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Police in Pakistan Kill Young Christian Man in Raid, Relatives Say

Body of Waqas Masih. (Morning Star News)

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Poor Christians in Pakistan commonly see police target them for extortion on false charges, and last week such a case ended in the death of a 24-year-old Christian, relatives said.

On the assumption that Christians with few legal resources can be targeted with impunity in the 96-percent Muslim country, policemen on May 29 killed Waqas Masih when his uncle refused their demand for money after they threatened to file false charges, the relatives said. Police are now pressuring the family to drop the murder case, they said.

The slain young man’s mother, a widow who belongs to a Pentecostal church, told Morning Star News that three policemen forced their way into the home of her brother, rickshaw driver Saleem Masih, in in Punjab Province’s Haider Colony, Gujrat District. Saleem Masih had recruited Waqas Masih and other relatives to help him with a construction project at his residence.

“Around 6 p.m., I was informed that three policemen had beaten my son to death,” Khalida Bibi, a sweeper at a hospital, told Morning Star News. “The police are now mounting pressure on us to ‘reconcile’ with their accused colleagues. They were initially reluctant to even arrest the accused, but eventually they had to take them into custody when we threatened to launch protests.”

Saleem Masih’s son, Emmanuel Saleem, told Morning Star News that he and other relatives were sitting in the courtyard of their home when three officers identified only as Shoaib, Shehbaz and Saqib forced their way in around 5:15 p.m.

“We asked them what they wanted, to which they said that they had information that we are drug peddlers and that they had raided the house to recover the narcotics,” he said, adding that the allegation was frivolous as the three policemen were notorious for blackmailing poor people in the area.

“We are poor Christians, but we earn our livelihood with honesty and integrity,” Emmanuel Saleem said. “We knew that the policemen were there for extorting money, but since we had done nothing wrong, my father chose to confront them rather than succumb to their blackmail.”

A heated argument ensued between his father and the police, and they began threatening to file false charges against him and other family members, he said.

“This must have panicked Waqas, who ran outside the house,” Emmanuel Saleem said. “The three cops ran after him, as did my other cousins, Qaiser and Dawood. The cops got hold of Waqas soon after and started hitting him mercilessly with punches, kicks and gun butts. Qaiser and Dawood tried to save Waqas from the police torture, but they were pushed back and warned not to intervene in the beating.”

His two cousins had returned to the house to tell his father what had happened when the policemen arrived and told them to check on Waqas Masih, saying he was “feigning illness,” Emmanuel Saleem said.

“We immediately rushed toward Waqas and saw him lying on the street, motionless,” he said, adding that he had already died by the time they arrived.

Waqas Masih worked as an assistant gardener at a government-run, rural health center. Asked why he had run from the house, Emmanuel Saleem said police often target poor Christians for extortion and file fake charges against them when they don’t have anything to pay. He said this was not the first time local police had illegally entered a home and beat Christians.

“Waqas was a very honest and hard-working young man who had no criminal history,” he said. “I guess he got frightened after the policemen threatened to implicate the cousins in fake cases.”

He confirmed that officials were pressuring the family to “pardon” the accused and give statements in their favor.

“We have even been offered money, besides threats to withdraw the FIR [First Information Report], but we have decided to hold our ground,” he said.

Police Denial

Gujrat District Police Officer (DPO) Jehanzeb Nazeer, however, denied that the accused officers were pressuring the family.

“I immediately ordered the registration of the FIR, and the three accused officials were taken into custody within 72 hours of the incident,” he said, but he added that the officers have not been formally charged with murder as the initial post-mortem report did not reveal the cause of death.

“The initial post-mortem report does not state any injury marks on the deceased’s body or the cause of death, therefore we are now waiting for a full report from the Punjab Forensic Science Agency [PFSA] before reaching a final conclusion about the incident,” he said.

Initial investigation showed the three officers raided the house on a tip that drug peddlers were present, he said.

“Waqas fled when the officials sought to frisk him, resulting in a chase,” he said. “The boy reportedly fell on the road, and one constable claims that he only kicked him twice in anger. The boy died on the spot, and the officials fled the scene.”

