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(Voice of the Persecuted) As we walk through the pages of 2015, trying to make sense of all the persecution suffering, death, and destruction—our thoughts turned towards the joy, and faith witnessed throughout the year. There were many days consumed with prayer, tears, and at times feelings of helplessness. Helplessness as we looked at the larger picture and magnitude of suffering, we feared for the situation. Fear that we couldn’t help so many. But at these times, we go before the Throne of God.
Recalling 2015, one VOP Advocate shared,
“Many times I’ve asked to be relieved of my position as a voice, and advocate. Why, because I couldn’t witness the suffering without means to help every single victim. Many times I was told, “No, My Grace will see you through”. Prayers were answered, others joined us in the mission of helping the persecuted. Tears were turned into joy and in some instances shame, as I learned that those suffering had the faith of Job. Faith that I lacked. I felt ashamed of myself, and my Faith was increased. I learned so much from those I was trying to help, so much about love, about faith, and God. I learned they were praying for me and my heart broke.”
A dear persecuted Brother doesn’t celebrate his birth on earth. He celebrates his birthday as the day He was born again! This brought so much joy to my heart. Another dear Brother had prayers answered and found a mate who shares his Faith and love for God in the middle of war and persecution. They are now excitedly expecting a child. Such joy! In the refugee camp where Voice of the Persecuted brings relief, we’re invited to share in the excitement when a baby is born. They ask us to PRAISE GOD and REJOICE with them for the gift of new life. The entire camp celebrates this wonderful miracle. In the middle of slaughter and suffering comes rejoicing and new life!
Project 13:3 Nigeria sees refugees (IDP’s) in the camp sick with Cholera, an outbreak caused by an overused water source. Soon we hope the temporary well project will be completed and bring fresh drinking water. The need for food and medicine is always extremely great. Some must sleep on the ground, not even a mat to lay on. Though we have purchased mats and mattresses, we hope to get everyone off the ground, this year! It has been confirmed by our Nigerian sources that Boko Haram has not been subdued and the crisis in Nigeria is far from over. The risk is too great for IDP’s to return to villages still vulnerable to the radical militants. From one day to the next, these brothers and sisters don’t know if or when another attack will happen. Yet, there is joy in their hearts and their faith increases. They still want to encourage us in the West.
As we watch the starving and homeless in war torn regions, we see their enduring faith, they too encourage us. We see the celebrations of just being able to worship, be it in a jungle, a burned out building, or even a makeshift tent—they are always joyous and grateful. They have hope beyond measure. Hope in God’s Word and what He has promised. A Blessed Hope in God who loves and will provide our needs.
Another dear Brother, persecuted himself, but is trying to help those in prison, those without food or shelter, those needing Spiritual encouragement. His unrelenting work and enduring faith in God brings great Joy to our hearts. Faith and Hope is growing in the face of persecution. Persecution is growing the Body of Christ. While the sleeping western church relishes in monetary gains instead of harvesting and aiding the suffering Body, God is growing the church in persecution, in the midst of extreme suffering and trials.
Our Project 13:3 Thailand sees precious souls fleeing persecution in Pakistan, then hiding from authorities in Thailand. They live in constant fear of being arrested. The Thai government constantly raids their slum-like apartments and arrest all who are found, including children. One poor woman describes covering her babies mouth so the child’s cries wouldn’t alert the police to their hiding place. She prayed the baby wouldn’t choke or suffocate. Praise God that the baby remained quiet and for now, they are safe.
Overstay fines keep them out of the criminal element at the Central jail, but still places them in the horrific Immigration Detention Center (IDC). The Center’s disease ridden, putrid, overcrowded cells with a single toilet, houses as many as 70 people together. Their fed cucumber and rice in hot water, nothing else. We send food into the IDC to supplement their diet to bring them hope and comfort. Overstay fines and exorbitant fees to bail them out of the IDC, takes food, medicine and shelter away from the large numbers hiding outside. Food away from those who remain inside. Often we must choose from the many cases and decide who will receive assistance. Those in jail, those in the IDC, those in hiding, those without milk or food for their babies. It can be a heartbreaking process. But when we are torn in half trying to decide who we can help this month, we take it to the Throne of God and ask Lord to guide us. He always answers!
We encourage everyone to be a voice, join a prayer team, pray in your quiet place, share news, and speak out. Be a Voice! Our prayer this year is Hope for all. Hope that governments will soften their hearts. Hope that aid will increase, so we will help many more. Hope that the killing will end. Hope that Peace will prevail. Our Hope is in the Lord, and we will not stop or stand down until the last brother and sister is safe and cared for! Our family in the Body of Christ.
Won’t you join us? In 2016 we are believing to see the Lord’s hand in miraculous ways. We believe the Body of Christ will answer the call to move. We believe 2016 will be a Year of HOPE..HOPE in action. The Lord’s hand and the Glory of God revealed!
