimination carried out by the state. It is a shameful treatment reserved to religious minorities. According to the Constitution, all citizens have equal rights and duties. It is time to put an end to this discriminatory practice not only in social relations but also in state institutions and structures. The regional government of Sindh should also follow the disposition to reserve religious minorities 5% of the state seats available, in every order and degree, but it does not”.
The theme of discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan cyclically comes back in public debate on the occasion of the “National Day of Minorities”, which is celebrated in the nation every August 9. “Non-Muslim Pakistani citizens are forced to accept more humble jobs, which are reserved for them, such as cleaners, stretcher-bearers, domestic workers, street cleaners”, said Samson Salamat of the Rwadari Tehreek organization.
Religious minorities in Pakistan recall the well-known speech of Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, who on August 11, 1947 in the constituent assembly declared: “We are all citizens of the same State. We should keep this principle before us as our ideal. So one will discover that over the years Hindus will cease to be Hindu and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because this is the personal faith of every individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State”.
Since the birth of Pakistan, in 1947, religious minorities were conceived as “an integral part of the nation” by Ali Jinnah, to the point that their presence is also symbolically on the national flag, where the green part represents the Muslim majority, while the white part indicates non-Muslim minorities.
Today, civil society forums call on the government for constitutional reforms in order to put an end to discrimination and prejudice, ensuring effective political participation and representation to religious minorities.
Pakistan is characterized by religious, ethnic and linguistic pluralism: Muslims are over 90% of 180 million people, but there are Ahmadis, Christians, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Jainists, Jews, Parsites and Sikhs. In general, minorities account for about 8% of the population. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 6/10/2017)
(World Watch Monitor) Egyptian police have charged a Coptic mother with the murder of her newborn baby, though she says her baby was killed by intruders who entered her home and took her baby from her arms.
Azza Gamal, 27, was home alone with her two-year-old twin girls Mariam and Martha, and baby daughter Mohrael, on the evening of 7 September. Her husband, Nour Bakhit Khalil, 30, had gone to visit his sister, who lives nearby, when he heard his wife scream.
The Khalil family live in a house on the outskirts of the village of Barba in Egypt’s Asyut governorate. They live in the western part of the village, bordering a cemetery and are surrounded plants. The house is small, with an unfinished upper floor, and a ground floor that contains a hall, kitchen, toilet and two rooms.
Speaking to World Watch Monitor, Azza explained that when her husband left to visit his sister, Azza locked the door. She only opened it again when she heard what she assumed to be her husband knocking on the door. In front of her, however, stood three masked men wearing galabiyas (full-length gowns) and a woman in a black abya (a robe-like dress) and niqab (a face-veil covering all but the eyes) who pushed her inside, grabbing the baby from her arms. They then beat her, shouting “kafirs” (“infidels”) and fled, taking the baby with them.
Upon hearing his wife screaming, Nour ran home to see what had happened and was told that his daughter, Mohrael, had been kidnapped.
“I immediately went to the police station to report the kidnapping of my daughter,” he told World Watch Monitor. “They asked me to fetch my wife and our ID cards and then to come back to file a report. None of them went back with me to investigate the matter or search for my daughter.”
When Nour arrived back at his house, he received the news that his daughter had been found, with her throat slit and her body dumped among the plants just 10 meters from their home. He returned to the police station, this time with his wife, to report on what he had seen. The police started an investigation and promised they would do their best to find and arrest the perpetrators.
However, four days later, on 11 September, the police came back and raided their home.
“The officers slapped my wife in the kitchen and said that she had killed her daughter and arrested her,” Nour explained. “They alleged that my wife suffers from psychological problems because of her desire to have a male rather than a female child, as she [already] has two girls. Allegedly she [also] killed Mohrael because I dislike having girls and wanted a boy instead of this girl.”
“We are simple people, we had no enemies, and there isn’t any trouble between us and anyone in the village,” Nour said.
As for his wife of three years being charged with the murder of his daughter, Nour called that “false, irrational and unreasonable”.
“My wife is a very good woman. She is a religious person who has a strong relationship with God and could not do something like killing her daughter,” he said. “She and I were very happy when God blessed us with this little girl. Mohrael was very beautiful and cute and a great gift from God to us and we loved her so much. Azza stayed up every night to take care of her, playing with and nursing her. How then could she kill her? I also haven’t seen any bad behaviour from [my wife’s] side since we got married. She treats me well, is very humble and loves me and our daughters so much, especially the new baby. As for me, I wasn’t angry because my wife had a girl. On the contrary I love the girls and I was very happy when my wife gave birth to Mohrael. Saint Mary was a girl. Boys and girls are gifts from God and none can object this gift.”
Meanwhile, Nour and Azza’s church has hired a lawyer on their behalf. Since the couple don’t have money to cover the legal fees, the church released a statement asking if “the people of our village will contribute even a small part to pay for these costs”.
Rev. Salib said it is obvious the attackers were familiar with this part of the village, where most of the residents are Christians, living on the outskirts, close to where the vegetation becomes thicker. “They knew what they were doing [and] planned for everything accurately as they chose the suitable time to break into the home,” he said. “It was about 9.30pm, [a time when] most of the villagers in Upper Egypt are asleep.”
It remains unclear who was behind the attack on the Khalil family, but this year Egypt’s Copts have frequently been targeted by Islamic extremists with links to the Islamic State group, which vowed to “wipe them out”. As World Watch Monitor has reported, IS has recently shifted its focus from the Sinai Peninsula towards establishing a foothold in Upper Egypt, an area said to be “marginalised” by politicians, lacking in security and in which many people are poor and uneducated.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is willing to release American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey for one year and accused of espionage – if US authorities hand over Turkish Islamic preacher Fetullah Gulen, in exile in the United States since 1999. The Turkish government says Gulen was the mastermind behind the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. According to Fides news, the proposed exchange was prefigured by Erdogan himself during a meeting with members of the Turkish police force on September 28 at his presidential palace in Ankara. On that occasion Erdogan explicitly linked the possible release of Brunson to the extradition request of Gulen.
The report continued that Erdogan’s appeal was not taken into consideration by the US administration. During a daily press briefing on September 28, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked a question about a swap for Brunson.
MS NAUERT: In terms of Fethullah Gulen, who is here in the United States, we have received several requests for his extradition from the Turkish Government related to him. Though – that is something – we haven’t talked about this for a while. We continue to evaluate it, take a look at the materials that the Turkish Government has provided us. I don’t have anything new for you on the subject of that.
In terms of Pastor Brunson, that is a very important issue for us, to try to get Pastor Brunson home. It is something that the President had raised with Mr. Erdogan not too terribly long ago. The State Department has been in as close of contact as we can be with Pastor Brunson. We last were able to visit him on September the 18th. That’s a new bit of news. The last time that we had visited him was – let’s see, it was August the 24th. And we just – we continue to advocate for his release. He was wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey, and we’d like to see him brought home.
QUESTION: Just one more question.
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
QUESTION: We don’t usually hear this kind of prisoner swap or hostage diplomacy between the allies, Turkey’s ally. We hear about Iran or North Korea. What’s your view that this kind of offer, coming from your ally?
MS NAUERT: Look, I can’t imagine that we would go down that road. We have received extradition requests for him. I have nothing new for you on that. We continue to call for Pastor Brunson’s release. Source
Pastor Brunson, former head of the Evangelical Church of the Resurrection in Izmir (Smyrne Diriliş Kilisesi), was summoned in October 2016 together with his wife, Norine, by the Immigration Office. They were initially told to leave the country, because Andrew was accused of receiving funds from abroad to fund missionary initiatives that Turkey claimed would endanger the security of the Country with their activities. Later, the Turkish press reported that the decree of expulsion for the Evangelical pastor had been transformed into arrest after a secret witness accused him of belonging to the so-called FETO (Turkish acronym of “Fethullahnista terrorist organization”). In jail, Brunson had received visits from senior US embassy officials in Turkey, and also US President Donald Trump had demanded the release of the Evangelical pastor during the meeting last May at the White House with Turkish President Erdogan. Last August, after Trump’s intervention, Brunson was charged with crimes even worse than the ones he had been accused of in the past, and was imprisoned in a high security prison where some are accused of being among the top officials responsible for the failed coup in 2016. (Agenzia Fides, 2/10/2017)
Pastor Brunson wife reminds us of her husband’s 1-year imprisonment and to pray for her husband’s well-being and release.
“October 7 will be the one year mark of Andrew’s imprisonment and I am so grateful to the EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) for issuing a Call to Prayer and Fasting for the weekend of October 7-8. Here is what they say:
“We are asking everyone in the EPC to consider fasting and praying for Andrew on Saturday, October 7, and for our churches to pray for Andrew and Norine during their worship services on Sunday, October 8.”
I know some of you have done quite a bit of fasting and we are so very grateful. Maybe others would be willing to join this Oct 7-8 time.
I recently heard of someone who is fasting coffee until Andrew is released! It has reminded him to pray for Andrew frequently, but has also provided many opportunities to get more prayer for Andrew when he turns down coffee and explains why! All of this is so precious to us.
And in a prior request,
We continue to need your prayers – for miraculous release and for peace that passes understanding to guard our hearts and minds.
Please join us in remembering this dear brother and his family in prayer with great hope.