When asked if the deceased had any criminal record, the police chief said that they had not found any case registered against him.

Nazeer denied that the three accused officers extorted money from citizens.

“Since the matter involves a minority community, I took immediate action so that no one tries to exploit the situation for their ulterior motives,” he said. “Action will be taken in accordance with the law if the PFSA report points to police high-handedness.”

The three officders were taken into custody so that they could not influence the investigation or fabricate evidence against the victim, he added.

Pakistan is ranked fifth on Open Doors’ 2018 Word Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Prayercast Ramadan Challenge: Day 24 – Ahmed’s story

SUMMARY: As you pray for Muslims in the Arab world, remember that you are praying for REAL people that Jesus loves and died to save.

People like Ahmed.

Ahmed spent his life searching for something more. This journey took him from Sunni Islam, to Sufi Islam, and even drug addiction. But then He met Jesus, and His search was over.

As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Islamic nations will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine.

  • WATCH his story here.
  • PRAISE God for what He is doing to reveal His love to Muslims.
  • PRAY that Muslims all across the Arab world would know His love. For it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted

VOP Note: If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.

Nightly Call scheduled through Ramadan 

Time:
9 p.m. Eastern time
8 p.m. Central time
7 p.m. Mountain time
6 p.m. Pacific time
Call Number:  
712-775-7035
Access Code:
281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

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 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

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

US missionary, captive for 20 months, is alive, reports Niger’s president

For 20 months, there has been no news of Jeff Woodke (Photo: Facebook/Blaise Gaitou)

(World Watch Monitor) A US missionary kidnapped in Niger in October 2016 is alive, according to the West African nation’s president.

Jeff Woodke, who worked for Jeunesse en Mission Entraide et Developpement (JEMED), a branch of the US-based Youth With a Mission, was abducted by unknown assailants late in the evening of Friday 14 October, 2016, from the town of Abalak in northern Niger.

For 20 months, there has been no news of Woodke, but on Monday, 4 June, President Mahamadou Issoufou told TV channel France24 that both he and a German aid worker kidnapped in April this year are alive.

“We have some news; we know they’re alive,” the president said. “We continue to create the conditions for their release. Perhaps the contacts that are underway will help to achieve that goal.”

It is the first proof of life since the kidnapping of the two Western citizens in the Sahel country.

Little had been known, or at least divulged, about Woodke’s condition or location, other than that his captors were tracked to neighbouring Mali by Nigerien authorities. No group has publicly claimed responsibility.

Last July, a coalition of jihadist groups active in the Sahel region (Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, also known as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims), affiliated to Al-Qaeda, released a video showing six foreign hostages, including three missionaries, but not Jeff Woodke.

The three missionaries in the video were: Colombian nun Gloria Argoti, kidnapped on 7 February from her convent in Karangasso, southern Mali; Australian surgeon Ken Elliott, kidnapped in January 2016 from Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the Mali border; and Swiss missionary Béatrice Stockly, kidnapped in Mali’s northern town of Timbuktu, also in January 2016.

All are still captive.

Jeff Woodke’s wife, Els, issued a video pleading for his safe return when there was no sign of him in that video, believing that he could also be held by those who issued it.

“I am sure that the families of the captives were very encouraged by this message and appreciated the mercy shown by Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen in sending this news and instructions about their loved ones,” said Mrs Woodke in her video.

“But my husband Jeff is not mentioned, so I did not receive the benefit of the reassurance and directions of how to proceed that the other families did. This has been very hard for me, for Jeff’s sons and his father to understand.”

The German Joerg Lange, employed by the aid group Help, was kidnapped by armed men on 11 April, in Niger’s western town of Ayorou, which shares a border with troubled northern Mali.

No group has claimed responsibility for his abduction, but a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that his kidnappers had “already taken him to northern Mali”.

On Monday, President Issoufou said he did not know exactly where the pair were being detained, but that “it is more likely that they are in Mali”.

Prayercast Ramadan Challenge: Day 23 – Egypt

SUMMARY: Egypt’s ancient legacy and span of achievements is truly astounding. This remarkable nation is often known by the world for its ancient pyramids, nearly 3,000 years of history, and the Biblical story of the deliverance of the Israelites. Though it has a predominantly desert landscape, farms and sprawling cities line the banks of the Nile River. Egypt remains the most populous country in the Arab world and holds great regional and global influence. What happens here has the potential to impact the entire Muslim world!

The Arab Spring (a series of anti-government protests and uprisings across the Middle East starting in 2011) sparked political upheaval across the Arab world. Egypt was no exception, erupting in mass protests that led to the ousting of then President Hosni Mubarak. Clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood protesters and the brutally reactive military left hundreds dead. Conflict continues to polarize the nation. Amid an increasingly repressive government, Egypt is terrorized by Islamic extremism. Following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) led an insurgency, bringing widespread terror and the tragic deaths of thousands. Political unrest has inhibited the nation from addressing economic problems, corruption, and strained resources. Approximately a quarter of the population lives in poverty, only exacerbated by the water crisis. Farmers face imprisonment or hunger due to the regulations on crops that require more water. In addition to this tragedy, forced labor and sex trafficking leaves street children especially vulnerable.

Egypt was a majority-Christian nation for over 1,000 years, and today it remains home to the Middle East’s largest body of Christians – the Coptic Church (12%). Evangelical Christianity is on the rise, though still only about 3% of the population. Yet Islam remains the state religion and the faith of 87% of its people. Egypt is also often seen as the intellectual center for Sunni Islam. Though the Egyptian Church has endured persecution for over 2,000 years, recent instability and the presence of the Islamic State have intensified their suffering. Horrific scenes of church bombings have brought the plight of Egyptian Christians to the world stage. However, even as persecution increases, so does the number of Muslims turning to Christ! Scripture is more accessible than ever, and the Church is growing in unity across theological differences.

As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Egypt will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in that Nation.

Continent: Africa

Capital City: Cairo

Government: Republic

Population: 97,041,072

Major People Groups: Arab 92.1%, Berber 2%,

Gypsy 1.4%, Nubians 1.1%, other 0.8%

Religion: Muslim 90%, Christian 10%

Language: Arabic, English, French

GDP Per Capita: $13,000

Literacy Rate: 73.8%

UNREACHED: 59.5%

PRAYER POINTS

• Pray for a stable and trustworthy government to act in the interest of all its people.

• Pray for the Church to continue to overcome evil with divine forgiveness and love.

• Pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to an unprecedented number of Muslims disillusioned by Islamic State.

Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted

VOP Note: If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.

Nightly Call scheduled through Ramadan 

Time:
9 p.m. Eastern time
8 p.m. Central time
7 p.m. Mountain time
6 p.m. Pacific time
Call Number:  
712-775-7035
Access Code:
281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

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 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

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

 

Prayercast Ramadan Challenge: Day 23 – Safiya’s Story

The Arab World is a land of spiritual darkness. Oppression and fear are commonplace.

Yet the Light of Christ continues to transform real lives.

As a child, Safiya witnessed the beheading of a Muslim woman.  Her life was consumed with fear.

Until she met Jesus.

Now she wants to tell the nations about the love, grace, and mercy He offers!

As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Kuwait will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in Muslim nations.

  • WATCH her compelling story here.
  • PRAISE Jesus for His light that casts out darkness and His love that casts out fear.
  • PRAY for thousands more, like Safiya, to know the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted

VOP Note: If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.

Nightly Call scheduled through Ramadan 

Time:
9 p.m. Eastern time
8 p.m. Central time
7 p.m. Mountain time
6 p.m. Pacific time
Call Number:  
712-775-7035
Access Code:
281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

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 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

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

Employees Resign After The American Bible Society Affirms Biblical Marriage

 

The American Bible Society has been distributing Bibles for over 200 years. The organization’s mission is to share the Gospel with a goal to translate the Bible in every language by 2025. ABS has recently asked their employees to sign a statement of faith by January 2019. Those who don’t will be asked to hand in their resignation.

The new policy asks employees to conduct themselves according to biblical principles, and includes the affirmation of traditional marriage. read document below.

Some employees resigned when they disagreed with the organizations views about biblical marriage. Others are said to be looking for new employment. American Bible Society President and CEO Roy Peterson believes the organization did the right thing.

According to the Religious News Service, nine of the company’s 200 employees have resigned.

Read full article

 

Prayercast Ramadan Challenge: Day 22 – Saudi Arabia

SONY DSC

SUMMARY — Known for its vast desert landscapes, Saudi Arabia also boasts beautiful coastlines along the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. This arid land is the birthplace of one of the fastest growing – and second largest – religions in the world: Islam. In place of a constitution, the nation abides by the laws of the Quran. The cities of Mecca and Medina are sacred destinations, drawing Muslims from around the world. The Hajj pilgrimage brings millions to Mecca every year! The nation’s Islamic heritage, located at the center of ancient trade routes, and Bedouin traditions help to form its rich cultural identity. About 16% of the world’s proven oil can be found here, adding to its great global significance.

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s worst religious freedom and human rights records. Freedoms of speech, press, or worship are virtually nonexistent. King Abdullah (1995-2015) worked to modernize the nation through social and economic initiatives. Elections were first held in 2005, and in 2015 women were allowed to vote, with some winning seats on municipal councils. Salman bin Abdalaziz Al Saud became king in 2015 and named his son, Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince. Vowing to leave behind “extremist ideologies” for a “more moderate Islam,” the Crown Prince has worked to give women more freedom while purging political and business corruption.  The nation is even opening its doors to tourism and cinemas – both unthinkable a few years ago. Even so, Saudi Arabia continues to invest billions of dollars exporting Wahhabi Islam, a fundamentalist sect that produces many extremists. Additionally, strict laws against male and female interactions have led many to secret lives of homosexuality, the penalty of which is imprisonment and death. As the country becomes more dependent on oil, the gap between rich and poor grows. This nation is also heavily involved in multiple proxy wars that are destabilizing the region (i.e., Yemen, Syria, and Libya).

Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Islam and one of the world’s most oppressive nations. Most Saudis are Wahhabi Sunnis, following a strict and literal interpretation of the Quran. People of other faiths are forbidden to practice openly, and most Christians are migrants. Strict religious laws make it extremely difficult for believers to practice their faith, and Saudis who follow Jesus face ostracism, discrimination, harassment, and even death. Recent changes in leadership and policy have led some to believe the country may become more open to Christianity. Though numbers are unreliable, the secret Church is growing, and believers are present in every city.

As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Saudi Arabia will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in that Nation.

PRAYER POINTS

• Pray for the Lord Jesus to miraculously demolish the stronghold of Islam in this nation.

• Pray for massive Islamic missionary efforts to be thwarted.

• Pray for true religious freedom and the curbing of heinous human rights abuses.

Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted

VOP Note: If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.

Nightly Call scheduled through Ramadan 

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Pakistan: Christians told they can’t have a church in Muslim-majority village

The church in Nayya Sarabah (Chak 336) village was built in 2012 (World Watch Monitor)

Christians in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province have been told to remove every visible sign of Christianity from their church, six months after being forced to sign a form pledging they would no longer hold services, reports World Watch Monitor.

The 40 Christian families in Nayya Sarabah (Chak 336) village, part of Toba Tek Singh district near Faisalabad, haven’t held a service since before Christmas.

Muslim resident Hajji Muhammad Siddique told World Watch Monitor that, as “Muslims are in the majority in the village, we can’t allow a church here”.

“Now we are working with the civil administration to give a piece of land to Christians outside the village,” said Siddique, 73, who runs a dispensary. “When it is done, we will make the Christians write an agreement that they will sell this current church building or at least dismantle the church structure and crosses.”

“Most of the Christians of the village work as brick-kiln labourers,” he added. “It is only Rafaqat Masih, who, being a retired army personnel, is trying to be a leader and has helped build a church in the village.”

The church is run by Pastor Samuel Masih, but it is Rafaqat Masih, a union councillor for minorities, who has been at the forefront of efforts to resolve the matter.

“Muslims are in the majority in the village, so we can’t allow a church here.”

Most of the Christians are poor labourers. The church belongs to Full Gospel Assemblies, an evangelical group working in Pakistan, and was built on land belonging to 70-year-old Christian named Rafiq Masih.

“Rafiq is childless, so he bequeathed this property for the construction of a church building,” Rafaqat Masih told World Watch Monitor. “The construction began in 2012 and we had been holding worship services since then. But in December 2016 the local Muslims objected over it and filed an application against us in the local police station. At that time, a compromise was reached and we again started holding services. But, again, in December 2017, they submitted an application in the police station, after which we were called in and were told to sign an agreement.”

The police station in the nearby town of Rajana brought together Muslims and Christians of the village on 14 December 2017, and had them sign an agreement according to which the Christians would “hold religious ceremonies in their houses. There will be no programme in the church. If anyone will violate this agreement, then legal action will be taken. [Christians] will not gather in any house for a religious programme. If there will be any violation of this, legal action will be taken”.

That same month, the Muslims submitted an application to close down the church, and the local police and civil administration told the Christians that, as their church was not included on the official list of churches that must be provided with security on Sundays, they could no longer hold services.

(Due to the rise of terrorism, all gatherings in Pakistan are provided police security. Churches are provided security on Sunday or any other given day that Christians request police protection. However, in this case, the police told them that the church is not part of the authorised list of churches, so they cannot be provided security. Now, because security cannot be provided, they cannot come together. So in the name of security, they stopped the Christians from gathering in the church, and also from worshipping in any house.)

The Christians in the village have therefore not held a service this year, but have made frequent visits to the civil administration to either permit them to hold services in their church or to provide them with an alternative venue.

‘We are being forced to demolish the church’

Christian and Muslim villagers were called together for another meeting on Saturday, 2 June, held in the presence of Deputy Superintendent of Police Muhammad Tahir.

After the meeting, Rafaqat Masih told World Watch Monitor: “We are being forced to demolish the existing church structure and, in lieu of this, they would let us build a church on a piece of government land outside the village which is already dedicated for a school.

“They haven’t even given any documentary proof that this piece of land would be transferred to Christians. Then another issue is that we worked for several years to construct this church building. Now who is going to pay for building from scratch?”

Masih, who runs a small shop in the village, told World Watch Monitor that he had submitted an application to the Toba Tek Singh Deputy Commissioner for including the name of the church in the list of the churches which are provided security.

“The civil administration tells us that they cannot provide us security, so it is in our benefit that they have stopped us from holding a church service,” he said.

On 22 February, the Toba Tek Singh Deputy Commissioner wrote a letter to the district police chief, a copy of which World Watch Monitor has seen, saying: “Priest (sic) Samual (sic) and others of Chak No. 336/GB (Nia Saraba) Tehsil and District Toba Tek Singh has informed the [respectable] Deputy Commissioner that they have established a church in said village and the police has not permitted them to offer their prayers… I have been directed by the [respectable] Deputy Commissioner to convey you that the tension between both the parties/communities may cause an untoward situation. In view of the sensitivity of the issue, you are requested to please look into the matter at personal level and resolve the issue, to avoid any law and order situation, which may result in disturbing the peace and tranquillity of society.”

Deputy Superintendent Muhammad Tahir told World Watch Monitor that the Christians being forced to pledge to end services was not legal. “We are trying to amicably resolve this matter,” he said.

Rasheed Jalal, a member of the district council belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said the Christians were “not being treated equally”.

He said he had met with several senior government figures, including the Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs, National Assembly members and Muslim clerics, but that “nothing worked”.

“Christians are peace-loving people,” said Full Gospel Assemblies Principal Dr. Liaquat M. Qaiser. “We don’t desire any conflict. If the local Muslims do not want Christians worshipping among them, then they should provide them an alternative place. They are poor people and do not have resources to buy another place and build a church once again.”

According to the Pakistan’s constitution, a person’s security is the responsibility of the state. The constitution also provides special protections for religious minorities in religious, social and economic matters. However, contrary to these constitutional protections, churches are often forced to provide for their own security, which is primarily the responsibility of the state.

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