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.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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The U.S. should consider economic sanctions on countries where Christians endure persecution, torture and death to help ensure security here and abroad, a religious rights advocate told Congress Tuesday.
Elliott Abrams of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said a “case-by-case analysis” could be used in weighing sanctions.
“You look at the list of countries and see so many that are underdeveloped, or middle income or poor,” Mr. Abrams told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on global human rights. “In those cases economic sanctions … could have an affect. I think what we need to convey is … we care, and this will affect our relations.”
“As it often is the first right taken away, religious freedom serves as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, warning us that denial of other liberties almost surely will follow,” he said. “Supporting religious freedom abroad is not just a legal or moral duty, but a practical necessity that affects the security of the United States because it builds a foundation for progress and stability.”
Days ago, al-Qaeda’s Egyptian leader, Ayman Zawahiri, portrayed the overthrow of Muhammad Morsi and the Brotherhood as a “Crusader” campaign led by Coptic Pope Tawadros II who, according to Zawahiri and other terrorists, is trying to create a Coptic state in Egypt.
Since then, not only are Egypt’s Christians and churches now being attacked in ways unprecedented in the modern era, but new reports indicate that al-Qaeda’s black flag has been raised on some of them, specifically St. George Church in Sohag. Considering that it was al-Qaeda linked terrorists who initiated one of the bloodiest church attacks in recent history, the 2010 Baghdad church attack where nearly 60 Christians were slaughtered (click here –warning graphic images), that al-Qaeda is singling out Egypt’s Christians bodes ill.
The Islamic terrorist organization’s incitements against the Copts are just the latest to emanate from Islamists—from the top of the Brotherhood leadership to the bottom of the “Muslim street”—creating something of an “open season” on Egypt’s Christians.
Days after the overthrow of Morsi, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Badie, was first to attack by name Coptic Pope Tawadros for supporting the popular June 30 Revolution, which saw tens of millions of Egyptians take to the streets. After Badie’s demonization of the Copts, assaults on Christians began in earnest. Many churches were attacked and burned and several Christians were murdered in Upper Egypt; over in the Sinai, a young Coptic priest was shot dead, while the body of Magdy Lam’i Habib, a Christian, was found mutilated and beheaded. Due to the many death threats to Pope Tawadros, he has left the papal residence at the St. Mark Cathedral—which was earlier savagely attacked, when Morsi was still president.
This anti-Christian fury is far from sated and has taken on genocidal proportions. While Al Jazeera was covering (and distorting) events in Egypt, a Libyan man named Tamar Rashad called in and said “I want to offer the good news to [Pope] Tawadros that, Allah willing, the day is coming when no Copt will ever again tread the ground of Egypt—and no churches. We will no longer allow churches to exist.” When the TV host appeared to protest, Rashad interrupted him saying, “It’s already decided, take your cameras and go to the churches and you’ll see what’s going to happen soon, Allah willing.”
To make matters worse, Sheikh Yusif al-Qaradawi, one of the Islamic world’s leading preachers and spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood, has given his formal stamp of approval to persecute Copts, recently posting a video saying that “Christians” and others “were recruited [by Egypt’s military] to kill innocent Muslims.”
As expected, all these incitements against the Copts issued by several top Islamist leaders have so upped anti-Copt sentiment that it has become difficult in the last few days to keep up with the attacks on them—so many and nonstop are the reports emanating from Egypt. All throughout Upper Egypt—in Minya, Asyut, Sohag—Christians and their churches are under attack; dozens of Coptic homes and businesses have been set on fire. Due to the risk to Christian lives, many churches are no longer holding regular worship services.
The situation has gotten so dire that Ibrahim Eissa, a popular Egyptian journalist and TV personality, apparently unable to keep silent over the plight of the Copts, recently said on live TV:
“The Christians have suffered in Egypt, over the course of 2 ½ years. Their churches have been burned, their children killed. The Maspero Massacre occurred, where several Copts were slain. Catastrophic fatwas appeared, calling them infidels and inciting against them…. No one has suffered as much as they. Today, if any Christian attempts to join a protest, he does so at the risk of defying dozens of fatwas calling for his death and decapitation and the burning of churches, especially in Upper Egypt.”
With the ouster of Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s Islamists have finally gotten the pretext they need to cleanse the nation of its Christian minority, the Copt’s—ironically, Egypt’s most native sons.
The unprecedented hate currently being visited on them is fueled by Islam’s “How Dare You?” phenomenon: As conquered non-Muslims, Christians must live as dhimmis, that is, according to traditional Islamic teaching, barely tolerated “infidels” who must be humble and submissive—to the point that they are not permitted to raise their hands to Muslims even when attacked.
Far from assuming their “proper place,” Egypt’s Christians supported the June 30 Revolution against the will and threats of the Brotherhood. Thus, to Egypt’s disenfranchised and bitter Brotherhood and its supporters, Egypt’s Christians, beginning with their pope, are all now free game.
Raymond Ibrahimis author ofCrucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians